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.

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!

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