Friday, September 30, 2005

My mother is in Loretto Nursing Home and has dementia from a brain tumor she had, now gone. To help her remember me, I have been trying to include my picture on the postcards I make for her. This is a hard postcard sent by snail mail. She doesn't due computers. LOL! It's not a great picture of me, I look really tired. I took it of myself when I was alone on the brink of the cliff at SIlk Creek Retreat. Posted by Picasa

Us, in Hamilton

Us, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

(taken by a stranger we met in the woods) Posted by Picasa

A note to Keith after hearing Neil Young

“Sometimes, when people get married, they adapt their personalities to their partners and lose their creativity.” Neil Young, in an NPR interview heard Friday, September 30, 2005 on Fresh Air. He says his wife did not demand that of him. (Also hear Neil Young with Scott Simon.)

I would like to get his new album, Prairie Wind.

I would like to be able to love you and be your wife and have a partnered joint life without losing my creativity or myself. Conversely, I would like to avoid having a negative impact on your creativity and your you-ness (me-ness). I want you to be you, to have and do the things you love, and I want me to be me and to have and do the things I love and at the same time, have together time and shared possessions.

This is a sort of tight-rope walk. I want to love you as you are, not try to change you. And I want the same from you. At the same time, if neither of us change at all, there may never be a real, deeply developed us.

For example (and this is only one example), for me, one of the issues of there being an US is Susan, who seems to intrude on every aspect of our lives, especially in the house, where everything seems to be hers, and has to be done her way. I would like there to be an our way, not a “her way.” An our house, not a her house. But if I complain about the fact that it makes me feel unloved and left out etc, then I feel as if I am asking you to change and give up something important to you. And then I think, well, if Susan is that important to you, what am I doing with you? That makes me want to leave. Every time you do one of your classic Susan things, I feel like you don’t love me. So yes, then I want you to change. I want the hurting to stop. Or I want to leave. But then, am I forcing you to give up who YOU are? I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to take away something that’s so important to you that you can’t even throw away her retainer!

I don’t want to feel like a bad person, depriving you of something important. But if what is important to you excludes me, then how is there an US? Maybe there is something in ME that needs to change to allow You to continue to love Susan so very much, which of course, you have every right to do. She was the love of your life for what, twenty years or more? But it is difficult in the context of our trying to build a relationship with each other. I know you don’t want to lose her any more than you already have. AND I AM WILLING TO GET HELP for ME and US on this issue. Ignoring it is NOT going to make it go away. Not talking about it isn’t going to help. I wish I knew what to do. I want our relationship to grow and deepen, not stagnate and fall apart. I want there is be a deep whole intimate loving growing evolving US, and a whole healthy you and a whole healthy me. How can we do this?

I want to reassure you that I love you and would like to resolve these issues and am willing to do my part if you’re willing to do yours. Just not sure what that really should mean to each of us in practical daily terms.

I love you.

Love, Mary XOX

Friday, September 23, 2005

Word verification

I am sorry to have to add word verification to the blog, but I am getting SO MANY junky spams and wasting time deleting them all. Sorry.

Autumn Leaves in a Swirl of Foam

Autumn leaves in a swirl of creek foam at Silk Creek. Photo by Mary Stebbins, 9-22-05 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Sample Size of One: Experimenting with my own Body

For the past two weeks, I've been getting random bellyaches.  It's not only unpleasant and painful, but also scary.  I wonder if I am getting an ulcer, if my fibro-related IBS has taken a turn for the worse, or worse yet, if I have cancer.  Because I have so many "food sensitivities" (I am told not to call them allergies), I of course suspect that I am eating something that disagrees with me.  But what?

Yesterday, I ate breakfast and had no pain, but after lunch, I developed a stomachache.  This is what I ate:  a small stir-fry with ¼ pound of shrimp, broccoli and mushrooms.  For seasoning, a little white wine.  Since I've never had a problem with the veggies or seafood, I suspect the wine.  For dinner, I have ¼ pound scallops, red cabbage and mushrooms.  No white wine, no tummy ache.

Today, I have a different breakfast, no tummy ache.  For lunch, I have 6 oz tilapia with broccoli and mushrooms, no wine, no tummy ache.  For supper, salmon, mushrooms and yellow squash.  No wine.  So far, no tummy ache—BUT I may not have waited long enough yet.

If I get no tummy ache, does it prove anything?  Nope.  Could have been a bug that is gone now, or something else.  What I need to do is repeat it, without and WITH the wine—see if I can replicate the results.  Even then, it could be coincidental.  Or not.

