ECT: Day One

I wrote down some notes in a notebook on my first morning of ECT, since I figured I would not remember it later.  Though I just completed my 11th day of ECT today, I’ll go back to my notes on the very first day.

4:45 A.M. June 5th

Notes: Hey Alice, you remember these?  You wrote them!  No, really.  Weirdly you have not had as many freakout meltdowns the last couple of days.  I predict spaz out by 8 AM, but who knows?  You probably don’t!  My gosh, you are twisted, Alice.

Scared?  Yeah but it’s been such a long journey.  Like Han Solo said in reply to notice of his “Execution at dawn.”  “Oh good – I hate long waits.”  Been trying to remember the song “Memory”.  From a show about cats.  I have this.  “Mem-ory!  La la la la la la la laaaaaa!”

Great start, Alice.

In writing notes for another post I got nervous.  Paying for a seizure?  This sounds like a colossally bad idea.  What if I get pudding brains later?  I am vain about me brain.

Forgot to write down where the procedure will be done for sure.  Good one!

5:65 er 5:16 now.  O.K. I am scared.  Also hungry.  No food till after.

But – scared.

Road to Dallas:

You might be wondering what Dallas is like.  The city is big, and full of traffic, and six hours from my home town.  They made an entire prime time soap about it!

The real Dallas is exactly like the show.  My shrink was J.R.

Just kidding.  The shrink was actually nice.  All of them were nice from the psychiatrists to the nurses to the guys that wheeled me out when the treatment was over.  They don’t want you to fall on your face when you wake up, so you get taken out by chair.  You will be fairly out of it, but you won’t forget your name or birthday or the awful stuff that happened to you in first grade, so nice try.  They will ask you who you are before they even put you under.  Heck they even ask each other what they’re doing first, just to make sure.  “What procedure is this?  Oh, yeah. Right lateral ECT.”

They do care if you keep your memory or not.  I know because I got mine tested over and over, which was difficult since my memory kind of sucked to begin with and now I was purposely shooting up my brain.  Each time I came for another treatment I got another test.  Remember these three random words while I go on talking about other stuff.  After a while you can try to guess them because it’s often something like a fruit or a piece of furniture or a kind of currency.  It won’t hurt to try any of these things if you’re clueless like I usually am.

When you go into the procedure room, they give you oxygen and put sleep juice and whatever else you can convince them to add into your I.V.  After you’re out, they put goopy gel (back to the 80s!) in your hair to attach the electrode thingys.  The goop itches like Hades and will hang around until you bother to wash it out.  But at least you aren’t biting on a chew toy.  At least not that I remember anyway.  Nor did I wet my pants.  These were concerns of mine.

The first time I woke up I was confused and waiting for them to start the treatment before I realized they’d already done it.  I didn’t feel a difference immediately.  It took a few weeks before I could look back and realize that I was feeling better.  Why was I feeling better?  I have no idea.  But I’m grateful both for the help and for the people who stood by me while I got it.  I found new appreciation for these people in my life.  I can’t promise ECT will help anyone else, but I would certainly encourage them to try it.  Just watch for cars and rattlesnakes if you’re in Dallas.

 

 

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Risk, Stigma, and ECT

Last time I talked to you about why I chose to try ECT, or more specifically, my history of depression.  Many people called me brave, and I thank you for your kind words.  This made me consider, though, exactly what bravery is.  Most people think of brave people as those who take great risks.  There are many kinds of risk, but even in cases where a split second decision is required, you will rely on what you know.  You will make an assessment.  Is the risk I’m taking worth the possible costs?

For instance, you might decide you want to go bungee jumping.  What are the risks and what are the benefits?  Everyone’s different, but I’d probably look at it like this.

Risk: You could fall to your death and die.

Benefit: Wee, it’s fun!

I belieeeeeve I can fly!

In this case, I’d decide that no, jumping off a cliff, even with a rope tied around my ankle, is not worth risking my early demise for benefit of an adrenaline rush (I don’t even have to pay for those!). On the other hand, when I made a decision about getting ECT, I looked at the decision this way.

Risk: Very Expensive. Memory loss.  Cognitive problems.  Pudding brains.

Benefit: I might feel like living, and my life become more worthwhile, for myself and those who love me.

In order to make this decision, I did my research.  I can research the crap out of anything, taking hours to find out which shampoo brand is the best, which makes me a great librarian though sometimes an annoying person.  So after my psychiatrist asked his students in front of me what was available to those who didn’t respond to drugs, they said, as one example, ECT. When he asked them what it stood for, they hesitated, and I said “Electroconvulsive Therapy.”  Give me an A.

You might think my psychiatrist is mean asking his students these questions in front of me, but honestly I think he just loves to mess with them. The best way to learn is to do so in a real setting.  I could have refused the students had I wanted to, but it turns out I find their suffering entertaining as well.  Anyway, at first I said, “Yeah, nope”.  I’d heard plenty about ECT, and Sparky had always told me to watch myself around electricity, so this seemed a no-brainer.

My psychiatrist told me what ECT was like now, and how much it had changed from the days of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.  He bemoaned the fact that there is so much stigma, and that this and politics often dictated whether a variety of treatments are available to patients.  For instance, ECT was once available near my home town, but it was taken away.  The closest hospital that offers ECT now is over a five hour drive from where I live.  “In the end,” he said.  “They take it away, and the patients suffer.”  He said he has seen it work because he’d administered it himself.  “I am convinced you could feel better in as little as two weeks.”

What exactly takes place during ECT?  I won’t know until I’m there, and even then I’ll be asleep most of the time, but I did find this video that shows the procedure.

A little disconcerting?  Slightly.  On the other hand, it’s also a far cry from what they did to Jack Nicholson.  As you can see, the actual shock lasts seconds, and only one part of the body shakes to show there is a seizure.  Oxygen is given, anesthesia, and something to stop the convulsions.  But just look at those people helping with the ECT, holding his hand, smiling gently.  Vultures!

By this point, as I said before, I’d been through years worth of drugs that eventually failed.  Some of them had dangerous side effects, just as dangerous as ECT’s side effects, or worse.  If you get right down to it, everything carries a risk of side effects.  Childbirth is risky, even if you’re young and healthy.  I know, because at 27, I had to wait two weeks for tests to find out if my baby was mentally handicapped.  She turned out healthy, but it did shock me into reality.  None of us is immune to tragedy.

