Ten Rationales for Atypical Florida Criminals

Florida is notorious for it’s crazy, whacked-out criminals and bizarre news headlines. Almost everybody has heard about Florida Man…

If you haven’t, you can read all about him here: Tremendous Things Florida Men Accomplished this Year.

And another run down here catches quite a few more: Year in Florida Man 2015.

He’s not one guy. He’s the beginning of many of the bizarre news headlines that come out of Florida or other places where Florida Man has visited.

“Florida Man Throws Alligator into Wendy’s Drive Thru Window”

“Florida Man Tries to Rob Liquor Store with Dead Sting Ray”

“Florida Man Arrested in Utah After Calling 911 Eighty Times to Report Chicken McNuggets Shortage”

“Florida Man Breaks into Jail to Visit Friends”

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But he’s not alone. He’s in the company of quite a few Florida Women as you can see here: 50 Most Insane Florida News Headlines of All Times.

And if you would like to keep up with the latest, you can follow @_FloridaMan and @_FloridaWoman on Twitter.

Other states have weirdos, but Florida seems to produce them quicker than feral cats multiply. Why?

Let’s look at the possibilities:

  1. The weather is too nice to stay in school, so ignorance is rampant.
  2. Intense exposure to sunshine fries brain cells.
  3. Governor Rick Scott refuses to accept Federal aid for mental health.
  4. Sand in their underwear causes constant irritation.
  5. There is more alcohol consumed than water.
  6. There is meth in the salt shakers.
  7. Other states give their criminals bus tickets to Florida upon release.
  8. Pesticides and herbicides from all the golf courses have warped their DNA.
  9. Lightening causes an altered acceptable level of reality.
  10. Our jail cells are more comfortable than our affordable hotels or homeless shelters.

I’m not sure if any of my theories are correct, but I’m positive it’s never going to change. These bizarre criminals are getting younger and younger. Since 2011, there have been three stories of teens dressing up as physicians and working in hospital E.R.s and CCUs, even OB/GYN clinics and getting away with it for months…not days, but months.

How do we let this happen?

Seriously. We’re as messed up as the criminals.

What’s your theory?

Pardon Me While I Pull the Bearded Lady From the BR Stall

Today I’m writing from Starbucks because it was within walking distance from my house and 1) needed to get out, and 2) I need to get more comfortable with my laptop.

My query letter has been rewritten setting up the context of the book first rather than jumping straight into my book pitch. That’s supposed to ground the reader in the familiar. How the book is similar and different from other works, my target audience, and where it fits on the shelf.

Then I ease into the story description, not referring to Cara as a girl, but a young woman. We don’t want it to shock anybody by dragging children off to a nudist resort. Heaven forbid a child be put in a position to see a naked person. Please pull the drapes Michelangelo.

There is no mention of the word transgender in the letter. In the context paragraph, Brandi is described as inspired by Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, and how I wanted to create a female, brassy, badass character who could hold her own and prove herself a worthy heroine.

I’m really disturbed by the whole transphobia movement. North Carolina and Tennessee have new bathrooms laws requiring people to toilet in the bathroom of the sex that is on their birth certificate. I don’t give two shits who is in the room when I pee. When I have to go, I will go, even if it’s on the side of the road. I’ve peed in a ten story parking garage before. I’ve peed into a McDonald’s cup while stranded on an interstate between exits and behind a bad accident in broad daylight. My three year old son whipped it out and peed on a tree in the mall once. Not saying that was cool, but I guess if you have to go, you have to go. And many, many times in my life I have waltzed right into the men’s restroom to relieve myself when the lady’s was occupied.

Amazingly, there is NOT ONE documented case of a transgendered person assaulting anyone in a public bathroom…but people just love to make non-issues issues. Thousands of incidents of transgendered people being assaulted by cis-gendered. All the people insisting they don’t want their daughters in the BR with transgendered people are going to feel funny when out walk the female to male trans with their full beards. But hey, they were female on their birth certificate. People need to get out of the pants of other people. Surely we have bigger fish to fry.