I don't know any reason why wine would give me a tummy ache.  I don't know it's the wine.  But it might be.  I don't know any other way to find out, do you?  The doctors never seem to have any answers.  Or, not enough of them to help with all the issues that crop up.  So I keep trying, a little bit at a time, to keep myself healthy and safe, experimenting with a sample size of one:  me.

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Me, by Keith. Posted by Picasa

Straubsinger and ADD

I went to Dr. Arelene Straubsinger at 8 AM this morning for my ADD evaluation.  Boy that was weird.  I also have to go back next week.  At 8 AM.  She asked me a million questions, most of which I've forgotten--they all seemed a little weird, and she gave me a questionnaire to take home and fill out--I spent the whole rest of the day working on it whenever I had a chance and have only gotten about 2/3 done. 

She seemed nice, she's a Gemini like me.  (Not that I believe in that stuff.)

I don't like the questionnaire--it's a whole lot of true-false questions and you are supposed to answer every single one the best you can, but most require essay answers and neither true not false fits.

I had a mammogram today--it didn't hurt as much as usual, thank goodness--and the X-ray technician who was a perfect person for the job, really sweet and nice, rosy-cheeked and sort of English looking, saw me working on the questionnaire while I was waiting and asked me about it so I told her what it was and why I was doing it and she looked at the questions and turned up her nose and said, "don't take any medications based on that questionnaire!"  I thought that was funny because I was thinking the same thing.

Dr. Straubsinger studied creative writing too.  Cool.  Maybe she would accept creative answers to those true false questions.  LOL!  She asked me what I knew about ADD and my mind went blank and I couldn't think of anything.  It's that BLANK MIND that really bothers me.  But one thing I know is that they give people with ADD Ritalin (sp?) and I don't want to take it.  If I have trouble sleeping NOW, what would that do to me?  But I think there is also a diet for it--The Feingold diet or something--all I need are more restrictions on what I eat.  But I think I would have to not eat any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, which I prefer not to eat anyway.  I don't know what else though.  I have looked it up, but I don't remember--blank mind and all.

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cheered by my Sweetie! YEBA!

Keith at Belle Isle near the only marble lighthouse in the world--now there's a sight to cheer me--this was the day before yesterday (Sunday). Photo by Mary. LOL! :-) {My Sweetie!] Posted by Picasa

Burnt out on Sympathy

I had a bad night last night—again.  And my fibro is worse again, after a couple days of much improvement.   I don't know why.  I wish I did!


I am reading (rereading) Opening Up by James W. Pennebaker, PhD.  It is a book about the importance of opening up, sharing talking, disclosing.  Those who talk and write about their problems are supposedly healthier according to a whole slew of studies than those who don't, unless the people have a role-with the punches personality.  Apparently, according to this book, there are three major ways to divide personalities for the purpose of this discussion:


  1. roll-with-the punches
  2. inhibited/nondiscloser
  3. uninhibited/discloser


Pennebaker says a large portion, 30-50% (and he gives studies) of the personality is genetic and another large portion is environmental (the old nature-nurture issue).   People are born with a tendency toward one of those personality types and either strengthen or weaken that association as they grow.


  • Type 1 is generally unaffected by stress or "trauma" (or only mildly affected)
  • Type 2 tends to act as speak as if everything is fine but have major health consequences as a result of trauma or stress
  • Type 3 tends toward talking a lot about stress and trauma but having less health affects.


The general conclusion seems to be that talking and writing about stress and trauma helps the mind AND BODY heal.


However, there is a limit to how much "complaining" we can do.  He writes in the book that the social pressure of our society is toward inhibition and nondisclosure—no one likes a "complainer."   But studies have shown (and I have read this else where as well), that complainers tend to live longer and compliant quiet people die sooner of breast cancer, heart disease etc.


Unfortunately, you just can't keep complaining to the same people because they get burnt out!!!!  That's why I created The Unbearable Darkness of Being—as a place to complain without repercussions.


I think I am a strange mixture of types 2 and 3—I am very uninhibited in some ways and very inhibited in others.   Asthma, fibromyalgia and insomnia are all stress-related diseases, diseases that are exacerbated by stress.  I tend to take things hard and be more stressed by them than most people.   I need to find ways to ameliorate stress, but on the other hand, I can't spend the whole day sitting cross-legged saying "om" or doing T'ai chi or running or relaxing, and if complaining helps, I am going to wear out all my friends.  


The problem is that the problems don't go away.  Long after everyone is tired of hearing about it, I'm still in pain, I still have trouble walking, I still can't sleep (and it drives me nuts.)   I guess that's why they have groups for those afflictions—people who suffer the same problems.  You can keep talking to them about it because they keep suffering too and know what long term ongoing chronic pain is like.

