Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Monday, July 27, 2009


My friend Lori told me about this program:

Which, to sum up, is an attempt by the Mental Health Association of America to get more people with functional mental illnesses into the social work/rehabilitation/peer counselling arenas. It's a great idea; after all, I have long held that part of what has helped me the most has been just the availability of others like me and getting to talk to them!

The program is 12 weeks long with classes daily; it starts in September and ends in December. It's followed by an internship at one of the facilities listed ( many of which are really great!) PLUS, they offer a per diem of $15 for gas and food, and when Laura was in it, they also offered a stipend of $200 a week for every week you did not miss a day. For the completion of the program they offer another bonus of around $200, and another for going on at least 3 interviews in the social work fields. I'm not sure if any of those numbers have changed or are even in place given the cuts most recently made in the state, but nonetheless....

I just applied and submitted all my information this weekend. I'm sort of excited; Lori herself didn't finish the program because she decided it wasnt for her, but she pushed it my way because she felt I would be ideal since she pointed out that I'm always trying to help people navigate their way through the system anyway! My ex Jack ( who IS an MSW) used to say I ought to be doing similar work ( in his opinion, as a CDAC- a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counsellor) and I have long toyed with this idea of becoming a psychiatric social worker.

But in the end, I didn't want to go back to school and get the degree; I just wanted to do something comparable. I see too many people floundering around without enough information to help themselves, and god knows I'm always meddling in their business trying to prevent them from figuring it all out the hard way, like I had to. I hope I can parlay some of my knowledge of how to navigate The Business of Crazy into something that pays me, even a little. (I DO still want to act, but I need WORK to subsidize that and well, just survive on! And if it could be something that MEANS something to me and that makes a difference, well then HALLEUJAH, Praise the Lord!).

But first I wait out the application process. We had to write an essay ( oh NO, not one of those, PLEASE.....oh, but YES REALLY! I so despise them. And does anyone ever really read them for any purpose other than to see if you have a basic mastery of English? REALLY?) on a Significant Life Experience-- 500 words or less. I wanted to address the theme of the program itself and still fit my story in there, so here's what I came up with:

A Trip To The Beach

On a shelf in my home, there is a picture of me in a bejeweled frame. In it, I’m standing on the beach with my pants-bottoms rolled, laughing as the water washes over my feet. The pale blue water matches the cloudless sky, and the sandy shore matches my khaki jeans. It’s a perfect shot: a happy girl on a beautiful day. This is true.

What is also true, but not readily apparent, is that this photograph was taken just a month after I had been discharged after a long hospitalization for depression, one in which I had finally found the right doctor, the right diagnosis, and, at the time, the right treatment.

I had spent many days of winter that year being sick. I was still living in the Midwestern city where I was raised, so I remember looking out the window at the Christmas snow and praying to just get through until dinner. I remember looking out a similar window on New Year’s Eve, wondering how I could even manage a party, let alone a whole year. And I remember staring out my car window, driving home from my February birthday dinner, thinking that if things didn’t get better soon, I was going to take matters into my own hands.

It wasn’t the first time in my life I’d felt that desperate, and it wouldn’t be the last, but for me, it was the most fortunate. As I already mentioned, it was this time that put me on the right track for treatment and success: a voluntary hospitalization that happened on Valentine’s Day, 2001. Snow was still on the ground, it was still cold; but this time, the window I was looking out of was one that was sealed for my protection

But this essay isn’t really about that hospitalization; it’s about surviving depression. When depression takes hold, it's like being crushed from the inside by a powerful grip of despair and fear that you cannot control. The more you wrestle with it without help, the more the vise tightens, the more tired you become. Eventually, you are tired and are in such pain from the struggle, it begins to seem endless. You want nothing more for that pain to end; to rest. This how you end up in a psychiatric ward , or worse.

In the midst of that darkness, I promised myself if I somehow survived it, I would go to the beach, in San Francisco, which I loved . I would dip my toe in the water. It was this promise, just this tiny seedling of hope, and the many imaginings of what it might be like that got me through the difficult days of recovery. The picture is here to always remind me that it doesn’t take a miracle to get through the blackness, it takes something to hold on to, living one day at a time, untill you are finally at a destination that is, like the photo, a place where you can simply breathe again.

Those of you who read this blog regularly ( or even not so regularly) will note that I'm usually more flowerey and long-winded, but this time I had to edit myself, so excuse the abruptness of some of it. I was literally counting words trying to cull them down (ugh). However, it didn't turn out too badly, I hope. A little cliche, maybe, but certainly sincere. ( And yes, it's a very true story; if you ever come to my house, you will see the picture displayed fairly prominently.) I hope the people evaluating the applications see that and want to know more enough to call me in. I'm nothing if not better when I can talk in person about these topics.....


Please keep your fingers and toes crossed that if this the right thing for me, I'll be put where I need to be and can be of most use! Thanks!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sometimes It's the Little Things That Keep You Going, Especially When They're Shorter Than You Are-- Another Little Win From A Little Person That Really Cheered Me Up Today:

I know I've previously mentioned my friend Vince and his little girl, Maya, whom I adore. It was recently Maya's (4th!) birthday and I sent her a little something ( I call her "My Blue Butterfly Girl" so she got a small blue and gold sparkly net butterfly to hang in her room or play with) . I received this from Vince today.



Maya and I went camping the day we got your package in the mail. She opened it up once we got to The State Park-- I read her the birthday card, and she said, "Jessica? Why wasn't Jessica at my birthday party?" I told her because you lived in California. So the whole camping trip she was playing with it and,when we got back home the next day, Anna ( his wife) asked where she got it. Mara said,very matter-of-factly, "Jessica in California sent it to me. She couldn't come to my birthday party because she lives in California."

Here is her drawing of "Jessica in California"

Thank you so much for sending that. It's very thoughtful and, of course, she loves butterflies, so that was a very awesome gift.

You may notice ( in some other attached pictures) that Maya's hair is cut very short (prior to this event it had been VERY long). After we got back from our little family camp week, she came downstairs (when we thought she was napping) with her new, self-styled haircut . The next day she went to Anna's stylist for a "modification" to Maya's own cut ( a little blonde pixie, still very cute, but I'm sure, a close save for the stylist! LOL!).

Anyway, thanks again... Hope all is well. We're heading out to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks next week. Need some time away. Stay well.



I'm telling you, that made me smile for at least an hour today. It's so easy to make a kid happy, and the returns are so big! Plus that picture of me cracks me up! I'm sure it's just her hair-drawin' style at this age ( everyone I drew from about ages 4-7 had a Marlo Thomas flip in their hair for some reason. It's not ours to reason why....) but actually, some days when I wake up, my hair really DOES look about like that.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm supposed to be writing an essay for this:

and the application is due Monday. I know what I want to write, but I'm feeling a bit unmotivated and rusty right at the moment, so I thought I'd write here first for a bit to get warmed up. I'm hoping this program is a good fit for me; it's supposed to be specifically tailored for people with mental illnesses to help other people with illnesses in the social work arena. As this is usually where, unfortunately, the system fails most people with illnesses, I'm happy to add my hard-won skills at navigating the system to anyone who needs it. As I said to Sassy the other day, "I do it all the time for free anyway, so why shouldn't I get paid for it?" Additionally, the program is supposed to pay for your attendance in their classes for 12 weeks. It's not much, but I figure the stipend couldn't hurt! At any rate, maybe I'll find a place where my outrageously detailed knowledge of crazy and so forth will actually earn me a halfway decent wage.

Nonetheless, it won't be for awhile. The program itself doesn't start untill Sept. 21 ( by then, I'm hoping to be well enough to handle the classes. I expect to be....). Right now, I need about $300 to fall out of the sky so I'll be able to pay my rent in August. I thought by now that the fine folks over at Social Security would have taken care of the little glitch that took one of my checks away, but hey look! It's the 26th of July and they have yet to DO it. (Guess where I'm going on Monday? It's a good thing my car liscence will be paid for by the beginning of August, because I might be living in it. We all know how Mom and Dad feel about supplementing any of Arnold's mistakes. ) I'm presently trying to think of all the ways I can make some quick cash that doesn't involve selling body parts ( attached or otherwise).

In other news, Rosalie is continuing her Trail of Destruction throughout the house, the one she began when she moved in 6 months ago ( she's now a year old! I can't believe it!). Now that the scratching phase is passed ( and the drapes in the LR are trashed, as is the cover on an upholstered trunk by the door, and the seats on the DR chairs), she's moved on to chewing things. Like cords and straps and so forth. Any hoodie or pant with a drawstring that may have been safe lying in a laundry basket ( or let's face it, on the floor; this is MY house, after all) is now ripe for the chomping and fraying. Any ponytail holder I may have left on a counter, sink or dressertop is not only a toy for endless amusement, but hours of chewy fun. And Friday, I woke up to find she had moved her way up to more irritating and problematic items: she chewed through the phone cord that was connecting the phone line to the cable box. And of course, it's not just any old problem that I can fix myself- oh no! The one cord she chose to gnaw through is the one that the cable guy was careful to thread UNDER the rug in such a manner that I can't even figure out how I might yank it out in order to replace it. She just happened to get the one loop of it that was sticking out from a seam. Now I have to call the cable company and have them make a special trip out to fix it, and then figure out how to prevent it from happening again when they do.

God, it's a good thing she's fucking cute.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

For a long, long, LOOOOOOONG time, I've been thinking about my life and how to make it work around this illness and still have something that was viable ( read: that I could support myself on) and meaningful ( read: that made me happy and felt fufilled). I've done really well on the psychosocial front, but on the work/financial front, I've really fallen down. I went to back to school after my first episode ( which, due to shitty doctors and bad information, lasted 4 long years, cost me a relationship, dignity, and friends). I did so because I thought to myself, "Well, Jessica, you're going to have to live with this, and you're going to have to figure out a way to make a living around it."

