Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Friday, December 28, 2007

....But I Play One On T.V.: Only in LA, Part 578:

Okay, y'all remember when I got rear-ended on Christmas 2 years ago by the LA County Sherriff and I was all intimidated and afraid to file a claim, etc? Well, I did end up filing one a long ways back, and the ( his) insurance company repaired my car. Fine.

I was also injured, and I spent New Year's Eve in the E.R. They said it was some sort of back injury and sent me home with tons of drugs. I eventually ended up at my chiropractor's office, and that ended up being a huge chunk of $$ out of my own pocket. I didn't think I could file for that, but a lawyer friend told me this year (!!) that I had a two-year statute of limitations.
So I filed. And they denied the claim. And I argued. Long story short, I had to go and file a small-claims suit for personal injury this Christmas Eve before the statute ran out. ( You can file PI in small claims in LA. Another valuable tidbit from Lawyer Friend).

Anyway, I have to have the man served with the papers ( I can't do it, but anyone else can. ). I have to do it physically, like y'know, HAND them to him, so he can't claim he didn't get them. Problem is, the only addy the insurance company had for him was a P.O. Box, and NO PHONE NUMBER. SO I call up LA County Sherriff Dept, explain the situation, and ask if I can just be given his branch CO's # so I can find out where and when to serve him at work.

They can't give me that, as it turns out. But as it also turns out, the woman on the phone was sympathetic to my plight, and said, "Is it a common name? If it's not, I can tell you if he's even a county employee. " It's NOT a common name, so she ran it through. He wasn't EVEN IN THE SYSTEM. Which could mean anything, right? Like he quit or got fired or whatever.

But wait for it.....

My friend R, who works in real estate and is so handy with tracking people/land parcels/legal documents/bank documents down with his access, does some digging around. Turns out there's this actor of the same name with a webpage, and he sends me for a looksee.

It's my guy. (Or his evil twin, or a cousin who looks alot like him). And he plays a sherriff on tv. And has a history of playing cops on a variety of tv shows.

Methinks something fishy is awry, no? I called LA County back, and when they got done laughing, they advised me that if, indeed, this is the case as I discover it on the way to my legal action, I should notify So-and-So in the Fraud department immediately.

My Lawyer Friend has to subpoena his DMV records from the insurance company and when he does, I cannot fucking WAIT to see what happens.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

May the circle be unbroken...

This Christmas I turned into my mom- every year she gets so excited and makes plans that outreach her time constraints- but she buys for everyone one on the planet, including people we never see, she decorates, bakes, cooks, wraps, and is generally Super Homemaker. (My dad, BTW, never leaves the chair but once, and that's usually to hand my brother or me some money and say, "Go get X for your mom. " Then we wrap it, too. Oh, he makes the ham. But doesn't do dishes. ::Eye roll:: Okay, this is excepted by his behavior THIS year, when I actually witnessed with my own eyes, him doing the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner. Either the 5 years I've been living in LA have left him with no one to shuffle off the duty to, - my brother is usually crafty and skips out before the plate even hits the bottom of the sink- or my mom has beaten him into submission. Or both. ) Every year I go in the back bedroom and find a pile of shopping bags of stuff she never even touched, or got a chance to get to.( And usually get this: "Do you like this? I thought it was cute. " "Um, I guess so." "Well, do you want it?" "Um.....")

Every year I think two things: 1.) she's crazy and 2.) when she dies, we're all screwed, because no one will go to all the effort she puts into it that we take for granted. The year she doesn't decorate every square inch of the house in Christmas crap ( including the bathrooms) is the year I know the shit has hit the fan.

Apparently, evolution has a plan, because I have started doing the same things, starting this year. I bit off way more than I could chew, spent alot of money, baked 3,000,000 ( well, it felt like that) cookies and pies and STILL have what I'm conservatively labelling "holiday gifts/cards" to get out piled in my living room.

