the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Archive for the ‘The Grumpy Bitch’ Category

Day 63 Single Parent: Duhhh …

Posted by themirrenlee on 03/03/2012

Single parent. Duhhh …

That’s what I was at 16. I got pregnant at 15, but didn’t know until I was about 5 months gone. I’d never had regular periods, so that didn’t warn me, and my weight gain was minimal. We had daily P.E. (physical education) classes in school, so I exercised a lot. At the time of getting pregnant, I was actually doing a term of gymnastics, wondering why it was getting harder to balance and tumble! I also began to notice my stomach pushing out my leotard a bit. The nausea I had been experiencing, mostly after eating, I just thought was some kind of bug.

In short, I was clueless. My friends and I would talk about sex, but the conversation was on the level of, “Do you think you can get pregnant through underwear?” Words such as “erection”, “ejaculation”, “sperm”, “orgasm”, “birth control”, were never mentioned. (Forget about “STDs” – herpes, chlamydia and AIDS hadn’t been “invented” yet! We’d heard of syphilis, but we thought that was just a guy thing.) All we knew was that sex could lead to pregnancy, which was highly shameful, but we didn’t know “how far” we could go before it was a risk. Without sex education (unknown at that time in schools, and parents wanted to pretend like we’d never do something like that), we didn’t know that sperm are tricky little things, and can sneak in without the guy actually having to “go all the way”. Nor did we know that “pulling out”, if we did go all the way, is not an effective means of contraception.

Do you know how I even found out I was pregnant? I was lying on my bed, complaining to my mother that I had “butterflies” in my stomach, making me feel unwell. She put her hand there, looked shocked, and said, “Oh my god, I think you’re pregnant, and that’s the baby moving!” Again, clueless much?!

This was the Swinging Sixties – the greatest irony of all. The Pill came on the scene in 1960, but in 1966 was still not in widespread use, and of course most parents didn’t want to give it to their daughters, anyway (because that would admit that sex was actually happening), while many Catholic doctors wouldn’t even prescribe it. People forget now why we NEEDED a sexual revolution – to bring it all out of the closet, and give us some control over protecting ourselves from unwanted pregnancies

In Los Angeles, where I was raised, teenagers got their driver’s licenses at 16, and then practically lived in their cars. Those of us who came from “challenged” environments, as I did, couldn’t take people home, so we used our cars for just talking and hanging out, as well. It was a breeding ground for intimacy. Not surprisingly, many of my classmates that year (my third year of high school) got pregnant, including the Homecoming Queen! The tragedy was that everyone I knew was given the choice of either giving their babies up for adoption, or being kicked out of home. One was not allowed to work if under 18 without a parent’s signature on a permission slip, so there was no choice – the babies were adopted out. One girl I knew had twins, and struggled trying to keep them for a few months, but eventually caved in, gave the babies up and went back home. How do you forgive your parents for something like that? Or ever forget the babies you’ll probably never see again? How do the parents turn their backs on their grandchildren?

I was reminded of all this by two things: a comment from Hollie McKay asking me what it was like being a young single parent, and what did I think of the single parent reality shows; and the news today on Huffington Post that Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin State Senator (would you be surprised to hear he’s a Republican?), wants single parenthood to be legislated as a form of “child abuse”. He says single parents choose that lifestyle so that they can get government benefits, and this is a way to stop them from doing that. I had to stop and take a breath over that one.

I answered Hollie’s question in the Comments section. In a nutshell, I was already Mom and Dad to my 6 siblings because, as my mother once told me, “We wanted a girl first so she could look after the others.” I had no idea I had gotten pregnant; I still thought I was a virgin! No one ever believes this, but it’s absolutely true. I was going with my first real boyfriend, and I always thought I stopped him from going “too far”, but obviously I didn’t. You had to be there.

Once it happened, even though I was pressured first to have an abortion (ooops, too far gone), and then to adopt him out (no way), he was just another one to look after – and he was probably the easiest of the lot! The story of being pressured to get married, to a man I ultimately found out was sleeping with my mother (!), is for another time, and gives you an example of what I mean by a “challenged” family.

