Monday, August 31, 2009

The more I learn...

...the faster I want out of this place.

My apartment complex has a front end and a back end. I live in the back. In the front, living the main road, there are usually people hanging out every night. They sit on the low brick walls lining the complex, seemingly just chatting it up...as long as you don't approach them. If you did, you'd learn that the people hanging out are drug dealers, or prostitutes, or people made homeless by the management here, and hoping an old friend still living here will pass and offer then a couch for the night. I mind my business when I pass them. "Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil."

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking back into the complex parking lot, chatting it up with one of the other unfortunate souls living here, when she mentioned a dead body had been found near the front gate of the forward part of the property. Due to a lack of detail, I said, "Oh, lovely. Well, I'm glad I'm getting out of here soon."

Yesterday, I learned more about that corpse. It wasn't "just a body." That makes it sound as if someone was on their way out, suffered a heart attack, and fell over dead. No, this person had been shot. And not just shot. Someone had opened fire on this person with a 9 mm. semi-automatic and emptied a clip on him. Of the 15 or so shots fired, four hit him. Police found all of the other bullets or bullet casings in the area. Someone wanted this guy VERY dead.

This is like a cherry at the top of a crap sundae. This place has become more and more of a nightmare since I moved in. It was bad then, so you can only imagine what "worse" means.

During the fifth month I was living here, I awoke to the police pounding on my door. They just wanted to ask me a few simple questions, but they have a habit of knocking in such a way that is sure to get your attention. Thus, after being startled awake, they asked me if I'd heard anything during the night. And why did they want to know? Because a cab driver had been shot in the back of the head, and his wife was in critical condition at the nearest hospital. She died days later. A double homicide in the central parking lot.

Yeah...that was fun.

Many of the residents here are clients of the same mental health case management that I use. I was sitting at my computer a few years ago, doing whatever it was I was doing, when I heard the shattering of glass. I looked out my door, and saw that in an apartment across the way, a piece of furniture had broken the window. I dismissed it as someone moving some things around their apartment, and that it was merely an accident. This changed when I heard a loud BANG about a half an hour later. Again, I looked out the door to see what on Earth was going on, and saw a number of cops taking up tactical positions. One of them ordered me back inside, and I quickly locked myself in. Within the hour, I was escorted from my apartment by the SWAT team behind one of those massive riot shields. It turns out that the broken window resulted from a guy off his meds barricading himself in his apartment, and he was armed with a gun.

That was fun, too.

Then there was the shooting on the floor just above mine. Not sure if it was over drugs or what, but a guy came by demanding his money from someone living one floor up and several doors over. Well, whatever happened verbally soon turned to violence, when someone in the apartment fired a few shots at the guy looking for money. Even though the guy ran, he still took a hit...in the neck...and died in the parking lot of the market near the complex.

Not all of the bodies coming out of this place are results of murder. The guy who used to live upstairs and one door over just died from illness. He wasn't that much older than me, and avoided a lot of the necessary medical attention he needed. He went to take a nap one day, and simply died in his sleep.

Aside from murder most foul, this place is declining on a constant basis. I'd been wondering why it was like this for a long time. I mean, new management took over years ago, and this place went from bad to worse, and I just couldn't understand what was happening. I received my answer months ago when I went to the office to ask if I could leave a month early. One of the owners was on site, teaching a new leasing agent the ropes. On the criminal background check they run for potential residents, there is one, and only one reason why they would deny someone the opportunity to live here: a criminal record of sexual offense. Murder, prostitution, drug dealing...those are okay. Sexual offenders? Nope...no place for you here.

Then there's the "care" management gives this place. My apartment is literally coming apart. Does management care? Nope. Their maintenance crews move as slowly as possible, doing as little as possible, avoiding experts whenever they can. My bathroom spent a year with incomplete repairs after the maintenance men spent a day tearing it apart, leaving grease stains all over the walls.

Then there's the "crawl factor." A few weeks ago, my next door neighbor moved out. Well, now her roaches have nothing to eat there, so they're invading my apartment. It's easy access for them, coming in through the pipes and my front door, with its lack of proper weather sealing. Since she moved out, I've had roaches crawling across my computer desk! What does management have to say about this? "Oh, we'll add your apartment to the list to be sprayed." With what, exactly? The same ineffective stuff that's been used since they took over? Honestly, I don't think they come in to lay down poison; I think they spray the apartments with roach food.

And so I have begun going through my possessions, gathering trash to take out. I reached for a pile the other day, and insects SWARMED from all of the papers. It was grotesque and absurd. How did this place get this bad?!?

Well, I'm on the case. The bags I'm packing are being sprayed with an insect killer that is SO strong that I've watched it kill roaches with just a small shot of the stuff. None of my furniture is coming along, and while I'm tempted to sell everything, it's all probably infested. Thus, whatever I can leave behind, I am. What's more, I'm leaving it for management to clear out. I can't lift any of this stuff, and I don't have friends to do it for me. A couple of bags, a few boxes, my computer, and a television set...that's all that's coming with me. The rest they can keep.

As for my security deposit...? Well, I never expected to get that back. The management here is money hungry. Even if there wasn't damage from my occupying this apartment for five years - if I left this place looking brand spanking new - they'd find a way to keep the money.

Speaking of money...September, with any luck at all, will be the last month I have to turn to my friends for help. A new State awaits, with a true friend taking me in, working with me in such a way that I may actually be able to save money! (From my mouth to G-d's ears!) I'm hoping that, when I arrive at my new home, I will stop existing and start LIVING again.

Meanwhile, I'm not going to wait for the last minute to ask for help. I always need it, so it makes little sense in holding off. What's more, I may have an extra expense or three this month, as I'm going to have to make some purchases that are...well, off the charts in terms of expenses. "Golly, Rob...What are you planning on buying that has you so worried?" Medications. Three of my prescriptions can't have refills because they are narcotics. And while I will have a fresh month's supply as I move out, there's no guaranty that I'll have secondary medical insurance within the month I move out of Arizona, nor that I'll find a doctor in that time. To be truly comfortable, I'd want a three-month supply of all my meds, but that's not going to happen. The best I can hope for is two months. So, my friends, I'm going to start asking for help now, and hope that you all remain understanding for just one more month. Then...Well, let us pray that the secondary insurance comes through swiftly, and that I don't need to ask for help in the future.

I...I just can't thank all of you enough. Really. People have been helping me survive for years, and it's astounding that I have such wonderful friends. It's more than the money. Much more. It;s the guy who offers to pick me up at the airport when I'm landing at midnight to get to my dying brother. It's the person who volunteers to drive from TX to AZ to rescue my cat. It's the one who says, "Your family doesn't want you? Well, *I* want you, so you can come live under my roof." It's the one who answers my plea for a working vacuum. For these reasons, I am blessed beyond measure, and thank so many of you all at once for being the most wondrous people on the planet.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goodbye "Once Upon a Time"

As a child...
Each day seemed to last forever.
All the answers...
To mysteries were mine to uncover.
As a child...
I was entertained by simple pleasures.
All the questions...
Were ways to find the hidden treasures.
As a child...
Sheltered by my innocence,
I was searching...
For ways to climb the highest fences.
And the days go by...
Where did the time go?

Goodbye once upon a time!

In the 80's, I discovered a band by the name of Saga. And while I was certainly into many of the other popular bands, and even some of the one-hit-wonders, what I liked about Saga was their penchant for writing about sociological issues. Like the song, "Wind Him Up," which is about "Aldo" and his compulsive gambling. Or "The Flyer," which I interpret as a song about the need to escape stress; what better way to get away than simply leap toward the skies?

In 1985, they released an album entitled "Behavior." (Oh, how I miss that album.) Although the song "(Goodbye) Once Upon a Time" has a rockin' chorus, the lyrics struck me rather hard as being quite melancholy. Life was something very different in my youth. It was truly an adventure, and my imagination was spurred by comic books.

People look at me a little funny when I say, "I used to be able to fly." I don't mean it literally, of course. It's just that when I'd close my eyes and imagine I could fly, I could clearly see myself lifting off the ground, the Earth spinning away as I headed toward the clouds...and it was so vivid that my fear of heights would kick in, and my heart would start to pound. And so it was that, once upon a time, I would tell myself that I could fly, and this was my way of reminding myself that my imagination could take me anywhere. It was my "ability to fly" that helped me to escape the less-than-happy home I was reared in.

Such thoughts made me a misfit. As a misfit, my taste in comic books veered toward the X-Men, who were an entire group of "undesirables"...like me. And like the members of that group, no one knew of the superhero in their midst as I walked through the mall...or biked through the neighborhood...or wandered the halls in school. I had to keep those powers in check all the time, you know. Sure, I could slice those bullies up in high school with the claws hidden in my arms, or knock them through walls after I'd turned myself into "nigh invulnerable organic steel." And they'd be sure to wet their pants if I pulled the cord on my back harness and spread my wings wide. "Let's see how you like it when I drop you from 1,000 feet."

So...take a kid with a wild imagination, fed by the extraordinary tales in comic books, and an unhappy home...and you get some truly mixed up thoughts. When I was dragged to temple by my parents, I would often ask G-d for abilities one could only find in the comics. Obviously, what I needed was a genie, because G-d wasn't answering those prayers. I reasoned that He wouldn't do anything of the sort because of those occasional thoughts of dropping bullies from 1,000 feet.

Yeah...I was pretty messed up.

