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today's a fucking ugly day

June 27, 2016

(yesterday... the twenty-seventh)

pardon the vocabulary. if you've read picky before, yall know i can be crass like that.

the therapist is putting me on meds. i am kicking and screaming because they kill my creativity. but living with the crazy right now is killing any love i have for life. 

so tomorrow... i go to a doctor and tell him why i need the drugs. the pills i don't want to have to take.

because the hate and the rage and shame and inadequacy and despair and frustration and impotence were so strong in me today i damned near clawed my face off. and the guilt... let's not forget the guilt.

. . .

(today... the twenty-eighth)

the doctor i saw today, by the way, is an old friend of my family. he's known me since i was about ten. he's never known of how fucked up my head is because, contrary to what it may seem here... i don't broadcast that shit. i do it here, truth be told, for two reasons: one, and this one's much more selfish) to remind me that i've lived through this bullshit before and i can do it again... and again... and again... two) to let others know that they are not alone in battling the bullshit. misery loves company, yeah?

anyway...

thirty minutes i sat in this man's office, and for much of that time, i kept thinking of his lovely, lovely wife who passed away a few years ago, of the scarf of hers i carry in my purse, have carried every day since the service. this sweet, sweet woman who, while i'm certain could scold her daughters into submission just as well as the next mother, this woman who never seemed to show anything but goodness and kindness and thoughfulness. the good lord took her, of course. robbed a man of his happily ever after a little too soon, really. deprived her of the privilege of doting on her granddaughters. she had a life. a good one.

i have a life, too. but the world could use more people like her in it and fewer people like me.

so i'm sitting in his office crying about the rage and shame and guilt and the fact that i don't want to need this help but am so clearly very much in need of it.

zoloft... that one made me crazier. prozac... that one made me a void. so now it's wellbutrin.

and some other thing called clonazepam...for when i've fallen off the rocker completely and am bashing it against the walls of my psyche. he calls it the nine one one drug.

i don't like feeling that my life is so precarious.

i don't like thinking i've shredded my strength.

random quarter: the q&a edition-june

June 24, 2016

one. today you cancelled a date with a douchebag.

two. what was the last beach you went to? myrtle beach, south carolina.

three. my nephew is funny.

four. what's the next book you want to read? after you by jojo moyes.

five. what do you have to lose? not much.

six. today was delightful because of lunch with cameron.

seven. when was the last time you spoke to your parents? this morning.

eight. are you wearing socks? no.

nine. how can you help? writing to raise awareness.

ten. what do you need to throw away? the trash in my car.

eleven. does anything hurt today? yes.

twelve. who was the last person to make you angry? myself.

thirteen. where do you go for good ideas? the movies.

fourteen. are you working hard or hardly working? at the moment? hardly working.

fifteen. what was the last road trip you took? north carolina in november 'fifteen.

sixteen. nothing is perfect.

seventeen. what was the last thing you baked or cooked? i boiled lipton noodles.

eighteen. if you could hire any artist (living or dead) to paint your portrait, who would you pick? vincent van gogh.

nineteen. write a phrase to describe your year so far. exhausting.

twenty. today were you a wallflower or social butterfly? wallflower. always the wallflower.

twenty-one. do you have a secret? more than one? who doesn't?

twenty-two. what is your heroic downfall? your achilles heel? my brain.

twenty-three. today was unusual because i had lunch with someone.

twenty-four. if you were a literary character who would you be? mary bennett.

twenty-five. what are you sentimental about? st. patrick's day.

for better highway vision

June 18, 2016

Philippians 4:8New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

one of my oldest friends, a girl i'd met not long after my family had moved to conroe, had mentioned a few weeks ago that she was participating in a bible study. i'd done a couple of these with her in the past, though i'd never completed either of them because they didn't speak to me.

this time we're doing priscilla schirer's the armor of god, and i am loving it so far. i was going to share with yall the reactions i've had to the text but decided against it because, for the moment at least, i'd like to keep them somewhat private. i've shared some of them with my mother and some of them with the others in our study's small group of women.

the other day, we were doing prayer requests. and when i'd said mine, one of the ladies immediately jumped in with a passage that had helped her -- she could recall the sentiment, but the not the place in the bible, and so there was a few minutes debate of whether it was phillippians or corinthians or maybe... but eventually they found it. phillippians four: eight. i loved that she was so quick to think of it. that others were so quick to help find it. i'm putting it here so i can hang on to it. kind of like when minn (i miss that lady. SO much. damn i wish she were here. today is one of those days i'd be on her doorstep, seeking her wise and kind counsel.) shared with me her beloved psalm forty.