The really tough thing was having to drop out of high school in my final year. I had David in June, and started my Senior year in September, but it was impossible to continue after a couple of months. First, my “husband” turned out to have major, major issues which made me leave him, and then back home I had my hands full looking after my family. One thing my parents were never going to do is kick me out of the house – they needed me to look after their children.

As for the esteemed Senator’s belief that ALL single parents are of the same mindset, and in the same circumstances, well, just … really? Are you really that stupid? Oh, wait: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman … hmmm, I guess he might be. He says he’s talking about “non marital parenthood”, but uh, duhhhhh, unlike when I was raising David, being an unmarried parent is now as common as dirt. For goodness sakes, women are going to sperm banks precisely to BE single parents! Of course, it also smacks of racism because the feeling is that it’s black women doing this “sponging” off the government (as if people get rich on food stamps). Unfortunately, the photo used in the Huffington Post article was of a black woman and her daughter, which doesn’t help. So what kind of “ism” is it when against single parents? Singleparentism? I know, to even talk about it gives it too much credence. The man is obviously just insane.

The one thing, though, that I really haven’t ever understood is the single parents who struggle to raise their children, and yet keep having them. There are no excuses today for contraception ignorance, and being a good parent is too difficult and too important to blithely keep churning them out without being able to give them the right environment to grow up in. Which is what my parents did. I had Sarah 20 years after David; and I put the fear of God into them about having children before they were ready. David was 32 when Nicky was born, and Sarah, at almost 25, is not even sure she’ll ever be ready for the responsibility. I scared the shit out of them about parenthood! My work here is done.

So this will be the first post to start explaining my upbringing in the “A Different Kind of Normal” Category. There is a lot more to my pregnancy story, and the weird marriage to an insane bigamist, but another day …

BTW, Hollie is a fantastic Australian friend I’ve known for years who is now a highly respected Fox News Entertainment reporter, who both writes a column called PopTarts, and appears in entertainment news segments on TV. Catch her at this link:  Entertainment News | Latest News, Videos & Photos on Celebrities, Movies & Music | Fox News.

Finally, a note about my Cast of Characters post yesterday. Wow, I didn’t preview it and so when I saw it published I realized the formating was almost unreadable! Note to self: preview everything before publishing it! I will redo it soon.

What a long, complicated post. This time,

I’m really just sayin’ … a lot!

Posted in A Different Kind of Normal, I'm Just Sayin', Political, The Grumpy Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Day 51 Cranky.

Posted by themirrenlee on 20/02/2012

My cranky Inner Child demands sugar, lots of sugar, NOW!

Cranky.

I am so fucking cranky I could kill someone for trying to take my parking spot. When I get like this, I hope someone will irritate me so I have an excuse to abuse the hell out of them, just to release some of my pent up rage.

Everyone handles their bad stuff differently. By bad stuff, I mean either feeling bad physically/emotionally/mentally, or simply having a bad day. I either cry or get cranky. I cry when I feel I can’t cope any more and I need a hug, a cup of tea and a good sleep – after bawling my eyes out to release those wonderful endorphins.

If I don’t go into vulnerable, I go into anger – absolute, burning, furious anger, usually because I have to endlessly put up with, and be limited by, the chronic conditions that plague me, especially the Fibromyalgia. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about this anger. By expressing it, I know I won’t go into a depression.

Most people don’t seem to know the difference between organic and situational depression. Having grown up with 2 depressed parents, and a strong family streak of bipolar as well, I’m a bit of an expert on both.

(I just love the line in the movie, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” when Cary Grant says, “Insanity doesn’t run in my family, it fairly gallops.” I’m sure many people feel that describes their own families perfectly!)

Organic depression is a disorder of the brain mechanism, a mental disease. Luckily, thank the Universe, we now have numerous medications that can treat it. Anyone suffering from organic depression, which they can’t help anymore than they can help catching a cold, who doesn’t want to take antidepressants seems to me a tad desirous of wallowing.

If we’d had antidepressants when I was growing up in the 50s-60s, my childhood story would not have to be titled, “A Different Kind of Normal.” (Yes, the Category is there – waiting for me to get started on it. Don’t remind me; I’ll just make me crankier.)

