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Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
08 June 2018 @ 08:54 pm

So I've been depressed.
For reasons, mostly.  Which is to say, some of it is circumstance and some of it is because depression happens.  It's whatever.

Not gonna lie, though, a lot of it is body stuff.  I had such a hard time losing the weight that I gained during the worst of the Kinglet stuff; then just as I started finally losing I got sick, really sick, and lost all momentum. 

Weirdly, though, I didn't gain any weight during my actual sickness--just after, when I started trying again.  For no apparent reason.

So now I'm back to pretty much where I started, and I feel like... fuck.  I have no control over anything, my body is one big betrayal of pain and mush. 

Also, I feel bad about feeling bad about my weight in an era when so many beautiful fat/curvy women are fighting stigma and the right to reclaim their bodies as something to be proud of full stop.  Like who am I to put this much value on my size when I would not do that to anyone else.  But the fact remains that I DO, so I tell myself all the reasons why for me it's a choice, none of which are really relevant here (except for the chin thing, which is very relevant because fat women without chins are rarely considered beautiful, and that's really what haunts me in the mirror, but that's another conversation altogether...)

But anyway, also also, I'd hoped (reasonably) to have lost a decent amount of weight by now--I have an appearance this weekend that I was (am?) really looking forward to, only now I have to roll in at, if not my highest non-pregnancy weight on record, pretty damn close. 

And then Anthony Bourdain killed himself--which hurts on a personal level, which is surprising, but I don't even have the energy to unpack that because in the wake of yet another celebrity suicide the online discussion of fighting the stigma just pulls up so much bad shit for me, because I can't help but see most of it as so much hot air.

Case in point, tonight I lost my oldest friend, who was more concerned with the one hypothetical person whose life might be saved by all the sharing of hotline #s than she was, in practice, with my private expression of pain,  But I mean, whatever, friends are illusion anyway. 

Except now I have to pack for this appearance and I just... I can't.  Because not only am I fat and ugly and undeserving of all the things, my heart is broken. 

But somehow I have to get it together, anyway.  Depression hasn't beat me yet, not even through far darker days than this.  It's certainly not going to win today.

 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
05 October 2017 @ 10:06 am
I feel better about life now that both kids are in school—like, much much better—but I'm still wearing this mantle of anxiety and self-reproach that I think warrants some reflection.

This is no surprise, but the reality of this new schedule is that I have an hour and change of alone time—that's from the moment I walk back in the door after dropping off the Empress until the God-King comes home for his lunch break.  Even then I have to throw the cat in the garage (because me walking in sets off the Pavolovian "feed-me" response even though it's nowhere near lunch time) and hope no one calls me on the phone.

I mean,  the phone's not ringing every day to inform me my son had a violent meltdown.  That was my reality not so long ago, and I'm thankful we're not there right now.  But clearly part of me is still there.  I can't seem to uncringe my shoulders.  Also, that hour goes by so very fast, and what gets accomplished in it never seems like all that much.

To be fair, what I've been focusing on during that hour lately doesn't help.  I was stressed about the SFPA, the looming deadlines and incomplete projects and the laissez-faire attitude of my fellow officers.  I let that go and I feel better, but I rolled right into prep for an upcoming workshop, which involved time-consuming reformatting of notes and now daily practice to make sure I know what I'm talking about when I get up there—and even though I *know* that I do know, I was dissatisfied just enough with my last appearance that I'm working with this knife's edge sensation that is, well, not allowing me to embrace this new slightly more "open" chapter of my life.

Which has led me to realize that, however much I want to do *more* workshops –for money even—that's something for another season.  The truth is, I'm still recovering from last year.  I tend to forget that when I measure out my time and my reactions and wonder why I'm not bigger better stronger.  But that's why.  Last year kicked the shit out of me.  It's gonna take me some time.

So.  After the workshop (in 10 days), I want to slow things down.  I'll start working on a bigger, long-term project—something I can add to during those daily sessions in reliable, measured doses without twisting myself in knots over a looming deadline.

I need more than that, though.  I need to let the bad things go, the anxiety and self-criticism, while also making some positive body changes.  I need to crawl out of the survival hole and start moving again, drop some of this awful weight, and be healthier overall.

There's some conflict there—relax but be better.  But it doesn't have to be either-or, does it? I just need to figure out where I left my zen, I guess.

Breathe into it.

