Category Archives: The Variety Show

Out Here in the Weeds

musard in field

I keep telling myself that it’s time I stopped sharing my own personal meltdowns publicly and instead put them in books where fictional situations and characters can chew on them righteously without making me feel scraped out personally.  Time to truly become the puppeteer behind the curtain pulling the strings and making people believe in levitation and other untrue things.  I think my motivations for making my anxiety attacks and depressive episodes public aren’t particularly nice.  Mostly I want everyone to suffer – I want them to have to go through this shit too because I think there will be a lot less bullshit attempts to convince me that mental illness isn’t really an “illness” so much as a vitamin imbalance or a lazy person’s descent into negativity that is completely avoidable with daily positive affirmations, ditching wheat, ditching meat, ditching sugar, or whatever it is YOU ditched that changed your fucking life forever so that everything is coming up disco pants and summer days.

Fuck that.

Disco pants is #72 on the list of 127 Things That Freak Me Out.

It’s funny because my dad (not the biological father) and I had a great lunch together the other day during which the question of my mental illness came up and, typical of his generation of wishful thinkers, he wants to believe that this mental problem of mine was created by the fucked up start to my life (the commune years) that made me never feel safe.  And then the part where he and my mom fought all the time.  And then the part where they split up and my mom had a major breakdown at the same time I did.  He thinks that these circumstances are why I have anxiety, that I wasn’t BORN WITH IT.

We agree that experiences in life can play a big hand in a person’s mental state. Zero argument.  But he really doesn’t believe that people are born with different wiring.  Like so many other people.

Science has already proved that some brains really are wired differently – that some minds physiologically function differently or less optimally – depending on the brain you’re talking about.  I think it boils down to people experiencing existential discomfort at the idea that human emotions and thought patterns can be boiled down to little more than chemical conversations between the brain and the nervous system.  It implies a lack of control and it also implies that feelings don’t come from our spirits or whatever essence you think makes us uniquely who we are.

As if it’s somehow frightening to think that our chemical makeup, the quality of our blood, the size of our arteries, and the electric pulses in our brains are IT.  I have no patience for that fear.  I am much too busy fearing real things like being murdered or raped or ending up homeless with Pippa living inside my coat.

It’s all well and good to discuss the whys and wherefores and the origin story.  But when you’re in the trenches it doesn’t fucking matter one bit.  You know it isn’t good.  You know you didn’t do anything on purpose to bring it on.  You want it to not happen and you try everything in the world that people swear will change your life and in the end you’re still just in the head you were born with and its now got all the extra baggage it’s acquired from living life as a person whose brain doesn’t work optimally in the world it must function in.

The only part of this that I’m not sure about is whether I can claim that I’m not actually broken, that I’m just different?  When one is in the Autism spectrum it’s much easier to make a case for simply having a different operating system.  People with autism actually have different brains – differences you can SEE with EYES in imaging.  So do people with ADHD.  Their brains literally look different when functioning, work differently than the average brain.  Certain parts are less or more developed than in the average.

But mine – mine may not really be built differently.  If I’m being honest when I’m looking at all the data that’s available to me so far, it really does look like I’m not a different model of brain but a brain that came off the conveyer belt with some missing screws and a permanent oil leak.

What does that mean for my self esteem.  How can I frame my shortcomings as strengths?  How can I make it seem like having a few screws missing is a blessing?

I’m getting off the boat now.

What if I told you that I have no ego invested in being the top of the line model human being but I wish to fucking god the radioactive emotional meltdowns could be surgically removed?

They used to call that a lobotomy.

Today I’m all calm and post-meltdown philosophical but yesterday I wanted to tear my own heart out and if it weren’t for the mess, I would have done it.

If I’m going to continue being honest then I have to say that I AM a broken human with band-aids holding my pieces together.  It’s not popular to admit this.  Why am I not framing it in a positive awesome superhero way?  Probably because when you spend so much time using all your superhero powers to keep your violence from going inwards you become too tired to parse meaning nicely.

Us broken people and us people who are wired differently and us people who are neurologically atypical all have something in common.

We can see things the average person is blind to.  We know things the average person can’t know.  We feel EXTRA.  We smell MORE.  We hear EVERYTHING.  We see in the dark.  We understand your raw heart and we can fill it with empathy in a way you can’t describe but you’ll FEEL long after we’re just a blurry memory.  We can find answers that live in places most people can’t get at.  We’re intense.  We’re exhausting.  We’re pretty LOUD when we aren’t completely SILENT.  A lot of us die of drug addiction, suicide, heart implosions.  Our natural death rate is higher than yours because we live harder just staying alive.

We have gifts.  Gifts that have lit this world from its first experiments in agriculture and rolling wheels to the elegant quantum theory we take for granted now.  We are the wild ones who leap farther, swim deeper, jump higher, run faster, think more abstractly, and articulate the dumb-water from which humanity dragged itself to find the light.

I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t materially matter whether we were born whole but different or born broken and are therefor different.  What everyone else needs to recognize is that we are your storytellers, soothsayers, and collective memory.