Granted, I indulged myself intellectually and creatively, because I was under the delusion that I should have maybe LIKED what I did for a living or at the end of my life looking back at experiences. Which isn't to say I didn't work my ass off; I did. I had two major internships while I was in school double majoring. I was checking out grad schools my junior year and trying to make connections out here in the LA art world ( at the time I was more focused on performance art versus straight acting; obviously, that changed). So I did, to some extent, have a grip on how I was going to get all of this to pay for itself and feed me, literally.

Then a lot of shit happened; I moved here and fell apart, completely cowed by the size and the coldness of the city. I had had this idea that I would get a silly part-time job to help with the bills while I went on auditions. (I wasn't even caring so much about whether or not I would LIKE it or if I would even enjoy it- I just needed to WORK. I'm not that stupid or spoiled, okay?) I didn't realize how difficult and complex that juggle would be, nor did I realize the conflict I would constantly be in with the Department of Social Services about their continued assistance.

Ah, and there we are with that topic again. See, I thought- um, somehow- that when I graduated, and moved, that I would get a job, and have insurance and FINALLY get off of the public assistance train. I had been on it for 10 years, and while 4 of them I was actually floridly ill and 4 of them I was in school ( they subsizdize school under the heading of "rehabilitation", which is a good facet of the programs), but I felt like I should be making my own way with things. You know, step up and do what I could on my own. Let me add that I was also under the impression that getting insurance wasn't going to be difficult-- the last time I had worked, my part-time job had offered insurance. Granted, that was in 1993, but surely I could do THIS, right?

You all know the answer to that question. And it has nothing to with ME or skill set or my drive or my attitude. It has to do with economics, and the fact that 50% of most Americans do not have adequate healthcare, and mental health care is a laughable oxymoron.

So, I stayed in the system, if for nothing else for the healthcare. I can't afford my medication: on its own, my antidepressant alone is $300+ for a month's supply. I can't afford to visit a psychiatrist: even my doctor, who is kind enough to see low-income patients, bills at $150 an hour. (And therapy isn't even paid for- I still pay for that out of pocket. I always have, always will, probably, because whats the point of talking about your problems when you can just take a pill, right? Uh, yeah. ). The fact that they were still sending me just enough money to cover my rent each month helped, too, I won't deny THAT. (My dad IS right on that point: when I was living in STL, the rent was lower so I could at least afford to pay for it and have some-- a meager some-- left over.). I tried to take on part-time jobs to pay for the rest of things, but I had to be careful: too much money would cut me off from my insurance. (And God Knows I have needed the insurance. I can't afford a hospitalization, either: the trip to the bin in 2004 was $800 a day and I was in there for a month. )

I didn't LIKE this, mind you. I want to point out that I've been ashamed of it for a long, long time. I don't usually tell people about it when I meet them or even when they ask how I'm affording things ( as other actors in LA do, since we're all struggling). It seems I have this unfair advantage over them, since I'm "lucky" enough to have an illness that qualifies me to suck off the government teat ( which is certainly what some people- I won't name names, but you KNOW who you are- have been so bitter and nasty to imply). But it's also a quandry that never fixes itself: if I don't have mental health care, you can kiss my ability to work goodbye, anyway. If I work too much, I will lose my insurance. And so on and so on untill I drop from running around in circles. UNLESS, of course, I can get that magical thing that every American wants: a JOB WITH BENEFITS ( including adequate mental health care coverage)!!

I know people who have them. I can't do what they do for a living though. I either don't have the training or the stamina. I'm not certified in a specialized field like character animation, or IT, nor am I good at working 9-5, 5 or 6 days a week. I'm not made that way, I've discovered. I have tried it, and by about Day 3, I'm so tired I can barely function. Which isnt to say I can't work 40 hours a week; I can. It just has to be in shifts that vary enough and have reasonable breaks in them so that my brain can get some rest and variety, which seem to be crucial to my metaphorical and actual sanity and health. ( Big Bookseller, had it paid a more of a living wage and had decent management, was actually pretty ideal for me. I know: I have customer service issues.) A job with variable or flex-time hours is not an unheard-of notion. They're just hard to find.

Which brings me to my point: when my father says I need to go out and find a good job, all of these thoughts that I've just transcribed flood my head. And I think two things: 1.) you asshole, it isn't 1967 anymore and 2.) what the FUCK am I going to do? Screw my dreams and everything else, even: I have gone over this in my head a million fucking times: okay, don't be an actor or an artist. Or think of another way to work that in, and just WORK. What can you do? What is viable? How can you make a living and support yourself? Should you go back to school? Should you pursue this avenue, that avenue, another avenue completely?

I've thought of it all, I think. Put it all in the pot to consider: my undeniable need for insurance and mental health care, my illness and the odd quirks it requires to remain functional and optimal in a job situation, my skill set, my education, my monthly bills, and last but not least, just a smidge of "is there something I could at least, you know, dig a little bit? Not love, but sort of be okay with?"

I'm left with very little. Or so it seems. I've discussed it, by the way, countless times, with therapists, doctors, job specialists. I've applied to grad school in programs I didn't even really like in attempt to become more viable, ( attempted to go untill aforementioned 2004 breakdown-- didn't have the stomach to go back ), called old contacts out to try and get advice on how my old internships might be better played for snagging at least an interview, revamped my resume, and recently, gave up.

Yes, I just kind of gave up. I realize, looking back, that after Paris, I came home and faced with the prospect of looking for ANY kind of work, I just sat down and did nothing. (I'm not saying that was right, I'm just saying that's what I did.). However faced with the issue again and certainly worse for wear in terms of my health than I was then, but actually TRYING to make an attempt to solve the problem anyway, I see that, still, I really, really REALLY don't know what the hell to do anymore.

Ironically, it seems that the best option for me, given where I am in this life, and what I have to contend with, is to be somehow, self-employed, since short of a miracle flex-time or shift-work job that pays decently and offers insurance, I'm kind of stuck. It would, in fact, be EASIER for me to be an actor or an artist ( in theory- I'm not delusional here. The pay sucks unless you're somehow successful). I could at least set my own schedule around my illness and episodes and rest when I needed to. I have the training, too! If it all weren't so laughably impossible, I might just cry.

I'm thinking about all this today when my mother calls to report that she and Dad are sending a check. Thank you. Oh, and by the way, when you're looking for a job, remember that your car is getting old, and you'll soon need a new one. Consider that expense, Jessica. I will, Mom. Right after I get done ripping my hair out. I'll think about that and then I'll remind myself that YOU have never had to support yourself in your fucking life, since YOU went from your parents' home to my Dad. And my Dad, despite whatever little part-time job you had, was the main breadwinner for 41 years, with a sweet military-industrial complex gig he got because everyone else was off at Vietnam and he was exempted ( long story). Thank you for the money, and I DO appreciate it; however, call me whatever you want to for not appreciating for the guilt, the subtle implication that I'm somehow a layabout failure, and the added pressure of reminding me just how poor I am, as if I didn't fucking know. I'll see you at Christmas.

And I'm thinking about all of this when I come upon this interview with one of my favorite authors, Marya Hornbacher. She's mostly a memoirist, and both of her memoirs have been about mental illness ( she recovered from anorexia/bulimia and is very seriously bipolar). More than that, though, while telling her stories, she always exhaustively researches both the history of and current thinking concerning those illnessses. She does it to both put herself in context in terms of her courses of action, recourses and to comment on the efficacy or fallacy present in any of it. Needless to say, her books are far from being whiny, self-indulgent soap-operas, and more of a slice of personal experience that is also greatly informative about the big picture ( which in my opinion, make for the best memoirs).
This is what she had to say about not only writing her book ( which is incidental to my point in posting it here) but the challenge of being a fully participating person in the world while living with the challenges of mental illness:


What’s hard, in the case of Madness , is that I, like most mentally ill people, am sharply aware of the stigma mental illness carries. I think people would like to believe that this stigma no longer exists—I have lots of friends on meds! I totally get it!—and in fact, a lot of people do get it, and have to a great extent gained enough personal experience, and enough information as the subjects get more coverage, that some people they have revised much of their emotional reactivity to the disorders. This is primarily true of people’s perceptions of depression; far less true of the perception of bipolar and the people who have it; and effectively not true of how people see and feel about people with schizophrenia at all. In a way, we have decided what is an acceptable mental illness and what is not. Those who depart too far from our agreed-upon and acceptable world are mocked—even if ever so pleasantly—and consistently discriminated in their ability to attain the rights and privileges that are afforded to the rest of the sensible sane. We still have the knee-jerk reactions of fear, discomfort, disgust, judgment, and hold some entirely inaccurate beliefs—the mentally ill are violent, this murderer “must have been very sick,” this person is lazy, this person is totally divorced from me and my world—and, most of all, a well-ingrained, if not always overt, belief that people with severe mental illness are hopeless, cannot be helped, are not functional, are the dregs of society, are not worth the money for research, and will not be contributing members of our economic and social world.

Because of these perceptions, the major mental illnesses get the leftovers of research money, creating a situation where the medication available for bipolar and schizophrenia is not nearly as effective as it needs to be, and the insurance people desperately need in order to get their meds is hard to get and keep. And this is a circular system: the vast majority of mentally ill people can, if treated, function at a good, and in some case exceptional, level. They are not hopeless. The belief that they are is a stigma that destroys the option of a livable life to millions of people who deserve it just like anyone else.