So to all you moms toiling out there, I feel you now, and appreciate you in a new light. I suspect I will not truly know the meaning of this holiday til I'm up at 1am trying to fit Slot A into Tab B and securing it with Sprocket GH-14, with a tool they only make in Sweden that I don't own but am attempting to imitate with a butterknife. I promise to call my mom today and let her know how much she is appreciated. I will even tell my dad the same for shelling out the dough to pay for all of it, all these years.

And for my single/fur-mommy-only gal pals out there, I say, l hope you are making Christmas happy for you and your loved ones with the Mary Tyler Moore Spirit we all have. It's worth it. I promise.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Answer the following question with the choices you know to be likely true:

Jessica found out today that:

a.) her car insurance will not be paying her chiropractic bill from that accident on Christmas Day two years ago, thus leaving her with a balance of $600
b.) the stupid dental office who extracted her tooth has not been removing money from her savings account like she thought they had, so she still owes them the entire $483
c.) she will likely be paying out $2500 in crowns for her root canals
d.) the job market, like everything else in the stinking Western world, has ground to a hiring halt due to the holiday
e.) she got a dumb looking Hallmark monarch butterfly sculpture from her mom for Christmas
f.) her brother hasn't even bought her a present yet even though he insisted on getting his BEFORE Christmas so he could wear it for a special occasion
g.) that M, her ex-boyfriend, got married to his girlfriend B a couple of months ago and although she's not heartbroken it puts her pathetic loveless existence into perspective
h.) all of the above.

And I still have two dozen cookies and two pies to bake, tralala, and a partridge in a frickin' pear tree.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tonight I had one of those moments where you are in awe of the Universe and reminded how important it is to keep the big picture in mind at all times. It was one of those moments where I literally got down on my knees and said "thank you" to Whatever Is Out There and little perfectly formed teardrops hit my couch cover.

To explain:

I was on the phone with one of my friends, I'll call her Lisa. I met her through DBSA, and she's throwing this holiday party, yadda yadda, and called to confirm that I was coming, etc. She's one of the people who stuck around when I was kicked out of group last year, and is a sweet, kind, tender-hearted person.
As it just so happens, SHE was kicked out of group this summer, for similarly fucked up reasons and by only slightly less nefarious and nebulous means. Like me, she pitched a fit, and made it excessively clear that in NO way was she ever going back, and they could kiss her ass. I didn't get to really speak with her about it then, but tonight I got all the details (including the fact that after she got booted, some key people split as well, and that it's all spinning out of control like I suspected it would. )

She's fine now and doing well, but we comiserated on the fucked-up-ed-ness of it all and how painful and odd it was to go through it ( and we discussed plans to help the original founder of the group- who is disgusted and angry about its disintegration- start a new one, which is going well). And as I'm listening to her, I'm just thinking, " I could have really gone down with the ship when that happened, given the really serious mind-fucking I got ( talking to her finally illuminated some details that only proved further that my suspicions were right, not wrong, and that I was smart to trust my intuition about it). But I held on, despite my fears of not making it and doubts about myself. I HELD ON. I DID IT."

The big deal about it also comes with context: at the time, if you'll recall, I had also just been going through a crowbar-to-the-knees period of grief and pain that I hope to never repeat. One of those incidents ( Griffin dying, Anthony and I splitting) would have been enough to bench anyone from the "Embrace Life!" ballgame for awhile, but I got at least three more ( finding out Tony had cheated, coming to terms with his abusiveness and *that* trauma, that I had EBV, losing my job). So I was pretty much in the crippling dark place when that all went down with them, when I needed support the most. Talk about being kicked when you're down, and by people you loved and trusted, to boot ( no pun intended).

When I was going through all that, the one of the things that kept me going besides sheer will and the kind tolerance and support of my true friends was just faith. Just this tenuous little embroidery-thread-like faith that it would turn around, and that I would prevail, and that someday, the sun would shine again, blah blah blah, all the stuff I have to hold on to when it's dark in my head and heart.....but also that LIFE would get better overall and that it wasn't this endless series of soap-opera like episodes that I was going to have to tolerate til I kicked the bucket.

