Five Sentences

After talking to a friend who has, what appears to me to be, a nice, simple life – been married thirteen (?) years, has one son, one daughter, goes on vacations every year, they both have good jobs and they’re all healthy – I had a bit of a sulk where I thought that’s what I want and why couldn’t I have had that? It didn’t help that I’d had yet another disappointing appointment with a new doctor just a few hours before, but I decided that I was going to give up (again) on the road less traveled and forget all the reasons that I stopped working full-time because it’s not helped me control my health conditions any better and nothing is working out how I thought.

Then a neighbor posted in the community group that there was a baby raccoon in his driveway and what should he do about it. Most people suggested the wildlife refuge that was about thirty minutes away, but he said that he called and no one could come out for it. I asked if they would accept the baby raccoon if someone drove it there and to my surprise the guy said the refuge would if someone wanted to come over and get the baby and transport it to the facility.

So less than two hours after deciding to just trying being normal and having a normal life, I’m driving through the middle of the woods with a baby raccoon in the backseat looking for a wildlife refuge as daylight quickly fades away. Thankfully the GPS in my phone didn’t crap out – which it usually does in these cases – and I found the hospital with minimal incident. Judging by my semi-trained eyes, Baby Rocket somehow lost his mother and was suffering from dehydration and a slight eye infection, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get an update for 90 days.

I’ve had a few people ask me why the guy who found the raccoon didn’t take it to the refuge himself and to be honest I don’t know and I didn’t ask. There were two younger children in the backyard of his two story gingerbread house and maybe no one else was home to watch his kids while he drove thirty minutes into the woods with a wild animal. Or maybe he didn’t care enough. There are people who “do” and people who “do not”, and since we don’t know why people do not, it’s better to leave it alone. I told my mother – as usual she was drawn into this adventure despite my protests for her to stay home – that I felt like this baby raccoon needing help was God’s way of saying to me, Really? You want an easy, simple life? Or do you want to be a person who jumps in the car and rescues a baby raccoon on a Friday night? Of course we both already knew the answer.

Thank you to my dear friend, Stacy. Last night – even before the raccoon rescue – he encouraged me to write even five sentences a day. I gave five paragraphs this time, but yesterday was a big day. This is about the best readability you’re gonna get though.

R.I.P., sir.
Pic that was posted of Baby that started this all. Doesn’t give a good reference to his size because he’s only about as big as a large kitten.

Two Oh Two Whoah

What could be more fun than having precarious health and no sense of direction, other than having precarious health and no sense of direction in the middle of a pandemic. Oh, and living in the second most COVID-19 infected state in the most infected country in the world. Thankfully I’m at least in the part of New Jersey that is considered a suburb of Philly rather than in the north. (Actually I’m always thankful for that since, as anyone from New Jersey will tell you, the north and the south hate each other.) But yeah, it’s been one hell of a month.

I’ve been sitting here for an hour and a half trying to think of how to make this a cohesive post and I can’t do it. The Depression Monster is bearing down on me and while that usually breeds better writing for me, that’s not the case today. Being one of the vulnerable members of society meant that I had to begin social distancing before most people even knew what that was, but then I managed to come down with a fever the Friday before last and that was a complete nightmare. The chances that I had contracted COVID-19 were slim but I still had to isolate as if I had it, and of course because of the country’s ridiculously limited resources, I wasn’t able to be tested to prove otherwise. The scary thing is that I was most likely experiencing a Lupus flare, and thank God that it didn’t become complicated, but it made me realize how fragile I am – a fact that I still do my best to ignore. That realization, along with the current state of things, has me in a funk. I don’t do well just sitting still. It’s a skill I’m trying to develop but I’m not good at it. However if there was every a time to embrace the art of being still this would be it. So much like the rest of the world I’m sitting, which is probably for the best since I don’t even know where I’m supposed to be going yet. I suppose none of us do.