So I researched, and so did my friends.  As I mentioned briefly earlier, I found a little straight forward information, and many, many websites full of warnings and sometimes near hysterical accounts from patients.  I realize that this treatment doesn’t work for everyone, but the success rate is listed at near 80 percent.  Even if that data is wrong, and it’s only 50 percent, or heck, 5 percent, is this something we should deny desperate people?  Chemotherapy kills your body’s cells, both healthy and cancerous, yet it is a common procedure for people with Cancer.  Rarely do I hear of someone cautioning a person “You know Chemo is barbaric.  Don’t do it!!!”  The reason you don’t hear this is because, unfortunately, for now it is one of the few treatments that have been shown to succeed.  It takes a terrible toll on the body, and it doesn’t always work.  But what else should a person do?  Take vitamins?  Smoke kale?  Tell me, what else should they do?

What else should terribly depressed people do?

That is why I don’t presume to tell others what to do with their own bodies.  Screaming that a treatment – whether pills, a medical procedure, or even eating kale (you might choke)- is barbaric, outdated, and cruel could scare people away from the one thing that might help them.  I did find one blog written by Natasha Tracy, advocate for mental health.  She had a terrible time with ECT.  But she fights for it to be available, because she knows that her experience is not what everyone will experience.  What helps you could hurt someone else, or vice versa.  I encourage you to visit her website; it is full of good information.  It is also full of really angry people in the comment section.  But she keeps writing.

I am aware that writing about this could open myself up to a lot of these same angry people.  But so many have helped me over the years, and I want to help someone else.  I want there to be more information about what ECT really is, and how it works.  I want people to find an account that is from a real person, but still factual.  Even if it’s a bad experience for me, I want to demystify this treatment for Depression.  That’s why I decided to write.  I weighed the risk (testing out the waters with a friend), and I made a decision.  Eventually you have to stop researching, and make a choice, just as I did to try ECT.

I have much more to talk about, but I’m running out of space.  I will tell of what the actual process of preparing for ECT entails (hint: you don’t walk right in and get shocked), and how I went about figuring out how I was going to get there in the first place.  The decision was one thing.  The execution of that decision, quite another.

Remember: Everyone is brave in their own way, just by getting up in the morning.

Stay tuned.

~Alice

Why I Am Trying ECT

“What if you get all the way up there and there’s nothing?”
“What if there’s everything?”

– from the movie Tomorrowland

 

Earlier Merry at Knocked Over By a Feather wrote about a friend who is preparing for ECT treatments.  That friend is me.  You may have noticed, if you read my blog much, that I haven’t exactly been posting a lot lately.  I’m sure the lack of informational posts about Trump, boogers, imaginary ponies, etc., have left you in a lurch.  I hope to get back to that at some point, but right now things aren’t going so well.  This is nice speak for “There is no need for Hell; I’m here guys!”

The reason I asked Merry to write about it first was because I was afraid of the responses.  I’ve researched ECT, (electroconvulsive therapy or “shock therapy”), for nearly two months now, and most of what I find are horrifying stories.  Yet ECT is often successful at treating depression, or at least raising you to a point where you can treat your depression.  The minority write the scary stuff, and shout down the ones who have positive experiences.  I’m not saying people do not have bad experiences, but what one finds positive and another finds positive can be very different.  If you are so depressed you can’t function, side effects, even serious ones, can take a back seat to even the possibility of getting well.

I don’t like to talk that much about my illnesses.  Alice is supposed to be funny – to a select group of people anyway.  (Hi, friends!)  Some might say it’s because I use humor as a defense mechanism.   Humor at least makes the awful go down a little easier.  These illnesses are not something to joke about, though, especially not to the new psychiatrist who is in charge of the ECT program.  He seemed to think my joke about the butcher knife was not funny.  Killjoy.

That’s not funny, Alice.

I feel like I should offer you my history, because I did not wake up one day feeling sad and decide to go get my brain shocked.  It doesn’t work that way.  ECT is, in general, a last ditch effort when other treatments have failed.  We have come a long way in mental health treatment just within the last few decades.  Now, thankfully, we have antidepressants that do work for many people.  They might even work for Scientologists, though I fear their problems mostly stem from being jerks.

And that’s another issue.  It’s hard enough to juggle a chronic illness like Depression without dealing with other stress.  Most people have to work.  You’d be amazed at the number of people who have worked for years with the black dog dragging them down.  Don’t tell the cute college students, but work kind of sucks at least part of the time, even if you like your job and your coworkers.  I have been in my job as a library assistant at a university library for over seven years now.  If it were not for the people I work with, especially my direct boss, I would not still be working.  Like far too many people, I would be forced onto disability.  Depression is the second greatest reason for people taking disability now.  Only heart disease has more people.

Depression: We got second place!

Yet even with my decent working conditions, I am struggling to keep afloat.  I already take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.  These help me if all conditions are going well, but stress is always present, and it doesn’t take much for my cup to runneth over.  When you are depressed, everything becomes difficult.  Bit by bit I’ve watched as I’m able to do less and less.  Reading back on old blog entries, I can see my downward trajectory.  For a well person, a stress would be your car breaking down.  For a depressed person any of the following will do:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Putting on clothes
  • Doing laundry so you have clothes to put on
  • After that shower you haven’t taken
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth
  • Putting on makeup – sorry I made myself laugh there
  • Getting your hair cut – I am now Rapunzel
  • Taking your children to school in traffic
  • Walking into work.  And the day has just started.

I should probably look into that haircut.

People who are well have a hard time understanding this.  Depressed people don’t understand it either, because often there is a disconnect between what part of your brain knows you should be able to do, and what the other part is willing to let you do.  This disease does not exist in a vacuum – it exists in an ever winding circle involving illnesses both mental and physical.  IBS, Asthma, auto-immune diseases, chronic pain, and even the heart disease that is winning the disability race all wind round and round.  Did the depression cause the illness, or did the illness cause the depression, or both?  Where does it start and where does it end?

