Prodigal Child

Yesterday I wrote a blog and promptly deleted it-the piece felt off and I used too much foul language.  While I excel at four letter words, that is not who I am in Christ,  and I want to do more work for him, the creator of my universe, the master of my domain.  I also want my words to comfort, not condemn.  If there is a biblical story I relate to, and there are many, the story of the prodigal son is one that hits home, hits me right in the solar plexus, if you will.

I remember sitting in a rehab facility, alcoholics and drug addicts alike,, circled to create the illusion of a bond.  The social worker asked each one of us when we began our drinking/drugging career-about 5 or 6 people answered, leaving me to ponder if I should tell the truth, or lie………..

“Age three…….,” I mumbled underneath my breath.

“Come again?,” he replied.

One evening, my father was up in his bedroom, taking a shower after a long week of travelling.  My mother was the perfect wife at the time.  She channeled Mrs. Brady each and every Friday, and not only would she prepare a gourmet meal, she would have his gin martini (pickled onions please-no olives!) iced glass and all, ready for him upon his return to the living room.

“Mary Lou?!!!!  Did you drink my martini?  The glass is empty.”

Of course, I only know this story because it was repeated to me at least one thousand times while growing up.  Apparently, I drank that 8 ounces of gin (daddy liked it dry, no vermouth) in one long gulp, as my mother hadn’t done it and our golden retriever was on the wagon.  I was told I became extremely giddy, extremely wobbly, and then passed out.  My mother promptly called Dr. Shultheis and he laughingly told her to give me a baby aspirin and call him in the morning.  What disturbs me is this:  have you ever tasted gin?  Why didn’t I spit it out, throw up, cry…….?  I firmly believe that I enjoyed the Harry out of that martini, although I never drank gin again-it reminded me of my dad’s near death experience at the hands of bloody alcohol.

According to my parents, I remained the perfect child (straight A’s, nurse to mother’s hangovers, housebound and chaste) I didn’t rebel until the age of 22, which coincided with my father’s pancreatitis and ensuing coma as a result of alcohol withdrawal.  At Villanova, I was the designated driver.  We all piled into my father’s baby blue Cadillac (bought from a Mafioso-which we discovered on a trip to the shore, when we were shot at while driving underneath a bridge) and my gal pals would party the night away, while I sipped ice water, and the occasional beer.  One night, while at a frat party, overcome with heartache at my daddy’s plight, I drank a cup of punch, not knowing it was spiked with grain alcohol.  What followed (oh, the escape! the bliss of numbing oneself to the point of oblivion!) was twenty-four years of outrageous and dangerous behavior.  I hurt everyone I came in contact with, and my marriage and relationships were falling apart.

One evening I awoke in a hospital room, my wrists bandaged and head aching, surrounded by nurses, social workers, my long suffering husband and a stone faced police officer who watched my every move.  I had tried to end it all, and when I heard my husband tell the doctor that I had threatened him with a knife over a bottle of wine?  A tiny little voice, from somewhere deep within, whispered words I didn’t want to hear at that time:  “Come to me, I have been waiting patiently.”

Slowly, I began the healing process.  Having run from emotional pain my entire adult life it was now time to put it all in God’s hands, and never look back.  One by one Jesus has taken my broken places and turned them into a tangible testimony, one in which I will tell you that forgiveness, grace and love have prevailed.  I did not earn that mercy.  I had done things (stolen pain pills, crashed the jeep while abusing OxyContin, lied to all who knew me) that kept me feeling guilty, ashamed and unworthy.

“If you’re lost and wrecked again, come stumbling in like a prodigal child……let the gates of mercy open WIDE.”

Crippled Mankind

Just give me the seventies back and no one gets hurt!!!!!!!

Seriously, what the Harry is going on with this world?  I want the peace signs, the chubby little girls and boys on the sour cream containers, the bell bottoms, the kindness.

