Friday, January 19, 2018

Daily Mire

Turn on the news, view Facebook, or worse, Twitter, open any form of media today and you are blasted with some sort of negativity.  It is more than overwhelming to some (including myself).  Unlike some other creative types who thrive in hostile environments, I have come to a complete stall.  Every day is a struggle to tear myself away from different areas of social media.  I tend to hop from one to another afraid that I'll miss some bit of news (international, national, local, among family and friends) that will end up impacting me.  I have been unable to complete large creative projects for almost two years now.  I work on them a bit here and there but I can't bring them to fruition.  It's degrading.  It's depressing. I'm stuck.  I know that I'm not the only one experiencing this - social media and the news outlets tell me that I am not alone (yet, oh my God, how alone do I feel).  I've considered taking a break from social media, the news, the computers, but then I start to feel anxious, really anxious.  The best I can do is to cut down on my time spent in the virtual world.  I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime I'll work on every day things like getting my house put together from our recent move, re-establishing services for my disabled son, and trying to take the time to get to know this new area/new town (weather permitting).  Taking deep breaths and traveling through life one hour, one day at a time.  I wish us all luck.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Books and Stories Read in 2017

2017 was a rough year to get through.  Aside from all the political upheaval in the USA, my personal life went through a series of changes as well, not the least of which was a move.  I still made time to read though.  The great escape from my childhood came through during these turbulent times as well. 

Stories Read

The Egg - Andy Weir (re-read)
Clay and Smokeless Fire - Saladin Ahmed -
Bear Language - Martin Cahill -
Dancing Princesses - Roshani Chokshi -
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? - Joyce Carol Oats (1966)

Books Read

Six Scary Stories - Selected and Introduced by Stephen King

Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay

Cycle of the Werewolf (Illustrated) - Stephen King

You Are Here - Jenny Lawson

Hungry Ghosts (Eric Carter Series) - Stephen Blackmoore

Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman

Cemetary Girl: The Pretenders (Graphic Novel) - Charlaine Harris/Christopher Golden

Cemetary Girl: Inheritance (Graphic Novel) - Charlaine Harris/Christopher Golden

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris

Under the Empyrean Sky - Chuck Wendig

The Mystery Men (Graphic Novel) - David Liss/Patrick Zircher

Deadly Valentine - Carolyn G. Hart

Deep and Dark and Dangerous - Mary Downing Hahn

The Family Plot - Cherie Priest

A Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Next of Kin - Dan Wells

Crimes By Moonlight - Editor, Charlaine Harris

A Ghostly Light - Juliet Blackwell

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Graphic Novel) - Oscar Wilde, Ian Edginton, I.N.J. Culbard

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie/Ellen Ferney

Chessie - Ruth Carroll (vintage book written in 1936)

Gypsy - Kate Seredy (vintage book written in 1951 - amazing illustrations)

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis - Anne Rice

The Bride Striped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Devil's Only Friend - Dan Wells

Over Your Dead Body - Dan Wells

Sleep Like a Baby - Charlaine Harris

Inked - Eric Smith

Sam or Our Cat Tales - C. Louis Schaffner (vintage book written in 1913)

Vicious - V.E. Schwab

Nothing Left to Lose - Dan Wells

The Royal Diaries: Isabel, Jewel of Castilla - Carolyn Meyer

Shit My Dad Says - Justin Halpern

Dead Trees Give No Shelter - Wil Wheaton

Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris (re-read)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas and Chaos

It's Christmas and we've moved... again.  In my 29 years of marriage, we've moved 16 times.  This time has been harder for me.  I think my body is just getting to the point that it can't handle the physical requirements to actually move all of our things around.  There seems to be an endless amount of boxes to unpack. Not just the placement of furniture but all the artwork, knickknacks, books, and technology. There just seems to be so much of EVERYTHING. 

It's not just the material things.  It's the emotional baggage as well. It used to be exciting when we moved - the idea of redecorating, of making new friends, of discovering new things to do.  This time however, I don't know what to do with it all and it's overwhelming.  It's winter and where I've moved gets even more snow than the last place we lived.  My background level of anxiety/depression ratchets up a bit during the winter months anyway and with the move as well it's a bit higher than even the normal.  Between the unpacking and the weather and my own personal emotional rollercoaster, I've barely gotten out of the house in the last month and a half aside from grocery shopping and doctor appointments.

This is not a whining session.  I know that six months from now everything will be in place.   All the furniture, the knickknacks, the artwork, the books, the technology will all have found a place.  All the closets will have been sorted out.  We will be able to park the cars in the garage.  All of our doctors and services will have been re-established. That's not just my hope, that's the reality from my own experience.  

The only thing that will still be out of place is this Christmas.  It just doesn't feel Christmas-y to me at all.  I've put a smattering of decorations out (the ones I could find easily and then easily put up again later).  I've bought and wrapped most of the presents and sent out most of the Christmas cards.  But I just feel lost in this season. Separated from family and friends both physically and emotionally.  

