Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notes to Matt and Becca


That's interesting about Judge Alex and Carlo being the same age. I'm trying to imagine the sound of tongue-tied Ebglish with a heavy Italian accent.

I hope your liver continues to do well. In a situation such as yours, it is probably nice to have at least one internal organ that is doing what it is supposed to do.

I'll post a reponse tomorrow to the latest story. It, too, was very thought-provoking.

My dad said he doesn't pick his research areas but if the people who do ever refer him to a leukemia or lymphoma cluster in the U. K., he'll be there and he'll take you up on your offer. We've been to the Brisish Isles because my mom still has relatives in Ireland. We spent most of our time there in Ireland, but we toured England, Scotland, and Wales as well.

Parasailing was a mind-boggling multi-sensory experience. Heights aren't really an issue for me. I was a gymnast in a former life -- until I was nine and got busted for doing gymnastic stunts on the highest part of our two-story roof. My confidence probably exceeds my level of skill and motor coordination, but so far it hasn't been a problem, and parasailing isn't one of those activities where motor skill plays a very large role. My dad said in about a year my leg should be sufficiently healed to parasail safely, and I may gain a little weight by then. It would probably be safer if my mom and I went up together, because she only weighs between 90 and 95, so between the two of us, we'd be a safe weight, but my mom thinks it's like one of those amusement park rides where one of the riders can turn a wheel or pull a lever to make it go faster or spin, and that I would do that either to make it more fun for myself or to scare her. I've tried to tell her that there isn't anything I could do to alter her experience, but once she gets something in her head, it's hard to convince her of anything to the contrary. My mom is not much of a thrill seeker.

Thanksgiving was nice. We ordered a meal from a restaurant and carried it onto the beach for our Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn't exactly the Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth Colony, but then, if you research history, the way the kindergartners do their Thanksgiving Feasts with Pilgrims on one side of a table and Native Americans on the other isn't all that authentic to our historical roots, either.

My family went back home very early this morning. I'm going home for my birthday Thursday, so I decided I really, really wanted to just go back with them today. I had my mom convinced of the efficacy of my plan, but my dad said I needed to stay. I didn't throw a tantrum or anything that dramatic, but I was just a bit teary-eyed when my dad and I returned to my wing so that he could sign me in. Who of course had to be standing right at the desk when I was buzzed through the door all weepy? Of course it was the totally hot psychological intern. My dad had to go through the entire story of why I was upset (I come by it naturally, you see), and I felt like dying. I've only cried in front of other people three times in the past five years, and of course one of them had to be in front of the hot intern. Then he had to put his arm around me, which was fine under better circumstances, but not when I was sniffling because I didn't get to go home with my parents.

Everything is fine now. We had a ping pong tournament, which didn't take as long as it was supposed to. Then we had another one in which we had to play with our non-dominant hands.

I only have three more days as a sixteen-year-old after today.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who is crazier; the people inside the loony bin or those on the outside? One Day in the Life of a Truly Dysfunctional Family

My parents went on a lunch cruise without my brother and me. My brother was scheduled to parasail later, but the employee working at the kiosk called my brother on his cell phone and told him they had a couple of openings sooner, and the weather might not hold later at his scheduled time. My dad had filled out the required form and signed it at the time my brother went to schedule his apppointment, and my dad was going to pay for my brother's parasailing adventure, but Dad was on the lunch cruise with my mom, so my brother asked me for the money. That's what I am to my family --one giant cash cow.

Anyway, if I was going to pay for my brother's parasailing excursion -- I knew I was taking my chances on getting my money back because my parents probably wanted to be there when brother took off to ensure that conditions were safe -- I fully intended to have the parasailing experience as well. There was the pesky matter of signed parental consent, or lack thereof, in my way, but I have overcome much bigger obstacles than not having one of my parents' signatures on a flimsy piece of paper. I headed to the kiosk, cash and ID in pocket, with my brother, to get him and myself up into the air. I grabbed a form and pen when no one was looking and filled it out. I would have preferred to sign my mother's name, but since my father had signed my brother's form, I thought it might arouse mild suspicion if mine were signed by a different parent.

I waited until my brother was already being pulled by the boat before handing my form and money to the cashier. The cashier was mildly irritated that I hadn't paid earlier and gotten on the boat with my brother, because they like to take two or three customers out on each trip. I just played dumb and said, "Sorry." The employee had to give me the full version of the obligatory "You're really fifteen?" routine. I showed him my ID and told him that my brother and I are twins. He looked carefully at my ID, which is still a learner's permit but technically acceptable for identification purposes according to the parasailing company's sign. He then looked at my brother's form. He had to say "You're fifteen?" at least three additional times, with the stress on a different syllable each time he said it, before taking my money. Then he remembered the weight requirement, which the company decreases on low wind days. Today, however, was not a low-wind day. According to the kiosk employee, I needed to weigh at least ninety pounds. Even with overindulging on pizza for Pathological Liar Day and eating a reasonably big Thanksgiving dinner on the beach last night, I would have been lucky to tip the scales at eighty, much less ninety. I asked the guy if arm or leg weights were available because I had heard that those are sometimes used when just a bit of extra weight is needed. He produced two five-pound weights, which I secured to my upper arms. I would have preferred to put them on my legs, but I was concerned that they might slip off and fall into the ocean, and then I'd have to pay for them, never mind the idea that if the extra weight was actually necessary for a safe flight, I would be without it once the weights fell off. Then I stepped on the scale. It stopped midway between eight-nine and ninety. I took a deep breath, hoping that the air I took in would be just heavy enough to propel the needle up to the magic number of ninety; it didn't, but the guy said, "Close enough." The only remaining challenge was to get on the boat without my brother blurting out something stupid like "You didn't ask Mom and Dad."

I waited patiently as my brother soared across the sky for almost twenty minutes. The sign said the parasailing ride was for fifteen minutes, but since the driver of the boat, or captain, or whatever he's called, thought my brother was his last fare for the day, he left him up there a little longer.

As the boat finally pulled up to the pier, the driver was mildly irritated when the other employee hollered out to him that he had one more to go. My brother wasn't really paying any attention, so I slipped onto the boat, and we sped away from the pier. Soon it was time for me to parasail. It was a tad scary as I went up into the sky, but once I reached soaring height and stabilized there, it was an amazing experience. It was like being Tinkerbell. I would imagine that the total effect was similar to an LSD trip without any of the negative aspects. It made many things I have endured in the past year seem small by comparison, at least I until my descent.

My brother was waiting for me when I got off the boat. I paused to hand the weights back to the cashier. "What in the hell were you doing?" he demanded. (We don't ordinarily curse around our parents, but no word is off-limits just between the two of us, and certainly not hell. Anyway, that's nothing compared to my father's vocabulary once he's had two beers.)

"I was parasailing," I answered him. "Duh!"

"You didn't have a parent signature," he said accusingly.

"Parent signature, schmarent signature," I dismissed the whole idea. "There's more than one way to get a parent's name on a piece of paper."

"Oh, my God! You didn't forge it on the paper, did you?" he asked.

"Of course I did," I replied. "What's the big deal? We've both been forging their names for years?"

"Yeah, but that was just for health forms or homework or test papers that we had A's on," he countered. "This is different."

"How's it different?" I asked him.

"It's different because they're gonna kill you," my brother answered in his typically doomsday-predicting way. The sky is always falling as far as my brother is concerned. He paused. "I'm not lying for you," he added.

"Don't be such a goody-two-shoes," I chided him. "Besides, I'm not asking you to lie for me. Just don't volunteer anything. If you just be cool about it, they'll never even think to ask."

They thought and they asked, and my brother didn't lie for me.

I was on my parents' bed in our hotel suite, peacefully watching "16 and Pregnant" on TV and minding my own business, when my father walked in. I didn't pay any particular attention to him until he whacked me. Hard.

"Ouch! That hurt!" I exclaimed as I jumped up. "What were you doing?"

"Do you want more?" he demanded.

"No!" I answered as I backed away from him.

"I know about the parasailing," he said.

"Oh," I replied. ( I'm known for being profound and articulate in times of crisis.) Things were suddenly clear.

"You know there are parasailing accidents every year," he told me.

I wish I had looked up this particular statistic in advance so I could have told him instead of just telling you, Matt, Becca, my school counselor, three friends who shall remain anonymous to preserve my relative anonymity here, my relatives, and the occasional reader who stumbles across this blog, that according to data maintained by the U. S. Coast Guard, the average number of parasailing accidents occuring in U. S. waters is a grand total of [get ready; here comes the drum roll: /././././././././././] 3.2!!! Yes, folks, you read correctly. Of the millions of occurences of parasailing each year, 3.2 injury-producing accidents take place! I would have had a better chance of being impregnated by an extraterrestrial being at high noon on the Golden Gate Bridge on Valentine's Day than of being injured in a parasailing accident.

