One Hit At a Time!

Some of these are things I can do something about. Some of them are things I must accept and deal with to the best of my ability. As anyone who has read Slaughterhouse-Five or been through recovery knows, the important thing is knowing the difference.

I had not intended these check-ins to become a regular feature, but life piles up and here we are.

Here is the Current State of Affairs in the Benevolent Dictatorship of Jennsylvania.

The Good:

  • I have been writing almost 3k words a night for the last week, not including blog posts. I also have some places I want to send my fiction and nonfiction writing. I attended a cool spoken word performance Saturday night, am going to a writer’s group with friends Tuesday night, and to another writing group Wednesday night. Writing and I have our teeth in each other again, and neither is backing down.
  • I am working out with coworkers in the parking lot after work. I forgot my workout clothes but don’t care, I’ll do it barefoot in my work capris and blouse. We do calisthenics and kettlebells like the wild savages we are, and it’s AWESOME.
  • I am going out of town this weekend for my family reunion. I’ve made Herzog’s appointment to be boarded at the vet, and  must remember to pack his favorite toys, something to snuggle, and a bag of spinach as a treat because he is a very strange cat.
  • I have to make something to take to the reunion, so I am making the Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean Casserole recipe. I made it a few years ago for the holidays and it was a big hit.
  • I have a new blue dress for the reunion and it is cute. I am excited.

The Bad:

  • Some fucko stole some personal information and tried to use to it to file a false tax return. This is coming JUST as I have paid off some major debts and a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. So help me, the light will not turn out to be the dumpster fire of some jackwad ruining my credit. NO SIR. I put fraud alerts on my accounts.
  • This might be the tip of an iceberg of a bigger problem. I am being VERY careful.
  • Because of a snafu with my insurance, I may have to find a new therapist. I go to a therapist once a month to check and make sure my head is staying on straight, and now I must either change after 3 years and get a referral, OR I could keep going to her and paying her whole fee out of pocket, which I can’t afford.
  • I have been loaned to another project at work, so I have two different projects to keep up with right now.

The Ugly:

  • THREE separate friends are battling cancer in various forms. All I can do is be there for them, cook them healthful meals, and offer them rides and a shoulder when they need it, but what I wish most fervently is for cancer to magically take human form so I can take it apart with my bare hands. THE THINGS I WOULD DO TO IT.
  • The news is depressing as shit and I have all but given up on keeping up with it in depth, and just follow sound bites which is the worst way to follow news.

How We Do

Some of these are things I can do something about. Some of them are things I must accept and deal with, to the best of my ability. As anyone who has read Slaughterhouse-Five or been through recovery knows, the important thing is knowing the difference.

I am strong enough to weather the things I cannot change.

And as far as the things I CAN change…

brideburiedalive.gif

 

… Around here, we take those problems One. Hit. At. A. Time.

Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane

So from me to you, I hope you’ll hear me and believe me when I say It’s going to be okay.

I’m still alive! Just busy.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies, but haven’t had time to blog about them. I’ve been working on fiction, and wrote up an entry on Mudder of Dragons about my trip to New York and I’m working on another one for tomorrow. Go check it out if you’re bored or stuck in traffic!

Patricksponaugle linked to an amazing Oatmeal comic on Twitter last night and reading it really gave me pause. Here it is:

It’s going to be okay.  

You need to read it. Right now. Don’t save it for later, don’t scroll past and think ‘Oh I’ll read that later’ like I almost did, because I am NOTORIOUS for such and then forgetting. Just read it. It takes less than five minutes.

–Yeah.

If we are alive and reading this, we’re all on that burning plane RIGHT NOW, and we all have the opportunity to tell someone ‘It’s going to be okay.‘ Half of the act is saying it out loud – the other half is believing it yourself once you’ve said it.

It’s easy to gloss over the nuance of human suffering with what seems like a platitude… but really, it’s true. Holding on to hope in times of desperation is one of the best things about humanity – maybe that sounds like bullshit off a greeting card, and people say it all the time in situations when things AREN’T going to be okay and bad things happen anyway… but that isn’t what life’s about.

It actually reminded me of something that happened to me, one of my life’s great regrets.

