Posted in chronic pain, community, crowdfunding, depression, family, friends, grief, health, life, Personal, storage

7/29: Paying It Forward & Other Things…

Storage: Yeah… still need a little help with storage. The ongoing task I’m doing won’t pay the first round in time, so it’ll help for August, but not July. I’ll tally up and see what exactly I need tomorrow. But payment has to be in by 6pm tomorrow Pacific Time. (I’ve had to use some for food, as I ran out of FS funds, but I’m guessing between 60-100 or so, once you add in the late fees.)

Shit… I need cat litter soon… like SOON. Also, cans of food for her. I swear, if I could have a public wishlist on Chewy, I would. But I talked to them and they don’t have anything like that.

Paying It Forward: After friends, and even a few strangers, stepped up to help me get my stuff packed up and into storage during my eviction, I felt I needed to pay it forward in some way. I don’t always have the emotional or physical strength to do a lot. But helping a friend move between units in a retirement building was manageable. I spent yesterday and today helping move stuff and some furniture between floors. Most of what’s going into the new place is done. Still a few things to get done and moved down, but maintenance will be able to help.

We all have limitations. Some of us have good days where our limitations don’t affect us as much (although what we do on those good days may lead to some ugly days shortly after). This weekend has been a pair of those good days for me. It’s funny to me that I look at my own belongings and be mentally paralyzed… meaning I look at it and just don’t know how to tackle it. But then I look at someone elses’ things and I’m all, “okay, so this can go here, and we can load that, and go ahead and put that on there. No, that won’t fit that way…” you get the idea.

My friend I helped this weekend has Fibromyalgia among other health issues. Her limitations are far greater than mine. I certainly have my days where even fixing dinner and sitting upright is a challenge, but give me a task and a tight deadline and I’m in a mindset of “pain? what pain? oh, THAT pain… nah… I’ll deal with it later.” I am sore right now. That’s what happens. And besides, those desks weren’t that heavy. Once the drawers were out, they were pretty light. I can deal with the aftereffects. Helping someone move from one studio to another in a short time is worth the pain I’ll have.

Losing People: I’ve faced my own mortality on more than one occasion. It sucks. But I’m not afraid of it. Others are. Something I’ve never understood. It is inevitable, so why fear it? A friend and former coworker passed away recently. She wasn’t a young woman, but not pushing 100 either. She passed away quietly in her sleep. Losing friends and family over the years -of all ages- is something I ponder on. Everyone has their own way of doing things. My parents were “no fuss” types (even though I still want to have the ceremony and have their ashes interred in a military cemetery as my dad was a WWII Vet. It’s just a matter of getting them from a certain person in the family. Long, ugly story). Then there are others who do various celebrations of life and a funeral and all sorts of rituals.

What matters to me is to remember my mortality. And then celebrate the fact I’m still alive, despite staring death in the face. I may not always seem like I’m celebrating, but I am grateful to be able to wake up every day. Sometimes, that’s enough.

~A

Posted in chronic pain, community, crowdfunding, emergency, eviction, faith, family, friends, health, life, Personal, society, storage

7/29: Need & Hope #crowdfunding too

(Still scrambling to get the last of my storage rent covered… anything helps)

Ideals give us hope.
Treat others as
You
Wish to be
Treated.
Give and take.
Life is about more than just
Taking.
Help others.
As if your life
Depended on it.
Ideals of equality
The hope of sharing and love
Make us better.

(This comes out of spending a few hours helping a friend move from one independent living unit to an assisted living unit because of her fiance needing more help. For me, helping a friend who needs that help outweighs my own desire to have a day of chilling out. 

The least of us gives the most… as we know the feeling of true need.

I try my best, pushing myself beyond my limits at times, to do for others what I hope is done for anyone in need. I got help from people during my eviction. I needed to give back in some way. This working to help each other is how society should function. I see too many flaws and things not functioning as they should. I can expand on this later… right now, my back is telling me to get rest. I’m going back tomorrow.)

~A

Posted in faith, family, friends, grief, life, music, Personal, semicolon

7/27: The Dance

“I could have missed the pain… but I’d’ve had to miss the dance.” ~Garth Brooks’ The Dance.

Sums up so much. I always felt the song was more than just about a romance. And I was right. I see it right now as a good summation of my life to this point. We live our lives not knowing where it will take us.