It IS better, though.  I've been cooking, decorating the house, even gardening—things I only do when I'm *okay*.  And making little commitments to self.  For example, I fight a daily battle with my family to keep the kitchen table looking pretty, and not like a workspace or dumping ground.


I'm also making a deliberate effort to always have something fresh and natural—cut flowers, springs of herbs or whatever—on display in my favorite green vase on the windowsill.  This one little thing has had such a positive effect on me that it's spread: I brought the oxalis back to life and even bought some new thyme to replace the patch that got crowded out of my garden.  I mean, yes, there are dirty dishes, but doesn't this look, you know... nice??
Anyway, this is where I am. Hope y'all are well, too.

 
 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"

So I ALMOST started a fight in the grocery store today.

I'd left the list at home and there were special items on it for dessert and side dishes I'm making for a family dinner tomorrow.  Also it was gaining on lunchtime, so I was hungry and harried. The Empress, who had been a doll all morning, loudly decided that she didn't approve of our decision to use a cart.  She refused to be associated with us so long as we had said cart, crossing her arms and digging in her heels in the produce aisle.  I had to haul her, howling, over to her father at the deli, and took the Kinglet with me to try to piece together what we needed.

When we all met up again, the Empress had been mollified by free cheese slices. However, the God-King had to put her down because his back hurt, and I refused to pick her up because I was pushing the cart -- and also I was still pissed about the cart thing.  So she followed me through the soda aisle, lifting her little arms and whining "Up! Up!" To which I gave a firm "NO, I'm not picking you up."

As I'm maneuvering the cart around the center stacks, I hear a woman nearby say, "You are SO mean."  Her husband glanced at her. "What, me?" he asks.  She shakes her head and mutters,  "No, the lady..." and heads off down the aisle.

So I'm distracted for a minute--the God-King asks me if he should take the Empress outside (God, yes, please), and I'm thinking about what kind of soda is most on sale, and what's next on the list... but then it hit me:  Did that woman really just supermarket-shame me because I wouldn't carry my whining child?

I was like: let it go let it go let it go--nope.  With the Kinglet now trailing along behind me, I wheeled the cart into the next aisle to catch up with Mrs. Judgy-Pants.  "Hey!" I yelled.  "Hey, lady!"

She turns.

"Did you really just pass judgment on me?" I said, fire building in my throat.

I was all prepared to give her a lecture--who the hell do you think you are you don't know me you don't know what we've been through today parenting is hard enough without people making passive agressive comments about stuff they don't know anything about why can't you just let people live their lives--when she gets this big ol' smile on her face and goes,

"Oh, no! I was kidding! I was actually proud of you for not giving in! My generation, we would have never gotten away with stuff like that.  Good for you for being firm.  I didn't mean to upset you..."

She COULD have just been backtracking to avoid a confrontation, but she seemed so sincere and bemused by it all, I believed her.  I felt this weight fall from my chest. The next thing I know, we're comparing notes about surviving parenting, and it was all I could do to keep from crying in the damn grocery store.  I told her how people could be so mean, how my son is autistic, how we had to put up with SO MANY MELTDOWNS in public places and so many judgy strangers and now my daughter and it's all so hard and look, look how quickly I was ready to start something because of everything I carry around with me, and how grateful I was that she was just trying to make light (although she did say she'd never do THAT again).  I asked her if I could hug her.  She probably thought I was crazy at that point, but she let me hug her, which was very nice.

There's something about hugging strangers in times of high emotion.  It's the best.

Anyway, I don't know if the lesson here is "don't judge people, you don't know what they're going through" or "don't be snarky at people, they might come after you" or "don't be so stressed with life that you can't take a joke". For my daughter it's probably,  "if you throw a tantrum in the grocery store you will get free cheese and also stuffed animals from the grabber game in the lobby".

It's all relative, I guess.

 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
14 June 2017 @ 12:28 pm

I'm feeling pretty good about turning forty, actually.



There are, in essence, three things I wanted to do with my life: be a mother, be a writer, and travel.  At forty, I'm still working on all of these—like, please don't snip my thread yet, Atropos, I've still got work to do—but I feel like I've made good progress.  I'm not idle.  I don't have many regrets.

However, I do feel like turning forty could be a welcome change.  A transition long in the making, where I get to spread myself more evenly among those three goals.

