New Report From the Desk

I’m not allowed to write on this blog at night. It becomes a big gaping hole in which to throw every morose emotion I’ve ever felt in my life and to repeat stories I’ve already told a million times. I used to write here as a daily journal and allowed comments so that anyone feeling similarly could tell me their stories too. However, moderating comments is a burden I find difficult. I’ve attempted to disable them but I’m not sure I can. There’s no button on this blog template that says PRESS HERE TO PREVENT ALL COMMENTING. So this is an experiment. My plan was to ditch this blog all together. I still might. Old news? Old feelings? Old chapter?

I AM in a new chapter of my life and I don’t know how to navigate it entirely. I haven’t written it yet, I’m still in the outlining phase. Part of my new chapter is to rebuild my writing discipline and blogs are great for that.

A major theme for this new chapter is bringing back to my life all those things I loved as a kid, things that made me happy, that filled my time and drove my curiosity. I could never be doing this without the therapy I got from Slovick – the best therapist I could possibly have landed right at the moment I needed her skills the most. She unlocked a part of myself so long buried and suppressed I forgot she even existed.

The happy child self inside of me.

One of the things that helped burst it open was dipping my sore summer feet into Lithia creek on my first Vespa trip to Ashland and the first time I’d been there for more than a stopover since I was a teen. Slovick gave me the key and Lithia creek was the door. I opened that fucker up and that happy child self has put something back in me that I desperately needed and every day I bring more and more of her back.

No, I’m not turning infantile. I worry that if anyone reads this it will sound like I’m trying to become a child again in some regression therapy on a yoga matt surrounded by the bells and bowls of new age charlatans. No power on earth could make me wish to actually BE a child or child like again. I’m just integrating a suppressed part of myself back into the whole of who I am.

Here’s what I see as the highlights of this new emerging chapter in life:

Finding as many opportunities to put my feet in creeks and rivers as possible.

Get back to just being a happy weekend lush and not a maintenance alcoholic.

Get rid of 80 lbs of weight.

Make some cool Barbie doll outfits for some fun shoots.

Float around the garden in kaftans more often.

Write a little bit every single day.

Get my fitness level up so when I visit Colorado I don’t feel like my lungs are going to explode just standing around.


Sitting here at my desk in my mom’s old living room feels a little like a homecoming. I’m not happy my mom has to be in care (for her sake – because it’s an awful reality for her and if I could have afforded to pay for full time help to keep her at home in a safe way – I would have) but I AM happy to have a space away from the rest of our space in which to write without interruption and without anyone else’s energy to contend with.

I’m sitting here listening to Fleetwood Mac smiling my ass off. Just smiling my ass off.

It would be infinitely rad if that could be literally true.

It’s time for me to go prepare some zucchinis and onions for canning. Tomorrow I will sit down again for at least a small writing sesh. Not sure if I’ll do it here or in documents. Soon I’ll actually work on one of my long neglected projects that are nipping at my heels.


This model brain of mine: Obsessive Quests Edition

Quests Are Us

This morning I’ve been obsessively searching for a 1:6 scale Vespa toy model that’s affordable and available to buy. I have an idea that I want a vintage looking one that I can pair with a made to move Barbie because I saw an example of what I want and now nothing else will do. This is a constant brain itch of mine that never quite goes away, obsessively searching for SUPER SPECIFIC ITEMS THAT BARELY EXIST. I’ve already spent at least 16 collective hours searching for the right Vespa model and Barbie. Because I am convinced I need this in my life. It’s becoming a severe annoyance to me. It happens constantly.

I get an idea of something I need to find or figure out or buy and it’s always extremely SPECIFIC. I don’t just need to know if horses can survive gunshot wounds, I need to know if Clydesdale horses can survive gunshot wounds to their hind quarters and how would they act and how would you bandage such a wound? I viewed a lot of distressing images of gunshot wounds to humans before I found any information on horses and their ability to survive a gunshot wound and specifically how fragile Clydesdale horses can be to – well – anything, yet also strong. The amount of hours I spent going down that rabbit hole was significant.

I want to find the exact dried beans used in the Trader Joe’s canned gigante beans but gigante beans aren’t easy to find except as expensive imports and I’m convinced there must be an affordable source for exactly what I’m looking for so I spent at least 6 collective hours intensively searching the internet for dried gigante beans and also trying to find a definitive answer to the question of whether lima beans are essentially the same bean or not. I do not have the beans or the answer yet and I have not given up. The itch won’t go away. It’s a quest. Like, a real quest with an out of proportion sense of importance to me.

I’m on perpetual quests for difficult to find information and things and it takes up a lot of my time. It’s always exciting at first. I love to dig for information or search for treasure or find EXACTLY what I have in my mind. But soon it becomes an obligation. It becomes a quest that I can’t easily turn away from. And even if I turn away from it for a while it doesn’t go away. I’ll come back to it again and again. And each time I attack my quest with a tenacity that could be much better used to achieve my dreams. But even in the pursuit of my dreams this obsessive nature of mine derails me constantly. Looking for the perfect soundtrack for a single scene I’m writing in a novel can take me hours. And those are hours I’ve sat down to write but ended up trying to create the PERFECT ambiance in which to find the PERFECT words and with which to shut out the rest of the noise both in my head and outside of me.