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Sad and Stupid.

On the mornings that I have insomnia, I almost always feel sad (depressed) when I get up and for some time after I am up, maybe all day. Today is one of those days. My insomnia was bad last night and today I feel all out of sorts again.

Here is a note I wrote about that a couple days ago in my constituional journal on the Psion:

050907WP Wednesday, September 7?, 2005, 2:30 PM I am out on the first loop of my constitutional under a bright hot sun, and a partly cloudy sky. Lots of hazy white clouds. I am not exactly overjoyed, but I m happier than I was yesterday. Yesterday I was depressed and felt physically terrible. Today, I am a little more cheerful. I feel a LITTLE better. Physically. I'm not great. My back, especially the small of my back and sacroiliac, hurts. My hips hurt, too, but the pain is not as severe as yesterday. Not great, but better.
I am dashing off to the store to get salad fixings and ice-cream for Keith and Graham and cereal. Maybe I should skip the cereal for a few days. I don't know.

I don't know what caused the flare-up of pain. I also would like to somehow lose weight. Seems impossible. But I want to try. Again.

2:38 PM I am trying to hurry as fast as I can because Keith comes home around 3:00 and I want to grab a few things at the store and either beat him back or at least arrive very shortly after him, like before he is settled in. I like to be there to greet him and exchange pleasantries and hugs etc before he gets started on whatever activities he may start on.

In spite of all the clouds that are visible, hazy and thick, the sun seems to be hanging out in the small portion of sky that is clear.

Bad is in the eye of the beholder. Some people think people who don't water their lawns are bad because the lawns look brown and "ugly." I think people who do water their lawns are "bad" because they are wasting precious resources and interfering with the grass plant's natural tendency toward estivation.


Thursday, September 8, 2005, 3:35 PM I am out on the first loop of my constitutional. I thought I was leaving in plenty of time, but the old man on the corner came out to talk to me and I didn’t want to be rude so I stopped to talk. He's very nice, friendly, and maybe a little lonely. I talked to him about his grass seed, the weather, the rain, the kids on their bikes, where I lived, who my fiancĂ© was why I wasn’t married yet, and why I needed to get going and be home by 3:00. Only I may not be.

It is a grey day, and rain heavily earlier. The sky is completely grey, a mottled lumpy grey. It is a little cooler than it has been, cooler than yesterday. The yards are full of acorns and black squirrels collecting acorns. A truck with a huge vacuum cleaner is vacuuming a rug in someone's house.

My hips hurt.

Today, my hips hurt and I feel quite sad. I really did a bad thing. I wanted to taste Graham's Snickers ice-cream, but then I wasn't happy with a taste and had more. This is what I said to myself. I had had what I thought was a healthy day yesterday, and a healthy breakfast today, but I didn't feel well or sleep well last night not do I feel well today. I was sad and angry and I said to myself, what difference does it make if I eat healthy food if I feel terrible anyway? So I dished myself up some ice cream and put a little chocolate syrup on it.

I feel terrible. I mean physically terrible. I did anyway. But now I also feel bad and guilty and fearful that tomorrow I will feel even worse! That I will have the negative effects of dairy, chocolate and nuts, all of which I am allergic to, ON TOP of all the other symptoms I already have. I'll be a basket case, and just because I felt as if I deserved a little treat because I felt so rotten.

Stupid and self-destructive.


I have another blog called Raw Word Batter into which I dump the raw words of my constitutionals, usually unedited, just to get them off the dying Psion. It requires a lot of basic WADING to read it.

I get depressed when all I write is bad stuff, so I think I will write about my newly reconstructed desk for my blog, No Polar Coordinates.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Thursday, September 08, 2005; 7:42:47 AM


I am feeling sad again.  It's not something that I want to keep talking about—no one wants to hear it.   I am sad and depressed.  I think the main reason is that I couldn't sleep last night and now I am tired.  I'm discouraged because in spite of trying really hard to not eat any offensive foods, I still couldn't sleep!   Of course, I'm not sure that the foods are the culprit.  But they seem to be.


When I don't sleep, I feel really tired and my fibromyalgia seems to be worse.  There was a study where they took healthy people and deprived them of sleep and they developed fibromyalgia.   Or fibromyalgia-like symptoms.


