Saturday, November 6, 2010

Poor Journalist Poops At Sales Job

I'm sorry that some of my Poor Journalist Gets To Business followers may be the last to learn -- I crashed and burned. I was an utter failure at becoming a saleswoman and beating the recession in Michigan by earning 57 K.The truth is, I never even got my feet off the ground. I did knock on a heck of a lot of doors, though, and I was quite charming -- even as I gained fifty pounds in six months trying to make it. People enjoyed talking to me. I just couldn't get them to say yes or no.

I learned some valuable lessons, though -- namely, it's a BUNCH harder to start a 100 percent commission sales job in the middle of a recession with not much of a warm market and no experience. Basically, it's nearly impossible. I kept taking loans from my dear old dad. And he can't afford to be giving loans to people.

So at the end of the summer I gave it up. I became an environmental activist. At about $75 per day, it pays quite a bit better than the salary of a first-year 100-percent commission saleswoman with not much experience. And I couldn't stand the thought of asking my dad or sister for another penny. Plus, it was activism for a good cause -- protecting the Great Lakes Water Basin.

On Sept. 23 I crashed my car on the interstate on my way to work and learned my car insurance had expired Sept. 6. My insurance agent had been calling me to see if I would come and sell insurance for him and I just didn't realize he also was calling me to tell me my insurance was due. The due date had recently changed and previously I had been having payments automatically deducted from my checking account. I escaped the crash without a scratch -- but it was a major wake-up call for me. My life and health had spun out of control with all the pushing and pushing to get ahead while ignoring my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms (mostly pain and fatigue but also balance and frequent need to urinate).

I prayed. Then I prayed some more. And I felt God tell me to put my health before economics. So I did. After much discernment I came to the Creative Health Institute in Hodunk Michigan for a three-month internship to become a raw food chef and learn the raw food lifestyle. It isn't something I am planning to make much money at but who knows where this path might lead me. It's just something I felt I needed to do to get back on track with my health. So far it's going great. I've been here for three weeks and been eating a 100-percent raw diet the whole time -- and learning lots of really interesting things.

That's pretty much all I have to tell you. I don't know where I am going. But I can tell you this -- even after three weeks on this diet I have new hope that I will be able to have many more options in the future. It's really true -- health should take priority over economics. Without it, we're really quite sunk.

So this concludes the Poor Journalist Gets to Business series. Thank you for following!

I am sorry to have been a bit of a disappointment.

And I invite you to check out my new blog about my raw food wellness journey at

Thank you again for the kindness and support on this journey!

Peace be with you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My New Blog: Sustenance

I've decided to start a new blog devoted to my journey into the raw food lifestyle. I'll probably still post here now and then but I expect much of my writing during the next three months to appear at my new blog, Sustenance.

If you would like to read the first post, go to:

And if you would like to become a fan of the blog on Facebook, go to:!/pages/Sustenance-A-Raw-Food-Wellness-Journey/161526610531907.

The new blog looks better, I think, has a specific focus AND I am happy to announce that I figured out how to do hyperlinks. I think I'll have quite a bit of fun with hyperlinks in the new blog.

I hope you enjoy!

Peace to you.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grand Slam

I picked up a copy of The Atlantic with picture of a morbidly obese Statue of Liberty as I left the office last night. We were headed to a brewery downtown. I was getting a ride home with Emily, our canvas director, and it was the first night for a few folks. Jessica had just joined our staff from Cleveland. She is on a cross train and will be with us for a few weeks. Thomas just returned from Africa and told me stories about poverty and political oppression that made my heart just weep. We shared some veggie nachos and everybody had a beer. I've been having a beer now and then as I get ready to go into the raw food community for three months starting Oct. 16. I have tons of support for this decision at Clean Water Action where I work. In fact Emily and another woman who works there each told me about blogs maintained by raw foodist friends they have. There are lots of vegetarians in Ann Arbor and lots of vegetarians in the environmentalist movement. So nobody who I work with thinks it's weird that I'm planning to become a raw foodist. They think it's pretty great. They're happy because I told them when I come back I'll make a raw food meal for everybody as a staff presentation. They thought that sounded swell and yummy.

My dad isn't happy at all, though. He's terrified. I could hear it in his voice when I spoke with him this morning. I didn't have much time to talk because I had to get the bus. I wasn't feeling well. I had to dry my jeans. I only have one pair that fits me at the moment. And I'll just be brutally honest with you hoping that this won't be too much information for anybody. I wet those jeans last night while I was fumbling for my keys in the dark. The keys were  not in my purse as I thought. They were in the first layer of my jackets. Layered jackets are normal for canvassers in fall and winter. Peeing your pants is normal for people who have Multiple Sclerosis. Seriously, I'd had only one beer. And I'd gone to the toilet just before I drank it. I don't just want a food plan that is going to help me get to a particular weight. I want a food plan that's going to reduce my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. It's worked for other people who have this condition. I'm hopeful that it will work for me.

My dad is so upset and worried. It's really upsetting to me. This is a man who worked extremely hard to support my mother and his seven children his whole life. It wasn't always easy. A few times he had businesses fail. Once he lost a business when he had seven kids still at home. He drove two hours to work at a foundry every day to support us. He was laid off. He had to collect unemployment for awhile. He was often grumpy and difficult but he's always been there for us -- and, especially since I'm the baby, he loves to be involved in major life decisions. And the fact is, there have been many times in my life when I should have listened to him. Often my father really has known best. He didn't want me to marry my ex-husband because at 21 the man had absolutely no idea how he would support me and any children who we might have and  he seemed unconcerned about it. My father was appalled. He was correct, though. My former husband -- who is today happily married and a good partner to someone else -- was more-or-less a lazy slacker  when I married him. He wrote a nice folk song, though. So I married him -- maybe even just to spite my father. It's hard to say.

I digress. The point is, my father likes very much to be involved in major decisions and he is never happy when decisions are made without him. The first time I bought a car without taking him with me to test drive it, he was quite choked up. I kid you not. I hadn't even foreseen this as an issue. He just likes being on board with everything and being relied upon, I suppose. And the thing is, he does support decisions when I make them. He and mom came to the wedding, for instance, even though they had seriously suggested that I should consider eloping and not put my family through the whole ordeal. They were good to my ex and learned to love him. My family's pretty good that way. I shock them sometimes but they ultimately love what I love when they see me being happy.

When I was younger, it didn't bother me so much to upset my father. The fact is, I sort of thrived upon it. I suppose it was a way of getting attention or something. I don't know. I've often considered shocking people to be a vocation of sorts -- or at least a responsibility of birth order (being the caboose and all). My big sister and I have polar-opposite personalities. She keeps an immaculate home and  has the most perfect-looking children you can imagine. She's a nurse anesthetist. I'm still transitioning into something from newspaper journalism and all my life I've struggled to keep my surroundings from  looking like a bit of a war zone. My oldest sister hosts most holiday meals. I do the relish tray and sometimes they even let me mash the potatoes. I make really great gravy, too. But you know -- my big sisters do the important things. I've sometimes joked that my nurse anesthetist sister puts people to sleep and I wake them up. I have a sassy streak, I'll admit it. It's quite a bit of fun sometimes.

But I'm not trying to be sassy or rebellious with this raw food thing. And now that my father is an 80-year-old man with a host of health problems, the very last thing I want to do is shock him or upset him or worry him. He's not trying to be controlling. He sounded so sad this morning it made my heart break.

"Patty," he said. "I HAVE to talk to you about this raw food thing. You have to let me talk to you. This is an extremely dangerous road you are traveling down and have to hear me out."

I was trying to get to the bus and I had to dry my pants and I seriously didn't have time to talk then. I asked him what time he would be up in the morning and he told me he would be ready by 10 a.m. He sleeps in pretty late these days because he stays up watching television and he doesn't fall to sleep easily. I worry about him all alone in that house with his cigarettes and junk food. But he likes living alone. He's very stubborn. He doesn't like anybody messing with anything. But also there is a part of me that knows he would love to have me live there -- as long as I could fill the ice cube trays correctly and avoid using his dishwasher because he's afraid I don't pack it well and will break it.

I told him I would call him at 10 a.m. and then I felt so sad. My dad isn't on board with me on this raw food thing. He's frankly fairly terrified. I could hear it in his voice. When I went to work at a mission school in Southeastern Kentucky in my early twenties my parents were extremely upset -- but that experience and the paper I wrote about it received great praise from my professors and was instrumental in landing me my best jobs. It troubled my mother so much,though, that she asked me not to write her letters telling her what actually was going on down there (the National Guard was in the middle of a seven-county pot bust and guardsmen were rappelling out of helicopters into the Daniel Boone National Forrest just across the street from my house). My mother was just beside herself that I had gone to live with the hillbillies -- genuinely, I think she thought I might not come out alive. It was as if I had gone to war.

