Naughty, naughty, naughty.

Hello, everyone! I’ve been working all day on Naughty Isle. First off, I have a new and improved cover.

Screenshot (393)

I worked really hard on it. The consensus was that the movie frame was too “busy” (and thanks to all of you who chimed in), so I went with a more solid red look. I like the fonts a lot better, too, and the lesser use of red for the border and one word.

Second, I have a new author website! Here it is! I’m thrilled that the domain name was available. Who knew?

Third, I’m doing some crowdfunding that will probably get nowhere, but who knows?

It’s been fun, if nothing else. What do you all think? Fun!

So, should I tell Mother about this? 😀 No, really. HA HA HA HA! That’s a thinker.

Oh, wow, it’s after midnight. Hours and hours have gone into this.

So, Sonya was reading some scenes from volume 2 earlier today, and she kept bursting into laughter. But we’ve already established that my smut is G-rated. [Makes face.] Maybe she just thought it was campy? 😀 I write campy horror and now campy romance. Woo hoo! These were her comments. She’s quoting parts she likes and then having a hilarious reaction to them:

“a topless man with suspenders standing in her doorway” – looooooool

“Naughty Eaves” looooool

“Chester marveled at how peaceful it was when she was rendered speechless.” loooool

“He’d taken some liberties with her behind, she recalled. Hmmph.” -looool

“And what was all this, a cosmic dream? If so, she’d get revenge on the man who’d smacked her on the ass. How dare he! She crossed her arms and was working up a good pout.” hahahahaha

“Here at Naughty Isle, we must be honest with each other for healing to occur.” looooool

Yeah, so… that’s hilarious. You gotta love Sonya.

Abs-attachment life hack for the total gym!

I still love my home gym and try to use it as often as possible (every day that I’m not in a fog for whatever reason, or that my muscles aren’t recovering moderately).

I’ve felt like my abs haven’t adequately been targeted. I don’t like doing crunches (on the home gym or not) because I don’t like stressing my neck.

For an additional $160, which would be around half of what I paid for the whole unit and all that came with it, you can buy an abs attachment set. My budget has run dry, and that seems excessive to me, especially compared to what a great deal the whole unit was at $325 (free shipping) on eBay (open box–it’s new on Amazon for $400). Also, there are no affordable used abs attachments on eBay.

So today, I figured out how to make my own abs attachment. Basically, you’re lying on your knees and pulling yourself uphill by pulling on the handles of the attachment. For that part, I just used some of the handles that came with the unit but don’t have enough padding on them. No huge deal. They’re just as safe in how they attach.

Then, you’re pushing your forearms into the padding to protect your forearms and elbows from the exertion of it. I lay a wood panel (I’m a woodworker, so this was easy) that was roughly 18″ x 24″ maybe across the top of the home gym, butting up against the handles (and yes, “butting” is a legitimate woodworking term–you can’t make this stuff up). Atop the panel, I put a foam pillow that we’d been using as an extra pillow on our sofa. Voìla. I’m now able to do abs exercises in style.

You can see what I mean from this Amazon product page photo:

61tHzmkUbtL._AC_SL1000_

(But I’m female, by the way, for those of you who don’t know.)

So I’m using similar (but non-padded) handles that came with the unit, and I just added a solid level of padding going across for my lower arms. It stays in place with my body pressure and is evenly distributed across the main unit’s rails. I doubt it weighs enough to put undue pressure on the rails.

So I did sixty reps, and I have an intuitive belief that I’ll feel the burn come tomorrow. I’ll keep you all posted. So far, my abs aren’t sore, though, but I was pleased with how well they were being targeted today, so I have high hopes. I’ve felt thus far that my abs haven’t been targeted enough, but now I’m more hopeful.

If I do nothing but abs exercises, having the machine will be worth it. But of course I hope to keep doing much more than that.

I’m inspired now, so I think I’ll go downstairs and exercise my upper body. Why not?

Naughty!

I can’t tell you all how much I’ve enjoyed writing my new series, Naughty Isle. I’m on volume 2, and I’ve written 5,000+ words for it since I started the doc three days ago. It’s total fantasy fulfillment. Naughty fiction… who knew? But it’s just so loving, ya know? It’s adult, consensual (in a heavily implied sort of way), and otherwordly, since Naughty Isle is located somewhere in the astral plane. People who need guidance go there in their dreams for an extended stay until they’ve been put on the straight and narrow. It’s all done with love. None of it is sadistic, controlling, or overly punitive. But it’s still freakin’ hot. It’s smokin’. Whew. Someone pass the fire extinguisher–we have flames.

Volume 1 maxed out at 17,000+ words, and I suspect that will be close to the norm. These aren’t full-length novels, but hey, I love writing them.

I should thank two very close friends of mine who both suggested this to me at the same time (great minds think alike, and they’re not even mutual friends–go figure!). And now I’m just totally in my happy writing zone. I wish I could come up with ways to promote my series, but I don’t have any extra money to put toward it. Hmm…. well, I’ll promote it here. What the hey? Buy volume 1 here!

But if I haven’t stated this yet, I don’t expect any of you to buy it or review it for me, unless naughty romance is your thing!! Don’t be a hero, because you’re either into it, or you aren’t. My feelings won’t be hurt. But if you know anyone who’d like it, please tell your friends.

Just don’t tell Mother! 😀 HA HA H AH AHA! Oh no.

I have to give her credit. She’s been a good mother lately. In good news, she seems to be thriving while living with her boyfriend, Mark, in Maine. For the most part, he’s a good influence on her, because every single time I talk to her, she sounds happy, and she doesn’t act controlling or hurtful. Like, she’ll ask if I’ve found an agent for my memoir (which is dead on the water, sadly), and what I’ve been up to, and how my friends are doing. She brags about her progress on her exercise bike, and I brag about using my home gym. It’s all good.

Dear Amy: I’m so sad. My husband says he doesn’t want to be in our marriage anymore. He states that my mood and ways of reacting to situations are not what he expected. We’ve been married for 22 years and lately he can’t seem to tolerate me.

He had a rough childhood and thinks that he might die young. He says he doesn’t want to spend whatever time he has left with me.

I’m so very hurt. I always thought I would grow old with him. I thought we would have many adventures together.

I find it hard to sleep and eat. Do you have any advice for me?