We have a HUGE LGBT community here in Orlando and I’m anticipating some major confusion if these crazy bathroom laws are passed here. I would much rather my young granddaughters share a restroom with my girlfriends who used to be guys, than my guy friends who used to be girls. Not that I think ANY of my transgendered friends might assault anybody, but I do believe my granddaughters would be more comfortable with people in their bathroom that they can clearly visually identify with. It’s not like these people are dropping their panties at the door. I’m pretty sure they do their business in the stall. And my grandson might question why there’s a lady attempting to straddle a urinal in his bathroom. I seriously believe it would be better to just have coed potties and be done with it so all the appropriate questions about people’s PRIVATES can get answered. (Okay, not seriously.)

I mean, do these phobics really understand the consequences of what they are demanding? Their sons will be toileting with women who look like women. Their daughters will be toileting with men who look like men. WTF??? People need to educate themselves about the transition process before passing laws and freaking out.

I guess all the hype has the potential of aiding me with my series. I can see some amusing situations for Brandi developing.

Off Topic: Every time I read about the possibly of jailing women and doctors for abortions (not the male sperm donors, of course), I realize that we are moving closer to Sharia Law without the help of any Islamic religion. And let’s oppose both birth control and abortion so women remain as oppressed as possible. Okay, that’s off subject, but I just felt a need to share.

The RS helped me make a nice spread sheet to keep up with my query letters, names, emails, dates, responses. Trying to stay organized for the long haul. Still feeling twinges of ambivalence about the whole process.

I really have to go pee, so I’m going to leave this Comedy Central item here to entertain you while I go check Birth Certificates at the bathroom door.

Would You Work For Free?

One of the most talented writers on the web is right here on WordPress. Of course, now she is all ta ta wi wi with her own self hosted site since she has so much traffic, but I knew her when. Whether she is writing about backpacking across Southeast Asia, her deranged psycho-stalker ex-boyfriend, or her crazy co-workers in the psychiatric hospital, Aussa Lorens knows how to spin a good yarn.

I am going to be perfectly honest and tell you when I first met her in my comments, I did not like her. I thought, “Who the hell is this ‘HackerNinjaHookerSpy’ biatch talking about her psycho ex-boyfriend and getting wasted on wine on my comments. Has she gone mad?”

Then I went to her blog and got the whole story. I stayed there a while and read her exceptionally well written adventures in Southeast Asia. And more about her hilarious life in the nut house. Now I just love her and you will too. If you have not met her already, drop by and get the scoop. Her latest post (http://aussalorens.com/2014/08/07/firing-stories/) had me in stitches. You must read the comments also. They are as laughable as the posts.

I promised you posts in a new category called Nurses Notes. Aussa reminded me about that when she spoke of the nurses she works with, which she often does. Since I was one of the good nurses, and not one of the weirdoes just working for a pay check, I didn’t relate, at first, and I resented her remarks. Then I thought about my own co-workers. The ones I escaped from when I retired.

With her last post I also asked myself about my personal motivations as a nurse. I wanted to help people avoid pain and suffering. Nursing school was tough. I thought if I just saved one person, it would all be worth it. But God’s honest truth…if I wanted to work for free I would have become a nun.

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There was; however, one time I recall taking an assignment for no other reason than the pay offered, and that is what I will tell you about today.

I had a job once where it was ALL about the numbers and the dollar signs. Not for me, but for my employer. It was about ten years before my retirement, when I was working for a Hospice organization. It was a for-profit organization and my bosses, Mario and Leanna, were brutal. (They’re married now BTW.)

I did the job for a year. It was the most challenging and most rewarding year of my thirty year career.

I worked in Marketing and Admissions…selling dignified death. It is the only marketing position I’ve ever held and there is a whole different climate on that side of the fence. I was a Palliative Care Liaison (PCL).

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There were five of us PCLs, all registered nurses. We were expected to knock down four admissions in an eight hour day. Basic math tells you this is a full day, but there should be travel time and meal time and an occasional break. Also, being the compassionate person that I am, I would often feel the need to spend more than two hours with a family. After all, this was their loved one dying. Sometimes (doctors be damned) we were the first ones telling the patient that they were terminal. That’s not news to deliver lightly. Most days turned into at least ten or twelve hours.