I’ve always dealt with respiratory illnesses due to being allergic to all of creation.  But in 2012, I came down with a serious case of pneumonia.  This wasn’t your walking, take a pill, back in a few days kind of pneumonia.  By the time doctors put their tiny heads together and figured it out a week after symptoms started – a chest x-ray!  What a wild idea!  – the pneumonia had spread over my entire right lung.  It was a miserable experience.  If you want to hear about it with cartoons and jokes, just look up “pneumonia”  in the search box.  Anyway, I missed over a month of work, and even after I returned it took a couple more months to fully recover.  I never recovered my sick or vacation leave at work.  From that point on, I was always running behind, making up time for being sick or going to appointments because I could never keep any leave.  I almost never have a week with no absence.  For the last five years I have wondered when they would fire me.  At times, I hoped they would, because I was just so tired.

Pneumonia.  Surprisingly not fun.

The depression came next.  I’d been fairly well for the last several years on the meds I was on.  Yet each major stress would cause a pill combination to fail.  It didn’t help that my shrink was a psychotic idiot.  I thought I had no other choice because I lived in a small city.  He gave me meds, then if they didn’t work, he yanked them and threw others at me.  Often there was no way to know what, if any, of my new meds were working and which were not.  All these medications have side effects.  One, Abilify, made me feel great for about a month before I was taken off of it for a 10 pound weight gain.  I would be put on it another time at a lower dose, only to be taken off it once more after a few months because I was climbing the walls.  I also developed a tendency to shop online which, along with gambling and other risk taking, is another possible fun side effect.

By the time I finally found another psychiatrist, I had been hospitalized three times.  I fully believe that people should go to the hospital if they are suicidal or even just so desperate they can no longer cope.  But after the first visit at my hospital, the other two were lousy experiences.  I have a couple of these stories on the blog as well.  However, the one good thing about the hospital was that you did not have to cope with the outside.  They gave you meals. They gave you pills.  You went to group.  The other people could be kind of scary, yet you still felt a belonging with them.  And while you wanted to leave, it was hard to return to the outside.

Psychiatric Hosptial Revolving Door

My new shrink is not perfect, but at least he looks me in the eye and seems to care.  I encourage everyone, if possible, to shop for a good shrink.  This guy is messing with your brain and body.  It’s good to trust him if at all possible.  No, most shrinks are not going to have long talks with you.  They prescribe medicine because they have big brains filled with knowledge that does not always include common sense.  Common sense is for counselors.  Don’t be afraid to try talk therapy if you can, because it can be very helpful.  Some people are able to get by with it alone.  Some use it and medication.  But for some, both of these stop helping after a while.  I found myself on a cycle of new pills, everything okay, new stress, pills fail, rinse repeat.  Finally my doctor suggested ECT.

I know I haven’t discussed much about the actual ECT, but I plan to in the next posts.  My history is important though, because all of this weighed into my decision to try this treatment.  It is my hope to detail the process of getting ECT (it is NOT easy) and then the actual ECT itself.  Since I am told I will lose memory, I figure I should write down what I can when I can.  My hope is to help other people who are faced with such a decision with information and not just fear mongering.  ECT could fail.  I could be worse off than before, but then again, I could be better.  My family deserves for me to try this.  I deserve to try this.  I don’t want to spend a life in misery, and I’m willing to try whatever it takes.

I will officially start ECT on June 5th.

So here goes.  Geronimo.

 

~Alice

United Airlines Kills the Easter Bunny

Hide yo kids! Hide yo bunnies!  United is at it again.  I mean first they kicked tween girls off a plane for wearing inappropriate leggings (what else do these girls wear?), then they bashed the head of that kindly old doctor and dragged him off the plane, but now they have gone too far.  They killed a giant bunny.  A giant bunny bred by a former playboy bunny, who had surgery to look like Jessica Rabbit.

Here comes PETER FREAKING COTTONTAIL.

No, I’m not making any of this up.  This has to be the best news day of all time.

Er, um, except for the bunny.  RIP Simon.

When they say “giant bunny” they aren’t kidding here.  This rabbit weighed 33 pounds and was 3 feet long.  News sources say “That was one big freaking rabbit.”   It doesn’t help that United has the worst record again this year for animal deaths, including eight dogs and a little baby kitten.  (Have you no shame, United?) But the real stories come from the following dear friends of the giant rabbit, who express their condolences.

“Simon was a little weird, always hiding those eggs every year “for Jesus”, as he said, but he was a great guy.  I think the pilot must have been Mr. McGregor.” – Peter Rabbit.

“No one had a bad word for Simon.  He was just so real, ya know.  And huge.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

“Roger thinks this is a really messed up deal for Simon.  And he’s married to me.” – Jessica Rabbit

“Even the Mad Hatter won’t ride United now.  Oh, crap, I’m late for my flight!” – The White Rabbit

“Yeah, that’s all folks,” – Bugs Bunny

No one knows how to break the news to the kids.  What are they going to do without all those eggs and giant chocolate bunnies and, bizarrely, giant chocolate crosses?  Hyperglycemia does not cause itself.  One thing is for sure – I am not flying United Airlines anytime soon. Because you know they’re probably going to start shoving overbooked passengers, or doctors, or tweens (you know some people would cheer for this) into the cargo holds next, and even Simon didn’t make it out of that alive.   But don’t worry, United is “deeply saddened” by this, just like they were about the incident with the doctor.  I mean after first ignoring it, then smearing his name through the mud, then, after stocks plummeted, finally “apologizing” with all the sincerity of a politician.  They also plan to address this issue with their wronged party.  By Ouija board apparently.

Luckily all the news outlets are on this case.

“Now United’s Killing Fluffy Bunnies!” – The Daily Mail.

“United Airlines Investigates Giant Bunny Death” – Wazobia Journal

“World’s Biggest Rabbit Dies in Mysterious Circumstances on Flight in New PR Disaster United Airlines” – The Sun

I’m not sure what the weirdest thing about this case is – that there can be as much outcry over a bunny death as there is over a human getting beaten and dragged from a flight or that there is a bunny that is 33 POUNDS.  One things is for sure – bunnies get peoples’ attention.  Your raving reporter Alice promises to keep a close eye on any developing news.  What do you think will happen next with United?  What kind of settlement will Jessica Rabbit get?  What about the children?  Let me know in the comments below.

~Alice

Cover Songs or post I stole from another blogger!