But I want to be clear that this isn’t something I intend to do so much as I can’t help it and I can’t stop it. I have to do it. The more frustrated I am the more determined I become to never give up the quest. It’s a fucking compulsion, make no mistake about that.

I imagine that there are some people for which this tendency works wonderfully well. Or that they just aren’t bothered by it. And that’s great for them. Sometimes this quality or habit of mine serves me well, because if it never served me to behave this way I wouldn’t have developed the habit in the first place. But it overwhelms me easily. I can’t stop. And don’t suppose for a second this is just a technology problem of the modern age. I spend time going to every single store in my city looking for specific things and I’ve done that since before I could also do a deep dive online. I used to spend just as many frustrated hours scouring the shelves of libraries and card catalogs before personal computers could do the same kind of work but take you literally worldwide without having to adhere to library hours.

I’m trying to untangle this behavior into components and can’t tell whether it’s the response to another facet of my personality or if other aspects of my personality stem from this habit. Why does it matter at all? Who fucking cares? ME.

I used to think Jazz Handz were stupid until I realized I’m one giant Jazz Handz away from becoming a black hole of schmaltz


There is no time for what my spirit wants to hold. There’s not enough time in a single life for everything I want to do and know. There’s a part of my brain that literally holds up that level of noise at that level of ALL-CAPS urgency 24 hours a day. When I’m giving voice to this part of myself, people get overwhelmed by my lack of volume control. When I say this out loud, most people deny it “I don’t get overwhelmed by you!”. But I KNOW it’s true because my whole life people have put their hands up between me and them in a defensive way as though their hand can diffuse some of my loud energy when I’m telling them excitedly every single thing I’m thinking. Or they tell me to simmer down or pipe down or cry mercy “I get it, sheesh! No need to shout!”.

So there’s this other thing I do that is as futile as trying to water a parched garden with spit. I am constantly trying to edit myself, my interests, my urge to collect things, my activities. I like to decide on “bare essentials” of things. If I can only plant ten herbs, what would they be? What are the ten roses I can’t live without? I decide that that’s all I’ll plant. I’ll keep things simple. If I have the ten best roses on earth I never need to buy another rose which means I don’t have to spend a hundred hours searching for a specific rose I used to have, or that I heard about, or found in a garden I visited.

Right now I’m culling my dried herb and potions shelves because I need to reduce what I keep on hand so it all fits in one single cabinet. I keep thinking about what I absolutely HAVE to have on hand. What herbs can’t I live without having a supply of in my house? I’ve done this before. And before that. And also before. But inevitably, at some point, I get really excited about trying some new potions and I hate to buy a small very expensive bag of meadowsweet when I can buy a half a pound at the fraction of the price. But then I also buy twenty other bags of herbs and roots and sometimes I run out of energy to do anything with them because I only had the time and energy to work on one herbal project. I bite off more than I can chew. I waste money buying more than I need. I hate this. This time I’m sending all my extra stuff to a dear friend and that’s great.

But meanwhile I want to can all the foods. I can’t make a small batch of anything to save my life. I intend to but it feels wrong. In theory I don’t need to be canning at all. Or making my own herbal potions. Or growing my own flowers or roses or herbs or fruits. I don’t have to sew anything just because I know how to do it. I want to do everything BIG. I make giant batches of soup. I make enough tortillas to last three dinners but gotta hope I get the extra put away properly before they go bad because when I run out of steam, I fully RUN OUT OF ALL STEAM.

The biggest mythos around me is that I have tons of energy. My mom says it all the time. Friends say it too. I do a lot so I must have endless energy. But my time is divided severely between periods of activity and looooooong periods of downtime.

Here are some lists trying to make order and limitations in a limitlessly messy and noisy brain driving a life that is always trying to be more do more find more grow more.

Pocket Wardrobe (if I can limit my wardrobe to these simple pieces I’ll never have to worry about clothes again, blah blah blah):

  1. 6 skirts with shorts sewn in, all in black
  2. 10 inexpensive black Target t-shirts
  3. 1,000 pairs of socks but all in 95% cotton 5% spandex
  4. 20 pairs of underwear all in old lady style 100% cotton prints

Boom! Done. No more trying to find clothes that fit and get stained and ruined. Just make six of the skirts I always make for myself and everything in black. Done. Simple.

The Essential (only) dried medicinal herbs to keep on hand:

  1. Comfrey (leaf and root)
  2. Thyme
  3. Myrrh because what if I need to embalm a body?!
  4. Orris root because it smells interesting and one day might cure the obscure disease I don’t know I have yet.
  5. Obviously must have gentian root for reasons you’ll never guess
  6. Plantain
  7. Sage, because it tastes like it fixes sore throats

Or how about the one my brain is working on right now?