I suffered emotional abuse from my mother in the seventies-and I still bemoan the fact that those were the days, the good ol’ days-yes, we were a bunch of mindless hippies, wandering the planet under the influence of weed, acid, psychedelic mushrooms….the list would take me forever-but there was love, real, precious, unadulterated love.  Tie died people pleasers out for a good time, good sex, and to put it mildly-some craptastic music you could lose yourself in.

The Stones, Grateful Dead, Nina Simone, Simon  & Garfunkel, Yes, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin and my all time favorite-Led Zeppelin.  Not to say we don’t have amazing music now, it’s just that that it’s almost impossible to find it, even on YouTube.   And, when I do stumble upon it, I hit the subscribe button ‘STAT, or I know I will never remember the song, artist or decade in which I found it.

Aurora, Rag n” Bone Man, Mumford & Sons, The Verve, Dave Matthews, David Crowder, Alanis Morsette, Lucinda Williams, Puddles Pity Party, The Lumineers, Decemberists-to name a few.  There is more angst, anger and disassociation than ever before.  I now know why my parents wouldn’t tell me who they voted for that fall evening before Nixon was elected.  I was pretty put out about it, but they refused, flat out refused to let me in on their dirty little secret.  And no wonder, Mary Lou had a history of flinging the good china across the dinner table, and my father was usually the one who walked away bloody.

There is so much rage, and yet, good things are happening.  Despite the rising threat of a Civil War, we are eons ahead of our time in medicine, science and robotics.  Not that I want a robot.  With my luck, I’d end up with R2D2 on crack, and let’s face it, if I can’t get my house cleaning done, well, he’s not doing it either.  I have some pride left.

So here’s an idea:  when you see someone that irritates, saddens or even threatens you?  Open up a can of compassion-sprinkle that shit everywhere.

Stan Had Other Plans, Man…………..

If you have never heard Satan called “Stan” before, welcome to my crazy, unapologetic but divinely wonderful church.  In a sermon that left me shaking my head, we were told to call the devil “Stan,” one letter removed, in hopes that we would no longer fear him.  I’m sorry, but that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever, ever heard.

Yesterday was a cluster F*** if there every was one.  I began my day by reading the latest letter from my attorney, who will be by my side on July 6, as I face the judge, whom, I’ve been told, “makes people cry.” With just that notion in mind, I read the missive which tells me that my therapist of five years did not send in my records.  I had a wonderful weekend, so amazing that the first thing I thought of as I lay my head upon my pillow Sunday evening is this: “God is being really good to me because he knows this week is gonna be one HELL of a ride….”  As I stood there, letter dropped from my shaking hands to the floor, I flew into a tantrum that epitomized Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  Having not heeded the lesson that Abba has been trying to teach me for thirty plus years……I reacted, and it was pretty ugly.  Even as I told myself to calm down, I wrote a review of her services that went something like this:

“I would avoid this whack job at all costs.  She has lied to my attorney, overbilled my health insurance and had me stalking her boyfriend on more than one occasion.”  All truth, but was that necessary?  I then proceeded to phone her, hysterical and screaming.  I told her I would come up to Hershey with the WGAL Channel 8 news team and protest in front of her practice.  I ended the voicemail with this:

“How could you do this to me?  They will subpoena you…..” Yada, yada, yada. I barely refrained from calling her a bitch.  I was that far gone.  I never saw the other piece of paper from the lawyer, stating that Pam had indeed sent my paperwork in, and to “please disregard the previous correspondence.”  Nope, I didn’t see that until our electrician left, for the second time in one week.  It appears I was correct when I told my husband, ten years ago, not to mess with electricity in a hundred year old farm house.  Apparently, we had been sending very expensive juice into the ground, ever since Dwain built his man cave……or, “professional garage”-  that was nine years ago.

Nearing psychopathic rage, (let’s blame it on CPTSD, oh, and menopause-that’s always a good excuse for going bat shit crazy) I screamed at Stan- at the top of my lungs, spitting saliva I cried “Satan-I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ.  You mother f***er, you piece of crap, I hope I get to watch you burn in Hell……Coward……Antichrist…..STAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I was at the kitchen sink when my pink, camo cup fell over.  “Seriously?  You want a piece of me?  Come on Satan, is that the best you can do?????????????”

