Ocdbloggergirl's Blog: OCD, Life, and Other Misunderstandings

More Mental Malaise, Less Donald Trump

Ever Wonder What Would Happen if They Gave Me Abilify? — August 31, 2011

Ever Wonder What Would Happen if They Gave Me Abilify?

The OCD Project
Image via Wikipedia

…My first diary-style entry at my other blog is what! To summarize, I went on Abilify, an anti-psychotic,  to try to help my OCD and depression. Results after one dose? Comedy gold, of course! And a little promise of “never again.” But please see my post. http://ocdbloggergirl.com/2011/08/31/1459/

Other incidentals : Hurricane Irene shook our hand, but didn’t punch us like it did elsewhere. Signs and tree branches mainly here. Any pleasant adrenaline rush that I would get normally during a hurricane was ruined by me having a terrible cold that I’m just now getting over. Remember how I said at the emergency room felt like “germs were jumping around?” Guess I was right. Three days after visiting, she got sick. Then a few days later, I was laid low too. But anyway, that was a news brief.

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To Die or to Abilify: The Abilification of Lisa B. —

To Die or to Abilify: The Abilification of Lisa B.

The Smurfs
Cover of The Smurfs

It is a full day on my usually empty dance ticket. I, Lisa, professional mental health seeker, have the joy of seeing both my therapist and my shrink. Rolling out of bed, nicking my legs shaving, and dressing in my new Family Dollar ensemble, I get to my therapy session at 10 am.  As I suck on a starlight mint, we go over my myriad of  “issues.”

“I went to see an art house film called The Smurfs in 3-D this past weekend, and went to the library before the film. This was the first film I ever saw in 3-D and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” I say as my therapist inspects the little book she caught me reading while I waited for her.  She admits to never having seen a 3-D flick, and I praise the medium, that one can almost catch a bird flying out of  the screen. “Though I don’t think The Smurfs would be your cup of tea.”  I then bemoan the cruel truth that kids’ movies would be great except that kids actually come too.

“What is your comfort level standing in a line at the movie theater?”

“Well,” I answer,” not bad really. Crowds don’t bother me, individual interaction does. I can even ask for movie tickets, as long as I have the money so the person will have a reason to tolerate me.” I show her my latest acquisitions in my quest to get all the McDonald’s Smurf Happy Meal toys, the Baker and Brainy (I happened to have them stuffed into the labyrinth that is my purse). I then tell her that I’m too childish, too child-like, but the therapist likes who I am because she’s known me since I was 15 and because she gets money to like me -but honestly, I think she likes me anyway.

“It’s normal to be enthused about something you collect. My mom collected a particular pattern of carnival glass and was very excited when she found a piece at a secondhand shop,” my therapist assures me.

 

“I have to see the psychiatrist today. I’m not looking forward to it.”

At some point in the session, my therapist says, “but you feel comfortable talking to me, right?”

“Yes, but you don’t poke me with a fork.” One therapist thought I was sexually abused and my psychiatrist feels I have the ways of an “abuse victim.” Once my psychiatrist threw out there one time that maybe I had Aspberger’s syndrome since my social anxiety wasn’t getting better and it’s a struggle to look people in the eye (I’m very self-conscious).

“I’d have to research it more,” I remember the psychiatrist saying. “But I have a lot of empathy. I thought they didn’t,” was my defense. I did not show how upset  I was to have a new diagnosis until I was outside and started crying and fussing at my mother. (No one thinks I have Aspberger’s, though, and the psychiatrist never mentioned it again, so it must have been a passing fancy for her too. Let’s just face it, Shrink, I’m f****d and you can randomly flip through your DSM IV and  diagnose me with whatever is on the page, but there  ain’t no fixing me, not really. But with that cheery thought, let’s continue ).

“I’m thinking about asking her about Abilify,” I tell my therapist. “She’s talked a couple of times of putting me on an antipsychotic in the hopes it would help with the OCD and everything, but I’ve been afraid of getting tardive dyskinesia.   Do you have any patients on it with OCD?”

My therapist is looking  far into her memory and comes up with 75% of the folks she saw with OCD who are chomping on the Abilify say it helped them, 25% said no it didn’t, and if she remembers right, 10% got off due to side effects.