I felt especially upset about worrying my dad because when I had talked to him Monday morning (the first time I had talked to him since I smashed up my car and realized my insurance had lapsed) he told me he was sending me a check for $150 mail to cover the cost of towing my car -- and he told me he wanted me to call around and get some good people out to my house to give me estimates for my car. He doesn't want me to get some crazy guy from down the street who fixes cars on the side. He wants me to talk to people from legitimate garages and get them to tell me how much it is going to cost to fix my car. My father knows more about cars and money than I know. So I think I need to surrender control in this area and follow through with what my father asks of me. He certainly has my best interest in mind.

But when it comes to nutrition and health, my father probably really does not know best. Let's face it. My father is a chain-smoking-eighty-year-old man whose kitchen counters would rival the snack aisle at any small grocery store. I haven't been over there in awhile. He lives an hour and a half away and I've been pinching pennies -- and now I don't have a reliable car. But if I were to guess what I might find exposed this afternoon on my father's counter, I could pretty accurately say Lorna Doones, Cracker Jacks, Butterfingers, gum drops, Hersey bars, peanut brittle, potato strings, honey-roasted nuts, Junior Mints, orange slices, lemon drops and bakery bread. God love him, my father is the healthiest chain smoking, junk-food-eating eighty-year-old alive. I love that man but he is not someone from whom I can glean health suggestions. A few years ago my dad was still at the lake home he and my mom and lived at after he retired. Dad had chest pains and figured he might be having a heart attack so he ought to drive himself to the hospital which was more than an hour away. But God love my father, he didn't drive straight to the hospital like most people would if they were in the middle of a heart attack. My father stopped at Denny's for a Grand Slam. When my siblings and I visited him at the hospital later we asked him why he did such a thing. He told us he knew he wouldn't get anything good to eat in the hospital and he'd probably have to be there quite awhile. I think they kept him a few days. He's been in the hospital a few times for heart issues.

God love my father. I sure do. The thing is, Dad and I are in different situations. He is retired from General Motors and has good insurance. He won't go bankrupt if he goes to the hospital for a heart event. I suppose he can take it easy with that sort of stuff. He'd probably just as soon get to heaven and see my mother as he would stay behind and see us kids. It's not like he's trying to kill himself. It's just that he's not going to deny himself the little pleasures of this world. I get it. I respect it. But I don't have any insurance. And I don't want to file papers to become "certifiably disabled" so that I can qualify for things like public health insurance and social security. Doing something like that would be that would be the death of me. Seriously, I'm not ready to live a life like that and I don't expect I ever will be.  My path is different from my father's path. With extremely limited access to medical care, a chronic health condition and an eating disorder, I need to be painstaking and somewhat extreme about the decisions I make with regard to dieting.

The twelve step way isn't working for me. I've been going up and down, up and down for five years. Now I'm twenty pounds heavier than I've been in ten years. So I am going to try this Raw Food thing. I have to try it. I feel like God put it in my path. I've talked to others who have tried it and they've encouraged me. All of the people who I have spoken with who have tried it recommend it. Some of them switched into something else or modified their diets after a time -- but everybody who I spoke with said they benefited from delving into the raw food diet. One lady had a severe allergic reaction to wheatgrass juice. She broke out in hives and became extremely ill from it. Despite that she says she felt great when she was following a raw food diet.

My father's worries were a lot to handle today. But on top of that, I received a phone call from one of the most prominent eating-disorder gurus in the United States -- probably in the world. She follows a modified twelve-step approach, runs a treatment center and has published popular books about eating disorders. Wow! And she called me today! I feel very loved. I guess the director of the treatment center I had been at a few years ago recommended me to her. He probably personally called her to tell her about me. Wow. Can you imagine such love and support in your life? No kidding, I am not only well loved. I am well loved by some AMAZING people and I am so grateful. I swear to you, I am so, so grateful.

I didn't actually talk to the eating disorder guru today. Her call went to voicemail. I just couldn't believe it when I heard her voice right in there on my personal voicemail. She said, hello, this is XXX XXXX and I understand that you could use some help with your abstinence and I might be able to help you out. Amazing grace. Seriously, I am one lucky lady.

But here's the thing. I have tried her food plan in the past. It is a good food plan. It is more specific than other food plans I have tried. But at the end of the day, I still feel it on my heart to try this raw foods thing. It's hard to imagine turning down help from a nationally renown eating disorder specialist. But this Creative Health Institute gig that would provide me with a three-month-raw-food internship is pretty amazing, too.

When I began this post I was quite decided that the raw foods way would be best for me. But it disturbs me to think of turning down the help of a national expert -- even though I have tried and failed so many times following approaches very similar to hers and even following her specific approach.

So I contacted my friends who pray and asked them to pray that I receive a firm confirmation that the raw foods lifestyle is the direction God desires for me. I feel in my heart that is true -- but since I am not feeling especially well and since I am under stress, I don't want to act out in a reactionary way. I want to make a considerate decision, weighing all of my options. But really, really, really I WANT GOD TO SPEAK in this situation. I want crystal clarity.

A friend who is also the mother of one of my best friends and the mother of eight other children e-mailed me and said I should not concern myself too much with what my family feels about my decision because they are just afraid because it is something so new to them. She suggested I consider what I want to do. She told me to imagine myself sailing on the water on a perfect day with peacefulness surrounding the boat. I have taken her family sailing -- but not lately. This summer I was too overworked and overweight to enjoy sailing. I have not felt well. All I really want is to feel well again. I loved the idea of imagining myself in a boat. I imagined how wonderful it felt to sail when I was 145 pounds. I recalled capsizing and having the energy to recover from the spill and get right back in and keep sailing. I breathed. And I imagined myself doing the raw food diet.

I'm very attracted to the raw food life. But I am going to pray and meditate about this some more before I make a final decision.

So last night when we were splitting up the check at the microbrewery, the woman who is cross-training from Cleveland explained that her grocery needs would be few until Friday when she gets paid. She'll just get a jar of peanut butter and some bread. That will get her through the week. She's in her twenties, an avid bicyclist and a dancer. I regretted for a minute that I couldn't be so nonchalant about food. The truth is, though, I  have a very strong reaction to some foods -- bread and peanut butter among them. Once I start eating them my body reacts in such a crazy way. It's just exactly like an alcoholic who tries to drink one beer. Trying to live on a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter really messes me up. I've tried it a number of times. But there's always free food all over the place -- opportunities to eat everywhere you turn in the United States.

So I am praying for clarity and I am not exactly sure where God is leading me. But this I do know for certain. I am not a twenty-something dancer who can just get buy with a loaf of bread and peanut butter. And that's not because I am a weak person or because I lack willpower. It's because there is something very different about the way my body reacts to many foods. Just like that woman who got hives from the wheatgrass -- my body responds very differently to many foods. And over the years this food sensitivity has become progressively worse.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


It was great to get out of town this weekend. I made waves in my family before I left. I hurt people's feelings by mentioning in my blog that I do not have support in my family for my Multiple Sclerosis. I am sorry to have hurt people's feelings.

The fact is, I have not had support in the way people would hope to have support -- but I do not blame anybody in my life for that. People love me but they are busy with their own lives. The fact is, I have wonderful friends and family members who love me and often are able to give me support in ways that I find surprising and undeserved. But when it comes to having a chronic illness, I have felt very much alone. Probably some married people who have chronic health conditions feel this way, too. It is just a fact. And that is why I decided I needed a little space to think about things. I needed to make some serious decisions about my health without people who are not able to be very available to me for various legitimate reasons expressing to me opinions about major decisions in my life.

I very happy that I made this decision to go to the Creative Health Institute and to take on the Raw Foods Diet and I suspect the decision might not have been so easy for me if I had consulted with my family about their opinions before I made the decision and became accepted into the internship program. I could have handled it more gracefully, I am certain. But I suspect anybody with ruffled feathers forgive me a lack of grace considering I was in a fair amount of crisis and only trying to rely on the one person upon whom I can always depend -- myself.

It's a little bit frightening for me to think about what might happen to my car now and whether or not I  might end up in some crazy debt. But I am glad to have put my health before the car situation. It is really logical financially when you think about it. I guess I owe about $9,000 on that car and I will be paying for it for another four years. I bet I could get it repaired pretty well for about $2,000 -- maybe even a little bit cheaper. In fact, maybe I'll go all crazy and sign up with my friends Carey and Jim for a a car class at the Washtenaw Rec Center next winter and figure out how to do the work myself. That would be a crazy adventure. I have guy friend who had hinted to me that I should take a car repair class a few years ago and I have to admit to you, I was extremely against it. It just seemed so unfeminine. But on the other hand, it could be an interesting way to meet nice guys (I have a guy friend who joined a book club with a bunch of women following his divorce and he received TONS of attention). So there there is certainly a possibility that I could do something crazy like that -- take a car class and become more self sufficient or something (I do suppose they make pink tool belts... Or I could just sew something myself in a floral pattern).

