How are you?

“How are you?” is such an innocuous question that we hear all over the world.  Right now, I bet we all tell a white lie.  I went to the supermarket today, met the checkout staff who I have known for more than a decade.  “How are you?” she asked, smiling behind a mask.  “I am good, thank you, how are you?” “Good, good…” she responded.  It certainly wasn’t entirely true on my part and knowing how awful her job has been recently, I doubt that my favorite lady at the shop was good either.  2021 hasn’t worked out so great for Texans, or anyone, so far.  Our bushes and trees are a visible sign of the death after our big freeze.  They droop sadly, just hanging onto life or perhaps not.

Just like everyone else my mental health has taken a beating.  There was a little red letter day last week when we were contacted by the Houston Health Department to schedule our appointments for Covid-19 vaccines.  The only problem was that it was one of the mega vaccination sites in downtown Houston which is about 40 miles south of us.  Teddy and I decided to book a hotel the night before so we wouldn’t panic about getting there.  In Houston it is not the time or distance that is a problem but sheer volume of traffic.  You can’t tell if a journey is going to take one or two hours, especially with any breakdowns or accidents on a packed interstate.

The furthest I have driven in the past year is to our own town center, about 20 minutes away.  I last did that journey about 6 months ago and since then my journeys have been no more than 10 minutes.  Driving was a skill that I came to me late in life because of anxiety.  Medication finally allowed me to tamp down the fear to pass my test when I was 45, here in Texas.  We decided that Teddy would drive my car down to the hotel and I was so afraid that I lay horizontally in the passenger side so I couldn’t see the traffic.  Horse blinkers would have been more comfortable.

The hotel was in the most awful location but close to the gigantic stadium used for the mass vaccination.  It had seen much better days but it was clean.  There was no food or drink available.  Was the water even safe after the boil order following the big freeze?  The air conditioning sounded like a WWII bomber.  I was so cold that I went into bed fully clothed, including my fleece jacket.  Things improved slightly when we found a nice Italian restaurant that delivered a gluten free pizza and a bottle of wine.  Medication kicked in and I fell into a disturbed sleep.  My husband had to conduct a zoom meeting with colleagues in the far east at 8 pm – just one more thing to add to our disquiet.

The next day we set off for our vaccinations.  We could see the stadium across the road from our hotel but we had to go in the opposite direction, making a U-turn under the Beltway to approach.  We followed the signs for VACCINATIONS and entered an arena that was truly a military operation.  There were thousands of National Guard, Houston City workers, Sheriffs and cars full of people getting vaccinated.  Health is a great leveler – bashed up little Honda Civics alongside fancy Bentleys and myriad trucks.  We had received texts confirming our appointment times – Teddy got a barcode but apparently my phone is too old to get them…

I am full of awe for all the people working at that vaccination site.  Somehow, they kept us all moving, made sure we were who we said we were and told us we were getting the Pfizer vaccine today.  You could see everyone was a bit shell-shocked at the scale of the operation and we all said, “Yes, sir or ma’am”.  I had brought all our medications but no one asked for anything, other than ID.  We finally reached the vaccinations area and it was given by a very young medic from the National Guard.  As I lifted up my sleeve, I noticed how much muscle mass I have lost in my arms.  Ah well, at least I lived long enough to get the vaccine.

The journey home was less frenetic but I still stayed horizontal.  When we were about 4 miles from home, I finally sat up with some of the stress of the whole experience abating.  I went straight into the shower and all the clothes went in the wash.  Then I went to bed and stayed there for a couple of days.  Most people don’t feel too bad after the first jab but everything hurt – my eye sockets, every muscle ached and I was cold.  They say that a strong reaction is a good thing but mine might have been equally due to anxiety.

