Auld Lang Syne

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

This is the End of 2013

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time that I haven’t been feeling like myself for several months now.

For one thing, I just cannot get used to this new site. I know you’re probably all sick of hearing about it, and I know that I should get over it all, but this new format just will not work correctly for me. Every time I come on here it’s a fucking reminder that I failed, that there is something that I didn’t do correctly in that motherfucking stupid migration and it’s just shitting all over everything. There are several elements of this site that aren’t working correctly on the back end, which make things more difficult for me personally, but I’ll be honest and admit that the biggest thing that pisses me off is knowing that as I write this that I have about 2,000 feed subscribers and nearly 1,000 Google subscribers who aren’t having my new post show up in their feed, and it fucking sucks!

Whats more is that, since not seeing my own post in my own feed (seriously, it doesn’t even show up in my own fucking feed) sets me stupid, I haven’t looked at my blog subscriptions for over two months, and therefore haven’t read your posts either. Yes, I admit it: I suck. I might not have always commented on your posts, but I stayed up to date with at least reading them and I haven’t even done that for almost two months. Feel free to boo and hiss at your leisure. I completely deserve it.

Besides my hangup over my site not working which is affecting my mental state and create output, the other shitty thing that recently happened is that my mother was in a car accident in October. She’s relatively okay considering that her car was fucking destroyed, but “relatively okay” isn’t exactly great, and it has most certainly mucked up the wiring in my brain. And while it has affected my immediate state of writing, it has more importantly been a contributing factor in making a major decision that I have been wrestling with about the current road I have been traveling.
But that decision, and what will become of it, is a story for another post.
This post is… me saying I’m sorry? A confession? An explanation? I don’t even know. Whatever you want to call it, whether it justifies my absence–my lack of creative activity, my failings–or not, it is what it has always been. It’s been me.

Complicated.
Conflicting.
Flawed.
Me.

I was once told that the most important lesson in writing is to tell the truth, and I’ve always tried to maintain that despite the predominantly autobiographical nature of this blog. I had originally planned to end this “Year in Review” post at May lest it sound like I was descending into some sort of maudlin pity party, but then that wouldn’t be very truthful would it?

And so I present it all. My year–my life–as I have always offered it: without pretenses or censorship. Just me.

That said, my dear reader, I would not blame you at all for skipping over the ugly bits which begin to surface in May (or the following of this post in its entirety for that matter because…bluuurrrrrgh), but I will however make a concentrated effort to read your 2013 Year in Review Post (because you know you will do one), or whatever post you have deemed fit to end this infamously Fibonaccian of years.

Lovely 13.
You were supposed to be mine own.

January

In a true illustration that the best ideas do NOT come from Pinterest, I set my ass on fire with in a ginger detox bath. I then did the Polar Bear Plunge in Wildwood to benefit the Special Olympics. (<SHAMELESS PLUG!> Incidentally, I’m doing this again because I’m not so selfish as to not realize that there are those who have heavier cross to bear than my own, and I could really use your support in meeting my pledge goal. Please pledge here!</SHAMELESS PLUG!>)

February

I had an adventure with the home vet involving projectile shit and it was just as magical as it sounds. For her birthday, I made my mother a comic about her love/hate relationship with Farmville. Then I had a run-in with the self-harm bitch as a precursor to Kira’s forthcoming surgery. At the time I told myself I was being ridiculous and that Kira would be fine. Lesson learned: never ignore your instincts as we will see next month.

March

Kira nearly died during dental surgery.
I cannot express the anger that I still harbor for the vet that nearly killed her from an overdose of sedative. It is in fact very, very difficult to not wish something fucking horrible on the stupid fuck-cunt that nearly killed her.

April

The sink exploded in my kitchen and I ripped it out with my bare hands. (And replaced it.) I then contemplated buying my dog grain alcohol.
My uncle died after a long battle.

May

I adopted my “son”, my boy dog, the one that I always knew I would have yet didn’t know how it could be possible, and who makes 2013 end up in the “plus” column despite everything.
I love you, Seamus the Horny Boy.

June

I did not write about this but my coworker’s husband passed quiet suddenly on June 1 while they were on their way to South Carolina. In fact, he died in a manner very near to my father’s sudden passing and between this similarity and an overabundance of empahty, this affected me a lot more than it should have. It resulted in working double shifts at my “part time” job all month while my coworker was out in mourning, but that didn’t upset me nearly as much as thinking about what she was going through.

