Sunday, July 30, 2017

One year memorial

Published on Jul 30, 2017
My parents' denomination, Eastern Orthodox, does memorial services 40 days after death and annually there is a five minute prayer called Trisagion. On Wednesday it will be 1 year since my cousin/godson Evan was killed. The Greek words "Ionia E Mneme" mean memory eternal. But I'm 39 years old and I still have no idea what the "repose of the soul" is. Prayers for the forgiveness of sins "voluntarily and involuntary" are always said. The priest calls him Evangelos, because that's his Greek name.I had my phone on the bible on the pew in front of me the whole time so not to make it obvious that I was filming in church.  The memorial service was great closure, and I sincerely mean that, but I doubt I'll ever go to church again.  Not there or Lakewood or anywhere.  I believe we have to go way back to our roots as human beings.  As soon as we developed the ability to be religious and spiritual animals, we did not have buildings.  We saw it in all things.  I have also been taking up issue lately with the enormity of wealth of local churches and the enormous disparity among the general population, including the rapid increase in homelessness. I'll post another video I took soon, and address that issue and how the very strictest of Christians respond when I post that the megachurches should help those in need.  It's not good.  They sound like Pharisees, and I am deeply uncomfortable.  I am also saddened by the fact that people's religious disagreements have gotten violent and threatening.  

But that's besides the point of today's memorial service. When the priest was giving people communion, I had this very vivid flashback of when I was 15 and Evan had his first communion in my arms after he was baptized.  I had forgotten that moment until then.  When it came to his baptism, all I could remember were all the recitations I did wrong.  Fr. Stelios' words were comforting in the prayer, but you have to understand English and Greek to get the full Jist.   

It was a day of closure in many ways.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

They go in threes

First, there was the news that the lead singer of the band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, had taken his own life.  I've been a fan of Linkin Park for years.  I went through a phase a few years back when I constantly listened to the song "What I've Done".  Now that he's gone, the phase is back.

My daughter and I had been following a 10 year old girl with brain cancer on social media (also named Anna).  She lost her battle with her inoperable tumor on the same day.  She was an enormous fighter.  Anna Ortega was at Phoenix Children's Hospital and her wish for this Christmas was to send gift baskets to all of the children there.  She thought she'd be well again.  To help with that endeavor see here.  Also, consider helping the Ortega family in general.  They have 6 other children and most likely a ton of medical bills.

Later that evening, my childhood friend lost her grandfather.  I texted her that morning to see how she was and she said she was simply not ok.  It was her turn to sit with him, and he had been "cursing" at her all morning.  I asked, "Is he on Morphine?"  She replied, "Yes".  I explained that it does that to some and to tell his hospice nurse.  She and I attended the same Baptist Christian school that constantly made you question your own salvation.  You'd go on this roller coaster- Now I'm a Christian, now I'm not.  I'm over it, but she isn't.  She's also inadvertently passing the identity crisis to her children.  I texted her a loving message saying how sorry I was for her loss, how thankful I was that God granted him a long life (95 years), quoted scripture about God satisfying us with long life, and reassured her that when he was "cursing" at her, that it was not him speaking.  It was dementia and/or morphine.  She said thank you and we exchanged I love yous.  I didn't want her thinking that his foul language was proof that he "wasn't really Christian" and went to hell, because that is what we were raised to beleive.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My favorite money making apps

1. Ibotta.

Ibotta is by far the best rebate app. There are a lot
Of items to choose from including
Fresh produce and "any" brand items. The fresh produce and any brand items are often worth only 25 cents, and they do not count  towards bonuses. However, it's nice to buy just over 25 cents worth of whatever's on there from the produce department and get it nearly free. You need $20 to cash out to PayPal or get a gift cards.
Many other specific items are worth way more in rebates and count towards bonuses.

2.  Mobi Save

Another rebate app. They don't give you as much as Ibotta does, but you can cash out to PayPal instantly with no minimum amount. They also don't have as much of a selection and don't update items as often.

