Tag Archives: Marriage

Crisis Management

Normally, I am the best person to have around in a crisis.

I keep my head.  I think the problem through.  I react intelligently, organize other helpful responders and do what needs to be done.   Yes, that’s just the sort of person I am in real life.

Generally, I also manage to keep a running humorous commentary which is invaluable to the hoards of folks standing around doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Because, let’s face it.  Not everyone handles stressful situations without becoming certifiably stupid.

Of course every rule needs an exception, and this story is no exception to the exception requirement.

*    *     *

It was just after John and I bought a house for Goliath because nobody would rent to a young couple with a gigantic dog.

We were incredibly lucky in buying our first house.  It was a tiny split level cape cod type that defied description.  But it was just right for newlyweds.  The whole inside had been redone – we bought it from a contractor who’d lived there.  The kitchen was new, the paint unmarked.  Everything was bright and clean.  The coral colored carpeting was newly installed and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

It had been a long stressful day at work for me, so after John and I walked Goliath and had dinner, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing bath.  The one bathroom was on the “second floor” which was four steps up from the living room.   As it turns out, it was my last relaxing bath.  Ever.

So I wasn’t far when John announced from the living room below

“Uh, Lease?  We have a problem.”

John was fairly calm, actually.  Of course that would change.

“What’s the problem?” I said.  The water was still warm and I was just starting to wash away the day.

“The red ball is stuck in Goliath’s mouth.”

Shit!  I thought as I got out of the tub and grabbed my robe.  Why couldn’t he just pull the damn ball out and let me have my bath?  I was a tad annoyed at my new husband at that moment.

I went down the two steps to find John holding Goliath steady, calming him down, even though Goliath was relatively calm.

Goliath turned towards me and I immediately saw what John was talking about.

Goliath’s favorite tease-toy, a hard red rubber ball with a bell inside, was there in his mouth.  But it didn’t look like any big deal.  I looked at John with an I can’t believe you can’t handle this without me look.  John didn’t notice.

Red ball with bell

Still available.  Photo Credit

That ball really was Goliath’s favorite.  He’d pick it up and taunt us when he wanted to play.  He’d wag his tail ferociously, and drop the ball, catching it in his mouth long before we could grab it from him to throw it.  It never hit the floor.  Goliath would drop and catch, drop and catch, drop and catch.  The bell inside would ring and he would wiggle his eyebrows and his back end.  Come on, grab the ball, he was clearly saying.  Let’s play.  But of course, he would never let us.

This time, as I dripped on the new carpet and assessed the situation, I could see that Goliath had caught the ball too far back in his mouth.  He couldn’t drop it again, and the ball’s size was just a little bit smaller than his windpipe.

First I petted Goliath, soothed him, although he wasn’t really terribly upset.  In fact, he was just a little bit confused and uncomfortable.   I looked at John, astonished that he hadn’t just reached into Goliath’s huge mouth full of huge teeth, and pulled out the ball.

So I did.  Or at least I did the first bit — I reached into Goliath’s mouth, firmly placed my thumb and forefinger on the ball, glancing at John to make sure he would know what to do next time.  John and I watched in horror as the dog-slobbery ball slipped out of my fingers, lodging further into his mouth, right at the top of his windpipe, blocking most of his throat.

No longer able to breathe comfortably and no doubt pissed that his Mommy had made things worse for him, Goliath began to panic.  He started running around the house with John and I chasing after him. Trying to catch him, trying to pry the damn ball out of his mouth.

I’ve never felt so helpless.  So terrified.  It was later when I felt like an idiot.

John and I tried everything we could think of – we put the stem of a wooden spoon behind the damn ball and tried to pull it out.  But  it didn’t budge.  The spoon broke, naturally.  We went through a lot of kitchen equipment that night.

Stupidly, in spite of the fact that it hadn’t worked, we kept reaching into his mouth and trying to pull the ball out.  Each time we made it worse and the ball went down further.  With each effort we only made it more difficult for him to breathe, and the more panicked poor Goliath got.