So am I a little bit freaky about sending out 300 pages detailing the my own stigmatized illness? Of course. But not enough to keep it to myself. It’s more important to me that I share what’s also real about living with mental illness every day: that it’s not a door slamming on a good life, shutting us away from the world. We are not wastes, jokes. We can find a satisfying, often beautiful life. We laugh, and work, and live like anyone else. We, and our families and friends, need to know that so we can have faith and hope. We, the people who help us, need to better see the possibility we hold, and help us reach it. We, the people who dole out the rights and research that will make it possible for us to live on equal footing with those who we see as sane, need to believe in us, invest in us the resources granted to other treatable illnesses, and grant us equal access to our basic rights. And we, the society in which we live, need the door to open so we can connect, and see that the world we all see is the same.


"They are not hopeless". I love that statement. I have never felt hopeless or useless; I have always thought that I am far more than this illness, even though I have to consider it daily. And I have had good things and given out good things, and I think, contributed to the world at large. I am valuable. I just need to know how to make my life work so I can sustain myself. I wish I knew how to do that, and that the nagging concerns/ guilt/ stupid comments from ignorant people/ feelings of helplessness about this issue would finally be stripped of any power. Is that so much to ask? Again, I believe it isn't. Which could be a mistake, I admit, but I'm holding on to whatever gleam of possibility I can get my hands on at this moment. May the Universe help me along with that. Amen and Blessed Be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Now. Let's get a few things straight:

Okay, you know what's not fun? A 6am phone call from your dad all hopped up about the money he's sending to "a state that's bankrupt and therefore unable to send you your benefits like they used to. Am I supposed to subsidize a welfare state and a stupid govenor that needs a bailout?"

No, I reckon you're not. But when I call to ask for help because the fine state of CA has indeed decided that I a.) owe them $4K + because I made some money last year and b.) has rescinded one of my benefit checks because they're cutting their budget, I'm not doing it to irritate your Republican tendencies. I, too, find their reckless spending and ridiculous puffed-up maroon of a state leader one of the most inept fuck-ups of this decade. But, as a mere citizen, and not someone holding a position as a lobbyist or anything executive-branch related, there is very little I can do, except tighten my belt and try to come up with other ways to get blood from a stone. Right now, given the acute state of my illness and way the OTHER branches of local government have decided to jack up my bills ( hello there DMV! Thanks for the $250 penalty for not getting my liscence renewal in on time! I realize I was tardy, but the entireity of my fee is now gaining speed towards being at least the same as 3/4 of my rent!), I just don't know what to do other than sacrifice a goat in the yard.

Or call my parents, which I am SO loath to do. Because when I do, I get this diatribe from my dad, who is only partially paying attention to my life anyway. Today he got on the phone and said "Now, listen. You're going to have to get a really good job." My mouth fell open. Not because I'm allergic to work, or in any way adverse to even ATTEMPTING to work even I'm not up to it ( HELLO! Lori and Nate tried to pay me to work on their indie film last month, and I tried to do it when I wasn't even sleeping through the night. Obviously, I failed, but the effort was indeed made, and Lori can attest to that.). Because he is apparently suffering under some sort of delusion that a.) I'm just sitting around the house malingering, eating ice cream and watching bad cable and/or b.) well-paying jobs are out there, ripe for the picking, and I'm just letting them slip by.

Listen, I am in no way saying I am entitled to their money or their help. But CheeseandRice, could we stay in the realm of reality when we're discussing it? If you don't have it, FINE. If you're withholding it because you resent the political situation of the state I live in, well, dude, that's stupid, but I can't stop you. If you're doing it because ( and this is what I really suspect) you a.) had a mother who was a life-sucking self-involved manipulating hypochondriac and spent alot of your adolescence/early adulthood trying to jack you and your siblings around, resulting in your inability to discern real illness from some sort of emotional blackmail AND/OR b.) what you REALLY want is for me to move back home, where magically, some sort of financial miracle will ensue and I will be able to afford bills, get a desk job and be "normal" like your friends' kids, not out here in Sodom and Gommorah with some weird goal of being an artist, which we all know isn't a real job, anyway. ( Oh, and BTW, please ignore the fact that your 29-yr old son WHO LIVES THERE had ( past tense) a good job and was laid off and is now currently working a Guitar Center and relying on unemployment checks to supplement his meager income, and is practically in the same position as me, sans mental illness, although that could, in fact, be debated. Whatever, right? That's DIFFERENT, somehow.)


And hey, it's not like I don't sit here EVERY EFFIN' DAY and think, "I hate it here, it's expensive, what am I doing with my life, what am I going to do, why can't I just be like everyone else and work 50 hours a week, I wish I didn't want to be an artist, maybe I can do something else, maybe I SHOULD do something else, what else can I do, what else can I do, what else should I do WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO?!?!?"

Nope, that's never crossed my mind.

So whatever, you know? It's now an hour and half later and I'm awake when I'm supposed to be asleep, thankyouveryfuckingmuch.

But while we're on the topic of reality, let me just point out ONE last little TEENY thing that's been reeeeallly stuck in my chaw lately, and my dad and mom were choosing to convienently overlook during this call this morning, untill I forced them to take a hard look at the situation. And let me just also add that ALOT of people around me have been taking a rather blase and 'meh' attitude to this, and I feel like apprising them of this little factoid as well:

I'm fucking SICK people, and I'm not fucking dicking around. I'm not fucking sitting here in my house moping over broken heart eating cupcakes and whining. I'm not fucking being a drama queen and malingering on my fainting couch saying how I just "can't go on" and sobbing into my lace hanky. NO. I have spent the last TWO FUCKING MONTHS in and out of my therapist's and doctor's offices attempting to get stable enough to FUNCTION. Do we need to clarify that?Perhaps I SHOULD take this opportunity to clarify what "functioning" means:

  • Getting out of bed. Completely out of bed, not just to go to the bathroom.
  • Putting on clothes, not just laying there in the same pajamas.
  • Showering.
  • Eating a meal or two a day, consisting of something more than cereal or toast.
  • Keeping that meal down, and not barfing it up or having it come out the other end because your stomach is too anxious to digest it properly.
  • Leaving the house at least once a day. It should be noted that this shouldn't be terrifying or seem impossibly hard or send you into a panic attack.
  • Driving without crying so hard you can't see the road.
  • Being able to go to appointments and run errands without panicking and requiring help from a friend to enter a store.
  • Sleeping a normal schedule, at night and waking in the morning. Not oversleeping 16 hours at a stretch, either.
  • Being able to socialize with friends without running home early because of anxiety or bursting into tears in the middle of dinner.
  • Being able to attend to household chores or neccessities without bursting into tears or becoming overwhelmed.
  • Being able to hold a conversation without bursting into tears and becoming exceptionally unreasonable, like asking "Is it going to be okay?" for the 10,000th time.
  • Being able to get through an entire day without sitting in your bedroom rocking back and forth begging the Universe for help and crying.

Are we clear now? Good. If you like, feel free to contact the professionals involved. Or, just ask Lori and Nate, or Rick and Ross who have been the only ones clued in enough to notice that hey, Jessica doesn't sound right. She isn't washing her hair. Hey, Jess, when's the last time you ate? And you know, checking in on a very regular ( every couple of days) basis to see how things are and let her know that well, even if I can't solve it, at least she knows she's not alone. Go talk to them and ask THEM how I've been doing.

Furthermore, it has been almost a daily debate in my mind about that topic we all know and despise, The Hospital. As a matter of fact, it came up in my doctor's appointment JUST last week, given the fucked-up state my brain was in. Should I go to the hospital? I'm not doing well at home. Jessica, do you feel you need to go to the hospital? Do you think you want to go to the hospital? No, I haven't really been talking about that, I admit. Why? Well, because it's just goddamned depressing, and embarrassing, and I swear to god, if things go south from this perilously perched semi-okay place on which I sit, and I have to go in there, I just......

The thing that keeps running through my mind is that I will not be able to to do it and have it not break my spirit. I've been in the hospital before, and I will say I have a pretty indominitable spirit. I have yet to be broken by anything I've been through. Somehow, I've managed to heal at the busted parts and come out stronger. But this time, I feel like something in me will give and I will just not be the same if I have to do it. And I've been struggling so hard against it, I won't even talk about it. (Well, I told Master P last week that I ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT be going back in there so he needed to step up his game. But that hardly counts. It's confidential, after all.)

But yes, it's been THAT bad. And ONCE again, I'm not saying that to be melodramatic and attention-grabbing. ( Why is it I have to even QUALIFY that? If I had heart disease, no one would even THINK that. So fucking stupid and infuriating). I'm SAYING IT because it's the way things have BEEN.

So, to anyone ELSE who wants to call me and bitch at me --or even feels the need to tell me that "working might make you feel better!"-- at this juncture, I want to make sure that we are CLEAR on the fact that getting out of your pajamas and not waking up and crying for an hour are prerequisites to holding down a job, last I checked. SO GET A FUCKING CLUE, okay? If you don't understand the disease, maybe you ought to Google it or something, because I'm sick and tired of explaining what it's like to be in an episode. Yes, it is different from being down situationally. Yes, it is different from being, in the vernacular "depressed". Yes, it is different from just feeling sorry for yourself. All of those may be included, but let me put it to you in these words ( which aren't mine but I cannot at this moment recall the source):

"If people with depression could go to the ER and the staff there could have the ability to assess them with the criteria they use for other patients with physical complaints in triage, I assure you, the people with depression would be first on the roster. The pain and the inability to function normally are that profound."