I imagine people who’ve been on Haldol for years, the excessive drool foaming from their mouths. I imagine lactating. But have mercy on me, I’m so tired of not being what I yearn for the most: Ideal.  Everyday I feel I’m not doing things just right and some days it throws me into a rage.  I take three times as long as anyone else to do anything.  I’m  more depressed than I was and I feel as though I have few redeeming qualities. I begin to hope that my shrink knows that I will dramatically change from my lifetime membership at “Camp Clucky.”

Yes, yes, Lisa. We get you suck, life sucks, everything sucks. Blah, blah, boo-hoo. Get on with the story.

My mother and I are having a spot of lunch and I’m trying to look up Abilify just to make sure I want to try this, but my mobile phone’s battery dies on me.  I try to recall the latestAbilify commercial.  Cartoon woman literally weighed down by her depression and falling into the “hole” of the depression. Then her kindly looking doctor helps her out of the hole and prescribes her Abilify.  Some side effects, what  were they? Happy family having a picnic. Happy. “Resulting in coma or death.” What? I don’t remember, must’ve been really rare. Still at happy picnic, even Depression Hole sits nearby. Everyone is at the picnic having such a nice time. I want to be at that picnic, so perfect! “Depression used to define me, then I added  Abilify.”  Ah, how nice. I’ll just ask my doctor all about it.

When I’m in Dr. Shrink’s office, I have my $3.00 ready to throw at the receptionist before she can ask, because I always get the sense she thinks I’ll run off without paying.  It’s the rule of the house, yes, but I can’t help see it as a slight towards all psychiatric cases (power to the people!). I don’t think the receptionist likes my mother and I much. I can imagine her thinking “Sod it all, here comes that rubbish. If I wanted to deal with folks on the dole, I’d have stayed in Merry Old England, wouldn’t I?” Even before Dr. Shrink took Medicaid, though, and I had to somehow hack up $75.00 for my 15 minutes, I don’t believe the receptionist liked us much. It may be in my head, and I don’t seem much different from the others in the waiting room: they mainly look depressed, maybe a couple now and then look mildly apes**t. I’ve been with a friend to Mental Health before and they  look worse and more interesting. I remember some young woman, obviously in a manic state, talking on her cell, “Friday night I tried to kill myself but they gave me some lithium and I feelsoo much better now!”  I wonder if everyone is still getting help since our genius state thought it was a good idea to close the county mental health and the mental hospital to “privatize it.”

I tell Dr. Shrink my decision. She tells me to avoid grapefruit juice (which I already do since I am on Luvox) and to watch for slowed down movements, that tardive dyskinesiawon’t happen suddenly if it happens at all. Two milligrams, not a big dose at al,l and come back at the end of the month( to see if I’m still alive). Ok, great I can do this!

This might fix me.

Or not. Twenty minutes after taking my first cockroach shaped and colored Abilify stuff starts to happen. I am me but I don’t feel like I’m really here. So I’m not at the picnic yet I guess. My thoughts are my thoughts but I feel strangely like I’m not thinking. OK weird. I rush to look at the guide that comes with my prescription then augment it with the internet. Sometime during all of this I start feeling angry, really angry. Smack myself angry, yay!

 Apparently on Abilify, I could develop diabetes, go into a coma, and croak, but hey, I won’t be depressed anymore! Since I’m already fat and haven’t checked my blood sugar in ages, I’m not a happy fat camper.

Stay out of the sun and don’t get overheated…What the frostbite? Am I going to turn into a gremlin?

Weight gain! Do I need to say why I might not like this?

Abilify and Wellbutrin should be used with caution because it might lower one’s seizure threshold. Well that would be a different experience! Might lower my immunity…that should be a hit with someone deathly afraid of going to the doctor.

 

I try to sleep. I can’t, just as I fall asleep, I feel like I can’t swallow and jerk back awake. I sleep an hour to fly awake and feel angry. Repeat this 2 or 3 times in the night. It feels great! 

The next 48 hours are interesting. I’m angry at everything and when my best friend annoys me by what I perceive as lectures instead of swallowing it, I tell her off over and over. I can’t help myself! Freedom such as the ability to tell off your best friend over stupid stuff is not a freedom a social phobe like me wants.

Today I returned to my psychiatrist. “I’m doing OK, but I had to stop the Abilify. After one dose I knew I couldn’t take it. If I had done thorough research I wouldn’t have tried it anyway because I’m afraid of getting diabetes.”

