Discussions of Funerals and Such

Today is the funeral of a friend of the family who died as a result of Covid 19. My brother is there now, and there’s nothing I can do except be encouraging, even though it puts me into the headspace where I relive every funeral I’ve ever been to. Funerals aren’t usually anyone’s cup of tea, but my brother especially, is not good with them. He has his reasons, and they’re perfectly understandable. That’s why he texted me this morning to ask if he looked okay and to go over certain things since we don’t usually get asked to attend non-Jewish funerals. There are religious and cultural differences between the two, believe me.

I’m in an okay element at the majority of funerals I attend. I’m being brutally honest when I say I’m invited to funerals, but no one ever invites me to their wedding. I’m serious about this, too, so don’t invite me to a wedding out of pity. I have nothing to offer there.

Having always been honest about life and death is likely crucial to how I handle things as an adult. My mother didn’t try to pretty it up for me when my Grandfather died, or when subsequent family members passed away after the fact. There were no bullshit stories in my home growing up, and I had no tolerance when people attempted bullshit stories with me. I haven’t changed on that level.

I cringe when people tell me how they (tried to) explain death to a child (at age three-ish or so), and fucked up royally (My words, not theirs. They think they did the right thing. My eyes rolled to Japan and are on their way back. Excuse me one moment.). I’m mortified by the shit they tell their kids because that level of dishonesty will shape them as they get older, and I’m not good with it. To this day, I still can’t tolerate the lies people tell. If you ever wonder how dishonest you come off, ask me and I’ll tell you.

Yes, I was the kid who told all the other kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real. And I’d do it all over again, too. I mildly got in trouble for my honesty growing up, but it was mostly in the sense that my mother understood why I was being so honest, and told me it was the responsibility of other parents to also be honest with their children, or not. And if “not” was on the table, then I needed to try and keep my mouth shut, so as not to interfere with what they wanted their children to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been on board with that.

In my eyes, a funeral is where you go and pay your respects. You’re not doing it for you or those involved (unless you’re really close with them), you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Respect is something I find lacking in so many relationships these days, and it’s disgusting to me. If you are unable to attend, then you send something, based solely on your relationship with the survivors of the deceased. I generally send cards and fruit baskets, but last year, when my cousins lost their mother to cancer, I had trees planted in Israel in memory of her, because I knew it would mean more to them, and it did.

When my father passed away, I sorted through hundreds of cards. I’m not exaggerating; cards came daily for over three months, and there were a decent amount of people at his funeral. When my mother passed away, I didn’t get five cards in total, and I got only three phone calls. It was bizarre as hell. My support system (i.e: Family) sucked then and it sucks even worse now. I cope differently than I used to. The person who buried her parents five months apart is a completely different woman now. I am colder, harsher, and darker, but I respect myself more for that than I once did. You see, these hard things change you, and when they do, you should honor the change, and not think of it as something awful. Change means growth. That’s not negative, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Did I want to burn my Aunt and Uncle’s house down after my father’s funeral? Absolutely, but I didn’t (Instead, I marched over to my Uncle’s grave and tore his spirit a new asshole. It felt good to get the anger out of my system, in the moment.). Did I want to rip people to shreds at my mother’s funeral? Yes. Instead, I stayed quiet, behind dark sunglasses, like a lady, and spoke when spoken to, after eulogizing my mother. I admire the woman I was that day because behind her pain, she was poised as hell. I am still poised. If you’re kind to me, I will be kind in turn. If you’re disrespectful, it’s not beneath me to throw you into the nearest open grave and shovel dirt over you. Everyone picks their own poison with me, no pun intended.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad that people still don’t seem to understand how serious this pandemic is and I’m sad many people have had to say goodbye to loved ones way too soon, and I’m angry with the knowledge that much of this could have been prevented.

I’d like to go back to normal. I’d like to not have to wear a mask (I’ve nearly walked out without one so many times.). I’d like to not have to worry about whether or not I’ve touched something that may be contaminated, etc. I’d like for people to feel safe again and not be worried, but I’m too realistic for that. Naturally, I have definitive opinions on the three vaccines that were pushed through and approved in less than a year, too, but that’s a discussion for another day and, possibly, a different audience entirely.

For today, I wish everyone the best and hope that you’re safe, healthy, and coping to the best of your ability. If you’re not, please know you’re not alone.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Election Day 2020

Everyone I spoke to this week, save two or three people, brought up today’s election. I am trying to be positive, yet realistic. I am not telling anyone who to vote for because I don’t feel it’s my place. We all have different things that are important to us when we vote. I have a list of things I have to weigh in order for someone to get my vote; it’s important to me that I elect officials who’ve earned the spot.

I am an incredibly free thinker. My father used to refer to me as, “My daughter, the liberal.” The truth is, I see things differently than he did and I see things differently than a lot of people do. Also, I am not one for strict party loyalty. That’s not how I envision the future of this country. It would be hard not to see the obvious division.

