Distant

The last few months I have had a case of the slow, or maybe the cuddles.   It is kind of like depression, but without as much sadness.  I haven’t felt motivated to write, garden, or go to social events.  Mostly I want to sleep, watch TV, and knit.

Sock

On the upside, I’ve finished several knitting projects.  On the downside, I am behind on editing my novel, the garden is a mess, and I haven’t been blogging.  That is going to change.  I have a goal to write 100,000 words before my birthday in July and to blog at least once a week.   That will be easier now that my blog looks so amazing thanks to the awesome Issa Waters of http://lovelivegrow.com/.  She is a great blogger who writes about homesteading, parenting, body/fat acceptance and social issues.

This might sound odd, but I think taking Zoloft has been partly to blame.  With my anxiety being lower, everything seems less important.  I don’t feel as stressed about anything, so I don’t have as much reason to push myself.  I got on the Zoloft in order to be able to do more social events and maybe get back into the world of business, but now that I am so much more Zen, I don’t actually care about making people like me or being “seen,” and I am not as worried about money.  There is a balance that must be found between loving the life I have and also wanting to make my life better.  I am a little too content recently.

The last few weeks my motivation has increased enough to write down some long and short term goals, get the house back in working order, and start this year’s gardening.   I also started work on a few writing projects.

In case you are wondering what I have been up to these last six months:

I went to Dragon Con for the first time in about eight years. It was a big deal for me to go to something with so many people and not freak out.  I don’t know exactly how many people there were, but it might have been the biggest crowd I have ever been in.  There were a few scary moments, like being stuck in human traffic jams on the sky bridge.  Overall I had fun and even bought tickets for next year.   Some of the highlights for me were playing dress up, looking at all the great costumes,  hearing several great bands, and seeing some of my favorite writers such as Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest live.  I like to imagine that someday I will be up in front of a crowd talking about my writing.gothNurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my best friends moved in with us, which has been awesome.  We have been having lots of fun mini-adventures when she can tempt me away from the TV.  I used to think that having roommates would be horrible, but now after having several I find that I like it.  When she moves out, I might have to find another one.L and Ninja

She exercises everyday which has gotten me back into the habit.  I love exercise; feeling my heart pumping and my muscles burning.  I like how good exercise makes me feel, but I hate exercise videos because they talk about weight, fat, pounds, etc. all the time. The thin ladies in the videos often chastise the viewer for being lazy or tell us not to have jiggly arms.   Shaun T’s videos have the least fat bashing, so I do those most.  I am seriously thinking about putting together a body positive exercise video for people like me who want to exercise because they like it and don’t want to be shamed in the process.  I find that exercise makes me a little more aware of my body and not always in a good, emotionally healthy way. I don’t need people in the TV adding to my issues.

I took a trip to Baltimore in November to eat crab cakes and be emo.  I did some sightseeing and went to several museums.  I recommend the Ripley’s museum if you ever find yourself there, we danced, played, created, climbed through a tooth pick city, watched teenagers run head first in to mirrors and saw some weird shit.  It was interactive and informative on things I find interesting, like carnies and giant mummified whale penises. Speaking of mummies, the science museum had an awesome mummy exhibit, you should go see that too.

Rick

Whale

Tight rope

 

 

goth 2

 

 

fish

 

 

 

 

 

Attempted NaNoWriMo and failed.  I thought I would do great this time, since I finished last year and had fun doing it. I started out strong, going to the social events, outlining a bit of a plot, even wrote a few pages.  Then I hit a wall because I wanted to be culturally sensitive and I was working in a genre that I normally don’t write in.  I will do better next year.

I read the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson, which was pretty good.  Currently I’m reading “Ship of Theseus,” which is written in a strange and interesting way. It is two stories: one being told in the normal way, and the other being told in the margins, by two people passing the book back and forth. I finished the “novel” part of it, which was good, but not great, and seemed to be trying way too hard to be weird and mysterious.

Mookie

Other than that, I went to a few plays and movies, spent a little time with friends, watched a lot of Adventure Time, created art, learned a few pieces on the piano and annoyed my cats

 

Butterfly?

It’s easy to never leave. Anything I need can be delivered.
Nexflix to watch, Amazon to read, groceries dropped off for a small fee.

You say I must go out, be part of the world.

You say I have friends, should have friends, or will have friends depending on your argument for the day.

You tell me people interact, they build bonds, tribes, families. Come out you say, to a movie or a play. Let’s go visit this person or that and pretend they’re happy to see you.

Put on a nice dress and a smile. Nothing is prettier than a smile.