3.  Achievemint

This app gives you points for walking. Seriously- just walking. It counts your steps. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can cash out $10. This is the reason I hold my phone in my hand during walks. I'm hoping to cash out $50 soon.

4. Shopkick

You get points for walking into stores and scanning select items in the stores without having to buy them. You can also get more points for buying those items, but I can never get them to capture my receipt. 500 points gets you a $2 gift card, 1250 points gets
You a $5 gift card, and 6250 points a $25 gift card. I've gotten many go t cards from that app.

5. Surveys on the go.

This is the only survey app I'll do, because even if you don't qualify for a survey, you still get 10 cents. You need $10 to cash out to PayPal. I recently did two surveys worth $25 each. I wonder sometimes if I'll ever get to cash out $10 for literally not qualifying for 100 surveys, but it hasn't happened yet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

39th birthday

for my birthday, I got:

3 naps


A lavender scented jar candle


Lots of Facebook messages

A lot of self reflection.

Rented "The Mists of Avalon" on demand with Julianna Marguilles and Angelica Huston.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Going to church has turned into this

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I thought I would start 39 off "right" by going to church at Lakewood.  I haven't been for a while.  I do know that there have been many disturbances inside and outside of the church (mainly very angry street preachers) who will yell at you that you're going to hell as you walk in.  There are videos of this all over YouTube.  So you can imagine how much reality hit me when I walked in and saw this:

That's hate crime prevention.  A lot of evangelicals here don't believe Lakewood is "really Christian".  (It's really Christian).  In fact, I think most Christians think a lot of other people are not "really" Christians who actually are.  There were also cops walking around inside.  

I sat through five minutes of the service and then left.  That just got me so down.  I sat in my car and cried.  The same ones who will stand there with big ugly, demeaning sandwich boards and shout insults about going to hell as you walk into your church are the same ones who want freedom of religion.  But they want it for themselves only, and no one else.  

Never saw a song with so many parodies

One of the hits right now is "Despacito" with Justin Bieber. I really like that song, but I understand why people make fun of it. It's because it's Justin Bieber trying to be Hispanic. I get it. So many parodies because of that going viral.  My favorite, however, is this one, because the first 10 seconds contains people doing Greek ethnic dancing to it, led by a priest. That's just hilarious to me.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Garage sale score

I bought two very large black shantung curtains with these beads hanging from all edges.  I paid $3 for both.  The beads (and there are a lot of them) are great for upcycle jewelry, and the black shantung is great for basic skirts for me and my daughter.  The fabric is large enough that each of us could probably get two calf length skirts from it.

I also got myself a T-shirt that said "Zumba".  I just liked the shape of it.  Maybe some people will think I do Zoomba.  That's ok.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My YouTube video

neurologist appointment and child advocates.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I took a selfie with my neurologist (oh yes I did)

Cheesy, odd, whatever.  When I had bronchitis for 5 months about two years ago, I even took a respiratory therapy selfie.  Apparently, Dr. Boyle has a 3 month old baby now.  What?  Must have been well over a year since I've seen her then.  But, I'll be back on Zonisamide.  I'll make a youtube video about it later.  

Dr. Boyle has been my help for 7 and a half years now.  When Dr. Gage Van Horn (now retired) finally diagnosed me with Tourette's, he had med students following him, and she was one of them.  I was 31 years old.  I will never forget that day.  The problem without a name that I'd struggled with for 24 years since I was 7 now had a name. It was January of 2010, and I left that appointment at the Quentin Mease hospital and went to the Eleanor Tinsley Park to lean my back up against a tree and let it sink in.  

Dr. Boyle is very smart and is an expert at neuromuscular movement disorders.  She explained that tics will wax and wane throughout your lifetime.  I had been symptom free for over a year, but they recently started re-emerging.  She very non-chalantly told me that that was normal.  I know it is.  It's still hard.  I talked to a student before Dr. Boyle came in, and started crying between him and her.  Dr. Boyle gave me a kleenex and off went all the eye makeup.  