"How did you get on without one of our signatures?" my mom asked.

"Oh, she had one of our signatures, all right. Take a look." He showed the pink copy bearing my impression of his signature to my mom.

"Did you do this?' my mom asked. I nodded. (Note to younger and less experienced readers: if you're caught red-handed, don't bother lying. You'll only ruin your credibility and destroy the chance that you'll ever sucessfully get out of any trouble by twisting the truth ever so slightly.)

"That's really good. I'd say you've had a lot of practice. Can you do my signature that well?" my mom asked.

"Better!" my imbecilic brother chimed in. "Yours is a lot easier. She does your signature even better than you do it." If my brother were ever a soldier or spy captured by the enemy, no one would need to waterboard him or torture him in any other way. He would offer the information up before it was even requested. He's that stupid!

My parents wanted to know to what I had signed their names in the past. I could honestly tell them that it was just a field trip request, a couple of tests, and that sort of thing. They stared at me, employing their best lie-detection methods that they think are so fool-proof but that don't actually work at all. I didn't tell them this, but the main reason I've never signed anything more significant than a test (on which I had received an "A") or a field trip permission slip is that my mom works for our school district and would know if we had anything really significant for her or my dad to sign. We wouldn't dare skip a class, because she checks on her computer every day to see that we attended all of our classes and were on time.

Then my dad went on a rant for about five minutes about how today it was just a parasailing form I forged, but how was he to know that I wouldn't move on to writing prescriptions and signing his name to them, then selling the Adderall or narcotics to my classmates or taking the illicit drugs myself. My father has turned the non sequitur conclusion into an art form. He was moving at a rapid pace to a place so far into the exosphere that I didn't really know how to respond. . . but only for a moment, as I am seldom at a loss for words for any length of time.

"Dad, I've already been admitted to a mental health facility," I explained calmly. "If you just tell the doctors there about any additional problems I have, I'm sure they can take care of those just like they're going to fix everything else that's wrong with me."

My mom looked at both of us for just a moment, and then began laughing. "What's so funny about this?" he demanded, glaring at her.
Not even waiting for her answer, he stormed toward the door, muttering, "I'm going to get a beer."

My brother, the rat, looked up at him from the chair where he was seated, then sang in his best high-pitched and rapid Alvin (of chipmunk fame) voice, "We are-a hap-py fam-il-y!" It's an inside joke based on a totally asinine Mormon children's song that my Aunt Marthaleen's and Uncle Mahonri's family sings at the talent portion of every family reunion because not one of them possesses anything remotely resembling actual talent. My father stopped, gave my brother the ugliest look he could come up with on the spur of the moment, then picked up a hotel pillow and started bashing my brother with it.

My brother yelled, "What are you hitting me for? I didn't do anything!"Then he hollered, "Alexis, you have to help me!" My brother is always boasting of his amazing body and great physical prowess, but he can't even go one-on-one in a pillow fight with his rapidly aging forty-seven-year-old father without calling on his runt-sized older sister to bail him out.

"Why should I help you after you ratted me out?" I asked in response to his pleas for help.

"He didn't rat you out. I saw you up in the air from our boat," my dad said between pillow blows. "Next time you're trying to be incognito, don't wear your hot pink diving team sweats."

Since my brother didn't tell on me, I went to his aid in the pillow fight. My dad said two against one wasn't fair. We told him that was how we always pillow-fought. He said, "That was when you were little. You're too big now."

I left my brother to fight the pillow war on his own momentarily while I did what I do best, which is to complain and to digress. "You're always trying to make me eat more because I'm too small. Now you say I'm too big! Would you please make up your mind?"

"Jeez, Alexis!" my dad said in his most exasperated out-of-breath voice, "Can you ever listen to a conversation just once without taking something totally out of context?"

"No," I answered him, picking up a pillow and rejoining the fight.

Resigned to fighting off both my brother and me, my dad called out to my mother, "It's two against one. Would you join us?"

My mother picked up a pillow and cautiously walked across the room to where we were pounding each other with pillows. Then she started hitting my dad with her pillow. "What in the hell are you doing?" my dad asked her.

"If I'm going to join this fight, I'll join the winning team," my mom answered him. "I don't want to break a nail or mess up my hair." My brother delivered a blow to the back of Dad's knees with his pillow as my mom hit him over the head with hers. My dad fell to the floor and we all sat on him until he gave up.

Then I had to listen to my dad describe how 60% of the 3.2 injury-producing parasailing accidents that happen in U. S. waters each year are high ankle fractures. A high ankle fracture would be only 1.5 inches from my last fracture. If I were to suffer the a high ankle fracture with my leg's present precarious state, my leg might not ever heal properly. (Translated for the math-impaired: My chances were were 1.92 out of approximately six million that I would have suffered the dreaded high ankle fracture; my chances of incurring the same fracture while crossing a street in my present location are roughly three times as great. When I shared this with my father, he said not only was parasailing a forbidden activity for me; I was not to cross any streets on this trip, either.) My parents refused to let me out of the room until I promised not to forge their names again, at least not on paragliding consent forms or prescription pads. Then we went to dinner.

Is it any mystery from where I inherited my unbalanced mental state?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Questions for Becca and Matt

Becca, I'm posting this here because I'm not sure what sites you are reading now. I hope you're feeling less sore and less nauseous. I have two questions for you. Please pardon my ignorance, because I probably should already know the answer to the first one, but I don't. The second question is only a matter of trivia and curiosity. I can delete this if you'd like.
I'm editing this to say that I've tossed in a third question as well.

Anyway, my first question is as follows: Do you eat regular food at all -- just a bite of something you like -- or are you entirely restricted to formula? Can you physcially eat if you really want to even though you don't benefit nutritionally speaking, or do you become so ill after eating that it's unwise to consume any food by mouth? Do you drink water, or do you just rinse out your mouth to keep it moist?

My second question is this: What are your feelings about the Gosselin family situation? I'm asking because I watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight almost since it started, but no one around me is interested in the program or the family in the least, so I never get to discuss it. Being a PA resident, you may even have a local take on the situation. I understand that Pennsylvania is a big state, and just because you and the Gosselins reside within its boundaries, it doesn't necessarily mean you've been neighbor of theirs. Still, I am interested in your opinion.

Matt, do you have an opinion about Jon & Kate Plus 8? Do you even know who they are? Also Matt, and Becca as well if you have an opinion, what is your reaction to Princce William's announcement of his engagement? Is Ms. Middleton up to the task of joining up with the Windsors? Where do you think the wedding will take place? This s another topic I love to discuss but have no one with whom to discuss it. Even the crazy people won't converse with me on the topic.

Po' uli

P. S. Matt the story was deep. I liked it. I'll post a more specific reaction to it in your "comments" section later today.

P.P.s. Becca, do you ever post fiction? I don't, although my parents are fond of saying that half of my blog is fiction.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pathological Liar Day, part two

My priest was in the area today and stopped by to visit me while my fellow crazy people and I were in the throes of Pathological Liar Day. As soon as he passed the security checkpoint and was granted entrance into the ward, people (even some staff members, who had given up maintaining sanity and had joined our Pathological Lying-fest) instantly began confessing all sorts of atrocities to him. After five minutes of it, he tore off his clerical collar (which is probably a serious breach of protocol for him, but what do I care?) and declared, "See! I'm not wearing a collar, so that means I must not be a priest!" He immediately plopped himself onto a sofa and began inhaling brownies (he later ate roughly his weight in pizza) and telling lies with all the rest of us.

Four awards were given for the day's activities. The first three were created and awarded by the staff. One was for the single most outrageous lie. I told a few outragerous lies, but my life has been sheltered up to this point to the extent that I'm thoroughly outclassed here in terms of the background needed to tell a truly outrageous lie. I won't share exactly what lie won the competition because it was of a sexual nature, and this as a PG-rated blog.

Another award went to the most believable and most convincing liar. I won this one. The therapist who unwittingly started the ball rolling on the whole Pathological Liar Day concept would not agree, since she thought I was lying even when I told the truth. I asked everyone not to tell my parents about this award when they show up to pick me up tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant. (By the way, everyone in my ward is either going home or has relatives visiting, so no one has to eat hospital food for thanksgiving dinner.) My parents think they can tell when I'm lying. They can't. I haven't lied to them very often, but when I have done so, more often than not I've succeeded in getting them to believe me.