I’m a registered Independent and have voted this and that way from day one. I remember my voting record from my first election until now. I have always tried to make a fair decision, even in primary elections.

I come from a family of predominantly staunch Democrats (My Mom’s side and my Dad’s. I don’t know the history behind why this became a generational thing.). Often, I avoid political discussions with them simply because they stress me out to the Nth degree. If they suspect you think differently from them, it can become a fight. Never argue with the lawyers in your family; they are determined to argue until they turn one color or another.

My cousin, Amy, represents the 88th Assembly District in the state of New York. https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Amy-Paulin I mention this because I feel the need to be transparent about it. I disagree with some of the things she supports, like gun control, but not everything. She’s clearly done great work for the past nineteen years. Her reputation speaks for itself. Don’t worry; she wouldn’t know me if she walked past me on a street corner anywhere, but my mother and Aunt grew up with her and her siblings. I try to be courteous and respectful about this. Trust me, she hasn’t seen me since I was under the age of six. But, I digress…

For me, as I edge closer to politics to help get certain things changed in various communities, I find myself having to hold representatives accountable. Many people have pointed out that I am the right person for that particular job. Having a strong voice is one thing; knowing how to use it properly is another thing entirely.

I’ve voted in almost every state I’ve lived in, but this morning, I tracked my ballot as it pertains to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the General Election. 😒 It was accepted last week and is ready to be counted.

After a lot of deliberation, I made a decision I can live with, one I know won’t harm my family or friends. It was not a, “red versus blue” scenario for me. I weighed so many things in my head. Mental health care was first, so that no one in this country slips through the cracks. I know how hard my own battle has been to find the right doctor (and I always make it clear that I am grateful to have insurance. My insurance has been a G-d send.), and to still be searching for a therapist after over a year of searching when my previous one proved to be way too flaky, and that’s putting it mildly. My doctor validated that I have done the hard work of introspection and healing on my own, without a therapist. He feels I’ve done a great job solo, but the truth is, I shouldn’t have to do it without an ounce of support, though he has been amazing.

Women’s rights are important all across the board, and especially women’s health care on every level. I am always going to be pro-choice. I don’t feel insurance companies should be allowed to dictate our care to us, nor should they drop patients with cancer or any high-cost treatment needs. I have never seen a man dropped from his insurance anywhere near as quickly as I’ve seen women constantly being cut off from crucial healthcare over the past ten years. Many women are losing their OB/GYN simply because they are on medication the doctor they’ve seen for 20+ years is not comfortable with them taking, so they are being let go as a patient with a letter of dismissal. The reasoning isn’t even valid, but I’ve seen the exact same form letter sent to hundreds of people all over the country, and I’m sure many more have not shared them with their pain groups or specific advocacy groups. Not a single phrase is different from one letter to the next. Don’t even ask me how pain patients are being treated because it’s getting worse every single day. My own doctor is playing games with my pain and the lack of treatment he is providing. I am angry as hell over how much money I have spent on CBD products in the past five months. Let me be clear; I know it is a privilege to be able to do it at all. I know it is a privilege to do anything to attempt to reduce my pain levels, despite the fact that my insurance fully covers medication I would much prefer to take. I don’t take that knowedge lightly at all.

Countries we give aid to was on the list, as well, because I take issue with how we help everyone (including a long list we should not be giving a penny to), but will allow our own people, many mentally ill individuals, even our own veterans to become homeless and/or to remain ill with no assistance at all. Not everyone who is homeless is an, “uneducated bum”. Let’s be clear about that because too many people say it without realizing how quickly it could happen to them. There are people on the streets with doctorates and truly brilliant, gifted minds. They were allowed to fall through the cracks of a broken system. That is not okay with me.

I thought a great deal about our entire healthcare system. I talked with two of my doctors, and friends who are doctors in this country (and in other countries). I have a few doctors in my family, too. They’re all quite furious with how Covid has been handled here. They’re still fighting for PPE all these months later. Many people were forced to purchase all of their own PPE materials, and they cannot afford to keep doing so.

I thought about all of the small businesses that were wiped out due to Covid. I see more empty buildings than full ones, even in bustling places like Boston, right near Fenway Park. I only know a handful of people who were able to keep things going, professionally downsize to one brick and mortar location instead of 2+, and many who created businesses during the start of quarantine which allows them to create amazing things from home.

I thought about all of the bigger businesses I never could have imagined closing their doors, including hundreds of restaurants which have been around for longer than you or me. I keep finding myself startled by the boarded up businesses that are no longer. It jolts me to my core because I don’t know how we get back to helping the working class, the middle class are the heart and soul of this country, and they have been epically failed. We MUST support our people with financial assistance until there’s a solid vaccine in place that is accessible to all, and we cannot allow them to be called, “lazy”, because there are far less jobs available now than there were this time a year ago. They must receive support until they are able to return to a job safely, and for millions, they will be starting over. No one who is able-bodied and healthy is sitting around not looking for work right now. People have bills to pay and families they provide for. Even if you’re single, you still need to be able to cover your expenses and food.