What happened next could have been a chapter in the latest Dean Koonz novel.  I ran out of my house to water my flowers (my in laws, who live directly across the street, had already run for cover.  This is not the first time they have seen my Irish “temper,” but I was stone cold sober, even the cats-all thirteen of them-ran under bushes, the truck, whatever shelter they could find.)

As I finished my watering I thought to myself, “Oh for crying out loud, take a deep breath and calm down already.”  Laughing at my own expense,  I tried the front door.  Locked.  I quickly ran to the back door, locked.  How could this be?????  I had just come from the back door and there is no way it could have locked…WTF???????????  I ran back and forth, between front and back doors, becoming angrier and sweatier by the minute.  As I grabbed the wheelbarrow and pushed it directly up hill, (I had the strength of a super hero, my adrenaline pumping, my heartbeat racing) aiming for the kitchen window.  I had entered our home this way before, only last time it was after my sister in law’s bachelorette party, and I was covered in straw, looking up at my husband who was none too pleased.

I stepped on the wobbly wheelbarrow, and afraid this would end in a trip to the emergency room, I turned the rusty thing around for better footing.  This time was different.  Alcohol makes us brave, and indifferent to the pain.  I was wedged halfway in, halfway out-and my ass was taking a beating, I mean…..it hurt like Hell.  Finally, back in the house I turned on my computer.  I felt something crawling on my skin, and sure enough I looked down to find a tick……a deer tick.  I am on a three month waiting list for the Lyme specialist in our area, and just coming off of a thirty day round of antibiotics. I walk around in a cloud of OFF, in jeans and long underwear, to avoid those crawling minefields of doom.

The next time I ask Satan if he wants a piece of me, I’ll be wearing full body armor and carrying an oozy.

Of Mice and Malaria…

I loathe bugs and rodents.  I am a city girl, born in Utica, raised in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania…..I went to art school in Philadelphia.  Everything about me was city until I moved, with my first husband, to Schaefferstown, also in Pennsylvania.  I don’t recall a single incident of rodent infestation in our childhood home, but I can tell you a horror story or five about my brushes with death upon my arrival to the country.  I am exaggerating, yes, but a heart attack can kill a girl, and  let’s just say my cholesterol?  Off the charts.  It’s hereditary, otherwise, a former anorexic-I haven’t eaten a morsel of fat since 1976, when I banned its’ existence from my life.

Karl and I moved into a quaint half of farm house in 1989.  It was situated next to the Schaeffer Farmstead in historic Dutch Country.   My ex husband travelled quite a bit, and I remember the first time I heard scurrying and frantic scratching in my kitchen: late at night, after watching the Late Show with David Letterman, I sauntered down the steps to retrieve a glass of water.  To my utter and complete horror, there were not one, but a gaggle of rats on the counter.  I don’t know about you, but when I am scared stupid I run like a banshee in the other direction.  (Once, while living here, I saw a Copperhead snake in the back yard, approximately one mile from the house.  I ran like a cartoon character, at warp speed, through the yard, into the house and up the stairs, then into the attic-until I could run no further.)  Karl tried to tell me they were mice, but I wasn’t having any of it.  Turns out they were coming from the creek behind us, and into our muddy cellar, having midnight cocktail parties at my expense.

When I met Dwain, I told him I was straight out petrified of any and all rodents, spiders, opossum, you name it………apparently, he didn’t believe me.  One evening, his son sleeping in the other room, I stepped on a mouse in my bare feet.  For reasons abundantly clear to me, I now bring my water to bed, as I can no longer muster the courage to forage through the house after 10 p.m.

“OhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmyGodddddddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!,” I shrieked at volume one thousand, waking not only my step son, but the dog next door and a neighbor who called to ask if she should phone 911.  My husband lay fast asleep, until the moment came when, due to my hysteria, Brad woke his father up-he was seven years old, what else could the poor kid do?

When Dwain came downstairs, he found me on the kitchen table, still blubbering, still screaming.