We went to homes, nursing homes, and hospitals explaining services, ordering oxygen and durable medical equipment, arranging transportation, getting tons of paperwork signed for a payee source, usually Medicaid with its myriad of complex forms, conferring with physicians and team members. Sometimes we schmoozed doctors over dinner and cocktails (company paid) and sometimes we delivered donuts to nursing home staff when admissions were slow.

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Hospice, common in Europe for eons, was a relatively new concept back then in the U.S., so the marketing aspect was crucial. It was all about appearances and we were expected to dress professionally in suits and heels, despite the heat and the loamy terrain we often had to trudge through. We had rolling offices we lugged around in the trunks of our cars.

This particular day, I had slept only about four hours, having been up till 2am the previous night faxing paperwork to insurance companies, Medicaid, and HMOs. I arose with sun, showered and suited up.

By 7am there was already a fax from the referral office. My first appointment was in Yeehaw Junction, fifty-five miles south…in the center of swampy cow country. The only establishment in Yeehaw Junction is a restaurant with what was formerly a bordello upstairs that serves as a hotel.  The historic Desert Inn dates back to the 1800s as the first working hotel in Florida.

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Roadkill hash and vulture eggs were the only thing on the breakfast menu so I had a few cups of coffee while waiting on my 8:30 am appointment time. The family and patient I was visiting with were already prepared for Hospice services so all I really had to do was get the paperwork done, make a few phone calls and be on my way.

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As I hit the turnpike and headed north my pager went off and the text message from Mario said I needed to be at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) by noon. Passing through Kissimmee at 11:30 am I felt I needed to swing through the drive-thru at McDonalds and grab some lunch to eat on the way. It was sweltering hot in that suit and I was thirsty so I swigged down about two thirds of the super-sized diet coke in a hurry.

On to the ramp at Osceola Parkway; the next exit would take me straight down OBT to Orange Avenue and ORMC. I was making good time. Not going to happen. Ten miles south of the exit, I topped the bridge to see traffic backed up for miles. No exit between me and OBT and no turning back. This was going to be a long one. I waited.

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An hour later, I was still waiting. Knowing we were supposed to stay calm, cool, collected and maintain a professional composure, I texted Mario to call the family and explained what was happening. I could see the helicopters transporting accident victims up ahead.

Calm, cool and collected was a challenge to maintain when you have had to give your lunch over to an old man tapping on your window and pee in a McDonald’s cup in broad daylight. (Not an easy task for a woman guys.) Bless his heart, he had given himself insulin and was on his way to meet his son for lunch. Without food he could have gone into seizures, or worse. Four cups of coffee had to go somewhere.

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Mario texted me again, “Where the hell are you?” I explained everything. “That’s TMI over lunch.”

“You asked,” was all I could reply.

By 2:00 pm I was at the hospital and the lady and her daughter were most cordial. They were glad I was there as the plan was to have Mama go home to the daughter’s house and all of the necessary paperwork was signed and arrangements were made.

4:00 pm and I was texted to be at Florida Hospital (FH). I am not happy because, while I have only had two appointments, I have been on the go since 6am on 4 hours sleep. My day should have been over an hour ago or more, and I still haven’t had breakfast or lunch. I grabbed a tuna wrap and a tall iced tea to go at the restaurant café.

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I beat rush hour traffic and made it to the FH parking garage in thirty minutes. Just enough time for that supersized soda and that large iced tea to mingle and I was on the tenth floor. The nearest breezeway, and bathroom, was across the garage and down seven floors. All I can say is thank goodness for heels. This is NOT a small building.

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With aching feet and a throbbing shoulder from hauling my office across two counties, a ten story parking garage, and up ten more stories in the neighboring building, I made it to the ICU.

My patient, while relatively young, had a horrible clinical picture. I reviewed the chart, made some notes and met privately with the family. The fairly young woman had two children present, a young man and woman in their twenties. They were divided over what to do. Mother was unconscious and had been since brain surgery fourteen days ago. Mother had two terminal diagnoses, brain cancer and inoperable liver cancer. She also had a colostomy, a foley catheter, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) where she was fed intravenously through a central venous line, and was on a respirator.

