2018 in Review Part 1: You Say Goodbye, and I Say…

I had grand plans for 2018.

You know those “On this day” memories that pop up on Facebook, Amazon Photos, ect? I really enjoy seeing them pop up, and it occurred to me last year that there were hardly any memories for the last few years. That’s when I decided that for 2018 I was going to find at least one fun thing to do every month of that year so that I could begin to change that. But then the year started with a personal struggle and I had not even reconciled myself to that when a huge bomb dropped at the company where my mother and I worked, and after that 2018 turned into a struggle to just keep my head above water, much less trying to swim around for fun.

I don’t want to say that 2018 was a “bad” year because God knows that I’ve had years that completely destroyed me, and I’m so thankful that it wasn’t one of those, but it was a very…let’s say it was a very tiring year. There were not a lot of notable events, but each one had so much impact and emotion attached to it that there was rarely a moment in the year that I did not feel completely drained. To be honest nearly every moment of 2018 deserves its own entry instead of being crammed into just one “Year in the Review” entry.

So I’m going to do two “Year in Review” entries for 2018.

HAAAA!

Okay, seriously, I will most likely elaborate on a few of these events in forthcoming entries — which is the reverse of how I used to do things back when I wrote about events and feelings at the time they occurred and then did a recap at the end of the year but you didn’t hear me say that —  but in the mean time I did my best to keep each month’s summary as succinct as possible. That said the entry was still getting too long for one post so that’s why I’m affording 2018 the dubious honor of being reviewed in two parts. Another dubious honor is that both entries talk a lot about my mundane day job, the details of which I usually keep separate from my writing world, in fact I noted this in the first Year in Review I did following my return to the medical field. Unfortunately the day job impacted everything this year, particularly my writing which I’ll get to in one of the above mentioned future entries, but in the meantime I present Part One of 2018 In Review.

January

A very dear friend lost her brother-in-law a few days after New Year’s, and because of how close she and I are it was painful for me as well, particularly since it was an unexpected passing.

Despite all my efforts to mentally prepare myself to turn forty (I started preparing on my birthday last year) I still had a difficult time accepting the reality of it and that it meant that the time when I could have carried a child was over. (This is one of those “future entry events”.)

February

I’ll do my best to keep this month’s summary as brief as possible, but this was a truly nightmarish month, and while the events were definitely “future entry” worthy, I don’t know that I want to relive them enough to write them, so I’m getting it out here. On February 13 my place of employment called nearly every department into the auditorium and told us that our manager had just been let go and our departments were being dissolved. Long story short, the third party vendor who had taken the outsourcing contract in November was now a partner in the company and they were taking over. We were assured that no one else would be losing their job, but our jobs would be changing. The department which dealt directly with patients had been divided into four teams and we could apply for which team we wanted to transition to in that department at the end of the month. Translation: The only thing that you people can do that this other company can’t is to speak to a patient with an American accent. Thus started two weeks of bullshit where everyone in my department waited to see if we really would have jobs, and if we did, then which level of Hell would we be assigned to in the patient care department. None of us wanted to be forced into handling patient calls, but the waiting and not knowing what was going to happen was worse.

On February 24 my brother’s quest to adopt a dog ended when a tiny bundle from a hoarding rescue in Texas became part of our family. Bella was understandably exhausted after her long trip, but she was also very underweight and I could see that she was not feeling well. We went back to the rescue group’s vet the next day, but we were assured that she would recover with the medication he had already given her.

On the 27th I learned that during the previous two weeks of hell and uncertainty at my job, when I thought that no one in my department knew what was going to happen, actually only half of us had been struggling in the dark. It turned out that my department was not dissolving completely and my supervisor had been allowed to pick her favorite members of the team to stay as part of it. She had informed those members before the end of the first week that they were safe from transitioning to the phones, but it was to be kept secret so that only the people she had chosen would know to apply to stay in the revenue department. The rest of the team only found out about this when we sitting at our desks and happened to noticed that half of our team had suddenly disappeared from their desks. Some people thought that they had gone to lunch but when I pointed out that three of the people missing were ones that I always went to lunch with we realized that they were all attending a meeting that we had not been privy to. I had not been surprised at my supervisor’s sneaky, shady behavior because she had always showed ridiculous favoritism, but I was extremely hurt by the people who I considered to be close friends who had not said anything at all to me. (Side note here: This is an extremely simplified version of the situation and by reading just those few sentences where I explained it, I know that I sound childish, petulant, and petty but trust me that there’s a lot I’m not detailing and I was justified for feeling as hurt and manipulated as I did.)

That same day, as I was still reeling from the turn of events at my job, I got a call from my mother that she was taking Bella to the emergency vet because she was getting worse. The only positive of this event was that it helped to give me perspective about being upset about what was happening at a job. I immediately left work and met my mother and Bella at the vet where they did an x-ray and told us what I had feared: Bella had massive double pneumonia and would need to be admitted. I was in pulmonology for years and never saw an infiltrate as bad as Bella had. It was a miracle that she was able to breath at all.

March

On March 1st we received a call from the vet that despite antibiotics, oxygen, and nebulizer treatments he did not know if Bella would make it. I completely broke down. I can’t even go into everything I was feeling and why I was feeling it, but I did the only thing I could do which was to fall my knees and sob to God that He promised to not give us more than we could bear, and this was more than I could bear. And this is my testimony because Bella made it. That was a Thursday night and Bella came home on Sunday. She was on massive antibiotics and needed home nebulization (running the hot shower for 20 minutes twice a day), but the prayers had been answered. As tiring as 2018 was I will always be thankful it was the year God performed a miracle to keep our Bella here.

Back at work though, the overall situation was worse. I talked to my coworkers about how betrayed I felt and I tried to understand the situation from their point of view, but I couldn’t completely forgive and forget especially since I still didn’t know what was happening. I did learn that I would be transferring to the phones department along with six other members of our former team (which included my mother), but unlike those members who would be transferring immediately, myself and another team member were still needed in what was left of my old department and would transition within the next two weeks or later. Again I was left dangling, except now it was with the knowledge that I was being used for as long as it was convenient for them, and that during that time I’d be working under the supervisor who had finally revealed just how much she was running the department as if it was a high school lunchroom and resented that her favorites were friends with me, who she did not want as part of her group of “cool” kids. I immediately updated my resume and started looking for another job though it killed me a little to have to again look for a job in a field I’d come to despise. The only good news was that the stress of work eased a bit when the supervisor realized that she had showed her true self to too many people and gave her two week notice for the end of March. On the last week of the March, after six weeks of limbo hell, I was informed that my supervisor’s leaving meant that there was space for me on the new revenue team and I was offered the position to stay there. It was not an easy decision, and to be honest I’m not sure how much “choice” I truly had, but I decided to stay on the team. I figured that I would at least be doing a job I was familiar with while I looked for something else, and it also meant that I could take advantage of the overtime that was offered in the department because it was dismally behind due to losing half of the team members and the inability of the new outsourcing company to do our former jobs correctly. I worked 61 hours the last week of March.

