A Summer at Club Ghetto/Trailer-Fabulous…The First Swim

Ah, the Gates of Paradise have opened for yet another summer of clean, wholesome fun. Sure, it took until a week into June to open because the Health Department said “You need this, that, and some of those parts  too,” but better late than never. I’m pretty sure last year they replaced the old drain as per new federal law with the kind that won’t disembowel you when it drowns you. Plus the water ain’t green and is no doubt only 25% urine at the end of each day. So open the damn thing already, Health Inspector!

Being more than slightly socially anxious,  I find a lounge chair sort of away from other people . I must hurry about this business anyway, as it is nearly 11am and if I don’t hurry my pasty self along, I’m going to  get burned and shrivel up like a California Raisin.  A large man in his 50s is already in the deep end clinging to a ladder and I am careful to find a place to jump where I won’t splash him. The apartment pool was built around 1972 when they still made pools good n’ deep, so the water ranges from 3 to 8 ft. I choose somewhere between 5 and 6 ft, a respectful distance from the portly man at the ladder. Once I pop up, I bob in the water. I can tread water without ever treading, my head can stay above the water like I’m standing, but my arms sort of  are away in front of me, kind of like a frog or turtle with its head above water.

And so the man says something along the  lines of, “Wow! You sure can stay afloat well without doing anything.”

I don’t really look at him because I’m floating the other way, and have I mentioned before that I’m shy? Just checking. I say in as cheery  a voice as I can, “That’s because I’m chubby!”  He says “Naw! I sure can’t do that.” But whatever, my good man. It is what it is.

I commence to my laps.  I could just leave it at that like a normal person would, but Gentle Reader,  then you wouldn’t get all the subtle nuances of the obsessive-compulsive experience.

I have little rituals for everything.


Yes everything.  I will share the swimming only since I don’t feel like writing a post as long as War and Peace tonight.

Once I jump into the water I feel it is a necessity to acclimate my body to the water temperature no matter how warm, hence the stand up floating.

One, one-thousand. Two, one-thousand. Three, one-thousand. Okay.

After saying this in my head, if I haven’t hit the side of the pool, good for me, because that means I don’t have to repeat. If yes, do it again, unless the pool is just too crowded or you really gotta be somewhere soon. If the pool isn’t overcrowded,  and I am at risk of bumping into someone, propel away, preferably 3 strokes away because I tend  to favor the number 3 (since, it has a religious significance in Christianity, I took it sometime as my ‘lucky number,’ everything else I prefer evened out. If you don’t hit the wall where you can start swimming the length of the pool, breast stroke, head above water until you reach the furthermost part of the deep end.

I don’t like the breast stroke. I will leave that to Michael Phelps and let you know how I swim laps. Besides, it is somewhat impractical in the Ghetto/Trailer pool, since a) the rope that divides the deep end from the shallow will intercept you

and b.) lots of times you got to focus on not running into bunches of kids. So I swim like a frog just under the surface of the water. What I do is fill my lungs almost to capacity but not quite and swim the length of the pool, which is perhaps 25 to 30 feet long without coming up for air. About halfway, I suck the rest of the air in my mouth through my lungs and that sustains me to the other side (not like it’s the English Channel anyway). I’m not sure that is something for everyone to try at home. Perhaps some people would end up sucking water in through the nose. Perhaps it may be that since my muscles never quite relax, I have a bit more control in my breathing, or perhaps my nose just clogs up. Or perhaps, if evolution is true, I didn’t quite evolve from my amphibious ancestors.  Most likely, though,  it is unremarkable and the folks who seem surprised that I can get to the other side without coming up just ain’t tried it right yet. I usually can’t make it in a typical size lap lane without coming up, so there you go.

Once I get to the other side, I must rest at least 10 seconds  before I complete the lap by returning to the starting side. At one point a man says, “There sure is a lot of chlorine in this water.” I’m not sure if he is talking to me, but once he repeated his assertion I said,  Ohhh, I didn’t realize you were talking to me…….Yes, but my eyes have a high tolerance for chlorine.” I worry that the man might think  I didn’t answer at first because  he is African-American.  (I really could have used a ‘White Guilt Day’ greeting card right then preferably a waterproof one: http://zodiblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/dead-demon-fish-and-bill-murray/).  I’d hate for someone to think I was hesitant talking to him because of race, when in all actuality, my painful shyness is very much an equal opportunity pathology).

