Triumph and Loss: Emotional Stability and the Price We've Paid

A friend, or rather an acquaintance, once suggested — not jokingly or kindly — that, in short, I was kind of a mess. Not only a mess, butRearview mirror elephant a mess with a persecution complex. To be fair, he wasn’t far off, at the time. Back then, I was experiencing a full-blown depressive episode with anxiety, which – again to be fair to my friend – is difficult to understand if one hasn’t experienced it. Just because I’ve been officially (“officially” means medical professionals have deemed it so) stable for three years doesn’t make it any easier to manage now. I’ve lost long-term relationships because of it. Hell, in the past, I’ve lost apartments and family support over it.

The worst part of my predicament is that I was never addicted to drugs or alcohol. I never stole from my family and friends, and I never lied to them. I never had to leave a marriage because of a sudden divorce, which, by the way, is probably more horrible than some of the trauma I’ve lived through. But I was homeless, I was alone, and I was helpless for a while. The worst part of being emotionally unstable is that there’s no one and nothing to “blame.” People look at you and wonder why you let everything go to hell. You look at yourself and wonder the same thing. Here I am, and I have faulty brain chemistry. I’ve had it approximately since puberty. When I look for reasons for my past maladjusted behavior, I usually just see a distorted reflection of myself. Like a carnival trick, you get a twisted version of your own reflection: your behavior is not the same as your personality, but you will find yourself and others mistaking it as such. It’s tough to face these ideas and admit that, impaired as you might have been, you are the author of your own pain. Even tougher, however, is simultaneously realizing that your brain chemistry is not your fault and you must move forward.

Continue reading Triumph and Loss: Emotional Stability and the Price We’ve Paid

The Unicycle No One Loved

Just another abandoned blog. I always thought that, really, the saddest thing you could abandon was a unicycle. I mean, look at how awesome unicycles are. People who can ride unicycles really love them, and it’s actually kind of hard to find a unicycle. So can you imagine how utterly depressing it could be to see an abandoned unicycle? Of course, one must admit that it’s super hard to learn to ride a unicycle, and that riding a unicycle is not for everyone (especially those of us without health insurance). But I’m digressing so I’ll just tell you that this paragraph is supposed to segue into something about abandoned blogs. Like this one.

You see the beginning, when the blogger is all gung-ho, fired-up, and a lot of other hyphenated adjectives about his or her blog. Then, if you’re lucky, there’s a slight tapering off before the inevitable shut down and/or abandonment. In severe cases, like my own, there may be one or two attempts to get going again. A couple of redesigns, maybe, and some attempts to add or change focus. But ultimately, almost inevitably, the blog deteriorates into a couple of posts about “I’ll blog regularly this time, I swear!” and maybe a couple of holiday recipes. Mmmmm. Recipes.

Continue reading The Unicycle No One Loved

Holiday Traditions, New and Old

It’s that time of year again!

Time for delicious holiday foodstuffs? Nope. Time for incessantly repeating carols on retail PA systems? Nope. Time to panic? Maybe.

My friend Lori Luza just posted her Annual Holiday Pre-Rant (http://texasbluelime NULL.com/wp/2011/11/16/annual-holiday-pre-rant/). This is not the kind of thing people look forward to, is it? I mean, there’s probably something wrong with me. However, I have to say that I’m relieved that I’m not alone. I used to think very few people “got it” around the holidays.  Lori not only re-emphasizes that we really don’t need to hear “Little Drummer Boy” 187 times in the grocery store before Christmas, but that maybe a few of us have different priorities this year.

Continue reading Holiday Traditions, New and Old

Midnightferret Munches: Torchy's Tacos Spicewood

I thought I might make another effort with my blog, so I decided to review a restaurant. I love restaurants. Mostly, I

Torchy's Trailer Park Taco

This is not my picture. This is Torchy's picture, from their website. I ate my taco before I could take a picture of it.

love not having to cook. Last year, we decided to stop eating stuff with artificial crap in it. You know, added colors, flavors, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, and the like. This decision was a bit style cramping where restaurants are concerned, even here in Austin, where a lot of people feel the same way.  What’s worse is that we’d find a place to eat that had the same philosophy we did, only to discover the food was bland or just plain bad. Austin, what’s up with that? Why do you tolerate overpriced restaurants with poor service and mediocre (at best) food? My husband and I often either “cheat” on our vow not to eat what amounts to poison in the name of tastiness, or we just don’t eat out.

