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Archive for May, 2004

Come On, Motherfuckers

Saturday, May 29th, 2004

There's nothing quite like lying in bed, half in and half out of sleep, hazily dreaming early on a Saturday morning. It's cool in the room, and warm under the covers - where you're snuggled up close to your man. In your hazy, not-quite-awake state you hope this can last forever.

And then suddenly your sweet, soft sleeping man next to you yells out:

"Come on, motherfuckers!"

Ah, life together. That's even better than the time he pulled the covers up to his chin and murmured, like a little boy, "Mmnn...cookies."

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Crime in Baton Rouge

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

I wrote this piece last week and wasn't going to post it because, seriously, who cares about the crime in Baton Rouge?

Then a terrible thing happened at the Wal-Mart I used to visit at least once a week - a man getting arrested for shoplifting got the gun away from the police officer, a 51-year old woman, and shot and killed her. He also shot two people who were trying to help her, one of them a security guard. He then ran outside, carjacked someone outside and got away. He turned himself in just recently.

I can't tell you how many times I and my friends have shopped in this particular Wal-Mart late at nite, and all times of the day. It's not in the best neighborhood, but it isn't necessarily in a bad one either. I recognize the police woman - she was always there. After hearing about this, I thought my piece just might be relevant after all:

What in the hell is wrong with Baton Rouge? As if this fuckass sorry-excuse-for-a-city wasn't already visually ugly and full of ignorant, old-fashioned, horrible-driving asshats it now has to be one of the most unsafe places to live in the country.

Unknown to many people, Baton Rouge has pretty much always had a higher crime rate, per capita, than the sinfully renowned New Orleans. It doesn't appear to be improving.

As many of you are likely aware, last year found southern Louisiana gripped in fear and panic over a shadowy serial killer. The nameless monster we now know as Derrick Todd Lee was captured May 27, 2003 and the rest of the world soon forgot about Louisiana and its serial killer troubles.

It was a different story for the residents of my home state. Though two other murdered women were linked to Lee via DNA, bringing his total killed to seven, there were still too many unsolved murders floating around for anyone to be comfortable. What hasn't made the national headlines is that last month, April 28, 2004, Sean Vincent Gillis was arrested for the murder of eight other women in southern Louisiana. Looking at the timeline of the murders, this means that from 1994 up until February of this year, with the death of Donna Bennett Johnson, there were two serial killers on the loose and on the prowl.

All you can think at this point is, "That's the two they've found!" There are still unsolved murders that can't be linked to either of these men. If there can be two sickos out there at one time killing innocent people, why can't there be more? Louisiana is getting quite the reputation for churning out lesser life forms.

Everyone remembers the Washington Sniper, John Allen Muhammed. But does everyone remember where the Washington Sniper was from? That's right, Baton Rouge - born and raised. In an amazingly small number of years Louisiana, namely Baton Rouge, has managed to churn out three serial killers.

That's a lot of really sick people hailing from one location. Yet the number of serial killings is nothing compared to the simple old meat-and-potatoes murder that happens every day in Baton Rouge. Yes, every day in Baton Rouge someone gets shot. Every day. Just last week a co-workers' teen brother was killed in a drive-by; he was standing on his porch.

You might be reading this and thinking, "That's no big deal. It's a city - that's what it's like in every city." But this is Baton Rouge, people - it isn't like any other city at all. This is not New York or Chicago with miles and miles of concrete jungle and corporate skyscrapers. Baton Rouge's tallest building, its State Capitol, only has 34 floors. Public transportation is a joke for the fact that the city is so wide and sparse there are parts that buses just don't go to. I call Baton Rouge a "suburban city"; it is a fitting moniker. The people here have a small-town mentality, and if it weren't for the mighty Mississip flowing right through this place, it'd be a horrible choice for a state capitol. There's nothing showy or big or fancy about Baton Rouge. It's a big town with a bigger-than-itself title. The fact that crime is as rampant here as in the streets of New Orleans (which is much more a "real" city), or other real cities like New York or Washington D.C., frightens me.

Louisiana is second in the nation when it comes to stupid kids. No, let's be blunt here. We don't give a rats ass about education in this state - if we did, then we wouldn't have illiterate children graduating high school and more than half of the population now dropping out before they even reach high school. Second-to-worse. Could the influx of criminals coming out of southern Louisiana have something to do with our second-rate education system? I've got a hunch it just might.