i will share, however, one bit with you from that study. we'd talked about how the devil works his magic so that we see what he wants us to see. he's damned talented at that where i'm concerned. i look in the mirror and instead of seeing the fantastic complexion, for example, for which i am so frequently complimented (my skincare regimen, in case you're curious, is washing with dove pink once, sometimes twice a day -- depending on whether i'd worn make-up, the incredibly rare use of cosmetics, the sporadic use of olay regenerist advanced anti-aging cream cleanser and the infrequent, though liberal, application of aveeno's skin relief twenty-four moisturizing lotion... that's it), the way my face feels to me distorts how i view my reflection, and if i'm depressed or haven't slept well, i'm more likely to notice the palor, my hair has more grays in it than it did the other day and could use a good washing, my eyes are drifting more than usual, my chin is way too pronounced, my neck's gotten fatter... whatever. so i see that instead of the good. i see what my peers made sure i saw in my youth, and my psyche, under satan's influence, echoes those sentiments, which, of course, robs me of any confidence i might have because how can i, a girl so far removed from beauty, ever hope to have a beautiful life?

this is what his influence does.

i keep thinking of those words from me before you... that hashtag. #liveboldly. that is not a thing i know to do. i, an aries. bold is supposed to be my business. my m.o. but far too often i cower in the corner and feed on scraps instead of ramming my way to where the sustenance is. because i've been telling myself for years, that's for the pretty ones. you've to wait your turn. you should be content with what you've been given.

the study urged us to pray for vision and to seek the light, to use the truth of god's word. so that is what i am praying for... better highway vision so i can choose the right paths. and if you've got a prayer to spare, i sure could use it. thanks.

me before you

why i wanted to read it: i'd assumed that because so many were appreciative of the thing, it must be good. and so i bought it and tried it and set it aside because it bored me. and then for erin's book challenge (if you've not signed up for that thing yet, you should totally do it), one of the categories one time was a book with a pronoun in the title, so i tried again and set it aside again. and then i saw the trailer several weeks ago, and hearing the actors' voices in my head made it a little easier to get through the thing.

what i liked: from louisa's perspective: i watched relationships begin and end across those tables... (p. 8).

"black and yellow stripes."

"gorgeous."

"that's a bit harsh."

"well, it's true. they sound revolting."

"they might sound revolting to you, but astonishingly, will traynor, not all girls get dressed just to please men."

"bullshit."

"no, it's not."

"everything women do is with men in mind. everything anyone does is with sex in mind. haven't you read 'the red queen'?"

"i have no idea what you're talking about. but i can assure you, i'm not sitting on your bed singing the 'molahonkey song' because i'm trying to get my leg over" (p. 84).

the first time we went out on a date, a little voice in my head said: this man will never hurt you. and nothing he had done in the seven years since had lead me to doubt it. 

and then he turned into marathon man.

patrick's stomach no longer gave when i nestled into him; it was a hard, unforgiving thing, like a sideboard... (p. 89).

i wanted him to be happy -- for his face to lose that haunted, watchful look. i gabbled. i told jokes. i started to hum. anything to prolong the moment before he looked grim again (97).

i thought about the warm skin and soft hair and hands of someone living, someone who was far cleverer and funnier than i would ever be and who still couldn't see a better future than to obliterate himself (p. 123).

from camilla's: after will's accident i didn't garden for a year. it wasn't just the time... it was that i could see no point. i paid a gardener to come and keep the garden tidy, and i don't think i gave it anything but the most cursory of looks for the better part of a year.

it was only when we brought will back home, once the annex was adapted and ready, that i could see a point in making it beautiful again. i needed to give my son something to look at. i needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow, or fail, but that life did go on. that we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only god's purpose to understand. i couldn't say that to him, of course -- will and i have never been able to say much to each other -- but i wanted to show him. a silent promise, if you like, that there was a bigger picture, a brighter future (pp. 106-107).

when will first told me what he wanted, he had to tell me twice, as i was quite sure i could not have have heard him correctly the first time. i stayed quite calm when i realized what it was he was proposing, and then i told him he was being ridiculous and i walked straight out of the room. it's an unfair advantage, being able to walk away from a man in a wheelchair... i shut the door of the annex and i stood in my own hallway with the calmly spoken words of my son still ringing in my ears.

i'm not sure i moved for half an hour.

he refused to let it go... he repeated his request every time i went in to see him until i almost had to persuade myself to go in each day...

it's just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man -- the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring -- you see before you, with his parking tickets and his unpolished shoes and complicated love life. you see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.

i looked at will and i saw the baby i held in my arms... i saw the toddler reaching for my hand... the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. i saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history. that's what he was asking me to extinguish -- the small child he was as well as the man -- all that love, all that history.

he had located a rusty nail, barely half an inch emerging from some hurriedly finished woodwork in the back lobby, and, pressing his wrist against it, had moved his wheelchair backward and forward until his flesh was sliced to ribbons. i cannot to this day imagine the determination that kept him going, even though he must have been half delirious from the pain.