“Yes well,”Dr. Shrink replies, “if you look on the internet, getting diabetes from Abilifyseems as common as getting the jitters.”

True, but I feel I should be more concerned due to the fact I’m overweight.”

Later I visit with my professor from college, the one who I named my oldest cat after in tribute. The college  is only a couple of blocks from my psychiatrist’s office. We talk various things and then I talk about how awful I sometimes was when on meds that opened my mouth so that I’d say whatever I wanted back when I was in his science classes.

“Don’t ever feel sorry about the things you say unless you hurt someone’s feelings, and I don’t remember you ever being mean to anyone.”

“Well no, but I’d say anything and I cringe at the thought now.”

(Flashback: pointing at a faux skeleton in class and saying, “Look he’s got a boner!” Flashback: among the things I inherited from my grandmother, one was her old lady bright red lipstick. My reply to the comments I got when I wore it, “Hey, this was a really popular color in the 1940s.” I was shy then too, but accepted as the oddity that I was and I’ve always liked making people laugh. In many classes I was near silent anyway, but not my science teacher’s class. It’s a pity he isn’t my real father)

You learn to have patience says my professor at some point in our conversation. ” I guess you have had worse than me as long as you’ve been doing this,” I stammer.

“At least you aren’t an ax murderer. That would be worse.”

“Have you actually had murderers in your classes?”

“Two of them. One the cops chased into the mountains and he was killed.”

Well golly.

So the Abiify didn’t help me become the person I want to be, not close, but, the moral of this story is, no matter what I do, hey, at least I’m not an ax murderer!

PS: Abilify has helped many people, it could help you too. Sometimes the risk is worth the gain. As my pharmacist said, “Line 100 people up, and two would have the same reaction as you did.” Besides, my body’s wired different anyway. I was the 1/10000 of Paxil patients who lost her period on Paxil (happened on Effexor too!). Soon as I stopped, flowed like the red sea. With that, I bid you adieu. 

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Bluebell Books Short Story Slam: The Wheat Field — August 21, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam: The Wheat Field

I got an invite to Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam and all I  could come up with looking at this picture  was a description of a field and a girl. I figured if worst came to worst, I’d write this description and see where it took me, then slap it with the label of “flash fiction” if I run out of air. Short story writing is not my strong suit and I fear being all melodramatic, and as my writing teacher in college said, “archetypal.”

I wrote this in one sitting, yay! It does draw some from my

Standing in a field? Melodrama Time!

grandmother’s childhood, but I use it loosely. Anyway, tell me what you think and I decided to put it on this blog because my last few posts on the other blog were all creative writing. Tell me what you think for real, OK?

At a certain point mid-field, you can’t see anything anymore, just the wheat and the sky. In this endless sameness, you begin to believe you are the only person on earth. The dilapidated house and its occupants are gone, Your overworked mother, your teasing brothers, and your crying little sister are nowhere. Your father isn’t dying anymore of consumption, he just no longer exists. 

The preacher man shouts about being raptured  most Sundays. Being left behind, the person beside you literally goes to meet his maker and you’re about to be meted out eternal judgement by Jesus Christ on a white pony.  You don’t know about the hell-fire, a fire made from a lake, or when Jesus Christ will come along and make you jump in, but you do wonder about being left. Here you are standing in the endless wheat field and you do feel as though the world’s been raptured and you’re still here. Left behind. Forgotten.  And it feels like paradise to be alone, your personal heaven.

You aren’t in heaven or left behind. You have to go back home before dark.

 Your father dies a few days later. Around 3am you wake up to a scream. It’s your mother in the room you aren’t allowed in, the sick room. You can’t remember a time when he wasn’t sick. You can’t remember a time you were allowed to be near him.

It’s odd your father used to be married before, but indeed he was, and divorced! Everyone knew, but it wasn’t to be talked about, until the first Mrs. Harnett and her two grown daughters come for a visit. 

The house and property are sold and divided between the two Mrs. Harnetts. Your family’s possessions are loaded onto the back of a truck. Before you leave for the last time, an old lady of the neighborhood takes you and your sister aside.