You list out my virtues, telling me all the reasons people like me: brains, humor, talent, imagination, compassion.

But your logic is weak. It’s based on people being reasonable and stable. It relies on them choosing simple over complex, and easy over exciting. You think other people are rational like you. You think they value substance over form.

I was thin and pretty when you met me. I was full of excitement and energy. I wasn’t afraid all the time, every moment of every day. I had big plans. Today I was supposed to be a CPA, a senior accountant on my way to CFO. I was going to wear nice suits and go to power lunches. I wanted to be a mother.

Instead I’m an unemployed cat lady in her pajamas peering out the window, checking all the locks.

You fell in love with my heart, which aside from the lack of courage has not changed. You fell in love with how much I love you, and love me for how much I love you still.

This me happened in slow motion and backwards.

Frame by frame, a butterfly goes back into the cocoon.
A beautiful garden becomes an empty lot.
A confident woman becomes a frightened child.

How is it that when you look at me you still see a butterfly?

butterfly

***

This was written for the trifecta prompt Weak -3: not factually grounded or logically presented

I am 5 days into taking SSRIs for the first time. It is not supposed to do anything yet, but I feel horrible. My anxiety is way higher than normal, I feel alienated and depressed. This poem or prose, or whatever it is, is not very good but it is what I felt like doing today.

Brain Meds

I’ve always said I wouldn’t take any sort of medicine to regulate emotions or brain chemicals. I’m of the opinion that this is my brain and I am the boss of it. I should just take control and make it do what I want. And most of the time this works. If I am feeling depressed I force myself, sometimes in tears, to do tasks. If I am feeling anxiety I try to hide it. If I am frightened I tell myself to deal with it.

However, over the last few years the anxiety has been getting worse and worse. I don’t have a job now, because I just can’t deal with being away from my home every day. I’m afraid to finish my novel. I’m afraid to send in the several short stories I have ready for submission, because I can’t deal with the rejection. I went from having a large social network to feeling alienated from almost everyone. I tried to join a new social group recently; people I should have fit in with perfectly, mostly geeks, gamers, hippies and music people, but had to give up after a few months when I realized it just wasn’t working.

It is so bad that my garden is suffering because I sometimes have too much anxiety to even go into the yard.

Several months ago a friend gave me a few Xanax and for the first time in years the anxiety stopped, if only for a few hours. It was pretty amazing. I used them from time to tim, for social events to make it easier, but then I ran out. At this point I decided to go to a psychiatrist, mostly just to get more Xanax.

I’m not sure why Xanax did not seem to break my rule. I guess there are a lot of reasons. First of all it was given to me by a friend, not forced on me by a doctor so it felt different, like how some people have a beer after work to unwind. Almost recreational, like my brain was taking a nice relaxing bubble bath. Also it was not every day, not even every week. It was only when I needed it so I didn’t feel chained to it. It made me feel better, but nothing bad happened if I didn’t have it.

Yesterday was my first appointment with the psychiatrist. We talked about the anxiety and what might be causing it, touching on childhood head injuries, abuse, and family history. She feels that I could get addicted to Xanax, and to be honest I agree. Almost everyone in my family has a chemical dependency problem; I’m amazed I have gotten this far without developing one. The doctor wants me to start taking Zoloft, she says it should help decrease my over all anxiety making everything easier. She also gave me some Xanax to take only for social situations.

Here is a neat catch 22. I told her the idea of taking the Zoloft freaked me out and she said of course it does – anyone with my type of anxiety would be freaked out by taking a new medication. This is something I have thought about before, how much of what I do is caused by my anxiety or other issues. How about my feelings about my issues? I have had to be rather strong and develop all sorts of tricks and skills to deal with being the person I am, useful skills that I am glad I have. But this is too much to get into now, maybe a later blog post about it.

Long story short, I took the first dose last night of Zoloft last night. I am feeling very conflicted and confused about this decision. By taking it does that mean I have given up control of myself? Have I decided that I am not good enough the way I am? Am I going to change, and in what way? Is this going to impact my writing and other creative pursuits negatively?

I know this medication takes weeks before it does anything, but for the sake of good record keeping I am going to try to keep track of my mood. Today my anxiety is higher than normal. I have low self-confidence but I seem to be highly motivated, having already completed several tasks. I am also a little more emotional in general. I kind of want to get back in bed and cry for a bit.

Socially Transmitted Insanity

I wrote the following for this week’s Trifecta prompt “infect”.  This piece is not clean or polite.

***

Writing was the calling and fetish of the mad.