when they told me at the hospital that will would live, i walked outside into my garden and i raged at god, at nature, at whatever fate had brought our family to such depths... i was so furious, you see, that all around me were things that could move and bend and grow and reproduce, and my son -- my vital, charismatic, beautiful boy -- was just this thing. immobile, wilted, bloodied, suffering. their beauty seemed like an obscenity. i screamed and i screamed and i swore -- words i didn't know i knew -- until steven came out and stood, his hand resting on my shoulder, waiting until he could be sure that i would be silent again.

he didn't understand, you see. he hadn't worked it out yet. that will would try again. that our lives would have to be spent in a state of constant vigilance, waiting for the next time, waiting to see what horror he would inflict upon himself. we would have to see the world through his eyes -- the potential poisons, the sharp objects, the inventiveness with which he could finish the job that damned motorcyclist had started. our lives had to shrink to fit around the potential for that one act. and he had the advantage -- he had nothing else to think about, you see.

two weeks later, i told will, "yes."

of course i did.

what else could i have done (pp. 109-111).

what sucked: it's about a hundred pages longer than it needs to be, and, this is a personal preference, i would've rather the novel have more dialogue, that moyes would've used more of that tool as a mechanism for telling the story.

having said that: it's alright. i liked the movie better...

side note: in one of the concluding chapters, moyes includes a report detailing the legal ramifications of will's choice: there is no evidence of mental illness... (p. 363).

the surgeries i've had in my life have blinded me... i've had three on my eyes, and while i don't know the duration of the recovery period for the first two because they'd occurred in infancy, the third had only blinded me for a period of twenty-four hours, but toward the end of that period, i was bordering on delusional. three other surgeries have severely affected the use of my legs. two of them have resulted in my having to learn to walk and ride a bicycle and do all sorts of other things again and again. and i'm sure at some point, i'll have to do it again, and it will be worse, because i was in my twenties then... my body was in much better shape.

i'm limited, physically, in other ways, but they are so, so slight. they are not things i can't live with.

these physical things i endure, they're not tragic.

i read that line, though... no evidence of mental illness... and was put off by it.

as if the brain can't be in pain. the mind can't. as if a person's life can't be horribly, monumentally crippled in ways unseen by others. as if post traumatic stress disorder and post concussive disorder and traumatic brain injury and depression aren't godawful, debilitating forces. as if these things can't mentally paralyze a person.

i'm tired of people thinking just because someone can get up out of bed, put on some clothes, get in a car, go to work and come home in the evening to family and friends... that because their bodies can physically function, they shouldn't be afforded the same consideration as those who bodies don't.

i am sick to death of this society that belittles mental illness.

it's perfectly okay to put a dog or a horse down... but a human, we'd prefer they suffer in a physical or mental hell... because only god can decide when a man should die. i call bullshit.

the tunes i turn to when i need to be soothed

June 17, 2016

one. angel. sarah mclachlan.

two. anyway. martina mcbride.

three. breathe (two a.m.). anna nalick.
four. the climb. miley cyrus.
five. closer to fine. indigo girls.
six. dare you to move. switchfoot.
seven. hallelujah. jeff buckley.
eight. hope for the hopeless. a fine frenzy.
nine. i don't feel like dancin'. scissor sisters.


ten. i leave the light on. beth hart.

eleven. i'll stand by you. the pretenders.
twelve. innocent. our lady peace.
thirteen. keep breathing. ingrid michaelson.
fourteen. never surrender. corey hart.
fifteen. pour me. trick pony.
sixteen. prince of darkness. indigo girls.
seventeen. revelation. third day.
eighteen. secure yourself. indigo girls.
nineteen. shake it out. florence and the machine.
twenty. something to believe in. poison.

twenty-one. this woman's work. kate bush.

twenty-two. true colors. cyndi lauper.
twenty-three. when i look to the sky. train.
twenty-four. you are loved (don't give up). josh groban.
twenty-five. you raise me up. josh groban.

the old schoolyard

June 11, 2016

summer before freshman year
like erin, i attended oak ridge high school. i was a nerd: overly intellectual, obsessive and horribly, HORRIBLY lacking in social skills. i was the scrawniest (sixty-eight pounds, dressing in either a child's sixteen x or a junior's size zero), shortest (five foot one) and most developmentally delayed (flat-chest, straight hips, and yes, BRACES... still) in the freshman class (three hundred twenty-one students). by the time we'd reached senior year, i believe our class size had dwindled to two hundred forty. the mascot was the war eagle. the school colors were red, white and blue.