We experience joy.

We experience pain.

We lose people we love… and people we wish we could talk to one last time. We get caught up in existing. Then, one day, we find regret. I’ve always sworn I wouldn’t regret what I’ve done in my life (only a few of the people I’ve done those things with). But as I inch ever closer to my 45th birthday, I do see some regrets. One biggie is not dropping everything in the world to see my dad sooner… before he died the day after I last talked to him. I was so damn caught up in helping at a local convention and then, as I was sitting there, enjoying an evening with friends, my dad passed away 600 miles away. I should have gone down there sooner.

But I live with that regret.

The lesson from that is to never, ever take anything for granted. Not a single person in your life. Not a moment to stop and admire the clouds in the sky… the green of the leaves on a tree… a flower blooming early. Stop what you’re doing, take a step back. Look around you.

Funny how Brooks’ song comes back around (via an article and video where a cancer survivor went to his concert) into my life. I got into listening to country music in the 90’s. I remember listening to this song back then. Oh, how life gives new perspective on a song you loved in your youth.

I don’t regret my experiences. I don’t regret the pain. That pain taught me to appreciate my life… good and bad. To take each day and live.

~A

Posted in animal advocacy, cats, empath life, family, friends, grief, nature, Personal

7/21: The Passing of Pets

A friend of mine is giving one of her cats a final day worthy of a king. I wish I’d had that chance with JoJo… and with Jack. But when they both died, I just didn’t have enough time to do that for them. JoJo would have been gone before morning, so I made the choice to free her of her pain from CHF. Jack’s kidneys were shutting down. Acute Renal Failure. I made that choice as well, back in 2010. There was no guarantee of a good life if I had opted for the surgery. Even if I could have afforded the expensive surgery. I was inconsolable both times. But I knew it was the right thing to do. To not let them suffer.

My friend’s cat has cancer. Several masses in his abdomen. In the time she’s had him, she has done everything in her power to show him love. He was scared. He knows love now. And he will pass on tomorrow being loved.

I know people who don’t have pets, don’t want pets, and don’t consider them ‘part of a family’ …. they’re “just” animals. I kinda feel sorry for those people. For me and many others, our pets are the closest thing we have to unconditional love. I’ve had many periods where I’ve contemplated suicide, even in the last couple of years, and my cats have been what has saved me… what pulled me out from that thinking.

We create a bond with our pets. Well some of us do. I know people who have pets and don’t grasp the concept of creating a bond and meeting the animal halfway in creating that bond. They also say, “it’s just a cat/dog…”

We bring these animals into our lives, share our space with them, give and receive love with them. We know we will (usually) outlive them. As an Empath, at the beginning of the year I knew JoJo wasn’t going to survive 2017. I had this distinct feeling I would lose her before too long. A month later, I made the decision to relieve her of the pain of fluid in her chest cavity crushing her lungs, causing pain. I wish she had stayed around longer, but I knew it was time.

Those of us who bond with our pets know when compassion beats the desire to keep them around for our own sake. It’s a bitch of a decision, but when they’re in pain, it’s a decision we have to make.

My heart, with my own loss this year, goes out to my friend with her cat, Ghost. Jack and JoJo are waiting for him at the Rainbow Bridge. Along with all of those cats and dogs we’ve lost. They’re waiting for him… and ultimately for us one day to join them, pain free.

~A

Posted in empath life, family, friends, life, Personal, poetry

7/16: Lifetimes

(This may not be complete…)

As we part ways
Know we will meet again
Somewhere, some day.
We are not lost to time.
This life or the next.
Our bond will survive.
Who are we but
A pair of travellers
Meant to pass through
Each others lives for a while.
Not to stay for all of time.
To bring joy.
Laughter.
Balance.
To one another.
Each time we meet.

Posted in anxiety, community, crowdfunding, empath life, family, friends, grief, life, Personal, storage, urgent

7/15: Panic Attacks, Cat Food, and Storage…

Cat food first. Don’t ask. I don’t need dry food for Portia or anything. She has that. I also have some cans. But she’s been getting canned for dinner the last few days and is now barely eating her kibble.

Brat.

Not like it’s some cheap kibble either… Granted, the canned food (and the squash baby food I’m mixing in with it for… reasons. And yes, this is a vet-approved method) is helping her and I’m sure it’s pretty tasty stuff… but I can’t afford a lot of it. I wish. Maybe once I’m working I can go with more canned food.


