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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Caution! Doctors May be Dangerous to Your Health

Disclaimer:  If you are at all squeamish about the physiological workings of a woman’s body, you might want to leave the room.

This post sprang from one published by Katie Gates a few weeks ago.   Please click on her name to read it.  Katie, you are not alone!

I had my first menstrual period when I was 12.  It woke me in the night with hard cramping in my lower abdomen and back.  I was spending the night with Randy Fite, and I was wearing a pair of her pajamas. I was horrified, more by the fact that I had stained her pajamas than by the pain.  
When I got home, I sat down with my mother and told her I was having my period.  What I failed to tell her, because I didn’t know better, was that my flow was not bright red but a muddy chocolate color.  We had never really talked about menstruation, and to this day, I believe she never considered the fact that I would grow up and actually have periods. 
Mother didn’t seem to think that my pain was serious.  She believed that I was just frightened by the whole process, which could have been true if I hadn’t learned about periods in school.  I grew to accept that, once a month, I would have two days of excruciating pain when my period arrived.
When I was 14, Mother finally took me to a gynecologist.  The doctor put me on Enovid, a hormone therapy which was in use at that time for menstrual disorders.  It would become the first pill categorized as a birth control pill.  The dose was 10 mg!  That means it contained a ton of hormones, both estrogen and progestin. 
My cramps went away, but what the doctor failed to tell my mother was that the high dosage could lead to numerous reactions, such as blurred vision, nausea, weight gain, bloating, depression, blood clots, and strokes. 
Remember that I was 14 years old.  Within two months, I had gained 20 pounds, my self-image was in the toilet, and I had taken to having crying spells for no reason.  My breasts were huge and embarrassing.  My doctor blew off the depression as a normal reaction to the weight gain, and she put me on a diet of only vegetables and lean meat or fish. Carbohydrates were forbidden.  While my friends were eating pizza as an after school snack, I was eating green beans out of a can.  When I went to sleepovers, I took my canned vegetables to eat while my friends were munching on chips and cookies.  My mother allowed me one cheeseburger a week.
I lost the 20 pounds and more, but the depression lingered.  Always an eager learner who made excellent grades, I lost interest in school.  I lost interest in boys.  Despite the weight loss, I always saw a fat girl in the mirror.  That would lead to anorexia in my 20’s and 30’s.
Then we moved back to our home town, and my spirits improved.  We had been living in Florida when I went on the pill, and I missed my old friends.  
I subsisted on a diet of grapefruit juice and protein for the most part, but my weight stabilized.  Then I saw another gynecologist, who reduced the dosage of Enovid.  My cramps returned, but they were not as bad, and I only missed one day of school each month, lying on the sofa with a heating pad on my stomach and popping Eskatrol, a popular diet pill, which had anecdotally been shown to make cramps more bearable.
There I was, a high school student, on hormone therapy that was not really effective and taking speed to make it through the pain.  Never once did I question my doctor, but neither did my mother.  
Fortunately for me, I was one of those kids who follow the rules, because the doctor prescribed endless supplies of Eskatrol, and if I had abused it, I would have become a speed freak.  When I was on it, I couldn’t sleep, and I took it for two days every month.  My mind was crystal clear, and I threw myself into my school work, writing papers and studying for exams while under its influence.  
This pattern continued through my high school years and into college, when I never missed class because of my period because I had my speed to get me through.  I changed gynecologists a couple of times, but no one had anything new for me.  One doctor offered me a presacral neurectomy, the surgical removal of the presacral plexus, the group of nerves that conducts the pain signal from the uterus to the brain.  At the time it was a major abdominal operation that certainly was inappropriate for a young woman in her 20's who had never been pregnant.  I did have enough sense challenge him and refuse the surgery.  I never saw that man again.  