— Sad Soul

Sad Soul: I’m so sorry you are going through this. Please, if at all possible, find a counselor to talk to. If your husband refuses, go to sessions on your own. Also, talk to your most compassionate and understanding friend or family member.

Your husband sounds depressed. Has he received upsetting news about his health recently? Has the ongoing pandemic triggered sudden concerns about his own mortality? Is he having a midlife meltdown?

Sometimes, when someone wants to leave a relationship, they will create a smokescreen to obscure the real reasons they want to leave. “Everything you do bothers me” is a way of saying, “It’s not me, it’s you!”

You will feel better if you find ways to stand up for yourself and assert your right to be respected, even if he is in crisis.

I suggest telling your husband, “I want to work on our relationship. I want to help you through this. I know I can’t force you to stay in this marriage, but please don’t try to destroy my self-esteem in the process.” (c) Ask Amy

Oh no. That’s some bad advice. This guy isn’t depressed. He’s cruel. There’s a slight yet subtle difference (she said, sarcastically). [Eyeroll.]

He had a rough childhood and thinks that he might die young.

Well, that’s interesting. I had a rough childhood, too, but that thought has never crossed my mind. Huh. (To be completely honest, I’m suddenly a little sad.) It sounds like a manipulative attempt to make his wife feel like [bleep] about herself. It doesn’t read like depression. In my mind, he’s saying it to be hurtful, not because he’s feeling helpless and hopeless.

This letter writer needs to hire a lawyer and get tested for STDs. (Seeing as she’s married to a letch, you never know.) She then needs to get out of the household (unless her lawyer says it could compromise her divorce settlement, but I’d still recommend it because this guy sounds borderline psychopathic).

What the letter writer also needs to do is become fully aware that her husband is playing games with her in order to accomplish his desired outcome (divorce), AND in an effort to destroy his wife in the process. In other words, he’s having fun with it, and that’s downright cruel.

So why is Ask Amy going on and on about being assertive here? Being assertive will make him push back and take it to the next level. Bad, bad, bad advice. Just get the heck out of there!

Your husband sounds depressed. Has he received upsetting news about his health recently? Has the ongoing pandemic triggered sudden concerns about his own mortality? Is he having a midlife meltdown?

It seems more likely that he’s having an affair or even some financial problems that he thinks divorce will somehow fix. Why or how Ask Amy managed to give him the benefit of the doubt here is beyond me.

Maybe she read it and pictured it like he’s sad, like, “Oh, woe is me, I’m going to die young, and I just want to enjoy the rest of my life,” whereas I’m picturing it like, “If I’m going to die young, I don’t want to be stuck with you, you [bleep]ing [bleep],” while he punches the drywall into smithereens with his angry fists and the letter writer cowers in the corner.

In good news, if the letter writer reads the commentary at the syndicate, she’ll realize that the consensus disagrees with Ask Amy’s advice.

Meg makes faces for fun.

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for almost eight years.

I’m 44, and he is 38. We have three kids, ages 5, 3 and 1.

We’ve always had an amazing sex life and a great relationship in every way.

We also have the usual stress that comes along with raising kids (paying bills, running a household, etc.).

We’ve always taken comfort in each other.

My issue is that I’m tired of the sleaze and vulgarity that has always been a part of his way of trying to get me “in the mood” when he wants to have sex.

I’ve never once turned him away when he wanted it, and I believe our sex drives are equal.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or because of the constant neediness of my children, but when he starts with the constant sexual innuendos, getting handsy, grabbing my body and breasts — it makes me feel disgusted. I feel like a piece of meat.

When we were first together and up until a few months ago, it didn’t bother me.

What’s wrong with me?!

By the time I’m done dealing with my little ones and their constant need for mommy and then my husband acting like a grabby teen, I want to just shut down. His methods are just not a turn-on for me anymore.

I want him to be more mature and respectful in his approach.

I’d like to sit down and tell him how I really feel, but I don’t want to embarrass him and make him insecure.

What should I do?

— Pawed

Pawed: There is nothing wrong with you.

Your husband plays out a particular script when he wants to initiate sex with you. He will continue to do what he always does, because he has no idea of how it makes you feel and what a turnoff it is for you.

So what do you think your loving husband would prefer: to unwittingly humiliate and disgust you with vulgarities and breast-grabbing in the name of foreplay and have you grow so turned off that your built-up resentment deepens a fault line between you — or to talk about it, risking some momentary discomfort?

Sex is all about communication, and right now you two are on vastly different pages. You have as much a right to express your desires as he does!

It’s natural — and healthy — to switch things up as the circumstances of your life change. In a quiet moment, sit down and talk to him, before you erupt in the moment and react in a way that would genuinely embarrass him.

Help to write a new script. Think about what you WOULD like in terms of foreplay, and lead with that. (c) Ask Amy

That’s interesting! I love interesting questions.

This could just be me, but I’d slap his hand away, raise an eyebrow, and say, “Hey! No touching during the day when the kids might be underfoot, Grabby McGrabber. That’s very naughty.” Then I’d grab his grabby hand, put his finger in my mouth, and run my tongue around it in a circle. Next, I’d put his hand next to my chest and finger-flick it really hard. “Let that be a lesson to you.”

“Ouch! What’s gotten into you, woman?”

“Don’t be naughty anymore. Momma doesn’t like that. Our bedroom, 10:00. Be there, or know the reason why.”

I’m rolling my eyes at myself, though. I’m not very sexually knowledgeable. I finished the first volume of my series, and it can best be described as G-rated smut. I’m the only writer out there who could pull off that fine balance. [Eyeroll.] And if I were to act the above scene out for a camera, like for an audition or something… good Lord. I would stink. Unless I was auditioning for campy porn, I’d never get the part.

Dear Amy: My father-in-law has been greeting me every time I see him with a kiss on the mouth.

I was a bit taken aback the first time this happened, but he really is a sweet man and a wonderful father-in-law and grandfather to my kids.

In no way do I feel like he is trying to be inappropriate, but it does make me feel uncomfortable.

Since the pandemic I’ve had a good excuse to turn my head away for a kiss on the cheek or forehead, but it always feels like he tries a little too hard to land on the lips.

We are all vaccinated now, and I believe he thinks it’s okay to resume the lip-kisses.

Am I being oversensitive here? Should I just let him kiss me, should I say something, or should I just keep turning my head?