Situational depression is suppressed anger. As simple as that. Instead of getting mad at what’s really bothering you, which even may be yourself and how you’re (not) handling something, you turn it inwards and feel depressed. Find out what’s making you angry, deal with it, and you’ll find the depression lifts. You don’t need antidepressants; you need action.

So when I get weepy, I give myself a cup of tea and a hug. Since I was a “parentified” child, meaning I was the parent who gave out the hugs to everyone else, I had to learn to hug myself. My first counsellor told me to try stroking my stomach back and forth when I needed a hug. The first time I tried it, I was driving. I burst into violent tears and had to pull over! The sensation of feeling someone “hugging” me, caring about me as if I were a child, even if it was myself doing it, was like a drink of water in the desert. It took many “hugs” before I could do it without crying, and just enjoy the sensation of comfort, but it finally happened, and now I add it to my cup of tea as part of my comfort routine.

Ah, the cup of tea. My belief has always been that it was tea that got the English through the Blitz, so that’s good enough for me! But it can’t be tea like the Americans drink it – weak, with a bag dangling over the edge of the cup. Yuk. The bag has to be strong enough that it gets taken out after the color in the cup is right (I like my tea like my men – caramel colored and sweet). Then I add milk and at least 2 teaspoons of sugar. I get out the pot and make a cup with real tea leaves if I’m in the red zone – for emergencies only.

But whether I’m feeling weepy or cranky, the one thing I ALWAYS need to help calm me down is SUGAR. Lots and lots of sugar. I have a sweet tooth that would give the tooth fairy diabetes. I was raised in the U.S. until I was 18, so my formative years were spent developing American taste buds. And that means sugar. The Australian tastes run more to the English, so they like things a bit tarter. My mother (Australian) used to put lemon and sugar on her pancakes, while her American husband, and 7 American children, poured endless amounts of maple syrup.

I know if I’m struggling with either weepy or cranky (sometimes both at the same time!), it’s because I’m feeling vulnerable. I’ve found that so often anger in people is based on feeling vulnerable, which, of course, means feeling fearful. I’ve given angry people hugs and they’ve burst into tears! It’s funny, but also sad. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of having to “protect” ourselves with the armor of anger, we could say, “I’m feeling sad/cranky/vulnerable/fearful/depressed; can I please have a hug?”

Anyway, back to my cranky. So today I was feeling tired and sore, and got cranky about it. I have a lot of things on my “To Do” list that aren’t getting done, and just looking at the list made me feel like going postal! I went to the grocery store (since I HATE grocery stores this was enough to make me glad I wasn’t carrying a gun) and stocked up on all things sugar. When I got to the check out, one of the regular guys, who is always nice, served me. I said to him, “You’re always so cheerful. I don’t know if I like that, or find it irritating. You serve the public; don’t you know your job sucks?” It’s okay, he laughed. He knows I’m a touch eccentric. And he saw all the sugar.

Everyone gets cranky/weepy over things. It might be a monthly thing for women and girls, or an older life thing for women (poor females – hormones are a bitch!), or life’s tribulations, or just feeling sorry for yourself over something (and that’s okay). As I learned in counselling, just “sit” with your feelings and don’t fight them. Use the weepiness as a time to release endorphins, which make you feel SO good, and the anger to motivate and give you power. Try calling a “customer service” officer during a cranky time – you’ll win the battle, for sure! (Isn’t “customer service” the world’s greatest oxymoron, right up there with “military intelligence”?)

I really encourage you to have a “comfort routine”, though, no matter how you feel. What do you need when these strong emotions hit you? I advise sugar, but then I’m biased.

I learned to not just wallow when I feel weepy or cranky. I take charge with my comfort routine, and wait for it to pass. (I often include a call to someone close to me, but I tell them I don’t want them to “solve” anything. I just want them to sympathize and ask me if I have enough sugar in the house.)

In the time it took me to write this, I’ve started feeling slightly better. And that’s including the fact that while writing, I somehow lost half of it at one point! I didn’t explode – I ate a chocolate bar, and refreshed my tea.