In short, it's like being crushed from the inside by a powerful vise grip of despair and fear that you cannot control, or get to stop. The more you wrestle with it without help, the more the vise tightens, and the more tired you become. Eventually, you get so tired and are in so much pain from the ever-tightening vise, it begins to seem like it will never end. And you want nothing more for that pain to end, and to rest. Which is how you end up in a psych ward, or dead. That's just a fact, too, not hyperbole.

The only reason I have yet to enter through those locked metal doors for yet another trip down Pharmaceutical Guinea Pig Lane is because of sheer fucking brattiness, which I'm sure my father and mother and a few choice others will tell you I have in spades. I have screamed and yelled to get appointments ,attempted to alter my own meds on my own when I couldn't get into see the doctor and I have doped myself into oblivion , all so the vise would loosen and I could get a little bit of room to breathe. As one might expect, I'm pretty possessive of that hard-won air, and I'm pretty fearful of its possible disappearance. It hasn't been long enough to where I've been breathing well for me to get complacent. I'm finally nearing functioning. I can see it from where I am and am more and more able to actually attain it. But I'm not stupid enough to think I'm out of the woods yet.

And as one might also suspect, and after reading all of this, thusly surmise, it pisses me off to no end that the people closest to me have done nothing but say unhelpful things like, "Oh, you'll get over it" or "You've been through it before, you'll get through it again" or " Just find something else to do for awhile, and don't think so much" or, what started this whole diatribe, "You just need to get a good job." Maybe I haven't been clear enough til now exactly what I've been going through. I've been trying to spare you and not make you live through another rollercoaster with me while you all have your own problems. I've also been really embarrassed up til this point- this disease does not come without its humiliation or sense of failure, as illogical as it is. And to my own detriment, up untill about a week ago I had been trying to be in a state of denial about how bad it had gotten, in some twisted attempt to force myself to be okay.

But now you know. You all know. In case there needs to be any more clarity, let me just spell it out: I don't want to hear any dumb shit any more. I don't have the energy or time to a.) pretend it's not happening or b.) try and make you feel better about my being sick or c.) force myself into pulling myself up by my bootstraps because you think I should. I'm doing the best I can to support myself, get on my own two feet and get back on track. So get on that train or get the fuck off of it, plain and simple ( NO, I'm not asking for you to send me money, or feel sorry for me. I'm just asking some mindfulness about what's going on now that awareness is present , and perhaps, if possible, a few more realistic, --no matter how small-- attempts at support. You'd be surprised at how far a hug or just a phone call saying "I care about you" will go.). Believe it or not, I think that's pretty fair to ask.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

*SPOILERS, yadda yadda....*
Utterly predictable, since I read the book. I read the book....oh, crimney, when did it come out? Like 4 years ago (*looks it up*: yup, 4 years ago). Before I went into the theatre, I was struggling with recalling which/what/where in the story it was. By about a quarter of the way through I remembered, and that was that. As I've said in the past, when a movie is adapted from a book I know, I have the high hopes that it will somehow, even though I am already aware of the plot, still keep me hooked in. And it kind of didn't, even though this by far is the darkest point of Rowling's story ( don't argue with me; I didn't say the saddest or the most difficult!). In fact, I didn't feel much of anything at all, and I'm pretty sure they cut the ending short ( *looks it up*: yup, they did. No funeral for Dumbledore. WTF? I mean, the rest of it deals with some pretty complex ideas, like the notion of a soul, the spiritual cost of murder, life after death, secret grown-up alliances, and is, in fact,somewhat violent and THAT's where they decide to skip something because maybe it possibly might be too sensitive? What about closure? What about THE BOOKS, to which the films have all been faithful til this MOMENT???Jacked up.).
Anyway, I was bored, and I miss Richard Harris as Dumbledore, because whoever replaced him is fairly charmless, and Dumbledore is nothing if not charming. But I suppose I did my duty and saw the film so now when the last one comes out I can feel complete.....or something.


And it's officially summer, because, after an exceptionally long stint of spring-like weather, it's officially hotter than tolerable, and once again, I am sufficiently miserable. I hate this city, I hate this state, and I hate summer here more than dentistry. I'm TRYING to sleep on a normal schedule and this doesn't make it easy, because it's not like I can really muster up the will to go out and run errands in this heat. And as I have said repeatedly, I tend to suffer from an SAD like dip in the summer , so as one might guess, I'm thrilled to be alive right now. I'm supposed to stay inside where it's cool and dark, and it's pretty hard to coax yourself awake when you're doing that.

On the sleep front, last night I FINALLY had a night of successful sleep-through and woke up at a reasonable hour and stayed awake. I'm pretty thrilled with that, but I'm also pretty sure I don't want to stay at the medication level that is helping that along forever. I'm hoping once I have an established pattern, I can go back down to a reasonable amount of sleep meds and not further along some dependency on a class of drugs ( benzodiazepenes ) I know give me chronic, long-term memory loss. Don't get me wrong: benzos have saved my life. But they're supposed to be for short-term use, not long-term use, unless you've got a damned good reason ( like they're helping along an anti-psychotic or something) and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of crap. I've been on this one for 5 years, and up until recently, I had been angling to get OFF of it for almost 6 months ( I should have done it this spring, but I don't recall why I didn't. Well, I suppose THAT was for the best, eh? Hmpf.).

Not to mention, while they're assisting my other medications in keeping me calm, I suspect they are also keeping me a little numb. I can't really say that for certain; I just know that with the exception of increased irritability from the SAD, all I really feel is kind of bleh. Most of the time. Sometimes I feel, tonight, I ran into my neighbor, who asked me if I was still looking for work. I said, "Well, I've been kind of ill, lately" and went on to explain, very briefly, why. He said, " Don't you hate it when that happens? ", trying to be sympathetic. I nodded and said, "Yeah," and teared up. He had to go ( run away from the potentially crying girl!!) and I excused myself. As I was walking back to the house, I thought, goddammit. When is THAT going to stop happening? When is this going to stop making me want to cry or run someone over with my car? I realized that I don't feel that way most days-- just when I'm caught in a situation where I have to talk about it. And I don't usually have to, and so I don't. I take advantage of the fact that I can distract myself into oblivion with everything else, which I guess a part of me needs. I need to not flip out or get all triggered right now, and it's so super easy to stay in that place of quiet nothing lately. I reckon THAT is due to my being hopped up on tranquilizers, ya know?

And that's fine.....I guess. Let me put it this way: being dulled isn't neccessarily being well. The absence of something floridly wrong doesn't mean everything's right. And given my response to this evening's exchange, I'm pretty sure there's more under the surface ( especially since my neighbor mentioned that it "must have been hard" for me, since MC "seemed like a nice guy" when he'd met him this spring. When I stopped feeling like I was going to cry, I started feeling pissed, like "Yeah, so nice. Everyone thinks he's so nice. Whatever."). I reckon I'm going to have to deal with that sooner than later.

Just, GOD. Could we move on to FALL already, and could BETTER things be coming around the corner? Because whatever the reason is--summer, meds, life disasters,boring summer movies-- I'm just beyond sick of right NOW.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So. I went to see Master P, and basically? I have fucked myself. I should explain.

I have never been a big person on the sleep schedule thing.

First of all, I'm a hopeless night person, and all prior attempts to change the have failed miserably. I even went through a sleep study once ( they said I had "depressive sleep patterns"-- and all it really means is, "Your REM cycle starts later than most peoples', which is indicative of a brain that is prone towards depression." Though I wasn't on meds at the time or in the middle of a depressive episode, even *I* knew how accurate yet just plain ol' inconclusive that was. Not surprisingly, my response was, "That's the best you can come up with?"). Later, ( when I was being properly treated for depression with medication)and still up at night/shunning sunlight as a regular rule, I asked my psychiatrist what I could do. He said barring some sort of attempt on his part to medicate me into a Michael Jackson-like coma, there was nothing he could really do to make me go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier,since I was likely just wired that way. I've checked with other doctors along my little journey through Modern American Psychiatry, and the consesus was the same: I might as well get used to being how I was.
In recent years, especially with the move to a different time zone, I have become increasingly vampire-like. Even when I had jobs, and schedules, it was always this struggle to deal with the sleep hygeine ( yes, that's what they call it) issues. Working for Big Bookseller was probably the easiest since my schedule was very flexible, and most of the time I worked 5 to midnight (and it was against the rules to schedule someone in any earlier than 11ish the next day if they did that). Still, being the finely-tuned wackjob that I am, it would take me forever to wind down from work, and then get into bed.

Of course, I didn't do much to help this little prediliction into any sort of copable lifestyle. I had terrible insomnia in college as well as the tendency towards night activity and DID try to do the "sleep maintainence" thing ( go to bed at the same time, don't watch tv or read in bed, try not to nap during the day, etc.), on the recommendation of my GP and miserably failed ( which inspired the sleep study, where they prescribed NOTHING but more of the same. WTF? I hope my insurance company enjoyed taking the $3600 hit....). In retrospect, that may have been due to lack of medication, but I lost my faith in ANY kind of sleep maintainence. So, once on medication, I took the irresponsible liberty of knowing that instead of being an insomniac, I WOULD sleep, and decided to give in to my nocturnal nature as much as I liked.

That, my friends, was a mistake. However, I didn't think so, since I was sleeping okay, and not doing too terribly with the schedule ( so, I'd sleep til 2pm after going to bed at 4am. So what? I didn't have any place to be.). THEN I met MC, which only confirmed my lifestyle even more.