And yet amongst the bizarre thoughts coursing through my head, there was a "hero's code" in my mind; no matter the circumstances, one should always do their best to do the right thing. It was truly a fight to develop such thinking, especially when I was surrounded by bigotry. There were essentially two crimes a person could commit socially in my home. The first was not being Caucasian. The second was not being Jewish. Once upon a time, all my father would talk about was me finding "a nice Jewish girl" to marry and have a dozen kids with her. Thankfully, that kind of thought fell by the wayside...but the bigotry was still there. A drive home from work usually had my father saying the most hateful things about other drivers around him. Someone would cut him off, or be driving too slow, or some other thing he deemed bothersome on the road, and the comments would fly. "Oh, that figures. It's a (woman/nigger/Puerto Rican)." As the decades passed, Dad learned to either generate a new way of thinking or, at the very least, to keep his mouth shut.

Despite such social lessons from my family, I prided myself on never quite learning them. My prejudices only kicked in when I was faced with a stereotype. They still do, unfortunately. I don't like myself very much when such thoughts cross my mind, and even less when I vocalize them. And last night...I strapped some homemade pipe bombs to "once upon a time," lit all the fuses, and held the whole thing tightly to my chest.

There are these street vendors who travel to the apartment complexes in the area, selling food on specially designed cycles/carts to hold their wares. It made the news at one point that a majority of these vendors are unlicensed and unsanitary, essentially selling bacteria-laden food. What's more, ours is a gated community, and so they shouldn't be in here unless they are a guest of someone or they have a gate key. Once they're here, they ring bells or honk horns for the entire 20 to 30 minutes they're here, thinking that more noise will bring more customers.

For the last three nights, I have been confronting this one vendor, telling him to get off the property. "You are trespassing. You are unlicensed. You are disturbing MY peace." And he smiles, nods, and says, "Okay," over and over again. In my head, the unwanted thought comes, Oh, great! He's Mexican and doesn't understand a word of English. Last night, I was so enraged that I actually tried to physically remove his cart out of the gated area, and actually hurt myself rather badly trying to do so. When I brought it to the attention of an apartment complex staff member that this guy needs to be escorted off property...Well, now I was confronted by yet another Mexican, who promptly told me to shove it.

I held it together until I got inside my apartment, and then I completely lost my mind. A steady stream of hatred flew from my mouth as I shook with rage.

Overly emotional...Exerting myself physically beyond my capacities...All because of some idiot who can't speak a word of English and keeps honking a damned horn. So much for not learning the lessons of my parents. So much for the "hero's code." So much for "once upon a time."

I awoke at 5:00 AM, after getting to sleep after 1:00 AM. My entire body hurt. I am still filled with unresolved anger, and I know, without doubt, that if I take it to management, they won't do a thing about it. I'm spoiling for a fight that I know I have no chance of winning. And vengeful thoughts keep running through my head as to what I should do to get back at those who have done me a disservice.

The closest thing to making the fight legal...? Prorating my last month's rent for all that management hasn't done. Walk in on the first and say, "I'm discounting my last month's rent by $10 a day for everything this property advertises, yet hasn't made available to me since new management took over. That's $10 for each day the pool was green with bacteria. That's $10 a day for the courtesy patrol that isn't here through the night. That's $10 a day the dry sauna that hasn't been open. That's $10 a day the fitness center that hasn't even existed. The total I'm coming up with, at this moment, is $33,750.00, with a calculation of 30 days of the year for the pool being closed due to murky green waters. Taking out my rent, you owe me $33,286.00. You can pay me with a cashier's check, or I can give the FTC another shove about the class action lawsuit they're building against you. And be glad I'm not charging you for the violent tenants you allow to rent here. The psychological damage done to me for all the murders here would have a nightmarish price tag for you; and the scariest thing about this place is telling a friend that I can't wait to move out because I'm tired of all the murders here on property." (A body was found lying just outside one of the gates just a few weeks ago. Nice, huh?)

It's actually somewhat amusing that several months ago, one of the owners handed me, in person, several slips of paper, telling me that if I recommended people to live here, I would get a whopping $100 off my rent for a month. I walked out of the office, muttering, "I wouldn't recommend this hell-hole to people I hate. I mean, what would be my best selling point? 'You might get lucky and end up with a mail box that isn't encrusted with bird droppings, and/or hasn't been broken into.'"

The good news behind all of this ranting is that I don't often unleash my hatred. I try as hard as possible to care about my fellow human beings, and keep the unkind words to myself whenever I can. But those times that are sung about by Saga...as a child...as a young man...those days are long gone, now.

As a young man...
My life's gone through so many changes.
All the dragons...
I thought I'd slain became my frustrations.
As a young man...
I've come to meet my childhood's end.
All the answers...
Have since convinced me, I should stop pretending
As a young man...
Finally I've realized,
I've been dreaming...
Living with my past disguises.
Where did the time go?

Goodbye once upon a time!

Oh...Would "Ken" please send me a PM on GitP? I can't remember eaxctly which blessedly helpful soul you are. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Hindsight is 20/20."

After hearing this phrase once, I adopted it. It's an axiom. Once one is given the chance to look back and view the facts as they are, one's perspective tends to change completely.

I built up the call to my father as one of the most traumatic things to happen to me in recent months. This was going to be another one of those blowouts, and I was so fearful of calling that I ran to GitP to ask for advice on how to accomplish the deed. I even took certain events, or lack thereof, as signs that things were as bad as I imagined them. I mean, Dad has been sending me $50 each month for my prescription co-pays. That money was always set aside, waiting for each doctor's visit so I could pay for whatever the doctor tells me to get. When that money didn't arrive this month, I figured it into the drama that had unfolded with my brother, as well as imagining that my father was "punishing" me for having fought with him last month.

No...Dad didn't send it because of a chronic problem that he has with his legs. Although he is not a diabetic, he develops sores on his legs, and they get infected easily. This requires powerful antibiotics, and his insurance doesn't cover a large part of the cost. It's hard to believe that ONE medication would cost $1,500...but it does. So Dad wasn't able to help me out this month, leaving me in a position, once again, where I'm crying out for just a little more help to see my through until the 3rd of Sept.

The new that I wouldn't be moving to TN didn't seem to be a surprise to my father in any way. Yes, he was disappointed, but I have a sense that he knew it wasn't going to happen. He may not be able to understand me and my illnesses, but he does have some insight into his sons. My thought now is that my father knew Stu or I was going to screw this whole thing up.

If I turned out to be the guilty party, my father would chalk it up to my being emotionally frail, and that one outburst or another would have offended Stu so much that my brother would declare the move a bad idea. He would make excuses as to why his son shouldn't be exposed to someone who's mentally ill, and that would be that.

If Stu screwed it up, as he did, it would be because Stu is emotionally detached from the world around him, and that some part of him never grew up. Thus, word that Stu threw a fit when I tried to discuss my rent was no shock. If anything, while talking to my step-mom, she was surprised that Stu had been increasing the fees that I would have to pay to live under my brother's roof. It would seem that everyone, with the exception of Stu and Nikki, was more than satisfied with $350 as the price of my rent. It would, and should, have covered all expenses I might have generated, and then some. But I think Stu saw an opportunity to maybe squeeze some extra from me so there could be more "toys" in the house, and that wasn't going to work at all for a man who is on a fixed income.

And so I now move forward with my plans to move in with Siege. I have been locked into a plan of complete inaction until I was able to see how things would pan out with my familial relations. In just over 30 days, I'm out of here, and that means it's time to start busting my butt to get my place packed up and ready to go. It's not going to be easy. Speed, Strength, and Agility haven't been my friends for years now. Alas, there's work to be done, so don't be shocked if there are periods where I say very little anywhere at all, since I may either be working hard to get myself ready to go, or recovering from getting myself ready to go.

In other news, the biopsy results are in. A one-time diagnosis is not something I can give out in its medical terminology, but suffice to say that the two bumps were very un-mole-like moles, and can, indeed, become very painful. As expected, they are benign. It would also appear that Dr. M, while not removing all of the sites, removed a majority of them, allowing them to heal without being as painful as they were prior to the biopsies. The holes now in my upper arm are a still a bit sore, but nowhere near so painful that I'm crying myself to sleep at night. I can even go to sleep while lying on them, with only the smallest note in my mind that they are bothersome, but so very far from tear-inspiring.

There is one aspect that's bothering me to some extent, and that's my ability to respond to people on GitP. Be it a private message or on the Depression Thread, I find that by the time I'm on the site and reading what's in front of me, I am so tired that I can't write what I deem a reasonable response. The exhaustion was coming from the stress of the phone call I was imagining would be a new-found nightmare. Today, I find myself exhausted by the fact that I am recovering from my unwarranted worries. As I move forward with my plans to move in with Siege, I fear future exhaustion will come from me exerting myself in ways that I haven't done in years. These stresses aren't imagined. My blood pressure exemplified what's going on in my head, at 144 over 88. (A little high, but certainly nothing worth panicking over.) The stress of this month has also caused a surprise weight gain; I haven't been eating any more or less, and have been no more or less active...yet I weighed in today at 197.4 lbs.

So...if it seems that I'm slipping away from my friends...that I'm ignoring anyone, or it appears that I'm uncaring, that is NOT the case. It's time for me to shove aside the stress, get my tuchas in gear, and be ready to vacate this nightmare apartment complex come the end of next month. Try to stay tuned here, my friends, as this will be the first place I come to announce anything of grand importance. Oh, I'll try to stay on top of things at GitP, but I can't make a promise like that...not when I have so much that needs to be accomplished in what now seems to be a very short time.