the most popular tunes of the year i began high school included: the bangles' walk like an egyptian, heart's alone, whitney houston's i wanna dance with somebody, starship's nothing's gonna stop us now, whitesnake's here i go again, bon jovi's livin' on a prayer and u2's with or without you. films released that year were: the princess bride, dirty dancing, full metal jacket, the untouchables, fatal attraction, less than zero, lethal weapon, good morning vietnam and the lost boys. among the new york times bestsellers were the tommyknockers and misery by stephen king, presumed innocent by scott turow and patriot games by tom clancy.

i was binging on def leppard, van halen and u2, dirty dancing and the sweet valley high series. and, of course, star wars. 

my extracurricular activities included art club and swim team. in swim practice, i never used a cap because i hated wearing the things and my hair was short enough that i could do without it. my hair, which was black at the roots, then brown, then orange, then blonde and finally green at the tips from the chlorine. so there's my freshman swim team photo. with the hair and the braces and the hose that are too dark because i'm welsh and english and can't tan worth a damn, and i hated wearing flats without hose because i was also a prude. my father was the school superintendent, and i was a new kid at school. i had no chance whatsover of forging any kind of friendships. at this point in my life, i'd been suicidal for six years. i took my rage out on the water.

some swim meet freshman year
if i wasn't swimming, i was walking or riding my bicycle around my neighborhood or in my room listening to music or watching movies on the television. i didn't get out much. i didn't want to. this was steady behavior all four years.

sophomore year
sophomore year i didn't get to swim much because my younger brother broke my collar bone while playing football a few weeks before school'd begun. this photo was taken by the district's communications director as she made her rounds to campuses one day. if you look close, you can see the sling.

i retired from swimming at the conclusion of my junior year. we'd gotten a new coach, whom i didn't like. and i'd been competing since i was ten. i was exhausted. i think i'd cut art club at the end of my sophomore year.

at sixteen

i've vision troubles and was terrified of driving. i didn't get my license until after i'd graduated. i road the bus all four years.

the only pictures i liked of me were the ones my mother insisted upon when i turned sixteen and my senior photos.

senior year
the most popular songs the year i graduated were bryan adams' (everything i do) i do it for you, c and c music factory's gonna make you sweat (everybody dance now), emf's unbelievable, damn yankees' high enough, jesus jones' right here, right now, janet jackson's love will never do (without you) and good vibrations by "marky mark" wahlberg. films: terminator two: judgement day, the silence of the lambs, robin hood: prince of thieves, point break, thelma and louise, fried green tomatoes, drop dead fred, sleeping with the enemy, my girl and curly sue (this would be the one in which this year's winner of the voice starred). the new york times bestsellers included plains of passage by jean auel, heartbeat by danielle steel, heir to the empire by timothy zahn (that's star wars, in case you didn't know), the sum of all fears by tom clancy and scarlett by alexandra ripley.

i was binging on queensryche and nelson, the two terminator films, robin hood: prince of thieves and drop dead fred (LOVE that movie) and thomas harris and judith mcnaught novels. and star wars. still. always and forever.

me with butchered bangs and the principal, mr. york
i don't have good memories from then. i was pretty much focused on not dying. that took quite a bit of my energy. favorite teachers were the ones who taught english and history because they showed me kindness, and they didn't expect me to be awesome just because my dad was. they weren't intimidated by him, by my being in their classrooms.

to the nerd entering high school, i'd say don't let your peers define you. don't let them determine your worth. don't blow off your assignments just because they're easy and you think they're pointless. if you're smart enough to be an a student, BE AN A STUDENT. i could've been in the top five percent of my class. instead i was at the bottom of the first third. why? because i didn't do my homework.

to the nerds who have graduated high school, those punks who picked on you? they don't outgrow that shit. if you were like me and battled depression with delusions that as adults your peers would be kinder to you, it doesn't work that way. i waited almost three decades to use my voice because i thought no one would want to listen. i waited for the days to get better... and i wasted decades doing that. i beseech you... don't make that mistake.

go on with your overly intellectual, obsessive, socially inept selves.

audrey louise blogged about this. go on over to her page and say howdy.

mama's gonna keep you right here under her wing

June 10, 2016

oh. dear. god. i have seen it all now. i have seen. it. all.

my facebook feed, like yours i'm sure, is filled with posts about that stanford swimmer. i haven't wanted to share my thoughts because mine certainly won't be so different from yours, but... i could not help myself after having read what that boy's mother wrote. i expected the father's attitude. i expected to read of his pathetic pleas for his son. i expected the father to view women with similar disdain.

but surely... the mother would not do so. surely not.

and yet, it is decidedly so that she is just as pathetic, if not more so, than the man she married and the child she bore.

she wrote this shit. about how her son shies away from any attention or recognition. about how he's endearing and kind. considerate and respectful.

she can't bear to decorate the new home she and her husband purchased the day before their beloved son--her heart and soul--used and abused an unconscious, intoxicated woman (the ten syllables by which the victim was known in media reports) beside a dumpster. she couldn't decorate it because she associates that home with the horror her son has been facing since dealing with the repercussions of his twenty minutes of action, as his father so eloquently put it.