“Y’all girls got to be good for your Mama, you hear? If y’all don’t, she won’t be able to take care of you and’ll have to put y’all in the orphanage.” You’re 12 years-old, but you, like your 7 year-old sister, believe her because old ladies you’ve known your entire life don’t lie.

You leave the home you and your siblings were born in and the wheat field. No matter where you go or how long you live you’ll never quite have the peace you found in that field surrounded by the unencumbered sky.

Question! — August 20, 2011

Question!

A Telephone, a Roach, and an Ambulance — August 18, 2011

A Telephone, a Roach, and an Ambulance

What do you get when you cross a Moveon.org organizer at 8:30 am on the phone with a half-asleep broad with social anxiety disorder?  A Moron left to cringe at  her conversational gaffe and a liberal activist wondering if she called Michelle Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann
"This is she."

 

Me: Hello?

Ms. Moveon.org: I wish to speak with  Lisa B.

Me: This is she.

Ms. Moveon.org: This is P with Moveon.org and I was wondering how the Clean Oil rally went? (or something to that effect)

Me: I’m sorry, what did you say?

Ms. Moveon.org. repeats as before but the slight edge in her voice is getting edgier. It’s 8:30 in the morning, I just woke up, and feeling attacked makes me very nervous, so I say…

Me: I’m sorry I don’t know anything about a Media Matters Oil rally. (Eeps, the least I can do is keep my progressive organizations straight. I knew right away what I said. Oh. Sweet. Liberal. Heavens).

Ms. Moveon ‘not Media Matters’ .org is not happy with me. I knew from her voice beforehand that she was going to give me hell for not being at a rally, but now she has to deal with an idiot too.

Ms. Moveon.org( in such a snotty voice you’d expect her to sneeze): I must have the wrong number.

Me: Yes

Ms. Moveon.org: Yes, I must have the wrong number. Sorry. 

Click. This adds to the pile I’m amassing  of reasons I suck and I felt embarrassed. Oh well, screw her. Sign a petition or two (not even about the environment, alas) and suddenly they think they own you.

In the bathroom, I see a roach in death agonies. I hate roaches. I hate death agonies. I can’t bear the nastiness of squishing it in the piece of tissue, so I throw it in the toilet alive and have a case of the guilties as I watch it struggle to live when I flush. I’m sorry. I should have killed you first, roach.  More fodder for the “I suck” pile.

Later in the day, phone call.  We go to a friend who is sick. I  explain what ‘psychosomatic’  means to her, a word which the emergency workers used,  as they cart her away. I haven’t been to the ER since the Great Kidney Infection Debacle of  ’10 and was grateful to be on the  visiting end of things. You can just feel the germs hopping around. I have a little fear myself when I see something at the visitors  desk that looks like blood and hope my arm didn’t touch there. All was well in the end. I was there  for a friend and we are all huggy-lovey as we parted ways afterward. I can take one log off of the “I suck ” pile, thank God. I was needed for a moment and that makes all  the difference.

 

Poetry Potluck: “Passionate Nights of Love” — August 16, 2011

Poetry Potluck: “Passionate Nights of Love”

Please visit http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com for better versed poets or to  join the meme.

Passionate Nights of Love (Ha Ha)

‘Passionate nights of love?’

Um, that’s what you want me to write?

Swine sprout wings and take flight.

 

Passionate nights of love?

Poison ivy becomes an aphrodisiac.

Maybe I’m just having a panic attack?

 

Passionate nights of love?

I hear rumors it exists.

In bed, in  shed, one gal with her cousin Ned.

 

Passionate nights of love?

I live with my mom, three cats, my doll collection.

And the consensus is I’m crazy.

 

Passionate nights of love?

What a joke!

I’ve never even been with a bloke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Victorian Valentine
Mama’s Old Home Style Stiffy Cure

Pic from indiana.edu

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New Poem at My Other Blog —

New Poem at My Other Blog

I got a nice request from the good folks over at Jingle Poetry to do Poetry Potluck. After working 4 weeks on my last post i’m glad to write something  really short (by the by, if you like, could you read my latest short story since I rarely write fiction? I’d really like y’all’s opinion).  I’d tell you more about my day, but I’m at the library and need to leave.    

http://ocdbloggergirl.com/2011/08/16/poetry-potluck-passionate-nights-of-love/

Another New Post at My Other Blog: This Time a Short Story — August 14, 2011

Another New Post at My Other Blog: This Time a Short Story

I was originally going to give it as a guest post to a blog, but the story is so PURE T WEIRD that I decided I’d just publish it on my new blog. Want to hear how this story came to fruition?

