Friday, December 25, 2009

#XmasReadathon Final Update

Currently Reading: A Touch of Dead
Number of Pages Read: 112
Books Read (number and titles): 1, Wrinkle In Time
Total pages read: 323

I've just spent the last couple hours reading in the bathtub. I finished 3 of the 5 stories in A Touch of Dead. They aren't that great, but I'll finish the book, since I've finished everything else in the Sookie Stackhouse series!

I'll be taking myself and my book to bed shortly. I am debating whether or not I should go to my family party tomorrow, since I'm so sick. It would suck to miss it, but I don't want to pass this horrible cold to everyone, and I doubt I'd be much fun. I guess we'll see how I feel in the morning.

Thanks to everyone who participated, I hope you enjoyed your books!

#XmasReadathon Update 3

Just finished listening to A Wrinkle In Time! Now I think I'm going to take a bath and start A Touch of Dead.

Currently Reading: A Touch of Dead
Number of Pages Read: 0
Books Read (number and titles): 1, Wrinkle In Time
Total pages read: 211

#XmasReadathon Update 2

I've been listening to A Wrinkle in Time on audiobook, read by the author, so I don't know what page I'm on, but I'm on audiobook chapter 6. I'm really enjoying this story again!

So far I've only heard from a few of us doing the readathon, @gretyfriend, @mossjon @lavender_lines & @lyndafern, but I know there are some others who are going to be trying to do a little reading today too :D

I feel a little better - can actually breathe through my nose right now, so I guess the NeoCitran helped. I'll be having more of it when I get stuffy again. Onward.

#XmasReadathon Update

Well, I'm really late for my own party. My cold kept me up late last night unable to breathe, so I slept in. It's not any better today, but I think I'm okay to read! I'll be starting with a story or two from A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris - short stories set in between the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

We've had some late joiners, so please checkout the #XmasReadathon hashtag on twitter (use search to find it). I'll post any new participant info when I get it :D

Actually, since I'm feeling so awful, I've decide to listen to an audiobook - A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle. I read this series years and years ago, and loved it. But I don't remember much about it, so I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Xmas Readathon Guidelines & Participant List

So, I’ve got a bad cold, and a family gathering on the 26th, which means I won’t be able to stay up 24 hours. This is an informal readathon, but here are some guidelines for participation:

1. Start reading whenever you get up - let’s not torture ourselves by crawling out of bed on a cold morning before we are ready! Of course, nobody’s asking you to get out of bed at all, really, if you can tweet from bed while you are reading! :D

2. Read until you feel like you need to go to sleep. If you want to stay up all night, you are my hero, but it’s not necessary :D

3. Tweet throughout the day about your reading with the hashtag #Xmasreadathon [Please note: Twitter does not make my personal tweets (@perpetualspiral) searchable even with hashtags, so if you want to find my updates, you’ll have to check out my timeline directly. I know, it’s stupid, and it sucks, but I don’t know why it’s like that and there’s nothing I can do about it.] If you don’t have twitter, you are missing out, but I won’t force you ;p

4. post on your blog/Facebook at least every two hours with an update that includes

Currently Reading:
Number of Pages Read:
Books Read (number and titles):
Total pages read:

Feel free to add your thoughts on what you are reading and how the experience of the Readathon is going! I will post everyone’s URLs so we can cheer each other on our blogs as well as on Twitter!

5. Visit some of the other participants’ blogs throughout the day to cheer each other on and see what everyone is reading!

6. Just have fun! There are no memes, contests or prizes to get you through, just our comraderie and love of reading.

One final reminder: our theme is “expanding your mind”, so your books should be from a genre like science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, etc.

I will be starting out with Graceling, by Kristin Cashore and then moving onto A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris. If I get through both of those (doubtful!), I’ve got The Shroedinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson.

Partipicant list (to be updated shortly):

@perpetualspiral (me) | Blog: http://perpetualspiral.blogspot.com

@fmslife Jessica | Blog: http://fmslife.blogspot.com

@greytfriend Catherine | Blog: http://greytfriend.wordpress.com/

Laurel | Blog: TBD

Angela | Blog: TBD

@VinaMist Teia | Blog: http://justbreathe234.blogspot.com/

Melanie | Blog: TBD

@Lavender_Lines Colleen | Blog: http://lavenderlines.wordpress.com/

@mossjon Jon | Blog: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendId=73884685

@lyndafern Lynda | Blog: TBD

I'll be filling in these details as they come into me - you can comment here if I'm missing some info of yours, or let me know on FB, twitter, or by emailing me ptspiral@gmail.com


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Final Post #rrreadathon

I gave myself an extra hour because I didn't actually start reading until 10 a.m. yesterday. Alas, I didn't quite finish the third book. But, I DID finish the Readathon, so yipeee! I think I'll have to celebrate properly later, as I'm pooped, verily done for, of course!

Currently Reading: The Escher Twist
Pages Read: 192
Total Books Finished: 2 (Lover Enshrined, A Separate Peace)
Total Pages Read: 761
Total Time Spent Reading: 16 hours (approximately - my math is done for)

Strange thing is, yes I'm exhausted but I'm also awake. If that makes any sense. Which it probably doesn't! Oh well! I got nothing to say at this point except I had a great time, it was fun and I'd do it again in a heart beat. After I sleep this one off!

*pats self on back*

Update 11 #rrreadthon

I had to get out of the bath to make this update. The nice, warm, soothing bath! Oh yeah, I'm so hard done by, right? Having the leisure to stay up all night reading, such a tough life. LOL. Well. I'm enjoying The Escher Twist a lot. It's still a light read, but I'm a bit uncertain where I stand with it.

When I picked the book up, I thought it would be a straightforward type of thing, like a grade 9 reading level or even less. I don't know how these things are judged. But immediately when I started reading I got the impression it was more sophisticated than I thought. However, I'm not even half-way through and it seems like the pieces are coming together too easily. I hope it's just meant to throw the reader off-track, because otherwise I'm going to have to take back that sophisticated thing and wonder what could possibly make up the remainder of the book.

That said, the book itself seems to be planned out like an Escher print, all the pieces look like they are going to fit together precisely in a - ahem - twisted Escher-type way. (If you aren't familiar with M.C. Escher, I highly recommend you look up his work. It's fascinating and pleasing to the eye. Full of optical illusions, amazing patterns and geometric shapes. He's always been a favorite of mine.) And like an Escher print, the story is quite pleasing too, with characters that are quaint despite their shallow treatment. Enough reviewing!