this woman is appalled that her son will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. he'll never get to take his children to the park.

wake up, lady. the chances of this boy EVER HAVING children are about as good as my chances of flying to the moon.

she whines about how her family now knows only despair, fear, depression, anger, doubt, anxiety and dread.

the victim came to in a hospital with pine needles in her vagina. she'd gone to a party with her sister, who was in town for the weekend, from what i understand. she'd gone to have a good time. i'm pretty sure being tossed on the ground beside a dumpster and violated, treated as though she is nothing more than a rag doll, is not quite what she'd had in mind. i imagine her understanding of despair, fear, depression, anger, doubt, anxiety and dread is a thousand... a million times better than this mother's.

how awful that this boy, WHO IS A SEX OFFENDER, has been tried and convicted as one, should have to register as one.

she has cried every single day since january eighteenth. i'd cry every day, too, if my loins had produced that spawn.

he was a shy and awkward nineteen-year-old, far away from home trying to fit in with the swimmers he idolized.

so the swimmers at stanford are rapists, are they? the olympians are, too?

he's lost everything?

and this woman he's violated has lost nothing, i take it... at least as far this mother's concerned.

i do not have children, but i imagine the inclination to protect a child is fiercely powerful.

two men happened upon this boy as he raped this woman. two men saved her from god knows what else this so-called kind, considerate and respectful boy would've done had they not done so.

i don't have children, but were that to have been the case... should i have had a son who made such an unspeakable, unbearable, GODAWFUL choice and witnesses could corroborate the occurrence, i would haul my boy's butt to the nearest hospital and emasculate the idiot. and then i would spend the rest of my days doing whatever the hell i could for the unfortunate soul who'd fallen victim to his callousness.

i cannot fathom how any woman could defend this boy.

me before you

June 5, 2016

so i bought moyes' book me before you quite some time ago to read for book challenge by erin (i believe i'd selected it for the book with a pronoun in the title category?) i couldn't get into it, and so it sat on my bookcase, untouched, for months. every now and then, its red cover would sort of call out to me: look at me! look at me! but i refused.

partly because it's about a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair. partly because it's a story about a girl who is hired to care for him, and of course, they fall in love. it's a little too pat for my tastes, to be honest. or maybe i just didn't want to believe in the possibility of it.

i watched the trailer for it the other day--because i like emilia clarke, and sam claflin reminds me of a young hugh grant. watching the trailer inspired me to pick up the book again. i'm about halfway through. i'd hoped to have the thing finished before watching the movie, but that didn't happen. i watched it twice yesterday. i'd only intended to see it once--the early bird matinee--and then get some errands and some writing done. i managed all of the errands and some of the writing, but the story'd distracted me... it's still doing so because i'm sitting here, the next day, writing this post when i should be working on other things. but yesterday... after a long while i gave up and went back to theater and watched it again.

there's a scene in which claflin's character, will, is trying to tell clarke's character, louisa, that were he not in that wheel chair, he would've noticed her. but she--and i--know differently. he would've been drawn to the leggy blondes whose radars are tuned to sizable expense accounts, and she would've been invisible in the corner, serving the drinks.

i'm like louisa in that respect. the men i find attractive... they don't see me. i can't blame them. hell, i sometimes have trouble seeing me. 

and i'm a little bit like will, too. no. i'm not in some wheel chair, but i could be... at some point. the older i get the harder it is for my my mind to get my muscles to do what i want them to do. my shoulders are in constant spasms it seems. my hands cramp a lot more frequently now. my legs--they're just about useless, really. most of that, though, is because i'm a lazy cow who loathes exercise. i've been lucky so far. i've had good surgeons. i've had a mind that's been able to say screw you, body, i'm doing this. several years ago, when given the opportunity to tour europe for two weeks with my much younger, incredibly athletic cousins, i made myself walk five miles every day for weeks prior to departure in hopes that i could keep up. it still wasn't enough. we could've climbed higher, and much more quickly on the steps of the eiffel tower, for example, were it not for me. i've got my dnr. i'm set, assuming my wishes are heeded when that time comes.

there are people, countless others, whose bodies are so much more affected by their disabilities than i am by mine. i wouldn't dare to presume to tell them them how to live, to judge them for the choices they make.

in the film will tells louisa that while this could be a good life, it's not the one he wants--for him or for her. that he wakes up every morning wanting it to be over. i know that desire. i know it quite well. 

i don't want to know what sixty, seventy and eighty are going to look like. i don't want to know. i pray all the time that god will grant me mercy so that i don't have to know. i've been doing that since i was eight, actually, since i first learned i wasn't quite right. that said... some of those prayers have been born from mental instability than out of rational thought. most of them have been born of exhaustion and despair.