Out here in the weeds is where I belong.  Out here with the body dumps and strong medicine.  Out here between the chain link and the luxury cars.  Out here with the homeless and the litter.

I know you can never be completely comfortable in my company unless you’re part of this wild tribe of mine.

I don’t mind if you lie and say you never feel out of your depth with my violent feelings.  I don’t mind if you lie and say I never trouble you.

Out here in the weeds there is no drowning.

The Devil’s Circus

hills from bus

I want to smash things.  I want to smash everything.  I want to destroy all the delicate beautiful things and all the arrogantly strong things.  I want to rip down the shades and tear the curtains and I want to stab pillows and throw drinks in all the faces.

Except that I don’t ever want to see another face as long as I live.  And please god, erase mine first.

I want to claw into my skin to drag out the toxic disease that makes me constantly self destruct.  I can feel it in my body like it’s got its own corrupt soul, moving around in my bones treating me like a goddamn marionette.  I want to rip it out of my body and smash it against the walls.  But I know, I still know that it’s really just me I want to smash against the wall.  I know I’m the only one in this suit of flesh and I just need to find something specific to burn.  I keep lighting my own skin on fire.

I see it all coming down before it starts.  I try to stop it and everything I do to stop it makes it worse and it happens slowly – this B movie scene I can’t rewrite – so I have to live each frame without mercy.  I give it different words and I make it wear a denim tracksuit but it’s still naked and now I am too.

The words coming out of my mouth are always the ones I definitely wasn’t going to say.

I can’t be around people.  I can’t be around myself.

So many people think all I have to do is meditate or change my habits or remind myself it doesn’t have to be this way.  That if life made me this way I can unmake myself.  Bullshit.

Go fucking unmake yourself bitches!  Tell me how that’s working out for you.

If it’s working for you then go fuck your smug self.

I was supposed to go to the city today but I infected my people with my stress, it seems, and then fucking pounded it into their skulls for good measure.  Because people like me do shit like that.  Then I felt so fucking bad I wanted to knife myself.  No matter what I do, no matter what therapy I get, no matter what meds I take, it always comes back to that inward thrust.  The desire to destroy what wants to destroy me first.  To punish myself for fucking everything up AGAIN.

I haven’t cut myself or intentionally harmed myself for 28 years but it’s always there.  Saying it out loud makes me seem more diseased than I want anyone to know.  I want people to think you can just will that shit away and OVERCOME.  Maybe some can.  I can only speak for myself.  That desire to garrote myself is my second shadow.

I don’t want you to know about it because it will make you see me differently.   It shows my illness more than any other behavior or obsessive thought I can share.  The only human deviance worse than one who wants to hurt itself is one who wants to hurt others.

But I do that too.

The spirals are fast and brutal most of the time.  I don’t have time for last rights or explanations until it’s all over and then I feel like such a loser I let myself slip down the sink drain with the black mold and the tangled hair.

I am not fit to be around people.  Or in the world.  Or in a body.

I get whiplash sometimes between the good days and the bad.  The good minutes and the stopped time.

Animals know when they’re sick.  I know I’m sick in the mind.  It angers me when people try to make excuses for my irregularity.  It’s insulting to be lied to for someone else’s sense of comfort.  So they can feel better about themselves.  If I’m sick it means there are others who are like me who are also sick.  If I admit to being sick they question whether they are obligated to admit they are too.  They fight so hard against it.  Because having my sickness is ignoble.  It’s not nice.  It’s pretty fucking ugly in the corners no outsiders can see.  It’s the devil’s circus in here.

I made my child cry.  My wonderful child who suffers from some of the same things I do.  I made him cry because I was hanging on by a thread to my plans and he had the audacity to be barely hanging onto his.  I lashed out at him for deciding, right as we set out for the city, that he was going to have a bad time.  I tried to help and inadvertently made things worse, as I do.  So I got angry.  He cried.  He was so stressed out and he’s new at this stress of the unknown.  Poor kid inherited my awful awful anxiety and I fucking lashed out at him for it.

I am having a hard time forgiving myself for that right now.  That kid of mine is pretty fucking amazing.  I have the opportunity to give him support and empathy and teach him to live in a world that doesn’t understand people like us, and what I did was make him feel like shit for being sensitive to stress and outings he’s no properly prepared for.

I already apologized to him when he came into my office where I was busy not breaking everything and said he was sorry for ruining my day.  I apologized to him for making him think my ruined day was his fault when it was really mine.

My guys have gone to a movie and are, I think, recovering from that madly awful hour.

I am not.  Not yet.  I lie in bed for a couple of hours forcing self harming thoughts from my head, listening to my cat purring on my shoulder.

I want to break things.  I want to break everything.

I think I’m going to go get more beer and some Chinese food.  How’s that for a strong shot of bathos?

Far from done, but now I have a hammer.

bad intentionsI never do anything because of Jesus or for Jesus but I like to think that as far as icons of belief go – a Jewish carpenter who consorts with prostitutes and people losing limbs to disease while spouting messages of love and acceptance and nonviolence – he seems like a pretty cool drinking partner.  I just can’t figure out how American conservatives and the people leading the Inquisition got themselves hooked up with a guy who wouldn’t let you stone a whore without stoning him with her?  I consider this the ninth wonder of the world.