I saw a heartwarming piece on CNN about a grandmother who was so frozen with fear, even after being fully inoculated, that her doctor gave her a prescription for a hug from her granddaughter, who was masked.  That’s how I feel.  A tiny amount of my fear has gone but I feel no desire to leave our hibernation at home.  Future vacations fill me with panic.  For a moment, I wondered if I should ask for an increase in medication but I think time will be enough.  Step by step we will emerge from this year of dread.  We won’t feel fabulous as soon as we are inoculated; each time we hear about a variant we may tremble. 

On the other hand, I will enjoy my first coffee with a friend, wearing make-up and sitting in a restaurant in time.  Now we have to vaccinate the world.  I am beyond grateful to have received just one shot.  Thank you to all the scientists and other staff who worked on the Vaccine program in a global effort.  I think it is okay to say a little white lie and keep smiling.  Know many of us feel the same and you can share your feelings with someone you trust. Perhaps me?

Pretending to be Lori Loughlin

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We Americans assume that the rest of the world knows our current social gossip and every other stupid thing that we do. As an aside, did you know that a thing is an old English/Frisian word which means a gathering?  The title of this post refers to an actress with less dramatic skills than me who has made a fortune making Hallmark movies.  How to explain Hallmark movies? Shmaltzy movies where there is always a happy ending and they use the same actors again and again.  It so confusing when you think, “wasn’t she in Alaska last week with creepily handsome veterinarian?”  Now she is in a Cajun Christmas where they all eat turducken. It’s not just Icelanders who eat gross food…

Lori Loughlin was recently jailed for a ludicrously short period of time for committing fraud to get her underachieving kids into a good college.  LOTS of money was involved and there were other famous perps such as Felicity Huffman who shamefully decided to admit her guilt and take the punishment.  Is it just me or did anyone else admire Martha Stewart’s chutzpah when she just admitted her guilt to insider trading and went straight to prison?  When released, she walked out, head held high, with a handknitted poncho.  Who knew she would be Snoop Dogg’s Bubala? If you are wondering about the Yiddish words, one of my DNA sites revealed, at Christmas, that I am now 1% Ashkenazi Jew.  I am embracing all parts of my heritage and I really love Yiddish words – they have that onomatopoeic quality to them.

Why am I pretending to be Lori Loughlin?  Having looked through the provisional list of who gets vaccinated in Texas: I am right at the bottom in Group D.  That means I will probably have to stay in personal lockdown until April or May.  Batshit crazy does not count for anything nor do dodgy cysts in lungs.  Teddy might be included in one group of essential workers because he works in Energy. 

Just like Lori Loughlin I am also going to prison, figuratively, for the next four months or so, and will I do any of the life affirming challenges I set myself? No and **** No.  I really tried in 2020.  I wrote funny blogs, I was positive, friendly, checked on elderly family and friends.  At first, I lost weight and exercised.  One of my neighbors said, ‘there was not a pick on me’ – a chicken reference.  I could not bring myself to mix socially so gave ALL of my attention to Teddy.  Sometimes I played BOO, other times I walked towards him like a penguin and tried every conceivable way to make him laugh in a difficult time.

Meanwhile I was not processing that I had lost all my contract work with no hope of any more for some years (and how that would affect my self-esteem).  I had no inclination to work with the public although I bow down to those that did.  My OCD made it impossible for me to be rational about the pandemic.  Still wiping down all the packages with disinfectant wipes, even the squirrels’ food.  After the summer my mental health faltered in increments, not helped by forgetting to eat but not forgetting to drink…

What I really want to know is, will you still write to me?  Physical visits are out but I need some contact with the world.  I might create some more Vlogs since Sit Down Comedy was well received.  It was exhilarating putting on some makeup and washing my hair – Woo Hoo!  I met one of my neighbors in the street and she seemed concerned that I would continue (post vaccination) to be social or even host parties.  I said yes but I don’t think it was the truth.  Just like everyone else, I have changed profoundly during 2020.  I hope I am not less kind but perhaps a little less compliant.  Do I really need more societal contact or do I need to live a solitary life better? 