In mid-June, I went to a Derby themed bridal shower, and it was as pretentious as it sounds, though the truly spectacular absurdity happened when I went to buy the fucking hat for the stupid event. And in related news, I joined Instagram. There was also a flash of “pretty fucking awesome” when I was informed that I was referenced in the Alternate History aka “Steampunk” textbook being used in Universities all over the world.

July

I made a handy-dandy insult sheet which, despite a spelling error, has been repinned about 300(?) times on Pinterest last I checked. (And yes I know that this isn’t exactly a “viral” pin, but it’s pretty fucking brilliant to me so I’ma celebratin’ like WHOOOAHHHH!) I then had a battle with motherfucking huge ants which resulted in a Game of Thrones pun that landed me in the official Game of Thrones paper. Finally, I took my new family of two furry children, plus our family pup for a total of three furry creatures, to the beach…and it was a disaster from Hell.

Another loss came when my dear Celia had to say good-bye to her beloved Audrey. This, again, was something that upset me more than a normal person should allow.

The worst though? The thing that I did not write about yet alluded to? I had a literary agent, and my long-talked about novel was about to be locked down for print, but she decided to drop my manuscript in favor of focusing on the Young Adult genre. I honestly cannot blame her for making a constructed career choice considering all of the recent blockbusters have been based on YA books, but the other part of me has added her name to the list of people I will scream “I told you I was worth something!” to when my stupid fucking work is published and doing well.
(Fuck me, I’m just praying I can really say that one day.)

August

I ripped apart the overgrown garden in my mother’s yard. (You can already see the mental slide there). AND THEN! I fell into the ultimate pit of I’m-Going-To-Destroy-Everything-I’ve-Worked-For when I decided to migrate from a third-party site to a self hosted one and fucked it up in a truly spectacular fashion. During that migration I adopted a Foster Baby Sparrow. I had her for a week until that fucking asshole, Death, came and took her.

September

I, personally, destroyed your chances of ever finding Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips again, which pissed off my mother quite a bit. I also let go of trying to fix this site. (Only not really since, as you read above, I can’t even look at the fucking site without wanting to throw my computer across the room.)

October

My mother was in a car accident.
My biological grandfather died. Again, shouldn’t have been upset, but was not for nothing else than he was husband to my grandmother, Kathryn.
I celebrated publishing 200 posts which was a fucking miracle considering my attention span. I decided to use the occasion to celebrate a cause that’s dear to my heart, animal rescue, by inviting readers to share their animal rescue stories. I received so many wonderful stories that I had to create a second part of the 200th post.

November

Again, death came calling when another coworker’s father lost his battle with ALS. And once again I’ll admit that I felt too much empathy and sank further into the pit as I talked with her about what it was like to lose a parent too soon. Given my current mental state I recalled my previous experience with seeing a counselor. That entry actually is kind of a big deal since it was the first thing I’d written in a long time without worrying about if it was properly “bloggy”.

December

The alternator went on the car I found for my mother. We also agreed that she couldn’t keep working with her head and neck injured as it is from the accident, and I came to the decision to seek a full-time job in a previous field. I’ve an interview today in fact.
I made this post which you are reading.

On to the future

So, in closing, I’m not going to be sad that 2013 was a terrible disappointment, and I’m not going to feel like I’m taking a step backward. I’m going to be thankful that 2014 means that I have an opportunity to do better, and that I’m still going forward toward the goal that I want. The path has just changed a bit.

Best wishes for 2014 to you, my dear peeps.

sad happy new year, 2014

Snow

Roseanne’s office was always cold.

When I had first started going to her for counseling she would apologize and frequently rub her hands up and down her arms as if to make sure I was aware that she was suffering as well and to not blame her for the frigid climate. I had assured her that I didn’t mind the cold. This was, in fact, true. If the office was cold then I had a perfect excuse to keep my jacket on and enjoy the false sense of security it gave me to have it wrapped around my shoulders. My survivalist brain also registered that it would be easier to make a hasty retreat if I didn’t have to search for a jacket hung somewhere on an obscure hook. I allowed that a jacket could be sacrificed if a situation required it but I rather liked the jacket–a leather one with the Led Zeppelin Icarus painted on the back–and I decided that I would put it in as little sacrificial danger as possible.

