Category Archives: la loca

Restraints Startle

restraints
So this morning I biked to the gym just after 7AM (not usual for me on a Saturday morning but I had a bout of insomnia). The morning was foggy misty grey, something which added to the surrealness of this startle which almost caused me to ride my bike into a parked car.

You see, coming up on the sidewalk beside me, there was an older (at least in their 70s) Japanese couple. This is not unusual — lots of people go out for walks early in the morning. However, as I got closer, I noticed the woman was carrying what looked like a dog leash, but there was no dog. As I go closer, I realized to my surprise the leash was attached to the wrists of the male half of the couple which were
fastened behind him. Cue double-take and me almost riding into a parked
Honda.

My first thought was, well maybe he has some sort of dementia and she
needs to keep hold of him. But were that the case, why pin his hands
behind his back? There seemed no explaination beyond the obvious — she
was taking her husband for a walk.

Even after thinking about it throughout my workout, I still came up
empty so I thought I’d share. Any ideas?

[The restraints looked a lot like the ones in this picture if you imagine them fastened behind and the strap being held by his female companion.]

O how I pity me!

pity-me
The Story of Little Miss Scabby.

Okay, the title is a pretty good summary of where I’m going with this.  The second half of May, despite a lovely visit from a friend, has sucked and involved the bad sort of physical discomfort.

What’s happened?  First, I had to have a root canal (which would suck enough) only to have them get halfway through (that is, get to the point where they were poking at the nerve or whatever it is dentists do) and discover the tooth in question had a crack in it and needed to be extracted.  Then, just as my mouth was starting to heal, I woke up covered in red hives. The assumption was that I was having one of my allergic reactions to pain meds and so had a trip to emergency for steroids.  But no, Tuesday I find out it’s possibly shingles — which while I’m feeling pretty old lately, I’m still 20 years too young to be getting.  Except I have the marks all over so it’s even more likely, given that I was exposed to shingles a few weeks ago, I’ve got chicken pox.  Again.

Yes, you read that right.  I’ve caught them again.  Assuming this is chicken pox all over my face, neck, chest and shoulders (which is what my Dr. Mom thinks), it’ll mark the sixth time in my life I’ve had it.  Four times as a child, once in my 20s and now again in my 40s.  I’ve never been able to develop immunity to childhood illnesses and tend to catch them whenever I’m exposed (which is why you see me react with horror when I hear of children not being vaccinated — I’m not just worried about them, but also me).

The only positives, if there are any, is that first, everyone I work with is apparently immune so I don’t need to miss three weeks of work in order to heal up (since I get paid by the hour in the summer, missing 60 hours of work would add poverty to the general suckage) and I’ve had eczema for so many years now that the chicken pox really doesn’t feel that bad.  Certainly not as bad anyway. What it is is unsightly, itchy and, well scabby.

Bryson and the Doctor

bryson2

For those of you not following me on Twitter, I’ve had an amazing time during April (and part of May) which explains the radio silence here and elsewhere.  Here’s my attempt to explain it all in one fell swoop though I suspect more news will come out as time goes on.

First, and honestly the most wonderful and exciting, after two months of being lost, Bryson Bear was returned to me twice over this past month.

He first returned via eBay where, once we had identified him as of the Wuzzy clan (many thanks to Doug of Doug’s Bears for his help in communicating with GUND to identify him), an identical “new” Bryson was located in Glasgow, Scotland (as some of you pointed out — many thanks to all of you too!).

My mom purchased him for me since it was important that Bryson came from her as you probably guessed from the LOST post, The new Bryson flew across the ocean, braving volcanic ash and the U.S. Postal Service to arrive with much fan fair and packing in a large-ish cardboard box.

excellent-defense
I was naturally very glad to see him — he was clearly the right bear with the right intelligent expression.  But as my Doctor Who friends will know, like the new incarnations of the Doctor, while I knew the bear I was looking at was Bryson, because he very much felt like Bryson, he also very much wasn’t Bryson. There was, however a difference.  I could hardly remember Bryson ever looking so new.  Bryson yes, but not yet my Bryson.

