Fibonacci Therapy

I’ve decided to abandon Talk Therapy and have been led to a different type of therapy.

Through working on my Psychological Thriller, I found the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The subtitle is: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Within 2 chapters, I realized the book was not just for my character, but for me.

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Vastly Different Healing Modalities

Van der Kolk, in wonderfully scientific ways, explains how we now know that actual physical changes are occurring in the brain when there is abuse, neglect or trauma. Well-known in the mental health/psychiatric field, he’s found that people can heal their brains… physically and chemically… through Yoga, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), EFT (Emotion-focused therapy), neurofeedback (biofeedback) and activities such as theater and Tai Chi.  

He has done extensive research with Veterans, abused children as young as 2-years old, elder adults who thought they would never feel better, folks with PTSD and C-PTSD and any number of others with trauma histories.

Van der Kolk does not believe medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/talk therapy are as helpful as therapists have believed for decades.

I concur.

So Many Strikes

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I’ve been in therapy since I was 18-years old, almost continuously. 41 years. I feel I am at the same place I started all those decades ago. I’ve tried CBT, DBT, sand tray therapy, art therapy, angel therapy, crystals and many more I can no longer remember, that’s how useless they were. I’ve been in a dozen different types of group therapies as well, most of which seem to have been created to see who can tell the worst abuse story.

DBT comes the closest to changing my thought processes, but that is because of the Mindfulness aspects. DBT has a lot of CBT in it, so it is all but negated.

Fibonacci

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Fibonacci: an integer in the infinite sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, … of which the first two terms are 1 and 1 and each succeeding term is the sum of the two immediately preceding

Instead of singular modes of therapy, I want one that builds on another, lifting me higher with each step.

Fibonacci in Nature

Nautiluses have long been how I see healing… one chamber being worked on and when that section has been completed/emptied, it is time to move to the next chamber.

I began a new type of “therapy” yesterday. I am not sure how to even explain it except it was beautiful and after the hour and for hours afterwards, I felt at peace for the first time in so long I cannot remember when the last time was.

My body was not twitching. My aches and pains simmered lower than they usually do. My mind was able to focus on one idea at a time instead of a cacophony of many voices so loud, none were even able to be heard.

Finally, there is a shift.

Finally.

Therefore:

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The World Knows COVID-19

I talk to people all over the world. I have for a long time, especially at work, but also when I talk to Customer Service people on the phone or in chat.

Since the Pandemic began, it has been a global moment for me. I am no longer frustrated when I cannot get my point across because the person does not speak English as well as I need (and I am always very patient anyway). It is like there is now a leveling of everyone, all of us in the same space in the Universe. (Hope I am saying this right.)

Whomever I speak to, we talk, sometimes just for a moment, about how we are and how our families are doing… a checking in with each other’s humanity. I have never had this feeling of being on the earth with so many others as I do now. That we ALL know this stress, fear, sadness and isolation is quite the reminder that we are really all together in this space and time.

Very humbling.

Home Wax Fun

Oh, I don’t know how, but my facial hair has taken on a life of its own since the pandemic.

Wax Strips

A few weeks ago, I tried some strips and they worked well. Blessedly, I know the pain of waxing, so wasn’t too surprised by the yanking off of the strips that pulls the hair out by its roots.

Flamingo Wax Strips

Hot Wax

Not knowing which I would like better, I bought Bliss Hot Wax, again not caring about the pain involved. I’ve felt worse.

So yesterday, I heated it in the microwave like it said to, in 30 second intervals for about 5 minutes and then sat down to my prepared area at the dining room table.

All I can say was it was a wax debacle. 

Threads of wax were everywhere, reminding me of strands of cotton candy as it is being twirled on the paper cone. My dress, my face, my fingers and the prepared area on the table were covered with plops and strings of bright blue wax. 

I did get some hair removed, so there is that. But I am firmly of the belief that, for me, hot wax is best in the hands of professionals.

Back to strips!

Remnants of the Hot Wax Experiment

Talked to the Doctor

The surgeon was very kind and patient as I asked my questions and even sat quietly while I cried.

He explained how the decision is made to put a person on their side or their stomach… it is the anesthesiologist’s choice… and he said they made the wrong decision. He said next time he does surgery on my back, he will insist I stay on my side, which does have its own challenges, but he said surgery was fast and there was too much trauma to my body to make the stomach a good choice.

Underboob Slice

The doctor explained that when someone is going to be on their stomach, they use cushions to help the breasts not be smashed on the table and it looks like the cushion was out of place.

He said because the cushion was misplaced (which happened because I am a challenge to turn over, which I already knew), then trauma split my underboob open, something that can happen to “fragile” skin. I told him I have yeasties under there a lot, but not in a few months and he said that can make the skin fragile (the perfect word I had been looking for), but it was no excuse for not getting the cushion where it should have been.

I asked if next time we might put the cushion in place before I go into the Operating Room and he said that was a good idea, but reiterated that anything we have to do small, he will try and keep me on my side.

“I’m Sorry”

As I said in the previous post, what I wanted most of all was an apology. He said, “I’m sorry” twice and I thanked him and told him that was what I was needing to hear.

I told him I had zero desire to sue for anything and I wanted him to know that, that I trusted him and his team and since he explained it, and apologized, I feel better.

Crying

I cried talking to him. I am still crying two days later.

Artist unknown: The crying girl, Colored Ballpoint Pens Technique

Looking at the bruises on my breast reminds me of the ones I had on my breasts after I was raped in 1979. I didn’t remember getting those, either, so it is a similar emotional response.

I do not like things happening to me when I am not aware.

Another thing he said that made me feel somewhat relieved was he was in the Operating Room from the moment I got in there until I was wheeled out and into Recovery. I do trust the man. (Is that weird?)

Pathology Report

He told me the results; the margins were clear! (They got it all.)

Yay!