After a year of seeing her for therapy, the temperature in Roseanne’s office continued to hover around “Arctic” though her performance had changed from apologies and arm-rubbing to complaints and eye-rolling.

“I don’t know how many times I have to tell the super to raise the heat in this building,” she snarled as she pulled a sweater from her closet.

I didn’t know either so I remained silent.

“With how much I pay them in rent it’s the least that they could do. And I’ve told them that I’ve had clients complain about how cold it is.”

I shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

Roseanne’s face convulsed between a series of dirty looks as she tried to decided if I was being obstinately contrary in expressing an opinion which disagreed with hers, or if I was being ridiculously polite and protecting the sensibilities of an inept superintendent.

“How can you not mind?” she finally challenged me.

I would have done some eye-rolling of my own except that this would have indicated what I was thinking and I had long since decided that I wasn’t going to let Roseanne know what was really going in my head. Mind you, this wasn’t a personal reflection of Roseanne, though her personality was in perfect harmony with the temperature of her office, but rather a rule in general when it came to counselors. I had seen several over the years and after a disastrous experience with my first counselor I realized that no amount of psychological training could prepare another creature to wade through the fucked up kettle of fish that swam in my head.

“I’m only in here for forty-five minutes,” I told her which was both a deliberate barb in regard to what was supposed to be an hour long session, and a satisfactory answer to her question which revealed nothing. I adjusted my jacket and leaned back into the couch.

Roseanne drew the line of unprofessional between dirty looks and talking about financials so she gave a dismissive sniff and opened up the folder which contained all of the secrets I had let her discover about my person.

“Let’s see, Kat, where did we leave off last week?” she murmured looking through her notes.

I cringed inwardly as I always did when she used my nickname. This was another common characteristic I had found in counselors in that they always ask what your friends and family called you and then used that name profusely. It helped them to create the illusion that they are friends listening to your problems because they care rather than uninterested third parties whose time you have bought. When it came down to it counseling is really just prostitution without the STDs.

“I don’t remember,” I told her.

“Well, then what happened this week?” she asked completely oblivious to my lack of enthusiasm.

“My former brother-in-law, Ronald, called my mother and said that he found some things of mine that my ex didn’t burn and was going to drop them off,” I offered.

“What was it he found?” Roseanne asked.

“I don’t know. I think it was a tote of some old toys that my grandmother made me get out of her basement when she was cleaning. They probably survived because my ex most likely thought that they were my niece’s old toys. When Ron heard that I was moving he also offered to bring up some of the kitchen and bathroom stuff that I had bought. But I’d rather he not bring that all,” I added.

“Why not? If you bought those things then they belong to you,” she told me.

“They don’t matter. I told you about the night that I left and all I cared about taking with me was Kira, and my old “Wonder Woman” comics if I could, and that’s how I still feel. The rest were things. Things don’t matter.”

Things are expensive though,” she insisted. “Those things can help you as you move into your own little nest.”

I wrinkled my nose before I could stop myself. If there was one thing that I was not building it was a “little nest”. Nests are for newlyweds and adorable birds just out of college. The least that you could accuse a feline such as me of building would be a den, though a dungeon would probably be closer to the mark in my particular case.

“I’ll either make do without them or I will buy them myself when I can afford them,” I replied as soon as my nose had returned to smoother state.

“That’s absurd. There’s no taint of your former marriage on your kitchen things,” Roseanne said.

“There is if my ex has peed in them.”

“What?” To Roseanne’s credit she processed this declaration with little more than a slight cocking of the head.

“I’m pretty sure that my ex has peed in my Kitchen-Aid by now,” I said.

Actually, for all for all of his flaws, my ex appreciated fine mixing equipment almost as much as I did and I was confident that my Kitchen-Aid had not been molested, however Roseanne had called me “absurd” so I felt the need to live up to that accusation.

And she had also come dangerously close to uncovering a truth so it was serendipitous that my conventional method of diversion was to say something inane. I’ve become so excellent at this skill that it’s a reflex rather than a reaction now. In much the way that a leg kicks up when it encounters a strike to the knee, my inanity kicks up when it encounters a strike to my brain.

I sat waiting for Roseanne’s response. I hoped that it would be another dirty look since I was creating a mental catalog of all of her annoyed facial tics. She would be a brilliant curmudgeon in a future novel.

Roseanne gave me a deadpan expression. “Then wash it before you use it,” she said.

I was so delighted by this spontaneous drollery that I almost considered taking off my jacket for the rest of the session.

