Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fabulous Dance Duo

Thanks to my friend, Beth, who sent me this link.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I Meet A Fellow PTSD-er

This past Thursday morning, crews were flying a little blimp right outside my office window. The blimp carries a camera that captures top floor views of future condominium projects. From the looks of things, a 30-storey tower is going up right outside my office window.
Steve (my ex) is visiting from LA. He’s seriously into gay sex hook-up phone apps. Using them last year he met a person in my building with whom he enjoyed a couple of dates. Yesterday he got a message from another person in this building—my next-door neighbour. I have met my neighbour and he seems very nice. Now, thanks to Steve flashing his phone at me, I have seen my neighbour naked.
Something that thrills me is this: I have learned how to put sentences into the memory of the (very expensive) app I bought for speech assistance. I now have sentences programmed into it that allow me to engage with people without fear—and to address the concern my actions and speech can provoke in strangers.
And finally…I went to a party last night and met a man (Cameron) whom I am keen to see again. We met because he was seated beside me at the dinner table. We started chatting and he was not at all off put by my speech. In fact, as we got comfortable talking, he asked my why my speech was bad and when I told him, he revealed that he, too, is a psychiatric patient and has PTSD.  Like me, he was beaten and neglected as a child and, I think, for both of us our meeting was meaningful.
I am HIV positive, almost sixty-nine, asthmatic and speech impaired due to PTSD. And all my life I failed miserably at relationships.
I had only one relationship, really: Steve. It lasted fourteen years. He spent the last several wanting out of it but he was afraid to make the move. That was twenty-two years ago. A year after Steve left me I had the rebound romance that exposed me to HIV.
Still, I searched for love.
“D&D UB2.” It means, “Drug and disease free; you be too.”  You see it in virtually every gay personals ad. It is so pervasive it exists exclusively as its acronym. It hurts to be so shunned. It makes a mockery of the concept of safe sex but I understand the fear.
So I gave up. It seemed so symmetrical to end up unwanted given that the woman who bore me gave me away. Even though I find it, at times, challenging and exhausting to go through everything alone, my background has me well equipped for undertaking the rest of my journey alone. But ... what I could do well is a platonic, but affectionate, partnership. That’s what I had for a couple of hours last night with Cameron and I’d very much like more.

The PTSD diary continues….

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sad Situation: No Speech

I keep experimenting with shapes for ice cream. This log can
be sliced to serve three people a thick round serving of fresh
strawberry ice cream with a pistachio core. Served with pistachios

I am very fond of my ex. We have remained close friends over the twenty-two years since we separated. I assume it is my excitement about his arrival that has taken my voice away. I cannot speak at all. I am leaving here in twenty minutes to see Dr. Shoja and, perhaps, to get medications to calm me.

When Beth was here and when David was here, both of whom are dear friends whom I have known for decades, my symptoms became severe because, I assume, my emotions are engaged. I'll know in an hour.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Surprises from House Arrest

There have been some surprising developments in spite of my house arrest:
Attracted to the cutest little Australian Shepherd doggie, I met his owner, Ross, who Ross told me bout It’s a site that links dog owners who leave their pets at home all day with people like me who want to walk and/or play with a dog but not to own one.
More astounding was discovering Ross was gay, a nurse clear about the non-hazards of non-detectable levels of HIV and he has PTSD and stammers. Plus he wants to date me. What are the odds? (I am not interested at all dating but his interest was flattering.)
That was my big event of yesterday. Today’s was leaving my building at 6:50 am to go to St. Paul’s for my quarterly blood test and fifty meters from my back door I came upon the body of a dead man. Someone had called the police who arrived and covered him.
The two shots above are snapshots from the statistics of readership of this blog. The graph reveals a recent sudden and dramatic increase in readership. The map shows you that the surge has come from Russia.
Tomorrow my wonderful ex, Steve, arrives. My life is going to go from 20 rpms to 200. Steve lives at a frantic pace. He comes back to Vancouver each year for Pride.
Yesterday I walked for a while with my friend Margot. She wanted a coffee so we went to a place near the beach that was crowded and loud. I could not take it. I seized right up and had to flee. The experience has had me decide not to participate in any Pride events with Steve this coming weekend.