Canned goods my family won’t forgive me for not making us:

  1. Tomato sauce
  2. Marinated artichoke hearts
  3. Ratatouille
  4. Pickled beets
  5. Do they really need or deserve dill pickles since they haven’t finished what I made last year?
  6. For fuck’s sake, I rarely eat jam, so why the hell did I make 14 jars of plum jam when I still have a billion jars of pomegranate jelly I never ate from last year? Most of that pom jelly (second ginormous batch) doesn’t taste that great anyway and how many hours did I dedicate to making it?!)
  7. Roasted tomato salsa because we’ve nearly finished it all and everyone LOVES it.
  8. Basically stop there and you might have time to write a book and shit. Cheesus!

While re-reading what I’ve written so far I hear voices suggesting that I sound manic. Perhaps I’m bipolar because I go on sprees of buying all the herbs. It’s typical of people with bipolar disorder to go on great shopping sprees. But I don’t really do that. And what reads as manic energy might actually BE manic but then it’s important to recognize that

  1. My over-excitement and obsessiveness isn’t a mood that comes and goes. It isn’t cyclical. That’s who I AM at my core. It’s the genuine undiluted Angelina.
  2. I don’t shop to feel better. I don’t even like shopping at all. I like knowing I have everything I need to DO things with. Shopping is something I tend to dislike. But owning the “perfect” socks is an essential for me because I can’t wear most socks without being filled with rage at sag-attacks or weird textures on my skin.

Two fairly important distinctions, I think.


I’m tired. I get tired of the part of myself that never really sleeps, never quiets down, never stops. Only five things have EVER been effective at really slowing my brain down to a level that offers significant relief: reading, writing, drinking alcohol, smoking, and watching television.

I’ve read at least a thousand books in my life so far. But in the last ten years or more my reading is sporadic at best. I find it almost impossible to get lost in a book anymore. I can’t shut the rest of the world out of books the way I used to. But also, I’ve come to a point where I find a lot of books incredibly tedious. Too much sex, too intellectual, too action-y, too depressing, too boring, too ambiguous, too much like real life, etc. I basically want Mary Stewart to posthumously write a hundred more of her suspense/mystery novels. That’s what I want to read.

I can’t smoke any more. I haven’t smoked in 15 years. I’m really happy to not be smoking any more and I don’t miss it. But I don’t miss it because I’m still drinking and watching endless television. I keep working on removing drinking from the list because I know it’s so unhealthy at the level at which I drink. And yet it’s so deeply comforting and it makes my brain shut the fuck up and simmer the fuck down. Same with endless television. I re-watch the same shows all day and all night long. Nothing new. Nothing to tax my brain. I can’t sleep without the tv being on.

Writing. Sigh. Writing is hard for me to get lost in anymore. I don’t give up. Never give up. I’m working on a few projects and I’m excited about them but am incapable of getting lost in writing the way I did when I was writing the first Cricket and Grey. I miss that. I want that ability back. Music really fueled that novel but music has become very problematic to me.

I’m excited all the time but also tired all the time. This is just business as usual living in this meat-cage of mine. Being a constant contradiction within myself is how I am and dialectical behavioral therapy has shown me that we can be and believe two apparently opposing things at the same time. What about a hundred?

I want to do all the things and also nothing at all.

I think my dreams last night wore me out, as they often do. Distressing and just as busy as my waking life.

I’m going to get my shoes on now and go down to happy hour to try to write a little fiction. Then I’ll go to the store, then come home and do all the things I meant to be doing while I wrote this post instead. But at least I’ll be able to say I spent most of my day writing and not canning more jam I don’t need.


Who’s Your Gatekeeper: Writer’s Edition

Sometimes I swan around with a pen in my mouth not unlike a writer might.

Today I saw a quote attributed to a writer, shared by a different writer, and then commented on by a bunch of writers.  Here’s the magical gem itself:

Writer’s block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the fucking morning and writing for a living.

I’m not actually going to say the person’s name to whom this quote is attributed.  I will only refer to him as “him” or possibly “that crusty old knob”. This quote definitely got a reaction out of almost everyone who read it.  I found this quote (by an author I’ve never heard of) revolting on so many levels I felt compelled to dust off Ye Olde Bloggenfort to unpack the misery of the above statement.

Let’s open this fucker up with the first nugget of shit it’s composed of:  the dismissal of writer’s block as simply the choice to write or not write, evidence of laziness basically. No writer chooses to have writer’s block, to sit down to their desk again and again to find that the conduit between their thoughts and the page has been broken, damaged, or become blocked up. Typically, when a writer experiences this enough times in a row they become so frustrated with the shit that’s coming out that they take a break to clear their head. Then they come back again and hope they’ve shaken off the dust and unclogged the pipeline of clear thinking to workable words on a page. Sometimes it’s just a blip. You shake it off and get back to the work.

