Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Learning about hunger

We all do it. We say "Oh, I'm starving!" when we're a bit peckish. But research has shown that very few of us feel the real pangs of hunger. We are a nation of noshers. A few nuts here, a yogurt there, even a candy bar to tide us over to the next meal.

We have childhood obesity drilled into our heads, and of course fat parents are blamed for all the obese kids. Mine are bone skinny, BTW. We have weird relationships to food here. Lap-band and gastric bypass surgery have become commonplace and everyone we know is on a diet and hitting the gym.  So why have we distanced ourselves from real hunger?

The easy answer is to look at how much money we spend on food compared to the rest of the world. We'll buy anything that isn't nailed down at the grocery store. As food experts tell us to only shop the perimeter of the store, we realists know where the ketchup, mustard and salad dressings are. Never mind the brown rice and organic pasta. It is hard to cook without canned tomatoes, olive oil, and spices, all of which are in the interior of the store. How guilty do you feel pushing the cart down the aisle to get maple syrup, flour and organic vanilla?  Shopping the perimeter of the store is a great idea, but in practice it isn't possible.

Meanwhile, we snack on. Snacking, or grazing as it was called in the 90's, is great if you're trying to keep your glucose levels even. But grazing doesn't allow your body to feel real hunger. Even skipping a meal won't let you feel that gnawing tummy feeling of being famished. Now skip eating but once a day, and make that meal handfuls of dried cheerios. Try that for a few weeks and I guarantee that you WILL feel hunger. It is a rare experience for most Americans, but unfortunately not for a good percentage of the nation's children. Kids who get free lunch at school but no other meals at home. I don't believe that is from neglect. I think that there are so many of us pushed downward to poverty level that cannot afford food.

This month I didn't buy any food. My money was spent on other frivolous things like the gas and electric bill. There was just no money left over for food, never mind transportation to the store. Applying for food stamps means a LONG ride. I can't do that now, since my parent partner lost her job.

So we eat pretty much nothing.  I made a pot of veggie chili and Graham ate the entire Dutch Oven full except for two small bowls that I had. Left in our cabinets is rice, pasta, canned salmon, canned tomato products. In the fridge is nothing but my insulin pens. No butter, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. The freezer is also empty.

What I've noticed as we get hungrier and hungrier is that food commercials gross me out. I don't want a lot of fattening sauces and flavors that mask what you're really eating. I just want the essence of the food. Gimme a steak and a baked potato and hold all the extras, please. Because I AM starving and need to eat protein. 10 more days till we can go shopping. I think we'll run out of everything by then.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is holding us back?

I've been thinking a lot about the social anxiety that both Graham and I suffer from. Gemma, to a certain degree is also socially anxious, especially with other females. Surprisingly, she has become one of those women that has all male friends. She has been screwed over so many times by other girls that I think she is no longer willing to trust them. Plus her NVLD often confuses her on the way women communicate verses male communication. I think that, in typical Gemma fashion, she is taking the easy way rather than to struggle thru relationships that confuse her.

OTOH, I've been a social pariah my entire life, and I tend towards extreme introvertedness. I also have trouble with social niceties. I'm not a small talker, I'm so uncomfortable with small talk, especially in a social situation that I prefer to just not go to social situations at all.  I just have no patience for my fear. It angers me, but I'm so much better than I used to be. I've agoraphobic, I've been unable to go into public spaces due to panic and excessive fear. I'm not like that anymore, but my anxiety rises to the top of my throat and my head starts aching. I'm good at lying to cover up my anxiety, but that takes so much energy that avoidance becomes my easy way out.

Tonight I asked Graham what was holding him back right now. Of course he didn't answer me, but we have to look at this because he's suffering right now. He's desperately unhappy. Of course he continues to self medicate, which we have talked about, and he refuses to take the medication that would allow him to function better. All those depressants he pours down his throat and inhales into his lungs aren't good for him, but he has to learn this on his own. Anything I say is wrong because I'm a moron according to him. He refuses to see a therapist. He refuses to get help in any manner. He has to want the help, and so far, it is a no go.

