April Fool’s

Today is April Fool’s Day, which I always thought was a kind of fun thing when I was a kid, but became more of a pain in the butt as I grew older.  I liked the idea of pranks, but never the prank itself. Then, 25 years ago, something happened that I wouldn’t call a prank, but sort of felt like one at the time.

A couple of days beforehand, my mother told me a secret.  She took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.  We were driving to our house in Kenmore from who-knows-where and I don’t really recall my reaction.  I didn’t think much of it.  To be honest, my twelve-year-old brain went straight to “she probably is just going through menopause.”

Then, April Fool’s Day.  Mom received a call from the doctor, confirming that she was indeed pregnant.  For a second there, I was waiting for the nurse to say “Ha-ha April Fool’s!” but I later learned that would have been very unprofessional.  Mom and Dad cried and hugged and I kind of smiled and went with it because what choice did I have?

Mom told me not to tell anyone but I went bowling later that day with my friend Jill and told her immediately.  The next morning in homeroom, I told my best friend, Christina.  Her response?  “Oh my God.  Your parents still have sex??”  Thanks, Chris, for that imagery. 

On Easter, we told the family.

Now, a little background on my mom:  she was 40, and she had her tubes tied after she had me.  So, really, it’s no surprise that my aunt yelled out “Holy shit!” in the middle of church when my dad told my grandma during the Sign of Peace.  Everyone was crying, and after Mass the priest even came to ask us what had happened. 

We went to my Aunt Ellie’s after, and they called my Aunt Cathy and told her we were having a family meeting.  Well, she comes over all in a panic because we have never had a family meeting before, and she thinks grandpa’s dying or something.  Dad told her the news, and she was both overjoyed and furious with him for stressing her out.  Then, a few days later, I spent the night at my Gram’s.  I was pouring syrup on my pancakes when Aunt Mary came in the kitchen.  She wasn’t at Easter, and somehow, she hadn’t heard.  I don’t know how that’s possible given my family, but there it is.  So, Gram urged me to tell her, and I did: “Mom’s having a baby.”  Mary then proceeded to yell at me about how that wasn’t a funny joke until Gram stepped in and vouched for me.  Anyway, my family was very excited.  Which was cool, to me, because I loved my family and if they were happy, I was happy.

I spent about seven months going about my happy little day without a care in the world.  Then, mom landed in the hospital for a month.  I survived on frozen lasagnas from my aunts and spent a lot of quality time with dad, but the whole baby-arrival thing still didn’t hit me.  It didn’t even hit me on Halloween, 1996, as they wheeled my mother into the delivery room while she was wearing a headband that had wobbly bats on it.  I wish I had a picture.

When it hit me finally, she was already here.  She was in an incubator being wheeled down a hallway and she was all red and her head looked like a turnip.

I washed my hands and arms up to the elbow.  I put on a gown and a paper hat, and I went in and sat in a rocking chair.  A nurse put her in my arms.

She was so small.

I took my finger and poked at her palm, and her tiny hand curled around my fingertip. “Hello, Bernadette,” I said. “I am your sister.”

Yeah, I was a self-centered preteen at the time who really didn’t grasp the life changes a baby would bring.  And it was hard, in coming years, for me to adjust to the new situation.  But everyday I would see her, and she would need me, and then I would do anything to make her smile.  April Fool’s Day is not my sister’s birthday, but it is the start of our adventure with her, and I wouldn’t change anything. 

Except maybe they could have called on April 2nd

Me and my little monkey.

A Shot in the Dark

Today I am going for my second dose of the Covid vaccine.  I am prepared to feel crappy tomorrow, though I didn’t the first time, so who knows?  I was talking with E about shots the other day, and how she isn’t scared of needles.  She’s a brave girl.  I remembered back to how I felt about shots as a child…it wasn’t good.  There is one vaccine that I’m not 100% sure got in my system., because I refused the shot and when they gave me a liquid vaccine for it, I spit it in the doctor’s face.

