Somewhere in Oklahoma…
How dare you, Union Pacific, block off the ONLY road to the neighborhood I need to get to!! Alright, fine, roll on through…
…keep it moving…
…geeeeeeeeeez how long is this train? Hurry up slowpoke…
…wait, WHAT? Why are you stopping? Here?? IN FRONT OF ME???
(several torporific minutes pass)
BACKWARDS?!?! You just went– you were going — GAWDDAMMITSUMBITCCCCHHHH!
I HATE THIS PLACE!!!
[My friends and I believe I met an angel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here's the story..]
Riding the wave of musical enlightenment, I break off from my Center of the Universe clan as I proclaim in Spanish, “Necesito mear.” I need to go pee. They round the bend to find a wall to lean against while I experience the rare joy of no line for the port-o-potties!
I exit my pee terminal and find the wash stand. This is cool; a foot pump to deliver the water, a soap distributor to remain sanitized. Ahh technology! Afterwards, I open my backpack and dig for my hand lotion, the complication of darkness mixed with intoxication makes me fiend with desperation! I’m searching for this elusive bottle of lotion as I spy a group of festivalgoers carrying on in laughter and play. One of them separates from the happy herd and wanders my way. “You’re just digging away in that bag!” he notices. I give him an apprehensive look, for his hands are behind his back. The strange yet jovial man lowers his head so we’re face to face, then pronounces what he’s destined to do, “I want to give you something.” The blue eyeglasses sans lenses he’s wearing come off his face and he waves them towards me.
I smile politely and refuse, yet he’s sweetly adamant. I shake my head as I take him in: wide smile, wearing a fitted blue ball cap matching his dark blue eyes, endowed with a Bruce Campbell chin. He’s broad and tall; his body, immaculately sculpted. Holy shit, how did I not notice this dude is hot?? I smile internally at the revelation; I noticed his playful energy before I let the superficial influence me.
“Sweetie, I don’t want your glasses,” I insist.
He gestures towards me, “Take them!”
“But I already have glasses.”
“You’ll look great in them.”
“But I need glasses to see,” I explain, “there’s no lenses; how am I gonna see?”
I make a smug face. Logic trumps all.
He’s wearing the saddest look of dejection! Aww dammit, I kick myself internally, I did that thing again where I say something that makes sense to me, but comes off dickish to them. Puppy eyed, tail tucked, he starts backstepping towards his friends.
Now I realize I’m an asshole. “Come here,” I sigh, widening my arms, waving my hands to encourage him back so I can deliver an apologetic hug. “Come, come.” He smiles then wraps big arms around me, and I feel quite possibly the most purest of authentic happiness pierce my cynical skin and invade my corroded heart. We rock in this embrace. I tighten my hold as if we’ve known each other for decades.
As we pull apart, I find his face once again restored to that playful cherub. He reaches out his hand.
I extend my hand to flatten against his.
“Now stick out your thumb,” he instructs.
I flare my five so that my thumb sticks out. He does the same. “Now bring it in,” he instructs. I wrap my thumb around his hand and he does the same. He brings his face close to mine. “Hand hug.”
I smile. He smiles.
“Pay it forward.”
Tears fill my eyes as I nod, “I will.”
Even though I was standing and he was sitting, Billy towered over me by another foot. Billy’s huge, like, HUGE, with a thick neck, broad shoulders, and tree trunks as thighs. At one point in our boisterous conversation, Billy reached out for a pound, and as I served it back, my four knuckles rested against his first two. Big boy, that Billy.
We’re jawin’ on about whatnot and whatever when suddenly, Billy’s right leg swings up swiftly, his knee level to my chest, and I, out of instinct, hop back into a fight stance and lift my arms to block what seems to be a right knee to my face.
Billy doesn’t break a beat in his story as the battering ram is returned to a relaxed pose. I’m now in fight mode, but not sure why.
“Billy! What the fuck was that??”
“Oh my leg? Oh it does that.”
“Yeah, it’s like a nervous twitch or something.”
“Nervous twitch?? Billy, I thought you were gonna knee me in the face!”
“Really? No, I wouldn’t do that.”
I relax my balled fists and loosen my stance. I exhale deeply, hoping I didn’t leak out too much adrenaline. “Billy, I was gonna hit you.”
Billy slumps his shoulders and closes his eyes. “It’s okay. You can hit me.” He straightens his spine, rests his hands on his thighs, and just waits, in a knowing fashion, in a this-happens-all-the-time fashion. I’m bewildered. He doesn’t move. “Go ahead, hit me.”
Flummoxed, I look to his brethren at his right, who says, “That’s just Billy.”
Billy awaits his bludgeoning, a willing receptor for my left hook. And I thought I was insane!
“Billy,” I place a soft hand on his left shoulder, encouraging his eyes to open and look at me, “I don’t want to strike you, Billy.”
“It’s okay if you want to.”
“Thank you for the invitation, but no, I don’t want to hit you.”
Billy shifts in his seat, back into his relaxed pose, and offers sweetly, “But just so you know, if you wanna hit me, you can hit me.”