Ahh, but this year Club Ghetto/ Trailer pool must have decided to put more chlorine than they used to do, because Ms. Blue-Eyes Invinsible here starts feeling pain on her sixth lap, and by the time she finished, she could barely open her eyes on dry land. Whoops! She will later use the lid off her mouth wash as an eyewash because her eyes bulged and looked like she  was on an 8 day drunk.

At another point Club Ghetto/Trailer-Fab’s monitor comes out checking pool passes and while there she informs me I can’t wear a shirt in the pool over my bathing suit. Stupid, but I have promised myself to take it all in stride this year and only gripe when truly merited.  I saw 10 shades of red when they wanted to ban beads and hair weaves in the pool. Supposedly beads from kids’ hair were getting stuck in the filters, but I imagine if you dangled one of those young’ins over a balcony, just grabbing the child by one beaded strand, her beads would remain in her hair. It might not have meant to be a racist thing but it ‘felt’ racist, and it was a rule picking on little kids.

So off goes my shirt and I throw it over towards my chair. Now, I felt I had two pretty decent reasons for not wishing to relinquish my shirt. A.) I didn’t want my back turning fire engine red and B.) My bathing suit is old and severely worn out. In fact, it’s in such shit condition you would think it had been in constant service since the time Esther Williams did movies. For one, it has a rip in the side and then it’s all motley. But it wasn’t just aesthetics. It was that my suit for while has been stretching southward, a victim of gravity that dared me to have a wardrobe malfunction. But since the straps have elongated so much, I tie the straps together at my nape every now and then to prevent my stretch marked bosom from making a special appearance. Wish I could find my damn good bathing suit or buy a new one at the moment

Once I finish my 12 laps, 12 because I want to make sure I at least get 10 in case I miscount , I either float on my back  if no one is in the deep end, or  the stand up float if there are people. All that 1,2,3 jazz like I mentioned earlier. Hit one end of the pool like earlier after the 1,2,3 crap is done in my head. If there are people on both ends of the pool, I may exit. If not, I get to float at whatever jets are at that side of the pool, so it will propel me, which is amusing, If I am on the opposite side iof the jet, breast stroke over there I go. Then once I do that, I do one more floating session just pushing off the side. One and a Two and a three with an “okay.” Now I can exit.

I dry off, rest in a lounge chair, count to 300 in my head to relax me and give me time to adjust  to the temperature on land. Then I can return home. So soothing. Was my pool rituals as tedious to read as it was to write them down?

Visit a Vet and Your Therapist.

Just when you think things are going ok and that you might be able to stay out of the pawn shop just one month, someone goes and kicks your cat.

Granted it wasn’t on purpose, but the cat was kicked all the same.  You see, Mama was in a hurry  to use the can and there are two doors to said can; one being the entry from the hallway, the other opens into the master closet.  As I stated before in one way or another, I am not about to be on the cover of Martha Stewart Living. So when I throw dirty clothes into the master closet for later washing, theoretically, the clothes are supposed to go into a hamper.  Said hamper in said closet is usually overflowing with dirty clothing, however, so I tend to aim, throw, and let my discarded clothing  fall where it may. And this is how the tragedy began.

My mother, in her haste to close the closet door, kicked a pair of black shorts that were obstructing the door. Unfortunately, Babee Dondee was curled up on that pair of shorts. Babee Dondee is small and black except for the occasional white hair here and there, so he was perfectly hid on that  black  background. My mom’s swift kick made hard contact with shorts and cat.

Mama felt terrible, placing the blame on herself, though I think if it is anyone’s fault, it’s mine since I’m a total slob and it was my shorts left there by me. She apologized repeatedly to Dondee and I think he realized Mom didn’t mean to do it to him.

But whoever’s fault it was, it became obvious Dondee needed medical attention, because he still limped this morning and wouldn’t emerge from the closet.  I hate taking my cats to the vet, Dondee especially, since he is absolutely terrified of riding in the van in his carrier. He cries the five minutes it takes to get there, and is an awful thing to hear, especially when you can’t  tell him what is happening in a language he understands.