Okay, so I haven’t been writing lately cause of the bloody pony and squirrel.  If you’re new, you may not have been introduced.  First there is Sad Pony.  He might look like a picture, but he’s very real.  He enjoys sitting on me and acting sarcastic to hide his deep, dark pain.

Deep dark pain.  Check it.

Next up is Squirrel.  He is also not just a picture, but a real anxiety attack in fuzzy form.

Oh woooowwww omg you haven’t used me in forever I’m here I’m still here what are you doing will you do something now omg I think the world is gonna end better take hold of my nuts wait did that sound bad hey where are you going?

So right, as Merbear, whose post I just stole, said, music can help tame these bad boys here, at least for a little while.  At the moment I am looking into new treatments for them because they’re cute and all but I want them kept at bay.  I want an actual life.  When you can look at your blog posts, giggle a little cause gosh you’re funny, but then realize that crap, you’ve sort of gone downhill over the years, it’s time to do something.  Anything.  But before I take up drunk hunting, I figured I’d try to write a few posts.  Just to say I did.  And why music?  Cause I can’t think of anything else right now!  Awesome!

So I had a record player when I was really little.  It was a Winnie the Pooh record player.  And I played it quite a bit.  I also used the record player in the living room.  Sometimes you had to put one of those little circular things inside the single disks, cause they had a bigger hole.  I don’t know why they had a bigger hole, they just did.  Also you had to play them on a higher speed.  This was also a fun thing to do to regular records, so they would song like Chipmunks.  Where was I?  Right, so I played records, like Ghostbusters.  I remember that one, especially on high speed.   Also “Bad Boys” by Miami Sound Machine now known as Gloria Estefan.  I am dating myself.  I’m a great date.

This brings back memories. I was so cool as a kid.

I also had cassette tapes (all you cute little millennials – google this stuff) and the first one I remember was Hall and Oates.  My brother gave it to me, because back then he gave me stuff he wanted.  Come to think of it, he still kind of does this.  I was around eight I think?  That was also when my parents gave me my first phone in my room (pink!), so they wouldn’t have to hear me yammer any longer.  My parents were progressive that way.   My brother and I both got Sony Walkmans, because my parents liked us also shutting up on trips.  I would often listen to my player, especially when I needed to cover up my father’s twang Country music.  I was pleased to find out that Thing Two was trying to drown out Hakuna Matata the other day while Thing One and I sang at the tops of our lungs.  Apparently Disney doesn’t go well with My Chemical Romance.  We felt sads about this – haha, no we didn’t.

I can remember thinking I was sooo much older listening to music.  I walked home one day and the speakers at the baseball field were playing Cyndi Lauper’s She-Bop and I danced and sang like the bad nine-year-old I was, having blissfully no idea what Cyndi was actually singing about (thank you Cracked for clearing up that mystery).  There are other songs that bring back memories of roller skating rinks (look it up) and amusement parks (ours was called Wonderland, for reals).  Now that I’m older, I listen to other music, but I still love the 80s.  They are the best.  I like some of today’s music – some of which I will embarrassingly admit to later, and the oldies too, though not as much as Merbear.  We still have this weird ability to finish songs the other one starts, no matter what the time or genre.  Sometimes we don’t both like a song and we have to take a breather and say, it’s okay, everyone has faults.  But mostly we enjoy the same stuff.  While there are songs that you love, there are also songs you hate with equal passion.  I’ll talk about that too, maybe.

For example, here is a song I hate. I HATE IT.

Music has a magical ability to change your mood. It doesn’t work on everyone – I had tone deaf English students.  I asked them how all different genres of music felt, what it made them think of, from classical to modern day, from fast to slow.  They said “your music sucks.”.  I was 22, they were at least 18.  I really don’t think four years should have made a difference.  But wow, it can.  For me, though, music is powerful.  I can feel my heart swell when I hear it, and my soul soar.  Like movies, music can take you places.  It can actually heal you, and slow down your anxiety (lots of youtube videos are good for this).  I even saw a video about this old man with Alzheimer’s who was non responsive – until they put headphones on him with his favorite music from his younger years.  He literally came alive.

So yeah, I think I’ll talk about music.  Here’s hoping, anyway.

~Alice

Ever just the same, ever a surprise: Review of the live action Beauty and the Beast

“Tale as old as time

Song as old as rhyme

Beauty and the Beast

– “Beauty and the Beast”

*Warning Spoiler: The beast turns into a prince at the end.  Sorry!  Seriously, no spoilers.

Tonight I went to the pre-showing of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast.  I bought my tickets early for the “Fan Event” which translated into your tickets cost more, mostly, though we got awesome drinks and popcorn buckets.  At first I was thinking I got gipped, because come on, other theaters in big cities got these really pretty pins, and I got a bucket.  But still, there were cushy recliners, assigned seating, and a design to the theater that ensured you would see the movie, no matter how tall or fat headed the person in front of you might be.

Bucket and drink. But also a fold out rose. But mostly it was a bucket. wooot.

My husband, who believe me showed his twu luv by coming with me after I bought him a ticket, was literally the legs of the operation.  He went back for the popcorn buckets and the drinks, then again back for the 3-D glasses (who knew it was 3-D?) that the stupidhead ticket guy didn’t tell us to take.  The special feature was an interview with the guys working on the score (which I’m sure will be on the DVD) and the Beauty and the Beast music video (which has already been on youtube.  Check it out, it’s trippin’.)

In case you are wondering about the Things, they were invited to the movie in the same theater at the same time by some friends whose mother actually shelled out for the tickets.  Vile betrayers.  Thing Two said she hoped that we weren’t close to each other, to which I responded “So do I.  Like I want to be near teen girls giggling.”  I mean, seriously, I didn’t.  I was however, beside an adorable little girl wearing a Belle dress and sparkly shoes.  More on her later.

Of course there was not one of these in 40 year old size. credit: Disney Store.

When the movie started, any complaints I might have had vanished.  Any other thoughts I had vanished as well.  No more political stupidity, no more stress, no more worries, for a little over an hour.  Just as I was during my Thing One’s starring role (she was a spoon) in the high school Beauty and the Beast musical, I was transfixed.  I was pretty sure my husband was over there, but I didn’t check to see.  I did not peel my eyes from the screen.

