Star Crossed

Last summer I tried paddle boarding for the first time with a wonderful woman I was dating. After paddling around the lake a good long while, we did that thing everyone in a new relationship does, avoided having to leave each other. I watched her deflate and put away the boards. I tried to not listen as she talked to her ex-wife about their kids on a phone call. Finally, we sat on the curb of the parking lot between our cars and talked.

My back started to bother me so I laid down on the concrete to stretch my hip, and relax my muscles. It had become dark, but it wasn’t cold so we pressed against each other and looked at the stars. I have an app on my phone that shows real time overlays of constellations, planets, and deep space objects. We looked at everything we could think of even though I kept dropping the phone on us, but we just laughed.

I kept seeing these streaks of light crossing the sky. They were about the same size as the stars but the color was different somehow. I thought it might be the damage to my eyes. Sometimes I see things that aren’t there. Usually they’re black spots but also light flashes and migraine auras. The spots were always more visible when I looked at the sky, so maybe that was all. It had been some time since I laid out at night and perhaps it was it wasn’t there, just one of the many strange things my body does. Then she asked me about it and I knew it was real. What was that streaking light? A satellite? We tried to get the app on my phone to identify it, but nothing specific was associated with the light.

Then I remembered I’d read about an apartheid billionaire “destroying the night sky.” They talked about all the hundreds of satellites he’d put in orbit, that the light pollution was quite possibly a crime against humanity. It affected the entire globe. Something that had been a part of human existence since humans were first birthed, was now marred.

I told her about this. That our quiet, intimate moment, laying on a sidewalk, in a stolen moment away from our children and responsibilities, had been intruded upon by the hubris of a man. Something about this transgression was foundational. There was no longer a place in the world we could go and be truly alone. The arrogance of one man would always intrude.

I wondered about the future. I despaired that I’d not noticed before. My body felt as though I could hear them. I watched the same lines drawn in the sky by the satellites over and over until I had memorized the pattern of their orbit.

How very small we seemed. How very like a pair of atoms in our own organic bond. Trying to survive while toxic greed cut up all of existence to sell to the highest bidder. What molecule did we make? How much were we worth? We were a part of the universe’s organic whole, but could easily be scrubbed away.

Back at the Grind

I submitted a short story for publication a few weeks ago for the first time in years. I used to submit all the time, but as my health has obviously taken over much of my existence. It was exhilarating to return to another of my passions!

Rejections are a part of the process, of course, but they’re still hard. I think we have heard all the advice about rejections – they’re not personal. It could be that your piece wasn’t a good fit for the publication, they already have something similar selected, the editor isn’t the right audience for your story, any number of things! The hardest thing for me is wondering if something needs to be changed in the story, or if I just haven’t hit the right publication yet. A good rejection encourages you to continue, perhaps even gives some personal feedback.

I took my good rejection and submitted to another publication that is a better fit within 24 hours.

I’m so excited to finish up a few more short stories and send them off!

Giving My Anxiety A Cookie

Me: And if I’m refinishing the cabinets – just some trim to make them more like Shaker cabinets, they’re solid cabinets – I should really just put in the bench seating on the north end of the kitchen

Friend: So you can’t put beans in the crock pot because then you’d have to remodel the whole kitchen?

Me: I mean, duh!

It made perfect sense at the time.

Watch List 01/2022

I’ve started keeping track of what I’m watching again. I don’t know, it’s fun for whatever reason. Therefore, I should share it with everyone!

IDK it’s worth a shot.

I like listening to low stakes shows like cooking competitions while I’m working on art projects, paperwork or I just need to pretend to have human contact. My therapist also made me stop watching press conferences on CNN so I had to sub in something… I love some standup when I need a distraction from generalized despair, or when I’m having fun. When I have the time and the spoons, I love both “bad” and great movies. Generally speaking, if I start a movie, I’ll finish it. However, if I don’t like a show, I’ll just stop.

SHOWS

  • Master Chef
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • Master Chef Junior
  • Jayde Adams: Serious Black Jumper
  • Bob The Drag Queen: Suspiciously Large Woman
  • Worst Cooks in America
  • Archive 81
  • Devs
  • The Witcher
  • Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross and Dave Attell
  • Shadow and Bone
  • Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous
  • Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian
  • Leslie Jones: Problem Child
  • Abbott Elementary

MOVIES

  • Observe and Report
  • Gunpowder and Milkshakes
  • Jolt
  • snatch
  • The House
  • Long Story Short
  • Dark Shadows 2012
  • Deja Vu
  • Acts of Vengeance
  • Level 16

For the first time, I started keeping track of creative projects that I’ve finished as well. It’s hard for me because I feel like I never get enough art done. I know I work on things, but it can be hard to gauge how much I actually finish. So I started a list of creative projects I’ve finished as well. It really helped me see that I do a lot more than I thought!