I am simultaneously touched and freaked out by his gentlemanly invitation for assault. I sit back down, where the girls are talking, and continue eating sushi.
But I have promises I have to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- from “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost
Fatigued yet excited, I pushed my truck up a slithery thin road coated with sticky, humid fog. No lights along or on the road to guide, I lowered my high beams and windows, using sound and smell to help me through the most uncertain of situations: finding my campsite at a state park I’ve never been to, completely shrouded in tall pine darkness, in a state famously known for horrific acts upon humans who didn’t look like they belonged. I not only tested Fate but I mocked her, and after some back and forth on the windy roads, I found the site, my lot, and praise Allah, a full restroom with functioning showers!
Bobby Tiberius took the role of guard dog as I rinsed off the agony of Arkansas. Friggin’ Arkansas with its major construction, which the locals will appreciate and I will refuse to traverse anytime soon. My bunk, the back of the truck, with my faithful senechaux to one side, and the local radio station broadcasting from the dashboard, lulling us to quick slumber.
The following morning, I used the dictation feature of Inkpad to capture my thoughts en Existenz. Here’s my best transcription based on the choppy voice file:
8 AUGUST: I woke up this morning to the sound of chimmy chimmy chimmy chimmy, a bird I am not familiar with … [and all I can think is] it’s a great way to wake up in the morning. … it’s been a while since I’ve woken up before sunrise; got cleaned up, walked the dog, got breakfast [out of the truck,] a nice bento box of peanut butter sandwiches and fruit for breakfast. The way the sun hits the pine tree behind the picnic table, just so warm and inviting I don’t feel any anxiety here, which kind of [strengthens] the fact that I’m much more comfortable in nature then I am in society. Waldo Emerson, David Thoreau were absolutely right; the man in nature is truly complete.
Think about for a sec…you got a running shower, you’ve got gorgeous atmosphere, scenery, isolation…man! People are too afraid to go outside! That is based on fear.
If you’re one who understands that fear is a motivator, or you’ve broke past fear … use it rather as an engagement of intention, you can pull into a state park at any evening in the dark of night and feel completely at ease.
I hate that I need a cigar to wake up, but frankly I don’t have any heating element to which I can quickly make hot water to make a cup of hot tea.
So I already have it planned for next time; book lot #2 and lot #3 of the campground, which is right across from a playground with a Frisbee golf course, a beautiful walk along the side [of it.] Waking up listening [huh?? to birds, maybe?] is the life for me. For 14 dollars you can’t get that shit in a hotel! You can’t have a conversation with the gods in a hotel! (NOTE: I recall looking up into the pines taking pictures while saying this) To which makes me think that hotels are for the lonely and fearful … I think this is the best way for me to travel, feeling most at home. I can totally see me coming out here, plugging into a outlet with my laptop, writing from sunrise to sunset. The potential to imagine would be limitless, words undisturbed and I feel, [would be] of the best quality.
I noticed that my lot neighbor has a camper and a city truck and I can only assume he might be living here. (NOTE: Waved at him when he pulled off to work, so think I was talking towards him) I don’t blame you; this is perfect.
I imagine the reason why young people don’t like to camp is because they have watched too many horror movies, like they learn from what they see on the screen, and think that’s reality… equal to reality; the reality is that you can, with nature, transcend into something greater than one is used to, become truly connected. I don’t feel I can ever longer advocate for society, I certainly can [advocate for a] transcendental experience.
I bet you want to hear about all the shenanigans I got into while traveling across the country, and we will get to that fun stuff soon, but I must open my return to Bloggyland by explaining why I had to end my vacay early.
The They are at it again.
Smartly, I had forwarded my mail to my friend’s house in the off chance I get a notification or a summons or a request for information from the They while I was trying to enjoy being alive.
And they sure did. Those fuckers sent a notice to appear for a hearing, and I had to respond immediately and be present in less than five days.
When dealing with the They, you’re not treated as a beneficiary. You’re treated like an offender. You’re not assigned a case manager; you’re assigned a probation officer. Be where you’re supposed to be, else suffer the consequences.
So ZOOM I go across the Plains, through the Heart of Dixie, and back into the Deep South. My body, not quite ready to pull this trip, managed to anyways. With another bout of sleeplessness, irritability, and mood instability, I journeyed from my home to the hearing, a full cross of my county, a bridge, and then into a city I try to actively avoid to make the 10am appointment. To add lemon juice to the paper cut, the office I arrived at was in a building down the street from the site of my worst motorcycle accident. Nothing like fresh traumatic flashbacks to start the day!
I did allow myself two drops of Visty, my psychiatrist saying I can do that “if you feel a situation oncoming that may trigger your aggression.” I did state once we were on the record, that I was attending under duress, so no one could say, “Oh I didn’t know she was symptomatic,” and hold it against me.
