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