It would be years before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, which I apparently had from the age of 12 and was the cause of all the pain and the abnormal flow.  I was fortunate to have gotten pregnant once and had a healthy baby, but I was never able to get pregnant again.  
A hysterectomy at age 31 was the only answer for me.  It’s no one’s fault that I had endometriosis.  That was Mother Nature’s call, but the treatment I received over the years and the attitudes of my doctors amounted to malpractice.  It is sheer luck that I was not permanently harmed. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lies, All Lies

I began a post on Seasonal Affect Disorder, but before I would write more than a few paragraphs, I had to stop and write this down.  What follows will surely color my post on SAD, but it is only part of a large and complex dynamic in which I am enmeshed.  
None of it was true.  It was a calculated, carefully planned series of lies that began the very day Parrish arrived in Florida. I was so desperate to believe he was finally on the way to making some sense of his life, I did not challenge him.  The lies were so good, rang so true, that I felt I had no reason to doubt what he said. I was so desperate to believe he was finally on the right track that I took him at his word.  He is a master liar, a genius at it.
It was easier, safer to think that all was well, so I chose not to question him.  It made life much less stressful for me to think he was getting help and embracing it.  I didn’t want to worry about him.  I wanted to pretend everything was fine.
Today, Angela, the administrator of the assisted living facility (ALF) where Parrish lives, phoned me.  She wanted to know if I had heard from him because he had been missing for over 24 hours.  I remember thinking to myself over the last three days that when I don’t hear from Parrish, the news is never good.  I should have listened to that voice in my head, but I chose not to deal with it. 
Angela and I talked for a while, and she told me about Parrish’s behavior of late.  All along, his story was that he needed money for transportation down to Miami so he could attend a program at Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was referred when he left the hospital in Augusta on the October 5.  Angela was shocked, saying Parrish had never been to Jackson.  He has been enrolled in a program in Broward County which provides free transportation.  Again, he has proved to me that he does not want to get better.  Again, he has taken money from me under false pretenses, and I call that stealing.  There is no telling how many other lies he told.  
There's more.  There's always more.  During his absence, Parrish was in jail, collared for disturbing the peace while out with his druggy girlfriend, a woman who had been asked to leave the ALF because of her drug use.  Angela was suspicious that he was using with the woman and there was gossip from other residents that Parrish was seeing her and that they were getting high together.  She planned to call me even before he went missing.
I felt strangely detached, shed not a tear.  I realized I didn't care where he was.  I just didn't want him around me, digging into my heart and breaking it.  I did not feel brokenhearted at all.  I felt tired, fatigued to my bones from these recurring episodes, but the last time something like this happened, I saved a corner of my heart for me, a place where he could not go.  That place began to swell, telling me that this could not hurt me unless I allowed it to.  I listened.  I gave away my unearned guilt, flung it far, relinquished all sense of responsibility for Parrish's actions and began to believe that I cannot save him.  He is a lost to me as though he were dead.  I will grieve, in fact have been grieving his loss for many years.  All I can give him is my prayers. 
December 5
Parrish called me from the ALF last evening, sounding as a drunk as a Lord, demanding that I do something because the staff wouldn’t not give him his medicine.  I assured him that he would get his medicine when the time was right.  He angrily hung up in my face.  (I learned today that when he placed the first call, his pills had already been dispensed).
Thirty minutes later, he rang me back, having no memory of the first call.  He was all “I love you” and “I can’t wait to see you.”  A total crock of horse shit.  No hint of his foray into the criminal justice system.
Last night, I took a sedative when I went to bed so I could get some quality sleep, and it worked. I woke feeling rested and a little bit more brave.
Angela said yesterday that she wanted to get Parrish in her office today so they could call me, put me on speaker and have a three way discussion about what’s been going on.  He flatly refused, saying I would abandon him emotionally and financially if I knew the truth.  He begged Angela not to tell me anything about him.
He knows of what he speaks.  I cancelled my travel plans to visit him later this month.  I have authorized Angela to give him $5 every Monday, and I am not taking his calls.
No, I’m not whining.  I am relieved.  I want all of you out there who care about me to know I am wearing my big girl panties.  Not only can I not deal with this during the “holidays,” I’m not willing to try.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Elaine - Part 4

This is the fourth and final post about my wonderful friend Elaine Hughes.  To read from the beginning, click here.