We must expand legitimate affordable housing and make homes more affordable to purchase. I have watched a lot of new construction go up this year and the prices are beyond ludicrous. Realistically speaking, most people cannot afford $5000 a month for an apartment, and even if they can, it’s beyond wasteful unless it is short-term. Many people can’t afford half that amount, even with roommates to help cover expenses. If you’re paying $2000 a month on rent, minus utilities, you just tossed away $24,000 in a year, and you don’t get any of that back on your income tax return. As a home owner, you are able to deduct a portion of your home each year, more so if you are working from home. Some people don’t make $24,000 a year, so when I say “affordable housing”, I am not saying let people live in disgusting conditions. No way. They should have just as much access to all the, “luxury apartments” that go up daily all across this country. The ultra rich should not be dictating real estate prices to the middle class, or to those who live below the poverty line. Everyone deserves a safe roof over their heads that cannot be taken away from them.

I grew up middle class, in one of the greatest cities in the world. I had no clue my father actually made a very good, often six figure, living and didn’t always make the best decisions with money. One decision he made cost his family a house that would be worth millions or tens of millions now. I try to make the most responsible decisions possible so that I don’t have to look back on regrets that large.

All too many people on the front lines have lost their lives to Covid, predominantly healthcare and food workers, simply by going to work and trying to help others. That is not something I can abide by, either.

I am thinking a great deal about the violence in this country, especially coming from police officers. A man was shot in Massachusetts today, all because one officer pulled his weapon while others tried to contain the situation with a taser, which failed to work somehow. They killed someone who was mentally ill. I am beyond outraged by how many mentally ill people are being murdered in cold blood by officers with itchy trigger fingers. I am equally outraged by police murdering people and judging them based on nothing more than the color of their skin. Racism in this country is at an all-time high, as are anti-Semitic attacks (New York City, take a long hard look at your mayor, governor, and some of your elected “officials”.), and attacks on places of worship from homegrown terrorists. I am all for peaceful protests, but not supportive of destruction of property or burning anything down. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel they have any other choice. 😦 This needs to be addressed, over time. There’s no quick fix for any of it.

Have you been shopping online more now than ever before? I absolutely have. In the ten years I’ve been an Amazon shopper (I might be off by a few years), I have never relied so heavily on any kind of service as I have with Prime this year. I probably see a dozen, or more, Amazon trucks each day. This doesn’t include all of the people delivering groceries in their personal vehicles. Oftentimes a vehicle is down the street and I am the tenth stop. They might be dropping off something minor, like when I had to replace a belt and saw that I was also low on socks, or they might be delivering roughly 80% of my grocery list for 2-3 weeks. Please, if you are using grocery delivery in any capacity, make sure your driver receives a tip. If you want to pay them in cash, put it into an envelope and let the driver know in your delivery instructions where it will be. Show them your appreciation because it is a true privilege to have your groceries brought to you. People in other highly developed countries have not mentioned this to me at all. The drivers may be going to tons of homes, but they’re working harder than you might realize. Be appreciative. Many of them are working for Amazon to make sure they aren’t stuck at home looking for a job right now that may not be available for another year or two. Many of the people who’ve delivered for me were genuinely shocked when I came out with a mask to make sure they got a tip (Sometimes, the credit card system doesn’t allow me to add it in and, obviously, it leaves me frustrated. I don’t want anyone to feel unappreciated.). One woman nearly cried, and I want to stress the importance of being courteous to those who are doing a service for you.

Please stay safe if you’re headed to the polls today. I’ve had people report long and short lines, among other things. I am concerned about people’s safety and the so-called, “poll watchers”. I’ve never rolled my eyes harder, or maybe I have. It will be hard to escape the news in the coming days, weeks, and possibly months. Please place your safety, and that of your loved ones, above all else. Cast your ballot and breathe calmly in the safety of your own home.

Side note: November is #NationalVeteransMilitaryFamiliesMonth. I’m repping #Green💚 for #MentalHealthAwareness and for our #Veterans.

I wore this shirt yesterday (The design has been discontinued, but you can find others HERE by looking for Mental Health Awareness. I highly recommend this t-shirt company. Their products are high quality and the shirts are really soft.) and my first manicure in eight months is Essie in Heart of the Jungle (lighter shade) and Sweater Weather on the ring fingers. Top coat is Nail-Aid Gel Xtreme Shine. Hand care is AHAVA (15% off right now) and Gloves In A Bottle. I will change up the color before Thanksgiving, but clearly, I’m showing my support. I practice what I preach, even if I do it a little more colorfully than others might.

My local Congressman is up for reelection. It’s my second time voting for him. He’s a Marine veteran, and a Scorpio. He’s a crucial component to the future of this nation. As a registered Independent, I proudly back him. No, he didn’t pay me for my endorsement as a #Writer.

G-d help us all. Again, stay safe. 🙏

copyright 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

When I Say It’s You I Like…

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ―Fred Rogers

The Well-Placed Word

dowhatyoufeel

Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.