dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)

The expected phone call came this morning. The Honda is totaled. $1410.50 if I walk away from it, $1212.50 if I want to hang on to it and try to get it repaired myself. So now the questions are: how much will it cost to fix the important stuff (i.e., make it safe to drive at highway speeds and not be in the process of damaging itself farther, and fix the lights); and, how much car does $1400 buy me around Baltimore nowadays, how reliable and how double-bass-friendly (with "how much will Glenn like it" being, alas, a more distant concern)?

And they want my answer by Monday (which is also when the rental has to go back) or Tuesday. Er ... can I get an estimate that fast?

On the first question, y'all can't help much, of course (except by suggesting trustworthy garages that I can walk or take a bus home from, that might be able to look at the car today/Monday -- I'm going to phone Comprehensive Car Care and/or Three Brothers after I take my morning meds and feed Perrine).

But on the second question, have any of you got relevant, recent used-car-buying experiences to draw on (or have a hobby of trolling used car ads for fun, for that matter)?

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:06pm on 2005-08-25 under , , , ,

Health & Beingness Status (uh, 'Existential State'?):

Woke with mild headache and mild nausea. Could be fallout from the cold/cough I've been fighting (much improved since the few days it kept me in my tent at Pennsic, but still feeling annoyingly phlegmish and coughing) or early stages of an incoming migraine. So I decided to take some caffeine as a diagnostic. If it makes me feel better, the symptoms are probably migraine-related. If it makes me feel worse, probably not. If it makes me feel both better and worse at the same time ... I'll try to be creative and entertaining when I whine about it.

I consider caffeine a drug, both in the abstract "well of course it's a drug, technically" sense, and in more concrete senses -- such as noting that it will have effects on my body, only taking it intentionally, and noting it in my what-drugs-I-took-when log. This way of thinking is, no doubt, influenced by the fact that caffeine's effects on me usually include some discomfort or unpleasantness (so I cannot just take it casually the way so many other people do), and the fact that I cannot use it as a stimulant the way most of my culture does (it makes me feel sleepy but keeps me from actually getting to sleep ... yeah, as a stimulant it's still a drug, but so many people treat it as if it were a special category ... on the other hand, I don't write down my theobromine intake.) And also the fact that caffeine's effects on my body have changed greatly over the years. When I was in high school and college, it seemed to have absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. For several years after that, it would actually put me to sleep.

But just because it's a drug doesn't mean that I have to take it in the most boring way possible. I've got multiple caffeine delivery systems on hand, including Canadian OTC aspirin/caffeine/codeine tablets, drip-grind coffee, Turkish coffee, and tea (though I'm still a bit confused: does tea contain caffeine as well as theophylline, or does it contain theophylline instead of caffeine and just gets referred to as having caffeine or being 'decaffeinated' because the two stimulants are too similar for any but pedants like me to give a crap about the distinction?). On occasion I also have Coke (hey, I capitalized it; do I really have to add the 'TM' symbol in a blog reference?) in the 'fridge. This morning I chose Turkish coffee as my caffeine delivery system. (Note: I also have decaffeinated coffee in Turkish grind on hand because I like Turkish/Greek coffee as a beverage, not as the caffeine-machismo-demonstration some barbarians seem to think it is. Yeah, it's a damned strong flavour. Drink it iff you like such strong flavours, not if it's a challenge to your mouth.)

Since I also needed to eat, both to counter any effects of hunger on the headache and to hope to settle my stomach a little, I considered what I had in the house that would go well with the coffee and be gentle on my stomach. I chose toast with Raspberry Tart preserves, and the last of the halloumi (my favouritest cheese in the world) that I brought back from Pennsic, and afterwards I nibbled slivers of Ghirardelli dark chocolate. Not bad for a breakfast assembled For Medicinal Purposes, eh? Between the the strong-flavours-I-really-like aspect, the ties-to-my-heritage aspect, and the fact that gifts from both of my lovers were components of my breakfast, it was a lift for my spirits whether the caffeine helps me headache or not.

(Yes, the main point of this entire entry was to get to the previous paragraph.)

