Posted in activism, anxiety, community, depression, faith, family, friends, grief, homeless, housing, life, poetry, society, urgent, writing

11/18: Feeling Broken

Something happened today.
Something that ripped me to pieces.
I want to believe there are humans
Who understand what being
HUMAN
Is like.
What being
HOMELESS
Is like.
My day was okay.
Except one brief moment.
That formed a black cloud
Over my head.
My soul is soaked through.
My heart and mind
Need to be wrung out.
The cloud weighed me down.
I wonder now.
Who among us
Has compassion?
A safe place for a woman and her cat?
When the world buckles underneath you,
Who do you turn to when it makes you fall?
When the help you need the most is not the help family can give you?
Where do you go?
When you scream for help, but there is
None to be found.
~A.
November 2017

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Posted in anxiety, creativity, disability, grief, individuality, nanowrimo, writing

11/15: Whooooaaa, We’re Halfway There… #nanowrimo

It’s the evening of the 15th. November, and thus NaNoWriMo, is half over.

I’m not.

Now, I’m not super worried. Granted I have a lot of other things on my plate as well, but this is also not out of the ordinary for me. I’m sitting at just under 11,500 words. Out of 50,000. Back in 2006, I was in the same position. I woke up on the 16th with only 11,500 words. I’ll write more tonight so I’ll be past that, but still, this is the precedent. This, as crazy as it seems, is normal. I’ve only ever finished before the 30th twice in the 12 years I’ve finished. Twice. 2005 and … a few years ago. I can’t remember which one. Probably 2012 or 2013. I gave myself a reward to aim for if I finished before the 30th: treating myself to a movie. I finished on the 29th.

2005 was my first year. I was living in Chicago, unemployed and bored. I finally remembered NaNoWriMo before it was over (in October, before it started), signed up and off I went writing a comic fantasy that has yet to be completed or edited to any reasonable degree. I finished on the 27th or 28th that year. I’m usually at less than 25K by this point in the month. It’s when the 16th rolls around that things start clicking and I get lots of words down.

Things started to pick up last night. Especially with the YA story. The cats tale is being shy. Mausi is stalled and going much slower. But this is how it is when you’re rebelling and are working on three stories instead of one longer one. Jumping back and forth between tales is challenging (especially when one is strictly 1st person, the second is 3rd person limited, and the third one is 3rd omniscient), but where one may pull out ahead (the YA tale) and the others trail, at some point, the YA tale may pause and one of the other two will jump in and keep me going.

Of my roughest years, 2006 and then 2009 and 2014 rank high. In 2006, I charged along and woke up the final day to needing 11,500 to get to 50K. Yes, the year I had a mere 11,500 in the first half of the month. I did it. I hit 50K that evening. In 2009, after swearing up, down, backwards, forwards and blindfolded that I’d never had a repeat of 2006, I woke up on the final day to needing 16,000 words. Oof!

But I did it.

In 2014, my dad passed away early in the month, so my mind was on a million things at once. I knew he wouldn’t want me to stop, so I didn’t. I remember reaching 25K on Thanksgiving, with a week remaining. I struggled to tell the story. It didn’t help that right around 25K, the tale I was telling stopped cold. I took a step back, walked around the house I grew up in (that’s the week I was down there), and remembered an idea I’d had about that series: having one book tell the intertwined back stories of the founders of the Sanctuary. I’d already started with one. So I wrote down names of the other elders and started telling each of their histories. Eventually, I’m going to intertwine them and tell the founding of the Sanctuary chronologically. That will be a massive undertaking.

I have days where I get 300 words and others where I get 2000+.

Now the pressure is on. I know I can do this. There is no “I give up” button.

Watch this space for updates.

~A

PS: I did way too much walking yesterday and have been down for the count today. My back was none too happy with me this morning. Sciatica radiating down from my hip to my knee.

Posted in chronic pain, community, disability, health, homeless, life, medical

11/15: Back Down

Recent pic of Portia begging for a tortilla chip. No, they are not cat food. (Didn’t give one to her)

I’ve lived with sciatica over half my life now. I know when I can “power through it” and when I need to stop and rest. Today is rest. I was on the NB yellow line MAX train that couldn’t continue because of the stabbing on a SB yellow line MAX a few stop north of where I was. The stabbing happened at the Denver stop, but the assailant jumped on the SB train and was apprehended at the Rosa Parks stop. My stop. I was two stops south. There were police, etc at the RP stop. Instead of waiting for the bus bridge to show up, I hoofed it. I regret that now. I didn’t have a lot on me, but that much walking, on top of what I’d already done earlier, my back said, “NOPE! Not gonna do anything today.”