Still, he snuggled close in the night and talked to me in a comforting fashion as Bryson always has.  And I needed Bryson and a great deal of comforting because my life had become insanely stressful — more so than I’d ever experienced.  You see, I found out in mid April I had to finish and defend my dissertation before the term ended the second week in May.  If I didn’t, there was a good chance I might not get to finish at all.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it (in fact, I was pretty sure I couldn’t) but after ten-plus years of graduate school, I couldn’t quit without giving it a try.

bryson1

So, I dropped out of life in order to cope and do what needed to be done — Paul handled all things social, phone, email and Twitter related.  I just worked.  I worked at my university job and I worked on my dissertation, ultimately writing more than one hundred pages in less than four weeks.  Given that ten pages a week is my normal “working very productively” speed this is pretty amazing.  It was actually liberating though, as said, very stressful.  I don’t ever want to experience it again.
Less than two weeks ago, five days before my defense, I was writing my final chapter (or “coda” as my chair called i)t and I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.  Though I hadn’t been taking calls from anyone, I took this one for some reason.  The call was from LAX Marriott’s housekeeping supervisor.  She believed had found my bear.

The picture I had sent to everyone at Marriott (or so it seemed) had worked.  He had been recognized, even though, as I was told, his “timeline” was off.  More than two months after he had been lost, my original Bryson had been found at another hotel, having been sent there from the laundry.

both-brysons
Or that was the story that made sense to the hotel housekeepers.  I had my own which involved travel across both time and space, but either way, his being found and returned was a very good omen.  Someone a week from her defense is looking for omens.

Anyway, Paul went and claimed the Bryson the next day as I prepared to print out my dissertation and give it to my committee. The distraction of knowing he was coming home kept me calm enough to compile the document (well, almost). So Paul brought him home, leaving me so overwhelmed I couldn’t stop crying.

Part of me was a bit worried about new Bryson.  Naturally he was insecure, because still having his tags his tags on some 15 years after he was made, he seemed a bit worried he was about to be put up on the shelf again now that Bryson 1 was returned.  I reassured him that there was always room in the bed for another bear and he and Bryson 1 shared a Coke and seemed to become friends.  That said, Paul did point out that the Doctor never gets along very well with his other selves.

What I Think Happened

It seems clear to me that somehow, during Gallifrey, Bryson did have the opportunity to travel in the Tardis.  It being a time machine, I’m sure he figured he’d be back in literally no time and never be missed from the bed.  In the manner of time travel though, the Tardis brought him back a month late. By then, the sheets had been through the laundry many times and were far from our room.  He ended up at the wrong hotel and it took him a while to both figure out what happened and make his presence known.

Thank goodness Maria recognized him from the picture.  Of course he felt terrible for having abandoned and worried me.  Just make sure you always take pictures of the ones you love best.

He’s back now, living a quiet life among The Animals of the Bed.  But there’s an extra twinkle in his eyes.  You can tell he’s had an adventure.

Oh, and my defense went well.  A few revisions and I’ll be a Dr. Mija.  Imagine that.

World’s Cutest Police Car?

smart-police-carThe other day I was at my calligraphy class, which is held at a middle school in Beverly Hills.  When I came out I saw the following very cute SmartCar police car.  It’s a real police car, complete with lights and siren.  So very cute — and like all SmartCars it looks like you could pick it up and tuck it in your pocket.

SmartCars have long held a certain fascination for me. Back in 1999, the first summer I spent in Edinburgh, I spent hours wandering the city, stalking a green one I desperately wanted to tae a picture of.  When they started appearing in Los Angeles a couple years ago, again I stalked them, less for pictures than just to look at them and smile.  It’s not just their smallness — they somehow look confident — they remind me of a small terrier hanging with the big dogs, all the cuter for not seeming to know that it’s tiny.

Another oddness about them is the way so often in Los Angeles they seem to have two people in them — the maximum capacity.  Maybe it’s fuel economy, but I like to think it’s because, like me, other people love the little cars.

Now all I need is to find someone with one to drive me around.  Though it’s probably not a good idea to try and get arrested, even in Beverly Hills.

Party on! (But watch your drink.)

cocktail As the holiday season moves into full swing, I was sad but not surprised to read on Minx and Zille’s blogs about two different cases of drink doping at scene parties and events, each on opposite sides of the country.  Zille fortunately had a helpful and supportive experience when she reported her suspicions to the event organizer. Minx, sadly did not have this experience but was, instead doubted and pressured to keep quiet.  I know it can’t have been easy to stand up and talk about what happened. No one wants to believe this goes on, especially in our nice little closed circles.  But it does and more often than should be comfortable for anyone.