Storage: I’m now halfway through the month and haven’t gotten enough to pay them. I don’t want to resort to begging, but I’m trying to keep this from getting backed up… I’ll have roughly half, but nowhere near enough. PP is the only method I’m using at this point, if anyone is so inclined to help. I need to get interview shoes and stuff out of there sooner rather than later.


Panic Attacks: I’ve been doing pretty good lately. Mostly general mood shit getting to me when I’m on transit (being an Empath who can’t block sucks ass). But then last night happened. My heart rate shot up, my chest tightened, and I was having difficulty breathing. All of this basically out of nowhere. When this kind of thing happens like this, it usually means something has happened to someone I’m connected to, such as family. I have yet to see anything come down from any cousins, so I don’t know if anyone has died. But considering most of my remaining aunts and uncles are in their late 80’s and 90’s, this is an inevitable thing to happen.

So this was one time I really needed my inhalers. Problem? They were in a bag of first aid supplies I’d left at Gearcon, but were safe with my friends who run it. Thankfully they’re night owls, so they found the bag and ran it over to me at nearly midnight. I am thankful for good friends. I can say that once I dug my inhalers out and took a couple of puffs from each, I was able to breathe much better. Between them and the valium I took, I was able to come back down from the attack.


I was going to talk about relationships… but I think that needs to be a separate post… if you’re curious about it, look up the recent articles about why Sherman Alexie has canceled the rest of his book tour. Familial relationships are hard to write or talk about… and the article I read on his situation reminded me a LOT about my relationship with my own mother who died in 2013 from End-stage Alzheimer’s. I may compose my thoughts and write on that later.

~A

Posted in anxiety, depression, dragon, family, friends, grad school, job hunting, life, Personal, PTSD

6/26: Angry, tired Dragon

(I’m mostly venting… so if you don’t want to read my venting, it’s okay. I started this on FB, but it was getting long. )

At this point, at least for right now, if there’s something political that harms a large percentage of people in some way… then I’m likely mad about it. I can’t fucking keep up. The Supreme Court is failing us, the “president” is one of the biggest fuckups we have done to ourselves as a nation, congress has too many blind greedy assholes, and hate crimes abound because the perpetrators figure with 45 in office, they can get away with pretty much anything. So yeah.
But I’m done right at this exact moment. I can’t put energy into fighting this cesspool our society is turning into right now. I have too much of my own shit to deal with.
It’s fucking tempting to start a GFM or something for getting the fuck out of Dodge for a few years… raise funds to get my passport, plane ticket and such for Portia and I, and leave. Right now, that’s where my head is. Finishing my degree is on hold until I can come up with the funds to pay off the school. So that’s fucked.
Other than having many good friends here, I don’t have anything tying me to PDX. the US in general, my brother is still cool… there’s extended family… but I never see any of them anymore because I live at least 600 miles away from them and have been too fucking broke to visit. They’re all busy with their own younger branches of their families. Our branch? None of us have married and unless we adopt, no kids. 
So where is all of this coming from, you may wonder. Especially since I posted earlier about the very thing I’m trying to get away from: posting on politics and striving for peace.
Well, I have a few books next to my bed. A couple of overdue library books, a textbook from the class I fucked up on, and Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History. I was going to refer to one piece in there for the papers I didn’t finish for the class I didn’t finish… yeah. So my head is in this weird place all of a sudden.
I want to finish, but I don’t have the 4500+ to pay off the school. I know I got myself into this mess. Spring term fell apart due to the eviction stress filling up my headspace.
I can’t put my finger on why I can’t seem to get myself together. Exhaustion and PTSD screwed me up last Fall term. Then I had a chance to redeem myself on the class from that term that I took an incomplete on… and then the eviction took over Spring term.
I started grad school totally on track, getting good grades, etc… and then over the past year, I’ve been slowly unraveling. Stress, no job, frustration with things in general, have all played a role in my downward spiral with school. I’m super close to finishing, but the money thing from withdrawing in Spring has messed things up. By the time I came up for air after the eviction, the term was nearly over. The whole thing is a jumbled blur.
***
Well, I have a bit of a nutty week ahead. Tomorrow will be a very long day, then a couple of things Wednesday, possibly something Thursday and then GearCon all weekend. I’m on staff… A week from now I’ll likely be so dead-tired I won’t be able to function for a day or two. We’ll see how things go.
I’m working on rounding up as much as possible of the $280 needed for storage. I have a little under half right now… but two more TR gigs this week will help… and still trying to sell off a pair of speakers and the two bookcases. I may need a little help, as my tasks didn’t really start getting going until mid-June. We’ll see how things are after Wednesday.
Let the wild week begin!
~Dragon
Posted in baking, cosplay, creativity, dragon, family, Personal, storage