Goliath ran back and forth between the kitchen, the dining room and living room – the three tiny rooms of our tiny little house.  John would catch him as he ran by and try something.  I would catch him on the rebound and try something, anything else.  Poor panicked Goliath raced across the three rooms, a half-dozen times.  And then a half-dozen times again.

Once when he caught Goliath, John reached into Goliath’s mouth behind the ball.  Goliath’s gag reflex, in constant action by that time, led him to clamp down on John’s right index finger.

“Shit!” John shouted as he pulled his hand away from Goliath and let him go.  Blood dripped from John’s hand.

Almost immediately I caught Goliath and did exactly the same thing, only Goliath bit my left pointer finger.  Then it was John’s turn again to be bitten, and Goliath got John’s left middle finger.   Blood was flying all around our new house, our new carpet.  We didn’t really care, though, Goliath’s panic had spread to John and me.

Goliath was going to die.

There was nothing we could do.  My boy would choke to death on that goddam ball in front of us.  And with each movement that Goliath made, the cheerful bell inside of it rang.  Alfred Hitchcock was directing the scene.

Maybe the image of Alfred Hitchcock led me to do what I did next.  Yeah, let’s just assume that that’s what happened. It is the only explanation.

I had to do something or my crazy, psychotic, beloved life-saver of a dog was going to die.  I was about out of ideas, and then I remembered a show John and I had watched on TV just the night before.

I went into the kitchen and took out our largest knife, knowing I had to give my dog a tracheotomy.

At the time, I was not yet a fake medical professional.  I had never done a canine tracheotomy.  I did not, in fact have a clue if dogs have tracheas, and if so, just where Goliath’s might be located.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference if I, ummm, otomied it.

But just the night before, Radar had done a tracheotomy on a wounded soldier on M*A*S*H.  And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I.  Goliath needed me.

Besides he was going to die.  That reality had become crystal clear.  I had to do something.  Something drastic.  And likely messy.

So I took the butcher knife from the kitchen to the living room to perform my surgery there, on the new carpet in the room that was now looked like a crime scene.  My blood and John’s was speckled all over the living room and dining room  rug and smeared onto the walls and door frames.  I stood, knife in hand, and looked around the living room for a clean spot on the rug.

Henkels Butcher KnifeAlso still available here where I got the photo

John had at that time caught Goliath who was still terrified, still panicked, but running out of energy and oxygen.  When John saw me with the knife in my hand and heard my plan, he must have thought

This woman can never get near my (future) children.”

But “Are you nuts?” was all I recall him saying.  Perhaps there were expletives mixed in there, somewhere.  Maybe.

At just that moment, Goliath keeled over.

“Oh my God,” I shouted.  “He’s dead.”  And I began to sob.

“No,” was all John said.  But he started punching Goliath in the stomach, which did not seem like a very respectful thing to do to a dead dog.  To my dead baby.

Out popped the ball.  John, holding tightly to Goliath’s muzzle with his two bleeding hands, breathed into Goliath’s mouth.   Magically, Goliath’s eyes opened.  Goliath took a very deep breath indeed.  So did we.

The Heimlich maneuver.  It works on dogs. 

There’s another thing I should tell you about the Heimlich maneuver.  It’s best to try it before attempting a tracheotomy.

*     *     *

Other Goliath Stories:

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Dogs and Other Nuts

What’s In A Name?

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Filed under Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Science, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

It’s the Thought That Counts

Mom was known for her gift giving skills.  Yup, my Mom loved to lavish people with gifts.  Unfortunately her lifestyle and her taste were anything but lavish, and you could tell.

Plus there was the fact that she really didn’t like to shop.

When the five of us were teenagers and lived at home, Mom gave up on picking out the perfect gift for us.  She knew that we wanted cool clothes and that she would never be able to tell the difference between what was cool and what subject us to ridicule.  High school is especially hard for kids whose mothers buy the wrong clothes.

But when we all grew up, Mom re-discovered Christmas gift giving.

She would start shopping in September or October, ordering this that and the other thing that she found interesting or fun or different.  When she ordered something, she wouldn’t necessarily have someone in mind to receive it; she just liked it.  And she just knew that someone else would too.

Generally she was wrong.