April

My grandmother had a minor surgery on April 2 to remove a cyst from her ovary, however during the surgery the doctor decided to not remove the cyst because he thought that it might be cancerous. This was a scare that was thankfully resolved quickly because my grandmother was able to see an oncologist within days and had the second surgery exactly a week later during which the surgeon determined that it was not cancer.

On the job front things were a little better with the supervisor gone, and the sting of hurt began to subside a little, but I still wanted to leave. Unfortunately my lack of formal education had become a sticking point in the job hunt, mostly because I decided that I could not stand to continue in the medical field.

May

I had a plant sale on Mother’s Day which is the traditional start of gardening season, and despite a half-assed effort on my part to do any advertising, I sold fifteen plants — which sounds like a sad amount but this was the most plants I had ever sold so I was thrilled.

I also started the next part of the The Massive House-wide Renovation Project — which should be called The Massive Property-wide Renovation Project because the yard needed attention too — and that was removing the rotting pieces of lumber that were making a pathetic attempt at being a retaining walls in the front yard, and to replace them with retaining wall stones.

I had hoped to be gone from my job by this time, particularly since I was forced to interact with my ex-supervisor at the end of the month for a coworker’s baby shower, but the job hunt continued to produce nothing. I had even re-resigned myself to continuing in healthcare and sent resumes to jobs in that field, but none of them called me. I began to think that I might have to make a drastic move, like go back to school, if I was ever going to be considered as anything more than garbage by an employer.

June

When plans I had for the first weekend on June got cancelled, I decided to do another plant sale. I put more effort into advertising this time, though it wasn’t much more since my plans had been cancelled at the last minute so I’d only decided to have the sale the night before. I am still in of awe of this but I sold about 150 plants. Not only was it brilliant to finally see a return on my investment in the business, but it gave me a bit of hope for a direction I could take to create income. The only problem was that I had a massive Lupus flare after the sale was over. To be honest I was surprised that I hadn’t had a flare sooner considering all of the stress I had been under on top of working an average of 55 hours a week for over three months at work, but I still didn’t appreciate being out of commission for two days. I just hoped that once I left the stress of the job that my body would be able to handle more time in my plants. I had to hold on to that hope because the success of the plant sale had been the only thing to make me feel less than worthless in a long time.

End Part One

2017: The Year in Review

The fact that this post is late* is of itself a testimony to 2017. I didn’t get to do a post sooner because I’ve been too busy, and also too tired – physically and mentally, alternating but usually concurrently – but mostly I’ve been busy. I seriously look at everything I did this year and I do not know how I did it. And I did it all in the midst of learning how much my body is falling apart and experiencing the exhausting process of “getting better”. I have to admit though, had I not been dealing with a medical battle I might not have accomplished as much as I did. There were many, many, many days that I wanted to just lie down and do nothing but groan or cry, and on some days I did, but most of time when I got that feeling ,it was immediately followed by the much stronger urge to prove that this condition wasn’t going to get me. It wasn’t going to change me, in fact it reminded me of who I am: I am a fighter. This is often (and increasingly so) a source of consternation to my worried loved ones, but I just don’t think I know how to be anything else. I think most of them have accepted it. That said, I present the 2017 Year in Review.

January

The year began by accompanying my brother to look at the first (of what would be many) houses in his search for his own abode. There’s nothing like looking at houses in the middle of winter- particularly since most of them were unoccupied which meant they were barely heated – to make you aware of how bad your Reynauld’s has become.

And then in a perfect illustration of how much my mind was spinning I chopped off about sixteen inches of my hair. I think this freaked out everyone who knows me well.

February

On February 2, while much of the United States was focused on a small town in western Pennsylvania, and whether its most famous resident was going to see his shadow or not, I saw my first Rheumatologist and got to hear, “Yeah it looks like you probably have Lupus” because delivering a diagnosis like that to someone in a flippant and nonchalant manner is what you hope to find in a physician.

March

“Your gallbladder is inflamed and needs to come out.”
“When?”
“Tomorrow.”

April

After looking at several city blocks worth of houses, my brother decided that he really wanted one of the first ones that we looked at and placed a counteroffer to the one that the seller made back in January. And because the house was empty and my brother didn’t have to worry packing up another house to move, he was able to move in by the end of the month.

My mother and I had given thought to moving ourselves, but ultimately decided that we would stay. On April 30th we ripped up the carpet in the family room and though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of The Massive House-wide Renovation Project.

April was also the month when I finally convinced a doctor to change my one medication after complaining about it for five months.

May

After many months of communicating with a friend who had a friend with a Westie that needed a new home after her owners surrendered her, all of the pieces fell into place to get the Westie from Virginia up to us, and on May 8th we welcomed Spirit to the family.

The Massive House-wide Renovation Project continued with the massively messy removal of the popcorn ceiling from the family room. There was popcorn ceiling was on the entire first floor, but getting it off of the vaulted family room ceiling was a special kind of torture. My mother and I did this on the 13th which was the ten year anniversary of my dad’s passing, so it kept us from dwelling on that.

June

Wonder Woman opened. ‘Nuff said.

The renovations on the family room continued…

July

The Month of Trying New Shit!
Aerial Yoga!
Mushroom hunting!
Beach concert! (Technically not a first because I had seen KC and The Sunshine Band on the beach many years ago, but it was such a forgettable concert that I don’t count that.)

And we finished the family room! Just in time for the new Game of Thrones season, which had been my goal, but I still can’t believe that we made it considering all that had to be done. Ultimately the carpet was ripped up, the concrete underneath patched, installed hardwood laminate floor and all the mouldings around it, whitewashed the fireplace, replaced the doors and grate, put thin brick continuing up the the wall to make the fireplace look full height, stained the mantle, built built-in shelves, painted the walls, installed crown moulding and installed door casings. That list looks like a lot but that does not even begin to illustrate all the work that went into all of those things–particularly since I did not know what I was doing and was learning as I went.

August

I went to an estate sale and ended up finding a first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I found out that it’s technically worth several thousands of dollars, but in actuality it’s just a really cool book to have in my collection.

September

A dear friend was pressured into an ill-advised trip to Puerto Rico and was there when Hurricane Maria hit. She managed to call me just before the official landfall and I can’t tell you what a horrible feeling it is to talk to a loved one as they are huddle in a hallway, completely terrified, and not be able to do a thing to help them. She, her mother, and sister thankfully survived uninjured, but were stranded there without running water or electricity for over a week.