MC, as I've already stated, has ADD and when he's being a responsible person, takes Adderall for it. Adderall, by the way, is a stimulant. And even though he works, he works from noon to 8, and then the rest of the night is his. He stays up really late, and he would stay up really late to talk to me. Like untill the sun came up late. Me, being already like "SO?" would stay up with him, almost falling asleep into the phone. Unlike MC, though, I didn't have Adderall to pick me up at 11am to get me to work. So, there became a habit ingrained of staying up late with him and then sleeping til the middle of the day. I did realize this, of course, and occasionally asked for nights "off " to sleep properly. Still, the habit was already in place and I didn't see anything wrong with it because it wasn't out of control. Yet.

Of course, like I've already documented, everything --including my heart--soon went into the toilet.

See, when we were breaking up and I was flipping out all the time on the verge of a breakdown, the only time I felt semi-normal was after I took my nightly medications. Why? Because they're sedating, and I was so anxious during the day, I could barely function. Needless to say I was greatly relieved of my taxing symptoms at night. So, I would stay up. Higher than a kite, but I would be okay for awhile and have some space in my head that wasn't consumed with worrying and crying about our failing relationship. I would do my dishes and my laundry and watch tv, and then collapse around 6am.
I would do my best, really level best, to sleep as much as possible during that time. First, I knew I wasn't doing well, and I knew my mind needed the rest. Second, I really DIDN'T want to get up and face the inevitable onslaught of crying and panicking my already imbalanced brain was sending me into, nor did I want to face the reality of what was happening. So I would sleep a full 12 hours, thinking I was doing myself a favor, waking up at 6pm, and after attempting to eat, I'd go inovoluntarily into spin-mode again, take my meds at the usual time ( 11:30pm every night!) and stay up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After we split, and I felt less anxious, I got really depressed. I didn't want to be up during the day. I didn't want to be feeling anything. Lather, rinse, repeat. And this, kids, is how you create a clusterfuck for your brain. Master P explained it not in quite those terms, but close enough.

Basic brain function, for everyone, works because we when we sleep, our brain goes through a complex process of cycles and regeneration, for lack of a better word. Our eyes, even though they are closed, respond to light and natural rhythms of the sun to give our brain signals about sleep.

It's been shown in studies all over the world ( there was this really cool one where they put this woman in a room with NO outside light, no clocks, no outside stimuli to give her mind a clue as to what time it was. She kept a pretty average schedule: ate and worked and interacted with people, otherwise. However, because the researchers had deprived her of a sense of time, her sleep became really screwball. By the time she was done with the study, she had lost all ability to sleep normally for reasonable (8-10 hours a stretch) time. Yes, they helped her correct it before she left!). Even if you're a "morning " or "night" person, it is still determined by the rhythms your brain receives from exposure to light. Yes, you can train yourself to sleep during the day if you work third shift. However, everything else will go with it- your body chemistry, your appetite for food, sex and anything else will become habituated to THAT schedule alone. You won't be able to jump in and out of it and not see some problems.

For folks like me, with a chemical imbalance and a brain that doesn't work so good, screwing around with your sleep is like playing Russian Roulette: pretty soon you're going to trigger an episode, like it or not. Brains like mine, with a mood disorder can't handle a great deal of change in cycles and functioning without sort of freaking out ( and its even worse with other, more complicated diseases. I have bipolar friends for whom travelling in and out of different time zones is a trigger). That's because some of same chemicals that govern sleep ( seratonin, norepinephrine) also govern mood.

Fun, huh? Well, wait, there's more:

In depressives ( like me), the most typical form of the florid disease period has the person feeling like ultra-shit when they first wake up in the morning, and eventually feeling a bit better as the day progresses. That's because seratonin and norepineprhine abate significantly before waking, and it takes some time to roil back up to snuff enough to actually, you know, not cry through a meal. ( That's how I knew what Master P was saying made perfect sense, as if I needed more than the MD to back it up: I swear to you, never go to a mental hospital at breakfast. You will see more crying and eating- or attempting to eat- than you will be able to take!). In people with atypical depression, you see the opposite, which is, as the sun goes down, they feel worse and worse.

Atypical depression is one of the hardest things to treat, by the way. ( For a literary reference, see William Styron's Darkness Visible, about his own atypical depressive episode. Bleak. ) Doctors hate it, because it really goes against what the "normal" brain function is supposed to do, and it makes things really hairy, as you might surmise after having read all this.

But back to me ( of course, it all comes back to me). This past weekend I attempted, just out of good sense, to try and get back on a semi-normal schedule. I kept in mind my natural orientation of being a "night" person, and all the things I knew I was supposed to do ( sleep hygiene-wise). I took my meds at the same time I always do, and was aware that yes, for a few days, my little experiment in actually sleeping through the night was going to suck with a capital "S". I was going to have to force myself awake during the day and lay there not sleeping at night for a few days of misery.

So I did. And I discovered two awful developments.

One, after a few days, it didn't work. At all. I kept on schedule and I still laid there. Relaxed and calm, but mind completely awake. I would get up on schedule and be really out of it. And this persisted past an amount of time it would normally take to get oneself back on track. Even coming home from Paris was easier, and they're 9 hours ahead of my time zone; I was back to sleeping at night and awake during the day after 36 hours. But not this time.

Two, even though I kept the proper schedule, each night I would have a horrible period at about 8pm where despair would completely overtake me. I slipped into crying and obsessing and all that rot after a full day of feeling at least semi-okay. This would last up untill it was time to take my meds again.

WTF? That's when I called the doctor.

His summary was that I had been screwing around with my sleep for so many months ( since about February, when I met MC), and really pulling some inevitable 3rd shift living on myself so intensely that my body finally shifted. My faux-atypical depressive symptoms were now in place: because my body thinks it's morning at 8pm, the seratonin and norepinephrine abates THEN instead of when it should, so I sink down. Then, because I'm already there ( with low neurotransmitters for sleep), the meds aren't helping me sleep anymore AT ALL like they used to.

And he stated, for the record, that when this sort of thing happens, there's no use in treating the depression til the sleep is corrected, since the same chemicals are involved. If he threw a bunch of stimulating anti-depressants at me, it would fuck my sleep further. So, basically, I have to suck it up, suffer the mood problems for awhile longer and go through the hoops of fixing my sleep first, which involves a major change in my sleep med doses, a rigorous schedule and a possible addition to the pharmacopia I already take. JUST to get me to sleep correctly. YAY. ( I should mention here I HATE adding in new drugs. I think piling meds upon meds is just....complicating a situation that is already complicated. Because if something goes wrong, you don't know what to point to, and their interaction with each other is rarely well-researched or documented as a problem point. Not to mention your LIVER is sitting there processing all this STUFF, trying to keep up. Psych patients have three main issues, always: liver problems, kidney problems and metabolism problems, all because of the tax the drugs take on their bodies. I'm not saying it means STOP, I'm saying it means BE MINDFUL. But I digress....)

Nice move, Jessica. You indeed fucked yourself.


On the upside, at least I have a doctor who understands what the hell is going on and what to do. Right now, I'm ideally supposed to be sleeping from 2am ( med dose at 11:30! When he asked me if I was taking my meds at the same time, I said, "Of course. I want to give you SOMETHING to work with, for crying out loud!" He said, "Oh, thanks. Well, at least we have that!" and cracked up laughing) and up at noon. For a night person, that's pretty decent, gives me plenty of sun exposure, plenty of night time to jack around, and plenty of sleep time ( 10 hours). I'm taking enough Klonopin to knock me out even if I resist, and have permission to up the dose to TWICE as much. If that doesnt work, I have permission to add some other drug ( Lunesta! With the "Happy Sleepy Butterfly" commercials!) til I pass out cold.

As for waking up, therein lies a secondary challenge: oh, any ol' psychiatrist can get you to sleep. It's getting you to wake up and be functional again that's always a fun trick to try and pull. He said, "I can give you Provigil ....or some other stimulant....but that will have your anxiety sticking you to the ceiling". I said, "No, let's not do the Elvis scenario, okay? I'll do caffiene and see what happens."

And here we are at Day Two: Day One (last night) I slept from 2am to 7pm the next day. I don't know if my body needed that much sleep, or if I'm overmedicated. I plan on forcing myself awake tomorrow at noon if it kills me. My body needs to learn. Jessica has FINALLY learned, and now the spirit is finally willing. I need the flesh to follow in order to get back on the road to getting well.

And with that, good friends, goodnight.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Another update:

About my recent rambling post about that FB debacle: I had felt those pics being up was a little inappropriate for awhile so I did remove them. I realize I may have done it toooo soon. I've come to the very, very wise conclusion that , overall, I am toooooooooo raw and stressed to be making ANY big moves or decisions like that right now. THAT is what made me freak out. I wasn't READY to delete him, and I felt like I SHOULD because that's what everyone- including that dumb app in FB-- was saying ( and that when I'm not well, my OCD will drive me crazy having me second-guess things I know to be true- like the fact that I wasn't ready.). But when the idea of doing something causes you more pain than actually just leaving things alone and progressing along as you are, THAT'S the bigger sign. ANd the meltdown? THAT'S a sign, too: that I need to pay attention to the level of stress I'm under, that somethng like that could trigger me so. It means I need to LET IT BE and breathe it out, and chill out for awhile. In time, when the time is right and I am stronger, I will know what to do, and be able to do it without having half-a nervous breakdown over it.