The third competition would have been part of the second one except that the staff gave out the second award before they knew the machinery was available for the third one. Someone brought in a polygraph machine. We had a competition to see if anyone could beat it. Not one of us could fool it outright, but one other girl and I both had findings of "inconclusive."
We shared this award.

The last competition, which was created by us rather than the staff, was
a game where we listed ten things about us that could be verified by our records or by a phone call to our parents. (We signed a pledge that we wouldn't ask our parents to lie for us. With it being Pathological Liar Day, I'm not sure how much the signed pledge was worth, but it was the best that we could do, as we didn't yet have access to the polygraph.) Each person had to list ten items about himself or herself, with seven being true and three being lies. We had to post our lists on a promethean board and had to face questions from fellow contestants, which by this time would have included staff, because they couldn't resist joining a contest run by crazy people, but we wouldn't allow them to enter because our files had been accessible to basically all of them, so they theoretically had an edge on the rest of us. We let them compete as honorary contestants, and gave out a staff award, but their guesses did not calculate into our final scores. Everyone got to vote on which of each contestant's answers were truth or lies. Each contestant received one point for every lie he or she correctly identified on a peer's form. Additioally, each contestant received ten points for any lie on his or her form on which no more than two people correctly identified as a lie. We designated two girls who really like to text to verify all items on people's lists that anyone found questionable. (In some cases they had to make follow-up phone calls because not all parents answer text messages in a timely manner, but mostly it was handled by texting.) Each contestant got five extra points for any item that was questioned by anyone but found to be correctly designated as truth or lie.

This competition was complicated, but it was worth the trouble since I ended up winning it. For winning this, I had the privilege of deciding from what restaurant to order the pizza. I followed the recommendation of my aunt's best friend's daughter, who attends a local university near here and comes by once or twice a week to visit me. She recommended a local pizza parlor that is a favorite with university students. It was very good pizza, and I'm glad we chose that establishment. I like the idea of giving business to locally owned and operated establishments.

I'm very tired from lying all day. It's exhausting to lie so much! I will probably fall asleep at a decent hour for once. My parents and brother are supposed to be here around noon to pick me up. They'll be here for a few days. If anyone reading this is a thug from near my hometown and knows who I am or who my family is and thinks it might be a good idea to break into my family's home in their absence, I should warn you that my cousin, who is a police officer, is staying at my family's house this weekend, and he has lots of time off, so chances are that he'll be there with his loaded off-duty service revolver in the event that you and/or one of your thug friends tries to burglarize the place.

Pathological Liar Day

It's Pathological Liar Day on the funny farm. One of the nurses said that before we, the current crop of young crazy people, occupied the ward, there were never faux holidays and social events organized by the patients. She was not sure whether the new development was good or bad. I don't really see how it could be a bad thing. It's not as though we ignore the social director's activities in favor of our own. We participate in the sanctioned events as well.

If I were the social director, just to make my job easier, I would work with the crazy people so that sanctioned activities coordinated with those dreamed up by the patients. There hasn't been a problem so far, and I don't anticipate there ever being one. It's just that we could practically do her job for her if she would allow us to do so, and we make it a point not to leave anyone out of our activities. This is not a cliquish nut house; it's equal opportunity and thoroughly non-discriminatory.

We made an agreement with the psychological intern that we wouldn't extend our lies to private therapy sessions, and no group official sessions were scheduled for today. In exchange for agreeing not to lie pathologically in our therapy sessions, we get to order pizza from a real pizza establishment as opposed to hospital pizza, which is worse than the cheapest kind of frozen pizza available in grocery stores. There are actually some entrees that the hospital kitchen manages not to render tasteless, but cardboard would be an improvement over the crust of whatever commercial frozen pizza they have managed to procure. We haven't decided whether to vote on which kind of pizza we want or to create some sort of competition, with the winner earning the right to choose.

My priest, not the one who excommunicated me but the newer and nicer one, is coming by to visit me this afternoon. He's in the area for some reason; I'm not sufficiently important that a priest will drive hundreds of miles out of his way to visit me. Before he comes in, I'll explain about Pathological Liar Day so that he understands why Chaz is boasting non-stop about his sexual exploits. If the priest so desires, he can even join in on the festivities and add a few lies of his own to the mix. I don't know if priests are allowed to do that sort of thing or not.

Nothing else exciting is happening. I'll update or re-post if anything really great or noteworthy occurs on the premises. Otherwise, no news is good news. Speaking of news, the North Korea situation has me a bit worried. I have cousins in the military, and I hope they're not going to be deployed anywhere near there.

Matt, I hope you post your next story soon.

Becca, continue to get better.

Annyeonghi gaseyo!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Now 5'7" and Have Massive Boobs

I'm supposed to be visited twice a week here by either one of my parents or one of two sets of aunts and uncles on weeks when I don't go home. When one of my designated visitor relatives visits on a weekday, I usually meet with a therapist with the relative also attending the counseling session. My Aunt Heather visited today and sat through the counseling session with me.

This particular therapist spent most of the session bringing up things I'd told her or she'd heard me say, and asking my aunt if they were true. The things she asked about were things that probably no one who was not a pathological liar would bother to lie about. Who cares enough about birth weight to lie about it, for example? I know people who lie about their present weight, but birth weight? Among the other matters the therapist confirmed with my aunt were my SAT scores (People do lie about SAT scores on occasion, but I don't. Were I to lie about them, I'd say my scores were perfect 800's straight across the board. How stupid does she think I am?), my father's occupation (which is listed in my files; the therapist could have looked it up instead of wasting my aunt's time), whether I donated bone marrow to my mother (this is in my medical records, to which any therapist who sees me has access), and my father's and brother's heights. How could it benefit me to lie about how tall my father and brother are? For that matter, they'll be here later this week. Were I to lie about their heights, anyone who's around would see that I was stretching the truth. She asked about many other things as well. Some I have forgotten. Others I will spare you from the tedium of hearing.

This therapist has seen me two other times in private sessions, and has presided over about four group sessions of which I was a part. Additionally, she has sometimes stood or sat on the periphery as various social events, both scheduled and informal, took place. I never really thought about what she was writing in her notebook. After the fact, she did seem to be staring at me as she wrote. I tried not to be paranoid, because not everything is about me, but I now see that it wouldn't have been paranoia to suggest this therapist was focusing on me, and it apparently really was about me.

My aunt and I went to lunch and then went for a walk on the beach. She (my aunt) asked me about my prior interactions with this therapist. I told my Aunt Heather that I had seen less of this therapist than of the other two and the psychological intern. My aunt wondered why the therapist found it neceaary to confirm practically everything I'd ever told her or had told anyone else when she was listening. For example, my old bedroom was blue, but the room I sleep in at home now is pink. (I haven't told anyone there about my extravagant newly decorated room because it might come across as boasting to others, although most of my fellow inmates come from backgrounds considerably wealthier than mine. Still, what would be the point?) Is there a good reason I would need to lie about that? It's not as though I sit around bragging while I'm at the facility. There are a few things (not a whole lot, but a few, nonetheless) about which I could legitmately boast, but I don't, because it's an obnoxious behavior.

After my aunt dropped me off on my floor of the hospital, she asked to speak with the director of my facility and told him of our session with the therapist who thinks I make things up habitually. I wouldn't have known about it, but a couple of the nurses and the psychological intern were grilling me about what happened in my session because they saw my aunt talking with the director, then saw the therapist as she entered and left the director's office, and heard just enough to know it somehow involved me. It was probably unprofessional of the others to ask me, but they were curious, just as I now am.

The therapist has given me ideas. Intially I considered making up lies about myself and telling them all over the place. I could say that I'm President Obama's illegitimate daughter. (Coloring can be fair on bi-racial kids, and I did have curly hair when I was little, so it's not impossible; it is untrue, but it's not beyond possibility at a glance.) I could say that I'm in the Witness Protection Program.
I could claim to have been an Olympic gymnast who was disqualified for drug use. I could claim to be fifty-third in the line of succession for the British throne. I could claim to know exactly where Jimmy Hoffa is.
The possibilities are endless.

The problem with my acting on my tendencies toward pathological dishonesty that the therapist believes I possess is that it could derail my therapy and keep me in this place longer than I otherwise might be. Plan B is that I could organize a "Pathological Liar Day," on which all the participants spend the entire day making up ridiculous lies that no one with an IQ as high as the highest category of mental retardation (note: these people were formerly categorized in a clinical sense as morons) would believe. It could be fun. As soon as my fellow inmates awake, I'll have to share ths idea with them.