today, i came across an article in the telegraph that expresses the notions that disabled rights groups are angered by this film, that it is offensive to disabled people. 

for christ's sake, it's a damned movie. get the hell off your high horse, people. if a man who is bound to a wheelchair, unable to move pretty much any part of his body and suffering from excruciating, debilitating, persistent pain and discomfort... if he wants to end his life and the option is available to him... so be it.

if he wants to take advantage of the talents and skills that remain in his possession, if he wants to enjoy the abilities and options that are left to him, then so be that, too.


i can identify with louisa's despair at will's choice. were i to find myself involved with a man like will, i wouldn't want to lose him. but i can identify with will's despair, too. i wouldn't want the people for whom i care to be burdened.

book challenge by erin

the last time i made a reading list for book challenge by erin, i read about a hundred pages or so of diana gabaldon's outlander, which is held in such high regard by so many that i was sure i should love it. i did not. in an effort to develop a better fascination for the story, i began watching the starz series which ultimately only served to heighten my distaste for the story. because i had the books i'd intended to read for that challenge lined up on my bookcase in descending order based on page count--outlander was the first--and because i'm a girl who likes order, i could not bring myself to start another book until i had finished that first selection, and i could not bring myself to finish that book. so i read nothing for erin's challenge. i don't know that i've ever read more than three titles chosen for her challenges. i know there's not been a point, until this last one, where i'd read none. i, a writer, not reading. shameful.

i have not read a book, cover to cover, that was new to me since june twenty-sixth of last year. that's forty-nine weeks, yall, of not reading. three hundred forty-four days. that's just wrong, on so many levels.

so i'm trying again... and if at first you don't succeed... in the past, i've made myself make my list by choosing books i already have in my possession--a kind of motivating factor to read the things i'd purchased or received. but that's just wrong, too. i realized. it's making this thing like a chore. it's putting pressure where erin would prefer there not be any. so this time, instead of looking at my meager library to determine which texts could fit the chosen categories, i copped a squat at pappadeaux's bar and scoured dozens of websites for recommendations. here's the resulting list:

freebie: after you / jojo moyes
starts with r: the rosie project / graeme simsion
five words in title: anna and the french kiss / stephanie perkins
blue cover: all the bright places / jennifer niven
twins: the royal we / heather cocks and jessica morgan
made into movie: the engagements / j. courtney sullivan
set in country i'd like to visit: beautiful ruins / jess walter
historical fiction: a school for unusual girls / kathleen baldwin
music-related: eleanor and park / rainbow rowell
(because we get one re-read, and i'm taking advantage of that)
hundred years old: middlemarch / george eliot

songs that star with the letter a: a not-so-random sample

May 29, 2016

one. acrobat. u2. achtung baby.
two. against all odds (take a look at me now). phil collins. against all odds: music from the motion picture.
three. ain't talkin bout love. van halen. van halen.
four. alive and kicking. simple minds. once upon a time.
five. all fired up. pat benatar. wide awake in dreamland.
six. all i want. toad the wet sprocket. fear.
seven. all i want is you. u2. rattle and hum.
eight. all of me. john legend. love in the future.
nine. almost lover. a fine frenzy. one cell in the sea.
ten. already gone. the eagles. on the border.
eleven. am i missing. dashboard confessional. a mark, a mission, a brand, a scar.
twelve. amazed. poe. haunted.
thirteen. angel. aerosmith. permanent vacation.
fourteen. angel. sarah mclachlan. surfacing.
fifteen. angels losing sleep. our lady peace. healthy in paranoid times.
sixteen. angels of the silences. counting crows. recovering the satellites.
seventeen. animal. def leppard. hysteria. 
eighteen. anna begins. counting crows. august and everything after.
nineteen. anna molly. incubus. light grenades.
twenty. anymore. travis tritt. it's all about to change.
twenty-one. anyway. martina mcbride. waking up laughing.
twenty-two. are you gonna be my girl. jet. get born.
twenty-three. armageddon it. def leppard. hysteria.
twenty-four. ashes and wine. a fine frenzy. one cell in the sea.
twenty-five. away from the sun. three doors down. away from the sun.

random quarter: the q&a edition-may

May 20, 2016

one. what's something you couldn't do today? deny myself the hershey's chocolate.

two. what's your biggest expense right now? the gilmore painting i bought.

three. when did you last hold a baby? couple of years ago.

four. today you made five articles for print.

five. what should remain as is? huntsville, utah.

six. what time did you go to bed last night? eleven p.m.

seven. who is your hero? my parents, brother and friends.

eight. what topic are you bored talking about? presidential candidates.

nine. did you leave work on time? nope.

ten. waking up was hard to do.

eleven. which friends did you last speak to? my brother, jacqueline and missy.