BE WELL!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shock of all shocks!

Having screwed up the plan to call my father yesterday, the call HAD TO happen today. And when I called the house number, my beloved step-mom answered. (Insert a sigh of relief and a wipe of the brow.)

Let us start with the fact that they had no idea the plans to move to my brother's place had fallen through. I was so sure that Stu would have unloaded on my Dad, but they hadn't heard from Stu since he started his new job. All of these weeks, believing I'd been abandoned by family, and it all managed to to come down to a lack of information and my own compounded fears.

I marveled at the fact that telling the story of the blowout with Stu was much faster to tell verbally than writing it out, and this was with my step-mom frequently interrupting with various questions. I mean, when she heard that my plans to move to TN had fallen through, she was entering panic mode. "What are you going to do? You have nowhere to go! Maybe you should just get an apartment in Tennessee so you'll have family nearby?"

"No," I said. "Stu has already shown that he was not so much interested in me as he was my money. I can fully understand the need to pay rent, when I tried to discuss a rent reduction, he lost his mind and demonstrated that I wasn't nearly as welcome there as my money was. Besides...Attempting to move into a new place when I don't have the money for deposits, and fees for background checks, and furnishing the place...No, a move to TN isn't possible at all."

Then I raved about the wonder that is Siege. "No, this isn't a passing acquaintance from online. This is a friend whom I've known for some time, and we have shared a great deal of personal information. We share an understanding of that whole 'mental illness' thing, as he has his own issues. What's more, after a phone call with my friend, I come away with a great sense of caring...something I didn't get when I'd talk to Stu.

"And in terms of finances, from my mouth to G-d's ears, I will finally be able to save up some money of my own. And should it not work out for whatever reason, I will be able to find my own place, and still have a friend locally who actually gives a damn."

Amongst her usual dialogue of intense worry about me, she did say something that gave affirmation to something I'd been saying since the move to TN fell apart. She said, "Well, better that this should all happen now, before you moved, rather than have it happen once you were there."

Ain't that the truth!

After talking to my step-mom for some time, my father got on the phone, and I briefly explained that things had fallen through with Stu. "Dad...I...Well, when Stu and I were working out the details of the move, I was a 'yes-man.' For some time, as Stu piled on this and that aspect, I simply agreed. And when I asked - as kindly as I possibly could - about a rent reduction, Stu lost his mind. There was no talking to him then, and he has made no effort to try and patch things up."

I could hear the disappointment in my father's voice. "Well, that's now in the past, and at least you have plans to go somewhere."

Honestly, though...It was a startlingly smoother conversation than I imagined, and I was able to give them a general idea as to where I was going. No address. No phone number. Those remain variables. But at least I was able to communicate with them without being shot down, which was an enormous relief. (Looks like I took that extra 0.5 mg of Xanax for nothing.)

As much as I could get it, I have received my parents' blessing to move in with Siege. They are pleased that this isn't just a snap decision. As you folks can see, a lot of thought is going into this whole thing, and from my discussion with them, my parents can see I'm not blindly charging forward into G-d knows what. In fact, I stressed that I am moving into a place that I will likely be able to call "home," and not merely "some house." =)

***************************

In other news, those diabetic shoes I was going to pick up today...? I've decided to hold off until tomorrow, when I also have a doctor's appointment. Two expeditions in two days can be taxing on me, so saving it all for one day is probably for the best.

On the finance front, I received the blessing of $175 from the combined efforts of two friends this month...but some of that money went right back out, as I'd vowed to help Arguskos with his immediate woes. This has left me with $26.54 in my bank account. So...ummm...HEEEEEELP! Please? Just a wee bit more this month, and my usual cries for aid next month...and then I should be moving into a haven where I'll be able to handle my finances with greater ease.

And now, my friends...that extra dose of Xanax, which eventually had no stress to handle, is kicking my butt. I'm going to lie down for a bit...and hopefully not for another seven hour nap.

Be well, my dear, dear friends! =)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

All for naught...

Shortly after my last post, I was hit by a wave of exhaustion. And so I decided to lay down for a short nap. There was still plenty of time to make my call.

I awoke after 8:00 PM, 11:00 PM on the east coast, and too late to call.

Thank you, brain, for defending me against that which was causing me such anxiety. But this wasn't an option; it was something I had to do, and now my sleep schedule is screwed. I have to be operational tomorrow, as I'm getting a ride from my case manager to pick up my brand spankin' new diabetic shoes. So...y'know...thanks again...but you really messed things up.

There was no call. I'm now rather ticked at being enfeebled as I am. And I'm off to attempt to let off some steam and pray I can get back to sleep.

The anxiety builds...

Yes, a second post on the same day, just to unveil the thoughts running through my head...again.

I spoke for a while with my friend Julie yesterday. We haven't seen each other in ages, and we are incredibly close. One of the things we do best, besides proclaim our perpetual love for one another as the dearest of friends, is worry about each other. I worry about her, and she worries about me. An ongoing joke between us is what will be written on her tombstone in the future. "Here lies Julie. She worried."

And, of course, she is incredibly upset about my moving in with Siege. "This is just some person you know from the Internet. You have no real idea what your life is going to become when you move there. In fact, you tell this person that if they hurt you in ANY way, I will drive all the way [to where you're moving] and kill him."

This received two responses. First, there was the lengthy description of Siege, and Siege's apparently concern for my well-being. "It's a Playgrounder" isn't enough for Julie, and so I covered some of the details as to what we've discussed. The radical difference is that Siege is more concerned for those things I deem important, and not twisting my arm with a fee for this, and a fee for that. When I say I need to establish medical care, Siege is searching the area for doctors I'll be needing. When the same things were brought up with Stu, his frame of mind was, "Whatever, Rob. First we have to do this, that, and the other thing, and work out how much you'll have to pay for all these things."

Again, I'm astounded by people's ideas of what's important. In the past, when I've had to fly somewhere, my carry-on bag has my medications and usually a couple of changes of clothes. The latter is not even important to me; it's just a convenience in case my checked bags find an alternative destination. And I tell people, "I can travel to Florida, and my bags end up in Hong Kong forever...as long as I have my insulin, I'm okay." The rest of it is "just stuff," and easily replaced with a little money. But try walking into a pharmacy and just saying, "Yeah, I'm a diabetic and need syringes," and see what kind of response you get.

Well, Julie was as understanding as she could be with my explanation, and she definitely thought it sounded infinitely better than what was brewing with my brother. But then I poked fun at her "threat," reminding her of what I said about the guy with whom she's living. I believe he's ex-special ops for the marines, or something like that, and so I said, "The same applies to Joe. If he hurts you, I will travel to New York and beat the crap out of fist with my face!"

The thing is, I don't want to paint this move to Siege's place in the colors of gloom and doom. I'm hoping the move will only require a few days, maybe a week, of recovery, and then there will be a lot of activity for a month as I settle in. Following that, I will be the kind, considerate housemate anyone would hope for. No, at this time, I can't do much...but then I remain unmotivated to work very hard, even for myself. Perhaps...hopefully...I will be filled with a sense of gratitude that kicks my life back into gear. I'm talking about enough activity in my life where my hands and feet can handle doing chores. (I scribbled a note to a friend yesterday, and my hand started cramping by mid-note because I was holding a pen. How pathetic is that?)

Meanwhile, the call to my father looms closer. I'm going to wait for this evening, when it's close to 7:00 or 8:00 PM on the east coast. I don't want to hear some nonsense like, "Oh, I was going to call you later." I'll give him the whole day, and then he won't have the chance to feed me a line.

Most disturbing is that I'm already on the defensive. It's those imaginary conversations we all tend to have at one time or another. You get ideas as to what you're going to say, and you THINK you know the other party so well that you dream up their responses. Responses that conveniently fit everything we think of saying. Have you done that before? How well did it work out?

I'm still doing it, no matter how many times I've engaged in that exercise and seen it work out in all the wrong ways. Like that girl in college I had a crush on. She had a boyfriend, and so we were just friendly enough so that I knew where she lived. When she and the boyfriend broke up, I saw my chance! It was to go like this: I buy a single red rose. I leave it on her car with a small, anonymous note. Then, on the very next day, just before class, I would ask if she got the rose and if she was interested in going on a date. How could she possibly say no? I mean, it contained a little romance, a little mystery, and I thought that she might like me, if only just a bit. In my head, a nice little romance was blooming as I tucked the wrapped rose under the windshield wiper on her car.

The next day arrived, and when I saw her, we had the following conversation:

Me: So...Did you get the rose?
Her: Oh my G-d, yes! It was so sweet!
Me: Great! So does that mean you'd be willing to go out on a date with me?
Her: Wait...The rose was from you?
Me: Ummm...Yes.
Her: Oh. I, uhhh...I thought it was from my ex, wanting to get back together. I called him up right away and we talked, and we're dating again.
Me: So the rose he didn't leave got you two back together?
Her: Yes. We talked for hours, and worked everything out, and...I'm so sorry, but...well, you didn't sign your name, so the only person I could think of leaving it was him.
Me: Yeah...I guess I don't make a very good secret admirer.

So much for her swooning and falling into my arms to deliver a tender kiss.