I became a mom at 29.  Although it made me a far better, stronger, and happier person, it has also taken a lot out of me—my health, my energy, not to mention a decade and a year of fighting just to give my son a shot at a satisfying life of his own.  At forty, I don't have any assurances that he'll ever get there... maybe this new situation we won for him will fall apart, maybe he'll fall apart... but, in my heart I feel like we've done the best we possibly could, and that, from this point forward,  whatever battles he faces will be his battles—we're just his backup.  He is on the way now to being whatever man he will be, and he'll win or fail on his own merit, because we set him up to have that chance.  That makes the sacrifices worth it.

My daughter, now... she's a big question mark.  Miracle baby, breech baby, late to the party, flipping everything upside down.  So independent, and yet a little off.  Is she autistic? Is she going to be okay? Are we going to have to fight the world for her too, or can I—please, god—just send her out there to make friends, learn to ride a bike, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and find her way without our having to hover, convene, strategize, consult, medicate, and pray? Will she need us a normal amount? Can I breathe now?  Can I conserve a little of myself for something else?

Because, at forty, I don't want to still be nursing my children, which is essentially what I did throughout my thirties—I siphoned so much of me into them.

This is my fear: that I'll spend the rest of my life being a special needs mom without the energy to do all the other things she'd planned... but because I am an optimist at heart, a magical thinker, even, I'm choosing to believe that my forties hold something different—that they'll be freer years, leaner years—the crone has no need for milkfat. I want to be productive but also balanced—giving and yet self-satisfied.  I think that has a nice ring to it, and I welcome it.

So, yeah.  Forty looks pretty damned good from here.

 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"

One of the shitty things about having my ten-year-old home with me all.the.time. is that we actually interact less--or, rather, our positive interactions are rare.

The Talking

All kids--all people--want to talk about the stuff they're into.  And they want to be heard, and validated.  It can be hard to give full attention to normal small humans when you're stretched thin, but spending time with an Aspie can be particularlly challenging.  They tend to be really into their thing--like, to the exclusion of all others, and they can talk about it for hours, if you let them.  Or they can talk about it for twenty minutes straight, without any awareness of what conversational fatigue looks like in people who love you but want you to shut the fuck up.  You have to tell Aspies things that other people just pick up on.  But the Kinglet is still struggling to understand that "I don't want to talk about this right now" doesn't mean "I don't love you, and your thing isn't important".

When your kids go to school, you get down time.  You can regroup and save up all your doting parent listening skills for after the bus comes.  But when they're with you 24-7, there is no down time.  There's just Their Thing, all day, every day.  So you kind of... stop listening.  Or you listen when you can, but you feel like it's never enough.  Your kid feels unloved, unvalidated.  You're failing as a parent.

The Mean Mom Hat

Although I have, for my own sanity, abdicated all School Marm responsibilities with my son, I'm still the one who lets the tutor in the door.  I'm still the one who has to enforce the rules, like "Since you chose to sit in your room with Ms. D. for three hours yesterday and not do any work, you don't get to play video games today."  I'm the bad guy, the target for all the pre-teen snark and verbal abuse--and that shit gets old.  So when he tells me an hour later that I'm the best mom ever, it's hard to feel all melty melty.  When he asks me if I want to play Minecraft, I want to say "Why, no, I don't, because you were a mean little shit."  And, you know, sometimes I do--because when he has friends, lovers, co-workers, or cops at his door, they're not going to overlook the mean shit, either  He has to learn there are consequences for how he treats people, and being pissed at having to do what's expected of him is no excuse.  So I wear the hat; and the happy mom-son times grow fewer and farther between.  My kids feel unloved, unvalidated.  I'm failing as a parent.

The Squirrel Mode

Any stay-at-home parent knows that this is one of the toughest jobs out there.  There's no clocking out, no coffee breaks (hell, no private bathroom breaks, either).  You're on, all the time, with some of the most demanding little bosses imaginable.  Between the 10-year-old and the preschooler, me-time is precious as it is, but factor in all the at-home services and special ed-related phone calls and emails and whatnots, I spend my day trying to squirrel away minutes to get my own work done.

Which is important: I have a life outside of my children; I have a career, creative projects, things that fill in the pieces and make me feel like a whole person.  Without those things, I'm a wraith, so I do what I have to do.  But it means taking time--hell, stealing time--away from my kids to do my own thing.  But because of the "always on" thing, those moments come at any point throughout the day.  I'm always in nervous squirrel mode, desperately trying to hide my little "me" nuts in corners, at all hours, and i can't turn it off.  I don't stop working until I crash, and even after I crash I'm still thinking about work.  I can't relax.  I don't do downtime--and when I do, I don't want to spend it with those little time-sucking vampirers.

