Two For the Price of One

I was all set to use “Throwback Thursday” and the coming of Halloween to reminisce about Halloween days of old. But then I logged on this morning and found out that today is National CAT Day, and … how could I not tell you about all my pusses? So – I offer up two separate posts for the price of one. It’s economical. It’s practical. You’re welcome.

We all know about Oliver, my little man of fur… his swagger, his hairballs, his dance moves, his bathroom habits. This little orange tabby appeared suddenly on my back porch the summer of my divorce, waiting by the door like he was waiting for us. I had no idea where he came from, we’d only gone across the street to the store for a half hour. Ava leapt out of the car and ran to him while I screamed at her don’t touch it! But it was too late, it was love at first sight and she scooped him up and can we keep him? It wasn’t an immediate yes, but he found a way to mew his way into my heart too. Oliver adores Todd but I’m not entirely sure the feeling is mutual, the principal offenses being fur on the bed, multiple attempts at homicide – which I have yet to witness myself… not that I’m calling anyone an exaggeratoror anything…….. just sayin’ – and last weekend’s urinary indiscretion on our bathroom rug.

Yet – he is remarkably tolerant of all of Ava’s attempts to humiliate him, he’s very friendly with houseguests willing to share their bed, he’s impossibly adorable, and he can catch mice with his teeth. Not Todd – I’m talking about Oliver!

My first cat was also a stray – found on a weekend with my dad and I scooped her up and called my mom and said, can we keep her? Please? I don’t know why she said yes, but she did. Mitzi stayed with us through two moves, a handful of costume changes, and one makeup application – though shortly after our second move when I was in 6thgrade she ran away. She was gone for 6 weeks. I cried every night. And then one day she came back, like nothing had ever happened. She stayed a while after that, but disappeared again and never returned.

My mom remarried when I was in 4th grade and my stepdad had a cat, Horlacher, named after a beer. She was a beautiful black and white – now known as a tuxedo – medium-haired cat. When they divorced, mom got custody of “Hor,” as we lovingly referred to her. Hor (yes – pronounced whore) lived to the ripe old age of 22, and not without incident. My mom, by this time, was living next to her restaurant. A consummate drama queen and apparently in a desperate search for the rainbow bridge, Hor would drag her ailing frame through the restaurant courtyard and up to the front gate where she would sprawl into a deathbed pose as guests were arriving on a busy Saturday night. One night three different guests came to me and mentioned “this, uh, cat lying outside the front gate…”  (I kept carrying her home, though why I didn’t think to shut the GD door, I have no idea.) We often joked about how she had planned to outlive all the animals she had to share us with, but that she gave up after our dog refused to die under a variety of impossible circumstances.

Also during the era of Mitzi and Horlacher came a calico maniac my mom decided to name Zibidah. Apparently I pronounced my middle name Zibidah (Elizabeth) when I was too young to pronounce anything more complicated than da-da, and she thought it was cute. I have no idea where “Zibby” came from, but I’m sure it wasn’t earth. She used to scale the stucco walls of our house and appear suddenly at the second floor bathroom window, which was only cute during the daylight hours. And then she got knocked up because I guess my parents forgot that spaying an outdoor cat is a “must-do”… and I experienced my first live animal birth with her SIX kittens.

We lived in the country on a fairly large property and farm, and so we kept most of her kittens, whom I named Beecer, Mildew (a tortie), and two others I named Ellie and Onesey because my stepdad suggested we name them Last Ones. And, though I didn’t know it then, he drove the whole box of kittens to a field to get rid of them – only to rush back for them out of crushing guilt. I don’t know whether he ever regretted it, but I do remember a tremendous amount of profanity in the stairwell after he stepped in a pile of Milly’s liquid cat poo during the spaying period for all six females Zibby had.