Rebecca, I hope you're soon well enough to post. Matt, the story creeped me out, but I couldn't have walked away from the computer without reading the ending even if my building had been on fire.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Schedule Changes

I was going home this week for Thanksgiving. Now I'm not going, but my family is coming here. I'll spend the days with them while they're here for 3 days, I think, and all but one night here. One night I'll probably stay at a hotel with my parents and brother. We'll look at universities in the area during part of the daytime. My brother must be thrilled about being dragged away from home and from the new love of his life so that he can spend Thanksgiving with me.

I should tell you about my brother's latest woman. She's not nor has she ever been a cheerleader. She plays the flute and plays volleyball on our high school's varsity team. She has a GPA of 3.4, which doesn't sound very impressive, but in my high school B's are not given away just for showing up and breathing, so it's actually a better grade point average than it sounds. I don't know her all that well, but I have nothing bad to say about her. She's always seemed nice enough. I'm not exactly sure why she would choose to date my brother, but taste in men or in anything else isn't always something for which it is easy to account.

My brother and I will turn sixteen in early December, and I will go home for that milestone. I don't know what form our celebration or celebrations will take, but it will not be a joint birthday party with our peers where we play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," eat cupcakes, and drink punch. We did that in second grade, and it was the last joint party we ever had. I won't bore you by describing it in great detail. I'll only say that it started to go downhill when one of my brother's friends put two tropical fish into the punch. Neither the punch nor the tropical fish survived.

Other birthdays haven't caused me to feel any different than I felt before the big day, so I can't imagine this birthday will be any exception in that regard. I will probably be the only sixteen-year-old in my high school without a driver's license, but some things I can't change. Each year --for that matter each day -- gets me closer to emancipation, but it's still too distant to begin counting days. For that matter, once I take off for college, I'll be emancipated for all intents and purposes. I'd like to leave in June and enroll in a summer session, but it's not likely to be allowed.

Nothing interesting has happened around here lately. My Internet friend Rebecca has been released from the hospital following her surgery and says she is feeling much better, although she is still sore. I hope to hear more from her in the upcoming days.

If anything interesting is happening where you are, please respond in the "comments" section and tell me about it. If vicarious excitement is all that is available, I'll take it.

Boa Noite!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Rebecca was supposed to have surgery yesterday. We haven't heard anything. This is understandable, as the average person isn't often up to posting on the Internet the day immediately following surgery. Still, I am very concerned. Please send prayers and positive thoughts in the direction of Rebecca.

My friend Matt has another great story you should read. It could conceivably cause some of my relatives to re-think how they are living their lives, although I'm pretty sure that was the last thing Matt intended when he wrote the story.

By the way, Matt, I forgot to add earlier that your glossary of terms common to the time period in Birmingham was both helpful and interesting in and of itself.

Again, please keep Rebecca in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back in the Funny Farm

My parents and mental health workers do not take kindly to my referring to my treatment facility as a "funny farm," nor are they fond of the terms "loony bin," "nut house," "cuckoo's nest," "booby hatch," "bug house," "madhouse," "snake pit," or "laughing academy," to name just a few of the synonyms that my fellow crazy people and I have looked up in Internet thersauri (thesauruses is also an acceptable plural form of the word, but sounds less pretentious, so I'll stick with thesauri; when in doubt, use pretentious language) and are fond of using to describe our temporary residence. I think my parents' primary objection to my derogative descriptions of the place stem from the amount of money it is costing someone (my parents? my parents' insurance carriers? my school district? my attackers? I have no idea who is paying for my extended vacation) to put me up in this facility. None of them need worry, though. It's just a tactic we use to hold onto what little sanity we have left collectively. Depending upon how things go in upcoming months, I would conceivably recommend this place to another poor soul suffering from similar circumstances as mine. Still, the final verdict is not in. Maybe there really is an electroshock room or even a hydrotherapy room, and I just have been fortunate enough not to see them.

I made it back here before noon yesterday. I had reached a point where I was sleeping decently -- at least six hours at a stretch, which is not optimal for my growth and healing, but is better than the three consecutive days of wakefulness before sleeping even a two-hour stretch, to which I had become accustomed. The doctors here have decided to give it two days before medicating me. Last night and tonight I have been allowed to stay up if I can't sleep. Tomorrow night I will have to go to bed by one a.m. I can either take sleep medication or reject it, but I have to stay in bed from at least one a.m. until six a.m.

My lead psychiatrist (having more than one psychiatrist must surely be a true measure of insanity) thinks I should have more frequent trips home that are shorter in duration. He said that my Christmas vacation should still be almost two weeks, but other than that, I should be at home for no more than three consecutive nights until sleep is no longer an issue. As long as it's the same amount of time, I don't really care. The new plan is more expensive for whomever is footing the overall bill, as more plane tickets are involved, but my suspicion is that when all the court cases are finished and/or settlements have been hammered out, the bills won't be paid by anyone related to me, and, for that matter, my parents can afford it, although it may impact how many other relatives' children's educations they can finance.

We don't have any exciting events planned in the booby hatch in the next few days, so I will have to think of something. The other crazy people apparently had a great time watching the premiere of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" together Sunday night before I got back. As much as it is against my principles to contribute to the ratings of Sarah Palin's reality show, it's a train wreck from which I will not be able to turn away. I'll watch it with the rest of the crazy people. The TV will be tuned to TLC whether I'm there to watch it or not. I seriously doubt that mental health facilities are routinely chosen as Nielsen families, anyway.

We had a large discussion that bordered upon argument concerning television ratings and Nielsen families at home while I was on furlough. My brother is sure that the cable companies or networks or someone anyway can determine the viewership of cable subscribers and even viewers over the airwaves. He thinks that is part of what the conversion to digital transmission was about. My mom, dad, and I all accused him of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I actually joined in the argument just for the fun of it, as I really don't know enough about the subject to have an informed opinion. Anyone who reads this who knows anything about the subject, please educate me. Is there a way media executives know who or how many people are watching a given program besides the representative sampling that the Nielsen system provides? Is Big Brother spying on us to the extent that my brother believes is true?

I don't have a Facebook account because my parents don't want me to have one. My only use of Facebook is through friends' accounts on their computers. All of my friends here have Facebook accounts. One guy was friended by someone from Wasilla and was able to follow a discussion between Willow Palin and some guy named Tre in which Tre made fairly mild criticism of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" and Willow responded with profanity, homophobic epithets, and semi-literate language at best. Willow's sister, teen mother and "Dancing with the Stars" competitor Bristol Palin, even joined the discussion with her own semi-literate repartee. While I understand that Facebook is not a forum on which many teens are concerned about correct spelling and grammar, one will be judged for
consistent butchering of the English language, particularly if one is the daughter of a former vice-presidential candidate, and even more so if the vice-presidential candidate and the daughter in question were filmed rolling their eyes at one another when one of the candidate's detractors identified herself as a teacher. If Willow had made a few typographical errors here and there, it would be a non-issue. God knows I make numerous typographical errors myself, not that I'm the standard to which other young writers should compare themselves. On the other hand, when sentences with incorrect usage outnumber those written correctly (even allowing for textspeak [which is not necessary in the Facebook forum, but I'll overlook it for the sake of argument] and general informality in written language), the writer is one who should not be rolling her eyes when a member of the public identifies herself as a teacher.

I'm presently a high school student, although I accumulated enough credits to graduate and attend multiple University of California campuses and Stanford University after the fall of my junior year. In any event, at this point of my educational career, teachers do not rank overly high on my list of favorite people. (This, I have been told, comes with the territory of being a high school student; once I'm far removed from my high school career, I will have more appreciation for my high school teachers and the job they have done under trying circumstances. Maybe, and maybe not; only time will tell if this will turn out to be the case.) Still, individuals who are themselves semi-literate are not in a position to criticize teachers except possibly the ones who weren't all that successful in educating them.

The premiere of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" will be re-aired tomorrow evening, and I'll probably watch it. Perhaps it will be successful in a way modern medicine has not, which is to make me sleepy at an appropriate hour. Reading the book Sarah Palin authored certainly had that effect on me. If I had thought of it, I would have brought a copy of her book here with me to see if it could accomplish what Lunesta could not.