You see, in spite of the fact that she developed a new love of gift giving, Mom still hated to shop.  So Mom ordered exclusively from the mini-catalogs she found in Parade Magazine.

Google Image

Google Image

You know how most of the gifts you’ve received over the years recede in your memory? I’m guessing that the gifts from grandparents nearly always fell into that category.  My niece and nephews, however, all remember what Grammy gave them.  We still talk about them, every single year.

I’m not sure whether the most memorable gifts arrived in 1984 or 1986.  It’s a close contest.

In 1984, I spent Christmas at my sister Judy’s house, with Jude and her three kids.  There were three contenders for best Mom/Grammy gift that year:

At the age of 12, my nephew Matt got cereal bowls for his gift.  Cereal bowls formed out of multicolored plastic cabbage leaves.  In addition to the fact that it wasn’t exactly what Matt had been hoping for, there was something weird about the bowls themselves.  While each of the 4 or 5 leaves that formed the bowls started wide and formed a perfectly usable bit at the bottom of the bowl, the leaves narrowed as they went up, separating about an inch and a half from the bottom.  Therefore whatever started in the bowl didn’t stay inside of it for long.

Not at all interesting or artsy.  Just messy. (Google image)

Matt’s was not at all interesting or artsy. Just messy.
(Google image)

Nate, Matt’s younger brother got another “Grammy Special” that year.  Nate was 7 and Mom sent him a package that read:  “Twist Ties WITH CUT-TER.” And you know, it was a good thing it was clearly labeled.  Because we would still be wondering what the hell that spool of green wire was for, even with the picture of the garroted tomato plant on the cardboard that the spool of Twist Ties was twist-tied to.

My sister Beth’s two boys, who were then 14 and 16, got the same presents.  And they loved them just as much.

That same year Judy and I found two identical small packages from Mom.  One for Judy and one for me.

“Good things come in small packages,” Judy said mischievously.  “Let’s save them for last.”

Of course we did just that.  But Judy was faster than I and got the wrapping off hers first.  It was a little green plastic box that said “Judy” “Judy” “Judy” all over it.  Inside was a pair of gold earrings in the shape of the letter “J.”

I unwrapped mine.  It said “Elaine” “Elaine” “Elaine” all over the box.  Inside were gold earrings in the shape of an “E.”

Yup.  I still have them!

Yup. I still have them!

“Ummm, Mom?” I said to her later on the phone, “You forgot my name.”

“No I didn’t,” Mom said with a chuckle.

“Yes you did.  You gave me Elaine’s earrings.  My name’s Elyse.  And you forgot it.  My own mother forgot my name.

“I DID NOT,” she responded, “But you know, they did have boxes at the store with just a plain old “E” on them, but I didn’t want to get that.  It just seemed so boring!”

Mom was never boring when it came to gift giving.

Another memorable year for Mom gifts was 1986.  You might recall that 1986 was the 100th Anniversary of the year in which the French had given the United States the Statue of Liberty.  It was also the year John and I got married.  So Mom decided to celebrate all kinds of events with one special gift for her new son-in-law to welcome him to the family with the perfect gift for the new man in the family.

Mom gave my new husband John a “Statue of Liberty Commemorative Switchblade.  A knife.  One with a locking blade, so that if/when he stabbed something, the blade would lock in place.  What better gift to give to a new family member?

“Is John supposed to use this on me, Mom?” I asked.  She didn’t think I was funny.

 

 

Image from Ebay, because after all who wouldn't want one of these?

Image from Ebay
You know you want one

A Statue of Liberty 100th Anniversary

Commemorative Switchblade

*    *     *

In the years since Mom’s been gone, various family members (OK, just me) have tried to capture the spirit of the incredibly bizarre gifts Mom gave.  But sometimes, mere mortals have to just accept that they can’t possibly compete.

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Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

Lucky

John and I agree on many, if not most, important things in life.

But we have very different feelings about squirrels.  He hates them and often tries to chase them off.  He runs out of the family room door, waving his arms to shoo them off.

I’m pretty sure our squirrels are baffled by John.  On the one hand, he puts out a delicious smorgasbord for them every single day.  On the other, he runs out, waving his arms in the air, as if warning them of an alien invasion.