Follow-up in Clinic

When we talked in person, he checked my underboob and it is healing well, which I knew. He apologized again and I told him I wish we had done the excision in the office, which we had talked about. I said I had never regretted having a surgery until this time and that when we have to do this again, if he can remind me of what I wanted in a coherent moment, I would appreciate it. He said as long as I can sit still, that could be done. I told him I can sit still; I have tattoos.

He did say that the decision to do the surgery in the office or the OR can go either way. He said sometimes, when he does one in the office, he thinks they should have gone to the OR. I said I understood that and I would take his advice and we could make the decision together.

It was a very good face-to-face meeting.

My back is healing really well. I have steri-strips on. I am not itching anymore. I look forward to this one being done.

Art: Talia Shipman

Cancer Post-op Recovery

Surgery was Friday, August 21st and it went really well. The incision is much smaller than expected, so that was good, too.

I do not have the results back on whether they have all margins (meaning they got it all), but the doc is calling today so I can ask then.

Bruising

One thing that was really weird was I was way bruised after this surgery. Not on the site, but my upper arms and right breast.

They are healing fast, but that first day they were bright purple.

This was the weirdest thing, though:

This is an open slice on my right underboob, the one that is the most bruised. What the heck happened here?

Feelings

At first, I was amused. I think I was still high from surgery, though.

The 2nd day post-op, I began to cry looking at the bruises, especially the ones on my right breast, with the slice. I hesitate to call it “triggering,” but it definitely felt bad. What did someone do to me when I was under anesthesia that would cause these injuries?

More questions for the surgeon, whom I greatly respect and have zero intention of suing. I think mostly I want an apology.

Is that so bad?

Art by  turddemon

The Democratic Convention

I watched all of the Democratic Convention and am so inspired. 

I had no idea that Dr. Jill Biden worked through the entire time she was Second Lady. And she will continue working as First Lady? That is commitment. 

I had no idea about Vice-President Biden commuting each day back and forth to home to be with his 2 boys at home after his wife and daughter died.

I have not cried with hope and joy so much as I have these past 4 days.

Yes, I have hope.

(And it didn’t hurt that Steve Bannon was arrested by the Postal Service today. That made me laugh ALL DAY LONG.)

I Will Risk Dying to Vote

I have been an absentee ballot voter for many, many years.

absentee ballot Navelgazing Writer

Sure, I could have gotten to the polling place, they were always right near me, but I wanted to ponder the votes slowly.

  • Pro-choice?
  • Democrat?
  • Separation of Church and State?
  • Bigot?
  • Etc.

My Vote Counts Navelgazing Writer

Decision Time

But, if 45 is going to fuck up the Postal Service to ruin mail-in votes, thinking he will win by destroying absentee votes, he will not quash my vote.

Even though he has closed many of the polling places (as we watched the Red States do during primaries), thinking people will not stand in line to vote, he is quite mistaken.

If the USPS is not saved quickly, I  will vote in person. Pandemic be damned.

absentee ballot Navelgazing Writer

Risking My Life

I am in the highest risk categories for COVID-19… fat, diabetes, asthma, cancer… sure to die if I acquire the coronavirus, but I am willing to put my life on the line to vote in this election.

vote pandemic Navelgazing Writer

I will rent an electric wheelchair and have it delivered to the polling place, where I will meet it and then get in line to vote.

It is my right to vote in this election and I don’t give one fuck how much 45 tries to block me…

…I WILL VOTE.

 

voting Navelgazing Writer

COVID Orphans

I’m watching the start of the school year speed closer. With that, comes my increasing fear about what is going to happen to those in the schools because of the rampant spread of Coronavirus. Yet, schools seem to have no choice, being forced to open or they will lose the government money they desperately need.

45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer

COVID-19 Orphans

While not the first, this sweet boy lost both his parents within 4 days of each other.

justin hunter 45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer
Justin Hunter, 17 years old

The reality can be students going to school, taking the virus home with them, infecting the rest of the family. As we know, those who have underlying health conditions fare far worse than those who are healthy.

COVID orphans, a blip of a phenomenon at the moment, will, as the school year begins, be seen more and more.

Superspreader Groups

It really does seem like schools are set-up to become superspreader events. Superspreader events tend to occur when groups of people congregate without masks or social distancing.

Rich schools are able to retrofit their classrooms with partitions, but what are schools without those resources to do?

coronavirus Classroom

Overcrowding in schools have been an issue for decades, some states setting limits on students in the classroom. But when they spread the students out into different classrooms, do they have extra money given to them to hire more teachers?

Here is a great list of teacher-student ratios including how much money each state averaged on each student. You can easily see how little states like Arizona and Alabama spend on their students (about $7000) whereas New York spends $22,000+ per student. Where is the money coming from to Corona-Proof the classrooms?

Schools Already Spreading Coronavirus

retrofit Navelgazing Writer

Schools have not even opened yet, but in Georgia, teachers have been going in to prepare for the school year.

However, after ONE DAY in the classroom, Coronavirus cases and exposures sideline 260 employees in Georgia’s largest public school district, Gwinnett County.

While students in that county will be attending virtual classrooms, the teachers were expected to teach from the school’s classrooms instead of at home. No explanation seems to be had for the dichotomy in locations. Teachers tried hard to be allowed to teach from home, but that was denied.

teacher COVID Orphan
Ashley Newman has resigned from Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia after being denied the option to work from home.

It seems Ms. Newman made the right choice looking at the number of sick in that county after one day.

Bring in the Kids!

There is research that shows kids under their teen years might not spread the disease as much as adults do, but that does not mean they are not carriers at all. Testing and research is still gathering information.

Korea School Navelgazing Writer

What if they happen to be carrying the virus more than we think now? What happens if they spread coronavirus to the teachers? To other students who then take the virus to susceptible members of their families?

Multitude of Trials Regarding Children and COVID-19

When one becomes a COVID Orphan, the enormity of the situation seems to reach far beyond what we could imagine.

COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Children: Governments Should Mitigate Harm, Protect Most Vulnerable writes:

“More than 1.5 billion students are out of school. Widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage. Stresses on families, particularly those living under quarantines and lockdowns, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence. As the global death toll from COVID-19 increases, large numbers of children will be orphaned and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

The article made me cry, the pending reality being so bleak.

Plans for Sick Teachers

teacher Navelgazing Writer

Are there plans for sick teachers or staff? How likely will a substitute want to come into a classroom where there was a sick teacher?

Schools are left to choose their own approaches.

One extreme is to basically do nothing — just tell the sick student or teacher to stay home. The other extreme is to shut down the school for each case. If a school plans to do the latter, it may as well not open at all. There is an intermediate option: Close the classroom for a few days, clean it and reopen.

I am very glad I am not a teacher or a mom with school-aged kids right now. I would not be sending them to school, but what if I was a midwife and had to go to a 30-hour birth? What would the kids do?

What a world we live in. So many choices and all really sucky.

Scared Navelgazing Writer

John Lewis’ Challenge

Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation: Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

John Lewis.

Each day I wonder if this will be the day I am inhaling the coronavirus, sending me off to be a statistic on the nightly news. I have been sitting, not writing, mostly waiting, to see when the end will arrive.

And Then Today…

I watched the funeral for John Lewis and saw, really for the first time, how his fingerprints are on an almost unlimited number of moments of the last 65 years.

What is the highest calling of my heart and how can I stand up for what I truly believe?

Writing

Writing is the highest calling of my heart. I have so many stories to tell that are going to die with me when the time comes.

I have hundreds of birth stories to share.

I have so many stories about my observations, while not as momentous as John Lewis’ but they are mine, nevertheless.

Just Write Already

Okay.

 

 

 

When Whites Protest

So we are 52 days since George Floyd’s murder in plain view.

Protests for Black Lives Matter

Protests began the day after his murder and have continued since. The protests are against systemic police brutality against black and brown people, with Black Lives Matter being the major focus of the gatherings and anger. Blessedly, finally, it is not just blacks protesting, but people of all races and colors have joined in around the world. I have been buoyed by the white faces I have seen standing next to our black and brown sisters and brothers.

As the protests, mostly peaceful, have continued, our President seems to have hijacked them to promote intimidation in the name of “strength.”

Starting with gassing and shoving peaceful protesters on June 1, 2020

…so he could walk across the street to hold up a Bible (upside down) for a photo-op.

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Vile Actions

Because of the incredibly unethical and vile desires of our President to create disharmony any place he can think of, he has sent “Federal Officers” into Portland, Oregon.

These Trump thugs are unnamed, unmarked and masked so no one’s face can be recognized. The “officers” are pulling random protesters off the street and putting them in unmarked vans, driving them to unknown buildings where, without any semblance of human rights or dignity, they are being interrogated. Many of whom were not even arrested! Just taken off the street as if we were living in a country led by a mad man.

Oh, but we are in a country led by a madman.

The Narrative Shifts

fire Navelgazing Writer

The protests have not only become about Black Lives Matter, but also an urban assault by our government. Thousands of new people are flooding the streets to protect the Black Lives Matter protesters… the Walls of Moms, Vets, Nurses, Union Reps, Teachers, Dads, Grannies… all standing before the Black Lives Matter protesters.

So when I read:

From Black lives to ‘white spectacle,’ Portland protests have lost focus, civil rights leaders say: ‘The focus has been moved from where it is supposed to be and made to be a spectacle, a debacle,’ said the president of the Portland NAACP.”

“Black community leaders are urging local protesters to shift the focus of demonstrations back to the Black Lives Matter movement and away from what has become a largely ‘white spectacle.’”

…I was baffled how someone could argue in this moment about where the focus should be going. Isn’t this a Put Out The Biggest Fire First situation?

Navelgazing Writer

Don’t the two “causes” intermingle? Aren’t the walls there to protect the Black Lives Matter protesters from being attacked?

Portland has a mere 6% Black population. That so many non-Black folks are out to protect their Black citizens, I find, spectacular.

Of course, I am writing from my white perspective, which might discount everything I say here, but when our country is being attacked from within, shouldn’t everyone be standing and fighting regardless of color?

Am I missing something?

Wouldn’t getting rid of the Federal Officers allow the Black Lives Matter message to resonate louder than ever?

In the same article mentioned above comes this commentary:

“Reginald Richardson Jr., pastor of Your Bible Speaks Seventh Day Adventist Church who describes himself as ‘nonviolent,’ encourages white allies to act as shields for Black people, who have a historically fraught relationship with law enforcement.

“’Black men and women will go to jail at a higher rate than our white brothers and sisters,’ he said. ‘It is time for our white brothers and sisters to stand up and be that barrier.’”

This is my thought exactly.

Cancer Returns/COVID-19 Negative

I have been waiting for some settling before writing, but it seems things are just pressing forward, so here we go!

Cancer First

I have Malignant Melanoma Stage 0, for the second time, on my back.

cancer Navelgazing Writer

I was going to the Dermatologist’s doctor to do the excision, but when I went on Friday to have it done, people either had no mask on or had it around their necks. And there was no hand sanitizer anywhere. I had never noticed before, but when faced with surgery, I noticed every unclean thing. I cancelled the surgery and left after telling them why.

Yesterday, I met with the surgeon who did the 2 cancer removals last year and it was wonderful being in his office again. I make them all laugh and they remembered me, which was great.

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

The doctor played Hamilton Mixtape for me during surgery last time, so we are both Hamilfans and talked about it being on Disney+.

We did discuss the surgery eventually. He said we can start with local and sedation, but in the OR and take a smaller circle, trying to get the margins taken out, but if he does not, it will be a bigger excision like my arm was. He also said it was up to the anesthesiologist whether I had sedation or general. I said that was fine.

COVID-19 Testing

Before I could get my excision, I had to have a negative COVID-19 test, but let me tell you, that was no easy feat.

covid Navelgazing Writer

I am disabled so cannot stand for long and have no car, so waiting in line or doing drive-through testing is impossible for me. Testing sites are not made for disabled people! My therapist said that was an ADA issue for sure and I needed to let someone know how difficult it was for me to get a test.

