Interview to be my boyfriend

I am doing an interview for you, a new potential boyfriend.  Please answer honestly (ha!) and completely:

Do you hate your mother, or just have a very weird relationship with her?

Are you a genius and at the height of your profession?

Do complete strangers call you “a total fucking asshole?”

Do you experience road rage?

Are you capable of breaking into your ex-girlfriend’s apartment when she leaves you? Does home invasion give you a boner?

Are you a sadist? Does saying things like “You’re my property!” turn you on?

Have you published in peer-reviewed journals?

Do you hire sex workers, and then blame the sex worker for doing that work?  Are you a massive hypocrite?

Do you fantasize about murdering your colleagues because you’re so damn competitive?  Do you actively try to hurt their careers?

Are you jealous of my parrot, Abe?

Are you capable of borrowing a cockatoo, or, alternately, abandoning your Amazon parrot at the dog pound when you got tired of him?

Are you emotionally unavailable?

Married?

Will I eventually have to get a restraining order?

Do you have a personality disorder?

Will you go through my purse, my phone, and my drawers?

Are you a notorious womanizer?

Are you a millionaire who is absurdly cheap?  Will I have to grovel to you to help me out with rent once in my life when I’ve fallen on hard times, after we’ve been together for years?

Do you tip 10%?

Are you ostensibly a Democrat, and then give money to Republican candidates “because taxes?”

Do you have strong opinions about black Americans, even though you have none in your social orbit and practically never speak to one?

Do you own Gucci loafers?

Are you old enough to be my father?

Extra credit if you are Jewish.  Sephardic guys to the front of the line.  Extra extra points if you fetishize me because of how white I look, but would never marry me in a million years.

Rehab (II): Why Don’t You have a Child?

I can tell you one thing that got me into a ton of trouble when I was in rehab: arguing why I didn’t have a family.

Everyone there–and the group had approximately 25-30 people, always coming and going–had kids.  The only one who didn’t was a 17-year-old, and he had a baby on the way.

We’re all sitting in a circle in group therapy and it was my turn to talk and I started to cry a little bit, saying that I was concerned I might never have a child.

This Mexican guy sitting across from me raised his hand and asked, “But what if it just happened, and you got pregnant?  I mean, sometimes that happens.  It could be an accident.  That’s what happened with my kids, and I love them.”

I blew my nose into a tissue and exploded.

“I’d get an abortion!  I’d get an abortion so fast it would make your head spin!  Look at me!  I’m in rehab for alcoholism!  Do you think there is any room in my life now for an ‘ooops’ pregnancy?  I wouldn’t bring a child into this world unless I could give it a certain standard of living!”

I swear to God, every woman in the room cringed and looked down at her desk, and half the guys got upset, too.

The therapist, who was actually one of the more competent ones, said “Some people have very strong feelings about abortion.”

I was FUCKING FURIOUS.  I slammed my hand down on my desk.

“A third of the women in your life have had at least one, whether you know it or not. I haven’t needed one yet because of my religious use of birth control and Plan B. I admit I had blackout sex several times, but I always got Plan B and was tested for STIs. Do you think I would have a child without the means to give it a stable life, with the opportunity for a father?!”

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  As Chekhov said, An angel of silence flew over the room.

None of the women talked to me that night in the dorm.  It really frustrated me and made me feel alienated and rejected.  I didn’t mean to be hurtful! Yeah, sorry I was responsible about procreating.  Sorry I never had a baby with a scumbag.  Sorry I coughed up $30/month for the Pill at Planned Parenthood and insisted on condoms when I wasn’t in a monogamous relationship.

I’m telling you: all of these women had kids, and most of them had at least one abortion. Two of them had four abortions (and she voted for Trump. Smooth move). I know because we discussed these things late at night before we went to bed.  I trust that they were being honest.

Do you know why…?  Part of it is, of course, the biological imperative.  The other part is psychological immaturity and the fact that addicts resort to desperate means to fuel their addictions, and, in the case of women, that means trading sex for drugs.  I’ve always been able to afford my booze, but that’s the cheapest drug out there unless you have good insurance and a Dr. Feelgood.

The cold was glacial, even though I wasn’t blaming anyone personally.  I mean, we’re all in this fucked-up rehab boat together.

 

 

 

 

 

Punching the Collector in His Eye (Part II)

So I fell on the ground and screamed (because I was scared): “You can’t hurt me!  This is not okay!  This is not playtime!  If you touch me, it’s assault!  I’ll call the police! I’m covered in bruises! I’ll show them!

I realize this is hypocritical, given that I just punched the man in the eye (for the record, if he’d called the cops on me, I would have immediately admitted it and taken The Police Cruiser Ride of Shame to the 10th Precinct), but he wasn’t in danger of me fucking killing him.

I was afraid! He could do anything he wanted to me!  I’m naked on the floor!  Without my guns, how could I stop him?

We stared at each other, me on the floor with my arm in front of my face, and him panting.  His eye was tearing and red and his shirt tail had come out of his pants.

I saw the composure drop over his face then, like dropping the blinds.  I did not know whether this meant sanity had been restored, or things had just became even worse.

“The police.”

“Yes!”

He cleared his throat, nodded, and then started to tuck in his shirt.  When he spoke again he was out of breath but his voice was otherwise low and calm, like normal.

“Margo, look at me…and then look at yourself.  You know, Margo…you are a troubled young woman with a documented history of eating disorders and alcoholism.  You have been on medication. Sometimes, when young women are troubled, they do things to themselves.  They mutilate themselves.”

I lay there on the floor, my panic suddenly evaporated.  I could not believe what I was hearing.

He continued: “I’ve seen you do it myself.  I sent you to three therapists in the last year because I am concerned for you, Margo.  I did it because I care, and I am worried.  I sent you to rehab for the same reason.”

Shit is now occurring to me, readers, and it’s not pretty.

All I could do was whisper: “I’m not crazy.”