Currently Reading: The Escher Twist
Pages Read: 97
Total Books Finished: 2 (Lover Enshrined, A Separate Peace)
Total Pages Read: 666 (Oh NO!!!)
Total Time Spent Reading: 13.5 hours

I feel much better for my bath, and I think I'm going to get this book done by 9 a.m. thanks to all the white space created by super-short chapters. But if I don't, I'm going to keep reading until it's done. After all, I didn't actually start reading until 10 a.m. yesterday. I'll be staying out of the bath unless I start feeling really sore again. It was a nice experience in there, but it did make me a bit drowsy at times! I'm nice and warm again, so I'm going to go back to The Nook, pull up some blankets and my dog (who was upset about me being in the bath and therefore inaccessible for laying on or against - and she hates water so is utterly confused about why I'd want to lay in it for hours), and make yet another cup of tea. The last one I had was Earl Grey Green, and it was delish. I haven't eaten in hours, and I'm hungry, but I don't really trust my tummy after being up for so long. I've got a meal replacement beverage at the ready if I feel like I need something in there other than more tea.

It's the home stretch! How many soldiers are left to carry on to the end?

Update 10 #rrreadathon

Antsy-ness gone. I think because I hardly did any reading in the last couple hours. I did quite a bit of tweeting tho, and it took me a few minutes to settle on another book to read. I grabbed Timothy Findlay's The Wars first, because it was slim - 190 pages (though small text). But then as I opened it up I realized I'd tried to read it before, and it was slow and rather vague and sort of boring. So not good material for hour 19+ of a readathon! So my next best option was The Escher Twist: A Homer Kelley Mystery by Jane Langton. It's a bit more complex and detailed than I expected, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Currently Reading: The Escher Twist
Pages Read: 42
Total Books Finished: 2 (Lover Enshrined, A Separate Peace)
Total Pages Read: 611
Total Time Spent Reading: 12 hours

I got my sillies out on Twitter before settling into the book. It's light and has a bit of a humourous flair, which is just the thing! My body is getting rather sore and painful, and I think I've saved the bathtub experience for this particular point. I'll be filling the tub shortly and staying it in for as long as I can stand (refreshing the hot water of course!). At this point I know it's the only thing that's going to help with my fibro pain - I've been here before with the body ache issue! I'm also going to reheat the magic bag for my neck, which I've been massaging with Tiger Balm for the last half hour. It's not really enough at this point. I'm a trooper tho!

Grab your Machetes and let's hack through the rest of this jungle - just keep an eye out for Charlies! (Yeah I've gone a bit nutbar, I'll admit it).

Update 9 #rrreadathon

Oh LAWD am I getting antsy. I think doing that sun salutation to get my blood flowing to my frigid hands and feet had the adverse effect of getting my blood flowing in general. I had a mess of a time sitting still to finish A Separate Peace, but I did 'er. And I had so much interest from my tweeps about it (well, okay about 3 of them) that I did a li'l rambling on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/77328632 I'm fairly new to Goodreads, so somebody please tell me if this doesn't actually link to my not-really-review of the book (I'm Michelle Martin on there - and IRL and on Facebook too). I was pleasantly surprised that I found a lot of good stuff to grasp out of all of that non-action. As in contemplating human nature, specifically the created battle between the shadow and the persona (to use Jungian terms) in the individual and the collective social beast. My blurb is totally worthy of triggering a high school (or possibly even college level) literature essay, if I do say so myself. Feel free to poach it if you happen to be reading this book. Many people did read it in highschool, but alas, I was stuck with The Mayor of Casterbridge and Who Has Seen the Wind or some shit.

Currently Reading: A Separate Peace (finished)
Pages Read: 196
Total Books Finished: 2 (Lover Enshrined)
Total Pages Read: 569
Total Time Spent Reading: 11 hours

I had to type up my Goodreads ramblings from my iPhone while I restarted this languid beast of a desktop since it was furiously doing something behind the scenes that it had not been asked to do, and was moving at the rate of a turtle carrying an Egyptian pyramid on its back. If you know what I mean. So I probably woulda coulda written more, but it's too late, I'm moving on.

Moving on to what, I have not yet decided. I guess I'll have another browse o' the old book shelf and pick up the next slimmest volume! There's, what, less than 6 hours left to this madness.

I had some soup, some peppermint tea (I know, no caffeine, but by the time I'd realized grievous error I'd already ripped open the package and could not perform the sacrilege of leaving a tea bag out in the air to grow stale. ) My hands are freezing again, but I'm a bit less antsy. That may change if I decide to do another sun salutation for the circulation issue. Why am I resisting the bathtub? Probably because I'm too cold to think about taking my clothes off, even if it is to slip into a hot tub of water. Maybe I'll just try some jumping jacks.

Do not go quietly into this dark night, Readers, rage, rage against the dying of the candle light which you read by (you know, if this were the 1800's).

Update 8 #rrreadathon

I'm struggling with a serious case of the space-outs. I think I just spent the last five minutes of reading not actually reading, but listening to Diana Krall, rubbing my shoulder and thinking about - I have no idea. I've also got some intermittent funkiness going on in my intestines and I'm freezing again. But otherwise things are great! Well...maybe not great. The book isn't capturing my attention quite as much, things are shifting. Feels like we're headed for the "climax" - if the book even has one - and I'm not sure it's going to be one that I like. I might be let down. There's a good 50 pages left. I only got to read for an hour this time, since I spent the first hour doing the blogging challenges and such.

Stats:
Currently Reading: A Separate Peace
Pages Read: 151
Total Books Finished: 1 (Lover Enshrined)
Total Pages Read: 524
Total Time Spent Reading: 10 hours

So, should I turn up the heat, or get into the bathtub, or make some more tea, or turn up the heat, or a combination of the above? Seriously, my mental faculties are fuzzy at best, so I can't make decisions! HALP? My dog has abandonned her project of watching me read and forcing pets and succumbed to napland. And I watch her with sheer jealousy. Not just because I'm tired, but because she's so darned relaxed and I never get like that even in the best of circumstances. Animals are so very zen. They just ARE. And they are so fine with that.

The book is tweaking my philosophical side a bit, which you can see from my Goodreads updates and tweets about it. I'm not going to waste time looking them up to repost here. I really want to finish this book and start on another, and not waste a whole hour blogging this time!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hour 14 Challenge 2: A Separate Piece of Furniture

Readathon MadLibs, what could be more fun?! Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And yes, I may be suffering from hour 15 madness!

Once upon a time in the land of The Far Commons, there lived Phineas and Mr. Patch-Withers happily ever after. Is that not how the story always goes?!? On the night before the first day of school, Phineas was sleeping peacefully when all of a sudden there was a flinch. S/he jumped out of bed to awaken Mr Patch-Withers.

As both stood there, looking at the furniture in their front room, they felt worried. How could it be? Was it true? To be face to face with furniture was not possible. What were they to do?

With quick thinking, Phineas and Mr Patch Withers exchanged a knowing glance and enlisted.

From there, we may never know what happened in this story. It could be strange. Or, it could be conspiratorial. It truly is a mystery! However what we do know is this . . . . I love you forever didn't always need to be spoken to be understood.

The End

Teehee that's just silly and absurd. Which makes it made of AWESOME! Yep, definitely having second-wind giddiness.

