Friday, December 31, 2010

God Stole My Wallet

The last couple of years have been very trying for me to say the least. I was laid off and I still haven’t found suitable employment. And by suitable I mean I’ve applied to Target, Petsmart, Temp Agencies, everything and anything I might be qualified for. It goes without saying that I'm qualified for any of those jobs that I would have previously thought beneath me. Not that I’m a snob but I have a substantial amount of education and experience. I was an Advertising Copywriter. I do a little freelance but that is very scarce. I’m signed with a temp agency to substitute teach, another to be a banquet server, and another for any administration-type work.

Besides the unemployment, my husband and I survived burst pipes, costly broken vehicles, and a cat that almost died. I wanted to put the cat to sleep. Sorry but I did. I was coerced by my husband and child to revive him. I gave him daily IV’s for a couple months. He’s okay now but very frail. It cost us over $2,000 to keep him alive. Facing substantial debt, the economy tanked. My husband took work in El Paso for months on end. My friend was falling apart. I was falling apart. Then BAM I got a brutal announcement from my husband that he wanted a divorce.

Let me first say I’m not complaining, I’m explaining. I have however, done a lot of complaining and mostly in messy, ridiculous, crazy, inappropriate posts on Facebook and texting my soon-to-be ex. All the while I desperately hid my difficulties from my sweet little girl; asking for help with her when I needed it. It’s been a year since the awakening of the divorce. It was an awakening to just how much I drank to numb myself from the world around me. It also solidified the knowledge that my husband and I had been living in purgatory for years, most of the marriage in fact. We never communicated very well. I have PTSD and I’m terrified most of the time. That’s not an excuse. It’s a reality. We were doomed from day one. We do have a beautiful vibrant 9 year old girl and she is the best thing that came from our marriage. The dance we had developed was a combination of rage, depression, non-sex, workaholism, alcoholism, drugs and more creating a steamy pile of shit. We both contributed and we both developed ways to cope with each other. Yet through it all we really love each other. It’s not a new story but sometimes love just isn’t enough. We don’t like each other very much.

So this last year I have been an emotional mess to say the least. I went to different therapists until I couldn’t afford it anymore. I paid for a psychiatrist even though I couldn’t afford her fees but I also couldn’t afford not to get help. After some trial and error and literally psychotic days we came upon a lovely cocktail that works. I was crazy with pain, confusion, suicidal thoughts and all the while doing my best to hide it from my daughter. Finally I pulled up my boot straps and moved into a cute little apartment with my daughter. I got into a program at the local community college to become a Medical Assistant. I’m busting my butt and doing really well. All A’s except this last block I got a B in Anatomy and Physiology. I missed the A by .5%. Seriously 89.5%. I applied for ACCHS – government health insurance and food stamps. My soon-to-be ex has been extremely financially supportive; he’s still paying the mortgage on the house and paying my daughter’s and my rent. He’s also paying for gas and odds and ends as they come along.

Then little miracles started to happen, I found therapy for free. My soon-to-be ex provided me with money to buy gifts for the holidays. Retail therapy is incredibly healing when you are buying gifts for people you love. I took my daughter to see and she asked him for a wolf and he told her “Santa can’t give wild animals.” So I adopted one for her from I was beginning to feel less stressed; less in pain; more accepting. I had made it through Christmas complete with letting my daughter meet my soon-to-be ex’s girlfriend. I realized I was quite lucky. Although I had been shamelessly betrayed by a beloved friend I remembered why she was beloved to me. She is a sweet, beautiful loving girl. Of course I still secretly hate her guts, but when it comes to my child, I know the ex-friend will be good to her.

Then I had a total breakdown just a few days ago. I raged against the soon-to-be ex. I sobbed (not in the presence of my child.) I drank. I wrote a ranting incomprehensible email and sent to all my family and posted it on Facebook. I didn’t remember writing the letter. My daughter was watching TV while I had been typing away. She was oblivious to the blind rage I had succumbed to. I woke and deleted the FB post. I wrote a letter apologizing to everyone and explained that I had had a blip; a relapse; I effed up. I had therapy that day so I wallowed in my shame and self-hatred as I confessed to my therapist and later to women I have therapy group with. I felt better.