People with my condition used to be burned at the stake.  It's recorded in the Malleus Mallefecarum.  (A guide from the church from about 500-600 years ago on how to recognize if someone is possessed by demons).  A priest is described in this book as possessed.  When we read the Malleus now, we know that he must have had Tourette's.  But back then- he was executed, of course.  I can't imagine his pain.  He was a priest.  He obviously had faith.  

This picture is also my statement that I am an American with a pre-existing condition.  The "repeal now, replace later" think has me steaming.  My condition is not fatal, but in my opinions, when people die between repeal and replace, their bodies need to be strewn out all over the white house lawn and someone needs to release the vultures.  Then let the vultures shit the carnage all over DC.  I know I'm being morbid, but I feel so strongly about this.  I'm an American with a pre-existing condition.  

Testify To Love

This morning, I'm testifying in court as a child advocate for the first time in three years.  This has been my calling for 20 years.  Mid life crises often get in the way, but at least I got mine overwith before age 39 (which will only be a few days now).

I feel much happier about it now that the younger child is away from that horrible shelter.  I texted his foster mom last night just to see how he's getting along with her other children, and she said wonderfully.  They play that guitar game a lot.  I forgot what it's called.  It's from about 10 years ago.

I am going to ask that family reunification remain the goal and that he stay where he is until that happens.  He has moved 10 times in under 3 years.

There's another song that reminds me of this whole situation.  It's called "Unfinished" by Mandisa, and Mandisa tells the story behind the song here.  It's a follow up from her hit "Overcomer".  I just love that interview with Mandisa in the second link.  Makes you want to just sit with her for a few hours and just talk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I went to see my younger child advocate kid in his new foster home, and his foster mom is amazing!  She teaches sewing in her dining room. It's all set up with fancy machines. I want a class!  This kid has moved at least ten times and really wants to go home to his mom and brother. I said, that's not happening this week (court is Thursday), but at least you are in a much better place now than where you were before- until you can go back to your mom. He agreed with me. I didn't get to meet foster dad- he was still at work. But since I'm a classic Facebook stalker, I saw his pic and he looks like a decent guy.

I came home and Annalise had said that the cat knocked over all of my jewelry making supplies. I was waiting for some kind of sign that I should start again. It was a jumbled mess before the cat knocked it down, but Annalise fixed it all super organized. Oh wow. She really put effort into organizing it. I guess that's my sign.

On Thursday, I'm testifying in court at 9 am and I also have an appointment with my neurologist at 3 pm. I plan on taking the metro rail from the courthouse to the medical center, so I don't have to pay for two parking garages. (Parking garages have gotten insane in the medical center, and the valet guys think they have some kind of authority that they actually don't have). That's a bit of a face your fear kind of thing for me too, seeing that the metro rail almost killed me once.

I hope to film my neurologist appointment, if I have her permission. It's very hard to call people out on the word "involuntary" when the movement is not involuntary- the premonitory urge is. I'm hoping that she as a neurologist and movement disorder specialist can explain it better, but I'll ask her first.

One of my kids got moved!

The younger child on my Child Advocates case got moved from a very horrible emergency shelter in a bad part of town where he was the only white kid, got bullied and beat up, and cared for by staff that just seemed like they were there for a paycheck. They threatened him every day to throw him out, and wrote him up for stupid things. Ugh that place. They weren't actually going to throw him out. They can't. It was an empty threat.

This morning I was notified that he was moved to a foster family. I was really glad. Court is Thursday, so I have to see him there this evening. I talked to the foster mom and she is sooooo nice. Then I Facebook stalked her. We have one mutual friend, she's Mormon, married several years, lives in the north side, and is a stay at home mom. I still very much want him to go back to his biological mother, but this is so much more of a peaceful place for him at this time. I'm glad it's summer, too, so he can just chill in a peaceful environment and be taken care of right. I can't wait to see him and meet his foster parents tonight.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This is part of where my story began.