Louisiana big-thinkers think the answer to wiping out the unlawful and murderous is to throw them in prison. Lock 'em up, and develop a life-with-no-possibility-for-parole system - that'll fix it right up. Yet it hasn't, and it won't. Louisiana prisons are full and getting fuller; low-level offenders are put back out in the street time and time again because there's just no room for them.

Perhaps it's time for a new approach. Let concentrate on our children, so that they don't grow up to be criminals. Let's stop the problem before it starts, rather than trying to put out a brushfire with a handkerchief. Creating bad apples then locking them all up when they began to rot is fruitless (forgive the pun). If we work harder at raising and educating our children, then maybe we wouldn't have so many Derrick Todd Lee's, Sean Vincent Gillis's, and John Allen Muhammed's running around.

What's the future for Baton Rouge? Who wants to raise a family in a town that produces serial killers and murderous criminals at such an alarming rate? Who wants to live in southern Louisiana at all with such people running around? What is it going to take for us to make a change for the better? When Baton Rouge is churning out two new serial killers every year, and hundreds of women have lost their lives, then will they wake up?

Shittiest of the Shitty

Friday, May 21st, 2004

For fuck's sake. People you must believe me when I tell you that Baton Rouge has the worst drivers. I know everyone thinks that about where they live, but I promise you, that's only because you've never driven here for an extended period of time.

I'm a good driver, and I'm not some schmuck on the road who thinks that and still drives like a fuckwad. I've never had a speeding ticket, never been in an accident and never talk on my cell phone and drive. When I'm driving, I'm driving and paying attention to the task at hand.

Yet this seems to draw every doing-everything-but-driving-moron to me like a magnet. I almost got hit twice coming home from work today. Twice, and by no fault of my own. When I arrived (somehow) safely at my destination, I was a shaking, furious mess. Even a cigarette couldn't quell the shaking - but it did help with the anger, and then I started crying. I'm going to have to move out of Baton Rouge simply because driving around here is gonig to kill me! And not in the way you may think - most likely in the form of spending the rest of my life in prison after beating the idiot who hits my car to death.

Near-Hit #1
I am sitting at a four-way stop. I start to go. As I begin to cross the intersection, a huge pick-up truck comes at me from the right. At the time, he swung out so far to prepare for his right turn, I thought he just didn't see me and was going to hit me. As it was, he stopped as he was supposed to but was already so far out into the intersection that I had to swerve in the other lane to avoid his knocking the side of my car.

I calmed down and continued my commute. Not too bad, I figured. Just some jerk who pulled out too far.

Near-Hit #2
I was almost home, sitting at the light on the off-ramp behind an Escalade with Dumb Rich White Lady in it. There's only one left turn lane here, so as the light turns green, DRWL procedes to turn at the pace of molasses. When we get onto the road, she is straddling both lanes, then slowly veers over to the left lane. I waited a second to make sure she was going to stay there, then continued turning into and going down the right lane. A few paces down she decides she'd rather be in the right lane and begins just slowly veering over into it - no blinker or anything, just coming right on over. The bomp-bomp-booooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmp of my horn might've have been a hint to more intelligent drivers that they were about to hit someone; not DRWL, though. And she sure as hell was about to hit me - I honestly still don't know how she didn't, because when she started coming over, my front end was about even with the center of her ugly Escalade. Thankfully for Stella and I, DRWL apparently drives like molasses all of the time and I was spared from being knocked off the road by some rich, white bitch who wasn't paying attention to what she was doing. I was livid - and scared. I don't usually get too scared, as I'm usually expecting people to do dumb shit and am prepared - and I'd even kept in mind that she likely might swerve over into my lane, but it was still too close for comfort.

I don't understand. What in the hell are people doing when they're supposed to be driving? I realize that half of them, as anyone can plainly see, are more interested in their cell phone convo's than the road, but what about the ones that aren't on the phone and still aren't driving worth a damn?! There is not a DAY that passes that I don't see someone do something incredibly stupid and dangerous. Not one day - and, folks, I don't drive that much. 15 mins to work, and 15 mins back is about it. Other times we go out, Baret is the one driving and I'm trying not to pay too much attention because it just stresses me out too much.