I recently wrote my friend Trina in Seattle about how badly I feel like I'm failing at everything lately-- at keeping it together, and handling things better. I said I wish I were better, but I'm not. And her kind self-- as ever, I've known her since she was 15!-- said:

Better than what? I may not go in for all the god talk anymore, but I do still hold their idea that you are perfect just as you are, as trite as that sounds. And not in the way that it’s an excuse to not try for self-improvment—not saying, you’re already perfect, so why try to improve? But saying that your efforts to improve do indeed make you better with each passing year and those efforts in themselves are a sort of perfection; your growth is evident and sufficient, in your own ways, at your own pace, making your own mistakes, unfolding perfectly, even when it looks and feels shitty.

You put effort into being the best person you can be, and contrary to what the evil little voices in your head may say, your best IS good enough.

YOU are good enough.


And also sometimes its good to stop trying so hard for a while and just rest. I know you know all of this, but sometimes it helps to have it crammed down your throat. :)

It's a miracle sometimes how we get what we need to hear exactly when we need to hear it. I wrote back:

Yes, it does help! I just keep thinking if I were a better, more whole, stronger person I wouldn't be near a nervous breakdown right now. But the fact of the matter just IS. I keep thinking only crazy girls have nervous breakdowns when relationships end....but even so, it isn't all so simple. *Sigh*. My dear friend Lori, who is bipolar and has trouble with stressors sending her into episodes said, "You know, it's hard to say what caused it all. We can put it all together and say, "Yes, this stressor and this stressor and this stressor", but it doesn't always make sense. Why can I do some things some days and other days not at all?"

And that's it. I had a beautiful relationship....and then it got overwhelming for me to stay and fight for it when the other person wasn't fighting as hard as I was. (For various reasons-- I'm pretty sure it was overwhelming for him, too, just entirely differently.) And so I left. And all the stress of that and probably the stress of going home and dealing with the realities of where we both were in our lives and old friends and stupid weddings and EVERYTHING didn't help. And so add to that grief. And then add to that triggers: I'm raw and barely holding on and then random overwhelming stuff starts to happen--the stupid IMs from him and my stupid choice to go into FB and delete things- and now I'm just at the bottom of the barrell. NOW I'm sitting in the house super-depressed, and freaked out all the time. Just afraid ( this is the PTSD response: I don't want anything else to happen, nobody moves nobody gets hurt, because I can't take it, and I just need to breathe and feel safe!).

So yes, I can look back and say, "Well, I see it all so clearly, but you know what? I don't know why I'm wired this way. I just am. And I wish I weren't, because it feels like failing; other people can handle stuff so much better. They don't DO this, get this stuck, need to rest for so long, need medication, need all this help. But I can't help it. I do the best I can and then say, "this is the way I came into the world. That's all there is to it." And most of the time I can accept myself. I don't know why it's so hard. Maybe because it DID get started off by a relationship struggle and that makes me feel stupid! But, those are the hardest struggles there are, as my friend Ron says- he says its the most painful thing to ever go through besides a death, and he's right.

And I am SO TIRED right now, all I want is to have my meds work and go on a long vacation. That's all. From everything. ( Technology included!). Is that so bad!?! Welllllll, I think you helped me answer that: NO. It's not. And if I can forgive myself for being imperfectly human, more the better. Thank you, Trina, for your kind words of support. They help more than you know...


(I should also give a shout out to my old friend Lisbeth whom I called a nervous wreck on Tuesday after the OCD kicked and panic had about kicked my ass. She prayed for me. I also called Ron's friend-- I guess my friend too!--Janie, who is Wiccan like me, and she lit a candle and gave me the heads up on how I knew the right thing for myself ( what I was ready to do --unfriend or not--)but it was likely the illness that was making me second guess, not the Universe. Christian, Wiccan, or Whatver: I put alot of stock in prayer- from anyone. There is strength in prayer, like it or not. Call it "sending good vibes" or "sendind energy " from my Atheist friends-- that's okay too! It's all the same, and it all says" I don't know how to fix this, but I need strength, so help me out, okay?" to the Universe. I tend to take it a bit further and say " God/dess, I'm turning this over to you, and you've got to help me" and let it go from there, when I feel overwhelmed. Anyone can call that "You're just turning it over to your Higher Self" if they like, too. I just know that for me, a Higher Power is a great thing to have around, and being reminded that I am not alone, and I am cared for and that I will be helped is a miracle in times like these, so I thank everyone for that. But I especially thank Lisbeth and Janie and Ron for talking to me the other night and reminding me.)

But after Monday....well, the fact is, I'm just sick. My antidepressant, after TWO raises in dosages now is just flailing away like a stick being waved at a lion. I've got the PTSD blues big time- so raw and unnerved that I can't even leave the house lately. It's pretty bad.

And I'm mad as hell I'm here again. Just PISSED. And just...godfreakingdammitall, I try my best to take care of myself and take my meds and take care of my emotional business. And why NOW? Why can I take all manner of stressors for years and years- other breakups included-- and then I just snap like a twig now? Who knows? All I know is that the solution is always the same: CHILL and seek help. My only goal now is to avoid the hospital. Egh.

Good times. Good times.

Keep those good vibes and prayers comin', y'all......

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I finally talked to my mother today, and after ALL THAT, she announced they had decided NOT to sell the house and move. The economy, and blah blah blah, and so on and so forth.

Great. Thanks for the little mini-emotional roller coaster ride. Next time, please don't even tell me unless you're actually CLOSED on the house, okay? I don't need to get upset over nothing right now.

Okay, this is really getting to me, so I'm posting. I'm having a really hard time lately, obviously, keeping it together. I know there are people out there who have it way worse than me right now so I feel stupid even worrying about this kind of stuff. People have died, leaving families behind to mourn. Money is tight for everyone, and people are trying to decide whether to go to one doctor versus another doctor when they really are in crises and need to do both ( Hi, Rusty. Make BOTH of the appointments, already, okay? I swear I'll LEND you money if you need it, that's what family is for!). Other people are losing their homes versus worrying they'll have more than one! NOt to mention, I've been a little embarrassed that, in the past, my blog has been nothing but the boring, whiny details of my little dramas writ large. Even when the dramas have been big, I'm embarrassed that I've gone on about them so. I probably shouldn't be embarrassed- this is my blog and all, and it's for me to use as I see fit. But reading back, I'm just like....snoooooozzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ack.

Anyway. I know all I've been doing around here lately is whine and cry, and I feel guilty about that too. I'm really sorry. I guess I'm just struggling. Everything seems like it's a HUGE deal and like its just going to crush me. I suppose I don't have a lot of emotional reserves to deal with ANYTHING lately, which really sucks. And again I apologize for sounding like I'm whining. I really am sorry. I don't want to be that person. But I guess I am That Girl, once more: the girl who is grieving and confused, and well, like it or not, you walk it out til its the end of your path. At least that's been my experience in this life, fair or not fair. So, I do the best I can to keep myself balanced, but look, I'm sort of UNbalanced lately. I guess if anything, this blog is here to help KEEP me balanced. I've never been able to not put everything out there and stay healthy; I'm not a good suppressor for very long ( which is funny, because Sassy is the exact opposite. I don't mean that as a jab at Sassy, because sometimes I envy her emotional reserve! I think sometimes we pick friends and lovers because of the things we need to learn. Maybe I actually could be serving a purpose by being squeaky wheel? A thought.). We are who we are, I guess. At least you never need to wonder what's up with Jessica or where you stand. Usually you'll even find out stuff you didn't even want or care to know. ( See, if I were a real narcissist I would assume you gave a damn, and if you didn't, you SHOULD. Really, I don't know if you truly do, and it only matters to me if I have to explain it to someone in the midst of their requesting for an update on my life-- as well as being a poor suppressor, I'm also just lazy; it's easier for me if you've read the backstory already . I know. I'm terrible.)


So, anyway. Today I went in a deleted my whole folder of pictures of me & MC off of my Facebook page. When we first got together I had made this folder called "Sweets" that was full of our first real date when he came to visit out here- lots of pictures of us being disgustingly cute, and all the things we did and places we ate ( which always included desserts- because we both love them, hence the double meaning on the title. It's funny, I recall feeling a little bit of a whirlwind at the time I started it back in April; I worried that it was too soon to be announcing to the world that we were In Love, because maybe it wasn't going to work and wouldn't that be awful, and then there'd be all this photographic evidence of our folly? Geez *holding head in hands* Note to self for next time.....). That was tough. But I felt strong enough to do it, finally, and so I did. Still have hardcopies of all the photos for memories should I ever want to remember them, and he was apprised of the action well in advance so he could take what he wanted, and can still come and ask if he would like anything if he didnt grab them out of the public folder. ( There were some nice pics of his family, etc.).