Was the movie good?  Well, I suppose part of it depends on whether you liked the original movie, or Disney period.  Though I feel I must point out that the guy playing Gaston is evil but extremely hot, and Emma Watson is obviously beautiful.  So you know, there’s something for everybody.  Well most people.  There were some who, for hateful reasons you can easily discover with a quick Google click, refused to take their unfortunate children to the movie.  (Hint: It’s seriously not a big deal and I doubt the kids will notice, parents.)  Disney is feeling the hurt, people, I mean with sold out theaters long before the movie began, gosh I’m not sure what they will do!

I was already obsessed long before the movie came out, thanks to them announcing it like ten years early.  When the merchandise came out, I completely restrained myself and did not buy a thing.  I bought several things.  Though not enough to break my budget, so no naysayers.  I’ve had my fill of naysayers, most of them found on Disney fan boards.  Go away, false fans.  Because this was not just a movie.  This was an incredible movie, with the ability to make me feel, at forty years old, the awe and wonder and beauty of the film I first watched at fourteen.

#notobsessed. BTW that’s a real working clock.

It’s a story that is – well not as old as time, I don’t think the dinosaurs did musicals.  But close.  It’s been retold millions of ways.  I love all of them.  The heart of the story is always the same – see beyond appearances, for beauty is found within.  It is a lesson many people need to take to heart, now more than ever, as they dismiss people based on the color of their skin, the place they grew up, the religion they believe, the people they love.  Belle does not fall in love with the Beast as soon as she sees him.  She thinks he’s a jerk, since he acts like a jerk.  But as she spends time with him, gets to know him, she sees beyond the outside, beyond her first impressions.  She finds he is not so different than herself.

Barely even friends

Then somebody bends

Unexpectedly”

This movie had a lot to live up to, as the original Disney cartoon of Beauty and the Beast is a beloved classic, the only animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award.  I believe it lived up to the original, keeping close with the story, but with twists.  For one thing, it briefly mentions why no one realized there was a freaking castle and royalty nearby.  That had been bugging me for years!  There are also so many touching moments.  Like Belle and her father, and their love for each other, and ostracism from a town of people with no imagination, no vision into the future.  I know people like those in this “poor provincial town” and – I cannot imagine living that way, with no stories in your head, no new ideas.

Man, I hate this town.

They didn’t forget the talking furniture and appliances.  They are done in CGI, which some have complained is awful, because they probably come from Belle’s town and can’t see beyond pixels.  Though they are very different in appearance than the Disney version, they absolutely fascinated me.  Disney created an atmosphere much more conducive to 18th century France.  I work in archives, so I tend to like old stuff.  The costumes, the enchanted objects, the castle, the town, all of it is very true to the time period.  Now some complained that Belle’s dress is too modern, and that lousy feminist Emma Watson should have worn a proper corset.  First of all, Belle’s dress is more modern because she’s Belle, always looking to the future, never having to fit in, and also because Emma didn’t want the depiction of unrealistic figures.  I for one didn’t even notice, probably because Emma is naturally so thin she doesn’t even need a corset.

The Beast notices Belle is not wearing a corset. Does not care.

Yet with all the beauty, the incredible special effects and imaginative sets, none of it matters if you do not love the characters.  And you do love these characters.  There is Gaston, the handsome idiot, harmless enough until for the first time he doesn’t get what he wants.  The household objects are all lovable as well, which allow you to look past the fact that they aren’t actually on the screen.  Emma talked to nothing a lot.  There is the Beast, punished severely for his arrogance, filled with anger and despair, but who still has enough humanity to save Belle from a pack of wolves.  And there is Belle, who could have escaped when the Beast was attacked, but her morality, her inner goodness, compels her to help nurse the Beast back to health.  It starts with small acts of kindness, which lead to more of these acts, more closeness, and more understanding of both themselves and each other, for you cannot love without knowing who you are first.  And, as Belle points out, you cannot love unless you are free.

“It is sweet and strange

Finding you can change

Learning you were wrong.”

I’ll admit it.  I cried during this movie, with my hands up by my mouth.  I cried on the way home. But I wasn’t depressed. They were tears of absolute joy, for this is a story I have written myself, all my life, in books that are never quite good enough, that I have never dared show to any but one friend, that I have never tried to publish, that so often, I say I never have time to work on.  But the stories in my head never go away.  They are there, urging me on, even as I try to ignore them.  But tonight, in the little girl in the Belle dress, I saw not just my girls when they were younger, but I saw myself.  The whole world ahead, every day filled with magic, with possibility.  I watched as she tried to grab the flakes of gold that shot out of the screen at you.  And I delighted when the credits rolled, the song played, and she danced so passionately in the aisle.

Okay, she can keep the dress.

It’s time to remember that little girl, or boy, that’s inside you.  It’s time to listen to the voice that speaks to you, I mean, as long as it’s not an actual voice you understand.  It is simply time for us to find the beauty within ourselves and each other, to love instead of hate, to make the world a better place for the little girls dancing in the aisles, lost in dreamland.

Trump Voodoo

I know things seem kinda dark right now, what with a rabid toddler in the White House.  It’s like Richie Rich took over, and the rest of the White House staff has to race around cleaning up his messes (not potty trained yet) and providing him with everything he wants, when he wants it, no matter how insane it is.  They also have to explain his actions away like “Well he needed his nap” (one of his people actually said he crank called all those foreign leaders because he was “tired”) because they can’t admit that they are really, really bad parents.  If any of you have been parents, or have even known a toddler, you realize that these tiny people are not sane.  You have to spend most of your time keeping them from killing themselves.  With the president, you have to keep him from killing everybody else.  Haha, yeah I’m not kidding.  He knows nuke codes, you guys.  Nuke codes in the hands of a toddler.  If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what does.

Now I’m not saying he’s going to nuke us all, but he COULD, and really that’s like just giving your toddler a box of matches.  We don’t know he’s going to burn down the house.  Maybe he’ll just eat them.  But they are there, and they really, really should not be around a toddler.  Like paint chips.  I bet there were golden paint chips near the Donald when he was young.  Explains so much.

So how do we deal with this?  He’s here, he got elected (How?  Just how?) and we have to deal with him in a peaceful manner.  I found some great products to help us do just that!  Click to Enlarge the Fun!