But sometimes this continues on for such extended periods that a writer begins to doubt themselves, starts listening to all kinds of suggestions for getting their word skills back that they were sure they used to have. Sometimes it’s the story they’re trying to tell that’s the problem and maybe if they work on something else for a while and come back to the stuck story later they’ll be able to sort it out. Sometimes it’s the life all around them that’s blocking up the brain-pipes. Writers write, but they also have lives outside the words and also bodies that can become injured, ill, or exhausted caring for other injured or ill bodies that fall within the realms of their responsibility. Other things that can clog the conduit of brain-to-page flow is emotional or mental issues.

That Old Crusty Knob of a writer is saying that you must sit down to the page every day and fuck you and your troubles. Real writers power through no matter what and suck it if you become deathly ill – didn’t write this morning? I’M SORRY BUT YOU MUST HAND IN YOUR WRITER CARD AT ONCE BECAUSE YOU ARE NO LONGER PRIVILEGED TO CALL YOURSELF A WRITER. What a cuntish thing to suggest. The only part that old crusty knob gets right, in my opinion, is that if you want to make a living out of writing you can’t simply wait to be in the mood or hope for inspiration to move words out of your head and onto the page when and if they do. It’s true that you need to write on a regular and consistent basis because you can’t sell what you haven’t written. However, that’s a very simplistic way of looking at this writing life.

I wrote nearly every day from the time I was 10 years old until I gave birth to my son when I was 30. I filled a hundred notebooks with poems and essays and attempts at fiction. I submitted many poems to periodicals. I published my own crappy little zine of poems. I did not get published through those efforts. I did not get paid a penny. I had only flashes of brilliance mixed in with a whole lotta slosh. But I sat down every fucking day and I wrote and I got better at it every day. For twenty years. TWENTY YEARS. I was 23 years old when I decided to tell people I was a writer. That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter if I got published, or paid, or known. I might die an unsuccessful writer but at 23 years old I stopped letting anyone be my writing gatekeeper. I write. I am writer.

But like I said, after my son was born I tried to keep writing and found myself dried up inside. I had plenty going on inside my head that I was desperate to get onto a page but every time I sat down to get them out they evaporated like meager drops of sweat hitting the hot rocks in Death Valley. What came out was a pale reflection of my previous ability to put what was in my head onto the page. I still sat down to write and tried day after day until it became so frustrating and demoralizing that I just gave up for months. That was my first bout of writer’s block and it was awful. Losing that conduit from the mess of my loud brain to the clarity and satisfaction of the page made me feel like I’d lost a vital function of myself. But I was still a writer. I was a writer who suddenly couldn’t write a decent sentence. I played that game where you just get words on the page and worry about making them good later in edit stage. You can’t edit what you haven’t written, after all. But I couldn’t even get editable shit on the page.

Here’s what I realized much later as I eased my way back to language: the brain is a fertile field that can be worn down hard by too many crops that deplete it to the point where nothing grows in it any more. Some writers are good at frequently replenishing their brain fertility by reading books, watching movies, walking in nature, traveling, doing other creative things, or taking classes. But sometimes, even if you do this, you may find you need to let the writing fields go fallow. Maybe for a few days. A month. A year. There’s no right or wrong to it. There’s no good or bad to it. You don’t lose your writer’s card because there is no card that anyone can give or take away from you.

I’m going to also suggest that women experience a much harder time replenishing themselves while writing because, believe it or not, they are still the main caretakers of their children and partners and often ALSO have to work for income. We still don’t live in an equal world and I notice men find it much easier to shut their family responsibilities out so they can get their writing in and they have a greater expectation that their families will and should give them the space and time to do this. Even when women have really supportive spouses it’s difficult for them to shut out their family responsibilities to write. I did it to write my one finished novel and there’s no way in hell I would ever have finished writing my book (and then re-writing it over and over) if I hadn’t relegated much of the daily expectations my family had of me to my partner who did his best to give me the space I needed. It was hard on them and I’m not sorry I took the time and space I needed to finish my novel but I have ONE child and a supportive spouse, many women have multiple children and less than supportive spouses. Many women can’t do this without a great deal of guilt and push-back from everyone around them. So fuck anyone who doesn’t take into account that we do not all have equal situations, lives, experiences, spaces, monies, or time to write in.

Let’s unpack the other big hideous assumption the above quote makes: the assumption that every writer’s job is writing. Until you’ve broken through and already started making money with your writing you are most likely writing between other jobs that take up a lot of your time. For most people working towards a goal of writing for a living it’s a really tough balancing act that stretches resources and (as mentioned above) the needs of those in your life to the limits. The Crusty Knob who said that “the job” is sitting down to fucking write every morning is one who’s actually making money on his writing, so yeah, that’s now his actual job which is awesome. I don’t doubt for a single second that he worked his ass off getting to where he is. That is NOT in question. And most writers who make it commercially at some point put in a lot of writing time between other jobs and responsibilities and I am in no way saying you can achieve success as a writer without writing as often and as prolifically as your able to.

What I’m saying is that most writers aren’t making any money writing so writing is the dream job they’re working towards and not the actual job paying the bills and feeding the babies or dogs or self. We don’t all work at the same pace either. Even if every writer had all the time in the world and not a bill to pay, some writers can pump out books like a machine while others take a decade to finish a single book. Or a lifetime. I happened to take years to write a single book. I’ve finished exactly one book and it’s looking like I’ll have another one done possibly before I die. Maybe two if I live to be very very old. I’m envious of those friends of mine who finish a book a year or two books a year. Definitely jealous of them. But some people are jealous of my rapid pace of one book every decade or two.