I should mention that when we split, I decided I needed a Facebook moratorium for awhile-- it's just too easy to go off and see what your ex has been up to and worry about this or that or parse out this or that when you. Just. Don't Need to DO IT. My goal has been 30 days, and barring that little debacle with him week before last ( oh, another story- shit. See? I'm the Herman Fucking Melville of Blogging, I swear. Can't tell a sailor story without running into a whole history of whale oil and the progess of public street lamplighting since the 1800s. *Sigh*.....I'll make it quick: I got a notice I was tagged in a picture, I went and looked, commented, meant to leave, he caught me in there, said, "I thought you'd been on a break", I made the mistake of responding to him in IM, explaining why I'd popped in, and excused myself, and then he made an even dumber mistake by trying to flirt by telling me I looked hot in the picture, which was TOTALLY inappropriate and really insensitive, so I cut it off politley and excused myelf again. Whereafter I had a total meltdown and decided to write and say essentially we should avoid each other online for awhile as we were IN LIFE to give each other some healins space and that "pot-stirring" flirting of any kind is really not at all reflective of where we are, and take care. End of story, thank you, I'm not being paid by the page, ala Moby Dick. The end.)...where was I? Oh yeah.....
I've been staying OUT of Facebook pretty successfully and not cyberstalking at all. I have finally realized both intellectually and emotionally that to do so is only detrimental to me- it's not ever productive. It only makes you feel worse and all you're trying to do is cling to some idea that his life will have fallen apart without you, which of course it won't have, because no one's life ever does, no matter HOW fucked up you/they might be in the meantime. (May I simply note here that I've never been a BIG cyberstalker anyway, in any case, since it just feels "ookie"to begin with, AND, really, up til now, whaddya gonna go do? Look at someone's MySpace? Okay, problematic at times, but not really the worst. Google them? Woooo. I suppose you can do what some other friends of mine have done-- and mind you, I show them the compassion they need in this although I am resolutely against it-- which is break into their email. I personally think that is just asking to find stuff you REALLY don't want or need to know or can use and is a massive violation of boundaries. However Facebook presents a whole other series of problems. As you'll soon read about.) And each week stay out of there successfully, I get myself something nice, as motivator. (Nothing too expensive, just something sweet for just me. Week before last I got a scarf that was on sale, and this week I'm getting Paramore's CD , finally. OMG, I just realized I'm being all Melville again -a story attached to the story, the only benefit being that it's in hypertext this time. Frack. You know what? If you don't know who they are, you likely are a.) living under a rock and b.) don't care, so why did I even bother? Fucking Melville. I never DID finish Moby Dick, damn you, and no one is ever going to read this blog if I don't stop being so duly influenced! But I digress....)

In the beginnng, when this all went down, I had told him I'd be going on a FB break for awhile ( hence the comment from him). I just didn't want to do something all dramatic by unfriending or blocking or making "custody decisions" WRT friends, etc. I wasn't in the place for it, frankly. AND, I'd decided that when I can handle being in there and NOT cyberstalk is when I will go back, OR when I can handle maybe hearing from him vis-a-vis comments, OR when unfriending him for awhile without having a full meltdown is when would be best. I had planned on not really having to make the decision about which might come first for awhile. I hadn't been missing Facebook and was relieved to be free of the attendant drama that might ensue when our relationship statuses changed ( so high school. Can I just say it? Why? Why? WHY??? And yes, a million questions did rain down, but that's what I get for making a stupid folder and all the rest, and by and large, since they were in my personal email box, it was a little easier to manage, somehow.). I had said to MC that I might be up for talking sometime in August, and for a variety of reasons, that seemed like a good extension of a break ( a solid 30 days or so usually is the trick to kick, so they say in rehab.).

BUT as with all things heart-related, time becomes of no relevence to healing. As it turned out, my dear school friend V has been in town and in the dearth of having a good, solid group of strong women locally to talk to ( I have strong women friends in my area, they just have been sort of dispersed to the winds with their own stuff lately, ufortunately) , I poured out my angst. ( Poor V. We were just going to a movie, and I'd picked a romantic comedy ,--because she'd been shopping a rom-com script around this week, and I thought it would be informative and fun-- and of course, I burst into tears in the parking lot. ) Among other things, we talked about the Facebook Dillemma last night and I wondered if maybe I need some sort of closure like that to just be finally fully free of it. That's what got me thinking I should go ahead and do it today. Yeah. TODAY.

I pondered this question sort of casually, as I went ahead and checked his photo box,as I was curious to see if deleting the folder would delete any of the pics he was tagged in and hadn't saved for himself. ( I had asked him awhile back to get the ones he wanted out of there because I would be deleting it eventually. It turns out it doesn't matter? How weird.) I had to go through his front page to do it, but whatever. He hasn't been up to much and I wasn't trying to stalk. But the idea of not having to worry about it and unfriending him occurred to me again and again while I was in there. And I sort of began to dither about it, and it was causing me some anxiety.
So in the same way one might flip a coin, I hit this STUPID application, "Today, God wants you know...." ( which gives you an affirmation and such; usually it's pretty interesting and generally harmless ). It said, "Whatever you're needing to do, you can no longer wait. Do it now, not tomorrow. Now." I totally freaked out. I usually think things like that are signs. That might sound crazy, but I do. At any rate, it only caused me MORE anxiety to think I should make the decision NOW, and so on and of course I got really upset. REALLY upset....

Because, listen. I barely have enough strength right now to decide what I'm going to DO every day. I'm okay, but I'm not like Back To Normal Jessica. I'm sort of in the Jessica Is Pulling Herself Out of It By Forcing Herself to Get Out There and Do Things Whether She Likes It or Not stage. And making stressful decisions like this is the last thing I really need to be doing. But the confusing thing is, is it more stressful to NOT make the decision or to make it? (This is how my mind works these days!). I'm so busy trying to avoid more triggers and more stress that stuff like this makes me want to go hide in a cave for awhile. I just. Can't. HANDLE it.

And this is a really stressful decision for me: it's essentially cutting a final tie, and that SUCKS. I mean.....let me remind you: we connected and started to fall in love on Facebook. The poignancy and painful irony- OUCH. And.....we broke up just 3 weeks ago. I loved this man deeply and gave him all of my heart and it all went so fast. I have barely processed all of THAT, yet. I realize that well, I could be kind of holding on to this stupid connection out of a need to be just a little connected, but is that so bad? (Let it be said: I don't have any delusions of us getting back together. PLEASE. I really think that.....THAT would kill me. It would take his spending some quality time on the therapy couch and an epiphany brought on wings of angels trumpeting forth to get me to even consider it. I love the man, but I am NOT going back to Crazytown. And currently, he's conducting the direct train there regularly, even if he's not set up permanent residence. And I'm DONE with that ride. Period. ).

SO: it's not just bucking up and doing it, it's knowing when I do it, it will be like breaking up all over again for me, a little bit. As I've explained, when we split, we split on good terms, and even though I dont know when I'll ever want to be his friend or if that's possible, I don't want to decide that NOW, on any level, and this feels, even though its not, like it's permanent, or like it's saying something permanent. There are other complications: I feel no need to hurt him with the surprise of shock of suddenly not being my friend anymore. (Of course, there's no way he'll know unless he's been looking on MY page, but he'd figure it out eventually.)There's just no need for that, which would again, might add some finality to this simple act. I feel, for whatever reason, a need to keep that door open. It's been very strong intutively, all along, and it's why I broke up with him the way I did. I just didn't expect a struggle between doing so and being able to have some peace of mind, but welcome to the 21st century and all its attendant complications.

It's been suggested to me that I send him a note explaining that I just need some FB space and when I don't need so much of it anymore, I'll send him a friend request. Simple, right? Not really. I feel like THAT is as confusing as anything else, although maybe it's the best thing to do in the face of everything.

Can you say "mindfuck"? Can you say, "Social networking: painful, awkward and like living in the same apartment building with your ex and seeing him on the way to the laundry room every day?" There has to be a better way. There just HAS to.

At any rate, it's clear to me, whether I'm flying in the face of the Universe or whatever, I'm not ready for this decision. But of course I'm sitting here worrying about whether I'm doing the right thing! And why does such a thing like this exist to present itself as a problem? Why can't it be easier? I just hate it all: I hate the problem in the first place, I hate worrying about it, I hate being this needy person who worries about such dumb things, I just wish it would all solve it's own damned self. (And if God wants to send me any more messages, he needs to send me directives on how to pull those capers off and some money to pay the shrink bill when I flip out. )
Ugh. There you have it. The rantings of my overtaxed mind. My apologies, once more. In my next life, I'm coming back as a bug. So much easier: eat, sleep, poop, breed, get stepped on, The End. I can't tell you how appealing that sounds right now.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Aaaaaand just when I take a breath and think things are calming down a bit....

.....My dad emailed today and said they'd bought a new house for their retirement years. Not only THAT, but they were moving in a MONTH!! Now, I knew they'd wanted a house all on one level ( the family home is a split level) for when they were older, sooner than later. They'd spoken about this before, and the idea was that they wanted to stay in their own home as long as possible was they aged, and they reasoned it was wise, before they became more squeaky in the knees or god forbid, frail, they should have a home that was better designed for old people. Mind you, my dad JUST turned 65, regularly goes out with his re-enactment group and shoot cannons and hauls euqipment around; he still does all of the maintainence work on the house. My mom still gardens in the yard like a mad woman and cooks and cleans and shops and is all kinds of on-the-go. Thusly, I felt it was a bit premature, to worry about such things, but I also was glad that they were responsible and realistic enough to consider things such as that. ('ve often worried about The Years Ahead since I'm not there, and Brother, while certainly nearby, might possibly not be vigilant enough....)
Anyway, they've been fixing up and renovating The Homestead home for some time, and I suppose I thought, "Well, now they've gotten it how they wanted it and so they can back off and rest and enjoy it now." I was wrong!! Suddenly they bought a HOUSE, and this is the first I hear of it? They're moving next month?? How are they going to sell The Homestead in this market? ( Although, I imagine it's this market that made the house they're moving into-- a very nice neighborhood nearby-- quite affordable.)