As someone who worked in a university residence hall for a number of years and on a university campus for many more than that, I know how wide-spread drink doping is. Of the 10 to 15 times I took students have their blood and urine tested following a suspected doping, drugs the students had no memory of taking were found in all but one case (generally the drugs were ambien, xanax or valium rather than the rarer date rape drug “rohypnol”). Even more common is the spiking of low alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages with 100+ proof white alcohol — something that’s gone on since my mother was in college. (That happened to me years ago — though I fortunately noticed due to the oddly chemical taste.) It’s sad to say this, but communal drinks just aren’t safe and probably haven’t been for a while.  Sadder still is our not being able to leave drinks even for a moment, even at private functions.

I’d like to think that the group sponsoring Minx’s event is just unaware of how widespread this problem is and that her blog entry will prompt others who’ve experienced this to come forward and help all of us who haven’t experienced this to be more aware. Rohypnol and other benzodiazepines (used in the rarest but most dangerous sorts of doping) are found more and more frequently on university campuses along with other legal and illegal drugs. I assume this means they’re also becoming more widely used in the general population.

It’s not that there’s a lot of people who dope drinks out there, but the ones that do are good at it and rely on ignorance on the part of their victims (and hosts). What we hear about most in the press are the very worst of the worst — those who dope drinks in order to rape. But there are those who do so, as Zille points out, in the mistaken belief they’re sharing, loosening up the party or helping guests have a better time.  So anyone who might be tempted to do “share” in this fashion, can I remind you that there are those of us who have to watch how much we drink because of other medications?  Personally, I can’t have more than one drink when I’m on lithium without running the risk of becoming very ill.

Anyway, this ended up longer than I intended.  My point is, have fun but watch your drinks.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tapps/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Living in shadows

Over on his excellent blog, Rad in a fit of musing yesterday, brought on by having to fill out a vanilla Facebook page, commented about the kink world and "reality" —

I don’t like an overabundance of artifice although I put up my own fronts when needed (i.e. the Radagast persona that writes this blog). However, even though I do use a nom de plume, the thoughts I spew onto this space are mine and often quite unfiltered even if somewhat edited for content. This person is me and probably the closest to the real me that people would be able to see. My life in the outside world is now fake to me — it is the alternate reality that is somewhat out of step with who I am. Especially at work and in my professional networks, the fakeness of it all is hip-deep.

It's a wonderful blog entry and I found myself nodding along in agreement.  I mean, apart from my family and work as a graduate student (both of which are obviously important to me), I have no vanilla life anymore.  No vanilla social life at all. 

Like Rad, I nearly freaked out filling out Facebook and never have completed it. Yes, I still do vanilla work and have have a few vanilla friends. But all the close ones are ones I made before I got involved in the scene in 1997. I haven’t made a close non-scene friend in over 13 years. 

This is kind of depressing. 

And yet, last summer when the second of my two close vanilla friends moved away (they both left within 18 months), part of what I felt was relief that I didn’t need to worry about her dropping by when I was wearing a school uniform.  (Another part of me was very sad, of course.)

The downside, and there is a downside, is that despite being introverted, I’m sometimes quite lonely now for human contact. My closest girl friend in the scene lives 6000 miles away and neither of us is great about writing, maybe partly because what I want isn’t writing. I miss having a friend I can go out for coffee with and sit and chat a couple times a month. And no, we probably wouldn’t talk about kinky stuff. But we could. I wouldn’t have to guard my tongue, worry about saying too much, always be the listener.

I can't see any way around this (and I don't especially want to be "out" at work — I value privacy in all directions there).  But I hate worrying about maintaining the walls, especially when in my heart I don't feel what I do in private should matter to anyone else.  But it would.  It wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would matter.

As a friend once said, "the Titanic had compartments too."

Childishly heartbroken

The question “what’s really bothering you?” springs to mind.

Last night I had dinner with my closest graduate school (though she’s Dr. Friend now having already completed her PhD) and her small son. She and her family are headed to Chicago for her first professional position. I’m thrilled for her — it’s a great job.
theo-and-nelsonAnyway, last night they came over to our apartment after we’d eaten. I was doing my best to amuse her small son (our apartment isn’t the most kid-friendly place) by pulling out whatever (vanilla) toys I could find. When they left, I gave him all sorts of cheap plastic toys I’d collected via McD’s Happy Meals. He was beyond excited by them and I was pleased to see them go.