Fear is holding us both back. We need to start working on our fears individually and together. We need to help each other to move forward. I have no idea of how to start this because Graham is totally resistant to talking without becoming abusive towards me. I'm not up for the abuse, either. Ground rules need to be set. Topics need to be defined. Trust needs to be established. It all seems overwhelming, but it has to be done.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is better than a snuggly cat?

I've been a bit out of it the past few days. I have a good excuse. When my neuropathy acts up and my feet become very painful, I take a medication that makes my sleep really weird. I sleep very lightly, have bizarre dreams, and think I hear people talking and doorbells ringing. For example, last night I dreamed that an older, gray haired with crewcut old man came into my bedroom holding an enormous balloon shaped like a huge bunch of green grapes. I woke up and saw the man and grapes disappear. How weird is that?

The one thing that keeps me from just giving up on sleep altogether is when Pepper jumps up on my bed, walks up to the head of the bed, and gives me a little eskimo kiss before she crawls under the covers for a nice snuggle. She lays down right at my hip, so she's buried by the comforter but still able to lick my hand as I pet her. It is a nightly ritual that I very much enjoy.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Standing in my own muck

Do you ever watch the hoarder shows on TV and ask yourself, "how did it get so bad?" I feel like that poor hoarder, so overwhelmed with all the shit surrounding me that I can't even get out of bed some days. I know I always have very emotional reactions to bad things going on in the world. Watching Japan suffer so much from natural and man made disasters is freaking me out. I worry for Lisa, who is evacuating her kids to her parents in Las Vegas, and then returning to Cow Bones where she is the Tokyo bureau chief. She writes about the radiation and how the Japanese seem convinced that their paper masks will help them repel the radiation. Meanwhile, Japanese bankers have abandoned the country in droves while most citizens can't get to Hong Kong by air.

I have a bunch of stuff to do that requires leaving the house, and right now that is too much for me. I need to apply for food stamps and that means going to JP to their office and sitting around all day waiting to talk to someone. We have no food in the house. I've run out of oatmeal and am on the last box of cheerios, which I've been eating dry because we have no milk. And we have to last two more weeks until I get some money.

We finally got the washer/dryer, but not without a boatload of hassles. Graham had a MAJOR meltdown when I told him that he had to help, which entailed a subway ride to the other end of the Orange line. He was sure he would get stabbed ??? and he was far gone that he could not see that the plan was totally well thought out. I finally got him out of the house, and the trip was exactly as I planned. Not one stabbing!  They brought the washer and dryer downstairs to the basement where our elderly and non-English speaking landlord decided to tell the mover and graham to put the washer and dryer in the wrong places, Chaos ensued, Graham again went off his rocker, and we now had a washer and dryer that we cannot hook up. So I complained to the landlord's son, who came over and rearranged the machines so that they are in the correct places BUT... the washer hoses don't reach the faucets and the water return doesn't reach the pipe. I have to call a plumber anyhow, because we have a gas dryer and it has to be installed by a plumber, so I guess I'll be adding the installation of both machines. Right now I have no money at all, so it will have to wait a couple more weeks until my money comes. Right now I have on the very last pair of pants I own that are still clean, I haven't had clean undies in about two weeks. It must be time for a major hand washing.

So if that weren't enough tsuris, Gemma opened a bank account at the local B of A, and when she opened it, for some bizarre reason the hooked her ATM card to my account, which has screwed up both of our accounts to the point where they are unusable. All her charges are deducted from her account AND my account, which has left both of us severly overdrawn with huge bank charges. Yet ANOTHER dispute I need to deal with. I hate them.

