I hear everything.

The Depression Monster has me in a Full Nelson.  (I had to use Wikipedia.)  I’m no longer able to ignore him, but I’m flipping him the bird.  I’ve learned studying Stevie Nicks requires a commitment of sorts.  You have to accept the fact it’s going to hurt sometimes, or you have to move on.  I didn’t even need to think about it.  I like earning my passage into her world.  It’s calmer.  I also like how it doesn’t matter that I’m out of sync in time.

I’m on the second documentary now.  It’s called Stevie Nicks:  In Your Dreams.  I’m at the point where Katrina happened.  Fuck.  I wasn’t ready.  You can tell Stevie directed and edited.  It’s raw where it needs to be, and soft where it’s not.  I suppose this is a trigger warning.  Pause when you see the first hint of Katrina coming next.  It will be obvious now.  Make sure you’re in a safe place to ugly cry.  Get tissues and a few bottles of water.  Round up your pets, and your favorite blanket.  Then take a deep breath, and hit play.  You’re welcome.  (I do this because I love you.)

This hasn’t happened since I spent hours listening to Amy Lee (Hartzell) sing, Hello and Like You on repeat, while I wept with her over losing our little sisters.  It’s a good thing I eat intensity for breakfast.  I never thought I’d say that.  I’m so used to people telling me I’m too intense, (and having it sound like, “fuck off.”)  I’m glad it keeps proving valuable where it matters.  I slept on Tuesday night, so I should be good for a while.  I started writing my short horror story last night.  In hindsight, it may have been better to do it in the morning.

I learned some secrets about fear years ago.  It has a ceiling.  There’s nothing beyond scared shitless.  Further, I discovered there’s a limit to how long you can remain terrified.  I’m sure with practice you could extend it, but for most of us, it’s a relatively rare event.  It’s intense until you run out of energy.  Then it’s surreal.  It stays surreal while you recover a bit.  Then it repeats a few times, like a chorus.  But it has diminishing returns.  Your initial level of terror is greater than your fourth course.  Eventually, it just becomes hysterically funny.

Don’t look at me, I didn’t create these rules, I’m just reporting them.  This is how humans process prolonged fear.  At least the ones who don’t pop straight away, that is.  It’s not good news, but I believe it’s better to know up front.  I hate surprises.  So anyway, my point is I’ve learned how to cope with fear.  I don’t flee at the sight of it.  It’s a bitch, but so am I.  And you can refocus your eyes, I’m done giving myself a pep talk.  I plan on writing more tonight.  Last night I wrote two pages, then deleted them and started over.  I thought about an outline, then didn’t create one.  Finally,  I wrote two better pages.

Creative writing clearly had a far greater influence on my writing than English Grammar.  I love rules, except where creativity is involved, at which point it reverses.  Rules are for one type of thinking.  Creativity is for the other.  They don’t mix.  Mixing them should cause profound halitosis.  That’s how serious I am.  Incidentally, when my orchestra instructor tried to tell me how to feel about Beethoven, I noticed he had funky breath.  (I don’t believe in coincidences.  I’m far more impressed by irony.)

This is the closest I’ve ever leaned into my blog.  I’m incredibly impressionable, so it’s likely Stevie Nicks’ influence on me.  I’m becoming a little more open.  I didn’t see any of this coming.  Despite the tears, I’m having a fabulous time.  It’s a little like following a rabbit down a hole if you know what I mean. 😉  I have a long night ahead.  I’m off to get to it.

What does the little man inside say?

The Depression Monster is riding my back. It’s at minor annoyance level.  I’m a bit surprised by my suspicions of why I’m feeling low.  I think it’s because I’m studying Stevie Nicks, and I’ve come to a rough point in her past.  I’m at the overwhelming betrayal:  She was told she had to stop using cocaine or she’d die. Clearly, she stopped.  When she was recovering from addiction to cocaine, she was prescribed Klonopin.  It led to a worse addiction.  That’s a pretty big mind fuck.  I’m experiencing it retroactively, but apparently, my empathy didn’t get the memo.

I paused the documentary at that point to process what I’ve learned so far.  Fame is ugly.  It’s not new information, but watching Fleetwood Mac lose their innocence was hard.  I now know Rumours was created from pain.  They were all experiencing raw grief.  The successful album says a lot about their professionalism and abilities.  Most people don’t want anything badly enough to endure such circumstances.  They were about to make it big, but I don’t think they knew it.  They certainly earned it.

It bugs me something so sought after is basically a trap.  A trap for drug addiction, and a new type of loneliness exclusive to famous people.  It triggers my protective nature.  Fuck the universe for tempting so many people to strive for fame before revealing it’s true nature.  People don’t like to be fucked with, especially not after pouring everything they have into reaching for excellence.  Fuck.  Also, the men interviewed in this documentary are pissing me off.  They’re music producers from the late 70’s, which is probably enough explanation.