“Humans!”  they twitter to each other.  “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without em!”

Me, I find squirrels so entertaining and so clever, that, well, I just can’t begrudge them some bird seed.  Or most of the bird seed.  I realize that from time to time we have to replace the expensive squirrel-proof bird feeders that they cleverly open, empty and render completely useless.  Then there is the $4.2 billion we spend annually on birdseed instead of the $1.38 we would spend if we only had birds at our buffet.

Yes, a large number of squirrels enjoy E&J’s all-you-can-eat buffet.  If you’re a squirrel at our house, you’re “In with the ‘In-Crowd.'”

Anyway, about two months ago, John walked into the kitchen from the Dining Room where he has been throwing papers around since our dog Cooper got too old to go upstairs to John’s real office where he used to throw his paper.  And John saw a squirrel drinking out of our bird bath.

He started towards the door to do his arm-waving routine, when he stopped.  Because John saw that something else was going to chase the squirrel away!

Another animal came up onto our little deck, and headed towards the squirrel.  A fox!

Google Image

Google Image

The fox lunged at the unsuspecting squirrel, and they both disappeared into the hedge.  Only one of them was ever seen again.

Meet Lucky:

Photo Credit:  ME!

Photo Credit: ME!
(Yeah, it was an incredibly Lucky shot!)

Or maybe we should call him “Sorta Lucky.”

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Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Family, Humor, Neighbors

Confessions of a Pooter-Pack

It was about 5-1/2 years ago when I first recommended canonization of my husband, John, to the Vatican.  Even though I am a very lapsed Catholic, I’m sure they’ll go along with it.  Because he really does deserve it.  Good spouses of many people with chronic diseases deserve special recognition, but I’m pretty sure only John deserves sainthood.  Because all the good saints have been tortured, haven’t they?  And John absolutely fits that bill.

Saint Sebastian by Il Sodoma, c. 1525

Saint Sebastian by Il Sodoma, c. 1525
(Image from Wikipedia)
I couldn’t find any saints who were suffocated, so John has a good shot

Let me mention that I’ve been reluctant to write about this subject.  But after multiple requests following my last post about good hygiene and the New Jersey Turnpike, I figured I’d just get it over with and get on with my life.  

I knew from an early age that there was one moniker I never wanted to have.  I never wanted to be a “Pooter-Pack.”

It’s a bad thing, being a Pooter-Pack.  Nobody likes them or wants them around.  And nobody wants to be called a pooter-pack.

In fact, in possibly the only instance where my brother was caught doing something wrong, Fred’s mouth was washed out with soap for calling our paperboy a “Pooter-Pack.”

What, you might ask is a “Pooter-Pack?”

It’s a pack of pooters, DUH!  You know – farts.  Butt burps.  Cutting the cheese.  “Fluff” as my childhood best friend Liz’s family called them for no logical reason.

I did not want to be a pooter-pack.  No-sirree Bob.  And for the longest time, I wasn’t.  Those were golden years that I did not fully appreciate.

To set the record straight, I did not become a pooter-pack that day when all the kids in my 6th grade English class thought I did.  I was viciously maligned.  Tagged.  Ridiculed.  It was a hot spring day and my young, innocent, bare leg stuck to my plastic seat.  When I moved, I made a nasty fart-like sound with my leg.

Let’s be clear about this:  I did not fart.  I would have died first.

But Tommy O, the main bully in my life, led Kevin E and John L in a sing-song around me:

Elyse Farted!  Elyse Farted! 

She did she did she did!

I wanted to disappear.  Disolve.  Die.  It was so unfair.  I didn’t!  Not even so much as an SBD!    And it had no smell at all because I hadn’t farted.  It was a leg, umm, fart.  They’re different.  Somewhat pleasant, even.

I tried to defend myself, but the whole class heard the noise and believed the boys, not me.  I hate them all still.

Fast forward past many fart-free years.

In the early 1980s, I had a severe case of colitis-that-was-really-Crohn’s disease.  That was when I really started tooting my own horn.  Quietly, though, thankfully.  SBDs.