I should be happy, or at least a little happy, because we actually took one step toward making my office in the ex-TV room upstairs.   We removed the TV and the big chair with its pile of junk and moved the couch into a new position to make room for my desk.  But I can see that all the other junk is not going to fit in here, the filing cabinets and so on.   I don't want to move the couch out because at least at the moment, it is where we gather for stories at night and that is an important family ritual.   But if we don't move the couch, half the office will be in one room and half in another or maybe even spread out more than that to several rooms.  This will spread the clutter around the house and make organizing my stuff more difficult.   Well, we'll have to see how things develop.


I am happy in an intellectual way, but I don't feel happy.  I do feel slightly encouraged, because when the desk is ready, I will move my computer and the bird and be over the hump where I am really living more here than there.  Maybe eventually, I will actually get rid of the house in Kimbrook and live in Detroit.  Get divorced and get remarried.  I hope so, I cannot believe how long this is all taking.  It seems absurd!


I think I don't "feel" happy because my emotions are "depressed" by tiredness.  I like it much better when I actually feel happy.   Of course I prefer to feel happy and energetic rather than tired, depressed and sluggish.  I wish I could sleep at night and feel better during the day.


Right now, I am sorting through the pile of junk that has been sitting for months on one cushion of the chair.   Some of it is mine and some of it is Keith's.  Some of it is garbage and some is important.  I need to do that in order to make a space to move the card table that the computer (Della, Keith's computer) is on so that we can begin setting up the desk.   YAY!   YEBA!  Slow progress is better than no progress, right?

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fear of Food: It's not always easy to know what is safe for me to eat with all my allergies and food sensitivities. This salad is made with fake cheese, since I'm allergic to real cheese. I'm supposed to avoid too many nightshades, but what does that mean? Are these fresh tomatoes too much? I don't really know. Posted by Picasa

Fear of Food

How can someone who is so overweight be afraid of food?
I am afraid of food.
So far today, I am feeling better than I was yesterday.  Not good, but better. 
Yesterday my pain was getting pretty severe.
I am afraid I ate something made me sick.  I don't know what it was.  The peach cobbler at the Truck Stop?  The Frangelica?  The beer?  I'm not supposed to have alcohol.  The banana, which is on the no-no list? All the shallots I've been eating, closely related to onions, a distinct no-no?  The white rice, another no-no?  The tomatoes?   Or what? 
It might not be something I ate.  It could be something else.  But so far, it seems that my pain is partially correlated with food consumption.  Soy, for example, exacerbates the fibro.  That is, it makes me hurt and makes me stiff. 
There is a list of items I am supposed avoid:  The list includes nightshades, coffee, chocolate, soy products, dairy products, apples and oranges, bananas, onions, alcohol, etc.  I can barely remember it.  To further confuse things, I can sometimes eat those things without adverse effects (but it may be cumulative) and sleep quantity and quality also effects me, as well as stress.  The list says not all fibromyalgics respond negatively to all the triggers listed.  So it is hard to ascertain which triggers affect me when.  But now that I've been sick all week, I am very nervous about eating.  And I want to get enough sleep.
Sleep is hard, because we always get to bed late, and I have sleep apnea and insomnia.  I don't know how to cure it.
The fourth factor is exercise--I supposedly need to get enough and it needs to be the right kind.  But it is not always easy to have enjoyable exercise if I'm in PAIN!  It seems like a Catch-22.
To be healthy, I need to do the following things:
  • eat right. 
    • eat less, eat properly, avoid trigger foods
  • sleep well, sleep enough (hard to do with late bedtimes, insomnia, and sleep apnea!)
  • get enough of the right kinds of exercise--aerobic and stretching (hard to do when in pain)
  • avoid excess stress (yeah, right--unfortunately, when I'm in pain, everything seems stressful!)

The whole thing creates its own "downward" or negative spiral.  What I want to know is, what can I do to turn it around to create a positive spiral.


I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Looking on one of the rearview mirrors on TA's new Truck, photo by Mary Stebbins Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I've been crying a lot today.  Every tear I shed makes me feel a lot lighter and more cheerful. 
I read somewhere that when you cry, you shed toxins.  I wonder if the chicken came before the egg.  Does the sadness create the toxins or the toxins create the sadness?  Do I have to cry over my own real problems, or will any problems do?  There is certainly plenty to cry about in this world.
Too bad when I cry for the people in New Orleans, it doesn't somehow help THEM.