They’re accidentally doing a fairly good job of conveying how things went down, but you have to read between the lines.  They’re inarticulate and behave like frenemies at best, ex-lovers at worst.  Nobody is watching this documentary to hear about how butt-hurt the producers are decades after the fact.  Besides, Gen X women know misogyny speak fluently.  When men describe a woman as a bitch, diva, full of herself, bossy, and/or demanding, we are aware it actually means she was a formidable leader.  It says she didn’t submit to male dominance.  It means she’s someone worthy of our attention.

I’m noticing similarities between Stevie Nicks and Carrie Fisher.  They’re both survivors and storytellers.  They’re understandable to me.  I’ve probably stated this many times, but understanding is the path to love.  When you understand someone, you can’t help but love them.  Loving those who don’t know I even exist is surprisingly delightful.  It’s a safe secret.  I’m not very good at being a fan of famous people.  I rarely go to concerts because the other fans scare the shit out of me.  I’m pretty sure a lot of famous people have been traumatized by their fans.  We should rename fame.  It should be called Public Pain.  (I’m a huge fan of stating what’s meant.)

I can’t recall ever meeting anyone famous.  It’s a perk of living in South Dakota.  We’ve all rehearsed how we plan to act should it ever occur, but even my rehearsals haven’t gone well.  My imagination is kind of an asshole.  I’m barely able to manage it, (mostly because it amuses me too much to try very hard.)  The only famous person I’m confident I could meet (without regretting my behavior ever after) would be Michelle Obama.  I know exactly how that would go down.  She’d smile and offer to shake my hand, and I’d immediately start bawling.  I wouldn’t be ashamed because I know so many who would react exactly the same way.  (She’s probably used to it.)

I know I’m rambling on and on, but I can’t help myself.  I haven’t spoken to anyone but my cat in a few days.  (It was deliberate, but I’m an inch away from too weird, to begin with.)  So here we are.  I still have a profound sense the end of my life is impending.  It’s been over six months, but the feeling hasn’t waivered.  I hate to admit it, but I’m enjoying the planning process.  (I think it’s just that I like planning in general.)  I’m at a point now where I recognize I need to write a short story about my childhood nightmares.  It’ll be a cleansing.  I’ve always been reluctant to write it because it’s a horror story and it’s not reality.

I would suck as an author.  I have the discipline and imagination.  I don’t have the thingamajig required to convince anyone a fantasy is real.  The things I love most about novels are things I’m only capable of recognizing, not reproducing.  I’m pretty sure identifying them is more fun, though.  I don’t do the foreshadowing dance anymore, but I still get a burst of joy every time I recognize it on a first read.  That’s a lot of mileage considering I was in primary school when I learned of it.  But as a writer, I don’t foreshadow, I announce in advance.  Sigh.  Sophistication is a bitch.

Why give me comprehension without the skill?  That’s fucking mean.  But I’m not complaining, just rambling.  I’ve managed to put off this short story for most of my life.  I guess it’s time to purge it.  I’m extremely curious about what comes after life if anything.  I’m mostly sure the answer is nothing.  The thing I like most about that possibility is its nature; there can be no regrets.  The itsy bitsy chance someone imagined it right, or even close, is still enough to get lost in for a while.  It bothers me a bit that I’m not grieving, though.  Does it mean I’m ready?  We’ll see.  I’m off to beat my drums.

 

 

 

 

You don’t just write a ‘Murphy Brown’.

Today has been awesome.  Early this morning, while continuing my rinse/spit routine and watching Teen Titans, the pain began to gradually ease.  That’s the last thing I remember.  I’m pretty sure my long blinks became sleep the moment I was freed from my disgusting ritual.  I awoke to a ringing phone at around 9AM.  It was a nurse from the VA, informing me that my primary care doctor got my note, and was sending me 4 oxycontin pills to give me some relief before my appointment on Wednesday.  I was expecting the call, and it was a pleasant start to my day.  Then I realized I wasn’t in pain.  None at all.

I got up, made my bed, and started my morning routine.  Every few moments, I remember the pain is gone, and celebrate all over again.  Usually by marvelling at how the universe is so incredible.  I’m pretty sure this is how atheists and agnostics pray.  (Well, aside from the thousands of times a year we agnostics of the indoctrinated christian ilk thank a god we’re not certain we believe exists, within the privacy of our minds.)  Heh. I’ve noticed some of the things I’ve learned today.  I love when that happens. Perspective and relativity are continuing to boggle my mind on a near daily basis.  My perspective on pain has shifted, now that I know my ability to cope is relative to my perspective.  I’m no longer afraid of pain.  Such a beautiful circle.