I’m now going to curl up with a good book while playing multiple games of “Words with Friends,” and harvesting my crops in Farmville. Then it will be 3 am, and I’ll follow my natural rhythm of falling asleep. Tomorrow is another day, and if I don’t feel any better then, well … there’s always that box of chocolate cookies I haven’t opened yet.

I wish you a cranky/weepy free day.

I’m just growlin’ …

Posted in Fibromyalgia/Chronic Conditions, I'm Just Sayin', The Grumpy Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Day 50 Screw Rigid

Posted by themirrenlee on 19/02/2012

Screw Rigid.

Don't screw with my flexibility!

God, I am so fed up with rigid. Rigid people, rigid viewpoints, rigid schedules, rigid belief systems, rigid rigid rigid everything. If a tree is rigid, the wind breaks it; if it’s flexible like a sapling, the wind dances with it. The more people try to be rigid about things, the more they will be laughed at – and toyed with – by the Universe. It’s the basis of John Lennon’s quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” But still they insist on rigidity in their lives because it feels “safe”, “structured”, “immune to change” (and to paraphrase South Park, they think: “Change is bad, mkay?”).

Flexible seems to be a dirty word. It’s applied to porn stars and strippers. People who want flexible lifestyles – more time to do what they love other than just making a living – are considered flighty. Hippies. My daughter wants to do more traveling this year. Not a holiday, real wandering-type traveling, both to places she hasn’t been before, as well as places/people she wants to revisit. She’s not sure when she wants to leave yet, or how long she’ll be away for. Flexible. The message she’s getting from everyone around her is that she’s “not settling down”. My god, they say, you’ll be 25 next month – what about university, career path, babies, house buying?! You know, the rigid schedule we must all adhere to. Flexible is irresponsible.

Tell the people who decided to take the day off work on 9/11 how “bad” flexible is.

I made a decision today in the face of rigid behavior: I’m not making any more plans with people. My new motto will be: “Let’s see what happens.” Funnily enough, that’s one of the main directives in Theater Games that Viola Spolin (the creator) talks about. She says to go out there with our mind focused on what problem we’re trying to solve, and “just see what happens.” Most people are afraid of improvisational work, but not the ones who follow this directive.

“Let’s see what happens.” The ultimate “living in the moment”. Not fretting about yesterday, or worrying about tomorrow, just being RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. I’m having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. You want me to go shopping with you on Tuesday? Well, let’s see what happens.

Okay, I’m not saying we should, or even can, live every moment like that. But a bit more of it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Especially for people with chronic illnesses/conditions. I have to take into account with my Fibromyalgia how many Spoons I’ll be starting the day with, and how many I’ll need for the plans. (See yesterday’s Post on The Spoon Theory.) I also have to know if it will be a “day off” or “day on” in terms of what I’ve been doing on other days. Making plans – which then seem to get locked into a rigid “SHOULD”, “MUST’, “CAN’T CHANGE IT” with most people – ends up causing guilt feelings if I don’t feel up to it on the day. I have gotten into the habit of making up excuses because the guilt is followed by shame that I can’t control my condition. Which, of course, is not only illogical but causes me stress that makes my condition worse.

Today I had to break a plan. The good news is I had a breakthrough at the same time. I didn’t make up an excuse; I simply said I wasn’t up to it. The guilt tripping games started. Okay, they said, they’d go by themselves. Never mind, they said, they understood, but oh dear, it was messing things up once they’d been planned. Rigid. I started to feel bad. Then I started to feel mad. Mad is better. Screw rigid. I can’t do it, and that’s that. Go by yourself, if you want. Don’t go at all, if you want. Or wait for me to feel better. Wait and see what happens – with me and my energy. I’m worth waiting for. That’s the crux of it right there. You either believe I’m worth being flexible for, or you don’t. And if you don’t, well, then, that tells me something about our relationship, doesn’t it?

So I feel good about how I’m going to handle rigidity now. If it feels rigid, screw it. Simple. I’m not going to be attached to commitments. I’m going to live a flexible life, and I’m pretty sure it’ll take another layer of stress out of it, which will only make me healthier.