I said I was going to be sober for 90 days and lose at least 20lbs during that time and I did both of those things.  I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol for 3 months and I lost 31lbs.  I didn’t overeat during that time or crave cigarettes as the chemical dependency counselor suggested I might.  She should have listened to me.  I also didn’t ever actually crave alcohol the way I craved cigarettes when I quit smoking.  I was über-cranky for the first week and then most Fridays.  I discovered that life without alcohol isn’t bad – it’s just BORING.

Last night I had a few beers in celebration and answered a question I didn’t know I had: yes, your tolerance level goes way down after 3 months of not drinking.  People, I can’t drink very much without getting tipsy now.  And that’s fine because even though I don’t regret partying last night (I did, after all, accomplish something amazing) I am now going to discover how to have alcohol in my life in a moderate fashion.

Except for at parties or events where there are a lot of human beings I don’t know and have to interact with.  All bets are off when I must interact with GROUPS.  Even small groups.  ANY GROUPS.

Socializing, period.  Shut up.  Just because your nervous system is shiny and solid and mine has the tensile strength as wet tissue unless held up with old sticks and booze is no measure of superiority.

I want to thank all of you who did this challenge with me – in whatever way you participated – and for all of the support you’ve all given me for months now.  It made a big difference to me. !!

What now?

I’m so far from done.  I have set new goals for the next 3 months:

Lose at least another 20lbs – as of right now I still have 82lbs to lose to get to where I want to be physically.  I want to get most of the way there by my 45th birthday.

Drink only moderately on the weekends (see above exception) - I want to be able to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at home or a couple of beers out – but not both on the same night.  I want Saturday to be the same.  “Moderate” for me would be somewhere between 1-3 drinks a night.

Don’t drink at all 4 days a week* – I need to keep up this lower tolerance and I need to remember how easy it is to not drink most of the time.  When I forget this my liver cries.

Eat more whole foods and fruits, less cheese – already happening but I want to continue working on this.  Aside from being a vegetarian I refuse to do any exclusionary diets.  (All kinds of opinions on stupid-ass diets that will NOT be names are being held  back that would otherwise be filling this space)

Exercise 20 minutes a day at least 5 days a week – walking, bicycling, whatever.  I’ll lunge across the house in tight pants if I feel like it.  I’d have to get tight pants first, obviously.  You fitness nuts can hold your tongues right now.  For me, just 20 minutes a day on a regular basis will be a great improvement.  Don’t give me your statistics on how much more I should be doing or what kind of movement I should be doing.  It’s none of your fucking business to school me on your religion.  Fitness isn’t my faith.  Getting back to my usual level of physical activity is what I want and need at this part of my physical recalibration.  I was always a really active person and the only thing that’s held me back in the last few years is all the physical pain and injury that results from being active and also obese.

That’s enough for the next 3 months and it starts tomorrow: April 9th and will end July 9th**.  Anyone who doesn’t believe I can lose another 20lbs in three months or that I can’t learn to drink more moderately can get off my boat.  I don’t need anyone around who doesn’t trust me to meet goals that are this important to me.

This is not three years ago.  Three years ago I was waking up wishing I wasn’t.  You can’t look at failed goals back then and hold them up to my face now.  I succeeded in surviving my secret suicidal ideation and getting myself out of purgatory.  I kept saying I was going to lose weight but then not dealing with the bigger crisis in front of me.  I was trying to run a race from inside a locked cell.  I was trying to knock down a wall with my bare hands.

Now I have a hammer.

*As before, I will not count bitters in mineral water as an alcoholic beverage.  My goals, my rules.

**Not counting precise days now – just months.

An Elusive Beast: The Extraordinarily Good Mood

jesus and pills

I am in an extraordinarily good mood.  I woke up after another bad night of nightmares and poor sleep (seriously intend to try the melatonin – I even have it next to my bed now) with my back in a lot of pain.  Not an auspicious way to start the day.

But then I had some coffee and Philip made me an amazing omelet and then my mom came home with two roses for the garden (Mr. Lincoln and Sterling Silver) which made me super excited.  Then I ordered the rest of the soil needed to fill the beds in the front yard and it cost $173.46 including delivery and it turns out I had $173 and some change left in my garden fund.  How weird is that?

Then I went and bought three bottles of high proof alcohol for making bitters and a liqueur.  Then I got to geek out with people at the Beverage People – our local home brewing store.

When I picked up my medication from Kaiser I checked Facebook and someone well known in the food writing world responded to a comment I left and -

COULD THIS DAY GET ANY FUCKING BETTER?!

I know it could get worse.  A day can always get worse.  But the sun is out in the only acceptable way for it to be out – not too hot with a cool breeze.  I was out there on my scooter smiling at absolutely everyone enjoying the gorgeousness and the fortune I’m enjoying in not being dead, in being able to pay for my psyche meds, in being able to pay our rent, and possibly even getting my Vespa tires replaced (it’s becoming dire).