twelve. when was the last time you checked an online social network? right before writing this post.

thirteen. what do you have to get done? clean my room.

fourteen. what was the last risk you took? talking with missy.

fifteen. what five words describe your mood? encouraged, hopeful, anxious, exhausted, appreciative.

sixteen. today you almost got rear-ended. stupid cow.

seventeen. where do you find pleasure? good company, countryside or story.

eighteen. is there anything missing in your life? my brother.

nineteen. what song could be your self-portrait? dave matthews' rhyme and reason.

twenty. what is your dream job of the day? writer... but my own boss.

twenty-one. what are your favorite shoes? brown sanuk flip-flops.

twenty-two. what are you trying to do? figure which questions to use.

twenty-three. what is your favorite brunch food? poached egg and toast.

twenty-four. how much water did you drink today? about a hundred ounces.

twenty-five. what three words describe your family? down by one.

mental health awareness month

April 24, 2016

in addition to the flowers, may brings many things to our conscious' surface...

may day, may the fourth be with you (for star wars geeks such as myself), cinco de mayo, mother's day, v-e day, armed forces day and memorial day, of course... and then there are the more unusual designations of lumpy rug day (the third), no socks day (the eighth), lost sock memorial day (the ninth) (apparently we need two days for honoring socks), clean up your room day (also the ninth), limerick day (the twelfth), frog jumping day (the thirteenth) and dance like a chicken day (the fourteenth).

there's weeks dedicated to nurses and police and emergency medical services. it's a month dedicated to foster care, barbecue, bicycles, hamburgers, blood pressure and salad... among other things. according to this site and the ever-reliable wikipedia.

it's also mental health awareness month.

i question the need for such a thing. of course, my mental health isn't the soundest. anxiety and depression association of america made a list of facts and statistics regarding the most common types of mental disorders.

i've been seeing this therapist, and i love her. she is amazing. but she can only do much to help me. she can only offer so much counsel... can only hear so much of my story... can only contribute so much to an attempt at recovery.

if i'm not willing to make the effort... to do the homework she's assigned, tasks that are not difficult things, yall... read a pamphlet. walk for twenty minutes one day a week... write little notes to myself of positive affirmations... recognize when my thoughts are tanking and change their course... if i'm too reluctant or too disinterested in doing the work... then what good does visiting with her do? i'm wasting her time. i'm wasting mine.

i've told her the ugliest stuff... things i've never told anyone... and she still thinks i'm awesome, which i love. but my thoughts have been circling around the knowledge that i'm not learning from my mistakes. that i'm still making the wrong choices, even though i know better.

my brain is categorizing all the ways my mind is damaged. wikipedia's got a comprehensive list of all the mental disorders, and i'm sure were i to read the symptoms of each, i could say i'm plagued by the majority of them. the mental anguish from which i suffer could be caused by a genetic predisposition. it could be because i incurred trauma during birth, resulting in that mild case of cerebral palsy which has necessitated a handful of medical procedures and treatments and disrupted, to a minimal degree, my brain's ability to command my thoughts and actions.

but i honestly believe the bulk of it is that i've spent too much time by myself... from the time i was to eight to now. i never really learned how to interact with others. i never learned how to get out of my head... because that was the only place i had to go in my childhood and adolescence, and whenever i try to venture out of it, i'm awkward and clumsy, and so like the hermit, i scurry back inside.

what i want to say... what i really, really want to say is we're all a little bit crazy in our own ways. and dedicating a month to recognizing the crazy in hopes that the recognition could inspire others to care... designating a month to all the ways a person can be classified as crazy... how does that help a person cope? because i promise you, the last thing i need to be doing is looking at information about histrionic, narcissistic and dependent personality disorders.

the last thing i want ANYONE doing is finding ways to label someone. part of the reason my mind is what it is is because too many people labeled me too many things in my childhood, and so often. i can't peel them off. they're tattooes.

sometimes i think i'm a lot less messed up than i feel like i am (like when i am visiting with her or spending time with my friends). and others, i feel like i'm too messed up to be a part of this world (like today). but i also think everybody has days where they might feel like that, even if it's just for a second. EVERYBODY.

i'm not trying to sound like i'm belittling the importance of this. i swear i'm not. there are most assuredly people in need of the help specialists can provide. it's just that i'd rather focus on the flowers and the fun. because ultimately, that's how you cope with this shit. thinking about it doesn't do any good. distracting me with things like frog jumping and dancing like a chicken... laughter really is the best medicine, yall. that and the good times friends can provide... like when you're celebrating may the fourth be with you and cinco de mayo. just be good to each other, dammit. i feel like if we were to do that, if we focused on the GOOD in people rather than in what makes them BAD, the world would be a much better place.