Trump Voodoo Dolls

This made my day so happy!

This is great.  It is so great.  Really great.  A cheeto with pins in it.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  A strange part of me actually wanted to buy it from Ebay.  But that would have kept this amazing image away from others.  It’s a great marketing strategy.  Imagine, an entire bag of voodoo dolls, just waiting for you.  And when you’re done, you can eat him.  Don’t worry, unlike the original, these are not toxic.  Oddly enough, no one paid 3 bucks for a cheeto (I was a little surprised by this) but the seller promised me to relist.  We had an interesting conversation about Cheeto here.  The seller does not like Cheeto (in case the pins didn’t clue you in) and is hoping it goes viral.  Do your part to make it so, guys!  Here is the link, which is hopefully updated with a relist soon.

Now some of you may be saying, sure Alice, sticking pins in my snack food is fun and all, but it’s not that sturdy. Plus I’m not sure if I’d doing the voodoo right.  Don’t we need to have a doll with some pins to make black magic?  Never fear, there is an answer for this as well, and it’s also on Ebay.  I ordered one for myself and hope to test it soon.  The pictures in the advertisement, though, are very informative.

I love how excited the girl is to get this awesome gift.

Yes, that’s right, a genuine voodoo doll, I’m sure of it due to my tireless research (tireless because I did none) .  It’s a doll, it looks like Fart (that’s UK for Trump) and you can put a pin anywhere you want.  There are so many places.  So many.  Now I do not advocate actually harming the president, I mean he’ll probably eventually do that himself by ticking off the wrong person.  But hey, if you put a pin in his eye, and he happens to get an eye boo boo – that’s hardly your fault.  I mean, stuff happens, right?  Like the following on the advertisement:

Make sure and get full coverage.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your torture.

You can always bring your furry friends in on the action.

Speaking of furry friends, it seems a shame to leave them out of all the fun.  They can smell stupid, and they want to help their owners out however they can.  Or, at least, they really like tearing stuff up.  Just like Senor Cheeto!  That’s why more marketing gurus, this time on Amazon, came up with this.

Trump Cat Toy

Here, kitty kitty . . .

Cats come runnin’ for the good taste of Trump!  Especially when he’s loaded with drugs, er cat nip.  You’ll notice that there is a version for cats and dogs (the dog one comes with a squeaker), and also a variety of politicians you can choose for Fluffy.  I’m not sure that Hillary Clinton needs anymore punishment, as she lost to Cheeto here, Bill is just tired, and Bernie is stuck questioning Cheeto’s cabinet contenders which would lead anyone to bang his head repeatedly against his desk. That can’t be good for a guy that old.  Our Favorite Russian, Putin, is awesome, though.

Communism has never been so hot!

Another great thing about these pet toys is the reviews from creative Amazon customers.

December 5, 2016
Size: Donald Trump|Style: Cat|Verified Purchase
My cat immediately started attacking his hair and trying to rip it to shreds, but the trump toy managed to weather all the attacks and remained president. A fun addition to Sir Nitro Purr’s cat toy collection.
He includes a picture of his cat getting to know Donald.

Thinking this cat was not a Trump voter.

But Alice, you might ask, how can you really know how good these products are without testing them?  Well, never fear, for I have both the Trump voodoo doll (the cloth one, not the cheeto though I’d be happy to buy a bag for the sake of research), and the cat toy on order.  We don’t have a regular cat, but we do have Hazel the stray cat, who graces us with her presence when she wants food.  Sometimes she even acts cute about it, but we all know she’s really evil.  Still, I hope she loves the doll as much as the other cat customers must, since it’s on back order at the moment.

Donald Trump SqueezeEZ Big Head Collectible Stress Ball

And finally, last but not least, we all need a way to get rid of stress these days.  Ripped off the head of your stress ducky?  I did once, and the church ladies’ retreat director gave me a funny look when I said “Look, he’s got a tracheotomy”.  Some people have no sense of humor.  I got another duck, though.  Where was I?  Oh, right, next up, the Trump stress ball.

The Great Oz Will See You Now

These kinda scare me, and we’re talking about me here.  I haven’t dared buy one yet.  Maybe I’ll put some orange fuzz on my stress cow, donated graciously by Thing Two who told me not to rip off its head.  Everyone’s a critic.  But if you order one of these squeeze heads, you might get lucky and receive the coveted gold head.  It’s still filled with air like the others, but special.

That’s all I have for now!  When I get my other products, I promise to show my own personal review with the help of Hazel the cat, my Things, and a bunch of sharp stuff.  I’m sure they will push me into it, no matter how Sad Pony I get just because the president wants to invade Australia, or whatever.  Also look out for Sim Trump.  It’s been a while since I wrote my posts on Boppo the Clown (search for Boppo in my search box if you’re extremely bored and hate clowns), but now I have The Sims 4, which allows you a lot more customization on characters.  So, for instance you could make one fat with orange hair.  Not sure if I can make him orange yet, but I’ll let you now.  I can also give him lots of new awful character traits, like insane.

Stay tuned, and if the world gets you down, do that voodoo that you do so well.

Alice

Virtual Killers Anonymous Help Desk

I promised earlier to tell you about some of the fun new comments I got on very old posts.  People continue to comment on my post from 2013 about killing virtual people.  This might be because it comes up anytime someone looks for the search terms “How do I kill my virtual people?”.  It pops up on the first page, last I checked.  Thanks, Google, though really, has no one else thought of writing about this?  Just me, huh?  Ah, well, I am certainly not the first one to think of doing it, judging by the response I have had.  I’ll give you a link to it on the off chance you weren’t here in 2013.

There were actually comments on a couple of other posts too, but as I was looking over “Hi, my name is Alice and I kill tiny virtual people“, I realized there were several comments I hadn’t answered both against and – sometimes scarily – in support of my treatment of pretend people.  So I gathered them all up here in my heart and then smacked them onto this here post.

First are the ones who are very upset with me over the post.  I may have reported these guys before, but I figure it I can’t remember it, neither can you.

I hope this person liked my response.

I hope this person liked my response.

What I love most about this irate comment, besides the fact that it came two years later, is how upset this person is that I gave incorrect information on my blog.  I’m really not an educational blog, unless you ask my spambots, who highly recommend me to other spambots.  And I’m sorry, Lisa who happens to have no blog like most of these comments, if they didn’t want me to use the red punishment glove, they really shouldn’t have given it to me, should they?  Case closed.