After I got over the initial shock (and yes, irritation that they'd pull something like this without telling my brother OR me anything til it was practically said and done), I just became very sad. I know I'm already in this loss zone : the whole crushing heartbreak of MC, then my Uncle G died last week. I didn't really mention it, because.....well, we knew it was coming. Uncle G had esophageal cancer and had hospice in-house at his home in Wichita. My parents had gone out to visit him shortly before he passed, and it was apparent he wasn't going to last the summer. However, HE died months sooner than we had expected, and so that was a little kick to the gut. I loved my Uncle G. When I was little I had a big ol' crush on him! I thought he was the coolest, most handsome guy I'd ever seen. Next to my dad, of course. Anyway, he spoiled me with alot of attention before he got kids of his own. And his wife thought I was the sweetest child, she called me "The Pumpkin"-- even a couple of years ago when I'd sent a Christmas card! I didn't get to see Uncle G before he died, although I sent a card detailing how much I loved him and would always keep him in my heart. What else can you do? ( My dad, it should be noted, is a fucking wreck. This is his baby brother, and as I've mentioned before, he doesn't deal with emotional shit well. He and my mom went out for the funeral in Kansas, and according to my brother, he's been weird ever since. I guess that's to be expected, but I watch and wait and wonder about the weirdness that is yet to come. ). It's been kind of a rough June.

So I'm feeling vulnerable. But my brother called and was like, "We grew up in that house!" so he freaked for a minute, too. At least I'm not alone in that. But he's rolling with it better--which I pointed out was probably because he lives THERE and not more than a mile away! He can go by whenever he wants. Which makes a difference, believe it or not.....
To me, I guess, that house signifies home in some fashion or another, in a really primal way. And since I live all the way out here in LA and hate it, sometimes I'm just comforted by the fact that its there. Brother is there three or four times a week to eat dinner and do laundry, so it's not the same. He's not lived in an entirely other world for the past 6 1/2 years, feeling lonely and sad and homesick. I know this is MY issue; not feeling like I *have* a home, really--you know? If I liked living in LA or whatever, I'd feel a little better and maybe closer to my brother's orientation about the change. I've felt like some displaced person for years, even though LA is, technically, "home"- as in I live here and have a rooted life and attachments that would be hard to just up and leave behind. However, I go back to the Midwest and yes, it's "home" too--as in, it's where I came from, still carry the values of, and still find feelings of comfort, surity and safety there. But it isn't REALLY, anymore-- I've outgrown it and can't see myself back there long term ( something, BTW, that I told MC over and over again before I was there in May, and he agreed to, but when I saw how ....shackled he was to his obligations there, made me wonder how the hell he'd figured on leaving and therefore, how anything would ever work out between us. ). At any rate, going back and forth for visits and such practically give me The Bends, emotionally ( my friend Evie and I actually have a name for it: LA Re-entry Syndrome, symptoms of which include extreme relief to be out of a small cow-town and back into a "real city", homesickness for said cow-town and the people you love there, and panic and depression when you realize that the "real" city you're back in is actually a hellpit and yes, you really live here. It passes in a few days, but it's rough, let me tell you.).

What I'm saying is, I realize my freaked-outedness is coming from many other sources other than the usual ones, like nostalgia and long-term attachments to a place. Nonetheless, those are full in and of themselves, as well. I mean....

One might be surprised by that since I had a really, really craptacular childhood there, but I really am very sentimental about that house.....I've since been able to separate all the bad shit from the good things about my childhood and adolescence I'd like to keep, and so much of it is tied up in there. My ROOM, of all places, was one place I always felt safe in. When I was a teenager, I hid up there and listened to music and wrote and painted, and my parents, for all their failings, left me be and respected my privacy. I had so many important conversations with friends there, so many great formative moments listening to records that would really define my coming of age; I got ready for proms there, dreamt there, made plans for my future escape there.
In the rest of the house there is my brother's room, where I changed his diapers and put him to bed. We had a wood-burning stove in the family room I learned to make a fire in, and sat by when I got cold. All my memorable Christmases were in that house ( as much as I hate Christmas, my mother makes all the effort to do it up, let me tell you.).
I just took MC around that house when I was there in May, telling him all about my adventures as a kid, showing him the yard and all my little special spots for doing Things That Girls Do, like picking flowers and having my own plot in the family garden out back ( I grew carrots; they didn't come out well. My dad had lettuce, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes- a Midwest staple that quickly grows out of control to such an extent that by the end of summer, people are literally giving them away. There are handpainted signs on almost every major street announcing "TOMATOES! FREE!". And let me tell you, they are the best tomatoes in the world! Can't get them like that out here, that's for sure.). I showed him how the building itself had changed ( still has a few odd side doors and a stairwell we can't explain) and we pondered its life before it became a home ( we imagined maybe a boarding house?). I showed him where my mom planted irises before they put in a front patio set, and where there used to be a mullberry bush I'd eat from (and eventually grew to hate the taste of!). I talked about the persimmon trees that would pelt the ground with their sickenly sweet fruit in mulitudes, and how they used to hang over the driveway , before my dad mercifully cut them down. I showed him the hills we sledded on and the stump of the big maple tree that I cried about when it finally died and had to be removed 5 years ago. It is VERY poignant to me that I was showing this to my love to tell him all about where I came from, and what I didn't know at the time was, I was looking at it all for the last time.

It's just hard to imagine having holidays anywhere else; I always thought I'd announce my engagement there someday. But, I guess that's something I have to come to terms with. This new house is very nice from what I can tell, and I'm sure all their old crap will be there, and as Sassy said, "it will be all their old crap in new places, which will be weird", but perhaps I'll get used to it. I'm sure it will be lovely, and maybe, lovely things will also happen there as well. I suppose we'll see.

But I did write my dad back today, and while I graciously congratulated him on this new venture, I asked him a favor:

When I was growing up, both my parents worked and so I spent many days at my grandmother's house. She lived on in a house my grandfather built and my mother had grown up in, on a hill in a neighborhood about a mile away. When my MOTHER was a child, she was out goofing around one day with a packet of violet seeds, and somehow ( I don't remember the details) ended up kind of higgeldy-piggeldy planting them all over the front yard. Well, as fate would have it, my grandpa went out not too shortly thereafter to cut the grass, and in the process of doing so, the lawnmower threw the seeds everywhere. A few weeks later, my grandmother looked out there to discover violets scattered all over her yard and down the front of the hill. By the time I arrived on the scene, some 20 years later, her hill was covered with the little purple flowers.
Of course, I became obsessed with them, and picked a million and half, probably, before I was even 10. And when I was bored at my own house on the weekends, I'd go looking for them in our yard. (Violets aren't really scarce in that part of the country,-they grow wild- so there'd usually be a small handful or so. ) One afternoon, I found a jackpot all over the hill in our backyard, and picked and picked and picked till I had a large bouquet. When I brought them into my mom, she said, "You know, Jessica, that part of the yard isn't ours. It belongs to Mrs. B. I think the next time you wander that far, you should say hello and ask her if it's okay to pick her flowers." I think my mom was being a little overly concerned, since violets aren't something you really PLANT, per se, but in I also think perhaps she was worried that Mrs. B., a crochety widow who lived alone, would snap at me for no good reason, and it was best to appease her up front.
So, the next time I went back there and Mrs. B. was in her part of her yard, I did. She was a little brusque at first, but then warmed up. I think she kind of liked the idea of having a little girl around-- I don't know what happened to her kids, but for some reason, she chatted with me now and again and seemed to sort of take a liking to me.

Then one day, I was out there and my dad was too, for some reason. My dad mentioned to her how I really liked her hydragea bush ( I called it a "snowball tree"- the big blooms where pristine white and solid like snowballs). They spoke for a bit, and I don't really know what exchange took place, but when it was all said and done, my dad announced to me, "Mrs. B. said you could have a piece of her tree to plant as your own, to grow your own snowball tree. Isn't that nice? Go and thank her. " I did, and was really excited at the idea of growing my own little special flowers, just for me. She seemed very pleased that she could give me something.
We planted that little seedling-- and it was little!-- and it grew like crazy. From when I was about 8 til about 12, every year it just got bigger and bigger and made bigger and bigger blooms. There was one year when I was about in that age range where my little guy looked like it wasn't going to make it through the winter, but man, it held ON. Even the tree it was next to got cut down, and it just grew MORE. By the time I was about 17, it was way over my head. My brother and his friends used to pick the flowers off and throw them at each other like actually snowballs, and they'd burst, sending showers of the miniature flowers all over the ground like actual snowflakes ( this activity pissed me off, but the tree never suffered, and more flowers came back regardless.).

That tree is still in my parent's backyard today, 32 years later. I don't know what happened to Mrs. B; beyond the occasional hello, she sort of retired back to her house and I don't recall interacting with her much after that. She was probably almost 70 when I knew her so I know she's long gone. But the tree remains, and I'm forever grateful to my dad and her for allowing me to give that little experiment a go; I am very attached to that tree and proud of it, like a little girl would be, to this day. So, when my dad told me they planned to move, I insisted that the tree be dug up and taken with them, or at least another cutting to grow another. I can't come and get it and put in my own yard ( it wouldn't survive out here), or else I would, for certain. But I always imagined I would, when I had a yard of my own, to keep it going, and I want the chance to do that someday, still, when I finally do find that place of mine in the world that is "home" in the true sense and I have an actual, physical residence there.

He said he would. I hope he remembers ( because if he doesn't, I'm going to have to come back there with a shovel and explain things to the new owners. And if they don't seem reasonable, I'm going to have to sneak in at night with friends I've roped in, and I KNOW said friends will be totally pissed, and so will my dad, when I end up planting it in his NEW yard.). It's really important to me. We can't hold on to anything forever, which sounds cliche, but seems to be hitting home more and more to me these days and life is going by so fucking fast lately, but I want to believe we can move with it while still keeping things close that hold meaning and the memory of good times past as we leap into the unknown future. I think for me, it's important to be able to try to do that when things seem so wobbly and strange and uncertain, and I wonder about my life as I watch it morph and change-- beyond my control at times--and segueway into what this next stage of life is that is about to come.