One of the treatments for many kinds of bowel disease is a drug called prednisone.  One of prednisone’s most notable symptoms is flatulence.  Prednisone does not give a girl delicate lady-like whiffs of something vaguely unpleasant that might induce a brief nose wrinkle.

Nope.  Waves of heavy, inescapable stink accompany a person taking prednisone.  Like Charlie Brown’s friend, Pig Pen, a smelly cloud hung around me wherever I went.

(Google image.  Done by Charles Shultz, of course.  Who, I am quite sure never had gas.)

(Google image. Done by Charles Shultz, of course. Who, I am quite sure never had gas.)

In the Metro.  On a bus.  In an elevator.  In my office.  I was engulfed in my nasty, stinky cloud.

In spite of the evidence of everybody’s senses, I never admitted I had a problem.  That it was me polluting the air.  Nope.  I didn’t say a word to anyone.  I just couldn’t bear another bit of humiliation.  (But frankly, unless there were a whole lot of lucky people around me suffering from anosmia, loss of smell, people were polite or stupid.)

I’m going with polite.  Because my friends and co-workers were truly terrific.  And they knew just how embarrassing life was for me.  You see, when you have bowel disease, you are constantly in humiliating, compromising positions.  I’ve written about that many times, including here.

I didn’t mention that I’d become a pooter-pack to my parents, who were, luckily for them, safely in another state.  I couldn’t mention it to my sisters, including Beth, the nurse, who would have known the reason (I didn’t)  or Judy, who would have laughed herself silly and taken me along with her.

I also didn’t mention it to my roommate, Keily.  Keily lived with me.  She was exposed to the ill effects of the prednisone but never once broached the subject (she is the biggest-hearted person in the world, my friend Keily is).

I’m pretty sure that my dog, Goliath, loved me more because of the smell.  Dogs are gross.

The only person who ever mentioned flatulence to me was my gastroenterologist, Dr. C., the guy who gave me the damn fart pills.

“Are you having any gas?” he’d ask.  It was always the last in the usual lineup of embarrassing questions.

I would look him straight in the eye and say:

“Gas?  Me?  No,” I lied, every single time.

Dr. C would tilt his head like Goliath and look straight at me as we sat together in my stink cloud.  Every time he’d wait for my answer to change.

It never did.

As far as my medical records from that time are concerned, I have never ummm, fluffed.  Dr. C surely wrote me up in a medical journal somewhere.  Or perhaps he went to a doctor to have his own sense of smell assessed.

Anyway, I had my surgery and for years I lived up to what I told Dr. C.  I did not pooter.  Truthfully this time.

I’m not sure that that was what first attracted John to me, but I’m sure the fact that I did not have a stink cloud around me didn’t hurt.  We’d been married about 20 years when my Crohn’s symptoms, ummm, re-erupted in about 2006.

I felt fine, actually.  But something peculiar happened whenever I would go to bed.  It started out slowly, gently, and then progressed to putrid:  Whenever I lay down, my bottom end erupted.  The most noxious substance passed out of my body and into the air in the bedroom.

It never happened if I was upright.  Ever.  Only John had to deal with it.

“There’s actually some comfort in it,” John said towards the beginning.   “Not every husband can be sure that their wife won’t lay with another man.”

I pursed my lips and glared at him.

Still, I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be happening.  But then I started to worry.  You see, when I had my surgery in 1982, which was for documented colitis, the doctors disagreed after the fact about what I had. If it came back within 10 years, it was Crohn’s; if it didn’t, it was colitis.  It turned out that it was Crohn’s that came back over 20 years later.  And it came back with a bang.

The first person I told my gaseous problem to was my late sister, Beth.  Beth was a nurse, and she was incredibly smart.  Amazing, in fact.  She could diagnose any malady in a nano-second.  So I told her about my problem, and that it was getting worse.

“I really don’t know what to do,” I told her.

“Gee, Lease,” she said sympathetically, “It sounds like you could clear Walmart.”

“Thanks, Beth.  That helps.”

“Try some GasX,” she recommended a bit more helpfully.