The vet who saw us is a man in his 50s, whom I distinctly get the feeling likes animals more than humanity, or maybe he thought we meant to do it, and I feel horrified and guilty in his presence. But I think (hope) he knew we didn’t mean to, because I doubt the average person who abuses animals takes them to the vet afterword. I tried not to avert my eyes as much as usual, lest the doctor  think we meant to do it and mistake my social anxiety as guilt.

In the end, nothing was broken, but his nerves in his shoulder were inflamed. He received steroids for that and antibiotics just in case he was bit by something instead of my mom’s kick because his temperature was up.

My mother gave me the joyous task of settling up with the receptionist since I had the money, but I knew it was going to be more than I have. And so it was. I’m too chicken shit to say I don’t have $195.00, so I beckoned my mom over and show her the invoice.  Mama explained the situation and that we’ll be back as soon as possible.  $96.00 down, $99.00 to go. So we take Dondee home, grab up some pawnable merchandise, and back out we go.  Meanwhile, one of the maintenance guys told us the pool passed inspection and will probably open today. Great, figures the damn thing would finally open and I’d be on the……nevermind.

I think the receptionist was pleased we came back as soon as we did, and hopefully, since we brought the money back so fast, that will give us a gold star in character and somehow show them we don’t abuse animals. Lord.

Then, this afternoon was a trip to my therapist. Now my last trip to see her, she kinda sorta almost yelled at me, or was very firm.  Well, at least it worked. Plus my mom, my best friend, virtually everyone on earth, also wanted me to do what I did. So I did and I feel the better for it. Guilt and elation, anger, guilt, then elation again. Some things that are easy  for other people are much harder for me. I meant well, though.

My therapist was glad I went out with Green and that I had no real problem with talking to him or the Hippies, that I didn’t freeze up. She wants me to contact him again.

She isn’t so happy I’m so nervous-acting, I don’t think, because she asked me when I last saw my shrink. It was a couple months ago and she couldn’t up my meds, but thank God, my depression lifted a lot since.  I went from life-sucks-just-let-me-die-or- something  to life-sucks-less. Good enough, man. Party!

She seems to think my little perfectionist  bent  is a tad maladaptive. I can’t stand my inability to do everything just right. If I feel I haven’t done things perfectly, I will go into a rage at myself and go take a nap. One thing goes wrong, EVERYTHING is wrong. If I raise my voice at my mother, I will get angry at myself, feel I’m a failure at life in general….and go to sleep.  Every morning I wake up and promise myself  today I will not make a mistake. Doomed to failure, but I can’t stop. I’ve done this off and on in some form or another since I was a small girl. Nothing I would expect of another person, but I  can’t stand  my lack of measuring up to normalcy.  Oh well.

952 words, I’m shutting up now.

Princess Rubenesque’s Adventures Downtown

(Started Apr 12, bothered to finish today. Yay, I’m caught up!)

I intended on going to the parade Saturday morning, but awoke flustered and despairing of getting there on time, so I fell back on the couch and watched the thing on TV.  I was angry at myself for not going…I always go. It was so cool that our local hero was the parade marshal. Such a small, normal looking woman and God only knows how many people she saved when she took that guy down. She once was a police officer at a local beach where nothing happens and now look at her…people around the world know what she did. I bet she wishes it never happened though since she can only walk a bit now. I will reiterate though she is mega cool.

Saturday evening my mother and I went downtown to see the fireworks. We walked 6 blocks to the river, but it was a lovely evening and a pleasant walk in the historic district.  At night sometimes one can see inside their lovely homes, the painted or wallpapered rooms with their  pretentious chandeliers and antique furnishings. The other joy is all the people observing one can  get in, like the actively hallucinating guy who walked past us giving consolation to someone we couldn’t see. With the advent of bluetooth technology it can be difficult to tell if someone is nuts, but this guy’s jerky movements made insanity  a certainty. “He wouldn’t give us any money,” he told his invisible friend, then said, “Don’t worry about him though, man.”