I can understand blindspots and making mistakes, but unlike the woman in the Beetle a few weeks ago, and this dumb bitch this evening - when I hear someone laying on their horn as I'm changing lanes, I'm going to swerve back and look at where I'm going. I'm sure as hell not going to keep on coming over! What are they thinking: "Oh, they can stop" or "How dare they not let me in?!" Sometimes a blaring horn may be a signal that there is someone in the path you're moving into who can't stop! This is not rocket science. In fact, it's very simple: I'm not honking at you because I feel like you're cutting me off or because I don't want to let you in - I'm honking because you are about to hit MY CAR!! Hel-fucking-lo?!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths and another swig of beer.

There is nothing on the face of the earth that I despise right now more than bad drivers.

But I do feel better for letting that all out. Thank you.

The Boob That Changed the World

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

So I've been thinking a lot lately about tits.

No, not just any boob, but one in particular; the boob that changed the world; or, at least, the rules of the FCC and the censorship of American media.

At the time, I commented little on the Super Bowl Boob Incident, for the simple reason than I had no interest in adding anything to the already over-sensationalized incident; which was exactly the shock-factor response the artists were hoping for when they pulled this little stunt. I could care less about the magically materializing mammary, or the fact that it was fuzzily flashed for less than a second on regular television. These things mean nothing to me; no one's going to go to hell for seeing a hastily exposed knocker, nor are your children's eyes going to pop out as their brains explode from lascivious sensory overload. Those that felt "seriously injured" by the incident really should get rid of their television sets and radios and separate themselves from society as they are obviously not able to cope with life. The only thing that bothered me about the exposed Super Bowl boob was that artists I formerly respected had stooped to over-the-top superstar shock-value antics. I really thought better of Justin, and Janet (Miss Boobie if you're nasty). That was my only real gripe about any of it.

However, the influx of stupidity brought about by the incident is another gripe altogether.

Janet Jackson's briefly exposed breast and sheathed nipple, at the time they made their appearance, seemed to herald nothing short of the end days. People were "appalled", "shocked", "mortified", "disgusted", and even "morally traumatized". Letters poured into the FCC expressing outrage and distress, and demanding punishment and accountability. One Tennessee woman even sued Janet Jackson over the "outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury" she and other viewers supposedly suffered after the fleeting, blurry glimpse of teat. Church-goers were mortified, and parents were furious that their children had been exposed to a naked breast on prime time television. America was up in arms over a tit; a blurry, barely-seen one at that. Breasts haven't been such a focus of indignation and conversation since the first Hooters opened its doors 21 years ago.

In response, the FCC cracked down - disc jockeys were fired, shows were cancelled, and all television and radio shows were forced to tone down in an effort to stamp out anything that could be considered "obscene" or "offensive". Like a bunch of five-year-olds, the FCC has sat us all down and said, "This is okay for you to watch and hear, and this isn't." Jackson's jug was one giant leap for ultra-conservative America, and a slap in the face of the First Amendment and our rights as Americans to view and listen to whatever we so choose.

As for the parents, I say, shame on you! With all of the terrible things out there that you need to be protecting your child from, and so many important parenting issues you should be concentrating on, you're going to take on some hazily exposed tit as your personal crusade? Let me tell you something, parents, had you not made such a big deal out of that boob, the kids never would've even noticed it; had they noticed it, they wouldn't have given it another thought. Children don't seem to suffer from the hang-ups most adults do about the human body.

Marlene Dietrich once said: "Sex: In American an obsession. In other parts of the world, a fact."

Foreign countries are renowned for having sexually explicit commercials and music videos; and nudity on regular programming is accepted. No big deal is made about it - it just is. Naked human bodies are an everyday thing, and not something to make a big deal about if seen on the TV screen. Perhaps if we weren't so staunch on trying to hide young people's eyes from natural, human bodies we wouldn't have such a prevalent problem of low self-esteem and physical self-loathing in this country. Perhaps if we didn't inundate young minds with sexual overtones in everything then scream bloody murder when a titty is flashed, we wouldn't have so many people growing up with sexual dysfunctions, hang-ups and confusions.

The worse thing about the entire knocker episode was America's reaction. Just another reason for the rest of the world to laugh at us?

My Struggles with Mental Illness

Monday, May 17th, 2004

(Note: It's way long, but because of the content, I decided to post it all and with no editing.)

