20 April 2007

My 50th Birthday

Today is my 50th birthday. I am a half-century old. I feel as though I should take an inventory of my life to date and figure out where I am going from here. I was ticked pink at the gift my son sent to me—a 500GB external hard drive. Now I don’t have to worry about b/u’s any more. I figure doing a whole b/u once a week should be sufficient, unless there are major changes along the way. In fact, with all the blog posts I make (I save them as word files), I may just do a drag and drop of those particular files. I haven’t checked my mailbox in a while so there may be some birthday cards waiting for me.

You know, I have always been great about remembering everyone’s birthday and sending out the cards. I’ve always spent time to look for that perfect card and always try to write something personal and meaningful inside. But it’s amazing to note that, for all of the people I do send birthday cards to, I don’t usually receive back as many as I send out. For instance, and I think I’ve mentioned this in a prior post, so excuse the redundancy. Every year I send my brother and his wife a birthday card and for all the years I have sent them one, I’ve never received one in return. I just don’t understand that one. And I know he knows when my birthday is because that was what he always used to use as a combination lock code in school. My mom and older sister always send me one, but I don’t usually get one from my younger sister—sporadically at best. But I never receive them from my friends. And this is a birthday that means a lot to me. Maybe I shouldn’t pre-judge. As I’ve said, I haven’t checked my mail at the PO for a couple of days, so I honestly don’t have any idea from whom I have received cards.

My mom always includes a birthday check as her present and it has always carried the instructions that I am not to use it to pay bills. Well, the check I received at Christmas I had to; I didn’t have any choice, but, depending on how much she send this year, I may opt, no matter how much I really do need it to pay some bills, actually go out and buy something just for me. I’ve had my eye on another power tool. This is a drill intentionally meant for driving in screws, etc. It’s made by Bosch and is a relatively small profile tool. Whenever I move somewhere, there are always numerous curtain rods to hang as well as art work, I’ve used the standard screwdriver, but that gets old. I had a bit set with various heads (slotted, Phillips, hex and stars) that I could use with my drill. But I found that the drill’s torque was too much and I ended up stripping the screw. That may have been end-user failure, I’ll be the first to admit, but I have had my eye on this little gadget for quite some time. It retails for about $140 and it does not come with any bits. I’d have to buy the bits separately; I was told to buy the speed load bits that you can just drop in, and you’re good to go without having to deal with an adaptor that can impede the full use of the driver.

So, looking back on my life, what were the high points and low points that I can think of at the moment? Well, the best high point was having such a remarkable son. He turned 24 in February, and I must have done something right along the way because he has turned into a fine grown man (and I still think of his as my little boy—in fact my computer desktop image on both my laptop and desktop is a wonderful picture of him when he was two and quite innocent). Another highlight was graduating from the University with a 4.0 GPA. To make it all the way through five years of college and maintain straight As while holding down three part-time jobs and being a single mom is something of which I am very proud. And, along those same lines, being recognized by the National Geographic Society with a scholarship and a three-month internship which turned into a full-time job which I kept for a year until I wanted to move closer to where my parents lived since they were getting older. Leaving National Geographic was the hardest thing I had to do, but I don’t regret it. Landing on my feet with a good job here in Greenville, SC made it worthwhile since I am now only four hours away from Savannah where my mom lives (my father has since passed away). My two sisters also live there, so I have the opportunity to seem them, although I can truthfully say that it has been two years this August since I’ve been down for a visit. I no longer trust my car (it’s 14 years old) to make the drive, and I certainly cannot afford a new one. I’ve had my eye on that new, compact Honda Fit, but even with the good loan rate I can secure through USAA Banking, it’s would still amount to about $300 a month and I just don’t have it. I can’t afford to pay the bills I do have.

At one point I prayed that I would be blessed with the money I would need monthly to afford the new car, but that prayer has been changed to keeping my old car running safely. I know the CV joints need replacing and I need some serious brake work done, but I just don’t have the money for either of those. And I’ve developed a small oil leak and I think it’s coming from one of my seals which could spell an expensive repair. I’m afraid to bring my car into the shop to have them look at it. At what point do I invest so much money into the repairs? I was always told that if the repairs cost more than the blue book value of the car, then it’s time to get another car. I just don’t have that luxury. And the blue book value today is about $2800. So, I’m hoping my old car will just limp along for local driving.

