Little Black Raincloud…

The doctor said it would happen. Not “it might happen” or “be on the lookout just in case…” she said it *would* happen and it has.

The little black rain cloud has shown up for it’s turn to test me. It finally got word that I had made it off of my medications successfully, and while it had to rearrange some appointments it had elsewhere in the universe, it made it to visit and I can’t seem to get it to go away. I know I need to be patient. It will do it’s worst, get bored and head off to it’s next client. It will chuckle as it leaves, as rainclouds are wont to do, and will admit to itself that I passed the test.

Right now though, I wish it would take that emergency call from the guy in Oswego. No, I don’t know the guy’s name or wish him ill, only that it’s been awhile since the Little Black Raincloud paid him a visit and it’s about time for him to realize and appreciate the sunshine he’s had for so long. He’ll make it through too. Little Black Rainclouds are hardly lethal. It’s their big brothers you really have to watch out for.

Anyhow.

I’ve known it was here. For about a week or so, I’ve felt like pulling into my shell and finally becoming the turtle I always knew I could be.

“You’d make a good turtle, you know?” Little Black Raincloud has told me. “You don’t have to let anyone in around you. The things that make you sad and upset right now will bounce right off of that shell. Right off of it with hardly a *ping!* Why, you’d not even notice.”

Little Black Raincloud has talked to me about being a failure. About not currently working. “And wow, that’s a good thing because how much stuff could you mess up if you were? Think about it- messing up someone else’s stuff for a change! I mean you’re all the time messing up your own affairs. You’re the reason we can’t have nice things around here, you know.”

I wish that the Little Black Raincloud would shut up.

I’ve tried to get it to go away. Ignoring it only encourages it to go into its closet and pull out the loud Hawaiian shirts and strobe lights to gain more attention. Confronting it makes it that much louder. It pulls a giant megaphone from the inside of its long black coat and shouts back in my face exactly what it thinks and how wrong I am.

The doctor said that when the raincloud came around, not to necessarily outright fight it, but to be patient and not let it get to me. I guess that’s a form of fighting isn’t it? I wonder if she knew that I’d get this particular Little Black Raincloud or if they’re all alike. I’m trying to heed her advice.

I wish the Little Black Raincloud would let me sleep. I don’t like being awake at three in the morning wondering if I should even consider bothering with the continuation of my studies. Telling me what a fraud I am and reminding me of the patronizing smiles and the “oh that’s nice-es” from the past. The little Black Raincloud is capital at convincing me that I have no idea what I’m doing and laughs at me for sharing my “work” (“Is that what you call it?” he says haughtily) and points out all of the flaws in what up to now I’ve been proud of.

Little Black Raincloud shakes his head in scorn and scolds me for spending so much money on things that will ultimately go nowhere. He tells me that my dad was right when he told me long ago that “It’s not worth doing if you can’t make money at it.” His laughter becomes thunderous when I tell him that it’s just something that I enjoy. “You don’t get to ‘enjoy’ anything, silly girl. Grow up!” he booms.

It bothers me the most when Little Black Raincloud tries to talk to me about other people. How nobody really cares. He tells me that I’m a pest to everyone and if I had half a brain, I’d just leave people and things well enough alone. He’s amazing at making me feel embarrassed for the things I’ve done and the kind of person I am. “Turtles are nice,” he reminds me. “Nobody is embarrassed to associate with a turtle.”

He’s cruel. At least he doesn’t rain like his dangerous big brothers. As long as no part of him touches me, I’m okay. I’ll cry, I’ll brood, I’ll take too much of what he says to heart and yes, I’ll pull in and away from people and things. I already have. That’s where I am right now. I know that it’s a matter of gritting my teeth and trying to press on to get out from under his shadow. I don’t know how much time he’s allowed for me, but it can’t be forever. I’ll survive his visit and things will continue.