I worked on one of my more ambitious projects which was creating five of the “ghost dresses” I had create last year. I unfortunately didn’t finish them before the end of the month, but considering that was trying to help facilitate a rescue from a decimated island in the Caribbean, I guess it was okay.

October

It was a fairly uneventful month. I didn’t get the ghost dresses out on the first, but I did get them on display by the end of the first week.

On Halloween I discovered how much stress can aggravate Lupus and managed to have the worst flare since my diagnosis.

November

My mother and I decided to tackle the popcorn ceiling in the hallway and kitchen. We figured that it wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as scraping the vaulted ceilings of the family room. Ha ha. To keep this short, the popcorn was covering a multitude of sin, not the least of which was evidence of a long running leaking pipe inside the facet over the cabinets. This turned into a massive nightmare from hell as we found that the leak was coming from the bathroom sink on the second floor and it had caused damage and mold in the bathroom wall, and also in my closet which backed up to that wall. The home owner’s repair policy managed to find three of the most incompetent plumbers in the state and send them to our house at the times which would be most inconvenient for either myself or my mother. This went on for the entire fucking month.

Of note also we had a meeting at the company where my mother and I work to announce that the third party company was supposed to be working our A/R was being replaced by a new company and would be starting immediately. (Remember this because it has a huge impact on 2018.)

December

It was the end of the first week of December and the pipe was still not fixed, so I told the insurance company that I was hiring my own plumber, would pay them myself and they would reimburse me. I repaired the facet and that was the end of the 2017 chapter of The Massive House-wide Renovation Project.

I finished my first official chicken wire commission “Pooh”. This required skipping sleep a few times, but the client was really happy with it so it was worth all of the work.

And that was 2017

I’ll add that in the midst of this I had blood drawn twelve times, five new medications, and eight dosage increases.

It was a busy year.

 

* I started this entry in mid-January and it’s now end of December that I’m finishing it after finding it in the drafts as I went to start the 2018 review.

The Fail Sale: Buy One Set of Defective Genes & Get a Flower Free

Genetics has always fascinated me, in fact that was the field of study I was going to enter had I gone to college. (True story and is actually so bizarre and divergent from the road that my life ended up taking that it served as inspiration for a pivotal moment in the short story I’m finishing.) That was one of the reasons I was chuffed when my doctor suggested doing genetic screening to help treat some of health issues – the other reason of course was that I was sick of playing darts with random medications, hoping that one would get somewhere near the bullseye instead of putting more holes in the wall around it. It turns out that I have a fair number of significant mutations, and whether they were passed on to me by my parents or the result of the illness that was ultimately responsible for my not going to college to study mutations isn’t completely certain. What did become clear though is that I’m not losing my mind when I think I’m not responding to medications because, as it turns out, I’m really not. At first I was overjoyed because there was the scientific proof that not only can I not metabolize the majority of antidepressants but I wasn’t being a pussy when I was having breakthrough pain after my surgeries – and I really was feeling like that having grown up being told that only the men in our family don’t have a “high pain tolerance” aka “don’t take pain medication until you are about to bite through your tongue to keep from screaming in agony”. But then I started to feel bummed because it was another indicator of how much the deck is stacked against me ever feeling less shitty – both mentally and physically – than I do now. I’m not saying that it’s not possible but between Nurture and Nature, I have a lot of work to do. And I have been actively working on the learned aspects of myself that are toxic, but it’s not easy.

About a month ago I had the first open house for the plant nursery business I started (it’s a long story, don’t ask), and it was a complete bomb. The weird thing though is that I realized that part of me was almost relieved that it failed. I’m so used to being upset and disappointed that the thought of experiencing something positive scared me. Also with it failing I didn’t have to feel ridiculous when I was still depressed since feeling depressed when you have “nothing to be depressed about” really sucks. This is one of the learned behaviors though so I’m working on changing that, but when you find out that every cell in your body is fighting against healthy thinking it starts to feel overwhelming.

Another genetic-related thought occurred to me when I read an article about the first “three parent fertilization” where the defective genes from one parent were swapped out for healthy genes from a third party donor. It made me think that if I were to do this it wouldn’t even be my kid. I really think I’m defined by the broken parts of myself, and I don’t mean that nearly as negatively as it sounds. I think it’s obvious to most people that creative minds have more mental issues than regular people do, so would I be a writer without those defective genes? Given my interest in things like genetics, I’m not completely a fairy garden hippie so would I be all clinical? Because that sounds really boring. The other thing is that I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t have a lot of shit beat me down in my formative years that I would have been a real bitch. If you don’t believe me then give me an unsolicited critique of my writing and see if I don’t tell you to go fuck yourself. I am extremely arrogant when it comes to my writing which is why I have difficulty with editors. Half of the reason that I don’t have beta readers for my novel is because I don’t trust myself to not tell someone that they are a moron if I don’t like their opinion. The other half is that I’m insecure that my writing really does suck and that even if I think I write better than someone that maybe they aren’t not right if they tell me it’s awful. Also, depending on who it was speaking, the right slander against my writing would make me cry, and I don’t really want to cry. (Believe it or not I do actually have the perfect editor and it’s only procrastination that keeps me from sending her my work.)

I’m starting a new medication and I hope it gets here soon because I’m weaning off of another medication that, as it turns out, I overmetabolize causing a slight overdose every time I take it, so yeah, not feeling great at all. I should go back and try to edit and/or organize this entry since I know there’s a common thread that I could pull out to tie off the entry in a neat little knot like at the end of one of those friendship bracelets made with embroidery floss, but I don’t feel like it. As unorganized as this all is it makes sense to me. I used to write to get out of my own mind and then share what I wrote in a compartmentalized bento box as food for thought. I’m not writing out of my mind anymore, I’m inside it. If you’re reading it then you’re in here too.

Never Finished, Only Abandoned

When I stopped writing regularly I blamed it, in large part, on my failed migration from Blogger to WordPress. I don’t know if I would have given up even without the migration – I most likely would have considering the Major Life Changing Events that were on their way – but it was a convenient scapegoat for my burnout. Readership had waned and instead of chalking it up to the natural decay of an online journal*, I assumed it was me. Well, it kind of was me, but not completely.

Now I come here and it’s almost relaxing to find it so empty. The readers are gone, the commenters are gone and, because comments are made by bloggers, the blogs are gone. I’m not sure because I don’t care enough to check, but I’m fairly certain that all of the blogs I used to follow are defunct. Blogging is such a communal phenomena that it’s easy to imagine all of those blogs as rows of empty crumbling houses with decrepit yards overgrown with weeds and unmowed grass, the mailboxes hanging open and filled with dust and cobwebs instead of comments left by readers. Of the blogs I’ve visited there have been one or two that have ended with a “goodbye” post, but most of them sit there with a random last entry stuck at the top of the page, awkward and painful like a hangnail. They remind me of a meme I saw that asked if you realized that there was a time when your mother picked you for the last time. Maybe the writers didn’t want to acknowledge that it was the end, so instead they just stopped.