Acute PTSD is certainly changing my life, but not for the worse.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Yesterday I walked to highway 401. I’ve been scouting locations where wild grasses grow so I can (legally) harvest it in the fall for a visual art project I’m planning. On route I passed through the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) grounds.
I stopped to rest on a bench there. I take regular breaks when I walk to drink water and to give my legs a rest. As soon as I sat down, I had “an episode;” that’s what I call them now.
When I was first diagnosed with PTSD I had many daily anxiety attacks. I’d be cripplingly anxious all the time I was outside of my condo. I needed two pairs of dark glasses and earplugs to go out and I was prone to sudden bursts of crying and fear. That was phase one.
Then came seizures; I’d have up to fifteen a day and they were brutal. I’d convulse and not really remember much. That was phase two. It, too, passed.
Now I’m in phase three. It’s characterized by these “episodes, as I call them. They are downgraded seizures. There are no more convulsions, just one or two soft body jerks, but I am still unable to speak during one; I stammer grotesquely.
At home alone I don’t have episodes. I feel perfectly normal here. But if I go out, I have a lot of them. And if I encounter a friend, it’s the first thing that happens. (I don’t stammer with clerks and receptionists usually, thank goodness.)
A beautiful old building on the PNE campus triggered my episode on that bench when I sat down yesterday I recognized it as the former Garden Pavilion, shorn of all its glory.
The Garden Pavilion was my favourite part of the PNE in the 1950s. Each year its entire interior was landscaped in an all-enveloping glory. Flowering trees towered above and exotic mosses, grasses and succulents interspersed the explosions of colour from the concentrated floral extravaganzas.
I was truly gob smacked later in life when I found out my Aunt Mary’s brother, Jimmy, created those magical gardens.
Aunt Mary wasn’t my true aunt. It was Mary who transported me from the orphanage to the Tyrell’s. And as much as I loved her and the story of how she earned her title, I could not believe that the Tyrell’s had me picked up from the orphanage and delivered like a pizza when they got custody of me.
All those thoughts flooded my brain at first glance of the former Garden Pavilion yesterday; hence, the episode. And then suddenly a lovely young woman was beside me asking if I was okay.
I still can’t comprehend why. Perhaps it was burying my face in my hands a couple of times, done in a very non-dramatic way. I don’t feel that, in any way, I was broadcasting distress but something made her come over out of concern.
I couldn’t speak coherently but I could say, “Seizure.” She understood and I was deeply moved by her kindness.
There are two social housing units fifty meters from my building. Many of the residents behave in a way that repels passers by. Since being diagnosed, at least once a month people are drawn to me to offer help by my behavior. And conversely but only once, I’ve had an instinctual conviction that my (mild) jerking during an episode caused the bus passenger beside me to change seats.

And so it goes with PTSD.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My First Fortune Cookies

Click to enlarge.

I Added Caramelized Violet Petals

Steve arrives on Tuesday. He loves ice cream and I love making ice cream. Today I put caramelized violet petals on my creamy orange ice cream "cake." How twee is that? However, twee or not, I love the contrasting colour and it will make him feel the honoured guest he is.

Pistachio Ice Cream "Cup Cakes"

Friday, July 22, 2016

Creamy Orange Ice Cream "Cake" with Flaked White Chocolate "Frosting"

LACMA Costumes

In 20010, LACMA bought two private collections of incredible historical outfits. They put together a touring exhibition that opened in one of their galleries that I went to see a while back—back before my crisis. They were brilliantly displayed in the cases in which they would travel once the show closed and to tour the USA; the crate lids bore the explanatory text.

I took a lot of photographs and combined them to make this film. I had no idea when I went to see this how that in 2014 I'd be building costumes in this style (out of paper) for a stage play.

I posted this quite a while ago on YouTube (4,000 visitors so far!) but I never posted it on my blog, so ....

My Passionate Antidote

Writing fiction is pure joy.
Every morning, I write a conversation between my characters. I start fresh and go to a natural end. They are isolated conversations with neither stage direction nor continuous with the previous day’s dialogue, but they all relate to a single theme. Eventually I hope to create a two-act play that I can produce.
Playwrights often engage their audiences by building their plays around an event or dramatic action to provide entertainment for your eye while your mind grapples with the ideas in the text. I’m avoiding that; Camilla, Des and Morris do nothing, Seinfeld-like, in Morris’ condo.
I was always hurrying in my past. Clients wanted work yesterday or I wanted to see the tangible outcomes of my work as soon as I could. Now, however, in domestic exile due to the PTSD, I have an abundance of time that has given me the motivation and capacity to aim high.
I made Dr. Shoja laugh heartily this week by having a laughing fit myself. I’d been talking about something when suddenly, with no warning, I asked her if I might stammer for the rest of my life. I caught her off guard and her face just froze for a few seconds and I started to laugh—and soon, quite hard. But her freeze told me more than whatever words she was searching for would have.

I tried to see myself this winter and I saw myself unchanged from today—stuck in home arrest and stammering badly often, so this challenge to write something long and with every word and action carefully chosen will be a very practical antidote to ennui.