Those with demanding demons and dangerous desires took up the pen when the pressure of being, being alive, being buzzy broken, being bold, being beaten, became too great, ejaculating misspelled, grammatically incorrect, beautiful, tragic, hot life onto paper, and into the minds of the lifeless.

Mom read a bit of Kerouac after putting little Timmy down to nap.  For an hour she ran away from spit up, jello molds and obligatory missionary sex.  She huddled in the bed of a rusted out pickup truck, smoking reefer and looking up at the endless desert celestium.  She had freedom of the open road from her comfortable chintz sofa or mint-green kitchen chair.  She went to the clinic of depravity where Doctors Lovecraft, Shelley, and Poe injected dried up wickedness to vaccinate her from smothering her tow hair cherub-cheeked darling with a stuffed bear while he slept.

Dad spent the night on underage heroin addicted hookers with Hunter, while never straying from the sanctity of marriage. He learned to appreciate his own comfortable life after embracing loneliness, alienation, and self-loathing with Salinger and Falkner.

Sane people could open their wet willing minds and pull in a little insanity.

Everyone needs a release.  Society can’t function if all the drones have hum-drum blue balls.  The masses jack off with words to stay proper, and all it costs is the minds of a few mad ones, who fuck themselves raw, lubing up with cocaine, reds, alcohol, acid, and opium.  A few crazy bastards burning, pumping out their souls for everyone.

Now the mad ones take mood stabilizers and SSRIs, trimmed wick, limp-dicked.  The vaccine no longer produced, because it turns out normalcy was the disease.  You infect us, self-help books on my shelf, coffee in my mouth.  Your suburban fantasies slip in as you stroke my hair, whispering sweet goals and profit projections.

Sane people in creative writing classes train for a proper vocation.

Madness is epidemic.

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Fuck Facebook

I have been back on facebook for a week now.

I feel horrible. Maybe it is not related, maybe it is. I slept until 11am today and yet I feel exhausted right now. I have a social event to go tonight and it feels huge and scary. I just want to go back to bed. It is pretty and sunny outside, I should be out there planting seeds, transplanting seedling and making my world beautiful. But I am in here beating myself up for how little I have gotten done this week.

As of last Thursday the house looked great, so clean. Now it is starting to be a bit of a mess. I have not edited my novel at all this week. I wrote a new story for Trifecta, but have not be able to motivate myself to read the other submission yet, which sucks because I know for a fact that I love some of these people writing. I would get enjoyment out of reading them, but the commenting seems so hard. I have not painted, but I have played the piano a little.

My task list started to take the place of facebook. I would come look at my tasks, pick one and do it. When checked it off I got a little dose of pleasure and pride. Now all my tasks look pointless or else overly difficult.

I found myself getting mad about people on social media again last night. People say stupid things, rude things, mean things and I get so mad. I want to punish strangers and I find myself hating people I have been “friends” with for years. Even people I am friends with in real life, who I actually like are so stupid on social media, so empty headed, judgmental and cruel. I know I am a bit of a troll. But I can’t seem to help it, when people’s words hurt me I find myself wanting to hurt them. In real life when people say things that upset me I normally just walk about, but on social media I can’t. Because unlike spoken words which break apart and float away as soon as they are said the status stay, and I can read the mean and stupid words over and over and over. And I do.

I have facebook closed right now, but I want to open it back up so badly. Has anyone commented? Are there any cute pictures? Can it fix me, can it take away the pain I feel right now?

Why does this have to be the way we communicate? Was a born in the wrong time? Will I always feel this disconnected and alone?

I am sure this post has lots of typos and mistakes. I don’t care. Editing it seems pointless, because odds are no one is going to read it anyway. I just write this shit for myself, because I can’t afford therapy. Which is for the best, because I find other people’s public displays of weakness appalling.

No Easy Path

Path

My goal is the top of the mountain, but I can’t seem to stay on one path walking straight up. I walk around it, paths crossing and forking, sometimes turning in on themselves. Often I’m going back down towards gray cubicals and financial statements, where heavy air is pumped in to keep alive hands click, clicking on keyboards, where flickering computer screens illuminate glazed eyes and tight jaws. Down there, I’m grounded, approaching stable.

At the top of the mountain the air will be light and dizzy. I will be standing on winners peak looking out at 360 degrees of possibility.

Currently in the forest I pick my way among roots and rocks. In eternal green-gold dusk time is meaningless. Hours and days melt together, each one different and unique in the same way trees are, ways not worth mentioning, that don’t matter when you have a forest of them blocking your view in every direction. Here is both tranquil and terrifying. I’m accustomed to the solitude and cool moist air smelling of decay. Woodland creatures play out fantasy worlds created and destroyed by my thoughts. I could be happy here, in that crazy aunt in the attic with origami birds and cuneiform trees way, but for the wolf.