Hour 14 Challenge 1 from Chick Loves Lit

Over at Chick Loves Lit, we've been asked about our favourite reading spot. I call mine "The Nook" - it's a day bed wedged between a big window-ledge piled high with bookshelves and the refridgerator. Tonnes of pillows and blankets, and also ever-present is my dog, Daisy. Sometimes present also is my cat, Loki!

Picture of The Nook
Name of the book you're currently reading: A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Wanting Most: to watch an episode from Man Vs. Wild DVD on my TV (I have a major crush on Bear Grylls right now)

Something you like to do besides read: knit!

Fact about yourself: Most of the books on my shelves are unread, since I'm a regular at the library

Activity you would be doing today if it weren't for the read-a-thon: knitting and watching DVDs (I know boring repetition from previous answers, but it's the truth! Alternatively I would like to say surfing on my netbook, but as it's at the shop getting a new hard-drive, it's not visible from my reading location and thus wouldn't be following the rules haha)


Update 7 #rrreadathon

Stats:
Currently Reading: A Separate Peace
Pages Read: 119
Total Books Finished: 1 (Lover Enshrined)
Total Pages Read: 492
Total Time Spent Reading: 9 hours

I am starting to feel like ass, but I'm actually really enjoying this book. Which is suprising, since nothing at all seems to be happening in it. I can't really put my finger on what is so enthralling, but it must be that stuff that goes on between the lines, sinks into your subconscious and connects with something like itself down there. The dynamics of the two main characters' relationship is fascinating, creepy and suspenseful. That's all I know!

I found myself pausing to stare at my pets for several minutes when my brain started checking out on me. They've been using me as a couch pretty much this whole time, as is usual. Played the winking game with my dog - she seems to always be on the verge of "getting it" - some mind-blowing awareness of our separateness yet similarity. Or at least that's what I see in my anthropomorphism.

I've pretty much lost my appetite, especially for any more coffee. Lately I've suddenly just overcome my raging addiction to it and have finally started digging into my tea stash again. I will continue to do so as the night continues, caffeinated only of course.

Start burning that midnight oil, Dear Readers!

Update 6 #rrreadathon

Dutifully I blog again. I finished Lover Enshrined, finally. It ended on a sweet note that did not leave me groping for the next in the series, so I scanned my book shelf and picked out the thinnest volume I haven't yet read: A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. The first five pages nearly bored me to tears, but then the book flashed back into the past and I'm inexplicably hooked by this story of two teen boys in America in 1942. I'm not sure what's so compelling, but I'm not going to try to analyze it at this point!

Stats:
Currently Reading: A Separate Peace
Pages Read: 52
Total Books Finished: 1 (Lover Enshrined)
Total Pages Read: 425
Total Time Spent Reading: 7.5 hours

So we are halfway through the readathon, and I am getting pretty tired! I broke out the coffee around 8pm, but it's not helping much. Good thing this book is doing it's job holding my interest, I may just make it for a few more hours - I'm hoping to get a second wind. If not, I do have the option of taking dexedrine (prescribed to me because of my chronic fatigue), but I try to do without that stuff most of the time! The coffee has taken away my hunger, so I'm still snack free for awhile. My hands have gotten cold again (poor circulation) so I'm wearing those little stretchy gloves you get at the dollar store. Hey whatever works, right? I'm still able to type and turn pages, and that's what counts :D

Forging into the unknown...

Update 5 #rrreadathon

AAH! I almost made it, but not quite! I have just a few pages left til the end of this book. I still don't know what I'm going to read next, but I'm fairly sure it's not going to be the next book in the series - I've read 6 in a row and I need a break from The Brotherhood!

Stats:
Books Read: Lover Enshrined
Pages Read: 360
Total Books Finished: 0
Total Pages Read: 360
Total Time Spent Reading: 6.5 hours

Darkness has fallen, it's been 10 hours since the readathon started, 9 since I actually started reading. I think I'm starting to get hungry again, but geez I felt so bloated after my last meal, I think I'm going to wait til I'm ravenous to eat again. The last few books in this series I'm reading have given me a few eye-rollers - this latest is a vampire attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and having lovely recovery experiences. Just makes you wanna say, "OH COME ON!" It's really a bit too much sometimes. But, this genre is one that I usually avoid - romance. I was lent all the books in the series by my best friend's workmate, both of whom raved about it, and I did not realize they were romance novels - thought they were urban fantasy. But, I've been going through a crappy time in my life and they've provided an easy escape for me the past couple weeks. So, I'm going to finish the series, just because I've already invested so much. But they'll be the last romances I read for a long, long time!

Gonna check and see if my buddies have joined in the fun yet. Before I do, I'll answer the favourite/least favourite questions posed by Reads4Pleasure over at her blog.

Least favourite character hands down has to be Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. If you've read the book, no explanation will be required as to why I love to hate this guy. He's written to be hated. He's obnoxious, hypocritical, arrogant, emotionally immature, narcissistic...you know, all the qualities that really drive me bat-shit in a real person. All the things I pray I am not, and am terrified that I am. 'Nuff said.

Favorite character. That is a HUGE question. I don't know if I can answer it to any accuracy, but I'll say that I greatly admire Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). I mean, who doesn't admire Lizzie!? She's sharp as a tack, yet a diplomatic peacemaker, fiercely loyal to those she loves, doesn't waver morally, admits when she's wrong, and manages to make the best of a situation in which she sees clearly the social bindings imposed upon women yet somehow acquiesces to them with grace even as they threaten to strangle. She's a helluva woman. :)

Read on, brave bookworms!

Update 4 #rrreadathon

I just spent the last half hour or so in the shower, trying to warm up. My thermostat is set as it always is, at 22 (Celsius!), but for some reason the cold outside is creeping in here in ways unregistered by that particular gadget! And no, it's not because I've been especially sedentary reading all day - I am always rather sedantary. For those of you not familiar with me, it's because I have fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, which is a one-two punch of chronic pain and chronic fatigue (amongst other nasty symptoms), so I spend my days rather like this one, just with more time online and/or watching DVDs as well as reading. So, I shouldn't be so freaking cold!

But I needed a shower anyway, my hair was getting a bit greasy. I may just end up spending a couple hours reading in the bath tub if I get cold again. Winter is definitely upon us.

Stats:
Books Read: Lover Enshrined
Pages Read: 281
Total Books Finished: 0
Total Pages Read: 281
Total Time Spent Reading: 5 hours

It's taking a lot more time to blog and check the other blogs every two hours than I thought it would. It's been somewhere around 30-45 minutes online each time, which only leaves an hour and a bit to read every two hours. I know, I'm not supposed to be worrying about the numbers, and I'm not really worried, I'm just noting these things. It's an interesting experience, this first readathon of mine! I'll be much better prepared for the one I'm doing on Christmas Day this year. Yes, that is right, I'd rather spend all day reading than hang out with my family. I see most of them on Boxing Day anyway, and one day of holiday festivities is enough for my poor body and my socially crazed head!

