Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, PTSD

Depression. It sucks.

Depression. It’s not fun. It hurts. It kills. It destroys. It renders a person unable to function. Other than that, it’s no big deal.

My youngest sister died June 24, 1997. She was 35, 10 years younger than me, and left behind a husband and a 3-year-old daughter. Melanoma killed her. I didn’t know any of that until a friend read the obit in the newspaper and called me to ask how I was doing. My mother had decreed that my surviving siblings not tell me that my sister was sick or that she died. Penalty for doings so was being cut out of the will. My revenge is that my mother spent the last years of her life in a nursing home so there was nothing left to inherit. They had sold their humanity for nothing. No, they haven’t apologized. They decided not to call me when my mother died. I only found out she died when I saw the obituary. I subscribe to Legacy.com and I get a list of all the people with the last name Thuman who have obituaries published each day. My siblings were surprised when I crashed the funeral. They haven’t apologized for that, either.

Now, I have two difficult days each year. April 1 which was my sister’s birthday and June 24. I thought I’d get past grieving by now. Guess I was wrong. Some years are better than others. This isn’t one of the better ones. The flashbacks started a couple weeks ago. I get them in clusters rather than one at a time. Long ago, I discovered that if I look at the flashback, acknowledge that what happened to me was terrible, the memory would sink back down into my brain and leave me alone. It’s a great technique and I urge anyone who has PTSD to give it a try. Except it’s not working for me this time.

Usually, I can bury myself in art when I’m depressed or upset and I find myself back at center. Not today. I’m working on ceramic lanterns and bowls. I stopped mid-lantern because I was too depressed to continue. I don’t like to have music playing when I work, and working with mud makes very little noise. Critters come right up to the patio. A bird nearly stepped on my foot until it realized that a human was sitting there. Rabbits come up to the patio and eat whatever is growing. A small bird perched on plant stand and drank water from the saucer under the pot with chives growing in it. Maybe 10 feet from where I was sitting. Normally, close encounters with critters is a wonderful, special thing. Providing the critter isn’t a rattlesnake and I’m not about to step on it. This morning, it was just something that happened.

Years ago, a friend suggested I do something to honor my sister’s life. I thought perhaps if I could put my feelings into a piece of art  I’d feel better. Except I can’t figure out how I want to do this. What do I make? A giant, stuffed malignant mole? Then what? Take it out in the desert and shoot it? A mangled foot to commemorate the day my mother watched my sister play with oven cleaner, then washed her off, put the oven cleaner soaked sneaker back on her foot and then yelled at her for the next 4 hours to stop crying? Finally, she took my sister to the hospital. Second and third degree burns from her waist down. The worst was her right foot. The scar covered nearly the entire top of her foot. No, there was never any plastic surgery to remove the scar. There was also never any report made to child protective services. We’re white and we had private insurance.

Maybe a quilt of a woman skiing. My sister skied. She tore wild down the mountain as if she were Franz Klamer attacking the downhill race in the olympics. Her friends asked her where she learned to hot dog like that. In those days, flying over moguls and other fancy stuff was called hot dogging. My sister replied that she didn’t know how to ski.

Maybe I can attach a maxi-pad to the quilt. When my sister had her first period, she looked under the bathroom sink, found feminine supplies (there were always feminine supplies under the bathroom sink), pinned the pad in her pants, and went on with life. She didn’t think she needed to tell anyone. That’s what convinced me I never needed to worry about my sister. I knew she would always figure out a way to handle any situation in which she found herself.

She graduated from high school, but she didn’t go to the ceremony. Our mother couldn’t be bothered so my sister’s passage from high school to adult woman went unnoticed and undocumented.

The grief never goes away. Some years, like this one, the grief is unbearable.

Tonight, kaddish is being read during services for my sister. Jim will go with me. Maybe I’ll be able to get through the prayer without crying. Next week, Jim and I are going to Albuquerque to buy clay and shop for some other art supplies. Maybe that will help me feel less depressed.

This wasn’t the best week to do this, but I bought a domain name and opened an on-line shop. Getting the shop up and running was frustrating, and I’m not handling frustration well this week. I do have an etsy shop, but it gets no traffic and I have to pay each time I list something. So I opened my own shop, Deb Thuman Art. You can get there from here. Stop by and let me know what you think. I’m still getting inventory loaded into the shop and at the moment, there are only photographs.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in Emotions, Judiasm, words

The Border Patrol Agent and the Criminal Defense Attorney

It’s Passover. Jews view this as deliverance from slavery. Christians tend to view Passover as a time when the Jews smeared lamb’s blood on the doorposts of their homes so the Angel of Death, who came to kill the first born of each family, would pass over the homes of the Jews. Yes, there was an Angel of Death and the first born of the Egyptians was killed. There’s more to Passover than that.

I prefer the Jewish view. Deliverance. The little guy wins. We were slaves in Egypt. Now, we are living mostly freely, but not always, in just about every country on the planet. What enslaves us now? Bigotry, along with a lot of other things but I’m going to be typing about bigotry. What’s that you say? Some of your best friends are: white, black, Muslim, Christian, whoever else is not just like you. That’s nice but bigotry is more insidious, more hidden. Bigotry creeps around inside of us and presents itself in ways that are acceptable to ourselves.

Twice, I’ve been forced to look beyond the surface where my prejudices lie and see the human.

The first time was in court when I represented a soldier and argued my guts out to keep the judge from imposing more than the minimum mandatory jail sentence. Back at my office, I realized what I had done. While I wanted to tell my client to get a real job and stop sucking up my tax money, I saw the young man under the uniform. I saw him as a person. I saw the pain I’m pretty sure he carried inside of him. I still think blowing up Iraq and Afghanistan are two of the stupidest, waste of money things the US has done. Now, I see beyond the uniform. I see broken women and men who come back from combat with horrible memories, feelings that didn’t get felt while trying to survive, nightmares, and inability to function. I see them feeling ashamed when they have nothing of which to be ashamed. I see that shame keeping them from getting the help they desperately need.

The second time was last night when I attended a seder held by my temple. I was seated next to a border patrol agent. I think the border patrol checkpoints are useless, a waste of money, and that the agents engage in racial profiling. All those things are true. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I’m rethinking my penchant for referring to border patrol agents as Nazi bastards. This one is tough. I’ve never hated anything as much as I hate border patrol agents. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I refuse to make eye contact when I’m in a checkpoint. I raise a finger as I drive off. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I’ve never been pulled over in a checkpoint because I’m Caucasian and clearly of Western European heritage.  Half the time, I’m not even asked my citizenship. Chicanos have told me about how they are routinely pulled over in checkpoints. Twice, I’ve gotten snarly border patrol agents to instantly back down by identifying myself as an attorney.

But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Check out what other artists have been doing here.