In any case, I digress. Today I lunched with my friend Casey at Torchy’s Taco’s (http://torchystacos NULL.com). I wanted to go because I haven’t been there yet, and I’ve been in Austin since 2008! How did I let that happen? Torchy’s food is not bland or bad, and they use additive free ingredients. Their sauces are house made, and the food is remarkably inexpensive, considering.  We had to go to the Spicewood Springs location because it’s between our respective workplaces. He had warned me that the place would be packed, and it was. I took it as a good sign, and tried to console myself with that thought as I walked from my car, which I had to park hell and gone from the door of the establishment.

Torchy’s menu is what an acquaintance of mine once termed “lowbrow gourmet.” I have to admit, I wanted a bit of everything on the menu, but I settled on “The Crossroads” taco, which is composed of brisket, grilled onions, avocado, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and tomatillo sauce. The brisket had a really smoky flavor that blended well with the onions and avocado. The jalapeños had spent some time on the grill, so they were more smoky than hot, but I admit that I promptly drowned everything in Torchy’s award-winning Diablo sauce after the first few bites. Oh, Diablo sauce, where have you been all my life? Casey had the “Republican,” which was a grilled jalapeño sausage with cheese and pico, and a “Trailer Park,” a fried chicken tender with pico, cheese, lettuce, and green chiles. We also shared some green chile queso. It was all pretty good! I must mention that they are serious about the queso at Torchy’s.

In closing, I loved it. Are there more authentic taco joints in Austin? You bet, but even despite forcing one to tolerate crowds of other so-called humans, Torchy’s is tasty, fast, and fun, and it won’t hurt your wallet much, either. For what it is, it gets a 4 Ferret rating, with the highest being 5 Ferrets.

Rating: 4/5 Ferrets

Pros: Great service, Good food, Inexpensive.

Cons: Parking, Crowds of entitled hipsters and people who should be old enough to know better than to act like hipsters, but don’t.

Social Media: I'm Doing It Wrong

I used to pride myself on my “internet solidarity.” Having been “on the internet” since before there was a word for it, I always thought I was just kickin’ it old school or something. I resisted LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. At one point, I used LiveJournal and MySpace as RSS feeddumps for my website/blog. I had a “blog” before I remember knowing the word “blog.” What was cool, though, was that I could use those services to say “If you really want to get in touch, come over to my website.” Now, Facebook doesn’t even let you have a static status on your profile. I don’t even think people read profiles much anymore, anyway.

This is not some icky hipster rant about how I used social media before it was cool. I didn’t use social media even when it became cool. I’m still angry that the internet went public and let people advertise businesses and services on search engines! I’m not an “early adopter.” I’m a troglodyte! A troglodyte!

Even after it was really easy to put your writing out on the web, I resisted it because I didn’t want some twink high school student passing my fiction or poetry off as his or her work. Hey, I spent money on creative writing classes in college. Despite the fact that I should have been spending that money on “internet marketing” classes (which they didn’t teach when I was in college) or journalism classes, I still wasn’t going to just put my hard-won brain labor out there for anyone who can copy/paste!

Now I’ve been dipping my toes in, I can say with certainty that I AM DOING IT WRONG. How do I know? Because user created content sites get book deals, and I probably won’t get one in the next ten years if I start submitting this year. Because blog posts with the right keywords get more traffic than ones that don’t, no matter what their actual content may be. And because I’m too weird and my attention span is too short to actually build my own following. I had a bigger following as a short-order cook and bartender in New Orleans than I do online now. Which is strange, because you’d think after 18 years online I’d know how to interwebs with the best of  ’em? Well, nope. I’m still doing it wrong.