Later I went to Target to buy cat litter on my Christmas gift card. Yay. Meanwhile I called unemployment because they had cut off my benefits and I had to talk to a person to get them reinstated. I had been trying to get through on the phone for two and a half weeks. I got through…estimated wait time approximately 3 hrs. I wasn’t going to hang up. I had my phone on speaker phone. Besides the cat litter I bought a new pillow for myself. I was paying and the phone kept distracting me not knowing if a person had answered or another recorded message was playing. I left my wallet on the counter. I went to the car and when I reached into my bag and realized the wallet wasn’t there. I rushed back in and the checker was gone. I went to customer service to see if it had been turned in. No. I went to security and they reviewed the surveillance tape. Sure enough a guy behind me bought something for 98 cents with cash and nonchalantly swiped my wallet. Panicked, I called the police; called my soon-to-be ex to make sure my daughter was safe. She had been with him and his parents all day and was due to arrive at my house soon. They hadn’t left yet. Good, okay. I called all the credit cards. My checking account had been drained. The bank assured me they will refund the money but this won’t happen until sometime next week. I called my soon-to-be-ex in-laws and asked if my daughter could spend the night. Unemployment came on the line soon after and we went through the infuriating steps to reinstate my benefits. Benefits restored. I was delirious with relief, fear and anger.

The next day I went about putting my life back together. Literally replacing everything I had in the wallet. I went to DES to report my stolen cards and reapplied for everything again. While I waited in the line for an hour and half, I read Anne Lamott’s Grace Eventually. I went to two banks to get temporary ATM cards. As I pulled into the DMV to replace my driver’s license I had an epiphany. After everything; all of it; the whole damn mess I realized that God had stolen my wallet. Somehow the act of replacing everything I realized that it was unbelievably freeing. I was free of my old life. I have to replace, renew and fight to let go. I think I’m on my way.

Footnote 1: My daughter had therapy that day. My soon-to-be-ex in-laws took her for me. Her therapist called me later to say that she seems to be happier and not as stressed. She seems to be coming through and accepting the changes.

Footnote 2: All the soon-to-be-ex stuff is because we haven’t filed. I started to complete the paperwork today. I will be divorced in 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

today me what?

Okay, I had an exchange with someone on facebook today.
I think he misunderstood everything I said.
That is the normal response to my musings, thoughts, hopes, pains, worries, general freakouts.
No one gets me.
Do you feel that way?
It's extremely disconcerting to be misunderstood.
Over and over and over again.
I come across as selfish.
I don't get it?
I'm just expressing myself.
Why is that selfish?
Why can't you express yourself?
I'm not in it to hurt anyone else.
I'm not trying to fuck with you.
I fuck with myself.
That's how my brain works.
No one gets me.
If you think you do
I will either come to bore you or
Exasperate you because I will accomplish more than the average bear
While hating every inch of myself.
It bothers you. It bores you.
You try to live it and I will give you props
Shit I'll give you props for being alive.
Why does my reality garner rejection?
It's constant.
I know I should figure this out
I have been trying to seek guidance in this dilemma.
I honestly don't get it and that's is why you will hate me without
Understanding that I need help.
Not advice but feedback
Not criticism but concrete explanation of what I have done.
I don't see what I've done, been, tried, cried as heinous
yet you do.
Don't say "you're selfish" Don't say "you are impossible." I'm not either but confused. My brain doesn't work that way. It can't (apparently) comprehend your analysis.
Your frustration is met with mine.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Hello, I'm a little apprehensive about contacting you but this really is strange.

I'm currently in the process of getting a divorce. My husband moved out.

Last week I heard footsteps in the kitchen. Very clearly. I thought it was my husband.

I was in bed and decided to wait in bed until he was gone. I didn't want to talk

to him. I heard the footsteps approx. 30 mins. later. I was getting annoyed.

Our front door has a very distinct noise and I was waiting for that sound. Finally I got up

and he wasn't here. I called his work and asked him why he had been at home. He said he hadn't

been at home all day, he had been at work all day. I blew it off to dreaming.

Then today the same footsteps came from the kitchen. I knew it wasn't him because

the gait wasn't his. The first time the gait wasn't his either but

I wasn't thinking about it the first time.

Everynight when my daughter and I go to bed we hear the exact same sound

overhead. It could be an animal in the rafters or the house settling but it is distinctly the same

every night.

Ever since we moved here I've seen shadows move out of the corner of my eye -

someone looming. Not often. The house was built in 1953.

Sincerely Tammy Strnatka

Please return my correspondence via email

Have a great day!

Monday, April 05, 2010


It all started about three days into my pregnancy. Being a bit of a partier I was depressed about not being able to drink anymore. Pathetic but it had only been 3 days. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I have a degree in art but painting didn’t appeal to me at the time. I was lying face down on my bed when it came to me. I saw it. This tapestry of broken records. It even has Carol King’s Tapestry on it along with Willie Nelson, Linda Rondstadt, E.L.O., Kenny Loggins and many others. I found the records at thrift stores.

The concept is about how much music plays a part in our lives. Old music I listened to as a kid. Records have become somewhat obsolete. The memories. The ‘broken record’ of memories that go through our minds over and over. Waxing nostalgic. It’s not just visual. It’s how our lives fit together. How important and painstaking so many deeds are.