TLC is a fitting channel for a mental health inpatient facility. Our television here should probably be tuned to tLC around the clock. With "Sister Wives," "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," "19 and Counting,"
the entire Jon and Kate debacle, and numerous other shows including "Sarah Palin's Alaska," there's enough lunacy in any given day's programming to make just about any mental health facility inpatient feel sane by comparison. My only suggestion to the braintrust at TLC would be that they try to purchase the rights to "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" from "E!"(formerly known as "The Entertainment Network). "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is not, any way one views it, actual entertainment; it's a train wreck from which one cannot turn away, just like the other programming at TLC, and as such, belongs on TLC with its companion train wreck programs.

If anyone were to read this other than my three friends from home who know about my blog, my relatives (both kind and unkind, sane and loonier than anyone presently locked up in this loony bin with me, intelligent and less than one standard deviation from being classified as intellectually disabled since Rosa's Law took effect and rescued them from the plight of being described as just a hair's width above the state of mental retardation), one teacher, two members of my high school couseling department who are my mother's friends, and my very few loyal Internet friends, I would be flamed or possibly even threatened with litigation. Obscurity is not without its benefits, though, so I can continue to write whatever pops into my head within reason concerning the Palin family or anyone else. Once I've actually seen an episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," I'm sure I'll have more to write about the topic.

Depending upon how you view this time of day, Bunogiomo or Buonasera!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twitter Answers from Celebrities

The only bona fide celebrity that I tweet is Judge Alex. Russ Carney may be well known among screen writers for all I know, but among the general public I don't think he has celebrity status. I communicate via responses to blogs with Matt, who may very well be famous in the UK, but I don't know that for a fact. For that matter, neither do I care. I like people for who they are and not because of absence or presence of celebrity status. Still, the dynamic of celebities communicating with fans is interesting. It's something that wasn't practical before the Internet, and especially before the arrival of Twitter.

My mother would greatly prefer that I not pester Judge Alex with my trivial questions and comments. If she paid more attention and realized that I occasionally correspond via tweet or blog responses to Russ Carney and Matt, she'd probably tell me to quit pestering them as well. She finds my tweets to Judge Alex a major source of embarrassment. I don't tweet under my actual name, so unless she tells others about it, no one who knows me except my closest friends and the relatives who spy on me through this blog and Twitter will ever know that the tweeter in question is her daughter. Beyond that, it's not as though I'm discussing sex or anything of such a delicate nature with Judge Alex or anyone else online. I have mentioned certain cyclical matters in correspondence with my online friend Rebecca, but she's in my age bracket and female, so it shouldn't be an issue where my mom and her embarrassment are concerned.

Anyway, I'm not sure if my mom thinks she is going to run into the judge on one of her infrequent trips to Southern California or even less frequent trips to Florida, and he's going to take one look at her and exclaim, "Oh my God! You're the mother of that awful Alexis who keeps pestering me with her inane tweets! How could you give birth to and raise such a pitiful creature?!?!?" or if she has some other scenario in mind in which she is outed as the guardian of The Pesky Tweeter. She knows I'm not breaking any laws or, other than one question that may have been a bit out of line, even violating Internet etiquette, so she doesn't forbid me from tweeting Judge Alex or anyone else. I rarely mention any Twitter interactions with Judge Alex or any other adult to my parents (I don't really have to because every keystroke on my computer goes to my parents' computers as well, so if they check, they can see everything I type), but often when she sees me typing she'll ask, "You're not bothering that Judge Alex again, are you?" Fewer than two times out of one thousand do I have to answer affirmatively. Still she persists in worrying.

Judge Alex sometimes responds to my tweets. His schedule for responding is something that eludes me. Because my mom is a psychologist, I've been exposed to learning theory, including the work of B. F. Skinner and his schedules of reinforcement. His idea was that there are four basic patterns of reinforcing behaviors: fixed interval, variable interval, fixed ratio, and variable ratio. I won't explain the terms because my more intelligent readers either already know about them from Psych 101, or they'll figure it out because the terms are reasonably self-descriptive. My less astute readers, who are probably limited to my relatives on a certain side of the family, wouldn't understand even if I explained in language a four-year-old would typically comprehend.

Anyway, my project for my Statistics class is to identify and produce evidence supporting my theory of what determines when Judge Alex does and does not respond to my tweets. My instructor has said that I cannot tweet him more frequently than I have in the past for the purpose of producing data because to do so would skew the results. Furthermore, I wouldn't do that anyway, because I value Judge Alex's time enough that I would not fill up his "@judgealexferrer" page with needless tweets. I, therefore, must determine, based on over a year's worth of tweets posing questions to him (tweets merely commenting to him won't be used in study) whether the judge's pattern for answering me is entirely random or if it fits a reinforcement schedule. Does he answer one out of eight of my tweeted questions, or does he respond to me once every twenty days, or do his responses vary more? He's walking a tightrope in dealing with mildly annoying people such as myself. He surely doesn't want to respond with such frequency that he encourages me to become his daily pen pal, but he's in the entertainment industry and uses his Twitter page as a tool for connecting with fans and increasing the number of viewers of his television program. For that reason, he probably doesn't wish to alienate tweeters and lose viewers in the process even if said tweeters and viewers annoy him slightly.

A major variable for which I may not be able to control is the judge's schedule and just how busy he is at any given time, although it's possible I can look at his other FB and Twitter activity during specific intervals of the time period examined and factor that in as well. My instructor says he is willing to read all the tweets and provide an objective adult opinion as to whether any given tweeted question was too silly to be taken seriously by an adult, and that I should probably have one other adult do the same. I certainly won't involve either of my parents. I'll probably politely ask a staff member at my treatment facility to take on the job. God knows my parents' insurance carriers or the school district or my attackers' parents or whoever is paying for my treatment is forking over a truckload of money. It's the least these people can do for me. If the reading material is all printed out and highlighted, it shouldn't be a terribly cumbersome task, and if it were a member of the psychological staff performing it, reading the questions I asked would perhaps give the person some insight into my state of psychosis (or preferably my lack of a state of psychosis) before the incident triggered my sleep difficulties and general state of paranoia (except it's not necessarily paranoia when the fears are based on something that everyone except the perpetrators and their parents agrees really happened).

My grades in four of my classes will be based primarily upon project grades. I've already completed my literature class composition, which deals primarily with comparing poetry of Shakespeare, Housman, and Frost with work of mid-to-late nineteenth century lyricists, since poetry has all but disappeared from the modern culture except in the form of rap music, which is really poetry and not music. Comparing the works of the masters with rap "lyrics" (it's a stretch to call rap "music," and lyrics are words set to music, so the words to rap "songs," while sometimes profound in their own unique way, are not technically lyrics in my opinion) but I couldn't have stood to read, listen to, or write about rap to the extent that would be required for my project. I'm not putting down those who do enjoy rap, which is a population extending from the majority of people in my age bracket all the way to individuals over thirty, and even older with some demographic groups. Since hearing much of it gives me a headache, I'll leave the analysis of it to my brother and others who enjoy it more than I.

I still need projects for Independent Study Government and APAIS (Advanced Placement Advanced Independent Studies). The research will probably be the same, or partly the same, for both courses, but the papers submitted will be different. I feel lazy for not having even started the projects for these two classes, but realistically, once I nail down the topics and collect the data, writing the papers will take very little time. I'd like to be finished with at least one of the two projects before winter vacation. Actually I'd like to be finished with both before winter vacation, but my teachers will be less than thrilled if I reappear at school at some point near the beginning of February with all of my work for the entire year already completed. Idle hands perform the Devil's work, or something like that. On the other hand, I don't have to show the completed projects to the teachers, so maybe I'll get as much finished as I can before going back to school full-time. I've already decided that the topics will somehow focus on "Judge Alex." The quotation marks indicate that the research and topics will focus on the "Judge Alex" courtroom television program as opposed to Alex Ferrer, the person. For Government, it's an easy tie-in, as small claims courts are a not insignificant part of the judicial branch of government. APAIS is so loosely defined that almost no project would be rejected if it involved sufficient research and writing.

If I so desire, I'll get extra credit in the APAIS course by assisting two students who are writing a musical, but I don't want to rely on that project as my sole criteria for a grade in the course because I'm concerned about the direction the other two students are headed with it. I don't mind helping them; I just don't want a substandard grade on my transcript if the others can't be convinced to make a few revisions. (Certain parts of what I've read are less than cohesive and don't entirely make sense.)

I'm here until early Monday morning, at which time Daddy and I will take a flight back to an airport near my treatment facility. It's after 4:00 a.m. and I'm still wide awake, so it seems apparent that my sleep difficulties are still with me. I'm not particularly stressed out about it, though. Instead of worrying, I try to use the extra waking hours productively. Then when feel like sleeping, I will have lots of time for it.