Dribs & Drabs

  • As you can tell I am writing these entries without any regard to SEO, readability, or images because I would use all of those as an excuse to not write. This entry is shit but at least I wrote.
  • I again made it by the skin of my teeth by posting my monthly entry on the very last day. Hopefully the day will come again when I’ll write for inspiration rather than obligation.
  • Stay inside, everyone. If you do have to go out, wash your hands like you ate a bag of Cheetos and have to put your contacts in.

20/20

You know you’ve been neglectful of your so-called blog when a friend who has been following your blog for nearly ten (holy shit!) years sends you a message to see if your blog has been hacked because she got an email that a new post has been published. It of course didn’t help that said post was one from ten years ago that I tweaked last month when I did my annual Year In Review and it somehow published as if it was new, but ultimately my protracted absence is to blame. And because I assured her that not only had I not been hacked, but was going to aim for a post a month now, I’m blathering this out now.

I’ll just put it out there: I’m in a weird place right now.

When I began checking out of the blogging scene in 2013 it was because the tip of gigantic iceberg of health issues had appeared on the horizon for me. I was, at most, marginally concerned, and only that much because I didn’t have health insurance. But the thought that it would change my life, that I’d have to adapt so much, that despite my astronomical force of will I wouldn’t still be able to do whatever the fuck I wanted didn’t occur to me. I’ve had health issues my entire life so it was old hat to me, in fact it had felt almost abnormal that I’d gone as many years as I had without an endless schedule of doctor visits, tests, and procedures. So, much like the Titanic, I cranked up the engine and plowed right into that iceberg, feeling the same shockwave as the ship felt when it realized it was not indestructible.

So yeah. Health could be better. But it could be a lot worse, so I always remind myself of that whenever I started to feel sorry for myself, which I will admit has been more than a handful of times particularly since early 2017.

Unfortunately when your health is compromised it pretty much means your entire life is compromised. My professional life is in a holding pattern because I don’t know what I’m physically able to handle. My beautiful flowers –

And that’s where I had to stop because I just broke down sobbing. Don’t feel bad; I needed to do it because, in addition to my physical and professional states, my mental state could be better. I’ve a problem letting my feelings out so when I break down like that – suddenly and when I’m alone and can ugly-cry without embarrassment – it means that the pressure valve on a pot that I didn’t realize was boiled has been released a little. This is definitely not the worst I’ve ever mentally felt though and that is a huge blessing – though my professional self might argue that at least I write better when I’m depressed. I will say that I’m just really tired and all I see every way I turn is work to be done. Physical work to try to get my malfunctioning body to perform better. School work to get a stupid degree that I don’t really need but just want. Emotional work dealing with the major changes that happened in the past two years. Spiritual work to know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.

We’re two months out of this year already and I still don’t know which end is up, but here’s hoping that 2020 will be the year that I see clearer.

Dribs & Drabs

  • I updated the (anti)social media links in the widget. I sometimes still on Twitter but I’m not clever enough to be on there often, and I’m never on Pinterest, and G+ went down the tubes (big shock), and ironically the one on the most is Instagram and that was missing so those are updated
  • If you do follow me on Instagram don’t expect much. It’s basically dogs and cake. (Though what else do you need, right?)
  • I started baking. I’m going to be very un-hip here and say that it’s not a business, I have no intentions of making it a business, and I couldn’t make it a business even if I wanted to because I’m not very good at it since I’m adapting recipes to be allergy safe.
  • Thank you, Trish, for seeing if I had been hacked. Not only do I appreciate the concern, but by talking to you I was held accountable to write this entry which only made it into February because it’s a Leap Year. Hope you are enjoying your trip!

2018 In Review Part 2: …And, well, I say Goodbye too.

I have good news and I have bad news.