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There were two more children in college, so it was necessary to make a conference call, a difficult thing to accomplish through AT & T at that time. Using my little flip chart, I explained the services a second time. I was hoping for a tie breaker, but again, they were divided.

About that time, the doctor shows up. We ended up in a sparring match with us both citing statistics and lab values. The hospital staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and two of the children favored terminating most of the life saving measures and sending her home. Two children and the doctor (who had known the woman for years through their church) were at odds. The doctor was adamant, “If you take a woman right out of brain surgery and throw her in a wheel barrow and cart her across town she IS going to die!”

I couldn’t argue with that. I must have repeated a thousand times, “You all think about it and give us a call when you decide.” Each time, I was met with another barrage of questions which the doctor disputed, but the staff supported. It was horrible for the family. I insisted they had been well informed and did not have to decide at that moment (another thousand times). After 7:30 pm, I walked away.

Lifting my rolling office into the trunk I split my pants. About that time I received another page telling me to be at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic by 8:00 pm to do a formal presentation for a staff meeting. I explained my dilemma. I was NOT excused because three other PCLS were still on appointments and one had gone home sick. I had ONLY done three appointments.

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The Salvation Army was on the way and they were still open when I got there. I grabbed the first pair of black pants that fit. I was wasted by the time I finished that presentation a half hour later and it was pouring rain when I left the parking garage. I drove home and called in reports to the various Team Leaders simultaneously. Getting out of the car in my own garage an hour later my Salvation Army pants zipper busted…but I was finally home.

10:00 pm and I am thinking my long day is over. I slipped into my PJs and made myself a frozen pizza. The fax machine had already spit out tomorrow’s four appointments.  I tore them off and started going through my paperwork faxing signed forms to their respective agencies.

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By 11:00 pm I was done with that and crawled between the sheets. My pager went off with a notice to call Mario at home. What?

There was a patient on the south side of Orlando at Dr. Phillip’s Hospital that we needed to hook up a CAD pump (Continuous Analgesia Delivery system) for so he could get out of there before midnight. It required and RN. There was no team nurse or PCL available. All of the Team Leaders had gone to Miami for a conference and I was their last hope. It was imperative that this patient be out of the hospital by midnight and the ambulance for transport was already waiting. The hospital staff was not allowed to touch our equipment and the agency pharmacy had already dropped off the narcotics.

It would be a ten minute deal. The patient was already admitted to the program and was just awaiting transport. Normally we were paid $75.00 per visit, Mario offered $150.00. I knew this was a make or break moment, but I was exhausted. “How much is it going to cost our company if we wait until tomorrow?”

“More than $3000.00.”

“I’ll do it for $1500.00”

“Deal.”

So this was the one time that I can recall actually taking a nursing assignment for no other reason than the money offered. By 2:00 am, I was back in my bed preparing to do it all again the next day.

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Would you work that hard for free?

How Colloquialisms Get Started

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I went shopping today for some clothes. I have put it off for a long while. Seems I’ve spread a bit more than I would have liked since retiring, so I can’t satisfactorily shop in a regular store anymore.

I’m short and wide so I have to go to the specialty shops. I’m not going to name the one I went to, because they are just trying to do their job…but you may also know it as the fat lady’s store.

So I go inside and bright young lady asks me if she can help me.

“Yes, I’m looking for pants with an elastic waistband.” (Notice I didn’t say, “Britches.”)

“We don’t have any pants with elastic waist bands. We only have regular pants. All of our pants have zip closures and belt loops.”

Now, I’m thinking…If you can’t find pants with an elastic waistband in the fat lady’s store…where in the hell are you going to find them?

So I told her I would just look around.

A few minutes later, I came across an entire section of pants with elastic waistbands. I called her attention to them.

“Oh!” she says. “Those aren’t pants.  That’s our active wear.”

“Well, aren’t they pants with elastic waistbands?”

“No, not at all,” she says, “it’s all active wear.”