And I did.  GasX works.  It really does.  It even works on weird gas problems like mine.  Sort of.

At that time, GasX was available in two forms.  One that claimed it kept gas away for 4 hours, and the other said it kept it away for 6 hours.  Never was a drug label more accurately written.  Because exactly at 4 hours plus one second, all that stored up flatulence would burst out into my bedroom, like a neutron bomb.  In the middle of the night, and into the place where my poor husband tried to sleep with me.

He never complained.  Occasionally, he would moan “Oh, Lease,” but I’m sure that was just his way of searching for oxygen.

My boss, a physician, noticed me researching flatulence one day, and asked me why.  I confessed my problem to her.

She stood in my office and laughed until her belly hurt.

It’s never good when a doctor can’t stop laughing after you’ve described your symptoms.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t help me either, and she’s brilliant.  She’d never heard of reclining flatulence, either.  Nor had Google, my bible.

Unlike my previous time as a pooter-pack, this time there was no cloud of stink.  Instead, this time the stink formed a curtain, a wall around the bed.  It was truly horrible laying there in the poisonous air.  But I would, being the good wife I am, try to rid myself of the gas by going to the bathroom.

When I came back?  Getting back was like walking through a brick wall.  There was literally a physical wall of stinky bricks.

Which brings me to the reason my husband should be canonized.  Because for 2 years, and until the third of three different doctors poked and prodded and tested, did the third one figure out what was wrong with me (an internal abscess that required surgery), my husband did not complain that I was not exactly a dream wife.

And never once did he call me a pooter-pack.

*   *   *

In a last-ditch effort to save a little bit of my nearly exhausted pride, I will tell you that since that surgery, I have not been a pooter-pack.  Honest.  Would I lie?

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Crohn's Disease, Dogs, Family, Global Warming, Health and Medicine, Humor

Marriage Strains?

There’s nothing like the sound of young love.

Well, except when I try to eavesdrop on my son and his girlfriend.  Then the sound of young love – “dub step” — is, well, not “moon/June/spoon”- inducing.

Back when John and I fell in love, well, things were different.  Music was wonderful, made to share.  And so I did.

About three months after John and I started dating, I made him a tape.  (For the youngin’s amongst us, it’s like a portable playlist that can be played on any appropriate device available in the prehistoric period in which your parents were, ummm, young.)  Yes, I made my love a cassette tape of my very favorite songs from that and every era.  It contained, among other songs, the following:

Juice Newton, The Sweetest Thing

Joni Mitchell, A Case of You

Bonnie Raitt:  Home

Linda Ronstadt:  Blue Bayou

It was too late when I learned that not only did John not love the songs I loved, he hated them.  Every single one of them.  Over the years, he has solidified his position.  For example, John has threatened to divorce me should I sing Blue Bayou within range of his supersonic ears, an approximate 5 square mile range.

Let me tell you this:  It is not an ideal situation for a critically acclaimed former singer to be banned from singing her favorite songs.  Especially when the ban includes those rare times when I am actually doing housework.  It has been a rather sticky issue for 26 years now.

I try to be accommodating because I am wonderful.  And because I have a huge repertoire of first verses of songs that will get stuck in John’s head for when he really pisses me off.  John has been accommodating by vacating the house immediately when I begin singing/playing/thinking about any of these songs.  Generally he is in search of a divorce lawyer.

But you know what?  Payback is hell.

You see, in the past, I’ve often told John that he needs to outlive me, because I don’t want to have to deal with all our financial issues.  Seriously —  I haven’t balanced a checkbook since we got married, and I don’t intend to start.

But now, after reading an article in today’s Reuters.com, I’m reconsidering my position on who gets to “go” first.  You see, I read that there is:

No rest for the dead with surround-sound coffin

Because now I can get John a specialty coffin complete with seriously impressive stereo speakers, hooked up to the latest iPod/music technology.  And I will get to choose the playlist.

I wonder if I can find that cassette.

Coffin speakers

I promise I will only need one.

Payback is, literally, hell.

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Filed under Family, Health and Medicine, Humor, Mental Health, Music, Technology

For Cryin’ Out Loud!