After days of fruitless trying, I tried to get my Primary Care doctor (who told me to get one, too, because I had conjunctivitis our of the blue) to call in a prescription to LabCorp or Quest because they will only test with prescriptions for it. She said, “You can get tested anywhere! Just go to the clinic and get it there.”

But, people line up, standing, at 6am for the 9am start of testing. Once they sign in, they get back in their cars and do the drive-through thing. Both of which disqualify me.

Just

An aside. Do you ever notice when people say, “Just <fill-in-the-blank-of-instruction>” that the task is really complicated for everyone but the speaker?

coronavirus Navelgazing Writer

Same with, “All you gotta do is <fill-in-the-blank>.”

Doctors & Their Dismissiveness

When I called the primary care doctor, the nurse said the “All you gotta do” line and when I explained to her the situation and that I had conjunctivitis and couldn’t I make an appointment to come in because what if the conjunctivitis was COVID-19. She snorted saying, “You can’t get COVID in your eye,” like I was a stupid patient. I told her the doctor she is working for told me about it being a sign and perhaps she should Google it.

At any rate, they would not call in a prescription to a lab.

COVID-19 Navelgazing Writer

So I called the Dermatologist’s office to see if they would call in a prescription, especially since they wanted a negative test before they would schedule my excision. “We don’t do that. All you gotta do is….” and I got pissed.

CentraCare

The conjunctivitis did not respond to the 5 days of drops and my primary care was sending in a referral to an ophthalmologist. I shook my head when the nurse said that. I told her it takes WEEKS for me to get their referrals in the mail. “That’s what she told me.” I said I really hope I don’t die from COVID-19 before the referral gets to me.

clock Navelgazing Writer

I made myself an appointment with CentraCare online. It was for 6 days ahead. So I waited.

When I went 6 days later, the nurse assistant looked at my eye and got out a swab for a COVID test. I didn’t even have to ask. He swabbed up one nostril… and let me tell you, that was infinitely easier than when I had the lit sparklers shoved into my brain via my nostrils.

20 minutes later I had a negative result. YAY YAY YAY!

The Nurse-Practitioner gave me a prescription for different eye drops, stronger. I am doing better goopy eyes-wise, but it has not cleared up completely.

More Testing Coming Up

I will have to have another COVID-19 test 72 hours before surgery, so that is coming soon. I should know in the next couple of days when surgery is.

As Rachel Maddow says, “Follow this space!”

Stop Pulling Down Statues!

Disclosure:

I am a white woman whose father fled Cuba in 1959, so I have Latinx in me, but I grew up in a white culture. I acknowledge my white privilege and welcome others’ comments about this topic. Question: Does my being white completely discount my thoughts? Curious.

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While I despise many of the men (and they are all men so far) who are depicted in the statues being removed and what they have done to Indigenous People, Blacks, migrants, etc., I believe there is another way to handle this besides getting rid of them.

robert_milligan_statue_black_lives_matter

History is Watching

From the beginning of time, when one culture takes over another, the new folks pillage and destroy the other people’s libraries, churches/mosques/temples/etc., statues, buildings and sometimes, whole civilizations.

Then a few hundred or thousand years go by and those looking back wonder what was in their heads that they destroyed these beautiful icons. How could someone throw that exquisite vase down? Why would all the stained glass have to be broken? What was the point of burning the books? Did they really have to bomb the thousand-year old building?

Navelgazing Writer
Bundesarchiv Bild 102 4597, Berlin, Opernplatz, Bücherverbrennung

Reasoning

While it seems a good idea at the time, to force people to change and teach them a lesson,  is it always right to force people to adhere to one religion, one belief system, one mindset? Eons of civilizations seem to believe it is.

I asked a history buff friend of mine how people can justify forcing others to convert, asking if they got bonus God points for nearly killing someone until they “confessed” and “converted.” How can that even count towards God being happy? Wouldn’t you want people to voluntarily change their religion/minds? Why not just let the heathens go to hell and suffer for their original religion? He told me many religions find it meritorious to have converts, no matter how they get there.

But I have to ask, don’t they know the “converts” are faking it to stay alive? I mean, if they were forced to convert themselves, they would hide their own true religion, practicing in darkness, wouldn’t they? How can they not think others are doing the same thing?

Navelgazing Writer
Spanish Inquisition (1478–1834)

History Comes Around Again

When I was in Humanities classes, looking at drawings of buildings that were destroyed by war and/or hate, it seemed absurd to have destroyed so much beauty.

And now, with the statues of Confederate soldiers, Presidents, Christopher Columbus and others being pulled down and destroyed, who will be looking back in 300 years wondering where the history went to. Did we totally ignore the Civil War? Why are there no markers of that tumultuous time?

Navelgazing Writer
Conventry Cathedral in England, built in 14-15th century, bombed on November 14th, 1940.

Alternatives to Destruction and Removal

I’ve wondered why we can’t leave the statues and have markers or co-statues that share the new attitudes of the day. New York City is doing just that:

For the Columbus statue, the city would add historical markers and commission a new monument to honor indigenous people. Other markers would be added elsewhere to give additional context for other statues and monuments.”

Art

Isn’t art all about the reaction to it? Loved or hated, art has had its share of controversy. Robert Mapplethorpe‘s works freaked plenty of folks out as he unveiled his X Portfolio male nudes and BDSM photos. When Michelangelo‘s Pietà was attacked with a hammer in 1972, controversy surrounded the decision to restore it.

After the attack, some art historians and restorers wanted the statue to remain as it was damaged as a sign of the violent times. Others said it should be restored but with clear marks delineating the damaged parts as a historical testament.”

Pieta Navelgazing Writer

The decision was made to restore the statue.

Artists

So what of the artists’ who created the statues being defaced and/or pulled down? Are we censoring their art? Aren’t we all about not censoring, but allowing freedom of expression?