Instead I told her about the time that my ex left me at a rest stop as punishment for telling him to get off at the wrong exit, because sharing a horrible experience with a counselor is akin to leaving an extra five bucks on the motel nightstand.

As was the case whenever I told her a tale of my recent former life, Roseanne listened raptly making up for my monotonous intonation with her own grimaces and colorful commentary.

“He is a horrible!” “What a jerk!” “Are you sure that he did not have some sort of mental deficiency? Because no adult male should behave like that!”

She was never so pleased with herself as when she implied that my ex suffered some sort of malignant mental malady and she, through her astute listening and brilliant deduction had diagnosed him without even a personal consultation. I let her enjoy the moment because I was still amused by her remark about washing the Kitchen-Aid, but I found myself experiencing the empty feeling that comes when a hilarious joke is no longer funny.

Despite my glaringly obvious contempt for counseling, I had entered therapy with genuine intentions of talking about my problems and attempting “to get better”–if there even existed such a state for someone like me–only had I planned on doing this is the most clinical and sterile manner possible, without the messy display of emotion that usually erupts from one’s eyes and nose during a counseling session. I expected this to be a challenge, after all I had been through some very traumatic experience, however I as shared each of the mauvais quart d’heure which were to blame for my sorry state I realized that it was quite simple to keep my emotions in check, namely because I was not feeling any. Initially I thought that it was because I was so loathe to reveal emotion in front of other people that my brain wouldn’t even attempt to access them knowing that I wouldn’t indulge the feelings anyway, but I found that even in the lone safety of my bedroom I could not feel anything. I replayed my most painful memories over and over and I could not even muster a sniffle. I squished up my face and hyperventilated and rapidly blinked my eyes but I could not convince myself to cry. To be honest I didn’t truly want to cry but I felt like I should want to cry, and furthermore I would like the option to be able to cry if the notion should strike me, but it was impossible. All of my tears were gone, or washed away, or dried up leaving behind less salty residue than it would take to thaw an icy patch of sidewalk.

If my lack of emotion wasn’t puzzling enough already I was surprised to find that their absence did not seem to bother Roseanne in the least. Even my rudimentary knowledge of psychology told me that this was likely a problem, and I anticipated a lecture from her about dealing with my feelings, but much like my tears, castigation remained absent. I wondered about her lack of concern regarding my phlegmatic state but I finally decided that she was simply grateful for a client who wasn’t constantly plucking at the requisite box of tissues which all counselors keep within arm’s length. I would have cancelled any further appointments with her at that point but by then she was comfortable enough with me to drop her professional manners and so thoroughly verbally thrashing my ex-husband that I decided to continue therapy for the entertainment alone.

But as I sat on Roseanne’s couch that day, idly twisting the chenille tassel of a of the chintz pillow between my trembling fingers and recounting the details of the trip that will forever make me averse to visiting Florida, I decided that I had had enough of this game. It had been gratifying to hear someone regard my ex with the venom that I could no longer muster, but this mock therapy was not helping me to feel any better about myself, in fact I felt worse than I had a year before. While the pain and anger I’d felt then had been unpleasant at least there had been something inside me, some kind of fire in my belly to make me live if for no other reason than to spite the ex who had assured me that he had been too instrumental in making me who I was to live without him. Now I felt nothing. I felt nothing, and I wanted nothing and I was, indeed, nothing. If I’d had any emotions I probably would have been terrified at that moment but instead there was only the tiniest of twinges like a candle being snuffed out with a pinch.

If Roseanne had asked what I was thinking at that moment I would have answered her from my broken soul for once. Instead she made an errant scribble in the folder containing my married name written in black Sharpie marker and looked up. “Well I guess that will do for today.”

I looked at the clock.

4:40.

“Same time next week?” she asked brightly.

“Yeah, that’s fine.” I gave her the check for my $20 copay and left the office.

On the day of my appointment the following week it began to snow. There was a healthy two inches on the ground by the afternoon–a veritable blizzard by southern New Jersey standards, so I wasn’t surprised when Roseanne called me cancel my appointment.

“What day do you want to come in instead?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t have my calender with me so I’ll call you back and reschedule,” I replied.

Of course I never did.

snow, woman

Photo by Mike Wood

Letting Go

I’ve had an epiphantic weekend.

(I know that’s not a word but it should be.)