Fast forward almost 20 years and I was married to my first husband, who insisted that his two cats come to live with us in our no-pets-allowed condo. These two were the cream of the crop– purebreds with pedigree – a gorgeous Persian named Lucas and a mentally-impaired Himalayan named Baily. These two were like brothers – they slept curled up around each other and would chase each other around the house at 3 a.m. like two hogs rushing for the trough, and Baily would clean Lucas by licking the back of his head, which created a stanky odor akin to a pair of woman’s underwear on a 90-degree day in Mexico. Lucas was a lap-cat who loved to be carried around on my shoulder like a baby, and Baily wanted nothing to do with anybody but my ex. Lucas was my first introduction to shit sticking to fur, and it was through him that I learned the fine art of cat bathing. Unfortunately, he suffered kidney failure just a month after Ava was born and we were forced to put him down. Baily lived a bit longer – long enough for Ava to fall in love with him and he allowed her to hold him from time to time.

I frequently entertain the idea that Oliver needs a buddy, but Todd has suggested that such a decision might indicate an unwillingness to stay married.

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Halloween when I was a kid was a riot. I used to go with Holly and her sisters, with brown paper grocery bags, and we’d walk up to two miles through the countryside collecting candy from strangers. We would actually walk into these stranger’s houses – can you imagine??! And, not only did we come home alive, we came home with grocery bags filled to the top with candy. Our moms were waiting back at the house where we threw ourselves on the floor and dumped those bags out, throwing those razor-blade poisoned apples in the trash, and casting the popcorn balls and McDonald’s gift certificates aside while savoring all the chocolate.

My mom was big on sewing my costumes for the school parade in my earliest grade school years – one year I went as a clown (this was long before Poltergeist ruined clowns for me forever) and one year I was a lion in  a homemade fur suit that could’ve kept an entire Eskimo family warm.  I don’t really remember most of my costumes anymore (except the year I went as a dominatrix to my then-boyfriend’s gorilla – nothing to tell here, move along) but I do remember one memorable year when my stepsister thought it would be creative to go as a “rock.” It was definitely creative – and apparently very convincing – she donned a black trash bag and crouched down at every door with us… and got nothing. The only thing worse than no recognition on Halloween is no candy.

Now the tables are turned and I’m the mom, and the pressure as always is down to the 11th hour as Ava and I work out the details of her costume in the limited time we have before 6:00 on Saturday. In a way, I love that she has enough faith in me to want to create a costume rather than buy one, but this way of thinking could prove disastrous if there’s no dry run. And, meanwhile, I’m deciding what I want to wear on our quest for sugar… since I equally love dressing up. Todd and I pulled off a last minute Sandy and Danny ensemble two years ago, which was a riot (and more so because people I met for the first time that night didn’t recognize me weeks later in my natural brown).

But I think the most memorable costumes are my mother’s. She once went as an alien prostitute, wearing a bustier and a giant rubber mask, and just stood silently in a corner of her best friend’s bar. Another year she went there dressed up as a man complete with mustache and… he didn’t recognize her. All night. Two years ago she paid tribute to another very close friend who passed away by dressing up as him. I can’t even begin to do this justice unless you knew him, but it was uncanny and creepy and hilarious all rolled into one fun-sized, chest-hairy package.

And so, a new Halloween is just around the corner and as usual I am unprepared. We have the candy to hand out, but Ava’s costume requires a few things we have yet to buy… (hello, Walmart!).  I’m still deciding how to dress myself, but I have an epic prank planned that I cannot WAIT to see go down and I will post video if I can capture it.

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In Other News ….
November 1st this year is daylight savings time, my favorite time of year because doesn’t everybody love the sun setting at 4:00? And for those of you who don’t experience Type 1 diabetes, it also heralds a blood sugar nightmare as we shift all our basal rates according to this stupid ritual nobody benefits from anymore and hope for the best.

November 1st also marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month and there are a number of agencies out there working hard to educate the masses. You can expect to hear from me more frequently on this subject. Also, November 14this World Diabetes Day and we have some big things planned. More on that later.

Miscellaneous…

Horlacher beer was a Pennsylvania brewery which operated for over 100 years between 1873 and 1978.

The average lifespan of a cat is 15 years. The longest living cat was Crème Puff, who lived to age 38 in Austin, Texas. That’s 168 in cat years!