Why isn’t this discussion more prevalent as the atmosphere becomes more politicized and beautiful works of art disappearing? Shouldn’t we be reminded of our history through statues? Can’t we find ways to honor both sides of the anger?

What happens when a George Floyd statue is erected and the winds of change are Trumpian 100 years from now. Should that statue be removed? Of course not! But there are people who would find it extremely controversial and offensive to be erected.

Which statues do we fight for?

BLM statue

 

 

 

 

“Why Should I Watch Hamilton July 3?”

I have swooned and oo’d and ah’d over Hamilton: An American Musical for a couple of years now (I know, I was late to the game). Now that it is streaming on Disney+ July 3, 2020, I have been asked why someone should watch the show.

I am not a critical writer. I am not writing this like a critic would at all. I will share the parts that are fascinating to me that I’ve learned through reading the back stories of the writer, director, and lyricist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony and Grammy Award winner… and more, all for Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, a musician, arranger, conductor, musical director, music copyist, and orchestrator, doing many of those duties with Hamilton, as well. There are a dozen more I have poked around learning about, but the show itself is what I will focus on.

Onward!

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda came across Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton in the airport on the way to a vacation. Within 2 chapters, still on the plane, the musical began formulating in Miranda’s brain.
  • Alexander Hamilton struggled to climb the ladder from poverty, through education, aching for recognition and a sustainable income for his family. He had many obstacles in his way and Miranda felt his path was similar to many Black and Latinx folks in the United States today. He felt Hamilton’s story was still our story.
  • There was never a question of the diversity of the cast. Miranda had already done In the Heights, another (mostly Latinx) diverse show that won him 3 Tony Awards in 2008. It seemed natural to create a cast that looked like America does now. In 1775, blacks were slaves; whites ruled and were soldiers (for the most part). In 2015 while blacks were (are) in too many ways still enslaved, the face of America has changed from primarily white to more brown and black.
  • Therefore, if your children are not white, this can be an eye-opening experience to see people of their color in an amazing award-winning production. Even 5 years ago, the theater and Broadway were blandly white. Thankfully, that is changing and Miranda leads the charge.
  • The music is the music of today. Hip-Hop, Rhythm & Blues, but also shades of jazz, British pop music and gods bless the Schuyler sisters and their Destiny’s Child sound.
  • I have heard the album at least 200 times and I am still catching puns, humorous connections and overtones of lyrics and music that run as threads through the show. The complexity of wit, rhyme, storytelling and musical history all combined really is genius.
  • Which makes the realization that “My Shot” took an entire year for Miranda to write. A. Year. One song. The entire show took 6 years. One song took one year.
  • When Alexander Hamilton talks about not throwing away his shot, he comes across many choices and is always wanting to move up the ladder. It is also double entendre for his final dual with Aaron Burr that (not giving away anything since more than 200 years have passed already) when Hamilton did, in fact, throw away his shot (pointing his gun upward) allowing Burr’s shot to kill him. The only shot he seemed to have tossed.
  • Costume Designer Paul Tazewell made a brilliant decision to have the costumes as traditional clothes of the time, but has asked the actors to wear their faces and hair however they want during the show.
  • History repeats itself. Again and again. Perhaps not with a duel, but with the arguments that, at that moment, seem life and death (and often are), but so far, our country has bounced back and learned new ways to function (and codified them in the laws) or have fallen back onto the Constitution of the United States.
  • Alexander Hamilton is not seen as perfect. He is a human being with odd foibles considering the man most likely had hypergraphia or a lot of mania in Bipolar Disorder. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time” is a thread throughout the musical (“Non-Stop“). Writers use this phrase as incentive to keep writing even when it is challenging. Write like you’re running out of time! WRITE!

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

  • Dilemma for those with younger folks: I know an lot of younger kids who love Hamilton and can sing every word, even the F-word. Disney is deciding still what to do with the show… edit? or not edit with warnings. I am hoping they offer 2 choices; hope someone thinks of that. The F-word is said a couple of times, but there is a love affair with Maria Reynolds (pronounced Mariah), a brief side-step that leads to a great deal of strife that eventually rules Hamilton out of being a President in our history.
  • Schools are using the show as a backdrop to bring history to life. I will say I thought all that Constitution stuff was dry as toast. Until now. Once I learned the music, I read Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, then his Washington: A Life (which I actually loved more than Hamilton!) and that period in history is now ALIVE for me! I can “see” the war, I can “feel” the conflicts, I can “experience” a life I never would have been able to before. History has come to life for students with Hamilton! ALL of history should be taught this way!
  • Tickets to Hamilton have been so expensive, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has a serious need to serve and saves seats for students, some of whom pay $10 for what would go as a several hundred dollar seat on the open market. (I bought my mom a ticket for the Opening Night of the Orlando cast at $490.)
  • EduHam is a class Miranda has helped create that is free through August in response to the Pandemic at hand. It teaches this part of history in a way students can understand… recommended for grades 6-12, but clearly many younger folks participate. Watching kids singing, dancing, creating plays around Hamilton are magnificent teachers.

Wrap Up

All of this sounds so boring compared to the experience of Hamilton: An American Musical! The musical is picked apart in YouTube, high schools sing for us there, 3-year olds are singing “MY SHOT!”, the poetry of rap is examined as if we were looking at a miraculous artifact.

Which it is. All of it.

Even if you only watch it once, please watch it once. Open heart. Open mind. With joy for how our country was made.

We are amazing.

TW: Group Therapy Sucked

I am in emotional pain. Certainly not as much as so many others, but I am hurting. I bargained my way out of being admitted to the psych hospital by agreeing to attend an Intensive Outpatient Program online. I ended up going for 8 days and then left because it was causing more distress than healing.

Group Therapy Navelgazing Writer

This is my Farewell Letter with minor distinguishing factors left out:

There was a time when I loved Group Therapy. I was in several at a time sometimes. Knowing myself now, it was 1) because I loved to talk about me and my issues 2) because it was voyeuristic hearing others talk about their issues 3) because, eventually (after 30 years or so), I knew enough to help others.