I hate to be the one that says it but I really think life will get worse before it gets better and we will be wearing masks for much longer than we think (if we care about other’s safety).  Those vaccinated soon will not be fully immune until the second injection and if you don’t get it, will that invite Corona virus mutations?   If you are able to, just go to prison with me, and maybe next Christmas will be worth celebrating.  If not wear a mask, long after vaccination.

Sending off to Amazon for an orange jumpsuit – only method acting for me, darlings! 

Wish for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 and keep your expectations low without giving up hope.

My Enigma

Every time I call the doctor or health insurance of late, there is an extra message to check that my mental health is okay and offering care options.  I feel a little bitterness that it has taken a tragedy for society to take mental ill health seriously – where were you when we had to wait many months or years for psychological help?  Clearly, Covid-19 has challenged even those of us who have not had a pre-existing condition.  My psychiatrist seemed shocked at the amount of patients presenting with psychosis during this time, although I am not.

My diagnosis/mental health had always been an enigma to me, the people I love and the medical profession.  Like many others, my original diagnosis is not my current one.  After years of working in the mental health field (and my own personal experience), it is clear that we know less about this complex field of medicine than others.  Heart bypass surgery has become almost commonplace and much safer, for example.  I was perfectly happy with my original diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It was such a relief to find out why I had to check the gas was off a dozen times or more or check that a plastic bag in the road was not full of cats.  In the back of my mind, I was sure I had separate depressive and anxiety episodes but perhaps it all goes together, I thought.

As much as we would like a clear cut name for our individual illness, for many of us diagnosis seems to be a wavy, mysterious line.  That is not the fault of the medical profession, necessarily.  One of my cousins had very different diagnoses in her later years and she ultimately died of an overdose.  I imagine her doctors were trying desperately to find a medication to make her feel better.  Then there is me.  I present a chameleon personality to both my doctors and loved ones.  At a social event, I seem like ‘party central’ – confident, amusing and fun to be around.  This exhausts me.  My mother was so concerned about my shyness as I child, that she made every effort to bring me out of my shell.  Drama classes in high school and finding a group of peers helped me to blossom.

This pandemic has had the opposite effect on me – my mental health has rarely been better.  Teddy and my doctor express astonishment that I am coping so well.  The truth is I always knew what was best for me – isolation and silence.  After I married at age 21, I followed Teddy around the world for his career.  He was always going to be the major breadwinner with ambition and skill.  He kindly says that he couldn’t have done it without my support – who knows?  My IQ is above average and I have honed my people skills over the years.  As Teddy was pursuing his career as a Geoscientist, I did a variety of dead-end jobs such as cleaner, bar person and fossil picker.  That last job sounds more exciting than it was.  My husband’s company offered me training and a job looking at tiny fossils down a microscope.  I then transferred those of interest to a slide and a micro paleontologist would further assess them – this was all in the pursuit of oil.

It was the perfect job for someone with OCD – timing and precision was critical.  Even though I was smarter than the average bear, I was quite happy to stay in this dead end job.  Teddy persuaded me to push my ambition further and that is how I ended up in the mental health field.  That led to various other jobs where I could use my writing and people skills to their best capacity.  But I was always so stressed, even when I enjoyed the plaudits.  The job I really longed for was Librarian.

So here we are in 2020.  At the suggestion of a doctor friend, I started eating gluten free at the beginning of the year.  This was to try to address my curious neurological sensations in hands and feet.  I have since read some medical journals on the effect of gluten on the brain – fascinating.  It was relatively easy to change my diet – I guess I avoid gluten naturally. At the same time, I stopped working and driving because of Covid-19.  Now I don’t know if the absence of gluten or driving/working has helped but my neurological symptoms have abated considerably.  It’s another mystery – but a silver lining for me.