Móra na maidine dhuit!

P.S. My friend Matt has posted a very thought-provoking story on his blog. Read it if you have time.

P.P.S. Great job again, Matt!

P.P.P.S. Rebecca, I hope you are getting better!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I got my learner's permit!!!!!

I had my first driving lesson with a professional instructor, which means that I can now drive with a licensed driver over 21. I'll be eligible to take the actual driving test to obtain my license in mid-May.

My brother now has his actual driver's license. My parents let him get his learner's permit right after I was injured in the spring. My dad asked me if I had a problem with their letting my brother get his permit when I was physically unable to drive. It was difficult to give my OK;I wanted to tell Dad to make my brother wait, but I knew it would be a very selfish thing to do, so I bit the bullet and said to let him take the test. It was painful to watch him drive before I was able, but it was just one of those things I had to do.

Matt, I'm waiting with baited breath to read your next work of fiction.

Rebecca, I hope you're OK . Send out a smoke signal or somthing when you're able to do so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Details Concerning My New Room

I don't want to spend hours babbling about the newly redecorated and expanded bedroom and bathroom that I came home to discover. If I were allowed to post pictures, I would, but I'm not allowed. Still, when I described it before, I had seen only a small fraction of the features.

The basic color scheme would need to remain intact because of the walls, window treatments, and furniture, but my aunt and uncle bought five extra rugs (two of them reversible) with comforter and sheet sets to match. The reversibles are pink, black and/or white polka dots and backgrounds in different combinations. One comforter and rug has a music motif, one set is solid white, and one is an interesting print in the color scheme with a complementary print rug. The bedroom and bathroom room were expanded into unused attic space, and a closet with custom cabinets was built from the attic space with shelving just to store the unused bedding and rugs. It's seriously like the type of room a rich girl would have (I heard my dad telling my mom that it's probably similar to one of the rooms the Hiltons provided for Paris when she was twelve or so, and, while I hardly appreciated the comparison, he wasn't too far off), or at least it seems that way to me. (My standards are pretty low. My parents always told my brother and me that we were lucky to have our own rooms, period.)

With the expansion, the square footage is quite a bit greater than in my old room, and the features include a TV, which I didn't find at first. I'm wondering how much my aunt and uncle had to plead to get my parents to allow that. My parents don't believe in allowing kids to have TVs in their bedrooms. My aunt and uncle bought my brother a TV as well because it would not have been fair to force my parents to abandon their principles where I'm concerned without granting my brother the same benefits. (I suspect the final decision on the part of my parents to acquiesce was based on the premise that my brother and I are almost seventeen and have completed all the entrance requirements to attend the universities of our choosing. It's probably too late for either of us to develop ADHD or any other worst-case scenario of the negative effects of excessive television access.)

The bedroom walls have piano keyboards painted around the top and bottom, and my aunt took care to make the piano keyboards come out evenly all the way around the room so that the notes are continuous; it doesn't end up at a C in one conrner followed by an E-flat right next to it. My mom and aunts had poster-sized prints made and framed of three of my favorite piano selections, mixed in with black and white posters of composers. It looks a bit avant garde, but I love it.

The bathroom is far more luxurious than anything I would ever have expected. I won't bore any reader who has come across this blog with too many more painstaking details (at least it doesn't have a bidet, and probably only because my Uncle Ralph has never heard of bidets) but the floor is newly tiled, the square footage has been greatly increased, it has a separate shower and large tub, the bedroom's color scheme is continued in the bathroom, and the towels are much more plush than those to which I have become accustomed. My parents have always used nice towels themselves and provided guests with the same, but my brother and I have mostly used our parents' cast-offs.

The only part of the room that I could live without is a too-large black and white shot of me when I was five or six. It was actually taken by one of my least favored uncles on my dad's side of the family. Since I didn't and still don't particularly care for that uncle, one would probably have correctly guessed that I didn't exactly smile and say "cheese" for the camera. If I had known the significance of the gesture of displaying one's middle finger to indicate overall dislike or displeasure, I probably would have flipped off the uncle holding the camera, but I was a sheltered child, so my state of mind at the moment the picture was snapped is evident only by my "if looks could kill" glare.

This photo is significant in that the uncle with the camera sold rights to it to a greeting card company, and it actually made it onto some company's Mother's Day card a few years ago. My uncle didn't ask my permission before taking the picture, and he didn't ask for my parents' consent before selling it. My Uncle Steve happened to come across the card in a pharmacy right before mother's day a couple of years ago. He and my Aunt Heather and my mom and dad debated for weeks over whether or not it was actually I before they even showed it to me. When I finally saw it, I was able to tell them where it was taken and by whom. It was one of the times when my mother was in one of her serious illness phases, and my brother and I were briefly with relatives on my dad's side.

The uncle didn't let my parents know the picture existed, much less ask them to sign a release, before selling the rights to the picture. He didn't offer to share whatever he earned from the photo. He is one of the many relatives on dad's side of the family with too little income for the number of kids he has spawned, so my parents let the matter go. My mom said something semi-diplomatic but pointed when she told the uncle basically that she and my dad would have given him their blessing to use the photo for profit, but it would have been nice to have been asked or even to have been given a copy.

When my mom showed the greeting card with my image to my Godparents, Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph, my Uncle Ralph thought it was the funniest picture he had ever seen, especially since he dislikes the uncle who took it. (He doesn't know the particular uncle well because Uncle Ralph is from my mom's side and the offending uncle is my dad's sister's husband, but one does not necessarily need to know the man well to form a strong dislike of him.) The enlargement of that photograph to larger-than-life proportions was my Uncle Ralph's lone actual contribution in terms of the decor of the room. (As I stated earlier, he and my aunt financed the remodeling and redecoration, but Uncle Ralph didn't paint the walls or offer any input as to how the room should look except that this photo had to be included.)

I was young enough in the picture that a person seeing the picture wouldn't easily recognize it as being a picture of me, so at some point I'll get permission and scan a copy of it here or onto my Twitter page or both. I may even use it as my profile picture. I seriously doubt that doing so would pose a danger to me in terms of exposing my identity (I don't use my actual surname here, and only three of my friends know of this blog; I don't exactly go out of my way to publicize it) since my own parents weren't even sure it was I at first. Still, I need permission to post any picture at all. I don't wish to have any computer privilegess revoked.

I hope I'm not seen as being boastful regarding material things I did absolutely nothing to earn. If my parents had wanted to dip heavily into their savings to finance the remodeling and redecorating of my room, they could have afforded it, as we're not poor, but they never would have spent so much money in such a manner. They're not ostentatious people. Our home is comfortable but modest, and not built or decorated with the intent to impress anyone. I like to think that my room was redone not so much with the intent of impressing anyone as to make me sufficiently comfortable
that I'm able to forget unfortunate events of the recent past and drift blissfully into slumber when it is time for me to do so. On the other hand, my Uncle Ralph has been known to occasionally use his wealth to impress others, although exactly whom he would be trying to impress in this case is unclear. He's typically frugal, but once he makes a decision to spend serious money, he does so in an all-out fashion. My aunt told me he wanted to buy another baby grand piano (he already bought me one baby grand, which is in our upstair sitting room just outside my bedroom) but my parents and even my Aunt Victoria said that was ridiculous. My parents said it was either the TV or a new piano, but not both, so he wisely chose the televison option. A concert grand and two baby grands in one house is over-the-top even for a family of serious musicians.

One important note is that later this week I will take the test to get my learner's permit. I'm rather excited about this milestone. I still won't be eligible for my license until May, but for awhile it was looking as though I'd be eligible to join AARP before I acquired either a learner's permit or a license, so I'm not complaining.

Guten morgen!

P. S. Matt, please post another story, Christmas-related or otherwise, when you have time. Rebecca, get well!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Second Thought

The post I authored Friday night was OK in terms of content. Saturday's post wasn't. I'll save it in the archives. Once the whole mess that is my life is sorted out, I can post it if it is still relevant or to see how well I and certain others fared as legal prognosticators. (Not one of us is half as obnoxious as Nancy Grace even if we try to be.) In addition to safety concerns, publishing it now whould be similar to a Super Bowl contender publishing its entire game strategy a week or so before the big game. The late great Vince Lombardi used to say that if everyone on the team did his job correctly, a team could hand the other team the complete blueprints of its strategy for each play of the game and still win. The differences are: A) Lombardi was talking about football, not life (literally); B)Vince Lombardi may have said that, but he also went to the trouble of concealing his practice field so that the opposition couldn't scout his team during practice; C) why give the opposition ideas that may not have occurred to them? D) there was a "D" but I can't remember what it was. I'll edit it in if I ever remember it.

