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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's been up? I'll tell you what's been up....

As you can see, re: blog, Last week was a week from.....another planet. What with talking to James and HB/his brother's death ( all over the STL news, too, and from James' reports, was one packed tearjerker of a funeral), it's been a rollercoaster.

In addition, Jeannie decided to attack me on ( last) Monday for not hopping to quickly enough for her liking when I was trying to help her with packing up Irv's stuff, and I left. Wait. I should back up:
She's decided that she wants to leave him , and has been actually very proactive in putting things in motion for a few months now. Of course, Unmedicated Bipolar II: Asshole Type Irv either spent his time denying it was going to happen and pretending they were a happy family OR telling Jeannie how great it was going to be when he was finally away from her. She'd been in the process of speaking to some women's advocate type folks (given that he's prone to rages and verbal abuse) about how to get out safely and protect Joannie from it all. The risk here is that once he realizes she's not about to hand over shared custody to man who can barely stop himself from throwing shit through windows, he's going to snap and try and kidnap Joannie, or worse. Jeannie made up a will months ago and unfortunatley, none of us think it's unrealistic for him to pull a murder/suicide out of his belt when he loses his shit.

WHICH is exactly what I told her a year ago, but let's not harp on it; things are bad enough. Things came to a head about two weeks ago when he trashed the house ( again) in one of his rages and while Jeannie was trying to quietly make an exit with her foster kitten, the rescue dog and Joannie so she didn't have to deal with the madness, he caught her. He bruised her up pretty badly by trying to drag her into the house and Jeanna called the Burbank Police. Lucky for her, you don't mess around with the Burbank Police: they aren't LAPD and they aren't LA County PD either, so they have plenty of time, resources and money to spend on manpower, and they are damned serious about abuse, or threats thereof. They had him in cuffs faster than he knew what hit him and hauled him off without even a blink.

After that, we're not sure what happened, but he must've pulled some shit, 'cause instead of serving out his 24 hours with a possible bail hearing and heading home, he got a $250,000 bail and sent to NOT one of the local county jails to wait out his time, but to Twin Towers. Let me point out here that a.) $250,000 in bail isn't exactly standard for attempted battery, and b.) Twin Towers is probably one of the worst jails in LA, if not the country. For one, it's for serious behaviorally challenged inmates who basically can't be held in other facilities, and for two, the higher floors are psych floors. Yes, you read it right. The higher floors are for psych patients who have broken the law in some grevious way and have to serve out their time in what is essentially an asylum with pharmaceutical straitjackets. EVENTUALLY you get out, but only when they think it's time, and all the rules and laws that go with being a mental patient in a hospital? Out the window. It's their territory, and it's a whole different ballgame.
(And unfortunately, it's also an unethical one for the patients in there: I had a friend in there from DBSA on accessory-to-racketeering charges ( he had been manic at the time) and he ended up being there for well over a year, even though he'd been well for a year prior to THAT and completely compliant with his docs. He had great lawyers, great tesitimonies, was extremely contrite, willing to co-operate and take responsibility. Additionally, frankly, he had been bamboozled by two OTHER guys --who were totally sane-- into being a part of this deal that had gone wrong because they picked him for a crazy sucker ( which sadly, at the time, he was). They then served their time elsewhere and in a much shorter time . As you can see, the efforts on his part didn't make a damned bit of difference, even though when he was in there he totally compliant and well behaved. He still served longer than the original criminals and was treated like total shit. Hard to believe, in the US of A, right? Well, believe it.)

Irv was in for 10 days. TEN DAYS for no other reason than we suspect he got mad at the judge when he heard about his bail, which I'm sure didn't start that high. He also made the dumb mistake of mentioning he needed his medication ( which he takes only on rare occasion) as a ploy, more than likely, to get sympathy. My comment to Jeannie was that a.) as grim of a place Twin Towers is and as much as I disdain their general practice, in this case, it bought her time to get her shit together while he was gone and b.) I hope he liked it in there, because he does anything else to her or Joannie, and you can bet money he'll be back there again.