I broke the records which represents heartbreak. It was painful to break them. Really painful! I hand drilled every hole. I sewed each piece with wax cotton thread. It was my catharsis before I took on a new life as a mom. I was a musician. Music was my soul. My new baby meant more. I sang to her so much as a baby she won’t listen to me sing anymore.

It’s been sitting in the closet for 9 years.
It took a year to make by hand.


Today is Easter.
The Easter bunny was a hit.
I got up to greet my late (as in tardy not dead) soon-to-be-ex-husband to pickup our daughter for Easter festivities at Gramma and Granpa’s.
When they left I cried.
I got in my car and drove to Madera Canyon to pick up sticks.
Seriously. I’m picking up sticks to make biodegradable public art.
I drove the wrong way for about an hour before I realized I was heading back to Tucson.
There were rows and rows of pecan trees.
They’d all been shorn and stacks of glorious sticks lay by the side of the road just beyond
a barbed wire fence.
When I was younger I would have ignored the fence and taken as many sticks as I wanted.
It felt wrong, being Easter and all.
I finally made it to the gateway of Madera and the Sheriff was turning people back.
Too full.
I asked to use the restroom and was allowed to park in the lower lot.
There in front of me were piles of sticks.
Mesquite sticks
Beautiful sticks.
I took as many as I could muster. I say muster because I haven’t been eating much.
I tend to feel like I’m going to pass out.
An older man that I thought was a forest ranger was watching me.
I said “Are you the ranger?”
He said “Oh, no, no I’m just out enjoying the day.”
I said “I thought I might be in trouble.”
“I’m not collecting kindling. I’m working on an art project.”
He said “Oh, what kind?” (For some reason old people say Oh? a lot.)
I said “I’m building structures out of wood and twine. All biodegradable.
I want to build big structures out in nature or in a busy part of downtown and just leave them there.
I don’t know why I just feel compelled to do it.”
He thought that was right dandy. He’s a retired architect and his late wife (not tardy) was apparently quite the artist. He helped me load my car with my pile of wood and sticks. I should have photographed him.
I was nervous.
Stupid brain.
We exchange numbers and addresses. He didn’t have any need for email.
I pondered how to send him pictures without email for quite a while when lo and behold I realized I could mail prints to him.
We both had a good laugh about that one.
He invited me to Easter dinner but I declined. It probably would have been interesting but I was anxious to get building.
On the way out I saw a beautiful hawk.
It was sitting by the side of the rode.
I pulled over to photograph it just as it took off.
It disappeared. It was gone. Just silence.
I turned on the radio and Little Bird by the eels came on the radio. It was beautiful. And just having seen a hawk disappear. Oh I don’t know – I’m a line drawer. Here’s another one. I stopped at McDonalds’ for a soda. It was $1.07. That’s all I had in my wallet - $1.07.
Then Lou Reed started singing Jesus on the radio.
“Jesus, help me find my proper place
Jesus, help me find my proper place
Help me in my weakness
'Cos I'm falling out of grace
It’s a Velvet Underground song.
It’s a new recording with 5 Guys or something like that.
I’ve been pretty lost lately.
Everything was speaking to me.
But I couldn’t speak to me.
I wanted to build my structure – art - thingy.
I couldn’t figure out where.
I drove all over downtown, by El Tiradito a shrine to a murderer (where I was married incidentally). I was going to ask a friend if I could build it outside her coffee shop, but she wasn’t there.
By this time I had to go to the bathroom again.
I drove home deflated but I waited to get home to pee.
I signed back onto facebook.
I hang my head in shame but I have deleted most all my old friends.
The urgency to build the art thing was prodding me like some weird electrical impulse. I drove to Reid Park. There were three million Mexicans barbecuing for Easter there.
Nothing felt right.
I made myself stop and eat some sushi.
If I’m going to eat it might as well be worth it.
I came home and unloaded the large pieces of wood.
The trunk is totally full of sticks.
I will find a place to build it.
I will find a place of my own.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Influential Foofaraw: Forgiveness

Influential Foofaraw: Forgiveness


You appear to be the bigger person
Extending an olive branch
Let bygones be bygones
The bruises have healed
We can be friends
We can move one
But the truth is your deed will never allow you to be the bigger person.
You will always be a whore whether I forgive you or not.
Yes we can move on
But you are not my friend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day One Therapy Assignment

THERAPIST: List what character traits, behaviors and beliefs/interpretations discussed in BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER DEMYSTIFIED that fit you.