My first blood draw, I was maybe 8 or 9.  I was in the hospital for the first time since my birth, and the doc needed blood to figure out what was wrong.

Mom gave me my teddy bear to hold and I tried to be brave and was even curious when the nurse said she was going to use a “butterfly needle.” But then, I panicked, and I kicked that nurse square in the chest.  They had to hold me down to get the blood.  It was not my finest hour.

Then came diabetes at 16, and with that, regular blood work and insulin injections.  If there is any silver liming to diabetes, it is that you learn not to fear needles very quickly.  Firstly, insulin needles just do not feel the way any other needle does.  It’s barely anything.  You’re injecting into fat, not muscle like you would with other shots.  This involves less nerves.  Plus, the needle is super thin, and the thinner it is the less it will hurt.  Blood draws were more painful. after a while I got used to them, and would just look the other way and take a deep breath and wait for the moment to pass.

Then, about five years ago, came gastroparesis, which meant I was getting blood draws and IVs repeatedly. Eventually, my veins blew.

Like…all of the them.

They started using my hands when the arms died.  When those blew, they started forgoing IVs and just giving me muscular shots for medication, which sting.  Then they take blood from my wrists, which hurt at first but doesn’t so much now. 

Last time I was in there, I had to have a central line put in, which is a tube that goes in your neck.  It’s as horrifying as it sounds.  First, you get a shot to numb the area, then they put the thing in, and then they stitch it up.  The whole time, you are lying on your back with plastic sheeting over your face.  That seemed to be the worst part for me though, the feeling of being trapped; of suffocation. 

They gave me my meds through it and it felt like a train hit me, and then I passed out. 

If 8- or 9-year-old me could see me now.  Voluntarily driving two hours away for the sole purpose of a jab in the arm?  Little Brigid would have none of that nonsense.  Heck, you would figure even Big Brigid wouldn’t be interested, what with all the extracurricular pokes and prods I receive.  Alas, here we are.

My parents are now fully vaccinated.  I am about to be fully vaccinated.  Many of my friends and family are in process of getting vaccinated.  Soon, hopefully, we can all breath a collective sigh of relief.

I remain hopeful.

Collector’s Edition

When I was a small child, I collected rocks.  I liked all rocks, but ones with pretty colors and shapes were my favorite, and would immediately end up in my pocket to come home to the tin can I kept them in.  I would lay them out on the floor and count and sort them, by color, by size, by type…I liked learning about different rocks.  When we went on vacations or day trips, I would buy precious rocks from stores as souvenirs.  I know I had my collection for a very long time, well into my 20s, but I have no idea now what happened to it…must’ve been lost in a move.

In middle school, I started collecting stickers.  I had a blue and purple photo album that I would stick them in.  I would then spend an hour counting them, and double checking, to see how many I had: which is a big fat OCD red flag.  I remember one in particular that was a bag of Doritos and a scratch-and-sniff, so it smelled like nacho cheese.  I don’t know what happened to them, either.

In high school, I collected cows.  Of course, not actual cows, but figurines and such.  Things with cows on them.  I liked cows-I thought of them as big dogs and they are my favorite farm animal.   People would buy me cow stuff as gifts.  When I went to Girl Scout camp, my mother made me a little cubby out of a crate, and covered it in cow print fabric.  I don’t know how many cows I had, and I am sure I counted them, but over the years many things broke or got lost, and now I have no cows, except a cow kitchen timer I got from my friend Chelsea and the cow-shaped creamer I got for Christmas from…mom?

In my 20s, I collected nothing but bad decisions.  Ha, not really.  Purses-I was big on purses, particularly Kate Spade’s. I couldn’t afford the real thing though, so I had several knockoffs.  One day I gave them away to my friend’s daughter.  I kind of wish I kept one, though, now that she is gone.  Even if it was a knockoff.  (I do have a genuine wallet, though.  That’s gonna stay with me forever.)