Eventually I'd like to get a left-handed ibrik or cezve (the Arabic and Turkish names for it, and no, I can never remember what it's called; I had to Google for it ... but I should ask my mother the Greek word for it [Edit: just got email from Mom -- "It is called an Mbriki, which I think is a Turkish word."]). I could probably make mine ambidextrous (ambisinister?) with a small hammer, a block of wood, and some care, but I expect I'd damage the lining and need to get it re-tinned, so I probably won't try to do that until it needs tinning already and/or I know where to get that done.

Financial News:

While I have not yet heard from Bon Secours, the hospital I was taken to after I got beaten up, today's mail brought a bill from Butler Memorial, the hospital I went to during Pennsic when I made the chirurgeons nervous. The big scary total for that was $1,460.13 but they applied a "hospital courtesy discount" (which I think means a "because we know you're poor" discount) of $584.05 for a bottom line of $876.08. And a handwritten note with Hi-Liter across it, saying to phone them to set up a payment plan or see whether I qualify for financial assistance. So I guess it's not just the medical personnel who seem so much more efficient out in western Pennsylvania than back home in central Maryland.

And the other significant thing in today's mail is that one of my credit unions is threatening to sue me over my outstanding credit card balance of $0.00 (with a warning that interest continues to accrue. I could be liable for their court costs and attorney fees if they have to take me to court to get their $0.00. "To settle this matter, you must remit $0.00 to satisfy the loan. [...] Your failure to respond may leave us with no alternative but to proceed with suit."

Gosh, I really hope my failure to respond leaves them with the alternative of noticing that the balance is zero, but just in case, what do I do, mail them a check for $0.00? And do I write "zero dollars" or "none" on the line for the spelled-out amount? (I ignored a letter like this months ago, assuming that when it got flagged for attention by a human, they'd notice the zero balance. Looks like either I was wrong, or it takes a long time before it winds up in a human's hands. Guess I'll spend the money for a stamp.)

Hmm. I should call Bon Secours and ask what's up with my bill.

Just To Have A Third Heading:

Obviously I didn't get much writing done last night after all. I'll try to resume catching up on recent events later this afternoon or evening.

But in the course of writing this, I've had time for the caffeine to take effect, and the verdict is ... it helped a little. So I should consider stronger anti-migraine measures.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)

1) In my previous post, I mentioned an overdue "how I'm really doing" entry that I plan to write Real Soon Now. When I wrote that, I fully intended the next paragraph to be a very brief comment on noticing that although I don't feel mentally/emotionally messed up over having gotten beaten up at this point, nor feel upset when others mention it, I keep sliding away from the topic in my head. I plan to write about it, and the thought escapes before it's typed. I plan to deal with the hospital or donations, and get distracted by just about anything else almost immediately. It was several days after I'd looked up the serial number of the flash unit they took before I managed to keep the thought "call the police and tell them the serial number" in my head long enough to pick up a phone. So there's something I haven't worked out, and I'm a little too good at hiding from myself. On the one hand, I fear that if it's bad enough to trigger this stubborn a defense mechanism, confronting it won't be fun; on the other hand, I'd really like to get past whatever it is, if for no other reason than that the defense mechanism is bloody annoying and is getting in my way. Not feeling like the shining example of mental health here, despite not feeling anything directly and acutely at the same time.

2) Jeepers, I really need to get around to rearranging the house so that the music room is on the ground floor. Carrying amplifiers down from the third floor when my arms feel like this sucks. Think maybe the drum kit will stay home. (The big question is; can I bring the snare drum without feeling compelled to drag along at least the hi-hat and the kick drum?)

2a) The piano is definitely staying home. Not that I was actually thinking of bringing it before, mind you, but it would be pretty cool to take it to Baitcon one of these years. (This is not as absurd as it sounds, since it's a Fender-Rhodes, and hauling it up or down a flight of stairs is (just barely) only a two-people-my-size task. It'd be a bit of a pain to lug to the Catskills, but if any real pianists were going to enjoy it there -- real piano mechanism, real piano feel, not like most synthesizer keyboards -- I'd get a kick out of that. I don't play piano enough to make it worth bringing just for myself, just enough to find it useful for working out arrangements.)