I am not sure WHAT I will do about the car, exactly. My main goal is to work like crazy in the next two weeks to earn as much money at Clean Water Action as possible so that I will have money to cover the car payments while I am at the Creative Health Institute. I'm certainly all fired up to canvas like crazy after attending a national canvasser's conference in Kentucky over the weekend.

But going back to dollars and cents: It was a smart economic decision for me to put health first, I see that very clearly now. For $400 I will get extensive training for three months about the raw foods lifestyle. It would cost me about $5,000 to get just one of the sophisticated MRIs my neurologist orders from the University of Michigan. Fortunately he is the head of MS research at the University of Michigan so he has been able to put me in studies and get me free MRIs in the past. But if my health were to deteriorate suddenly (which is not unrealistic for a forty-four-year old who gains fifty pounds in six months -- regardless of whether or not they have a chronic illness) and if I were to go to the hospital for some reason, I could expect that with my condition, no insurance and the expensive tests involved, I could very easily rack up a $10,000 medical bill. Medical expenses add up super fast. I know that. They were the main reason why I went bankrupt a few years ago.

So I am just going to trust that everything will work out with my car at some point and that I will be able to pay it off and drive it again in the future. And I am going to trust that my family will understand how much I love them and get over any hurt feelings that might have resulted from my reclusive decision making.

And I am going to put all of my energy into doing a great job these next two weeks with Clean Water Action and getting ready to go to the Creative Health Institute for a new health experience.

I'm really grateful that I'll have a job with Clean Water Action when I am finished at the Creative Health Institute.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yay! I get to go...

My Cookie Monster Days appear numbered -- perhaps done for good (although I'll be honest and admit I'll probably eat a cookie or two during the next few days. That's natural when a person is on the verge of trying a very new lifestyle)


I have been accepted as an intern at the Creative Health Institute for three months starting Oct. 16. I'm super excited about it and also very grateful.

Thanks so much everybody for the prayers and support. This is actually all part of my career transition. I need to be healthy if I am going to be effective. I'm so grateful for my friends Emily and Greg at Clean Water Action and for their support and understanding about why I need to do this. They are graciously holding my job for me when I come back and I'm happy for their flexibility. I love Clean Water Action and I look forward to leaving with Emily and some of the staff for a trip to Kentucky this weekend. We are going to a canvasser's convention at a state park. There will be canvassers from all over the United States -- people who canvas on all different issues. It should be extremely inspirational and I am really looking forward to it.

I don't expect to get my car fixed before I go to the center. I am looking for a place to store it close to where I live in Ypsilanti. If anybody has a yard or a garage in Ypsilanti where I can keep car through Mid-January, please let me know. I can't afford to get it fixed right now but it isn't exactly an eyesore. Well... not EXACTLY an eyesore. ;-). Seriously, it doesn't look all that bad. It's probably drivable but I  don't want to drive it more than a mile or so.

Also, I am looking for someplace in Washtenaw County to store a few things -- books, clothes, bookshelves, a wardrobe. Everything I need to store currently fits in half of one medium-sized bedroom. So if you know of someone in Washtenaw County who wouldn't mind letting me keep it in a garage or basement for a few months, please let me know.

Finally, I am going to try to do some paintings while I am at the center. I was very happy last summer to sell a sailing painting for $200 to a friend from Open Salon. I hope to paint more pictures and when I do I will post them here in case anybody would like to buy them.  Don't buy the paintings that I post just to be nice -- not unless you really want them. But I do encourage everyone in this economy to consider buying original artwork for birthday and Christmas presents. It's a very nice way to support the arts and the economy in general.

I do have a few paintings I would be happy to sell now, though, in case anybody is interested. Here is a link to the cyber sale I had a few months ago on Facebook.!/album.php?aid=195017&id=364775722055&ref=mf. I know it's very hard to believe, but most of these fine items are still for sale. Given that I am moving soon and trying to preserve space, and also in need of money, I will be happy to negotiate the price on anything that you are interested in purchasing. :-). Mostly, I thought people would like the paintings.

Thanks again for the prayers and support. I can't wait to really go RAW!

Oh, and here is a link to a cool Raw Foods blog in case you are interested. This blog is done by the childhood friend of Emily Woodcock who I work with at Clean Water Action. She is pretty much my boss -- but not very bossy.


Someone recently was talking to me about burning ships, starting a completely new life and burning the ships and leaving the old life behind

I imagine that if I get into the Creative Health Institute it will be something like that with regard to my diet. I do think there is great value in the 12 Step philosophy and my hope would be to settle in as a grateful member of Alanon so that I can work the steps around my life in general, not just the food. Of course any 12-stepper knows it has really nothing to do with any particular addiction. Whether a person is an alcoholic or a food addict or a gambling addict or whatever, the path is pretty much the same.

So that is my hope -- to work the steps around my life in general and to do this raw food diet. I got a start on it yesterday. I had a salad that was mostly raw for lunch and ate a raw dinner and breakfast two. I slipped and had a few pops later in the day.

This morning my breakfast wasn't raw at all. It wasn't full of meat, though. And it wasn't greasy.

I'm just hoping and praying to get into the Creative Health Institute to learn really how to do this raw foods things the right way and to be in a community of support while I do it. It's a huge step. It's been pretty emotional for me to come to this decision in my life.

I know I've been revealing a bit more of myself in the process of coming to this decision. Some people think it's been too much information. Some people wish I would just stay focused on the career.

But for me, this is about my career. I really won't be very effective at working for two many more years if I don't get this diet business taken care of for good.

So I am hopeful, excited... and also worried that they won't take me for some reason or another. That is a natural worry. I am just going to call there and see how they are coming with the applications they are processing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


One of my friends and blog readers wrote to say she thinks I am putting too much private information in my blog and that she worries it isn't a good idea. She said she thinks it might be better to write some of the things I have shared in a private journal.

This morning I actually woke up feeling the same thing.

I know many people are struggling with financial, romantic and health issues just like me -- and many are in the middle of career transitions, too.

This friend happens to be very supportive of my decision to switch to raw foods. She has struggled her whole life with eating issues just as I have and like me she has tried very hard to eat in a manner that will keep her weight in balance. The note was very thoughtfully put and I appreciate it.

A funny thing about blogging is that it's like a diary -- but a public diary. I'm not always a good judge of what to say and what not to say. But I do need to write every day. I have for most of my life. The blog has become a window to my journal, I suppose.

The thing is health and relationships and career transitions are always related, aren't they? It seems every decision we make in life is interwoven. I'm not ashamed of anything I've written or anything I've done. I believe in my heart I'm always trying to do what's best for myself and others. But maybe it isn't so good to write in public about certain things.

So I have decided to just keep the blog related to career decisions right now. I am planning to adopt the raw food lifestyle. I had apples and tea for breakfast. I really don't have much in the way of raw foods at the moment. It's a little bit trickier to plan groceries without a car. But it will all work out; I am certain of that.

And I am very hopeful that I will get an internship fairly soon with the Creative Health Institute. They may want me to get totally raw before I go there, so I've no idea how long it will take to get in. But I've set my sights on it and I will keep everybody posted on it.

I'm looking forward to canvassing today for Clean Water Action. I'm happy I have the health today to do that. My desire is to not just maintain the health I have today but to maximise it. I will blog about the transition to raw foods as it seems relevant. My thinking is that it will be quite relevant because it will effect my life a great deal by giving me more energy.

I am very much looking forward to having more energy.

One thing I do feel a little bit sad about is my father. He is eighty years old and his health is not good at all and he has helped me out so much in the past years. I love my dad very much and I do not feel I could have asked for a better dad. I feel sad that he lives by himself now. One of my sisters lives very near by. But I just do not want people to think that because I feel it is not healthy to live with him at this time that he is a bad father. That isn't true at all.

The problem is that I am making big changes in my life and learning something completely new. And with piles of cake and cookies all over his kitchen I just don't think it would be a good situation for me. Also, I would have to give up my job at Clean Water Action if I went to live with my dad.

So all of these decisions are related somehow. If I go to the Creative Health Institute it is very likely to become not just a lifestyle but a career opportunity. People who live this life generally become teachers of this lifestyle and help others to eat this way, too.

Anyway, I am sorry if I gave anybody any bad impressions about my family or anybody else. My family is an excellent family. It's just difficult sometimes to make a big change. Probably I was projecting my own insecurities onto my family. I love those people. They love me.

And I suspect everybody's much more in my corner than I imagined. So I'll give them a call today and we'll work everything out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I finally listened to my phone messages. My big sister Mary didn't say anything specific but I could tell by her voice she is all concerned about me. The call I thought I had received from my dad actually had come from my sister, Kelly, who was at his house this afternoon with my other sisters, talking about me and deciding about alternative things I could do with my life. She said something about Macy's hiring Christmas help.