Another fun week at our house!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaking in our boots

Last night we stayed all night watching the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Surprisingly, Gemma was first on the scene, reading the initial Facebook postings. I got right on to Twitter and checked on my old friend Lisa who lives in Tokyo with her husband and kids. She luckily had just tweeted that everyone was fine but her daughter was not home and although daughter had texted mom, she forgot to tell her mom where she was.  Turned out she was at a school friend's house so all was well. I can't even describe my relief knowing all was OK. Lisa is such a strong woman that she went to work straight away and wrote her column about the earthquake for today's paper.

Then I had to look up another old internet friend who is a seismologist. Earthquakes are her business. Her Facebook wall was like a seismology graduate school class where all her seismologist friends got into a great (but somewhat incomprehensible) discussion about how tsunamis are produced. Quite interesting.

The kids and I got into quite a few interesting scientific discussions about what was happening. I explained how the ocean buoys measure the height of the waves and how that gave people enough warning to evacuate the shores. We talked about why tsunamis are more dangerous than tornadoes, and compared them to hurricanes.  It was one of those "teachable" moments that we haven't had in a while. It was actually nice and pleasant in the midst of terrible circumstances to have a good family moment.

At around 5 am I could barely keep my eyes open so I want to bed but Gemma reported that I slept terribly and was talking in my sleep the whole time.  I knew I wasn't sleeping well when I woke up to Graham saying to Gemma, "Isn't she cute when she is asleep?"  Awwww.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

We are on Fire over here!

That would be Gemma and I are on fire. Graham isn't even on simmer. In the last couple of days I've done pretty much every outstanding chore, including finding a washer/dryer and arranging for a mover on Sunday. I've scoured the ads for coffee tables and I just want to mention that 99% of all coffee tables are HORRIBLE. Or at least the ones on craigslist are. My personal favorites are the people that are selling their IKEA Lack coffee table for more than IKEA does brand new. Totally cracks me up.

Meanwhile, Gemma and I (and by that I mean Gemma worked and I supervised) unpacked the entire living room and dining room. Only boxes left are boxes filled with books because we are down 2 bookcases from the move. I plan to put in at least one 7-foot tall, 35" wide bookcase that should take care of the overlap. Hopefully.

We've mostly been having a lot of fun finding old relics and trying to arrange all this stuff. Once the washer/dryer is hooked up and I catch up with the laundry backup, my room is the next one to take on.  I need a bed frame and two bedside tables. Oh, and lamps. We need lamps desperately. The movers destroyed pretty much every lamp we owned.

It feels good to be straightening up and beginning to put the rooms together. We'll be just in time to snag stuff from all the students moving back to their native lands in May. You can't believe what great finds there are for people like me who have patience, a vision and no preconceived notions about what I want.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The latest blogging brouhaha

I never got to read the original post, but I saw the second round of posts which were filled with indignation and anger. Except for one asshole that seems to take pleasure in causing misery while he's insisting he's a nice guy. He isn't. At all. Ever.

OK, what is the controversy of the week. Some complete idiot guest-posted a long harangue about the nervy fat people who have the gall to rent scooters at Disney. I KNOW! Can you believe that they let fat people GO to the happiest place on earth. I mean, how can thin people be happy when there are gross fat people munching on turkey legs while they roar thru the park.  What is this world coming to?

Now, I'm a lot thinner than I used to be.  But I am still plus sized and carry around way too much paunch. And even worse, I use a scooter in stores. I admit that I just started using a scooter this past August. My initial time was at Lowes, and that scooter changed my life. Now I can go to a store and not get dizzy. Or feel faint. Now I can last more than an hour without having to stop and sit down. Oh yeah, I'm fat and I also have congestive heart failure. Those scooters are made for people like me. Disabled people. My weight isn't a part of the equation. My heart is sick. It needs extra help. And I make no bones about it, and I have no shame.