Commitments are important, don’t get me wrong. But no commitment is worth your health. If you wreck that, then you can forget about being able to make any commitments at all.

If only it were that easy to convince the media that their rigid adherence to only bad news isn’t helpful for society’s morale (which is tied in with society’s health). The motto they live by: “If it bleeds, it leads,” really needs to be changed to, “If it’s fun, page one.” Wouldn’t you love to see feel good stories with happy endings first, and all the bad stuff at the end? (Then you’d know to when to avoid it completely!)

If it were only that easy to convince politicians that sticking to a rigid platform of attacking each other is also bad for society’s morale. AND makes people stop wanting to read about politics at all. (Side note: how can we stop the bullying epidemic if that’s all we see in our leaders?) It’s also stupid for them to appear rigid because how many times do their previous stances and quotes come back to bite them in the ass! Of course people change viewpoints through the years – it’s called growth – so why pretend that it never happens to them?

Wouldn’t it be unbelievably wonderful if just once in awhile one politician praised another for their efforts? I know, the Winter Olympics will open in Hell before that happens. Sigh.

If it were only that easy to convince society in general that they make the rules, and the viewpoints, and the value systems, and they’re different for different societies – and they can change them. They think that mindset is written in irreversible blood, but it’s not – it’s just groupthink. And it’s kind of scary, because it’s hard to fight against. But if you want to do something more flexible than what is expected of you, find the courage to say, “Screw rigid.”

I’m going to be the flexible change I’d like to see. I sure hope I see it in others, as well. Otherwise, as Dr. Phil might say to them, “How’s that rigidity working out for you?”

There’s only one rigid fact of life you can’t change, and that’s death. Why not get the most of out of your life by being a bit more flexible before the real rigid comes?

I’m just askin’ …

Posted in Fibromyalgia/Chronic Conditions, I'm Just Sayin', Political, The Grumpy Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Day 20 Logic Vacuums

Posted by themirrenlee on 20/01/2012

Copyright (c) <a href='http://www.123rf.com'>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Logic Vacuums.

They are the bane of my existence.  I have spent my whole life feeling bewildered because of them. A big one came up today and I am so cranky about it that I should be putting it in “The Grumpy Bitch” Category I’m going to have when I feel like venting about something (which is often!).

However, I thought I’d blog about it because I want to share the insanity, and who knows, maybe there are some/many of you out there who know what I’m talking about and feel the same way.

Have you wondered why my website is called “themirrenlee”? My name is Mirren Lee, and I don’t have a title like “The Queen”! However, I am an idiot, because I closed down my previous website last year before thinking it through. That website was very heavily slanted towards my coaching/acting and I wanted to start fresh with the emphasis on my writing first, coaching second. I’m taking it all very slowly because of my health, but as I get stronger (so far, so exciting!), then I’ll be making it a “proper” website, filled with more than just blogs. (The first thing I have to do is choose a new Theme because my son the uber geek (see Links for his fantastic website “geekactually.com”) designed a great Header for me, but unfortunately it doesn’t fit this Theme.)

Anyway, I tried to register “mirrenlee.com” and it’s taken. Yes, of course, it is – by ME! But I can’t access it because I’ve forgotten (as usual with me) the password for it. I can’t find a reference to it anywhere. No problem, you might think; just ask to have my password reset. Ah, here’s where the logic vacuum comes humming along. My former email address was my website: mirren@mirrenlee.com – and that address died when I closed my website! I spent over 2 hours on Live Chat with BlueHost trying to sort out this problem and get my identity back (well, that’s what it feels like). They have no simple answer for a customer who paid for a domain name that doesn’t expire until this February 28th, but can’t get at it. They want me to scan what sounds like every piece of ID I own, including photo ID, PLUS the credit card number AND receipt of payment they think I should have AFTER SEVERAL FUCKING YEARS! I’ve had TWO credit cards stolen and reissued in that time, so I don’t even have any idea WHICH credit card I used, much less the number of it!

It all sounded so hard I asked if I should just wait until it expires and then rebuy it. They said that ICAAN regulations state that I must wait EIGHTY DAYS after expiry before I can do that. My son explained it as becoming like a piece of real estate on the open market so that anyone can have a chance to buy it – or as I think of it: take my identity!