Elaine visited us in Macon just once.  By that time, she had undergone a mastectomy but was still following mostly holistic paths to a cure.  
Clint’s ex-wife was hosting a mini reunion of her “group” from high school.  One evening we were invited for drinks, and when we walked into the living room, Elaine was stretched out on the Queen Anne sofa, eating strawberries and whipped cream, a contented smile on her face.  When she saw us, she leapt up and grabbed us, kisses all around.  
She declared that she wanted to see our house, so later, we brought her, along with another of her classmates, Peggy Sue, to our house.  I took this photo of them standing at the fireplace.  Yes, that’s Elaine on the left.  The sequined top she is wearing is one she “borrowed” from me.  She said she needed a fancy top to wear out to dinner the next night, so we went into my closet and found it, by then too small for me.  She changed into it for the photo, and it became hers!  I love the idea that Elaine wore some of my things.  There’s a connection there that is hard to explain.
During her only visit to see us when we lived on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, she was clearly showing the effects of her disease, resting frequently and eating almost nothing.  But she was herself - positive, loving, generous.  She sat for hours on the sunny dock, writing in her journal, gazing across the creek and the marshes to a marsh hummock where Wood Storks roosted.  She was very happy during those five days.  Clint and I were blessed to have her all to ourselves, and we soaked her up, her positive energy, her generous and accepting ways.  
Elaine and I went jet-skiing out to the Frederica River and found  a pod of dolphins at the mouth of the creek.  We shut down the engine, and Elaine began to pound the side of the ski and call to the dolphins.  
“Hello, lovely creatures.  We are her to play with you.”
In just a few moments, the magical aquatic mammals were diving under the ski, rolling around us in a circle.  One raised his head and peered at us, allowing Elaine to pet his head.  It was as though she were in a trance, communicating with the animals in a cooing and soothing voice, saying, “Oh, how I love you all.”
Elaine, as frail as she was, got cold, and we turned on the engine to return to the dock, thinking the noise would drive them away, but the dolphins escorted us most of the way, following in our wake, rolling along in their graceful otherworldly way.  I have never felt so close to God.
Before she would depart, Elaine insisted that she give us a remembrance of the time we had together.  Clint drove her over to the nursery and she selected a Sago Palm to plant at our front door, and upon their return, she directed him in the placement and planting.  
“When you look at this palm, you will always remember me."  And we did.
Over the next two years, as her disease progressed and invaded other parts of her gentle and delicate body, she became reclusive, spending most of her time in Big Sur and at home with her two sons.  We exchanged phone calls and emails but eventually she pulled away.  She explained that she wanted her death to be her own, did not want us to suffer it with her.  The last two years of her life, we did not see Elaine at all.
She died in June, 2001, leaving me the gift of her love, a treasure immeasurable and permanent.  I will always love her.  Every day that I was on the island, I saw that palm and thought of her.  Though we moved back to Macon, Georgia, in 2005 and sold the marsh house in 2006, the Sego is still there, and whenever I visit the coast, I ride by and blow it a kiss.  It is always returned in a soft breeze on my cheek.

© 2011 cj Schlottman

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elaine -Part 3

This is the third in a series of four posts about my dear friend, Elaine Hughes.  To read from the beginning, click here.