— Kissed Out

Kissed Out: I’ve known a couple of very sweet (older) men who do this. And, yes, it is definitely uncomfortable for those of us who don’t like it.

I also need to share the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s caution about vaccinated people hugging and kissing others outside of their “bubble.” They suggest waiting.

When the all-clear comes, make eye contact with your father-in-law and say something like, “Let me offer my cheek for a hello kiss. Let’s go cheek-to-cheek from now on.”

Oh my. I think I’d rather have the grabby husband than the lecherous father-in-law. Kissing on the mouth? Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I can only kiss people like that in a romantic context. Otherwise, not in a million years. Although I have heard that it can be different in other parts of the world.

I wouldn’t even go cheek-to-cheek, so I don’t favor Ask Amy’s advice here. So it becomes an issue of how to break precedence, since the father-in-law has come to expect that he’s allowed to be all kissy. Hmm…. what to do…. this is just me, but I’d stop him at the pass. As he’s moving in for the kiss, I’d throw my arms around him and yell, “Hug!” And then, during our embrace, I’d gush, “Kissing is out, but hugging is in. Oh! I could hug you all day long, you wonderful father-in-law.”

For anyone uncomfortable with hugging, also, then that wouldn’t work. So another solution would be to use the coronavirus as your scapegoat. “Father-in-law, I know we’re all vaccinated, but I’m no longer comfortable kissing. This whole pandemic has showed me how much we should fear contagion in a broader sense. Can we just hug [or fist-bump, or whatever] from now on?”

In no way do I feel like he is trying to be inappropriate, but […] it always feels like he tries a little too hard to land on the lips.

Oh, buddy, I’ve got your number. Do we understand each other? Yes? You might have the letter writer fooled, but if you were to try to kiss me, the fur would fly. 

Lying has its place, and I’m a firm believer that it’s okay to lie if you’re feeling uncomfortable about being assertive. This lie harms no one. I’d recommend it as a last option but a valid one, since she has to extricate herself from this somehow.

Dear Amy: You have referred to Mindfulness as a way of changing behaviors.

When my clients seek to stop angry or snarky comments, I advise them to “breathe out before you breathe in” before saying something angry or hurtful. The breath out, which takes half a second, creates a tiny moat of calm between intent and action, allowing judgment to catch up.

— Chris

Chris: “A tiny moat of calm.” I love it.

That’s brilliant. A little mindfulness can go far. I think I need to add this to my life coach’s suggestion of asking questions. But she did also say to count to ten. The funny thing is that if I were really to count to ten, it would terrify everyone around me. I’d do it out loud, and with my scary face. (Just run.) And people would be like, “Dude, why’s she counting to ten?” And someone else might say, “Maybe because we have that long to get out of her presence?” And I’d nod and say, “Nine, nine-and-a-half, nine-and-three-quarters… ten!” And then I’d just unleash it.

DSC01452

Oh my goodness, that photo of me is dasdardly. I think it’s from three years ago when we had a cold, dry spell, and my hair paid the price. I’m looking better these days. I got a new haircut. Hold on…

Picture 82

Yeah, there we go. That’s some sort of disastrous hairdo before-and-after, or something. Like, remember that episode of Full House when DJ got a bad perm, and Uncle Jesse had to call in Alejandro, his stylist, to fix it?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Back in the 1970s, my mother-in-law wanted me to call her “Mom,” and every weekend, when my husband and I went to her home for Sunday dinner, she started the hug hello and then the hug goodbye.

This felt foreign to me. “Mom” was reserved for my mom, and I don’t feel like hugging anyone unless there’s an extreme reason to, such as if someone is ill, or close to death, or if you haven’t seen them in some time. I was an only child and brought up to be more reserved. My husband was also an only child, but apparently in a more huggy family.

Fast-forward and I think, did it really hurt for me to hug her? After all, she never had a daughter and lost her husband and mother in a three-week period. It was acting on my part maybe, but it made her feel good. Like they say, “Pick your battles.”

GENTLE READER: Huggy time has now passed, the pandemic having made us learn ways of showing good will without touching. And as hugs were overused, Miss Manners is not sorry to see them go as a routine greeting, but she will miss handshakes.

However, she appreciates the lesson you learned from this experience: that sometimes it is worthwhile to make trivial compromises in order to make someone happy. (c) MISS MANNERS

Huh. Well, I agree with picking your battles, but I’d choose this one differently. Now, I am indeed more huggy than kissy, as we’ve established. But something just feels wrong to me about forced hugging. I think that hugging should be spontaneous or special (e.g., not done at every meeting) or more meaningful. Hmm…. I think the last person I hugged was Sonya. This would’ve been a year ago from December when she saw me off in the Prague airport. She’d asked if I wanted to grab lunch, but I said no, I’d find something in the airport. And it turned out that they didn’t have any food I liked. Travel. Hmmph.

I finally settled on a fruit cup and a slice of banana bread (I think). The banana bread must’ve been expensive, because I love banana bread but only bought the one slice. I was hoping for junk food. Note to self: the Prague airport has no junk food. (Duly noted.)

So I haven’t hugged anyone in over fourteen months? Meg needs a hug. [Sad face.]

Blogging has been fun, and now I’m in a much improved mood!! Hugs all around. But don’t try to kiss me on the lips, unless it’s seductive, or something.

The good Samaritan.

There’s an episode of Frasier that deals with paranoia. I first saw it circa 2007. I’d been watching the reruns for a few years, but when it came on, I didn’t recognize the storyline. I wound up completely held in its thrall, and I couldn’t quit watching; and at the end, I was sobbing. I could just relate so much.

What I love about the show is that most of the episodes deal with some aspect of psychology. This episode was no exception.

At the start of the episode, Frasier stops to help someone change a tire, even though he doesn’t know how to, and the man calls his radio program and scolds him for scratching his car’s paint job. Also, Frasier finds an empty wallet and hands it to the servers at Cafe Nervosa, but then the owner shows up and accuses Frasier of having taken the wallet’s money.

Frasier’s getting more and more disheartened by human nature when his coworker, Bulldog, asks Frasier to cover his night shift, saying his mom’s in the hospital. In reality, Bulldog’s off to Vegas, but I don’t think Frasier ever finds out about that.