At any rate, she managed to get a temporary restraining order against him and have the locks changed while he was in. This means he can't come home for any longer than 10 minutes to get his shit and leave, and any attempt to contact Jeannie or see Joannie will result in arrest. She's been looking for a new place to live, but it hasn't been going well. She wants to try to keep Joannie in the same school since right now, its the only consistency she's got. I agree with that, for the record, although I don't think that in the end it's going to work out that way; I think it would be a far better idea to move into a security controlled building with underground parking --more affordable, anyway--and all those apartments are on the other side of town.

What happened next between the two of us in light of all that information is going to make me look like a total See You Next Tuesday, but please recall I have been dealing with this situation for 3 1/2 years now and attempting to help her in any way I could only to either be rebuffed, ignored, or attacked in my attempts to get her on track. I've been so proud of her for beginning to clean up her own mess that I was hoping to go into helping her constructively and not just the same old defer-deny-diminish I usually see. I was also hoping that she would show some efforts in rallying her resources and not pissing away her time while Irv was in jail.

So, that Monday-- two days from Irv's release-- I got up at 9am at her call, whereupon she invited me to breakfast with some of our mutual pals, as she said she wanted "help in getting organized". ( Note: I am the Queen of Organization, and she knows it. It's a sickness. I literally have all my canned goods facing the same way. When I moved here I had the whole thing planned down to the hour. It's one way I stay sane and a complete holdover from my ex-military dad that I'm grateful for.) At any rate, from my view, she wasted alot of time, yakking and filling them all in ( I was under the assumption they had all known already) and so on and so forth. I kept trying to interject with "Jeannie, so how can we help?" and "Jeannie, what do you need from me today?" and so forth to try and get things back on track, to no avail. I mentioned twice that I had to go at 2:30, (to run an errand before work at 4:30). She had to pick up Joannie at 12:23 from Kindy as well. So the day starts heading toward noon, and I hustle her off from the bakery to the police office to file her order before she's got to run. I figure that at the very least, she's stressed and scattered, and needs someone to keep her from getting distracted,overexhausted and away from the prioritizing. I figure I'm the one there to keep her on point, which is what she had expressed initially.

She goes and picks up Joannie and realizes she needs to run an errand to pick up packing tape, etc, because she needs help packing up Irv's things. Fine. While I'm sitting there waiting for her to bring Joannie in and settle the dog, I go to check my mail, which I hadn't done all day. I also tell her that I'm going to help her make a list of how to deal with the disaster that is her house when she gets back. (It should be noted here that Jeannie keeps house like there's a natural disater approaching at any minute. Literally, there are clothes, toys, dishes, books, papers, mail, software, knick-knacks, videos, artwork and all manner of accountrement EVERYWHERE. There is no sense to it whatsoever. None. It's always been this way, and I've helped her out of this more than once, only to find her doing it again to another residence. I am beginning to have my suspicions about this tendency, as I will mention later, but suffice it to say, it is really hard to manage to help someone in this state of dissaray and chaos in her life as a constant, not just when there's a crisis. Anyway).

Because I didn't read her mind while she went out to pick up packing tape and bring in boxes from the garage and start packing up Irv's shit without her supervision, she started blowing a gasket.She starts in doing this "Fine. I'll do it myself, no one ever helps me" routine, which just a.) total bullshit and b.) utterly ridiculous since if you want help, you need to know WHAT you need help WITH WHEN. (If you can't figure that out, it is perfectly okay to sit down with someone and say, "I'm so overwhelmed, and I don't know where to start. Can you help me figure out what I need so I can ask for it? ") Not surprisingly, pissed me off. I got into it with her, and she ended up rather cruelly berating me for how much I was LIKE Irv ( WHAT?) in that I wasn't "proactive" or "thinking ahead-- why aren't you packing Irv's stuff?"( "WHAT is Irv's stuff? I'm not even sure!" "Oh, Jessica, look around!!!" Yeah, that makes it clearer in this wreckage!). She went on to point out that I was selfish ( "What were you doing, checking your email???") and unreliable ( "Oh, poor Jessica, always sick, always having to cancel. No wonder you can't keep a job. ") When I pointed out I'd been at her disposal since 9am and she had, in my view, inxplicably wasted it chatting, she said, "I needed to vent. And besides, I bought you breakfast", as if THAT made it all sensible and I was rude to have eaten it and then voiced and objection.