These people love me. I love these people.

I sent an e-mail to Beth and Kelly telling them I am not planning to work at Macy's and live with my dad but I appreciate the thoughts and I know they are well intended. They are trying very sincerely to be helpful, I know that. But I told them I absolutely have to put health before economics and it wouldn't be healthy for me -- when I have been so off track with my food lately -- to live with my dad, or probably with any of them, as much as I love them.

They are very interested in being near me, I think. They probably want me closer so that they can have a better eye on me. I live an hour and a half from my dad and one of my sisters and two and a half hours from two of my sisters. It's not all that far but...

Anyway, I digress.

The point is I had a real victory in standing up for myself and telling them they are welcome to support me in getting up and going with the raw food gig but I am not going to back down on this and they need to understand that.

And I just wasn't feeling strong enough to call my sister, Mary. She is very loving in many ways but she has very strong opinions and also -- she IS THE ONE who used to make me stand on my bed at attention for half an hour when I was a sassy child (or if I was breathing too loud). I won't take that woman's health advice. I love her. But I think I can do better to figure this all out on my own. This raw food idea is an inspiration. I am increasingly certain of it. I am meant to do it. I am meant to go to that center. It's like destiny. I am happy and sure about it.

I was going to send Mary a long snail mail letter explaining why I feel the way I do and everything and then I realized I didn't have to explain anything -- just assert my boundaries in a loving and warm and creative way.

So I sent a postcard instead. It's a gargoyle postcard from Notre Dame that I picked up a few years ago in Paris. That made me feel like a grown up. Mary's never been to Paris. She HATES travel. Hates it! We are polar opposites. I'm happy just to sit in an airport or train station. It always makes me smile to see people coming and going. Not Mary. She hates the rigmarole. She hates ANY rigmarole. That's my big sister -- a hater of rigmarole. Personally, I always have been quite a fan of rigmarole unless, of course, it's bureaucratic (but if it involves an opportunity for using my special talent at charming bureaucrats, then even that type of rigmarole isa an adventure).

So anyway, I just sent her a postcard:

"Dear Mary, This postcard I picked up in Paris years ago. Hope you enjoy the Gargoyle! I love you very much but I am not returning your phone call until I get accepted into the raw foods community because I suspect you will not like it and I am going to do it anyway.
Love to you always,
Patty xoxo"

Don't Worry, I'm Just Moving To The Moon!

For two days  I've been feeling pretty sick to my stomach. And to tell you the truth, I don't think it's food poisoning or the stomach flu. I think it's mostly just nerves -- related to my car crash last week and the thinking I've been doing about my life since then. Major changes are afoot. I truly believe the whole car accident and events that occurred since then (I've been blogging about it; read from Friday through Sunday to get up-to-date) are a gift from God to help me to set my priorities in line and to get started on a fresh path.

I spent several hours last night reading up about Raw Food Diets and watching videos recorded by people who had been on these diets and had major successes. I also had a very warm conversation with the director of the Creative Health Institute in Hodunk Michigan where I hope very much to secure a three-month internship to learn all about raw foods, how to prepare them and how to help myself and others benefit from them.

This is what I want to do. And I've spoken with some professionals who work with people who have eating disorders and received their blessing to go ahead and give this a try. The worse thing that could happen is that I could try it for three months and not experience a benefit. However I do not expect that to be the case after looking into it. I expect to be very successful with this venture and to learn some things that will be helpful to others and possibly even earn me some money in the future.

I am excited about the possibilities. I am so happy to be closing the door on things that just have not worked for me. I'm feeling a little bit nervous and worried that I won't get accepted. That is always a possibility. I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't get accepted but it is something to consider and always a worry whenever you apply for an opportunity to do something that you really want to do.

And in addition to all of the uncertainty and excitement I am feeling worried about what my family and friends will think. I have managed to get some people on board with it and that means so much to me. But many of my closest friends are ardent 12-steppers and it is always difficult for 12-steppers to hear about one of their own trying something new as a means of nutrition and health. Part of being in a 12-step program is truly believing that it is the very best method and the only way to freedom. But then I tell myself this is silly. Those ladies can still go out for steak dinners with their husbands. So this is something more extreme than what they do to stay healthy. And none of them would want to do it unless they found what they were doing was just not working for them anymore. For me, the 12-step approach truly is just not working anymore. When I spoke with a prominent staff member at one of the nation's leading treatment centers for eating disorders and he said he didn't feel he could give me medical advice about my situation because he is not knowledgeable about Multiple Sclerosis. It was an interesting conversation. He didn't exactly tell me to go for it with the raw food folks. But he didn't tell me not too, either. He acknowledged that my situation is unique and that an appropriate diet for me may not be the same as an appropriate diet for other compulsive overeaters who find success with a 12-step approach. Later he wished me luck with this path in an e-mail. That e-mail meant a lot to me because I very much respect his opinion and work with people who have eating disorders.

After the conversation I meditated and that is when I got the idea to look online for some videos related to Multiple Sclerosis and Raw Food Diets. I saw quite a few interesting stories on Youtube. Here is one...

So I've given a bunch of thought and prayer to this and it's really what I want to do. It is what I intend to do, God willing. My hope now is that my family and friends will be able to get on board and be supportive because it will be a major life change. I admit I have not been returning phone calls during these past two days when I have not been feeling well. I saw my dad called today and he never calls me so someone must have told him something. I never actually mentioned anything to him about my car accident last week. I didn't want to worry him and I felt like such a fool. Also, to be honest, I was quite afraid he would be upset with me. I also received a phone call from my oldest sister, Mary, last night. That one really gave me a stomach ache. I think she left a message for me to call her back but I haven't listened to my messages yet. Mary loves me very much and does many nice things for me. She dotes on me in the classic way that a sister who is ten years older would dote on a baby sister (still today even though I am now forty-four-years old!). But she is so full of opinions and advice about everything -- especially anything that is related to medical care of any type because she is a nurse and very knowledgable about certain aspects of western medicine.

But the fact is, I have truly, truly, truly, truly been walking this road with my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis all alone. I love my family but they have not really been able to be available for me. They are extremely busy with their own lives and their own families for one thing. And for another, I don't think they have known what to do about this situation of having a younger sister with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and inadequate access to western medical care.

The truth is, I have asked for some help from time to time trying to figure things out. And as much as they have offered me help in other areas of my life, nobody in my family has ever come up with any idea at all for helping me to live with this diagnosis and keep my energy and health up. It's been sort of like a one-sided conversation. I hate to say that. I know they are not intentionally ignoring me and I don't doubt they love me. But it's seemed as though they've thought that if they ignore it, it will just go away. And since I've always been strong and resourceful and clever, maybe they've thought I could figure it out all by myself. But the thing is -- these people are not the LEAST BIT comfortable with holistic health ideas and alternative medicine. I believe they frown quite a bit on it. We when it comes to nutritional suppliments and the like, I doubt anyone in my family has anything more basic than a bottle of multiple vitamens in the cupboard.

Trust me on this, when my family starts watching me make green vegetable drinks and taking shots of wheatgrass juice, it's going to be really, really wierd for everybody. These are people who would not change a single ingredient in our grandmother's thanksgiving stuffing recipe -- ever. It would rock the boat. It would cause waves! I think somebody made stuffing with sausage in it once and it was the cause of whispers. I'm not exaggerating very much. In my family love and community is expressed through cooking and eating. My family loves eating together the same foods our mother and grandmother prepared. I've been an outsider for years in this respect due to my eating disorder and 12-stepping. But my whole 12-step thing was like moving to Ohio from Michigan. It was questionable to them, for sure. This raw food thing is going to be like moving to the MOON!

So this is what I am doing. I love my family. I love my 12-step friends. I love all of my friends very much. And everybody's love and support in getting on board and expressing positive thoughts and encouragement to me right now would really mean a great deal to me. Please -- no negative thinking!

