Thursday, April 27, 2006

There's Got To Be a Morning After

So after running manic for several days, it was inevitable that I would plunge into a depression, even though I'm back on my meds and taking them faithfully every day. At least the Prozac is keeping me from the weepy despairing kind of depression... instead, I am just a little droopy-feeling, I'm tired all the time yet don't sleep very well, and the occasional suicidal ideation pops into my head. No big deal.

Still, it's making me wonder what to do next. I mean, the not-sleeping thing has been going on for a while now, and it's wearing me out. I'm strongly considering the Depakote that my doctor prescribed for me along with the Prozac. It was only in case the Prozac made me manic, which it didn't at first; does not sleeping qualify as manic enough to start taking the Depakote? The first thing it's supposed to do is knock me out at night; but what if it also makes my moods flatline into blah grey dullness? I'm leery about starting it.

Especially the side-effects. If I start taking the Depakote, I have to go have a liver screening after the first three weeks to make sure it's not poisoning me. And then there're the threats of weight-gain, hair-loss, and sexual dysfunction. I've already gained twenty pounds since I've been on Prozac, and am counting my blessings that the sexual side-effects have been negligible; might I gain another twenty pounds, and might the Depakote wilt my bone where the Prozac failed? And then to have to deal with hair-loss on top of twenty pounds and a limp dick? I don't know if I'm down with that.

But one way or another, the sleep issue has to be addressed. I'm considering going the prescription route and looking into Lunesta or one of those things to ensure my sleep. I've been taking Tylenol PM for the last month or so, and it works fairly well, though I worry about the addiction factor. I don't take it every night, only on "schoolnights" when it's absolutely essential that I get my eight hours; but on the nights I don't take it, I don't go to sleep for hours and hours after I get in bed. Melatonin is no longer enough, it helps me get to sleep but doesn't help me stay asleep... I always wake up three or four time in the night. And no sleep-aids at all has simply become a torture.

Last night is a good example: I ran out of Tylenol PM last week, and since I keep forgetting to get more until it's time to go to bed, I have had to do without it; so now I'm averaging about five or six hours of sleep a night, none of which are terribly deep; by last night I was so sleepy I could barely eat my dinner, so sleepy I couldn't even watch television; I went to bed before nine, and was so sleepy I couldn't even focus on the words in a book; so I turned off the light, lay on my side, and stared into the darkness... for three and a half hours, my mind running around in circles (though very slowly), my limbs aching whenever I lay in one position for more than a few minutes, and my teeth clenching up and biting my tongue.

As you can imagine, five or six hours of sleep, three or four nights in a row, is not quite enough for me to bring my "best" to work with me... I've been sitting here the last couple of days hardly doing anything at all, my workload cut down to a level that actually embarrasses me, as I simply stare off into space for minutes at a time. It's very sad, and rather irritating too.

Especially now that the job is starting to get a trifle boring. I mean, you can only do so much data entry before the little names and numbers start swimming together. You can only look at so many manila folders before you develop a serious aversion to the color and texture of them and want to start shredding them and setting them on fire.

Ah, well... like I always say, it could be worse. It has been worse. Just read down a ways and you'll see.

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So, let's see, what else have I been up to? I did a drag show this past weekend, and rather enjoyed it. Actually, I did two drag shows, about a block apart from each-other. But though I enjoyed performing again, and though I really relished the positive feedback I got while I was in drag (Oh, Marlene, we love you... you're my favorite performer... etc.), it was a lot more effort than I had expected.

I mean, first of all was trying to find dresses that would fit. I mean, I've gained almost twenty pounds since the last time I was in drag, last September, and most of that is on my torso. I had a few undefined things, what I always called my "fat dresses," things I could throw on easily without cinching my corset too tight; there were enough that I was able to put together three outfits in a black and silver color range; and so I picked out some music, packed up my bags, and was ready to go.

But come the show, all sorts of unexpected problems turned up. For example, though I knew I wouldn't be able to get into my smallest corset anymore and was glad that I had a larger one at hand that I'd bought by mistake last year, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to get into any of my bras anymore. I simply no longer wear a 38, and cannot get into a 38 anymore, not even with a crowbar. Fortunately the corset I did have was high enough that I could attach my boob-pads to it instead of wearing the bra, but I was quite taken aback by the oversight.