Everything feels chaotic but I know that it will settle down.  I'll get through this - the move, Christmas, and this emotional upheaval - I am a survivor.  It's just the waiting and working to get through to the other side is exhausting.


Here's hoping for a much happier, much healthier, less chaotic new year!
May 2018 reign free for all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Back to School

For the first time in 22 years I do not have a child returning to public school. As of May of this year they have all graduated and moved on to other pursuits.  I have this empty feeling even though my nest is not technically empty.  [My son is disabled and will not be able to live on his on in the foreseeable future.]  To help alleviate the weirdness, I gathered all the unused school supplies from past years around the house and donated them to a program for kids in need.

But there is something about the appearance of school supplies in the stores that gives me this rush from the possibilities of new beginnings. I've had that feeling since I was a small child.  I began attending schoool at the age of 5 (43 years ago) and either I have been returning to school or I have had a child going to school since then (I'm counting my college years as well). At the end of every summer we'd buy school supplies, some new clothes, and a new pair of shoes. And I'd sit there looking over it all and think to myself, this is the year where everything will be different.  I did well in school mostly (math was my only problem) and I always looked forward to learning.  School was also my escape from an abusive home life.  The only problem was that at school I'd also have to deal with bullies along with my own self-doubts.  Every year I'd buy the school supplies and think that maybe this year things/people might change and I'd make a few friends and things wouldn't be so harsh.  

It never really changed.  I never fit in.  I was this odd duckling that only the teachers seemed to have an affinity for - I was quiet, polite, and did well in most classes (even in the ones I didn't do well in they could tell that I was really trying).  Still, even with the bullies, school was better than home 90% of the time. I still don't fit in really.  There's something broken inside of me that prevents me from being normal in many social situations.

And that feeling stays with me. I look in the mirror and see wrinkles forming but inside of me is that little girl who has hope and wonder that new experiences, new people, new knowledge is just around the corner. The expectation that change is part of reality.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cooty Girl

Age 6
Present day

I wrote this poem in 1999 while reflecting on my school days, being an introvert, and being bullied.  I thought about how although the school days had passed, there were many wounds that were yet to become scars (healed).  It's been 18 years since I wrote this poem.  I'm on a slightly better standing but I still have days where I feel the same as the girl in the poem.

- Lelain de Peche

In a corner she sits
afraid to admit
she doesn't know how
to join the conversation
It seems like such fun
but she just wants to run
back to the safety
of her well worn shell
Just her brief visits out
renew all the doubts
that she can ever
really belong
the questions remain
continually the same
what if she faulters
what if she blunders
In the midst of stumbling
there are mental rumblings
memories from by gone days
of name callings
of being tripped and falling
and rock throwings
that left bruises
I don't belong here
and I never will
is the cal of a fear
at an early age instilled
so she sits feeling lame
cheeks red with shame
pondering whether
to even attempt a move
he tongue is frozen
and her past has woven
a trap of fear
that has insnared her
there's only one way out
that's to let go of the doubts
and jump right into
the conversation
she fills her lungs to the brim
takes the first step to begin
the journey to leave
the schoolyard behind
It's not with effortless grace
but she goes her own pace
and finds a comfortable
niche with a comedian
Laughter spills all around
as her walls slide down
someday she could
get used to this

[On an additional note: With the prevalence of social media I have thought about looking for some of the people I knew in elementary and middle school. Why? I don't know. Maybe ask them why they were such shits to me? Maybe tell them what I was really going through at home? Maybe explain to them all the things that really messed up inside of me? Then I thought, will this really make a bit of difference? No.  That being said, I was foolish enough to go looking for one or two people. They are living their own lives.  My second cousin once removed who twisted my arm in the 5th grade and demanded that I never tell anyone that we were even slightly related is now a lawyer in Franklin, Tennessee. I sent a friend request to his FaceBook page. His reply was a rejection that sent me to his "professional" FB page. All I could think was, "Oh. He rejected me again. Well, I should have known."]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Sun Comes Up And The Sun Goes Down

I seem to be lost. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. I don't accomplish much in between. There are so many things that I could be doing but I feel like I'm drowning. The anxiety stops me from doing anything.  There's this underlying fear that anything I create will be less than, it will be flawed, it will not be the perfect image that I hold in my head.  There's also an underlying current that it's too late to accomplish anything in life.  I'm too old now. I've reached my expiration date and that nothing I do now or have done in life matters.  I fear that don't hold value to anyone, not anyone or anything in the vast universe.  Part of me just wants that white knight to come save me from myself.  Another part of me wishes that part would shut up because, damn it, it's all been a useless fantasy. Sometimes I barely have the strength to keep breathing. I feel so exhausted just fighting my own competing emotions. Fighting off anxiety and losing.  Seriously, that's messed up. Truly, I don't know what to do next and I wish someone would just tell me. But there's no answer. It's all silence.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Let It Go - Musings and Goals for 2017

December 19, 2016
I came to a decision in the autumn of 2016, as I looked around at our ever crowded small house that I needed to let go of a number of things – possessions that were no longer fulfilling any true purpose.  I questioned why I still held on to them. 
Then I fell very ill in December and required hospitalization.  While the IV dripped antibiotics as I lay in the hospital bed, I had much time to think and reconsider my life.  The questions that I had been ruminating over before I fell ill now were magnified and screaming.  If I died what have I left behind?  I have had varied obsessions and false focuses.  Often I have focused on material goods.  I did not want to leave this mass of tangled obsessions and material things for my loved ones to sort after I was gone.