It's been 20 years now since the Christian book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" was published.  At that time, it had become a craze in evangelical circles, including the college-age ministry I was attending at the time.  I had my first boyfriend at age 18.  My wedding date was set for Saturday, September 30th, 2000.  At church, we saw people breaking up all around us as study groups formed around this book.  I did not think that my boyfriend would go along with the crowd, and when he broke up with me, I felt like the rug was pulled out from under my feet.  It was shocking, even though it shouldn't have been.  It wasn't the year 2000 yet, and we did not get married.  In a nutshell, the creation of this book and its craze in evangelical churches began 20 years of relationship shaming in my life. It was such a slow downward spiral that this past November, it made me feel like I was not allowed to be a woman.  It was like a couple-day long gender identity crisis.  I felt like I was not male, not female, because I was not allowed to love or be attracted to, or even start that process.  So 8 months ago, I cut almost 20 inches off of my hair and went to a salon to "fix it".  I'm happy to say that it's growing out now, and I no longer look like a lesbian.

When I did get married to my daughter's father in 2004, I always felt like I was doing something wrong.  In fact, we did not tell anyone we had gotten married for a whole month.  That was my insistence.  While working our divorce arrangements out at the dining room table in 2009, my husband told me, "You could never 'just be' with me."   I knew what he meant, and he was right.  I had guilt and shame the whole five years.  I thought God would punish me, and once I had my daughter, I thought God would punish me by doing something to her.  So I would beg God just to punish me instead.  Luckily, God did neither.

One week from today is my 39th birthday, and while I used to hate Joshua Harris, I love what he's doing here.  I totally believe in this documentary.  Facebook encourages you to post a link to "your favorite charity" for your birthday, and of course my favorite charity is Child Advocates.  But, I really want to put the link to this kickstarter campaign as my birthday cause of choice.  It was a bad thing that happened 20 years ago, but it created something good in me.  The thought at the time that I'd never marry or have children if I wanted to please God sprung me into devoting my life to helping children.

Kickstarter Campaign link.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How You Change People

My grandparents on my mom's side were from the Greek island of Zakynthos.  They got married and had their first child there.  They then immigrated to America through Ellis Island when their son was 1 year old.  He died when he was 4, and would have been 20 when my mother was born.

My mom always says her "soul was born" in Zakynthos.  (She was bodily born in Chicago lol).

A couple days ago, an African American man from Austin, TX was beaten and stabbed to death on my grandparents' island.  A link to the story is here.

My mom is shocked and ashamed.  For the past few years, she has asked herself "WHAT is happening to Greece?"  (Their economy is in the mud).  She said this couldn't have possibly happened on this island, which is so beautiful and peaceful. I don't remember it being to peaceful, though.  I remember an old uncle who wanted to kill my mother because she inherited her father's land there.  (The uncle did not believe a woman should have inherited property and wanted it for himself).  I also remember trash everywhere.  And a lot of homophobia.  In fact, the Greek word for homosexuality is "Anomaly"

In one of my facebook groups, "I speak Greeklish", they are all saying it was not "Greeks" who did this.  Of course, it was all those damn Syrians!  The refugees we are "supposed" to hate.  I think for a lot of Greeks, ignorance is bliss, because most of us have middle eastern mix, including Syria.  All they were doing in that group was more race baiting.  And the young man probably was targeted because he was black, whether or not it was Greeks or Syrians who did it.

When my mom posted the link expressing her sadness and shame, I simply commented with a link to this video.  It's about seeing the good in EVERYONE.  We all have the darkness in us, but we also have the light.  The light in me calls out to the light in you- whomever you are, wherever you are from, no matter what color your skin is or what religion or nationality you are.

Great short video

Things like this are rare, but I love when they show up. Finding out that I'm 14% Middle Eastern and 10% European Jewish rocked my world a bit. The only thing is that I practice neither of these faiths, and I love my bacon.