He shrugged.  “You’re a S&M prostitute.  I don’t hold this against you, of course, but many people might.  They might think you were crazy to do it.  And all I am is a gullible older man with a midlife crisis, who took this unstable, opportunistic girl in off the street into my beautiful home.  I’m a sucker.”

I just lay there, completely gobsmacked.  What blew my mind was that there was nothing factually inaccurate with anything he said (except about him being gullible, hardy har-har, like anyone is going to snooker the Collector…the idea of me taking advantage of him is preposterous.  Nobody takes advantage of his man).  He wasn’t lying.  It was just…the way he would twist it around to make it seem like I am a nutso basket case.  For what, out for what–to get his cash?  Even his own sons don’t worry about that, because, I’m telling you, there is no woman on earth seductive enough to persuade this guy into giving her any money he doesn’t want to!  And I don’t even do that anyway!  I’ve never done it, in my life!  I’ve always supported myself and paid my own bills!  And he knows it!  He knows what sort of person I am!

The dawning realization that this is how he would portray me to other people if we parted on bad terms…and that people would probably believe him!  I felt betrayed.  Like I was sold out, and it hadn’t even happened yet.

And then I thought: This conniving fuck has thought of everything.

He knocked me out.  Knocked…me…out.

I started sobbing, which is extremely rare for me.  I am not a crier.  I don’t even cry in therapy.  It felt like all the strength and fortitude ran out of me like water.

“You don’t care about me!  You’re a liar!”

“I love you, Margo…but do not EVER threaten me.”

He let me cry for a few minutes and then came back with a blanket to cover my nakedness.  He was perfectly calm now.  Why wouldn’t he be?  I’d capitulated and he’d regained control of the situation.

He helped me up and gave me a hug and stroked my hair.  Then he led me to the sink in my bathroom and gently told me to wash my face while he picked out some clothes for me to wear.  While I got dressed, he took out his cell phone.

“I need to call the office.  I’m going to work from home today.  I think we should spend some time together.  We are going to have a good day.”

A good day.  Whatever the hell that could mean in this situation.

“Don’t hurt me,” I sniffled.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Margo.”

Too late for that,  I thought

He called his office.  Then he said that he absolutely had to get some writing done because he was working under a deadline, but it would only take a few hours and then we could spend the rest of the day doing something fun.

He left the room and came back with a bag.

“I bought you something while you were gone!”

It was a puzzle of The Unicorn in Captivity,  (South Netherlandish, ca. 1495–1505)..  He’d bought it for me at the gift shop at The Met.

Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

“You can work on it while I write,” he said, peeling off the plastic shrink wrap.

We went to his office space and he retrieved this rolling body-pillow thing he lets me use when he wants me to be on the hardwood floor instead of using the furniture (unless I’m being disciplined or punished, of course–then I just get the cold, hard floor).

“Can I play with Abe while you write?”  Abe likes to ‘help me’ when I do anything craft-y like puzzles or wrapping gifts.

A shadow crossed his face: “I think we should focus on each other.”

Behold, the Collector: The Man Jealous of a Little Parrot. 

“He comforts me, though,” I said.  “If he poops on the floor, I’ll clean it up right away.”

“All right.  Go get him.”

I went to get Abe, but Abe did not want to come out of his cage.  Abe and seen (or at least heard) the fight and my crying, and he was upset and just wanted to hide in his little cloth hidy-hut.  It made me feel guilty.

I worked on the puzzle for a few hours while he worked at his desk.  He’d take 10-minute breaks to refresh himself and work on the puzzle with me.

“It’s lunchtime.  What would you like to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Just hot chocolate for you, then.”

He sounded cheerful and pert.  His eye had stopped watering.  It was red, though.  There was no swelling.

“I’m sorry I hit you in the eye,” I said, which might or might not be true…I honestly can’t say.

“It’s okay.  It looks very macho.  I can tell the people at work that I got into a bar fight!”

The joke was kinda funny.  The Collector in a bar fight!

(Actually, he’d probably do just fine.)

“I’ll finish up in an hour, and then we can go out!  We’ll have some fun.”

Oh God, I thought.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

My Concession Speech

I have nothing to say that isn’t completely predictable, except that Thanksgiving might be called off this year unless I am tranquilized, and I don’t think “I gotta sit with my Republican brother” is going to make any doctor give me Xanax.

I would throw piss on the New York Times building next time I’m in town for their misleading predictions that said, day in and day out, that Trump had a 5%-10% chance of winning.  They were all full of shit and they all deserve a blindfold and a final cigarette.  The only reason they do not get piss on the front doors or a turd on the floor is because I know some poor janitor would have to clean it up, and the janitor doesn’t deserve that.

Paul Krugman can also eat a bag of dicks.  I really liked him in the early 2000s.  What happened?

The Collector can’t vote because he’s not a US national, but he called me to say, “Brexit was the canary in the coal mine.”

I’m not going to belabor this, because there’s no point in doing so on this platform.

I hope that Trump is as good a president as his supporters hope for, and a better president than I expect.

Otherwise, reap your fucking whirlwind.

A Bad Bad Thing

I thought a lot about whether to post this.  I think a lot before posting anything these days, because I’m not sure if he’s reading it.  I still think the blog’s a secret, and I tell myself that it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t because I’m not doing anything wrong and there is no identifying information in it.  Yeah, I mentioned his kids, which is sort of bad, but there are about a zillion men in New York with teenage boys, right?  I’m just paranoid.  Paranoid as fuck.  I’ve always been paranoid–probably because of the double-life thing–but it’s been especially bad these days.

I did something Very Wrong.  Something I wish I could discuss with a shrink, but I don’t have one right now.

So, I’ll tell you, instead.

Please allow me to justify myself rationalize

preface this story: I know that one of the worst things you can do in a relationship is throw someone’s secrets and vulnerabilities back in their face when you’re angry.  You know–the traumatic things in their background, bad relationships, awful things parents did to them, humiliations they suffered in the course of their career.  Besides the fact that it’s a complete violation of trust, I’ve had men do it to me on multiple occasions, and I know that it hurts like hell.