::crickets::

Well, let me tell you!

Hang on, some douche is making a scene at the restaurant I’m at. Picture it: Man drinking a Corona. First time I’ve ever seen  someone drunk at a buffet, and as you can tell I’ve not skipped too many buffets in my life. I’m getting so pissed off  right now.

Thank God, he’s left. He was an obnoxious drunk, rude to the waitress, but you’d never have known from how she acted. I’m pretty sure she understood every word.  I’d have had to tell the manager or something  if he’d touched her (or beg my mom to).

I’m home now, safe and sound. But anyway, how my story came about. 5 weeks ago I checked by Magpie Tales to see what the picture writing prompt was, took one look, and thought, “Ain’t no way in hell I can come up with a story for a picture of  an African mask.” About a week later when it was too late to submit, the story somehow came to me. If you want to see the writing prompt picture from Magpie Tales, click here.  

And now 4 weeks later, the story is finished and up at my blog. My mom says she’s never read anything like it before, but she’s my mom and thereby obliged to like my crap. Please read or skimit and let me know what you think for real.  Sorry also that it’s a little over 2000 words. You can tell me here or there if it was any good. Thanks very much!

http://ocdbloggergirl.com/2011/08/14/short-story-a-day-in-the-life-of-mary-smith-cliche/

Short Story: A Day in the Life of Mary Smith, Cliche —

Short Story: A Day in the Life of Mary Smith, Cliche

Three first editions of Barbie dolls from 1959...
Image via Wikipedia Choosing Mary Smith

This is the story of a cliché. Her name is Mary Smith like thousands of other women. She’s in her thirties and lives in a high-rise apartment in New York City, Boston,Chicago, or perhaps in Los Angeles. What does she look like? So many choices. We’re pretty sure she’s white though, the ultimate cliché color. Is she a ginger? No, too uncommon. We want something common in print. Golden strands of blond silk luminescent in the sun? Possibly. Brunette, her hair nearly as dark as her disposition? Also a possibility. Chestnut or mouse brown hair, tied conservatively behind her in a style reminiscent of a school marm?  Depends. Is Mary Smith a savvy professional woman with three or four friends trying to find love and sexual gratification in a city? Or is she the tragic soul who ends up throwing herself from a bridge in utter agony (Oh the demons! The demons of her psyche! Oh lost love!)?  Or is she that woman from whatever romantic comedy is in the theater every  other week, who by happenstance finds her true love? We think Mary Smith resembles the marm the most. But let’s read on, the obligatory scene before the mirror is being written…

Mary Smith stands before the mirror, a figure of brown. Her hair is mouse brown, her skirt tan cotton and slightly jutting away from her skinny frame. Her eyes –brown also- appraise herself with care, bringing her ponytail from her back to spread down to her small bosom.  A heroine.

Mirror spinning out of the way, she begins to sing a ditty:

Today, maybe today. Today!

Not yesterday, maybe today. Today!

Today!

Today could be the day. Maybe today!

Today, please today, something could happen today!

Todayyyy!

I feel it! Can you feel it? I think I feel it!

Maybe today! It didn’t happen yesterday, could be today.

Maybe love today, my destiny today. Today!

My life could change todayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

 

This song is transcribed here for  inspiration and hope. But  a story needs a hint of pathos or some critic will criticize this as being too one-dimensional. Since Mary Smith is a cliché, we really shouldn’t care, though, should we? She reaches into her medicine cabinet and becomes the face in the latest anti-depressant commercial. I talked to my doctor about my depression and he gave me…

What should we say he gave her? Something easily recognized as an anti-depressant. Prozac? Paxil? Zoloft? Lets say Zoloft. Zoloft for the  so lofty dreams soaring over whatever clichéd demons Mary Smith subscribes to.

It is summertime and NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, or wherever the hell our cliché lives. It is an oppressively hot day late in July. Mary Smith works in a paperback exchange, but will one day be the editor of a large publishing concern or maybe the romance columnist for a woman’s magazine. Some people are coming in, milling through the narrow aisles, not really interested in the mass market used paperback bonanza around them. Nor is Mary Smith interested in them unless they approach the counter, book in hand.

