April 25, 2016

I’ve tried most of the day to sit down and write. I’ve not been successful, but I know that if I don’t get this down, I’ll lose a lot of the newness. I don’t want to lose that. I have a field trip for class in two and a half hours. Dinner is done, Chad is playing a game and I’m determined to push past the happy haze that my brain is still floating around in and get this done.

Ordinarily, my posts are more introspective instead of “here’s what I did today.” This is a pretty big “what I did,” so I think it works. I still have my wristband on my arm. I don’t know how long it will stay there but for now, it’s keeping me reminded of it all.

If I can back up a little bit, I’d like to back up to Saturday. I feel like this is important. Saturday night was not good to me in a lot of ways, but it was necessary. Chad and I had a few drinks at home. Nothing major. We listened to some music and got to talking. Throughout conversation, I had a flashback of something that happened as a teenager. It wasn’t a happy something, and it took me down. I started remembering details, I felt like I was there again. I haven’t had flashbacks in a very long time. I wasn’t prepared for this, and I’ve got that fear that there will be more. There haven’t been more and chances are, there won’t be another. At least for a very long time. It was exhausting and I pretty much slept all day Sunday to recover.

Now, back to happy-land.

We’d had this trip to Nashville planned for some time. We are both huge Peter Murphy / Bauhaus fans and Peter was going to perform at City Winery. This would make the third time in three different states that we’ve attended a show. Both times before, we were up front and always got a handshake or something from the stage. Last time, he nearly broke my hand, but that’s another funny story for another time. He’s been known to do meet and greets, but I’ve always missed out on getting to go to them. They’ve sold out before I’ve had a chance to get passes. While it’s been disappointing, it’s never really ruined anything. I’ve always been happy to just have been in the crowd.

We arrived at the winery last night and were taken to our seats. We knew we would not be up front for this one, but that was fine. It was a more intimate acoustic set and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. I had taken cash for a t-shirt (we don’t want to talk about my obsession with t-shirts, but yes, I needed one from the show) and noticed at the merch table that they were selling meet and greet passes. The bad news? Cash only and I didn’t have that much with me. I was told that there was an ATM outside the venue. Score! More bad news- my PIN number wasn’t working on my credit card. I called and was told that the only way it could be reset was to send me something in the mail or I could go to a bank and get cash in person. Neither option was going to work.

I hold this great belief that things happen for a reason. It’s not a religious thing, or even spiritual. Maybe it’s just a coping thing. Even if things don’t work out how I want, life will go on and maybe I’ll have learned something about the situation. In this case, make sure that my PIN number is set up properly. I was a little disappointed in myself that I felt bummed about it. I finally had the opportunity and it wasn’t meant to be. I looked at my phone before going back into the venue and saw where Chad had texted me wondering where I’d wandered off to. When I went back inside he was at the merch table himself. He wasn’t upset, heck, we were at a great venue for an awesome show- how could anyone be upset? Well, unless you’d just argued with your bank about your PIN number. But that’s beside the point.

We went back to our table and I told him about what had happened. How close I felt to being able to get passes. About the ATM and the PIN number and the letter they were going to mail me to give me a number that wouldn’t help me out at the moment. He casually remarked that he hadn’t seen an ATM, where had I gone? I told him where it was. In a minute he excused himself. I had this feeling, but for all I knew he had gone to the restroom. I became anxious in a good way but I kept telling myself that if he wasn’t doing what I thought he might be doing, it was ok. All in the whole “meant to be.”

A few minutes later he was back with a wristband.

Yes. Tears.

He hadn’t gotten himself one, he could have, but he wanted this for me. So that I had a really good memorable experience. I told him I’d transfer the funds to him and he refused. This was a gift. (Dammit. And I had done such a good job with my makeup!) He told me that the meet and greet would be after the show, that I was to report to the merch table.

Maybe this will sound dumb, but I had printed off some prints for class yesterday afternoon. There was one that I made an extra copy of and put in my purse. I told myself “just in case.” It hit me that I could make this a reality. I talked to Chad about it. He said of course I should gift the print. I wanted to, I just hoped that I wouldn’t chicken out. I mean, who am I? This… person who picked up a camera for the first time seriously about a year ago. It was a butterfly though (and I’ll tag it onto this post) and somehow it seemed appropriate. He’s used butterflies in imagery in the past. And for me, this weekend was probably a moment of shedding a cocoon. I decided to at least try to do it.

I pulled myself together, brushed my hair, fixed my face, and enjoyed the hell out of the show. Towards the end, the anxiety started creeping in. The good kind. Excited, but a little scared that I was going to be doing this thing on my own. Chad found a random pen on a table and I wrote a short note on the back of the print. Just a “thank you” with my name and where I was from. Before I knew it, I was being ushered into the room for the meeting.