Once, in New Orleans, when we were walking Elaine home to her little slave cabin on St. Peter’s Street, she stopped and told me how much she loved my earrings.  They were dreamcatchers that my friend Shirley made for me.  I took them off and gave them to her.  Taking out her own pair and donning mine, she said, “Now they are truly yours.  Nothing is really yours until you give it away." 
We entered through a locked gate and walked down a narrow alley between two houses and found ourselves in a courtyard dating back to before the Louisiana Purchase.  There were ferns and other tropical plants, and yes, there was a fish pond with Koi.  The floor was made of the original stones laid down by slaves.  It is the kind of place I would have imagined Elaine to be a part of.  
The cabin itself was as tiny as Elaine, and it was covered with treasures.  There were bright paintings on the walls, most of them floral.  A violet and yellow scarf was tossed cross the arm of the sofa that was crowded with vibrant pillows.  Her little kitchen was to the right, and there was a spiral stairway up to her room and bath.  Clint had to stoop way over to negotiate the stairs, and still he nearly hit is head.  Her bedroom was lined with books and literary magazines, her bed dressed with linen and lace of a creamy peach color, her dressing table littered with cosmetics.  The walls were the palest of pale blues.  The room radiated with peace and serenity.
That night we ate at The Blue Pelican, and it seemed as though every patron there knew our Elaine.  She was met and greeted with hugs and kisses all around.  Afterward, we strolled around the Quarter, and on the corner of Bourbon and Dauphine, she stopped in her tracks and announced that before we could part for the evening, we had to go to Antoine’s for crêpes and champagne!  So we did.
I think of that trip as one of the most wonderful times of my life.  It was then that Elaine bullied me into signing up for the next year’s Faulkner Festival, now a much bigger event called Words and Music.  When I whined that I didn’t have any material good enough to submit, she sniffed, “Well, then, attend a couple of poetry classes, take a short fiction class.  Just go! 

© 2011 cj Schlottman

To  go the Part 4, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

About Elaine - Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts about my friend, Elaine Hughes.  To read from the beginning, click here.

Elaine was Lebanese, second generation, born in Mississippi to parents who immigrated and became naturalized citizens.  They were Greek Orthodox, and the church was important to them.  She came from a family who hugged and kissed everyone.  I laugh when I think of Clint telling me about the first time her father, Joe Farris, hugged him.  Coming from the strict German Teutonic background that he did, there we no displays of affection in his home, and Clint was astonished at being so warmly embraced by another man.  He once told me that he learned love from Elaine and her family. 
Mrs. Farris lived in the kitchen, preparing Lebanese food for anyone who wanted to partake of it.   She wanted to feed everybody.  When Clint was in high school, he and some of his football teammates went regularly to the Farris home to snack on taboule, kibbee, baklava and the ever-present bowl of dates.
Her father was short little man who, while driving Elaine to and from Mississippi Southern in his big Cadillac, would tuck a paper bag under is chin, pluck dates from another bag on the front seat, eat them and spit the seeds into the sack under his chin.  
Their house was always open, a warm greeting ready for anyone who walked through the door.  That welcoming spirit was part of who Elaine was, wherever she was.  
Over the next 14 years, my relationship with Elaine grew into a loving friendship.  Clint and I traveled to New York to see her on two occasions.  I remember well, late one afternoon, when the three of us were wandering around SoHo, window-shopping and sometimes stopping in art galleries and vintage clothing shops.  Elaine’s wardrobe was almost exclusively made up of vintage pieces that suited her well.
We were hungry and began looking for a restaurant.  Elaine wanted to take us to a new place she had found, but after a few false starts, she was unable to find it.  So, we strolled along, reading menus in windows, and we finally decided on a tiny French restaurant called Chez Claude.
We settled in and began to peruse our menus, but Elaine wasn’t able to concentrate, saying the music was not “French” enough.  She summoned our waiter, who introduced himself as Christian, and asked him with a sweet ruby red smile if he would please change it.  He obliged in what some would call a sniffy manner and returned to ask Elaine if she were pleased with the music.
“Oh, yes!  What is your name again?”
“It's still Christian.”
“Oh, Christian, thank you so much!  I will be able to digest my food so much better now.”
None of this surprised either Clint or me.  I have never known a more outgoing woman in my life, and she was never afraid to ask for what she wanted.
Our meal of lamb and potato soufflé and haricot verts was divine, the kind of food one usually finds in the countrysides of France.  We stuffed ourselves on bread and butter and drank several glasses of wonderful wine, ending the meal with the traditional cheese plate.
Elaine called Christian over to our table and asked him the cook’s name.
“Bill?  That’s not very French-sounding, but please tell him for us that he is a fabulous cook in spite of his name.”
Then she jumped up from the table and followed Christian to the kitchen, where she began belting out, “We love you Bill, oh yes we do,” to the tune of “We love you, Conrad” in Bye-Bye Birdie.  She came out and dragged me back to the kitchen so we could sing a little reprise.  I was caught up in her enthusiasm and added my voice to hers.  That was the first and only time I ever serenaded a chef in his own kitchen.
As we left the restaurant, Elaine hailed a cab by enthusiastically waving her red scarf from the curb.