Creations

  • Large Moth blanket with crochet edge
  • Painting underwater yellow dress
  • Painting underwater with sea weed
  • Painting underwater with white cake layer
  • Pink/gray crochet blanket
  • Painting underwater larger with pinkish dress
January 2022 lists

The Path Through

I admit, I’m at a loss. I know I need to promote myself, put my work out in front of people. No one can buy my work if they don’t know it exists. But the process of putting everything together and promoting somehow feels overwhelming.

So I am trying. I am taking a step. I don’t know what it looks like, but I’m trying.

I started a list of projects I’ve finished to help me remember that I am actually making progress, that I’m putting in the work. So far this year I’ve finished 3 paintings, and 2 craft projects. I’ve worked on seven others that are in various stages of completion.

I’ve shared some of those with a few friends, but that’s all. I should probably cast a wider net if I want to actually do something with all of these things I make.

Imposter syndrome, anxiety monster, negative core beliefs, generalized despair – whatever it is, I’m trying to fight my way through.

UnderShare

I made some rather bold plans for this year. While it’s barely two months in to the year, I already feel like I’ve fallen woefully far behind.

I was medically cleared after my surgery in January. I was excited to start walking more and regaining my strength. I had things I wanted to try, things I was going to work on to try to earn money.

And then, after only a few days of trying to get back to my life… It all came back. The pain was unbearable. My leg barely worked.

Several phone calls, a trip to the ER, and an emergency MRI later… My disc re-herniated and I’m back to where I was 3 months ago.

I meant to write here more. I have at least a dozen blog posts written, I just never posted them. I’m not even sure why. What was I waiting for?

Like a lot of people, when I’m depressed, I tend to withdraw. And right now? I’m extremely withdrawn. I just wanted to have my life back. Not even “my” life, just “A” life would have been great.

I don’t want to be on my couch, in too much pain to do much more than nap all winter long. But that seems to be where I’m at. I know that I need to take it slow, be kind to myself, and let my body heal. I know it’s the most important thing. But having to “rest” for months on end is its own special kind of torment.

2019 – The Hits

To say that 2019 was a year of change, would be a gross understatement. I do believe that change is constant and our adaptability to it is a big part of what shapes our reality. However, it’s a little extreme when your entire sense of self shifts.

I had to stop working in June because of debilitating pain in my spine, being unstable on my feet, and not being able to see clearly out of my right eye.

Now, for a normal person, any one of those things on their own would likely be enough to give them pause. For me, I had suffered with the first two for a very long time as they steadily got worse. It wasn’t until I could no longer work around the last item that I contacted the company I subcontracted from and told them I needed to stop. I told them I thought my brain tumor might be back.

The fact that I would have heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and sobbing anxiety meltdowns every time I had to leave for a job, never seemed like a valid excuse to make a change. It wasn’t until I was also unable to see that I stopped.

As I sit here today, I am baffled as to why I STILL believe the destruction of my mental and emotional health is not a valid reason to make a change to my behavior when it comes to work. Instead, I pushed through the misery, made sure I didn’t eat, carefully scheduled out my days to the minute, and cried in the car. And I made myself do the work, even though at the end of the day, it wasn’t even a living wage. Or even minimum wage.

The progression from optometrist, to neurologist, to spine surgeon was relatively quick.

The good news is that my brain tumor seems to be stable. The bad news is that back pain I’ve had forever, the grinding in my spine, the shooting leg pain, the tremors I would have to stretch out, are because I have no discs left L2 and down. Words like “degenerative disc disease,” and “root nerve compression” started to be thrown around. I learned about EMG tests and how many of the things I’ve lived with – and mentioned to medical professionals – for years, were not normal.

I has surgery on my spine in November to try and save function in my leg. There’s nothing to be done for the rest of my spine.

I will never have improved function in my spine. Right now is as good as it gets. The only thing to be done is try to preserve what I have left. It’s scary. I think about all the hard labor I’ve done over the years while my back screamed in pain and I pushed through it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I shudder.

In January this year, I shoveled my driveway because no one else would do it. No matter how much I explained that I shouldn’t do it because I fall over, because I can’t grip a shovel with my broken hand, because it kills my back, because I have been expressly told on several occasions that I SHOULD NOT SHOVEL SNOW. I couldn’t get any help. And if the snow didn’t get moved, I was going to be snowed in for quite some time. So I shoveled snow. It hurt so much. By the time I had to stop, I could barely move. I spent most of the next two weeks laying down. That’s probably when I herniated the disc in my back. But that wasn’t enough to send me to a doctor.