I’ve done it exactly once before, during a fight with the Surgeon, and you KNOW how that guy fights–he was dragging me through the mud, but that’s still no excuse.  What I said was: “You’ll never break up with me.  I’ve changed you permanently.  What are you going to do, go back to getting blowjobs in the dark from women you secretly despise?”   Yeah, not my proudest moment (but, for the record, I was correct: I had to peel that stalker off like gum from my shoe.  They’re all stalkers.  All the men in my life have been stalkers!  What is wrong with me?).

Well, I did it again, and I feel really really badly about it, and that’s why I’m writing this post.

When I went back, the cattle prod and the dog crate were gone (or maybe he just hid them somewhere, who knows?  He did send me a photo of the cattle prod sticking out of a garbage can on the sidewalk, like it was humorous, which really pissed me off).  I was still in an angry mood because I didn’t think he’d acknowledged how frightening and degrading that situation was to me.  The anger sort of came out of left field because I thought I was over it.

I was trying to suppress it and be civil.  In the kitchen, he has a big magnetic strip on the wall where he keeps his knives.  I felt myself lingering on it.  I do that a lot.

I wasn’t snapping at him (oh HELL NO), but I was shut down and tense.

He went to his suitcase and came back with some pills.  It was ambien and valium.  And, yes, I took them.

Then it was bath time.  Unless he’s working late hours, every night is bath time with me.  Besides food, he has a weird fixation on water.

He was finishing his Scotch and left the bathroom to go get a new drink.

The thought occurred to me, and I just did it.  I didn’t think about it.  I just did it.  It was impulsive.

It was bad.

I let half the air out of my lungs so that my body would sink in the water, and I kept my eyes and mouth open.  There was no soap in the water yet, so it stung my eyes, but not too badly.

He came back into the bathroom and saw me.

He dropped his glass and it exploded.  He screamed something in his own language.  I don’t know what it was because my head was under water and I don’t speak his language anyway.

He grabbed me under my armpits and pulled me out of the tub.

He put his fingers in my mouth and I couldn’t play dead anymore.  I swatted his hand away and smiled.

“How does it feel?” I asked.

He belted me upside the face.  Hard.  And he got my ear while he was at it, which started ringing.

Then he crushed me to him so hard I couldn’t move.

“Don’t EVER do that again!” he yelled.

I lay there, limp, with my face swelling up, feeling the drugs start to work and thinking what a stupid idea this was.  He wasn’t crying, but this was the first time I’d ever seen him distressed.  I’d seen him agitated before, and angry, but never distressed. The Collector generally has perfect, unruffled composure.

Well, it was a shitty, psychological low blow, and it took a lot out of him: he just wanted to go lay down in bed, in the dark room.  Immediately.  My hair was still dripping.  He didn’t care.

He was like an octopus with his arms and legs, holding me so tightly that I had to ask him to loosen up because I couldn’t breath right.

“You hit me in the face,” I said.  Hitting someone in the face without their permission is a big deal.  I know what I did was wrong, so maybe I deserved it…?

“I’ll never do it again,” he said.  Well, that’s what they all say.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about men on the awful toll-road of life, it’s that if they will do it once, they’ll do it again.

He moved on top of me, like he was a blanket.

“You can’t ever leave me.  I need you too much.  People like us need each other.  We complete a circle.”

The drugs were kicking in, and I don’t remember anything after that.  Ambien really knocks out the short-term memory.

The next morning, my face was swollen.  I’m lucky he didn’t get my orbital bone–I would have had a shiner for sure.  It was just my cheek, and the inside of my cheek that cut on my teeth.  It was swollen, but no bruising.

“What are we going to tell people about this?” I asked.  I normally don’t give a shit if people see my bruises and marks, except when I have to work and cover them up with stage makeup or hosiery.  Are boxers and martial artists ashamed of their marks?  Construction workers?  Furthermore, if it’s something like, say, cane marks…the average person has no clue what they are or how I got them.  It’s the last thing they would expect.

But, in this case, it looked exactly like what it was: it looked like I’d gotten belted upside the head.  That side of my face looked like a chipmunk’s.

We brainstormed on it a little bit and decided that if anyone asked, I’d tell people I had dental work done.  When I’d had my wisdom teeth removed, it caused my face to swell up in exactly the same way.

Another consequence: now I’m covering up for the man.

Well, if there’s one thing I know how to do in this life, it’s how to keep secrets for men.  Been doing it all my life.

Alcoholic Psych Ward with the Roommate from Hell

IMG-1462389346946-VSo, in the ICU, they need to get an IV in me.  I’ve always been a “hard prick,” as they say in the profession, because my veins are small and deep.  They usually have to go in through the hand eventually.  My nurse was really nice and trying her best, but she couldn’t get anything.  I’m not afraid of needles and, as you know, I am definitely not a baby about pain, but I had more needles in me than a fucking Christmas tree and three of them collapsed the vein, leaving me with wonderful huge bruises that I am going to somehow explain to clients.

IMG-1462389346946-V

 

They were about to bring in a physician to put the needle IN MY NECK, but another nurse finally got one in–the ulnar artery in the wrist, which is usually a last resort, but who cares, it worked.

They gave me some liquid valium and my body finally relaxed for the first time in days.  It was wonderful.  Then they started draining bags and bags of saline into my dehydrated mummy body.

The doctor on rotation, who was a woman who seemed nice and not an asshole (which is always a relief after knowing the Surgeon) came in and asked me what was going on and about my DTs and how long I’d been drinking and been sober blah blah the usual. I told her I hallucinated.

“Spiders? They almost always see spiders at night. On the ceiling,” she said.

Holy shit, I thought.