Thus: my kids feel unloved, unvalidated.  And I'm failing as a parent.

At least, that's what it feels like.  Day in, day out.

 
 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
28 December 2016 @ 10:39 am
A friend of mine who is a Reiki healer and all-around self-actualized cool person recently posted to facebook about the power of habitual intention.  That is to say, every day for a month he's dedicated a moment to meditate on his intentions, to reaffirm and reinforce them -- just a small ritual, but one that has manifested real, positive change.

This resonated with me, as someone who desires change and believes in the power of thought but has found herself stuck in self-destructive cycles of inaction.  So last night I spent the moment before sleep (which is my only consistent opportunity for meditation) to affirm my intention to self-heal.  I imagined myself carrying that intention today and using it to make small changes - a moment of reflection during daytime hours, maybe a little yoga (!) and, above all, leaving the last two cloves in my last pack unsmoked. Knowing that The God-King planned to take the kids to his parents for the entire morning, I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to take those first small but concrete steps towards my goal.

And yet here I am, sitting on the porch in the cold even though the house is quiet, smoking my last cloves (including several partials I found in the ashtray) and not ruling out the possibility of going out to buy more.

However, I'm not counting this as a failure.

This time of year is a natural time for reflection. 2016 had some real highs, mostly in terms of my writing career, but overall it was a bitch.  One of the worst I've survived (to date).  The Kinglet took a nose dive, and that's been the hardest to bear: worry for him, fighting the world for him, exasperation with him for not fighting too, having him under foot, watching him self-destruct, trying to cope while he takes his shit out on me.  PTSD from all the shit his abuse brings back, stuff I thought I'd put to rest a long time ago.  And then the medical stuff, all the appointments, the condescending doctors, the non-answers, the worsening symptoms.  And losing my job, feeling victimized and ignored.  The lack of friendship and emotional support.  Watching my parents get sicker and weaker.  And that's just my personal shit, not even touching on the damned election and my disgust with people in general.  Fuck 2016.

But the upside of surviving hardship is you get to decide the takeaway.  What have I learned this year? Specifically, what have I learned about myself?

The fact that I am smoking, and justifying it, is a lesson about my natural response to hardship.  When life knocks me down, I don't make lemonade; I make mudpies.  I smoke, or I eat my feelings.  I stop exercising, I stop going outside, I seek comfort under a blanket in a comfy chair.

This is not to say that I give up.  I mean, I DO give up -- I get depressed, I weep, I contemplate ending it all.  Sometimes I quit things: jobs, clubs, friendships.  I burn bridges.  But I don't give up on life, at least not for long.  I lick my wounds for a day or two, but then I do things.  I take care of my kids.  I make the dinners and the phone calls and the appointments.  I send out new batches of writing to get rejected (or not).  I do the things.  I just do them in shorter bursts, I guess, and with less energy, until the harship goes away and the depression lifts and I lose my taste for mudpies.

The question that's been rolling around in my brain today is whether, given this habit, am I a fighter? Does it still count as fighting if you're doing it from under a blanket, or while chain-smoking, or saying to hell with the diet and putting on fifteen pounds of cookie weight? Or does it just make me a *survivor*?

The secondary question I'm asking myself is, should I fight this part of my nature? This embracing of self-destruction as a means of survival.  Should I be ashamed of myself, should I work harder to deny these instincts? Should I strive to be someone who responds to hardship by saying NO to the cookies and the cigarettes and the blankies, should I do the yoga even if it has to wait until 9PM after the kids are finally in bed and the house is quiet, even though I'm freaking exhausted and all I WANT to do is go to sleep?

As I face the last six months of my thirties, mortality is staring back at me.  I look at how sick my parents are after a lifetime of surviving on mudpies.  I think of all the celebrities who died young this year who struggled with substance abuse and unhealthy choices. I tihnk of my brother who was dead at 37 because of drugs and drinking and smoking - the way he used to cough and vomit every morning, the way I cough and vomit after a month of smoking.  He literally coughed himself to death, I know that.  Tore a hole in his aorta.   I know what I do is not good for me.

On the other hand, life is fucking hard.   Self-care can be a lot of things.  Sometimes medicine is destructive; like chemo.  Sometimes healing is not a straight line, but a zig-zag, full of setbacks but, overall, a push forward.