Max is out with his dad because they like going on drives together and when they get back they’re going to get sushi together.  Max eats raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed now.  If you had told me a few years ago that one day he would be eating raw fish and craving it I would not have believed it.  I have certainly had my suspicions that eventually he would like some interesting things and might even develop a gourmand’s palate – but the idea of him loving sushi or tolerating rice in ANY form is one of those things only other people’s children do.  Plus he’s been accepted into the high school’s well respected arts program in the digital arts specialty.

A couple of days ago I pounced on Max when he came home and asked if he wanted to go on a foraging walk with me and he said “Let me get my knife!”

He’s also started reading Cricket and Grey.  On our walk he asked me if I based Cricket’s mom on myself.  I think because of the interest and herb knowledge.

My kid is reading the novel I wrote and enjoying it.

!!

Life takes breathtaking dives from the top floor to the center of hell – so you have to enjoy everything while it’s in front of you.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring and with people in my tribe it’s pretty common to go from thriving to diving within a matter of hours.  I’m used to such change-ups.

So you have to enjoy being 31lbs lighter now than you were three months ago because who knows what you’ll be carrying on your bones in another three months?

I backed up all my computer files and then cleaned out some files I no longer need (copies being on my backup drive) and then I defragmented my computer.  I also photographed and made new banners for both my blogs and made the executive decision to put post apocalyptic kitchen content on Stitch until I have enough to build up the PAK blog.  I must keep things simple right now.  I was so depressed on Thursday about career crap I am not going to ruin this day recapping.  I’ve set everything up for a fresh spring start.

As the day wears on my happy spazzing is turning to a happy calm.

This has been such a deliciously perfect day.  I hope you all are having one too.  And if you’re not – I hope you get yours soon!

Fighting My Invisibility

P1000981

79 days of sobriety.  11 days left.  27lbs lost.  86lbs left to lose.  3lbs more to lose to reach my goal of losing 30lbs in 90 days.  Those are the numbers.

I’ve continued to be blue over my non-existent writing “career”.  I have tried crushing the feelings and ignoring them and laughing at them.  I’m not feeling sorry for myself anymore, exactly.  Just blue.  But that doesn’t mean this is where I get off.  I never get off.  I might not be meant to get paid to write.  I might need to be murdered and then discovered posthumously.  Something that happens to an unfortunate number of authors.

I’m 86% sure I’m going to be murdered some day.

I’ve been working at my circular saw skills this week and I have to say that being able to design and then make raised beds for my yard feels as empowering as being able to throw a strong punch.  Before the rains came I spent a whole day cutting wood and screwing it together and I felt strong.  I felt capable and useful the way I do when I am able to put food in jars that last for a few years on the shelf.  The way I do when words I share uplift someone from the gutter into the light.  The way I do when I chase my son’s fears away.  So I was thinking about all the different things we draw power from.  I was thinking about how important it is to spend life doing things that make us feel stronger and fearless and capable.  If what we’re doing makes us feel small and prematurely old – we have to change our own course.

Trying to get paid writing gigs – selling my book or applying for freelance writing jobs makes me feel stupid and useless and worthless because I have only really been able to sell my book to friends and friends of friends and I have never been chosen for the freelance jobs I’ve applied to.  It gets discouraging.  That part of what I do is hard.  It’s hard being rejected over and over and over.  However, no amount of rejection will make me give up.  Just like no amount of kicks to the gut from the universe will keep me floored forever.  I’ve come close to the edge of the cliff many many times.  It’s the darkness I have to live with being me, it’s the constant risk people like me face, and it’s very real.  But I keep getting up off the floor because I’m a tenacious bastard.

I am feeling invisible.

But if I’m invisible I’m the most tenacious invisible person you’ll ever meet.  You can beat me up, you can shut me down, you can ignore me til you die but I will still jump my fat-ass in front of you and scream to be heard.  If you kill me I will live in your nightmares.  I will always get back up off the floor because I’m like a pitbull with Michael Vick in my jaws.

If I’m not going to succeed at making a career of writing, if I’m going to remain invisible during my lifetime, I still require myself to leave something worthy behind me for others to find amongst the dust of my bones.  Someone’s going to need it.  I still require myself to get up off the floor and keep at it.

My hair is dirty.  It’s 2pm and I’m still in my pyjamas.  I need to shower.  I need to get dressed before my kid comes home from school and sees his mom sitting at her messy desk with the dirty half empty cup of cold coffee and this ludicrously sorrowful face staring into the middle distance like a drooling idiot.

My hands smell of bitter orange.

Supernatural: meat-suits, tortured souls, and Jared Padelecki needs a haircut

power saw fun

(I can use a circular saw and a power drill and I have myrrh in my cupboard – I want to join the Supernatural gang!)

Spoilers ahead.  Not major ones, but if you’re one of those “normal” people who like everything to be a surprise then you will want to go find something else to read right now.

My thoughts on the show Supernatural:

Last night Castiel said “I need some myrrh” and I shouted at the television “I have some myrrh!”  How often do I have occasion to say that?

I want to know who started the “Busty Asian Ladies” magazine gag.