I also love how my dialect suddenly changes to gangsta rap when I’m feeling goofy, sometimes.  It’s STIMAPALOOSA up in this bitch, ya’ll!  (It’s especially funny to me, because I’m pretty sure I get it so wrong, it changes my intended meaning.)  I’ll translate:  I’m so happy, excited, relieved, astonished, surprised, and hyper in my apartment right now, everyone!!!  I’m going to brag, (I think).  I’m so proud of myself for managing to stop whining long enough to learn what my pain had to teach me.  /brag

I’m also proud of scientists for vastly improving my odds of surviving, (and I’d like to retract all the bad things I thought in your regard, for not having already invented a pain elimination transdermal patch that can be conveniently printed and applied with my iPMC, (Pocket Matter Converter by Apple).  I realize it’s a bit much to expect at this point, and I’m sorry I was so quick to minimize your superpowers).  Okay, I see that I’m getting carried away with the parenthesis.  I’ll stop.  You’re welcome.

I also figured out what’s been hurting.  I say hurting, but I don’t necessarily mean pain.  I mean a background distraction that’s too blurry to zoom in on.  I know it’s there, so it’s robbing part of my attention without my permission, until I identify it.  It’s a lot like being nagged by someone with an annoying voice.  You want to block it out on principle, but you half listen out of habit.  My tolerance for this type of hurting is low.  In fact, it seems to be a direct consequence of passing for neurotypical.  I’ll have to think about that more.  In some ways, I can see how therapy is resulting in my being more aware.  So much of living with mental illness is exactly like playing chicken with yourself.  It’s not for the faint-of-heart, which is ironic, because we seem to be the most susceptible to conditions like PTSD.  It’s like a really shitty, hopefully self-correcting ailment, being faint-of-heart.  That’s hilarious.

You’re faint of heart, so you get a brand new case of PTSD, along with some lovely parting neurosis!  If you’re paying attention, you’ll figure out a way to outgrow it, but not for at least a decade!  During which time, those many lucky contestants who are also susceptible to substance abuse, will be allowed to add the beloved game of Russian Roulette to the mix!

I’m a wee bit cynical.  Consequences:  That math that many do, but but few want to talk about.  I suppose it’s my religion.  I worship with music.  It’s been absent from my life of late.  I’m no longer playing violin with a group of locals, now that summer is over.  Being unwell has prevented me from running.  That’s a spiritual activity for me, and it always includes music.  I run to music.  I put lots of thought into my running playlist, and I change it once a month.  I choose powerful music.  The type you absolutely cannot remain still while hearing.  When I decided to celebrate being pain free, the first thing I did was ask Alexa to play Kelly Clarkson.

First, she played a song I haven’t heard in awhile, and I sang along while stimming.  Then she played, Stronger.   I smiled, and immediately knew I found the itch.  I finally figured out what was hurting.  I’m off to rip my new CD’s to .FLAC files.  I have a new direct-from-Korea DAP.  A friend recommended the following when I asked for ideas for new music:

  • Jimmy Giuffre/Jim Hall Trio:  Complete Studio Recordings
  • Joni Mitchell – Blue
  • The Essential Van Morrison
  • Pentangle – Light Flight, The Anthology
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dallas Taylor & Greg Reeves – Déjà vu

 

Pain scale for doctor visits

This is a pain scale to use when reporting your pain to a doctor or other medical professional.  I’ve printed out a copy to carry with me, as I always struggle to answer the question, “On a scale of 0-10 with 10 being most severe, how do you rate your pain?”.  Usually this question results in frustration.  This scale’s descriptions are helpful to me, and will enable me to seek care in the future.  Hopefully it’ll be helpful to others as well.  Thanks to my friend for providing this resource! [PDF download]

 

Balance and Aim

Yesterday was painful.  I face planted after slipping on the ice, and managed to crack a molar in the process.  I look like I lost a fight with Mike Tyson.  I went to the dentist at the VA, and they sent me to an oral surgeon to get the cracked tooth dug out.  First, they cleaned my teeth and did a flouride treatment, since I couldn’t get in for surgery for a few hours.  I’m very pleased they did this, as I was there already, and going in the first place is hard for me.  I drove from the VA to the oral surgeon using the map they gave me.  I had it upside down, so I had to turn around at one point, and while doing so, I drove past my childhood home.  I don’t do this very often, as I live in a different part of town now.  The neighborhood seemed so small compared to my memories.