So then Frasier’s driving home in the pouring Seattle rain when he sees a woman on the side of the road who’s getting drenched. He offers her a ride, but he soon discovers that she’s a prostitute. Shortly thereafter, he gets pulled over and arrested for hiring a prostitute.

His dad, a former cop; and his brother, a germophobe, both show up to bail him out. His dad’s embarrassed to be seen at the precinct under the circumstances, and Niles is afraid to touch anything. They both treat Frasier terribly and make him feel worse.

When they get home, it’s early the next morning and Frasier, being a media figure, is front-page news. He goes inside. His young son, Freddie, is there to visit Frasier for the weekend from Boston.

So Frasier starts having a conversation with his son, and Freddie asks, “What are you saying, Dad? That we shouldn’t help people?”

Frasier gets this look on his face like he doesn’t know what to say, and then, in a flash, he’s driving home from work late at night again, and he sees a woman by the side of the road, drenched.

The whole thing never happened. He’d had a paranoid fantasy.

Not giving into paranoia, Frasier stops and picks her up.

“I’m going where you’re going,” she says.

“What do you mean?” Frasier seems panicked.

“Don’t you recognize me? I live in your building, the Elliott Bay Towers,” she says.

Frasier smiles, relieved, and drives through the night.

It’s just that, you know, when I was watching it, I had no idea it wasn’t “real”. I never would’ve guessed. But he saw that woman in the road, and his mind went to a dark place. I can relate to paranoid fantasies. In a paranoid fantasy, people are mean to you and don’t care. That’s why his dad and brother were such jerks at the police station. In “real life”, they would’ve been way more supportive.

It just had a profound impact on me, but in a good way. Although recounting it now has me in tears. (I also can’t recite the plot of Pollyanna or The Dollhouse Murders without sobbing.)

But in the end, he chose to risk it and save the woman from the deluge, despite how paranoid his mind had become. That really said something to me. We can’t give up on human nature and always see the worst in everyone, although that’s what I tend to do.

I’m just having issues. I guess I’ll always have issues. I’ve been really sad all day, and lethargic and sedated-feeling.

Still crying. Oh well. Can we do Pollyanna too? This is from the Hayley Mills movie version of the story. So, Pollyanna’s dad dies and she goes to live with her Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly is a control freak who controls the whole town and lords over everyone. Pollyanna, on the other hand, is very positive and upbeat. Her dad taught her to play the glad game, where they find ways to be glad about everything. When they got crutches from the missionary instead of a doll for her to play with, they were glad that she didn’t need the crutches.

Pollyanna goes around town and fixes everyone’s problems. She manages to correct the attitude of an old woman who’s just feeling sorry for herself, and she convinces the minister to preach about positive things from the Bible instead of negative things. (In a classic scene, his sermon starts with his yelling in a stern and scary, “Death comes unexpectedly!” And then he’s off and running.)

The town arranges a bazaar to raise money so they can get out from under Aunt Polly’s thumb. Naturally, Pollyanna isn’t allowed to go, even though all the other kids will be there. Pollyanna sneaks out the window, goes to the carnival, and has a great time. The adults guarantee that when she plays the fishing booth, she wins a doll.

But on the way back home, she’s all the way up the tree and trying to reach her attic bedroom when she falls. Aunt Polly hears this scream and has no idea what’s wrong.

Pollyanna becomes paralyzed from the waist down, and Aunt Polly hates herself. She finally understand what matters, but it’s a little too late for Pollyanna.

Pollyanna enters an uncharacteristic funk and refuses to talk to anyone or see anyone. Aunt Polly arranges for her to go away someplace for physical therapy. On the day that she’s scheduled to leave town, she’s carried downstairs, and the whole freakin’ town is in Aunt Polly’s foyer to see her off. And then Pollyanna feels better, because they all appreciate her so much that they want to be there for her, too. Pollyanna can’t be upset any longer because they all love her so much.

Total hysterical weeping. That’s so beautiful. I’m just a weepy mess. I just love the story so much. Pollyanna is my role model! No matter how awful things got, she always saw the best in people and in life!

Good grief. I must be hormonal. That would explain at least a few things. It’s just that I usually get PMS during my period, not before it. I think I’ll go purchase a pound of chocolate. Party at Meg’s house, rah, rah, rah.

When some semblance of sanity is restored.

Sonya cheered me up earlier by pointing out that I made it all the way to the end of winter without going crazy.

I said, “Yeah, you’re right! Late February! Go me.”

And she said, “No, today’s March.”

And I replied, “Yes, but the fish fry was three days ago on February 26.”

So we changed the battle cry to saying I almost made it to the end of winter, and next year I’ll go farther. Hey, I’ll make it all the way to March and beyond.

I discussed the techniques that my life coach helped me work on with my dad, and he thinks they’re brilliant. The main one seems to be to ask questions whenever I’m thrust into that situation. Any question would work, but I think it should be a genuine question rather than an attacking question. (I can attack people verbally anytime, so the concept here might be to try to get more info before flipping out.)

My dad swears that he didn’t feel threatened by the guy at all (we just discussed it again), and he said, “If you’re psychic and can pick up on people’s energetic wavelengths, it’s not fair of you to judge someone by their energy. You must judge people by how they act.” While I think that sounds quite wise, I still claim that they guy was not nice.

And I’m not sure I wholly agree about not judging him, because here’s the thing: he chased us inside, and I remember walking down the entry stairs (indoors past the vestibule) down into the cafeteria. I was walking at a diagonal because the stairway is shaped like a rhombus, and I was going down its diagonal edge. (Fun with geometry.) He came in behind us. While I was walking down those stairs, I don’t think he was speaking to us yet, but I felt overwhelmingly threatened to the point that I didn’t even know what was wrong. I mean, there’s bad energy, and then there’s bad energy. I just remember walking down those steps and thinking, “Oh, God, what’s pursuing me?” and I was filled with dread. I remember thinking, I shouldn’t be taking the long diagonal way, because someone angry is behind me. I need to walk faster! (I’m not making that up.) Call me paranoid if you wish, but it was that bad. And then, as I recall, the conversation started when I made it down the steps and was in the cafeteria proper.

So I’m starting to think that this wasn’t a paranoid incident. Clearly, there was something indelibly wrong about the man who pursued us. Psychopath? I don’t know, but I felt it as intense hatred rippling off of him. Obviously I don’t know the guy and can’t diagnose, but it felt like extreme overkill versus what you’d expect in that situation, which might be mild annoyance or, at worse, stress.