According to Bloody-disgusting.com, the top 10 worst Halloween candies are: Necco wafers (these weren’t that bad, were they?), Dots (weak-tasting, stuck better than denture cream), Cow Tales (never heard of them), Sugar Daddies (remember these rock-hard caramels on a stick?), wax lips/bottles (just eww), Good & Plenty (for the love of God, why can’t anything be chocolate?), Peeps (I swear my generation never had the Halloween version of these), Red Hots (I happen to love cinnamon), circus peanuts (admit it – they were nasty but you had to eat at least one).

This post – one of my longest – contains 1,889 words. And if you now know that, thank you for taking the time to read. J

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Ramblings, Memories, and a Subliminal PSA

When Ava was diagnosed at age 2, Owen was 6. They say that when a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it affects the whole family. That we all will have to adjust to the “new normal.”  Back then, I often worried about how it all affected Owen – between the trauma of the hospital experience, the separation from me (which he was not accustomed to), and eating on a schedule, and listening to mom and dad screaming at each other over yet something else – what did he take away from all this? How much of it did he internalize, and how much is subconsciously harbored today?

Almost 2 weeks ago he broke his collar bone. He was x-rayed at the ER and sent home with a sling. So last Thursday we followed up with an orthopedist and Owen was really excited to see the x-ray of his shoulder. While we were waiting for the doctor, we chatted about the injury and looked at the charts of other common injuries and surgeries on the wall.

He said this place smells like the hospital. I said something about the ER and he said, no – the hospital where Ava was. He remembered the way the hospital smelled.  All these years later, and he had a profound sensory memory. I was blown away that this just came out of the blue. I have similar memories, but mine are very specific to the scent of the hand sanitizer that hung outside all the patient rooms in the PICU. It took me years – I mean years – to not feel nauseated by that smell. Because every single person who passed through her door smelled the same and, this being Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there were nurses, doctors, phlebotomists, ancillaries, interns, and fellows.

When I asked him what else he remembered, his memories were more vague – like who he stayed with while we were at CHOP, and eating McDonald’s downstairs on one of those days. The conversation inspired me to ask Ava what her earliest memories are. She has no memory of her diagnosis or hospital stay, thank God. But what she did say – blindsided me.

She remembers dad and me fighting. Those are her earliest memories. Owen, of course, remembers the fighting, but he doesn’t talk about it much. And there is another thing I think about – what about those experiences? What impact has that had on him? On her? As I said in a previous post, I knew that leaving was my only option – if I wanted a chance to live free and be happy. But more than that – way more than that – was the long-term impact my choice to stay or go would have on my children.

My choice, therefore, to leave was not just for me. It was so that my children would see what it means to stand up for oneself and for what is right. So that they would know that thisisn’t normal. That my daughter wouldn’t grow up and find herself trapped in an abusive relationship. That my son wouldn’t grow up and believe that women are to be controlled, or to serve him, or that it’s okay to call your girlfriend or your wife a fucking c@#t. I really did worry at night sometimes, while I laid in bed, about the what-ifs of my son’s upbringing. Worrying that he’d end up arrested for punching or pushing his girlfriend, and how that would positively kill me. I know it sounds extreme, but it’s a very real aspect of domestic abuse – the lessons those children take away. You know, the sins of the fathers…

So now my post, which began as a rambling post about memories, unintentionally jumped on the circle and turned into a PSA. I rarely write without purpose anymore – usually I need an inspiration or a good story and just sit down and blam! I guess aimless rambling can be a good thing sometimes, like they taught me in writing class so many years ago.

Anyway, in another turn that makes little sense – my earliest memory? I think it’s a tie. Since I was so young I can hardly say which came first. I remember sitting in my high chair, in the kitchen, eating a powdered angel cream donut. Mom was downstairs, I think, doing laundry. I remember looking to the counter where the Dunkin Donuts box stood, and wanting another. So now ya’ll know what my favorite donut is. Still. I also remember sitting on my mom and dad’s bed – mom was in the bathroom and dad was lying on the bed – twirling a Q-tip in my ear. That’s it. But it’s a very early memory – and one in which my parents were still married. I would have been about 2 years old, maybe 3, when we lived in that house.