In my 30s I got married, and I got this curio cabinet, and had nothing to put in it.  Until one day, I received a wedding gift from my best friend from elementary school. This chick sent me all the crystal in Ireland!  A butter dish, a creamer dish, a sugar bowl, and two sets of glasses-all Irish crystal.  And, better to me than all of that, a Belleek platter.

My mother loves Belleek.  We don’t have a whole lot in common when it comes to style, but we definitely agree on this beautiful Irish china with tiny shamrocks on it.  After I got the platter, she got me a Belleek St. Brigid’s cross ornament for Christmas.  It hangs prominently on the tree every year.  Its only two pieces, but this is no rocks or stickers, mind you.  Can’t just find these for under a buck at the corner store, or under your feet on the way to school.  This is more of a lifetime collection for me, something I intend to add to a little through the years.

On the cheaper side of things, though, I have started collecting Rae Dunn pieces.  She does pottery that I like.  I never really cared about things like that, but one day Mark bought me a mug that said “Feminist” on it, by her, and I loved it.  I loved how simple it was; how imperfect it was.  I only have a few pieces, but at least with this collection I can justify the cost because pretty much everything has a purpose.  My favorite piece I have is below, my boss lady nameplate.  Boss Lady became my nickname when I went on the cruise with my sister, and since I started publishing, I have taken strength from that title.  Also pictured are my newest additions, and let me tell ya, that little honey pot might actually be beating out boss lady for favorite piece now.

Anyway.

It occurred to me the other day that I have always been a collector of things, and if I had the time and money I would collect A LOT more things.  I watch shows like American Pickers and think “now those people have the right idea.”  And yes, I am referring both to the pickers AND the hoarders.

So, I gotta watch myself so I don’t go picking up every rock I see.

It also occurred to me that collecting was a total and terrible sign of OCD for me.  Counting is and was my biggest obstacle with my disorder-I count everything.  Steps, especially, and I even got myself a Fitbit solely so that when I started counting my head, I can tell myself that I don’t have to because my watch is taking care of it.  It works, for a while.  But every time, eventually, I start counting again.  It is the one lingering symptom of my OCD that no pill can seem to fix.

However, it brings me joy.  I mean, I woke this morning and saw that little honey pot and thought “gee, that’s adorable” and it brought a smile to my face.  So, yeah, I’m going to collect things by the artist I like and let them bring me a little happiness.  And on particularly special occasions, I might even add to my Belleek collection. 

Sometimes, when we are out fishing, I will find a particularly cool rock.  I will pick it up and put it in my pocket.  Often, it disappears, but sometimes I reach into that pocket a few days later, and feel the little stone in my hand, and smile.

Also, some stickers lol.

Spring Forward

I am currently sitting in my office, my favorite room in the house, which I have just cleaned and smells like roses and peonies because I got a new candle.  The door is wide open and I can feel the sunlight on my back and the fresh air billowing in as I type.  I wonder if a poem will strike.  I don’t expect it today, you see, but soon.  Soon, they will spill forth like they always do when I have shaken off the last of the winter doldrums that I carry with me.

In winter, which I do love for its coziness and holidays and snowy mornings, I find myself unfortunately depressed, as is the case with Seasonal Affect Disorder.  I mean, that’s not a diagnosis I have, I have Major Depressive Disorder which just means I’m depressed no matter the weather.  It is, however, worse in the winter, especially in January and February.  By the middle of March, I often feel as though I am hanging on by a thread, and then-miracle of miracles-we change the clocks back.  A resounding sigh of relief echoes across America. 

Listen, my global community friends, I don’t know what to tell you.  It’s a ridiculous little old rule with no current use and we all hate it.  We are living in miserable agony as we watch 4pm sunsets.  Please bear with us.

Oh, but when we change back!  When we jump forward!