It also took me over an hour to put my face on, when it used to only take me twenty or thirty minutes... I had sort of forgotten how to do everything; though it's like riding a bike and you never really forget, you still get rusty, and I had to go very slowly to make sure I did it right. And then I used the wrong rouge for contouring and had to do a hell of a lot of blending to make it look more natural.

Then of course there were people everywhere. I was kind of braced for it, I kept myself calm and didn't let myself get worked up by the energy around me; but I still got a little (what's the word) demophobic every now and then and had to close my eyes and take deep breaths.

Still, despite the discomfort and strangeness, I did enjoy myself immensely, getting to spend time with friends I haven't seen in months and months, and getting out into the public eye again. Of course, that was just the first show, the Living Sober Spring Fling... as you'll no doubt remember, I had committed to two shows that night. So after packing up my goods and chattels, I schlepped on down to Harvey's for Cookie Dough's Monster Show.

Though the show was a great one, I simply did not enjoy myself. I was able to see friends I haven't seen in a long time, but I wasn't able to spend time with Cookie because she was busy with the show, and I couldn't spend time with anyone else because I simply could not stay inside that bar... it was hot and airless, but most importantly it was jam-packed with people, many of whom were noisy and a bit rowdy with drink. I spent almost the entire time there sitting at the door with the doorman; and though I could see the show from where I was, and could judge its high quality, I was too distracted by sucking in fresh air and wishing I could go home.

Feeling a bit ashamed of myself, I left the minute my performance was over... I got out of drag as fast as I could, very rudely left the bar without saying goodbye to anyone, and went back to my car as fast as my tired old legs would carry me. I felt horribly guilty for bailing like that, but there was nothing else I could do... the phobia had got under my skin and I had to be alone.

Well, I wasn't entirely alone. I went out and got some food with Shiloh after putting my luggage in the car and reparking in a more convenient spot, and happily got all caught up with him on our various doings. But I still would have rather been alone, or better yet alone with Shiloh and no restaurant full of people. They were all getting on my nerves something fierce... so much that I did something I almost never do, I faced the wall when we sat down so I didn't have to see the people.

I wonder how much of this demophobia is new, and how much of it I had simply talked myself out of in the past. Is it a side-effect of the Prozac, or is it something that just gets stronger with age? I don't know, but I'm getting where I just can't be around very many people for very long at a time. If this doesn't let up, I am going to have to start planning my outings more carefully so I have some downtime in which to recover in between populous events.

And I'd really rather not... planning is not my forte, you know.

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So anyway, that's what's going on in my life these days. How's with you?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Manic Monday

Okay, so what if it's actually Tuesday... I was manic yesterday, too, so it counts.

I realized this morning when I woke up at 5 a.m., after going to sleep after midnight, and then being unable to get back to sleep — not to mention the fact the I've done this exact thing the last three mornings in a row — that I must be manic. Also, I've been getting into these incredibly long and complicated arguments on the JUB message board, arguments about nothing really, and obsessing over my arguments in between the times I'm posting them (argumentativeness is one of my first red flags of mania). And I'm having difficulty focusing my eyes on one thing for very long. And every now and then I start weeping for no apparent reason. Manic.

Fortunately I know why: I'm manic because I've been off my meds for four days and didn't realize it. When I went to take my pills this morning, I saw that I hadn't had a pill since Friday, and hadn't refilled the box on Sunday when I'm supposed to. Oops!

I've always had this problem about doing things regularly, developing daily habits and all. I get distracted so damned easily. I was concerned when I started taking daily meds whether or not I'd be able to remember to take them regularly. For the most part I have, but every once in a while I slip. This is the longest slip I've had, I usually only forget one morning, or at the most two mornings in a row.

And after four days of withdrawal, having taken the meds againg this morning sent the whole psychoemotional mechanism spinning up and down like a yo-yo. It also upset my stomach, which was already a little jumpy from the stress of mania, and never does appreciate the Prozac even on the best of days. It's not been pleasant.

I am half-tempted to take the rest of the day off sick. I mean, I was sitting here at my workstation a little while ago with tears in my eyes while entering college transcript information into the database... it doesn't look right. Not that anybody can see me; I'm all alone in this room and can have all the breakdowns I want so long as I keep processing these folders.