I’ve met his brothers in the past. The Big Black Stormclouds reached out their spidery electric fingers and caressed my hair. They bathed me in their own tears and took me dangerously close into their dark layers of fog where I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The Big Black Stormclouds tricked me into believing all they had to tell me and how the darkness that they had created was a better permanence than the existence I was trying to maintain. I lived with them for years, I was their consort; servant; slave. I know that the Little Black Raincloud could call them back at a moment’s notice and they’d be here ready to reintroduce themselves all while smiling huge, sharply toothed grins. They’d try to get me to take comfort in the return of old friends and the cycle would begin again.

This is one Little Black Raincloud. One that’s probably as afraid of his brothers as I am. They don’t give him any credit after all, just push him along while they take over his work. He’s not even going to rain. Just threaten a downpour. I know he’ll be gone soon and if I’m lucky, I’ll get a rainbow when he leaves. I just need to be patient. And while turtles are nice, I don’t really want to turn into one. At least not forever.

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Today, I realized…

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I had a really odd day today.

I woke up sick as a dog. So sick that I was sure I had the flu. Not now, I can’t be sick. We have a show tomorrow that we’ve been looking forward to for months. Our anniversary is Thursday. School was this evening. I. Cannot. Be. Sick.

I realized that even though I felt horrible, that it was as a result of that time of the month. I wasn’t truly sick in the sense that I might be down for a couple of days, and that was a good thing.

As a result, I spent an hour in the tub. While I was relaxing, I put the color on my hair I had gotten to even out my roots. Halfway through the process, I noticed that the color was quite a bit darker than I thought it would be. I didn’t want to go back so dark. I had worked really hard to strip out the old color…

I realized after the process that it actually matched the ends of my hair It was still  lighter than the black that I had worked so hard to strip, and it looks really quite good.

School was to be at a different location tonight. Somewhere I had never been. I’d have to take a different bus that I’d never taken before and I’d have to hope to heavens that I managed to signal somewhere around the right stop. The bus driver was filling in for the regular driver and while she was very sweet, she admitted that she didn’t really know where it was I needed to go.

I realized that I didn’t have to leave any earlier to get to school at the different location. I realized that I had a little bit of extra time to get some food and something to take with me to drink during class. I didn’t feel as rushed. And that felt good.

I  also realized that the transfer to the new bus was painless and I found my stop quite easily. I had no problems finding the studio and it was nice to be someplace outside of the normal classroom. Different was good.

I forgot that I was to bring my gear with me tonight to practice lighting techniques. Ordinarily, we don’t bring our equipment and in not feeling well, it slipped my mind.  There was no way to go home and get mine, but I figured I was at least there, I could observe and make notes. Understand what was being taught and would hopefully retain it until next time.

I realized it wasn’t so hard to let my teacher know that I had forgotten my gear. It wasn’t the end of the world that I was the only person there without a camera for the evening. He had an extra and it gave me an opportunity to try something new. While there were a few settings on his that I wasn’t sure how to change, I did my best and I realized that for never picking up that calibre of camera before, I was doing good.

I felt myself become nervous at the end of class when the teacher began talking about our going to the baseball camp to practice technique. I didn’t want him to know that I had transportation issues. I didn’t want to let him know that I’d pretty much decided to not take part in that one session of class simply because I wasn’t sure how I would get there and I felt embarrassed to admit to anyone that I didn’t drive. I felt my cheeks flush when another student that I had talked to innocently mentioned to him that she knew I didn’t drive and might need some assistance getting there- could anyone help?

And then I realized that this wasn’t a horrible thing. Nobody laughed at me. Nobody stood with their mouths wide open chanting “why don’t you drive?” The teacher understood and said we might be able to work something out and other students actually seemed like they would sincerely help me out. I know the other student didn’t mean to embarrass me, she honestly wanted me to have my chance to go as well. Knowing that other people cared, and that the one thing that I do fear judgement on, wasn’t a factor.  I actually felt better with this out in the open. My classmates’ care and acceptance felt really good.