That's tough for me. I don't do faith well. I have it, but since it requires trust and relinquishing a certain level of control, I'm not totally comfortable with it. (Surprise.)

Usually there's no "Eureka!" moment you get where you realize you're on the other side of things, that you made it through. It's more like a gradual sort of knowing that things are healing and coming along, and pretty soon you'll be very far away from all that once pained you and on to new things. That's been happening all year. But tonight I GOT the big "Aha!" moment, and like I said, it brought me to my knees.

I realized that what I had gone through was a big nasty snarlball of crap that can only be described in those terms, and that it was a perilous course to navigate out of, for anyone. I realized that I DID IT, and in the same breath, realized I *was* through it. And I was so fucking grateful- grateful that it was over, grateful that I was okay.....

And grateful that Something Up There had helped me rally and keep the strength in myself, and the faith to keep going, not give up, crumble, have a breakdown, whatever. So I said, thank you. Thank you for being there.

And then I realized that that epiphany helped my faith MORE- that it proved to me that life WAS worth living, that you know? It gets hairy. It gets really hairy. It gets far more hairy than we can ever believe or think is fair. But it DOES turn around if you hold on. IT DOES.

That's big for me. I have a problem with that, ( hence the tattoo on my arm there to remind me to remember that very thing). And this series of events came close, scraped close to the bottom of the barrell on what faith I had left, and left me pretty angry and lifeless inside ( let's just say therapy for the last year has NOT been pretty. I've been working her like a dog, poor least I'm paying her....). I could have given up. I could have. People do for those things, and less. I'm not going to be specific about what "giving up" could have looked like, because *I* don't even know, I'm just sayin'. But I didn't, and it proved that I was stronger than I EVER thought possible, ( even though I resented the FUCK out of learning that notion yet again...) , and that I am not alone, even thought it feels like it sometimes.

And that sometimes, it really all DOES come back around to good. Even if it takes a long time. It does.

For my persistance and faith, I am rewarded with more faith. Which is the oddest thing- it almost doesn't make sense. Then again, little in this life does, and I'm not going to complain. I'm just really, really glad. Really, really glad.

Glad enough to cry all over my couch and pray and toast a glass of cider and light a candle to Whatever. I am so grateful. Life really is full of sweet surprises and miracles. It just takes time sometimes to get there.

Who knew? :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stand Up and Cheer, Pt. 2...Oh, Wait.

2 root canals down, but upon closer inspection, Cute Endo ( did I mention that my endodontist is young, adorable, funny, and quite smart- like book read, not just medically smart. Although he is that too, and I'm getting top of the line care. He's also married. *Sigh*...anyway...back to the topic...) has discovered I need FIVE (5) root canals, not four (4).

There had been some dispute about this from the beginning, and he was holding out some hope that it could be repaired by just regular dentistry, and maybe that might be negotiated. But right now, we're taking the "To Be On The Safe Side With Your Insurance, Let's Assume that #3 is going to Go Down". ( I've learned how to count my teeth. Isn't that exciting? Well, I think it is. Now I can follow everything they say and I actually understand the x-rays. Cute Endo made time to show me everything and explain it in detail and answers all my Amateur Medical questions. Which makes makes him even more cute. *Sigh*. Anyway....once again, I digress...)

Personally, while I would prefer not to have a bunch of root canals, it was explained to me, that essentially by doing what is being done, he is effectively saving the tooth from extraction. He not only kills the nerves and the roots in the teeth by removing them, and cleaning out any infection, he then fills the empty shell with composite ( filling material), on top of which a crown is placed. This essentially makes an implant out of living bone that with care, will last for a good 15 years.

In leiu of the impossible task of keeping my own teeth back there ( they're all molars or pre-molars that are not visible from the front), --which has been explained to me repeatedly is not YOUR fault, Jessica, but you're going to have to be vigilant to save the rest of them. Both of your parents lost their teeth before 35 and you had that horrible orthro surgery that kills the roots and you don't make enough saliva because of your psych need a really serious routine of 3 different kinds of toothpaste and mouthwashes......- this is the best I can get.