So I guess I'll stay. I need the $56 more than I need the four hours off. And if I went home, I would be too tempted to go resume my argument about the definitions of "gay" versus "homosexual" and what exactly constitutes an identity of bisexuality.

Wanna hear about it? No? Well then skip down six paragraphs because I'm going to vent now.

See, I got interested in this thread on the Hot Topics message board, where the thread originator related a story about how he had told his friend that he thought Angelina Jolie was attractive enough to have sex with; his friend told him that this attraction means he's bisexual instead of gay. This confused the young man, since he had always identified as gay and never thought of himself as bisexual at all.

A lot of the respondants stated unequivocally that yes, the boy is bi, and that's that. I disagreed. On the one hand, sexuality is never as cut-and-dry as that. But more importantly, as far as I'm concerned, if I say I'm gay, then I'm gay, and there's nothing anybody else has the right to say about it. Even if I do occasionally find myself attracted to a woman.

This provoked a maelstrom of snappy responses, all of which got right up under my wig. It seems from the tone and comments of my respondents that the occasional attraction to females disqualifies me from the hallowed halls of Gay, and that I cannot therefore claim to be gay because I'm not 100% gay... and that by saying that I'm gay rather than saying that I'm bisexual constitutes living a lie, being hideously dishonest, and purposely misleading people.

So I of course got pissed off... you can't call me a liar and not get a reaction. But of course I can't just say "you're wrong, you're a butt-head, and you should go douche with Drano." I have to try and persuade these people to my point of view, or at least explain myself in such a way that they can understand and allow my beliefs even if they don't agree with them. Which, as anyone who has ever tried to argue with people who are prone to making such immutable and absolutist statements can tell you, is an uphill battle.

The whole thing has been very tiring, and the reality is that I don't give a rat's ass what these people think. I think they're wrong, they think I'm wrong, and that's all there needs to be to it. But I keep going back in there and arguing point for point with this one guy, and obsessing about those points of argument when I'm away from the board. I mean, I'm obsessing about it right now: my pulse is going a mile a minute and I'm a little short of breath.

Hopefully my seratonin levels will even out in the next couple of days and I can get back to being my serenely apathetic self. In the meantime, perhaps I can exercise a little self-control and stay away from the message board, or at least stay away from that particular thread. I'm not helping anybody by belaboring the point.

However, I did come to a sort of epiphany of understanding while I was discussing this issue, one that I would like to share with you, about the politics of sexuality and the politics of choice.

One of the bones of contention between myself and one or two other posters was the concept of a choice in our sexual identity. They simply could not allow the concept that sexual identity (gay) is not the exact same thing as sexual orientation (homosexual)... that there is more to sexual identity, that it covers more and implies more, than the bare bones of orientation. And every time I made this point, or whenever I stated that I chose to be gay rather than bi or closeted, my respondents shrieked me down for implying that any facet of sexuality is a choice. They believe that they had no choice whatsoever.

Well, anybody who throws up his hands and cries "I had no choice" is simply full of shit. I mean, there are things that we cannot choose, things which are immutably part of us... sexual orientation is one of these, as is race, height, the shape of the skull, the size of the penis, various congenital defects and adaptations... anything that springs directly from our genetic codes and early childhood influences.

However, our sexual behavior, how we express our sexuality and how we conduct our lives in view of our sexuality, is our choice... one of the most important choices we ever have to make. Every action we take is chosen by us from a number of different choices. We might not know what those choices are, we may be presented with choices so undesirable that the choice we make seems inevitable, but there is never an action taken in which some choice was not available to you.

Nothing you ever do is ever not your responsibility.

I feel that too many people are taking the "we have no choice" tack when it comes to civil rights. Whether or not we choose to be homosexual or gay (and I aver that these are separate if overlapping constructs, one of which is inborn and one of which you choose) has absolutely no bearing on the issue, because it is not our desires or our propensities that are being restricted: it's our behavior that is being restricted, our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outlined in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

I really don't think the Religious Right gives one good crap whether or not we are homosexual, they don't care whom we desire... they only want to be sure we don't act on it, or at least don't act on it openly where they have to know about it. But in reality, under the laws by which our nation must operate, they don't have any standing in legislating the behavior of people who have nothing to do with them and do not in any way infringe upon their rights.

