Redhead, nurse, sister, daughter, aunt, newly-ex-wife, sucker for lost animals, currently owned by Percy the cat and Spencer the dog. In the middle of some major changes–trying to figure out what I want so I can figure out how to get there.

A Change of Scenery

The few of you who have followed my blogging since the early days know that I am not always great at consistency.  So, my sister and I have teamed up to co-author a new blog that will hopefully improve the frequency of new material.  You can find us at http://twistedcistern.blogspot.com/ if you are so inclined.  I’d love to see you over there.  Also, Sophie isn’t my real name, and we are “coming out” at the new place.  I’ll be blogging under the name my momma gave me–Margaret.  Come on over, pretty please?

Spencer “Hangcheck” Kraft unknown-2012
His somewhat dubious parentage and background meant nothing when he was so kind, gentle and calm with my (then) 4 yo niece. His personality earned him a ticket out of the Humane Society and a trip to “Dogs R Us” before heading to his new home. He quickly adapted to couches, beds, and doggie treats. He was named by a dear friend after a street name (so glad Elm wasn’t the next intersection). He remained true to his initial gentleness–letting 3yo Jameson ride him like a horse this past Thanksgiving despite his ever increasing arthritis. He would, however, steal your food as soon as look at you, helping James form his first sentence, “Doggie eat bagel.” He loved all the cats in his life who would let him: Percy, Sidney, Boris and Sammy. He tolerated a transfer to Houston and back with all the grace he could muster (much more on the return trip, I must say). I only heard him bark like he meant it a single time, and there was a dude with a chainsaw in the back yard at the time.
Though he often impersonated a baddog, he was always A Very Good Boy.
Goodbye, Spencer. There is an emptiness in my heart and in the house without you here.

The New Year

The start of this New Year has been an emotional one.  Not necessarily bad, but I have felt a bit more towards anxious and closer to tears than usual (and my usual amount is sufficient, thank you).  There was the post from The Bloggess that sent more traffic to my little corner of the internet than I have had throughout my years of blogging, even when I was predictable.  Thanks to each of you who showed up.  You never really know how what you say is going to affect people, and I continue to be awed and amazed at what has come from her post.

I also had to say goodbye to the Best Very Bad Dog by the name of Red Baron.   He was a tiny thing when I picked him up out of the crate at the Humane Society and held him towards my then boyfriend for perusal. “Well, I looked him in the eye, so we can’t put him back now.”  So we took him home.  He was advertised as a “beagle mix,” but unless the beagle was a very sturdy type and mixed with an Irish Wolfhound, that was a guess–and a poor one.  He grew to be about 65 pounds before he got fat.  He HATED his crate and cried all night.  He ate the alarm clock and t-shirt we put inside to soothe him.  He ate my glasses while I was taking a nap on the couch.  He ate a pillow Mother had needle-pointed (after Mother had died).  He was nearly impossible to house train, and dropped out of obedience school due to lack of interest.

He was also sweet, loyal, a stealer of a stuffed Pooh Bear larger than he, and a really good nap buddy (he put his head on the pillow next to mine.  We had not lived at the same address for 10 years or so, but we still belonged to each other.  Whoever said how great the world would be if we all could be the people our dogs thought we were had my Reddog in mind.

I have also been moved to tears by the heartbreak of and the beautiful response to the fire at house this week. This put it best: “There is nothing virtual about internet friendships. I am deleting the word “online” from my phrase “online friends.”

I hope to post a bit more often, as Monica and Jenny have reminded me how fantastic being connected is. I also think it is good for me.

How is 2012 treating you?

This started as a comment on

Jenny’s

beautiful post.  I thought I should post it here as well.

I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. It is amazing to me that I still come across people at work (I’m a nurse) who will see a patient’s medication list and say, “Well, no wonder, she’s on lex*pro, P*xil, lith!um, or whichever other drug said patient might be taking.” I want to shout from the rooftops, “I HAVE BEEN ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS FOR MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE! DOES THAT CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT ME?” I do not yet feel comfortable shouting this at work, but it is something I am VERY open about with friends, family, and even people I don’t know terribly well. I do tell people at work as I get to know them, and I tell them in the same way I tell them I have high blood pressure…because that is how it should be spoken about. It is not a personal failing or weakness, it is a diagnosis.
Even with all my experience with depression and anxiety, I was fortunate enough to be without suicidal thoughts…until I wasn’t…almost 2 years ago. My marriage was ending. I felt like a total failure for the first time in my life. I spent 2 nights curled up on the floor of my bathroom weeping and thinking about how much better it might be just to take every. single. damned. pill I could find than to keep feeling the way that I felt. I didn’t line up the pills, I didn’t even open a single bottle, but holy shit was my black hole deeper and darker than I ever thought it could be.
My now ex-husband helped me get the help I needed. I will never forget how RIGHT he was regarding that…even in the midst of everything crashing in around us. He didn’t blame me; he didn’t tell me to get over it. He was on the way to work and turned his car around and came back to help me figure out how to claw my way out of that ugly, lying pit of depression. I am fortunate that I had him to help me.
I don’t think that I was ever one to blame people who committed suicide. I always knew that it had to be terrible to get to a place where that seemed like the best possible answer. As I said, I wasn’t even CLOSE to taking action, but I would not wish for anyone to feel the way I felt.
Thanks so much for what you shared. Thanks for keeping on sharing it even when you don’t want to. We are a tribe, and when you speak, you tell things that not all of us are ready to tell…and by doing that you make it easier for the next person to speak his or her truth.