As I said earlier, I had already begun to untangle myself.  I had sorted a few things here and there.  A small beginning but a start none the less.  When decorating for Christmas we decided to let go of some ornaments and decorations.  This led to sorting through unused Christmas cards I’d kept from past years, pieces of pack we’d mailed out.  I put them all in a box to go to charity.  Why had I kept them? [In case I needed them? – after 8 or 10 years if they haven’t been used, they probably wouldn’t be used. Let it go.]  I moved on to my collected cards and stationary.  After sorting through it, I decided to let go of quite a few various occasion cards – birthday, anniversary, get well soon, sympathy.  Some of these I’d had for YEARS.  Again, if I hadn’t used them by now, would I ever?
And there is the question I should be putting to ALL of my belongings which I have steadily gathered.  If I have not used them by now, will I ever?  Why do I keep them then?  If there is no reason to keep it, no sentimental attachment, no true purpose, then it is time for it to leave my life and depart my house.

I applied this question to a mass of notepads that had piled up from charity mailings.  I had not asked for them, yet I had kept them.  Why?  [In case I needed them – If I hadn’t used them up in a year or two, then I probably never would.]  It was past time for them to go. So I added them to the box to go to charity.  I also sorted through a few of my files and notebooks.  Information on topics that had caught my fancy.  Information that now holds no sway for me.  I put paper goods into recycling or in the shredder. Notebooks and files were either tossed out, reused, or put into the charity box.
The progress is slow.  My body is still fighting an infection.  I will move through all my possessions.  I know my books will be the hardest to sort.  But I have bought more than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime.  If I do not love a book after reading it, if I will not return to re-read it time and again, then I need to release it.  I had already started donating some books which didn’t sell on eBay to the ARC (a local program that helps special needs people in the community) for their library.  Their library was just so small when I toured their facilities all I could think was that my own collection was ten times the size.  I made a vow then to give them what I would not keep.

I do not wish to just disentangle myself.  If I can help others then I will do it.  Let all that I so foolishly gathered and hoarded go to help so many others.  My goals for 2017 are simple.  I must do all I can to mend and heal myself.  Not just for the sake of others but for myself.  But those details are for another post.  I will continue to untangle myself from material possessions.  Unburying myself. I will continue to ask myself why I have kept something, does it still fit into my life, is there someone else who could use it more. 

January 19, 2017
Since writing down the aforementioned thoughts I have moved forward in my goals in small ways here and there.  I’ve sorted some of my clothes (short and long sleeved shirts to be exact), purses, and scarfs.  I’ve also cleared a lot of paperwork from my desk either by filing them or tossing/shredding them. I still have much to do.

Aside and perhaps along with the idea of letting things go, there is the question of why I have hung on to other things in life. I plan to apply this to non-material things as well.  All the sewing, crafting, and art projects I’ve held onto yet haven’t completed or, in some cases, haven’t even started, am I really REALLY going to get around to doing them?  If not, then is it time to let it go? 
The biggest question I’m facing is, what about my writing?  In therapy I figured out that my writing had a place when I was younger.  The stories/fantasies that I created in my childhood were an escape from the things that were going on around me.  [My childhood was not as pleasant as one would hope for.]  But I’m not in those same circumstances now.  Also, it is becoming harder for me to sit down and complete the story/book ideas that come to me.  I have thought I wanted to be a writer since I was 12 years old. Now, I’m not so sure that is the right fit for me.  I’ve read what different writers have said online about what it takes to be a writer and the actual creation seems like it’s only 20% of what is needed.  Writers have to be strong and able to take criticism. They have to have thick skin.  They have to be organized and have a bit of business sense.  I feel that I’m lacking in many of these regards.  So after 35 years of assuming that my career will eventually be that of a writer, I question whether this is just a childhood fantasy that became more like an obsession.  I fantasized about writing great novels and having throngs of readers. Perhaps this was just a manifestation of my need to find a way to fit in, a way to feel wanted/included.

I have a lot of work to do in 2017.  Not just with cleaning out my closets and downsizing and letting go, but with reorganizing my life.  I’m probably (hopefully) at the midpoint in my life.  I may live to be in my 80’s or even 90’s.  So what do I do with the rest of my life? Do I give up on things I’ve played at for 25 or 35 years? Or do I redouble my efforts?  Where do I go from here?  This isn’t a fantasy, a musical, or a best seller. I can’t rely on a happily ever after ending.  This is life in real time. How is that time best spent – for me, for my family?