The thing that's happening in my head now is my explaining to my father what was happening between Stu and I, and how my trust in the whole situation has been crushed. I would need a powerful show of faith on my brother's part, and when I try to make it clear that my brother would only have to OFFER me a rent-free home, my father will explode, telling me that that's the most unreasonable thing in the known universe. Of course I intend to pay rent. No one rides for free. But then the rent I'm willing to pay is less than what my brother actually wants, and so it would never work out anyway. If he wants that $350 each month, it will have to include all the fees he was adding. I absolutely refuse to pay more.

Why have I become so stubborn on this issue? Because I was willingly bending previously to my brother's every whim. I was ready to follow the growing list of rules, including the most disturbing, "No complaining allowed." And when he first started tacking on the first few fees, I was like a willow in the wind, just moving along with the establishing atmosphere. "Yes, Stu." "Okay, Stu." "Whatever you say, Stu." The more I agreed, the more he pushed. And then, when I cautiously approached him with a request to lower my rent, he threw a fit. Honestly, it was an incredibly childish response to what I deemed a reasonable request. And it was a REQUEST! I wasn't even making a demand. I was just asking him to talk it over with his wife...and he shouted, "THEN JUST FORGET THE WHOLE THING!"...and he hung up.

What, pray tell, would it have been like if such an event occurred once I was under his roof? Where would I have gone? What would I have done? No...It would take a miracle to get me there now, and my brother isn't one to provide many miracles. My father lacks the emotional depth to grasp much of what goes through my mind.

And the worst of it...? There's a good chance that the conversation with my father will bring me to tears. It's one of the symptoms of my depression, where the pushing of a few mental buttons turns on the waterworks. My father doesn't understand this. Thus, his most common response to me trying to hold back a crying fit: "Oh, don't give me the tears!"

I can only pray we have a calm conversations...but I'm already wound tight, and I have a feeling it's going to be a very upsetting evening for me.

Waiting for sleep

There will probably be another post much later today, depending on the level of damage done during the call that's coming. I'll be trying to reach my father during the daylight hours, and I'm already planning to be thoroughly medicated when I dial the phone.

I'm not going to let it happen again. I'm not going to set myself up for an argument, where my father goes on the attack, I land in a defensive position, and I end up having to hang up because of a massive panic attack. I honestly don't KNOW what's been going on at his end of the world. For all I know, he hasn't spoken to my brother...although I have a feeling that after over two weeks, Stu has made a call, or Dad called him. I've probably been demonized, and labeled a fool for having destroyed what was "an excellent deal." Uh huh. For Stu, maybe. Squeezing me for what money he could was very good for things like his satellite television service. It's astounding how many people must have their luxuries, while their needs get overlooked.

You know, that used to be a little trick of mine when I was a debt collector. I would be on the phone with someone past due on their car payment, and I'd be trying to make suggestions as to how they could live within their means. I never asked if they had cable service; I'd simply ask, "How much is your cable bill?" Everyone would then quote a price to me, never realizing that they had now set themselves up. "Okay...now let me ask you...What's more important: your car, or your cable? If the answer is your cable, you risk the possibility of your car being repossessed, and that's not anything any of us want."

I went to GitP this week and created a thread, asking for advice on how to face this situation with my family. I freely admit that I'm in a bad head-space when it comes to facing this whole thing. What stunned me most was how many people seem to feel that I should do unto others as has been done to me. "They ditched you? Ditch them right back!" But that's not how I operate. One should always work toward treating others as you want to be treated. As long as my head has been operating properly, I have treated my family with the love and respect they should have. Unfortunately, they have not reciprocated.

But I am tempted to give them a taste of their behavior by way of questions. "Dad...How would you feel if I told you, now that you're in your golden years and suffering so many medical issues, if I told you to simply get over them and get a job? What if I made you feel worthless for forgetting vital information, like the name of a diagnosis you've received, or a treatment you're about to undergo? How would you feel if I made a commitment to send you financial aid each month, and then didn't without so much as a call to explain why the money didn't arrive? (Not that I'm a position to do anything of the sort.) What if you spent more than a year asking to visit me, and I continuously put off the idea, only to have you find out that other relatives were welcome whenever they could make it?" Ask calmy...slowly...and give him a little time to think.

However I handle the call, time is running out. I set a deadline for the end of the month, which is next weekend. But I have a sense that no one is going to call. They don't want to face "the equation with all of the variables that they can't solve." And so it falls to me...and Xanax. Because if you think I'm calling without my anti-anxiety meds on board, you got another think coming.

And so I wait for sleep to come. I'm going to need the rest. And yet my stress levels are off the scale.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

That night with Danielle...

...was so long ago. No, it wasn't that kind of night. We were both in the hospital, me for diabetes, and her for leukemia. I'd spoken to her several times before, but...Well, the old adolescent ward at Long Island Jewish Hospital had two private rooms at the end of a long hall. They were known by the patients as "the Death Rooms," probably because it seemed that anyone seriously ill who required privacy tended to die.

It was my last night of a two week stay. I'd screwed up pretty good and I'd landed in the ICU. Once I was well enough, I was moved to the ward I was accustomed to, and went about my usual mayhem. I was actually in a four-person room, and I had two roommates who were a bad influence on me. They would roam the halls in wheelchairs they didn't need, popping wheelies, and often pulling pranks on the nurses.

I honestly don't remember how it came to be, but I wandered down the hall to visit Danielle, whom I'd known from other visits. It was rather late, and visiting hours had ended, and so she was alone, lying in bed, watching TV, when I came along to ask if she wanted some company. We ended up chatting for two hours.

There is no word-for-word dialogue to be given. I simply don't recall everything we discussed. But Danielle shared a lot with me...She had some grand dreams for her future. One of them was to go mountain climbing, which I thought was a scary prospect. I'd climbed a mountain several years before...kinda. And I vaguely remember telling her about how I'd been at a camp for diabetics, and a trip had been planned to follow a mountain trail to the top...how I'd misplaced my sneakers, and ended up climbing the trail in loafers...how half-way up the trail, I, along with about 12 others, all experienced a blood sugar drop at the same time...how we saw eagles gliding around when we reached the top of this rather small mountain, and that these majestic birds left many of us in awe.

Danielle's plans were bigger than that. I think her mind was cast across the ocean, at much higher peaks in Europe. And that was another part of our talk. Her dreams had her traveling around the globe, visiting as many grand sights as she could take in.

In the very first month of this blog, I spoke of Denise, a young woman with cancer whom I'd asked out on a date. (See my 28 June 2008 post, "Open mouth...") Well, it was that night with Danielle where I was taught about the difference between being an illness and being a person with an illness. She was so strong! By that, I mean that she was able to convey this important message, which I have perpetually fought to get lodged in my head. I am not just a diabetic; I am a person with diabetes. And Danielle was a powerful presence in that she made it clear that she was a young woman with leukemia, and not simply the disease alone. What astounded us both was that doctor's had the bad habit of seeing us only as the diseases they'd read about during their lengthy education. It was up to patients like us to make it clear to the professionals that every single patient is different, and that we can't all be treated the same way.

Danielle was an amazing person. I don't know if anyone else has ever met "a beautiful soul," but she was just that. I am ultimately grateful that I knew her, if only briefly, for only the few times I ever saw her in the hospital. We were never close enough to be friends outside the adolescent ward, but I know that I was blessed to have had my short moments with her, especially that night.

Why was that one night so important? Well, as the years have passed, I think it was a time when a divine message was being given to me. I didn't actually "get the memo" until many, many years later, but I believe some other power - something beyond this mortal realm - was trying to get a lesson through my thick skull. The will of G-d doesn't necessarily come through an ancient text where He supposedly spoke to Prophets. Whatever divine power you believe in, it's not always about your religious practices. I firmly believe that whatever powers that exist to watch over our souls communicate with us via moments in our lives, and that night with Danielle was one of them for me. And it's so hard to communicate what those moments are like; they are surreal, almost like scenes from a movie that you suddenly find yourself living inside the film.

Like I said...VERY difficult to explain. One is blessed if they can look back and see those moments for what they truly are, and one is exceptionally blessed to be aware of those moments at the time they are happening. I, myself, will take the blessings as they come, even if they are in mere hindsight.

I was discharged early the next day, and called another patient I'd befriended while I was there. I asked about Danielle, and was told that she passed on around mid-afternoon. I was one of the last people to sit down and talk with her at length about anything.

Sad though it is, I am glad for my brief time with her, even if she was only a passing acquaintance. In retrospect, I think she knew the end was coming, and she was trying to impart something very important to me. Another thing I have come to believe is that the dying can see things "healthy" people can't. They see something beautiful coming their way, and they express it as best they can to those who spend time with them in their last moments. My friend Sandra clearly requested that she not be buried in the ground. My brother Michael, a mere five years old, made it clear to those around him that were trying to save his life that the fight was over. And Danielle...well, I think she saw adventure in the afterlife. Heaven for her would be an extension of life, traveling and climbing that mountain she dreamed of in her future. Though I have no definite idea of where our souls go, I pray Danielle found all her adventures, and happiness, on the other side.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Attention, people of Earth!

The destruction of your planet will begin in three of your Earth days!

No, wait...that wasn't what I wanted to post at all.

I have mentioned the biopsy sites and the fact that they hurt beyond reason. Both sites are now swollen and an angry red. I suspect that tonight, as has been true for the last few nights, I won't sleep very well. The reason being that when the sites make contact with ANYTHING, I want to cry. Now imagine what happens when I roll over onto them while I'm asleep.