3) I so need a saxophone.

I am almost certainly going to have a good time this weekend. Thing is, I'll come home very tired, need to dive into preparing for Pennsic and taking care of unrelated must-be-done-before-Pennsic tasks, and probably won't have the time and energy to write about what a good time I had. I need to do something about this, so the happyniftycool stuff gets its proper share of airtime.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)

Okay, I'm not really doing as okay as I'd like to be, or as I'd like to claim to be. *sigh* I'm not worried about me -- I'm confident that I will be just fine -- but the process of working through my mental/emotional reactions to what happened is uncomfortable. And the old "I'm supposed to be both tough enough to be able to find the shortcuts through psychological trauma" meme isn't helping, of course. I keep wanting to ask my subconscious, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? Are we there yet?"[1] Feh.

One annoying pattern I've noticed is that just as I'm falling asleep, I see the attack unfold all over again in slow motion, up to about the second blow that struck my head. And then I'm awake again, feeling agitated and annoyed, and filled with "shoulda" thoughts: looking for what I could have -- should have -- done differently. Taken a step to my left before the first one tried to kick me. Turned my body fifteen degrees to the right. Paid more attention to the one coming in from my right instead of the one in front of me. Used the camera as a weapon instead of trying to protect it. Ducked. Gotten a clue that I was in danger a second or two earlier and started figuring out tactics then. Tried to kick an exposed knee instead of trying to throw an elbow at a face. Run into the intersection so the folks sitting on their steps on Fulton Ave. would've been witnesses. Something. Ideally something that would have netted me a souvenir chunk of hair or flesh ripped from one of those guys.

I can manage not to blame myself for anything that happened after the first punch landed; after the second head blow I was too dazed to be effective, and the first one stunned me long enough for the second to land. And I'm pretty solid on not blaming myself for having gotten attacked for just existing as a transgendered person (though there are a few thoughts of the "could I have said anything that would have changed their minds?" variety). But the moments from when they started to rush me to the first swing that connected keep coming up for review. I'm hoping that by sitting down and writing this, I can get the annoying coach to stop waving that pointer at the screen where the replays are showing and yelling at me for my mistakes and poor technique, at least for tonight. (He'll probably be chewing me out again from inside my skull tomorrow night though. Dammit coach, remember that I'm only junior-varsity at best when it comes to fisticuffs, and these guys were semi-pro -- give me a break, willya?)

It's not as though I expect myself to have been able to win the fight ... Except in a few fantasies that involve my managing a few perfectly-timed martial-arts moves that lay out half the group on the street and thus intimidate the other half into backing off, or get one of them into a lethal hold and use him as a shield/hostage until the police arrive ... Well okay, more like a stuntman steps in to do most of that and then I step back in to deliver the really dramatic lines and as far as the folks watching in the movie theatre are concerned I kicked ass ... but those fantasies are just how my inner eight-year-old rewrites the scene, not what the coach-in-my-head is yelling about ...

So it's not like I feel I should have been able to take on a half dozen or so younger, faster guys who actually know how to throw a punch, and come out on top. It's just that I can't help feeling that I should've managed not to come out seeming so utterly helpless. It's like it wasn't even a "respectable loss". It's like getting into a head-cutting contest[2] and only being able to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", at half speed, unevenly. Showing some ability and being seriously outclassed is one thing; looking like you don't even belong there is another. There's just enough "man" in my gender[3] to feel that I "really ought to" not look like a complete idiot in a fight. Even outnumbered six-or-more to one.

And yes, yes, somewhere in the hundreds of comments to my recent journal entries, which I've read and plan to reread at different stages to see what sinks in when, and later reply to some of, a few people, IIRC, have already pointed out that not fighting back can sometimes be the right answer, ego be damned, and that feeling this way about it isn't useful or rational. And some part of me knew that early on, when I wrote that the attackers lost interest after I went down, and that I went down pretty quickly. I know, or at least I think I know, what's wrong with the attitude I've expressed here, the meme-set with which I manage to torture myself when I so badly want to just fall asleep. Knowledge isn't understanding and understanding isn't having-internalized. One more part of what I have to work through, one more bit of rusty barbed wire on what looked like a psychological shortcut. One more "gee Glenn, you're a lot like everyone else, you bozo".