Struggles with Mental Illness

If you've been keeping up with my good friend Rose's trials as of late, you might have read about her decision to try out medication to help with the crushing anxiety and mild depression she's been suffering through. Another young girl that I talk to online, a teen who cuts and found me through my self-injury site, Bleeding Out the Pain was telling me that her mental-meds (as I call them) had been upped, and how she wasn't happy about it. I watched my sister take them for a few years, to help with social anxiety and I've seen her boyfriend struggle through trying to find the-one-that-works-for-him. He, along with his doctors, seem to have found the right pill and his quality of life, according to him, has improved drastically.

I've probably mentioned before that I'm an (unofficially) diagnosed mental/emotional wreck. I'm aware that I have problems, some psychiatrists I've visited have suggested bi-polar and/or borderline personality disorder. Never one for labels anyway, I'm content not to have an "official" diagnosis of my psychosis - I rather prefer just being "me"; even though "me" tends to be a little bit crazy.

Seeing so many people as of late going through mental/emotional struggles, and even reading Rachel powerfully professing her similar struggles, has brought all of this to the fore in my mind. I've never sat and combined all of my battles, looked at the entire mess of it as a whole; in fact, I rarely deal with those issues at all - preferring, instead, to chalk it up to "this is just who I am" and just dealing with it. But last night, during a phone conversation with my soulmate, I began to lay it all out before me and put to the test my thoughts, beliefs and musings on mental illness and where I fit into the big scheme of it all.

I truly believe such deep soul-searching is best shared; brought out and expressed. You never know who might be helped by reading what you've written, who might be going through the same struggles and confused in their own right. Besides, baring my soul is cathartic for me, believe it or not. As any recovering cutter will tell you, we're of the type that likes to "bring things out" rather than keeping them inside to fester. So it is with complete open honesty, warts and all, that I share with you my walk down the unstable road of mental illness and emotional distress. Perhaps you've been there, or can relate some - mayhaps you'll just think I'm a nut. I'm not worried about what people think; I'm interested, only, in reaching out to others that understand, and finally stepping up to the plate and admitting my own problems in the light of day.

It may not make much sense - I'm just going to go with it, so bear with me. Let's have at it, then:

I've always been somewhat of an emotional wreck. The happiest of children until I hit my teens, some sort of black cloud developed over me at that time. Puberty does that to people - to extremely passionate people, the effects are rather magnified. I was unhappy, and made sure that everyone around me was so as well. Misery loves company, after all.

I've never been one for blaming my family for my shortcomings. There comes a time, as an adult, that you have to take responsibility for who you have become. My family isn't the sanest, most ordinary bunch around - for which I'm thankful. But we've come to blows many times over the years; I having always been the "black sheep" of the brood. It is probable that some of my earlier problems stemmed from my family, when I lived with them. I did begin cutting to try and reach my alcoholic father - to convince him that his drinking was hurting us in tangible ways. But I don't blame him for that - cutting is something I would've done eventually and regardless. That or some other form of self-injury; I am my own worst enemy. It is true that the constant brow-beating was injurious to my self-esteem; but that's how my family is - we ruthlessly tease and berate one another. Making cruel and hurtful stabs, also, seems to run in our blood; I'm guilty of it myself. Yet I feel that I've conquered the self-esteem issue pretty well as I've grown, so I hold no blame there either. Since family seems to always be a dynamic in these things, I wanted to clear that up.

From 13-on it all went downhill. In case you weren't aware, I'm lactose intolerant - I can't digest milk products (cheese, ice cream, bread, etc.). The malady is a bit better known now, but back then not many people knew about it. All I, or my family, knew was that one day I started getting severe diarrhea; horrible, painful diarrhea that can only be compared to food poisoning. I had no clue that my body was unable to digest the lactose that was in just about everything I was eating. No one could figure out what was wrong with me, and those close to me begin to believe that I was dying of stomach cancer. I stopped eating - because doing so made me ill. I, seriously, lived off of Light Pringles. I dropped down to 99 lbs and looked as if the believed diagnosis just might be true. At that point, I didn't care. I was in pain constantly and truly felt death would be a welcome release from the hell I was living in. That I was existing in the black blanket of a deep depression would be putting it lightly. Two years later my paternal grandmother suggested that I might be lactose intolerant after reading about the affliction in a magazine. I bought some Lactaid pills and began testing the waters - it took a year for me to get it all straight; how much to take and with what foods. For that year, and the one after, I suffered through various stomach and gastric ailments - brought about, obviously, by having had severe diarrhea for two years. Though still in pain, and miserable, having a name to call my illness was a light in the darkness.