The good news is that if you’ve read Part One then you’ve made halfway through my Year in Review for 2018 and most of the “big events” happened there. The bad news is that we still have six months to go and in there are a few noteworthy events, plus the emotional fallout of a lot of Part One’s events, plus the year-end finale in December. If that doesn’t get you jazzed for Part Two I don’t know what would.

July

The shit-storm of stress at my job quadrupled when my Team Lead left for maternity leave on the 3rd, and it was assumed that since I was the only person who knew how to do most of her job, that I would be taking on all of her responsibilities even if I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Plus, given that the Director of Finance had only joined the practice in February, she had been relying heavily on my coworker for things like practice analysis reports, so I got the privilege of doing executive level work for menial level pay. I was already overwhelmed and I refused to continue doing overtime because the money was not worth the stress, particularly when the company informed us that our yearly reviews, which were always done in July, would not include a salary increase this year.

My mother bought a sectional in fairly good shape that she found at the Good Will store. (This might not seem like much, but it’s important later.)

I had to fix the retaining wall that I had built for the first of what would be three times that year thanks to people running it over.

August

We celebrated Bella’s first birthday as part of our family. She was quite spoiled with ice cream cake and many toys.

During my search for another job, I came across a position that looked like a great fit for my mother. I knew that it would be difficult for me to leave our company knowing that she was stuck there in the phones department, so I was really happy that she agreed to interview for the new job, and then I was even happier when she accepted their offer for the position. I, on the other hand, continued to strike out on the job hunt, so I began to explore the idea of going back to school.

My Lupus began manifesting itself in crippling stomach spasms. I’m honestly surprised that something like that didn’t happen sooner given all of the stress, but it made up for the delay in spades. I like to think that I have a high tolerance for pain so when I say that the spasms were crippling, they were truly excruciating.

September

I heard about a position with a book publicity company, and even though I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell of being called, I gave them my resume

My mother officially completed her last day at her old job on the 7th. It did feel a little depressing driving into work myself the following Monday after four years of working together.

My friend who had lost her brother-in-law in January, lost her daughter-in-law to sudden complications with her Lupus. She was only 36 years old and left behind an 11 year old daughter.

At the end of the month, to my utter shock, I did get a call from the book publicity company. Even more shocking is that they said that they would call me again to come in for an interview about two weeks later…

October

…and most shocking of all is that about a week after my interview, I was offered the position. Accepting it was both huge and terrifying for a number of reasons, but I knew that I had to take it and I’m just thankful that God had presented me with the opportunity, and that I had the support of my family to pursue it.

November

My last day at my old company was the first week of November. In the five years I had been there I had seen many people leave, and nearly everyone who left sent their final “Thank you” email specifying that they were “not saying “goodbye but ‘I’ll see you later'”. I always found this a little melodramatic because if we’re being honest, when you leave a job, it really is the last time you will ever see the majority – if not all – of your coworkers. So I decided that I would say “goodbye” in my final email. This was partly to be ironic because unlike everyone who promised “I’ll see you later” and then disappeared, I actually would keep in contact with the people that I cared about. (And since I’m writing about this long after the fact, I can tell you that I did keep my promise.) But the other reason is that I really did want to bid goodbye to that company and the atmosphere of stress and anxiety that it created and to the people who exploited that to their benefit. Also, there was a bit of satisfaction in the defiant act of saying the word that everyone expect you to avoid.

I started my new job, and also the process of cultivating new relationships and a new routine.

Remember back in July when I said that my mother found a new couch at Good Will? Well it became the catalyst to tackle the other half of the first floor in the Massive House-Wise Renovation Project because it was supposed to go into the living room which was still the subject of wretched carpeting and that bloody popcorn ceiling. Rather than move the couch twice, we ripped up the carpet and scraped the ceiling in the living room…

Which is connected to the dining room…

So that meant ripping and scraping the dining room too.

And that’s how we reached the HUGE milestone of scraping off the last of the popcorn ceiling in the house.