“Honey, what the Hell is going on?,” he stammered, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

I told him the mind numbing facts:  “I stepped on that dead mouse and it freaked me out, I told you I’m afraid of critters!”

You probably killed it when you stepped on it,” were the last words I heard, as I ran out the door and down the street, to a destination unknown.

 

Stranger Danger

I was reading my bible the other day, and the scripture about not being of this world, or worldly, if you prefer, hit me like a ton of bricks.  From very early on in my life, I have stood out, in pretty much every venue of my life.  As a child, I would pack my green suitcase and travel the neighborhood, trolling for adults (not children, they pissed me off with their weird Barbie dolls and tea parties) who would dare to “come and play with me.”  I can only imagine what they were thinking, when they answered the door and looked down upon the oddity standing in front of them.  Chubby, red curls and not a shred of inhibition-I would  prance into the home of unsuspecting, stay at home mothers , open my attaché, (full of odd pens, crayons and doll heads) and ask them to make me chocolate chip cookies.  This worked about 85% of the time, and to be sure this was done to appease the weirdo and get her the hell out of dodge.)

I would go to the bar in Avalon, NJ with my father-when we could sneak away from mom-sit with dad, eating clams and drinking Shirley temples, playing Mr. Bojangles on the jukebox as many times as my stash of quarters allowed it.  I was 5 years old.  As I grew, my mother would go to these random thrift stores and buy the strangest outfit she could find, then proceed to argue with my until I finally caved and wore it to school.  The stand out?  A purple, velvet set of knickers with a poufy top and cameo at the neckline.  The white lace boots up to my knees added to the hilarity…….but my peers at Upper Merion Junior H.S. didn’t get the joke.  They gawked, pointed, and called me names until I cried.  I believe my courage began developing way back then, in spite of the meanies, I grew weirder by the hour, and to this day I am thankful……….

I have never, ever followed the fashion scene, (I am dead serious when I say I am only now, at the age of 56, learning how to put on makeup) and my outfits have been raising eyebrows for decades.  I care not what others think, never have, never will-and somewhere in the mix I suppose I owe  my lack of inhibition to Mary Lou, my mother and fashionista extraordinaire.  She went to a dress shop to design her own clothing, and I have to say that she was profoundly beautiful………but she was ahead of her time, she was ahead of my time for crying out loud.

Just the other day, while trying to avoid the dreaded tick bite, I put on my grey long underwear, hiking boots, camo shorts and gardening hat, then proceeded to the local grocery store where I turned heads and caused more than one shopper to slam her cart into the food displays.  I walk blithely to the tune of my own accordion, immune to the whispers and laughter.  I have been told by friends, and enemies alike, that “Only you could pull that off, Michele….”  I never try to be a fashion success, yet my style impresses more people than it offends.  And to this day, I don’t get it.  I am 5 feet tall in stocking feet, have blonde hair down to my waist, and even on a good day, well….my husband usually has to carry me to the truck because my shoes are bought at the Humane Society Thrift Store-it has never been of any consequence to me how the shoes fit, as I am a size 5 1/2 and finding any footwear not of the girls’ department is a total coup.

Another quirk I have?  If I pick something out of my closet (say a dress I’ve had since my freshmen year at Villanova, circa 1979) I am going to wear it whether it fits or not.  Just last week, after purchasing last year’s Vera Wang at Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon, I stood there stumped and provoked, as I tried to figure out how the hell to put it on.  It was a three-part debacle, copper and black sequins cascading down the front.  I finally took my scissor to it, and voila-right over my head it went.

I have been known to garden, in a teddy and sweat pants; to hell with what anyone thinks.  It’s my own yard, my own territory-if it doesn’t suit you, look away.  My best friend will not walk with me in our neighborhood because of the attire I choose to exercise in.  Last winter, and I kid you not, I wore a stunning pink Elmer Fud number to lunch in Lititz (where the snobs and starving artists mingle amongst stores only the very rich can patronize.)  I was with my nieces, who love the fact that I am, well, unique to put it kindly.  Men and women were walking right up to my face and laughing.  Poor manners?  Yes.  Do I blame them?  No.