I got through it - and towards the end of that struggle, I cut myself for the first time. The first time was baby steps - really nothing. The next time was in a fit of rage that produced my very first (though not my last) scars. Those that know or have met me can attest to the vicious scars that cover both arms (and parts of my legs). They are not pretty and in no way inconspicuous - I scar out rather than in, and though some are faded, white lines, others are thick, pink, ropey marks that are impossible not to notice. A long-ago count had the total number at 18 - but I've added a few to the fray since, including my worst to date. I no longer cut on a whim, but the need is always there and so I will always call myself a "recovering cutter" - it's not something you ever truly get over.

The cutting went on, and into, my early adult life - which is when I really lost it. I can't say exactly what triggered my breakdown; my downward spiral to rock bottom. Like I said, I've always been extremely passionate - positively and negatively; nothing is ever pastel with me. Whether it was the overwhelming experience of my first love, the nagging fear that I knew he would leave me someday, or the anxiety that arose from my being unable to trust him, I slowly came unhinged during our three+ years together. Though I freely talk about, and admit, to my behavior during those times, it is still a bitter pill to swallow. I'm ashamed of how I acted, and how I treated my ex; I'm ashamed at myself for losing control. Without going into details about the mess our life had come to be at the end, suffice it to say that I was undeniably, at that time, crazy as a fucking loon. My parents, I've since learned, went to my ex and talked to him about getting me put away and getting me some help. There were times, not few, that he threw me over his shoulder and marched towards the door, with the intent of bringing me to the mental clinic and leaving me there. I had become so obsessed with him, and the fear of his leaving, that I never allowed him to leave my sight. He lost his job, because I wouldn't let him go to it. We lost everything because I couldn't work either - it got so bad that I couldn't breathe if he wasn’t in my presence. I lived in constant fear and panicked anxiety - watching his every move, sometimes afraid to fall asleep for the fear that he would sneak out on me. For all intents and purposes, he had every right to! My mind was in constant chaos and I was mentally and emotionally drained, exhausted and defeated. When he finally did end it, though it was horribly painful, I believe I was ready. I knew I couldn't take much more.

Six months later I had planned to kill myself. The date was to be March 7th, and I still have the notes that I wrote to each of my family members. I had no job, no life to speak of, and I was wretched. Everything was ready and planned, and on March 7th I intended to slit my wrists and end my miserable existence. I only intended to tell one person of my plan - my ex. We still saw each other every few weeks - no doubt not helping me one bit in my attempts to "get over him". On what was to be our last visit, I told him. He cried, said he couldn't stop me if that was what I wished, but that he hoped I would reconsider. He then did something that changed my life. He said I should, rather than kill myself, try and get some help. I insisted that I didn't need any help - that I was quite clear on my motives and reasons. He asked me, if I was so together, then what about my cutting. That, I informed him, was not a problem. I had it under control and could stop at any time. He simply, without saying another word, took one arm and begin counting my scars, out loud. He'd gotten way past 10 before he even started on the second arm, and I was in tears. Why that changed my perspective on my problem, I don't know. Perhaps I was no longer able to live in my fantasy world of denial with the brutal truth right in front of my face. The next day he left and I called my Mom (I was living with friends at the time) and asked her to come and get me. I admitted, for the first time, that I had a problem with cutting and I wanted to get help. The day after that I was enrolled in a daily group-therapy program that I began attending. I felt life deserved a second chance. Again, there was light in the darkness.

They say when one door closes, another opens. They also say that we often look so longingly on that closed door that we sometimes miss the new one swung wide open. Not long after I enrolled in therapy, my ex disappeared. No one knew where he'd gone, but I did. He'd left Louisiana - I knew it and felt it in my heart. Though it broke my heart with despair and pain when I realized it, I knew it was for the best. Without that door opening and shutting every few weeks in my life, I truly could begin to move on. Many doors begin to open for me as I took another stab at this thing we call life. I met my soulmate, and in the months following, I got a job and had moved in with two friends in the city.