One thing I know I've got going for me is that I don't stay down here in the mud.  I've quit smoking many times and I will do it again, when the switch flips and I'm ready.  I know I'll start stretching again, go for walks again, start counting calories and take off the weight one more time.  I always do.  I just don't know if beating myself up for my choices in the meantime is fair.

We do what we have to.  We get by.

In the course of writing this post, I finished off the pack and the butts.  They're all gone.  The house is still quiet (except for the damn whining cat).  I'm back inside, and I've still got a couple of hours to myself.  Not sure how I'm going to spend it yet -- maybe I'll quit smoking now.  Maybe I'll make some other mudpies.  Or maybe I'll Do Things.

We'll see.
 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
25 November 2016 @ 02:41 pm

I'm not sure why creative non-fiction and essays seem harder to me than poetry and stories.

I've been blogging for years.  I actively chronicled "The Kinglet's Quest" starting back in the days when we knew something was up with him, but not fucking what.  I've often thought about polishing it up and turning it into publishable essays to submit to parenting magazines and disability websites etc, and eventually compiling it all in a memoir.  I mean, that's the plan.

But I have yet to do it.  I've said it's because we're still (still!) in the thick of it with him, and I'm too close to it to write it with perspective.  Like reading tarot for people I know too well is problematic, and reading for myself all but a waste of time.  The words just get muddied with my own ick.

But that's not the only reason.  I certainly COULD put some words out there that would be informative and consumable and maybe useful to someone out there.  But I don't, because--why? Because it seems too hard, maybe.  Because, with non-fiction, you've got to be extra sure you've got your facts straight.

But that's not really it, EITHER, because when writing fiction I am meticulous about facts.  I do my research, and everything in my power to make sure what I'm portraying is realistic.  It takes extra time, sure, but not so much time as to make it impossible.  And it's not like I'm aspiring to write an academic treatise.  With creative non-fiction, particularly personal essays, the writer's POV is central.  It doesn't have to read like a text book full, is what I'm saying.  I could run with a few truths, including the truth of my own experience.

It's really not as hard as my stubborn muse makes it out to be.  About a year ago I paired up with a fellow who was seeking content for his websites: food-writing, to begin with, though I later branched out into holidays, history, wellness, education, and pop culture... it was hard for me at first because it was new, and there were deadlines, I had to learn to balance regular writing practice with the daily life of raising kids and keeping house and all the Kinglet shit which is a full-time job in its own right. But I got better at it -- I got GOOD -- and I got PAID.  Up until he stopped paying me, anyway (which, blah, sucks --dude still owes me like $200), but even still I gained some skills and realised, hey.  I can DO this.

So I've wanted to do it.  I made a laundry list of topics I could write on with authority, and I researched possible markets where I could shop them, and I started teaching myself more about content writing as a craft--SEO shit.  But then I didn't do it.

Partly, I stopped because of the Kinglet, who fell apart again in May.  We're still struggling to put him together, and that's a valid reason.  It's extra hard to write when you've got a houseful of kids and therapists and daily phone calls to teachers or doctors or lawyers or schools, plus chronic PTSD because the little psycho is constantly bombarding me with insults and assaulting his support people and trashing rooms and triggering all the Bad Things I internalized in the house of anger I grew up in (same house, btw).  I mean, under these circumstances not writing so much is a total legit thing.

But that's not the only reason.  Even with all of that, even without a regular practice, I still get shit done.  And not just the administrative, left-brained shit that I do instead of actual writing (submitting, editing, SFPA cat-herding).  Since the Kinglet left school in May I've written dozens of poems, a 10K word story which sold to freaking F&SF Magazine on its first time out in the world, plus dozens more pages of what will, hopefully, be other decent shorts.  I'm not slouching.  Not having time is not an excuse.

But writing non-fiction FEELS different.  There's something about it that intimidates me.

For example: Jim Hines is putting together another INVISIBLE anthology, and put out a submission call for essays on representation of marginalized people in SF.  My first thought was, OOooh, I could write something about pagans in SF.  Or mental illness/disabilities, or bisexuals, or, hell, parents of special needs kids.  I mean, there are lots of ways that I identify that are outside of mainstream.  I even scrolled back through my entries here and found multiple entries that COULD be a launching point.  And yet I've done nothing with it.  Nothing sticks.

Maybe it's because I'm thinking that my voice as a "marginalized" person is not as urgently needed as some others -- POC have a lot more shit going on in 2016 than I do.  And if I'm trying to think of specific examples of representation in SF that have moved me to speak out and I'm drawing a blank, then maybe this call isn't meant for me.