Thank you.

p.s. I did exchange e-mails with my very good friend Dcn. Nate Harburg yesterday and he is really praying for me. I felt like including this video of Iz singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in thanksgiving to all of my friends who pray for me and especially to Dcn. Nate Harburg who has filled Heaven with prayers for me on multiple occasions. Dcn. Nate is the great grandson of Yip Harburg who wrote the song. This version by Iz is especially touching to me because the performer died of obesity before the age of 40. People often tell me my eating issues are not so bad and I make too much of them. But it is only because I have worked so hard to overcome them. It has been a constant battle for me.  I assure you that if you added up all of the pounds I have gained and lost over the years, I would be at least as large as Iz. Weight is only a side effect of compulsive overeating. Many people suffer from this condition and maintain fairly normal weights for most of their lives. Thank you again for the love and prayers and support.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bozo On The Bus

So today I'm going to be just another bozo on the bus quite literally. I'm taking the bus to work. It will pick me up just a ten minute's walk from my house at 11:36 a.m. and drop me right in downtown Ann Arbor, about ten minute's walk from the Clean Water Action office at 12:15 p.m. Since I don't have to be to work until 1:30 p.m., that gives me a nice cushion, in case something goes wrong. There's lots of road construction all over the place these days, so there's a pretty good chance that something will go wrong. Much of the construction is due to the fact that Michigan is getting a bunch of stinking traffic circles. They are supposed to be environmentally friendly as studies were done to prove they reduce auto emmissions. However, just between me and you, I think they're a death trap. Seriously, I really don't care for the combination of traffic circles and Michigan drivers. If we had all been required to go to some sort of seminars before they launched this mission of instituting traffic circles, things might go OK. But they didn't. And Michigan drivers are unlike any other drivers in the world. Michigan drivers have a strong sense of entitlement. We build the cars here in Michigan. Our grandparents built the cars here in Michigan. And Michiganians damn well feel they have a right to drive them -- as fast as possible without interfearance from the traffic authorities. Traffic circles might be a good idea in other states. I recall a big traffic circle in the greater Chicago area and it was never a problem at all. People in Illinois seem more equipped to adjust to these innovations. But here in Michigan, I'm telling you, not so much. You wouldn't believe the hostility I've experienced in traffic circles. So many type-
A drivers, so little time, so little clue on how to yield and read the managarie of road signs and arrows. I'm telling you, all these traffic circles in Michigan are going to be a huge disaster. Someone ought to start the casualty report now. They're going to be a major death trap. In fact, I bet they probably are already.

So, anyway, I guess it might be for the best that I'm taking the bus, with all these traffic circles happening all over the place. Geoff Larcom takes the bus nowadays -- and City Hall is named after his father. He's been raving about it in his Facebook status updates. All sorts of people are taking the bus these days. They've got a campaign. Smiling Ann Arborites in soft focus on billboards all over the place. They oughta get Larcom on there. He'd be a great poster child for public transportation. Geesh.

My nephew, Joe, texted me yesterday. "How do you like the bus?" he asked.
"I haven't taken it yet," I said. "I've been getting rides."
There was a pause in texting.
"I'm taking it tomorrow."
"You're going to love it!" he texted back.

Joe hasn't been driving for several months. He ran into some financial difficulties, too, when he bottomed out with his alcoholism. He told me it's OK to blog about it. He's doing wonderfully, now -- a huge inspiration. Recovering alcoholics are some of the most amazing people in the world and I'm amazingly proud of my nephew. No kidding -- the guy is amazing. I never would have imagined he had such a problem. I suspected something was wrong. But no kidding, he was really suffering. Thank God he's doing so great now. It inspires me to take care of my health, too.

I did send off the resume to the Creative Health Institute. I'm planning to call them today before I hop on the bus to see if they got it. I'll keep you posted.

Well, I guess I better pack my lunch and get ready for the bus. I do enjoy people watching and I have enjoyed public transportation in other places where I have lived. But in Michigan it hasn't ever seemed as convenient. Part of that is simply a frame of mind; I'll admit it. Michiganians are the only people in the world who will get in a car and drive to the corner store to get a loaf of bread. Seriously, we do that here. We're incorrigible when it comes to driving. It's a cultural thing.

The only thing I wish is that they'd keep the bus running until at least Midnight. You know? I'm going to have to get ride home from work from someone who lives in Ypsilanti because the bus stops running before I get off work.

How do you like the way I used the singular form of bus throughout this report, incidentally? I thought it was pretty clever. I've never in my life been able to remember which busses is the vehicle and which buses is the kisses. I am pretty sure the kisses have two eses. But this is just me living life without an editor. It's fun most of the time but every now and then it gets a bit dicey.

(P.S. I ran spell check and I'm pretty sure now that busses are kisses as it was flagged. But I wanted to let you know that Spell Check is incorrect in its suggestion that I change Michiganians to Michiganders. The Associated Press decided more than ten years ago that Michiganians was much better due to the fact that feminists might feel excluded from the gender-specific inclusion of ganders in reference to the populace of our fine state. No kidding. It's a truth. Look it up.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hamster No More

Before I go to sleep tonight I plan to send a resume to the Creative Health Institute in Hodunk, Michigan (incidentally, a Battle Creek Enquirer columnist once walked from Hodunk to Podunk Michigan and wrote a really great column about it) to inquire about a three-month internship there.

Thank you, Lois, for the Webmed article. I am once again having trouble with my comments feature on the Google Blog. I actually have read quite a lot about the Raw Food Diet and I have eaten quite a few meals at the Creative Health Institute so I have a pretty good idea what it is about. I do not look upon it as a cure for my Multiple Sclerosis.  I do look upon it as a way to maximise my energy and stamina and keep my weight in balance -- and also, it will routinely expose me to lots of antioxidents. That's a good thing. I have gone through vegetarian phases in my life. It's no big deal to me. I like vegetarian food. I've also gone through periods of eating mostly raw foods. I know that my body loves sprouts and wheatgrass juice and lots and lots of the things they eat there. In addition, I am pretty anal about not losing too much weight. (especially now that I am getting older... it makes for unflattering wrinkles and stretchy skin). Although I have suffered from compulsive exercising phases and body image issues at different times in my life,  I've never ever been underweight. Not ever. I have been at the low end of my weight-range, though. And I loved it and my nutritionists and doctors (who I can no longer afford to see) thought it was very healthy for me. I had more energy than I'd ever had in my life (incidentally, I was at that phase just five years ago and in a way it feels like yesterday and in another way it feels like a million years ago), I've talked to other people who live with Multiple Sclerosis who are physically active and they agree that their energy level increases dramatically if they are on the thin side.

I received a nice e-mail from my sister, Kelly today, too. Kelly and her husband, Dan, helped me out when I was trying to break into the insurance business by giving me cash loans they did not expect to be paid back. They are very generous and I know they would give me more money if I asked for it. But I do not feel that borrowing more money from my family is a good idea for me at this time. It is starting to become a pattern and I don't like it. Until I lost my job at the Ann Arbor News in 2005, I was never a money borrower. Anyway, Kelly didn't have an opinion one way or another about the raw food idea and I was happy for that. But she did encourage me to exercise at least thirty minutes a day to keep my energy up. I agree with her. Exercise is really important. That is one reason why I really like working for Clean Water Action. I like the fact that I actually get to walk to do the work. And actually, I have felt a bit healthier since starting that job.

But the fact is -- I am sitting here approaching the winter in Michigan fifty pounds heavier than I was last year, still having a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and not having money to fix my recently smashed car and pay  my rent. This is not the first time I have been in a situation like this since I lost my job at the newspaper. Life has been really chaotic. I definitely have had health struggles with the eating disorder and the Multiple Sclerosis. I have tried the 12-Step eating program again and again and again and I keep gaining and losing thirty pounds -- now it is fifty. So this is what I am going to pursue next.

I am looking forward to it. I think my body will respond very well to learning a new  way of eating. I am not sure when I will go to the center but I do believe in my heart that it will be fairly soon. I will see what opportunities they have and talk it over with Emily and Greg at Clean Water Action to find out what will work for them. After I have finished the internship I will plan to come back to Ann Arbor and work at Clean Water Action some more -- assuming that they will welcome me back. I suspect they will be supportive of me doing something to get my health in better order. It is obvious to anybody who has known me for several years (and Emily and Greg have known me for five years) that my health and stamina have deteriorated quite a bit.

It might not have been the best idea to blog about this before talking to Emily and Greg. But I suspect they will understand. Emily is actually the one who put he raw food idea in my head. I am excited about it but a bit nervous about how everything will work out with keeping my job and learning the techniques.

But I am just going to trust today that everything will work out.

P.S. I  hope I didn't offend any of my blog readers with my glamorous back shot. I had taken it as my avatar on Facebook for a little while, too. But then I realized it might be a bit provocative.

P.P.S. In case I didn't make this clear -- I feel that God has given me a very CLEAR message to get my health in order first and the rest will follow -- even economic security. And I do plan to pay back my sister and her husband and my father as well. I have never been a lazy person or a slacker and I have many, many projects in the works that can eventually generate income. But if I don't have the stamina to complete those projects in addition to working to earn a basic living, I'll never be able to pay anybody back or get ahead at all. So the bottom line is, I just had it backwards, God showed me that. Putting economics before health was causing me to spin like a hamster on a wheel.

St. Joseph's Girl

People can't give you what they don't have: this is the phrase that was in my head this morning when I woke up.

Given that I spent about four hours in prayer and meditation yesterday and that's not something I usually do, I feel like that phrase is a pretty pure and clear message from God. Four hours of prayer and meditation has a way of clearing away thought cobwebs. Four hours of prayer and meditation has a way of closing the door on the world's noise.