When I got home, I decided to treat myself to some strawberries and cream in a monkey shaped bowl. I went to put a little sugar on the strawberries and it poured out like mad, drowning them. I cursed a little.

I realized that the strawberries were a little too tart after all, and the extra sugar made them taste…really good.

While eating the strawberries, I got to thinking about everything that happened today. How many things there were that kept popping up, seeming like obstacles. Making me feel like maybe I should just go crawl back into bed, turn out the lights and try again tomorrow. I got to thinking about how my anxiety felt more present today. How I felt like certain things were a chore that I was working through rather than enjoying my day.  How scared I was to take a different bus to a new place, to learn something I’d never done. How that was probably affecting my stomach this morning too. How nervous and disappointed in myself, and somewhat embarrassed that I had forgotten my camera. And did my hair look anywhere near normal? It wasn’t too dark again was it? How could I not have controlled the sugar bag? Now they know that I don’t drive…. and….and…and…

And then I realized, that I did it.

I realized that this was *me.* Doing the thing. *I* moved forward. There wasn’t a medication controlling my reaction the anxiety i faced and felt. This was all my doing and nothing caught fire and burned… well, except for the baseball bat my teacher used for our technique lesson tonight. (Which was awesome by the way.) This was my facing my fears, feeling and accepting the emotion that came with them and choosing to control my outlook on how things turned out.

I realized that nothing really had been that bad today.

In fact…

It all turned out pretty good.

 

 

Let’s think about happiness…

So can I rant for a minute?  Generally, I try not to weigh in on anything too heavy, but I saw a graphic today that spoke to me. And while it was posted in regards to a very popular game right now, it got me thinking and I wonder how crazy I am.
Let’s set up some disclaimers on this before I begin. I am *not* talking about anything life threatening. I’m not talking about the state of the world, we’re not talking politics, violence, religion, civil rights, ANYTHING along those lines. Those are very real, scary topics that deserve discussion, debate, etc. That is *not* what this is about. Nothing where anybody is in danger, getting hurt, none of that.
Now, with that out of the way, let me set up a little scenario for you. Yes, this will sound silly, but bear with me- it’s the best way I can think of to get my point across.
Say when you were five years old, your aunt had some handmade pottery on a shelf. You never gave much thought to that pottery until the day that it fell off of the shelf. Being that you were five years old, it knocked you for a loop when it fell on your head. You were okay, but you obviously had a bad taste in your mouth regarding handmade pottery for the rest of your life. It’s understandable. You have a very real personal reason for disliking pottery. Maybe you can overcome it, maybe you can’t, who knows, doesn’t matter. I would expect you to be vocal about your dislike for pottery. Truthfully, I wouldn’t expect you to really even want to discuss it. But if you do- that’s okay. You’re allowed.
Now, we’ll talk about a totally different you. You never had an aunt with a violent piece of pottery. Got it? Good. Anyhow, you wander into a shop. Could be any kind of shop really. For the sake of making this really off the wall, let’s say it was a toy store. But the shop owner also dabbled in handmade pottery. You go into said store to look around and there’s a small display of this pottery. Maybe you don’t “get” pottery. Maybe you’re having a bad day. Maybe you’ve been in seventy shops already and all of them have had a small display of handmade pottery. We don’t know, doesn’t matter. But, you start actively complaining to the shopkeeper (who is very proud of his hobby-maybe he has struggled and feels that it’s something he enjoys, that he’s good at, that takes his mind away from his troubles for at least a little while) that you are SICK and TIRED of handmade pottery! Do you mean it personally towards the shopkeeper/potter? That much probably hasn’t even crossed your mind. Just for whatever reason, you really feel the need to release negativity on something that someone finds joy in.
Think of how that shopkeeper would feel. He might be hurt and ashamed for showing off his craft. What was he thinking putting it out there for others to see? He might get angry and want to scream and hit at you. All negative reactions. True, Mr. Shopkeeper/Potter might be secure enough in his world where he truly does not feel bothered at all. It’s a very real possibility, but I know more people who would probably feel hurt and anger than be indifferent.
What would have happened had you just ignored the pottery and gone on your merry way? It wasn’t hurting anyone, it certainly wasn’t hurting you in any way, and it made *someone* out there happy. You didn’t expend the energy on getting angry and blowing up over it. The shopkeeper is still having a good day and the world keeps turning. See how easy this option was?
I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to their opinions. I’ve had my moments, I know. I’ll be the first to admit. I just feel like whether it be games, or tv shows, or movies, art, whatever people find happiness in, there’s too many people who can’t just let others be happy and find their own happiness elsewhere. Let’s face it, we are in no way supposed to like the same things. I like being surrounded by people with interests different than mine. Sometimes I might even try something I didn’t think I’d like and be pleasantly surprised. Other times… not so much. Despite how I feel about the topic, I can still appreciate it and be grateful that it’s made someone else’s world a better place.
Isn’t that what we should be striving for anyhow?
So I challenge you. Discuss the big stuff. Have opinions- have very loud opinions if you wish, but try not to give into the negativity that takes away from someone else’s simple pleasures and escapes.
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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.