We all have our own paces, our own processes, our own goals, and our own ideas about what success means to us. There is no right or wrong way to write and as long as you have put in a lot of time writing and working on your skills – taking your growth as a writer seriously – you’re a writer even when crossing a vast desert devoid of words. Once you’re a writer, you’re a writer. It isn’t just a “job”, it’s a passion and a driving force. If it wasn’t, writer’s block wouldn’t feel so much like a betrayal.

So let’s ditch The Old Crusty Knob’s entire quote now. Let’s toss it in the trash heap where it belongs and the next time you or I encounter another asinine opinion on writing like that, let it follow this one straight into the trash. Here’s what I want to put in its place: no one is the gate keeper to your writing life, your identity as writer, or your success as a writer except yourself.

There are enough challenges ahead of all of us who want to make a living being a writer without other writers breaking us down and telling us who we are or aren’t. I love listening to other writers talk about their processes, their struggles, their successes but I never want to be that voice that shuts another person’s dreams down.

I wrote reams and reams of poetry, short stories, and hideous attempts at novels and I became a writer doing it. Then I wrote blogs for years and even had an audience. Then I wrote and self published a novel that has gone exactly nowhere. I haven’t finished a single writing project for the last four or five years since I published my own novel because I seem to have been drained out in some way. I keep coming back to the page because I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t still try to get words out. I might never finish writing another novel but I will be a writer til I die. Once you’ve become a writer inside yourself, once you know yourself to BE a writer, it ceases to be “the job” or even “the dream”, it becomes part of your identity as a human. I may die an unknown and unpaid author but I will die a writer.


Spring is Nature Screaming

This is the oldening. The lightening. The darkening. The leveling and the simultaneous rupturing. Everything is at once in harmony while vibrating with disruptive discordance.

Spring is nature screaming hoarsely into a mosh-pit of fallen stars and unexpected moonbeams.

The landscape explodes with blooms and the warming trend expands the stench of decay that flies just underneath the radar of our fear, surprising us in our sleep with images we can’t erase and that are exquisitely gorgeous and equally terrifying in the way that sex and death smell the same when we’re being honest with ourselves in stark moments of truth.

The thick sick-sweet smell of life haunts me

Day 14 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Sharon’s succulent skull.

Two weeks into my Midlife Health Reboot and my back has gone out, I’ve experienced some really low days, done more exercise than usual, employed some DBT skills to drink a little less, still drank way more than stated goals, have eaten too much cheese but otherwise have been eating really well and healthily.

Today I weighed myself and have gained 1 lb. I’m choosing to see this as inspiration to keep moving forward. On the plus side, my scooter jacket fits a little better than it did last summer when I bought it.

Chillin with my birds makes me happy. Beijing and I watched an episode of Scott and Bailey.

My chicks, my dog, my regular cats, and my foster kittens have collectively represented quite a lot work this past week but I love animals so much that I view it as work worth doing. Still, my senior dog spends an awful lot of time entering a room then freezing in place and staring at me as though I must have the answer to why she ended up standing there OR that obviously I haven’t fed her in weeks (2 minutes ago) and I find this constant intense staring at me unnerving. She also barks at me incessantly some mornings starting between 4:40 am and 5:15 and ending when I feed her at 6am. Or earlier if I reach the end of my patience. But I get it Chick, being old is weird and painful.

Berkeley and Emery’s diarrhea has returned and is really bad. They’ve started medication again. My chicks aren’t doing anything requiring particularly challenging work but I’ve been spending a lot of time holding them to tame them.

Philip and I have been working on their coop and run because chicks grow up in the blink of an eye.

I’ve gotten out in the garden again and it felt FANTASTIC.

Look what I found in my garden: miner’s lettuce! An enchanted wild edible from my childhood.

I didn’t plant this. Finding it when I was weeding was like running into a loved old friend or a favorite forgotten treasure. I weeded around it and am hoping it will thrive and then re-seed itself. I love tiny flowers! Super tiny flowers are so sweet, they lure you into a lilliputian world of magic. I don’t really believe in magic in the literal sense but in the sense that these tiny flowers can pull a giant down to examine and delight in their delicate forms is surely practical magic?

When I was a kid we had miner’s lettuce growing under a very old tree in the very back of our back yard, right across the path from our chicken coop (which is now an apartment) and I would take my barbies for picnics under that tree and I’d take pictures of them dressed in their smarmy late 70’s best attire and I would occasionally eat a few leaves of miner’s lettuce. I remember that tree being a walnut but I realize now as an adult very familiar with walnut trees that that can’t be true. I’ll ask my mom.  Anyway, it gave me such a rush of pleasure to find that volunteer in my garden last night. So add that to my master list of “pleasant events to do or remember doing”: FINDING MINER’S LETTUCE IN MY GARDEN.