Tomorrow, I will be calling my doctor and asking that I see someone immediately. If they make the idiotic claim that "they're too busy," I plan on heading for an emergency room. My concern: the pain management. As you all know, I take painkillers that are stronger than 10 men. They are barely helping me endure this pain. What I WANT is a local anesthetic to numb the area. Alas, as far as I know, the only way to receive that is by way of a medical professional. It's not something I can do on my own, no matter how many insulin injections I've taken over the years. The concern is the drugs, which can be toxic if used incorrectly.

Hospitalization might also be necessary to simply remove the sites. I have no idea what the biopsies may have revealed, but my doc may send me to the hospital to have them surgically removed immediately, especially when I'm in such pain from them. Probably nothing too involved. They shouldn't be that deep, provided the infection hasn't created a problem. It can probably be done with some sedation and a local, then extract the areas. And to be honest, that's exactly what I HOPE they do, just so I can be done with them. Keep me in the hospital a few days for IV antibiotics, and let me move on from what should have been a simply procedure, only to have it turn into yet another medical drama.

And that, my friends, is the reason for this post. I wanted to say something on the chance that I seem to vanish. I recognize the fact that I need care, and I'm going to press for it tomorrow.

Of course, knowing my luck, I'll be back home tomorrow with little in the way of relief, and I'll be blogging with a rant about that. Here's hoping I get the help I need.

Oh...Before I go, aid is still needed. A little extra was sent my one of my "regular helpers," but I have vowed to send help to a dear friend who is also suffering financial woes. (Family was to send him his monthly "living allowance," and a lot less arrived than expected.) Consider me the distribution point for helping others. And if I received "absurd" amounts of money, I'd be helping even MORE people. But I won't be pushing my luck.

All this typing...I'm off to bed so I can moan and whimper to my empty apartment, and hope that I can get some sleep tonight. Be well, all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A stronger plea...

Okay...I need to keep this short because of this damnable arm/shoulder.

I have made my monthly plea, but it has come to my attention that I have friends that are in trouble. (Yes, I know it's not my fault. Hush!) I owe these two people a miracle or two, if it can be spared, and I happen to have their personal contact info. So to those who can give, I'm asking for even MORE than usual. My goal is to get each of these people around $100 each. So...my please...and their needs...Well, I don't want to toss a total out there. And my capacity to help them depends upon how much comes my way. Usually, I only land just enough to get me through the month, but I'm sincerely hoping more than that will land in my lap so I can do good deeds for those who've done good deeds for me in the past.

And to those two...I can't promise you the help...but you can be danged sure I'm gonna try. And none of that nonsense about having too much pride. When people are debating what food they can skip to survive, there's no room for pride.

Please, my friends...Help me, and then help me help others. Please?

Be well. =)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

*Someone throws the first punch*

Siege and I have been in regular contact about my move into his place. It's turning into a possible "nice guy fight."

No joke...When Arguskos was here, we had one of those, which was very amusing. The plan, before he and his friend arrived, was to order out for pizza. Unfortunately, his friend started suffering from allergies that could have come from any number of things in my apartment. It could have been the mold hiding in the walls, the Lysol I'd sprayed before they got here, or the insane layers of dust that will fill any residence in AZ, simply because, as a desert, that's the main product made here. So we had a brief debate as to where we should have lunch.

Me: Really...You're the guests. It's up to you guys.
Argus: Maybe...but we're treating you to lunch, so pick where you want to go.
Me: Oh, you don't have to treat me to lunch. I can pay my own way.
Argus: No, really. We want to treat you.
Me: Okay...But it really doesn't matter where we go. I can find something to eat wherever we go.
Argus: We insist that you choose.
Me: No, I insist that you choose.
Argus: No, YOU choose.
Me: No, YOU!
Argus: NO, YOU!

*someone throws the first punch*

Just kidding, of course. So we went to Wendy's, where his friend got on line to place the orders.

Me: Are you sure I shouldn't give a little money toward the order?
Argus: No, he's got it.
Me: Yeah, but you had to juggle the finances to make this trip. I feel bad that someone is shelling out money when they don't have much themselves.
Argus: Rob, we got it.
Me: You sure?
Argus: Yes, we're sure.
Me: Because I'm willing to help.
Argus: Would you stop, already?

*someone throws the first punch*

And then there was the purchase of...a box. Really, it had to be the most expensive empty box ever. I'd always thought it would only be a couple of dollars, maybe $3 at the most. But the cardboard animal carrier we got for Nike, (because she'd chewed off the edges of the old one and made it an iffy affair), cost $8.99 plus tax! Arguskos tried to run his debit card, and it was rejected. I believe he said it was the card that was the problem, not his account. Still, it meant opening up his wallet for cash. He did so, pulling out the $20 I'd given for gas.

Me: Look, you shouldn't be spending almost half the gas money I gave you on this. Let me help.
Argus: No, I got this.
Me: No, this time I insist.
Argus: Are you sure?
Me: No...It's why I offered and insisted.
Argus: It's just that you don't have a lot of money, Rob.
Me: Neither do you, so shut up.

*no one throws the first punch*

I find it somewhat amusing, the thought that the police would arrive to find two guys bruised and bleeding, and asking what happened. "He said I was a nice guy, and I insisted he was a nice guy. We came to blows to prove who was nicer." Then the two of us, continuing our fight to be nice, will refuse to press charges against the other, leaving the cops with one really weird tale to tell back at the station.

As a side note, Arguskos said something that has stuck with me...a kind of validation of my physical issues. After showing him my feet, he said, "To be honest, I'm amazed you can walk at all." It's an important statement for me, because my family seems to be intent on convincing me that I'm not nearly as disabled as I've been told by professionals. I also pointed out the portions of my hands that clearly show the atrophied muscles. Argus was stunned when he finally got to see some of what I'd been talking about online for some time.

So...Family and "nice guy fights." This is what opened a recent e-mail from Siege:

Re: your family: I certainly do not want you to cut off association with them if you can avoid it. Bad blood is a terrible thing to carry. By all means, keep communication with them if you can. The last thing I want is for you to do something you regret.

I don't want to do something I'll regret, either. Which is why I'm giving them weeks to fix what's broken. I suppose I could try, but I have been trying for YEARS to help them understand that I have problems. Not imagined problems...REAL problems. I have made almost every effort I can, just shy of getting copies of my medical records and throwing them at my family members. "Look...This large file is a lengthy list of all that's wrong with me, as confirmed by various doctors. Stop trying to tell me I'm not disabled. If I wasn't, the United States government would not be sending me a monthly check, and I certainly would not choose to live BENEATH poverty level." I've been at it for years, and I'm tired of trying to explain neuropathy, retinopathy, Charcot's joint, severe recurring depression, PTSD, diabetic gum disease, and anything else that just happens to come along that's complicated by diabetes.

The more people I tell, the more they are stunned at what was happening to my supposed move to TN. Indeed, the only side people are getting is mine. My brother might have a very different tale to tell. The thing is that I was told my rent would be one very specific number...a number I was more than willing to accept. That number was $350, and at the start it was all there was to be in terms of what I'd have to shell out. What I think happened inside my brother's head was the thought, Well, he willingly pays out $464 for rent right now. I can probably start adding various charges until I hit somewhere around that number, and he'll accept it because he's already doing that. He'll also be able to eat whatever he wants, and we won't be charging him extra for electricity. And he offered to watch my son from time to time, so I'm sure he'll enjoy the fact that that'll be his job here.

WRONG! The number was $350. That's it. I offered to watch my nephew, not become a nanny. If the latter was the case, I would charge my brother for the service. And since I'd be living there, with a degree of freedom within his house, I would give him a discounted rate of a mere $200 a month, because $5 an hour to watch his kid would become an outrageous amount of money. And to push a cell phone on me that I didn't want...That was becoming an issue unto itself, as I told my brother that the cell phone would stay in the house. (I never got to the part where I feared losing it somewhere.) The thing is that I don't believe myself important enough to be reached at any time, wherever I am. In order to get me the phone I didn't want, he would have to upgrade his account. And who had to pay for that upgrade? Me. Then he wants to get me a new bed, trying what he can to get out of relying on Goodwill or the Salvation Army. More money out of my pocket. Then came the debate of shipping my computer, which could, in his eyes, be resolved by simply getting a new computer...With what money?!? "Oh, I'll just use my Best Buy card, and you can pay me back." I can?!?

I my mind, very different things were happening. Okay...once I'm in TN, I need to get to their version of the Welfare Office so I can apply for benefits. Of all the services I'll apply for, what I absolutely need to get is that extra medical coverage. Food stamps and cash benefits are not a need. As soon as I have that, I need to find a PCP, and have him or her get copies of my medical records. Then I need to get in touch with Arguskos, because I'm going to need the serenity that Nike adds to my life...BIG TIME! The people in that house wouldn't know a *good* emotion if it bit them on the ass. Then, maybe...just maybe...I can sit back and relax for a bit, hopefully without any new medical disasters.

Bad blood? Sorry, Siege, but it would seem that that's all my family has tried to create when it comes to me. They have skewed priorities, mostly in that money is a greater concern than my well-being. (I mean, of all the plans my brother was making, a run to the Welfare office wasn't even part of them!) They are the ones that have been throwing gasoline on the bridges and then playing with matches. Everything with my brother was, "Money, money, money." When asked how he might deal with the possibility of me losing a foot or leg to diabetes complications, his very first thought was that he couldn't afford to put a lift in the house for me, when I was asking about his emotional response. He admitted that he wouldn't have one; it was very much a "[stuff] happens" kind of attitude.