When strangers see me in a scooter I can see the look of disgust on their faces. I've been yelled at by a woman in a supermarket. I've heard barely whispered comments. People assume that because sitting on a scooter and I look healthy, I must just be fat and lazy.  Well, honestly I am fat and lazy. But I don't use the scooter for that. I use it because my heart can't handle too much exertion.

Just because you are trim and healthy doesn't give you the right to assume that because I have a hidden disability, you have the right to challenge me. I have the legal documents to park in a handicap space, to get the handicap van, to have special seats on the T, and if you don't like that, you are shit outta luck. Find another controversy to bitch about. But shut the fuck up about fat people on scooters. They might have a hidden disability just like me. And they may be deranged and angry about being judged by assholes. Just sayin'.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

I guess we're all amazing

Lately some things about like here in Casa Margalit have surprised me. I always thought that I was resourceful, but the kids tend to drag me down because their expectations of what motherhood is about is seriously out of whack. For example, a couple of days ago while spending time of craigslist (yes, I DO spend an inordinate amount of time perusing that site) I found a job listing that would be perfect for Gemma. I read it to her, and she told me to apply for it for her. Um...no. That is not a part of my mom duties. She was all pissed at me and gave me the "Be a MOM" speech which means I am to do every bit of distasteful or difficult things for her, like applying for college or jobs. So not gonna happen.

But, OTOH, I realized that we have gone more than 6 weeks with no heat. It IS chilly in the house and the one oil-filled space heater we have keeps blowing the fuses, but we're in the upside of spring and I think we'll make it through the winter without frostbite.  I do have to admit that I spend almost all my time in bed under the down comforter. As long as my laptop is plugged in, I'm entertained.

I am living on a bowl of oatmeal a day. Sometimes it is cheerios, but that one bowl of oatmeal keeps me warm and full enough. I miss fruit, but it is too pricy now. The local convenience store sells junkfood. No yogurt. No real cheese, no veg or fruit.

We have made it 3 months with no washer or dryer and only one visit to the laundramat. Of course I have NOTHING clean to put on, but since I'm in bed all day, who cares? The kids have not washed ONE thing in months.

My contract with the RIDE expired and in order to get a new one I have to go to the doctor, which means I have to shower and get dressed. In clean clothes. So not gonna happen. I've cancelled all appointments because I have no way to get there. My doctors are pissed. But what am I gonna do? I can't get there. I've missed 4 doctor appointments. I'm probably miss more. But, knock wood, I haven't been in the hospital in almost a year and I do take my meds.

I have not been outside the apartment in over a month. What am I gonna do, take a stroll around the neighborhood in my nightgown and no underwear? I don't think so.

In conclusion, cold, dirty, undressed, and stagnating but feeling OK as long we don't count my ever growing depression.


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Friday, March 04, 2011

Starting a project

While I am searching for furniture on craigslist, I'm also getting started on a project of my own.  Many years ago, way before kids, I bought a small oak victorian dresser for $45 at an auction. It was in good shape, had never been refinished, and had an attached chevel mirror.

When Gemma was a toddler the dresser moved into her room and became hers by default. But she never liked the dresser and over the years she beat that poor bureau into submission. The entire top was scratched, had water stains and spilled nail polish, and she totaled the mirror. First it broke off the dresser, then she destroyed to the point that it got tossed a couple of moves ago when she was in middle school.

From there the dresser spent the last 5 years in our downstairs bathroom where it held junk, tools, and a lot of Gladware tops. When we moved here I wanted to put outside our front door in the stairwell. It fit perfectly and was great for storing mittens, hats and scarves. But the landlord said it was a fire hazard and moved it back into the apartment where it has forlornly sad looking out of place and kinda lost.

I've been staring at it for a month, trying to decide what to do with it. And through all of the ideas I had, one stood out. I'm going to paint it bright white with an enamel paint, then cover that with polyurathane so the paint doesn't chip, and then I am going to use these rather bizarre drawer pulls.

 This will be the top drawer pull. I'm ordering two of them.