For example, I sometimes feel like the Past is unfairly vilified. There are so many memes spouting to “not let your past define you” and “you can’t look forward if you’re still looking back” and “blah blah fucking blah blah”. While I don’t deny that these sentiments are in fact correct, I feel like sometimes we can’t go forward until we do look back and see how much that past defined us. It just sucks because it’s never a simple analysis with an obvious answer and the time that we take to get the message into our thick heads is indeed time taken away from the move forward. And it just sometimes happens that the moment when our eyes are blurry from a combination of sweat and tears, when we blink furiously and only see the bottom of the toilet for a brief moment until the sweaty tears drop from our chin and shatter the water surface in jagged circles, that we see the clearest.

At about 3 am last Sunday I began throwing up more violently than I had thrown up in years. I initially chalked it up to food poisoning but even as I heard myself reciting that reason the next morning when I called my office manager to explain why I wouldn’t be in work I knew that bad food wasn’t to blame. I was to blame. Myself and my psychotic need to not only do everything myself but to do it and understand it perfectly…to stand in the middle of a furiously rushing river, holding on to broken tree branch because fuck you river, I am not finished analyzing what is on the bank right there yet.

On the most basic level I was overexhausted from staying awake at all hours due to frustration over this migration. While I managed to do the migration, I did it without fully understanding the internet protocol and how it actually worked. Do I really need to know the ins and outs of IPS? Probably not because I sure as hell am never doing a migration again, but it still pissed me off that I had to just accept that something worked the way that it did because that’s how it does. (And in a related note I was really fucking pissed that I couldn’t get the feed to work for blogger reader. I think I might have fixed it but I won’t know until I publish this.)

humans fuck up, letting go

I bitched about memes and then made one. GO HYPOCRITICAL ME!

On the deeper level though, I realized that the reason I was so stressed about having this site be perfect is because *deep breath* I’m insecure about my writing. All writers are insecure, and I’ve even admitted as much before, but I didn’t realize just how much until I had made myself sick over it. It was on my third day of lying on the couch in a fevered and dehydrated state was that it dawned on me that I was putting a shit-ton of work into my site because I felt like my writing alone wasn’t good enough to stand on its own. I felt like I needed a massive platform to tempt an agent into trying to market my novels and that my Alexa rating would be the thing to sell me instead of my ability. I know now that I can’t think like that anymore. I’m sure that I’m still making grave webmaster errors but I have to accept that they don’t matter.

This entry is so disjointed since you’re probably wondering what the hell this has to do with that spew in the beginning about the past and analysis and shit, but what else I realized is that I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and, much like my irrational need to understand the mechanics of internet protocol, I’ve spent time analyzing those mistakes to ensure that I don’t repeat them and have wasted attention where it’s not needed. They were just mistakes. I’m not going to make them again because I’m not a moron. I do stand by my statement that you should learn from your past but sometimes you just do stupid shit and there isn’t any deeper meaning other than you’re a human and we fuck up.

And on another note there is some random shit that happens for no other reason than shitty things sometimes happen to good people.

I’m never going to be one to accept things at face value–it’s just not who I am–but I’m trying to entertain the possibility that the answers might not be complicated, that sometimes understanding comes with letting go.

But He Will Be Missed

“It’s okay. He had been suffering a long time.”

I’ve said the words so many times this past week they’ve become a reflex and I wonder if I really mean them, if I ever meant them.

No, I did. And I do. But I’ve come to realized that a tiny voice in my mind has started to add, “But he will be missed.”

My uncle was a good person who never intentionally hurt anyone. Unfortunately he made some poor choices in his life that hurt himself, and I don’t think he ever realized how much it did hurt us to see him struggle. It irked the shit out of me to see him make huge strides toward a better life only to blow it all on another bad choice. In recent years he had finally showed consistent progress but I think I’d been subconsciously concentrating on what he had done that made me angry when he got sick because it’s easier to be mad than sad.

My uncle’s battle with End Stage Liver Disease ended last Monday.

It’s okay. He had been suffering a long time.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

At least until my bitch of a brain betrays me as it often does, and the memories came floating through.