She always around, sometimes so far away I can lie saying she’s the wind rudely shoving tight knit branches. Sometimes she’s so close I smell her breath. She snaps at me, closing off this path, hurrying me down another, The wolf howl’s screaming “NOW” when in my mother’s voice I think “too late, too late”. This is the time to become who I am going to be, to walk back down or find the smooth path up.

But wanting and doing, knowing and achieving are not the same things. I have turned so often I’m not sure which way is up.

I whistle a bit of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and keep walking, my woodland friends keeping me company in top hat and tails.

This was written for this weeks trifecta challenge, click above for the details and to read more submissions.

A Fortnight without Facebook – Complete

Normally I write fiction for the Trifecta prompt. That was on the to-do list for later today, but then I found that the word “juggle” being on my mind jumped into this piece of personal blogging. Enjoy a bit of my less-exciting real life:

I went two weeks without Facebook or Google+. In one hour I go back. I feel apprehensive. Aside from a little loneliness, it’s been a great two weeks. I’ve done editing, dancing, art, cleaned house, and gardened. My anxiety decreased, and overall I’m happier.

However, my stress now is high, just thinking about Facebook. It’s too much, which sounds silly, as it’s just a big page of people saying little things, but it’s so much pressure for me. I can’t juggle real life and virtual existence. The constant urge to check it, looking every five minutes for fear of missing something. I went two weeks without it. Obviously there was nothing important. The pressure to say something witty. When I comment on a status, I’m an insecure person at a party, desperately trying to seem relevant. When I post something, I’m a yippy dog barking for attention.

I’m not a one-sentence person, nor should I need other people’s approval. The last few weeks I mostly didn’t. I felt good because of what I accomplished and created, not for how many likes I got. What social media gives is not what I need. I want friends to work on hobbies, do activities, and actually care about each other’s lives. I don’t want hundreds of acquaintances, all barking simultaneously.

I need a plan. I have to keep my author page, because someday I will have fans. As for my personal page, I don’t know. I’ve tried time limits and schedules but it never worked. I don’t think it will work now. Once I start reading I can’t stop; once I post I become tethered. Maybe I could cut my friends list, but I don’t know who to cut. Should I delete it? If I do, I will never hear about social events, as I will not be invited directly. Will I become a social hermit? If two weeks without Facebook is a cabin vacation, deleting it is going to live alone in a cave.

Fortnight without Facebook – Day 8

I will risk the cliché and say that time has slowed down. It is 9:01 am, and it feels around lunch time already. There is more time to do things, and nothing feels as hurried. My house is cleaner than it has been for a while, and I am thinking about reorganizing and taking some extra things to Goodwill. I have been working in the garden, editing my novel, writing short stories, and playing the piano. I have a stack of books I have been wanting to read, and I think I might actually start on them today instead of reading Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch books over and over (I have comfort books. It’s a thing). I went to belly dance drills on Tuesday and I have a yoga class tonight. I got out a half-finished sock I gave up knitting several years ago which I plan to figure out.

The days are open.

My stress is so much lower that I am even thinking about getting a job outside of the home, which normally would put me into a panic. It is strange how in the center of a stressful situation, even if you know the things that would help fix it, the idea of doing them seems impossible. Money has been a big point of stress for me for a little while now. We were doing great while I had an accounting job, and even great while I was on unemployment. I had enough saved up that for a few months after the unemployment stopped we were fine. This has been a wonderful year for working on my writing, and I firmly believe that someday I will make at least a minimum wage income off of my overactive imagination. I am so frugal that it would be plenty. Right now I am making an average of $10 a month, which is a good start. I am not complaining; to be making anything at all in an artistic career should be counted as success. I have enough confidence in my writing that I think even with a job I would still write; not as much, but I would keep doing it.

I plan to do a very small Kickstarter once I finish editing my Young Adult novel. Not money to pay me for the writing of it or anything. I want to have a professional editor look at it, which I think will run me about $250. And I would like to pay the cover artist, Jamie Moore, who did the cover of Treacherous Nature for free earlier this year. It would also be nice to get a few physical copies of the book to start with and maybe a box of business cards for it. I think I could do all that for about $350. If Amanda Palmer, who is already rich, can get $600,000, then I should be able to get $350. But I am getting off topic. That is at least a month away.

I have enjoyed not having social media and I am starting to not even miss it. I’m still afraid that important things are going on without me, but not as much as a few days ago. I’m reaching out more, intentionally connecting with people I care about instead of throwing out word-nets and hoping to catch someone.