These brief snapshots of my early childhood with mom and dad are somehow precious … I have no memory of them together, only memories of them apart. Memories of the bitterness that existed for so many years afterward. But never violence. My mother’s childhood memories, by stark contrast, are peppered with nasty arguments and an alcoholic father. I guess that’s what she took away from a situation she couldn’t control – she made herself a better life as an adult, and made sure her child never had to grow up in an ugly household.

We all seek to improve on the past with our own families, don’t we? Whatever our reasons, we want our children to have the best. We raise them with the hope that they’ll never need a psychiatrist, or suffer with unspecified depression from suppressed memories of dad’s constant threats of suicide. We don’t want history to repeat itself.

What I have done is only what I can do. I use specific current incidents to explain why this is good, or that isn’t acceptable, because the life I used to live has been reduced to he said-she said and the court order for custody is pretty clear that we are not to paint either parent in a negative light. Whether it is followed remains to be seen, but what my children do see each and every day is a strong mother who isn’t someone’s doormat or servant – who loves and is loved and cherished by a man who is faithful, compassionate, fair, and fun. I am forever grateful and blessed, and my hope is that they will one day be too.

A Comedy in Errors

You know that saying, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry. Sometimes frustration just gets the best of me, and I’ve been feeling like a slow-building implosion about to happen. That’s not today, particularly, … just an overall sense of being over the last 7 days.

I’ve been running kids like an ancillary running water to an amnesiac . Hurry up get in the car, do you have your lunch? Hurry up, brush your teeth.  Do you have your go-bag? What do you mean you’re not wearing your bracelet? You’re going to miss the bus. Today is band? And you forgot your clarinet?

Last Thursday my cell phone rang at 3:35 with an unknown caller from Lancaster County, PA. (I recognized the area code, but not the number.) A split second decision whereby I considered letting it go to voicemail and then took a deep breath and answered it anyway. The voice on the other end addressed me by my first name (I am always initially annoyed by this) and then introduced himself as the person about to deliver news that would change my plans for the rest of the day, and the rest of football season.

No parent wants to get this call. Please don’t let this be a concussion, please don’t let this be a concussion… and then… “his symptoms are consistent with a broken collar bone.”  And then a few more words like, “he’s doing okay,” “he’s stable,” “we’re icing it,” … “need to go to the emergency room…” I told him I’d be there as soon as I could.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Ava was already on the bus to come home and, on this particular day, it was running late. I sat in the car waiting, still trying to wipe the tears off my face because I’m very emotional and beyond irrational sometimes when it comes to my kids. By the time I got to Owen, nearly 45 minutes after the call, he was seated on the golf cart with the athletic director, the trainer and a good friend hovering nearby. I looked my son in the eyes and asked him the dumbest question I could come up with. How are you doing?  He played it off rather well, until we drove away. We were no more than a mile from the school when his stoicism and tough-guy attitude melted like chocolate in July. My eyes welled up with tears as his ran hotly over his cheeks, the pain held while waiting for me overflowing in anger.

Needless to say, we went to the ER where I saw a dead-ringer for John Slattery – were he wearing a suit and holding a glass of vodka instead of a security uniform and a night stick. It was all I could do NOT to ask him for a picture. So we’re waiting on the results of the x-ray and I noticed something protruding through Owen’s shirt and, thinking it was a bone or something, reached down to touch it. I soon realized my mistake and no sooner had I said I’m sorry than he said, great, are you really trying to make me uncomfortable?

Anyway, an x-ray confirmed that he had, in fact, broken his collar bone. This, the day before he was to start on the kick-return team. He was so excited to finally move up to first string. I was excited. He’s given 110% of himself in this choice he made. He worked really hard to prove he could do it. But, unfortunately, he’s not going to get the chance this year. It happened in the tackling drills, though he didn’t realize he was hurt until he dropped to do push ups and “heard something snap.” The disappointment is palpable, but he’s handling it way better than I would have.

I insisted he shower after the ordeal, which meant I had to help him get all his practice clothes off including underwear, which could easily have been a traumatic experience all on its own but managed to handle it so he could maintain his dignity. Go mom! He has since been handling this detail himself, so I guess embarrassment overrides pain.