I’m starting to trust my own experience of it because, let’s face it. You’d think I’d be upset about the tiff I got into with the other guy later that evening. That was far more vocal and disastrous. But I kind of think, yeah, that was my fault. He’s got every right to be mad. (I’m not mad at myself, though, because I was just lost at that point.) But the point is that I can take ownership when I was the problem, eventually, once I’m seeing straight.

Instead of being upset over that, I’m fixated on whoever it was that kicked us out of the building. That’s telling me something right there. Whatever was going on with him was beyond my ability to cope with. Just… completely beyond. His aura was putrefied. I’m sorry, but it was. This level of disturbance in his energetic field would go way beyond being in a bad mood. It would be permanent essence of the person, and it was not pretty.

I know there are mixed views on whether or not I’m psychic, and being psychic and being schizophrenic often look the same, but… there was something there. At this point, no other explanation makes much sense.

But it’ll be okay. I’ll move on, and life will make sense again. Sometimes it just takes me a few days to work through what happened and where things went off the rail. Now that I have a better idea, I hate myself for it a lot less.

Thanks to all of you out there who support me one way or another! It’s greatly appreciated. I think life will be okay now.

I’ve got it! But I’m still angry.

I booked a talk session with my life coach, and I felt close to getting to the problem during our session, and then I lay in bed to take a nap, and it sort of hit me.

I couldn’t understand why I was so upset about what happened, especially that particular part of it (where the guy chased us and yelled at us) versus all the stuff that went wrong later (when I had a total meltdown and got into it with someone). I think I realize what it goes back to now, though, but I could be wrong.

When I was in third grade and thereabouts, as many of you might already know, my mom used to chase me through the house. She’d deliberately seek me out, wherever I was, and she’d engage me in some sort of ridiculous power struggle. I’d be resistant, and she’d fall on her hands and knees on the carpet and sob and say, “You’re manipulative and sadistic. You’re playing the ‘let’s upset Mommy today’ game and winning. You enjoy upsetting me.” Tears all over the place. Total hysteria. She’d beg and plead for me to be cooperative, but when I tried, it wasn’t cooperative enough. Like, “No, hold still! I can’t get your hair right! You’ll fail your third-grade presentation and our lives will be ruined.”

It seems sort of obvious now. That guy was chasing me–pursuing me, and then he drenched me in his angst. On some level, I must’ve believed he was blaming me for his problems, and I tend to have a rather visceral reaction to that sort of thing. I mean, when I was a kid, I’d start shrieking my lungs out when my mom would pull that crap. Total out-of-control tantrum. I’d just lose it completely. Then she’d spank me, and I’d escape to safety. Until later, and then it would happen again.

I grew up thinking I was a horrible person. Not just because my mom’s craziness was my fault, but because I couldn’t control my temper.

That guy really shouldn’t have dumped his toxic energy all over my dad and me after chasing us. When you add in the fact that we broke the rule of being inside (despite there being no signs to guide us otherwise), it was like my crazy childhood all over again. I never knew what I was doing wrong to make my mom crazy. I just knew I was doing it. I’m extremely sensitive to being yelled at for breaking rules that I didn’t know about, and therefore can’t obey. Like, “What are you doing here? This part of the store’s closed for remodeling.” And it’s like, could you have put a sign somewhere saying as much? Or could you have maybe cordoned off the area? 

IT’S NOT MY FAULT. NO ONE TOLD ME THE RIGHT WAY TO ACT. QUIT BLAMING ME FOR SOMETHING I HAD NO CONTROL OVER. IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO FOLLOW YOUR RULES, MAYBE MAKE A SIGN. 

That really pushes my buttons. And it triggers me to the extent that I want to return it to the other person. As a child, I threw tantrums because I couldn’t contain my mom’s crazy energy within myself. I felt like a pressure cooker. But then it became a way of getting her to back off and know that I wasn’t capable of “reasoning” with. (I put that in quotes, because my mom has a really warped definition of reasoning.) It became a defense, like the way I shriek whenever a stray dog approaches me and LuLu. Your voice is the best defense.

I think I felt like that guy was saying, “I’m exhausted from working here, but you just had to come into the cafeteria. You did it on purpose to ruin my night and to destroy me, didn’t you? And after all my hard work to give you ingrates a good fish fry. You’re sadistic and manipulative. It’s who you are and what you do, and I expect you to read my mind about the rules, since I don’t feel like writing out a helpful sign.”

And after sucker-punching me like that, he ran away, because his level of self-importance was extremely high.

I’m sure I should feel bad and be apologetic by now, but I’m still seething with rage. In good news, I’m not angry enough to start up with the angry emails again… I hope. But I feel furious. People just shouldn’t accost strangers like that. It serves nothing.

But it’s never good when my inner bully comes out. I should really leave the Catholics alone already. But I hate them. A lot.

Paranoia attack at the fish fry!

It occurs to me that I have some thought pattern issues. I’ve never realized that because I associate negative cognitive schemas (bad thought patterns, which I learned about as a psych major) with depression. I’m not depressed, and it’s just never dawned on me that I have cognitive paranoia issues.

I keep thinking about the fish fry from hell, and I think I misinterpreted the bad guy.

He was running toward us.

My interpretation: he was chasing us down to yell at us and ruin our lives.

Other possible interpretation: he was rushing toward the kitchen to fill an order of fish. 

He started talking to us.

My interpretation: he’s yelling, which was his goal in running toward us in the first place. 

Other possible interpretation: he was stopping to guide us on his way to getting someone’s fish. 

Evidence: he couldn’t have been yelling, or I wouldn’t have misheard what he said. 

He raced away.

My interpretation: he wanted to guarantee I had no chance to defend myself or get the last word. 

Other possible interpretation: he was rushing to deliver fish. 

However.

Here’s what doesn’t add up. If he was racing toward us to enter the kitchen and get someone’s fish, then why–after he finished talking/yelling to us–did he turn and go back outside without acquiring any food? That doesn’t sit well with me. Am I remembering that part wrong? It’s all in bits and pieces in my brain. I felt very threatened by him. Not in a physical sense, but he was giving off waves of anger and frustration and hatred. I could feel it. It was so potent that I could almost see it.