We’re drinking some hibiscus rosehip tea with astragalus that I chilled in the fridge and next up is this fine spring brew:

Cleavers, peppermint, and calendula spring tonic tea from the bottom.

I’ll be chilling this to drink as iced tea.

Before I close this post, to keep myself accountable to myself, I will now do (for the first time in about a billion years) exercises I’m supposed to be doing to support my arthritic knee and hip… (save this space).

Okay – I did 5 exercises. That’s the first time in ages and it must become a building block to this health reboot of mine. I can’t help my circulation and heart health if I can’t move due to arthritis pain. I’m told that doing these strengthening exercises will alleviate the pain even though the cartilage in my left knee is half gone (1/2 of knee is bone on bone). It seems so hard to believe but until I actually do it for a long period of time – how will I know? And any kind of body strengthening is going to be great for my over-all health even if it doesn’t do what they promise it will do.

I’m going to log out now and clean up my kitchen and eat some cottage cheese with pineapple and watch murder documentaries and hold my chicks and drink iced chai that I made.


Days 4-7 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot


Ravioli with beets at Mother in Sacramento.

For four days in a row I got some exercise. You know, because every person on earth says that good health means daily exercise. Ever since breaking my stupid-ass hip this has become a nightmare for my body. I’m feeling bitter right now because it felt good to get moving. I love walking. I love being active. And after four days of being active (and taking ibuprofin before-hand as directed by my various docs) my back is out. My experience for the last 14 years is that I get punished over and over and over again with awful pain of one kind or another every time I exercise. My back has been especially effected since the arthritis in my left knee got bad. The surgeon who I originally consulted with said that increased back problems are common with arthritis in hips and knees because you compensate for the pain and throw yourself out of alignment.

You know what’s tedious and boring? This topic. But it’s germane to my goals.

I refuse to regret walking over Tower Bridge on my brief stay in Sacramento.

What I’m going to have to do is focus on doing strengthening exercises every day for my knees, my back, and my hip. I will take a short walk tomorrow with a friend and not push it.

I’d like to go on record as being so fucking depressed by the state of my body I feel so angry that I tripped and fell 14 years ago because the impact on my health and my life has been shockingly huge.

Watching TV now requires glasses. This is me last night trying to ignore the back pain.

Anger noted and logged. What I know is that this year is going to take a lot of work and that doesn’t mean pushing myself all the time – it means PACING myself. Just as with my mental health, it’s something you work on every day and working on it a little bit every day is how you keep the progress coming. There will be bursts of inspiration and pushing beyond limits, of course. But one key is going to be to ignore most advice from others because while meaning well – most people don’t know all the details that matter because they aren’t my doctors or me.

I still need to work on my wise mind statements. I had to miss the last day of my DBT class due to my back. I think I’ll check out some DBT apps tomorrow and see if any of them are intuitive to me.

For things that bring me pleasure I submit trying new restaurants in new places and this weekend I got my chicks! They get big so fast that I got them Saturday and already they’re developing tail feathers. I’ve missed having chickens so I’m excited to finally be getting a new flock!

This is Lima (as in: Peru). She’s a Speckled Sussex and is 5 days old today.

Having Chickens brings me a great deal of joy. I love the noises they make, I love holding them and feeling their silky feathers, I love watching them take dust baths and strut around looking for tasty scraps. I love it when they follow me around the garden and I love the fresh eggs. Hanging out with chickens was one of the happiest parts of my childhood.

I have to go ice my back again and take more Ibuprofin so I’m logging off for tonight.

Day 3 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Pink trees over a field of gold.

I made myself get on the scale this morning to face the sitch, whatever it is. I’m so relieved to say that my starting point is 9lbs lower than I thought. So my starting weight is 271 lbs. It’s a lot, for sure but not worth getting too upset about. That’s where I am.

So far today I’ve been pretty frantic as I prepare for getting 7 chicks tomorrow morning and then head up to Sacramento overnight with some friends. But I also pulled some weeds, helped my mother’s helper, and so far have eaten sensibly. I’m going to have a banana in a minute and then go on a walk with a neighbor friend. Either we’re going to walk around the middle school track or we’re going to head up King to a friend’s house to meet Philip for beer.

Yes, tonight I’m drinking. The last two nights I did not. It wasn’t hard at all as it sometimes is. What I ended up having to urge-surf through was wanting to make a late-night cheese sandwich. I made it through the urge and brushed my teeth. I feel really good about that decision. Wise mind asked if eating the cheese sandwich would be in the interests of our long-term goals and it said “emphatically not!” and so wise mind prevailed. I’m glad it did.

Short entry today. What I need to work on next is developing wise mind statements. I haven’t done that yet and I think it will prove very useful if I have that already prepared.

They look exactly like calendula seeds which is why I believe they’re just a small variety of calendula or in the same family.

I love seeds. I didn’t take any pics today so I’m using ones I took yesterday. I get a lot of joy from flowers and seeds. Before I head off, I’m doing some deep breathing.