In the spring and summer of 1986 random parts of my face started growing for no apparent reason.  I would be at home, on the subway, or off working somewhere around DC.

First it was a swollen eyebrow.  Then that would go away and a day or two later, my cheek would grow so that I couldn’t see well out of one eye.

Mostly it was my lips, though.  They would grow, sometimes individually, sometimes  together.  I looked like a duck.

Did I mention I was also getting married in September?  That September?  And while John and I had a fairly small and simple wedding, I was unenthusiastic about going to the altar looking like a daisy.  Especially this one.

Daisy Duck

Of course, John’s lips would have been normal.
Mine? Not so much.

But work was so completely crazy that I ignored it.  I was a lobbyist/flunky at the time, and was spending long days up on Capitol Hill working on the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  (And it was the perfect assignment for me; I did my own taxes – on the U.S. Government 1040-EZ form.  Tax Returns for Poor Dummies.)  I was in over my head, didn’t have a clue what was going on, what was important, or which way was up.  I was a wee bit stressed.

Plus that summer we decided to buy our first house just so we could send my stress level through the roof of my brand new adorable little house.

But back to my problem.  My ever changing facial features.

People were looking at me strangely which I understood – I often and suddenly looked really odd.  But even stranger, they stopped talking whenever I would approach.  These were people I’d worked with for more than six years.  Something weird was going on.

And I found out what that was early one morning as I stood talking in the front lobby to my boss, also (irritatingly) named John.  He was giving me instructions on that day’s most important issues, when to pay especially close attention, when to call him immediately with an update.

At the beginning of the chat, my face was normal. But as we talked, my lips spontaneously grew larger and larger.  More duck-like.

“Elyse,” my boss said, “what’s happening to your lips?”

“They’re growing.  Spontaneously.  I don’t know why.  But you’ve seen me with a swollen face off and on for the last couple of months.  Haven’t you noticed?  And it keep on happening.  Luckily, John has promised to marry me even if I look like Daisy Duck when I arrive at the church.”

The look of relief on his face was instantaneous – he joked with me about the fat lips, about stress, about what I might be allergic to.  He’s a really nice guy, and he cared about me.  But it wasn’t until much later when I realized just why he had looked so relieved.

He thought I was being abused by my husband-to-be.  And he, a very powerful Washington DC lawyer, who knew/knows everybody in town, had no idea what to do.  He didn’t ask me if anybody was hurting me.  He didn’t threaten to report John, or try to find out discretely whether folks in John’s office thought John might be abusive.  No, my boss talked to other folks who also cared about me and who also didn’t know what to do to save me from what, had it been true, would have been a huge mistake.

(In fairness, they didn’t know my John at all – it wasn’t a very social office.)

And once I made the connection, I remembered feeling similarly helpless once.  I thought about a secretary named Kelly who had worked with us briefly a few years earlier.  She and I had become a bit friendly, even though we worked on different floors and in totally different departments.  We both loved to play softball.  One day I saw Kelly with an enormous black eye.

“I was playing softball with my husband’s team,” she said, shaking her head.   “I should have caught the damn ball.”

“I once caught one with my left thigh,” I responded to her, truthfully, but naively.  “You could see the stitch marks on the bruise.”

The next day she was gone.  Obviously to everyone else her husband had been beating her, and she got help and got away.

The image of her face has haunted me.  What would I have done – would I have been able/willing to help her?  Would I have ever figured out what was happening to her?

My story ended well.  I hadn’t had time to eat properly and subsisted pretty much on a diet of Milky Ways for two months.  Woman cannot live on Milky Ways alone. Maybe ducks can.  I stopped eating chocolate and looked OK at my wedding.  Or at least, I didn’t look like a duck.

I don’t know how Kelly’s story ended.  I never will.

*     *     *

Yesterday, the GOP in the U.S. House of Representatives allowed the Violence Against Women Act, which had been law since 1994, to expire.  And they let it happen because it would have expanded coverage of the law to more women including immigrants and Native Americans.

Perhaps you don’t know what the Violence Against Women law does.