Right now I'm more worried about the crowns, which aren't covered by insurance and which are going to be like $500 apiece. 5 x $500 = $2500. That makes me want to hack up a hairball. I'd gladly pay it- it's an investment and I dont have a problem with the idea of it, I have a financial problem with the sum. I'm going to have to work that one out, one pound of flesh at a time, because I'm NOT going to not have crowns. I'm trying to take this on in managable chunks of money at a time, and not sweat it yet, but if you're out there, PRAY I get a new job soon, because that would help immensely....

However, at this point, one ( semi- he's very generous with the anesthetic) painful procedure at a time, I'm getting to the point Where My Worries Will Be Diminished Significantly, so, although the original count is different, brings us back the beginning:

Stand Up and Cheer!
2 Root Canals done, 3 to go!!! YAY!!!

Every victory counts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Here's a shocker for you:
He called me first thing this morning and left me a message on the machine saying "I didn't mean to upset you! I wasn't mad! I was just playing with you! Don't be upset! ANd don't worry, we'll pay the ticket.....that district up there has a really bad reputation for doing this...I know it's not your fault. So I hope everything is okay."


Who are you and what have you done with my father???? I think I scared him.

I called him back and said it was okay, that I was glad he called and then we spoke about the fact that I was running a yellow light and not a red one. And that was that.

I'm telling you, I got all upset, and my parents have been taken over by POD PEOPLE!!!

In his defense, I admit I went a little knee-jerk on him, but that's a reaction left over from decades of him pulling the kind of shit I assummed. I love my father and I always have, and I will always respect the fact that he worked every single day as hard as he could to provide for us, and make sure that we grew up safe with a structured home life, manners, and God.

But the fact is, he's an alcoholic, and has been since well before I was born. He's a very, very angry, verbally abusive and moody man. He was extremely difficult to live with, because he had the house run like a military base- we feared his discontent, no matter how irrational; everything had to be spotless, we had to be perfect, and there were never to be any discussions or questioning of anything, ever. And if you did something wrong, it was a MAJOR deal, and the punishment wasn't the worst of it. It was the lecture and the humilation you had to deal with about how much you had failed and his utter disdain. Couple that with his not wanting to be involved with us outside of that ( he really didn't want to know his kids or what was happening in their lives or attend any of our events or share any of his with us) and trying to emotionally distance us by being completely unappraochable , and you don't have much of a relationship that tells you "I think you're okay. You're a good kid." The man spent so much time being frustrated with me and disappointed in both me and my brother, neither of us really had much self-esteem going out into the world.

I think, in retrospect, he's got a profound anxiety disorder. He was in Vietnam, and he's always been very high strung ( he hates crowds, is very sensitive, has a bad temper, is quite insecure, shy and controlling- all symptoms of PTSD ) so he carried all that around. He worked all his life in what's called "The Black Hole" for Boeing ( secret government contracts) so it's not like he could go to anyone with stress about work. I think he feels deeply for his kids, and was just so afraid of anything happening to us, and yet, not feeling like he had alot of room to cope with it if it did because of his own baggage that he just shut down. ( In addition: his dad was absent alot and his mom was a totally, totally manipulative woman who was terrible to her kids and he ended up really having a problem with women, period.). I don't think he's always meant to be like this, to his kids, he's just had his own disorders and his own issues of feeling fearful and out of control most of his adult life. It's not right, but I understand it now. I say this after on and off therapy since I was 18, and some of the distance that age brings.