Turning 60 in 2020 has given me so much time to think about growing older.  Unexpectedly, I have reached an acceptance that I do feel different and a little less sexy.  Teddy disagrees – thank goodness! There is a huge sense of relief that I don’t have to work anymore and I realize how lucky I am to be in that position.  I am perfectly happy cleaning the house, watering the garden and making very short journeys away from the house.  When all this is over, will I enjoy the normal pace of life or need to buy 10 acres of wilderness for peace and quiet?  I guess we will all adapt and realize how strong most of us are, even in the most desperate of situations.

For now, my Enigma remains just that and I am grateful for this moment of stillness in society.

Dancing, donating and dithering

Tree pollen means squinting eyes and no eye make-up…

Look at my new Retro jeans – took me straight back to the 70’s drunkenly trying to unbutton jeans in a disco.  I bought them in Walmart for full price because they fit so well.

These are my azaleas in full bloom so spring is here in SE Texas (it would be summer north of the Wall).  When the azaleas were first planted, they were exactly the same bright pink but I think the soil around one has changed because of its proximity to a pine tree.  The purplish one is underneath our Live Oak.  Isn’t nature wonderful?

Yesterday was a fun day!  I went to my local thrift shop and snagged a coral jean jacket, apple green shirt and brand new faux fur vest – all for $3.  That’s right, $1 each.  They were playing 70’s funk music and the girl behind checking was grooving on down so I joined her, swaying the hips.  She asked where I got my cute skirt and laughed when I revealed it was from Forever 51 21.  Then I taught her how to say Good Morning in Arabic (this segued naturally from a comment about my accent) and I think that’s why I got such an amazing bargain.  I also donated a beautiful quilt so it all works out.

The day before, I was shopping unhappily in Burlington because a gift card was burning a hole in my frontal lobe.  The shop was gigantic but I couldn’t find anything decent.  I noticed a little Central American girl looking loudly for “Papi!” I saw him in menswear and said to the little girl, “Papi, alli!”  Dad placated her but then she ran off wailing “Mami!” who was hiding elsewhere.  I understood their pain…

The previous week I had gone to a Premium outlet out of town, again because another bloody gift card was creating mental chaos.  I went into one store to get some stuff for Ted and was helped by a man?  He was very attractive, with long pink dreads which coordinated with his cute little white wool shorts and sweater and long fuchsia jacket.  His long black legs went on forever with size 11 pink pumps.  I have no judgment, just curiosity, especially since he didn’t have fake boobs.  Then I saw him helping a Mexican man who, by his reaction, thought the assistant was a woman.  Life is interesting these days.

To top my shopping mania, I browsed through Macy’s after the thrift store snag.  At the clearance racks I came across two black ladies getting on down with some more 70’s funk (is there a musical plot in our forest?) so I started dancing with them.  Why not?  The world has gone mad with such sadness in New Zealand.  May they rest in peace.

On a lighter final note, we bought Toffee a new knitted catnip toy at the weekend.  I forgot it was in my purse but delighted Toffee with a new toy.  She rolled and purred.  Then she made a new LOUD vocalization which sounded a little like “I have done the stinkiest poo” but there was a note of elation.  We think it was meant to be Captain America bird but since Toffee is from Egypt he has a new name every day –

  • Captain Ahmed
  • Captain Amun
  • Captain Ali
  • Captain Azim
  • Captain Abdul

I could go on and on but that’s exactly what this post is – a quirky Kerry rambling.  For clarity, I am petering off my anti-depressants because of side-effects and under the care of my psychiatrists.  Let’s just say I am a little ‘happy’ and ‘tense’ all at the same time.  Teddy thinks it is an alluring combination!

 

Sexuality through the ages – part II

ring

Following on from yesterday’s post, I got married at 21 to Teddy and 33 years later we are still together, rather surprisingly. Perhaps I won’t be for much longer once he reads this series… 🙂 Relax; he has heard it all – I talk a lot.