But back to me. I can say that and not feel bad because I’ve embraced the selfishness of not writing for an audience but for myself. I’ve come to the point of preferring to shout into empty spaces and hear the echo of my own voice than to listen to the noise outside.

I sit in the water and have conversations with myself, a Narcissus and an Echo.

Conversations in Water with Myself

I found a bunch of draft posts, and while most of them are snippets I found this piece which could have almost been a post. I’ve decided to finish it while quoting what I had written on May 21, 2013 because there are some really terrible ironies.

I really enjoy my end-of-the-year wrap up posts. Ideally they remind me of how much I accomplished in the span of 365 days, but there have been times that they were simply a documentation that I survived a year without giving up the fight. I often wrote those year-in-reviews with a bitter taste in my mouth because they were the hardest fought and yet I had nothing to show for it except my continued existence.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve expressed this sentiment in subsequent “End of the Year” posts, but if I haven’t actually said it then I’d say it’s fairly apparent that they mean something to me since they are the only posts I’ve done for nearly three years.

Yes I know that life – even if it is just existence – is hardly “nothing”, but there have been times that it has not felt so special to me, in fact, the only value I placed on my life was the fact that if it did cease to exist that it would hurt the people I love. I lived because I loved my family more than I hated myself. I don’t write that as some flowery platitude meant to inspire other people going through depression – mostly because when you are suffering from depression nothing will inspire you – but as a fact. It’s a mathematical equation where the symbol just happened to be “>” instead of “<” and equaled “keep going”. (You know you’re really in the shit when a writer starts talking Math.)

If I’m truly honest I’m going through something like this right now. And that fact that I am just depresses me more.

2013 has already been an incredible year. And because my brain doesn’t work the way that it should I swing from being overjoyed to terrified that something’s going to happen and ruin it to overwhelmingly sad as I think of the shitty years that it took to get here.

How soon after I started this post did the first shoe drop? I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. I know that it was sometime between the time of starting that post and October 1st because that is the day that my mother got hit by an uninsured motorist, which was the second shoe dropping. By December I knew that I didn’t have much choice except to slide my feet into that set of shoes and walk the path that I had to walk and do what I had to do.

It also doesn’t help that this is the five year anniversary of surviving 2008, the worst year of my life.

This is where I laugh grimly and pat Kat-Circa 2013 on the head and tell her to just wait because in two years she will look back at 2008 and think how stupid she was to be so torn apart by the events of that year. To be fair to myself though, I will allow that 2008 was pretty terrible. I used to say that I would not experience 2008 again for a million dollars, but life is funny how it likes to make you eat your words. While I wouldn’t go through that year again for money, I would go through it again for another year with Kira. Everything and everyone has a price and it’s just a matter of time until you learn the cost.

 And then there have been a few outside sources this month that have given me food for depression thought.The first was a new post from Hyperbole and a Half. The post is about what the writer Allie Brosh has been going through in her battle with depression during her hiatus from blogging.

The second was a video of a commencement speech given in 2005 by David Foster Wallace called “This is Water”. I’ll give you the worst, most banal synopsis ever and tell you that it’s about how adult life is very often a series of of day in and day out doldrums because we fail to recognize “what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us” and that if we adjust our thinking we can realize that there’s more to life than there seems. I was floored. It was the best commencement speech I have ever heard because it managed to be honest without being pessimistic.

I stopped there because in my search to see what else David Foster Wallace wrote I found that he had committed suicide in 2008. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was having a really shitty time that year. I don’t think that normal people understand how much a suicide affects people with depression. Normal people feel the loss of the person and the sorrow that they didn’t reach out before drawing such a terrible conclusion, but for people with depression there’s this horrible fear that creeps in. What if that had been me? They were amazing people. They were loved by so many. If all of that wasn’t enough for them to keep going who’s to say that I’m not going to reach that point. In the case of David Foster Wallace I’m particularly stunned given his brilliant speech articulating basically that shit happens but it’s just a part of life. Why did he forget that “this is water”?

Let’s jump ahead (or actually back I guess) to 2015. There I was having a year where my math skills of greater-than/less-than were what was keeping me going, and I learned that a beautiful friend had ended her life. Again I felt that fear, and it was even more profound given that Stacy was one of those people that when I met her it wasn’t like meeting a stranger, it was like ‘Oh there you are. I was wondering when you would get here’. So I felt her loss on a different level, but given that I was already struggling I felt that fear on a different level too. It really made me wonder why the hell am I still here? Not the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla, but like what the hell is still firing in my brain that wasn’t firing for them? After I had eliminated everything that I had in common with the people who were gone I was left with the conclusion that it was luck or chance. And I really didn’t like thinking about it in those terms because both imply that I have no choice in the matter. So then I did start pondering in the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla. I could tell you what I learned as a “life lesson”, but I don’t feel like it.

Instead I’ll jump back (or forward?) to 2014 when I started a short story and then shelved it because reasons. The concept of the story was already teetering on dark humour, but when I looked at it again last year I thought that I should just finish the piece and write what I want to write and people can get over it if they don’t like it. I know this is how writers should write all the time but I’ll be completely honest and admit that in an age where marketing and branding are everything you do question how much of the population you want to alienate by writing what appeals to your own warped sense of humour. The smart writer – the one who doesn’t have to work a soul-sucking day job and write during the hours she can’t sleep before the pills kick in – works to appeal to a large demographic whereas I’m  finishing a funny story about a very unfunny subject which will only appeal to a very dark minority. I’m sure normal people reading it will think I’m horrible and they’re probably right, but whatever. It’s all just water.

happy dance of joy

Kira

IMG_3942I met Kira on October 24, 2004. She was a scared little bundle that had to be caught from inside the pen where she and her siblings had been living before she could be handed to me. She was so light and small cradled in the crook of my arm. She wouldn’t look at me but I kept cooing and kissing at her like the goofball that anyone near a puppy becomes, and I finally felt a tremulous wag from the little tail under my elbow. She then turned her head and gave me a few timid kisses on the nose and quickly looked away again. She was quick, but it was enough time for me to notice that she had adorable little freckles on the bridge of her nose. I got her to turn her head one more time so that my ex-husband could take a picture of us but in the second picture she’s looking away again. I held her brother too who was a normal Eskie puppy size and more confident in attention, but I already knew that the little girl had my heart.

