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Archive for January, 2015

I’m still dealing with vision issues and desperately trying to avoid doing anything responsible. So with that in mind, I give you this week’s stress reduction exercises. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

And if you think bunnies are just for lying around and being cute, check this video out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM9YWm6T_hc

Of course, there’s nothing like watching puppies play:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_O43RQzBbg

 

Finally, the unofficial blog mascots (since we don’t have a resident one right now) in probably one of the best mash-ups I’ve seen in a while:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnk15Wf6xMU

Here’s wishing you all a fluffy, silly week.

Cheri

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When your emotions are out of control, logic dictates your intellect should be in charge. We all know how well that works with depression. Not that I haven’t been trying to bring my logic on-line. It’s just the whole eye thing has really pushed me to the teetering edge. Everyday tasks are now an epic trek through the Land of Unending Frustrations.

Here’s how my vision would normally be (with glasses, of course) before all this drama started:

test-pattern

Now here’s what I’m presently dealing with (still with glasses):

Both eyes                           Left eye                                                      Right eye

And those things in the right eye are not stationary. They are constantly moving. I mean CONSTANTLY. Independently of each other. In direct opposition to the movement of the eye. You have no idea just how much your eyes move until you have something floating around in them. Reading/writing is the worst. Watching videos can be tolerable because there is less eye movement involved and the floaters will, for the most part, float out of the main line of sight. But not always. Which usually happens in the middle of a critical scene with important details.

And because humans have binocular vision, now superimpose the right eye over the left and add in a bit of headachy eyestrain as everything tries to normalize. Then go try to sew a straight line on the sewing machine, keep your edges even while weaving, do a piece of delicate needlework, or follow a recipe for dinner. Yeah, that’s how great my days have been lately.

Just trying to get this blog entry done makes me want to bang my head on the desktop.

Speaking of desktop, here’s a screenshot of it:

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.42.20 AM

I have a 27” iMac. Those capitals are half an inch tall. And while my lovely computer does have a text to speech function (which actually seems pretty decent), I tend to constantly hop back and forth reading things for flow, and that “pretty decent” electronic voice quickly becomes a nightmarish flashback to the scene with HAL from 2001:A Space Odyssey. I just hope it doesn’t start singing next.

The rational adults among you are probably sitting there thinking “Suck it up, Princess.” There are millions of blind people in the world and more losing their sight every day. At least I have SOMETHING to work with. I can still see color and gradient and textures. I can make adjustments on my expensive HD computer screen to allow me to see well enough to do this thing called writing. And this situation is relatively temporary. Once the left eye stabilizes from the surgery, I can get a new prescription that will largely mitigate what vision change is left. And the floaters will either go away by themselves or be taken care of in a few more years when I end up having cataract surgery. If they’re not heralding another retinal detachment, at which point just rinse and repeat the left eye procedures.

Yeah, bite me.

My weaving and needlework are the only things I’ve made any money at these last few years, and we have a big event coming up at the end of February that I need to have stock for, so I can make more money and pay off the medical bills this whole drama has left me. (We won’t get into all the other things I’d like to get taken care of, like some basic household maintenance, car repairs, overdue dental work, a new treadmill, etc., etc.,) Because of these damn issues, my projects are taking about four times as long as normal to complete so I can maintain my level of finish.

Plus there’s all the writing stuff I intended to get working on. I need to revamp my blog site, send out queries and submissions for my fiction, research and set up my freelance copywriting and editing service, get involved in some writer forums. I wanted – NEEDED – to shake things up this year in the hopes of shaking something positive loose. I’m going into my fourth year of “full time writing” and have nothing to show for it but a handful of meandering musings on a blog seen by fewer people than were in my college marching band. (Though you guys are definitely quality, and I would rather have that than quantity.)

Boo hoo. See, you’re trying to be rational with somebody who isn’t. I keep trying to explain that to my husband when he’s sitting there being the cheerleader trying to fix things. It just doesn’t work when your brain is telling you everything is shit and you are doomed.

Harvard researcher and obvious caffeine addict Shawn Achor postulates that people are successful because they are happy, not vice versa. Instead of waiting on our various random definitions of success before we are happy, he goes on to say that we can train the brain to be more positive, which will allow us to be happier, which will lead to success. His tips are common cognitive techniques used by therapists to help deal with a variety of issues. I agree with his basic premise, and for a lot of people those tips can work very well. But for chronic depressives, they’re just another version of “Just think happy thoughts and get over it.” While the positive, successful people are at one end of the bell curve, we depressives are at the other and need a whole different set of techniques. Intellect alone isn’t enough. If it were, I’d have won this fight by a long shot years ago.