The first night was filled with inconceivable discomfort for him, not being accustomed to restricted movement and sleeping flat on his back, and he called for help around 11 or so and – because I’m as deaf as my 90-year-old grandmother – woke Ava up to come get me. He was in and out of sleep most of the night, and Ava’s blood sugars kept dropping low so it was one sleepless night.

Saturday was a double-shift day and the hits kept coming. Watching three people trying unsuccessfully to unroll the aisle runner for the bride – our own people, mind you. Two blasts from the past that day too – one guy said, Tara, right? And then told me his name (whichI should have recognized) and I said, nice to meet you. Now’s about the time the floor can open up and swallow me, maybe… since he went on to remind me of his rehearsal dinner for his first wedding and exactly who he married that time. O.M.G. With his hair slicked back in a ponytail and weathered skin, I hardly recognized him. I told one of our servers that he and I are the same age and she snarkily said, why don’t you look like that? The second guy I was better at, and actually didrecognize. As the wrong person. But I had my doubts, so I asked how the family was and hit the jackpot. And he never had to know.

Monday was a pure circus – having to get up earlier than usual and shower and dress presentably in order to walk my son into the high school. I had to wake Ava up to ride along, which wasn’t too difficult since she doesn’t like to miss a fart. So, we get there after the bell, sign him in, and I tell the teenager at the front desk that we need to arrange for someone to carry his backpack. He volunteered, but only for the first class and I later learned Owen carried his bag the rest of the day. (We fixed this yesterday.)

I drove Ava home to shower, dress, and eat breakfast… all so that she could miss the bus. I cleaned up the hairball/log of cat food on the kitchen floor and hollered at Ava to get moving, and found her in her bedroom – transformed into something unrecognizable by the floor covered with assorted clothes – and still not fully dressed. So, not only did she miss the bus – she missed herfirst bell too. I left the elementary school to return home for two hours, then got back in the car and drove over to the high school to deliver 800 mg of ibuprofen to Owen to ease his pain at lunchtime, since the nurse can’t do it without a doctor’s note. Then home again to call the doctor for that note, snarf down some lunch, and get back in the car to pick Ava up again for an orthodontist appointment at 1.

Todd’s been exercising his voice a lot this week, and not by singing old Survivor songs to me. Eighteen-year-olds need a lot of guidance! Like how to clean up after themselves, how not to run up the electric bill, how to shower efficiently (every day),  how not to make long distance calls with our local-only landline, and how not to eat like a barbarian. This morning’s lesson was a veiled threat about missing the train if one cannot get oneself out of bed without mommy. Ouch. Must’ve been one quiet ride. Or chilly, if the windows needed to be down.

There’s a new puppy at the other farm – you know, that farm where one dog wasn’t welcome and sent packing without notice to another family member? Yes, a new puppy who’s as cute as a button and silky soft with big brown eyes and extremely naughty. Reports are that he had 6 accidents in the house Sunday, and there was a declaration that “maybe we shouldn’t have gotten him.” Wow. Probably the most accurate and honest statement yet. Well – after the one a couple of months ago where he said he wasn’t a total jerk. (True story.) Nevertheless, my daughter overlooked this glaring example of yet another not-well-thought-out decision and excused it as frustration, though not without chastising him for saying it in front of the puppy, “he can hear you, you know.” Ugh. Makes me sick. The whole thing.  Smile and wave, Tara, just smile and wave. I can’t afford to have any real opinions on this anyway.

There’s more to come, I’m sure – it’s only Wednesday after all.

Two Parties On the Same Day – Part II

The second party was getting underway, almost exclusively under the leadership of my charismatic and quite inebriated little brother. I found him upstairs in the kitchen, loudly pontificating on I-don’t-know-what to a 60-ish friend of Todd’s. At 6’ 1” and fully filled-out frame, my brother has the power to be intimidating, but if you know him he’s about as formidable as a kitten. Still, I had no idea his voice could be quite that loud until this particular day.

