Monday, March 31, 2008

Pie

I woke up thinking about the bourbon pecan pie at Hill Country Barbecue. Bud Royer, of Royer's Round Top Cafe, would not like to hear this -- BUT, the pie at Hill Country is better than Bud's and Bud has made a fortune shipping his pies around the country every Thanksgiving. Half the population of Round Top, Texas must be employed on account of those pies. Granted, half the population is related to Bud; nevertheless, it's a lot of pies. They also come with Blue Bell on top.

Goode Company has good pecan pie, and they too ship those pies all over creation in wooden boxes branded with the slogan, "You might give some thought to thanking your lucky stars you're in Texas."

Hill Country's bourbon pecan pie is better than this famous pie also. With or without Blue Bell.

My mom always gets Blue Bell mini ice cream sandwiches when we visit Houston. Granny the Ho can't eat them, though, because she's diabetic. Diabetes doesn't stop her from chowing down on enchiladas, however.

The last time we were down there, she and the man child had the following conversation:

Man Child: How're your enchiladas?
Granny: Yes, I'd like some water.
Man Child: Okay, but how are the enchiladas?
Granny: No. No ice.

Everyone should have such a conversation with his great-grandmother whether she's a Ho or not.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update on Granny the Ho

Granny is on Morphine most of the time now to ease her shortness of breath. Mother used to be concerned about giving Granny morphine. In fact, when the morphine was delivered back in February when the man child and I flew down on immediate death watch, Mother banished me from the kitchen when I said "Praise the Lord, there's morphine enough for every one."

Mother had momentarily lost her sense of humor. That happens when you're minding your own business and suddenly someone who's fixing to die lands in your living room. Actually, Granny has landed in my room at my mother's - I should say at my parents' house but, my father never gets a vote in domestic matters. My mother has always believed in a division of labor wherein she kept the sock and underwear drawers full and he kept the bank account full. It's worked out so far and they'll be married 50 years next October. I'll be 50 next June - back in 3rd grade when we were learning to subtract into the thousands, it turned out lots of us came along less than 9 months after our parents were married.

The morphine is making Granny itch, and she was so depressed yesterday - sitting on the edge of her bed looking like she was fixing to cry - that Mother suggested she take something-apam. It wasn't clonazepam, but it's one of those. The hospice nurse, Joe, calls them "happy pills." Less than an hour later, Granny went outside to play solitaire while Mom did some gardening. Mom didn't notice that Granny got a wild hair took off without her walker to check out one of the potted palm trees. Mom didn't notice her until she went head first into the dirt. Oops. Granny's fine.

In fact, Granny is well enough to go out to lunch, so when the man child and I go back to visit in April, for her 92nd birthday, hopefully we'll be out for enchiladas.

I really wish I could be talking to Granny during the summer boyfriend reality show. I can't remember if I told my mom anything at all about The Old Guy. She has an edited version of The Scamp, and I told her about a fellow I met last night at a Bar Mitzvah. An uncle from Atlanta, now divorced. He was a successful doctor and psychiatrist, then about four or five years ago wound up being Shrink to the Grateful Dead. I think he's still quite successful, it's just that his wife got pissed off since she was at home with the kids while he was traipsing around with The Dead doing who knows what. I can't say I blame her - but it makes a great story now.

All these handsome men with grey at their temples. This one even said, "My God, you're beautiful." He went back down south today, but I gave him my card. I'd be more impressed with myself except I think that even at Bar Mitzvahs the girls all look prettier around closing time.

My mother says I should forget all about Mr. Handsome, Charming and Wonderful for a while. I should smile pretty over dinner at the man of the moment and let him pick up the tab. There is sense in what she says, but I know Granny the Ho would know just how I feel. I'm not sure that my mother has factored sex into this equation at all - or if she has, then she's as bad as Jacy's mom in The Last Picture Show and I am only just learning it now that I'm nearly 50. Wouldn't that be a surprise?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mary Ann Gets Busted

Menopausal Stoners sends a big shout out to Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. Salute, Dawn! Apparently, once the news got out that Mary Ann got busted, tons of people started searching for Tina Louise information. Ginger made an impression, that's for sure, and for all I know the entire cast was smoking weed. I hope so. As it happens, the theme from Gilligan's Island is the ringtone on my cell. There's some synchronicity for you.

In other news, I'm still heartbroken but thanks to a free trial membership on one of the dating sites, I've run across a couple of potential summer boyfriends. It's times like these that I love my Granny the 'Ho more than ever because she was absolutely right about the best cure for heartbreak being a new man. My mother heartily disapproves, but she always does. She thinks I should devote my time to something less frivolous than 1. Where I'm going, 2. Who I'm going with and 3. What I'm going to wear. Given that I spend my days dressed like I'm cleaning the garage trying to impart the importance of living in community with each other and the planet to a room full of three year-olds, I think my mother is a bit harsh.

