24 June 2009

Connecting Schizophrenic Dots

I don't talk about my schizophrenic mother too often. There is a fine line between respecting someone with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, and having your stomach ache from laughing at the scenarios my mother manages to get herself into. For instance, I get a call...

I answered the phone politely, "Hello?"

Recognizing the caller ID I knew it could only be my mom. She used a phone my sister was paying for but she wasn't calling at her normal hour of 9pm, 3am, midnight, fill-in-the-blank with any hour that was ungodly. I was immediately pulled from my surprise by the demanding voice on the other line, "WHO is this?"

My niece does not yet have the best telephone manners, even at 16, but my sister's voice was the one I heard.

"Dev?" I inquired. Maybe it was my sister.

"Who is this?" my niece sounded confused.

"It's your Aunt Bee. Is this Summer?" I quickly added.

"Oh! Hi, Aunt Bee. We didn't know who Grandma was calling all the time. She's been calling EV.RY.ONE," she enunciated every syllable.

I heard her mumble to my sister, "It's Aunt Bee..."

"What's going on? Is your Grandma okay?"

Calls about my mother were usually not good. For the last six months my mother has been living with my sister, and her boyfriend, along with my niece. It's been comforting to know my sister has my mom out of a Board and Care Home and surrounded by family. However, my sister is doing her best, with my mom. Jane is battling her own stuff and my mom's health and well-being is wholly consuming.

As much as I'm used to caring for my own kids, I see my mom in that same way. I always wondered when the switch happened, from daughter to mothering my own mother.

I'd planned from a young age to have my mom close. Her health has not always been compatible with my immediate family nor has our living situation been conducive to an extended stay. She lives in California. We live two states away. Distance also has been an issue but the biggest is my mom's health. My sister took my mom in because my mom was caught cheeking her meds (hiding them in her mouth and not swallowing them) because she was "much better now". This is common for people who live with mood altering prescriptions. My mom, as brilliant as she is, thrives and has an amazing quality of life when she stays medicated. Stays, being the operative word.

Picture this: Your brain firing with each thought through your synaptic paths. Now imagine having 10 times the firings that you should with each thought, your brain going in a million different directions at a time. What's in the now? What reality and what's imaginary?  It's like driving a rocket sled on your daily carpool=Overload. This is the same kind of reaction my mom has on a daily basis. She's amazingly brilliant but with this kind of overload, she feels, thinks, acts in skips and hops. Talking to my mom is usually like playing connect the dots. She says sweetly, "Don't eat cornflakes when I'm gone!".

What does that mean?

It means that back in the 70s my mom had a parrot she absolutely loved. She or a neighbor fed it cornflakes one day and it choked and died. So, in short, my mom was telling me to be safe when she is not around.  

Connecting dots.

I wish I had property with a mother-in-law house behind the main house. I'd want my mom to feel like she had a place of her own, but close enough to us to manage her care and let her see the kids grow up. But until her meds are adjusted and a house is purchased, my kids wouldn't understand when Grandma is yelling at "her mom" in the mirror. My kids don't understand when Grandma is calling TBN prayer line for two days straight, slamming doors around the house, and pouring gallons of bleach down the toilet to "get rid of her bathroom problems".

My mom is also a blurt-er, declaring things that should *never* be said, especially around my kids...for instance, it didn't matter if she saw things this way or if this is how the stories actually went down. There was the time she was attacked in high school, or the affair that happened before I was born between a male family member and another married woman. And yes, the same woman I was supposedly named after. Which was confusing because I was told once that I was named after a character in a Pat Boone movie. That was during my mom's Pat Boone phase. Regardless, my kids just stared wide-eyed at these new revelations. Not good.

Yeah. How do you follow that kind of bombshell? So And So had an abortion in 1989. Can you pass the ketchup?

Today's phone call was beginning to look like my mother was in her true form.

Summer started into a rant about my mom. "Well, Grandma has been calling everyone! She's racked up the #%$# phone bill. My mom is pissed. She can't even talk to you right now."

"What....?" I knew this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Summer laid it out almost sounding amused. "Grandma called the FBI a couple times and told them Obama was going to be assassinated by someone." Her off-handed reply shocked me. I quickly composed myself and tried my best not to bust up laughing.