But still. I could try.  I've... HAD stuff to say.  Why couldn't I say it NOW, if only for the challenge?

There are other possibilities. There's a particular website dedicated to disablities that seems to have regular contributed content, including essays I could have written -- but I've never even searched out their guidelines.  I've seen TWO calls for content writers in working writer forums.  One was even for food-writing, which is completely in my wheelhouse. I went so far as to put my name in the hat, but not send anything.

Instead, I've spent the time I've had (which is substantial) over the last week to: work on SFPA stuff.  Submit.  I wrote a flash fiction story and polished some new poems.  And update Livejournal (for the first time in ages).  When I take pen to paper again (metaphorically--I type almost everything now) it will probably be to work on stories.

Why?

Maybe the fact that I still don't know the answer is the answer.  It just seems like so much.  Pondering this question, I looked at the calendar in my kitchen.  The Kinglet has therapy every day but Friday.  Wednesday we're taking Wiggles to storytime.  No holidays this week, so the God-King won't be home as a buffer.  Don't know if the therapist found a support person yet.  Don't know if the lawyer is going to call with an answer.  What's going to happen? What will the kids throw at me? When is this chapter going to be over, what will be the new normal and when, when? Don't know, don't know.  I've never been good with unknown futures.

Maybe that's why fiction seems so much more doable.

 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
24 November 2016 @ 05:50 pm
Well Carolynn brought me back here, and that's kind of cool.  I was looking at old entries the other day, just to visit.  I came again today looking for inspiration for an essay I'm thinking of writing.  No such luck there, but I'm happy to say I still find what I have to say quite interesting.  Like lalala, you know what? This chick makes some fine points.
 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
20 November 2016 @ 06:27 pm
So I've started smoking again.  I cracked on Friday, which at least was a lovely day for chain-smoking on the deck.  But the weather turned, as it is wont to do, so now I am freezing my fingers off at the picnic table in the screened-in porch while the wind throws a hissy-fit outside.  The chimes have a lot to say, as well.
Why do I always seem to do this in winter? Maybe bad shit happens mostly in winter.  Or maybe I'm just more beat down by the time winter rolls around, I dunno.
On the bright side, I am historically more productive as a writer when I'm smoking - so there's something to look forward to.
Not sure what I want to be working on yet, though.  I hesitate to start anything because I am still in the thick of the life that has pushed me back to smoking, and that doesn't leave me much headspace to work on things creative.
I dread tomorrow.  Tom says he'll recruit his folks to take the kids at some point, so that might help.  Alone time with the kids is really when I've been falling to pieces.  I could use the break.
He's been really great through this.  I remember times in the past when I've had downswings and thought I would lose him because of it.  Maybe he's been through enough of them now that he knows I always come back out.  He keeps saying I have every right to lose it, with everything that's been going on, so he doesn't blame me.  I know he's right, but it's nice to hear someone else say it.  I have every right to feel the way I feel.  This shit is damned hard.
2016 is a year for the record books, innit.
To be fair, I've had a very good year in some respects.  I've hit new highs in my writing career, and the retreat at the beach was more than just restorative from an emotional POV.  I'm still processing this sea change in me, still internalizing, but the takeaway is an important one in my growth as a writer.  It's no longer about trying to get my work recognized, trying to get noticed, because that's happened.  I think now it will be more about refining the work, but also being more authentically myself. And focusing on the communities where my voice belongs - because that isn't everywhere.
Where do I want to be? Not here.  This house is bringing me down.
I keep dreaming about moving.  Every night, another house, a new place.  Decisions- where to put the sofa.  Where to put the kids. I wish that were literal; I wish for a new house with lots of natural light and a bigger yard (along with a me that has energy to maintain it).  I'd like to live somewhere where I am not always in the view of other people.
And maybe with less stuff.  Maybe a pipe dream with two kids underfoot, but still.  Imagine lots of empty floor space and open shelving.
Last night I dreamt I was back in the townhouse with my ex, trying to gather up my things to move out.  Damn, so much stuff, mixed in with his.  Decisions.  Right at the end I remembered my hope chest, which is of course too big to fit in the car.  Which is, in real life, a problem: it's so full of memorabilia I can't close it properly.  A box for every lover - well, the main ones.  Scrapooks.  Pretty much every letter anyone ever wrote me.  All the wedding cards and the Kinglet's baby shower cards, a newspaper with Dubya's fat face on it announcing war.  It was all crammed in like a jenga puzzle, just so, but last week I took everything out trying to find the bet I made with my brother about whether a woman would ever be president in our lifetime.  i haven't spoken to him in almost five years, but I was going to male the fucker a copy and tell him to pay up.  Couldn't find it, though.  Which is for the best, I guess, since it turns out I didn't need it.  Godzdamn it, America.  WTF is wrong with you?
2016 can kiss my ass.
 