Besides, my eyelids turned inside out from crying so hard over that charming man I loved so well, and a girl can only do that for so long. That reminds me of a song:

Don't lose your confidence if you slip.
Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up; dust yourself off;
Start all over again.


Ginger Rogers sang that verse to Fred Astaire in Swing Time. She was a very different Ginger than Tina Louise, and we must always remember that she did everything Fred Astaire did - only backwards and in heels.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Self Medication and Albert Ellis

A comment from Francy asks if anyone has ever gotten out of the drugs and depression cycle. I'll take this question seriously being as I have personally been institutionalized for suicidal tendencies.

Interestingly when I was institutionalized, I was not smoking weed. Smoking weed apparently gives me the capability to notice and examine my feelings -- in real life I am quite adept at avoiding unpleasantness. As it happens, I hadn't smoked weed in years until a few summers ago. As it happens, it was only after I picked up the bong again that I realized my marriage was o-v-e-r.

I was sitting on my terrace a few summers ago enjoying being a little high, the sun, my pedicure and the view of Central Park. I was thinking that I was completely miserable as Mrs. S***** (name withheld since I'm prevented from mentioning his name by my divorce decree) - but the environment was nice. I instantly remembered splashing my toes in the turquoise waters of Jamaica in the mid-1980's. I was thoroughly disillusioned with my fiance of seven years. He had taken me to a very expensive resort, left me with a few spleefs and ditched me for the golf course. So I was a little high, thinking I hate this relationship, but being rich is very nice. It was this fiance that I left for my husband. Actually I had six fiances, counting my husband who is the only one I married - and this one, whom I will call Baloney, is my very most favorite. We're still great friends most likely because we never married.

The moment I made the connection that my feelings about life were identical in both cases, I knew I had to get divorced. For me, smoking weed slows down my thoughts so that I can catch them and examine my feelings. I look on this tendency as a personal version of a vision quest. Further, I will always maintain that there is nothing wrong with smoking weed - or doing anything else that gets you through the day - as long as it doesn't interfere with your ability to take care of business.

I don't smoke weed because I'm depressed. I have undoubtedly turned to drugs in the past to avoid feeling my feelings, but anyone who has been in therapy knows that is called Self Medicating. Back before I was institutionalized, I saw an endocrinologist while trying to get a diagnosis for my autoimmune condition (Morphea Schleroderma) which I'm sure was caused by running behind the DDT truck in Beaumont, Texas as a child. The kids in the neighborhood loved running behind the mosquito truck better than the ice cream man, but I digress. Endocrinologists want to know about drinking and drugs. When this fellow heard about my college activities, he was stunned. He went so far as to say I was lucky to be alive and wondered how I stopped doing all that stuff.

It was simple really. I left Austin to go to grad school in Webster Groves, Missouri (dullsville) where my parents lived. I could have found a connection if I were interested, but I wasn't interested. I was still miserable emotionally and could have drank myself into the ground like a number of my alcoholic relatives have chosen to do - but I hate being hung over. I have to add, here, that Granny the Ho had not moved to Lake Tahoe at the time, and no one ever partied more hardy than Granny. Hell, her first husband was a bootlegger. Everyone knows how I love my Granny. Maybe being surrounded by people you love and who love you keeps you from going off the deep end. Pardon me for turning Pollyanna.

But just because I wasn't doing any drugs in grad school - unless I went back to Austin to see my buddies where we'd blast an eight ball up our nose in one night - doesn't mean I don't like to partake. I suspect there is a big difference between fooling around and masking a deep depression.

I've been in psychotherapy for sixteen years now. Sporadically at first, but since I got out of the bin eleven years ago, I've gone faithfully twice per week. I'm also on Prozac and Depakote for what some might call a form of bipolar disorder. My psychiatrist says it's because I really do feel my feelings more intensely than most people and need support to be able to swim in this flood. Another interesting fact: now that I've been divorced from Buzz Kill for 18 months, my shrink thinks I can finally go off my meds. I'm not saying Buzz Kill drove me crazy, but I was able to convince the judge he did which is why he had to pay for half my therapy for a year after the divorce.

Both my therapist and my psychiatrist are old school psychotherapists like in Woody Allen movies. For me that works. I have a friend, that charming fellow who now insists on carrying my suitcase I'm happy to say, who can't stand long term talk therapy. On the rare occasions he wants to discuss anything with a professional, he sees someone from the Albert Ellis Institute.