God has gifted me with many fine qualities and experiences. He has given me boldness, creativity and kindness. I am grateful for those qualities and I feel that when I embrace them,  it makes my Creator smile. God has also gifted me with a fair measure of natural beauty. He has given me large eyes and strong features, lovely hands and a tall body. I believe it pleases my  Creator when maintain the beauty he has given me by dressing flatteringly and taking time to highlight my good features. But I haven't been doing much with my natural beauty in the past few years -- and I haven't been doing much with my creativity or kindness or intelligence, either.

For five years -- since I had my first and only major attack of Multiple Sclerosis at a time when I had no health insurance at all and had recently lost my job and career as a newspaper journalist -- I have been fighting just to stay afloat. Everything in my life has been a huge struggle. Life has been extremely hard on many fronts. If I were to take a photograph of myself today and place it next to a photograph of myself that was taken five years ago, I feel as though I would look like a woman who has aged ten years, not five. Maybe I look like I have aged fifteen years. And I look this way because I have not been taking care of my health. When they say "you are what you eat," it is a true statement. So I guess I am sort of a combination of McChicken $1 meal sandwiches and oatmeal cookies -- with some V8 juice here and there for good measure. I have tried very hard over the past five years to maintain my health through the twelve step eating programs and I have not been successful with those programs.

There are two main reasons why I have not been successful with the twelve-step eating programs. The first reason is economics. In order to follow the twelve-step food program that has worked for me the best in the past, I need to go to see a nutritionist at least every six months and I need to weigh and measure my food according to a plan that she designs for me. I have had trouble paying my rent and car payments since I lost my job as a reporter. I went through a bankruptcy. I have just had a really, really hard time with life in general. Very good people who love me have tried to help in different ways and I am so very grateful for the love and kindness and support. But the problem for me is, when people help me, I feel obligated to take their advice on things, to follow their suggestions. I feel that I don't want to disappoint them and I want to show my appreciation for what they give me. Also, I have been so confused due to so many rapid changes in my life, I haven't really known if one way is better than another. So I have walked the paths suggested by people who have given me financial assistance and material support. This has not been all bad, mind you. My twelve-step friends who gave me groceries have wonderful suggestions about life. My father who has given me thousands and thousands of dollars over the past five years has great confidence in me and has always expected that I could become both the president of the United States and Miss America.

(Break for interrupted thoughts... cups of coffee, Sunday morning Facebooking, etc...)

So anyway, God told me I can't expect people to give me what they don't have.

And a few days ago He gave me health as my number one priority.

And as you know (if you've been reading my blog) I've been considering going to live in the homeless shelter for a few months due to a financial disaster and the fact that I feel like as much as I love my family, I can't live with those people because when I do, it leads me back to bad habits with regard to eating and smoking. Given that I've just gained fifty pounds trying to be an insurance saleswoman (GAG! I just HATE insurance sales!), I just really don't think living with them is an option.

My former future mother-in-law (the mother of the 28-year-old seminarian I so inappropriately had a crush on for two years -- hey, I'm over the top sometimes -- God seemingly made me this way) told me yesterday she's looking around for a free place for me to stay and I can even go and  live on her couch for awhile if I need to.

I feel the love. I love the love. I have such wonderful, wonderful people in my life.

But the thing about people is they are always promoting ideas and values and lifestyles and things. In some instances they actually push these ways.

My former future mother-in-law doesn't. At least she  doesn't do it as much as other people. She's a special education teacher so she knows how to deal with challenging people such as me.

I digress...

The bottom line is that I truly, truly walk alone with God and God has some work to do with my health right now. So I have to put my health as my main priority -- above family, above work, above love.

And the bottom line is, I've decided to become a Raw Foodist. No kidding -- this is something that came to me after four hours of prayer and meditation. If you have any adivice for me. If you want to argue or turn up your nose -- go ahead and do it. But before you do, please go sit in prayer and meditation for four hours.

And the best part is -- I didn't even just pray and meditate at any old place. Yesterday fate dropped me literally at the doorstep of the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Suffering and Dying. I kid you not! It wasn't planned. I got dropped off there just as morning Mass was starting. It was incredible. Here's a link to it:

If this wasn't enough, Emily, the Clean Water Action Canvas Director started talking to me about her friend who is a Raw Foodist and who blogs about it. I didn't thnk anything of it. But then I woke up this morning and within half an hour I decided I need to become a raw foodist. No kidding, I've met these people before.
They're the healthiest people you'll ever meet in your life. I did stories about them fifteen years ago when I was at The Battle Creek Enquirer.

I thought then that the Raw Foodists were some of the most outrageous people I'd ever met in my life.

So I guess they ARE outrageous. And I'm going to be one of them.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

So anyway, sorry this post is so rambling. But I think it's pretty exciting. I have to get to Mass, so I really don't have time to edit. But I just wanted to update everybody on the exciting news.

I am not 100 percent certain, but I am pretty sure that sometime in the pretty near future I'll be going to live at The Creative Health Institute in Hodunk, Michigan for three months.

I got my first massage there about fifteen years ago from a guy named Igor who was raised in Moscow and came from a family of Russian Massuses. It was  so amazing. Honestly, I was smiling for three weeks. Igor is long gone, of course. But I am sure there will be somebody there who gives a decent massage.

(p.s. the fact that I randomly ended up at the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Suffering and Dying is especially incredible given that I have a huge devotion to St. Joseph and say an ancient prayer to him nearly every day. In addition I have been in single woman's Rosary Circle for about two years. We get together about once a month and pray a Rosary to St. Joseph for our future husbands. We call ourselves St. Joseph's Girls.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


It's been a weird day.

I woke up dreaming about the man I went on two dates with a few weeks ago -- the 6-foot, 4-inch Navy Veteran who brought me a melon, the one who randomly happened upon a gig as the Dalai Lama's security guard for three weeks and ran with the bulls in Spain many years ago. He's nonchalant about all this stuff, like an organic story farm or something... these stories just grow from him.  It's amazing. He should be a writer or something (I'd been thinking something LIKE a writer's husband). I don't know. He just did something to me, this guy with the melon. He told me he wanted to sleep in a sailboat in Amsterdam in the off season some year -- lots of stuff like that and, of course, I totally imagined doing it all with him. He was a fabulous kisser, so warm and thoughtful and really strong. So I woke up thinking about rocking in this boat in Amsterdam with this guy. It felt so real, I could, like, smell the sea breeze and his T-shirt. We are supposed to be taking a break. Rather, I am supposed to be giving him space so he can get over his ex-wife who really  broke his heart three years ago. I don't know what went wrong  with his ex-wife, exactly. But it hurt him. I get it. I've had my heart mashed out with a wooden spoon by someone. It sucks. I hate it. So I was supposed to be giving him a break. We were not supposed to communicate at all until Oct. 10. But I've been feeling lonely -- and there's this issue with Facebook. He has quite a few beautiful female friends. One is a plus-sized model. He comments on her photos and tells her how sexy and beautiful she is. She took a photo of herself with him as her profile picture. Those of you who think I sound like a Facebook stalker just shut up. If you're on Facebook and you like someone, you're totally checking out whose wall he is commenting on and what she looks like in her other photos. Don't lie about it.

So this morning I woke up in Amsterdam in this guy's arms, smelling his T-shirt and everything ; except I realized that I wasn't in his arms at all. I wasn't even in Amsterdam. I was in Ypsilanti, sleeping in this twin bed that used to belong to my roommate's sister. And now she's in a convent. No kidding, she joined the order of nuns that was started by Mother  Teresa. If that isn't bad enough, several people have suggested that I would make a great nun! OMG, what kind of impression do I give? Seriously, if that were what God intended for me, life in a convent, I'd much rather He just went ahead and took me home Thursday afternoon when my car spun out on the Interstate.

So here I've been having this huge crush on this guy who seems pretty wonderful and I'm even dreaming about him and everything else. And the reality is, I'm sleeping in the bed of a nun. It felt so depressing. So I e-mailed him a glamor shot of myself from a few years ago, a beach shot of my back. The one who mashed my heart out with a wooden spoon took it at Lake Michigan one afternoon when we were having a picnic and messing around with the purple sand vetch. It was a little impulsive, I suppose. But I hate how so many  women post a million glamorous photos of themselves on Facebook these days. I mean it's bad enough that I've been sleeping in a nun's bed and that I gained fifty pounds in the past six months while I was trying to become a superstar insurance agent.