I'm hoping to finish this book before the next update. It's about 550 pages, so I've got 100 to go (I know I said that last time but it's longer than I thought!) A side note: I'm feeling rather bloated after eating my crackers and dips with some pickles, so I think I'll be laying off the snacks for a few hours and go back to just drinking tea. Which should help warm me up. My hands were so cold from holding my book aloft that I'm bringing gloves back to the couch in case that happens again! I managed to warm them up one at a time by sticking them under my dog, but that's kind of inconvenient for both of us *wink* :D

Keep on truckin!

Favourite Book Cover Challenge

Over at Seriously Reading, Emily talks about (and shows) some of her favourite book covers. Honestly I know there are some covers I have stared at for long minutes, but the only ones that come to mind at the moment are the covers for the Twilight Series.

TwilightNew Moon

EclipseBreaking Dawn

They are just gorgeous. I think my favourite is the last - Breaking Dawn, because it has a bit more interest and depth to it. But together they appeal because they are stark, simple, elegant, sumptuous. The black, white and red thing is very sensual and erotic, and brings up loads of connotations - dark and light, good and evil, and of course, the ever-present-theme-in-vampire-genre: blood. I just think they are aesthetically beautiful and would look totally amazing as a set of art prints on a wall.

Update 3 #rrreadathon

Update time again already? My book must be pretty good, since time seems to fly when I'm reading it! Stats:

Books Read: Lover Enshrined
Pages Read: 243
Total Books Finished: 0
Total Pages Read: 243
Total Time Spent Reading: 4.25 hours

I have about 100 pages left of my book. Depending on how cliff-hangerish the ending is, I do have the next book in the series, Lover Avenged, to go to as an option.

Had some more tea, curled up with my dog and my cat - the weather has turned mighty cold here so today is a great day to get all wrapped up in our blankets and huddle together for warmth. My dog is such a huge suck, she was so in love with me when I covered her with a blanket and brought her up to my lap to snuggle and pet while I read. And of course the cat had to get in on that action too! Daisy (dog) gave me this look when I got up to write this entry: "Come back to bed momma, I'm getting cold again!" She's such a sweetie. More tea, and I'm getting hungry, so I'm breaking out the crackers and dip!

Oh, lucky me, I won a prize already! From the Virtual Prize Bucket, I've chosen The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, who wrote The Historian - which I totally loved. I'm so excited! There's a lot of great books on the prize list but when I saw that one I had to scoop it up as soon as I saw it. wOOt!

Back to the books!

Update 2 #rrreadathon

I'm not getting very far, it seems, but then there's 24 hours to this thing ain't there! My stats:

Books Read: Lover Enshrined
Pages Read: 179
Total Books Finished: 0
Total Pages Read: 179
Total Time Spent Reading: 3 hours

My friend J called me on the phone and we chatted for about 15 minutes, and then I spent 6 minutes watching the 'break' video over at Dreadlock Girl Reads - it's the evolution of dance video - I've seen it before, but it's great and I needed another smile! I had to turn down J's invite to come over tonight because I'm totally dedicated to this readathon. Which makes me 110% book geek, doesn't it. I'll see her next weekend tho.

I'm still trying to zoom through this book, but I keep getting distracted by things like tea and oreo cookies. The latter of which are all gone now so won't be a problem anymore. Some more snacks I have lined up - crackers and two types of dip - garlic hummus and red pepper feta dip. Yum. But for now, I'm going to make more tea - I think I'll be using up a huge amount of my caffienated stash today. I'm saving the coffee for later tonight when things get hairy! Tho I do feel quite tired already and am probably going to have to nap at some point. Unless I pull one of my reading second and third winds out of my butt like I've done when I've spent a weekend reading a thick awesome book like The Host (Stephanie Meyers) or Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)!

So, I'm putting the kettle on, doing a couple yoga stretches while I wait for the boil, and getting back to flipping pages!

PS. Three of my four "buddies" have still yet to post any readathon blogs yet, I know HeadacheSlayer is at a party today and nomadreader is also unable to do the whole thing, but I'll keep checking in with their blogs each time I post! Ash (English Major) is doing well, and Jessi (Casual Dread) is MIA - she hasn't posted on her blog since September. I wonder if she's just updating on Twitter? I should see if I can find her on there.

Keeping the candle lit (you know, to read by)

#rrreadathon update

Books Read: Lover Enshrined
Pages Read: aprrox 75
Total Books Finished: 0
Total Pages Read: 75
Total Time Spent Reading: 1.25 hours

I didn't get started until after 10 a.m., I had to take the dog out and make something to eat...I don't know where that hour went LOL. I'm trying to get through this book as fast as I can, because there's not much I can comment on - it's the 6th in a series and is playing out much like the others. It's enjoyable enough for the most part. I'm not sure what else is going on around the blogosphere - I don't really know what "memes" are in relation too readathons but I'm going to quickly check out a dreadgirl's site to see if I can figure it out before I get back to my book!

Read Read Readathon Begins!!

Readathon started about 10 minutes ago, I'm ready! Most of my days already qualify as a readathon anyway, but today is special :) This is my very first readathon and I'm really happy to be participating. I don't have any theme in mind, and as a matter of fact I can not decide what to read! Which might turn out to be in my favour since I have lots of options if I get sick of one thing.

Right now I'm already in the middle of a book called "Lover Enshrined", which is the 6th book in the Brotherhood of the Dagger series by J.R. Ward. I'm also contemplating reading the Shrodinger's Cat and Illuminatus Trilogies by Robert Anton Wilson which have been staring at me from my book shelves for years. I did get partway through the Illuminatus Trilogy once but I was so clueless about it, I thought I'd better start with the earlier work. In addition, I have a non-fiction book called "The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion" from the library. It's quite a tome. And then there are about 50 books on my shelves that I haven't read yet, so I have lots to choose from if I feel like I need a change. I think I will start by finishing Lover Enshrined, because I am a bit compulsive when it comes to finishing books before starting a new one.

I admit, I didn't prepare well for this readathon, other than being lucky enough to have just done grocery shopping. But I have a number of take out places just around the corner if I don't want to whip anything up. I'm very good at making quick meals, however, and I have smoothie ingredients and even meal replacement drinks, so I think I'm pretty freaking set!! Good luck to everyone else participating, I'll be tweeting as I go as well as updating here on my blog as much as I can. Unfortunately my netbook died this week, so I'm having to use my desktop to do it (I can tweet from my iPhone), which is difficult for me because I have chronic pain. But it should be okay since I'll just need it every so often to update and cheer on my "buddies".

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Has Effexor Finally Crapped Out on Me, or Am I Getting Crazier?