It all went really sour when I snapped and said some things I shouldn't have in response ( which started off with "Fuck. You. " and went on to things like "Oh, poor Jeannie; always on her own." What bullshit! Are we all psychic, Jeannie? Supposed to anticipate your every want and desire? No matter what my action would have been, it would have been the WRONG thing, and subject for ridicule, as always. ") It ended up with me saying, "Good luck" and slamming the door behind me. In retrospect: none of those words were helpful, not in getting things back on track, nor were they helpful to the situation between us overall, and they were really awful, and yet.....*sigh*.

The thing is, people are willing to help her. ( Hello? I fucking moved her out of MY apartment with NO help from her--or Irv-- when she was 8 mos pregnant. I took her in last year at this time when she decided to leave him. In neither case were my efforts good enough because in the former, I boxed things up and left them in her backyard which "set Irv off." In the latter, I was "difficult and demanding" when I asked her to pick up some laundry soap, and she instead jacked around all day and I was irritated. ). But somehow, because we can't anticipate her needs, or fufill them in the exact ways she wants, we're bad people. And she's "alone as usual", which fufills some script of hers that's been going on since she was 16 and on her own because her mom had died and her dad had checked out mentally, and she was the only kid left. It was quite sad then, and I feel for her, it's true. However, it's time to go on from there, and there's plenty of evidence to the contrary IN THE NOW.

In the end, I think a.) she has adult ADD -- after knowing her for almost 8 years, and seeing how her life works, it's the only explanation for her life to be such constant chaos and dissarray. I don't expect the whole world to face-out their canned goods, but I think being 41 and living like white-trash hoarder, not being able to keep the utilities on ( or remember where she put important things like birth certificates, etc.) with a 5 year child is reflective of either flat out neglect ( which I can honestly rule out because she loves Joannie and is a really great, totally present mom) or something else Being Off.
B.), she doesn't know how to ask for help, and probably never learned how to really do out out of subtly dancing around it and/or manipulating it out of people, and when she DOES ask, hasn't let go of feeling guilty about needing it in the first place.
Finally, c.), she isn't capable of being capable of being grateful for the help she gets because both asking and accepting make her feel guilty.

That's my take on it, and I can offer very little at this point. Last week has come and gone, Irv is out of jail. He came by, got his stuff, is staying with a friend, and has put up little resistance to anything ( he did express surprise that Jeannie didn't call him or visit when he was in jail-- total delusion, as expected). They have a hearing to see if the restraining order is to be permanent soon. Other than that, I don't know.

All I do know is that I remember this thing from Al-Anon long ago: you are not to be abused in the interest of another person's recovery. And since it has long gone past the momentary "I'm freaking out and acting like a totally nutty bitch right now in this crisis" that anyone could expect as reasonable, I feel like ONCE AGAIN I need to draw a hard line. This of course, makes me a total you-know-what. Additionally, I don't want to TOTALLY abandon her during this time, because that seems wrong, too. So, somehow, I'm going to have to roll it down the middle in some sort of compromise. Here's what I've come up with:
I'm going to write her a letter when things are more settled after this week and tell her that if she wants my help , from now on, there are rules for behavior: specific instructions at every turm since it's HER deal, and I'm here to help, not to rescue; if she needs help sorting that out, I can start there. No name calling, no losing your temper and getting ugly. Respect for MY time as much as HER need. And finally, taking responsibility for her life in the end of all of this so it doesn't all happen again.
. I don't want to turn my back on her or lose her from my life, but I can't allow her to act like that every time she freaks out about having to need people. It's not right.