For example, I can post my crap on Facebook for days and it might get shared. Might. But some fake spam crap about anthrax being in your Tide sample gets shared thirty bazillion million times. Now, if I had a “real following,” I might get shared 30 times. That might even get me some name-recognition somewhere besides my own living room, if I invoked it with the proper dance and the stars were in the correct alignment. But we’re still not even in the running with anthrax, and the LOLcats have two books out now. Two.

Some days those facts are enough to motivate me to try to get out there and be part of the online community. If my own health and happiness won’t put my ass in gear to socialize, then maybe the thought of achieving a childhood dream might do it? Other days, though, the same thoughts motivate me only to weep for the future of humanity.

I Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans


A well-known residence in the Garden District.

Let me begin by stating that I currently reside in Austin, Texas, which is a pretty cool place. I have nothing against it. I’m not “doing it wrong.” I’m just not as in love with Austin as I am with New Orleans.

I was born in new Orleans, and I spent some of my early childhood and later, early adulthood there until Hurricane Katrina happened. We intended to go back, but circumstances (mostly financial) prevented us from doing so. Still, not one day goes by that I don’t think about New Orleans. Carnival Season began January fifth, and from then until around June, I’ll be pining for that city extra hard, and not just because of Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. I’ve got a couple of theories and a few legitimate reasons why I can’t stop missing New Orleans:

Theory:

  • New Orleans was “taken away” from me. Because I didn’t leave New Orleans voluntarily, part of me must feel that somehow it was “stolen.” If we could have found a way to return without having to live under a bridge or something, it might have been different. As it stands, in my emotional life, I kind of feel robbed.
  • I spent some of my early childhood there. We all have hazy, sun-dappled childhood memories. Mine smell like live oak trees in humid weather and are filled with various NOLA accents. My grandparents and relatives have NOLA accents. I think I imprinted on the place like a baby duck!
  • Before I left, I was finally easing into adult life. I had a part-time job and was finishing my B.A. degree. My husband and I were thinking of buying property at which to reside for at least the next ten years. I had several very close friends whom I saw every day, and legions of casual acquaintances whom I ran into regularly. Three days before I turned 27, it all suddenly dissolved. It was as if the previous years I had spent building my life had never happened. Keep in mind, I was lucky. I didn’t own a family home that was destroyed, or lose a loved one to the flood. It was still difficult to cope.

Legit:

  • Don’t care what you say, there is no other city like NOLA. I have traveled many places in the U.S. and all over the world. New Orleans is truly unique. It’s not just the food (we’ll get there, I promise!). The combination of cultures and attitudes, having simmered slowly for 300 years, has created an environment that is impossible to duplicate.
  • The food. The city has some of the best eats I’ve ever had, and trust me, I like to eat! In NOLA, you can get an excellent Bloody Mary not from a mix, a high quality po boy on fresh bread for the price of a fast food meal, French pastry made by a 6th generation French pastry chef, in-house ground lean beef and house made Italian sausage at the corner store, tamales made by a real Mexican grandmother for $.50 apiece, and a 5 course meal at a world-famous restaurant, all in the same day and in the same 8 mile radius. I know because I’ve done it.
  • The history. 300 year old architecture. The oldest continuously operating open air market in the United States. The birthplace of Jazz. Oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world. (The world!) There’s more, so much more that it could (and does) fill numerous books. The history of the city is one of the most fascinating and diverse of any city in the United States.
  • Something for everyone. It’s not just the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, y’all.  There are museums and historic sites so you can better yourself culturally. The Audubon Zoo is absolutely amazing, as are the Aquarium and the Insect Museum. There is usually some kind of festival happening on any given weekend. Did I mention the food yet? You can go to school if you want. You can go sailing or fishing on Lake Ponchartrain, and while you’re near the lake, you can drive across one of the longest bridges in the world. And of course, no one says you can’t just go rat around the French Quarter, or go ahead and spend an afternoon at the casino, if you want!