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Mary Dancing at Golden Harvest Festival Posted by Picasa

the funny things that cheer me

I sent a picture to Pam of me dancing at Golden Harvest Festival and asked if she could spot me in the picture.  She asked if I was the second pumpkin from the left and I said
Yup, that's me, all round and orange-faced, yuk yuk!
and she said
Well I would have said curvaceous and voluptuous!
and I said
Yes, that's me, that's what Keith says anyway.  He he!  LOL!  ROTFLOL!  Thank you, I needed that.
Because her saying that reminded me that Keith likes and LOVES me even though I consider myself to be fat in a bad way.  And I felt his love and it made me feel loved and happy--for a moment, anyway.  And I smiled.
(But now I feel sad again!  WAHN!  WHY?)

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

A Sense of Pressure

050906 MP Tuesday, September 06, 2005; 11:11 AM  I feel a sense of pressure.   I feel a little overwhelmed.  I feel tired and depressed.  I feel as if I am on the edge—on the edge of exploding, on the edge of anger.   I am not happy or well and for no particularly good reason that I can readily determine.  I AM TAKING A BREAK TO WRITE BECAUSE I FEEL AS IF I must WRITE.   I FEEL DESPERATE.  Oh dear, those cap locks were not intentional but they may as well have been.  I suppose.


I love Keith and I am happy to be in a relationship with him, but at the same time, I feel as if somehow I am being lost.


He may well feel the same way.


I just read this morning that widowers tend to remarry within two years and those that do tend to be unhappy, because they need to talk about their dead wives and the new wives, for appropriate reasons, don't want to talk about the other women their husbands loved.   The lack of ability to talk about their dead wives and their grief is not good for their health.  They need to talk about it.   They need to discuss what happened and how they feel about it.


I believe this and I have upon occasion invited Keith to talk about Susan in the past, but he rarely does, and I can't blame him, because of course it upsets me terribly to imagine him loving another woman, being intimate with her and so on.   I don't even like to write about it.


I understand of course that he hadn't met me yet and he wasn't being unfaithful to me or anything, and I too had previous husbands.   And previous intimacies, of course.  But knowing that intellectually does not make it feel any better—it still hurts. I don't know why.  I hate for my hurt, my possibly unreasonable hurt, to hurt Keith.  If he needs tot alk, I wish he could—to a counselor, to a friend, or even to me—he would just have to approach it with care and caution.   He would have to preface his remarks by saying something like:  "I really need to talk about Susan, would you be willing to listen?"   And then to also listen to my own fears about it.


I keep taking deep breaths and sighing, as if there were something heavy weighing on me, but I don't know what it is.   There are a lot of little things, but I am not sure what is upsetting me so much.


Here are some things that are bothering me right now:


  • The lack of progress on selling the Kimbrook house and settling the divorce and marrying Keith and getting moved to Detroit
  • The fact that NO ONE (including us, Keith and I, the lawyer, Bruce and so on), seems to care or be making any effort at all toward making progress in this direction.
  • My constant pain, my fibromyalgia and associated symptoms, my insomnia, my fatigue and tiredness, my grouchiness, irritability and on-edgeness.
  • My lack of energy and motivation—I feel so depressed I don't want to do anything at all right now, and when I do want to do things, I don't seem to have any energy
  • Old age ("and treachery")
  • A heaviness of heart
  • The fact that I am not writing or doing any of my creative work
  • The loss of all my work on the hard drive of Dead
  • The disorganization of everything, my inability to locate any of my stuff anywhere any more, due to the move in part, and my forgetfulness, and lack of organizational skills and energy and the fact that there is nowhere to put anything.  
  • The increasing messiness of the Detroit house—it seems to be heading in the same direction as the Kimbrook house.
  • Tension in the family, between Keith and Graham, Keith and me, Graham and me etc.
  • An overall sense of impending doom (I tend to have an all or nothing attitude when I'm depressed and it seems like everything is bad).
  • I feel as if I am just too fat and always getting fatter and there is nothing I can do about it.
  • I feel as if I can't get enough air, as if things are closing in on me
  • I'm worried about my mother, her health and happiness, her house, her estate, her car etc.
  • I want to write, but now that everything is lost I feel as if I have to start all over from scratch and don't know where to begin.   It seems like a hopeless task.  Everything feels hopeless.
  • I feel guilty for feeling this way in the light of the hurricane victims in New Orleans, the Tsunami victims, the starvation victims, the war victims etc.   The English bombing victims and the Russian bombing victims and all the other suffering people in the world—those with Malaria and tuberculosis and cancer etc.   I feel bad for them but I still feel bad for myself and I also feel as if I have no right to feel bad but I do.  AK

Well, I could go on and on, but I guess this isn't doing a bit of good.

I guess I will go out and walk around the block in the sunshine.  Maybe that will help.



11:51 AM even the sun through the window is cheering me--a little!

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats


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