I had an off-book job with a return client set for today. But my back -more precisely my sciatica- said otherwise. If it’s just hitting one spot, such as my hip, I can adapt and work through it. Today, however, the pain is up around a 7 on the scale and it’s radiating down to my knee. 

No bueno.

So, pain meds and rest. Rescheduled for tomorrow. There isn’t much else that can be done for my back and the sciatica. I would like to join a gym and work on the machines to strengthen my back muscles. I proved that I can get the slipped discs back in place with work on the machines. I did that over 20 years ago. Slipped the same discs at 17. I continued to dance and started lifting weights and by 22, the discs were no longer out of whack. 

Sciatica is still there and always will be, but I know I can bring the pain levels and recurrence of severe days like today down… I did it before, I can do it again. No space to dance, but if I can find a close-in gym that’s really affordable, I need to carve out some of my meager income and go.
For now, I rest. My back has informed me that I need to do this. I listen.

~A

Posted in cats, chronic pain, community, crowdfunding, disability, friends, health, homeless, housing, life, medical, Personal, storage

11/12: Pain, Storage, and Life

This has been a weird, wild, crazy, fucked up year. One lesson I’ve learned is to not the universe… because it will come right back and smack you down… hard. I am, reluctantly, asking for a teeny bit of help. I don’t expect miracles.

I make as much as possible from tasks, but as anyone else in the ‘gig economy’ can tell you, it could be booming one week and dry the next. Two weeks ago, I had a handful of tasks. They paid out, I took care of a few bills, but have come up short for storage.

I also want to get ahead of the game for December. I have some empty boxes and a few items to take down to storage, but can’t get in right now due to November not being paid up yet. I may have a task tomorrow, but no confirmation yet. No one task will cover my expenses. Right now I owe 320 or so. I may have half that, but not sure.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep doing furniture assembly with how my back is getting. I have good moments, but the bad moments are getting bigger and more painful. I feel like they missed a lot when I re-injured it in 2012. They only x-rayed my tailbone and the few vertebra above it (which is how I know I re-injured the discs), but there’s pain that doesn’t fit with slipped discs and sciatica. I just want answers.

The pain limits my ability to go on tasks. I’m in the middle of one where I’m just feeding the client’s cat. The walking and bus rides there are back have me down for the count when I get back here to the house.

As for where I’m living… trust me, I’d much prefer to be in my own place, no roommates, no nothing… me and my cat. And eventually a second cat again. But I need steady work first. I met with my VR counselor and she gave me the link for the housing lists. One problem with these: they’re always full and they aren’t always accepting names. This is for low income housing, which is a rare thing here, although more here than other metro regions. In other areas it was either Section 8 or market rate. Here there’s Sec 8, Low Income (subsidized), and market rate. But the lists for Sec 8 are 4-6 years long and low income is nearly as bad.

We will see how things go. Back to stuff…

~A

 

Posted in dreams, faith, family, grad school, grief, individuality, life, Personal, storage, writing

2017: Dear Dad

Three years. I miss you. I always will. It hasn’t been an easy three years. I’ve struggled with grad school, finding work, and am now homeless. I know what you would say if we could talk on the phone. “Hang in there.” “You’ll sort it out.” That’s how you were.

The day I’m actually writing this (11/7) is the anniversary of the day I last talked to you on the phone. I called you in the morning before heading off to OryCon. I insisted on figuring out a way to get down to CA to see you for Christmas. One more visit. You said to not worry if I couldn’t… that we’d have phone calls and it was okay with you. You asked how my finances were doing and I said I’d be okay, but January might be tight. You said you’d see what you could do to help.

But you never were able to. And I wasn’t going to get one more Christmas with you.

That next evening, while I was at OryCon having dinner with friends, you passed away. We were notified the next morning. I had just finished my morning shift at the store (unlike you, I’ll never be a morning person) and checked my messages.