After Katrina, when we would go back, it would make me so sad to see neighborhoods still in ruins. I went back last year to visit, and when my friend and I drove on I-10 over parts of the city at night, we could see large dark neighborhoods which still hadn’t recovered and may never recover. These are the neighborhoods where people were too poor to fight the insurance company lawyers who said they didn’t have a claim. They are the neighborhoods that were so-called “mixed-income,” where regular Joes like you and me made their homes, but couldn’t afford to come back.

Louis Armstrong sang it, and I feel it. I do know what it means to miss New Orleans.

Equal Time for Valentine’s Day

On a blog I write for called “Get Off My Lawn (http://getoffmylawn NULL.org),” I’m pretty grumpy about Valentine’s Day. But hey, that’s the point of GOML.

Box of Necco Candy Hearts

And in all honesty, I agree with just about everything I wrote there. Still, I do like certain things about VD that I will share with you here:

  • Conversation hearts: The Necco brand, not the Sweet Tarts brand. I’ve always been a fan of what I call “old lady candy”: liquorice, Necco wafers, Jordan almonds, Bit-O-Honey. Yep. So a heart-shaped piece of chalk with a cute saying stamped on it is right up my alley.
  • An excuse to say “I love you” to my husband all day without him telling me to stop it, already. I have a weird habit of repeating myself or forgetting that I just said something, and so I say it again. I like to blame bi-polar disorder for it and not not all that alcohol I consumed in my early 20′s. Whatever the cause, it’s annoying. Today is the one day I can annoyingly repeat myself and get away with it.
  • A chance to annoy the neighbors. We live in the same building as a young couple who are apparently very much in love. Or in lust. Whatever works for you. They take every opportunity to, er, express that love. Loudly and athletically. And they need to either fix their bed or couch, or move it away from the wall. Contrary to what you might believe, I totally love this couple and their behavior. Why? Well, because they live nextdoor to my upstairs neighbor, whom my hubby and I have affectionately nicknamed “Old Stompy.” Stompy is a woman in her middle forties who hates everyone and everything. We had to unplug the bass from our surround system because Stompy kept pounding on the floor and leaving passive-aggressive notes (with no signature) on our door, even though we only watched explody movies at more than low volume on Saturdays around noon. Stompy begins her day at 5:30am when she stomps to the shower, and ends the day by vacuuming with an ancient, loud machine at 11:30 or 12pm at night. Tonight, we have an excuse to give it to Stompy in stereo. (We are usually more considerate, but what the hell, right? It’s Valentine’s Day.)
  • Chocolate. Well, more chocolate than usual.

Valentine’s Day isn’t all bad. Some people choose to celebrate it, others hate it with a passion. I’m not really into all the corporate hullabaloo. I prefer traditions that are a little more meaningful. I’m a big fan of ones you and your family start that have little to do with mass consumption. However you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, be mindful of all the crap you buy. Because conversation hearts are half price the day after Valentine’s day. And that’s a “good thing.”

Guns Don’t Kill People, Mentally Defective People Kill People!

I’m sure I’m opting in for a whole world of pain (and trolling) here. But I can’t help myself. Because this (http://www NULL.rawstory NULL.com/rs/2011/02/million-dangerously-mentally-ill-missing-natl-gun-check-system/) article  came onto my radar today, I read a couple of articles today about Virginia’s ban on gun sales (http://www NULL.washingtonpost NULL.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/30/AR2007043000556 NULL.html) to the mentally ill. That link is to a 2007 Washington Post article. In this (http://bipolar NULL.about NULL.com/od/stigma/a/070616_lapierre NULL.htm) About.com article, the June 2007 law in Virginia is referenced, along with an interview on CBS of Wayne LaPierre, the VP of the NRA. Wayne calls the mentally ill “mentally defective.” I’m now going to call Wayne a shithead for saying that on national television. Shithead. But it’s worse than that, Mouseketeers. Much, much worse.

I’m not a huge fan of About.com: the info found there is often subjective. Also, this particular article was “about” something someone else (not the author) posted in a forum. So the author says someone saw Wayne LaPierre on television, and he said… Well, you get the idea.