Yes, she was blond…just like me, but I don’t think that was the whole problem. She’s been trained to flatter fat women. “Active Wear” is so much nicer than “Fat Lady Clothes” don’t you think?

It sort of made me feel like I have graduated to the Tupperware of the clothing industry.

Now, I ended up spending nearly three hundred dollars in their store on bras, and active wear, so it didn’t hurt and maybe it helped. Now I can tell people I wear active wear and it will sound like I’m trying to do something about my weight gain.

It did make me think about our southern colloquialisms and how they get started. You can Google southern colloquialisms and get tons of funny words and phrases. These are words and phrases I grew up with. I know proper English, but when I get out among a crowd of other southerners I speak just like they do.

When I write some of my characters in southern lit, I write them with dialect. That can make issues when your beta readers are Yankees, Californians, or Brits. We do have an understanding though…for the most part.

Delilah S. Dawson from Rosswell, Georgia has a great post on how to write a kick ass southern gothic tale here on Chuck Wendig’s site.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/05/delilah-s-dawson-25-ingredients-for-a-kickass-southern-gothic/#respond

Here are just a few of the daily speech quirks you will hear in my house. Not the hilarious metaphors and similes you hear everywhere…just a few routine phrases.

“I’ve never done that before, but I might could.”

“Don’t be sharing this with nobody, but I hear tell he’s getting married.”

“She’s right smart.”

“I used to could turn cartwheels all over this yard.”

“I had dinner on the table before he got in the door good.”

“I’m sick at my stomach.”

Instead of “hand that to me,” or “pass that to me,” we say “reach that to me.”

“I reckon he will.”

Bedclothes = sheets/linens

Britches = pants

Y’all think on it and get back with me.

Do you write regional dialect?

Finding Independence at Forty

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Independence Day is just around the corner and this is the time when we are supposed to celebrate living in a democratic society and the freedoms we declared coming out from under British rule.

Funny, I never think of that. I always think of my own personal struggle for independence.

I was officially emancipated at the age of fifteen. A ward of the state, I had a wage paying job, a pregnancy, and a marriage that indicated that I was prepared for independent living. HA! Yes, laugh.

The job lasted six months, the pregnancy nine, and the marriage seventeen.

Life got better. I got a college degree in nursing, other jobs, another marriage, had two more children.

Then, the kids grew up. The husband became strange(r). We got divorced. Trust me, it needed to happen.

I could have stayed in the area, but I opted to come to Florida to be near to supportive family. It was a culture shock. From conservative, small town, U.S.A., to a nudist resort in a diverse community where “anything goes” was the rule. Finding yourself at age thirty-six, the prime of your life, single, with a good paying career, in a Florida resort sounds like heaven. I was sipping pina coladas in the sunshine, for about two weeks. It gets old faster than you think.

BTW: Being a nudist does not imply low morals and no self-respect, just in case you are wondering.

I had my independence. I could pay my own bills, manage my own bank account. Not be responsible for somebody else’s crap. I could come and go at liberty. My responsibilities were my own. But I was alone. I had fallen off the edge of the earth.

For the first three years I sat in my house and listened to the clock tick. I had one five month relationship that ended when I learned the guy replaced his dying wife’s cardiotonic with herbal vitamins in an effort to hasten her death. Seriously, shit gets scary.

I had left a world of social structure that included being soccer mom, Girl Scout cookie chairperson, Den Mother, youth group chaperone, softball coach, Varsity Cheerleader mom, Tae Kwon Do mom, PTO & Church secretary, Women’s League co-chairlady farmer’s wife… those All American roles that had made me who I was, and became simply me. All of the things the other women my age were doing were gone.

Being a single woman in your mid-thirties is challenging. Being independent also meant I could pick and choose my company, but that was not as easy as it sounds. I hung out at Cheeks, the bar and grille at Cypress Cove, and found most of the men to be superficial and shallow. They were there for a good time. I wanted more for myself. But I was 500 miles from home and becoming single for the first time in my adult life, had no clue how to proceed.