It’s been a week and my sleeping scheduled has already completely changed for the better.  I feel normal again, and it’s like I didn’t even realize it wasn’t normal before.  I feel generally more positive as I soak in as much sunshine as I can.  Today, my legs hurt, but in a good way…not in the “I’ve been on the couch for three days, oh god, I gotta get up and move” way, but in a “I walked several miles this weekend, oh god, I gotta sit down” way.  Because I could.  Because there’s no move flipping snow on the ground, and I don’t mind playing in the mud so long as the sun is out. 

We spent the weekend hitting up some of our favorite fishing spots, and that was nice even though we didn’t catch anything.  It was just good to be outdoors.

And it’s good to have doors to open, like my office door which has sunshine streaming though it right now. 

I sat down to work today for the first time in a long time because I have been so ill.  I mean, yeah, sure, first I cleaned the office because it had become a sort of staging ar4ea for other stuff in the house while I was out.  But then I sat down to type, my list of tasks for the day beside me, and I started this blog. I thought, for a moment, that I caught a whiff of a poem, so I stopped and popped over to my poetry file for a moment, but nothing came. It ebbs and flows, but I feel it rising.  I have many creative pursuits planned during my recovery time, and I hope that working on some new poems falls into that plan as well.

In the meantime, the old poems: an update.

Still out here trying to sell A Lovely Wreckage.

Furthermore, still querying (Un)Requited.  I received a LOVELY rejection the other day.  The first.  Essentially, they said it was great but didn’t fit the catalogue, which I kind of figured when I looked though their offerings.  However, chapbook presses are few and far between, so you can count on that baby ending up in your inbox at some point if you are even remotely interested in publishing chapbooks.

Meanwhile, its been “in-progress” on Submittable at another place since mid-January, so finger’s crossed.

So, good weather makes me think of poems, but apparently can’t just make me create them on the spot.  Which is fine.  I will wait.  Things are only just starting to grow, anyway.

Stimulation

One day, I accidentally left the car door unlocked and someone rifled though it in the night.  They were kind enough to take nothing, not even the pennies in the change slot or the bottle of Hawaiian Punch in the backseat.  These, of course, were the two priciest items in the car, automobile itself excluded.  I am always careful to lock the car now, but it is really a great illustration of our finances during the pandemic.

You can’t rob me, I got nothing to take.

So, when I originally thought of this blog post, I was a little wary because I had read an article online saying you shouldn’t talk about your stimulus check because people will try to rob you.  Then I remembered, oh yeah, my stimulus check is gone.

It was gone so fast my bank called to make sure I was okay.  I am not joking.  At 9am I started paying bills.  At 9:15 they called, after the third large transaction.  After explaining that yes, I was me, and yes, I was paying off a year of debt, they let me go on my way to spend further.

I know some people have fun plans for their stimmy, but we did not.  I’ll tell you my big let’s-stimulate-the-economy purchases: a box of hair dye, a pair of everyday shoes, and a purse.  Nothing fancy-the shoes are Sketchers.  The purse is by god-knows-who, it’s just the exact style I was looking for in a summer bag; something functional and midsized. Went a little silly with the hair dye and got burgundy for the first time since I was 22. Those are my wild and crazy stimmy purchases. 

Hubs went a little wilder and got a VR headset, which I knew was going to happen from the moment L came over with his, but he got it secondhand and paid about as much as I did for my items.  He is extremely excited to show it off to my dad, which I am sure I will write about at some point. 

Anyway, he got that and I got shoes and every other penny went to the bills.  And last night, I slept like a baby.

See, I wasn’t worrying about the call I got last week from National Grid, warning me that they would be doing shutoffs again.  I’d yet to hear anything from National Fuel, but that was sure to be next.  We have been miraculously able to keep up with out rent payments during this time, and I do feel that we are truly blessed there, but the money going to utilities during the pandemic had slowed to a trickle.  This affects me on a slightly personal level.  When Mark and I moved in together oh-so-long-ago, the agreement was always that he would cover rent while I covered utilities.  Of course, in a committed partnership over the years, you have to bend and sway in the breeze-sometimes one person is carrying more of the load than the other.  But to me, utilities has always been my department. So yeah, when I dropped my entire stimulus on them yesterday, I felt like a champion, and I slept like a baby.

Also, new shoes.

Here is the sad part.

The sad part is that it had to come to this.  It had to come to a check issued to me by the government that is supposed to help stimulate the economy, but for so very many of us is simply just a bailout.  A band-aid.  A temporary stopgap so that we can have one good night’s sleep before we have to get up and figure out how to keep the lights on next month.  What I would have liked to drop my money on is a camping trip.  I would have gotten a cottage for a week in Allegheny this summer, and invited all my friends and family.  That’s what I would be doing if things were different.  But, they’re not.  Instead, I am thanking God for electricity and new shoes.

Complaint Form to the Universe

I would love to update you on some thrilling adventure I have had recently, or new thing I have discovered, or adorable anecdote from the kiddos.  I would love to tell you about my writing endeavors, and my fishing encounters, and my glorious days of feeling well and wonderful.

I ain’t got any of that.

I can’t tell you how many times I was in the emergency room last week.  I don’t remember.  I know one day it was twice…so that was two craploads of drugs pumped into me that made me completely forget the following day.  And on Sunday night, I found myself trapped under plastic sheeting as they put in a central line, after two hours of trying to find a vein that hadn’t scarred over.  Yesterday I felt better, but also generally like someone hit me with a truck, and then kicked me in the chest for good measure.

I had great plans for this weekend and I was sick the whole time, which sucked because we had the girls and I promised them we would go fishing.  Instead, I was sleeping or puking.  It’s things like this that take a mental toll, too, because then you feel like a disappointment to other people.  Like, my mom made this lovely Irish breakfast for all of us Sunday morning and I immediately vomited it up, thus ending what looked like it might have been a good day.  It’s just depressing.

And then comes Monday, wherein I had plans.  I have reading to do.  I have writing to do.  I have work to do.  But I can’t do a thing.  I can’t sit at the desk long enough, or hold the mouse even, because my arms feel like they weigh 6000 pounds.  The bruises in the crooks of my elbows and on my wrists are aching with each word I type.  The only reason, and I mean the ONLY REASOIN I am even sitting here right now is because I am clinging to a tiny shred of normalcy, and in this moment, that would be my blog.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death, by the way.  It was a terrible week that I wrote of in detail, and this year has somehow simultaneously flown and dragged without him.  Today we are going to the cemetery to place a wreath on his grave.  I haven’t been to it, yet.  The only grave I visit is Ka, so this is one of those milestone-style things for my anxiety.  Thing is, it doesn’t seem such a big deal to me, at least not as it was a year ago when they went to the cemetery after the services, and I went back to my Gram’s house instead. 

Because, you see, I’m stressed elsewhere.  I’m anxious in other areas.  I’m depressed in a different department.  My stupid, stupid, STUPID stomach.

But soon…soon the phone will ring and I will answer and it will be the scheduler for my surgery and they will tell me help is on the way.

Until then, I’ll dream of the things to come, like not getting sick daily or ending up in the ER monthly because they’re going to blast a hole through my stomach (I mean, that’s not the technical procedure, I just like to tell people that.)  Like the fact I’ll probably lose some weight during my subsequent liquid diet and fit into the bathing suit I bought last summer that was just slightly too small.  Ooooh!  And, of course, once it’s over and I am healed, I am GOING TO CLEVELAND TO SEE SAHAR.  That, of course, is the endgame.

So yeah, this blog entry isn’t much more than my complaint form to the universe, but in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t exactly shy away from the realities of chronic or mental illness, and the stomach issues coupled with the depression it has caused is really weighing on me right now.  I’m not going to sit here and pretend it’s all rainbows and butterflies, because it isn’t.  It never was.  But, some days, like today, are tolerable enough.

The Event of the Year

To start, I was too nervous to eat.  It wasn’t the shot, or the traveling, or the possible side effects; it was simply that I don’t like new things, people, or places…so, nouns.  I don’t like nouns.

About halfway from my home in Buffalo to the city of Rochester, where I had my appointment, we stopped to buy some cheese at Kutter’s Cheese factory in Corfu.  I ate a few curds of Buffalo wing flavored and tried to calm my nervous stomach, but it didn’t really work.  I drove the rest of the way somewhat apprehensively, hoping that there would be clear signs on the road to lead me to my destination.  As it turned out, the site was only a few minutes away from the NYS Thruway. 

I arrived at the back end of the parking lot, and was greeted by a National Guardsman.  He asked me who was getting the vaccine, and I said me, and he told me to park my car in the lot and go through the big glass doors.  So I did.

I walked into the lobby and zigzagged my way through the ropes to the registration table.  I was given a ticket and told to hang onto it, and then follow the orange cones.  At the end of the cones, there was another National Guardsman directing traffic.  He sent me to table 14.

I sat down and a woman took my health information, ID, and insurance card.  She signed my ticket, and sent me to zig-zag through another line.  It moved pretty fast, but I definitely got the feeling I was waiting in line for a rollercoaster at Six Flags.

A man approached me and escorted me to table 10.  There sat two women.  One had me check my health info and the other, a nurse, asked if I had anaphylactic allergies.  Then, she gave me the shot.  The nurse signed my ticket, told me I would have my second shot in three weeks, and sent me to another National Guardsman, who assigned me a chair to sit and wait. I was permitted to leave when the large screen on the wall read 6:16pm.  So, I played a game on my phone, texted Mark, and then got up and left out the door marked with the giant red exit sign.  The whole thing took maybe a half hour.

I went back to the car and Bernie drove home, just in case I had a sore arm or side effects.  I didn’t.  We stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom, and I ordered a Big Mac.  Then I had a little panic attack and ran back out to the car while Bernie got the food.   In the moment, I couldn’t understand why it was happening, but I know now.  Not only did I desperately need to eat, but I had been so stressed all day, and now the thing I stressed about was over, and not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. 

I ate my Big Mac.  I felt better.  We drove home.

So, some observations… 

One, if you hate needles…you will be fine.  This hurt less than my daily insulin injections, and those barely even register to me.  I honestly didn’t even feel like something touched me, let alone pricked me.  The needle is like the width of a piece of hair, I swear.

Two, everyone I spoke to was an absolute DELIGHT.  Happy to be there, happy to help, just happy overall.  They chatted and joked and made sure everyone was comfortable at all times.  It was extremely reassuring.

Three, it is ridiculously well-organized in there.  I didn’t think it would be, because it’s a mass vaccination site and my parents had already told me how uncomfortable it was going to the drugstore for their shots.  I don’t think a single person was within six feet of me at any time.  Everyone wore masks, of course.  Everything was clean and following guidelines.  There was even an emergency services team onsite in case of allergic reactions.

Finally, the after effects.  I awoke this morning a little congested, but it’;s wearing off as the day goes on so it could just be that time of year.  Stomach is off, but that probably has nothing to do with it.  My arm is a little sore at the injection site, but really that’s the extent of the side effects, for me. 

Overall, the experience was excellent.  And more than that, more than anything, I am happy today because I feel a little safer.  I’m happy because I desperately miss people right now, and once I am vaccinated, I can reach out to them again.  I’m happy because my nightmares of being on a ventilator will likely not be realized any time soon.  I’m happy because I know I am keeping myself safe, and helping keep others safe, too. 

I hope we all feel that way someday soon.

Go-Go Gadget

Recently, my parents retired.  As a reward for a life well-worked, my dad bought himself a new computer.  This means that I inherited his old one, which is a vast improvement over the one I’ve been working with for the past couple of years.  It is also massive in comparison, so I will likely have to completely remodel the office to find a place for it.  In the meantime, it is hanging out on the little table next to the desk that holds the modem.  It is…not fitting in well.

It’s really very large.

I also got a new phone, so if you have tried to reach me in the past few months and I have ignored you, please don’t take it personally and do try again, because I’m here now.  And I am…so bored.  I just miss people, in general, y’know?  Of course, you know.  Who isn’t missing human interactions right now?  I actually closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to go out to eat with friends the other night.

I try to focus on writing.  Sadly, with my new phone came the tragedy of all my blog topics that I kept in my notes vanishing into the air.  “Saved to the cloud,” they said.  LIARS.

So, while last week I was prepped and ready to write, this week I am not.  Today I am simply still getting used to new gadgets, particularly this computer.  I have a few topics written down so I will work on those for future posts.

Sigh.

Please forgive my lazy-self right now.  It’s not that I don’t want to write or don’t have topics.   I definitely do on both accounts, but today is very gray and the idea of spending an hour or so researching and then another hour writing just seems so tedious.  I would much rather do…I don’t know.  I am desperate for the sun, which is not looking to make an appearance today.

So, instead of this reality-based post, I will try diving into fantasy instead.  I will reread my WIP so far, and work on my next chapter today.  I will play pretend on my new computer, and hope my new phone brings me a text from a friend that I’ve missed.  This is the best way I know to combat the feeling of “ughhhh” that I am currently suffering from.

Happy Monday.  I guess.

The Future is Now

Early Tuesday morning blog, becasue I was sick again yesterday.  I swear, sometimes it feels never-ending.  Fortunately, I have an appointment with my surgeon coming up, which will hopefully provide some answers.  In the meantime, let’s talk about anything else.

Once, my dad told me a little story.  He said that when they were building the nearby onramp to the thruway here in South Buffalo, he would imagine it as a sort of rocket shoot for the make-believe flying car that he dreamt of as a child.  My father has long held onto this flying car dream, fully believing he should have received such technology by now as this is, after all, “the future.”

I have written before about when I first played Pong on my dad’s television set in his bedroom when I was four.  It was life-changing, sparking my love of the video game in all its manifestations. I mean, I have a favorite game on nearly ever console, and dozens of computer games I still adore.  For me, video games were a sign that the future was progressing.  One thing that always intrigued me, however, was virtual reality.  Ever since I saw my first hologram back in kindergarten and thought “wow, that’s neat,” the things we can do with technology and vision have always amazed me.  I remember watching videos of the “virtual reality” headsets from the 90s’ and such…they weren’t what I thought they would be.  Which is probably why they pretty much failed.

But this weekend, L brought over his VR headset for the PlayStation. 

Mark put it on, and I could see what he saw on the screen, but it just looked like another video game to me.  He was absolutely giddy as he played, pointing out all the little details he saw.  Again…it was just broadcast on the screen for us, so it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be, I guess.  At least, that’s what I thought at first, until L convinced me to give it a try.

I wanted to, but I was nervous because I know it can cause motion sickness, which I am prone to.  Still, I put on the headset and L put the controllers in my hands and showed me what buttons to push.  At first, on the loading screen, it just looked like a tv screen that only I could see.  Then, the game loaded.

It was The Walking Dead, which I know little about, like he fact that there’s zombies.  But it didn’t matter.  It didn’t matter what game it was, because all of a sudden, I was IN THE GAME.

I looked down, and I had boots on.  My hands were not my own, and held a baseball bat.  I was wearing someone else’s clothing.

I looked up.  Blue sky and birds and sunlight and it was so realistic I would have sworn I was outside, not standing in the middle of my living room.  I looked around.  I could see individual blades of grass. I could see fireflies.  I could see stones and dirt on the ground.  I spun in a circle, tying myself up in the cord, but trying to get a full 360 view.  And I did, and it was glorious.

I played a little…did a target practice, walked around.  I was less interested in learning the game right then than I was at marveling at the details around me.  I truly saw nothing that wasn’t in the game…there was no glitch, no blank space, nothing.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

That might seem silly, but up until now the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen was the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile up close…now that’s silly.  (I suppose my goddaughters’ birth should be up on that list, too…sorry, D.)

I finished playing and was grateful I had no motion sickness, and then Mark and I immediately changed our plans from saving for a PS5 to saving for VR. 

You know what I want more than anything, though?  Not even to play it again, but to have my dad play it.  To have him put on that headset and look around and think “Holy crap!” just like I did.  We may not have flying cars yet, but we do have some kick-ass tech that would knock his socks off.  So, while we wait for an auto that can soar though the air, why not play some video games?

Great days in Mark’s life: birth of children, wedding day, this.

Little Miracles

It is very early in the morning.  Or very late at night.  Time has lost all meaning to me over the past few days, if I’m honest.  I was sick again yesterday, and took another trip to the ER.  It was quick and I was home in my bed before I knew it, which was good, but then I pulled another night of wacky sleep.  So, here we are, nearly 4am and I am starting my blog instead of my coffee pot, hopeful that I can get another hour or two before taking Mark to work.  I don’t see it happening, though, as I am wide awake and also, a little scared to go to sleep.  It’s when I wake from sleeping that I get sick, so when I wake up well, I don’t want to go back and see what happens.  Sleeping at night alone makes me nervous…I don’t need that stress in the wee hours of the morning.  I would much rather embrace that time…I showered, I made tea, I watched my shows, and now I’m working on my blog.  I will go to bed early tonight, but I will not be sick today.

On Tuesday, something cool happened.  I posted my page for the AFSP out of the Darkness walk.  For the new reader, this is a charity that is very close to my heart.  I am pretty sure this year marks my tenth of participation.  I started going because my friend Beth was interested and asked me to come with her.  It was kind of weird at first…there were so many people who were sad, but they seemed to be celebrating as well.  It was a juxtaposition I became interested in.

Over the years, it grew from a few dozen folks to a few hundred, maybe even a thousand or more.  One thing they used to do was read a list of names of people who had committed suicide in the community.  They stopped once it got bigger.  That seemed sad, to me.  Last year, due to the pandemic, there was no walking.  Instead, Mark and I went down during an appointed time slot to pick up my t-shirt and some other goodies, and have our picture taken (below.)   I had raised 500$, in partial thanks to an anonymous donor.  Which brings me back to…Tuesday.

I posted all my info for my new fundraising page, and then took a little nap.  When I awoke, I had an email from the AFSP, saying that I had reached my goal of 500 bucks.  Um…what?

I set the bar high this year, because it was my tenth year.  Did I think someone would come through with the whole thing withing two hours of me posting?  No, I did not.

I sort of should have, though?  Like, this isn’t new.  Someone has been making large anonymous donations for years.  I don’t know if it’s the same person or different people, or what.  I have no idea who this mystery giver is.  But I love them.

I love them because I think they know me, and I think they know my struggle.  I can’t imagine anyone just donating large sums without knowing me, if I’m honest.  This person must be in my atmosphere, and I wish I knew who they were.  Alas, I respect the anonymity they want to keep, and I am forever grateful for their support.

Now, I’ve reached my goal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still donate, of course.  I just won’t be pushing it much, which is good news for your social media feeds.  I am hopeful that this year there will be actual walking involved, too.  I try to stay positive with these thoughts, because someday everything will go back to normal.  In the meantime, there’s still little miracles, like anonymous donors and waking up feeling well.

Oh!  Also, in this time-suck of a week, I had a poem come out at Cabildo Quarterly that you should definitely check out!