Poorly regulated emotions
Impaired perception and reasoning
Markedly disturb relationships
Chronic feelings of emptiness
Impulsive behavior that harms me
Suicidal ideation
Disassociative symptoms
Unstable self-image or sense of self
Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
Feelings of inferiority
Negative therapeutic reactions
Environmental risk factors
Early separation or loss
Ineffective parenting
Poor emotional control
Emotional lability
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Mood disorders
Substance use Disorders
Sleep disorders
Low energy
Low self-esteem
Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
Feelings of hopelessness
Panic disorders
Partially Narcissistic

THERAPIST: List what character traits, behaviors and beliefs/interpretations discussed in BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER DEMYSTIFIED that don’t fit you.

Inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
Parasuicidal acts
Factitious illness
Magical thinking
Psychic rigidity
True Narcissism

war torn apocalypse

I’m sitting in a war torn apocalypse contemplating the consequences of trying to escape. Shall I remain in its painful comfort or enter the imaginary world of light where bad things are just bad dreams and the rest of life is candy, cakes and ice cream.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Open Letter to Mr. Mercedes Guy

Tammy Allen Strnatka
Tucson, AZ 85711

Monday March 8, 2010

Mr. Mercedes Guy

Please let me thank you for your follow-up call to tell me the position of Service Cashier had been filled. I’m not sure if my resume reflected that I was over-qualified or under-qualified. Either way I sure would have liked to have had the opportunity to talk to you. I have experience in many other professions: Salesperson, Cashier, Manager of a Gallery, Manager of a bar. Not many people are solely represented by their resume. This is a very difficult time with the unemployment rate at 10% in Tucson. I was laid off from a job that focused on retail advertising. Loyalty is word that comes to mind. As an owner of a Mercedes I’m a dedicated fan. Working for a Mercedes dealership would be ideal. Next time please give someone the opportunity to speak with you. You may have hired within. In any case, I would have been an asset, and a loyal team member.


Tammy Strnatka

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Brilliant Shell

People ask “If you could do anything, anything at all, what would you do?” Now how loaded a question is that? One must have the means to do what they want. One must know what one wants. My knee-jerk response? Travel the world alone hopefully with enough cash to stay some place with a bed and a bath. First off I have child. I cannot abandon her. Dream gone. End of story. (I would have said with my family, husband and daughter but that is in dissolve.)
Second response: learn to play guitar better and sing but not alone, with help. Money? Third response: write with some formal instruction.
Fourth teach: anything art, music, English, to smile, to not take it so seriously - like I do (take it too seriously). To let it happen. Have fun, learn what you need. Learn a good trade that pays well; then do what you want in between. Don’t get married. Fight for what you believe in. Freedom, healthcare, mutual respect and love.
If I could do anything? It’s such a non question. When I think about doing anything I have to do, I shrink. I react like a child with no instructions even though I know how.
What do you want to do? Anything? It’s a silly question. I want to be odd like Warhol and change the face art. I want to say the truth without being punished. I want others to say the truth without being punished.
What’s a job? A piece of shit thing you do to make money to survive. Sometimes you luck into one you like. Some people are paid exorbitant amounts of money for the most obscenely menial task. Wage distribution in this world is worthy of chronic vomiting. That’s not hyperbole! A maid can take home more than a man who was worked 14 hours in a field picking cotton. She $25 an hour, he $25 a day. It’s fucking ridiculous. Money isn’t the wage it’s the game. I hate the game. Worse I hate the game of life itself. What’s it worth? Without being a teacher or a mentor or doing some form of helping another individual it’s pointless.
I hope I’m helping my daughter. I’ve taken’ a bit of a break lately. Not completely, but I’m not feeling like have much to give. What do you give when you have nothing? No one understands how I got here. One minute I’m attending PTA meetings, working fulltime and singing on the weekends. Nothing could be better. Of course I can’t forget the alcohol that contributes to it all. Life’s a party. Little things tear me down along the way. They strip me of my humanity. I become a shell. A brilliant shell. One that performs all the tasks required. One that knows what is right and wrong. One that knows how to advance oneself. One that knows how to encourage others. One that knows to say “you’re right, I’m wrong, I’m sorry” “Oh how silly of me your way is better” “I can’t imagine why I thought to do it that way.” “No, no you’re right.” Suddenly there’s no one there, just a stepford thing. A brilliant shell, because it knows how. It knows the way it’s done what to follow what to say. However, the person I was inside is dead and now I’m plotting my mortal death. I quit drinking. My energy is slipping. My old self who was clearly wrong has become fragile. I see a psychiatrist – meds galore. I see a therapist. People notice I’m needy and shy away. Some make fun of me. Some ignore me. Some come to my aid. (Thank you). Hollow eyed and struggling to do this on my own. I will either die or come back. I cannot say.


"Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bad Taste

It's not like I have breast cancer, it's just suicidal ideation.


Like a used car salesman he said "I do"
She didn't know what hit her 'til his fist withdrew.