I get it. He was stressed. That happens, obviously. The church’s attitude about this was, “Well, we’re not a professional restaurant, so we don’t have to hold ourselves to a high standard of customer service. It’s all volunteer, and we don’t get paid.”

Hmm. Our meal cost $17.00 (two dinners, no beverages). Just sayin’. Someone got paid.

And so once again, for the millionth time in my life, we have this ungodly ambiguity in which I have no clue what to think. But the mean man just shook me up with the energy coming off of him, and while he was racing toward us, I felt pursued. I tried to block it out–to block him out–but then he was talking to us, and he had all these waves over him of anger and hatred, like when you look at a sidewalk and the sun’s out and the sidewalk ripples. That’s what he looked like.

When he asked if we ordered under the tent, I misheard him, but regardless, there was something incredibly accusatory about the way he asked. I managed to yell, “No,” and my dad turned and ran for it. We weren’t allowed to explain that we’d preordered online.

(My dad’s now trying to deny that he ran for it. “Oh, he did nothing wrong. Good grief, no, I wasn’t cowed by him. How do you dream up this stuff?” And on and on. But at the time, my dad was like, “We’ll go to the tent,” and then he literally raced out the door to safety instead of staying to explain that we’d preordered.)

Oh, wait. I must’ve followed my dad outside, which means that the scary person stayed inside and went to get fish. Okay. (It’s hard to put the pieces of a broken memory back together again, and nothing makes me dissociate more than strangers randomly accusing me of stuff and acting enraged. I have a very sensitive nervous system, and I hope that most people can keep it together, but I’m often disappointed. Angry people often feel entitled to spray their anger all over me. On the other hand, I often feel entitled to make them regret it. Deeply.)

See, that’s the difference between me and these people. I try to direct my anger at the source rather than spraying it all over innocent people.

I know you’re saying, “But Meg, you then accosted someone else at the fish fry, another man who’d had nothing to do with it.”

Yes, this is very true. That was unintentional on my end and not my normal modus operandi (I don’t think). I was falling apart, and I couldn’t even tell if he was the same man or not. (My dad says it was someone else.) That’s how much I dissociated–I couldn’t tell one person from the next. That’s generally a bad sign.

Another time I dissociated was in May of 2015. I was walking to the local pastry shop. Then, I was walking home, and I was crying. I was confused and couldn’t tell if I was sad or having allergies. After I got home, I was in a bad mood. Roughly six or eight hours passed, and I was in the basement doing some woodworking when I suddenly remembered. (And prior to that point, I didn’t realize I’d forgotten anything.)

I’d been walking to the pastry shop when a woman pulled up in an SUV and asked if she could park at the meters without paying. I said I was sorry, but I didn’t know. She got mad and said, “I recognize you! You live around here. You’ve got to know about the meters. Don’t BS me.”

(Yes, I do live around here, but I never park past the alley.)

In bits and pieces, I remember seeing her park her SUV and then exit it and come toward me. Then… nothing. (No clue.) But I also remembered that, at the pastry shop, the employee asked me about my writing, and that made me feel better.

Yeah, so, when people are randomly mean to me, I dissociate, and the memory disappears entirely or becomes shuttered. I’m not sure what the issue is. I’m just excessively sensitive to hatred and anger when it’s coming from a stranger.

Still being excessively angry, I’ve emailed everyone on staff at the church, and then I emailed the local archdiocese. Hopefully at least one of them will take me seriously. I mentioned in the email that I intend to stop by the church tomorrow to discuss the incident, and that’s a big, fat lie. I’ve been sending them psycho emails, and I like to stretch the boundaries of implicit threats without actually getting myself arrested. I’m just trying to get their attention so they’ll take my complaint seriously, or so that I can upset them as much as they upset me. (I’ll take what I can get.)

I was just so excited about the fish fry, you know? I was going to pretend I belonged, that I was a Catholic, that I was one of them, even while only being able to barely interact. I took a freakin’ shower and did my hair. That’s how normal I wanted to seem. And they treated me and my dad like trash. And the sad thing is that they’ve got me questioning my sanity about what really happened. (Ahh, to go back in time and find out…)

I just can’t seem to get a grip on this type of experience, because I can’t identify exactly what’s going wrong. While he was talking/yelling to us, I felt afraid to speak. That’s how scary he was being. It’s hard to live in a world where a “normal” person would say, “Oh, he was just a little insensitive. Don’t overreact.” Because in my mind, he was evil incarnate… at a church. The last bastion of holiness!

Oh well.

Sharing the prayers?

Dear Amy: My husband had knee replacement surgery at a Catholic hospital last week.

The first few weeks of his physical therapy are done at our home.

The first session was today.

Everything went well, and when it was time for her to leave, the therapist asked if my husband wanted to pray with her. She said this was totally up to him.

He said yes, she said a short prayer and left.

I was stunned. Is this something new?

I have been seen by a lot of health care professionals, and NO ONE has ever asked me to pray with them.

We live in the Bible Belt, so I thought this might have something to do with it.

Your thoughts?

— I’ll Pray by Myself

I’ll Pray by Myself: My research into this has led me to read a number of studies regarding the practice of praying between health care workers and patients. Although most seem to reflect attitudes regarding patients asking health care workers to pray with them, one study reflected a situation similar to your husband’s. Quoting a 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health: “Most Americans pray; many pray about their health. When they are hospitalized, however, do patients want an offer of prayer from a health-care provider? This project allowed for the measurement of hospitalized patient’s responses to massage therapists’ offers of a colloquial prayer after a massage.

“After the intervention, 78 patients completed questionnaires that elicited quantitative data … In this sample, 88 percent accepted the offer of prayer, 85 percent found it helpful, and 51 percent wanted prayer daily. Patients may welcome prayer, as long as the clinician shows ‘genuine kindness and respect.”’

Even though it might be unusual, I don’t think it is necessarily unethical for a health-care provider to offer to pray with a patient, even in the patient’s own home. Doing so might help to build a connection between the therapist and patient. Prayer might help to relax the patient and “center” his intentions toward his own health and recovery.

The offer might also feel like coercion.

How did your husband feel about this practice? He should prepare himself to respond before his next appointment.