The rest of this entry is behind a cut because it deals with the death of a family member and a personal failing on the part of the writer. I invite you to read it, but please be warned, it’s depressing.

Continue reading “Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane”

Thursday, Better Known as Friday Eve

In Which The Author Doesn’t Say Much of Value Other Than An Apology

Happy Friday Eve, Dear Readers!

It continues to be a hell of a week – hell of a month actually, but I’m not getting into that.

But there’s hope on the horizon, swirling toward us like Falcor from the dawn-touched clouds in The Neverending Story – FRIDAY. 

I Can See Friday From Here!
I Can See Friday From Here!

Although not a payday Friday. Ah well, can’t have everything!

Sorry I’ve not been posting much here. I’ve been watching stuff but haven’t had the mental energy for a really in-depth analysis of anything lately. I’m planning a round up of posts from the archives that will help orient new readers (HELLO AND WELCOME NEW READERS!), but haven’t sat down to work it out yet.

So bear with me! New posts are coming!

I hope your week is going well!

Reading the News Lately Entry: HBO’s The Corner

Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than a white woman who watches a lot of TV and movies. But as an American, Baltimore’s strife kills me for a lot of reasons; I know that I live in a different America than a lot of people, I know that I am privileged. I am also struggling to understand both sides of a conflict that has made a lot of bodies and broken a lot of lives. In thinking about it, I remembered I had watched this amazing show and wondered how many other people were aware of it.

Watching a television show won’t make someone understand what’s going on in Baltimore, but The Corner introduced me to a conversation going on in this country that I wasn’t previously aware of, and helped me find an orientation to that conversation. Hopefully it can do the same for others.

The Corner.jpg

I love The Wire. It was one of the most important shows on American television and yet all it garnered was critical acclaim, and a few awards. You always know when someone has seen it, because we can’t stop ourselves from talking about it. David Simon, the creator, has talked about what’s going on in Baltimore because as a resident of the city he has long been privy to its inner workings.

A lot of people are probably looking to The Wire or recommending it to others who don’t understand what’s going on in Baltimore right now. And rightfully so, as it is one of the few television shows of the last twenty years that addressed some of those very problems. But The Wire was still required to be a commercial property, and so the stories were sometimes hampered by the need for some kind of cohesive narrative to draw the (white, middle/upperclass) audience in. It was thought-provoking, it was hard-hitting, but at the end of the day it still had to be entertainment.

The Corner paints a much more interesting picture, of the city in particular and America in general, and was made by many of the same people. Short of going to Baltimore and living there for a few years, it’s the closest some of us watching the news can get to understanding what’s going on.

Directed by Charles S. Dutton, The Corner is a dramatization of the nonfiction book The Corner: A Year In the Life of An Inner City Neighborhood. Many of its actors are recognizable from The Wire and elsewhere, and all of them give knockout performances.

As the title indicates, the six-episode miniseries shows a year in the life of a neighborhood that has fallen apart for a variety of reasons. Drugs, economic disparity, civic corruption, it’s all there on display. No punches are pulled by Dutton’s direction or the writing of the show- the grim realities are all exhibited without agenda other than ‘this really happened.’

For example: Francine, a drug addict and mother to one of the main characters, decides to get clean. She goes to a nearby center where she’s been told she can do so. However, the program has a limited number of beds, and sees people eager to turn over new leaves every day slide right back into addiction. She’s told to come back and apply again for four Tuesdays in a row so that they know she’s serious about getting clean. Basically, another month on the street.

It seems simple enough to us, who are reading this article or watching the show in our comfortable living rooms, with smartphones we can program to remind us where to be on certain days at certain times. Or even if we’ve been trained by parents or school programs about time management and basic organizational skills, being somewhere four times in a row sounds easy! We have cars we can use to get around, or means to check the bus schedule fare to get us there.

Francine has none of that. Her ‘normal’ doesn’t require her to know what day it is, or be anywhere at a certain time. As an addict, her internal clock is timed to her next fix, not “Humpday Happy Hour” or “Casual Friday” or anything that might help her get to the center at the right time on the right day. And a month in Bunchie’s neighborhood is a very, VERY long time frame in which a lot of things can happen. The show does not belabor the point, just makes it and steps back.