I’ve said it. Others have said it. The man has energy. The kind you can feel just being in the same room. We were encouraged not to form a line, to just socialize- to take his time within reason. He was there for us. This was our time.

I was the second person that he turned to. I almost couldn’t say my name. We chatted for a minute just… small talk. To be honest, I can’t remember much. He signed my CD and hugged me. I asked him if I could give him something and he looked surprised. Of course it was fine and he accepted my print. He silently looked at it and said “this is beautiful. Do you know the photographer?” I admitted I had taken it. He hugged me again. He wanted to know where it was taken and wasn’t that a monarch? He thanked me. I forgot to ask for a photo with him. Gah! I started to step back to the sidelines when one of his assistants asked me if I had wanted my photo taken. I admitted that yes, I did but I didn’t have anyone to help me. She took my phone (my camera battery had already died) and retrieved Peter. He apologized for not making sure and told her to make sure that she got more than one. He thanked me again for the print and then someone else approached him and got their experience as well.

I stood back for a minute and talked to another woman there. Just watching his interaction with everyone. It was truly magical. He was extremely gracious and personable. He was in no rush whatsoever. Yes, we had paid to be there, but he was there for us.

Finally, I knew things would be wrapping up, so I slipped out and back to Chad who was beaming. I felt sort of bad that he hadn’t gone, but I know him. I know that he wanted that for me and as long as I had photos and good memories, he was happy. I have the best husband in the world.

We got home around two a.m. We talked the entire way, listening to Bauhaus and existing off of our excitement and adrenaline. Somewhere about halfway home, it hit me that I had shared my art. That my doubts and insecurities about what I’m doing took a back seat for one brief second and I had shared with someone that inspired me.

It’s been an awesome ride. butterfly

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The More You Know…*

I’ve been bad. Ok, maybe not “bad,” just busy. School, life, saving the universe one squirrel at a time. Plotting demise of universe with said squirrels. Being too lazy for my own good. Anyhow, I’m still here. I have a million drafts saved where I have an idea and then forget to go back and finish it. Truth be told, my mind has been in a million places lately. It’s weird having that occur when nothing’s really wrong on the outside. Maybe my brain has been used to it for so long that it’s conspiring against me. In short- being in a funk isn’t fun. It’s the same word with a “k” tagged on. That “k” is a real bitch. Don’t let it fool you.

This morning, I read a post by Ms. Rara that I thought would be a good exercise in getting back to this writing thing. 50 Little Things You Might Not Know About Me. I’ve been thinking it over. If you know me in the real world, you know that I’m an open book on a lot of things. And I love sharing obscure things about me that I’ve experienced, thought and done. (Note to self: remember what you were thinking about on the bus yesterday and draft a note on that… try not to forget about that note. I know you will, but at least pretend like you won’t.) So yes, if you know me, some of this might not be surprising. Humor me. I’m writing.

So without further babble- 50 Little Things You Might Not Know About Me.