“No, there were two apparitions in my room talking to me but I couldn’t understand because they were murmuring.  I was asking them why they were there and what they wanted. I knew I was hallucinating and I would close my eyes and say to myself ‘I am Margo Adler and this is my bedroom and this cannot be happening, and when I open my eyes, they will be gone.’  But when I opened my eyes they were still there.  I knew they would go away when the daylight came.  I wasn’t scared of them because they were not trying to hurt me. I was only scared because I knew I was seeing things that were not there.  I even tried to touch them.”

“That’s a new one,” she said, not sarcastically.

She went away and I relaxed blissfully with the valium. I was extremely thirsty but they wouldn’t give me any water, just the IV.

Doctor came back in with my test results.

“Well, your liver enzymes are slightly elevated, but it’s healthy. Bad news about the pancreas. Your pancreas is really mad at you.  It’s scarred.”

“Pancreas?” I asked, confused.  Pancreas never occurred to me.  I was worried about the liver.

“It’s moderate damage and it can be at least partially healed.  For now, your stomach must remain totally empty.  Not even water.  I’ll give you small amounts of ice chips. In a few days, you can start a liquid diet.”

Well, okay.  Sorry, pancreas, but the bullshit I put you through.

Valium wore off and then shit got gnarly.  They hooked me up to an EKG and periodically my heart rate would shoot up to 170 or 180.  Then my blood pressure would drop to 85 or 90/60.  I was sweating the freezing cold.  A nice nurse wrapped me up in warm blankets. He put socks on my feet.  He was very compassionate and did not make me feel like a scumbag.

Then a psych nurse came in and asked me questions like who was the president, and what year it was, and what was my full name, and did I know where I was?  I was cogent so I knew.

They gave me pills for my heart, liquid potassium that tasted like shit (I didn’t complain), librium, and ativan.  Despite being doped to the gills, I would have attacks of pure anxiety, even terror, that would last for minutes, and I would close my eyes and shake my head and whisper no no no no no no.   I knew it was irrational because I was in a safe space and it just meant my brain was broken.

Then my legs totally cramped up and I could not bend my knees.  Get this: they put a diaper on me just in case because I could not walk to the bathroom (for the record, at least I did not need to pee my diaper, thank God). They also put an alarm under my body so that they would know if I got out of bed, because they were worried I’d fall and break my fucking skull, which is hilarious, because I couldn’t get out of that bed if a ravenous polar bear charged into the room and wanted to eat me.

“Is this normal? and my panic attacks?” I asked the nurse.

“Totally normal,” she said.

Holy shit, I thought.

“I’m not paralyzed forever, right?” I asked.

“It’ll pass,” she said.

After a day, when they were sure they had me under control and I was no longer dying, they moved me to the alcoholic psych ward.  It was small and I had only one roommate, who, blessedly, was quiet and slept all the time.  She was discharged and I had the place to myself for a few hours.  I felt good enough to watch TV, so I watched Judge Judy, which was a really bad idea.  And I sucked greedily on ice chips.

Then the nasty junkie bitch moved in.

I can’t judge addicts because I’m one myself.  But there is no reason to push it onto other people.  The staff at the hospital loved me; I overheard the nurses talking about me at shift rotation and they said I was very pleasant and “totally compliant.”  This woman was not.

She was 60 years old, a dilaudid addict who also used Oxycontin and who knows what else.  She was screaming at the staff–not politely asking or explaining–that she needed her shot RIGHT NOW because she was “in pain.”

Yeah, lady, that pain is called “withdrawal” and you have to get through it if you ever want to get healthy again.  Why are you here if you don’t want to get better?

The nurse calmly explained that she could not give her a shot for another two hours because that was the schedule.

“I’m not going to ask you again!  Give me my shot NOW!” screamed the woman, as if she had anything to threaten this nurse with.  Making demands of the staff, ha…ha…ha.  Let me know how that goes for you.

“I can’t do that for two hours.  I can give you one Oxy.”

Woman proceeded to fake-cry and whine loudly for the next two hours about being “in pain” and how this wasn’t a “real hospital” because “nobody cared about her.”

This continued for the next few days.  When she got her shot, she passed out for a few hours and blessed silence reigned once again.  I finally got to start eating pudding and chicken broth and water.  My tremors stopped.  I started to think clearly again (well, clearer).  Otherwise, I slept as much as possible, when it was quiet.

The staff would come four times a night to take my blood pressure or draw a little blood out of my hand.  It only took 5 minutes because it was just taking blood and not an IV (I was still taking saline, by the way).   I didn’t mind.  I always said thank you for your help.

The nasty junkie next door woke me up at least 4 times a night ringing madly for the nurse and demanding her dilaudid. When they explained they couldn’t give it to her yet, she’d fight with them over it, as if she was the only human being in the room and I didn’t need to sleep at 3 AM.  She started wetting the bed on purpose and saying “HA! There, YOU clean it up, since I’m sick and you won’t give me my medicine!”

The long-suffering young nurse’s assistant would sigh and say, “I’m not certified to give you any medication at all, even if a doctor said you should have it.  I can’t give any prescription meds, only things like Tylenol.”

The junkie accused her of being a liar while the poor girl dutifully cleaned the bed, changed the sheet, and got the woman a new robe.

When she wasn’t howling at the staff or complaining about her “pain,” she tried to talk to me.  Constantly.

“Aren’t these people awful?”

“Actually, everyone I’ve met has been very professional and compassionate.  I’ve been very impressed, actually.  I expected to be mostly ignored, especially because I don’t have insurance.”

“HA! I send all my medical bills to Michelle Obama!  She can pay for them, with that goddamned Obamacare!”

I bet your creditors and collections agencies are really going to respect that decision, I thought.

This woman hates the Obamas.  Especially Michelle, for some reason. Here she is, in the hospital, complaining to a complete stranger (and whoever she was talking to periodically on her cell phone) about how much she hates President Obama and Obamacare.  She even called him the N-word once. (I feel childish saying “N-word” but I also feel uncomfortable saying the word nigger, so it’s a dilemma).