Buona notte!

Hi Matt!

My aunt agreed that there was too much information in my last two posts. She told me to delete immediately and to revise later. Thanks. I need to be more cautious.

Notice to all:
I do want to give a quick shout out to my online friend Matt, who has written and posted a Nativity story that feels just like you are there in Bethlehem witnessing Jesus' birth. It's most definitely a worthwhile read.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Dad and I caught a very late afternoon flight home. I became nauseous on the plane, which is becoming a habit for me. The flight wasn't all that rough, so it may have been nerves or it may have been motion sickness. This time dad was prepared with the powerful anti-nausea stuff-- the kind that dissolves in your mouth. The only problem with the medication is that it knocks me out for awhile, which messes up my sleep cycle.

I don't remember anything about arriving at the airport near my home city or actually getting home. Someone must have put me in bed. I woke up about forty minutes ago in a place I felt I had never been. Even though I couldn't see color in the dark, the room felt very foreign, and it didn't feel like my bed.

I crawled out of bed and felt my way along the walls for a light switch. When I found it and flipped the lights on, I still wasn't sure where I was, but I stepped into the hallway and recognized it as the upstairs hallway in our home, at the near end next to a sitting area with a baby grand piano that my aunt and overly indulgent uncle who are also my godparents had bought me as a Christmas gift when I was seven. (We have a full-length grand piano in the living room, so I wasn't desperately in need of a piano, but it is nice to have one of my very own that will travel with me when I make my first real home after college, and it has beautiful tone. My parents haven't done a lot to spoil me, but the same can't be said for my Godparents.)

At that point I realized that I was in what had formerly been our guest room, but that it had been slightly remodeled and thoroughly redecorated.
I had no say in the colors, but it is exactly what I would have picked if it had occurred to me to combine the colors in that way. The new hardwood floor is practically white. The walls are white with black and pink embellishments painted on the upper and lower borders. Much of the floor is covered by a big bright pink and very soft floor rug. The queen-sized bed that was formerly there is now in my old room. In its place there is a twin Westin bed. (I sleep in a Westin bed when I'm at my Uncle Steve's and Aunt Heather's house, and Westin beds have to be the most comfortable in the world.) The comforter is jelly-bean-pink, with white and black throw pillows and accessories. The sheets are incredibly soft. I've always slept on cheap and uncomfortable sheets at home, but someone shelled out a few bucks for a much higher thread count this time. I eventually found a birthday card signed by my Godparents, Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph. My actual birthday isn't until December 2nd, but my aunt and uncle recreated the room early as my birthday present.

Mom, who was waiting until I woke up, told me that the plan had been to redecorate and move me into the guest room all along, but that my aunt and uncle had become involved and had taken it much further than the original plan. My aunt actually did much of the work herself, except for putting in a window seat and some hired help with the painting. They bought my brother a new Westin double bed for his early b'day present so he wouldn't feel too left out. He's much bigger than I and can benefit more from a double bed, although he can still fit in a twin bed. He had a double bed before; it just wasn't one of those comfortable Westin ones.

My mom said my aunt got the idea for the pink, black, and white because my uncle likes jelly beans and always has, but he likes the regular cheap kind as opposed to Jelly Bellies or the other gourmet varieties. The cheap jelly beans are sold pre-bagged, and my aunt keeps them in a jar in her kitchen. My uncle likes red, green, and purple jelly beans the best, so he eats them first. After he finishes those, he eats the orange and yellow ones. He doesn't like the pink, white, or black ones, so they're always the ones left in the jar at the end. My aunt decided that she liked the color combination, and that if she ever had a daughter, she would decorate her room in black, white, and pink. Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph only had boys, though, so she's been holding onto the decorating idea for a long time. She even put a clear glass jar with fake pink, black, and white glass jelly beans in it (I have no idea where one would even find fake jelly beans) on my new shelf as an accent. The furniture is black and white, and aunt Victoria used a musical motif as her theme. She did an outstanding job. I wish I could take the whole room with me when I go away to college. I wanted to call my aunt and uncle right away to thank them, but it was less than an hour ago when I woke up and discovered the new room, and my aunt and uncle are dairy people who go to bed and get up early. I texted them, and I'll call as soon as it's a proper time.

My mom made some oatmeal for me because I was asleep when I would normally have had dinner. I took some more anti-nausea medication because I'm still feeling a bit barfy, and my mom wanted me to keep my dinner down. I'm getting sleepy, so I'll blog more tomorrow.

I do want to give a quick shout out to my online friend Matt, who has written and posted a Nativity story that feels just like you are there in Bethlehem witnessing Jesus' birth. It's most definitely a worthwhile read.

A very late goodnight to anyone who happens to come across this anytime soon. To all others, enjoy the extra hour, which I think comes this weekend. I'm slightly disoriented, so please forgive me if I don't know the correct weekend for the return to standard time.

Alexis, who is very grateful for a new room and a delighful family

Friday, November 5, 2010

Religious Icon Day Was Yesterday

We had originally planned Religious Icon Day for November 1, which is All Saints' Day, but because I was still quarantined so that I wouldn't infect my entire ward or the entire hospital with croup (which is pretty unrealistic, but the staff had to err on the side of caution), the other crazy people decided to wait until I was out of quarantine yesterday. I considered that to be a very kind gesture. Most people don't realize that crazy people are among the nicest on the planet.

I had decided upon being the Blessed Virgin, but one of the psych interns convinced me that I was more of a "Joan of Arc" (Jeanne d'Arc in French, if you're interested and happen to be among the 2% of the people on the planet who would care in the least yet don't already know that) type because I'm a constant crusader. He even went so far as to purloin red and orange cellophane out of some charity guild's closet on another floor of the hospital so that I could use it to simulate flames while I was burning at the stake. As the rope tying me to the stake, I had to use these little kid connector chain toys that one of the nurses brought for me because it would be next to impossible to either hang or strangle oneself with them because the chain will separate with the slightest resistance. The staff admitted that I wasn't suicidal, and that, for that matter, probably no one in our wing was, but if they gave one of us a piece of roving yarn and it got into the hands of anyone with homicidal or suicidal tendencies, the entire staff would be up a creek with no oar.

So, for the most part, I spent the day with a sheet draped around me (I could hang myself with a sheet if I were really determined, for that matter) and cellophane taped to me and two used-up wrapping paper rolls taped together for my stake, and construction paper signs taped to my front and back identifying myself, so there would be no excuse for anyone to identify or address me as anything but Joan of Arc. You wouldn't believe how exhausting it is to burn oneself at the stake all day and evening long. I was really getting into the martyr aspect of the whole thing. One guy was portraying Pope Benedict XVI (the current pope), but he briefly retreated to the role of Pope Benedict XV, who canonized Joan of Arc. I tried speaking French all day, but, despite my father's fluency in the language, my French is not what it should be. To make matters worse, no one on the floor understands French, so even if my French had been perfect, no one would have understood me.

The whole "Deity Day" concept sprung from a particular question asked of each patient (or "client," as they prefer to call us and would prefer that we call ourselves, although we've pretty much settled on "crazy people" as our collective descriptor). When we became sufficiently well-acquainted to learn that we all had been asked if we had ever become angry because someone refused to acknowledge or refer to us as a deity, the idea of "Deity Day" was born. The staff keeps telling each of us that we're not crazy, but that peculiar individual circumstances have placed each of us in a position to need therapy, yet persists in asking this question to each of us. (For the record, I don't think anyone was asked the same question after the initial intake session.)

The problem is that after so many days of inactivity from being sick, I thoroughly tired myself out by pretending to be Joan of Arc burning myself at the stake for about twelve hours and trying to speak a language that I don't speak all that well and that everyone else understands even more poorly than I speak it. So I slept too much in the daytime today. I knew it would cause problems with sleeping tonight, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. The staff didn't wake me because they were worried I might have a croup relapse or something if I didn't get sufficient rest. At one point, one of my friends came in and blasted music so loudly that I couldn't sleep through it. Otherwise, I might have slept until two p.m.

The staff is giving me until 1 a.m. to try to become sleepy on my own. After that, I have to either fake sleepiness really well or take Lunesta. It's not the end of the world to take Lunesta (it's not a bona fide crazy person drug) but my doctors can't find a perfect dosage for me. It either has no effect or knocks me out for longer than is optimal. I'll probably fake sleepiness. Eventually I might get tired, anyway.