Four or five years ago, my doctor prescribed me Effexor. At the time, I had a serious social anxiety problem (Social Anxiety Disorder), which was so severe, I was continually being traumatized in social settings and suffering PTSD symptoms: intrusive thoughts and flashbacks (re-living every possible social blunder over and over as if it were happening again, including the bodily responses that go along with the emotional and mental experience). I'd always suffered from social fear, but at it's worst I had returned to school to finish my degree and had a lot of difficulty in class. I was 30 years old, overweight, suffering from chronic, constant pain (fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome), and often seemed to have very 'unusual' approaches to the subject matters. More or less because I had lived several more years than 99% of the students, and read a lot on my own about subjects I was interested in, I already had some knowledge and opinions. I was also a very curious student - I was there to learn, not because going to University is what comes after highschool. So already I felt like a total odd-ball, totally 'uncool', and to my socially anxious mind, an object of embarrassment and probable ridicule in the minds of the other students.

There were a couple professors I had for several different courses, whom I felt comfortable with, and thus often asked questions or made comments without thinking first. Immediately afterwards I would feel completely humiliated as I thought of all the ways the other students could be thinking about me and what I'd said. I would flush furiously and become totally self-conscious, and have trouble focussing on the rest of the lecture. Later I would replay and relive the scene over and over again, becoming just as embarrassed or even more so than when it actually happened. I'd berate myself for sounding like a fool, analyse every little thing I'd said and figure out all the ways that it could have been misinterpreted or negatively judged. Every day I had a class I spoke up in, I added more incidents to my traumatizing 'vault' as I called it. I did extremely well in my courses despite all the energy and time I spent humiliated. I often wonder how much better I would have done if I'd been able to focus my attention entirely on the material rather than on myself.

When I started taking Effexor, I experienced a dramatic change in my social phobia. Eventually, the time I spent wondering what others thought of me and being self-conscious was reduced to almost never. I just stopped, for whatever reason. I was okay letting people think whatever they wanted, and able to concentrate on what I wanted to think about. Rarely did I replay an incidents in my head, so I stopped traumatizing myself. I became able to laugh at myself whenever I goofed up, able to shrug it off and move on immediately. I cannot credit anything but the Effexor with this change. It literally seemed to cure me of my social anxiety.

Unfortunately by this time I had already graduated university, so I wasn't able to reap the benefits of the change scholastically. But it helped in so many other ways in my life. I was able to make phone calls without fretting so much, feel more comfortable on the public bus, and just generally enjoy my life without worrying what other people thought. It has been really amazing.

Over the past few weeks, however, I've started noticing little niggling thoughts, such as doubting if someone likes me or not. I've made a few foolish remarks (on Twitter) recently about feeling ignored or wanting someone's attention. I've started to lose the confidence I have built up over the last six months or so. But it has not been often, so I kind of just shrug it off and think it's just a glitch. Two major things have happened this week, however, to make me wonder if I'm headed for trouble.

Monday night I was supposed to go out for dinner with several old friends, all but one of whom I haven't seen in probably ten years or more. The last time they'd seen me I'd been physically healthy and weighed a normal amount. I found myself feeling so anxious about this reunion that I really did not want to go. I couldn't bear the thought of answering their questions about my illness. I could only imagine their real question would be: "What happened?" I felt so ashamed of my weight and appearance. I didn't want any attention or to talk about myself at all, but I knew the whole point of the reunion was to catch up with each other. Only my friend C knows much about what has gone on with me over the past ten years, and I couldn't imagine discussing it without feeling like a total downer, and wanting to cry. They've all got real lives, and I've turned into the fat sick lady. I had the beginnings of a migraine Monday afternoon, so I cancelled. I was totally relieved to have had an excuse not to go.

But it was strange for me to have so much anxiety about anything. C posted a picture on Facebook after the dinner, and tagged me in it, saying "you were missed". They all looked so happy and nice, and I wondered why I was so afraid of them. They are good people, not judgmental people. They used to be good friends. They weren't coming to look down on me or even feel sorry for me. I felt quite bad about missing it, but on the other hand, my migraine had gotten very bad so it would have been awful from that perspective anyway.

Then today I was supposed to go to Toronto to see my therapist. I usually take the Greyhound, which is about an hour and a half bus ride. I got on the bus, which was packed, and sat down beside a young Asian guy with a laptop. I took out my book and started reading, but I got motion sick almost as soon as the bus started moving. By the time we got to the stop at Sportsworld - about ten minutes away - I was having an anxiety attack and had to get off the bus. I walked to the public transit stop and took the city bus home.

Obviously, I was (and am), extremely upset about this. I have never had to get off the Greyhound before, and it's been years and years since the last time I had to get off an insanely crowded city bus because of anxiety. But I was feeling so clausterphobic, and I knew if I stayed on the bus to Toronto it would be the worst ride of my life. I was sweating like crazy, even after I'd taken my jacket off and sat in my t-shirt (while everyone else managed to be comfortable with their coats on). I couldn't read because of the motion sickness, and the thought of being in my head for an hour and a half during that bus ride was unbearable. I felt like I had no room to even move my elbows.

So what is going on with me? Has the Effexor stopped working? Has my social anxiety been buried by it, but getting stronger? Is this illness having some other weird effect on me?

To add insult to injury, I'm having some extremely serious problems with body temperature control. As I said, I got on the bus and started sweating like crazy, in part because I'd been nervous getting ready to go on my trip. Even after I took my coat off, though, I could feel the sweat dripping off my forehead. Disgusting. Then, after I got off the Greyhound to take the city bus home, I was so cold waiting at the bus stop, I put on another layer, wrapped a pashmina around my neck and another one over my shoulders. When I got on the city bus I had to hurry and take the pashminas off again because I got so hot. I feel like a total freak.

Even at home I'm either hot or cold. Right now I am sitting in my t-shirt and my arms are cold. But as soon as I put a sweater on over-top, I know I'm going to start boiling again. It has been really bad like this for at least the last week. It's like none of the clothes I own have exactly the right level of warmth, they are too thick, but when I take it off my arms get cold. This morning while I had my coffee I actually had to sit with NO shirt on because I was so hot. The temperature in my apartment does not fluctuate - I have the thermostat set permanently at 22. At that very same temperature I can go from so cold I need to put on gloves, to so hot I have to strip off all of my clothes.

This problem can be severly humiliating in public. Once I get hot I start sweating buckets and cannot stop no matter what I do, since there's only so many layers I can take off. People stare at me when I'm the only one in the room drenched with sweat. It's embarrassing to be putting on or taking off a sweater every five minutes. If I go into a store after being outside for a few minutes, I immediately start sweating, and by the time I get back outside, I'm soaked. Back outside where it's cold, I'm freezing because now I'm wet. So this does not help with the social anxiety.