“Did you know that for two years I sent so many phone calls, letters, and emails to Obama that I got notification from the government that I was forbidden to contact him anymore?  That’s why I write to Michelle instead,” she said.

Jesus fucking Christ. I interned for a US Senator.  Like all major politicians, he got a shit-ton of nasty, complaining, demanding, petulant, critical communications every single day (one of my duties was to answer some of the simpler, more common communications, but I read a lot of the others.  The most memorable was a guy who wrote his Senator a very angry email because there was a dead raccoon on the street by house, hit by a car, and it had been lying there for a week and nobody had done anything about it! I’ll never forget that one.  If it bothers you that much, jackass, get a shovel and throw it in a bag in the trash!).  It’s water off a duck’s back to politicians unless you’re sending death threats or threatening family members or doing some serious stalking, like taking pictures of their house across the street.  Do you realize how far you have to go to have the Secret Service or authorized staff visit you or send you official legal communication that you are FORBIDDEN to contact the politician again?  You have to be batshit crazy. Ted Kaczynski obsessed, although, obviously, I doubt this woman ever taught Mathematics at UC Berkeley.  Ted was nuts, but at least he had a few brain cells to rub together.

She had other noxious opinions she shared with me or with her friends on her cell phone, apropos of nothing.  She was mad about “Obamaphones.” First, the Obama administration did not, and COULD NOT, create a program to give cell phones to welfare recipients.  There is such a thing called jurisdiction.  The president cannot just do whatever the hell he feels like doing, which is why Gitmo is still open.  It is, in fact, a federal program that offers reimbursement to pre-paid cell-phone companies who offer phone service to qualified (very) low-income people. It’s a spin-off of the LIFELINE PROGRAM implemented in 1984 under that great champion of the poor, RONALD REAGAN (I know all this shit because it’s what I devoted my academic life to studying when I was a professional scholar, instead of whatever the hell it is I am today).

These “Obamaphones” are shitty little flip-open trak phones that cost $9.99 at Kmart and they get 70 free minutes a month.

Now, the most GERMANE thing here, is that I am sure this dilauded junkie is unemployed and has been for some time, unless she’s a housewife, she’s sending her bill to Michelle Obama instead of Medicaid or trying to make payments on it, AAAANNNND–

How the hell is a welfare recipient supposed to get a job, any job, without a telephone?  Think about it.  You fill out an application and the movie theater wants to hire you to work the ticket booth or snack counter. How do they contact you to come in for an interview? Or the Temp agency?  Are they supposed to send you a message by a fucking carrier pigeon?  If your kid gets sick at school, how are they going to reach you to come pick her up?

On the third day, I was coherent enough to speak intelligently and I was completely fed up with her.

“I’m sending my bill to Michelle Obama!” she repeated for the millionth time, like Michelle held a gun to her head and made her a pathetic bitter narcotic junkie. Like Michelle is actually going to reach into her handbag and cut a check.  Maybe send flowers and a “Get well soon!” card.

“I think Michelle’s great! I actively campaigned for Obama and voted for him both times, and my candidate won, both times!  I also interned for (famous Democratic Senator junkie lady hates), and I used his letter of recommendation to help me get into my Ph.D program in New York (junkie lady hates NYC and San Francisco)!”

(Now, it’s true that a few of these statements are exaggerations or lies–the Senator did write me a letter, but I was only an undergrad, for example–but who cares?  It’s not like I was lying to the IRS.  I was just lying to piss her off.)

Her mouth dropped open.  She’s one of those conservatives who lives in such a tight little conservative bubble, such an echo chamber–all Fox news, all talk radio, all Republican friends, all Free Republic forum (if this babe can even write), all conservative Church–that she just automatically assumes everyone thinks like she does.  She thinks leftists can only be identified if they’re wearing tie-dyed t-shirts, man-sandals, and peace medallions, coming back from Burning Man.

She never spoke to me again, which was a huge relief. The whining and fake crying and transparent attempts to manipulate the staff continued.  She refused to let them bathe her, either in the shower or a sponge birdbath.  She complained about the food, as if it wasn’t being made in a hospital (I bet when she’s home high on narcotics she’s a real Cordon Bleu chef, boy, I wish I was invited to some of her dinner parties!).

Meanwhile, I was getting healthier every day.  I could read again, so I read Harper’s and National Geographic.  My legs worked again and they let me go for short walks with a walker (just in case) up and down the hall a few times.  I became fatigued very quickly, but that’s because I was still sick and I couldn’t have been eating more than 600 kcal/day.  It was still pudding and broth for every meal.  Sometimes chocolate milk.

A group of residents from the local med school came to see me.  I knew they were residents because they were so young, and in a group. I apologized for looking like a scrub (unwashed hair, no makeup).  I tried to make a joke: “I didn’t think I was going to run into Liam Neeson around here!”

They asked me all about the symptoms I had before I came in and then told me that all my test signs had improved, and my liver enzymes were down (already?) and even my pancreas looked better and my blood pressure was stable and blah blah blah.  They wanted to see if I could eat solid food.

I told them that it hurt really, really badly to swallow.  Not so much in my throat, but further down.

That is because I burned the hell out of my esophagus puking up acidic stomach bile for 11 hours (I’m on 3 medications for that now so that it can heal and I can eat.  God bless lidocaine and sucralfate).  They said, “Well, GERD does hurt.”  No, doc, this is not just GERD.

Anyway, I wanted to get out of there, so I forced myself to eat a small pancake.  It hurt.  I ate it anyway.  Once it was in my stomach, it didn’t hurt at all.  It was just getting it down.

Then I did something bad.  I cheated.

I closed the curtain to my room, wrapped the other pancake in a paper towel, and shoved it down the front of my underwear.  I left two pieces on the plate to say that I “couldn’t finish it.”  Ah yes, an old trick from my anorexic days.  I know how to get rid of food or hide it secretly or discreetly in a million ways.