The night prior to the hearing, I prepped as any good lawyer should. The paperwork from the They that showed I met their guidelines. Check. The order of events since December 2013 notifying me of an audit, and the copies of the paperwork I submitted per their requirements. Check. The hand written notes I took during my request for appeal, including request for reinstatement of benefits while the appeal is processed. Check. The hand written notes the case manager at the They provided to me, indicating my cessation of benefits was erroneously entered into the system, and they had opened a ticket for their main whatever office to fix it. Check.
Considering the evidence before me, I couldn’t see how They could justify denying my continuance. So, as a good defense attorney does, I considered what evidence They had that can negate my disability status. Reviewed all that I submitted, and I patted myself on the back for being such a good, detail-oriented writer, describing down to the night terrors what a typical day in Von’s life is like. Then, I go back to the original psychiatrist who reviewed me for benefits: an expert in post traumatic stress disorder, an expert with working with disabled veterans, this guy’s word is bond. So it has to come down to….
She. She who sent me in a tailspin. She who manipulated the mental exam. She who was far from ethical and objective. I flip through the They’s rules for the hearing, and in Courier size 12 it read, “you have the right to review your case file at the time of the hearing.” This is the meat of the debacle. I *need* to see what she said about me.
So, back in the hearing room, a thick plastic wall separating me from the hearing officer, an armed security guard behind the door closed behind me, I utter after my swearing in, “I would like to review my case file.”
The largesse of the caught-off-guard hearing officer moved towards the plastic partition, “You’re supposed to do that a half hour before the hearing.”
I know this to not be true, so I restate, calmly, “I would like to review my case file.”
Visibly annoyed, he got up, asked the security officer to escort me out while he set up the computer on my side to upload the necessary files. The security officer escorts me back in, the hearing officer explains how to navigate Windows 3.1, and the two officers leave my side of the hearing room.
Even though the partition exists, Lunchy hovers as I begin to read. “We can print this out for you to take and review at home if that’s what you prefer to do.”
“Will I be granted another hearing?”
“Then I’m fine.”
Lunchy sulks. He leaves the room for a bit, then returns, noticing I’m furiously writing into my notebook, for what I was reading was indeed, infuriating.
“This hearing isn’t about the person who prepared that evidence,” he snarks.
“Yes, but those who are making a decision on my case are basing my condition on what this person said about me, correct?”
“Then it’s important I continue reviewing.”
That’s when I wrote down on my rebuttal as a reminder, high cognitive ability is an attribute of several mental disorders.
You can tell he’s flustered now. “We have some time before my noon appointment. How much more time do you need?”
My wide eyes blink up at him. “There are six pages. I am on page two. I can take 20 minutes to complete all pages.” Yeah, I may have delivered that a bit robotically too, seeing that I was already annoying him. Anytime I can bust balls, I shall!
Lunchy leaves his side of the partition, and I digest essentially my suspicion: she was not objective in her review. In one paragraph, I found complete fabrications of the event. Also, she left off way more than what I recall. For you see, I have an acute memory, even in the midst of trauma.
So on front to back wide ruled paper, I prepared a rebuttal to the evidence. Lunchy’s back in exactly 20 minutes, and I’m prepared to continue with the hearing. The testimony I provided took Lunchy an hour and a half to process. I provided him the written rebuttal to copy, and a copy of the notes I made the night prior, because I’m determined to present the facts. Along with the typed notes, I had already entered a statement contesting the reviewer’s reliability as a source for determining my case. SO happy I stuck to my rights and reviewed her copy, because my suspicions were correct. She lied. She straight up LIED and the They believed her.
During the closing of the hearing, I asked for the formal measures to report a licensed mental health practitioner and a funded mental health facility to the Florida Department of Health. Lunchy provided me the person’s name and where to mail the written report to. The look on his face was almost of pride. I must’ve turned his world around. I get this a lot during my appeal process; the They are practically shocked I can elocute effectively what my condition is, as well as deftly expose the flaws on their end. In other words, my argument is impenetrable.
I’m once again battling with finding the strength to persevere through the muck as well as finding the will to live. I think I put it so well in my journal I’ll just type it out here: “I think what it comes down to is I’m being discriminated against because I’m so articulate. I can clearly describe my conditions. I’m not stupid. Whereas VA can take in every soldier and out process them as PTSD, SSA starts first with NO, and then see if you’ll challenge their decision. And once you’re in, you’re scrutinized. If you’re not seeing a GP, you’re not sick. That’s discrimination against us who practice non-Western medicine. Then, the lack of objectivity on Dr. —– part is too outstanding to be left alone. That exam should be dismissed as evidence, and I invite DOH to present another psychiatrist with credentials as well as ethics, not just the first loser on an alphabetical list. Dr. A— = A; you’re not even trying. So all we can do is keep fighting. The center where I’m receiving treatment is on my team. My new GP is on my team. Both will submit medical evidence that I am still disabled. How irresponsible of the SSA to not enter the data in a timely fashion. How sloppy that they restored my record piecemeal; in the meantime, I still pay out of pocket for treatment expenses when my benefits kicked in June 30 of this year. I’m still under the impression they want me to see a suicide through, so that no one has to be accountable and they can get back to mass murdering the disabled. -imes