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Archive for April, 2016

It is Tuesday afternoon. The sinus headache searing behind my left eye has been with me since Sunday afternoon. Molten-lava-hot needles of pain swirl from one side of my head to the other with the slightest movement. Lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, smells are too strong, stupid is as stupid does. Thinking is a chore. Motivation is totally gone. Not surprising, given how little I had to start with.

Annoyance is high.

Annoyance threat level a

Sunday was a day spent in hiding, hoping to get rid of the damn headache. I accomplished nothing. Didn’t even get out of the pajamas. Not that I do that much anymore, either.

Monday was a busy day. More issues with the truck. That meant getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to drive the husband to work. Hit the grocery store on the way back. 7:30 on a Monday morning is a nice time to do shopping. No crowds, no screaming kids, no villages and their idiots blocking aisles trying to figure out the difference between the fifty-eight cent house brand and the exact same stuff packaged under the Name Brand for twice that. And everything all nicely stocked and neat, not looking like it had just been looted like it usually does on the weekends.

Got home and put the groceries away. Had a nice breakfast with the pain pills and watched the latest episode of Once. Set up the crock-pot for dinner with a nice roast and potatoes and carrots. All done just in time to take the truck to its appointment at the repair shop. Another code with the transmission. We’d just spent our tax refund rebuilding it less than two months ago. But the warranty from that visit will take care of this one. All I have to do is wait in the lobby for about an hour while they do the work. Thankfully I brought stuff to read, and the lobby is clean and brightly lit. Not-so-thankfully, the chairs are tiny plastic things that I suspect have been stolen from the nearest elementary school. My butt goes numb after about fifteen minutes.

And, of course, the job takes four times longer than initially estimated. By then I’d given up reading because of the headache. I also can’t find my feet. Could have sworn they were attached when I got up this morning. It takes me ten minutes to bring them back online, and only after I unwedged myself from that damned tiny chair. I leave the shop just in time to fetch the husband from work.

Traffic is more terrible than usual. It’s overcast and there are scattered rain showers around the area. I like rain. But not when I have to drive in SoCal. These people have no idea how to drive in anything but full daylight – yeah, okay, maybe not even then. I learned their ways when I lived in L.A. And I have a BAT (big-ass truck). A little assertiveness and 9,000lbs of steel gives me the right-of-way. We still don’t get home until after 7:00pm.

Oh, and who had opened the windows for the first time in months because it was actually cool and nice out? Yeah, this idiot. The weather app didn’t say anything about rain. So of course the skies opened up just as we were getting off the freeway. The master bedroom was a little damp by the time I got the window closed. Thankfully not the bed, though by that point I likely wouldn’t have cared.

By bedtime, my head is screaming, my hips are on fire, and my mind can barely focus on brushing my teeth. For once maybe I’ll get a decent night’s rest.

I must have cussed the husband out when his alarm went off, because he came back to bed long enough to apologize for waking me. The next thing I know I’m packing a mesh bag with essentials, which for some reason include embroidery supplies and cassette tapes (but no player) and bells, as I decide not to wear the rainbow-striped hippie-hoody because it’s too noticeable, and leave a collage of clothes, shells, string, paper, and whatever as a clue to those who might be wondering where I’m going since I can’t wait because the aliens are about to find me and all I have to defend myself with is an old stick and my cats. And that’s when my alarm went off.

Yes, I’m trying to be a responsible adult. No, it’s not working out that well. It took me two-and-a-half hours to get downstairs, and all I’d managed to do in that time was take my morning meds. I have a crap-ton of stuff I should be doing, but instead I’m hiding in video games and streaming media. Every night I chastise myself for my lack of effort and make a list of what I’m going to accomplish the next day, and every morning I’m hiding in bed trying to convince myself I really should at least get up. Every morning dread. Every evening frustration. Every day disappointed at myself.

I know somewhere inside I’m the one setting this trap. The self-doubts and lack of self worth are a constant contrast to the dreams and desires, an endless Mobius loop of internal turmoil that ends up in a stalemate. And I’m the only one that can get rid of the trap. Reprogramming the internal monologue of depression is one of the hardest things anyone can do. You’re probably wondering how hard is it to just think positive thoughts? Immensely hard. Amazingly, astoundingly, excruciatingly hard. Because the depressive’s brain is hard-wired for the black hole that is depression. It is automatic and unbidden and pervasive. It is at the instinctual level of the lizard brain, where everything hides and is so deeply imbedded even metaphorical dynamite won’t dislodge it.