“Son of a Bitch” is one of my all time favorite swear words/expressions.  I have been endeavoring to use it more often but now it will just make me seem like a Supernatural groupie.

The show has used Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” in at least three episodes.  This is one of my favorites of Dylan’s songs and one of the least often played.  It was in heavy rotation while writing Cricket and Grey.  So it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that the person choosing the soundtrack loves that song as much as I do.

I want to know when Castiel gets to change the clothes his vessel is wearing.

I’m tired of Sam toying with the dark side and I’m tired of the brothers spending more time not trusting each other and resenting each other than they spend acting like brothers who love each other.

The whole biblical theme is a bit tiring to this atheist.  I want more ghost stories again.

Also – I think Dean and Sam need to untorture themselves.  I’ve read spoilers and it seems it’s just going to get worse.  C’mon guys – untwist your knickers for a little while!

I have come to believe that Jensen Ackles could play Grey Bonneville when my book is made into either a tv series or a movie.  Except for the part where he needs to have a convincing Scottish accent.  Not sure a Texan can pull that off.

Satan is exhausting.  How do Christians keep their energy levels up when they have to fight off Satan and his minions pretty much non-stop?  No wonder so many Christians are cranky.

I really want Jared Padelecki to get a different hairstyle.*  It was okay for a while but it’s pretty schleppy.  I want him to cut it short.  Because it’s none of my business what his hairstyle is and because I don’t rule the universe, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that that’s just how Jared likes his hair.  I’ve gotten used to Max wearing essentially the same “style”.  Sigh.

I am so tired of everyone in that show cutting their arms with knives.  I can take a lot of gore but for some reason that always freaks me out – I can’t watch.  Which is weird considering I sliced up my own arms on a regular basis for two years when I was a teen.  But back then I wasn’t feeling anything – I’m much healthier now.  Maybe that’s why it bothers me.  Because it SHOULD.

I love Castiel.  You can’t trust him which is a shame, but he’s pretty funny.  Great character.

The formula for making a show that Angelina will binge watch: sets full of old books, herbs, and archaic items + humor + badass fighting – God and Satan.  (Evidenced by my love of the following shows: Buffy, Fringe, Alias, Arrow, Warehouse 13, etc)

The hotel rooms in Supernatural are all of a similar design and I wish the average hotel room was designed by the set designer of Supernatural.

You know what’s missing from Supernatural?  At least one of the brothers should develop a healthy romantic relationship.  Not both of them, obviously, because how trite and stupid would THAT be?  We can’t have that kind of happiness going on.  But Dean’s relationship with Lisa was NOT healthy and he didn’t act like he really loved her.  I get the whole “We’re tortured and therefore can’t have love in our lives because everyone we love dies” blahblahblah.  So they just have sex with questionable women/demons/monsters.  I think some of the writers have some personal issues they’re taking out on Dean and Sam.

I was incredibly disappointed to learn that John Winchester was a philanderer.  I took it personally.  I think I’m still kind of hurting over this.**

How about more women hunters that don’t die off and aren’t lame?  Now that Ellen is gone – it’s just a bunch of huffing and puffing men with guns and salt.

I love how Dean is always calling the angels “dicks”.

I also love Dean and Sam’s tradition of drinking beers leaning against Dean’s car in the middle of nowhere at the end of many episodes.  I always wish I could join them.

Can’t get “meat-suit” out of my head.

*Hey Jared – you’re adorable, so don’t sweat my opinion.  My son Max wears the same style that you do.  I’ve become the old lady that yells “get a haircut!” to all young men.  Excuse me while I pull up my double-knit slacks and microwave myself a potato for dinner…

**You know, in the way you do when fictional characters disappoint you.

20 Days of Sobriety Left

field flowers

I have 20 days of sobriety left.  I have lost 26lbs in 70 days.  I have 87lbs left to lose.  If I lose 10lbs a month for the rest of the year I will have lost over 100lbs in one year.  I intend to try to do it.  I am aware of all the wisdom of setting realistic goals and taking things gradually.  I am also aware that losing 10lbs a month will get harder and harder every month.  The last 20lbs will probably be as hard as the first 20lbs to lose.  Just because something is hard doesn’t make it impossible.  If I end up only losing half of my complete weight loss goal in a year I’ll feel like a success.

I feel like a success right now.  Today.

But the thought of ending this year over 100lbs lighter than I started it is powerful.  To feel that much more in control of my body, my health, and my self esteem is well worth the effort to push myself hard.

What do I have to do to get there?