6/19: Results of Dragon Baking Shortbread

(random featured image…)

Ummm…. needs more flour. It’s been so long since I made shortbread before that I’ve forgotten how the dough should be… and now I’m realizing it should be on the MUCH drier side. This round liquefied and eventually baked out to a 1/4″ thick mess. It’s…. edible, but not for sharing.

I’m going to have to craft my own damn recipe. I was going back and forth between about 4 different recipes. One uses powdered sugar (don’t have any), another uses less flour (the main one I went with… bad choice).

I have the capability of crafting my own recipe. Despite the bad blood between my mother and I growing up, she taught me a few things. One was baking from scratch. Baking is typically an exact science, but shortbread is one area where wiggle room is easy to manage. Most recipes call for three things: sugar, flour, butter. I went off a recipe that adds vanilla. A comment on that one said almond extract would be better. I might have that here with me. I brought the “spices and stuff” bag back from storage a couple weeks ago… I think the almond bottle is in there. If not, that’s okay.

Shortbread is about as simple as it gets when it comes to baking. Three base ingredients, a little time, and then you have tasty little shortbread cookies. This round didn’t work. That’s okay. I love experimenting in the kitchen. I grew up with a fully stocked kitchen. This is how I do my best to live as an adult. Sometimes I’m lacking in some ingredients, and that’s okay. I make a note to pick them up next trip.

My mother also taught me other things, such as visualizing a finished project and what I might need to make it happen, even if there is no template or pattern. This is how I can design and draft my own patterns for some things. Same for altering patterns and making a “franken-pattern” using two or more patterns. This is where the 3rd jacket project comes from… the one I mentioned in the projects post yesterday or so. There is no template for it, but I know what I want to do and how to do it. I can see the finished coat. I just need to get there from where I am.

I noticed a couple people visited the post about my Kai Opaka  cosplay. During the eviction, I did find the missing pieces and put them in the bin with the rest of it. I can’t really work on it here… but maybe… just maybe… I can get it done for RCCC this September. There are many parts of that costume that I have designed myself. There is no pattern for Opaka’s outfit.

My mother created the costume ideas I brought to her. Sometimes with just a sketch. Many times, with no pattern. My ST:TNG dress uniform top is that way. Everyone else I’ve seen has a zipper at the back of the neck. We were super intense, watching clips of every episode that had those and we determined that it closed in front. We figured out the what, and then the how. I still have that uniform. I need to do some repairs on it, but the craftsmanship on it impressed the crap out of people in higher ranks at the regional Starfleet conference (Yes, I started out doing Trek cosplay in the early 1990’s and was a member of Starfleet). This lowly Ensign had a better dress uniform than her own captain.

Despite the two of us locking horns a LOT (the two most stubborn people in the family also happened to be the two most creative), we did a lot of incredible things. I still have a hard time forgiving her for the emotional abuse she heaped on me. I lost the chance for reconciliation years ago as her Alzheimer’s got worse. She passed away in 2013. The only thing I can do now is to handle it on my own.

She taught me how to bake and cook from scratch. She taught me visual and tactile skills that have served me well as I get older (God knows I’m not maturing. I need to put it into my living will that I go into the incinerator with both middle fingers flipping off the world).

More baking experiments to come… next month. I don’t have any more butter.

I also need to stick to more liquids for a bit. A sizable piece of one of my bottom front teeth is loose/broken off (it’s wedged between the rest of that tooth and the one next to it).