I went to the bathroom, broke it up into lots of little pieces, and flushed it in 3 parts.

The doctors were happy.  I was free to go.  IV came out.  Mom drove me back to her house, where I stayed in the guest bedroom for a week.  I went to see a Gastro doc and he put me on these meds that are making me better already and I can drink water in small mouthfuls.  I can’t eat real food easily yet, but I can eat yogurt and frozen yogurt and bananas (even tho I hate bananas, but they are good for my heart, and soft, and I do not want to have a heart attack).  I drink Ensure, that drink for old people that is a meal replacement, and slim-fast, which reminds me of (bad) old times, but at least it has lots of nutrition.  I make protein shakes with soy milk. If I have to eat something more substantial, I take a dose of lidocaine, which works for about 30 minutes.  That shit is great.

My house is clean because I had it cleaned by a professional cleaner before I got home.  I am still weak and I have to rest for 30 minutes after I do anything strenuous, but my plants are alive and Abe is back home, and last night I slept for 9 hours in my nice clean bed, and I didn’t see any shadow men.

And I lost almost 15 lbs.  So, something good came out of it.  From the outside, I look great.  Healthy.

The inside, though, is not so pretty.

Margo Tries to Detox at Home (Bad Idea)

Fasten your safety belts, readers, because this isn’t going to be pretty…but it will be honest.

I took a week off from work and cleared my schedule because I intended to hole up in my apartment for about six days and detox (go through withdrawals and stabilize).  I paid all my bills so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it, bought some Pedialyte, went home, and prepared for the worst.

I’d been drinking for 8 weeks, excepting the week before, when I tried to detox in 4 days and it just wasn’t enough time and I had to give up and drink to get back to work (see the previous post “Sucky Update.”).  Eight weeks, after over a year and a half of sobriety.  They told me in rehab that if I started drinking again, my worst symptoms would come back almost immediately–that I could have a few drinking and feel healthy and “normal” for maybe a few days, and then everything would turn to shit almost overnight and I’d be back in alcoholic hell again.  They said you can’t start fresh again, it will never be like it was when you first started, your physiology has permanently changed.

Well, I must admit that this did not make sense to me.  I thought, if your body is recovered, how could you get sick again so quickly?

Well, as usual, the people in rehab were right.  They are the professionals, after all.

I’m not going to lie to you: I was drinking a lot in those eight weeks.  The only times I was (mostly) sober were when I was working, because it’s unprofessional and rude to be intoxicated, not to mention extremely dangerous for the woman alone with a strange man in a room.

Moving on: at first, the withdrawals were the usual bullshit.  Tremors, inability to read or concentrate, chills and sweats, insomnia, nightmares about drinking, and the inability to be comfortable in any position.  Hearing nonexistent white noise.  No appetite; mild nausea.  It’s very unpleasant, but I’ve been through it about five times before, and it’s…manageable.  It’s a bit like having a very bad stomach flu or food poisoning.

The only good news: no hallucinations of people in my bedroom at night.  No hallucinations this time.  THANK GOD.  Also, I didn’t have any seizures, which I hear is pretty common.

On the sixth day (I think it was the 6th day), things got much, much worse.

I vomited for eleven hours. I am not exaggerating. Every five minutes, I dry-heaved or wretched up foamy bile, and, let me tell you, it hurt like hell.  It was the worst part of the entire time. I was scared to puke in my bed, because it’s the only place in my apartment I have to lie down (my sofa’s a love seat), so I just sat on the floor and used this plastic container I use to hand-wash clothes.  There was absolutely nothing in my stomach because the only thing I’d eaten in 12 days was 4 chicken wings (I kept ordering food because I knew I had to eat SOMETHING, but when it came, I couldn’t even stand the sight of it.  Money well spent, there.  I was living off of calories from alcohol and the juice I sometimes mixed it with.  I’m sure my stomach really appreciated that alcohol-and-acidic juice combo.  I’m sure my stomach was saying “Hey thanks for putting me through this shit, Margo!).  I was throwing up nothing but bile, stomach acid.  It hurt, the constant clenching of my torso hurt, and I burned the hell out of esophagus.  I’m on medication for that right now.

Next up: my legs started twitching and cramping.  I could not stand without something to pull myself up with, like an old person.  I could not walk. I had to scoot myself to the bathroom (at least I could urinate–what, I’m not sure, because I couldn’t hold down water–but at least it meant my kidneys were not shutting down).

Then, the chest pain, a very powerful pain in the center of my chest over my breastbone.  It happened more than once, and it hurt a lot.  I was wondering if I was having a heart attack.

I thought: I am going to die alone in this apartment, nobody’s going to find me until my body starts to smell, and my bird is going to die of starvation.

I threw in the towel.  I knew going to the hospital would cost me about $60k, but, hey, it beats being dead.

I texted my mother (hard to do with shaking hands) to let her know where I would be and that I was calling a cab.  She insisted on taking me herself.  The last thing I needed was her judgmental horseshit while I was in the process of dying.  I said she could go back to hating me in a few days, but I didn’t need it right now.  She promised she would not scream and only try to help.  I warned  her that she didn’t want to see me this way and that I looked like hell.

I took 3 shots of cheap mouthwash (a first for me–I’ve never been that desperate before, but there was no way in hell that I could get to a store without, say, one of those motorized wheelchairs used by the disabled and obese. Couldn’t drive and sure and hell couldn’t walk), which is poisonous but also 20% alcohol, so that I could stabilize just a little bit.  Drinking the mouthwash was disgusting and degrading and it said on the back of the bottle not to drink it and to call Poison Control Center immediately.  Oh well.

I put on a dress and a coat, combed my hair and put it into a ponytail, and put Abe in his kennel.  Mom arrived and I wouldn’t let her inside because I didn’t want her to see that I’d trashed my beautiful apartment and there was a pizza box on the floor and I had about ten empties laying around my desk and my plants were dying.  Disgusting, right?