My world -the one where you were my lifeline, my cheerleader, my rock- turned upside down. I was just finishing up my first semester of grad school. Finally making progress in my life. I had my cheerleader a phone call away. And then you were gone.

I want, more than anything right now, to be able to pick up the phone and hear your voice. Knowing what you would say isn’t enough. Hearing them from you would mean the world to me.

You always joked that it was up to me and Bud to get the rest of the family into heaven. I always responded with, “Dad, it doesn’t work that way.”

“Oh, I’m sure you two will figure it out.”

Honestly, knowing you as I do, I don’t think you had any problems getting through those gates. Bud joined you a few months later. I’m sure the two of you are sitting on a bench somewhere, watching over me and everyone else.

Still want to hear your voice, though.

Tomorrow, I’ll see about picking up some sheet music. You were so excited about me getting back to my music. And maybe hit Ace Hardware. Not the same one you took me to as a kid, but my favorite one here in Portland. Maybe I’ll find solace in going places and getting things you would want for me. I can’t go play my piano. It’s in storage and needs an outlet. I told you I’d get an electric one.

I miss you. Always will. But I’m going to do my best to live my life as you would want me to live it. No holding back. Never settle and never give up on my dreams.

~A

Posted in activism, bigotry, bugaboos, community, faith, homeless, life, society

11/7: Humans aren’t always Humane

Humans are strange critters. Granted, the homeless man probably shouldn’t have been begging ON the MAX, but nevertheless, he was. This woman across from me though… she had this air about her that screamed “I’m a churchgoing conservative” … I know the type all too well. He stopped and asked her. Her response?
“What are you asking ME for?”
Here’s what I take issue with: You can (and should) be polite to all people, no matter where they are in life. Many of us are one or two paychecks away from being where this man is… hell, where -I- am. Homeless. Not enough people realize this is very much their reality as well. We are all made of the same starstuff. Her response could have been much better. Even a simple, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash” is enough. I rarely have cash on me, and when I do, it’s usually for something specific. If I do have ‘spare’ cash, I will give it. Because I know what it feels like to ask for help.
I imagine that woman on the train today has never had to ask for help. I pity her more than the homeless man. If she is a churchgoing “Christian,” I don’t think Jesus would be too pleased with her behavior. His teachings were few, but enough to get the general idea.
Love, not hate. 
Not a difficult concept, really. But it doesn’t seem to get through to enough people. I’m not going to get all preachy or anything right now. I just wonder about people like that woman today. If she were in his shoes, even for a while, maybe… just maybe, she would come out the other end of that experience a better Christian. For those who consider themselves people of faith, especially Christians, how would your God react if they saw you treating someone this way?
~A
Posted in activism, bugaboos, disability, faith, life, nanowrimo, Personal, society, writing

11/4: Writing and Respect

I hit 2500 words last night and then had another task today, which took up a chunk of my afternoon. So I’ll write this evening and then tomorrow.

On my way home on the bus, I noticed things. The more I’m on public transit, the more I see both good and bad behaviors. One dude wearing a camo jacket and had camo on his backpack (and a trucker hat… with a trucking company name on it) sat across from me and was entirely too guilty of “manspreading.” And I really wish he hadn’t. There was a hole in the crotch of his filthy jeans… not big enough to know what color his undies were, but noticeable. Which is bad enough.

Then two examples of people wanting to get on the bus not waiting for people to get off the bus. The first time was when I arrived at my destination and these two kids just got on and even after I said ‘Excuse me,” loud enough, still stood there like they had zero clue. It wasn’t until the adult in the group (mom or aunt, I presume) who was still outside on the sidewalk spoke up and told them to get off the bus and let me get off. Because of being disabled and having my wheeled crate with me, the front door is best.

Then, on the way home, two ‘kids’ in their early 20’s or so didn’t bother waiting for an elderly woman to get off the bus. The only difference was that no one, not even the driver, told them to wait. Most drivers will hold up their hand and tell boarding riders to wait because someone was exiting. This driver was younger and female and had a new setup with a plexi-glass barrier up (that can unlatch and swing open for her to get up) for her protection. Maybe she’s fairly new, or she is concerned about getting any riders upset, but she said nothing. These two just pushed past the older woman.