I give you this background info because I need y’all to understand where I’m coming from, here. At any rate, a few internet searches later, I discover that in the form that Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms requires (http://www NULL.atf NULL.gov/forms/download/atf-f-4473 NULL.pdf) for over-the-counter gun sales, the language is the same as good ol’ Wayne’s. “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective…?” There is is, in black and white, the language of federal law. I’m about ready to go buy a gun myself. Well, not really.

I actually don’t like guns much. I don’t think as many people should probably have guns as do have them, but I don’t see any real way to evaluate who is going to be irresponsible with his or her gun and who is not. Honestly, I’m not really against hunting. Let’s just say I’m not hugely into guns, but I’m also not hugely into gun control. And I don’t want to go into that right now. I’m also aware that some of the mentally ill can be violent and dangerous. Those people have also probably already committed a violent crime and would be disqualified from being able to own a gun anyway. Also, people who really want a gun — and who aren’t “supposed” to have one — can acquire them illegally without forms or background checks, or whatever. But, again, those aren’t the issues I want to address now.

What I want to go into here is the language of that legal form. “Mentally defective.” That’s like saying women are defective males, or homosexuals are “sexually defective,” or people with physical disabilities are “physically defective.” (Incidentally, if you have said or thought any of those things, fuck you.) Basically, it’s just as disgusting as all of those previous examples that the language of United States law calls the mentally ill “defective.” I have bi-polar disorder and I am not fucking defective. Fuck you, language of the law. And fuck you if you think that the mentally ill are “defective.” What’s next? Are you going to take away my right to vote? Do I not get a voice because I have a mood disorder? Do I need to sew a big red “BPD” to all of my clothing so people can identify me as defective and avoid me? Is it still OK for me to have a driver’s license or are you going to take that away? Can I own property? Maybe I’m too defective to live in your neighborhood.

I’ve already mentioned in this blog that I’m bi-polar and (for lack of a better word) “out” about it. It’s my way of volunteering to help end the stigma of mental illness. I try to be relatively open about my mood disorder without shoving it at people too much, and by living as well as I can with it. Still, I’ve had people distance themselves from me after finding out. I’ve had them blink and then try to pretend they still accept me, but I can tell they don’t. Whatever. Other “defective” people have it a lot worse than I do, so I try to suck it up and do my part to be a human on this planet with other humans.  It kind of sucks, because most other humans piss me off. A lot.

But this shit here, my friends. This shit here, where the mentally ill are called “defective,” not only by intolerant NRA leaders (http://www NULL.nraleaders NULL.com/wayne-la-pierre NULL.html) (who, if they would actually go get a psych eval, would probably be diagnosed with something in the DSM) but in the language of the cat-damned United States law. I support your right to own a gun. I support your right to air your opinion. But I do not fucking support the printed law labeling other human beings as “defective,” whether they be mentally ill or otherwise different from whatever stupid fucking American “society” says they “should” be. Again, language of the law, fuck you.  Sideways. I will do everything in my power to change you. This means war.

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The Killing Floor

(http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Killing-Floor-Pc/dp/B002IYR0KO%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJEQD5TKKEYDMJSTA%26tag%3Dblogferret-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB002IYR0KO)Naw, I’m not gonna talk about this PC game, even though I heard it was good for some Co-Op Zombie killing fun of an evening. I just liked the title.

When I lived in New Orleans in 1996, I worked at a place in the 200 block of Baronne Street downtown. It was in a bank building. We worked on the ground floor, but we supported some clients on the upper floors of the building. For some reason, when you called the elevator to go down, it would stop even if it was on its way up. If you got in one that had the “up” light on, you would first have to go up, then down to your destination floor.  This was true even if someone below you had used the elevator to ascend, and then left it.  So the elevator doors would open into an empty elevator, and you’d get in, and although you pressed a button for the lobby, the elevator would still go to the top floor, open, and then close and take you back down. Even if no one on the top floor had called it, which was usually the case. I don’t know why the elevator behaved this way and didn’t know why then.

Continue reading The Killing Floor

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