I'd just be happy to have the nightly slow motion replays stop. There's an [livejournal.com profile] anniemal I ought to be cuddling instead of typing this. Still hoping that by writing this out, I'll exorcise it for the night.

So one hemisphere is blathering about how I shoulda' taught dose guys a lesson, yeah, if'n I hadn't been so dumb and let dat foist one clock me so early and muttering under its breath that it's important to teach clowns like them that femmy doesn't mean helpless -- gotta confound those stereotypes -- and boy did I blow it ...

... While the other hemisphere is sternly lecturing that I am not crippled, nor dead, so I must therefore be okay; so why do I not feel okay? and I must be a shining example to those around me, showing that a minor thing such as being set upon by ruffians is not enough to make me feel defeated; we must go about with our heads held high and that means I myself am called upon to lead by example with more than a little bit of I hate it when my friends are upset so I have to Be Okay so that they won't worry[4] ...

... And some lobe is looking perplexed and saying, I'm smarter than this. I'm not supposed to fall into these traps. Why am I feeling like this, thinking these thoughts? I'm not supposed to take as long as anyone else to recover my emotional balance; I'm analytical and able to rewire my brain and should be able to make myself All Recovered And Fine with a quick pass through the debugger and a few tweaks to some of the registers. Why do I still feel messed up? and some gland or something is shouting, No fair! Do over! But I get a sword this time to even things up!

Gee, no wonder I'm having trouble sleeping. (Maybe it won't seem as noisy if I try to give them all the same accent?)

(Hmm. This reminds me that I've had an essay in mind for a month or so about what I do to distract myself or shut up the too many thoughts. While I'm in the middle of coping with a worse-than-usual case of that might be a good time to finally get around to it. I'll try to get to that this week.)

So no, I guess I'm not actually okay. Yet. But I'm sure I'll get there. I'm just kinda hatin' the trip.

And reading back over this before posting it, I can't tell whether how I'm coping so far (and how I'm approaching it and what I have and haven't realized/recognized intellectually) is more healthy or less healthy than average, or absofuckinglutely typical. But that at least is merely a matter of scientific curiosity so far, not one more thing to beat myself up over, thank goodness.


[1] To which the canonical response is, "We're there. We're there. It's just a very long driveway!"

[2] Uh, for non-musicians reading this, that's not as bloody as it sounds, really.

[3] For relative newcomers, and for folks who've been reading a while but not when I've talked about it, I currently think of myself as "intergendered" (which some would call a subset of "genderqueer"). There are both male and female in my gender identity, although the scale tips heavily to the female. (While my body tips rather heavily in the other direction.)

[4] Hmm. I wonder whether this connects in any way to my having so much difficulty asking for help even when I manage to figure out what help I need and people have already offered ... ? Maybe I should be in therapy.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)

Folks,

This is a more difficult entry to figure out how to start than I had expected it to be, so I guess beginning by saying that I am overwhelmed by your support isn't an overstatement after all. Thank you..

The response is a little intimidating because it's so huge, and some of it so vehement, and here I am walking around the next day while other victims of similar violence wind up hospitalized or dead. Yes, what happened to me was horrible, and the fact that such a thing could happen at all is horrible, and of course my friends and community will be Especially Horrified that it happened to me, and I really am grateful for the emotional support, the e-hugs, and the anger on my behalf, from friends, acquaintances, and from strangers ... I'm just a little freaked out by not knowing what to do with so much support and feeling a little (probably irrational) guilt at getting so much of your emotion when there are transgendered people being beaten worse than I got, every week. That's probably a problem with the inside of my head, not with your responses and support. And I know that much of the support is for the emotional impact of having had this happen to me at all, not for the magnitude of my injuries. Does this count as "liberal guilt", that as grateful as I am for the reminders that what happens to me counts, I still can't help thinking of the folks who get killed for being themselves, when I read (and am warmed by) each new message of support? (Or does it just mean I need therapy?)