The only problem was that we had just come to “look” at the puppies on our way to a pumpkin fair and I didn’t expect my ex-husband to let me adopt one. We left and continued to our destination, and I did my best to not think about how I wished the little girl puppy was with me when we arrived at the fair.

It was the next day – when we were at Wal-Mart of all places – that my ex-husband told me that I could get the puppy. I wanted to jump up and down and scream with joy, but I controlled myself. I asked him if he was really sure because he wasn’t an “animal person”, but he said yes with the contingency that I couldn’t pick her up until Sunday, the day after the Halloween party we were having on Saturday night. As soon as we got back to the house I called the woman who had the litter and told her that I wanted the puppy. “You remember which one it was, right? The one I held?” I asked anxiously. “The one with the freckles on her nose?” She assured me that she knew which one I wanted and would hold her for me until Sunday.

I couldn’t wait an entire week to see the puppy again though, so I stopped at the woman’s house a few days later on my way home from work. I knocked at the door but no one answered so I went around the back to the puppys’ kennel. To my surprise two little white bundles of fluff were running around in the yard. “My” puppy and her twin sister who was as tiny as she was had dug a hole under the fence of their kennel and escaped while their other sister and brother – who were twice as big as the little ones and couldn’t fit through – barked in indignation at them. The twin managed to run past me and squirm back under the hole into the safety of her kennel, but mine continued to scurry while I did my best to catch her. For twenty minutes she managed to avoid my grasp, but she started to seem not so much scared as she was just enjoying making me chase her. This theory was confirmed when she ran under the deck then assumed the pounce position with her front legs on the ground and her butt in the air, she did her first yodel/howl at me. I did finally caught her when she made a break for the hole to return to her kennel but wasn’t fast enough to shimmy through before I grabbed her. Once I had her in my arms I didn’t want to let have to let her go again, so even though it was a long shot, I called my ex-husband to see if I could convince him to let me bring her home early. Unfortunately he wouldn’t budge, and I had to hand her back to her custodian again. I remember the woman was wiping her face to get all of the dirt off and she squeaked in distress. The woman told me that she was dramatic, but it made leaving her that much more difficult.

It was the longest four days ever, but when Sunday, Halloween, came I picked up the girl who would always be referred to as my favoritest Halloween treat ever, my Kira.

The following three years were very difficult for both of us. My ex-husband never turned into an animal person, and in fact was jealous of the attention I gave her, so the abuse that I suffered increased in my effort to shield her from his tantrums. I hated having to go to work wondering if there would be enough people at the house to distract him from looking for any excuse to chastise her. As difficult as those years were though I find myself now thinking back to all of the beautiful memories Kira and I managed to create with just the two of us together. I remember taking her to a second round of obedience/socialization class and having her win the trophy for Most Improved. I remember leash training her and then taking walking around the neighbourhood going down different blocks to mix it up. I remember walking around the blocks in the south and looking at all of the decorations for Christmas and Halloween while she sniffed along the sidewalk. I remember walking her northwise while listening to “Preston & Steve” podcasts. I remember driving to an old cemetery near us and walking her around all the crumbling tombstones. I remember watching Christmas shows – all of the classics like “A Year Without Santa Clause” – with her snuggled against me on the bed despite my ex-husband forbidding Kira sleeping with us, and how she would hear my ex-husband come in the front door and jump off the bed and hop into the bed in her crate as if she had been there the entire time. I remember how she was always with me whether I was making run to the one shopping center to get sushi for dinner, or going to Dunkin’ Donuts to get coffee and a vanilla-iced doughnut. Oh my God, how she learned to love “Double D’s”. There was Dunkin’ Donuts just down the road in town and I’d stop in there enough in the evening or on weekends, but the one I remember most is the Dunkin’ Donuts right after the circle on 73 North in Berlin. That’s the one I would always stop at in the morning on the way to work when I had Kira with me to drop her off at her Grandmumma’s to stay there while I worked. Kira never got over her “stranger danger” despite all of the classes and socialization, but she learned that the drive-through attendants were not someone to bark at because they would give you treats from their windows. Her love of Double D’s reached a point that she would recognize the crinkle of their bag if I stopped on the way home, and she would be quite indignant if I did not share what I had purchased without her supervision. But of course I always shared. I found that I loved vanilla frosted donuts best only because I started getting that flavor instead of chocolate frosting since dogs shouldn’t have chocolate. Vanilla doughnuts WITH JIMMIES are still my favorite.

When we had our own apartment I would take her walking all around the complex, both for exercise and for her to do her business. There were these decorative grasses that the complex had planted all around the walkways in the complex and Kira would have to pee in each and every one of them. And she wouldn’t just pee on them, she had to get all the way up right in the middle of the plant to pee. My mom and I am jokingly called them her “tickly pee plants.” I’ve been to our old complex and found that they removed all of the tickly pee plants. I can’t really blame them because they weren’t that attractive but still, I don’t know if it makes me feel sadder or better that they’re not there anymore.

On June 30th 2015 I noticed that Kira’s poo was too dark for my comfort. Not that I regularly analyze my pup’s poo, but we had just adopted our Daisy, and since I had to be outside confirming Daisy’s bathroom habits I noticed Kira’s too. I told my mother that I was going to call our vet to have them run an occult blood screen on it.

The next day I was sitting at my desk at work when I saw my mother’s number flash on my cellphone. She never called me at work and I just thank God that I had my cell in a position where I saw her calling despite my ringer being off. When I answered my mother told me that Kira had “passed out” but assured me that she was better, however she was still on her way to the emergency vet to be safe. I wanted to fly out of the office and meet her there but instead I composed myself and waited to hear more once my mother got Kira to the vet. My mother called me back when she reached the vet and told me that Kira seemed fine now but did I still wanted them to examine her to be safe. I knew it would be expensive but I said yes that I wanted her examined because it would be worth it to know that Kira really was fine. But when ER vet called me about an hour later I found out that Kira wasn’t fine.

The vet told me that Kira’s hematocrit was at 20 whereas the normal level was 30. She was bleeding internally somewhere and the vet recommended an abdominal ultrasound to look for any foreign objects or a possible tumor in her stomach. I agreed to the ultrasound, and the vet said she would call me as soon as she had results.

The next few hours of that day are a story in themselves because I did not handle the stress well. The vet was taking too long to call me with results so I decided to drive to hospital and demand answers. I was on my way there and then, long story short, I took road rage to the next level when an asshole driver blocked my lane-  and then flipped me off when I beeped – by grabbing a desk fan I had in my car, jumping out and threatening to beat the man to death with it if he didn’t get the fuck out of my lane. But anyway. It ended up that the vet called me just as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot. She hadn’t be able to see anything in the ultrasound due to a lot of gas and wanted to do an endoscopy. Kira’s hematocrit had also dropped during those hours and she needed a blood transfusion. I agreed to the blood transfusion but Kira did not handle anesthesia well and I didn’t want to put her through the stress of a procedure without being sure that she needed it so I asked to wait on the endoscopy. The ER vet was actually very sweet and considerate and said she would do the blood transfusion and understood my decision to wait on the endoscopy. When she asked me if I wanted to pick up Kira in the morning or have them call when the transfusion was done which would be around 2 am, there was no question that I would be driving there in the middle of the night to get my girl.