I arrived in plenty of time, and chose local anesthesia rather than being put under.  It meant a huge needle that I saw, even though they were trying to hide it from me.  I’m not afraid of shots so long as I know when they’re coming.  The first two didn’t hurt much.  The second two hurt about the same as a scorpion sting.  But it was only for a brief moment, and then they waited for the numbness to set in.  I didn’t feel any pain while the dentist dug out my tooth.  I heard cracking sounds, and had to push against the force to keep from moving too much.  The dentist and his assistant complimented me on remaining still.  He said he wished all his patients were so easy to work with.  I didn’t reply verbally for obvious reasons, but my eyes probably smiled.  I have a high pain tolerance, so it wasn’t difficult for me.

They prescribed an oral rinse and some narcotic pain killers.  I drove back to the VA to get them filled, and was home after about 5 hours.  For me to be away by myself, driving while it’s snowing, and going somewhere unfamiliar, is amazing.  I’m proud of myself for pulling it off without a panic attack.  The difference between the equipment at the VA dental clinic, and at the oral surgeons was astonishing.  I felt like I had travelled forward in time.  The seat was leather, and so soft and comfortable.  They were worried that I would have a hard time, but in reality, the hardest part was staying awake.  I got 2 stitches, and a handful of gauze to help stop the bleeding.  I bit down on it while I drove home, and then changed it upon arrival.  My cat was a little put out that I was gone that long.  She’s so cute.

I took the pills, but I halved the dosage.  The numbness was just starting to wear off when I got the script filled, so I took it as soon as I settled in.  My face is bruised and swollen today, but the bleeding has stopped, and the pain is minimal.  I’ll drop the rest of the pills off at the VA ER tomorrow, since I don’t need them.  I’m just glad I didn’t throw up from them.  I’ve been eating gogurt and PB&J sandwiches today.  I’m slightly nauseated, but I feel much better today.  I slept really hard last night, and ruined my pillowcase from blood leaking out in my drool.  Fortunately, it wasn’t one of my good ones.  I’m healing quickly, as usual.  I’ll be going back to get a tooth implant when I’m all healed.  I’m a little bit shaky on my feet today because my brain keeps replaying the fall.  It freaked me out how quickly it happened.  I know that my body is too weak right now, or this wouldn’t have happened.  I’ll be so glad when I can run daily again.  I never realized before how much balance depends on strength.

I read an article today about black intellectuals who want reparations.  I strongly disagree, and think reparations are a ridiculous notion when you consider the fact that the only reason African Americans exist in large numbers is because of the Africans who sold our distant relatives into slavery.  It was horrific betrayal, and we’re still coping with its effects on our daily lives.  It sucks.  I hate that it’s so hard to have brown skin in America.  But reparations won’t resolve anything.  First of all, who would pay them, and to whom?  Ridiculous.  Turn that energy toward fighting for an end to institutional racism and oppression.  We all feel the repercussions of slavery, and we all deserve viable solutions.

 

Tolerance Begets Acceptance

It’s hot again.  I’m ready for winter.  I was loving the low 60’s during the day and 30’s at night.  I leave my bedroom window open and snuggle under a super soft blanket.  It’s so soft that my cat refuses to budge when she settles in.  I call her “Middle-of-the-Bed-Fred” when she does this.  It’s frustrating for about half a second, then it’s hilarious.  Sometimes I have to get completely out of bed, then lay down again in the portion of bed she leaves me.  As soon as I lay back down, she suddenly awakens from her coma, and crawls up against me again.  I usually end up with a narrow strip of space against the wall.  This is why I have a padded sideboard against the wall.  I end up being comfortably squished between that and my Little Precious.

I’m saddened by a trending topic on Twitter today.  I suspect it began as a tasteless joke, and ran amok from there.  I saw a tweet by a woman who called for a boycott of the upcoming Star Wars film, because it was contributing to white genocide in South Africa. Nothing in her tweet suggested she was anything but serious.  I don’t know what to think. I read more, and most were tweets using the same hashtag to demonstrate their disgust of the hashtag and boycott.  So now, a hashtag that would normally have never made it to trending status is suddenly the second most trending hashtag.

I understand the anger and hurt that drive people to keep doing this.  I’ve decided to ignore it.  I can’t in good conscience ask them to stop, because expressing their displeasure is a reasonable response.  It really hurts when someone rejects you for something you have no control over.  I’ve seen racism from black people and white people and everyone in between.  It’s always ugly, and it always hurts.  As a child, I was unable to cope with racism.  It led me to attempt suicide when I was only 12-years-old. As an adult, I have learned to cope with it.

I’ve learned how to look beyond the hate.  Hate is masked fear.  Fear is centered on ignorance.  Ignorance is something we all can work to overcome.  All it takes is a willingness to recognize it’s something we all have the ability to change.  When someone hates me verbally for the color of my skin, I don’t hate back.  I silently remind myself that this person hasn’t yet overcome his or her fear, and that they hold the potential to do so.  I will admit that I also hear the fear mantra from Dune simultaneously in my mind.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”