By Rule of Law, straight people have no standing in the issue of gay rights, their desires and comforts and beliefs are irrelevant to the case. The only right they stand to lose is the right to withhold our rights, which is inherently un-Constitutional in the first place, because it is based on traditional prejudices and a particular and unproveable interpretation of a religious text.

I mean, the First Amendment is very short, and very clear. And if you need backup, there are the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and great rattling sheaves of other documents penned by our Founding Fathers and preserved for our guidance; these documents very clearly state that all of our laws must be arrived at by the exercise of reason... not by popular sentiment, not by religious belief, and not by mere tradition. And there is absolutely no rational justification, no cause discovered through the exercise of reason without recourse to the Bible, that excuses the rights that are being withheld from us.

If I say that my partner has the right to the use of my body, the right to my property, the right to make medical decisions for me, and the right to sit with me in the hospital or read my mail or raise my children, the government does not have the right to say otherwise. Now, if homosexuality were still qualified as a form of insanity, then there would be some legal standing... but since that theory has been disproved (through the Exercise of Reason), whatever standing the government had in legislating sexual behavior or same-sex partnerships has evaporated completely.

Now the government clings to that legislation, purely on the standings of religion and of tradition, which is not only against the law of the Constitution but against the ideals and principles upon which this Nation and its Constitution are founded. You don't have to call it "marriage" if that upsets your dainty feelings; but the government cannot legally withhold those rights, and never could. Furthermore, the government has never had the right to bestow the right to create such partnerships on officers of any church, and the entire legality of cleric-performed weddings has no standing and should be dismissed.

To summarize: It's not an issue of the government granting us our rights because we cannot help what we are; it's an issue of the government ceasing to apply anti-Constitutional restrictions upon our behavior, because the gender of the persons with whom we have consentual sex and the gender of the persons with whom we build our lives and share our property is quite simply none of their fucking business.

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Did I tell you I was feeling kind of manic? All that screed, and on an empty stomach. I need some more Pepto, and maybe something to eat, and then I'd better get back to work. Have a happy super frabjous day!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

You Give Me Fever

Hello, my babies; hello, my darlings; hello, my rag-time gals! I've been bizz-bizz-busy these last couple of weeks, and then laid out the last two days with a rather irritating flu; I just now have the energy to update you all on my nefarious doings, after so long a silence. Not that there's much to tell, but it's not like there ever was, and when did that stop me?

The last few weeks, Adventures in Temping has had me in some strange places. My stint at the Financial Giant ended rather ignominiously; I wasn't happy with the work (it was becoming physically taxing as well as boring), and my supervisor wasn't happy with my shoddy performance of the work, so she requested a replacement from the agency... and didn't request that I stay on to help train the replacement. Though I had become weary of the job and wanted out, this dismissal (and the mistakes that led up to it) rather hurt my ego. I'm supposed to be brilliant enough to perform even a job I dislike with brilliance.

This ignominy, paired with something going on in my family that I still don't feel comfortable talking about (too many of the people involved have access to this blog), sent me tailspinning into a serious depression. I haven't felt like that since I started taking Prozac back in September, and it caught me rather by surprise. I was not sleeping well (unless I took a sleeping-pill... OTC, but still), and my always delicate ego was battered bloody, and I was horribly angry at someone I couldn't even talk to about my anger without getting angrier: it was not a good combination for my mental health.

But I muddled through... or rather, coccooned through. I simply didn't go out if I could help it, I didn't call anyone, I didn't write anything. A daily dose of the Grandmother and hanging out with Caroline on Saturday was about all I could handle of Society. I even let myself skip AA meetings, which I'd never done before, even in the deepest throes of my old Depression.

And I felt better for it. I might have felt even better still if I had been able to reach out and discuss the situation with someone outside of my house, but the effort of picking up a phone was too gargantuan to be considered... and rather than force myself, I just forgave myself for the inability to reach out.

It occurred to me during this coccoon phase that it's possible that I am more introverted than I thought I was... that being alone is my natural state, and going out and being with people is a state I forced on myself because it's what I thought I was supposed to want. Perhaps it's just a side-effect of the Prozac, or maybe it's a part of myself that I had supressed for a long time and the Prozac has liberated... but I find the very idea of being around a lot of people simply draining.