I wanted to write more about how this is making me feel, but I seem to have shut down. Partly from the gravol I took to help with the motion sickness before I knew I was going to get off the bus, and partly because emotional upset makes me really exhausted. I think I took so much time to write out what's been going on, I've become numb to how it makes me feel. All I know is that I almost started crying on the local transit on my way home. And now I can barely keep my eyes open. So I guess I'll go take a nap and try to reconnect with my feelings later.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Undisturbed by Death

So, on friday night, I blogged on my Tumblr (where I put funny pictures and short pieces) about, well, read:

Went for a walk to clear my head and instead got a mind-full.

Let me just begin by saying that physically a walk was probably a bad idea, but sometimes mental health has to take precedence. I needed some fresh air.

I walked down the alley beside by building with my dog, and came upon a lone policeman standing over a man lying unmoving on his back in front of a dumpster in a parking lot. The police officer was putting on rubber gloves.

Normally, I would assume this was someone who had passed out drunk, but I’d never seen the rubber glove thing before. So I don’t know, maybe he was dead. I kept walking - what could I do? When I came back around I saw an ambulance leaving the parking lot followed by a police cruiser - no lights flashing on either. So either the guy was stable, or he was dead. He might be the first dead body I’ve ever seen.

My emotional reaction was to hope that he was just a passed out drunk like the guy I’d found laying sprawled on his stomach in my building’s front foyer at 6 am a few years ago. But if he was dead, how sad. And I shouldn’t tell my mother about this. And how would I find out if he was a ‘body’ rather than a ‘man’. Google Alerts. I’m going to set one up when I’m done writing this. It seems important to know if I walked by a dead body half a block from my building, you know?

Anyway, so instead of clearing my head, I got a brain full of thoughts about mortality and sadness. I don’t know if I will ever lose the image of that policeman getting ready to bend down over this man in a deserted parking lot. It was so quiet and desolate. No fuss, no crowd, no people running here and there, no police cruiser (yet), no yellow tape, no paramedics, no noise. Just two men in a dark parking lot. And I felt for that policeman, what a sad duty this would be, and I wanted to ask if I could help him.

I didn’t feel spooked or chilled or creeped out whatsoever. I don’t know what that means. Maybe it means the man was just asleep. I hope so.


Since then, I've watched my Google Alerts, but didn't expect to hear much until after the weekend was over (i.e. today). Indeed, a local friend of mine on Facebook posted under my Tumblr piece that she'd heard a guy WAS killed downtown friday night. It turns out it was not the man I saw, but a much younger man who was murdered outside of a bar quite a bit further down the street (most recent news story). Hmmm, can I put up a map?

Ok MapQuest won't let me put stars where I want them so I'll do this the hard way. The red star is where I live. Half a block east up Halls Lane is where I saw my man on the ground with the cop. The murder victim was found near Scott Street and Market Lane, much further East. Scott Street is 5 blocks east of my apartment building, and then 2 1/2 blocks north is Market Lane.

So. Obviously still pretty close to my apartment. Waterloo Region is NOT a high crime area, so this is pretty unusual. It's only the fourth homicide this year in the whole region, which also includes the city of Waterloo and surrounding areas.

I still don't know what happened with the man I saw, but I assume he was just passed out and they carted him off to detox. That kind of thing isn't so unusual around here. Downtown Kitchener is full of drunk people on the weekends, and there are a lot of seedy bars, alcoholics, and quite a few homeless people. The man I saw did not look homeless, but sometimes you can't tell. There was no taping off of the scene where I'd seen him, so it wasn't a crime. Either he's fine, or he just died "peacefully". Still, if he was dead, I should've heard about it in the news.

My point in writing this post is to analyse my reaction to this whole thing. As you can see on Friday, I found it a blog-worthy event, but even then I was kind of surprised at my lack of strong emotion. Sadness, yes, but that was already there even before I went for my walk - it was the REASON I took my walk. But the thought that I might have seen a dead man didn't bother me as much as I expected. And in the days since, I've looked at my Google Alerts with apprehension, but only because I expected to finally have a reaction if I found out he WAS dead. But now I don't think that would happen.

I honestly expected to dwell on what happened Friday night. I expected to be confronted with mortality and have some deep thoughts about it. But it just rolled off me like it was something I saw every day. Don't get me wrong, I still have that image I talked about in my head, but...no questions. No emotional crisis, no deep thoughts about life and death and meaning. Why?

Then I started thinking, I spent nearly twenty years of my life thinking about death in a very serious way every single day. Specifically, I thought about myself dead. I wanted to die every day, and most of that time I wanted to do it to myself. Even since the day a few years ago I decided that no matter what, suicide is not an option and so I'd stop thinking about it, I admit I have thought about it. When you live with a chronic illness that gets progressively worse, you learn to live day by day. But sometimes on your worst days, when you are in so much pain and nothing helps, or you are so fatigued you can't even eat, you think that death would be such a relief. Sometimes I think about what would happen if I got even ten percent sicker - I would not be able to care for myself and it seems my only option would be to go live in a home. That thought makes me want to die too. But those are just bad days.

So death has been a constant companion to me for my whole adult life. Death is not startling, or forbidden, or turned away from. I've stared death in the face too many times to be afraid of it.

And then there is my spirituality. I do believe there is more to existence than this flesh and blood life. I do think that my consciousness, or spiritual energy, or soul (whatever you call it) will survive, even if its just going to be dispersed into the energy of the universe. Nothing is lost, energy-wise. I don't know will happen to the person I call "me", but I do believe my experiences will be consolidated or kept somehow. So there's nothing lost but the material, and I have come a long way in my ability to let material things go. I can grieve for them, but I accept their impermanence in my life and in existence. My body is just one of those impermanent things.

It is sad when people die, for the ones who remain. They will grieve their loss - but even loss is impermanent. We are interconnected, we are One with all that is, therefore, everything that is and will be belongs to us and we to it. There is no loss in that sense.

So maybe these things are the reasons I haven't felt disturbed by this event like I expected. Or, maybe I've just watched too many episodes of CSI and Law & Order.



Monday, November 09, 2009

The Great Purge, plus an Update on the Drama

The two topics in the title are somewhat related. "The Drama" is so named because I've been successful in weeding out people who thrive on drama (I call them crisis-addicts) and people who create drama unwittingly because they are liars. I got fooled though, in this one case. So there is only one drama in my life, so it is called THE Drama. I'm speaking, of course, of the cowardly vengefulness of my cousin.

I've been feeling very angry for a few weeks, and very ill. Not being able to get out of bed or off the couch for weeks on end does not mix well with anger. Lately, all kinds of things I normally would laugh off have been irritating me to the point of near-fury. I have been at a loss to know what to do about my anger. The Drama was the last straw, apparently. Yesterday I unleashed my rage on Twitter, in typical perpetualspiral fashion, of course. Sarcasm. Bitterness. More sarcasm. Pointing out people's hypocrisy. I had a run in with a poorly educated (or dumb or both) 'bible-tweeter' and jumped at the opportunity to confront her about her beliefs. She was a real goldmine of hypocrisy let me tell you. About 4 tweets in she told me to go kill myself. Real Christian of her. I am compiling a document of the conversation we had and some comments I got from other people during the episode, as well as some related tweets I posted in between replies. To do this properly will take awhile, so I'll be finishing tomorrow (if all goes well) and posting it here.