This brings me to a bugaboo I have: lack of respect. I’ve seen, and dealt with a lot more of this on public transit recently. I use a cane and I still am expected to ask for a seat in the priority seating area for elderly and disabled riders. None of us should have to ask. The signs are actually pretty damn obvious. A couple days ago, a fellow disabled rider had to tell a woman who purposely turned away to ignore that someone else with a cane (me) needed the seat she was in. The older woman said I needed the seat. She reluctantly moved. We chatted and she said she recently watched as someone requested that an able-bodied person move so the disabled person could sit in the area designated for us, and the guy sitting there refused to move. Another guy, who was disabled, told the reluctant guy that he was required to move for people like us. He still refused. I can’t remember what she said ultimately happened, but man…

We. Should. NOT. Have. To. Ask.

It’s called respect. Try it sometime.

Sadly, I’ve seen a decline in it in recent months, even in the last few years. I do my best to respect others. But it’s a two-way street, ladies and gents and everyone else. If you want my respect, you gotta earn it. You are NOT entitled to it. Shit, you aren’t entitled to anything other than being able to breathe… and equal rights. I don’t give a shit who you are, where you’re from, what you do for a living, etc. If you treat others like shit, expect that in return. You are owed nothing. Want respect? Be worthy of respect.

I believe that every person who makes it to adulthood has earned a basic amount of respect… say 5 points. You can lose some of those points by being an absolute asshole to people… or you do massively evil things. But I believe we all start adulthood with those 5 points. You want more? Earn them. Do good deeds, be kind to those who maybe aren’t as lucky as you are. Respect those around you, even simply by being polite and kind to them. Let them off the damn bus before you board. It isn’t difficult to do. It just takes a few extra seconds and a little patience.

Practice kindness and respect. You’ll earn them tenfold in return.

~A

Posted in cats, creativity, dreams, family, grad school, life, nanowrimo, Personal, Science Fiction and Fantasy, writing

11/3: NaNoWriMo: WTF am I doing??

Yeah… three shorter tales. Below is what I put on my NNWM profile for this years’ work. Intel Reports may get a title change… potentially DisPATCHES from Earth… but we’ll see. Mausi is the historical piece. I’m expanding upon a short-short I wrote for the Writer’s Games in 2016. I loved the characters… still do. Something about the bond between grandmother and granddaughter. Maybe for me it’s to do with the fact that I never knew my maternal blood grandmother (she died when my mom was young) and barely knew my paternal grandmother (but we had a bond nonetheless… she passed away when I was 6). I find the bond spanning generations to be fascinating and wonderful. What I do remember of my dad’s mom was a woman who loved me and wasn’t afraid to say so. I still miss her 40 years later.

So an “orphaned” young teen trapped on a transport ship with no human contact; feline reports about trying to make contact with humans; and a tale spanning decades and generations. Yup… I have my hands full. Plus school and everything else.

******

In Between (YA SF): Trapped on a transport ship, Leyna is now a young teen, having grown from infancy unwanted back on Earth due to reasons she doesn’t understand, and is unsure of why the destination colony hasn’t accepted their ship. While the older passengers have been in stasis, she was saved from death and sent to the colony. During her time in a specialized stasis chamber that allowed her to grow and thus learn by subconscious transmission, she has come to understand that she is “different” and the colony is little more than a fancy prison.

As she reaches the age of 13, she is able to leave the chamber and learn more about the ship and her fellow passengers. What she learns and what she realizes about herself forces her to make decisions that could cost her her life, and those of her fellow passengers.

*************************************

Intel Reports (Comic SF. in progress name): We all know it. Cats are smart. Little do humans know, but they’re really an alien race that has sent several intel operatives to figure out if humans are ready to handle becoming part of the Universal Consortium.

One problem: They can’t seem to communicate with the Felines. A few manage to get close, but their sentences are gibberish. This Tail of Time is made of reports from operatives throughout time. From the Egyptians to modern humans in the 21st Century. Reports from the Front Lines of First Contact.

***************************************

Mausi (Historical Fiction): Mausi is the nickname for 10 year old Anelie Scheer, but only her grandmother, Annika “Oma” Siegel is allowed to call her that. It’s the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a wall that separated Oma from her beloved husband, Erich, after the end of WWII. The rumors of the wall coming down bring Annika to reminisce about her marriage and the hope of Erich still being alive. She wonders if he remembers her.