I insisted that we take Abe to the boarder’s first because I didn’t know how long I’d be gone.  Mom took him inside for me because I know the owners of this place and I didn’t want them to see me this way.

Then we went to the ER.  They gave me an EKG and immediately admitted me to the ICU–that’s right, I jumped the line, baby!  After a day there, the alcoholic psych ward.  In the loony bin, just like my (not) dear old Dad, Franz.

Second half of the story next installment.

Released from the Alcoholic loony bin onto an Unsuspecting Public

This update will be brief because I’m writing it at my mother’s house where I have been recuperating since my discharge from the hospital a few days ago, but, believe me, I have a tale to tell, and it will be told as soon as I get back to my apartment tomorrow.

I’ll save the lurid, horrific, and, at times, blackly comic details for the larger blog post, but these are the some of the basic facts: they kept me for six days and told me that if I kept trying to detox alone at home, I might have died, despite my relative youth.  They hooked me up to a heart monitor machine and, just lying in bed, my heat rate periodically rised to 170 (I shit you not).  The staff would freak, in their calm and professional way.  Then my blood pressure would go down to 90/60.  I’ve always had low blood pressure because I work out (when I’m not drunk) but that is pretty low.

My suite mate was a geriatric dilaudid (among other things) addict, which I guess is fine–I mean, who am I to judge, as we are in this fucked-up junkie boat together?–but she was also a crazy selfish mean delusional bitch who constantly imposed herself on every human being in her orbit, and you are going to be reading a LOT about her, believe me.

For the first two days, I had moments of extreme psychological distress for no apparent reason because I knew I was in a safe space.  My rational mind knew it was because my brain was fucked. Otherwise I was lucid (except for the zillion drugs they put me on) except that I kept having nightmares that Judge Judy was going to be my nurse and scream at me for being stupid and fucking up my life.  “Judgement for the Defendant!”  Who the fuck would be the defendant?  Bushmill’s Whiskey?  The poor nice girl who works at the gas station by my house, who always looked sadder and sadder every night when I came in to buy the same thing, my looks and coordination deteriorating?

I couldn’t drink or eat (both literally, and doctor’s orders), so my dehydrated mummy body was hydrated with about 3 bags of saline via IV daily.  Good thing I didn’t have to work (as if I could have), because I look like I spent a few weeks in a shooting gallery, and I don’t mean the gun range.

My brain is about 80% back and I want to write again.  I am wearing makeup and fixing my hair pretty again.  I had the strength to go buy my Mom nice presents for Mother’s Day, even though I had to sit down to rest a few times on the floor in Macy’s (nobody cared; it was a zoo). I can read again. I’m almost off the librium, and then I can re-start the Naltrexone.  Abe is waiting for me.  I visit him at the boarders every day.  I bring him a new toy every day until I get him home, tomorrow.  I learned he likes to play with wiffle balls.

I hired a housecleaner (not my usual one–I was too ashamed) and paid her double so that I don’t have to go home to my depressing apartment with a garbage bag I didn’t have the energy to run to the dumpster and a desk surrounded by a graveyard of empties and a few take-out boxes of food completely full because I couldn’t bring myself to eat even a single bite.  I mean, who the fuck can’t eat a slice of PIZZA? Your friendly neighborhood alcoholic, that’s who.  At least Bushmill’s has calories.

Oh, I lost 14 lbs.  At least something good came of this.  I’m a size 4 again.  My clients are gonna love it.

More tomorrow–the juicy details that should serve as a cautionary tale.

Oh, one other thing: I watched “The Lost Weekend.”  Scary as fuck, but it’s stood the test of time, and it is, without a doubt, the truest depiction of alcoholism on film I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all.  You can stream it on Amazon for cheap.  Not sure if it’s on netflix.  Highly recommended if you don’t think it’ll make you want to slit your wrists.

On Starving

In the annals of this deeply personal blog, there are two subjects I have resisted writing about: my relationship with my restraining-order Ex, John, and my eating disorder when it was at its worst.

Which of the two should I try to tackle now, while I feel the urge to write…?

Writing about John would require re-reading my files, both legal and personal, and I just don’t think I have the emotional fortitude to revisit that time of my life today.

So, let’s talk about the anorexia.  I believe that it is a tale which must be told.

(What I’ve written about it in the past, you can find under the tag category “How to Not Eat.”)

There is a reason I’ve avoided discussing this in depth: it was so painful, horrific, and sad that I don’t like to think about it.  The medical establishment classifies eating disorders as mental illnesses, and I believe that taxonomy is accurate.

I developed mine within a year of starting my PhD program, for completely predictable reasons: I was in an academic pressure cooker, I was isolated and without a support system or any meaningful personal relationships, deeply unhappy, and my constellation of personality traits practically dictated it: perfectionism, addictive personality, masochism, over-achievement, and a complete lack of sympathy for myself and an indifference to my personal suffering.  I’m a textbook case, with the exception of coming from a working-class background.

It started with wanting to lose 10 or 15 lbs…I was about 140 lbs at the time, which is normal for a girl who stands 5’10”, but I wanted to get my old body back.  The body I had before my breakup with John. I honestly believe that part of the disorder was a subconscious desire to return to a previous state–the state I was in before that trauma.

Well, dieting is difficult, and “healthy eating” just wasn’t producing the effects I wanted.  I’d never dieted in my life, so I had to learn how to become good at it.

Apt scholar that I am, I started to learn.

You have to sacrifice.  You have to change.  To master the art of deprivation.

I began to whittle away at my eating habits.  The first to go were snacks/candy and full-calorie beverages (except, of course, for the whiskey I was soaking my poor hapless brain in every night I wasn’t writing).  No juice, no smoothies.  No sugar in the tea–drink it dark and bitter…not unlike my heart.

Everything in the fridge becomes the diet version: fat free cheese, reduced-calorie bread, skim milk.