After three years, I finally decided to venture out alone. I would go to restaurants alone, and feel like everyone was staring at me sitting there with no partner…the poor girl who probably got stood up. I would take in a movie, sit in the rear…and watch the backs of pairs of heads leaning against each other. AND I cried in these places, real tears of loneliness and despair.

I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and go out to meet people of my own age. Where? I had fallen out with the Church. I won’t go into that here, but that was not an option. There were bars and clubs and volunteer organizations, where I could meet people who; perhaps, shared my own interests. I joined a canoe club, a waterways cleanup crew, The Wilderness Trekkers, the Audubon Society, and Artist’s League…and waited on them to post their next meeting dates. Meanwhile, I was going to brave the world and go out, alone.

One night, I left Cypress Cove, way out in the wilderness, and went to downtown Orlando for the very first time, alone. I found a cute little Irish Pub with a Peter, Paul, and Mary band singing folk music. I ordered a drink and sipped it for an hour. There was a man at the bar. An American Indian with nicely chiseled features, long black hair, and suntanned skin standing there in a suit coat looking like he was saying, “Come with me and my wolf to traipse through the forest of my world.” Our eyes met. He sent me a second drink. Within a few minutes he was seated at my table and we were talking about Florida wildlife and sixties music, books we had read and movies. I had finally met somebody interesting.

He asked if I had dinner yet. I had not. He offered to take me to a deli downtown. Not knowing anything about where I was going in Orlando or the parking provided, I left my car blocks away in the public parking garage. He was parked in a lot just outside the pub. I agreed to join him. (Mistake number one: never get in the car with strangers. Didn’t your mother teach you that when you were four?”)

We rode away, up and down unfamiliar city streets to a quaint little deli. As small as it was, it was crowded, and I thought he was really nice to take me somewhere so popular. The waitress came and I ordered food. I thought it was strange he had invited me to dinner, but only ordered coffee for himself. It was getting late and the crowd began to thin as I was finishing up my simple sandwich meal. He looked at me and said,

“Look, you’re thirty-something, I’m thirty something. We’re obviously attracted to each other. We’re adults here. What will it be, my place or yours?”

“Well, this is very nice,” I said softly, “But I’d really like to get to know you better. We’ve just met.”

With that, he stood up and started screaming, “That’s it! I’m done! You women are all alike!” Heads turned in our direction. People stopped eating and stared. “We buy you drinks and dinner, and you always want more. More dinners, more drinks, more stuff. I’m outta here!” He threw down his napkin and proceeded toward the door. “Find somebody else to take advantage of!” he yelled back over his shoulder as he pushed through the door.

I sat for a few seconds smiling at the onlookers. Then, to the clerk who had come out from behind the counter to sweep the floor, “Check, please. And could you call me a cab?”

Here I was pushing forty, and taking a cab back to my car across town. I didn’t think things would ever change. I was destined to remain alone. I laughed all the way home!

After that, I went back to isolating myself at the Cove. I met the Canadian Cowboy a couple of weeks later. This was a nice guy who came to the Cove. Tall, blond and handsome with sparkling blue eyes, and hung like a horse. He was always sporting a white cowboy hat, and nothing else. We had talked off and on. He asked me on a dinner date. We went out of the Cove to Pebbles. A lovely restaurant at the Crossroads by Disney. This was about twelve miles from my home. We went from my house in his car.  A real freakin’ date.

After dinner, he groped me the whole way home. I’m thinking, “Okay, you’re pushing forty…there’s a certain expectation.” We had sort of gotten to know each other. He was kinda nice. He was smart, good looking, polite (up to a point). Time to release your inhibitions girl and go with the flow.

We got back to my house. I put on some music. He stripped off his clothes. I started lighting the candles around the house. I was trying to set a mood. He followed me to the bedroom where I was lighting the last candle, and said, “So you have some crazy, fucked up ritual you have to perform before sex. I’m good with that, but it makes me feel like some animal that’s about to be sacrificed to the Gods.”

Whooosh! Out went the candle. I went around the house blowing out all of the candles, one by one. I handed him his clothes and pushed him out the front door. Okay, I’ll admit, I had issues. I laughed myself to sleep!