So much of my energy has been wrapped up in my health, it feels like I haven’t been able to do much else. I’ve been working on disability paperwork, and trying to find work that my health will allow. It’s a very long process. The mental adjustment is probably harder.

I don’t want to be disabled. It feels like self-pity. I know it isn’t, but that’s the struggle between knowing things intellectually, and accepting them emotionally.

In the midst of this, a few other things happened in my life. A partner I pined for over the course of a decade, ended up being not who I thought they were. Letting go of that idea was devastating. I also lost a very close friendship. I cried over that for months. My ex-husband started legal action against me barely seven months after our divorce was finalized.

It feels selfish to complain. In the last month and a half, close friends of mine have suffered unimaginable tragedies so I shouldn’t talk, right?

But that’s not how life works. We all have our own individual struggles. We can all have horrible things happen to us, all at the same time. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?

Year-end recaps always struck me as odd. Who can keep track of all these things? I can’t remember what I did this morning let alone what books I read in April. This year felt different because of the over arcing difficulty of my health. I don’t know what 2020 will look like. I assume I’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my life is going to look like. You’re all welcome to come along for the ride.

Always room for more

As of today, I have turned in the first round of edits on both stories I have coming out later this year. While it is an absolute relief to have them off my plate (for now) there is still a residual anxiety hovering around. I’ve never been very good at relaxing and it’s quite pronounced today! Once I finished sending off my draft, I very nearly ran out of the Starbucks to get some air!

I’m exceedingly grateful to my writing group friends for tolerating me during the sea of editing crises. Editing my own work is very challenging, even with the assistance of a professional editor. Every time I receive feedback from an editor, I learn something. This time through, the insights were especially helpful. I was even able to apply what I learned from one editor to the change I made on the next piece!

The challenge now is… what to work on next? I’ve done nothing but edit for just over an entire month. I’m itching to do something entirely different, but I hear the call from a mostly finished short story in my documents folder. Only a few changes I could submit it!

I’m also thinking about looking for a few more anthology calls. I’ve found writing for anthologies to be a lot of fun lately!

Of course, what I should do is relax! Maybe just for a few minutes!

Writing is hard, editing is hard

As I’m going through the process of working with an editor, I am reminded that editing blows. As anyone who has ever tried to string together a few coherant sentences can tell you: writing is HARD. Then, to add insult to injury, you must edit your manuscript. It seems rather unfair.

Right now, I’m going through my MS and removing ever time I used the word, “just.” Why in the world did I use that word so much?? What was I thinking? And most embarassingly, how did I not notice it myself before I sent it off to my publisher? I’m tempted to go back to my original draft and find out just how many times it was, but that might be cruel.

It’s tempting to assert that writing is hard, but editing is harder. I don’t believe that to be true. Pulling the words from nothing and putting them on the page is hard. It’s an exercise in dedication and creativity. Taking the words you’ve amassed and shaping them into a more refined whole is hard. It’s an exercise in perserverance and attention to detail. At this point in my life, I’m still working on how to do both of these things effectively.

Hopefully, I’ll find other things to work on as I become more confident in the larger aspects in the process of writing. I will never stop learning. I work hard to make that happen.

In the end it’s like running and biking. (What, doesn’t everyone do those things??) They’re both physically exhausting if you do them long enough but they work different muscles. They’re similar in some ways, but getting back on my bike in the spring after only running all winter is a pretty rude awakening. My thighs mock me with all the miles I ran on that first bike ride. The trick is that I have to do them both.

I’m okay with that.

Truly Outrageous

As a person who vaguely remembers the 80’s, I was understandably eager about the Jem and the Holograms reboot. Women working together, rocking out with amazing wardrobes – what’s not to love? Then of course there was the inevitable let down. Women supporting each other? We can’t have that. What if women start to get uppity and have ideas? Next thing you know they’ll want birth control and clothes with pockets.

Is that hyperbole? Of course it is! I indulge in periodic hyperbole.

It saddens me that so many people have become crushingly divisive over issues of gender. It’s nothing new of course, it’s just the details and mechanics of how it plays out that changes. Women don’t need to be contrasted against men in order to be defined. There is room enough for people of any gender. The only walls that exist are ones we choose to support.

On a lighter note:

This is a great time to pull out an old photo though. Some friends and I cosplayed the Misfits, the rival band of Jem and the Holograms, at a CONvergence in 2003. I’m the one in black on the left. This was such a fun time. Thank you to libradragonmom for sharing the picture with me.

Misfits Cosplay - Jem and the Holograms