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.

The kitten total

I know we all agree that this is not the totalitarian nightmare we signed up for. Personally, I’d hoped to live my whole life without going through… at least 80% of what’s happened in the last year or so.

However, I’ve also had enough therapy to know that we’re supposed to focus on smaller things; things that are within our control. I’m not very good at actually doing that, but I know it can be helpful for some people.

I do a lot of animal rescue work and one of the things I’m in charge of, is helping find intake placement for kittens. We only take orphaned neonatal kittens 6 weeks and under. You’d think that’s such a narrow spectrum that we wouldn’t take in many kittens, but it’s a rather alarming number. I field intake calls every day.

Here’s some good news. So far this month, I’ve helped arrange intake for 52 kittens. That’s so many! I’m so glad I’m able to do this. It helps me focus on something good. Kittens are pure joy and wonderful and better than people pretty much all the time. So yes. I am putting good into the universe in the form of tiny kittens who bring joy to everyone.

Meow

Post Surgical Thoughts

            Surgery was rough. There is no version of needing surgery on your spine where you really feel good about it going in. Or at least none that spring to mind. But there’s something utterly surreal about walking alone into surgery. It feels like walking to a sacrifice. Your own sacrifice.

            And it’s really hard to be okay with that.

            When I woke up from surgery, a lot of things were wrong. My pain was completely out of control, my bad leg was worse, too much time had passed, and they didn’t want me to go home. Nothing was going how I expected.

            I believe in science, in logic. I actually feel better when thinking about all the skilled, professional people who are working to help me. But there’s a special kind of fear when those we put our faith in, falter.

            I’m not okay.

            My body isn’t working right. From the looks of it, my body will never work as it should ever again. I like to think I can adjust to that. What’s bothering me now, is the dogged inkling that even if I were to lose my leg, the excruciating nerve pain boiling through it would remain.

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.

I don’t know what I’m doing here

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘careers’ and identity. We’ve all been told for most of our lives that work and identity are essentially synonyms. It’s evident in how we talk about careers. We ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Which is very different from, “What kind of work would you like to do?”

For most of my life, I didn’t think I attached much of my identity to my job. After all, it was just a job. I worked hard, did excellent work, and remained employed, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t who I was as a person, it was just what I did.

Now that I can’t do it anymore, I’ve realized how wrong I was.

I took pride in my work. The quality of it, the hours I would devote to getting things done right, I wanted respect and acknowledgement from my peers. As the industry changed, I changed along with it. I had to adjust to new metrics of success, and I worked at them until I achieved them.

I never got the things I really wanted. I think I became bogged down in being a productive drone. After all, that used to be a respectable quality. I thought service and devotion to an industry would get me there.

It didn’t.

Now I have to change my paradigm again, and find myself without any sort of map.

People ask professional athletes and others who aim high, about their backup plans. We need to start thinking about those things for everyone. No matter what kind of work you do, regardless of industry.

We’re presented with a narrative about automation replacing human workers in production jobs, but that’s not the only place that happens. As I was explaining to someone exactly what I used to do ten years ago, I realized I had been replaced by a combination of a machine, apathy, and transferring the burden of quality on to the customer. Over the years I’ve worked in the arts, several jobs I’ve had have been replaced by machines.

My body is failing me. I know, it happens to all of us. For me, it has happened at an intense speed, in ways I never could have imagined, and targeting things that are most important to me.

I don’t know what I ‘do’ anymore, which has left me questioning who I am. This isn’t another instance of technology or priorities changing how I approach the industry within which I work, it’s starting over. I don’t have a backup plan, I didn’t think I needed one.

Starlight Gestalt released!

A few years ago, I sold a short story to be part of a Halloween romance anthology. Days before the collection went to press, the publisher closed. Editing was finished, we had cover art, and promotions began.

Then it was gone.

We all got our right back from the publisher, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the story. It didn’t feel right to shop it around, and to be honest, I was in a pretty rough place and wasn’t capable of any emotional labor.

Late last year, I shared it as a part of a rewards tier for a group Patreon I participated with an amazing group of people, calling ourselves, Crystal Queer. It was a delightful experience and really pushed me to continue to create through a dark time. I will forever be grateful to them.

I was encouraged by a few friends to simply self publish the story for people to enjoy. I was informed by one friend that it hit them, “right in the gender feels” which is pretty high praise, I’d say!

Available now on Amazon!

What is Starlight Gestalt?
* non binary MC
* sexy German poetry
* a hermit witch
* Will O The Wisps
* the forest at night
* Bananagrams!

Thank you to everyone who made this possible, especially: CL, CM, DL, and LS

Starlight Gestalt book cover

-R/AC