Dating got a lot better after those first couple of experiences. I vowed to date any man who asked. I dated over a hundred. Most of them I would not date twice. Some got one to three. There were a few short term relationships, a couple of long term relationships. I was non-committal and not looking for a marriage partner. For seven or eight years into my forties I learned a lot. Most significantly: How to take what was beautiful from one relationship into the next leaving the baggage behind. That culminated into knowing exactly what I wanted in a relationship. I was not willing to settle for anything less.

Rules:

  1. Learn to laugh.
  2. Never say never.
  3. The best dates aren’t the expensive ones, but he should buy you dinner and you should order anything off the menu without a thought. After all, you’ve colored your hair, manicured your nails, responsibly managed your feminine needs, applied your make-up and perfume, dressed in your nicest attire, including those stockings and uncomfortable heels, bought all that sexy lingerie.  I could go on. Bottom line: respect yourself. Buy him dinner, too!
  4. There should be several dates, real dates. You deserve to be courted and wooed, even if it takes a while. If he is THAT impatient, he’s not worth the time.
  5. You don’t have to have a man on your arm to know that you are desirable.
  6. If he can’t listen as well as he talks, he’s not going to hear you. (That works two ways.)

There are probably more but those are the ones that easily come to mind. I could tell you stories about other dating adventures, but I’ll save them for another holiday. Now I’m eighteen with thirty six years of experience.

Just so you know, before age fifty, I met the man of my dreams, but he told me I would not have liked him if I had met him sooner. He’s perfect, funny, charming, a real renaissance man having traveled the world, a real genius in many ways, a handyman, supportive and kind. We are more interdependent than independent or dependent. We both have our own interests, but those we share in, as well. We were married six years ago this October. No regrets.

We met online through Great Expectations dating service. It cost money. I figured the men would be really desperate or really serious and it was up to me to decide which. I was ready for serious. Our first date was Austin’s Coffee Shoppe, where we talked for three hours. He was the first guy I met, and he was on the payment plan, so it took me three years to pay off that contract. Well worth it and he helped with that. Just saying there is hope if you are waiting for the right one to come along.

They won’t come knocking on your door.

Get independent.

Put yourself out there.

Face your fear.

Traps: Our Latest Bipolar Moment

Though I don’t dwell on it, I have made no secret of my affliction with mental illness. I don’t like it when people stigmatize mental illness by using it as an excuse to behave stupidly. Yet, part of my coping mechanism is to cry laugh at myself when I do. Laughter is far more effective in many instances than meds or therapy ever could be.

My husband is also bipolar, so the two of us can get into serious trouble. Even on medications. We don’t have healthy boundaries. Someone hurts our bitty feelings and we’ll be morbidly depressed for weeks. A tiny triumph and we are ready to take on the world.

I am not trying to belittle the agony mental illness can cause. I am no stranger to that either. My mother, severely depressed, committed suicide because she believed she had cursed my father’s unborn child when it was born with deformities and died. My first cousin offed herself after a manic episode in which she cashed all of her husband’s savings bonds and ran up $50,000 in credit card debt trying to redecorate and furnish her house. I worked psychiatry for years and saw families and lives ruined, slaughtered by this disorder. It is one of the most damaging and consequential disorders in the DSM-V.

This is real life heavy duty crap.

And yet I laugh.

People who know avoid you. It changes how you are perceived. People don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to talk about it. Yes, it is disturbing. It is the sad truth. People are afraid. One in four Americans is mentally ill. Those are just the ones who are officially diagnosed and treated. The other ones, who aren’t, scare me more.

Please! Tell me you can’t check off on a few of these:

Manic phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

Depressive phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

Anyway, if you can check off on a lot of these you should probably get yourself some help. If you already have, good for you! I did. My husband did. But there is really no way to totally avoid symptoms, so we have learned to laugh. I am happy we found each other. Now we can laugh together, and put each other in check.

What do we find to laugh about, you ask?

We laughed when we bought a cabin cruiser on first sight without a surveyor’s inspection, and one of the motors blew up on its maiden voyage.

