Posted in birthdays, chronic pain, depression, disability, family, friends, grief, health, life, medical, music, Personal, Science Fiction and Fantasy, society, writing

11/27: Dad, #NaNoWriMo, and Life

So, today is my dad’s birthday. If he had lived, he’d be 91. I had all these ideas for honoring him today, things I was going to do on the anniversary of his passing, but then decided to do them today. Namely, I was going to go to Ace Hardware and the music store to get some sheet music. Those things primarily because going to Ace was a tradition when I was a kid. I followed my dad everywhere. Especially when working on the house and getting supplies for working on it.

The music store because he was so excited when I said I wanted to save up for a piano. He really wanted me to get back to my music. He died before he saw me get my piano, but getting some sheet music would be fitting.

But coming out of Safeway, my knee gave out and is still hurting an hour or so later, so I need to do as little walking as possible the rest of the day. I figure the honoring will be in doing the two tasks I have that are finishing items the clients couldn’t do. And writing. No matter what we talked about, he always asked about my writing. If I had stalled, he always told me to never give up, to never stop writing because I was too good at it.

This year, for NaNoWriMo, I’m struggling. Maybe it’s from the stress of my current life situation, but it’s been difficult. I can still do it, but it’s going to take a lot of work the next few days. Right now, I’m sitting in a Starbucks downtown with a couple more hours to kill before I head to my other task today. Oh, and a knee that’s swearing at me for existing. I need a gym membership but can’t afford it. I know there isn’t much they can do for my knee. I need to strengthen my leg muscles, especially my thighs where the muscles/tendons connect to my kneecaps.

But enough medical/health crap…

Back to writing and general stuff…

~A

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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

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 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 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

Posted in artsy stuff, cats, creativity, crowdfunding, emergency, eviction, grief, Personal, storage, urgent

9/10: Deadlines, #crowdfunding, and @Chewy

#CROWDFUNDING: It turns out that the auction is on the 21st, not the 15th. I had guessed the 15th because when I’ve gone through this before, it was always the 15th or as close to it as possible. But this time, it’s the 21st (which is a Thursday, so I find it odd, but okay). So I have a SMIDGE more time, but not really by much. If the two people whom I’ve talked to do send what they say they’ll be able to send, I’ll have roughly 500 between them and what I have in my accounts.

So I’m roughly halfway there. If I get more TR work this week, I’ll have a little more, but unless I get a really big job or two, it won’t cover me the rest of the way.


A few months back, I got a call from the manager of my former apartment building that a package was there. It was “kind of urgent” and since I didn’t live there anymore, I technically shouldn’t have packages sent there. I didn’t know what it was, so I sent off to go pick it up. It was a 1-800-Flowers delivery from Chewy, the pet supply website. I had talked to a CS person there a couple weeks before and had mentioned I lost JoJo to congestive heart failure in the midst of my eviction. The flowers were a beautiful arrangement in a vase.

So, I’m still (obviously) unemployed and money is tight, so I haven’t been able to order my normal stuff from them. On Friday, I got a call from Fedex that they had a package that couldn’t be delivered to my PO Box. I was going bonkers trying to figure out if this package was something I’d ordered (interview clothes) or something from my wishlist that maybe someone sent… I had them route it to a local store that is now a pick-up location for Fedex. Picked it up today. A small metallic blue bubble wrap package.

From Chewy.

Inside was a card: wp-image-1885802957

And two 6×6 paintings. JoJo

wp-image-956431916

And Portia.

wp-image-398707042

If you want to inspire customer loyalty, it’s stuff like this… hell, even the flowers were more than enough… to make a customer for life.

Showing compassion and caring for a customer is how customer service should be done. I know, as that’s my own philosophy from working in retail. Go above and beyond, help and show that you care about what you’re doing. This is something that’s hard to find in bigger companies. It’s all about the numbers and speed anymore, not about making sure your customers walk out the door wanting to keep doing business with you. Instilling loyalty through caring and compassion is something missing in retail anymore. I’m glad to see Chewy doing good.

~A

Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, cats, crowdfunding, depression, dreams, emergency, friends, grief, homeless, housing, job hunting, life, Personal, storage, urgent

8/30: Past, Present, and Future… (#crowdfunding, of course)

I am not the same person I was five years ago. Ten years. Twenty years.

Have I gotten stronger? In some ways, yes. Other ways, not really.

I’m still not a totally confident person. I have goals and dreams and working on accomplishing things even I never expected of myself twenty years ago. When I was 18, I considered becoming an attorney. Then I looked at the amount of schooling and didn’t think I could do it. I thought there was NO way I could do anything remotely like that.

Yet, here I am finishing up my Master’s in Library Science, specializing in Archives. And looking at hopefully going to Germany for a second graduate degree. Am I crazy? Yeah, probably a bit. But it expands on the Archives education and is something¬†I love. While not law school, making it this far is pretty fucking awesome for the kid who wasn’t expected to finish high school.

I still have a LOT of challenges ahead of me. Getting work so I can get my own place again and no longer be homeless. Healing the scars of C-PTSD. Saving money to get to Germany. And many other things…

One thing they encouraged us to do while in school was to network and be active in the ALA, OLA (Oregon Library Association), and SAA (Society of American Archivists). Well, I had to let my dues lapse and I’ve yet to be able to afford any conferences. I’ve been flying under the networking radar for this field. I hate that, but it’s how things played out for me.

My journey has been one of many ups and downs, and I honestly don’t expect that to change as I move forward with my life. I’ve learned to not plan ahead too far. Shit happens. Such as an eviction and becoming homeless. Life will play out as it should.

I do what I can, even though it never seems to be enough. And it sucks. But this is why I try to reach out to others and not isolate myself too much.

~A

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 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 cats, crowdfunding, depression, friends, grief, homeless, life, Personal, semicolon, storage, transitions

7/27: More shamelessness and reflection…

I’m edging closer to having what’s needed for storage, but due to late fees, I need a bit over 300… I’m at about 230 right now (ran out of food stamps and needed a few things… and a few cans of cat food for Portia… which food stamps don’t cover). If I can get the rest of it together, I can run down there tomorrow and pay it up (two different cards, etc). I really don’t want it snowballing into next month. Then it gets out of control.

As for reflection… I’ve had a rough couple of days with frustration levels and pain and … well, you know. I saw my therapist today. I read her the venting text and then we talked about it and how it sums everything up. She also noted that no matter how shitty things get, I find humor.

This comes from years of dealing with abuse and such that I had to find things to keep me going. As my mother later started to wither from her Alzheimer’s, I got my dad into the same mindset. Find the humor in the situation. Whenever and wherever possible. If you can’t find it in the messy situation, find something else that makes you smile or feel good to balance out the mess. We had many bad moments with her disease… as is the way with Alzheimer’s, but we had amusing things to look back on, such as the Marshmallow Incident and how she lost her license (thankfully no one got hurt). I have some OLD blog posts from before I started this one that I may dig up and schedule on here so that they’re here as well.

So, yeah, I do my best to balance the shittiness of how things have been this year. And whether it’s listening to music, or watching Portia be an absolute dork of a cat, or laughing at some memory… it all works. I love telling stories. I get animated when I really get into it.

No matter how bad things get… remember to live and laugh.

~A