The fireworks were beautiful and I think we had the best view we ever had, sitting in our fold-out chairs in clear view of where they were  shot off.  Then we went to the Chinese take-out for some soup. This joint gave birth to the term “seedy.” There’s always interesting people there. Someone opened the door to yell to a patron that their mutual pal is in jail, but she already knew and was cross but seemed to not view it as being as newsworthy as her friends did.

Soup is a rather ritual-oriented meal, especially the robust hot and sour they serve at Seedy China.  The soup is spicy hot and would not do for the average Anglo to gulp down, but it is the best I’ve ever tasted. In case you aren’t fortunate enough to know how to eat a pint of soup the proper way, allow me to school you on the perfect and essential way. You can thank me later for this vital skill.

Please recall, gentle reader, we did not grow up in a sty and must act accordingly. Unfold your napkin and set it in your lap (if you are lucky like me your stomach is one  large flap and if utilized properly, can act as a ‘paperweight’ for the napkin in your lap).  Take your spoon and begin. Begin from the left and take  sips until you’ve taken a sip by dipping your spoon, working vertically until you’re at the right side of the bowl.  Then put a few of those crisp noodles, at least 3 of them since you really prefer things in 3’s.  Eat the noodles in your soup. Now repeat the entire ritual until you’re done, and if you’re good at it, people won’t even realize you have a ‘strategy’ for eating.

Downtown’s most prevalent establishments open at night are bars, bars, and then bars.  You have to be careful down there because girls have got into trouble, but if you aren’t alone you’re pretty safe, especially if it isn’t really late at night.  So when the drunk chaps rolled up to the red light, two cars of them, I wasn’t worried for my physical safety.


Oh. How. Original. I’m sensible enough not to reply or look at them. As they drive away, to preserve my dignity, I mutter, “Fucking assholes.” But I seriously felt very little. I wasn’t aware of being angry or sad. But then I had one of my bad thoughts, the kind that are very disturbing to someone with OCD. My mind conjured an image of  those guys in an awful car crash, the kind with glass everywhere  and the cars crushed like soda cans. Which immediately upset me because I didn’t want the little bastards to die or be injured and I hoped they got home okay. Then I started to worry. A thought is just a thought, but I don’t like the thought at all. I started worrying as though the thought of them being killed would come true, though I knew I was being stupid.

What if the thought means you want them to crash?  I asked myself. No, and you know you don’t want any harm worse than a hangover tomorrow to happen to them, Lisa, I replied in my mind. But the awful thought of those guys dying lodged into my mind, and I sought reassurance from my mom.

“I wish you could worry about something. No, you don’t want them to crash or die,” Mom said. I really exasperate her sometimes, but I eventually realized she was right. If I really wanted something to happen to them, I would not be worried about it or if I wished it I would know I wished it. Fair enough.

And far as I know, the two cars of  drunken idiots made it home safe and sound that night. All’s well that ends well.

Went to the Shrink and Found Out My Life Stinks, but Decide to Live It Anyhow

Went to the doctor and guess what he told me, guess what he told me? He said, “Girl you gotta try to have fun no matter what you do,”  but he’s a fool….

-Sinead O’Conner

I am disheartened. Totally, completely disheartened. My anxiety has really been getting to me for about a month and the social anxiety is kicking me in the stomach. I can barely articulate it. I’m intimidated by my psychiatrist, little and unthreatening, but I’m afraid of saying too much. Something that will make her say go to the doctor. Something that will make her say, “Tsk, tsk. Sick little puppy.” I am afraid of her receptionist, a hateful British woman who demands payment before services rendered, as though she expects me to try to sneak out without paying, as though she’s saying, White trash.

” I think I need my meds adjusted”  I say. But I’m already on the maximum dose for Luvox, 300 mg., and she doesn’t want to increase the drug more. I understand this, but I hoped she would be able to let me take more or something.

She asks me if the Wellbutrin could be making me more nervous. I say no fast. The Wellbutrin keeps me from being ‘spayed’ by the Luvox. You might ask why would a  woman who couldn’t give it away at San Quentin would want to feel erotic feelings. Doesn’t it just remind me that I’m not desirable?  Well, I have a secret boyfriend. B.o.b. is down for anything when I like as long as I keep him supplied with 2 AA batteries. Doc Johnson introduced us at Spencer’s in the mall for $12.95  and  I won’t give him up!  