Please indulge me for a moment while I try to work off some of that probably-irrational guilt with a little preaching. I'll be brief, honest. I'll try to keep it to one paragraph:

Many folks have said things along the lines of, "let us know if there's anything we can do to help." Well, I do need help, but I'm not very good at figuring out what I need help with, and I'm even worse at managing to ask for it even when folks have offered (and I know that's a my-head problem, not a problem with how help is being offered), but I think I can ask this -- if I don't figure out a way to ask you for help myself, please look at doing anything to make life safer for others as doing something to help me. I'm thinking "transgendered people" when I say "others", but widen that to all GBLT folks, or to any other populations at increased risk of violence if you like. Speak out. Complain about stereotypes and ugly speech. Contribute to visibility campaigns. Lobby for better police awareness in cities I don't go to as well as ones I do. Offer your support to a transgendered cousin or niece or nephew. Vote. If retelling my story helps because it personalizes things, feel free to do so. There's little to no chance that the guys who beat me up will be caught, but if my wonderful friends, and their cool friends, are motivated to activism on behalf of people like me, then some good will have come out of this horrible act. And you will have helped me even if I can't figure out how to ask for help personally.

Thanks also to the people who've sent me money via PayPal. I've gotten offers of flash units to replace the one that was taken, but I do not have medical insurance and don't know how much the ER bill is going to wind up being. Your words and deeds matter more to me than your money, but I'll not turn down what financial assistance comes my way. I hadn't thought of it until I saw that someone had asked one of my friends for my PayPal address (which is dglenn@radix.net). Again, thanks.

And finally, an update (copied from what I sent to a mailing list this afternoon): I can still feel the pain in my back, especially if I twist the wrong way, but I can now take full breaths again. If I'm lucky, it'll be down to an ignoreable level before I use up the pain meds prescribed by the ER doctor, so I'll have some left for using on fibromyalgia pain over the next couple months. (I had run out of Ultram again.) At the current rate of progress, I might try to play double bass at rehearsal tomorrow after all -- yesterday that seemed unlikely, today it seems possible though still uncertain. The bruise under my left eye, small to begin with, has nearly faded already. The one under my right eye has darkened, so that instead of looking like a faint blue mascara smudge, it now looks like a reddish-purple bruise (about the size of the last joint of my pinkie -- half as long as the width of my eye). The invisible bruise on my right cheek is still invisible and still swollen, but has reduced significantly (I now only feel it when I smile or when I touch my cheek). I discovered a bruise on the left side of my face, under my beard, by touch last night; it's still tender but getting better. The elbow is behaving as a scraped elbow is expected to -- I've been putting triple-antibiotic ointment on it just to speed things along a bit because I want that reminder gone, not because it really needs any help (though I just noticed that the brand I bought, unlike my last tube and the name-brand stuff, doesn't mention zinc on it ... odd). My right eyelid still feels a wee bit puffy and tender. And looking in the mirror this afternoon I discovered an abrasion near my left eye that was so slight it took this long to ooze enough fluid to form a scab, and was invisible until the scab formed -- I mention it solely for the sake of completeness.

Later on, I'll post thoughts about arming myself -- what that does and doesn't mean -- but for now, this has gotten kind of long, so I'll stop here.

And again, thank you, all of you, for your support. I'll try to start in on replies to individual comments and email in a while, after a bit more rest.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 09:58am on 2005-07-10 under ,

Sorry to leave folks hanging for several hours after mentioning at the end of my previous entry that breathing was painful. I did decide, shortly after posting that, to call for an ambulance. Which arrived in as much time as it took to reestablish my PPP connection and start to edit an addendum onto that entry. (And with my cell phone out of order, I couldn't post an update from the ER.)

The short answer to the question I know many of you have: I've got a contusion somewhere inside my torso, which is what makes taking full breaths (and standing upright, and lying on my back) so painful. It seems there's nothing modern medicine can do for such an injury except prescribe painkillers and wait. OTOH, it just hurts like a #$#%!rf*%^$r as opposed to, like, potentially killing me or something.