  • For starters, in 20 days when I allow myself to drink alcohol again I need to account for every drink and keep it within healthy bounds.  I have the inspiration now and I’ve been building will power and this will be a test.  I want my body back and I want to stay home to write and garden and cook – which I can’t do if I spend a lot of money on alcohol.
  • More whole foods.  I eat a diet with a good amount of produce but I can absolutely increase it.  I’ve been eating a lot more fruit lately.  Having more meals that consist of steamed vegetables and rice or couscous is an easy thing to do.  Less cheese, obviously.
  • Pretty soon I’m going to have to pay attention to and count how many cups of black tea with cream and sugar I consume.  I will have to consume less.  I better start developing a taste for mineral water with a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice again.
  • Exercise.  I quit the YMCA.  I have zero desire to be in a gym.  I like being mobile and I like my exercise to be accomplishing something or giving pleasure.  This is why I love walking (I’m a really fast walker) because I can look at people’s gardens and homes and a million rich details that feed my imagination and my creativity.  I don’t love riding my bicycle for endurance or racing or any athletic prowess.  I also don’t particularly love tooling around on it.  I like running errands on it.  I used to love riding it down to the Saturday Market in McMinnville to get my weekly produce.  I liked riding it to Kung Fu and to Winco and other grocery stores.  I like my bicycle riding to help me accomplish other errands.  I want to do more of that.  And gardening.  There is much yard work to do around here and often a couple of hours of gardening is enough to wear you out like a good jog.

Here’s something for me to be excited about: even if I don’t lose a hundred pounds this year – if I can just lose 60lbs I will be able to wear more regular clothes and dress more in my own style.  This would do absolute wonders for my self esteem and my motivation to keep going.  It’s been so long since I have been able to wear any clothes I didn’t make myself* and it’s been ages since I could wear anything but knits for comfort.  I CAN’T WAIT TO WEAR SOME REGULAR CLOTHES.

*I make better clothes than I can generally buy (at any weight) and I do have some nice things I’ve made that I’ll be able to wear again once I get myself down to a normal weight but I’m tired of having to make my own clothes because nothing fits well off the rack that isn’t garishly splashed with bright swirly colors and plastered with rhinestones and beads and glitter.  Not all fat girls want to look like a tacky drag queen.

You are Your Enemy and Your Enemy is You

the NYC brooch

Privilege has become one of the dirtiest words but I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts on it right now.

There are so many skirmishes in progress at every hour of the day.  Between people and government.  Between governments and governments.  Between men and women.  Between conservatives and liberals.  Between religion and atheism.  Between religion and religion.  Between race and race.  Between straight and gay.  Between rich and poor.  Between lower class and middle class.  Between middle class and upper class.  Between lower class and upper class.  Between nationality and nationality.  Between sisters and brothers.  Between mothers and fathers.  Between haves and have nots.  Between mental health and mental illness.  Between old and young.  Between parents and children.  Between education and ignorance.  Between us and them.  Between you and me.

It needs to stop.  All this fighting hurts my head.  It hurts all of us.

All of us.

The deep irony being that my mental illness draws lines between me and everyone else all the time without any intention on my part.  And I spend so much time trying to rip the walls down only to find that other people build them almost as fast as me with about as much intention.

What I live with inside myself is never going away.  It isn’t there because of anything I want for myself or those around me*.

The hardest part of my mental illness is controlling the urge to turn everything against myself.  Self harm is the only way I’ve ever known how to control pain, anger, discomfort, exclusion, loneliness, and fear.  Not just my own, but everyone else’s too.  When people I love are hurting in any way I want to absorb their pain and kill it inside myself.  When people are angry with me I want to hurt myself.  When I see animals being abused and I feel rage against the abusers and there’s nowhere for that rage to go and nothing I can do, I internalize it and try to cannibalize it.

Lately I’ve been getting pulled down by overwhelming negative stimulus from the media and from all the people I know and the biggest mouthpiece for this is facebook.  I’m tired of listening to people drawing bigger lines between us and them every day.  I’m tired of everyone being the constant watchdogs for right and wrong in the world where really they’re just pointing out the wrong and not embracing the right.

Everyone is saying “Listen!” and I took it to heart and I’ve been listening a lot, to a lot of people.  No one wants to be invisible.  No one wants to be ignored.  I’m listening hard every day and I’ve come to this conclusion:

Crusading of any kind makes people blind in dangerous ways.  Crusading of any kind inevitably turns angry and evil and becomes a way to bludgeon anyone who isn’t just like you.

The only way good change is possible is when the listening goes both ways.  When we try to find what we all have in common instead of pointing swords at destroying the apparently insurmountable differences between us.

I am constantly being reminded of how different I am and the only reason I can still be in this world is because I have learned to connect with people over the things we have in common.  That’s where compassion and empathy grow.  That’s where healing is possible.  That’s where bridges are built between disparate populations.  I may struggle constantly with myself and my place in the world but I also find the most peace in sharing my struggles with people who live in the same shadows I do.  And I find the most peace with people who have lived completely differently from me by understanding that no matter how different we are from each other – we all have universal things in common.  I look for those.

I don’t know the best way to speak to people who are different from myself but I always try to speak from my truth and listen for theirs.  We’ve got things connecting us.  All of us do.  I don’t give a shit if you look different from me or speak differently from me or come from somewhere different.  I know you’ve experienced heartache.  I know you’ve lost things dear to you no matter how much money you have or how much privilege or how much you’ve lived without.  There are some things we’ve all experienced no matter how different we are in other ways.

That’s the only way forward.  You want a revolution or do you want peace?  Because right now it feels like everyone I know is taking up arms whether literally or metaphorically and I know where it’s leading.  The only way forward is by seeing yourself in everyone around you no matter how hard that is.