A Fortnight without Facebook

Day 1

I have a social media addiction. I love the little happy burst I get when someone replies to my posts. It is a sweet cyber-hug that tingles my whole body with joy. Sounds great. But when I am sad, I try to make myself feel loved by posting on a social media sites and them obsessively staring at it all day. If I don’t get the right number or type of responses, I get sadder. Sometimes I will be having a great day and then not getting enough Facebook or Google+ love can ruin it. This often happens on story posting days. I will post a story on here and then push it to my social media. None of my friends read the story, which is fine of course; no one has to read my stories. And yet, I get so sad. I feel like that lonely little kid I used to be, sitting behind a tree listening to the other children play, wishing they liked me.

I can get the same happy brain chemicals by completing chores and tasks, by writing stories, working in my garden, actually talking to a friend. But once I get stuck in the “no one loves me” zone, I can’t seem to do anything but beg for social media attention.

This is not healthy for me. This is repeating old patterns that I felt I had long since moved past.

So starting today I am on a 2-week social media fast. I wish it could be more, but as an indie author, social media is important to letting people know about my books. I am still going to blog, which is in my opinion a higher-value use of my time.

Right now I feel panicky. Sick to my stomach. Before I closed Facebook and Google+ I posted a status update about this. Are people replying to it? Are they asking me questions? How many likes do I have? It has only been 30 minutes, and I want to go check it.

The important thing for me to keep in mind is the time I am getting back. These are a few of the things I can do with my extra 4 hours every day:

Write more stories
Read a few books
Practice the piano more
Get the house really clean
Work on my garden
Take a walk
Paint
Bake
Talk one-on-one with friends
Plan a party
Exercise
Scrapbook
Knit
Take naps
I will post here from time to time about how life is different without social media.

Wish me luck.

Thank You to My Tens of Fans

First off, I have been out of town for the last week in Chicago, so I have been too busy having fun to post to my blog. Also sadly too busy with the fun to get much work done on my novel, which I am about 5000 words behind on. But don’t worry, I will work hard and get caught back up soon.

Today, what with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I wanted to write a little thank you note to some people who are making this becoming a professional writer thing a lot easier. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book or told people about it. I can’t express how much your support means to me. I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. In fact my first memory of it was a summer night when I was ‘swimming’ in the above ground pool my mom had just gotten. It was a full moon that night and I wrote a poem while I floated around. Of course my little poem when I was 8 was not very good, but I still have it around here someplace. It was that night that I first thought that someday maybe people would want to read my thoughts and care about the things I make up.

Anyway, since I was 8, I have been writing and dreaming of someday having people read my stories, and even better of being able to make a living off of people reading my stories. When I was 11, I got a type writer for Christmas (not a useful tool when you are a horrible speller). But until this year I have always been too afraid to actually give being a professional writer a a try; afraid of rejection, afraid of not being very good, and afraid of losing the dream forever if the reality was that I could not do it.

Something changed this year. I think the first change was when I realized that sometimes people write stories and books that are not “masterpieces” and they do just fine. I don’t have to write something so OMG amazing that it rocks the world. I just have to write.

The second thing was that I can publish my own stuff. I don’t need any “professional” publisher’s approval to be awesome. I can be awesome any time I want, no waiting.

So between giving myself permission to not be ‘great’ and the ability to self publish, my last fear was just that I might lose the dream. Fuck a whole bunch of that. What is the point of a dream if you never even attempt it? It was time to stop waiting around for someone or something else to convince me to write and publish. It was time to take control and do it.

So I did. I worked hard and I wrote something. Yay! But some of that fear was still there. What if no one read it? What if everyone thought I was being dumb and made fun of me? What if it just sits there on the internet getting cyber-dusty? What if this is it, no one buys it, and I lose faith in myself and the dream really does die?

But then people stepped up and bought my book. Most of them are my friends in real life, supporting my creativity. But some stranger has bought “Treacherous Nature”. Friends and strangers alike, it has meant so much to me. Each time I sell a copy I feel so happy, and I feel the urge to keep going. I even sold a story to a publisher. I am writing a novel. I am submitting several stories every month. I am getting paid to write. And I don’t think I would still be working so hard if it were not for all the wonderful people who have bought my book, asked what I was working on, told people about me, commented on my blog, and just said “Good Luck!” or “You can do it” when I needed it.

I don’t want to sound too cosmic space bunny here, but this process is not just about writer and words. The reader is just as important. So, if you are reading this  — Thank You! If you have read my book THANK YOU!!!!!!