I am at my wits end when it comes to dealing with my family, and their reactions to the fact that I'm disabled. "Caring" isn't part of their vocabulary. Okay...not 100% true. They care in their ultimately twisted way, in that they see me as an issue that needs a resolution. And perhaps it's that I've been spoiled by my friends at GitP. The response from said friends has been, "Oh, look! I person in need of love and caring! We will give him that!" I shouldn't have to chase after such things from family. "I love you" shouldn't be an alien and painful phrase. With my family...it is.

*********************************

Oh...On the "pain front," I have been failing to mention my Tuesday visit to my PCP. You see, I had these two, rather small bumps on my upper arm. The occasional itch would have me unconsciously scratching them, and the slightest contact with these things would make me yelp with pain. I'd spoken to Dr. M about them, and we arranged for an appointment where he would biopsy them.

This is not a cancer scare in ANY way. The purpose of the biopsy is to find out exactly what they are, and how to fully remove them. The phrase I am most accustomed to using for these is neurofibroma, which is a benign growth off the nerve. They are small enough to be fully removed without scheduling actual surgery.

My current problem is that the doc didn't actually remove them. He took samples of both bumps, and a sample of the normal tissue around it, and now we wait. Here's the thing...These bumps caused me great pain just by scratching them. Now they've been cut, and they HURT!!! The smallest action that involves moving my upper arm has me wincing. This has included moving my arm while typing. (It's the fact that my skin is moving and stretching.) So...I need me some rest to let these things heal. I'm going to go silent for a few days, or at least try to. If these things weren't attached directly to a nerve, they would just be "boo boos." But right now...Well, this very post has been a literal pain.

So, my friends...Don't forget that I've sent up the flare for aid. (Thanks, Lou, for the $25. =) ) Do what you can, when you can, if you can...and I'll be in touch when I'm feeling a bit better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I want a government bailout!

Just give me one billion dollars, and I'm good to go. Because with that money, I would do many things, from vindictive to generous.

Take B-Man, a young man on GitP who is currently in dire straits, as an example. Money will not make him happy. I don't believe money makes people happy in any way...but I am a FIRM believer that money makes things a heck-of-a-lot easier. "Here ya go, B-Man. Here's $500,000. Go get your own roof over your head, and replace your stuff as you see fit. Oh...and get yourself some help. You can afford it now."

That would be the standard. I'd hand out $500,000 to all whom I care about. Arguskos, Steph, (I'll toss in Kyle, just for being a nice guy during my brief meeting with him), Siege (and various housemates), DD, Midnight Son, Valiant Turtle, Ego Slayer, Lord of Kobolds (and his Dad), Slayer Draco, Igor, Thanatos, and...Y'know, just about anyone whom I've shared a kind word with on GitP. Just scribble out a bunch of checks for $500,000 and remind them to stay in touch.

Oh, but then I'd do a little traveling. First, I'd stop by my brother's place, tell him how I'm sitting on millions of dollars, tell him that I have not forgotten how "kind" he was when I was in need, and then leave. "All you had to do was treat me like a person, not an ATM. But you didn't. I worked very hard to get to you in your time of need, and what I received in return only proved that I'd made a monumental mistake. Thank you for turning what I thought was a good deed into a regret."

Off to NY to visit my father, who would endure a speech of his own. "Apparently, caring isn't a requirement to be in this family. There is a HUGE difference between saying that you care and love me, and showing those things. I have busted my butt trying to show love and caring, and as a reward, I have been made to regret that I never successfully committed suicide. Thanks for that." Then I'd leave him behind, too. Oh, maybe I'd leave a small check for him in my wake. "Here's some payback for all you laid out while I was growing up." But it wouldn't be an impressive amount.

Speaking of my father, and finances, I am in the midst of being punished. Perhaps you folks remember the blowout with my father last month. And what seems to have been forgotten by some readers is that my father agreed to send me $50 a month to cover the expenses of my meds. Well, it's the 12th, and the $50 hasn't shown up.

There was a specific reason for that money. AZ, as it dive-bombs toward being bankrupt, cut back on services for the elderly and disabled. If one made under a certain amount of money, AZ paid the co-pay for medications. Because of everything I'm on, my meds now cost around $50 to $70 a month. And what kills me is what costs more and what costs less. My pain meds, for example, make my life somewhat more comfortable. The co-pay for these is $1.10 per prescription. But things like insulin or syringes...Y'know, the things that I would DIE without...Those cost $3.20. Between my regular meds and various extras I tend to need each month, I need help in this slowly recovering economy.

I approached my father with great trepidation when I asked for the money, and he, to my astonishment, agreed. Usually, by now, I'd have it. But I was a "bad boy" last month, and so I believe I'm being punished...which has to be the absolute, 100%, dumbest thing to do in terms of punishing me. This is not skipping out on a holiday or birthday gift. This is for my medications!

So...the money I reported about on the 5th? It's on it's way to being gone. I've decided not to wait until I'm in panic mode. I might as well ask now, while I'm here, and hope folks come through...again.

Really...With each day that passes, and there isn't a word from my family, I get angrier. Not only have they treated me poorly, but they don't seem to want to repair our breaking relationship. It doesn't even matter if they lack the proper skills to show they care. At this point, it would be nice if they just TRIED.

But that's okay. You see, a friend from GitP has basically offered me a home.

I need to pause here and explain the difference between a house and a home. Stu was offering me a house to live in. I would pay rent, and I would have a ride to places I needed to go, schedules permitting. But if I was looking for a place where people cared, Stu'd house was not it. My GitP friend, however, has offered me a home. "What's that, Rob? You're on a limited income? That's fine. We'll offer you an outrageous discount on rent to join us. You need a ride somewhere? Just try to give me advanced notice so I can work my schedule around your needs. You see, your family may not care, but we do! So come join us, where you are welcome."

"Home is where you hang your heart." I'm sure it's supposed to be "hang your hat," but I've never owned a hat, and that's the phrase I've said for years.

Now, I mentioned this potential move to my friend Julie, and she's worried that I won't get along with people. I believe she's basing this on my previous experiences in boarding houses, and the fact that I like my privacy. My argument is that I have a hard time living with stupid people. Stu would have been a problem, as he has been buying into the fear tactics used by the "news" station, FOX. (He honestly believes I will be facing a "death panel" should Obama pass his proposed health care bill.) I have lived with morons, and I seriously doubt that's what I'd experience when I move in with this friend and company. As for my privacy, I will only have to go without it for a short time, if at all, because they are already seeking a larger place. I will have a bedroom of my own, so I have no worries there.

No...Siege, (that's this friend's nickname), and company have been following my blog, and they are offering more of a HOME than my family has...EVER!!! And if my family has any desire to repair what's been ruined by their mistreatment of me, then they have until the very end of this month. On the 31st, I'm walking into the rental office at my complex and tendering my 30-day notice to vacate. They will have to offer me rent at $0.00, to which I have decided to pay what Siege has asked for in rent. If my brother doesn't like it, then I wish him luck with whatever he decides to do.

Here's the marvelous thing about Siege's offer: I will have financial room to do THINGS! At first, there may not be a lot of room, as I have to apply for a secondary medical insurance. Siege has already offered to help me leap on that as swiftly as possible. Then...I honestly believe, and certainly hope to Heaven, that I will be able to sit back and stop begging for aid on a monthly basis! I might even have room to do things like go to the movies it I want. Treat my housemates to pizza "because I can." Maybe find a cafe where I can sit with an open Chess board and meet new people. Instead of tightening my belt at every turn, I may well be able to start living my life! It's...it's amazing that someone seems willing to welcome me into their home. And with their support, I will hopefully be able to start the grieving process for the family of which I need to let go.

A billion dollar bailout sure would help, though. Wouldn't solve all my problems, but it would help. And until I receive such a thing, (which will be never), I'm back to begging, my friends. The Money is running out. It's not gone yet, but in about a week's time, I'll be in genuine trouble, so please...Help?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

She's Gone...

(She's Gone)
Oh, I...
Oh, I...
I better learn how to face it
She's Gone (She's Gone)
Oh I...
Oh I...
I'd pay the Devil to replace her
She's Gone (She's Gone)
Oh I...
What went wrong?

Perhaps the 70's weren't the most eloquent when it came to lyrics that expressed one's feelings about numerous sociological issuse...but when it came to love and/or heartache, sometimes they hit the nail right on the head. And I'm not applying this song to a woman that's left me, but to Nike, my beloved kitty.

I was already in tears when Arguskos and his friend were loading up the car with her things. Once they were gone, I completely lost it. Quite often, that cat was the reason I got out of bed, knowing that if I didn't get up, no one else was around to care for her. The way she would meow at me, you'd think she was my wife, and that she was giving me what for whenever I came home from being out for a while. "How dare you leave me here, all alone, without anyone to do the things my little paws can't handle?! And...Is that another cat I smell on you? Oh, you're in for it now, buster. Just wait until you go to sleep. I'll be up on the counters, knocking things to the floor, and making a mess of everything I can get my little kitty nose into!"