I have a theory about one of the reasons why I put on weight when younger. When I married I was slim, attractive and sexually on form. I was truly concerned that I might slip back into my alley cat ways and be unfaithful as I had been to the previous boyfriend/fiancé. Teddy told me that he loved me, however I looked, and I slipped into not caring for my appearance, putting on weight and becoming unattractive both to me and potential suitors. It worked – men weren’t asking me out at bus stops! We had a hard start to married life with an almost immediate lay off for Teddy and Bunny struggling to work with a mental illness, as yet not diagnosed. We moved 6 times in our first 8 years of marriage.

My mood, attractiveness or life was not static over the decades. I lost weight and put it on, several times. Curiously, I was about 30 this first time I got slim again and the men were like flies around honey and it frightened me. I was very aware that Teddy was attractive to women. At one of the companies that we both worked at, one of the laboratory techs had a fancy for him and made it very obvious. One time in the canteen, she said in front of all the staff (including me and Ted) that he really loved her. She was making a joke and being territorial. She was also slim and pretty. I couldn’t resist my inner bitch and said loudly, “I am sorry, Kirsty, but my husband can’t love you because you have no boobs”. The canteen collapsed, as did her ego. Don’t mess with Kerry…

Even worse, Teddy really had a crush on another tech. To this day he refutes this but he came home every day telling me about what she had said, how funny she was and how pretty she looked. I now know this is normal part of married life and I have had a few crushes of my own since then. I was devastated and have never recovered from this blow to my confidence. It was clearly innocent or he wouldn’t have openly talked about her. How hard it is to attain maturity. A couple of years ago, Teddy said that his crush had contacted him via Linkedin. My hackles raised but I said nothing. He asked if I would email her from both of us. I did that and she never replied… My suspicions were raised and I asked him what she looked like on her Linkedin photo. As soon as he told me, I realized that she hadn’t fulfilled her early promise and he was disappointed. Schadenfreude made me delighted that I have matured like a fine wine (or cheese or Lambrusco, take your pick 🙂 ).

Life was not easy through the decades with both the ups and downs of health and work. Then I turned 40, within 2 years my mother had died, our remaining elderly cats and we moved to Egypt. More on that in this post Letters from Cairo. Strangely, this catastrophic journey made us more intimate physically and mentally. I had finally lost most of my excess weight and was edging slowly towards another sexual peak. Egypt made me so confident in my attractiveness although my mental health was reaching a breaking point. Expat and local men were saying openly to Teddy that his wife was very attractive and I could see him preening with pride.

We moved from Egypt to Texas life-changing moment when I shaved off my very long hair to raise money for breast cancer. I did this to celebrate my 50th birthday because I was jaded with the excess of our affluent little city. Ted posted the video and it was an immediate hit with many curious male admirers. See the video – Kerry is Bald

Just after my 52nd birthday, my sexual button switched back on again. ZING! I went on a solo trip to Savannah and the female taxi driver was telling me how beautiful I was. I wondered if this was a rainbow taxi but then she told me all about her sex life (she was much older than me). Whoa – Savannah is swinging! I went on a paddle steamer and met up with a lovely lady from Jamaica who I was going to meet for dinner at a swanky hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant. Then the heavens opened and we got drenched. This is a disaster for a black lady and she now had to work on her hair before her conference the next day. Savannah seemed safe so I just went alone. Did you know there are many single men in Savannah? The predation started immediately although they were much younger than me. I was perplexed, flattered and a little unnerved especially since there were young woman all around me, obviously on the prowl.

I was unable to see that the sexual button had switched on and I was giving out those old vibes. It became more obvious at work (a marriage proposal from a complete stranger) and on other trips. I thought the Scottish accent was the main factor but I was predated by a much younger man on a train in Scotland. Good Lord, he could have taken some lessons in subtlety from a southern gentleman. I had to send a letter of complaint about a male nurse who made a pass at me. Finally, I realized that I actually wanted sex, all the time. Bear in mind that Teddy is two years older than me and on a number of medications. Initially he was excited about this new Duracell Bunny but then started feeling stressed.