I cannot do any more group therapy.

I am meticulous with what goes into my brain. My tipping point for my Bipolar and Depression (and now PTSD) issues are low. I cannot watch the news, scary movies, hear scary stories… you get the gist. The world is filled with terrible things and I can only help in fractions of fractions of fractions of .000001%. The feeling of helplessness is a constant low hum in my existence.

In Group, I did not have control over the input into my brain and psyche. The PTSD trigger, we already talked about. But yesterday, the group was talking about someone who had been “Baker Acted”… as if she was some ‘thing’ to be acted upon instead of “helping her get treatment.” And when I asked that we not talk about someone who was not in the room, I was chastised that 1) it was not HIPAA non-compliant (which was not why I requested they stop) 2) that I “need to get used to these kinds of discussions because that’s life.” When that second statement was used was when the group had informally begun to discuss suicide and ways it can be done. I had to log out. That comment was also said to me when I had the PTSD trigger last week. No, I do not have to get used to people talking about exploding body parts or the terrors of war or looking at meat in the freezer and seeing their friend’s thigh.

I do not need to get used to these kinds of discussions because they do not happen in regular life. When someone talks about killing themselves, action occurs. If someone is put in the hospital for their safety, they are not “A Baker Act,” they are a human being in pain who needs help. The issue was not HIPAA, but kindness and understanding for a person unable to defend themselves in the room at the moment. When someone talks about the horror of war, I can find them some help to be in a safe place to unpack those memories. These topics are not in my every day world.

I talked to my therapist last night as well as my adult girls about what I should do and they all agreed with my self-assessment, that I would do better alone.

Therefore, I am withdrawing from the Program and will work on my own to heal. I will do SMART Recovery (which I love… that program helped me detox from opiates 5 years ago) and read… in the rotation right now is The Mindful Way Through Anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation have also been crucial in my substance abuse issues as well as pain relief, mental stability and finding joy in sad situations. I say this paragraph so you know I have a plan. I am not just going to drink or fall into a hole of incapacity. I am strong and power-full and intelligent. I can do this.

Thank you all for trying. I am just not a good fit for Group Therapies anymore and will be aware of that in the future.

Lastly, thank you for being there for those that need your knowledge and support. It is hard, hard work… being a therapist. Thank you.

Please be safe, stay healthy, wear your masks… and know you are all amazing.

As I write this, I am waiting to explain to my psychiatrist why I left and why I no longer feel I need to be hospitalized. It seems standing up for myself had a positive impact.

Solo therapy for me is it from now on.

Therapy Navelgazing Writer

Cops: Friend or Foe?

Repost from 10/29/18

It’s been an inner conflict for awhile, but especially uncomfortable since the Pulse Shooting on June 12, 2016.

Love Cops

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Of course, like many/most White Americans, I have been socialized to love the police. Growing up, they came to school to talk about the good things they did in the community, when we saw them out eating somewhere, my family always bought them dinner and I was raised to say “Thank you,” to any law enforcement person I saw up close.

Then when I was with Zack in San Diego, he was a Deputy Sheriff, so I lived with a cop for about 8 years (he was in for 10). Living with the uniform was vastly different than seeing one on the street.

You see, I was molested by my step-grandfather when I was under 10; he was a motorcycle cop. An alcoholic motorcycle cop. I was molested while he was in uniform once. So when I was with Zack, for the first part of our relationship, he changed clothes at the station in the locker room, taking care of my fear of The Uniform.

In 1998, I was arrested and jailed for a total of 21 days in two jails (in Orlando and extradited to San Diego). (Story to come.) I was very fat, but was treated kindly (enough), but I also didn’t fight or buck the System at all. Compliant to the core.

Even still, I have been someone who goes out of her way to be kind to law enforcement officers.

Especially since the Pulse shooting.

The Police and Sheriffs were fucking amazing during the stand-off at Pulse. A couple of weeks after the shooting, I wrote an extensive Thank You to all those who worked to save lives and comfort the dying that horrific night, with special call-outs to law enforcement.

– The entire Orlando Police Department who risked their lives, over and over again, to save as many people as possible. I am filled with so much gratitude, my heart overflows with tears streaming down my cheeks.

– Everyone at the Orlando Sheriff’s Department who also risked their lives multiple times and kept communications between the different agencies running smoothly. I also weep with gratitude for your agency.

– Orlando’s amazing SWAT Team who found ways to get into the building to save people and then removed that evil animal from this earth. You all are incredible.

Since Pulse, I go out of my way to thank Policefolks, Sheriffs as well as all the EMS personnel. Not only thanking them, but buying the breakfast, lunch or dinner… even if it is a full table of them.

Hate Cops

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

And then I look around and as I read and learn more about the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have realized how ingrained it is in the Black community to not have good feelings for, dislike, and even out and out hate law enforcement. (How have I missed this before? White Privilege & ignorance. I do know how.)

Of course, it makes perfect sense considering the incessant harassment and massacre Blacks experience on a daily basis.

One of the best memes I’ve seen talked about the feeling white Hillary Clinton supporters are having after the election, that feeling of being betrayed, let down, disbelief that so much hate and bigotry has been around them all this time and has now been released into the light of day… the meme essentially said: WELCOME TO THE BLACK PERSON’S WORLD EVERY FUCKING DAY OF OUR LIVES. This was very impactful.

I’m reading a lot, keeping my mouth (but not my pen) shut and learning what I can. I search different words, different terms (the most recent new word for me is “woke“) and explore threads on my Facebook (not as integrated as I would like it to be) and I am trying to learn as much as I can.

This came from my Tumblr feed:

If you work with Black, Latino, Native, or any youth of color, I feel it is incredibly irresponsible to put them in spaces with police, or to grant police any sort of access to these youth that builds positive public image for an institution created from – and vested in – white supremacy. That’s institutional gaslighting.