I mean, I like talking to people, and I like going out and doing things and seeing things with someone, but I've found that it saps my energy, being involved and interacting with more than one person at a time. And most days I just haven't got the energy to do even that... after a day at work, interacting with uncounted strangers and near-strangers, I feel so drained by other people that I can barely stand to be in the same room with myself, much less with a friend or loved-one.

Anyway, I eventually got onto a new assignment, which I really enjoyed... even though it was only for three days. I worked as a word-processor at an educational-software company, on a team of four temps, merging and formatting several disparate documents (engineers' specifications, mostly) into a usable teacher's manual and answer-key.

It was challenging work, and a lot of fun as well, doing something interesting for a company that is doing something important (they operate on a neuro-stimulation method of inculcating literacy using sound and light patterns that help the child's mind create memory conduits to make learning easier)... also, the office was in an amazing building (the Rotunda Building, which used to be a department store a long time ago and was restored to unspeakable gorgeousness), and they even gave each of us a really neat pen (with an LED flashlight built in and the company logo on it) when we were finished.

Then it was on to an even shorter assignment, just one day, putting together a lengthy and complicated transportation grant application for a local senior center. That was immensely satisfying, not only working with a really nice lady who is the director for the center but also doing work that was worthwhile by itself. They also gave me a really yummy and nutritious free lunch of soup and chicken and rice and veggies.

Then for the last week I've been working at the Oakland Unified School District (I usually avoid saying where exactly I'm working, as I don't wish to reflect poorly on said institutions, but I cannot think of a generic way of describing the local public school district administration without saying it's OUSD), doing some of the most bizarre and confusing data entry I've ever encountered. The project I'm on is in the credentialing office, getting files together to demonstrate compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.

Now, I'm all for auditing credentials and making sure all our teachers and paraprofessionals are up-to-snuff, but the paperwork generated by NCLB requirements is simply unbelievable! I mean, we have literally thousands of employees, all with varying degrees of contact with students, all of whom have to have their own separate files, both on paper and in the District's database; and it's all been done sort of helter-skelter by ever-rotating temps organized under a single permanent director. And the NCLB's credential guidelines are so complicated! Who knew there were so many different kinds of teaching credentials?

Still, I'm working on a team of really nice people, doing work that is important (if rather confusing and boring... an odd combination, to be sure), and the hours are really good (nine to five with a paid half-hour lunch). It's also really close; though I find myself once again within spitting-distance of Laney College, which was one of the reasons I wanted to get away from my last permanent job... I'd been working within a block of that damned campus for thirteen years, three as a student, three as an teaching assistant, and then seven more in an office that was right across the street from the campus. I'm sick of looking at it.

Besided, the OUSD building is unforgiveably ugly and quite possibly haunted (this picture is quite flattering, being dusky and unfocused... in broad daylight it looks like something out of a Stephen King movie). But that's the great thing about temp work... it's always temporary. If I don't want to stay there, I don't have to.

Then on Friday I got sick. Actually, it was Thursday night. I was really tired after getting home from work, so tired that I decided to skip my home-group meeting (again); but when I got into bed, I couldn't go to sleep. I just hurt all over, with gas cramps in my belly and pain in all my joints; I tossed and turned until about two in the morning, when I had to run to the john for a bout of explosive diarrhea.

I figured at that point that I was having an allergic reaction to something I ate for lunch... we'd all gone out together for dim-sum, and I'd ingested a couple of different things that I wasn't too sure about (they give you a dish and say one of the things that's in it, shrimp or pork or whatever, with an accent that disguises the simplest meaning; but there are always a hundred ingredients and you don't know exactly what any of them are). After that, the cramps were gone, but not the pain and nausea, so I took some Advil and some Pepto, and managed to get to sleep at around three.

When my alarm went off at six, I kept hitting the snooze button, hoping that nine more minutes would somehow miraculously make up for five lost hours of sleep and render me capable of taking on the world. When I crawled out of bed at nearly eight (I'm so near to work that it takes only ten minutes to get there, so I had time) and tried to get dressed, though, I realized I simply wasn't going to make it... this was not a simple shit-and-you're-done allergic reaction and the discomfort of a sleepless night: this was either food-poisoning or the flu. And since I hadn't thrown up, food-poisoning was unlikely.

Whatever it was, I wasn't going to risk infecting anyone else, nor risk shitting my pants in public. I had to call in sick. But I didn't actually know how.