“Is it hot enough for ya?” is Mary’s attempt at being friendly with a book-clad fat woman in her 40s.

“Yeah. Hot.” A book called Savage Passion is  dropped on the counter. Typical cover in the Indian/White Heaving Breasted Lady genre: An American Indian  who looks like he lifts weights. He’s  wearing a feather, loincloth, and not much else. A lady, poofy blond hair like a 1980s porn star, with lots of green eyeshadow. A bit of tit and leg is showing from her Victorian gown, leaving enough to the imagination to be allowed at a grocery store bookrack. Mary Smith used to read such books, mainly when she was 14, and grew weary of the genre shortly thereafter, for even clichéd characters can only stand so much of the same. Mary Smith prefers the various yarns  spun by Danielle Steele. Now that is literature, is what Mary thinks, and that she need never vary in her choice of author, as Steele releases a new 400 page tome to indefeatable true love every three days or so.

And then he comes in. Mary Smith hears the refrain from that awful song she somehow made up on the spot this morning. Todayyyyy…

 

He’s the one, thinks Mary. He likes to read, he’s handsome, he’s perfect. Will he notice me?

What does Mary Smith’s future lover look like?  Hugh Grant ( He’ll look like Hugh Cronin by the time this story is over)?  We think he should look like perfection, the sort manufactured not by nature but by a Mattel factory. He is Ken articulated with the breath of life and perhaps looking for his Barbie in the flesh.

Mary Smith is a Barbie doll, Paperback Exchange Barbie, not manufactured by Mattel, but still ‘swell.’ She fantasizes about this man coming up to her, giving her a lengthy kiss rivaling a 1940s movie scene. I love you, Mary…

He’s  coming to the counter. He’s coming.

“Hi,” Mary Smith says for the first time in a long time without having to fake enthusiasm. 

“Hey,” says Ken, putting one hand in the pocket of his jeans. “You got a public rest room?”

 

 

The day progresses. It is around 3pm. The book store has thinned out and now Mary Smith is alone with a newspaper crossword. A mother comes in dragging her son by the hand. He looks to be about 6,  years-old, brown hair almost the color of Mary’s. Mary Smith thought as a young girl that she would one day have a child of her own. Maybe her phantom child would look somewhat like this little boy.

She goes back to her crossword puzzle. The boy is bored as his mom looks at suspense novels. The  owner of the bookstore likes knickknacks, the kind that have a sticker on the bottom that says, “Made Exclusively for Dollar Tree.” Cherubs, frogs, gnomes, and ceramic Jesus Christs all vie to be noticed on the tops of the bookshelves. One curio, a genuine African Mask (made in China of painted china), has caught the boy’s attention. His mother is oblivious to him though she is roughly 8 feet away. He starts to climb one shelf to get the mask. It would be fun to put over his face and pretend he is a masked superhero , we believe the child thinks.

The shelves only are about eye level to the average adult, so from the first shelf, the boy can reach…just reach. 

Suddenly a crash, the little African Mask now lies on the linoleum floor in several pieces. Mary Smith turns to look at what happened. The boy is still standing on the first shelf, one hand frozen in mid-air, the other clinging to the shelf. Before Mary Smith can reassure the boy’s mother that the mask was of no real consequence, the mother has gone red with rage. “Now what have you done? G—damn IDIOT!”

Don’t look, Mary.  Not your problem, Mary. Mary Smith resumes writing an answer on her puzzle. Her hand is shaking just a bit. She isn’t looking, but she hears. We see that the mother is small, blond, and in her early twenties. She doesn’t look capable of hurting her son, nor does she look capable of keeping him under control. Her frustration and rage is peaking. She grabs the boy off the shelf, but holds him kicking at the air 2 feet below him. Walks far enough away with him to clear the remains of the china African mask before dropping the child to the floor. The sound of the child’s body hitting the floor makes Mary Smith’s pen draw a line off of the paper as her shaking hand drops the pen.

Mary Smith can’t open her mouth. Her lips are stuck together, her tongue sticks to the roof of her mouth. Her voice is paralyzed. A movie of the week scene and she can’t turn the channel or swallow. The woman grabs up her son so that he stands again. He is winded, shocked, and not crying. She grabs his hand and they leave the store as they came.