A little more info: after not having shown up by the time I called for an ambulance (an hour after my first 911 call), the police also failed to materialize when called by the ambulance crew. They did eventually show up at the hospital, but I had to tell my story to three different officers (a fourth was involved but didn't ask for his own repetition) while finding it more and more difficult to concentrate past the pain. Despite my right cheek puffing up rather impressively and being quite tender, I'm not showing much visible bruising on my face (at least so far).

I'll try to get around to more details later, but for now I'll just point out that I'm not terribly happy with the performance of the Baltimore police, nor with the five hours of being mostly left alone in pain in the ER. (On the way in, I remarked that "this is probably a pulled muscle or something and I'll feel foolish for racking up a huge medical bill for it," ... but I'd have felt foolish if it turned out to be Something Major that I ignored until too late, too.)

I hope y'all will forgive me for postponing replying to the many supportive comments I came home to. I am very, very tired right now. [livejournal.com profile] anniemal just arrived, and later I'll ask her to drive me to a pharmacy to deal with the prescriptions I got.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:29am on 2005-07-10 under , ,

Well, it finally happened. I got physically bashed.

I wandered out to try to figure out which direction the thumpy bass I'd been hearing for the past three hours was coming from, and while I stood near the corner looking down Fulton Ave., two vehicles pulled up on Lombard St. at the stoplight behind me. They started making comments about how I was dressed. I turned around. They got more emphatic. One driver started to get out and someone yelled, "Get his camera," then everyone else got out. I had hope that it'd just be an exchange of words until two of them started swinging -- one at the camera, one at my face -- after which the others joined in. I took blows to both eyes, one cheek, and my temple, and went down badly, hurting my back and scraping my elbows. Fortunately they didn't continue after I fell, running back to their vehicles instead and zooming off.

I staggered back to my door, unplugged the modem, and dialed 911. I am still waiting for the police to arrive. *grumble* I'm feeling less and less goodwill toward the police.

These were not people from my neighbourhood. They were too nicely dressed (khakis instead of sweats and jeans, slightly too-nice shirts -- still casual, still sneakers that I dodged a kick from). Six to eight young African-American men. (I was noting locations of the nearest ones, not counting); I think at least three, probably four, landed blows on me. Their rides were a little too new, too recently washed. They weren't from my neighbourhood. They were passing through, and took the time and trouble to pummel a stranger who looked funny.

Right now I feel three things: loss, because after swatting the flash off my camera one of them snatched it, and that was my last properly-working flash; frustration, because there's no chance the police are going to find these assholes and bring them to justice; but mostly rage. If I thought I had a chance of locating them, I'd be in my car with camera and sword in hand looking for payback.

They beat me up in my own neighbourhood, meters from my own house, and they weren't from here. They were passing through and assaulted me on my street. I'm pissed. I want to do something that'll make them regret this. But there's probably nothing I can do.

So the remaining question is whether the police can do anything to make this kind of thing less likely, and will they?

Oh yeah, a fourth thing I feel. Pain. One cheek feels like it's swelling up quite a bit, my elbow burns, and I can't stand up quite straight because of pain below my left shoulderblade. (Should I have asked the 911 operator for an ambulance? [Edit: Shortly after posting this entry I did decide the inability to take full breaths was scary enough to call an ambulance for. The ambulance arrived before I could edit this entry to say so. See this followup) But the pain, as strong as it is, is no match for the anger.

They don't fucking do this to me on my block. I shouldn't have to fear it anywhere, but especially not at home.

And so ends a decades-long streak of being very visible and never getting attacked for it. (The fellow who came after me with a baseball bat years ago did so out of what later became known as road rage, and I was wearing boyclothes, coat and tie, at the time; the one other time I felt a person verbally harrassing me might turn violent, I was able to slip away.) I really liked being able to say I was one of the lucky few, to keep that streak going. I kind of counted on being able to mollify friends who worried for my safety by saying, "I know people like me get attacked, but so far I've been okay." As of now, I'm another statistic.

A really fucking angry statistic who'll be thinking about going armed.

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