Until the next round…

~Dragon

Posted in adoption, anxiety, cats, depression, empath life, family, Personal, PTSD, storage

6/4: Crash Day with Portia

Originally today was going to be spent at my storage unit selling off the bed frame to a friend and then organizing and trying to reclaim some space in the back half of the unit. My mattress is resting on edge on my beloved coffee table (that I’ve had since I was about 18 and needs refinishing one day). All of that blocks my views of the rest of the space behind it. On Thursday last week, I managed to get to where I was sitting on my taller chest of drawers (I tend to call them dressers, even though that’s inaccurate, but yanno, it’s easier) and noticed that the space behind the mattress is not being utilized to its full ability (think vertical). So my goal is twofold: find a way to store the garment bags of costumes so they don’t “avalanche” while being stored flat, and then clear a better path to that area and organize it better.

One goal, when I have the funds (which I’m looking at costing more than I originally thought at around $60-$80, depending on the diameter of the chosen pipe) to make a steel pipe garment rack. I’ve had purchased racks from Target and IKEA and they cannot withstand the weight of the costumes. Eventually, I’ll get some plywood and make a platform on casters and put the steel pipe rack on wheels, but that part can wait. I need three 6′ pre-threaded pipes, four 12″ pieces, two elbow joints and two T joints. Yes, I know my way around a hardware store… maybe a little too well.

Honestly, if I could work retail again, I’d love to work at Ace Hardware. The people there understand thinking outside the box and have always helped me suss out how to work around problems with creative things (the guys at Pearl Ace still remember my dragon puppet head from 2009).

So, today was going to be spent at storage, but after Thursday afternoon in there, then two days of moving books and stuff around at the yard sale here, I was tired. When my friend who is buying the bed frame said he wasn’t feeling well today, I decided I’ll just stay home. Tomorrow, I tackle storage. So, about today…


The rest of this is part of a status I wrote earlier about Portia… the parts in Italics are the original post.

20170604_145938
First Position. She normally sprawls on my chest if I’m in bed, but not today. 

Although the bond with Portia isn’t as strong as mine was with JoJo, she is still bonded. Note in this picture that while it isn’t obvious, she’s napping on my left hip/pelvis. The side that has been problematic for a couple weeks now. Earlier she was roughly in the same spot, purring and grooming herself.

I adopted Portia October 30th, 2010, a few weeks after I had to put Jack to sleep due to Acute Renal Failure. His quality of life was extremely poor, so it was best to let him go. I tried making JoJo an only cat, but that didn’t last long. She became “Super Cling Kitty” within a week. I found Portia through Petfinder at Cat Adoption Team.

20170604_154810
Second position. Still in the same place on my left hip and leg, but this time taking my hand as hostage.

I know some people who think “she’s JUST a cat,” but I know better. Having been a petsitter, volunteer at shelters and rescues, and a lifelong cat person, I know behavior and a lot of health stuff. As an Empath, I connect with cats and dogs. Cats can, if you let them, be amazing therapy animals. Both girls were there for me last November as I dealt with the 2 year anniversary of my dad’s death as well as his 90th birthday and on top of that, a massive trigger of my C-PTSD. Portia and JoJo got me through it. Three months later, we lost JoJo, oddly to an illness similar to what my dad died from. Portia has picked up where her big sis left off, being there for me in her own quirky way.

She’s adjusting to being an only cat better than JoJo did. Granted, we’ve also been in this transition and technically homeless since early March. I think she wants a buddy, as she tries to get along with the resident cat, although that girl isn’t too keen on Portia. Hence my reference to baby gates on occasion. I have to keep them up to keep her contained.

It’s been 4 months as of yesterday that we lost JoJo. My father died of heart failure and then JoJo with Congestive Heart Failure. Two of my closest companions gone from similar issues.

20170604_160711
Third Position. Belleh Floof! A fair amount of the time, she actually likes belly scritches. Jack was the same way. 

Portia has picked up on things. She makes me laugh, does things like in these images today to help comfort me and be a bit of therapy. She’s feisty but sweet. Hates being groomed, but loves attention and treats. She gets underfoot a LOT and loves wet food. She’s a total dork of a cat, but she keeps me grounded and sane. For me, if not for the cats in my life and music to help push the emotional pain out, I don’t think I’d survive my life right now.

20170601_222550
This is from a few days ago. She was partially on my lap and licking my nose and chin.

Cats are amazing creatures in so many ways. Far too many people see them as aloof, cold animals, but those of us who have shared our lives with them? We know better. There is power in those paws. The whiskers. Those knowing eyes. The power of absolute love.

~Amanda