A reminder that this is his treatment, and HE gets to decide how to handle it, regardless of how you feel about it. (c) Ask Amy

I couldn’t disagree with Ask Amy more than I do.

If someone pulled this on me, I’d find it unprofessional and intrusive. Now, it might be okay for the physical therapist to say, “As a Catholic physical therapist, I’m always willing to pray for you or with you, so just let me know if you’re interested. No pressure, and I won’t bring it up again if you don’t.”

But saying, “Would you like to pray together now?” is more… likely to put someone on the spot and discomfit them, because no one will see that coming. So I don’t really agree with this:

A reminder that this is his treatment, and HE gets to decide how to handle it, regardless of how you feel about it.

Because although I agree in a technical sense that it’s the husband’s situation to deal with, I’d be peeved that his physical therapist just put him on the spot in my presence with all her weirdness. You know? I wouldn’t want to watch my (fictitious) husband squirm as he tries to come up with a tactful answer. That would make me feel awkward, too.

But if I were put in that situation with a physical therapist who asked me if I wanted to pray, I’d say, “Oh, fun! Let me grab my Tarot deck.” I’m not sure what would come of that… 😀 But being half-religious and half-spiritual, I see my Tarot time as time spent with higher beings who are offering guidance.

But the other reason I’d do it would be to send the implicit message that asking someone to pray sort of assumes that the other person has the same relationship with God that you have. And that’s… not cool to assume. It’s always assumed in a church, which I’m ambivalent about. Like, when I went to the Southern Baptist church in high school, believing in reincarnation was frowned upon. And one time a classmate asked if we become angels when we die, and she got yelled at. Like, for seriousness, because that belief is just soooo threatening to the establishment. How dare you die and become an angel!?

Also, my mom’s an atheist (and always has been), which I have no issues with whatsoever, but she met all her best friends at the Episcopalian church that she took me to as a child. She went so that my siblings and I could have the opportunity to be exposed to religion in case we wanted to follow that path. All three of us were baptized there. So while my mom was attending church, singing in the choir and pretending to be religious, she met all her best friends.

Do I think it was wrong of my mom to go to church when she was an atheist? No. She wasn’t cramming her atheistic views down anyone’s throat, and Episcopalians as a whole are fairly inclusive and accepting. Her friends probably know she’s an atheist by this point decades later, and I doubt they’re bothered by it.

So I guess the reason it offends me to be asked to pray is that it does assume that I pray a certain way and have a certain relationship with God. With me, it’s best to never assume anything, especially where beliefs are concerned.

It reminds me of when these traveling religious people came to our house to try to convert me and Codger. We sat out on the porch, and I had a deep conversation about my beliefs that caused the two younger ladies to exchange several nervous glances. I think they were trying to come up with a polite escape. At the end, they asked, “Would any of your neighbors be open to our beliefs?”

A fair question. I pointed next door. This is the where guy lives who rejected me romantically, saying I’m not pretty enough. I refer to him (in my mind) as Stevil. He’s a loner who never leaves his house. So I said, “Steve lives over there. He loves getting visitors, and he said he needs some religious guidance.” Straight face all the way.

They thanked me, while my dad shot me a scathing look that could kill. That still makes me laugh. Hey, don’t cross me!! 😀 I’m rarely hellbent on revenge whenever I’m not seething with rage, but I’m definitely a bit of a prankster when the opportunity presents itself. (Remember the time I pretended to fall off a mountain, and my mom wet herself? Hey, you can’t buy memories like that.)

Still laughing. Okay, that was hilarious. So, yeah, anyway, backing up, as I discussed my beliefs with them, they grew more and more concerned and uncomfortable. I was waxing sentimental about astral travel, past lives, Tarot cards, crystals, astrology, numerology, spirit guides, soul mates, Jesus’s divine relationship with Mary Magdalene, and on and on.

They got these sad expressions and said, “So you probably wouldn’t be open to our religion, would you?”

And I was like, “Sorry. I’ve already formed my beliefs rather strongly by this point. But thanks for stopping by. Can I get you some tea?”

About Ask Amy’s advice, I think there’s a difference between receiving prayers while hospitalized versus praying with your physical therapist. If I were in the hospital or otherwise doing poorly, I’d welcome anyone to pray for me. Likewise, I often pray for others. But that’s completely separate from being put on the spot to pray with someone. (Granted, it was amazing that Ask Amy found that study, because there probably isn’t one that’s specific enough to this situation.)

I do like the thought of people praying for me, though. Whatever the mechanism is of someone’s prayers, it’s always a kindness.

Well, this has been fun. I hope everyone out there is having a great day!!

I’m fit to be tied!

My dad and I walked to the fish fry at 6:45 to collect our food. I’d ordered online as per the online ordering instructions and paid with my dad’s credit card. When we got there, it was after dark. There was obviously a lot of activity in the side parking lot, but we dodged it and entered as we’ve done in years past.

After we descended a handful of steps and entered the cafeteria, a man approached us and asked if we’d ordered.

“Yes,” I said.

“Then someone should bring your order to you.” He seemed very stern.

My dad was immediately contrite, but I was peeved.

The man said, “Did you order from the tent?” and I misheard him due to my hearing loss. I thought he said, “Did you order under the name Kent?”

(I hate wearing hearing aids, and I can only be bothered to do it for special occasions.)

But I said, “No,” which turned out to be the correct answer either way. However, it made the man think we still needed to order, rather than alerting him that we’d ordered already online.

My dad said, “We’ll go to the tent.”

We went back outside and entered the crowded, chaotic parking area we’d passed on the way in. There was indeed a tent with a small line behind it. We got in the line thinking, no huge deal, but the line didn’t move at all. The one woman working at the table was laughing and chatting with the person ordering, and there was no forward momentum.

To make things worse, there wasn’t a clearly formed line. People were gathering around en masse instead of forming a sensible queue. (And that might be the first time I’ve used the word queue. Moment of silence.)

The woman ahead of us in line (at least, I think she was ahead of us in line) went up to the table, grabbed several paper order forms, and started distributing them to us with pencils. That woman was a genius. But her actions didn’t do anything to shame the woman at the table into actually getting done with the customer’s order.

But when that woman tried to give Codger and me some paper order forms, we told her that we’d already ordered. “How strange,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to wait in this line, then. There are people who will collect your order for you.”

One such man walked past us, and I did nothing to get his attention. “We’re shy,” I explained to the woman.