Day 2 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

small succulent plant with bright purple flowers blooming against a wall
Pretty succulent plant seen on my evening walk in the neighborhood.

Today was all about doing my DBT homework which was doing pleasant activities and going through the list of pleasant activities handout and seeing how many of those things I could be adding into my life. If this doesn’t sound like therapy to you – that’s because it seems so weird to purposely put pleasant things on your daily agenda. But if you’ve ever been mired or paralyzed by anxiety and/or depression or other destabilizing emotional issues – you know that sometimes we forget to do all the little unharmful things we enjoy and stick mostly to the more harmful methods of coping. If that wasn’t true, you wouldn’t be in therapy like me and wouldn’t be interested in this shit anyway.

Better Than Bullets, image of small succulent plant blooming against a wall, bright purple flowers
Does anyone of my generation find it pleasant to think about their retirement? You mean like how I’ll be wheeling Pippa all over town in my shopping cart?

In the handout the teachers gave us there are 275 “pleasant events” listed just to give us an idea of what kind of things we might not remember to do/think about when we’re stressed. I found 84 of those things copacetic and also on the list were a bunch of things that actually cause me enormous stress. I’m absolutely aware that the point of the list is that we’re all different and this is just a jumping off point in making my own list.

It’s entirely possible that some people find going to class reunions pleasant while I would rather have a splinter shoved in my eye.

I stopped to take pictures of these wildflowers which I’ve concluded are some kind of tiny calendula.

I’m going to make my own list of 50 pleasant events that are personal to me (in no particular order). If you’re following along and wanna participate – please do! But first, a couple more pictures from today’s adventures.

This is a “pesto” made from kale, chard, and collards that turned out really nice!
Me, doing 2 of my fave things: riding my Vespa and stopping to admire some flowers.

Angelina’s 50 Pleasant Events List:

1.  Driving my Vespa through the countryside or through pretty neighborhoods

2.  Fostering kittens

3. Going out to dinner with Philip and Max

4. Going out to happy hour with my sister

5. Staying in hotels and watching cable TV

6. Hanging out with close friends

7. Cooking

8. Spotting wildflowers everywhere I go

9. Gardening

10. Seeing the local wild turkeys drift through neighborhoods and chatting with them

11. Watching serial killer documentaries

12. Walking barefoot in the garden on a hot day

13. Wading in ice cold ocean water/walking along the beach with ice cold waves washing over my feet

14. Remembering happy trips: Vespa ride to Oregon, family trip to SLC, Glasgow with Zeke and Tara

15. Driving through countryside with Philip

16. The smell of onions being sauteed wafting through neighborhoods in early evening

17. Sitting on our porch when it’s warm out and waving to neighbors, just hanging out

18. Having a nice hot cup of strong British tea with milk and sugar.

19. First cup of coffee in the morning

20. Listening to the sounds of nature whilst not being accosted by arachnids with personal space issues.

21. Taking walks through the neighborhood

22. The sounds of doves cooing in the neighborhood

23. Falling asleep to familiar television shows

24. Sharing my food and potions and projects with friends

25. Being included/invited to things even though I often don’t participate

26. Sitting at a vintage desk typing just about anything

27. Making lists of – just about anything

28. Kittens falling asleep on me

29. Talking with my kid

30. Playing with essential oils and herbs and potions

31. Foraging for food and herbs

32. Processing large quantities of food for preserving

33. Growing flowers I can cut and bring inside

34. Caring for my roses

35. Being in nature (without doing anything extreme like hiking or spelunking or getting killed by serial killers. Just hanging out on a slope on a mountain is peaceful)

36. Hanging out with chickens

37. Wading in a really fucking ice cold creek on a really hot day

38. Making things for other people

39. Cleaning house (but NOT laundry, laundry can go fuck itself)

40. Open windows on a warm but slightly breezy day

41. Being absolutely still and thinking absolutely nothing – listening to the sounds all around me (doubles as a mindfulness exercise)

42. Eating really amazing food

43.  Opera music

44. Hanging around tidepools chatting up the urchins, starfish, and barnacles

45. The hot dry herby smell of the California hills in summer

46. Helping animals, caring for animals, rescuing animals

47. The sting of nettles (no really, it’s peculiar and I rather like it)

48. Reaching personal goals I’ve set for myself

49. Writing (fiction, nonfiction, bullshit, journals)

50. Showing kindness to people whether it costs me a lot or a little or nothing

It’s time for me to go drink some tea. So here’s my check-in with my goals:

I took a short evening walk

I ate really vibrant healthy food that made me feel good inside

I worked on my DBT homework by stopping to take pictures of wildflowers on my way to the store which is something I really love (taking pictures of wildflowers/all flowers) and by spending time thinking about all the activities that bring me a sense of well being (big or tiny, it all counts).

I tried a new recipe while watching serial killer docs.

I did some deep breathing.

And I’m not drinking alcohol tonight.





Day 1 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Mug shot taken March 13, 2019.

This is the start line, a moment I want to bookmark for myself so that I can look back later to see how far I’ve come.  Because from here on out the only thing I’m going to be working on in my life is getting my health back – until I achieve the goals I’ve set for myself.