someone who's good for me

April 23, 2016

i should be getting in the shower right now. should've done that half an hour ago, actually because this thing i'm going to starts in sixty-three minutes, and i've to wear a damned dress and heels and paint my face, and it takes me about twice as long as it does other girls to mess with that shit. the things we do to make ourselves pretty...

i should be getting in the shower, but i gave blood this morning, and i think the loss of some of the stuff flowing through my veins paired with all the damned rain we've gotten this week added to the fact that i was listening to prince's let's go crazy, when doves cry and purple rain... pile all that onto my already depressed shoulders and... 

there's good news. i probably should've started with that. two of my poems, the second and the third in this here post, were selected for publication in montgomery college's swirl: literature and arts journal. i think it comes out next month. those poems, they are the best things i've ever written, in my oh, so humble opinion, and i love that someone else has thought enough of them to ink them on paper. 

they are also the saddest things i've written. it gives me pleasure to know that i've taken something hideous--the death of my brother and the death of the only romantic relationship that's ever mattered to me--and made something beautiful of them. it pleases me that i could pull those words from me. it pleases me that the writing of them was so incredibly effortless. it pleases me that maybe more of the world might think them beautiful.

it pains me to know that i've written such beautiful things about two men to whom i've been horribly unkind. it's never occurred to me before... until today... that maybe my use of these tragedies is vanity on my part, still... too proud to have loved my brother when he needed me to, i have to make it sound like i loved him immensely... and i did for most of my life, but not when he needed me to.

and the other? he was a scientist of sorts--an electrical engineer. and i loved that i, the artistic one, could capture the attention of someone so much more intellectual. oh my god, that man was clever. and he had the most beautiful, green eyes. seriously. they were stunning. i've not seen such beauty since. i loved the sound of his voice. i loved how when he held me, i didn't hurt. i loved that when i was with him i was the best possible version of myself. i was in love with him. but i could not love him. because you don't shatter things when you love someone. you don't think of yourself. and all i could think of was how much i loved who i was when i was with him. i should've been thinking of him. but i couldn't. and now that's all i do. everyday, i am reminded of him. and it's been more than a decade since i lost him. since my hands, shaking from the fear of losing him and oblivious to just how fragile his opinion of me was, clutched too tightly what i felt and broke it. that coldplay album, a rush of blood to the head, every time i hear green eyes and the scientist and warning sign, i'm thrown back into the month after i'd lost him. next to my brother's passing, that is the worst period of my life. it trumps the decade of ugliness i experienced as an adolescent. and yall, that decade was fucking hideous.

he told me later that i should find someone who's good for me.

i've been trying. i swear to god i have.

but the ones i find are the ones who think it's okay to fight with me about my family or cut a date short because they've to meet a "friend" or unload all of their own family drama onto the dinner table while on a first date. they're the ones who only want me around to suit their purposes and meet their needs. 

and i'm probably getting what i deserve, come to think of it, for having been so selfish and careless with that one man. 

i think i'm going to have to read these poems in front of an audience at montgomery college one day in the coming weeks. i've been practicing. and i can read the one about my brother well enough. but the other.. when i say those words aloud, i sink just as i had on that night i'd been lying with him. i sink, still, because i'm trying and failing to find the good.

the puzzling picky pack... also called teeny tiny

April 21, 2016

maybe yall recall that i used to raffle off picky packs once a month. some of these things were HUGE boxes filled with all sorts of goodness.

i've kind of missed shopping for those. i've kind of missed shipping them out knowing that somebody was gonna come home with a fat, hefty batch of YEE! on his or her doorstep.

what i haven't missed is the hit my bank account's taken--both from the shopping and shipping.

so i've devised a way that i can do the picky packs without forking over much fundage.

the mailing address posted in my sidebar... that's for a box at a shipping store i use. i live with the folks, and so to kind of make me feel a little bit less like a loser because of that and because secretly, i've longed to be as cool as christian slater's mark hunter in pump up the volume--who had his own mail box where people would write him nice (or not so nice) notes... ramble. i'll stop.

i've a thing for fresh cardboard boxes. that's probably the biggest reason why i did the picky packs, actually. it wasn't just because i like to give. it's because the boxes are pretty and perfect, and then i get to take something pretty and perfect and put yummy yummy goodness inside, and it looks even prettier and perfect-er... again with the ramble.

THEY MAKE A BOX THAT'S TEENY TINY. and every time i go in there, i take one of those flat pieces of cardboard and fold it to make the teeny tiny box and imagine what kinds of cool things i could stuff in there, and wouldn't it be cool to open up your mailbox and find teeny tiny inside?

picky packs will return, come may first. once a month... just like before... only smaller. there will be no announcement of what's inside. there will be no rafflecopter widget to click, no big reveal of who gets it. just... SURPRISE! one winner. once a month. teeny tiny for you! i think it'll be more fun this way... at least for me. hopefully for you, too.