 
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"
12 October 2016 @ 08:36 am

I just need to lay all this out so that when I finally do lose it, people can look back and say, "Oh, well, yeah, now I get it.  It makes perfect sense, I would have gone bananas too."

Last xmas I decided in 2016 I was going to be pushy about figuring out what's wrong with me, neurologically - be my own advocate, finally get some answers.  What actually happened is I saw a lot of doctors, endured a lot of tests (some of them quite painful), endured lots of people's opinions, and was made to feel bad about myself and question my sanity while my symptoms continue to get worse, all the way here into October, where I'm hanging out with a little more information but no real explanation. And this post isn't even about all that, it's just to set the stage.

Because here's what I want you, dear reader, to understand: for every one of these appointments (and we are in the dozens - intake, test, meet to talk about it, that's typically three per doctor, not counting my regular providers, who I see on either a semi-annual basis for maintenance or as-needed for problems, and always with a follow-up) there is an average hour and a half out of my day (driving to/from, sitting in the waiting room as the clock ticks past the appointment time, sitting in the exam room waiting to actually see the doctor, and then actually seeing the doctor).  That's also an hour and a half out of my husband's day, which includes his lunch break if we were lucky enough to schedule somewhere between ten and noon so he could watch the children, unless I brought the kids WITH me (so that Wiggles can tear apart the room and scream and make the doctors look at me with annoyance or outright scold me), or unless he took the whole day off OR we recruited his parents to babysit.  Always his parents, who also watch the kids during the IEP meetings and every other kid event or crisis that comes up.  It takes a village, is what i'm saying.  Every single time.  Also, it takes a co-pay.  And usually there's some sort of insurance flub that I find out about a month later and spend hours on the phone or writing appeal letters over, but that's a WHOLE OTHER rant.

So anyway.  This is all just to give you a frame of reference for my state of mind while this OTHER medical ridiculousness unfolded.

In June of 2016 (about the time that I was nursing my son up out of a bipolar depression and getting circles of skin cut out of my leg for my birthday) I realized I'd been having a problem of, let's call it, a womanly nature.  This womanly problem had gone on for over a month and had not been resolved in the usual manner of things, so it became clear that I needed to see my womany doctor.

Unfortunately, my womanly doctor (or more accurately, her womanly minions) failed to resolve this problem over the course of three or maybe four visits (I lost count.  I think there was at least one in there where I didn't have to pay anything because it was a follow-up/call back for something they were supposed to have done earlier).

This brought us into July, when, even though I'd been swabbed and milked of all kinds of bodily fluids, I developed a raging fever from a UTI that they had not detected.

So, mid Julyish, I'm now at my GPs seeking help for the 104 degree fever.  The doctor tries to get hold of the womanly doctor minions for results of the test I'd had like a week prior so she can determine which medicine would be best suited to my particular germs, but she can't, so she prescribes a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

The fever gets better, but the womanly problem does not. Also I get a bill for testing my pee from an out-of-network lab that I have to appeal (in addition to the $11,000 bill for my skin-circles, but, remember, that's another rant).  So  I make yet ANOTHER appointment with womanly doctor (we're in August now), spend almost an hour (while Tom is home with the kids, waiting to go back to work), waiting to see someone for this problem they still haven't fixed.  And then I leave, because fuck them.  Fuck everyone.  I'll find a shaman or something.

Fast-forward about month.  We're in September.  I've attacked my womanly problems with probiotics and over-the-counter salves and Behold! They got better.  However, the cheap bottled water that I bought tastes funny.  Oh, no, wait, it's not the water.  It's my tongue that tastes funny.  Oh, ew, there's like a white coating on my tongue, with livid red spots underneath, and this taste is getting worse.  It's like licking rusty metal.  Ew.


So I go back to my GP.  It's probably thrush, I'm thinking.  Antibiotics tend to cause yeast infections (because the God of medicine hates women), and, well, there were other womanly reasons, so yeah, says the doctor, it could be thrush. I'm not going to test for that, though.  Here's some liquid anti-yeast medicine for you to drink four times a day for ten days (and some more insurance bullshit to deal with.  Lucky you!)  Also, it could be acid reflux, so take some OTC antacids.  Ok, cool.

