December 05, 2006

Joe and Paranoia once again


Report of snow like rumors of battle,
the stirrings of war come to this cold climate.
But no, it is only the white stuff and far off,
not likely to reach down this far south
to touch us yet with its white brush.
But oh, I am waiting for the first flurries,
the first accumulation on the ground, at this point
just the first hard frost would do
as it comes later and later each year.
The one sure sign of December
is the exuberant red flare of my euphorbia,
Crown of Thorns, cousin to the Christmas plant
poinsettia, la flor de la Noche Buena.

Christmas. The shoppers shop nonstop
spending savings on a one night stand, gifts
likely to be, as they say, “re-gifted” should they not
please. Please, I want to beg them, please
save your pennies and donate your dollars
to those who need them more than we
who have all that we need need them. Look
around at all that stuff! How much we could do
without...By dusk, on the cusp of darkness, snow
begins to gather inside the clouds,
spilling out the sides, at first by the flake,
later by the bushel. At midnight, the streetlamps
are veiled brides, lighting up the white dark.

No I am not going to make this an anti-Christmas rant, nor an anti-commercial Christmas rant. The poem does that, gently reminding us of the dangers of over-consumption and the lack of need for it...And that's all I'm gonna say. For now at any rate.

"veiled brides": the image of the streetlights swirled with snow, their lamp "heads" so concealed by snow falling and blowing that they look veiled in white, hence "brides" which might have needed no explanation...BD

Joe's voice is deteriorating so rapidly that he decided today to cancel his trip with his mother to Florida this winter. He was too afraid that he would be dependent on her (with whom he has a very adversarial relationship at best, though he would never admit it, and would say that he merely dislikes her controlling ways, but he tends to "get back at" her in his own way...) and she, at 86, is none too dependable, one, and two, talks talks talks, and would never shut up. I had tried to interest him in a white board and marker plus an AAC device, augmentative assistive communication device, which is essentially a speaking machine, or something that you either touch a picture or word on a screen and it speaks it, or you type in a sentence or more and push a button and it will speak it for you. He does have a text to speech program on his computer, but he hasn't played around with it more than once. He is a procrastinator and also afraid of using his laptop, which I have used and have had no trouble with...But I am not afraid of laptops and he has never had one before. I don't know how to help him. He needs to get going with some of these decisions, but he says it is too much to make more than one a week, I'm not sure why.

Anyhow, he could not be calmed down about this business of going to Florida without a voice, so when he went to see his therapist this morning, apparently he and she decided that he should simply cancel the trip. To which I say HURRAH, because bascially I thought it was a crazy thing to be doing in the first place. Joe and his mother sharing a one bedroom suite in a "residence inn" for 2 weeks in Fort Myers, Florida simply did not seem like a tenable situation. I was sure Joe would be miserable and worse...So frankly I am glad and relieved that he cancelled, though sorry that it had to happen for this reason. I think in the end it will be better for him NOT to spend two weeks alone with his mother anywhere!


I went to the drugstore today and to Goodwill, by myself out of necessity because Joe and Karen were both busy doing other things and could not come with me. At the drugstore, my shoes made too much noise and bothered me terribly. Plus I had to try on sunglasses, which is what I went there to buy (I'd lost my others and desperately needed some clip-ons to fit my regular glasses). Trying them on in front of other people was an agony of self-consciousness and paranoia: I could swear they thought I was going to shoplift them, and that they said so, said to Watch her, she is going to steal those... Then I needed shoelaces and to find them was quite a task as I was unfamiliar with this particular store and didn't know where their shoe and foot care aisle was...So I had to walk up and down looking for them, hoping upon hope that no one spoke to me, and talking to myself to keep them away, telling them to stay away under my breath.

Then at Goodwill, everyone was staring at me, telling me I didn't belong in their store. I just needed to buy 2 plates and a serving platter but it was difficult to get over the feeling that I was unwelcome and worse, actively wanted to be gone. There I talked to myself too, but this time to tell myself just to buy what I needed and then get out of there, but not before I got the things I wanted...Which is I think an improvement over simply hightailing it out of there when the fear got too bad, but not as good as telling myself I had a right to be there and for them to simply leave me alone. But that was not as good as if I had stopped myself then and there and said, Hey wait a minute (as I am doing just now) you have a feeling of certainty and of fear. What does that tell you? It tells you to consider the possibility that you might be wrong about what you are thinking. You think they are telling you to get lost, but what if they aren't interested in you at all? What if they don't even see you or give a hoot about what you are doing? Maybe that is what is going on. After all, do you know who is shopping in the next aisle over, or who just passed you at the end of the aisle? No. So why should they know all about you? Consider the fact that these are paranoid feelings and thoughts, and act on what you know others would tell you about the situation, not what you feel, which is deceiving you right now.

Argh...Why don't I think about this at the moment when I am IN it? I dunno. Perhaps because the feelings are so intense that it clouds my judgment until I get home and can calm down and think about it more calmly. But at least I did it, though it didn't occur to me until I was writing about it just this very minute. I guess this blog is good for something!

Posted by pamwagg at December 5, 2006 06:28 PM


Dear Pam,
You know my position on Joe, so I will not deal with that issue. However, your recounting your feelings of paranoia on your SUCCESSFUL shopping trip, and far more importantly, your calm, perfectly "right on target" analysis of what you "should" have done at the time, clearly illustrates that you truly can do an unbiased reality check. I predict the next excursion will reveal your performing it on the spot, thus diminishing extensively or even totally ELIMINATING your paranoia. What a coup!!! Did I read the words correctly? Did you actually say that your "attempt" at least gave some reason for you to have written the blog? Surely, I must be mistaken. This blog is cause for CELEBRATION!!!!!
With true admiration, Paula

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at December 6, 2006 10:02 PM

I have been reading your blog. I have also read your book, which impressed me vey much. I come to your site nearly everyday to see how you are doing. I could/should have commented a long time ago, but shyly I did not. You have a lot to be proud of. I love how you write about your friend Joe. You are a good friend. There is nothing harder than witnessing a loved one be ill, terminal even. Been there done that. You handle it very well I must say. You are stronger than you think. You say your bit, and then so graciously back off. Joe is lucky to have you care so much about him. I think you are lucky to have Joe in your life as well. Walking with him on this journey will bring gifts to your soul, lasting gifts... I wish you wellness. I wish for you peace in your heart and for love to surround you.... A friend in spirit. Evie

Posted by: Evie at December 6, 2006 01:13 AM

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