I like being mean.

I like being mean.

Come on, Alaska, there’s no need to get touchy just because you aren’t actually a real state.  I play the game because it lets me slap people over and over, which is usually frowned upon outside of the game.  And there are just some people who need it.  Also, you should consider forgiveness, because my little pretend man forgave me as soon as I bought him some bread.  And I’d locked him in the nuclear room for a week.

I'd better get to confession. The priest will find this one interesting.

I’d better get to confession. The priest will find this one interesting.

Then there are the ones who support me . . . maybe just a little too much.

Um. Sure?

Um. Sure?

Happy to be helpful and all.  Just one of my many acts of public service there.

alice2

???

I’m not sure how this person was burning the virtual woman. I didn’t realize this was an option in this game.  The Sims, sure, but this one?   Also this is not the place to find out if something is normal, Dee.  Sorry.

Okay?

Okay?

You don’t have to answer comments if your readers do it for you.  But this one goes on for a while even after this screen shot.  I sort of . . . left it alone.

Finally, my favorite.

What?

What?

First off, I love how this literally turned into a Crazy Computer Gamers Anonymous group.  Second, what is the person responding meaning?  If they go peacefully?  Can you arrest the virtual people now, cause I didn’t realize you could.  That adds a new layer of fun.  Or maybe K.A.R meant that the people kept dying – peacefully? – on their own before she / he could kill them?  I just don’t know, but it continues to perplex me.

That’s all I have for now.  Come back later and I’ll show you how I insulted Jesus and screwed up the plot of Sophia the First.  Also Trump voodoo dolls.

Alice

You Can Learn a Lot from Trump

First off, a quick thank ye to all those who are still following and maybe even reading me, and those who just started following, liking, commenting, etc.  I even thank you weirdos who left me the bizarrely critical comments cause gosh you’re fun.  I haven’t been writing as much, but I’m hoping to pick up on this because the counselor says it’s good to get out my Alice Rage in other ways than, say, strangling a coworker because MY GAWD he is STILL slamming the stapler from what seems like a distance of 10 feet so that it goes KABAMMMM and I jump out of my seat.  #bekindtostaplers

How am I supposed to concentrate on facebook when he's making noise?

How am I supposed to concentrate on work when he’s making noise?

I just had a relaxy moment. Back now!  Yes, now that I’m relaxed I should discuss what’s happened so far in my world.  I got knocked down, but I got up again, you ain’t never gonna keep me down so give me some booze and I will piss the night away.  Or something.  And in world news, our new president continues to do in just a few weeks what it took a couple of years for George W. Bush to do – make every country hate us.  He’s been all crank calling foreign leaders askin them what his job is, puttin’ em on notice, threatening war – what a hoot.  He even picked on Australia.  You know – all those Australian terrorists with their suicide bomber kangaroos.  No one ever sees that coming.

I kind of wish President Cheeto would quit doing that.  You know – talking. And tweeting.  And – making that face, just stop, stop now. But there is one thing I have to give Trump – he’s making people learn more about government right along with him. For instance, presidential cabinet positions keep getting filled, and for the first time people are caring because we’re wondering if he will literally put a Schnauzer (as long as it’s rich and white)  in one of the seats.  We just got a Secretary of Education who knows nothing about children, public schools or, uh, education since she failed her exam massively during try-outs.

Not sure who made this but thanks, Internet!

Not sure who made this but thanks, Internet!  Clearly the top person for the job!

I first learned about this via my regular news: comedy shows, but I wanted to learn more so I actually watched the real clips.  Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Tim Kaine (remember him?  Hillary’s VP pick?  He’s actually pretty good), and Elizabeth Warren just bullied poor Betsy with crazy questions like are you for equal education for all, or did your family donate a few hundred million dollars to the Republican party, or what’s a school?   “I’ll study that!” she says, which is probably the first time she’s promised to study anything at all.  Al Franken said “I’m surprised – no actually I’m not,” which was absolutely hilarious totally out of line!  I might have watched the clips of them torturing her several times on youtube.  Education can be fun!

We also learned that banning a huge group of people from coming to our country (no matter how legal they are) based only on religion and nationality is ding ding ding against the constitution!  And federal judges – we have those! – have blocked it, for now.  We learned more about executive orders, like how a big wad of bacteria can sneak himself onto the nations’ security council by just slipping that in along with something else stupid, like building a wall to keep people of another nationality out because they are all bad hombres who sell drugs and rape and murder people.

Also we got educated that there is no such thing as terrorism by white people. I am so relieved.

Soon I’m sure we’ll learn more about foreign relations by going to war with them, as we have with past presidents, only this time it won’t take as long.  This learning is hurting my brain, and I’m exhausted already, and we aren’t through the first month yet.  And it’s not just us.  Other countries are also getting tired of all this education.  So I have a solution.  We move, but not to Canada (I’m sure you guys are next on the terrorist watch list, hide yo wives, hide yo kids).  No, we’re going to Nanalan, a place Thing Two introduced me to, and which we have had endless fun with, in spite of this show supposedly just being for children.  It acts as a kind of natural tranquilizer, like Bob Ross, only with puppets.  Take a look!

But wait, there’s more.  Like there’s an adventure with “a Lolly”!   I’ll show you in other posts.  Yes, we have no idea what Yoda’s love child here is saying, though props to the person for attempting to translate, but words no longer make sense in the real world either, so why here?  I’ll be with puppets eating peepos if you need me.

P.S. I have been very bad about going through my reader – it takes too much from my tiny hamster brain.  So if you will leave me links to you recent posts right here, I’ll read them and try to catch up.  Peepo.

Alice

 

A Tale of Skippy

You know, I said to myself, I said, “I am not going to deal with this whole political thing anymore.  Nope.  I can’t.  I have my own problems like depression, anxiety, disease of the week, parasites, laundry, etc.  So I am just going to Let it Go.  Yeah, staying out of it.  I mean, sure, he’s an idiot, but you know – how much could he really do?”