At nearly 2 am on the dot they called me and said that Kira’s levels were at 28, and I could come to get her. I knew as soon as I picked her up that it was not a good situation. Kira looked exhausted, panting and her eyes drooping. As soon as I set her down when we got home she dove into the water bowl drinking the entire thing. Ten minutes later it all came back up. I sopped up the vomit/water and she immediately guzzled down another bowl of water. And it all came back up. I tried letting her parched little body drink from the bowl one more time, and when it all came up again I had to force myself to only give her a 1/2 cup of water at a time. The water finally stayed down, though it broke my heart to see her licking and licking at the empty water bowl. We both dozed on the living room floor that night but neither of us got much sleep.

I went to work – or I think I went to work, I honestly don’t remember since I was awake for 30 hours at that point – but later that day we became concerned when Kira would not eat any solid food because without her eating we could not get her medicines into her. Once again I have to commend the vet for her trust in me because when I called and explained the situation and how I felt that Kira being away from me had exacerbated whatever was going on inside her, she agreed to give me the syringe of medication and have me administer it myself at home. This is actually a really big deal for a doctor to allow someone to do this and I’ll admit that I was nervous when the time came for me to administer this huge-ass needle to my baby. I finally mustered and got most of the injection in her – she shrieked halfway through the injection and the needle came out when she ran off – but it was enough that she finally started eating solid fool.

That Monday, July 6th, my mother took Kira to doctor who was covering for our regular vet as a follow up while I went to work and waited again for news. I remember sitting in the dark, empty auditorium at my office when that vet called and broke the news that Kira’s levels had dropped again. I sat there listening as she told me the possible causes and what treatment did I want to pursue if Kira had cancer. I could not answer her because I did not believe that Kira had something that would threaten her life. I felt that she had a stomach ulcer and that the medication we had been giving her just needed more time to work. I told her that I wanted to continue our current course of medication and we scheduled another follow up for Friday the 10th. We labored religiously to get all of Kira’s medications in her at all of the exact times and had everyone we know send prayers and good vibes that week, and when she had her follow up her levels climbed to 25. It was a miracle.

I was so relieved and thankful, particularly when I celebrated her birthday on the 14th. We hadn’t been to a Dunkin Donuts drive-through in since we had moved and lived within walking distance of one so I made a special trip and took her to the closest Dunkin Donuts with a drive-through so that she could get her vanilla doughnut as we had done so many times before. I remember that I was furious that they didn’t have vanilla – we still got a doughnut and I did get her a vanilla one at a walk-in Dunkin – but I was so upset. I think it was because some part of me knew. However I still wasn’t prepared when the vet called after Kira’s next appointment a few days later on Thursday the 16th and told me her levels were down to 18.

I went hysterical. I was at work sobbing on a dear friend’s shoulder trying to comprehend that my girl was so sick.

Our regular vet was finally back from vacation and surprisingly had hours that Saturday and he agreed to squeeze us in. We saw him only two days after her previous appointment and her levels were down to 13. The only good thing was that he agreed to put Kira on steroids and antibiotics like I had wanted for the previous week.

Again we had a schedule for all of her medications and gave them to her exactly when the had to be taken. I even started giving her a blood booster supplement and baking her “Pibble Pot Roast” a recipe from another dear friend that had helped her boy when he was sick. Her poo seemed to be getting lighter, but on July 22nd I noticed that Kira’s gums were extremely pale and she was very short of breath, so I rushed her to the ER again. This time when they tested her blood her level it was down to 10. I immediately consented to a second blood transfusion, but the vet did warn me that it was more difficult to predict a blood type interaction after a previous transfusion and that they would have to keep her overnight to be sure she didn’t have a reaction. They told me that she was refusing to eat though and asked if I would bring her some food to see if she would eat for me. I drove directly from work and took her for a stroll to the hospital’s yard and stroked her as we sat in the grass like we would do at our old apartment. I prayed the entire time. My mother came to the hospital too and brought some baby food and a hamburger. We got the food and the medication into her and then I had relinquish her back to the tech. It felt like how it did eleven years earlier when I wasn’t able to take her home as a puppy, the time I had stopped to see her after work and chased her around to catch her mischievous puppy self. All I could do was wait and pray that the transfusion took and that she held her levels. Incredibly not only did her levels hold but they rose through the night and reach a high of 28. I left work as soon as I got the call and brought her home. She seemed better than she had since this had all started three weeks prior.

We had a good week.

On the night of July 30th, Kira seemed to be having trouble breathing. Her gums were extremely pale and she didn’t want to eat. I laid on the carpet next to her and rubbed her gently and kissed her on her little freckled nose. I told her that I loved her and that I was so proud of her for being such a fighter. And then I told her that it was okay if she was tired and didn’t want to fight anymore. She had been such a strong girl, and it was okay if she wanted to go home.

I went into work the morning of July 31st, and then came home so that I could take Kira with my mother to her appointment with Dr Heller. She was such a good girl and didn’t struggle at all when he took her blood. He went out of the room and when he came back in with the results I knew that it wasn’t good. I stood next to him as he measured her levels and read them as 13. He asked me what I wanted to do, and said that she was okay right now even though her levels were low, she wasn’t struggling, but what did I want to do if they dropped. I told him that I didn’t want to put her through anything more. I wouldn’t put her through any more stays at hospitals or pricks at her legs trying to get blood from her tiny veins. He said to call if we needed anything.

We went home, and because I’m such a coward, because I knew what was coming and the reason I will hate myself forever, I went back to work while my mother watched Kira. At 3:45 my mother called me to make sure that I wasn’t working over time, and to be honest I had considered it, but I will always be so thankful that she called me.

I walked in my front door and Kira stood up to greet me as she always did, but I knew that she was suffering. My mother told me later that it was the first time that she had stood up all day. I immediately grabbed Kira up into my arms and vaguely remember hearing my mother saying that Dr. Heller could not stay but that he had told his associate about Kira and we could go right over. I don’t remember getting into the car – was the front door locked? I don’t know – all I knew was that I was holding my baby girl, the one who had been through so much with me, the most perfect and beautiful piece of my heart, and she was struggling. My beautiful brave little girl was still fighting despite how tired she was. I could not in my selfishness keep her here. She was a little restless as my mother floored the car out of the driveway and into the street, but relaxed a little as I adjusted her on my lap and turned her so that the air conditioning vent could blow directly on her. I wrapped my arms around her and felt her finally settle and then rest in the crook of my arm. I told her, “It’s okay. Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here.” She closed her eyes a little, and then I felt her take her last breath, a gasp and then a quiet sigh, and she was gone.