Memories of my uncle making me pancakes when I was in elementary school and then me telling him that he couldn’t move away because who would make them for me when he left.
Of taking my grandmother and me to dinner at the restaurant in Virginia where he got his first job as a chef.
Of introducing me to “Interview with a Vampire”.
Of watching UFC matches at P.J. Whelihan’s and drinking Smithwick’s which I had never had before.
Of taking the injured gosling I had saved to the wildlife rescue because I couldn’t miss work to take it there. (He named it Matilda because she/he had a broken leg and “tilted”.)
Of going to see the Flyers.
Of watching my brother and him ride the roller coasters at Great Adventure.
Of him whispering that I looked beautiful as he passed me on his way to the podium to read at my wedding.

I tried to ignore them all, but grief is the piper who insists on being paid.

So it’s okay. He had been suffering a long time.

But he will be missed.

The Butterfly

I try to keep my October posts all for my Halloween-palooza, however my brain was locked up and every time I tried to write any of the posts that I had outlined, they sounded like shit. The reason for this lockdown? It’s because my brain had been hijacked by what I’m now going to call an RLF, which stands for Rude Little Fuck. An RLF is a story that I don’t want to think about, don’t want to write about and don’t even have fucking time to write about, but will just not go away until I write it. And the really irritating thing? It’s never a happy story about The Adventures of Happy Puppy Cuppy Cake and Cherry Merry Muffin, it’s always some downer shit that I could really do without having bouncing in my brain space. There’s nothing to be done for it though, so here it is, and y’know what? As soon as I wrote it, I was able to blast out a typically brilliant(?) and inane Kat post for later.

**********************************************************

The Butterfly

As my husband brooded silently, ignoring my attempts at conversation save for the occasional icy glare, it occurred to me that this must be how a condemned man feels as he is strapped into the electric chair. Your stomach drops and you start to feel dizzy. Your hands go cold and become slick with sweat. The nubs of your bitten fingernails press into your palms, and your breath becomes more rapid and shallow. It’s no wonder that the dizziness becomes worse to the point that you feel as though your head is floating above your shoulders. A silent, nervous giggle struggles in your throat as you imagine your head as a balloon, rising and floating away. The cold glance of the executioner silences you, and sadly you realize that you could never float away for as light as your head feels, your heart is like lead, keeping you firmly tethered to your fate.

You know it’s coming. You know that at any moment the switch will flip and electricity will rip through your body, your teeth will clench and sparks will explode behind your eyes. It’s coming and there’s no stopping it. Pleading, explaining, cajoling, none of them will save you. The wait become overwhelming, the panic rises like vomit in your throat, the terror shatters your nerves and you finally want to scream, “Just get it the fuck over with!”

I couldn’t figure out why he was so angry with me. We had been having so much fun at the comic convention and I couldn’t understand what had happened. I had been admiring the work of an aspiring comic artist when I felt his fingers dig into the soft flesh of my upper arm and jerk me around. The pain radiated up to my shoulder but what startled me the most was the fury in my husband’s black eyes.

“We are leaving,” he snarled at me.
I felt my head shrinking down, attempting to disappear into my shoulders. “But why? We…we didn’t even finish Artists Alley yet.”
Mark released my arm with a shove. “Fine! Finish!”
I didn’t move.
“Go!” he made a dismissive motion with his hand.
“You don’t want to come, too?” I asked meekly. “You always like to look at the sketches.”
He gave me a disgusted look. “No. I’ll sit here and wait.” Mark dropped onto a bench, crossed his arms over his lean chest and began glaring at the floor.

I didn’t want to go back to Artist Alley anymore, but I knew if I didn’t it would make Mark even angrier. Instead I walked away slowly and kept glancing behind me to see if Mark had changed his mind. When I rounded a corner and was out of Mark’s sight, I pulled my phone out of my bag and began to text my friend, Jerry.

Jerry was a fellow comic nerd and had met us at the convention. He had gone off to do his own thing when Mark and I started in Artist Alley, but I had to let him know that we were leaving.
“Something came up and we gotta go,” I texted him. “Sorry to leave so soon.”
Jerry immediately texted back. “Are you still in Artist Alley? I’m in the next aisle over. Be there in 30 seconds.”
I was in the middle of texting Jerry back when he appeared in front of me.
“Mark’s not feeling so well, so we’re going to head out,” I told him.
“Oh that sucks,” Jerry frowned. “Where is he?”
I gestured around the corner. “Sitting on a bench resting.”
Jerry glanced around the corner. “Oh I see him.” And before I could stop him, Jerry was en route to Mark.