© 2011 cj Schlottman

To go to part 3, click here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

About Elaine

This is the first of a series of posts about my friend, Elaine Hughes.  She had a profound effect on me becoming a writer.  Because it is a long story, I am breaking it up into several posts.  I hope you enjoy reading about this incredible woman.

In the summer of 1994, when Clint and I were on the first leg of our car trip across The Lower 48, we stopped for a couple of days in his hometown, Vicksburg, Mississippi.  It was there that I finally met Elaine Hughes, Clint’s friend from high school.  For 20 years, I heard about Elaine, but she lived in Manhattan, had an apartment in New Orleans and was never home when we visited Vicksburg.
Over the years, I heard of Elaine’s free spirit and her passion for life and her incredible capacity to love.  She was a teacher of writing at Nassau Community College on Long Island, New York, and the author of Writing from the Inner Self.  She also co-authored several textbooks with Jay Silverman and Diana Roberts Wienbroer.  My dedicated copy of Writing from the Inner Self is one of my most treasured possessions.
Clint and I had been married for 20 years, and in all of those years, Elaine was one of only two of his ex-wife’s friends who were open to me and accepting of me as the person I am.  When we met, she reached up and gave me a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek, saying, “I am so glad you and Clint found one another.”
Reached up?  At 5’3”, I towered over her tiny 4’10” frame.  Her hair was raven black, her lipstick red and her smile wide and sincere.  She was wearing all black and had a red scarf draped around her, falling in graceful folds.  I was immediately infused with her caring, her positive energy.  I think we fell in love at that minute.
During our two days in Vicksburg, Elaine accompanied us to lunch one day, and the next evening we went to a bar in a local motel where she sang sometimes when she was home.  She was wonderful!  So alive and filled with energy and, yes, she could sing.  
By the time I met her, Elaine had retired from teaching and was spending a great deal of time at the Esalon Institute in Big Sur, California.  She had been living with breast cancer for ten years, following only holistic approaches to control it.  She went to Esalon to search her own inner self for healing and living her best possible life.  
It was during that time in Vicksburg that Elaine brought me be back to writing.  She asked if I kept a journal, and I had to confess that I had abandoned my journal years before, had abandoned my efforts to write poetry and short fiction as well.  Before we left, she went to the store and bought me a journal for our trip, and she gave me my copy of Writing From the Inner Self.
“Write something down every day,” she admonished me,  “even it it’s only the date and your name.  This trip across country is the perfect time for you to re-energize your creative side.  You won’t have your usual distractions.  Writing about the places you go and the people and things you see will serve to activate for your right brain.” 
So, I followed her advice and wrote in my journal every day along our way through the Southwest and up the California coast to Oregon and Washington.  I continued as we returned to Georgia through the corn and wheat fields of the Mid-West and across the Appalachian Mountains. 
That journal read like a travelogue, but at least I was writing.  It was a beginning, and after returning to Georgia, I began to write more about my thoughts, my feelings, my dreams and my sorrows.
Soon after our return, my brother, John, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  The next spring my granddaughter, Addie was born.  My son, already alcohol and drug dependent, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about the time she was born.
There was plenty to write about.