There truly is no way to really describe my Grandmother than as a Proper Southern Gentlewoman. (Yes, all of those words require capitals.) She wore her hair in a bun, almost always wore a dress with a slip, and rarely raised her voice. She was a portrait of grace and class. Most of the time.

I was the eldest of her grandchildren (when you are a Lady’s granddaughter, you use words like “eldest,” you see). There are thirteen of us in all. During a big summer reunion bash, she taught us how to make “watermelon teeth.” They are hideous false teeth made from the rind of a watermelon. Her children (our parents) were both horrified and entertained.

She doled out M&M’s as if they were gold coins. I am amazed at the level of cooperation she could get from rowdy children for such a small investment. She drank Busch beer out of the can when it was just the family around. She rarely cursed, but I did think “damnyankee” was one word for many years.

She raised 6 children as a single parent. Mother was the oldest, 12, when my grandfather died…the youngest had been so recently conceived that Grandmother did not know she was pregnant when he died. We are all as different as can be, but we all respect (most of) the choices the others make. I missed a family reunion this weekend, and I am sorry, indeed, that I could not be there.

The day she surprised me the most was when I was in college. She and my aunt and cousin had come to Atlanta for a visit, so I came over from Athens. We were eating at a restaurant just chatting away. Suddenly, Grandmother got a grin on her face and said she had a joke to tell us…a dirty joke. She began to tell the joke and found herself unable to say the words out loud. Purses were searched until a pen was found, and she wrote on a napkin. I wish with all my being that I had saved that napkin. It should be framed and hung on a wall. She wrote the words “Fuck You” on the napkin. The joke was of a couple in bed who said, “…frantic pointing at the napkin…” to each other back and forth a few times. The punchline was, “This oral sex is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

The joke was not so terribly funny. What I learned about my Grandmother made me see her completely differently. She knew these words? She even knew what they meant? I have since learned other things about my Grandmother that have surprised me, but the notions revealed by her telling us that not funny joke were probably the most revealing.

After all, when I am 70 (her approximate age at that time), I doubt I will have forgotten all the things I know and find amusing now. It might even be fun to surprise the next generation sometime down the line.

I was incredibly exhausted yesterday, and a series of events led to me being at the grocery store far past the time I was able to process thoughts and make reasonable decisions. I didn’t have too many items–they all fit in the top part where a child (if I had borrowed one) might sit. At checkout, I realized that I had forgotten my reusable bags. I am trying very, very hard to train myself to use these bags, but it doesn’t always happen. Since there weren’t too many things, I asked the cashier just to let me put them back in to the cart and I would put them in the bags when I got to the car.

The bagger kid came to help, and she told him just to put them in the cart. When he started to put them in the main portion of the cart, I asked that he use the kiddie seat because it’s easier on my back. Unfortunately, I said the second part out loud so he insisted on helping me to the car. “Oh, god, that means you have to see my car,” was my response. He said, “I have seen everything except a dead body.” I promised that I did not have a dead body, but acknowledged that I had enough stuff to hide a body if I were so inclined. We got to the car and I searched in vain for the reusable bags (musta been under the body). “Oh well, just put them in the front seat.” I was making small talk with the bagger trying to distract him from the “Hoarders” episode that is my car. The grocery store near me is starting online ordering with curbside pick-up. I mentioned that back when the “interwebs were new,” some companies tried online ordering with home delivery. He said, “Oh yeah, like Webvan.” I cocked my head a bit and said that he didn’t look old enough to remember webvan. His reply was, “I even remember VHS tapes.”

Really. Really? There are “adults” who think remembering VHS tapes is now an actual measure of one’s maturity and age? I am not uptight about how old I am. I just seem to keep forgetting how young other people are in comparison.

Let me start off by saying that I know I don’t always think like most people. This post will be further evidence of that fact.

There is one type of news story that always aggravates me to the point of agitation–and one of those stories is making headlines in Atlanta right now. Last Sunday around 2AM there was a tragic accident. A 23 year-old man left his bachelor party and decided to walk home. There were a couple of problems with this decision. He was 30-ish miles from home. He had likely been drinking (yes, this is an assumption on my part, but given the “party” and his poor choices, I’m throwing it in there). He opted to walk home on the 75/85 Connector. For those of you unfamiliar with Atlanta’s highways, this is the stretch through downtown where I75 and I85 are merged. It has been identified as one of the 10 most congested areas of interstate in the country. It has 7 lanes going north, and it has 7 lanes going south. It is not for pedestrians. The young man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Instead of a wedding tomorrow, the family had a funeral on Wednesday.