Whyyyyyy

I’m a snarky, sarcastic cynic who likes to brag about her dark soul, and yet somewhere, deep inside, there is this stupid thing called . . . optimism?  There is.  It’s there.  My counselor told me about it.  She said, “Alice, you are a cynic, but you still hope!”  And she’s right.  I do!  Even though I absolutely know that people are awful, I, for some reason I’m still not sure of, continue to think people are basically decent humans.  I just . . . assume this in spite of increasing evidence to the contrary.  I’ll give you an example.

For roughly the length of the 2016 political race, I was working on an exhibit about the presidents of the university for which I work.  Yes, more presidents.  Most of them were okay.  But we did have a Trump.  His name was even the same as an insect.  No one could get rid of him, though, because he had Congress and the Senate, er, the board of regents on his side.  Even though just about every faculty member hated him, and voted to have him removed, he stayed.  For SIX YEARS that luckily I was not at that university, he stayed.  Yes, it’s true.  I got to write about him, too, but because one member of that board of regents is still active politically around here and because it’s considered uncouth and embarrassing to admit that this guy effectively shut down academic freedom at our university, and heck,  freedom of speech, I had to spin doctor this biography.  I mentioned that he caused “controversy”, which made my boss cough out a snicker, but that hey, there were some things he did that didn’t destroy the fabric of education.  Yeah.  I felt kind of slimy after that.

But anyway, while working on this exhibit, I had the aid of a student worker.  I’ll call him “Skippy” cause that’s what I actually did call him when he wasn’t there, and that was before I realized just what a little twerp he was.  He just looked like a Skippy.  Right, so we’d had plenty of student workers before, and I’d never had a problem with any that worked in library archives with me.  In fact, I actually told one, jokingly but not, to please lower his standards cause he was making me look bad.  This kid actually chose to go back to China instead of stay with us.  So we got Skippy, and Skippy was different.  He addressed my boss and me by “Mrs.” and last name.  We told him just call us by first names.  So I got to be “Miss Alice”.  I felt like either a Sunday school teacher or a plantation owner.

Skippy was like a younger version of one of these guys. Only not as likable, and no dog to guide him.

Skippy was like a younger version of one of these guys. Only not as competent, and no dog to guide him.

That was just the beginning.  He also didn’t know how to do anything himself and would constantly ask what to do next.  Who does that?  If I have nothing to do, I’m going to find something, and it’s going to be something that looks workish.  But not this kid.  So we gave him plenty to do.  And it was so easy. I found pictures in old yearbooks, and sticky noted them, and handed them to him.  Scan this.  Easy.  Did he scan them?  No.  Or he did, and somehow he did a horrible job of it.  He did like to read the old newspapers, which rarely had much in them of use, but he tired me out so much it was like, yeah, you do that.  But we did warn him, and my boss and I were very, very explicit in this – write on the back where you found the picture or article, the date, and what it is about.  So he – did not.  So we told him again, to please look these things back up and write them down.  He did.  He wrote useful things like “Dr. Polk giving a speech.”  Well, thanks, Skippy, I knew that was Dr. Polk, and I know he’s giving a speech cause he’s standing at a podium.  But what is the speech about?  When was the speech?  Where was the speech?  Where is your source?  Skippy didn’t know.

We told him to do it again.  Meanwhile, I am working on biographies of the presidents that weren’t insects.

Skippy finally, finally labels the pictures and information he has collected.  Hallelujah.  Skippy then leaves, as it was a summer internship.  We were so happy to see him go.  I start putting his pictures in with the ones I collected.  And everything is going well.  And then I, for some reason, needed to check something in the yearbook.  And I discovered that – and for some reason, this surprised me – Skippy made a bunch of crap up.  His labels were WRONG.  He guessed, and guessed badly, where these people were, when these things took place, etc etc etc.  Wow.  So, basically, I had to go backwards and dig up where all this research, some of which, remember, I handed right to him, came from.  He actually made my job harder.

I don’t like Skippy much.  If he shows up and says “Hi, Miss Alice,” I’m really not responsible for hurling a 1925 yearbook at his stupid little head.

But back to what I wrote out way up there, about our country’s insect, Donald Trump.  I was going to stay out of politics, since I had my own troubles.   Yet – I look up  – and wow, that bad.  Less than two weeks and – that bad.  He is like Skippy, who at least has the excuse of being 20 years old.  Trump, or Cheeto as I like to call him, screws up, he screws up massively, and then he lies about it.  And we – are surprised.  Because for some reason, that little bit of optimism just won’t die already.

He can’t even do awful stuff right either.  Even if you think that the statue of Liberty with her give us your cold, weary, yearning to breathe free crap should be melted down for scrap for the pipeline those Native Americans totally need, you don’t just issue an executive order effective immediately.  At least have some organization to your bigotry.  Instead, he messes stuff up on a global scale.  People are stranded at airports.  American citizens are detained, including a five-year-old who is handcuffed.  And his people defend him.  And I – am amazed.  Twenty executive orders in ten days.  This from the party who complained that Obama had too many, even though Bush had already surpassed him.

I actually want George W. Bush back.  We’ve gone that far.  Already.

This guy.

This guy.

So people are protesting.  But don’t worry, cause Republicans across the country are working at getting that whole pesky protesting stuff shut down too by writing new laws into the books!  Cause freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of decency, yeah, none of those are needed.  Yet people voted for this guy.  They voted for him.  Or they just stayed home and did nothing, effectively still voting for him.  Just – just thank God we don’t have to worry about Hillary’s emails.  Skippy supporters, you did the right thing!

I’m lying.  No you didn’t.  My sixteen-year-old shouted at the television “You are the president!  Presidents don’t call people “dude”!  Is he ten?”  I think that’s too mature.  Let’s not forget he also mentioned “bad dudes” in a tweet.  A presidential tweet.  This is really happening.

I guess all this idiocy did one thing.  It brought me out of cave of self indulgent misery, into the world of misery.  Yay.  But good news, because I found some great Cheeto merchandise we can all use.  Like a voodoo doll.  I might even create a contest for people to WIN one.  If I can think of one.  Thing Two suggested political Haiku.  Thing One said “No, those will be awful.”  Which is sort of the point, but maybe we’ll think of something.

Got any ideas?  Let me know in the comment section.  It’s down there.  If you skipped reading this post, just make up a response.  I will probably believe it.  Darn that optimism.

Alice