© 2011 cj Schlottman

To continue to the second part of this series, click here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm Home

I’m back after nearly a month, some the worse for wear.  I have written extensively in my journal about Parrish.  I’m not sure I’m ready to share all the feelings around that.  I’m considering beginning a new blog devoted to him.  
The short version:  
Parrish is back in Florida and enrolled in a program for patients with dual diagnoses complicated by alcohol or drug abuse.  It is 5-1/2 days a week, and he seems to be enjoying it.  He is in a new assisted living facility in Lauderhill.  I think he is okay today.  Today, he sounds sober and well medicated.  Today.
I was down in the back with muscle spasms for much of the time Parrish was in Georgia.  
I fell off a (short) ladder and sprained my right wrist - the one I broke last October.  I’m in a splint and it is slow to heal.
I have made the decision to surrender my rescued Boxer, Sugar, back to Save-A-Pet.  Honey, my 8 year old Lhasa Apso, cannot adjust to him breathing the same air as she does.  For six months, I have tried to make peace between them, but now Sugar is starting to fight back.  Honey is no match for him.  He’s a wonderful dog, and I am already grieving his loss.
Losing Sugar has, I think, reactivated my grief for Clint.
Fall weather is here, and I have once again begun sleeping in The Red Sweater.  It’s warmth and softness give me a feeling of security, a sense of Clint’s presence.  Yes, I still sprinkle it with Old Spice and inhale the scent of my One True Love.  It’s a bittersweet time for me, having the comfort of The Red Sweater along with the emptiness of Clint’s absence.
I still struggle with my loss, shedding tears almost daily.  I am told that one day it will cease being so painful, but I have no yet come to that place.

© 2011 cj Schlottman

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Going Underground

The short version:  Parrish went to Atlanta on September 23, and within 24 hours of his arrival, he was mugged, robbed, beaten senseless.  He went to hospital there but was never admitted - detained in ER for almost three days so the hospital wouldn’t have to admit a medicaid patient.  
He came to Macon on Monday evening, the 26th.  He was dirty, smelly, and his face looked like something out of a horror movie.  Dark black swollen eyes with hemorrhagic whites, totally red.  He was bruised all over, sporting large knots where he had been beaten. I took him to ER, where he was held for over 24 hours, then shipped off to the state-run mental hospital in Augusta, GA.  He was held there in observation for 24 hours and finally admitted late today.
His MD called me this afternoon, assured me P was getting his medication, and that he would keep him for a week while the social worker tries to work out a discharge plan.  I am working on same from here.  We are trying to get him back to Florida, where he is a legal resident.  It takes a great deal of internet and phone time, nearly always leading to a dead end.
I will see all of you when I get this behind me - or not.  Now I need to give this problem my full attention, and besides, I feel really bottled up, only recording journal entries.  I may share them later.

I am going to try to attend my monthly Zona Rosa workshop in Savannah this Saturday and also see my wonderful granddaughter, Addie, Parrish's child.  I think both would do me good, and I'll get nothing done about placing P over the weekend.
Namaste to all of you wonderful people.  I will be back soon.
© cj Schlottman 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

He Did It - or - "Is there any more SHIT we can pile on to the top..."

He did it.  Parrish took the bus from Miami to Atlanta, but his plans did not work out.  Yesterday, he called me from a pay phone at the corner of 10th Street and North Avenue, his old stomping grounds.
His plan to go to Crawford Long Hospital blew up in his face because it is no longer Crawford Long but a division of Emory.  He said he told them he was mentally ill and needed a referral to Georgia Regional.  They did not do anything.  (Remember.  This is his story). He said he then went to the Dekalb Crisis Center but they wouldn’t take him because he doesn’t live in Dekalb County.  
He wanted to know what to do.  I told him to go to Grady’s ER and see if they would refer him.  I have not heard from him since around noon yesterday.  
It will be no surprise to me if he shows up here in Macon today.  
These “plans” of his were non-plans.  He didn’t make a single phone call to Atlanta to check out the lay of the land.  He never contacted anyone.  When I asked him why he didn’t make some calls from Hialeah, his answer was that he didn’t know the numbers.  No shit.  He said that.  He really thinks that I believe he doesn’t know how to dial 411?