Friday (tomorrow) evening I'm flying home for nine days plus a few extra hours. I'm looking forward to it. I even sort of miss my brother. We text and even sometimes talk, but I haven't actually seen him since I came here. I don't think our twin bond is as strong as some claim theirs to be, but he's still my brother.

"Judge Alex" was great today. That Gingerbread Man guy was a trip, although some FB poster claims the same two guys sued each other on "Judge Joe Brown" for a different matter, so the whole case may have been a ruse. ("Judge Joe Brown" supposedly gets duped more than the other tV judge shows.) If so, they went to a lot of trouble with the "Judge Alex" case. That "candy" song, with the defendant moaning away in the background, was a classic. I'd actually pay money for a recording of the entire song just in case I ever need a song to overplay just to get on someone's nerves. The song was so terrible that it was almost good. Now the guy's supposedly going to sing gospel rap insead of gangsat rap. If the two are found to have pulled a fraud on the "Judge Alex" staff, they may be charged for production costs, but that would be an exercise in futility, as between the two of them, they might be able to come up with enough for a Happy Meal on a good day. To make matters worse, the plaintiff has nine children. I'm just guessing that they don't all have the same mother. He's going to perform and record Christian rap. How very fitting. Alas, I'm being too judgmental. Jesus was all about forgiveness, so I should try harder to be more like He was in that way. I'm not sure where Joan of Arc was on the forgivenesss scale. She was known more for her crusading than for passively forgiving all the goons who wronged her.

I hope everyone has a delightful weekend. Please keep me posted on the real world. I try to stay current, but things sometimes slip past me.

Bon nuit!

P.S. Wasn't the Giants' World Series victory a great reaffirmation that there is indeed a God? I'm being sarcastic here, because I hate it when sports stars attribute athletic success to Jesus, as though he doesn't have more important fish to fry. Still, I was happy. My parents have been Giants fans since each of them first moved to California, and it has basically been a second religion taught to my brother and me since birth. There have been times when wanting the Giants to win something, anything, was the only thing any of the four of us in our immediate family had in common. The win was gratifying to say the least.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Was Supposed to Go Home This Week

Mom and Dad drove down last night from home. They brought my dog, pope John Paul III, who is a Golden Retriever or a mixed breed who is primarily Golden Retriever, depending upon which vet one chooses to believe. He was a pound puppy, so we'll never know for certain without DNA testing, and we don't care, so we'll never bother. We've had him since he was four months old. I was ten, and it was the summer before my sixth-grade year when he joined our family. That makes him six-and-one-half years old. It seems like he's been with us forever. I wish he could stay with me at the hospital. The nurse said when I'm off quarantine, the next time my parents bring the dog, I can at least bring him up to my ward. I've been told that crazy people benefit from dogs.

The people in my ward are fond of referring to ourselves as crazy people. At first it made the staff angry, but now they play along. If you read my last post, you know that one of the questions they asked each of us upon intake was if we had ever become angry when someone refused to acknowledge us as a deity. Gradually, as we got to know each other better, we started to compare notes. All of us found that particular question quite amusing. As soosn as I'm out of quarantine, which should be in two days or less, we're going to have a deity day. We're each going to dress as the religious iconic figure of our choosing and be really irate if anyone calls us by our real names and not our deity names. I hate to be trite, but i'll probably go either as the blessed Virgin, or possibly her cousin Elizabeth, who was John the Baptist's mother. My third choice would be Mary Magdalene. i don't quite have the body, but I could stuff. None of these are outright deities, but the Catholic Church recognizes them as saints, so that's close enough. Had I not gotten sick, we could have done this on All Saints' Day, which is today, but the other crazy people are postponing it so I can participate beyond looking through the window in my costume. We'll all wear name tags so there will be no excuse for staff to fail to acknowledge us properly, and it would be rather difficult to tell whom we're supposedly representing with the costume material available here.

I was supposed to go home today for a week, but my sickness has the schedule messed up. I knew before my parents came last night that I wouldn't be going back with them. It was good that I knew in advance. Those sorts of surprises aren't nice ones to spring on people. aS it was, I enjoyed having a late dinner at an outdoor restaurant where Kelso could come. My Dad has a bogus "service dog" tag for him, but we don't push it so far as to take him inside small enough places where people who might be allergic could be affected. As it was, he sat nicely by our outdoor table.

The hospital staff let me spend the night in my parents motel room. They told my parents just to report after our stay that one of us might have developed the influenza virus so that they could take precautions, but that I'm not highly contagious anyway with the amount of drugs I'm taking to combat this thing. The hospital just has to be cautious both for the sake of other patients and to protect me from any new infectious bacteria or viruses to which I might be susceptible in my weakened state. Today we walked along the beach with the dog and had both breakfast and lunch on the beach. I wanted to run but my dad said it's not oK for me to run yet. He said it was a good sign that I wanted to, but that I probably needed a week before vigorous exercise. I have to check with the regular pediatrician on my case. The leg's coming along nicely. I still limp a bit, but not terribly.

My parents left at about 3:00. Then it was back into the mask and up the elevator to the loony bin. They put the piano in my room since no one else ever plays it. It has a canvas cover over it, which I take off when I play it. after I'm offically de-contaminated and released to the general population, they'll wipe down the keyboard of the piano with Lysol. The nurses come up to my window and request moldy oldy songs from their respective decades. If I can play the request, they slip a dollar under the door. I've only felt like playing for about the last two days, and part of that time was spent with my parents, but I hope to colllect a few more bucks before I leave isolation.

Next week my father will be working in southern California. I'll probably fly home with him and spend a week there. I'm looking forward to getting home if only for a week, even if I have to go to school all but one day, but the sleep thing already has me nervous. I can usually get in a good six hours here. I was sleeping more when I was on heavier cough medicine, but with regular sleep medication, it's more like six hours. i don't know if I can keep it up at hime. There's really no point in worrying now, but I can't help it.

The nurses brought a variety of candy to my door since I couldn't trick-or-treat. This was very nice, epecially since I'm too old to trick-or-treat anyway. The others had a party and made popcorn balls and watched semi-scary movies. They sent two popcorn balls to me. I think they watched the movies that are unrealistic enough as to be more stupid than scary, because some of the people's issues in here could be worsened by genuinely scary movies.

Rebecca, I think it's terribly cute that Benny thinks he can get whatever he wants by saying, "Trick-or treat." I wish I had thought of that as a child. If I were you, I would not appreciate the doctors analyzing my dreams, either, beyond being flattered about their interest in me. Tell them that unless you have proof that they have some expertise in dream analysis, they have no business dabbling in the analysis of your dreams. I ordered The Analyzing Your Dreams Dictionary by Rosalynne Clements online. Some of the things she writes make perfect sense, while other things are pretty far into the ozone layer. One must pick and choose what to believe. I happen to know that regular medical school doesn't cover dream analysis, so unless they've done residencies in psychiatry, they're not experts.

Matt, on Religious Icon Day, one of the guys plans to dress up as Joseph Smith, while another wants to be Warren Jeffs. Pulling off either look will be difficult with no costumes, although for the Warren Jeffs look, one probably just needs to look like a total nerd. For Joseph Smith or Warren Jeffs, one should probably proposes to every woman he sees. In any event, they'll have name tags to identify themselves so no one confuses them with mere mortals. Regarding your whooping cough, I wonder if you and your siblings were given a bad batch of the vaccine, or if it was just bad timing and you would have gotten the disease even without the vaccine because you didn't get it soon enough. What do you think?

I got an H1N1 vaccine last year that was a bad batch. It didn't give me the disease, but the serum delivered in that particular load wasn't strong enough, and the people who got vaccines from that lot weren't adequately protected. Some got H1N1 and some didn't, but it was all in spite of the shot. It made me really angry to have been injected for nothing. I hate injections. I hate them so much, in fact, that my father came in and gave it to me at 5;30 a.m. while I was still asleep. It woke me, of course, and he had to listen to me scream afterward, but he said at least he didn't have to chase me all over the house or drag me into a doctor's office. And it was all for nothing, since the shot was ineffective! I ended up getting pneumonia from the stupid H1N1. If dad was going to inject me against my will at the age of 15, he could at least have given me a vaccine that worked! When I write a tell-all book about my childhood (anyone can do it and vanity publish it quite cheaply these days) one can be certain that I'll devote an entire chapter to the H1N1 vaccine that was forced on me.

I must get back into bed and pretend to be asleep for now so the psychs don't up my meds for tomorrow and turn me into a zombie.

Until next time, have a prosperous week.