Mark had his elbow resting on the arm of the bench and his head leaning laying on it. He appeared to be sleeping and I was reluctant to wake him.
“He didn’t sleep well last night and he has a headache,” I told Jerry.
Mark opened his eyes at the sound of my voice. I had hoped that the rest had cured him of his anger but his eyes were still hard and cold when they fell on me.
“Jerry wanted to say goodbye,” I mumbled.
“It was nice to meet you,” Jerry smiled warmly and held his hand out to shake Mark’s.
“Yeah. You, too,” Mark grunted. He stood up and dutifully shook Jerry’s hand.
“I guess I’ll see you on the comic forum later, Kate!” he waved at me.
“I’m sure you will!” I replied with false cheer. Mark had already started to stalk away. I threw a quick smile and wave back to Jerry and scurried to catch up.

During the two hour drive from Baltimore back to Philadelphia I did my best to fill the silence with meaningless talk about the comics and vendors we had seen. Mark would occasionally reply with a “yeah” or a nod, but never looked at me.
“Mark,” I finally started quietly, “please tell me what’s wrong.”
He regarded me with the same expression as when he had stepped in a pile of dog crap and then shook his head and turned his attention back to the road.
“I just don’t understand what I did. I’m sorry,” my voice was laced with the hurt I always felt whenever he looked at me like that.
Mark clenched his jaw and shook his head again. “You really don’t know anything, do you?”
“Not if you don’t tell me,” I said timidly.
He didn’t deem to give me a response and I resigned myself to the frigid silence for the rest of the drive home.

Mark jumped out of the car as soon as we parked in the driveway and stalked up to the front door without waiting for me. I gathered up the few bags from the convention and followed him inside.

“Mark,” I tried again as I followed him to the room that was his bedroom before we were married. He stopped and turned so quickly that I nearly walked into him.
“Just leave me alone right now,” he said jerking the bedroom door open.
I felt my eyes tingle with the threat of tears. “Do…do you…?” My tongue felt too thick to form words.
Mark gave that look again. The same face that had once beamed and promised to love me forever when I accepted his marriage proposal was twisted into a mask of revolution, something that resembled pure hatred burned in his eyes. It was almost a relief when he slammed the bedroom door in my face.

I sniffled hard to try and keep the tears from coming but a few managed to seep from my eyes. I went into the bathroom and reached for the tissues. As I did I noticed the marks on my arm from where Mark had grabbed me. I looked in the huge bathroom mirror that spanned the length of the double sink and lifted the short sleeve of my shirt to examine my arm. There was a row of four black circles like the segmented body of a caterpillar where the tips of Mark’s fingers had dug into my bicep. I pulled my sleeve down and covered the bruises as best I could. My father-in-law was home and I didn’t want him to see.

Mark slept in his old bedroom that night. This was not very unusual because he had taken to sleeping in there more and more over the previous five months as he seemed to become angry with me more and more often. At first I had tried to convince him of the old adage of “never go to bed angry”, but it wasn’t long before I realized that “let sleeping dog lie” applied to him better.

It was early morning when I rolled onto my bruised arm and the resulting stab of pain woke me up. I had worn a long sleeve shirt to sleep and had to roll it up to examine the bruise. The bruise had spread through the night. There was a black line where Mark’s fingers had dug into my skin but now purple was fanning out on either side like wings.

“Butterfly,” I mumbled tracing the injured skin.

I heard my dog growl softly in her crate to let me know that she was awake. I hated having my dog sleep in a crate but Mark insisted. I crouched down and opened the latch to open her crate, and was nearly knocked over as my dog bounded out and jumped to lick my face. I kissed the top of her soft, furry head.

“We’re going to get out of here,” I whispered to her. “Mumma just has to get a few more things in order and then we’re never coming back here again.”

And though it took five more months, I did get us out of there. I took one suitcase of clothing and two of my dog’s favorite toys, and left the rest behind. I had wanted to take more so that I didn’t have to completely start over, but when it came down to it, possessions could be replaced, but my life could not.

purple biutterfy, just when the caterpiller thought that the world was over

 

****************************************************

Okay, so in closing, you may not know this but October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Very quickly I’m going to give you the basic three things about domestic abuse to be aware of: 1-If you know someone who is being abused, don’t judge them for not leaving immediately. It’s not easy on any level including a financial level and an emotional one. 2-If you are being abused, get the fuck away from the asshole! I just admitted that it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible, and you cannot afford to stay. There is help out there. 3-If you are an abuser, then do not think for a minute that you are safe. You are a fucking bully and you know what they say about bullies–there’s always a bigger one around the corner. Prepare to meet yours someday. You won’t like it.