Apparently, my mom had to shake things up. Suits were coming to her door. The authorities are getting involved. And my sister just wanted a roommate who would pay her rent on time. I guess the $ cell phone bill was not a factor in that equation.

Thanks to my mom, somewhere in government-land, my FBI file just got fatter, now tagged along with the phone calls my mother was making. Big Brother has probably now documented, next to the incidents I'd experienced as a bank teller, the anti-patriotic notes of my possible assassination intentions as a law-abiding, school-going, mother and wife. Yeah, and not to mention further proof of my unpatriotic status as a Libertarian voter and whoops, I had that one speeding ticket back in 1998. I hang my flag out on Fourth of July and Veteran's Day...and once forgot it overnight.

The moral of the story is: Connecting the schizophrenic dots is a serious responsibility no matter how side-splitting funny it is. Especially when Big Brother is watching.
You can quote me on that.

~Bee is all about the red, white, and blue. Really.

22 June 2009

Schools Out For Summer

Today was a good day. I spent the morning with the family at Powell's Books.

I could spend weeks there. 68,000 sq feet of books = book heaven. I was tempted to buy a few books but after buying a new bookshelf last week and stocking it full with books I already own, I am resolved to reading what I have on hand...or go to the library to grab something new.

HAHA, I am so dang funny.

I've compiled a list of books I want to read this summer, but I keep coming back to the Twilight books. Every time I read them, I see another layer, another aspect, another vein of interest or something annoying. Although, after reading Emma by Jane Austen about 20 times before I could move on, I'm really not surprised.

Persuasion by Austen was even worse, pouring over and over the book front to back. I also read Stephen Lawhead's Song of Albion Trilogy five times over before I could put it down. It feels very OCD but I love diving into books this way. There is so much one can miss the first couple times a book is read.

School went well this quarter, not as well as I would have liked. I made a stupid mistake on my final paper for English but this is what I get for not being better prepared.

Math was also a struggle because I had the Absent-Minded Professor for an instructor. He'd write 4 + 1 = 3 on the board. Or he would be saying "squared" and be writing cubed at the same time. I could tell he was absolutely brilliant but his methodology was not ideal for the way I learn.

The basics of math are to teach the common way to solve an equation or algorithm.

After the basics are down, then the instructor should proceed to teach the students the little short cuts or different ways of finding the answer.

This instructor would give us every way in the book to find the answer to an equation, right off the bat, and then turn and wonder why we were all, "GOSH. MATH IS HARD."

He felt it was more important to concentrate on the many different ways to a solution and focus on the process rather than the solution or answer. I got decent grade in this class, and I'm surprised I did so well.

Computer class was fun for me and the instructor was outstanding. I did have issue with the test. For instance, "Is Proquest similar to Google?"

Well, of course it is similar, because they are both search engines. Although they are not the same kind of search engine. Leave it to me to over-analyze a test. Long story short, my grades were worse this quarter, but not bad, so I've been told. I'm my own worst critic, so I'll get some cheese with my 'whine' and leave it at that until the fall.

~Bee still thinks math is hard.

13 June 2009

Grouped Poop and Twilight

By this time next week, I'll be finished with this quarter of school and my last three finals. Until then, I'm stressed. I shouldn't be. This quarter I really have my poop in a group.

Lets hear it for grouped poop.

I'm writing my Eng102 paper on Alternatives to Gardasil. It's coming along nicely. Just not fully there...polished. I am an editing/rewrite queen, so lord knows, I'll be tweaking it for the next three full days. I'm already registered for fall with a 14 credit load. Baby girl will be in full-time 1st grade and I'll have more free time to actually update my blog.

HAHAHA, Im funny.

But I'll be off school this summer. To read. And read. And read some more. **and blogging more!

Speaking of books, (and I can hear the moans and groans now....) I decided to reserve a copy of the book Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. My daughter is aching to read it since all her friends have. Vampire books in my house were high on my favorite book list between Your Pet's Inner Qi and The Skinhead Life For Dummies.

But I started Twilight. And I couldn't put it down. And then I went out and got the others in the series and read those, too. All four books and the unpublished partial of "Midnight Sun" devoured in four days.