At this point, he was traveling overseas for work regularly and I accompanied him. It was like a second honeymoon. I was fit and gymnastic… For a year or so, we were having sex morning and night and then some. I had to take daily antibiotics to ward off the UTIs but all was well until it wasn’t. This post explained what happened next –vajazzling You will be happy to know that we are back to behaving like a normal couple of our age, more sleep and less sex. I still get unusual propositions and I am enjoying every minute until it stops.

Tomorrow’s topic is gay boyfriends…

Body Image

KERRY PR cleavage
This blog is the result of a dare from Stephanie and refers to her post To Cleave or not, that is the question. It is a hilarious but thoughtful post about how we feel about displaying our body. Read the comments, it is very revealing. I dared to show how much cleavage I bare and the evidence is above. I said an inch but methinks it might be two or three…

In general, my feeling is if you’ve got it, flaunt it but then you have to do it with confidence and ignore the inevitable comments. One of my male colleagues quite often makes hilarious but demeaning comments about women wearing what HE thinks is inappropriate clothing. He will say things like, “she is too old to be wearing a pleather mini-skirt” while I am wearing a black mini-skirt as part of my uniform, along with sexy lacy tights? I guess it makes a difference if you desire/fancy the person. My husband is exactly the same and loves it when I wear something provocative.

I spent the majority of my adult life fighting obesity and missed out on many opportunities to wear clothing that was perhaps a bit more appropriate in my 20s or 30s. It was incredibly hard work to get my mental health better which was the root cause of my obesity. Stress loves carbohydrates. I was over 50 when I suddenly looked amazing after a lifetime of nasty sideways glances or doctor’s notes referring to my weight. My cousin refers to me as Benjamin Button and there is a strange element of that. The two photographs below demonstrate this. One was taken a couple of months ago when I was modelling clothes while researching my boutique article, the other one was when I was in my 20s. Even with an element of body dysmorphia I can see that the slim, confident 55 year old looks much better than the sad, fat Kerry.

mainstream kerry3 fatkerry2

For the most part, I think you should whatever you want to as long as it doesn’t break any laws or truly offend anyone. You should dress with respect when entering a house of worship or a country with a different culture. I had to wear very different clothes when living in Egypt or face the consequences (usually unpleasant remarks, looks or a quick feel). We live in a democratic country and, in theory, women are equal. By the same token, I have no problem with you wearing a hijab, turtleneck or ninja outfit. 🙂

PS Buy the Ebook! Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan. It is free to subscribers and very inexpensive for everyone else.

Happy 4th July

bronze badge
HAPPY 4TH JULY!
Last week I received a parcel in the mail which included a certificate and this beautiful bronze medal. This is my reward for volunteering for X amount of hours in the US. If it included all the volunteering I have done in my life it should be platinum and diamond encrusted. Not that I am one to boast…

When I reflected on when and why I started volunteering, it was when I was offered the choice of community work or physical sports at school. I am, and always was, pretty fit and even athletic at times but hated team sports so this was an easy leap into volunteering. Our first job was to visit an older couple who lived in a senior citizen house close to our school. They had very few visitors and loved our nonsensical chat about school, boys and life. We were the grandchildren that they either never had or never visited.

The two friends that did this with me then decided to volunteer for the Scottish Youth Hosteling Association and went straight onto the publicity committee. For me volunteering just fulfilled some desperate need. My family were good neighbors and citizens but were perplexed by this need to volunteer. “Why don’t you get a paid job?” I did have various paid jobs – working in the fast food industry, hospital kitchens, cleaning; all while I was studying at college. If I look deep into myself, it was an opportunity to be a good person, following all the rules that had been taught to me in the Catholic Church, but it was also a way to shine in an occupation without all the restrictions and criticisms of a paid job. Once I started I couldn’t stop and sometimes it was advantageous to my career path and other times not. Let me list them.