This was just wow for me. And I see the Truth in it for sure.

I have two brown kids and one white one. I wonder how I would teach them if they were young today. Taking a little dip from each belief system isn’t even possible; it is all of one OR all of the other.

Even though the kids are grown and gone, I find myself wrestling with this today.

Leaning more on the #BLM side, to be honest, even though I am White.

We’ll see where I tip eventually. Lots of unlearning to do. Lots and lots.

truth-lies

Checking My White Privilege

Repost from 10/29/18

My inner-racist/classist/transphobic/homophobic

(etc.)

Disclosure:

Even though I am a fat Latinx who has mental illness, am physically disabled and a sex worker on the LGBTQI spectrum, I have a massive slew of inner (and outer) work still to do. I was raised in the American-Anglo world… the middle-class, English-speaking, able-bodied, white world… with white privilege.check-privilege-gif

I so want to be helpful in the various “causes” going on in our world, around the world.

I do not want to be hurtful.

Not here in my Navelgazing Writer blog.

Not in my Tumblr blog…

And most especially, not in my life.

Where I know I still need work (and I acknowledge I surely have blind spots yet to be discovered):

(in no particular order)

#Black Lives Matter

I speak up for #BlackLivesMatter often, as often as I can in as many places as possible. I believe in the Movement with all my heart. I follow along, watching the debates between #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and even the dissension between the ranks about the Movement itself. I write about #BLM where I can, use the hashtags, engage family and friends and am seriously considering a #BLM tattoo. Yet it still isn’t remotely enough. I know that. I want to do something. Do something more. I keep looking for where I could be of more use. I will explore that here.

blm

Islamophobia

I have a really good friend who is Muslim. I am struggling with Islam in ways that make me cringe and hold my head in utter confusion. As an atheist, all religions are confounding to me, but at the moment, Islam stands front and center of my inner conflict. Separating Islam from Muslims seems daunting, as much as separating Islam from cultural beliefs that are Islamic. I am just beginning to figure this stuff out.

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Transphobia

I will write about this extensively, surely over a several year period, but it has to come out. My former partner of (then) 25 years, came out transgender, medically and surgically transitioning from female to male. From announcement to phalloplasty was a little over 3 years. About 6 months after the phalloplasty, we separated, then divorced. So very much to say about the myriad of emotions that transpired during our transition time together.

no-feminism

Internalized Homophobia

Even though I initially came out lesbian when I was 18-years old and then again when I was 25, dating only women… and being in (what I thought was) a long-term lovership/marriage (off and on) with a (then presenting) woman for 28 years, I know there are still stereotypes and -isms I need to look at and work through.

internalized-homophobia

Racism

This topic is so broad, it will take many different posts to work through. Even my own inner-Racism as a Latinx will need to be worked through. But the stereotypes of different races and cultures jump to the forefront of my mind when I least expect it… and that shit needs to stop.

sp-end-racism

Xenophobia

Interestingly, I don’t feel I have a lot of xenophobia, but I could be deluding myself and need to work on it as well. I just don’t have issues with migrants, immigrants or refugees. I’ve worked with migrant Hispanic women (at the Farmworker Association of Florida and at Planned Parenthood as well as in midwifery school in El Paso, Texas), but that is a specific group of folks, leaving hundreds of other cultures and countries still mentally untouched.

xenophobiawordcloud

Fetishizing

Ugh. This one is going to be fucking difficult to work with since I am a sex worker who often creates scenarios and writes pornographic stories that specifically fetishize men and women… both cis and trans. I struggle with the line between attraction and fetishizing in my own mind. I adore black and Asian men. Love “Big Black Cock” and speak and write about it a lot. What are my values and am I contributing to the degradation of oppressed people by having my own desires and, more specifically, fetishizing it in my job.

stopfetish

Reevaluating Law Enforcement

There have been police officers and Deputy Sheriffs in my family and friends since I was born. My disgusting police officer step-grandfather molested me (several times), in uniform once. My former partner was a Deputy Sheriff for 10 years of our relationship. I have been arrested and jailed twice, including being extradited back to San Diego, California from Orlando, Florida. Yet, my attitude towards law enforcement has generally remained one of a positive viewpoint.

And now, watching the videos of black men being killed for zero reason has jarred me into reevaluating my beliefs. And the really sucky part is until videos started being shown, I barely took notice of the mass of killings of black men, women and children. Even the mass incarceration of People of Color went over my head. I am horribly ashamed of this, but it’s the truth. This really, really is fucked up.

lawenforcement

Sex Workers

My sister was a dancer. I have several close friends and family members who were dancers as well. I am a Phone Sex Operator. One of my family members and I have discussed the inner confusion between feminism and sex work several times. I love what I do, but there are degrading moments that make me feel like I want to wash my mouth out with soap sometimes. Lots to think about.

whoissexworker

BDSM vs. Physical Abuse

I’ve been in the BDSM Scene since 1995, mostly as a submissive to my former partner Zack and now as a Domme in my sex work job. I consider myself somewhat of a pain slut, do bottom to others; much of my life is taken up in the Scene.

In 1990 or so, I wrote a piece in the San Diego Lesbian Press about how BDSM is nothing but a pretense for allowing/encouraging physical and mental abuse to vulnerable women (that was the angle; today I would say “people.”) For anyone following the Scene, this is a common argument and one I’ve considered (and reconsidered) over the years. There is ongoing inner discussion.

bdsmvsabusse

Visible Dis-Abilities/Challenges/Differences

I have mobility issues because of being fat (a separate obstacle all on its own) and having brittle bones. As I write, I can think of about 20 preconceived thoughts about physically challenged folks that need to be purged. And not just my own.

vendisabilities

Mental Health

I have Bipolar Disorder 1 with omnipresent hallucinations, more depression than (hypo)mania and have had other psychiatric issues (anxiety & agoraphobia) fluctuate over the years. I honestly think this will be the area where I have the fewest concerns to work with/through. Being in therapy since I was 18 and starting on medication not long after that, I left the stigmatizing beliefs behind long ago.

mental-health

Size-ism & Fat Phobia

This will, most assuredly, lead to the most emotional posts of all (that I can predict at the moment). Having been fat my whole life, a gastric bypass in 2001 that initially was awesome, but now 15 years later is fucking with my body’s health and continues fucking with my head. Once in the Fat Activist Movement and still believing in a fat positive outlook, I also believe much of today’s Fat Positive representatives are deluding themselves about the long-term effects of being fat. Lots and lots to say about this.