I guess it's easier to eat crow when it's still warm.

What is with this series? Why are people going gah-gah over the book? I'm so glad you asked! Its not original. Its not mind-bending, award winning literature. Its like bibliophile cotton candy.

I decided to write a review about the series for all them haters, lovers, eye-rollers, or those simply curious. I do recommend reading the books before you make judgment...or at least reading my review. Here goes:

I never set out to like these books.

I am far from the person who finds vampire stories captivating and being more of the one to buck the trends of the sheeple, I withstood the general consensus of "you gotta read this because everyone is reading it". And that damn apple book was every.where.

I'd known what to expect by critics and enthusiasts alike: cotton candy fluff writing, romance, allegorical, timeless love story, co-dependence, and self-discipline. It took me until two weeks ago, at the prodding of my daughter, to read the book with open-minded skepticism. I never thought I'd enjoy the story.

Being my first vampire story read, I was thankful for the easy read. For those who criticize the basic writing, I would agree that the story is simply written. It's geared towards teens and I knew I wouldn't be reading something deep, human, and twisty as the Count of Monte Cristo. Rather like comparing a soup broth with a four course meal. Sometimes, you need your steak and potatoes, but sometimes it's good to just have soup.

I won't explain the plot, as so many have easily done, but will explain how the story stood out to me. I'll answer the biggest question: What's the big dealeo!?

Taking several weeks to mull this over, I have an answer: I don't know. But I'm picking up books again.

There are many women that relate to Bella, but even deeper, there are many women (and men) of all ages want to be loved in this over-the-top way. Does this desire to be adored and loved mean it's realistic? Not in every relationship, although I'd like to think so. The draw is that women see Edward so entirely devoted to Bella and I don't know a soul who wouldn't want that same devotion in their own life. This is the same reasoning behind the term, "chick flicks". Generally speaking, women like the warm, squishy, lovey dovey stuff. We can't help it. We want to be Cinderella and have the white knight jump in a save us without later having to clean the horse stall and wash his dirty clothes. We want to be independent and strong, not some campy heroine that whines and skitters around when something or someone bad happens. We want both sides of the coin.

The story is written in the first person, so relating to Bella was an easy task. As one having felt like a much older soul that my own teen years afforded, I understood Bella's decisions, strength, and independence. She was used to being the 'grown up' for her mom who raised her and thus, her relationship with her father, Charlie, would be distant but not strained. She never thought much of herself, always thinking of others.

I caught an allegorical "deny your self with discipline and restraint, and strive to better yourself despite it all". It was an interesting idea, depicting teens with restraint, "good" vampire or not.
Many people find Bella's co-dependence on Edward idiotic and sickening. It's one of the biggest things I hear repeated over and over. I didn't see it that way.

I saw their relationship differently. They were a couple so deeply in love that she nor he could survive without each other. It's a fairytale, wishy, warm fuzzy love, like that first crush you had in Jr High or High School - not to say that a person and a vampire falling in love is something you would see everyday.

Bottom Line: Twilight is not reality. It's fiction. Love or hate the story but why insert reality in a story that is based in fantasy?

Do people complain about the impact on teens when a dog named Snoopy violently attempts to shoot down the Red Baron...and while not wearing proper aircraft restraints or pants? Does it mean that teens everywhere are unbuckling their airplane seat belts as we speak?

I liked Cinderella like any other classic tale, but does it mean there are teens buying up glass shoes and me complaining about unhealthy expectations in attempting to ride around in a pumpkin?

Do we argue gravity with Superman fans?

The story isn't supposed to be a normal love and reality, like, I'll take out the trash, honey, can you pay the water bill type of life. Its Princess Bride, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. It's mushy and gooey, of course, appealing easily to anyone who fancies teen "I can't live without you" type plots. I don't know anyone who wouldn't love to experience that at least once in their life. Don't we all remember our first love? I do, and don't laugh but his name really was Edward. But I can safely say he was not a 6'1", 108 year old vampire.

That leaves us with fantasy being a bad message? No. We dream, we tell stories, we imagine. The story is simply entertainment and that worked just fine for me.

~Bee is reading books with words and everything.
Listening to: music is off, I'm reading now...