Another powerful thing about the series was getting to see so many actors I recognize from other shows display such range. Many of the people from the Wire play characters diametrically opposed to their characters in The Corner. Maria Broom, known as Lt. Daniels’ politically-savvy wife Marla in the Wire, is totally torn down as Bunchie, an unemployed addict who sits on her stoop all day. Likewise Clarke Peters, who played natty and understated badass Lester Freamon plays Fat Curt, so named because of the grotesque swelling in his hands and feet that years of drug use have caused. Seeing people of color displaying their range in such a way was a huge eye-opener; I started really thinking about how few roles there are for people of color in American entertainment, and how limited those roles usually are.

Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than a white woman who watches a lot of TV and movies. But as an American, Baltimore’s strife kills me for a lot of reasons; I know that I live in a different America than a lot of people, I know that I am privileged. I am also struggling to understand both sides of a conflict that has made a lot of bodies and broken a lot of lives. In thinking about it, I remembered I had watched this amazing show and wondered how many other people were aware of it.

Watching a television show won’t make someone understand what’s going on in Baltimore, but The Corner introduced me to a conversation going on in this country that I wasn’t previously aware of, and helped me find an orientation to that conversation. Hopefully it can do the same for others.

The Corner is not available on Instant Watch, but is available through Netflix Disc service and HBO GO or NOW.

I’m Back! A Personal Entry

Things are well, and couldn’t be better, but even though everything is going great I still have my bad days, where I am doubtful of myself, and of others. But trust is a thing that takes a long time to build, and like anything else you build, it must be maintained, and practiced. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

It’s been over a year since I posted anything here, but I’m back now!

Basically I just got kind of busy living life. I also don’t have a computer to use at home, mine broke down and I still haven’t replaced it. I decided I wanted to live OFF the internet as much as possible, and sort of figure out what I wanted to use it for, rather than just fall into it again.

I’d also like to tell you about where I’ve been, and where I hope I am going!

Here I am in December of 2009, when I got to meet Neil Gaiman! I was about 35 lbs overweight, and still had my dreadlocks. I am pretty sure by this time I had lost my job again, having been laid off from a temp job I’d gotten.

me_Neil_Kris_2009
I have sworn that I will meet him again, and ask him if he remembers the sobbing girl who told him she was so excited to meet him she might throw up on him

I was so excited I cried on his shoulder. He’s one of my IDOLS.     I’ve read his books since about 1999, and his writing has gotten  me through some rough times in my life.

So the next year I was unemployed. I got interested in Bonsai, but didn’t have any money for it. I learned how to make do. I still did things, I had a few interviews, and even went on a trip to Atlanta with my best friend’s mother to help plan my best friend’s wedding. Something happened on that trip– I started to realize my self-worth again. I had become angry, and bitter, and miserable, but my best friend treated me with the same cheerful acceptance she always had. She, her mother, and her in-laws and friends all did the same, and I started to remember what being happy was like.

But there are still VERY few pictures of me between 2006 and 2011. I just couldn’t stand to see what I’d become– physically and spiritually.

In August of 2010, I got a callback for an interview. The job would have been amazing– 40 an hour, on a contract. I made a decision: I sat down, and with my then-boyfriend’s help and a huge tub of conditioner, combed out my dreadlocks.

me_with_dreads
These dreads were made with the crochet and handroll method, and I washed them once a week. They had completely locked up without any products at all!

It took 40 hours. It was one of those things that just NEEDED to be done. I had enjoyed having weird hair, it got me a lot of attention, but I was ready to move on. I cut off the dead ends, got a pro haircut for the first time in almost 4 years, and nailed the interview. They wanted me to start immediately.

I didn’t get the job that I’d gone to all that trouble for, but I got an even better one, for a government contractor that a friend set me up with. I started working there in October of 2010, and I am happy and proud to say that I am still here! I paid off my car, paid down some of my consumer debt I incurred from being unemployed, and started trying to do more positive things with my time. I also cut way back on my internet usage, because I was distracting myself a great deal.

In March of 2011, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. My fasting blood sugar was 143, my cholesterol was 195, and I was miserable most of the time. I was also drunk most of the time, too, with a highly cynical view of the world. Being diagnosed as something, even as pre-something, was a pretty big shakeup.