Untangling anger.

I need to write. I just haven’t. This week has been a whirlwind and I can’t wait for it to be over and done with for good. My bubble of positivity doesn’t seem quite as unbreakable as it did a few weeks ago. It’s been more fragile and touch and go. I’m doing what I can to reinforce it, but time is going to be the only thing to rebuild its walls.

I debated about whether to even go to the appointment with the specialist on Monday. My physical showed that I was passing blood. The test was redone and there was no mistake. All of this after the scares with my mammograms. I decided that the mammogram scare was the worst that I could receive and not to worry about the other. Still, better safe than sorry, so I went to the appointment.

I like this doctor and his nurse. If there’s something wrong, they’re the people to fix it, you know? I feel comfortable in their care. He explained that yes, there’s a lot of blood. Still microscopic, but it’s there and it’s constant. We need to find out why it’s occurring. Scopes, tests, ultrasounds. All looking good. I’m not having any symptoms, but I guess that worries him. I had another kidney function test this morning and a ct scan to see if there are any stones causing problems. I’ll know Monday when I go back.

He kept bringing up the C word. There’s not many things in this world I hate, but I do hate the C word. It’s what took the lives from my dad and grandfather. My grandmothers both had their own rounds of it and I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to have my turn at bat. I guess being brought up around so much serious illness makes me very sensitive to anything being wrong. I worry at times, but in all of those times, nothing has been worth worrying about to that level. Now, twice within the same month, I’m being told that it’s something that needs to be ruled out. Frankly, I’m having a rather hard time with that.

In my heart of hearts, I know everything will be ok. I know that as much as I know that I will take my next breath. But it scares me. It makes me angry. It makes me think too much about the things I shouldn’t have to even consider until much, much later. I know it will be ok, but twice! Twice?? Really, Universe?

Being scared is normal. Being angry? That’s odd for me. I feel selfish that my own body could be possible of betraying me. It makes me even angrier that I’ve finally found a little bit of peace in my world and then something has to come around and jeopardize it. Angry that it’s another one of “life’s little tests” and quite honestly, I’m sick of those. I’ve been tested enough. Just leave me alone for a little while. I’ve learned to like happy. I want to experience more of that. And how will I feel on Monday when the doctor says I’m all clear or that the issue is minimal and can be fixed quite easily? Will that make me even angrier that I’ve wasted all of this time, energy, and mental power worrying about it?

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be so angry. I guess my anger proves my fight. You don’t give up on something that makes you angry. You beat it or you find a way around it, but you don’t give up on it. It’s like I told the technician today doing my scan, “I’ve got way too much to do to be sick.” And you know, maybe that’s what these tests were to teach me. Is it possible that I was starting to take happiness for granted? That I needed something to make me realize what I might possibly have to lose and how badly I was willing to fight for those things? Is it possible that this will give new meaning and passion to the things I love and enjoy? All I know is that I want the chance to find out.