Mary Smith is alone now. The mask is in the floor in several pieces. One piece containing a hole for an eye and a bit of forehead is on its side. To Mary Smith it looks like the eyeless socket is staring at her.

There was a time when Mary might have said something. How long ago was that? Ten years ago, maybe fifteen? Since before she let life pass her by. Before she began just trying to get on with life. Before her ideals began to shrivel and maturity blotted them out.

Mary Smith begins to pick up the pieces of the china African mask until she feels a sharp pain in her palm. The piece that had pricked her conscience has now cut her hand. This is the high melodrama we hoped Mary Smith, cliché of the great American short story, would  give us. Emotional, physical pain, the kind that will translate well on the silver screen. Keep going,Mary!

Mary Smith drops the offending piece into a plastic bag she is using to collect the debris and then opens her palm. Blood, not  massive, but considerable enough is leaking from a small cut. She stares at the red fluid that pumps through her body as though entranced. Funny the thoughts one thinks. Look, Mary, you’re alive. You’re still a person. Can you feel it? (Mournful reprise of the “Today” song’s music should be placed here in the movie version).

Perhaps a potential vampire boyfriend should materialize like a shark smelling blood? You know, a nice pale guy, handsome, opens the door for his lady-love before draining her of her lifeblood. So popular now, but we decide we like this story sans Dracula, and…

Mary Smith bandages her hand in the bathroom, places the last piece in the bag, and makes her way to the wastebasket behind the counter. But for some strange reason she can’t toss the tied bag into the basket. Something, some force has prevented her from throwing the mask away. Perhaps the mask is cursed, right? Not likely. Hello, it came from the wild forest pf The Dollar Tree, not an ancient African tribe. Probably something else. It seems to her that to throw the mask’s remains away after what happened would be wrong…almost bordering on disrespectful for her phantom son’s pain.

It’s time to close. Mary Smith is glad. It’s been a long day. I’ll throw it away when I get home, and with that she stuffs the plastic bag in her purse. The ‘closed’ sign is hung on the door, she sets the alarm, and locks the door . She is out on a generic sidewalk in NYC, Boston, Chicago, or LA.

  The loneliness of a large city is something Mary Smith is used to, but something has happened. The late afternoon sunlight is almost like it’s not there to her. The oppressive heat seems to not bother her. She almost feels cold. The world is gray  like an anti-depressant commercial pre-pill. People are all around her and she feels invisible until she bumps into a man (OK, here must be the meeting of the male romantic lead. FINALLY. Such a tedious read).

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” a man in a business suit admonishes.

“Sorry,” Mary Smith replies in the same tone as the gent.

Everything is wrong somehow. People are so unkind and she is tired of it all. Mary Smith is relieved to lock herself safely into her apartment away from everyone. Suddenly she  remembers skimming through the  paper that day, the stories. Along with the daily dose of murder, mayham, and outed gay conservatives, there was the story of a man who lived in an apartment building not far from where  Mary Smith lives. He hung himself in his closet and wasn’t found for a week, not until someone smelled him. What if one day that happens to me?  What if I died one day by natural causes or by dispatching myself  and they only found me because I stunk? Would anyone wonder what happened to me? Would anyone care? Oh, knock it off,  Mary. Someone would call, your employer, your landlady sure would be  on the case if the rent  was late. Maybe a friend sometime.

  My life doesn’t matter.

Eat something, Mary. You’re just tired and hungry.

 

Would anyone remember me for anything? No one would. I’m nothing in this world.

Rinse off your face. Get a grip. Ugh, no wonder no one loves me.The mirror doesn’t lie!

The mask is still in her purse, which she has hung on the coat rack. She takes the bag out of the purse, empties the pieces on a tray, hunts down her super glue, and pieces The Dollar Tree African mask together.

Watch something on the TV.

Canned laughter, fake, beautiful people sitting on couches talking their humorous adventures in love and life. Oh kill me now. I’m going to bed.

“Maybe today? Fuck it. Tomorrow,” she sings as she slips into bed. Mary Smith covers her head with her pillow and drowns the out the world.

The next day she picks up the dried mask from where she glued it together. The mask falls to pieces again.  Mary Smith sweeps the pieces into the plastic bag and throws it away on the way to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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