I got so mad about the whole thing I thought I was going to explode, but then I decided to look at the faith I live by. No, not any organized religion, just an absolute belief that everything happens for a reason. I decided that if the Universe was making it so hard to get “mirrenlee” then maybe it wanted me to be “themirrenlee”. I like quirky, and it’s certainly got that going for it! Making your title “the” is kind of different, and funny. I like both those things, so I’ve decided that this logic vacuum will not get to me. And it did teach me a big lesson: make sure if I close anything down, my email address will still be valid. Well, actually, more than that. It’s taught me to check that ALL my accounts (and don’t we accumulate a lot?) have my current email address.

So maybe you’re thinking, “Big deal. It isn’t that important and you sorted it out.” Yes, true, but it’s simply one case of what I notice every single day. Maybe I’ve just always been sensitive to logic vacuums. If so, trust me, it’s a curse, and one that makes me crazy on a regular basis. One of my most over used words is WHY? (And boy does that word inspire defensiveness in people.)

The latest internet censorship battle over SOPA/PIPA is a huge logic vacuum. The more people analyzed the legislation, the more infuriated and bewildered they became. There’s a wonderfully funny (and appropriate) song by the great singer/songwriter Christine Lavin called, “What Was I Thinking?” The people behind this stupidly worded legislation should all be sent copies of the song.

I’m a 40 year vegetarian. I mention the time frame because today it’s almost weird NOT to be a vegetarian, and they are well catered for. However, in the 70’s it was considered an aberration – so much so that it seemed to irritate the hell out of anyone you wanted to buy food from. I came up against endless logic vacuums when I’d ask for anything and say “but just hold the meat”. They would say no, they couldn’t do that! They would actually make me take the meat out myself, and of course, charge me for it. They could hear my WHY? on Mars, but it made no difference. It was a “policy”.

Policies, rules, regulations. Bureaucracies. Faceless, nameless, huge groups of people making decisions on all aspects of what constitutes our day to day living. Creating logic vacuums at a terrifying pace. Companies with their own particular logic vacuums: “That cheque will take 3 days to clear.” WHY? It’s the Internet age, and it’s slower than when we did bookkeeping by hand!

I bought a prepaid SIM card for my ex mother in law today for her old phone that she hasn’t used for at least 5 years. I found out it was still locked to a previous provider. I asked them to unlock it, and they said no problem, but I’d have to pay $2 for a “special” SIM card that would do the unlocking. WHY?!

Speaking of prepaid accounts: when I bought the card for her they made me fill out a huge registration form. I asked if that was because criminals tried to use prepays as “throw aways” that couldn’t be traced. The clerk said yes, and she thought it came in after 9/11. Hmmmm … I’m a dedicated reader of crime fiction novels, and in them all the “perps” are still buying “throw aways”, with no registering being mentioned. So, of course, I ask WHY? Is it because we’re in Australia and it doesn’t actually happen in the U.S., or are all the crime writers in the world wrong?! Or is Australia just being officious and trying to copy the U.S. because it wants to feel that it, too, has a real terrorist problem? So we fill out the forms, and really no one knows why we’re doing it. Logic vacuum.

I wish I didn’t feel the need to ask WHY. I wish I could just accept the insanities of the world. But I can’t. When I see/hear/experience anyone doing anything that simply doesn’t make sense, I feel an overwhelming urge, that can’t be denied, to question them about it. The corollary to that is I also ask “WHY NOT?” when they say it can’t be changed.

I basically live by the Robert Kennedy quote: There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

I have no answers, of course, on how to help change the logic vacuums we all encounter. Unless it is simply for you to ponder the concept and think about whether or not you add to the insanities, or you help defeat them. TIME magazine elected “The Protestor” as its “Man of the Year” (sic). This delights me because the opposite of protesting is apathy, and that’s scary in terms of society’s progress.

So I protest Logic Vacuums, and the only way I can cope with them at all, without going totally insane, is to fight them whenever I can. Otherwise, I feel I’ll be sucked up into the machines that makes no sense at all.

I’m just bein’ logical …

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