• The Downs’s Syndrome Association
• Homeless People
• Dementia Patients
• Community Internet work
• Rural Transportation
• Psychiatric Hospital
• Airport
• Animal Shelter
• Community Center

Some of these crossed over with paid work that I did with non-profit organizations but they were always at a slight tangent to give me perspective with life in general. My bronze medal is a beautiful thank you but all I really need is for the people I help to appreciate it. After some thought, I decided that I would probably never work in the field of drug and alcohol abuse because I could feel so little empathy or thanks.

I try very hard not to have my volunteer work made public and find it hard to understand those who do. A year or two ago, I attended a fancy event to benefit some charity. It was such a waste of money and time. Many of the people who attended were there for photo and social opportunities casting a dark shadow on the original intent of the charity. My father in law was a both a devout Christian and Rotarian. We had many conversations about the intent of the Rotary Club. I have no doubt that their scholarships and charitable donations have helped thousands of people but I feel unsettled about charitable work that has a really obvious benefit to the giver. Not only do you have the status of belonging to the group but you benefit from connections to each other and a social club. It sits badly with me and the Rotary Club is just one example of many other groups like that.

I accept that volunteering almost always gives us something tangible back but the intent should be fully giving without receiving anything, even gratitude. There is always someone who does something utterly remarkable such as opening their homes to complete strangers during Hurricane Katrina. In Egypt I was in awe of the volunteers who volunteered with working horses in deplorable conditions or illegal refugee prisoners from Sudan mostly. Sometimes I worked on the periphery, donating funds or a reference to a refugee who had been offered citizenship in a Western nation because they were penniless or employing someone from a poor African nation that did not have refugee status.

My husband and I give generously to a variety of charities benefiting animals mostly but most of my current volunteering is with humans. I speak a smattering of a few languages and recently someone that I helped asked me to lean down so they could give me ‘besos’ – kisses in Spanish. That is all I ever need.
Happy 4th July and remember to be a good citizen wherever you live.

Kerry xx

Kerry and the Catfish

My catfish wasn't as big as this but the water looked as murky!

My catfish wasn’t as big as this but the water looked as murky!


I have a huge crush on Jeremy Wade who stars in the Animal Planet series, “River Monsters”.  He is not my type but something about his soothing voice and his gentle treatment of his monsters just turns me on!  I have my own monster story.  A few years ago I was going through a difficult stage of my life, feeling mentally unhealthy and wanting to make big changes in my life.  Early one morning, around 7 am,  I went to my favorite little forest and trekked down to visit the lake.  It is full of fish, stocked naturally, and many local anglers fish there.  Sometimes their lures and casts get caught in the trees and on this occasion one of the lures had landed in the water.  I saw movement in the murky depths and realized that something was caught on the lure.  There are both water moccasins and alligators in the lake and I am frightened of deep water and a poor swimmer.  Nonetheless, I couldn’t bear the idea that some poor creature was stuck by a lazy, careless angler.  I started to wade into the water which shelved quickly and by the time I reached the lure, I was up to my hips in the sediment filled water.  I grabbed hold of the fishing line and I don’t know who was more astonished – me or the gorgeous, healthy big catfish on the end.  It was about the size of a furry cat and quite hard to handle.  Every time it struggled to get away from me, I was losing my balance.  Finally, I grabbed hold of it and managed to unhook the lure.  It jumped back into the lake, probably terrified by the kindly predator who had rescued it.  I was fascinated by it’s beautiful dark gray flesh and it’s funny little whiskers – it just glowed with health.  That little act of compassion turned my life about in that moment.  I suddenly knew that life was worth living, if only to rescue catfish, and my moment of bravery showed me that I was capable of anything.  I hope he or she went on to live a happy, fruitful life.  The next week, I waded in and retrieved as many discarded fishing lines and lures that I could find.