As it is, the fight is far from over. The logic centers keep trying to point out why this situation is manageable while the depression is telling me to go fuck myself. My usual “therapies” to help get myself out of a down period are the very things I can’t do very well right now because of my vision. It’s an ugly game of catch 22 and I’m the ball, deflating with every toss as my threads ravel away. Sitting on the bench never looked so good.

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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I am but a plaything to the gods. A mouse to a glaring of cats that pounce on me, toss me about, step back to see if I make a run for it, and then jump on me again when I do. Like that mouse, I am exhausted and disheartened, feeling as if I will never find freedom again.

Back in October I experienced a detached retina in my left eye (see “Curveballs”). There has been steady improvement in the vision of that eye since the surgery, albeit at a glacial pace. The pupil is still not completely recovered from its laser shock, which means it’s not focusing as effectively as it could, leaving my sight a tad blurry and wavy in that eye. But, because the right eye was good, that, combined with the improvements, brought me to the point where I felt comfortable driving around town to handle some errands. Not good after dark or in unfamiliar areas, but it’s a step up.

Then a few days ago a HUGE floater shows up in my right eye. Another giganto windshield wiper variety that floats back and forth and up and down and around like some bizarre Great Old One. While my right eye has had its floaty share of spots and dots and strings, there has never been one so large. Over the course of the next few days, it divided into two separate pieces. Which, as you might expect, move in completely opposite directions so that I never have a clear line of sight. Now BOTH eyes are screwed. That means no driving at all again, and a constant battle to see accurately enough just to get by around the house. As you can imagine, reading and writing are epic frustrations, and the ophthalmologist will have something else to look at during my next follow up appointment.

Pause. Breath. Pounce.

The mouse will eventually be worried to death with no intervention. Crushed under the paw of yet another hunter.

I wanted to be angry about the situation. Or frustrated. Or depressed. Or SOMETHING. But it’s as if I couldn’t care less. And not because I’ve become all Zen about things, but because I have nothing left to feel.

I have reached system overload. I have been bombarded by a media filled with screaming hate mongers, raging bigots, religious fanatics, and misogynists galore. Jewish worshipers have been slaughtered in their own temples (“Israel Shaken by 5 Deaths in Synagogue Assault”) Gay rights activists have been attacked for simply existing (“Russia ‘ignoring’ anti-gay attacks, says Human Rights Watch”). Journalists have been beheaded on video (“Video shows ISIS beheading U.S. journalist James Foley”). Free speech has been murdered in its own offices (“The Attack on Charlie Hebdo”). Children have been butchered in their own schools (“Peshawar school massacre survivors recall horror of attack”).

Nothing but ugliness and unhappiness every day, all day long, all over the world. Even the vaunted US of A has revealed its dark underbelly with the release of the CIA Torture Report, and the Grinch’s evil twin and formerly one step away from being ruler of the Free World Dick Cheney continues to prove just how small and non-functioning his heart really is (“Dick Cheney’s defense of CIA torture shows how low we can go”).

In my own world there has been multiple hospital visits; a major car accident; financial ruin; deaths of family, friends and pets; professional failures, and personal frustrations.

I have become numb to all of it. Or, perhaps more accurately, I’m just simply numb.

I’m so numb I don’t even want to feel anything anymore. I just want to hide. I’ve been binge watching streaming video on Hulu, and killing monsters on my video games. Oh, escapism – how I love thee! Since I have a nice big HD computer screen, neither of those takes the toll on my eyes that other tasks do. I can pretend that there’s not really a problem.

Never mind that there is so much other stuff that I NEED to do. Even if I’m not doing the writing and submissions I should be doing to try and get this misshapen undeveloped monstrosity of a career off the ground, there’s all the weaving and sewing and needlework I need to do for my hobby business. It’s the only thing I’ve made any money at the last few years and we have a big event coming up in February that could potentially get us enough to pay off the doctor bills. If we have the product. But I can’t even manage that.

There is no joy in Mudville.

As if I cared.

Anger, depression, joy – all of that depends on caring about the relevant subject. We’re angry at LGBT people getting beat up because we care about basic human rights. We’re depressed at discovering just how terrible we can be as a nation because we care what others think about us. We experience joy when we care that we are loved.

Intellectually I understand all of that. Emotionally – well, that just doesn’t seem to be home right now. Please leave a message at the beep and I’ll get back to you if it ever shows up.

 

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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The week started out a little rough here in SoCal. No, there were no major earthquakes. Though there is some tectonic movement almost daily here, I just don’t bother to notice if it’s anything less than a 4.0. Yes, I’ve lived here that long. Anyway, our exciting Monday consisted of losing power in our neighborhood. I know that probably rates as a First World Problem for most people outside the USA, but you’d have thought the world was ending by the behavior of some of our neighbors.