I am incredibly sympathetic towards the family. From all reports, this young man was kind and loving. I can hardly imagine the shock and grief and disbelief they must be suffering. What I say next is in no way meant to be disrespectful to them. The news stories have quoted them as saying, “We do not understand how someone could hit him and keep going,” and, “He wasn’t just some animal, he had family who loved him.” I understand why they have said these things.

However, the other thing that I understand is how a driver who hits a pedestrian can keep driving and not stop to help. The driver’s actions were not acceptable or legal. I do not intend to make excuses for that driver. I might be able to shed some light on why a person who is generally law-abiding and compassionate might not hang around after an accident like this. I know how a driver could leave the scene of an accident like that because about 15 years or so ago, I was one of those drivers. It was 6:30 in the morning and dark outside. I was driving to work, not speeding, and I had not had anything to drink prior to getting into the car. A woman stepped off the sidewalk into the street (there was no crosswalk). I swerved and tried unsuccessfully not to hit her. It happened so fast that I didn’t even hit my brakes. The skid marks I left on the street started past the point of impact. I doubt that I will ever forget the flood of emotions in the seconds after I came to a stop. I was in shock. I was terrified. I was anxious. If there has ever been a moment in which I wanted the earth to open and swallow me whole, that was it. I’m a nurse. I take care of people. I help strangers when I can. I did not for a second contemplate leaving the scene of the accident, but I would have given almost anything in the world to have been someplace, anyplace else at that moment in time. So yeah, I understand how a driver leaves after hitting a pedestrian. I don’t think it is okay, but I totally get it.

The hours that followed were some of the worst in my life. I remember saying at the time that it was the worst day I had ever had in my life. It seemed odd to say that, and I felt that I somehow needed to rationalize how ANY day could be worse than the day that Mother had died. I still can’t exactly explain it, but I still think it is true. Thank goodness a co-worker was driving not to far behind me and stopped. A physician who worked at a nearby hospital also stopped. The police and EMTs got there very quickly. The woman was badly injured and barely conscious. There was so much blood that the fire truck had to hose down the street after she was taken to the hospital. The police questioned me and gave me no information. Since this was before I had a cell phone, I asked if I could use the pay phone across the street. I was discouraged from doing so. The television reporters showed up. One asshole had the nerve to ask me if I would answer any questions. I didn’t answer any questions, but that didn’t stop them from filming me (without my knowledge) as I sat on the curb with my face in my hands. When my boyfriend got there (my co-worker sent him), I gave him my attorney’s phone number and he went to the pay phone. I’m sure their conversation was interesting, as “my attorney” was an ex-boyfriend–not someone with whom I had a professional/client relationship. When Scott got there, he asked the questions I had not known how to ask. He established that none of the evidence showed that events happened differently than I had described. I was asked to go to the jail to have labwork drawn as “was customary when there is a serious injury.” I was not exactly forbidden from riding with my friends, but I was not given permission to do so, either. I never really want to be in the back of a cop car again–just for the record.

When I started this post, I had no idea that I would give this much detail about what happened. I thought I would just post about that feeling of wanting to get away. The fact that the details were just waiting to be told shows how that day still affects me. I am different because of what happened that day. I had PTSD symptoms and didn’t sleep for weeks. I had a panic attack that evening when I thought about driving to work the next day. I called out and spent the weekend on my self-devised desensitization program. I had been depressed before, but that incident was the tipping point for me to start taking antidepressants–which I still take to this day.

I am incredibly paranoid about crossing the street without a crosswalk or against the light–even if there are no cars in sight. When I see people in the street when they shouldn’t be, I freak out at least a little–and sometimes a lot. I will not under any circumstances have more than a couple of drinks if I am going to drive, and that has to be over time or with a meal. My life did change that day, but not as much as it might have. If I had had ANY alcohol in my system and the exact same set of events had taken place, I would likely have gone to jail. The accident was not my fault, and a couple of drinks probably wouldn’t have made it any more my fault–except in the only way that matters–legally.

I used to hear the reports about hit-and-run drivers and think exactly what the family in the news is thinking. How could somebody do that? How could they just leave and not care? What kind of sociopath does that? I feel terrible for that family. I am sorry that a young man was killed. However, unlike most people who hear that story on the news, I also feel incredibly sorry for the driver. Had the driver been drinking? Did he not have insurance? Did he just panic and leave? I have no answers. The driver should have stopped. Unfortunately, I also know that that driver (unless he really is a sociopath) must be feeling horrible. Not the same kind of horrible as the family of the man who was killed–but horrible all the same.

**Part of me wants to hit delete because this post feels too depressing…but I’m hitting publish anyway.**

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