I arrived on this scene, my brother holding court in my kitchen with this gentleman, who was leaning back in his seat at the island looking impossibly comfortable, and three of my (much) younger friends from work. One of them, who shall remain nameless, was also three sheets to the wind and apparently thoroughly enjoying himself at my soiree.  What a treat! I’ve never seen him drunk, like ever, and here was my chance – but I blew it because I’d had too much to drink and had lost my ability to spot a drunk at my own party. Imagine my disappointment when I heard I’d missed him comparing himself to Galileo. I still don’t see the connection, and apparently he has forgotten, as I’ve since asked him and he couldn’t elaborate. See what alcohol does, people?! It opens the door to magnificent dialogues, but guarantees to slam that door on your memory when you awaken from its fog. It’s a travesty.

Earlier in the day, my brother had texted me a picture of Don Julio 1942. Unbeknownst to me, he had been mixing a variety of concoctions based on our bar selections and offering tastings (at the very least) to family members and more than once to me (though I’d forgotten this until Todd reminded me). Don Julio came out sometime around half-past-flagged, and together my brother and I handed out shots of this liquid confidence to the round table of aunts and uncles, plus my mom and two others on the other side of the deck. I even handed one off to Galileo. We all raised our Dixie cups and toasted to something profound, and just like that an entire bottle of top shelf tequila was gone. It was awesome.

The guests continued to filter out by the second half – the neighbors went home and my family said their goodbyes – but not before the not-unfamiliar scent of something organic permeated the air outside my sliders. Apparently the smell isn’t unfamiliar to a certain young family member, who made a point to ask me if I smelled something. I didn’t at that moment and, in my own state of oblivion and without anything to base my assumption on, promptly threw someone under the bus. Whether I was right or not is still up for debate, since I never saw the offending herb nor the alleged perpetrator engaging in it, and so I apologize for my guilty-until-proven-innocent accusation. At this point I’m sure most anyone would assume it was my brother, but in this case I can quite assure you it wasn’t – since he was standing in the kitchen at that very moment bellowing at the aforementioned man about the merits of (insert any subject here).

This conversation was the first of three I completely forgot by the next morning. Sure, it may sound funny, but there is absolutely nothing funny about someone calling you about it the next day. Further, while there are less than a handful of pictures from this party, there is one of my brother and I seated together on the couch – taken by a still-unknown photographer, with my phone. Hey – at least I remember having the picture taken, unlike my brother.

It would be prudent to mention that while I’ve never seen my brother drunk (he has, in the past, demonstrated that mystical wooden leg phenomenon we’ve all heard about but never experienced), he is most definitely a high-functioning drunk. He helped me with cleanup as we two finished off our respective cocktails. I was unnaturally energetic under the influence, and so cleaned off the buffet table and washed up dishes, wiped down countertops and filled the trash can, put away the liquor bottles and wrapped any food leftover. The next day I had completely forgotten where I’d put the leftovers (in the fridge in the apartment).

By now I’m sure you’re wondering, where was Todd through all this? Because you know he was there, somewhere. The second half of the party he was downstairs in the rec room watching the big screen, I think, and I don’t know who was down there with him. Eventually my brother made his way down there, and I made my way to my bed.

The next morning I was up at 5:00 – because parental obligations don’t take a holiday and I had to pick up the kids – and woke my brother up twice to ride along so he could get home. One chafer in the kitchen still had some dried up mac and cheese, a mere shadow of the killer melty dream it was the day before. And, while there were no bodies on the front lawn like there are at my dad’s parties, I did find a broken red cup by the curb out front. Now THAT is a testament to a good party. Ever want to know where the good parties are? Take a drive-by the next day and see the aftermath. Remember Sixteen Candles? Exactly.

It’s been two months since the party, the volleyball net is still in the box (because no one ever set it up), and I am still looking for a small white bowl I frequently use in my kitchen. I am positively baffled, and more than a little sad. I have no idea where it is, and can only guess that it went home with someone at the party.

I recently decided to fix a martini and discovered the shaker inside the china cabinet filled with some unknown liquid – most assuredly from the party. This obviously left me with some belated anxiety over the condition of everything in my kitchen when it was put away so helpfully by my brother. None of us developed any bacterial infections, so I guess my fears are unfounded. 