 That’s too much information. Let’s move on.

The psychiatrist asks if  I feel hopelessness. Not always but often.

How’s my mood? I was really depressed for a while, but it’s better now. While I’m not exactly ecstatic, I’m ok.

“Any suicidal thoughts?” She asks me this twice during the 15 minute session.

“No.” But I wouldn’t tell you if I did even though I like you.

Suicide is something I wouldn’t do, I know. I will wish I’m dead at times or that my sorry self was never born, but to actually act on these thoughts isn’t something I’m keen on doing. I do have some hope somewhere, I just misplace it sometimes. I want to live if only to spite Ms. Pink Pig, and I want to live just in case I surprise myself  and find a purpose.  Plus I’m not that selfish and I analyze the reasons I HAVE TO live.  My mother would be devastated, because she and I have not gone more than 24 hours without at least talking to each other on the phone.  She’s fairly dependent on me in her own way. We are symbiotic.

My soul father (my favorite professor in college), not my biological dad who is dead and I never knew, would be sorry if I exited the stage even though we seldom see each other. He’s a sensitive person and I’m sure it would bother him a lot.

My best friend might need me. She has a huge circle of friends, but still, she might need me.

Someone else I know or am friends with might be sad or need me.  At least I hope that I might be needed by someone.

It’s unfair to throw my life away when so many young people who die too soon from illness or misadventure didn’t have the chance to grow old.

What if the evil God that I learned about in kindergarten is how it all really is and I’m banished to eternal damnation? I doubt it’s really how it is, but my early beliefs are still hidden in my psyche somewhere and I’m awaiting punishment.  It is totally against normal human nature to destroy oneself, so how would a just God banish to hell someone not thinking straight?

Even if I killed myself all neatly, pills so that I seem only asleep, wouldn’t that still weird someone out to find me even if I’m unknown to that person?  Or worse, what if  no one found me and my mom never knew what happened to me?

Even cremation is expensive. I’d hate to cost a lot.

Etc. & so forth…so no, suicide is something I won’t do.

The psychiatrist tells me to keep taking Ativan as needed, to eat regularly since my mood worsens when I’m hungry, and work on my anxiety with my therapist.

“See you in two months,” she says cheerfully.

I’m depressed. I’m angry. And where is the hopelessness? Oh yay, there it is!

“I’m going to be like this forever,” I tell my mother. All the anxiety. All the timidity. All the anger for not being perfect or at least normal.  I am nothing. Forever.

You can do this, Lisa. You HAVE TO do this. You can’t be this way forever. You have to will yourself out of this. I tell myself I will do better.  You will look people in the eye at least once per interaction. You’re a person too, no less than they are, simply for being a human you are no less of a person.  All people have worth, even you, Lisa.

I decide I will try to  be  as optimistic as Candide after I have a nap with one of my cats.


Guilty Party, Table for One…

I have a confession to make. Well. sooner or later I’m  confessing about something to my mother, my therapist, sometimes anyone who will listen. Guilt is a constant companion of mine, never more than two steps away and ready to pounce.  I will feel guilty over not doing things exactly right as my mind dictates is right. I must perfect my methods so that I might be as good as everyone else. I want to be perfect, nothing less, even though logically I know that is impossible for anyone. Feeling angry sends waves of guilt through me, though I seldom get angry at anyone but myself, and it becomes a rage inside me, not going away until I call myself every name in the book and sometimes I hit myself just to kill the anger. Not too hard, just enough to smart a bit. Frustration OCD -style is a bitch.  I wouldn’t hurt any sentient creature on this planet, human or animal, but  myself is another matter.  I never was overly fond of myself for as long as I can remember and I am eager to point out my failures to myself.

The guilt feeling can come upon me when I haven’t even done anything, often giving rise to taking an inventory of what I said or did that day.  Even more irksome are memories, faux pas minor or major, that flash into my head unbidden. Things that happened the other day to something I did as far back as age 5 or so. Not many people can say they feel bad about things that happened that far back.  Most people forget, and if not, they are at least kind enough to make note that they were young and one can’t expect adult reasoning in a child or teen. I am accepting of  almost everyone, their lifestyles, their flaws and strengths…..everyone but me!  Other people are fine the way they are, but as hard as I try I will not measure up to other people.