I’ve been struggling harder lately against my instinctual need to hoard all the hurt of the world and break it down in my own body.  But all the hurt in the world is bigger than the ocean and wider and longer than all the human lives that created it.

I know that this self harm, this pain absorbing quality is not healthy.  Feeling angry at others but turning it inward to myself is unhealthy.  This is mental illness.  Feeling anger at others and bending it back into myself is not healthy.  Feeling devastated by pain that isn’t even my own isn’t healthy.  I can’t filter it out.

Maybe it’s also what allows me to see myself in my enemies.  To see that there aren’t a whole lot of true enemies in the world besides ourselves.

One thing’s for sure – if everyone had the same pain absorbing quality that I do, there would be no war.  You would see yourself and your family in your enemies’ faces and when they were hurt you’d feel their pain in your own body.  You wouldn’t be able to trick yourself into believing that the people you’re bombing are bad.  You’d see that killing other people’s children in political or religious wars is exactly the same as slaughtering your own and there is no way you would lift a gun against anyone.

Everything is personal to people like me.

The deep irony that it keeps us outside most circles of humans.  In a way that they can’t always tell but I always feel.

Listening is one of the most important things we can do.  Listen to each other.  I was about to say I don’t have a choice but to listen to people because I can’t shut their voices out of my head but that’s not really true.  I can choose to isolate myself completely and allow myself to become agoraphobic.  I can choose to shut out absolutely all outside stimuli to the point where the world’s voices only enter my head in the general hum like hearing the hum of a room full of partying people through a closed door.  You can’t pick out specific conversations though you can’t stop hearing their buzz.  I can choose to go completely off-line.  I can choose not to read any news stories as I have done in the past, back before the internet found ways of shoving them at me all day long.  For four years I worked for an online network and I couldn’t shut out people’s opinions because my job was to read them on blogs.  Now I have a huge network of genuine online friends and a valuable support system that comes with the price of exposure to the whole world’s pain and anger.  So I can choose to cut myself off or I can choose to continue to struggle harder with my mental illness which is exacerbated by such exposure.

I have a choice.  It’s not a nice choice.  That’s often the case.  It’s not a set of choices I think are all that great.  But I DO have a choice.  If I choose to protect myself mentally then I will also expose myself more strongly for what I am.  Agoraphobia is a much more obvious manifestation of people like me, it outs you 100%.  I have isolated myself in some ways already by never going to parties or concerts or shows or large gatherings but I still walk the world appearing to be mostly normal.  If I completely shut myself off from the things that exacerbate my mental illness then I also lose all my camouflage.

For now I think the best way to create better protection without shutting myself off completely is to not engage in any social media until the afternoon.  I need to wake up earlier and write for at least 5 hours a day before letting anyone else’s voices into my head.  All it does is paralyze me.

I’m going to start by waking myself up early tomorrow and spend the first 5 hours writing.  Then I’ll do something around the house like my dishes or cleaning the bathroom.  Then I’ll let myself check in with my online people.  Just in time for my kid to come home and need me so I can’t focus on other people’s shit.

It’s worth a shot.  My psychologist told me that anything I do to that helps me function better in this world that doesn’t hurt other people is not a crutch but a tool to better mental health.  I’m not ready to cut myself off from the mixed blessing of my online life or my physical every day world, but if I end up having to do it, I’ll be in good company I’ll never meet.

Get it?

Special note: this post is not about  a single bad day or a bad period.  This isn’t about a mental illness flare-up.  Things are really good in my life right now.  This is what I experience on a regular basis.  This is normal for me.  I just don’t express it very often because it makes me as uncomfortable as it makes other people.  It isn’t something that can be fixed, either.  I don’t need or want pity and I don’t need help.  I know how to ask for help when there’s something anyone can do.  The one good thing about saying all this stuff out loud, and why I do it, is that every now and then someone hears me who desperately needs to know they aren’t the only one like them.  That makes it worth the discomfort every single time. 

*That is the only lie in this post.  I DO kind of wish you all had to experience exactly what I do.

Outside Looking In

points of light

Every day there are people getting excited about doing things like traveling to far away places, eating interesting food, getting together with large groups of friends to enjoy each others’ company, and getting dressed up for nights out on the town.  There are shows and concerts and balls and dances and parties that fill people’s lives and they look forward to these things.  Other friends are excited to take spontaneous road trips to the beach or the woods.  So many of them love camping and hiking and other healthy pursuits.  So many people I know are giddy about taking their children to amusement parks and big family gatherings.  Most people I know are excited to see the end of winter and get the sunshine back.  Normal people like games and group activities and sing-a-longs and loud busy restaurants at which the whole world wants a seat.

With near-constant bravado I cheerfully joke about how much I hate summer weather, balloons, parties, board games, any games, amusement parks, swimming in lakes, hiking, sporty pursuits, big groups of people in any circumstance aside from anonymous groups of people at outdoor markets or on busy city streets where no one has the slightest expectations of me.  I say I’m totally cool with the fact that I don’t yearn to travel the world, I don’t want to get together with all the people I know in the world, or even a quarter of them, or any number of them above 4 at a time.  Though 2 at a time is the only time I’m truly comfortable.  I like going to bars completely by myself and getting lunch by myself is a treat I greatly look forward to.  Amusement parks depress the shit out of me and it depresses me that other people enjoy them.