Then, breakfast.  Breakfast was easy to give up, because I’m never hungry in the morning.

I whittled.

The turkey sandwich packed for school doesn’t NEED that cheese.  That salad does not need dressing.

I don’t mind telling you that it was the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned in my life–to completely redefine my eating habits.  To give up common things, like the slice of pizza at a party or a pastry provided at a faculty meeting.  To give it up….and then learn to accept the loss.  To accept that these foods are not for me.

But I was finally getting results.

I bought a calorie handbook and started keeping records of everything that went into my mouth.  Not just the calories…the carbs, the grams of fat and protein.  I carried a notebook in my purse.

I stopped eating in public.

I also started over-exercising.  I bought a membership to New York Sports Club, so that I could go there when the university gym was closed.  I did weight training four days per week, and I started on the treadmill.  At first, it was three miles.  Then, I made it a minimum of five miles…every day.  And that doesn’t count all the walking I was doing around campus or New York.

I began to go to the gym twice a day.  To relieve anxiety, I told myself…but it was driven by anxiety.  By terror.

I bought Slim-Fast shakes and started to drink those in place of solid food.

The food logs I was keeping in notebooks were replaced by Excel spreadsheets.  I know how to manage data.  It was part of my formal training.

I lost 30 lbs in approximately four months…

…and when I was officially starving, I lost my mind.

I started to read cookbooks for recreation.  I bought Gourmet and Cook’s magazines and pour over the recipes in bed, or at my desk late at night.

I would eat whole jars of pickles, because pickles have no calories, and I craved something salty.

I passed out in public a few times–once, on the quad.  Another time in Penn Station, right after I got off the escalator.

I would buy food and pretend to eat it.  Then I would pour bleach on it to make sure it was inedible and I wouldn’t try to dig it out of the garbage can.

When I was in Manhattan for work, I would buy food from stores and then almost immediately throw it into garbage cans.  (Once, I bought an ice cream cone and at it in a bathroom stall in the train station, sobbing the entire time.  That was definitely a low point.)

I stopped menstruating.

I would dream of food.  I would steal crackers from my roommate in the dead of night.

I took photos of myself in the bathroom mirror at night, when I was finished with my work.  I was fascinated by my bones.  None of my rings would stay on my fingers anymore.

I got down to 108 lbs.  I took a million photos of the scale.

I started to throw up when I had dinner dates–either professionally, or with a guy I was seeing for fun.  I’ll have you know that I’ve puked in the bathrooms in all of the very best restaurants in Manhattan!  I’ve puked in Masa and Per Se!  Take that, bitches!

I carried Rolaids to chew in order to neutralize the acid and bile and save my teeth.  I hated to throw up, and didn’t do it often (because I seldom ate meals), but I knew it was murder on tooth enamel because I researched it online.

But, I looked like a teenager again.  What an appropriate and telling allegory.  Been starving all my life.

The Surgeon loved it, and became critical as soon as I started to gain weight again….but that’s another story.

And while all of this was going on…nobody said a word.  I mean, my pants were falling off because they were suddenly too big, and nobody said a thing.

That was the hardest lesson of all.

The Adler Christmas Dinner: What a Shitshow

Ugh.  Where to begin…?

I got through Christmas okay, but things got ugly over dinner…

We’re sitting there eating the ham and scalloped potatoes, and the male dickheads in my family decided to get into a heated “debate” (re: fight) about gun control.

Why…?  Why at dinner…?  Why do some people not understand that the best thing to do at holiday functions is be polite, on your best behavior, and avoid any potentially incendiary topics of conversation? 

So the rest of us–myself, my mother, the non-dickhead male friend of my mother’s, and my brother’s spouse–had to endure this bullshit.

You can’t dissuade these men with feminine appeals to mind their manners at the dinner table: one’s an ex-cop and the other one, my brother, kills animals as frequently as possible, which says it all. They don’t scream or yell (nobody in my family raises their voice much–stoical Teutonic upbringing, I guess), but they are dominant and feel entitled (re: inconsiderate) in the household.

So they hijacked the entire dinner.

We have my brother, whom I love fiercely but who has become a Republican gun nut.  I honestly don’t know how it happened.  Our family isn’t “liberal” by New York or San Francisco standards, but we’re old-school Roosevelt Democrats.  Very pro-Labor, progressive tax and redistribution, and basically against military intervention (even though every man has served in the military).  I’m much further to the Left, it’s true, but my political preferences have zero chance for realization, so they are not a source of discord except within my mind.

I don’t understand what happened to my brother.  He started hunting and then got sucked into the MINORITY/subculture within that (most hunters are not dingbats).  It’s the only thing I can think of.

Now he gets his news from conservative talk radio and he has at least 12 guns.  He is also mad at black people, despite not knowing any in private or professional life.  If he interacts with a single African-American on a daily basis, I’d be surprised.  I sure don’t, when I live here.  Even when I was teaching at the local university, I didn’t.

What did black people ever do to you, brother…?

Then we have my ex-cop uncle.  He is highly opinionated…and he knows EXACTLY what gun violence means, having dealt with its repercussions for many years.  He’s getting old and still made out of metal.  Still looks like a Marine.  When he wasn’t a cop, he was working, physically, all his life.  His hands are like sheet rock and his body is an engine.  He’s fearless and a sexist.  He’s very macho (but he votes Democrat and actually likes Bernie).

The topic of recent mass shootings came up, and my uncle opined that the general public does not need access to all these fucking guns.

My brother was, insecurely, incensed by this, and spoke up.

Then we were off the the races.

Soon, nobody was eating anything.  The food was getting cold.

I had to learn more about my brother’s irrational and paranoid ideas than I would have liked.  I love him.  What accounts for this needless, toxic masculinity…?  He kills hundreds of animals a year, including things like badgers (in snare traps) that are outside of town and don’t hurt anyone.

Is he trying to compensate for not having a father….?

Because, believe me, things could have been worse: he could have had mine.