I tried calling my supervisor, wasting time trying to find a direct phone number for her before I gave up and called the main line from the phone book and asked to be transferred; but I wasn't sure I'd gotten through to the right department, the message was electronic and anonymous, and there was no way of knowing. Then I went hunting for my cell-phone to find the phone number so I could call the temp agency, just to see if they could get through to her on my behalf; that little task accomplished, I took another fistful of Advil and went back to bed.

When my agent called back about an hour later, she was pretty miffed that I had waited until nearly ten a.m. to try and get hold of her (I'd wasted over an hour looking for phone numbers, I was so slow) when I was supposed to call her first, and a lot sooner, giving her time to round up another temp for the customer... hadn't anybody told me that was the protocol?

Well (I explained pitifully), I vaguely remember somebody telling me about the sick-call protocol, but that was months ago, and I hadn't been sick in the meantime so hadn't ever thought about it... and I am sick now and incapable of thinking clearly. She was nice about it and all, she told me that the customer didn't mind and they wished me a speedy recovery and would see me on Monday; then she explained the whole protocol to me again so I would remember it in the future. But I felt bad for screwing up... my ego still hasn't recovered from my experience at the Financial Giant, and every time I fuck up even a tiny bit, I want to lacerate myself.

And I don't know if you've ever lumped self-pity on top of a flu, but it ain't a pretty sight.

I spent the rest of the day either in bed with Antin├Âus clutched to my aching belly (how I lived the first twenty-eight years of my life without a teddy-bear is beyond me), or on the sofa with my furry blankey and the remote in my hand, suffering and aching and running off to the toilet every couple of hours and forcing fluids and nibbling toast. I had a low-grade fever, nausea, aches, and the flop-sweats. It was super fun! And I simply could not sleep, no matter how hard I tried. When night finally fell and I went back to bed, I took some Tylenol PM to help me sleep through the night, and brought a bottle of water and my Advil and Pepto and a bedpan into the bedroom in case I needed anything in a hurry.

I got almost fourteen hours of sleep, eight of which were completely uninterrupted, and I awoke fairly refreshed, blessedly free of nausea and joint-pain. After washing off the old sweat in a long hot shower, and getting into fresh clean jammies, I was still a little achey, and still had the low-grade fever; and though I wasn't trotting off to the potty every couple of hours and having to hold on to the seat to keep from getting blown across the room by the force of expulsion, when I did go to the bathroom, it was liquid and (how shall we say...) pungent. So I kept to the fluid-forcing and the bed-rest and the every-four-hours-fistful-of-Advil. Spent the whole day in front of the TV, too.

It was there that I discovered my new favorite TV show, which I love so much I'm sure it will be cancelled shortly: So NoTORIous, the wonderfully fictionalized episodes from the life of Tori Spelling, starring Tori Spelling herself, on VH1.

I never really liked Tori Spelling before, but she is utterly delightful in this show. I love a celebrity who can laugh at him- or herself, and the tone of this show is one of mordant self-deprecating wit. I doubt she has much say in the writing, which is probably a good thing, but she is perfectly willing to lampoon herself almost viciously, yet with unexpected charm, and I have to respect that.

Loni Anderson plays her wonderfully self-involved mother Kiki, and her father is a Charlie's Angels-esque voice in a box; she lives with a bunch of amusingly pointless and attractive friends in a condo, dresses up her adorable little black-faced fawn pug Mimi La Rue in tutus and argyle sweaters, has funny little adventures in the worlds of Hollywood, romance, and made-for-TV movies, and gets sage advice from her caviar-addicted Nanny. There are hysterical flashbacks to Tori's tortured fictional childhood, and enough celebrity cameos to keep your eyes glued to the screen waiting for them.

My favorite bit so far is in the second episode... Tori has gotten involved with this sort of cult called "Wholeness," based a little on Scientology but lampooning all such organized quasi-religious self-help movements, in order to get closer to a guy she likes; there's all this talk about being "Relevant" (rather than "Saved" or "Elect," I guess) and a lot of ex-Gay parody and little bits of blind-item (cough-cough-tomcruise-cough) celebrity-bashing. At the end of the episode, when the guy turns out to be an asshole and Tori has had enough of him and his Wholeness, she screams into the closing elevator: "I'm Tori Spelling, I don't need to be Relevant!" It was classic.