Codger said, “I’ll go inside again and explain the situation.” And he left me in the line.

A minute later, I was having a nice conversation with the helpful woman, who wanted to know how I’d ordered online. We were talking websites when the traffic around us started honking at us to get out of the way so they could exit the parking area. To say I was more peeved would be an understatement. And still, the line (for I was hoping to deal with it at that end, not trusting my dad to come through) was unmoving.

After I got honked at a few times, I slipped past everyone and entered the cafeteria to find my dad. There he was, up talking to them near the food prep area (where we get the food during non-pandemic years). I joined him there.

And then I sort of came undone. “Whoever that man was who told us to go to the tent really wants a piece of me,” I groused. “The tent is not where it’s at. I expect better. Nay, I demand better.”

A man working nearby, who may or may not have been the man from earlier, got huffy and said, “It’s our first week, and we’re not sure what we’re doing yet. Apologies all around.”

“Thank you,” I snapped.

“You’re welcome.”

After that point, trying to be a better sport, I wanted to lower my voice, but my dad and I are both hard of hearing. “It’s bad in the parking lot,” I told him, as if I was speaking about a sinking ship (which I might well have been doing!). “People are almost getting run over.”

The man working there got angrier and said, “Kimball, right? Why don’t you guys go sit in the cafeteria. We’ll bring out your food when it’s ready.”

So Codger and I went down the ramp and sat at a table.

At that point, I might be blocking something out, because it feels like there’s a gap, but then the man brought our food, dropped it on our table without facing me, and scurried away. We stood to leave. All I remember about the gap is that I was discussing something with my dad, but I’m not sure what. Oh well. I know he was upset that I hadn’t just waited outside, but he’s not one to get that upset. He’s more mild-mannered and geeky than Clark Kent.

We walked home, and I complained bitterly the whole way, and then I switched into remorse mode and felt bad. “I wasn’t too hard on him, was I?” I asked.

“No, you were just angry,” Codger said. “You weren’t that angry.” We discussed the church’s breakdown in organization, the lack of communication; and the likelihood that we alone ordered online, and how they had no arrangement (apparently) for those of us who’d done so.

Oh! The block just came back to me. Often it will, if I try hard enough. But it wasn’t at the table. Back up further. While we were still standing up by the food-prep area, another man appeared and asked me if we’d ordered already.

“We ordered online,” I said.

He said, “Oh, okay. Now, if you go to the tent–”

And I was like, “NO!” And I made my patented psycho-scary face.

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Yeah, I didn’t mean to lose it that bad, but… geez. It wasn’t just that nothing was happening at that tent with its nonmoving line, but it felt like getting the run-around.

The other man, the one who’d gotten angry at me, said, “They’ve already spoken to someone about their order,” I guess referring to what my dad accomplished before I showed up. Then he said we should go wait at a table.

I think it scared me how quickly I could had a random meltdown. I’ve been looking forward to the fish fries, as you all know, but I was displeased with the service.

Oh no. My alter ego, Large Flatulent Marge, has shown up. I’m serious–I can feel her in my body. No, I don’t have multiple personalities (that I know of), but I named Large Flatulent Marge to define my angry side. I feel her like a buzzing in my head. People are on FB praising how well the fish fry went, and I’m just… stunned.

I just now commented:

There was no place for people who ordered online to go. The line at the tent, which I shouldn’t have been directed to in the first place, was nonmoving due to a social conversation, apparently. I was displeased.

I’d guess that someone will post a conciliatory response, but it was just too much for me to read this comment:

Fish fry was great tonight! Very smooth online ordering system too with quick pickup if you park and walk up. Hush puppies were wonderful!

Did she and I attend the same freakin’ fish fry?! But the hush puppies were pretty good. But still! AAUGH!

37d89192-9392-4fb0-be7a-53f86d69afc9

I know I already used the Mommy Dearest photo, but it still applies. My anger isn’t abating here.

I think things went off the rail when we encountered the first man upon entering. His energy, which I could feel, felt angry and hostile toward us just for being inside. (We all had masks on the whole time.) And when people direct anger to me for really no rhyme or reason, I get agitated. And it freaked my dad out, too, because he’s normally not so compliant to the point of not even trying to explain the situation.

(Because I don’t think we were supposed to be sent to the tent. The guy thought we hadn’t ordered yet, but I’m thinking that there must’ve been another way to get the food without waiting in an ordering line, and we just didn’t figure out what it was. And yet, we went to the tent and wasted part of our lives there.) Gee, Meg, way to dramatize it. 

You’re asking for trouble, Meg…

And someone (I don’t know who–a man) got mad at us for entering the cafeteria to pick up what we’d ordered, even though there was no one to tell us where we were supposed to go. He was so angry that my dad pretty much ran for it, and yes, we were all wearing masks. I don’t like being treated that way.

I just posted that, too. I’ll probably get kicked out of the facebook group, and that will be the end of my fish-fry days.

I think that’s what unhinged me. He was mad at us for entering the cafeteria, even though there was no way of knowing where else we were supposed to go, or what else we were supposed to do. It would’ve been different if he’d been nice or helpful instead of yelling and accusing.

I’m not one to stay quiet about these things. It was very upsetting. 

And, I’m still posting. Large Flatulent Marge is apparently still here. My head’s spinning its way off my shoulders.

I didn’t even understand why I was upset at the time, because it takes me forever to process stuff emotionally, but it was that first man we encountered. I get that some people are afraid of the virus, but that would be a compelling motivation to have a fish fry that’s actually, I don’t know… organized. Buh-doink.

I checked the… oh, I just remembered. He was chasing us. He chased us inside, and I was afraid he was my college English teacher, who I didn’t want to interact with. He wasn’t, but he caught up with us and was mean. I do tend to dissociate when people are mean to me for no reason. It’s happened before. And the other thing I remembered was that, even though we were being pursued, I stopped to read all the signs out front. They all said not to carry firearms, but none were about where to go to get food.

Someone literally chased us into the cafeteria and yelled at us. Offhand, that’s not good customer service. I’m blogging about it. I have a large following. 

You know, I’m not a drinking woman, but it might help me relax to drink some Kentucky bourbon. LuLu just snorted in her sleep. I think it was a snort of agreement. Okay, I’m going to turn to drink.

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