Processing the positive

I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I’ve tried all day to keep busy and productive, but it’s not happening. I should clean my house or at least get some homework done but the dishes that I ran through the dishwasher and the newly unclogged kitchen drain area bout all I’ve got in me today. To be honest, it’s not a horrible feeling. It’s not a lupus day or one of those that I’d say that “I’m out of spoons.” I don’t feel sick or that I didn’t rest well and I’m certainly not worried about anything. Truth be told, I blame it on yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those rare amazing days. My doctor’s visit (and I’m not discounting that the new dosage of medication has me feeling a bit slower than normal), I came home to a surprise in the mail- I still don’t know who it’s from exactly, but I’m grateful and I love the gift. I turned my homework in that I had been procrastinating on and got some awesome kudos. I went to vote before class and didn’t even get nervous when my bag had to be searched walking into the City-County building. When I told the guard I had a camera, he wasn’t expecting a decent set up. Turns out he’s interested in photography as well. Small world! We both ended up having a small laugh out of the whole thing. I got my usual coffee and tried not to worry about the critique we would be doing in class later on in the evening.

I’ll admit, I had been stressing over critique night. I am my own worst critic and I always expect to hear the same voices outside of my head that I do from the inside. What do you think you’re doing? Why do you think that this is any good? Where will this get you in life? Be serious now. As much as I hate to say it, I heard it growing up and maybe it’s because I’ve always had this instinct that I should be creating, I took it to heart. That same instinct is what’s kept me going though. That accepts the knocks and setbacks, but then jumps back into the process. Sometimes in a different subject, but always hungry to create.

Everyone in class was to select four photos from the field trip that we took on Saturday. I had poured over mine, asked for feedback, and ultimately went with my gut on what I thought were my best four photos. I still saw the imperfections in each one but I kept trying to remind myself that this is only the beginning. That’s why we’re doing the critique, so that we know where to improve. It didn’t help my anxiety any.

As I sat in class, I saw everyone’s photos before me. I heard the teacher making suggestions and heard the reactions of the class. It was pretty obvious when something just… wasn’t good. There were some well done photos as well, you could see the differences in our visions and application of style. Some people had a better grasp than others. The discussion was in a word, honest. It wasn’t harsh or demeaning, just very, very honest. I felt my pulse get faster the closer to my set that we got. I felt sick. I thought about walking out at least for some fresh air but at the same time, I felt paralyzed and I knew that I had to hear what needed to be said.

I almost didn’t recognize my first photo of a dog when it came up on the screen. The reaction was favorable. The teacher said it was a great shot. Pointed out texture, depth, lighting, all done reasonably well. He asked the class what should be changed. Nothing was the answer. One down, three to go. The second appeared. Detail of a fence. I started hearing rumblings amongst the class. Panic. Then I heard what they were saying. That they liked how I’d isolated the detail. That it was well balanced. What should be changed? Nothing. Then there was my squirrel photo. Ok. I’m ready for the negativity here. I’ve gotten halfway through my set and it’s been good so let’s go. I’m ready. The teacher pointed out my composition. How it mirrored something we’d discussed in class. Said it was an excellent shot. What should be changed? Not a thing. My last photo was one of a string of colored lights. The minute it came up, it was like a room full of people was watching a fireworks displays. “Oooh” and “Ahhh” and “Wow- where was this?” Again, what should be changed? Nothing.

Four photos. All nothing but positive remarks from both the teacher and the class. And nothing. NOTHING should be changed about them. I had other classmates as we were leaving compliment me on my set. Someone commented that mine was the only set that hadn’t had any recommendations for any of my four photos. How had I done such and such? And I don’t know. I just saw what I saw and I pushed the button.