**************************************

~A

Posted in Personal

11/2: NaNoWriMo, Life, and …

Once again, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. Along with being a Tasker (my lone income at the moment), school, job hunting, appts, etc, etc. This is my 13th year in a row. I’m also semi-rebelling this year.

Three short stories all under the 50K word umbrella. One YA SF, one comic Science Fantasy, and one semi-historical fiction. A challenge, to be sure.

I’m just coming off of a two day run of furniture assembly. It isn’t easy work for me, but I enjoy it. I’m good at it, despite my random occasional mistakes. I cleared my availability for tomorrow so I can rest (and get some writing and school stuff done). Then I have another task Saturday. Same thing: furniture.

I’m tired and in a moderate amount of pain, so I’ll sign off of here, get a few more words in on my stories (I always start slow) and then get some sleep.

I’ll do more blogging on here this month, I swear!!

~A

Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, chronic pain, creativity, depression, disability, dreams, empath life, eviction, faith, friends, grad school, grief, health, homeless, housing, insomnia, job hunting, life, medical, Personal, writing

10/21: Living Outside My Own Life

More “frustration contemplation” … bear with me.

I’ve chattered on about the various things I do: writing fiction, etc, costuming, grad school, and a bunch of other things. I’ve also talked -at length- about depression, grief, homelessness, being unemployed, being disabled, etc…

Right now, I feel like I’m not living my life. I’m trying to move forward, busted my ass and made promises to get back to school and finish this term, but I’m flailing again… each week flies by me and I look up to find myself even further behind and royally fucked. My own doing. Job hunting is the same. I feel removed from the life I’m supposed to be living.

My health hasn’t helped this, but neither has being homeless and jobless, and … yeah. I know I need to do X, Y, and Z… but I don’t … I… fuck it. This is difficult to put into words on a ‘page.’

I see ME doing all these things in my head. I KNOW I can do them, but I feel like… like there’s a door between the me I am at this moment and the me who can do all those things. That door is locked and deadbolted and can’t be gotten through. And I don’t know where the keys are. I know they exist, but not what they look like or where they may be. I feel as if I’m standing at the window next to the door, looking in. Seeing this other me accomplishing things. But she can’t hear me banging on the window and door to let me in.

Every time I try to jump back in, break down that door, the brain fog returns. The disconnectedness. The feeling like my life is RIGHT FUCKING THERE!!! and it’s just out of reach. I can hear it, smell it, see it… but I can’t step into it and DO it.

Is my being “in between” [i.e. homeless] part of it? Likely. Is being jobless for over two years part of it? Very likely. Nothing like spinning your wheels in a job hunt and getting nowhere. The rare interview I do get, I don’t get hired. Despite the fact that my VR coach has said I interview very well.

I feel as if I can’t fully be ME where I am. Not my kitchen, not my bed, not my bathroom, not my home.

A lot of it started when I lost my dad in 2014. Before I was evicted. My dad was my anchor in life. If I felt lost, I could call him and he’d say what was needed to get me back to center. It’s been nearly 3 years now. A couple of weeks away. I slowly began to slip after he died. I was able to keep shit together to some degree for a while, but over a year later, my own disintegration became more obvious. The fog settled in. It lifts every so often for a brief moment or two, then returns to envelope me, keeping me from my life.

It’s looking -to me at least, from my own digging around- that Chronic Fatigue/Adrenal Fatigue is a distinct possibility. Long term stress makes it worse. Look at my life of the past 12 months… it’s been pretty fucking stressful. But getting out of this mess. How?

CFS/AFS has no cure. Doctors treat the symptoms at best. I’m on Vitamin D (enough to choke a large farm animal), and Celexa, among other meds for things like my asthma and allergies, my tachycardia, and “as needed” pain meds.

Is my current living situation part of the issue? The late start to mornings here… the people I’m staying with are retirees, so they stay up late and get up late. I stay up to about 11 and try to get up at a reasonable hour in the morning (Furry Alarm Clock gives me no choice), but I’m groggy and stumble around. Fall back asleep and wake up a few hours later… late morning. There are other “environmental factors” as well, but I won’t go into those. And no, setting an alarm doesn’t help. Tried that. Keep trying it every so often.

But that brain fog… lack of oomph… standing outside of my life… I don’t know how to fix that.

~A