So if you haven't caught it yet, I heartily recommend So NoTORIous to you. A new episode is coming on tonight at 10 pm, check your local listings for reruns. If you don't like it as much as I do, there's something wrong with you.

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So anyway, that's my life lately. To update you on the loose ends from previous posts... let's see...

That broken tooth thing turned out to not be a broken tooth after all: it is a loose tooth. The gingivitis I have been battling (admittedly not with any great zeal) has finally progressed to the point where there is very little solid gum tissue actually holding my front lower teeth in place. The gum around that tooth that felt loose had simply deteriorated farther away; and though I can have that replaced with a bridgework, my dentist didn't think that would be a very good investment for me: "Much as it pains me to say," Dr. V. sighed dramatically as if his heart were breaking, "you'd just be throwing good money after bad." Meaning that any tooth he anchored the bridgework to was going to fall out eventually, too... and sooner rather than later.

The upshot is that, since gingivitis is essentially irreversible, and I have a family history of early tooth-loss (I'm the only person in my immediate family who has any teeth, both my parents and my younger sister have full dentures), my choices are limited: I can have a partial bridgework denture now and a complete denture later, paying out the nose for each separately, or I can just skip ahead to a full denture now and save myself some money in the long run.

Fortunately, I have some time to think about this. The loose tooth has firmed back up again after the intial trauma (though I avoid biting into anything with my front teeth), and the dentist polished down the chipped tooth so it didn't cut my tongue anymore. Still, I'm looking at a full lower plate this year and a full upper plate in the next two or three years. And it might be better to do it all at once.

However, I have to consider that, in my line of work, being toothless for a few days will make me virtually unemployable for those days... and when I don't work, I don't get paid. That makes me very uncomfortable right now, since I have no savings, I'm in credit-debt up the wahzoo, and I've already dug into the Grandmother to the tune of about ten thousand dollars this last year. A full set of dentures can cost as much as five thousand bucks, or so I'm told. It makes me distinctly uneasy.

I've also been driving around with a broken rear window for over a month now, the only step towards healing since that miscreant broke it to steal my bag is the piece of thick plastic my sister helped me tape on, which keeps most of the rain out but rattles madly in the wind and blocks my blind-spot view. It also looks tacky as all hell, and I expect to find my car gone every time I leave it parked in an iffy neighborhood (such as the one where I'm working now).

I tried to get it fixed, but I kept getting blown off by the people who I asked to fix it... first, at the body shop I usually go to, after I had driven out there twice in one rainy day without ever finding anyone in the office who would give me an estimate, the receptionist finally referred me to an independent glass man who could come out to the house; and then when I finally got hold of him, after a couple of days, he said he'd call me when the glass came in, most likely in the next two days, and arrange for the installation. I haven't heard back from him since, and it's been over a week now.

And though my stolen bag was found and rescued by a very nice man, that very nice man is going through a lot of troubles of his own right now (he struggles with depression, too... and just had oral surgery which he thinks makes him unsuitable for viewing), so he keeps putting me off about meeting up to get my bag back. I don't mind, really, since I was resigned to never seeing my bag again, but it's still a Loose End and maddens me a little bit.

So everything remains all sunshine and lollipops as always. I'm no longer feeling depressed, which is a good thing, though I still feel like coccooning most of the time. I'm getting steadily fatter, I'm almost 240 lbs now, almost into yet another pant-size and just a hairsbreadth away from being clinically obese; I'm trying to get together the money and gumption to rejoin the gym... though it seems easier to just accept and adjust to the concept of being overweight and (to my own admittedly overstringent aesthetic principles) ugly. I'm practicing my Charles Nelson Reilly laugh, anyway.

And my fever finally went away today, I'm back down to my normal 97.5 degrees (I'm naturally one degree colder than average, so the 99 degrees I had yesterday was equivalent to 100), though still a little achey...but I think it's more due to two days of inactivity than the remnants of the flu. Still, I'm not taking any chances... staying in, staying warm, staying still, drinking lots of fluids, and eating only the blandest and simplest of foods.

And now (seven hours after starting this post), the only things giving me fever are guys like this, for whom I can now search again, as it no longer causes excruciating pain to sit up at my desk for more than ten minutes: