Retroactive Reunion

Saturday night was my high school reunion.  I was prepared to go.  I got dressed, even put on makeup, and was driving down Harlem Rd.  I came to the 33, and instead of going straight as planned, I hooked a right and went elsewhere.  I blew it off.

Many moons ago, my friend Chelsea and I made a pact to attend this reunion, our 20 year…well, 21, given Covid.  However, Chels was out of town.  I messaged Jaime, and neither of us seemed to know if we were going until it was time to go.  I’m still not sure if she did.  I do know that I did not.

First of all, most of my friends from high school are scattered now, and people that I would like to see are out of state or country.  Sure, I’d be happy to see other girls from school, but my core group of friends really wasn’t going to be represented.  Secondly, while the school held an all-class bash that I also did not attend, the reunion itself was at a bar and I wasn’t in the mood.  I would have preferred something at the school, or perhaps outdoors.  I don’t really drink, and I’m not about to spend a ridiculous amount of money on food or something, and I generally do not enjoy a bar atmosphere anymore.  So, the whole idea of going just seemed oppressive.

Still, I wanted to, which I why I got ready and started driving.  But then, my anxiety woke up.

It already wasn’t a stellar day, but when my chest tightened as I drove down Harlem, I knew a mistake was being made.  See, high school was no high point for me, and traumatic memories came flooding back as I drove, making me feel like I am not as healed as I thought I was.  So, I turned right, got on the 90, and headed towards Carey’s house. 

Evening found me sitting on her porch overlooking the Niagara River with my husband and friends, and feeling happy.  Much happier, and much more myself, than I would have felt at that reunion.

Save my close friends, those girls don’t know me.  Many of them barely tried when I was right in front of their face, so why should anyone try now?  I used to worry about reunions because of my lack of successes.  My graduating class is something of a powerhouse, and I have always felt subpar in comparison to them.  But then I became an author, and that stopped mattering.  Now, apparently, the only thing keeping me from reuniting is bad memories. 

Anyway, I think I’m going to ask Chelsea and Jaime if they want to get dinner sometime soon, and perhaps a couple of the other girls that I do wish to see, because I did have good friends that I miss.  Still, it is hard for me to separate the good part of my high school experience from the bad part.  Perhaps I need another 20 years.

Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Hair Growth

It’s Sunday, but I’ll post this on Monday.  Just keeping myself on schedule.

This time, I didn’t post on Thursday because I was sick pretty much straight through until Sunday morning.  I managed work on Friday, but immediately felt pukey again afterwards and found myself in the ER again early Saturday morning.  But I don’t want to talk about that, because aside from this little snafu, I feel great.  Really.  Today I am fine, of course, and while I am terrified of what tomorrow will bring (more later) I am feeling confident.

What I did do during my illness was watch television.  I love TV, like how some people love movies.  I just think television provides better character development, and that is my bread and butter when it comes to entertainment.  So, I was scouting for a new show to watch, and Hulu suggested something called Life & Beth.

First of all, I’d heard of this, through relentless Spotify advertisements that actually made me NOT want to watch it because I found the ads so annoying. Then I discovered Amy Schumer was in it.

I like Amy Schumer.  I liked her standup, more or less…she made a lot of jokes sometimes that I didn’t necessarily dig, but it was kind of a 50/50 split of what I liked and didn’t like, so I always caught her specials.  Then Mark and I started watching Inside Amy Schumer, which was hilarious, and that made us go see her movie Trainwreck, which was a decent flick that showed a little of her range…not just the raunchy stuff, you know?  Anyway, that’s about what I was expecting from Life & Beth.

I was mistaken.

It started with a Hollywood Reporter article that Buzzfeed posted, discussing Amy Schumer’s new show and how it explored her “big secret.”  I mean…clickbait is clickbait for a reason, so of course I go open it, and what do I find?  A gosh darn heroine. 

Amy Schumer has trichotillomania.

If I were a crying sort of girl. you know, the kind that tears up at coffee commercials and puppy videos, I would have bawled right there.  I’m not going to say they don’t exist, but please show me another celeb who has come out and admitted this, because I have yet to know ANYONE famous who suffered as I did.

So, of course, I devoured Life & Beth.

First of all, forget everything you know about Amy Schumer and understand that you now need a broader definition for her talent.  The show is a sort of creative autobiography, and while the character of Beth obviously leans on Amy’s real-life persona a bit, she is unlike anything I’ve ever seen her in.  It is heartfelt and funny and sweet and sad all at once.  And best of all…episode 9.

In episode 9, we flashback to Beth pulling out her hair.  She has to get a ill-fitting wig.  She has kids at school make fun of her.  She sometimes knows she does it, sometimes not.  And finally, in one scene, she rips the wig from her head and throws it across the room, crying and beating on her pillows and head…angry and ashamed.

Just like me.  Just like most of us, who were 12 years old and going bald.

It was just so good.  Not just a good show that I would have liked without this detail, but it was certainly made better for it.  Once, I saw a documentary called Bad Hair Life, about Trichotillomania.  It was, until this week, the only real representation of TTM in the media that I have ever come across. 

In Life & Beth, Beth goes to the doctor at one point, and asks him for a hug.  It’s a peculiar but sweet moment, and I wish I could reenact that with her myself.  I would love to hug you, Amy Schumer, for being brave.  How we both would have longed for someone like you back when we were young. 

Anyhoo, I must bid adieu because I have to get ready for my first day of in-person work (hence the aforementioned terror.)  I’m sure it will go well; I just feel rusty.  Oh well, wish me luck, and happy Monday!

Poetry Night

I didn’t post on Thursday, because I didn’t feel like it.  Simply no excuse…just wasn’t in the headspace to write.  Plus, the only thing I wanted to write about was something that hadn’t happened yet.

Back in October 2019, pre-plague, my dear friend Beth (whom I had lunch with yesterday, coincidentally, and therefore has already heard this story,) went with me to a monthly poetry night at a bookstore near my house that I like.  I wanted to read one of my poems during the open mic portion, but I was terrified.  She sat by my side and encouraged me, and I was able to do it.  I was very proud of myself that night, for overcoming my anxiety of not just attending a function full of strangers, but for reading in front of them.

Come February, we had a problem, and that problem was a pandemic.  Poetry night kind of moved online for a bit, and while I would love to say I’ve watched every episode (because it was very good,) I honestly fell off when I started working on the novel.  I pretty much fell off poetry all together, then.  But now, she is in editing, and that bug is biting, and here we go again.

So I inquired a couple of times at the bookstore once they reopened as to when they would be bringing the night back and they kept telling me “soon.”  Then one morning my father tells me that an old buddy of his is hosting the return of Poetry Night!  I was ecstatic, and not at all anxious to attend.

When I got there, I sat by a woman and who seemed to be her boyfriend, and also a woman who appeared to be her bestie, and bestie’s husband.  Woman A, whom I came to know as Mary, seemed very nervous, and as I unintentionally eavesdropped on their conversation, I learned that she was going to be sharing her poetry for the very first time.  She had brought her reinforcements, as had I, and was probably so anxiously awaiting her turn that she barely even heard the key speaker…at least, that’s how I was that first night.

She had the courage to go first, too, once the open mic started. And it was good.  Her poetry spoke to me, because guess what?  They were about chronic and mental illness.  I sincerely hope my poems spoke to her as well, but as per usual, I flew out the door first, because mingling is still really hard for me.  I’m going to push myself to do it next time, though, so wish me luck.

In other news…yes, this is a two-parter, to make up for nothing last Thursday.

So, I decided to do a book giveaway, for funsies.  I figured I would do it on Twitter, where all my reading/writing friends live.  Out of my nearly 7k followers, 82 whopping people saw my giveaway tweet.  No one responded.  Ergo, Twitter’s algorithm is a steaming pile of garbage, yet again.

So, I roll over to TikTok, where I get better views, and I got a couple hundred.  A few folks commented, hoping to win the book.  I picked a winner, and emailed them.  A day went by with no response, so this morning I hop on and browse their page to see when they were online last.

It’s a kid.  It’s a literal child.

Now, my book doesn’t really come with a content warning because it’s not really graphic or anything, but there are some choice words and definite adult themes.  So, I emailed the kid and told him that I was sorry, but I couldn’t send him the book.  Also, he would have to give me his address, and it isn’t cool for me as an adult to encourage that, or safe for him as a child to do so.  I feel kind of bad, because I should have specified you needed to be 18 to win.  I hope he isn’t too disappointed.

Anyway, I have moved this giveaway over to my Facebook page, now.  So, if you’re not already following me there, I encourage you to do so, especially if you would like to win a book today!  I will be announcing a random winner tomorrow morning, so this offer is only good for you folks who are reading my blog on Monday the 28thGo follow me now!!

Anyhoo…that’s about it.  Happy Thursday, my friends.  I’m off to watch a bunch of TV, which might sound lazy, but is actual research for Thursday’s blog, I swear. 

This quote doesn’t really have anything to do with anything…I just like it.

Lenten Sacrifice

I haven’t sat down at my computer since Thursday.  The kids were here so no work was done, and I’m pretty sure one of the kiddos broke my desk chair.  Awesome.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack.  It was around 1030pm and I could not fall asleep.  Both Mark and I had big days ahead, and I was very hungry all of a sudden.  I went in search of a snack and couldn’t find anything suitable, and suddenly, I was crying.  By the time I walked out to the living room, I was hyperventilating.  By the time Mark woke up and realized I was in panic mode, my heart started beating out of my chest, and my whole body ached.  Mark ran to find my Xanax and I took it and did some breathing exercises. 

Why was I panicking?  Couldn’t tell you, in the moment.  I thought maybe it was just stress over the fact that I couldn’t sleep when I knew I had to be up before 6am, but it really wasn’t that.  It wasn’t even the lack of snacks. It was just that I suddenly had this very childlike anger about not getting what I want.

Due to various circumstance, I have been sacrificing many things I want.  From writing advancement costs to large household purchases to simple everyday pleasures, I have said no.  And then, at 1130pm, when all I want is a couple Cheese Doodles and a good night’s sleep, the universe denies me this modest act?!  I don’t know; I just snapped. 

It’s not that I really mind, you see.  I am sacrificing for a greater goal, and that is just fine with me…most days.  But some days, my inner 6-year-old comes out and throws a hissy fit.  I just want what I want when I want it!

I don’t know if this feeling triggered my attack, but I’m guessing.  It’s how I felt in the moment when I started to cry, and I think it just snowballed from there.

I am remembering school today, because right about now we would be working on our Lent assignments, always the same every year: what are you giving up for Jesus?  I was typically urged to give up sweets, because I was fat in the 90s…before the rest of America caught up.  I knew one girl whose whole household gave up television.  I thought that was some serious commitment on their parents’ part.  Then, on Ash Wednesday we would read our little essays about sacrifice and get ashes on our foreheads and have fish for dinner.

So, if you’re a constant reader than you know I quit Catholicism some time ago, but all this stuff?  The sacrifice and the no meat and such?  Indoctrination, baby.  I can’t not think about it once Mardi Gras rolls around (which I would much rather celebrate.)

Sometimes, even as an ex-Cath, I think of some sacrifice to make during Lent.  Something small…or something nice to do for someone else maybe.  Not this year.  I’m not giving anything up, because I have been sacrificing for a very long time now.  This year I am going to reap some benefits, damnit.

Mark and I both started new jobs, so we are extremely hopeful life is about to change up real fast.  I can feel it coming, I’ve had some very prophetic dreams, and I have been told that I’m a little bit psychic (by a psychic, no less.)  So, I am currently confident in a quick end to the sacrifice.

Though, let’s be real…how quick?  Probably six weeks.  Let’s circle back at Easter.

New Year, New Me? No.

This is my last post of the year, and I don’t have much to say.  I already shared my writing accomplishments over the course of 2021, and I don’t have much to report on the personal front because let’s be real, it has not been a good year.  Really, it has been one smack in the face after another this year, and I am fine with 2021 being over.

What annoys me at the moment though is that this December there seem to be a lot of folks posting about how 2022 is going to be “their year,” and don’t get me wrong, I hope so, but c’mon.  We’re still in a pandemic.  It’s a lot more likely you’re going to have to go back to remote working/learning at some point, always have to wear a mask, and watch a bunch more people get sick and die.  So, I guess I’m not really feeling the positivity, y’know?

Don’t worry, I have an appointment with my therapist on Monday.

In the meantime, I just have to pull out the good ol’ Emotional Toolbox.  The ET is a concept I came up with many years back, essentially a mental list of my coping mechanisms.  It has little tricks for panic attacks, like sit in front of the fan, or pet your fuzzy blanket.  Then it has more complex plans for fighting anxiety and depression, like what I call the “Ross Method,” in which you break a task down into itty-bitty pieces so that it is accomplished easily.  One of my favorite tools in the ET is the “Silver Linings Search,” in which you find the good in the bad.  This always helps me out, and this is what I am using right now as I write this blog.

What good things happened in my garbage year?  Well, I had my surgery, which helped my tummy a little.  And my husband left a very toxic work environment.  My dad remains cancer-free.  My mother is getting her foot surgery.  My sister moved out on her own.  We got to have Christmas with my grandma.  We didn’t get sick. 

These are all good things.

Now, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, except for my annual declaration that I shall read more.  That might actually happen this year though, as I have both a brand-new Kindle and upcoming cataract surgery.  I don’t think I will make any huge accomplishments, except perhaps releasing my mini-chap, which could happen sooner than I think.  Though, lack of accomplishment might be my depression talking.  In the beginning of the pandemic, I was ok.  In fact, I was ok for a long time, watching as my healthy-brained friends lost their minds when faced with the sudden onset of anxiety and depression.  I was peachy. I was a pro.

Lately, though, it seems it’s starting to wear on me.  Like, I don’t know if it’s Christmas letdown or what, but I am just not in the mood.  I mean, I try to write an end of the year post, I wanted it to be uplifting, but here we are, discussing depression again.

Because that’s how she works, my friends.  I never get a day off.

Anyway, if you want to go make 2022 “your” year, more power to you.  I hope you succeed.  I will be cheering you on.  Me, my goal is both simple and infinitely more difficult: get out of bed in the morning, and carry on.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.

What’s yours?

Creating Flavors

Back before the world got sick, I forced myself to attend an open mic poetry reading at a local bookstore.  Then, that ended because of the pandemic, and I retreated back into my little anxiety shell and didn’t come out for a year and a half.  Then, last week I saw an ad in the paper for a writing workshop.  There were only a few slots available, but I figured what the heck and threw my name into the hat.  Two days later I received an email saying I was registered.  Turns out, it was also a free event, so I was even more pumped because in case you were wondering, poetry collections are not best sellers. 

But then, as it does, my stomach came out to play on Friday and sent me into a tizzy.  Saturday, the day of the workshop, I felt better physically, but terrible mentally.  Firstly, I did not take my meds the night before because I was fearful of throwing up again.  Secondly, they pumped me full of the strong stuff at the ER and it was still wearing away come Saturday afternoon.

At 3pm, I was near tears, scared to go, unprepared, rushed…all the feelings of anxiety that like to stop me in my tracks.  I was even a little sick to my stomach, which made me all the more worried.  Mark did what he always does, and that is get me through it.  He remined me how excited I as when I got the registration email.  He reminded me how badly I wanted to get out into the world again, and he reassured me of my talents, as he does every day.  So, I got dressed and drank some coffee and got in the car and went.

Awkward at first, as always, I was maybe the second person to arrive.  I settled in and we got a box full of goodies (photo below) with a notebook and a journal in it, along with supplies for making tea bags.  First, Julio (whom I met once before at that bookstore, so it was a little easing to see a face I knew in the room,) gave a talk about the histories of tea and the cultural and religious significances, and then discussed the tea flavors we had and what they symbolized, which was very interesting.  I jotted down my combinations I wanted to try: hibiscus mint for mom, lemongrass mint for Bernie, and lavender chamomile for me.

After our selections, we took to writing about our flavors.  I didn’t get anything very good, because I was writing longhand which is just TORTURE in my opinion.  But I of course typed it up and then cleaned it a little, so you can find it below.  Everyone else shared their pieces, and they were lovely.  I like open mic style things because everyone’s flow is so different.  You have free form, traditionalists, rhymers, alliteraters, slam poets…so much variety.

After the journaling and sharing, we put our tea in the bags and decorated tea boxes.  Then, Bianca, who seemed to be the one in charge, gave everyone a personalized cup (and you just know I love stuff with my name on it.)  We had a little open mic, where you could share whatever, and I read Sick Since Sixteen because it was the first poem that came up on my phone.  It was a good choice though, because I received both snaps and “mmmh’s” which is like a standing ovation in the poetry world. Then everything broke up and most people started heading over to The Gypsy Parlor across the street for an iced tea tasting, and that’s when my brain screamed “NO.  GO HOME.”

So, I gathered my things and thanked my hosts and left, dejected.

See, the mingling bit was the part I was looking forward to the most.  I barely know any local writers, and it is so hard for me to get out of my shell and find actual humans.  And my stupid brain said no, then triggered my stomach to agree with it, causing me to gag on the corner of Grant and Potomac.  Sometimes I feel like that stupid brain-gut connection is truly ruining everything good and exciting in my life.

Anyway, I went home.  I made my tea, and it was delicious.  Soothing chamomile and destressing lavender.  Very helpful.  Then I typed up what I wrote in my journal, and texted Sahar to tell her of my woes.  She suggested I try to network virtually, which I don’t know if I would be better at.  I decided to follow the hosts of the events fb pages.  Hopefully that will keep me on the radar for upcoming things.

Julio is having an ugly Christmas sweater open mic, which seems pretty cool, but who knows if anxiety will let me attend.  I will try, though.  I will always keep trying.  In the meantime, I shall sip my tea and write in my journal and hope to make a new friend that I can talk about the business of words with.  Someday…

4pm
Gram was British, 
so 4pm meant tea time.
Our cups, 
filled with cream and sugar, 
(honey and lemon if you were sick.) 
Biscuits were a necessity, 
though mother would say 
“It’s too close to dinnertime!”  
“She’s already overweight!”  
No mind paid by Gram, 
tea and cookies at 4pm.
Rose Red tea, 
so I could collect the porcelain figurines, 
and terrible shortbread 
from a blue metal tin,  
She would have been one-hundred on Saturday, 
but I lost her when I was eight, 
her body as cold 
as the cup of leftover tea 
on her nightstand.
my goodies.

Camera Shy

One night, I was managing a show called The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia at a tiny bookshop in downtown Buffalo.  I could fit maybe 15 people comfortably in there at a time, but this particular evening at least 20 folks showed up, one in a wheelchair.  It was my job to handle the crowd while they were in the small space, and so I did what had to be done.  I stood on the stage area and announced we were all going to play a game of Tetris.  The crowd laughed.  I then comically rearranged all these strangers so that everyone could sit comfortably, and so the woman in the wheelchair could get a spot in the front row.  For five or ten minutes, I just riffed, no problem.  In my head I thought, what is this, if not acting?  I mean, it’s basic improv.  I’d been onstage acting for so many times in my life at that point, that it was just natural.

Now, I don’t believe I have lost this ability, but technology has altered it.  As it turns out, I have no stage-fright, but I am painfully camera-shy.

I never liked having my picture taken, and with the advent of the selfie I was very cautious.  But now, things are changing again, and it is videos that rule the world.  And I just can’t.

I’ve made a few.  The ones where I introduce myself and read a poem are best.  The one I made for the suicide walk didn’t turn out too bad, but I stumbled a little, and my palms were sweaty, and my heart was racing.  Then came the Patreon idea.

On my Patreon, I have The Vociferous Vlog, where I read a poem and then talk about the inspiration behind it.  In theory, it’s a really good idea, but as it turns out, videos are not my strong suit.  I should have realized…I’d always rather read the article, y’know?

The first one I made was ok, but E and I did it together and couldn’t quite get the angle on the camera right.  I was far away and not as clear-sounding as we had hoped.  The second one was worse, because Mark tried to hand-cam it and shook the whole time, which wasn’t even obvious until I uploaded it to the computer.  Then, it looked terrible.  I looked good, but I also kept my eyes down the entire time, which is something I will have to work on.

You would think I would be better at this.  And also, I’ve done plenty of Zoom calls during the pandemic, and never felt this way about those…perhaps because I’m talking with someone?  PLUS, my Patreon is just starting out and only has a few subscribers, so why am I bugging over people I KNOW seeing me in a video?

No really, I’m asking.  I have no answers.

I know that you could drop me in the middle of a stage and I could entertain for an hour.  I know it.  But to get me to film myself doing five minutes of poetry talk on my own?  Nope. I try to summon the theater person deep within me but I guess she’s sleeping (likely due to some SSRI’s,) and won’t be coming to my aide today, at least.

I shall try again tomorrow.

My Mental Mistresses

I got dumped last week, by my therapist. 

She got a job at the agency I’ve been badmouthing for two years, assuring me that things have changed now that said agency has changed from a zero-tolerance policy to a harm-reduction model for substance use.  That’s why I left.  They were going to put me in the drug program because I smoked a little pot.  They also yanked my Xanax out from under me and when I had a full-on panic attack in my doctor’s office, he slammed the door in my face.  No thanks, I’m out.

Anyway, I found a swell spot after that large Buffalo-based agency that may or may not have a rising sun as their logo and started seeing a woman named Jamie.  My prescribers have rotated a little over the past two years there, but that is to be expected anywhere.  You don’t need to bond with the person giving you your pills; that’s what your counselor is for. 

Jamie was fine.  She was very good at her job, and I liked her very much, but I didn’t feel the “click” I have felt with other counselors in the past.  These are the people you open your mind to, and it is important that you mesh well on every level.  Jamie did a fine job.  But she was no Carissa.

I don’t remember when I had Carissa.  I know it was at that aforementioned agency I went to for ten years, and I know it was at their Hertel branch and I think it was while I still lived in Kenmore.  The thing is, my meds weren’t right at the time, so all of that time period is a mishmash of memory.  When Carissa dumped me for a job in the Southern Tier, I was depressed.  I was devastated.  She was my favorite, and she was gone, and it was over.  It was then that I recognized a peculiar thing: these women have no last names.

My first counselor was named Sarah.  I saw her at D’Youville College because my friends dragged me there one afternoon.  I never knew her last name.  When I moved over to what I refer to as the “Fancy Suburban Drug Dealers” agency, I had three other counselors, whose first names I couldn’t even tell you.  Of course, they pumped me so full of meds based on a misdiagnosis that I was practically a zombie the whole time.  Then, The Rising Sun, where I ended up with Carissa, who left me with no last name and no forwarding information.

Alas!  One day, she found me on Myspace.  I was very happy but I still don’t know her last name.  And now, Myspace is dead and I can’t find her on Facebook without a surname.  After Carissa, came Katie.

Katie and I were together for years, and I actually got to know her last name.  However., The Rising Sun implemented their zero-tolerance policy, and one day she told me they would be tox screening everyone.  “But that’s not a problem for you…” she says.

I tell her, right away, that it is a problem, that not only will I test positive for cannabis but that I believe it is an infringement on my privacy.  She becomes shocked that I have never mentioned cannabis use before and our relationship starts to crumble.  Now, I have only good things to say about Katie, who from what I understand is running some things over there now, and I am hopeful that her experiences with me and other clients has opened her eyes to other possibilities.  The trust between us was broken, though; she felt I had kept something important from our sessions.  I felt it was none of her gotdamn business.

An impasse.  Fortunately, she was promoted up the ladder and I was thrown over to the Orchard Park location, where I met Ashley.

Ashley was great.  She totally agreed that it was nonsense, the whole bit about the cannabis, and did her best to keep me out of the drug program at The Rising Sun, always stating that I wasn’t abusing the substance.  Then she moved to Colorado and oh my heart!  But…I knew her last name.  In fact, we exchanged emails, and after she was settled she got in touch.   We still occasionally email, and yes, there are topics I am more comfortable sending in a letter to her than expressing via speech to my therapist. 

In many ways, she reminds me of the feeling I had with Carissa.

However, after her departure I was moved to a woman named Liz.  She was fine, in the way that Jamie was fine.  But she didn’t fight for me. 

When I became a number at The Rising Sun, I was furious.  They were making me into a statistic…showing me on graphs as someone with mental illness who also had a substance abuse problem.   They insisted I start drug counseling.  I told them to fuck right off.

Which brings me to now.  I found a little place that was like “oh, you smoke pot?  Well, let me put you in touch with a medical marijuana doctor,” and I was sold.  I feel like my doc actually listens to me, which is new in general, and I never feel like a number because it’s a small place.  AND, I’ve had two good counselors so far.  I mean, not great…but good.

Anyway, I’m seeing a new woman named Rachel next week, and I am hopeful.  I hope we “click.”  Jamie thinks we will.  I’m actually going into the office to meet her too, which is something I haven’t done in a year, so that’s kind of exciting.

I wonder, will I know her last name some day?  Will I be gifted that knowledge after a year or two of counseling, when the bond is formed?  Will I look back ten years from now and remember her fondly?

Or will I not remember her at all?

Pep Talk

Sometimes, I will be super hyped to do something and then my brain will be like “haha, no,” and then I end up sitting on the couch eating cereal straight out of the box and watching old episodes of Fringe.  Oh depression, you vicious mistress.

So, I drag myself into the office and check my email and socials and try to prepare myself for the day.  I open a word document to start writing and then suddenly there is a garbage truck outside my door, banging and clanging its way slowly down the street.  No hope for concentration, so I pop over to Submittable to check on my poetry submissions.  No change.  Ho-hum.

Then, to the blog!  Alas, no topic.  Nothing, because depression ate it, like a hungry teenager raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

I can’t focus my thoughts.  I look at my yellow umbrella that hangs off the bookshelf to my left and think that I should have taken it to the beach with me on Saturday.  I look at the star on the wall that says “One Day at a Time,” and I think gee that’s great, now someone give me a cigarette!  I look at the ceiling.  There are cobwebs in the corner.  Perhaps I should sweep them?

Anything, anything, anything but write.

After this, whatever this is, I am going to attempt to put my chicken-scratch notes on my chappie into type,  Then, put those typed words into an email, and send it to my editor.  Real, actual, needs-to-be-done work.,,but my serotonin levels don’t give a crap.  I also want to work on new submissions since it is August now, but that seems like a faraway chore at the moment. 

Oh, and I want to clean my house, because I had my four kiddos plus G this weekend and the joint is wrecked.

First, I guess, I will drink some coffee.  I will be grateful that the street is now fairly quiet, and I can write and work in peace.  I will sit here in this office chair until all my tasks are done, because while my brain and hormone levels and all that garbage may be telling me one thing, my heart is telling me another: you can do it.