And while very short term outages and brown outs are reasonably uncommon, even at the height of summer when everybody is cranking their ACs, we do have them. So I didn’t think too much of it when the grid went down at about twenty ‘till 5:00 Monday evening. Minorly annoyed because I was in the middle of watching a video on my computer, but not really concerned. It flickered on and off a couple times, then was back on solidly after about five minutes. La Di Da. Went back to my video. Had just finished it when hubby called to say he was on his way home from work. That’s my cue to start dinner.

The chicken was in the oven broiler and the potatoes were in the microwave when the power went out again at 5:54pm. Even though we have a gas stove, the oven is controlled by the electronics as far as temperature and time, so down it went. No microwave, no lights, no working fridge either. No big deal. The electricity’s not usually off that long. I activated the flashlight app on my iPhone so I could find the regular flashlight.

My husband had just pulled up in front of the house when the whole neighborhood went dark. He has an LED mini-light on his key chain and made his way to the front door with that. One thing people don’t seem to really comprehend about Southern California is that, no matter what time of night, it’s lit up like a Christmas tree decorating contest ALL THE TIME. There’s a street light just in front of our house, plus we have a porch light and a bright security light over the garage/driveway. There’s freakin’ light everywhere. And you really notice when it’s gone.

We puttered around awhile waiting for the electricity to come back on and listened to our neighbors on their patios calling all their friends to let them know about this latest bit of earth-shattering news. Being the middle of dinnertime on a weeknight did make it somewhat more annoying than usual, but the voices ranged from nonchalant laughing to paranoid panic so I found it an amusing bit of anthropological study. After about a half hour I pulled up the power company’s website on my phone to check the status. They estimated it would be 9:00pm before power could be restored. Hubby and I debated cooking the entirety of dinner on the stove top, since we could light the burners with matches, but decided it was getting too late even for that. The partially cooked food went into the fridge (now just an ice box) and we went to the local burger joint.

Now, being medieval recreationists, we tend to have candles and lanterns all over the place. When we returned with the food, I retrieved one of the hurricane lamps from the fireplace mantel and set it on the kitchen table.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

My husband and I ate and chatted by lamplight and didn’t really think much about the power being out. Temperatures were mild so we weren’t worried about the food in the fridge or sleeping without a heater. We’ve certainly camped in much less hospitable situations. About 9:00pm I checked the power company’s website again and the repair estimate had been revised to midnight. Shrug. Hubby set his cell phone’s alarm and we went to bed.

Normally I don’t go to bed that early in the evening, but 1) I’d been having a bad couple of days because of body aches and a touch of insomnia and needed to lay down anyway, and 2) what the hell else was there to do? When I woke up a few hours later and couldn’t get back to sleep, I trundled back down stairs and lit up the hurricane lamp again. The new estimate on the power company’s website was 6:00am. Wow. The longest outage prior that I could remember was about seven hours. Of course, at the height of a summer heat wave, which made it even more memorable. Thank the gods for whoever invented battery-operated fans.

So here I am, in the middle of the night, no lights, no TV, no computer, the phone running low on power – what’s a girl to do? Well, this one pulled out her favorite paper and her favorite fountain pen and let the imagination go. I sat there noodling on a couple of short stories as I listened to the sounds outside – nearly constant sirens, dogs barking, the couple down the street having their weekly argument, the boom box car that so loves to cruise through our residential neighborhood at 3:00 in the morning rattling our windows – and really enjoying the experience. There’s something about putting actual pen to actual paper that just can’t be duplicated with electronics. The paper’s texture, the smell of the ink, the scratch-scritch of the nib as the words tumble out under the golden flicker of firelight. It sent me back to the early days of my writing – #2 pencil on notebook paper – when the process seemed so much more visceral and organic.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my iMac with its Scrivener software and its instant research (read: Internet) access – but spending a few hours with pen and paper again really reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. It gives me a connection to the process I just can’t get any other way, and I realized how much I missed it.

The power was out for a total of eighteen hours. One of the longest I’ve ever experienced. And while a number of my neighbors seemed to have had serious issues (judging by the sirens), it wasn’t really a problem for me. My husband recently asked me if I would mind living in a mobile home if it meant we could get out of California. I told him I’d happily live in our tent for that reward (it’s not like it would be really roughing it – see “Playing Dress Up” for an explanation). It would mean less computer and TV and energy saving light bulbs, and more pen and paper and hurricane lamps. But I think I could live with that.

 

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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