I don’t remember anything else. There comes a point in time for me where drunkenness is ethereal, and I feel like I’m floating about the edges of each scene. I’m there, but not a part of the action. I’m an observer by nature, but in this case observing is a lost cause when I fail to remember any of it once I have access to a computer and a little time.

Who’s ready for another round???

 Miscellaneous, and possibly irrelevant, tidbits…

Galileo Galilei’s right middle finger is on exhibition at the Museo Galileo in Florence. Apparently it – along with 2 other fingers and a tooth – was removed from his remains when his body was moved to the main body of the Basilica of Santa Croce in 1737 nearly 100 years after his death.  He was originally barred from burial in 1642 in the main body of the Basilica by Pope Urban VIII who cited “vehement suspicion of heresy,” and instead buried in a small room next to the novices’ chapel.

Why not try on some vintage slang “drunk” terms for your next party?(borrowed from a Huff Post article):
Fuddled, top heavy, stewed, half-shot, corned, boryeyed, cockeyed, jiggered, has a bun on, has a glorious (or elegant) jag on, has more sail than ballast, can’t see a hole in the ladder, can’t lie down without holding on, off your trolley, over the bay, half-seas over, full as a tick, drunk as a boiled owl, all mops and brooms, drunk more than you’ve bled, got the gravel rash, hugging the bar, measuring sidewalks upside down.

The most expensive tequila in the world is Ley .925 Tequila Pasion Azteca Ultra Premium Anejo. The “cheap” bottle is handcrafted of white gold and platinum for a mere $225,000. Apparently there were a handful of diamond-encrusted bottles made, selling for $1.5M. Who knows if the tequila is any good? The cheap bottle cost more than my first house.

AsomBroso Reserva del Porto, in a beautifully phallic handcrafted bottle packaged in a lovely wooden box, is mature blue agave tequila aged in port wine barrels. This “package” is surely intended to distract you from the $2,400 price tag, which also comes with a story about ancient gods and a lost recipe. At that price I want it to drive me home, and make me tamales.