We made it to the vet’s office where they quickly took us into a room and gave me a towel to wrap her in so that I didn’t have to place her on a cold exam table. Then the vet came in and listened to her chest to confirm what I had already felt in the car. The thing is though, the vet’s office is literally three minutes from my house and Kira had passed before we could get there. Kira had already known it was time but she had been holding on for me to be with her. I believe she knew that I would have shattered completely if I had not been with her when she passed and so she fought until I was able to hold her in my arms as she finally able let go.  Kira had loved me and taken care of me as she always did, down to her last breath.

IMG_1288_1024I’ve so many beautiful memories of you, my Kira. I know that they will help me and make me smile, but I will never stop missing you. I will miss your “Uncle Leo hello” yodel that you would do when you were excited that someone came home, and I’ll miss your “Crazy Shake” as you gave me tons of shakes (and “sits” and “downs” and every trick you knew) to get me to give you the treat in my hand faster. I will miss you opening the bathroom door when I’m peeing, and I’ll miss how you would rub your rump against my leg for back scratches. I’ll miss how soft your fur was, it was more like rabbit fur than dog fur. I’ll miss how you somehow always smelled like Snuggle fabric softener. I’ll miss having you velcroed against my leg when I sat on the floor or against my foot when I sat in a chair, and I’m miss reaching down absentmindedly when I’d lay on the couch and know I would feel you sleeping against it. I’ll miss your random burps and I’ll miss blaming all of my burps on you. I’ll miss your soft snores as you slept. I’ll miss your kisses when I cry because you were always there to lick them away. I’ll miss you when I’m in the garden and expect to look up to see you lounging in the grass “Eskie suntanning” in the summer or sniffing the cool breeze in the Autumn. I’ll miss seeing you in the passenger seat of “Zoe” and know that it will always be “your spot” especially thanks to the nap of the seat which is permanently flattened from your sitting there or from you resting your head on my hand when I set it there. I’ll miss hearing you smack at the water bowl when it wasn’t filled up to your standards. I’ll miss you opening presents on Christmas, taking the initiative to tear into them even before Grandmumma had finished reading the Christmas story from the Bible. I will miss your beautiful smile, I had never seen a dog smile but there was no denying that you were smiling especially when you were being cuddled. I will miss holding you and having you tuck your head under my chin in response when someone would ask, “Do you love Mommy?”

I’ll miss you for all of these reasons, Kira, and for so many more because I see you in so many important things in my life. You were such a part of how I went from an insecure abused wife to a more confident and self-sufficient person. I truly believe that I would not have grown as much as I have if God had not blessed me with you. I gave you a piece of my heart on that chilly October afternoon in 2004, and I am so thankful that you accepted it. It’s yours and it will always be yours. Keep it safe in Heaven until I see you again.

I love you, Kira.

For My Kira

Comic altered by me from original comic here (you really should read it because it’s a beautiful tribute to her own furbaby) done by artist located here.

 

Auld Lang Syne YIR 2015

I think I started doing “years in reviews” in 2004. They were not formal posts but more like inventories based on the notes in my appointment book from the previous year. They were fun back then.

But then the deaths started and they weren’t fun anymore.

I started writing official “Year in Review” posts in 2010 because that was the year I started making a conscious effort to pull myself from the pit. I’m a list-holic and whenever I’m struggling I make schedules and lists. The YiR for 2010 is literally broken down into such quotidian landmarks as “Made it to the gym three times”. Ironically the events that stand out most are ones that make this year so difficult. I didn’t realize until I just checked now that it was 2010 when I got Kira spayed, and when I began the Feast of Seven Fishes.

So, 2015. What can I say about you? Do I hate you for how painful you have been, or do I love you because you were the last year that I was complete? I don’t even know what to say anymore. You’ve even taken my words.

Dollface

Credit Stacy Campblell

The Bright Guest Disappears

Stacy Campbell died at the worst possible time.**

Wow Kat, you don’t write  a post for two years – with the exception of two end of the year recaps – and you jump right into that? What a fucking “return”.

Yes, well, a return is also based on investment, and in this case the investment of time has created a poor return. (And while I’m at it, I love my penchant for using numerical alliterations despite being dyslexic.) But anyway. If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about then we’re on the same page; I’m writing this shit and I don’t even know what I’m talking about.

No, that’s not exactly true. I unfortunately know exactly what I’m talking about, but it makes the dinner guest feel better if you volunteer that the meal is terrible.

Eat up, and please be assured that I hate the fare as much as you.

Stacy 1Stacy Campbell died at the worst possible time, but it apparently was her time – on her own time. Her official last day in this world is September 16, 2015, but the actual date isn’t known for certain. I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t actually pass on September 15th. I wonder this because Stacy had the most ironic sense of humor, and it would be so her to take her life on National Suicide Awareness Day.

And, as is the case whenever someone takes their life, I’ve being wrestling with that question of “why?”.

I know the answer, but I don’t understand it. And I hope that I never do understand it. I think that “why” is in itself part of the reason that I’ve been as frantic to figure out what made her reach that point as I have.

I’ve been low, and I’ve had those thoughts of the world being a better place without the burden of me and my insanity. I’ve also been to that point where everything hurts and you don’t want to end your life so much as you just want everything to just stop fucking hurting. I understand that pain so much that I cannot be angry at her for wanting it to end. I just wish I knew what I could’ve said to make her hold on a little longer, and that I could’ve been there to say it to her. I wish I could’ve told her that she’s not alone, and then I would’ve pointed to all of the people who have written on her Facebook wall saying how much she meant to them. The Interwebz can be good like that sometimes.

But then that very thing, the ability to connect to other people who understand your pain – the pain that “normal” people do not – is a double edge sword. I know that unless you battle mental issues you might not understand this, but people with our – ahem – affliction tend to gravitate to each other. We want to help each other, to assure each other that there are people who understand, that they are not alone. It helps, but at the same time I feel that our exclusive community of the tortured and the tested ends up being a macabre game of Russian Roulette. With so many players we’re bound to lose someone eventually. Depression comes in ebbs and flows, and everyone comes to a time when it’s their turn to pick up the gun. Thankfully the odds are in our favor. There are five empty chambers – family, and friends, and Faith, and life, and you, and anything else you value – they outnumber that single bullet. And life goes on… But people with depression identify and lean on each other, and unfortunately as soon as you put down the gun, then one of your friends picks it up.
Spin the barrel.
Fire the gun.
Someone dies.