If he can’t get himself committed to the state mental hospital (Georgia Regional), he needs to go to the Salvation Army and see if they will take him into their detox program.  
Yes, I have known for months that he is dirty - either using or drinking or both.  I can tell by his behavior and his speech.  When he is dirty, he calls me several times a day to say slurringly how much he loves and misses me and how I’m all he’s got in the world and that his life is a piece of shit.  When I challenge him on his slurred speech, he blames his medication.  That is followed by a period of silence until I call to check on him.
I can’t imagine that he doesn’t know that I realize all those recent trips to various ERs were drug shopping maneuvers.  He is too sick to know what he knows, and now he is back on the streets.
How do I feel?  I feel as though I have been stabbed - repeatedly.  Though this is not a total surprise, I am still shaken by it.  I need to be thankful that he stayed in Hialeah for 2-1/2 years.  It’s the longest period he has remained in one place since 1995, and I am grateful for that.  But, I’m exhausted, drained, sucked dry of tears.  When I heard from Parrish yesterday, I cried for a few minutes.  No tears since, only the knots of not knowing in my gut. 
I feel sorry for myself.  Since August 24, I have:
  1. set myself on fire.
  2. had my homeowner’s insurance cancelled because of non-payment while I hold a cancelled check in my hand that proves I paid the premium.
  3. had my email account hacked and so scrambled that it took hours to straighten things up and retrieve my contacts. 
  4. had Parrish show up in Atlanta.
I feel Like Vinny Gambini in the movie, My Cousin Vinny, when he says “...I don't need this. I swear to God, I do not need this right now, okay?”  And, “...and let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more SHIT we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case? Is it possible?” 

© cjschlottman 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Comes Around...

Growing up in the Deep South in what can only be described as an isolated WASP environment, I was an adult before I gave much thought to the concept of Karma, though in the Bible we studied every Sunday in the Methodist Church when I was a child, there is a reference in The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, that goes like this,  "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," which, to me, comes pretty damned close to the idea of Karma.  
It was 17 and a participant in a program here in Georgia called The Governor’s Honors Program during the summer between eleventh and twelfth grades when I became acquainted with the concept of Karma.  All the students in attendance were required to take a course called “Basic Issues of Man,” which launched me on a road to self-examination and curiosity about “The Nature of Man,” the title of the first volume.
I still have my six-volume boxed set of the “Issues” we studied.  Bear in mind that a college campus filled with 16 and 17 year old kids offered many diversions, and I am proud to say that, while leafing through the volumes today, I actually found highlighted and underscored sentences.
It’s not clear to me why, but recently, I have had Karma on my mind.  Maybe it is fueled by my regular practice of yoga.  I have been practicing my own self-tailored program for years, but I admit not so much as a spiritual practice as an exercise in fitness and flexibility.  I routinely close letters and e-mails with the word “Namaste,” and I truly mean it in it’s traditional context - that of honoring the God in the person to whom it is uttered or written.  
Now, to Karma.  It is a much discussed and bantered about concept, which, in essence, says that what goes around, comes around.  Timothy Burgin, writing in Yoga Basics in 2004, described it this way:  “Central to the philosophy of yoga is the universal spiritual concept of reaping what you sow:  the law of Karma.”
I believe the average thinking person today would agree with Burgin’s definition.  Believers in Karma live by the notion that, in a nutshell, our current and past behaviors (in past or future lives) create or lead to what happens to us in the future.  
If you live a life of evil and selfishness or even complacency, you create negative Karma, and your future will be colored by those actions, opening you up  similar (or worse) actions being visited upon you.
On the other side of that coin is the notion that, just as we can create negative Karma, we can choose to live ego-free lives of selflessness and generosity (insert your own positive noun), then we can look forward to a future in which life is good to us.
Bad Karma is bad.
Good Karma is good.
But to believe in Karma, one must embrace the notion that this is not all there is.  One must believe in past lives and future ones.  That is a conundrum for me.  
On some level, I do believe we contribute to the creation of our own heavens or hells, but I also believe that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, and there is no way of making sense of it.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Guest Post from Jane Krause