I can’t really think of too many high points; my low points tally up a lot more. I guess one item that can fall into both lists is my history of drug abuse. I was a hardcore junkie for quite some time, and my drug of choice was shooting up speedballs, or just smack by itself. But the upside is that in May I will have been clean and sober for twenty years, so that a good thing. Back then, I smoked pot like most people smoke cigarettes. I am still very bothered by not being able to smoke a joint now and then because of stupid corporate drug tests. The last time I smoked any weed was the weekend my father-in-law passed away. My son and I went out to the side yard away from everyone else and polished off a joint of some pretty respectable grade weed. I thought it would be just my luck to get called up for a random drug test after that, but nothing ever came to fruition on that, so if I’m asked to now, I am nice and clean. And my track marks aren’t even very noticeable anymore.

Another low point was the subsequent trip to hell along with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. That has been an on-again, off-again affair. Today and for the past few weeks I have been doing better than I ever have done before, but that is because he has put me on Zyprexa. It’s really been a great drug for me, but I’m having him taper off of it because I’ve gained 20 pounds since I’ve started it, and it is a known weight-gainer. I’m sad to see that the Zyprexa had this effect on me; I’ve realized its potential as a very productive medicine in my situation. I’m hoping that weaning me down to one Lamictal a day will be the trick and I can enjoy the same space I am in right now. I like the balance that I feel, and even though I’ve not been experiencing my creative manic highs, I’ve still been able to write, although I’ve only been inspired to write one poem since all of the mania subsided. In a perfect world, I could have some hypomania without the depression and that would be just enough to keep me creative. I really do miss my manic highs, which is a common complaint among most bipolar patients who reach a point of stasis.

And, speaking of high points, I might as well throw in my gastric bypass surgery and the resulting loss of 250 pounds. That is one heck of an accomplishment. Now you can better understand why this weight gain from Zyprexa has been so hard for me to handle.

Another rite of passage I went through that can go in both columns here is my coming out of the closet finally and the impact being a lesbian has had on my life. That has been played out in so many of my previous posts that I will not dwell so much on that here. Suffice it to say that I will always stick to the premise that being gay is not a choice someone actively makes. I do believe our sexual preference and gender identity is something hardwired from birth. Put the shoe on the other foot. Did the majority of the population wake up one morning and decide to be straight? I don’t think so. My car tag says “1 In 10” because it is presumed through Kinsey’s study that approximately 10% of the population is queer. This has been the biggest conundrum I have had to deal with my entire life, especially recently when I decided to walk away from the gay community and no longer associate myself with that life. Does that make me straight? No. It just means that I am choosing not to act on it. As I have said before, my relationship with God is more important than being queer and I cannot reconcile the two, despite how many meetings I’ve been to in the gay community that talks about what the Bible really says about homosexuality. Anyone can put their own spin on it, but I am acting upon what I feel in my heart and I’ve always had good instincts about things and usually ended up making the right decisions when I have followed my heart.

Oh, the heels of that statement was what I would consider a high point, but others would not. My arrest and subsequent jail time for assault & battery. There were three somewhat drunk rednecks that attempted to accost me outside a department store’s parking lot at close of business and made some rather un-PC comments about the bumper stickers on my car (let’s just say that to read them would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that a radical dyke drove the car). One called me a fag and proceeded to poke his finger at my chest. I was so pissed off at this idiot for his comments that I told him I preferred the term dyke instead and proceeded to punch his lights out. Evidently, someone saw what was happening and called 911. When the first guy fell down after my punch and I had my boot heel pushed into the sternum of his chest, the other two backed off. But when the cops arrived and I backed off, before I had a chance to tell my side of the story, the guy on the ground pressed charges and the other two assholes backed him up as witnesses. When I tried to explain that I was only trying to defend myself, I was told that this would be up to the judge to decide, but that they were going to arrest me and take me downtown. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. To make a long story short, I was given three years, but that sentence was suspended and told to do 250 hours of community service and pay for the man’s medical bills (I had broken his nose).

I am glad that I have finally reached this milestone in my life. Does this mean I can say I’ve finally grown up…LOL? I rather doubt it because I don’t feel any different from when I was 20. I guess they are right; age is a matter of mind. I guess my biggest pet peeve (already mentioned here and in a previous post) is my restriction from smoking pot. I can’t wait until the day I retire so I can get high again. I can’t drink alcohol because of the bipolar drugs and, face it, pot is no big deal. Too many pundits say that pot is the gateway drug. But I beg to disagree. I think that alcohol is more of the gateway drug than pot will ever be. OK, enough about that.

There is not much else I feel inspired to write about. There are a lot of periods where I don’t have any memories. Don’t know if that was because of the drugs or what (they say if you ever admit to being at Woodstock you never were really there because if you had been, because of all of the drugs, you’d never remember it…LOL).©2007

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