How much did (does) she love me? Well, I will probably miss playing "Dodge Cat." This was the game enforced on me when she had to keep me in view. Her low vantage point on the ground meant she couldn't see me at all times, and so she would follow me into the bathroom, or into the kitchen, just so she knew exactly where I was. Her pace wasn't always the one I had, and I don't move that fast at times. Still, I would have to step over or around her, because she wasn't moving fast enough. She would also, on occasion, poke her head into the shower to see if the "water spewing monster" had melted "papa."

Of course, there was also her "I want love" mode. There was no escaping her, unless I left the apartment altogether. I never did that...I'm just saying that that's the only way to have gotten away from her. Whether I was on a chair or on my bed, Nike would put her front paws on a higher surface to check if the coast was clear. Once she had the lay of the land, up she would come, seeking a place to make herself as comfortable as possible, as close to me as possible.

And Saturday morning was a bit of a treat. Only occassionally would I wake up to find her with me in the morning, sniggled in tight. Yesterday morning was one of those, and we had a little love-fest as I woke up, with her purring and butting her head into mine. "I love you papa, 'a whole bunch of dis manies,' and I will now bang my head into yours to prove it."

*sigh*

So distracted was I that I kinda forgot to give Argus some other stuff I had wanted him to take with him. There's a box of books around here somewhere that would only add to the weight of my things should I end up flying to TN.

I don't think that's going to happen. It's only a few short days since the blowout with Stu, but no one has called. My post on Friday had what I would like to say to my father. To Stu, I would say this...

"You are either calling to offer me a home, free of all expenses, or you're wasting both of our time. You see, while you were there, revealing your TRUE motivations for having me move to TN, I have had people offering ideas as to where I can go, and what I can do without my blood relations.

"That has to be THE MOST pathetic thing of all. Pathetic for you, that is. People who have no obligation to me have shown a willingness to come to my aid, when my family is thinking more along the lines of, 'What can we get out of Rob moving here?' There were two things that were supposed to happen with this move to TN. I would have a home, and you would get a boost in the finance department. Little did I know that it was really all about the latter, and almost none of the former.

"It would seem that everyone in our family is about ulterior motives. What's offered on the surface always has some other desire. But tell me, Stu...What could have been my ulterior motive when I busted my ass to get to you when you were DYING in a critical care ward. Did I get there late? Yes, I did. But I GOT THERE! Who else in our family turned every which way to get to you? Our youngest brother? Hell, if you hadn't called him, he wouldn't even know you survived the experience. Did any of our cousins load into a care and drive the numerous hours to see you? Did they book last minute flights to see you? No...There was just me, the disabled guy, without the money on his own to see you, doing everything in my power to get to you before you died. And my motivation? Just so that I could say 'I love you' and have you hear it.

"How selfish of me!

"Now, as I become sicker with each passing year, and I face becoming increasingly crippled, the family thought that moving into your house would be a good thing. Oh, but then drama has to come out of the concept that I might run into our biological mother, and that once again there might be all out war. Didn't I prove myself on that account when I called her to ensure peace when I visited you in the hospital? Did I not prove that I may well be the best of all of us in this G-d-foresaken family by doing all that I did in that time of crisis? People with hearts seem to think so...which, I suppose, is why my family doesn't.

"So, Stu...I have received much better offers from people who are not legally family. But they have become family to me. They mean more to me than you, or our father, or anyone else that I am tied to by blood. I have even shed more tears over my cat than I probably would for any of you...because her love was unconditional, while yours is. 'Pay me rent, or you have no place in my house.' I'd rather have no place in your house. And in order to prove your humanity over this creature you have shown me, you are going to have to offer me a place to stay without wanting so much as a penny.

"Oh, don't worry. I'll pay rent. I'll pay what is currently the best offer yet. You will get $200, and no more. After that, I will pay my bit for the cell phone I don't want, since that's all you seem to be allowing me to have. You will also get $20 a month until the bed is paid off. Then, my money will be spent on my things, such as specialty foods and the like. And if you think you can threaten me into a corner, where you think you're going to kick me out into the street with nowhere to go, I have news for you. There are plenty of places for me to go. It would seem that various people are ready, willing, and able to see me moved into their neck of the woods, leaving my legal family behind.

"By all means, throw one of your infantile fits. I have the time to decide where I'm going, as well as the will to tell everyone related to me exactly where they can shove their version of 'love.' There are others out there who know who I am, what I am, and truly LOVE who I am. People who are in no rush to judge me as 'a problem.'

"But, no...You've already confessed that you don't wear the pants in your family. There are no joint decisions between you and your 'mail-order-bride.' It's all about her and her iron-fisted rule, and you don't have the chutzpah to stand up for what's right. All you see is the money, and she will somehow convince you to allow strangers to reside in your home. If she can con anyone into the imaginary rent of $500 a month to have a room, all the better for you, I suppose...until you find out that you've let a thief or murderer under your roof. That's where the Meadows legacy will end, as my nephew is added to the list of bodies found at your address.

"So...this is probably goodbye. I wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors, whatever they may be. I'm sorry that you have become whatever it is that you are, and hopefully you will learn as the years go by. If you do, don't seek me out. This was the best of all opportunities to have your brother in your life, and all you wanted was the money. It's a genuine shame...for you."

Believe it or not, one of the things I was looking forward to was showing my nephew the love he doesn't get from his family. I wanted to tell him bedtime stories, in which he was the lead character. I wanted to play games with him. I wanted to help him with his homework. He would have been the son I'd never had, and I was going to shower him with parental love that is, as far as I can see, absent in his life. Right now, he is plopped down in front of the TV or the computer, and left to his own designs until he starts making a mess. Then he gets yelled at. And I know this because that's what I constantly hear on the phone when I would talk to my brother.

Not hard to see why I would love a cat more than "those people," is it?

I'm off to try and distract myself from these ultimately depressing thoughts. At some point, it was drilled into my head that "family is supposed to care." I will try to remain calm over it, but deep down I will seethe with anger that my family never knew what love is supposed to be.

Friday, August 7, 2009

And then there was silence...

Stu hasn't called. Nikki hasn't called. My father hasn't called. My step-mom hasn't called. I guess we're all washing our hands of one another, but for very different reasons.

My family is probably "done with me" because they don't know what to do with me. They refuse to see me as the person who has become increasingly sick over the last decade or so. The part they don't see is that I AM A PERSON! Instead, all they see is a problem that needs fixing. That's unfortunate...for them.

I'm not losing anything. Not really, and I will continue to tell myself that as I move forward without them. I have an entirely NEW family...one that shows love in many, many ways. I mean, no sooner do I mention that I'm in trouble than ideas and offers come forward. Arguskos first offered that I should move into his apartment complex. He then backed out, saying that it would be better to be around people who can do more for me should I need it. And so Mercury Maline - look, I used capitalization and separated words! - offered me once step better: a home at a reduced rent that is even better than Section 8. (Trust me, I'm not one to pay a wee bit of rent and then selfishly do nothing else; when the time comes, I'll probably shell out for more food, as I will be not only delving into the house supplies, but want to show my thanks in some way.)

My FRIENDS, people not obligated to lend me aid in any way whatsoever, are swifter to offer me help than blood. For this, my entire family, and numerous old friends, should hang their heads in shame.

Of course, I haven't solidified any plans. It's all been thrown into the air and will be hanging there while time passes. My family may not have called today, but they may do so tomorrow. To an extent, I dread that they might. The way that I have been treated by them is an embarrassment, or should be to them, and they won't act that way. No, they will come forward with unjustified self-righteousness and "give me what for," to which I fear my potential responses.

The one that's brewing? *cracks knuckles* Okay, here we go. This one is specifically aimed at my father...

"I want to congratulate you on the loss of another child. Five miscarriages, one still-born, Michael, and now me. I have fought like mad over the last few years to make it clear that I love you and am always concerned about you, and what I get in return is your anger that I've become disabled. I get speeches that make me search fruitlessly for work I can't have or hold down. Years ago, I was even yelled at for getting sick with a parasite on the way to FL, and then spent the remainder of the trip spending almost any money you handed me 'to enjoy myself' on over-the-counter meds to hide the fact that I was still very sick. I got yelled at...for becoming ill...with something that was...COMPLETELY BEYOND MY CONTROL!!! Really, can it get 'better' than that?

"To my regret, I let you teach me something I never wanted to learn. It's stuck in my head, and I have been fighting to get it out of there. 'Money is love.' You want to show someone you care? Don't TELL them that! Send the money. And when my friends lend me aid, there's a part of me that's thinking, See? They love you because they send the dollars. No...They love me. Period. The money just happen to be available, and they sent me help. And so I have to shove your concept of love out of my head and say otherwise, making sure that I remain as honorable a man that I can be...something you never taught me, but something I learned on my own.

"That honor is what makes them care. My complete lack of abuse of them is what draws out their love. My blind acceptance of any and all that come to me asking for emotional help is what makes me better than the entirety of your family. Because I'm willing to bet that if ANY of my relatives cried out for help, there'd be crickets chirping all around them. They do nothing for anyone else, and so they get nothing of value in return.

"I do. I have a vast treasure trove, coffers and chests filled with love, piled high and falling over. And while you might want to claim that you are part of that horde, you aren't. To you, money is love, and money isn't love to me.