That was a bipolar moment. We already had a boat, like we needed two. We don’t even live on the water; it’s moored 150 miles away growing barnacles.

We laughed when my husband sent $500.00 to China via Western Union for some iPads we just had to have before a vacation. No, they never came, but the rocket scientist and some guy in Beijing exchanged emails for weeks in broken English.

That was a bipolar moment.

I once painted every room in the house beige before realizing it was pink, which required a repaint of every room in the house neutral.

That was probably a bipolar moment, or two, or three.

And our latest bipolar moment: Our dog was attacked by raccoon. We think (we don’t even know). She had a seven inch gash in her chest requiring anesthesia and sutures. So we hired a trapper to come to our home to catch the varmints…for $500.00. He set out three traps with “protein” bait for three weeks.

Traps are $17.00 at Ace Hardware. Vienna sausages are less than a buck a can.

Ha, ha, ha! Could that have been a bipolar moment?

That was a week ago. Maybe the dog scared them all off. This is our haul so far:

traps 001

 

Humor is one of the most effective coping mechanisms. Let us laugh.

Yes, sometimes the meds need tweaking. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

So laugh with me.

Flirting with Disaster

I know it is late (or early, depending on where you live), but after a day of unending flashbacks, I have to tell you about how we nearly died last night.

My husband, the rocket scientist, is a humble man in many ways, gregarious, kind, and compassionate, but he has a flaw or two (or three, or four): 1) He can be auspiciously flamboyant, 2) He likes to be right, and 3) He turns sixty next month. You cannot softly tell him anything he does not want to hear, or you’ll be accused of yelling at him, even if you whisper.

“Dear, you are about to put salt in your coffee.”

“I know, stop yelling at me.”

He’s extremely sensitive.

You all know how horrible Orlando, Florida can be to drive in. With the traffic, tourists, and old people, you are lucky to make it home alive anytime you dare to go out.

Yesterday we spent a few hours at a car dealership. My husband drives a Mercedes SLK 32 AMG. It’s a sporty little two-seater hard top convertible. He’s been thinking about trading it in. Youth is wasted on the young. The only people driving these cars are 60 year old rocket scientists. This car has a lot of horsepower. God help us if he was twenty.

After a few hours at the dealership, which we were smart enough to walk out of without a new set of keys, we decided to go down the street and dine at a lovely little Greek restaurant. After a delicious meal of phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, dolmades, roast lamb with rich gravy over rice we got on the road to head home.

We’re traveling east on Highway 50, also known as Colonial. For those unfamiliar, this is a seven lane road that cuts across the center of Orlando west to east, parallel to the 408 toll road. It is also one of the busiest roads in three counties. We are approaching the 417 which connects to the 408.

I say to the rocket scientist, “I think you need to turn left before the bridge.”

“I want to go south on the 417, so I turn right,” he says from the far right lane.

“No,” I say as we near the bridge, “You’ll have to turn left. The on ramp does a 180, and then you’ll be headed south.”

“I don’t think so,” he says going even farther over to the right, across the white line. Now we are riding on the paved shoulder to the right of the white line, a hair’s breadth from the ditch. He has his right blinker on. He never slows the vehicle. We are in the fucking median between the road and death, and we are running out of road as we come to the overpass. The light turns red at the intersection ahead of us.

“Honey, you are NOT on the road, you are on the shoulder, there’s a sign twenty feet in front of us.” I say calmly, refusing to scream. “There is not a right turn onto the 417 before the overpass.”

Jerking the car back onto the road to avoid the oncoming sign, speeding under the overpass, he blasts through the red light, starts to turn right against “one way” signs into traffic that is stopped at the intersection preparing to go left from the off ramp of the 417 onto Colonial, suddenly realizes his mistake, veers left, cuts across seven lanes, including three lanes of oncoming traffic which he miraculously weaves through to do a U-Turn that has us going back west in the right lane.

I grabbed ahold to my stomach, doing all that I could to keep the dolmades down.

He says, “I think I go right up here after the bridge.”

“I think you’re right,” I say.

“There should have been a right turn onto the 417 going south.”

“You’re right. But there’s not.”