All last year I worked on getting my emotional and mental stability back and after a year of therapy I’m in such a better place than when I started.  I’m still in therapy and I’m going to need to stick with it a little longer to help me reach my health goals. I couldn’t even begin to address my physical health goals until I got help with my emotional and mental deterioration.

I couldn’t write this blog while it served as a tool for releasing the mental Kraken from the deep dark waters of my mental illness.

For anyone not in the know – I got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder this time last year. This is in addition to existing PTSD, Generalized Anxiety, and Major Depression.  The diagnosis, though not expected, wasn’t actually a total surprise. Getting that specific diagnosis gave me a much better idea of what kind of therapy would best address my mental state.

My therapist has been using IFS therapy which has been profoundly helpful and I’m taking my second DBT short course  right now to help support the other therapy.  For DBT to work you have to actually practice it daily. It helps you develop better personal discipline but also requires you to actually use what discipline you already have available to build from.

Me and foster kitten Emery on March 13, 2019.


I didn’t have the courage to weigh myself today but I can, from recent weighings, guess that my weight right now is at 280+/- a couple of pounds.

I have high blood pressure.

I have high triglycerides.

I have bad arthritis in one knee and milder arthritis in my other knee and hips. This causes much pain when I try to be physically active. Sometimes just causes pain, period.

I drink too much alcohol (definitely do NOT ask for details on this – or try to advise me in any way)


Lose between 80-100lbs in the next 12 months (need to lose 100 but understand it might take longer than a year)

Rein back my alcohol consumption to moderate levels (I know what this means for me but am not going to share that detail for self protective reasons)

Continue to increase vibrancy and variety of diet. Work on portion control and over-all calories. Cook more of the food that makes me feel truly good (mostly Mediterranean style vegetarian food)

Do exercises every day to strengthen the muscles around the knees and hips to reduce arthritic pain as per PT people have suggested.

Continue to work on emotional regulation to support these goals.

Mindfulness/DBT/selfcare practices today:

I vacuumed even though I wanted to avoid it because I knew it would make me feel better if I did.

I did an assortment of other household chores as well. I took quite a few breaks, but it felt good when I could see the difference and FEEL it too.

I made a pitcher of my own blend of hibiscus iced tea for later.

I also made a pitcher of my own blend of chai for icing and while it simmered I did an exercise of being completely present and deep breathing the wonderful spicy steam. It was both grounding and uplifting.

I put makeup on.

I kept reapplying my roll-on essential oil blend Veranda because it makes me feel calm. That’s one of the tools in my DBT box of tools.

I’m off to make a salad for dinner and watch serial killer documentaries. Maybe drink tea. Definitely not drinking any alcohol tonight.


Handling Disappointment Without Self-Abuse

I’m not going to abuse myself any more. I will quash the vitriol I’ve learned to lavish myself with and replace it with a shower of freshly opened carnations warmed in the sun of my garden. I will replace it with the hunger of a bird just out of winter looking for early spring seeds. I will replace it with the love and nourishment I’ve given to the people who’ve abused me.

The words that seep insidiously into my heart every time I think I’ve failed myself or others aren’t MY words. I heard them said to me so often I believed them.  When I stopped being told how small and weak and stupid and slow I was – the part of me that believed I deserved to be punished for every infraction of character, misstep, and stumble stepped up to the task and has been making sure I keep punishing myself just as I deserve ever since.

This is the worst part of abuse. The way you carry on the work of abusers against yourself long after they’re gone or you walk away – their voices live on inside of you.  But now their voice is your voice and you can’t run away from it or scrub it out of you. The longevity and strength of self loathing and self abuse is tremendous.

You can’t undo that shit in a day. Or a month. Sometimes it takes years of painstakingly removing abusive statements you used to think of as truths with a sharp knife, one by one. Sometimes it feels endless. But the amazing thing is that putting that time in will begin to clear your head enough that you can start putting other things in it, better things, wonderful things. Do the work even when it feels like nothing’s changing and you’ll turn a corner. You’ll make a mistake one day and instead of telling yourself your a real piece of shit human, you’ll look at your mistake, figure out how to fix it, and move on.

And if you still feel bad about it you’ll remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes because everyone does and that you’ll learn from it and become stronger and better for it if you choose to.

You might not even notice it at first but when you do it’s like growing your flight feathers back.

I disappointed myself today but as the usual self-punishment recording began to play I knocked the needle off the groove and have instead been talking to myself with kindness and patience. I’ve been listening to a different part of myself tonight. The part that keeps the lamps lit on dark nights. The part that insists I grow more carnations because they make me ridiculously happy because I loved smelling them in my mother’s garden when I was a kid. (The garden in the house I loved so much as a kid that I still dream about it today like it’s a person.) I’m listening to the part of myself that knows I won’t be “fixed” in a day, a month, or even a few months but knows that the changes will come on slowly and steadily as long as I keep doing the work.

Tonight I’m listening to the part of myself that knows my true worth.