Despite my sharp comments, I got NO negative responses from my followers. I got a lot of people telling me they thought it was quite hilarious, or that they totally understand my need to vent and question. I was amazed. I am also happy that I chose the right people to follow & they chose me back. I don't have a huge amount of followers, but over a thousand is a lot of people that could've been ticked off. A few people have unfollowed me but it may not have been for that reason, and I got the same amount of new followers. I'm relieved to find so many people thought it was funny rather than horrifying. As I've gone over the tweets I wrote again, I can see why - they are funny, and not nearly as nasty as I originally felt they were. (Apparently, the degree of guilt I feel bears little relation to my deeds. I should've known that from the fact that I've felt immensely guilty for breathing and taking up space most of my life.)

When I was done "purging" - which included a lot more venting than my tweets to the bible-tweeter, I felt awful. I felt nauseous and spent and exhausted. I felt like "God" was punishing me for what I'd done. And that thought (though of course I don't believe it....do I?) made me feel angry again. Although, the level of anger I was capable of mustering up by that point was pretty pathetic. I was thinking, here I am, having tried so hard my whole life to be perfect, being much better behaved, empathetic and socially concerned than a lot of God's minions, and yet I'm suffering because I challenged one of them? I'm a better Christian than probably half of all Christians, but none of it matters because I don't "believe". God apparently made me the way I am, gave me the life that would make me a skeptic and a cynic, and now punishes me for it? Do I even have to say "it's not fair"? I hold to that poem I wrote the day, at 14 years old, I became truly suicidal: "If there is a God, He must hate me." Why else would someone who's tried so very hard all her life be burdened with suffering that whole same life?

But that makes me wonder, maybe the trying is causing the suffering. Maybe if I was like my hypocritical friend and didn't even try to be a good person, I would be happy and healthy. But not trying to be a good person, to me, is totally immoral. Even if it did relieve my suffering, I don't think I could do it. Is that an irony or an injustice? Pick one, I guess.

As I was getting ready to sleep last night, I took my iPhone to bed as usual, and was tweeting away. All of a sudden I had no internet connection. I tried a few of my other internet apps, and none of them would connect. A few minutes later, N called me, and suggested she call the iPhone to see if the phone part still worked. No dice. My cousin K has disconnected my service. Or put it on hold. Either way amounts to the same deal. And again, all this without a peep from him to explain why he's doing this, or to find out my side of the story.

I decided yesterday that I wasn't going to email him my side like I said I would if I didn't hear from him. Now I don't see the point. I don't want to salvage our "friendship", because it was based on lies and his false persona, which he carefully weaves with anyone in his life because he's ashamed of who he really is. But whatever he's hiding can't be half as bad as the person he's become in creating & maintaining his illusions. So much effort wasted in impression management! I pity him his self-hatred, his self-delusions, because he's made himself entirely alone, nobody really knows the true person behind all the smoke-screens.

I've now been told that he never really wanted to come to our family gatherings, but N persuaded him most of the time. So it's unlikely he'll come to our party this weekend. If he doesn't come to our get-togethers, it means he's just dumped his entire extended family. Way to go. Well, nobody liked you anyway. Though I did try very, very hard to overlook the qualities in you that make the rest of our family uncomfortable. It wasn't worth the effort, but that's the risk I took.

So, anyway, I'm getting a wireless router so I can use most of the features of my iPhone here at home. I rarely go out anyway, and there's more and more free wi-fi in our city. But for now, I'm just bringing the netbook up to bed instead of the iPhone. His 'revenge' really has not hampered me in any way at all. I for one hope he paid a chunk of money to have the plan cancelled, rather than just putting it on hold. One can dream, that an unjustified attack will backfire and cost the attacker more than the victim.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

My Biological Clock is Trying to Tell Me Something: Musings on Motherhood & Children

I was taking a bath earlier today, and I looked down and noticed I was lactating a little. Odd. The chances of me being pregnant I estimate at a billion to one. Yes, I have had sex in the last nine months. But previous to that, I had an IUD implanted, and I bled every day for six months afterwards (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot). Since September I have had a couple of unusual periods, if anything can be unusual after 6 months of bleeding. There are women who have regular periods during pregnancy, yes. There are women who get pregnant even using two kinds of birth control. They are very fertile. I, on the other hand, have always had my doubts about my fertility, since in the past I've had sex without birth control and never had the slightest pregnancy. So, no, I'm not pregnant. If I am, I'll be one of those women you see on talk shows that didn't know they were pregnant until the baby came out.

Well, this got me thinking (sitting in the bathtub thinking is one of the great pastimes of all writers, isn't it?) I've never wanted a child. Sometimes I've never wanted to get married. Sometimes I've never even wanted a partner. But I confess, my biological clock is trying to tell me something. It's dreaming of a baby, and this lactation is its night-emission. Yes, lately I've come to think I would like to raise a child. But having a single mother who can't get out of bed does not make for a great life. I wouldn't be able to carry it around for any length of time after two months, because although I'm strong, I have no endurance and my back pain is too great.

I've often thought that if I became financially and physically able, I could adopt or foster a child. I'm not one of those women who needs to have their 'own' baby - I have some genes that are better not passed on, and I'm not a fan of the whole birth-process, what with the excruciating pain and all. I'd gladly make a home for a child that didn't come from my womb, a child in need of a parent. Most children, I sometimes think, are born out of the needs of the parent(s).

This is a moot question, since I'm sick as hell and just as poor. I don't see these things changing anytime soon, unless a couple miracles happen, like the development of a real treatment for CFS & FM, and someone who cares about me winning the lottery. (I can't afford to play myself).

But, I started thinking about children, and not ready to get out of the bath yet, I continued to think. I've had quite a bit of experience with young children, especially my step-sister's and my best friend's. My brother's kids were graced with three other aunts that are normal, healthy and have cars and money to buy presents. So my services have only been called for once or twice in 8 1/2 years. Also, though it's been denied, my gut tells me they don't trust me. I guess it must be subconscious to them.

I babysat my step-sister's kids for several years, quite frequently, after her second child, her son, was maybe 9 months old. I spent a lot of time with my best friend's kids since they were born too. I noticed I have a very strong empathy with infants and toddlers before they start to talk. I seem to know what they want, need, or are looking for just by watching them. As they start to grow out of the pre-verbal stage, I start losing touch with them. They have more experiences with others, but they don't recognize I haven't been there with them every second of their lives, so there's no pre-explanation for their sentences. This makes it hard to even parse the words, let alone understand what they mean - there's no context at all when I'm faced with a random "Wiggles is Kevin's movie". (At the time, I had not yet been Wiggle-fied and didn't know a "Kevin".)