I was happy for a few years, then this nightmare with my leg problems began, which has thrown me way back down into despair, anxiety and depression. That's where I'm at now in my life - it's been quite a long, strange trip.

It's not that I never tried to get help along the way; just that it was always a joke when I did. When I attended college (I only went for a semester and a half), just when I was first meeting my ex, I tried to go to see a psychiatrist at the college clinic. Obviously a doc-in-training, this fresh-faced kid (not but a few years older than myself), looked positively horrified when I showed him my scars and told him about my cutting. Not exactly what you want to see when you try to get help. This person could not help me, I thought, and I never went back. When the ex and I were together, I went to a free clinic here in Baton Rouge. I told them my problems - depression and anxiety and cutting and they determined I was somewhat suicidal. That's about as diagnosed as I've ever been. They sent me on my way with a 'scrip for some mental-meds that I no longer remember the name of. Did I mention that I'm sensitive to pills? Whatever this shit was, it had me, literally, tripping balls for 12 or so hours. The next two days I couldn't get out of bed because every muscle in my body was sore from the exertion of being tense while I was on the medication. I never took another, and never went back. Though I followed through with the aforementioned therapy I enrolled in at the end, I was out of there in two weeks. You see, I was ready to stop cutting, and that's all it really takes to stop most addictions; an intense desire to really stop. I didn't need much counseling. In those sessions it was suggested that I was likely bi-polar and co-dependent, and possibly even borderline. And that's about as official as it ever got. After leaving, they put me on Zoloft.

And here's where I entered the world of the millions of others diagnosed with mental problems and hopped up on happy pills. And it lasted about a month.

Yes, I was happy. Yes, I could handle things and, yes, life was better. But I wasn't me. The happiness and calm wasn't real, and I had turned into a pastel Shanna, rather than blood-red passionate Shanna. I got off the pills. I'm not saying my decision is for everyone or could even work for everyone. Some people do need the pills (shit, I probably do, too) and I don't think there's anything wrong with being on them. Please don't take me wrong on this. But for me, personally, I couldn't abide living life inside of a pill-bubble. I decided then and there that I was an emotionally unbalanced and rather crazy individual - but that was WHO I WAS and I had to learn to live with and around my problems and my nuances rather than masking them or trying to be someone or something I was not. Again, this was my decision and my thoughts - and it's not like that for everyone else. Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps the quieter, more sane and calm Shanna that was on medication is the real Shanna. But I had to do what I felt was right for me, and being pastel didn't feel right at all.

I learned to live well being on an emotional roller-coaster. I was happy otherwise in my life and so what if I was crying one second and laughing the next? It was who I was. Some days I woke up angry, and others I woke up elated. Many days I was stressed and full of anxiety, but this, I told myself, was life. Life is stressful and hard - I just had to deal with it. I truly had found my "zen" spot.

Of course, life threw me another curve - it likes to do that. These problems with my leg have made me someone other than the strong, independent and emotionally able-to-handle-myself person I'd fought so hard to become. There were times I thought about going back on the pills, and there were times when I seriously considered ending it all. I've taken it all in stride, and just fight the fight every day instead. But it's hard, and I wouldn't call myself 'happy' these days in any way.

On the phone last nite my soulmate asked me why I always feel so "bad". He knows because he feels what I feel, and he wondered why all he ever felt coming from me was hurt, anxiety and depression. And I began to wonder - was I wrong about the meds? Would it be a wise idea to try them again, and see if they helped? He himself is an "officially diagnosed" ADD & ADHD, bipolar, borderline personality individual who also suffers from some sort of post traumatic stress syndrome. He gets it and he believes, from what he knows of me, that I suffer from the same or a few of the same.

The thing is, I've never liked to apply labels to myself. It's easier to think I'm just a little more messed up than the next guy and deal with it. If I say that I am these things, then they own me. Then everything I do I can just blame it on my illnesses rather than trying to work through it. Maybe I wouldn't do that, but that's what I think. It seems that everyone and his sister is bipolar or borderline or OCD these days. Are we all really that mental, or does the society we live in create such unstable living conditions that we just can't cope with this life? I don't know the answer. I know that myself and all of the wonderful people I know who do have these problems, or others, are not hypochondriacs or making it up. But I always wonder if people in the older days just handled life better - it was much simpler in many ways. Did they just have better control of their emotions and their minds? Or was everyone just undiagnosed and living very unhappily? They didn't smile in their photographs, so maybe that's it.