That was the week before Thanksgiving and I thought that I pretty much kicked ass over the past three weeks between leaving a job after five years, starting a new job, beginning classes, and ripping apart two full rooms, in fact I expected to be finished enough to start decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. (Unlike the previous year but that’s another story.)

Then it was Thanksgiving and I was suddenly holy shit I left my job of five years, started a new job in a completely new field, I’m starting classes but I don’t remember shit about school, and am in agony after ripping apart two full rooms with uncontrolled Lupus! What the f*** was I thinking?!?!  I ironically had just talked myself down from a meltdown on Sunday when I received a call from the friend who had lost her brother-in-law and daughter-in-law this year to tell me that her sister had found their mother on the floor of her bedroom and that she was gone.

December

There were four weekend before Christmas in December and every single one of mine were booked. This would be exhausting for a normal person but, when you’re an introvert who need ten hours to recoup for every one of being social, it’s a nightmare – especially when said introvert is already stressed out of her mind.

One nice things though was that I was able to actually do one of the things I had written down to do this year back in January and that was seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But in addition to this I had a gender reveal party, a holiday happy hour, and an ugly Christmas sweater themed first birthday party so that by the time Christmas Eve and my annual Feast of Seven Fishes came around I was ready to pass out. And that’s exactly what I did.

This should probably be an entry of its own, but given that I can’t give a full firsthand account I’m going to drop it here as the finale to 2018.

On Christmas Eve, two hours before the party was supposed to start, my stomach started spasming. Despite medication it continued to get worse so I went upstairs to lie down and try to get the pain under control. However when I heard the first guest arrive, I decided to try to muster through, but did not even make it out of my bedroom before I dropped to the floor. I don’t know how many of you have passed out but it’s a very disorientating experience. When I started to come to there was a strange man crouching over me, grabbing my shoulder, so my oxygen starved brain went to its default defense mode and I slammed the heel of my palm into his arm and sent it flailing away from me. I vaguely remember his look of shocked alarm before I drifted back into an oblivious sea of pain and nausea, and thankfully the man did not shoot me or arrest me, but let an ambulance take me to the hospital, because as it turns out, he was a police officer. I did convince the hospital to release me almost as soon as I got there, but unfortunately the party was a bust. I suppose it was a fitting end for the kind of year 2018 was.

But on the bright side I can now tell the story of that time I assaulted a police officer on Christmas Eve.

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

Read Part Two Here

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, while they were the hardest fought years, I had nothing to show for it except my continued existence.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve expressed my sentiment about my “End of the Year” posts, in subsequent editions, 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 the 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 to ruin it, and then to overwhelmingly sad as I think of the shitty years that it took to get here.

This is what we call irony, children, because how soon after I started that 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 writing that original 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 broken 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 have been 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 depressive 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 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 what’s on the surface. I was floored. It was the best commencement speech I have ever heard because it managed to be honest – life isn’t always a bowl of cherries – without being pessimistic – you don’t need nearly as many cherries as you think to be happy.

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 deciding that death was their only way out, 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 how can someone who is only me be sure 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,
why,
why did he forget that “this is water”?

So that’s it for the original entry and my commentary on it, and now begins the new content.

Let’s jump ahead (or actually back I guess?) to 2015. There I was already having a year where I had to do the “greater-than/less-than thing” when a beautiful friend ended her life. Again I felt that fear, but it was even more profound given that Stacy was one of those people that I just clicked with, like when you’re out with a bunch of friends and you don’t realize how long one of them has been goofing off in the bathroom until they come back to the table and you realize you’ve been bored until they came back – a combination of “thank God you’re back” and “where the fuck have you been?”. So not only did I feel her loss on a different level, but, given that I was already struggling before her death, 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 to keep going 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 writes during the hours she can’t sleep before the Xanax kick in – works to appeal to a large demographic. Instead I’m  finishing a funny story about a very unfunny subject which will only appeal to a small minority with an incredibly dark sense of humour. 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