I mostly like to hang out with my tiny family and just a small handful of my closest friends, but never all at the same time.  I don’t like spontaneity and it bothers me that others value it so much.  I loathe surprises of any kind.  I don’t like new experiences and though I love the ocean in theory I don’t want to spend much time near it because it makes me anxious.  Woods make me anxious too.  People make me anxious.  Crowded restaurants make me anxious.  Places too full of human noise make me anxious.  The thought of travel makes me anxious.  Going to new restaurants makes me anxious.  Car travel makes me anxious.  Airplane travel makes me anxious.  (Though airports are actually one of my favorite places to hang out and one of my favorite parts of the travel

Behind all the bravado is a constant slow torture and near constant anxiety.

I wish being different didn’t so often make me want to scour out my insides because it makes me so uncomfortable. It’s so many little things that add up every day. Not being able to be part of things everyone around me is excited to be part of. Not wanting to be part of it but then wishing everyone else was like me so I wouldn’t feel so outside of things. It’s like looking into other people’s windows and seeing them all happy and warm and they reach out and invite me in but I can’t come in because I will bring the outside with me where-ever I go. I want to invite them to come outside with me looking into other people’s windows but they don’t want to come outside because it’s always so fucking cold where I’m standing. Cold and dark.

It’s not me who minds the cold and dark, it’s most other people.  People naturally seek warmth and light.

I am filled with dark matter.

Fighting my own Misperceptions

car window

18 lbs down.  95 more lbs to lose.  51 days of  boring-ass sobriety down, 39 days more to go.

I’ve been watching a lot of spy shows.  All of them featuring hot women and smokin’ men.  Familiar features of such shows being royal people in hiding (plotting to regain throne/empire/prestige) and revenge for deaths of loved ones (usually fiancés or spouses) and going rogue from their agency (usually an agency turned evil agenda, obviously) and I love these shows.  I rewatched almost all of Alias for the third time.  I have rewatched most of Fringe.  Now I’m watching Nikita for the first time.

And I need to air some dirty linen: I am ashamed to say that I feel very uncomfortable looking at Maggie Q’s body because it’s so thin that I keep wondering why she’s doing that to herself when she’s such a beautiful woman.  The thing is – I know that some women truly are thin as rails and that being such doesn’t make them unhealthy and judging them for having a body that isn’t to my personal tastes is really horrible.  So I keep fighting my discomfort looking at her ribs sticking out and her chest bones being visible.  People judge me for being so fat and I know that many people make assumptions about how I got this way that are untrue and unfair.  And I’m doing this to another woman.

So I’m trying to reprogram myself as I watch her.  I avoided watching this show because I found it so hard to look at her body.  That’s a true fact.  And it’s a shameful fact.  I’m on season two now and I’m not noticing it so much now.  I love her character and the show is engaging with all the usual expected elements.  I love to see an Asian woman be the lead in a spy show and she’s really good in her role.

Meanwhile it’s been raining!  Which has been wonderful and more is finally coming so I’m getting out there on my scooter between storms today to get some produce.

My back has been hurting.  I’ve had a lot of headaches and some stomach aches lately.  So even though I’m getting lighter all the time I’m not feeling all that great in general.  I think my body is pretty shaken up and not sure what it’s doing.  Some days I lose my appetite and forget to eat*.  I’m not sure what sounds good anymore.

Nightmares have been super vivid and disconcerting as usual.  The night before last I had a barefoot meat-related nightmare.  What the fuck is that all about?  The shoe losing in my dreams is really stressful to me.  It happens all the time now and I don’t know what that’s about.

I have finally started on chapter six of book two of my Cricket and Grey.  What’s really getting in my way of writing is staying up super late and waking up super late.  It seems that even when I go to bed at a reasonable time I’m still sleeping in super late.  That’s not what I want.  I think that now that I’m over half way through my 90 days of sobriety I need to set my alarm for 5:30am and force myself to get up and write.  Writing needs to be the priority above all else that I do or it won’t happen.  That’s just a fact and if I don’t make it a priority I’ll never reach my goals.  I also need to get  busy promoting my book.  I have done no promotional work since before Christmas.  I need to get over my qualms and fears and DO IT.  Because no one is going to do it for me.

That’s my update for today.  I leave you with this question for the ages:

Why are so many fictional male spies name Michael?

*I don’t forget to eat for a whole day or anything drastic, just forget to eat at times when I normally eat and later wonder how I managed to forget to eat and then wait a little longer trying to figure out what I feel like eating.  So – not trying to eat less for weight loss – I wasn’t planning on paring down on food for at least another month.  This is more just – not hungry and I don’t believe in eating when you’re not hungry.  So whatever is going on with my tastes and appetite right now it is most likely more about having shaken up my habits so much it’s kind of at a loss.  I’m just explaining in case anyone was feeling worried.