And then he asked if he could have Theo. Theo is my plastic bite-y T-Rex dinosaur. He’s from the Natural History Museum in London and I tend to use him (at least in my imagination) to attack those who thwart me. I’ve had him for 5 years. On the other hand, the child asking is four years old, has a father who’s been unexpectedly away for two weeks due to a family emergency and had just this past week had to see all his things including toys, packed up and shipped away in a truck to some place he’s never been. So of course I said he could have it. I was glad to give it.

Except I woke up this morning feeling deeply sad about the loss of Theo.

Huh?

My only hope is that I’m really mourning the loss of my dear friend who’s moving away. I think that’s the case. I couldn’t really care this much about a plastic dinosaur head on a stick.

Could I?

Tired of Talking About Me

I should qualify that title statement a bit — don’t get me wrong.  I find myself utterly fascinating.  After all, I spend a lot of time with me.  I write about me (what else is blogging after all?).  I sometimes meet friends for coffee and talk about myself at least some of the time (at least during the time we’re not talking about their children).

So what do I mean?

Basically I’m complaining about having to go to the doctor.  Or rather, about going to doctors for the first time.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist.  He’s great — I like him a lot.  But he’s not a long term therapist.  Rather, he’s the one who’s diagnosed me (bipolar I with anxiety disorder in case you’re keeping track) and keeps track of my lithium dosage and blood readings.*  Anyway, he’s been great and wants me to find a therapist.  Ever the obedient patient, I determined to do as told.

However, rather than just taking a referral, I decided it would be far easier to use the student counseling services on campus.  This would mean, thought I, that I could just go to therapy once a week on my lunch hour.  So I made an appointment (explaining the situation on the phone to the intake person), filled out yet another pile o’ forms with statements about my feelings, past treatments, family history and the like.  When I got to the office yesterday, I was met with yet another pile of forms.  This is a university and I work here so I knew better than to argue.  I just filled the damn things out out and turned them in.

My next step was a meeting with Rebecca, a graduate psych student doing clinical practice (like, she’d be practicing on me).  That’s cool, she seemed nice enough.  We went through 45 minutes of discussion about why I was there, questions about my history, my goals and then my feelings.  I had no thoughts for her on my feelings — I felt fine (other than being a little hungry due to the lack of lunch). 

Then she started talking in that very gentle, I-hope-you’re-not-going-to-be-angry-or-melt-down way.  Rebecca told me she wanted to refer me off campus to a counseling psychiatrist or psychologist.  That the center now had a policy of only doing 12 sessions with any student in a given year and she felt I’d be better off with someone who I could see in an on-going fashion without needing to worry about running into the that limit.   Plus, since I have a medical diagnosis of a specific disorder, there would be no problem with insurance coverage even off campus.  As I listened, I wasn’t in danger of melting down, but my first thought was "damn, I so don’t want to introduce myself again."

There’s nothing for it of course.  She’s right — a private therapist is definitely the way to go.  Before anyone says it, I know I’m really fortunate.  I live in Santa Monica where there’s no shortage of mental health professionals and I’ll be able to take my pick.  My insurance coverage as a student is good.  Pablo’s coverage as a university employee is even better.  But even when I’m feeling good, this sort of intake is agony.  I hate talking to strangers**, especially about myself.  Especially about what’s going on in my head, which is my own private domain.  I keep myself feeling safe a lot of times by making sure to let people talk about themselves and not talking about the things that I feel are private and important to me.  I’m not just introverted — most of the time I’m shy too. 

This blog entry is just a little whine, there’s nothing for it and the appointments will have to be made.  I’m just glad that I won’t get the referrals until Thursday.  With the Friday holiday that means the earliest I can even start making appointments is July 7.   

*this is apparently very important as there’s a rather fine line between the therapeutic and toxic blood level of lithium.  Knowing this does not help with my anxiety issues, but the lithium does seem to be a helpful mood stabilizing drug.

**writing to strangers in a blog is apparently a completely different matter.

Visas

They always seem ready to bite us.

Someone let Paul’s extension request sit a little too long on their desk so now his paycheck is being delayed “two or three business days.”

Great. Can we ask them to call our landlady and explain it to her?