Once they start school, they have such a wide range of influences and so many activities that I don't know about, they've lost me completely. I have no idea where they are coming from, where they're going to, and how they're getting there, metaphorically speaking. All intuition backfires. I become stupid because I don't know the right words for things. For example, I was reprimanded for calling a coffee mug 'a cup', by a four-year-old: "It's not a cup, it's a MUG!" I could almost hear an unspoken "DUH!!" You see, at that age, things only have one name. If you don't know their version, you must be from another planet. Well, that's how I felt, anyway. Kids are overly-dramatic in their speech. Don't worry I was only hurt for about 2 minutes.

That's as far as I got in my musings. I prefer babies over kids. A lot of people are the opposite, like my cousin who has just had her first child, a daughter. I offered to take G off her hands until she started talking, at which point I would bring her back to mom. ;) Most people like older kids because they can do more things, and ostensibly because they can communicate with you better. Well, with most people. Apparently I am an exception, since I can only understand pre-verbal children (and animals, of course!) I have no idea why this is, since I have always been verbally oriented myself - I've been told I started speaking, all of a sudden, in full sentences, when I was 8 months old - before I could even walk. So this empathic thing with infants makes no sense on that level. But I am intuitive. I am observant. I am psychology-minded, seeing motivations and objectives where other adults see random baby motion. I can see in their eyes what's going on in their heads - learning hand, learning finger, want that! - just by watching. Maybe it's a gift. Shame I'll probably never get to use it on a child of my own.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Another Rant, & This Time It's Personal (& has nothing to do with illness)

Where to begin? This is a long tale, but I am very much in need of telling it. I am angry as hell, and I need to get it off my chest. If the offending party still reads my blog, he should be forewarned that this ain't gonna be pretty. I'm leaving names out, but anyone who knows me will know who I'm talking about. Let's begin.

Six or seven years ago, my cousin married a lovely, kind, soft-spoken woman from the US. I became close to both of them over the years, and enjoyed my friendships with them immensely. This past year, their marriage problems became too much - they separated and are now getting divorced. N (the woman) was forced to move back home to the States into her parent's home, because her citizenship papers had never been completed. She was jobless, and penniless except for her parents' support. She didn't like having to ask her husband for money despite the fact that her financial situation kept her unbearably trapped. Finally she moved into a rented house and found a part-time job, after months of misery. She's now attending night school as well.

The separation was excruciating for her. She was not the one who wanted to give up. Her husband, on the other hand, felt he needed to 'find himself', and proceeded to go on trips and eat at expensive restaurants, buy new furniture and gadgets, and finally move into a bigger apartment. The money he used to do this was his own, but was available because N had taken over the finances and made a budget that allowed them to build up some savings, which he had never been able to do before. He was living it up, making the most of his work trips to California, and spending most of those trips with a mutual female friend of theirs.

I went to visit my cousin in July, and he told me how happy he was. He told me how much he liked this friend (T), and that he was trying not to fall in love with her. I asked him point blank whether they were having a sexual relationship and he said yes. I knew he did not want his wife to know about this, so I said nothing over the following months. I kept his secret even when N would talk to me on the phone about how much it hurt that he was doing the things with T she'd wanted him to do with her, but at least they were just friends, at least she knew there was nothing sexual to it. I had to clench my teeth and keep his lie, I had to lie by omission to one of my best friends, for months. It hurt me so much to know how miserable, poor and trapped she was living in the States with no friends, no job, nothing. She still does not even have a couch, coffee table or chair other than her computer chair. She cannot even afford the surgery she needs for her thumb, which is becoming ever more painful and crippling every day. She is busier now, and she now knows there is no hope of getting her marriage back, but she's very alone.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, she told me she knew about her husband and T's sleeping together. I assumed that meant she knew the whole story, so I blurted out that I'd known since July, and that I was very sorry that I couldn't tell her. She was confused - apparently K (my cousin, her husband) had only told her that he'd slept with T the last time he'd seen her, in October. He'd told her a partial truth. She was extremely upset when he'd "confessed", and called me very shortly after to talk to me. So now she knew what I knew. The next time she talked to him she confronted him, saying she knew he'd been with T for a lot longer than he'd said. She told him that someone had told her. Of course, he knew it was me - he doesn't have many close friends, and probably there is nobody besides me that speaks to both of them now. (N has told me that most of the rest of our family ignores her on Facebook now. They probably don't want to get in the middle of things, but I still think it's callous to not say hi once in awhile or comment on her posts.) So K told her that he was going to confront me. She told me what had happened. I said, fine, let him confront me, I did nothing wrong.

I waited, and waited to hear from him so I could explain what had happened. I've heard nothing. Tonight I discovered that both he and his best friend had 'unfriended' me on Facebook. There was no message stating that he was angry with me or wanted an explaination. Just - poof - he's carved me from his life. I think that's cowardly, and ridiculous. After all, our family is celebrating his birthday in a week, so unless he doesn't come, he'll have to see me.

I sent him a short email stating that if he has a problem with me, he should say it to my face, rather than just unfriending me from Facebook. I said "we're family, don't I even get a chance to defend myself?" I doubt I will get a response - obviously it's his way to ignore problems and hope they'll go away. After all, that is exactly what led to his divorce - he refused to get marriage counselling, refused to try to work things out with N. If I don't hear from him by tomorrow, he's getting another email with my side of things whether he wants it or not. It is absolutely unfair for him to condemn me (and throw away our friendship) without finding out my side of the story.

Furthermore, he put me in a position to have to lie to N for months, and now he's blaming me when he gets caught in that lie? He knows how much I care for N, and yet he didn't blink once about how I had to lie to her for him. Anyone who knows me knows how much I LOATHE lies. I do not ever lie, especially about important things. And yet, family loyalty persuaded me that I should let him come to her with the truth in his own time. Family loyalty which apparently means NOTHING to the one I lied for. He can just toss me away like a used gadget he has no use for anymore. Were these last months of friendship only his way trying to buy my silence? All the time we spend together talking and laughing and sharing - that meant nothing to him. All I've been to him is someone to share his secret happiness with, someone to then KEEP that secret despite how painful it was for me to do so. Once the secret is out, he has no more use for me. Well, I guess I now know how fickle his relationships are. He throws away his wife, the best thing that ever happened to him, just because he refuses to WORK on the relationship, and now he throws away the only family member that voluntarily sought to be come closer to him.

Have a good life of tossing people away when they become inconvenient, K. Have a good life full of your gadgets and $400 dollar steaks and buying your friendships. Have a good life hiding in your work and behind your computer, forever convincing yourself how smart you are, and that being smart is the only thing that matters. Have a good life never admitting your mistakes. I learned a long time ago that being right doesn't hold a candle to being loved. I pray you'll find that out yourself before it's too late.

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Disclaimer

I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.