When I was 31 and finally properly diagnosed after a very, very bad breakdown, both of my parents totally changed. I was about as sick as I had ever been at that time, and while I had been sick and hospitalized before, I don't think they got a good look at it prior to then. Plus, I had a doctor who finally said, "I don't know what the deal is with your family, but she needs you very much right now. She is not a bad kid. She is a very bright, beautiful girl with a very, very serious illness. She needs you to step up to the plate and be her family and quit blaming her for 'bringing this on' and 'making it a problem' for you. " ( I had sorta warned him going in that their reaction to my needing any help from them would likely be that, so he worked it pretty hard on them.) For some reason, that event and that conversation snapped them out of whatever dream world they were living in before. (He even came to the hospital, which he is quite phobic about and which he NEVER did before. Ever. )

And ever since then, he's been totally different. If I have a problem with something he does, and I confront him, he listens. We may have it out, but we eventually get there. And he always wants to know how I am and if I'm okay. It's not perfection, because it's not all of the sudden like it's a Hallmark card and we talk about our *feelings* all the time. I think it's a combination of his age, maybe being really scared shitless that I might not make it once , and MY age and my willingness to accept what he can give me at this point in my life.

But you have to understand: part of me always expects to get what I got as a kid, and I always will. He can still be a real sonofabitch when he feels like it, and while I'm not usually the brunt of it anymore, I *know* that place like I know my own name. One of his triggers is Authority and one of the others is Money, and my instantaneous thought was, "Duck. Here it comes. "

Apparently, so was my mom's because when he called today she was chewing him out about it . And Sassy, who's know both of them since I was 17, had the same response of "Oh Christ, there's Ross being Ross. Same old crap."

Without any history, it does look completely innocent and silly, like a goofy thing that he did, "Oh, ha, ha, Merry Christmas, to ALL of us, damn them.". In this case, it was, but now you know why it was hard for me to assume that. I feel kinda bad that I didn't, but then again, I just think, "you reap what you sow....." and I WAS quick to forgive him when he called. I do love him alot.

And I hope that the man he is now sticks around for awhile so I can learn to enjoy it a bit more.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I am so pissed at my dad.

Today I open up an email labelled "Merry Christmas" and inside is a scan of a ticket from STL police dept. Apparently while I was home for Thanksgiving, I had run a red light while borrowing their car. I didn't know it- I didn't get pulled over. (And the notice on the violation states that I had committed it in "parking" not "moving"- but I got no ticket on my windsheild. There's a picture of me running a yellow light and one with a close up of the license plate. ) I know this kind of thing can happen with cameras and such, so while I am irritated, I am also going "oh well."

MY DAD, on the other hand, felt the need to send this to me via email, with no other text, but "Merry Christmas", implying that he's going to pay the ticket in leiu of a gift. And of course, implying what he always does, which is that I'm reckless and irresponsible, and certainly shouldn't be treated like an adult. It really hurt my feelings, and reminded me of ALLLLLLL those times when I was a teen/ young adult I'd screw up and get the same treatment. I mean, why bother calling me and asking, "I got this ticket today, what happened?" when he can just email me and stick it to me that way?

SO I wrote him back and said, "I didn't get a ticket on my windshield, nor was I pulled over, so I had no knowledge of this. As I was visiting my friend R at his office when this happened, I would have noticed both of those. But thanks so much for emailing this instead of calling and asking me about it, and assuming that I knew and didn't tell you. Merry Christmas, indeed. That really made my damned day. I'll be sending you a check , because I am a responsible person and a good kid. "

I added a description of what I saw on the ticket ( as I've already described) and a ps:
"Since I don't make a habit of breaking the law, lying or being a problem for you past the age of 25, I am really hurt and angry about how you chose to communicate this to me. Just so we're clear."

He's always gotta pull this shit. And then he gets upset when someone gets mad or calls him on it. He's fucked up, and I know it, and so do all the therapists I've seen. I so rarely see the fucked-up-ed-ness anymore, I forget he's capable of being mean for no good reason. Then I see it unexpectedly and feel 17 all over again.


And since I'm not 17, I call him on the bullshit. Which makes Christmas merry for everyone! Wheee! Fun stuff.

People wonder why I moved so far away.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stand up and cheer!
Root Canals: 1 down, 3 to go......