He didn't respond. But I checked his Facebook wall to see what he's been up to today. And now I see what's really going on. He's in love with this extremely beautiful woman who he went to high school with. She is a few years behind him. She's really, really pretty and owns her own salon. She's married but I don't think the marriage is going very well. It bothers him that she's married. He doesn't want to date a married woman (I know all this because he told me all about it the first night I met him. He said he had just bumped into her and it had made him crazy. They had been intimate many years ago and the feelings are still there. He doesn't know what to do.  But then he told me there  was just no way with her because she is married.) He's a good guy. He's just not that into me. And you know, let's face it, I might be going to live at a homeless shelter for three months -- and even if I wasn't, I've recently gained fifty pounds. I am still considering the whole homeless shelter thing. I mean I haven't ruled it out. It seems a little bit extreme but I just don't know what to do.  My faith is important to me but I am very tired of unsolicited advice from people who are more holy and/or better tweleve steppers. I sort of like imperfections in myself and other people. I used t o visit a glass factory in West Virginia to buy the vases that were blown with bubbly imperfections.  They cost a fraction of the price of the other vases and I always found them more interesting and beautiful.

Some other guys have expressed an interest in dating me and I suppose I'll just go ahead and go on some dates with some of them. It's  a bit hard. This guy was so cute and interesting! But some  of these other guys will probably be  cute and interesting, too. A few are guys who I've known at various times in my life and become reacquainted with through Facebook. They know what's going on with me -- all the drama with being ten minutes away from living in the homeless shelter.

But there are tons of guys from this free online dating site who I also could try to date.  The thing is, I wonder if I should update my profile to say something like "Homeless Hottie." Life feels a little bit over the top right now.

But St. Joseph is looking after me. Today I was dropped off for canvassing right across the street from a Shrine to St. Joseph in Grass Lake. I needed to add a layer of clothing; the day was colder than I'd anticipated. So I opened the door to go in and use the bathroom. Mass had just started. I stayed for Mass. I prayed a Rosary for my future husband. And I lit candles for the future husbands of my roommate and me. My heart's great desire  is for him to arrive before Christmas. I just don't want to go through another Christmas alone.

With regard to moving into the homeless shelter, I am just not certain what to do. I have prayed for clarity and I am sure that God will answer my prayers. A good friend of mine from Church told me she just really doesn't want me to do it. She said she knows of places where I could stay and that I could even sleep on a couch at her home for awhile If  I needed to. I told her I  also wondered if God wanted me to go and live with my Dad.I honestly just don't know what is the best thing to do yet. I'm confused.

I'm trying to find my way in this world as a divorced Catholic woman and it isn't easy. I'm not especially holy and the truth is, I don't have a huge desire to be much more holy. People who try too hard to be holy can be really irritating. I am especially irritated by the advice givers - especially those who offer advice but no practical solution.

I don't know what I'm going to do, exactly. I suppose I will be praying quite a lot about it tomorrow.  I pray because I need God, not because I want to be an especially good person. I suppose it is good to be prayerful. But I'm just not trying to win any contests to get into heaven. And I sort of think God totally understands why I woke up this morning on a boat in Amsterdam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Rent

(Please Note: Google Blogger changed its format yesterday and I've yet to locate spellcheck. Sorry!)

I woke up at six-forty-five thinking about numbers -- dollars and priorities. There's something about the experience of calling out to Jesus from the driver's seat while the car is bouncing around the Interstate like an amusement-park ride, calling, "I guess I'm ready, Sweet Jesus; no kidding; I'm sorry for everything I've done wrong." It changes a person's perspective on numbers.

The near-death experience of yesterday afternoon has made me braver. I'm considering seriously going where I've never gone before even though it will alarm some people and I know people will try to talk me out of it. No kidding, I'm thinking about preparing to move into the Homeless Shelter in downtown Ann Arbor for three months starting in October. I thought of this once before during my post paper-newspaper missadventures and people came to my rescue. But I don't like being rescued. There are always strings attached. I'm a very stubborn person. And it's actually my crowning feature as a human. No kidding, I like this about me. I'll get back to the strings that are attached to a rescue in a minute.

The thing is, I'm just a storyteller. It's the only thing I'm any good at. And even when I'm not that good at it, it is what it is. It's who I am. It's what I do -- tell stories. And at the moment I am a storyteller who is writing about her career transition from paper newspapers. So when these events happen in my life -- when a job doesn't quite work out; when I gain fifty pounds; when (like a moron) I get in a nearly fatal car wreck with no car insurance and four more years of payments -- when these events happen, since I am truly the center of my story (and I have fans!), I don't see myself as a victim. It's hard to be a victim when your the protagonist in your own story. It's especially hard to be a victim when you're a storyteller who has a near-death experience.

Almost dying (or is it dieing... there are a few occasions each day when I miss editors) has this way of alligning the priorities of the heart. Here's what I'm feeling:

1. Be my healthiest self physically -- go ahead with that new food plan I had intended to start today even though that means putting nearly half of my paycheck for the next two week toward groceries and nutrition.

2. Continue my committment to this humble and important canvassing work and to writing about my career transition for my "Poor Journalist Gets To Business" series.

3. Keep hoping to fall madly in love with this wonderful man who worked as the Dalai Lama's security guard for thee weeks, served in the U.S. Navy and ran with the bulls in Spain as a young man. He's a keeper. But if he isn't the one for me, plan to fall in love with someone equally wonderful within the next year because it's no good to go to bed alone every night year after year after year. That just isn't living life right -- not for me anyway.

That's it. Those are my priorities: Health, work I can feel good about, belief in the availability of true love to me.

So you see, vehicles and wardrobes and houses do not have a place on the list of most important priorities. They're good things for certain. I like it when I have a reliable car. I loved it when I had a little home with a kitchen and dining room flooded with natural light. I loved it when I had my own queen-sized bed and wonderful bedding (for the past two years I've slept in this unattractive little twin bed that belonged to my roommate's sister before she joined a convent).

I like things but I am not dependent upon them for my happiness. And as the protagonist of my own story, I have to follow the story. I know how to do that. It's what I do best. So no kidding, I'm thinking about moving into the homeless shelter downtown for three months so I can get back on my feet financially.

I thought about moving up to Saginaw to live with my dad. He is 80 and can use the company. I love my father very much but I cannot live with him for three months and keep my sanity. I tried it just before I filed for bankruptcy in 2006. My father loves me and he will always give me money when I ask for it. I wouldn't starve to death, either. But that's part of the problem. My father's entire kitchen is loaded with junk food and desserts. He loves to eat that junk. And since I find it quite stressful to live with him, it's just a recipe for disaster at a time when I am trying to get back on my feet. In addition, my father does not think of me as an adult. I am the baby of seven. In his mind, I haven't yet entered high school. I am still his little girl. This is a problem. It is not the sort of situation that promotes self esteem when a person is trying to overcome a recession and make a career transition. For instance, my father does not allow me to drive his vehicles. He is certain I will wreck them. I have had a few car accidents but never received a ticket in any of them. And other people in my family have been in accidents, too, but they are welcome to drive my father's minivan. This is a baby-of-the family thing. Seriously, he really does relate to me as if I were an elementary school child. He's eighty years old and this aspect of our relationship isn't changing. He gives me instructions each time I refill the ice trays. And when I go out to the store for anything he draws me a map with colored highlighters. The purpose of these maps is to enable me to negotiate my way through Saginaw (where he lives now but not where I was raised) without having to make any left-hand turns. Hey, I'm his baby. Left-hand turns are dangerous. I kid you not. Can't go live with dad. It'll mess me up. Love him, but no.

Friends are going to jump in and offer to let me stay at their homes for a few weeks here or there, I bet. But here's the thing, I don't think the whole Washtenaw County couch-hopping gig would work all that well for me. Maybe I am being stubborn but I tried it before and I still can't stand to talk to one of the people who tried to rescue me. She just about drove me CRAZY! I have a few good friends who I know I could live with seamlessly for a few months and it wouldn't feel like a burden on them or to me. But none of those friends live anywhere near where I live and work today. I have great friends in Washtenaw County, don't get me wrong. I love these people. But there are very few people in the world who anybody could live with for free and not have it feel like a big burden. The few friends who I have who fit in that catagory live in remote places where I would not find a job or public transportation.

So th homeless shelter for three months is a pretty good idea -- very epossibly the best idea. First of all, we must remember that I am a journalist. It's bound to be a journalistic adventure. Second of all, I am a person who firmly believes that anybody can do anything for three months if she accepts that the situation is simply a means to a better future. In the third place, the homeless shelter is really close to where I work. I wouldn't have to worry about the bus and the fact that the last bus from downtown to where I live leaves shortly after 10 p.m. and I work until 10:30 or 11 p.m. most nights.

So seriously, I'm really thinking about it. It might be perfect(Well, in an imperfect sort of way. I've no illusion that it will be easy.).