When I got home, I reviewed the photos. I tried to be as objective as I could. They aren’t bad. I chose a good set. I was high on caffeine and adrenaline. Trying to process the positivity I had encountered. It’s bad when not only do you have trouble accepting the criticism but also the praise. Add that to the list of things I need to work on, yeah? I fought the doubt. The inner voice telling me that everyone had taken it easy on me because they could tell I was nervous. Everyone in that room was nervous. It wasn’t just me. Some people didn’t even speak up when their set began. I didn’t want to, but I did. And I’m glad I did.

My head is still spinning from all of it. I’m still processing. I’m still trying to accept that maybe, just maybe I’ve found something creative that I could be good at.

Here we go again…

I just came back from yet another doctor’s appointment. This one has been on the schedule for a few months, so nothing terribly dire. I always dread this one though because it deals with my longest standing issue- anxiety and depression. About a year ago, when everything in my world was going sideways, my medical doctor recommended that I get in with a psychiatric professional to handle my medications. Because of the things going on at the time, I was on the heaviest dosage of antidepressants that I have ever been on. At the time, it felt like the right solution. The problem, and the thing that bothered me the most was that one of my goals in life was to be free of these kinds of drugs. I have taken them steadily for all of my adult life. Things have changed, stressors have gone away and I’ve learned to deal with things differently. Sometimes I’ve felt like the medications numb certain emotions to where I almost forget what it’s like to feel them. I don’t like that.

I remember when I felt anger again for the first time. It scared me. I didn’t know what this was, it took me forever to put the name to the fact that this was anger. This wasn’t being cheesed off at some little thing. Although, I would have preferred not to feel anger, it felt awesome to know that it was back. I had similar experiences with happiness, and let me tell you, it’s the oddest thing to actually realize that you’re feeling happy. That’s what these drugs can do. I’m not speaking out against them. They are for a purpose and managed correctly, they can be a lifesaver. I’ve just been curious for a long time about how I’d do on my own.

I knew better than to take that step alone and unsupervised. Even missing doses could cause issues, but my doctor wasn’t too keen on letting me be free.

So I took his advice and found a psychiatric nurse that I liked. She evaluated my situation and diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder and severe depression. She made some changes in my medication, but I was still at a lofty dose. As the year progressed and things started settling down, I got up the nerve to ask her if I could see how a lower dose would work for me.

We talked about it to great length and she agreed to let me try it on the condition that I keep her updated on any and everything I was doing and how I was handling things. That wasn’t a difficult thing to agree to, so the pact was made. For the past 6 months or more, I’ve been on this journey of decreasing the medication.

I wish I could say it had been easy, it hasn’t. It’s not been all bad and knowing that I’m getting through more and more by myself and not relying on a pill to keep me evened out keeps me going. I was a little disappointed when I went to see her in November. We opted at that time not to make any more changes until I had my physical after the first of the year. She wanted a few things checked out so that she could take that into consideration on where to go with the meds. Today was the day to discuss it.

At first, she said we’d keep things the same. I brought up the question of when we’d reduce again. That’s when she said, let’s talk. We discussed all of the things that have happened in the past year. What medications and what dosages I was taking at those times and how I handled them. We both caught ourselves being amazed at how far I’ve come in that time. And that I’m doing more and more on less and less.

I’m doing this. I’m controlling things.

Yes, I felt like having a meltdown a couple of weeks ago, but going through the medical stuff I was faced with, who wouldn’t feel some anxiety. Starting school had me nervous, but that’s okay. What I’m feeling is normal and it feels good to admit that.

So, I’m not completely free yet, but we’ve made the next step. Slow and steady. I will be at the lowest dosage that this medication even comes in. Another six months and I should finally be at my goal. I know that the next few weeks, I’m going to have some of the withdrawal symptoms that won’t be pleasant, but I have so much to look forward to at the end of it that I’m keeping my optimism.

It feels good to be better.

Trying something different.

We had our first class field trip yesterday. Two hours of wandering around downtown with about 30 other people snapping photos left and right. Now is the big task of picking out two groups of photos, and I think I’ve gotten it narrowed down. The first group of photos was to be for the class Facebook page. I didn’t even know we had one. Wow. The second set is to be put on a drive and taken to class on Tuesday for review and critique. I have to admit, I’m pretty nervous about that. I’m my own worst critic.