  1. I feel more comfortable around almost any animal than I do around people. Except snakes. I respect snakes and they have their place in the universe, but I still get creeped out seeing them in the wild. Want to show me your python or boa? Cool. Garter snake in the wild slithering away from me in mortal fear? I’ll claim I saw an anaconda that had just eaten an elephant and was hungry for my liver. You don’t want to know how I view people in a similar manner. Humans, as a whole petrify me.
  2. I’d rather be spontaneous than plan something out. I’ve come to accept that this is an anxiety thing. The longer I have to go over the “what ifs” the more anxious I will be about the situation and will find a way out of doing it. I will more likely do something out of my comfort zone on the fly. Incidentally, that’s how I’ve faced a lot of my demons and been able to heal from them. Plus, it looks like I’m brave and a badass. Score!
  3. I once self published a book of poetry.
  4. I lived in an extended stay motel for a couple of years; until I could get back on my feet from breaking up with my ex. It wasn’t so bad. I couldn’t get a bank account because I “didn’t have a permanent address” but somehow there was a freedom and gypsy-like feel to it.
  5. No matter what, I end up looking back on anything negative that’s happened as a learning experience and realize I wouldn’t change anything. I call it being a “Closet Optimist.”
  6. I met my best friend the summer between second and third grade. We were partners in a computer programming class at the local college in a program for kids. Yes, this was 1982. I’ve always been a nerd. BASIC is dead, our friendship is not.
  7. Squirrels are not my favorite animal. (Insert shock and awe here) Wolves are. My dream would be to work or even just volunteer at a preserve. The wolf is also my spirit animal and I have one tattooed on my left foot.
  8. I don’t use my dishwasher. It is evil. I do my dishes by hand.
  9. I love working on genealogy. My biggest thrill is finding all of the black sheep in the family line and learning what I can about them. The lily white do gooders bore me. I will proudly tell you about my great great grandfather assisting his stepfather in an axe murder. I seriously become addicted to research. I’ve done the DNA thing as well.
  10. I have a scar over my left eye from having a cyst removed when I was three. I was born with the cyst and had it kept growing, it probably would have covered my eye. I called it my “knob” and after the surgery, I told everyone “I had my knob tookened off.”
  11. I once helped my grandfather build a motorbike. I still have it in storage at my in-laws and aside from a brake cable, it works. I’m definitely the fixer and constructor in my household. My grandfather could fix/build anything, my mom learned it and I learned it from her. I *love* putting furniture together or taking the sink apart to fix something. I wanted to take auto mechanics in high school, but it never happened. I’ve also built and upgraded more computers than I can count. I can’t fix everything, but I’m more mechanically inclined than you’d expect.
  12. Speaking of school, because of severe anxiety, I was on county based homeschool for the majority of grades 7-10. In 11th, my parents withdrew me from the system. I started studying for the GED, but decided that wasn’t what I wanted. Within months, I was enrolled in a self-paced independent homeschool program and completed my last two years of high school in six months. I graduated a whole year early with an A average. Not bad.
  13. Raccoons and deer came to my wedding. The deer were a little late, but that’s their nature. Damn things can’t tell time for shit.
  14. When I was a little kid, I was afraid of KISS. I actually had a photo of Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman on my bedroom wall to scare away the members of KISS if they ever decided to kidnap me in my sleep. I was a weird kid. I’m a weird adult. Go figure.
  15. I hate eggplant. I’ll eat baba ganoush, but that’s it. The smell of eggplant makes me gag.
  16. I own land in Scotland and can legally use the title of “Lady Anna Shaver.”
  17. I have a mark on my left thigh where I sat on a pencil as a kid. I joke that this was my first tattoo.
  18. I got my nose pierced on a lark the same time I got my second tattoo. (See #2 on our list)
  19. I pierced my own ears. Ten times in one night. Four holes still remain. I can’t remember the last time I wore earrings. Just to put this out there, I swear I was never one to self harm. I was bored and on an adrenaline rush from the first set. (see #2, once again)
  20. I am the only person who knows how to make my grandmother’s super secret recipe banana cake. And I’m not telling.
  21. I have an abnormal attraction to cobalt blue glass.
  22. I love being barefoot. Even in winter. And I hate flip flops.
  23. My favorite perfume at the moment is Inis from Ireland.
  24. I played trumpet in my elementary school band.
  25. I learned to cook in the kitchen of a Catholic school. No, I’m not Catholic, nor did I go to school there. We had a friend in the Brotherhood and we had gone to visit for one of his ceremonies. I was like 6 or 7 and he let me help make scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. I thought I was a big deal. I still make awesome scrambled eggs- the same way Brother Bob taught me.
  26. I am easily creeped out by museums but I love them. A museum with an old town set up in life-sized display? I almost can’t handle it. I still have nightmares about the giant taxidermied beaver I once saw in a museum in Michigan. It wanted to eat my liver.
  27. I was Miss Barbie Parkersburg 1983. Again, I thought I was hot shit. It was a random drawing sort of thing from Mattel though, I’ve never been in pageants nor did I want to be. I got a ton of cool stuff though.
  28. I’m very non confrontational, but I’ve been known to defy someone when I know that it’s the right thing to do. In tenth grade, my teacher wanted me to entirely rewrite a short story I wrote for the county school’s student publication. I refused and took a bad grade on the assignment. I submitted the story anyhow and won second place in the entire county. I was also the only sophomore to be published that year, let alone on home study. My teacher ended up amending the grade.