I know they are bizarre but I LOVE them. I am a total sucker for stuff like this.I think the dresser is going to be the bomb once it is done. I can't wait to get started!

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Things I've learned on craigslist

I'm in the process of replacing all the stuff damaged or lost during our move last fall. We still don't have a sofa, coffee table, washer and dryer, etc. Consequently I spend a ridiculous amount of time perusing the craigslist free and for sale forums. I've learned quite a bit about human nature shopping for used possessions.

  • People are really bad spellers when it comes to writing descriptions. Buro is an animal, not a chest of drawers. There is no such thing as rot or rod iron. WROUGHT iron, people.

  • People do not see their own mess or clutter. If you're going to photograph an item, take your piles out of the picture. This goes for people trying to rent their apartments as well.
  • Know what you are selling. End tables are also called side tables. They are not dining tables or coffee tables.  Sofas are not love seats, nor are chair and a half. If you don't describe what you are selling, people will pass by your ad.
  • In electronics, post model numbers and again, what the item is. If you just list "dryer for sale" nobody will know if it is electric or gas. BE SPECIFIC.
  • Please make sure that you include photos, and make those photos tell the whole story. If there is a known fault, SHOW IT.
  • If you are moving, give drop dead dates for pickup. Don't make buyers get into multiple emails asking questions that should be in your post.
  • Know that MOST buyers will not look at any ad if there is no picture. I am one of those people.
  • Lets talk about IKEA. DO NOT list your IKEA item for more that cost brand new in the store. If your item is loose or in poor shape, put it in the FREE forum. I've been hoodwinked twice with used IKEA pieces and my motto is "Never buy IKEA used." It just doesn't stand up to being moved.
  • Size matters. Measure your furniture! Tell the sizes of your clothing. Know what size your rug is. Your tape measure is second in importance, right behind your camera.
  • Don't lie. If you do not know an item's provenance, don't call it an antique.  If you're pulling out stuff from dumpster diving, it probably IS trash. 
  • DO NOT give out your address right away. If you have small items you are selling or buying, meet in a public space. If you are selling, it is better to deliver if you can rather than have strangers show up at your door.

I hope these tips make you experience with craigslist easier, safer, and more enjoyable.


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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I'm not laughing

Mental illness isn't funny. Mania is really not funny. This isn't funny. I don't understand why people think watching someone break down is entertainment. I didn't laugh when it happened to Anne Heche, Margot Kidder or Britney Spears. I certainly didn't laugh when it happened to my son. These people are all sick. They are neurologically damaged. Charlie Sheen's behavior is certainly a precursor to towards work suspension and the loss of his children. But this is tragic, not funny.

This is a man who has done some rotten things. No doubt about it. But he is out of control based on his neurological damage. Nobody behaves as he has without some kind of mental illness lingering in the background, Yes, he uses drugs. This is called self-medicating, something that is wildly popular amongst men with mental illness. They self-medicate with alcohol and illegal drugs because of the stigma of mental illness. If Charlie Sheen were "just" an alcoholic, nobody would be talking about him round the water cooler. But not only was there alcohol abuse, there was drug abuse (although he tested completely clean during his breakdown last week), and there was acting out sexually. The combination of sex, drugs, and alcohol clearly points to a man in deep emotional pain. It is not funny.

I don't follow Charlie Sheen's career. I know he's on a mediocre sitcom on CBS. I know he had a very difficult divorce from Denise Richards. And that he is Martin Sheen's son and Emilio Estaves's brother. He is the parent of 5 kids, including twin boys. That's pretty much all I know, and I really don't need to know any more. The Charlie Sheen Show that is now playing all over the media isn't my business and I certainly do not feel comfortable giggling about all his ravings this last week.

The guy is sick. He's unhappy, he is out of control and probably in the midst of a manic episode. So lets not laugh at him. Let us hope that he gets the help that he needs to turn his life around.

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