So instead of sharing words, I’m going to share these two groups of photos if I can figure it out. If not, I’ll just edit in a link and add that to the laundry list of things I need to research on how to do on here.

Edit to add: Well- looks like it worked!

 

Squirrels are evil.

They are. They’re scheming little bags of rodent fur. They’ve got to have high intelligence to pull off the things that they concoct.

Case in point (or, a little short story about what just happened.)

Some time ago, I started feeding the birds in the backyard. I got one of those “bird-seed- shaped-like-a-bell”… things, thinking that would do the trick. It did, but once the squirrels discovered it, there wasn’t much left for the birds. Ok. So I got a “squirrel proof feeder.” I have photos of the gymnastics these things are capable of to wind themselves up and under the wiffle to empty it of everything I have deposited. Fine. I’ll get some corn and have something special for the squirrels so they’ll stay out of the bird seed. That worked for a little while but they got tired of it really fast. Maybe those little cage things- you can get either suet blocks or seed cakes (in my case, I got both) and surely they can’t get into those.

The cages are their favorite. They hang like little strippers off of the bars, legs flailing every which way just to get at some birdseed. Have I mentioned their gymnastic prowess? Sheesh! However, I conceded. They like the cages, they can have the cages. I’ve found that in the winter, the seed cakes can be harder to find, so I had been looking for a good alternative. Wildlife mix! Corn, seeds, nuts, they’ll like this and they won’t have to work so hard for it. I’ll put some out in a bowl and they’ll be happy. They’ll love me for this.

So there’s this squirrel, just for the sake of this post, we’ll call him Ernie. To be honest, I couldn’t pick Ernie out from a lineup of other squirrels. I’m pretty sure he’s the same one, but as I’m not out to ruin the good name of a good squirrel, don’t take my word for it. Hell, I’m probably protecting him as it is by calling him Ernie. Surely his real name is Squibbles or something of the sort. So I’m changing it to protect the innocent.

Ernie was mad at me. For two or three days, I’d look out. He’d have his fat little butt perched on the railing next to the cage. He’d look at the empty cake cage. He’d look at me. Back to the empty cake cage. He’d swing it with his paw. Staring at me. Fire rising in his little beady eyes demanding his seed cake. Where was it? Why was I holding out on him? Was he going to have to get the SquirrelFather to take care of things?
I made sure that the Wildlife Mix bowl was full and fresh. He nosed it. Looked at me as if to say “You really expect me to eat this stuff?” and then he hopped down and went back to the trees.

I couldn’t take the pressure any longer. I caved last night and went to the pet store in hopes that they had seed cakes. Golden light streamed from the heavens onto the endcap of aisle six, illuminating the seed cakes in all of their glory. And they were on sale. Double score! This morning, I went out early, placed the new seed cake proudly and hoped that the Squirrel-Gods would see fit to let me live another day. I kept watching. No squirrel. No squirrel. No squirrel.

Finally! I went to get my lunch and I looked out and saw a glimpse of that bushy tail. I opened the curtain and there he was. Fat little evil Ernie. Sitting with his haunches flayed to where it made his butt look ten times bigger than he was. Very Jabba the Hut-like, minus the slaves, although I’m sure he’s working on that.

Sitting

In the bowl

of Wildlife Mix.

Shoveling it into his cheeks as fast as his paws would allow.

I looked at the seed cake. It hadn’t been touched.

That evil little big-butted bastard.

He finally noticed I was watching him. His cheeks full to burst with corn, seeds, nuts, all of the stuff he had decided was beneath him to eat for the past several days. He stopped with his hands in front of him and gave me the whole “What?” look.

“You’re an evil little big-butted bastard, that’s what.” I told him. He just stared. Then he casually hopped down and up a tree. Cheeks still full.

It’s a good thing I love those little jerks.