So what am I feeling guilty about tonight? Night before last….

I had just settled down for a long spring’s nap,

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter,

but I did not rise to see what was the matter.

I of course can’t be certain what happened without having got up, and I would have got up if the noise had continued.  It sounded like someone punched someone, the squeal of a woman and the sound of a punch. It might not have happened. I had Coast to Coast AM on at a low volume to mask my tinnitus, and the people across  the hall from us could have just been having their normal drama. The woman’s son is rather fond of  drink and whatever else he can get hold of it seems, and occasionally he comes to visit his mama  when totally shit-faced.   I don’t think he had ever hit her…At least not out on the stage of the hallway. I haven’t seen his mother to see if she has a shiner. Hopefully, they were just having a loud argument, because their arguments are loud.

So why do I feel guilty? Because I didn’t look out the peephole. If he took a swipe at his mom and then left, I wouldn’t call the cops, but what if he kept on at it? I don’t suppose he did, but if he did, wouldn’t I be in some way just as bad for not doing something?

Aw hell, like I said, I’d have done  something if it continued to happen. It just occurred to me that this is dumb. Seeing things in print sometimes does that I guess.

After all, there was that time the son picked  a fight with my friend down the hall. I am fond of my friend down the hall (she now lives in another building because that was the only way she was getting new carpet, but that’s neither here nor there). Friend- Down-the-Hall has a daughter who indulges in similar pursuits as Dude-Who’s-Mom-Lives-Across-the-Hall (whatever it is she’s on , it’s made her lose her paunch). Anyhow, Dude was screaming at my friend and i feared her coming to harm because he was getting really close to her. It was late, like 2am, but I was still dressed, so before I could lose my nerve, I opened the apartment door and stepped just far enough out to be noticed, but not so far as to not yank myself back into my  apartment. My reasoning was the more people witnessing the argument the less likely he’d be to hit my friend who is in her 60s.

Now, you may be thinking, “Hey Genius, why not just call the cops?” Because: A) Didn’t want anyone getting in trouble. B) because I would have to contend with my mom, who’d be afraid they would know it was me, and C.) they hadn’t actually come to blows. As long as they were just having a shouting match and not hurting anyone, they could do it as long as they had voices to yell as far as I was concerned. Everyone saw me except my friend. Either way, nothing happened and Dude’s mom apologized for disturbing me….I felt bad she saw me.

I’m very shy, but am apt to come to someone’s aid.  I really hate seeing anyone upset or hurting and if I don’t do something I would feel like it was me who harmed them.  I get overwhelmed by the feeling of being responsible for bad things.

I have called the cops a couple times and the first time I wish I didn’t. In the building across from us lives a man with mild cerebral palsy, it just makes him walk different and not as fast as others. Well, he and this guy that lived next to him, got into a fight. Now this guy that lived next to him was a badass. A very tall, very strong , very drunk badass. And he said, “I don’t care if you are a cripple, I’ll still beat your ass!” But Guy-with-CP wasn’t planning on backing down and it wouldn’t be a fair fight by any means.

So Nervous Nelly here called the law. And they nearly arrested the guy with CP too cause he had some garden stick or something and I mentioned he was trying to defend himself  with it. My bad.  I felt terrible. I feel terrible, but I will never confess it was me who called the police to him. Luckily the badass soon got evicted because of something else. My mom was terrified he’d find out it was me who called the cops for getting into a fight with Guy-with-CP and rejoiced when Badass moved.  Yep, maybe shouldn’t have called. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The other time I called the cops was when we were coming home late one night and I saw a guy slouched over in his wheelchair by the side of the road.  I called so they would check on him. Later I told the chat room I frequent and did they ever make me feel bad. “You should have stopped and asked him if he was okay!” they said. I got clobbered. Maybe I deserved it, I don’t know, but it was late at night, sort of isolated, and while our neighborhood isn’t exactly “da ‘hood, it ain’t the garden district either. He could have been the next incarnation of Ted Bundy for all we knew or as harmless as Al Bundy. We didn’t take the chance. I hope he was okay.

Garden of Good & Evil