Please don't gasp. PLEASE, just don't.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Window

I sat outside and drank a raspberry beer from Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall tonight and contemplated life and circumstances. Emily Woodcock bought the beer because she knows it's my favorite and I'd had such a horrible day having had my nearly fatal car accident and then realizing may insurance had lapsed and all. I hardly ever have an alcoholic beverage and I hate to even mention it due to my many beloved recovering alcoholics in my life. But somehow tonight that Raspberry beer was a real treat. It reminded me, I suppose, that I'm just a regular old girl and I've never really aspired to be much more than that.

What a beautiful night it was for sitting outside, though. Earlier, Greg Sobczynski had played me an early vinyl Greatful Dead album because of some things I'd been saying about life and death and fate and everything. It was all good and fitting and it was soul food to be around people who care about me. Greg and Emily run the Ann Arbor Clean Water Action office and have been a couple for many years. They fit together very well. I like them and feel lucky to work for such nice people.

Emily persuaded me to come out of the house tonight. I had to pick up my check anyway. I need it. I've absolutely no money. We get paid on Thursday nights and Thursdays are also staff night. Staff night is a time when canvassers all over the United States throughout the Clean Water/Environmental network get together in their various cities for socializing. Work talk generally doesn't happen, except as it relates to good storytelling.

Greg told me some jokes. I told him my two jokes. It's all I got. I've been retelling the same two jokes for twenty years. We sang each other some really old school folk songs. Emily and this guy named Nick who hiked the Appalachian Trail this summer did some wierd video disco game. They were jumping all over the basement with this rapid-fire footwork.

Megan Owens, an old friend from my Chicago years, posted on my Facebook page from her home near Sacramento that I should start feeling around for a window.

It's easy to get all philosophical and a little bit crazy when something big happens -- like crashing a vehicle and narrowly escaping death. It's easy to start contemplating a special purpose, the reason for existance, big questions such as those.

But you know, I just don't have energy today for big questions or big solutions. I made a decision to put my health first and trust that my finances and everything else would fall into place.

So now I am going to bed -- grateful for the loving friends and family members who I have in my life today -- and grateful that I do have a job to go to tomorrow. I'll work something out with this financial mess. I guess I'll make payments or something. I'll figure something out with my car. I can take the bus to work. Emily said she can give me some rides home. There are other staff members who live near me, too. It will all work out.

For awhile today I felt panicked. I wanted to move to a state with better jobs. I wanted to make more money. I wanted to feel secure.

But nothing's secure. There are no sure bets in life. We're really not in control of much of anything. Days like today reinforce that reality.

So I am going to keep walking for the Great Lakes through February sixth as I had planned. It's work I value and every week I feel myself getting healthier for it. I'm learning a great deal, too -- about leadership and being a team player. I'm also learning so much about keeping a positive attitude, about trusting, about keeping my side of the fence clean.

If something else comes my way, I'll consider it. But I don't have the energy to push and pull and weasel my way into something else just because it pays a little bit better. This job doesn't pay much, that's true. But it is secure. And if I get better at it, there will be opportunities to earn more money than I am making at the moment. And I shouldn't even say "if" I get better at it. The fact is, I will get better at it because I am working hard.

I'm pretty shook up about that accident, though. I guess I'm glad that I don't have to figure everything out.

Hope is faith holding its hand out in the dark, right? That's my mantra and I'm sticking to it.

Thanks everybody for being so awesome.

(Note... the format for the Blogger has changed and I can't find spell check or how to post a photo. Sorry!)

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

The numbers are what made me cry -- just not enough of them going into my checking account this week to deal with the situation at hand.

The tow truck driver looked over at me as he prepared to tow the car I'll be paying on for four more years from the median of I-94 Westbound to an undetermined location. Nicest tow-truck driver in the world. Josh. His wife is a Pittsfield Township cop. I didn't know all this until about twenty minutes later when he was unhooking my car at my home. But I could tell the minute he hopped in the driver's seat, through all my tears and snot, he was a pretty good guy.

"Not the best day, huh," he said.

"It's a terrible day," I said. The weather, couldn't have been better, 76 and sunny when I left the house -- and I'd just walked away from a crash that could very well have been fatal. It isn't the first nearly-fatal crash I've walked away from. When I was a reporter in West Virginia a truck plowed into me during a light snow when I was trying gingerly to make my way around a mountain. I went airbound in my Chevy Corsica. No kidding, I flew through the air that day. Thankfully snow and tall grass cushioned my landing. I took out a fence. The car slid about two-hundred feet through a farmer's field. People from the holler gathered on the road up on the mountain and watched me open the car door and walk through the valley. I might have waved to them or something; I don't recall. I just remember sitting in this truck with the guy who pushed me off the mountain waiting for what seemed like forever for the sheriff's deputy to arrive. When he did, he had a few simple questions: "Been drinking?" We said no. "Anybody shooting any guns?" Again we said no. "Been feudin'?" The accident report was pretty straight forward, even though I'd just flown through the air off the side of a mountain -- not the sort of thing that happens to a Michigan girl every day.

The police officer (who kept borrowing my pen today) asked me what happened. I told him traffic stopped quickly in front of me. It was either smash into the car in front of me or get in the median. I think the car in front of me swerved into the median for a second, too. It was fast. I clipped the wall. My car flipped in a fish tail and my backside hit the wall, too. Then it flipped again. My airbag didn't even activate. A bunch of cars pulled over and asked me if I was OK. I got out of the car so everybody could see me. No blood. No guts. I had been wearing my seatbelt. Hadn't been on the phone, hadn't even been drinking a pop or anything -- I had just been on my way to work. I waved to the people in the passing cars. "I'm OK," I said. "Are you sure you're OK?" A bunch of drivers asked. "Yes," I said. "Not a scratch."

Something like that... It's such a jumble.

The officer asked me for my insurance and registration. He went back to his car with my license. I couldn't find my insurance and registration -- not in my glove box. I admit, I am not detail oriented. Sometimes I forget to put things like that in the glove box. I don't know why I do these things! I told him I would look for it in the back seat while he processed my license. I ruffled through all the Aflac brochures in my back seat and couldn't find it anywhere. I called my insurance agent. He wasn't there. He had been calling me a couple of times a week to get me to sell insurance with him. He wants me to get licensed to sell property and auto insurance. I almost did. But I just don't like insurance. It doesn't make me happy. I was getting fat selling the Aflac. Seriously, I gained fifty pounds in six months. That's a sign that it's not a good fit. That's a sign that something needs to give. So, I just didn't get around to calling him back.

I should have called him, though. This afternoon his secretary told me my insurance was due on the Sixth of September. Damn it. Seriously, I thought I was paid up. I am sure he had sent me a notice. But I swear to you, I thought my insurance was paid. It seemed as though I had JUST PAID it.

So that's why I was crying in the tow truck. I felt like such an idiot. I told Josh. I said, "I can't believe what an idiot I am!"

He said,"You're lucky you're alive. I've seen crashes that aren't nearly this bad and the people die."

"That's true," I said, grateful I'm so anal about seatbelts.

"And you made the right choice by going into the median," he said. "You could have killed someone in the car in front of you."

"That's true," I said. "I am a pretty good driver."

"You're just lucky nobody's dead or even hurt."

"And I didn't even hit anything but the wall," I said. "That would have been REALLY bad if I'd hit another car with no insurance."

He saved my bumper and the lights for me, said it looks like they can be put back on. The trunk is a bit smashed but it opens and closes. The radiator is moved a bit, he said. But it looks like maybe it's still OK.
That's the main thing that could be a problem, he said -- the radiator. Other than that, he said it might just be cosmetic. I asked him about the frame. The police officer thought maybe I'd messed it up. Josh was a mechanic before he started driving the tow truck ten years ago. He got under my car for and looked at it. He said it doesn't look like the frame is messed up.

I just bought two new tires for that car. It doesn't even have 40,000 miles on it yet.

It's not a happy situation. It's going to cost me.

Everything does, though, doesn't it?

I told Josh how much I appreciated his kindness. He assured me I wasn't nearly as much of an emotional wreck as half the people who have things like this happen. He also shared stories about other people's hard luck that made me feel super fortunate. Misery loves company. One woman he'd towed recently had packed up everything she'd owned into a moter home to head out of state and start a new life. About twenty miles into her trip she rolled her home on wheels and lost everything. What wasn't wrecked in the accident was damaged by the firefighters who hosed down the crash. Josh's wife worked exclusively with domestic violence cases for two years. Josh himself has picked up Christmas presents that have been scattered all over the highway.

Today wasn't the greatest day of my life. But I know enough from having been a reporter for more than ten years to realize this day is really small potatoes in the scheme of calamities.

The numbers do make me feel like crying more, though. Maybe I'll cry again. I think I could use a really good cry. Maybe I'll watch a sad movie.

Even though I feel as though I want to cry my heart out, I'm so grateful to be sitting here without a scratch. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Guardian Angel.

St. Joseph, pray for my car situaion.

St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man.