The Year in Review 2011 Post

I usually avoid writing about events that I know every other writer is talking about on their blogs, but I’ve been doing the Year in Review thing for many a New Year’s now, so I’m making an exception.  I’m actually happy that this is a blogging trend and would probably follow it even if I had not been doing it for years because I’ve really loved reading everyone’s reflections on the past year.  This Year in Review is a little different than the previous years though because it was it was one year ago today, I started seriously blogging.   As a result, I don’t need to chronicle the events of 2011 in detail since most of the major ones are listed in the archives, that thing to the left that I call the “Athenæum” because I love ridiculously obscure words.  Instead I’m going to reflect a bit on how those events affected me.

Oh dear God she’s going to get introspective.

Yeah, this is likely gonna be one of those entirely skippable entries since I’ll babble and emote to the point that the entry will be just a squishy mess of fucking feely mushy mush that will make your teeth hurt.  Don’t worry, the next entry will be back to holy-shittery as usual though.  To those wise peeps who are jumping off at this point of the entry, I just want to say Happy New Year!  Thank you for helping make my year rock out with its cock out.~

Now on with the mushy-mush, heavy, thinky shit.

WARNING:  LAST CHANCE TO RUN BEFORE I START SENTIMENTAL BABBLING!

Writing has always been a huge part of me.  I was about four years old when I began drawing pictures and making up stories to go along with them.  Unfortunately, since I seemed to have a natural gift for writing pretty well, I took the skill for granted and never pushed myself to become better.  I think this had to do with my most hated emotion and the one that I seem to be fucking constantly battling: fear.  I was afraid to find out that “pretty well” was the best that I could do.  I was afraid that, while I might be a star in the Little League, that I could never compete in the Majors.  I’d done too much stagnating during the past five years though, and it was time to either face the truth if I sucked, or to stop making excuses and write like I’ve always wanted to do.  For whatever reason, I chose to blog as a means to figure out if my writing was shit or not, and it’s one of the best things I have ever done.

I’ve experienced several devastating losses in 2011, the first and the one with the largest impact was losing the job I had held for nearly ten years.  To fully appreciate what a loss this was you would have to know how impossible it is for me to stay in one place for very long, let alone ten years.  That alone is indication of how much the place meant to me, but also, losing my job resulted in the loss of many things such as a steady income, health insurance, several friends who I would no longer see every day, and just security in general.

2011 also saw the loss of a dear friend, one whom I still go to text when I have an urge to say something stupid and be called mental.  I could say more about her loss, but honestly it’s one that I’m still dealing with and don’t want to talk about.  Suffice to say it’s been pretty shitty.

If I had experienced either of these losses in the previous year, they probably would have been enough to send me spiraling back down into the walking ghost phase that I had been living since 2006, but fortunately this year had been enriched in ways that I could have never imagined.

What I’m getting to in a much longer route than I had anticipated was that this blog has made the difference for me this year.  Oh my God that sounds so fucking sappy.  On a writing level, it helped me to maintain a better–though still not brilliant–writing schedule.  It’s also given me some confidence that my writing might not be completely crappy given the amount of positive feedback that I’ve received about it.  My writing even led to my blog getting BONed, a honour that I’m still reeling over.  And if someone had told me that by the end of the year that I would have 800 people following my writing, I would have called them a filthy name.  It makes me think that perhaps my writing doesn’t suck.

On a personal level, I have formed some fucking brilliant relationships, and that is as amazing, if not even more amazing given my guarded nature, than the writing progress.  Jewels, Randy, Nicki, even S.O., and quite a few others that I’ve mentioned in past entries (see my Blog roll for more), were all people that I did not know a year ago, and cannot imagine not having in my life now.  They, and all of you dear readers, are a blessing that I never, ever saw coming.

patron, tequila

Drinking baby Patrons.

I’ll wrap this squishy package up by saying that while 2011 punched with some heavy fists, I was also held by some gentle hands.  The glass of Tequila is always half full.

Unless it’s my glass, in which case it’s empty.

Not because I’m a pessimist, I just love Tequila.

Best Wishes for Happiness, Health and Kicking ass for you all!

Slàinte! (<—Scots Gaelic spelling, as opposed to my usual Irish version, in honour of Auld Lang Syne)