  29. I’m my own worst critic.
  30. I grew up around circuses and carnivals. My very first job was at a concession trailer when I was a teenager. I make a mean cone of cotton candy. Sometimes I miss that.
  31. Peanut butter is nectar of the gods.
  32. I believe in energy existing in all things around us. Transferring and constant. It can’t be created nor can it be destroyed. A Sunday School teacher once taught me about that. He wasn’t a Sunday School teacher for very long. I  loved that man.
  33. The same Sunday School teacher surprised me with a public display of some of my art pieces he “borrowed” when I was a teenager. They were on display for a month at a local bank. I cried when I saw it.
  34. I’m selectively emotional. I feel things immensely but I hate to show it. I’ll write about it all night and day, but I even have trouble in showing happiness around people I don’t know or trust sometimes. Despite this, I always try very hard to express gratefulness.
  35. I hate when I’ve gotten too deep.
  36. My favorite drink is a snakebite. They really do want to eat my liver.
  37. I could live on pizza. In fact, I have. Not that healthy, new fangled gourmet topping stuff either. Greasy, good pepperoni laden pizza. The only “traditional” topping I won’t eat is anchovies, but I don’t think I’m alone there.
  38. I like silver over gold. White gold is ok. My engagement ring is white gold with two black diamonds and a traditional diamond in the center. My wedding band is channel cut black diamonds. I love them. Even though I’ve been told “I always did have to be different.”
  39. I like being “different.”
  40. If I decided to stop dying my hair it would be snow white. Part of me wants to do this. Having roots makes me crazy though and it would take too much to strip the black to white.
  41. I love to laugh. I want my sides to hurt afterwards. I love wicked humor.
  42. I read Alice In Wonderland and The Hobbit at least once a year. I never really plan it- it just happens.
  43. Little gestures/tokens mean a lot to me. I love getting a random postcard, a little kid giving me a sticker. I appreciate it fully when someone has thought of me.
  44. On the other side of it, I love doing things for people. Paying for a stranger’s meal anonymously, helping someone on the bus. Sending a card to someone for no real reason. Seeing a trinket that makes me think of someone and getting it for them. That gives me the best feeling ever.
  45. I don’t play video games nearly as much as I used to (to Chad’s chagrin) but I love Diablo 2 and 3 so much. I can’t count the times I’ve played through them. I love strength based characters who charge into a mob and kick ass. I kinda see that as a metaphor for how I deal with things. (See #2 again.)
  46. I used to hate the color yellow until I was a florist. Then I saw how it can make things pop. I’ve loved it ever since, not as my favorite color but just to add that bit of happy. This also taught me that even though something may not be ideal, it’s got it’s place in the order of things and in the right situation makes all the difference. I guess snakes are like that too. I guess. When they’re not out for my liver.
  47. I try to stick to a low-carb sugar free diet. Lately, it’s not been easy. Because Pizza.
  48. I have realized in the past several years that I use a good amount of words in everyday talk that are Appalachian dialect. I say “I’d just as leave.” “I swan.” I eat “catheads”, enjoy watching “fairydiddles” and I’m on the alert for “catamounts.” Aside from what little I’ve picked up in Tennessee, I have no southern accent. I’m from the Ohio river area of West Virginia. We sound more Ohioan and maybe even a bit of PA influence, but no drawl. Unless I’m tired or nervous. Then I sound more like a local. (Fun fact: remember the story that the teacher wanted me to rewrite? I had used some of my dialect. She wanted all of that gone. The judges loved it.)
  49. I still count on my fingers sometimes. I’ve always sucked at math.
  50. Despite the things I’ve gone through, I will *never* consider myself a victim. Trust me. I have my horror stories. Some, I very rarely discuss outside of certain circles. They’ve affected me in ways I do still carry, and I will for a long time. Probably the rest of my life. I still suffer from anxiety and depression. I have PTSD. I’ve been agoraphobic, barely leaving my home for months at a time. I’ve been suicidal. However, I’ve somehow found the courage to face my demons, and those who have introduced those demons to me. Some of them I’ve literally had to come face to face with in human form. I’ve found the strength and wisdom to allow me to heal from these things. I’ll never be completely unscathed. Wounds leave scars, but I’m not ashamed of my scars. They’re there for a reason. The scars remind me that I’m still here. That I’ve made it this far. And yeah, there will be more. That’s life. I don’t know that all of that might not be a drop in the bucket compared to what’s to come, but I’ll live through that as well. In my mind (and this is *only* my opinion for *myself*- I am in no way trivializing anyone else’s experiences or the effects thereof) to consider myself a victim would be giving in and letting those events win out over me. Giving them a title would, to me, be the same as giving them a trophy. It’s telling those demons “Look what you’ve done! You really messed this one up good! Tell your buddies that this one here is an easy mark, to come on over and get their share of the spoils!” I’m not about that. Scars are a reminder that yes, I was hurt and left vulnerable but healing has happened. I am stronger from the experiences I endured. I would rather be alive and covered in scars than no longer walking the earth, taking in the pleasures that I can and helping others on their walk through life. I realize that I’m lucky. Through no shortage of courage, some people’s demons refuse to be put back in their corner to behave themselves (and sometimes, mine continue to try to misbehave and I have to crack the whip until they’re back where they belong. They’re still demons after all.). I have nothing but empathy, respect, and understanding for those fighting their battles. I guess that was a biggie, but it’s important.