Only three tummy rubs, then death
Herzog demonstrates what I was doing most of the time

 

So I cut back. On EVERYTHING.

I cut back on drinking. I stopped eating carbs, almost completely. I got into the whole Paleo-Primal Blueprint thing, and I started following a more structured workout program.  I challenged myself almost daily, in every aspect of my life. I chatted pleasantly with strangers, I walked places I had previously driven, I practiced looking people in the eye when I talked to them.

I didn’t realize the weight was coming off until I saw how much bigger my clothes were on me, and when my friends told me I was losing weight. I lost about 30 pounds, my cholesterol went down 30 points, my blood pressure too, and I am managing my blood sugar without needing any medication.

I even self-published a novel!  It’s called The Secret Wilderness, and I had been working on it while I was unemployed. It’s pretty dark though, at least to me. I wrote it while I was in a very bad headspace, and self-published it in a whirlwind of activity so it’s not the best thing I’ve written. But you have to write the bad books out of yourself before you can get to the good ones, and so I am still writing, and still trying. For the rest of my life, I will tell stories. It’s up to other people if they would like to hear them or not.  The Secret Wilderness on Amazon has the first six pages available, if you’d like to check it out!

In May of 2011 I realized that I had been unhappy for a long time, and that getting to know myself was going to be hard. I was reevaluating where I had been, what I wanted, and where I was going in life. I ended a ten-year relationship because I desperately needed to find out who I was, and I couldn’t do that while I was with someone. It was very hard, and certainly hurt someone very deeply, but I wanted everyone to be happy, and that included me.

October 2011
I took this in October of 2011, it’s the first photo of me with contacts!

I lived in my little apartment with my cat, Herzog, for a few months. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding for the first time, I went out with friends when I could, I worked out and swam and read and watched movies and just lived life. It was very quiet, but definitely what I needed. I reconnected with old friends and family, and all of them said that not only did I look different, but that I had a new light in my face and happiness in my voice that they hadn’t heard in years.

In October of 2011, I got myself contact lenses for my birthday. I had never worn them before. I still wear them almost every day, only wearing glasses when I feel lazy or on weekends. Or when I want to watch a sad movie and might need to cry!

That same night, one of my oldest and dearest friends threw me a birthday party. She had invited many of my new friends from work, and one of those friends brought a friend along who lived in Miami, but was intending to move to Orlando. And that was how I met Jonathan.

 

 

Jon at Flagler Museum, St. Augustine
Taken at Flagler Museum during our 2012 St. Augustine trip. You can barely see Samantha, his husky, down there on the right. She found the fountain water delicious!

Jonathan worked in a hospital when I met him. We have been dating since November of 2011, and I am thankful every single day that he is in my life. He’s a wonderful, kind, and considerate person, and anyone would be lucky to have him in their life.

Jon moved in with me in October of 2012, applied and was accepted to UCF, and looked for a job. He found one, and started working at another hospital earlier this week.

Things are well, and couldn’t be better, but even though everything is going great I still have my bad days, where I am doubtful of myself, and of others. But trust is a thing that takes a long time to build, and like anything else you build, it must be maintained, and practiced. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

For a long time, I had a complex about happiness, and smiling. I thought if you weren’t happy, and pretended that you were, you were lying to yourself and others and hiding from the truth. But I’ve found that sometimes, even when you don’t feel like smiling, the act of DOING IT, and of telling people ‘No, I’m okay,’ sometimes helps you feel better. I was mostly expressing negativity when I did express my feelings, because I felt bitter and cynical all the time. I didn’t realize how GREAT I had things until I was able to get some peace and quiet and find myself again. I took a lot of things for granted, I realize. Now I appreciate life and my friends, and when I encounter a negative situation I challenge myself to see the good in it. Doing so has become second-nature, so much so that people often comment on how positive I am these days, and how I can see the good in anything.

So! This post will serve as a milestone in the new path I’ve already started! I’ll still do film reviews and such here, but I’m thinking about starting a whole new blog that is more about me and daily life. And quite honestly, I have begun reading some new, positive blogs about things that I’ll be linking to and hope to meet some new people that way.

And so this post is the first post in the rest of my life, heh!

Thank you for reading, I hope you’ll stick around for more!