My bible, Wikipedia, says that it provide programs and services, including:

  • Community violence prevention programs
  • Protections for female victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for female victim assistance services, like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for female victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for female survivors of violence

But what it really does is help abused women.  To let them know that they can get help.  That they are not alone.  And it can also give their families, friends and co-workers vital, life saving information about how to help.  How to act.  What to do besides wonder amongst everyone else but the person most impacted.  Literally.

Now tell me, what’s not to like about this law?  It gives vital assistance to vulnerable women – those who most need it.  A place to go where they can take their kids, get help.

It gives folks who don’t know what to do or what to say a clue as to how to help women in need.

Where they don’t have to give up that last little bit of their heart.

I have stated this more often than I can stand, but the men in the GOP are not on the side of women, or on the side of men who respect women.

GET THEM OUT OF OUR LIVES

Then, Damn them to Hell where they belong

***

What you and I can do:

Contact your representatives in Congress and demand they pass the Violence Against Women Act as it stands today with expanded services: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Other sources:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf

http://denisedv.org/what-is-the-violence-against-women-act-and-why-is-congress-playing-politics/

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Filed under Campaigning, Criminal Activity, Health and Medicine, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Politics, Stupidity

Blowin’ in the Wind

I take war pretty darn seriously when it comes, so I try to pay attention to the rumblings and rumors of yet another conflict.  That way, I can be sure to make my feelings known.

That probably comes from the fact that when I was in 9th grade everybody in my entire school got on a bus and drove down to Washington DC to that huge rally on the Mall.  Me and John C were the only two kids left behind.  Spending a day with John C was NOT my idea of a good time, but my parents wouldn’t let me go.  I’ve never gotten over it.

I DID make up for it though.  In 2003 I saw Peter Paul & Mary live on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, singing Blowin’ in the Wind and Give Peace A Chance, just like they had back in 1971.  We were all there to protest the impending invasion of Iraq the next day.  George W Bush flew overhead in Marine 1 on his way back from Camp David.  He hovered over us, just long enough for the assembled protesters to flip him the finger.  I’m sure he returned the gesture.

For this new war?  I got no warning, no notice, nothing from MoveOn.Org or Code Pink or anybody else.  How could that happen?  I’m on every single political email that goes out to special people like me.  And you know what a news junkie I am – I read everything.  Still I missed it.  Damn.  Because this war might be in my living room before long.  And yours.  Or maybe it will snake its way upstairs, into our bedrooms.

It’s The War on Men.

Yup.  At least according to Phyllis Schlafly’s niece, anyway.  Oh you remember Phyllis, don’t you?  She was one of the main spokespeople behind the anti Equal Rights for Women movement.

Why didn’t she just stay home and bake?

So, in keeping with having a family full of non-feminist women who stay home and bake cookies, Phil’s niece, Suzanne Venker works outside of the home.  She “stumbled” upon a bunch of men who are unhappy with women and who say that they aren’t going to get married.  Not no way, not no how.

Why?

Because “Women aren’t Women anymore.”

Well, I’ll be.  Excuse me while I check on my lady parts.

Now Suzie wrote about it (well sort of, it’s an article on Fox).  She claims that men haven’t changed.  Apparently they still have all the same instincts that they had back in the day.  But women?  They’ve changed.  And not for the better according to Suzie.

They’ve gotten uppity.  They want to work.  They want to get paid for working.  They want to use their hearts and their minds.  (And I bet they still want Equal Rights.)  THE NERVE!

Suzie also says that this whole attitude on the part of women, well

“[It] has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.

It’s the women who lose. [Sniff]  Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.

So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.  [Emphasis mine all mine.]

Perhaps it is the fact that in the decades that most of us have lived in [and I think we can assume that Suzie has been stuck in a perpetual space-time continuum] well, we’ve been able to make our own choices about when to have children, and a whole mess of other economic issues that earlier generations of women couldn’t because they were barefoot and pregnant.

But fortunately, Suzie tells me not to worry about this war.  You see, I can actually do something about this one.  And actually, you can too.  I’m relieved.  Aren’t you?

Women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Family, History, Humor, Hypocrisy, Mental Health, Politics, Stupidity