I am sure I will get something about Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) wrong since I have only a passing familiarity with the concept (http://www.albertellisinstitute.org/aei/rebt_how_it_work_main.html).
As I understand it, REBT is similar to The Bob Newhart show with Suzanne Pleshette. Sometimes a patient would go to see Bob, talking and talking and talking about some goofy behavior. Bob would say, "Just stop it." My parents are kind of like that too. If there's something in your life you don't like, just stop it. Even my shrink, who has thousands and thousands of my dollars, says that before a person can address the issues underlying a behavior - like drinking, for example - s/he has to stop the behavior. Ergo, talk therapists also say "just stop it."

Granted, that is often easier said than done.

In the end, however, we must all take responsibility for the people we are and do the work to become the people we want to be. I like to smoke weed. I feel a little guilty taking my son's Ritalin to wade through my desk, but I know I do it because I feel lonely sometimes and Ritalin & Weed is a good buzz. I know it; I own it. And guess what, I like it or else I'd stop.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weed, Whites and Wine

There's a friend of mine from high school living in Austin, Texas who must be considered a menopausal stoner because she sure does get high. Unfortunately, she doesn't get laid much and she won't buy a battery operated boyfriend. Bless her heart, she was so paralyzed by anxiety because of her ex-husband turned out to be such a mean and nasty drunk that for a couple of years all she could do was take tranquilizers, sit on the couch and smoke cigarettes. She added the weed, but it took her a little longer to get off the couch. Anxiety Paralization can do that to a person. This situation proves that there is more to being a menopausal stoner than getting high; apparently, you ought to be getting laid. Getting good, steady sex takes the edge off better than tranquilizers, even if it's just with BOB. I suspect that Anxiety is a Buzz Kill. G*d knows Buzz Kill himself is so anxious that he is officially diagnosed with anixiety disorder.

So this friend of mine, whom I will call Bev, has recently been severely reprimanded by her sister - the one that went to rehab and now is a chef. Bev's sister is outraged that Bev got high with her 15 year-old daughter - Bev's daughter; her sister doesn't have kids. I will say that I was surprised she'd lent her daughter a pipe, but she was probably high when she did it and that can cloud your judgement. Bev says she thought it was sensible to try the weed her kid had brought home to make sure she wasn't smoking anything that has been laced or was generally inferior. Bev smoked her own kid's weed. I can see how that would happen.

I've been feeling guilty for occasionally taking my kid's Ritalin. I went years and years without taking one even though they were on the shelf calling my name. I succumbed to temptation when I was finishing up my last Master's. The hype is right: Ritalin does help you focus. It's a lot like that song Little Feat sing, Willing:

If you give me weed, whites and wine
and you show me a sign
I'll be willing to be moving.

My kid started taking Ritalin twelve years ago in Kindergarten. It was a very hard decision since I knew it was comparable to giving my kid a line of cocaine. Well, a little bump a couple of times a day, actually. When he was in 4th grade, he looked up from his homework. I was laying on the couch, which was a common occurrence due to the meds I had been taking since I got out of the looney bin - but that's another story. The point is that he looked up at me and said, "I don't think this stuff is working. I better take some more."

You never read anything in the Parenting magazines about managing your child's prescribed amphetamines when you're an ex-speed freak. I'm not sure how I came to do so much crystal while attending the University of Texas at Austin. I've heard that back in the day, there were more crystal labs in trailers surrounding Austin than anywhere else in the county. I used to could crank out a paper with the best of them. My friends and I hung out in shabby clubs, drinking dollar beer and jumping around with local punk bands like The Skunks, The Next and The Explosives. My own friends were The Derelicts, The Tickle Monsters and Sharon Tate's Baby. I still have an ancient cassette tape that a buddy made from an 8-track. He's now a born-again Christian executive in the insurance industry but he used to be a door man at Club Foot. I suppose the lyrics were nihilistic, but under it all is a pervasive romantic idealism. Very cheerful and not such an acoustical assault as the Sex Pistols. Still love that assault, but I always preferred the Ramones. More melodic.

I decided to move my 21st birthday to a Ramone's concert night since it sounded like fun to get cranked up and jump up and down all night at a Ramone's concert for my 21st birthday, but my birthday was weeks and weeks away. I never was surprised, although I was a bit offended, that the CIA returned my job application under the Federal Privacy Act. Once you got your name and address filled in, the CIA wanted to know what kind of drugs you'd been doing and under what circumstance. They instructed the applicant to attach an extra sheet of paper if necessary, so I did. I figured that my drug use was an asset because if I was captured by the Soviets and drugged for information, I could say, "You'll have to do better than that, Comrade."

Here's me at a party circa 1978. Note the Pabst Blue Ribbon.


So when I had to finish my thesis and couldn't get it up to write, I turned to the Ritalin. Just five milligrams every now and then. A new form of Mother's Little Helper. Weed, Ritalin and Wine is a fine, activating buzz that helps a girl do her paperwork for hours at a time. I can't justify taking Ritalin these days, much. Other people seem to be able to sort the mail without pharmaceutical intervention, but I must admit I like to be adequately fortified.

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