Earlier, I received this e-mail from Jane Krause, one of my Sisters in Zona Rosa.  She does not have a blog, and I am hoping that seeing her work published in this forum will encourage to build one of her own.  I had trouble with the formatting, just couldn't get the email to cut and paste right.  (Sorry, Jane).  Increasing your screen size will make it read more like it should.

I was working outside of Washington, DC during Sept. 11, 2001. I was in my
office building in Fairfax, VA with my colleagues. At around 8:50 I¹d
gotten up to get another cup of coffee. Although my radio was on in my
office and I recall hearing something about the ³World Trade Center² the
volume wasn¹t up high enough for me to make any kind of connection. However
one of my colleagues had had the volume turned up enough on her radio
because she was in the conference room with the TV on when I passed by ­
something highly unusual for that time of day. I stopped in to see what she
was watching and slowly sank into a chair next to her as the horrible
spectacle unfolded before our eyes. Eventually all of my office mates
gravitated to the conference room.

By the time the second plane hit the South Tower there were probably 8
people in the conference room. As the second plane came into view I recall
thinking ³is this a replay of some sort?² I turned to the woman next to me
and said, ³This can¹t possibly be another plane ­ they are saying it was an
accident.² But of course we could see the smoke from the North Tower and
knew it was no replay or accident. Some of us were crying, some of us were
angry, and we were all in shock. After the second plane hit and we knew it
was an attack I left to conference room to go back to my office to call my
Dad in Denver. It was 6 a.m. there and they would still be in bed unaware
of what was unfolding. He answered the phone, I told him to please turn on
to the news right away, that our country was under attack. This World War
II veteran¹s voice said only a sad ³oh, no². I told him I loved him and
would call him later. I then returned to the conference room to be with the

Shortly we heard the broadcaster say the Pentagon had been hit. We were
somewhere around 22 miles from there. Then we heard all kinds of rumors:
that there are planes heading towards the USA Today building, the White
House, the Capital and more. Shortly we heard about the Shanksville plane.

When the South Tower collapsed, the Executive Director of our organization
came out of his office where he had been alone watching the nightmare unfold
and told us all to go home. I was standing at the time with my hand over my
open mouth as I watched the mammoth building come down.

The drive home that day was surreal. As I stopped at the traffic lights and
looked at the other people in their cars stopped at the traffic lights I
could tell they were in shock, as was I. At the time I lived within about 3
miles of Dulles airport, the origins of two of the doomed flights. At the
time I did not know this but had I pulled up to a traffic light on my way to
work next to one of the highjackers on his way to kill all those people?

When I got home I called my neighbor because I did not want to be alone. I
took my dog, Sailor, and watched from her house for the next 8 hours as we
both sat in shocked disbelief. When I got there however some guy she was
had recently started dating was there. He didn¹t want to stay and watch the
news with us because was anxious to get to his golf game and left. My
impression was that he was clearly unable to grasp the depth of this attack.
I told her that if she ever went out with that guy again I would question
her sanity ­ he was clearly an insensitive jerk.

The days that followed revealed fighter jets flying over the Dulles airport
area instead of the usual air traffic.

I did go to work the next day because I had a prearranged meeting with my
boss, the Executive Director of our organization. I was unsure of the
protocol and asked him what were we supposed to be doing if anything? His
response was ³Onward and upward!² The next day, Thursday, I called in sick. 
© Jane Krause
September 11, 2011
I am sure Jane would love to receive a comment or two!