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Cultural Appropriation

I was a Japanese Geisha Girl for Halloween growing up. I wore cornrows in the 70’s. I wore a medicine bag with crystals and sage around my neck in the mid-80’s. I did mendhi in the early 2000’s. I’ve participated in Blessingways over 30 years as a midwife. I’ve made flower crowns, worn harem pants and love Disney movies.

All of this before I learned what Cultural Appropriation was. It mortifies me seeing how disrespectful I was to so many people over the years. I look around and wonder what I am doing now that I’ll recognize in 5, 10, 15 years that will equally mortify me.

Know better, do better.

My Plan for Continued Inner Work

judgement2

I will continue reading articles, books and essays by people of different races, religions, cultures, socio-economic statuses, genders, abilities, sizes, etc. I will believe what they say even if what they say is different from what I know, what my experiences are and what I learned in school and/or in my white culture.

I will delve more into the histories of the people I am not familiar with, learning the things I did not learn in school. Actually, un-learning the things I learned in school.

However…

im-so-teribly-confused

Where I have an issue with exploring/learning on one’s own, is it requires some skills some/many people might not have or have access to:

  • Internet access
  • Ability to read
  • Ability to read English
  • Advanced English comprehension

I think there needs to be some alternative plans in place for those who need in-person learning/education of these social phenomena, especially when they are asked for.

Where I Struggle

strengh

Where I do struggle, however, is in how to learn from the communities and cultures themselves. I absolutely understand the reasoning behind not asking the oppressed to educate me/us about their issues/concerns/struggles. I do promise to do my best in educating myself, but the reality is, with some of the exploited/misunderstood/unheard people’s problems/concerns, I am clueless where to even begin.

And then the black holes. Even as I research, digging deeper and deeper into subjects, learning new words to Google and building on my knowledge, there are still going to be gaping black holes I won’t even see until someone points them out to me.

Are there whites that I should ask instead? Isn’t that similar to playing telephone, getting the information second-hand? Wouldn’t speaking to the actual source be more appropriate? Wouldn’t I learn more hearing it directly? I will keep looking for the answer to this puzzle.

bullshit-meter

If you see my bullshit, don’t hesitate to re-orient/correct/challenge me. (Without my expecting a lesson from you of any kind. I will be sure to research on my own and try again.)

I need to be more conscious. I promise to work on it every day.

if-it-doesnt

I Didn’t Go Anywhere Today

I ended up staying home and making telehealth appointments where I could and changing the dates to the 2 in-person appointments until mid-June.

telehealth Navelgazing Writer

When I talked to my psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago, he recommended I talk to a therapist. When she called and did the intake, she felt I needed some really intense group therapy.

That group therapy coordinator called and with my extensive history with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a group that incorporates those would be good. I thought, yeah, a refresher is certainly something I could use.

empty room Navelgazing Writer

It is telehealth, which is good and the groups are geared towards continuing care after being hospitalized for clinical mental issues. I had to double check and make sure I was not being hospitalized and she said no no, but they had talked about if I should be except there is a pandemic going on. Great. I got out of being in a mental hospital because of Coronavirus.

I have my first group meeting tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how group therapy works in Zoom! The length of the course is 6 months. So I have to stay alive for at least another 6 months. (My mind keeps thinking like this. Hamilton comes out July 3, so I have to stay alive for 51 more days.)

Is it good to have goals? Possibly.

alive Navelgazing Writer

Scared to Leave the House Post Quarantine

I went out the other day, in Uber, riding with my mask and gloves, all the windows open,  the 1-mile to the pharmacy drive-through and then the 1-mile back home.

It had been 9 weeks and 5 days since I had gone beyond the front and back porches. It was really scary, but it was a short trip.

Today’s Appointment

I have an appointment today to see the Infectious Disease doctor, a required in-person visit for my chronic yeast infections and intertrigo ( a new word for me).

intertrigo Navelgazing Writer

But, I am terrified to go. I will not have a car to sit in while I wait for their calling me into a room. I will have to sit in the waiting room. With a flimsy face mask and gloves. How will I really be protected?

My Hair Navelgazing Writer
Pointing to my growing hair, but the gloves and mask are protecting me… in my room.

An aside, how the holy hell can anyone think a mask and gloves is enough to protect a first responder/doctor/nurse/respiratory technician/etc. is beyond me.

Riding a Bike

When I had the gastric bypass in 2001 and lost a million pounds, Zack and I got bikes to ride. He for exercise for me… me for fun. When I got on the bike, I reached for my seat belt.

bike seat belt Navelgazing Writer

Of course that was ridiculous, but it was a habit and whenever I was riding, I felt totally exposed and like I could lose my life at any moment.

This feels like that.

Where is My Armor?

I want to be inside a bubble of protection. Not a metaphorical one, but a real one.

Bubble Navelgazing Writer

If I knew where to get one of these, I would.

And Another Appointment, Too

I have a Dermatologist appointment on Friday. I don’t know if I can go to that one either. It has been 6 months since my last cancer check. I felt like why bother when, if I had it, they wouldn’t do surgery on me anyway during the pandemic, but now that they are starting to do “elective” surgeries again (as if cancer surgery is elective), I would have to have it removed.

I Can’t Do It

Writing this, I am so filled with anxiety, I have cried throughout.

I cant do it Navelgazing Writer

I cannot possibly be alone feeling this, can I?