Friday, July 7, 2017

My resilient little cousin

My little cousin Helena walked to receive her high school diploma just days after undergoing a complete thyroidectomy.  Her mom (next to her) is my first cousin and lived with me and my parents for a little while when I was a kid, giving me my only glimpse of having a "big sister".  Also pictured are Helena's brothers who are aged 20 and 10.  My cousin and I were pregnant at the same time, but due only a month apart.  Helena and her older brother fought like cats and dogs over whether it would be a boy or a girl.  

Right after Helena's surgery, one of her father's relatives comments, "I have been on synthroid for 30 years and I'm fine, and you'll be fine too."

I was a little angry that none of this was discussed until Helena posted a pre-op selfie.  In my family, the things that are huge deals are pushed under the rug and ignored while minor things are made into huge tragedies.  

About 10 years ago, another little cousin from my mom's side was 17 or 18 and said to have mono.  Ok, so kids get mono.  Then my mom said, "But he'll be ok, because he's going to have a bone marrow transplant."

Hold on, what?  No, you don't treat mono with a bone marrow transplant.  I asked my mom strait up, "Does he have leukemia?"
My mom said, "Don't say that!!!"
I said, "Well, if it's true, then we need to say it."

His brother ended up giving him life saving bone marrow, and today he is happy and healthy in his late 20's.  

An example of the other extreme:  We got a phone call from my 86 year old aunt that my 81 year old aunt was extremely ill and had days to live.  My mom was frantic and upset, and I was dealing with her while trying to make travel arrangements.  I texted my cousin who is her daughter, and my mother's phone rang right away.  Luckily, my cousin set the record straight- Aunt Gloria just had her gallbladder removed and is at home recovering and is completely fine.  Don't most people eventually end up with their gallbladder removed?  How did gall stones turn into sudden death while leukemia and Grave's disease were pushed under the rug.  

This is why when I burst out laughing when the shrink asked if I had any history of mental illness in my family.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

RIP Tiger

Tiger had gotten out again and it had been a while since I'd seen her. I joined a Facebook group for lost and found pets in my general area. I posted her picture, and I described that the way that you could distinguish her from other cats. (She had a weirdly shaped tail). A woman messaged me and told me that she saw Tiger in her front yard. The front door to her house opened, and Tiger saw her dog which caused her to run up a tree. She told me where she lived, and it was right next to my old apartment. So when I got the chance, I drove around the area looking. Then I saw Tiger dead on the side of the road. It was definitely her. I didn't pick her up. I just bowed my head and said, "I'm sorry baby girl."  At least I know that she was happy. She was always happy outside. Once she got a taste of the wild outdoors, she knew that's where she belonged. That's common with cats.

For years, Tiger was strictly Anna's cat, and Alex was strictly my cat. But since our loss, Alex has kind of morphed into being Anna's cat and really doesn't pay me much mind anymore. It made me realize that having an animal by my side is missing from my life. I learned my lesson not to let any more cats out. I went to a shelter and looked at the cats, and one of them named Judy really took to me. I decided I wanted Judy. Then- they gave me a lengthy application to fill out, as if I was adopting a child.

I don't mean to sound like a snowflake, but having worked witch children in the system, I saw too many kids miss out on good homes because of the extreme amount of red tape involved in the vetting process. It was a major trigger to have to apply for a cat. I wouldn't do it. I didn't apply for Tiger and Alex. An elderly cat hoarder gave them to us. I didn't have to apply to get pregnant and have my child.

I starred at the application and instantly, flashbacks of court hearings and kids I worked for getting bounced around every few months to different state facilities flooded into my head. A ton of intrusive thoughts zoomed in and out. I had to reach I my purse, take a Valium, and immediately leave the animal shelter.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A ring I want

I never heard this parable of King Solomon until it was talked about by one of my favorite YouTube videos. The story is in the link below:

They sell the rings, and I really want one with the Hebrew letters. Not real gold, though. It's a good reminder