So you pick just one thing to work on, and go after it with a dentist’s pick and the patience of an archeologist on a dig. It will be slow going. Some days won’t see any progress at all. That’s normal. Other days will be a veritable flurry of activity. That’s normal, too. Piece by piece, grain by grain, eventually, that one thing will be rooted out. There will be a crack of light in the darkness.

Pick the next one thing to work on. Repeat as necessary. Don’t give up. Let people/medication/pets help. Celebrate your victories. Ignore everything else.

Did I get everything done today that I wanted to? No. And I’m making myself not care. Because today I got out of bed. Today I played with my cats. Today I wrote a blog.

TODAY I WROTE A FUCKING 1,000+ WORD BLOG!!!

Yeah, one more crack in the dark. It’s a long, hard fight, but it is SOOOooo worth it.

 

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Time marches on. As a child, it seemed days actually meant eons. As an adult, days pass like mere microseconds. The alarm goes off, you get out of bed, you turn around, and it’s next month already. It seems like college was just yesterday. And just this morning my scale gave me numbers I could read without guilt. But both those events were actually decades ago, as we humans measure time. DECADES. It might as well be a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

I’ve been thinking about time and age, and the lost opportunities the passage of both provide. It’s something that’s been at the back of my mind for a while now, but really hit home recently with the passing of a friend. She was a lovely lady I met through my historical group. And even though she was well into her seventies, she was still very active and mentally sharp as a tack. She had been kind enough to be one of my beta readers for my novel, even giving me valuable written feedback. We followed each other’s adventures on Facebook, exchanging pleasantries and LOLing the various shared memes. And mere hours after our last electronic meeting, she was gone, felled by a massive coronary. A brutal reminder of our painful mortality.

Every man diesWeHeartIt.com

In the last several years, a number of others I know have also passed. Heart attacks. Strokes. Aneurisms. Some of them even younger than me. And still others are dealing with significant health issues. I’m now in that age group when things like serious illness and death are more common. And people are starting to treat me differently. The grey hair and glasses means more “ma’am” and less “miss.” It means senior discounts without asking, and offers of help at the grocery store. On one hand, I’m glad that there are still people in the world that do those sorts of things. On the other, I want to scream, “I’m still young, dammit!” Inside, I’m still a curious kid, wondering at all the bright things in the world, and not feeling any different than I did thirty years ago.

And therein lies the problem. We think we have all the time in the world, when – in truth – we have merely a blink in the cosmic sigh of existence. None of us know how long we are destined to be here. Happily ensconced in middle age, surrounded by a decent house, just enough groceries, purring cats, and a loving husband, it’s easy to put things off until tomorrow. Then tomorrow again. And yet another tomorrow. Then suddenly, there are no tomorrows. But by then it’s too late, and none of the things you wanted to do have been done.

According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse from Australia, people on their deathbeds regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did (“Regrets of the Dying”). I’ve heard that from other sources as well. The common theme working through all of them has been, “I worked too hard being what others expected me to be, and not what I wanted to be.” I don’t want to be one of those people.

Yet, I’ve squandered the opportunities I was given. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education I’ve barely used. I was gifted a position in the American Film Institute’s screenwriting program over several hundred other applicants. I could have had my MFA if I had stayed. I gained an internship as a reader with a production company that went on to do amazing things and have incredible success. I could have been in on the ground floor of a Hollywood trailblazer. All are the first chances most people never get, that some people would sell their souls for, and I wasted them.

We regret the things we DIDN’T do the most. Don’t be one of those people. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. If you’re a young person, go. Hell, it doesn’t matter what your age – GO! Do it now! Don’t wait for a “better time,” or “more stability,” or “less stress.” Those constructs never happen. Don’t be like me, muttering, “woulda, coulda, shoulda,…”

So, here I am, looking back on decisions that can’t be changed now; a meandering path of wrong choices, bad choices, questionable choices, NON-choices, that deposited me to this desk today. My husband, family (whether blood or chosen), and animals are the bright spots in that quagmire. And it could be argued that I had to take that path to get those wonderful things, but part of me still thinks I can have my cake and eat it, too. I can have my amazing husband AND a great writing career, because I have the one thing so many others are denied: a second chance.

I have the support system, I have the time, I have the skill. What I don’t have is an excuse.

sometimes-you-need-a-second-chance-because-you-werent-quite-ready-for-the-first-quote-1

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