"Come September, I'm moving. When that happens, you won't be getting a forwarding address or telephone number. Because when you call and give me one of your 'pep' talks, I end up spending a week hoping the burst blood vessels in my eyes will fade. Because talking to you requires medication for me to remain calm. Because you say you love me, and never, ever show it. I'm tired of chasing after it. I am physically and emotionally disabled, there's only so much I can do, and I can't spend anymore time trying to track down a feeling you don't seem to have for me.

"I am desperately trying not to be malicious about this, but you have caused me a great deal of hurt for no good reason, other than I am not the successful Jewish 'whatever' you wanted me to be. I haven't missed you trying to shove my nephews existence in my face, and I'm sorry I never was able to find someone who could provide me with a child of my own. Of course, you blame me for this; even though I haven't heard those exact words, I know it as fact.

"I'm going now. Odds are pretty good that you haven't understood this the way it's meant. The pain I feel and the tears I've shed are alien things to you. But you, and your family, are the ones who have done the most in terms of pushing me toward the suicide you don't want me to commit. I leave you now to drag out the past and curse my name, or whatever it is you choose to do. The thing is, while you do so, remember that all you've ever done is drag out the past...and curse my name...and have always overlooked the man that I am, here and now, in the present."

Of course, I'd never have a chance to say all that. My father would probably be laying on the guilt and anger as thick as possible come "Congratulations on the loss of another child."

The sad part? Well, I don't often view myself as a great guy, and so I let the views of others carry me through hard times. And through their eyes, using their words, it really is my family's loss. They're losing the only human being that's in the whole set, and they won;t ever realize it.

I have things to do, my friends. As always, you have my thanks for helping me through hard times. If just one said, "It's okay, Rob...We're here for you," it would be enough. I am pleased to report that more than one has said that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

And then there was drama...

Earlier today, I lamented on GitP that my upcoming move to TN was turning into a greater burden. My brother expects me to pay $350 a month for rent, plus start paying off a bed he'll have to buy for me, plus pay for a cell phone, plus the possibility of putting a satellite TV extension into my room, pay for any specialty foods I might want/need, and, on top of all this, play the role of "manny" (a male nanny) to my nephew when he and his wife have to work. Up until today, I have been very accommodating. My brother and his wife want this, that, or the other thing, and I have been placidly nodding my head.

Today, however, I did a little more thinking than usual, and it seems like a lot is being expected of me, when this move was supposed to be made under the concept of me being closer to family that cares. When I complained months ago about how it seemed I was only wanted for the rent I'd pay, my brother threw a fit and shouted into the phone, "We want you to come out here!"

Here's why I don't lie anymore. You see, when you have to maintain a lie for a long time, it starts to come apart, and the truth is slowly revealed for what it is. That truth is often rather ugly, which is why it started as a lie to begin with. But to be caught in the lie...it's upsetting to all, from the victim, who feels that loss of trust, to the liar, who is angry that the truth dared to rear its ugly head.

Stu called this evening to inform me of more money I'd have to shell out, specifically for the cell phone I never wanted. The thing is that I needed a phone, and this was the phone he'd be able to set up. At $15, it wasn't so bad...but now he apparently needs to upgrade his family plan to get another phone, and so an additional $18 was going to have to come from me for said plan.

With my post on GitP and a discussion with Arguskos as to whether I would continue to let my brother walk all over me, taking advantage of the nice guy that I tend to be, I was already on the cusp of having issues with this move to TN. The closer moving day came, the less I wanted to do it. And so I decided to test the waters to see how things would be once I got there. I tried to broach the topic carefully, knowing my brother's ability to throw a fit when he isn't getting his way, and asked if my income could be reduced to a third of my income. The approximate total would be $275. The threats immediately started flying. "No! Nikki already said that if you're going to start complaining, then forget it." His words, verbatim.

"Well, Stu," I said, "It just seems like a lot is being put on me as my responsibility, and it seems unfair that I should shoulder so much without getting anything out of it."

He counted with, "You'd be paying over $100 less than what you're paying now, so I don't understand what you're complaining about."

My reply: "Well, this is supposed to be mutually beneficial to both of us, but it's starting to -"

That's where he cut me off. "THEN JUST FORGET IT!" And he hung up.

Okay...Not panicking just yet. However, what has been made clear from this conversation is that *I* was NEVER welcome there. What WAS welcome was my money. Sure, it was only fair that I pay rent, because I'd be around much of the time, and I'd be burning through the electricity and food...but if it was just me that was welcome there, my rent would be $0. That would be unreasonable to the point of me insisting they take rent from me. This is from a guy living BENEATH poverty level.

I called Stu back, and got his voice mail. I happen to have his wife's phone number, so I called and got her voice mail. I didn't leave any messages. This was too important to just leave a message and hope someone calls back. So, after waiting a bit, I called Stu again and he picked up. Now I was on him with the truth of the matter, and that was the fact that no part of me was wanted in TN. No...The truth is that my rent was wanted in his house, and that's about it. "If you're ready to talk like a grown-up, you would realize that I'm the one who, finally, isn't having the mental breakdown. I'm the one being an adult this time, and it's you who is acting childish in hanging up." I then, quite calmly, started pointing out that it was being made startlingly clear to me that only my money was welcome there, and that I, myself, was not.

This earned me another hangup.

But I wasn't done. Nooooo. If I couldn't talk to Stu, then I would try to get through to his wife. So I called her again, and this time I did leave a voice message. "It would seem that there are no adults currently in your house with whom I can speak. I have no idea what you and your husband are thinking, but apparently I don't really have a place in your house. That's okay. You're more than welcome to try and take on a stranger to pay rent...a stranger who will do G-d knows what to your house and family. But if I really am welcome there, my number is..." Well, I'm not posting that last part here.

Immediately, I called Arguskos. Why? Because it was his intent to take off tomorrow night to come get Nike and watch over her until I was in TN. If I'm no longer moving, then his trip would be a complete waste of time. He apologized a great deal for the circumstances, and I insisted he not apologize; none of this was his doing - it was my brother's.

Then came what should be, once again, an embarrassment to any and all who have known me for decades. Arguskos IMMEDIATELY offered to help me move into his apartment complex, and to help me in any way he could to get me there.

This is...sad. It's very, very sad. That is, it's wonderful that a friend would leap to my aid in such a way, but that's also the problem. My family would never, ever, under ANY circumstances, do that. They look upon me like I'm a major issue to be dealt with. I am little more than a burden to my blood relations, and it has reached the point where they don't try to hide it anymore. When my name is mentioned, they sigh heavily and dread the next time I'll call, because they know I'll want something...like love.

I've said it to Stu. I've said it to my father. "I love you." They are the last two relatives I'm still speaking to, and they don't know what to do with those three words. It's as though I've spoken complete gibberish, and they mutter it back to me without knowing what the words mean. I don't know if I've somehow become emotionally advanced, or if there's something wrong with me. What's clear is that they don't see me for the person I've become; I'm "that disabled guy that happens to be related to them, and they would love for me to 'snap out of it' and get a job."

So would I. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

Now for the problems. Arguskos and I have chatted for hours at a time about things, and one fact he's learned is that when Rob gets pissed off, it's "duck and cover" for the person at whom I'm pissed. He was supposed to come get Nike tomorrow, but if Stu doesn't come to his senses by then, Argus won't be able to do me this monumental favor, and I may well lose Nike altogether. If that happens, Stu will pay. I certainly care more about my cat than I do most people, and to lose her will be a hefty emotional blow. Should Stu change his mind once it's too late to transport Nike, I will remain a man of my word...in that, when told to watch my nephew, I will watch as the kid destroys one room after another, and do nothing to stop it (short of the kid hurting himself). Put the kid to bed? Sure thing...though what the child chooses to do after that will not be my problem. Cook any meals? Okay...but they will purposely not be fit for an animal to eat. Use headphones for my computer to keep the noise down? "Sorry, but I'm prone to ear infections, so that's not happening." (A matter of truth, if not for me making a conscious effort to keep my inner ears dry.)

The list goes on and on, and it will be totally vindictive on my part...But he separated me from my beloved pet, and for that there is a price to pay.

And does he really want me out there? Well, he AND his wife will have to make the offer for me to move to TN, and I'm fairly set on insisting they offer me a place in their home for nothing. (I'm upset right now, so this is the anger showing; I'm a bit smarter than that.) Mind you, this is just the offer I want. The reality is that I'm still willing to pay rent...exactly $275 of it, and no more than that.

(How did I come to that number? Well, there's a program across the United States called "Section 8." This program allows someone in my position to pay a third of my income, and then the government steps up and pays the rest. Why should I pay more to family when there are programs out there that will allow me to pay less.)

I love that my friends treat me like family. It's a joy to have them in my life. But it's distressing that my family treats me like a stranger. I am just about done with the lot of them. I mean, it's very late where Stu is...and where my father is...and yet I am fighting the temptation to call them this minute and tell them that I'm done. They should hang their heads with shame when my ONLINE FRIENDS offer more love and caring than my family does. And this is the breaking point. To gear me up for a move under the pretense that it's for the good of all, especially me, only to find out it's only for the good of my brother and his wife's bank accounts...? No...I'm about done with them. I don't need the emotional beatings from thousands of miles away; I can handle that all by myself. I need love. I need caring. I need what strangers give more readily than family.

What I also need to do is drive the suicidal thoughts from my head. While my family may not care one way or the other, I have friends that would probably kill themselves to chase me into the afterlife to beat the crap out of me. Besides...My friends are more like family than my actually family is. And I don't want to upset them at all.