I simply cannot be bothered with worrying about the Joneses.  I’m too busy living in my own private Idaho…..where I am the queen of the outfit faux pas.

At Your Cervix!!!!!

17349767_10208153426342124_6971715033523640161_oThis blog is clearly written for the female persuasion-WARNING:  this material is graphic and unsuitable for children under the age of 35.

Ok.  Every woman on planet earth knows this to be true:  if we find a good gynecologist, we hold on to him/her like grim death.  And so it was, when the receptionist told me that Dr. Burrows was no longer with my family practice, I flinched.  I have a history of cervical cancer and I can’t put off the annual pap smear.  We didn’t have insurance until May, so I was long overdue when I booked the new nurse practitioner.  Actually, in all honesty I became unhinged.  Let me tell you a little story about my experience with new gynecologists.

Two years ago, I had a lymph node the size of an orange, and that is no exaggeration.  The brainiacs at my doctor’s office were stumped.  I also suffered from fevers, lethargy, pain in every crevice of my body, and migraines.  My husband and I showed up the day after Christmas, I in my tattered white robe and bunny slippers, dripping sweat and wincing in pain, and Dwain in his usual hiking boots and camo.  We meant business.  I had been suffering for three months, and at first?  The doctor wouldn’t even look at the lump on my groin.  He didn’t even ask me to take off my pants-“Oh, you probably overstretched your groin muscle…….”  Ten visits later, we were on a mission with a capital M.

“Michele, because of your mother’s history of ovarian cancer, we are going to send you for an ultrasound.”  They had to give me a shot of toradol in my butt to have this procedure done, I was that far gone.  Two days later I received a phone call from Dr. Burrows:  “We are alarmed at the findings, and the other doctors and I agree, we are sending you for a uterine biopsy.”

Friends, there is also a history of hypochondria in my family.  My faith has taken care of that, but back then?  That news was about as welcome as a frontal lobotomy.

“Who, who are you sending me to?” my voice quivering, I had to sit down.

“Dr. Brown’s wife is a gynecologist, would you like to see her?”  Having had just about enough of the poking and prodding, I agreed.  I showed up at her office twenty minutes late, as the directions were ridiculous, and even my VZ Navigator took me to the wrong place, twice.

As I entered the office, I saw the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my 50 plus years.  She was breathtaking…..perfect everything-and her portrait hung on every inch of those office walls, leaving me a bit unnerved, and a tiny bit jealous.  (Ok, I hated her.)

“You are late, we don’t do late here.  Would you like to reschedule?”  Mrs. Dr. Brown spit out.

Maybe you don’t do late, sweetheart, but I don’t do bitch.  I went home and talked to my husband.  I rescheduled for the next week, only this time, Dwain was coming with me.  We arrived early that morning, and the smiling receptionist took me back to a room at the very back of the building.  In hindsight I believe this room was chosen so the patient’s screams were not heard in the waiting room.

Enter Dr. Butcher, er, Brown……..stage right.

All I could manage to say was, “Is this going to hurt?”  She proceeded to insert the speculum, and responded, “Only if you have endometrioses.”   No lidocaine, no general anesthesia, not even a hesitation, and I am screaming like a banshee, so loudly that my husband heard me in the lobby.

Hmm.  Looks like you have endometrioses,” she smiled that condescending, I have all the power here smile, and I dry heaved in protest.  My God that was the worst experience of my life (ok, maybe not the worst) and I told anyone and everyone who would stand still enough to listen.  Bitch.  Sadist.   Gynecologist.

I ended up barging into my family practice a week later, but this time armed with information.  I told them to put me on doxycycline for 30 days, as I had diagnosed myself with Lyme, and I think they knew enough  not to argue with the sweaty Medusa standing in their office.  So, that is how that story ended.

Yesterday? I was not surprised, nor did I blink an eye when, after ten full minutes of provoking my uterus, the nurse practitioner, peaking through my legs, said, and I quote:

I can’t find your cervix.”