It Comes In Many Forms

Last Sunday night I was driving north to pick up the kids from their dad’s and listening to Sirius. There was a commercial for another station having a “Town Hall” with Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope, Scandal) so, being a sort-of fan, I tuned in. Among other things, she mentioned her involvement in the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse. I’d never heard of it, and I soon learned that each year a purple purse is designed and sold to raise money for the purpose of not only raising awareness but also to help financially empower victims of domestic violence.
I live under a rock most of the time, and so I didn’t realize that this month was an awareness month for domestic violence. I stumbled on this by way of a blog I follow by Ned Hickson, his post titled: Even If Abuse Doesn’t Leave a Bruise It Still Leaves a Mark. Nevertheless, I was working on my own blog post about the issue addressed by Kerry Washington… of financial abuse.  Haven’t heard of it? I never, ever thought of it. It was like being suddenly rear-ended, and it had a very real emotional impact on me.
There are many forms of abuse, not just the violent beatings that the general public associates with domestic violence. The United States Department of Justice defines abuse in many forms – not just physical but also sexual, emotional, economical, and psychological. The Purple Purse addresses the economical abuse, whereby financial dependence is created by control over access to money and restricting one’s ability to work. This is huge. Victims under these circumstances are crippled by this and it does, in turn, keep them right where they are. Imagine the fear and anxiety JUST in the “how am I going to support myself and my kids?” “How are we going to eat? Where are we going to live?”
I experienced a very controlling man who didn’t want me working outside the home, never let me go anywhere without the kids, and would question my request for $20. He didn’t like other men around me, and so alienated me from all of them. He made it very difficult for family to come over to visit – they always had to call first. He was verbally abusive – the list of names he called me (and in front of the children) was endless. I was always anxious about getting home when I knew he was there waiting.
And then the day came when he punched me in the mouth. I suppose it wasn’t too hard, since I know he could’ve knocked my teeth out and I “only” had a fat lip – but I was holding our 3-year-old daughter at the time and that was the beginning of the end for me. There were many times he’d say, “I wanna punch you in the mouth,” though the number of times he actually hit me I can count on one hand.  Hitting wasn’t really his thing. He preferred to pinch me, or pinch my nose, dump a whole pot of freshly made soup onto the floor or smash a pie I’d made, throw things at me, dump out the contents of my dresser drawers, shred my journals, and call me a stupid bitch. The point is, I knew well enough that this was not going to get better, had the potential to get worse, and I needed to find a way to get out.
I don’t consider myself a victim of “anything.” I, myself – having always believed that domestic abuse was what The Burning Bedtaught me – never considered that I might be a victim of anything like “that.” I just thought my ex was an asshole, and deep in my heart I knew I deserved better. By the time I decided enough was enough, I started planning how to pay my credit cards off and start socking money away. I, however, have something that maybe some victims don’t have (or don’t realize they have) – I have the best, most supporting parents I could ever hope for. YET – I never once told them anything, never asked for anything – until I’d reached that point of no return. And guess what? They bent over backwards to give me a safe place to stay, and even a little bit of financial support when I couldn’t make ends meet on my own. I am eternally grateful for them, and I thank God every day.
And that points to another piece of the awareness puzzle. Even with the right support waiting in the wings, many victims still have a difficult time walking out, or even reaching out for help. And I’m not referring to those victims who feel like they’re in mortal danger if they do.
I feel I’d be remiss not to mention that I also had something else that most victims don’t have, I had someone – who loved me beyond measure, beyond the confines of time, who provided me with the necessary tools for independence during the months I waited on the divorce decree (and stupidly agreed to live under the same roof as soon-to-be-ex), the very same items my ex sought to control even as his control was slipping away – a cell phone, a car, an old laptop for taking my online course. I’m sure the so-called experts would have more than a fair share of criticism over this relationship I rekindled in the midst of a war, but I am UNAPOLOGETIC.  I know how lucky I am, and that I am luckier than most. And, the love of my life and I are still standing strong today – our 5th year back together and we could not be happier. I don’t think this paragraph supports the awareness campaign; in fact, it may do quite the opposite. However, I am honest. And if I’m going to be honest, I have to clearly state that I am an extreme exception. Certainly not the rule. And certainly NOT in favor of finding someone to rescue you (which is not what I did, btw).
Domestic Violence Awareness is so important because even the victims don’t always know what defines abuse, and all of us need to understand how prevalent these forms of abuse are – especially those that don’t leave visible bruises. According to the Allstate Foundation, one in FOUR women has experienced some form of domestic violence. It does not discriminate, and can be found across all social classes, all races, all genders. The #1 thing that determines whether a victim will leave or stay, or go back to, an abusive relationship? Money. Financial independence.
You may already know someone who is affected by domestic abuse.
In other news…
October is also Rett Syndrome awareness month. This is a debilitating neurological disease and the leading cause of severe disability in girls, rendering them unable to speak, use their hands, or walk – though they do mentally function at a high level. It can affect mood and sensory sensations, and can also cause problems with breathing, chewing and swallowing, and digestion, as well as cardiac issues. Girls are born normal but begin to regress in acquired skills between the ages of 1 and 3. They are often initially misdiagnosed as autistic, or as having cerebral palsy, or some other developmental disability. Research is ongoing and showing promise, but there is currently no cure. To learn more, please visit Girl Power 2 Cure.
And, of course, today is Friday – or, as we call it in the T1 community – Blue FridayWe wear blue to raise awareness and share information about Type 1 and the desperate need for a Cure. I had planned to use this day on my blog to promote Blue Friday and educate… but obviously, today’s post seemed infinitely more important.  Maybe tomorrow will be Blue Saturday. Just this once.
Thank you so much for reading today. I appreciate you all. And if you have the time, please check out the link to Purple Purse. The purse is out of my financial budget right now, but they do sell inexpensive charms to hang from your purse to support awareness. There is also an interactive part of the site that allows you to experience the questions, the dilemmas, and roadblocks faced by victims. It’s very sobering.