It's all very confusing to me, you see. I *know* that I have some mental problems - but if I own them and call them by name, it seems, somehow to me, that I make them all the more real. If I'm just "kinda crazy", that's one thing - it's just me and I can live with it. But if I'm "bipolar", that's something else. That's an illness, a condition of the mind that stops me from functioning like "normal" people and that I have no control over other than to take pills to live "normally". What the hell is normal? What's a normal person live like? No stress, no anxiety? I don't believe that. Where does being a regular Joe who is very emotional and suffers from stress with everyday life turn into bipolar Joe who needs to be on meds to deal with those emotions and stresses? Where's the line drawn, and who draws it? That's where I'm lost. I'm emotional, highs and lows; sometimes I'm so namelessly sad that I can only cry and go to bed early. Sometimes I'm bouncing off the walls with silliness and joy. Sometimes I'm just really stressed out and having a panic attack. Am I just a normal almost-30-something year old living and experiencing life (which is, let's face it, stressful and hectic and a wee bit crazy), or am I a person with strange chemicals affecting my brain that causes me to be a little more passionate and emotional and stressed than everyone else, and who needs to be on meds to correct that? How do I know? How does anyone know??

This is where I'm at - struggling to find some answers in the whole swirling mess of mental illness and the stresses of life. Perhaps others can offer some insights. In the interim, I hope that my own admissions of past pain and struggle can help some of you.

Smoking Is Sexy – To Me (And That’s All That Matters)

Saturday, May 15th, 2004

I'm still alive - really.

So I get an instant message the other day while I wasn't home that said, simply:

"Checked out your webpage, you look really hot - but loose the cigarette, it's not sexy" or something to that effect.

My first thought was, "Yeah, neither is misspelling."

Then I got to thinking. It's not the first time that someone has told me this. "You're very pretty, so why are you taking pictures of yourself smoking? That's not attractive." "You'd be one hot babe if you'd get rid of that cigarette". Says who?

I really have a problem with someone telling me what "is" and "is not" sexy. Sexy is a state of mind to begin with, and what is or isn't sexy is completely and utterly up to the beholder. Maybe smoking a cigarette isn't sexy to these people, but it doesn't mean it isn't to some or that I am un-sexy because I'm doing it. What makes people think they can throw around their opinions as if they're fact?

You know, that is so not sexy.

I happen to like smoking - though I'm no a-pack-a-day fiend, I smoke one or two every one or two days. I also just so happen to have what I term a "smoking fetish"; wherein I find pictures of people smoking rather appealing - it turns me on. I've been known to light up during certain sexual acts, if my partner was okay with it, and I'm not me if I don't enjoy a good smoke after giving a good blow. Smoking is sexy to me - it doesn't mean I believe that smoking is sexy as a matter of fact, or that it is even to the majority of the populace.

To each his own is my rule and if you don't like what you see here - feel free to move along.

The Problem of The Froggy Death Trap

Monday, May 10th, 2004

I went out in my lovely garden patio this morning to have an early morning cigarette - my version of most people's coffee wake-me-up - and noticed a small frog clinging to the side of the small koi pond half. His lower half was in the water and though his head was well above it, I knew from experience, that it wouldn't be long before, exhausted, he slipped underneath and drowned.

With a squeak, I quickly hobbled over and rescued the hapless little fellow, offering my apologies and making sure the cats weren't around to notice this new and easy prey. And easy he would've been; the little frog was so weary - who knows how long he'd clung there - he didn't even attempt to hop off.

Our little "pond" (or "hole in the ground" if you want to get technical) is a froggy death trap. We've found a number of dead frogs in it - their deaths the result of drowning because they were unable to get once they'd hopped in.

My question is, any ideas on what we could do to turn this into a "safe" pond for frogs? We thought of putting something floating in the water that would allow them to get on, and hop out - but would float and still be strong enough to hold the frogs? (These aren't tree frogs we're talking about, here). I've thought of sticking a plank of wood into the pond that sticks out a bit - not attractive, but it might work. Just wondering if you guys might be able to come up with something better.

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