Ten days plus some more later, I'm back at the GP saying, yeah, no, it's not all that better.  In fact, my tongue feels numb now, like when you burn your mouth on too-hot pizza?  It also kind of feels like when you suck on strong peppermints, and your mouth gets burny-numb. In fact, I've been sucking on a lot of peppermints because it's the only thing that makes me forget how awful my mouth feels. Do you think it could be related to my neuropathy (because i'd googled, and yes, that's a thing).  No reply to that, but here, we'll swab now to see if it really is thrush, I mean, I'm not sure this is the right kind of swab, but I'll ask someone, and here, while we're at it, have some presription-strength antacids. Come back in two months.

Two weeks later, I'm calling the doctor again: yeah, I'm not better.  Yes i've been taking the pills, but there's this coating on my tongue, everything tastes awful, I tried dousing it with mouthwash but it didn't go away and now I'm out of mouthwash.  Did you maybe get results from that swab? No, it's not thrush?  Could it be neuropathy? You know, like I have, and you've been helping me not find answer for? Still no reply to that, but we want you to go see a dermatologist now.  Or, no, wait, a dentist. Yeah, a dentist.

Dear reader, have you been counting along? At this point we're at the end of a chain of seven-maybe-eight doctor's appointments just for this one thing.  Not counting the other things.  Like the aforementioned unexplained neuropathy or now the lump they found in my left breast earier this month (that's one mammogram, one pre-op exam, one biopsy, and one follow-up, assuming everything turns out to be normal).  Seven-maybe-eight appointments, and now I've got to make another one to see a specialist, a derm-I-mean-a-dentist.

And then, well, insurance.  The dentist I've seen since I was a teenager doesn't take our current dental insurance, so I hop onto the insurance website to pull up dentists near me who DO, and end up with a list of one hundred doctors in Chicago, even though it says "Near Newark Delaware" right at the top and, yeah, that's about when I had my nervous breakdown and posted pictures of spotty tongues on facebook.  Let's roll past that.

Cuz the story's not done, see.  I spent ten minutes on hold to the one practice in Newark who employs like twenty dentists  - do you see what's happening here, America? McDoctors offices gobble up all the providers and then you can't get service because one office houses twenty dentists to serve an entire city.  No wonder I was on hold for fifteen minutes... fuck them.  Fuck everyone.  I'll just live with pizza-burn tongue.  With my shaman doctor.  In my backyard.  Growing our own corn.

But no.  What I did was google "what kind of doctor should i see for my tongue", and then googled "ENT and tongue" (because it's "Ear Nose and Throat", not "Ear Nose Throat and Tongue", but yes, ENTs will treat tongues, and I HAVE one of those.  So I made an appointment with my ENT - well not my ENT, because McPractice has like ten ENTs but mine is on vacation, but I don't want to wait until he comes back because now it's been two months without relief, so fine, I'll take whoever is open, even though that means I can never go back to my previous ENT because that makes perfect sense? Fine. Whatever, just fix me.  I have Tom come watch the kids and go see my brand new ENT (appointment # eight-maybe-nine), and here's what he tells me:

You have "coated tongue".   It's totally a thing, though not really, because we don't know what causes it, except that antibiotics often cause it.  There's no treatment.  It goes away on its own.  Usually a lot faster than this, but you've been using a lot of mouthwash and sucking peppermints, and those can irritate it and make it worse.  Oh not a lot of mouthwash and just mild peppermints from the candy aisle? Still.  Stop doing that.  Go home, do nothing, read about it on google but don't take any advice from google. don't try to make it feel better, and maybe it'll get better.  If not, come back in two months, because it might also be a nerve thing (note that I didn't mention the neuropathy).  It might also actually be thrush, but since they checked for that, meh, it's coated tongue.  That'll be $25 please.

So yeah, this is how I spent a quarter of my year.  It's my life in a nutshell, because everything is like this, really.  A big complicated chain of ridiculousness that gets me nowhere but worse than I started, waiting for something to get better.  Maybe.

On the bright side, two months without mouthwash and peppermints will put me in mid-December, exactly one year from when I decided this year would be the year I solve my medical problems.

Maybe 2017 will be the year of Fuck It.  I'mma just wear a tinfoil hat and hope for the best.