That’s my own issues speaking though, and I want to talk about Stacy. Being a writer herself, I know she would have understood that diatribe.
Perfect segue.

Though we were both writers, I met Stacy through our love of animals. She had lost her beloved Jurgen, yet had found the strength to adopt another dog that needed a loving home. I so admired her for opening her heart again that it inspired me to dedicate my 200th blog post to animal rescue stories. I remember wondering what I should do for such a landmark post, and she was the inspiration for it.

nightmare dog, animal rescue storiesThat was Stacy though: kind and inspiring.

Unfortunately my own depression has been relentless for the past two years, and I didn’t talk with her as much as I wish I had. Like so many things in my life, I’d set her in my peripheral vision and only looked directly when something really fascinated me. I’m just thankful that she was so fascinating that I paid as much attention as I did.

Stacy just seemed so…”cool”. Even her name was interesting. Her full name was Anastasia, which usually garners the nickname of “Anne” or “Anna”, but she was a Stacy. I seriously thought that was the neatest nicking of names ever – so much so that I planned on changing the name of one of my characters in my book to that.
Stacy had the best Bucket List, and she was the only person I knew who actively worked to check things off of it. I loved it when a picture would show up on her Instagram feed documenting an adventure done, a check marked next to box on that list.

She skydived.

 

stacy 4
She went to a firing range.stacy 6
She went to concerts because she said she was going to stop saying she would see a band or an artist “next time”.stacy 5

She stayed in the fucking Stanley Hotel.stacy stanley i cant spell

I am a huge fan of The Shining and it had never occurred to me to want to stay in the creepy hotel that inspired the story until I saw Stacy’s black and white pictures of the infamous fourth floor. Not only was the fact that she was at the hotel so brilliant, but her pictures were taken with such a sharp eye that they captured eeriness without being campy. But this shouldn’t be surprising because Stacy was an incredible photographer.stacy stanley Her Stanley Hotel pictures were not just beautiful but they were complete with captions about hearing children playing in empty halls, and ordering Whiskey from a bartender named Lloyd. They were beautiful as only she could make them because they illustrated her vision, both also her wicked sense of humor and her mastery of words.

Her words. I wish that I had read more of them while she was still here.

Through the power of the Interwebz and its promise threat that nothing ever really disappears from its depths I’ve been able to read her former blog “Jurgen Nation”. There is so much brilliance there. It’s not an easy blog to read – there is a lot of pain, and it kills me a little wondering if she wished that she could make her pain disappear as simply as she thought she had deleted the blog that detailed it…and how wretchedly ironic it is that her blog didn’t truly disappear after all. Nothing disappears.

Another irony – bloody fucking hell I’m beginning to hate you, Mistress Irony – is that the post that resonates most to me right now – the one that exactly touches on the punch in the throat that has knocked me into such a pit this year that I cannot fathom ever being able to climb out of it, on a pain that I cannot even yet put into words – was written only a few days after a post where she wrote a letter to herself twenty years from now. Or “then” since it was in 2009. It a post about how she would still be here in twenty years, even though she might think she won’t.

Stacy 2It makes me so angry that Life thinks it’s so clever with these little elbows to the ribs. You’re so not fucking funny, in fact sometimes You feel downright cruel.

There is so much that I’m going to miss about Stacy. Her presence was like birds singing: you don’t realize how much you enjoy their music, and take for granted that they will always be singing until they are silent. I think of all of the empty buildings that she will never photograph, all of the words she’ll never write, all of the snarky jokes she will never make. Stacy was caring, and beautiful, and wrong, and clever, and brilliant. I read the stories shared by people who knew her better, and I’m so jealous of them. I wish that I could justify this pain by proximity, where the equation would make sense. But there is a reason that artists are dyslexic, and numbers do not add up to us. stacy 7

Stacy was a true Siren, drawing so many people to her.
I’m grateful that I  heard her song and listened while I could.

I will see you later, beautiful girl. Keep the cocktail chilling.

In the mean time I am changing a character’s name in your honour. It is my hope that “Stacy” destroying demons in my story will give you the victory down here that you so deserved.

 

stacy brody

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

 

**The average time that people will allow you to mourn is one month. I wrote this entry nearly three months ago, and I still feel it so much that I decided to finish it and publish the bloody thing. It reminds me that loss has no timetable. Loss is not something get over, you just learn to live with it.

 

 

And So This is 2014, And What Have We Done?

One year.

365 days.

345 sleepless nights.

5 blood tests.

3 MRIs.

2 Surgeries.

And a stray cat in a fir tree. ♫~♪~♫~♪~♫~♪~

(Oh go on and sing it, because you know you want to.)

Uh huh. Well.

It was a year ago today that I made my last entry–(365 days…345 sleepless nights—Do shut up, Kat!) and as I had mentioned then, I had made a major decision and decided that it was necessary to take a different road on the path which I had been currently journeying.

Um, I mean, I didn’t change the path, just that the road I had been using to reach the path to the goal had been a bit altered because, after all, a path and road aren’t necessarily the same but they can both lead to a goal upon said road reached by a path and/or other road which…and…and…and…

Yeah. So… So, there’s that.

Anyway, I think what I’ve been trying to say is that the thing about being a “writer” is that it’s this odd balance of experiencing a fucked-up world and all of its completely mental-shit crazy situations that will be thrown at your poor unsuspecting ass, and yet being alone enough of the time to hear the quiet and process them.

So am I saying that my absence was because I needed more experience with the fucked up world in 2014, or that I needed more time alone to process it all? Neither. I did not set out to purposely experience the world like some fucking high school graduate taking a sabbatical through Europe to find his asshole self before he starting college, and I certainly did not need more time to listen to the quiet in my head–mostly because there is never any quiet in there–but because everyone, even someone who pretends to be a writer, sometimes just has to do what they have to do. And in the end, if you’re lucky, you will take something from that time and it will make you a better person, and in turn a better writer.

So, on this last night before the last day of the year, I could muddle through a month by month list of the previous year’s events as I had done in the past, but I don’t feel that they would give anything to you, my dear reader, because I have selfishly kept them to myself for the past twelve months. 2014 was, as someone who shares her musings on a “blog”, would call a “cornucopia”. Not only is a cornucopia appropriate for the holiday season, but I truly do feel that it embodies this past year for me: a bit of sour, a bit of sweet, but all nourishing, and–if I want to be a bit megalomanical, which I totally am not above being–providing strength and ability of a Greek pantheonic level.

*snickers*

Whatever.

*continues snickering*

2014, 2015

From a wise friend ♥

“A very Merry Christmas,
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one,
Without any fear.”

Happy 2015, peeps. ♥