*sigh of exhaustion*

In other news, I told my parents I'm going to Paris. My mom is worried I'll be abducted by French terrorists ( "Mom, it's FRANCE. Like,you know? In Europe? I realize terrorists come from all over and let's face it, lots of Islamics in France, but I'm not going to Pakistan, for chrissakes." ), and my dad wanted to know who was paying for it. ( "Me." "How?" "With money from my lawsuit. The ticket is bought, the hotel is booked, and the passport is here. It's done. " "Oh. Well, then, have a good time, I think that's great!" "Uh....I'm not coming home for Christmas so I can save money. " "In these economic times, Jessica, that makes sense."). After all was said and done, they decided it was okay. Then I announced I didn't want anything for Christmas because I just wanted travelling money. (Mom: "Yeah, so what?" Dad: "I think we can swing that. " I told my mom "I MEAN IT. No crap. No gifts. I don't NEED anything, I just want to go to France!!!" A couple of Euros says I get a pair of slippers and a box of cereal.) Luckily, Brother is a travel agent and Dad has spent lots of time abroad, so maybe they can talk some sense into her and anyone else who tries to rain on my Paris parade and/or buy some worthless trinket in lieu of stuff I'd really be able to USE this year.

In work news, Dil, the wretched SM's house was evacuated for being in the fire zone today. I felt bad for about ten minutes, and then it passed. I chastised myself mentally for not being very compassionate, but it's not that I wish the man harm or extreme loss. I just had a moment where I considred that a natural disaster ruining his property could effectively require a leave of absence that would keep him out of our hair for awhile. Sad, isn't it? Mal, who is leaving at the end of this month to go back to school (*SNIF!!*) said to all of us today, "I can say this now, because I'm outta here, but I've worked for this company for 15 years, and he's the worst manager I've ever seen. He's arrogant, and stupid, because it's a deadly combination. He's incompetent, and it takes all four of us (ASMs) to keep him in check all the time. My advice to all of you staying on is to REPORT HIM for any small thing that he does that you find offensive. Because otherwise, this is going to be a living nightmare for you, and you don't deserve it. " He went on to state that he himself is going to be taking the opportunity to sit Dil down before his last day and effectively tell him, "You need to quit. You're completely unaware of what doing this job entails, and you are in over your head. ". (Oh, to be a fly on the wall during THAT conversation....). For Mal, who is so easy-going, funny, and yet totally responsible and professional to be reduced to this and to ADVISE this, is really serious. I can't emphasize that enough.

And there's Christmas to get through yet with Dil, without Mal. Oh, joy to the world, yadda yadda my ass.

And of course, the Unitarians are taking their sweet time in deciding if they want me or not. Typical. Without a central governing body in their faith, everything is done by committee, which in case you've never been involved in something like that, is something like getting a haircut one strand at a time, while every hairdresser in the salon expresses an opinion about it. In short, its maddening. And maddening waiting for a decision, thank you very much.

Luckily, I did get a small part time job with my friend Sofia's organization Everybody Wins!, a literacy group. I only get 9 hours a week, but I go and supervise one-to-one reading between at-risk kids and professional mentors. It's a great program, and the school I'm assigned to is less than 2 miles away from my house. However, THAT has yet to start, so I'm still waiting on THAT, too.

So I sit and do laundry and watch the bills pile up, the holidays grow closer and a trip abroad approach with no money in the bank. On top of it, Angel is extremely edgy about being kept inside for October ( the All Black Kittehs Inside Month. Halloween, ya know, and lots o' crazies everywhere out to get them ;especially the Latino population, for some reason, on this point. Humane societies wont even adopt out cats of ANY color at this time of year, but especially not black ones. Hard to believe people are still so superstitious and hostile, eh?). He's also in dire need of a friend, but I can't even afford the $68 adoption fee to bring a kit home. Hell, I'm looking at taking a hiatus from therapy because I can't even afford that right now, even when I need it most! Needless to say, things are getting a little outrageous.

Oh, how I pray for Ed MacMahon and a giant check. Or a game show audition for "The Price Is Right". (I wonder how they cast for that?)

Wish me luck and keep your fingers and toes crossed. Hell, just pray for me. That's better than I can muster myself these days in my bitter cyniscsism. Lord knows I could use a faith injection to pull me through til something... well, pulls through.