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 Today, I turn 41.  In addtion to the weekend's amazing party, I have now gotten amazing gifts from both Abundance and Light (a custom wetsuit and a GC to Ureshii (a website I spend a lot of time coveting things on).

And I've decided what I want from all of you for my birthday.

*drum roll*

A question.  In a perfect world one you'd be interested in the answer to, but disinterested ones will also be happily accepted.

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So....writing group. 

Last semester, I took a class about memoir writing.  It turned out to be a fairly interesting class, I produced a lot more writing than I otherwise would have.  This semester, the class is going to continue to meet, sans professor, to write and read each other's writing and comment.  I liked producing text, I liked getting positive feedback, I liked some of the other writers' writing.  But it's also exhausting, exhausting to have to interact with people I don't like, exhausting to try to figure out how to behave, exhausting to have this sort of intimacy with strangers I haven't chosen, and in many cases, wouldn't choose.  And my desire to be liked, even by people I don't like, doesn't please me at all.  And I'm not writing a memoir, I don't know how.  I can come up with these little segments, but I don't know how to write a book, I don't know if I should try.   I don't know if I want to.

If I agree to do this, I won't be able to take any classes, and this is hopefully my last semester working for the Beast and so my last semester with access to the sweet sweet benefit of extension school classes.  My first choice of classes, Bridges to JustPeace: Understanding Fragmentation and Building Coalitions for a Just and Peaceful Future, was canceled   My second choice would be Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food with the charming description of  "This course examines the sociohistorical legacy of chocolate, with a delicious emphasis on the eating and appreciation of the so-called food of the gods. Interdisciplinary course readings introduce the history of cacao cultivation, the present day state of the global chocolate industry, the diverse cultural constructions surrounding chocolate, and the implications for chocolate's future of scientific study, international politics, alternative trade models, and the food movement. Assignments address pressing real-world questions related to chocolate consumption, social justice, responsible development, honesty and the politics of representation in production and marketing, hierarchies of quality, and myths of purity."

I
 can't do both.   Wednesday is the day the group meets, wednesday is the only day I can take classes.  

Gah.
 

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I had an awesome birthday party yesterday, including much amazing food by Delight, many many snuggles and general merriment.  I'm starting to try to cross the streams of my friendships, Delight and husband (I totally came up with a name for him that I can't remember) have met Hands and Hips, and Abundance's Viking came to meet all four of them. (He'd met Hands and Hips in passing when he visited during Light's D&D night but hadn't conversed with them).  And there was much nerdery, the jargon-laden computer talk I'm so used to, the food nerdery which I love so much and the new-to-me music nerdery.  Everyone seemed so well matched, like I'm finally starting to develop a friend aesthetic, rather than clinging to whomever passes by.  And there was a rousing game of Embarrass Yourself with Geography (officially known as Map It), and Exploding Kittens and Joking Hazard.

I used to think, I maybe still do think, that I was a burden, and that the kindest thing I could do was to spread that burden as thinly as possible.  I want for a lot of conversation, a lot of thinking about what goes on inside our heads, a lot of learning about new things.  And I think of myself as being exceptionally difficult to handle, and so I should try to find a bunch of people who needed something from me and I would provide that thing in exchange for them handling some part of my difficultness.  (while I've mostly stricken crazy from my vocabulary as a pejorative, I still sometimes want it to be a label I claim, rather than one I talk around).  And the more people, the less the burden on any individual person, less toxin per person Something's changing, I'm enjoying this small group of people, I'm not chasing anyone.  Depth, not breadth.

(Even after googling, breadth does not seem like a word at all.   First Second Third Fourth Breadth.)

Next post I want to talk about charitable giving, kickstarter and patreon. And I want to get back to posting all the things I wrote for the memoir class.   I'm also struggling with how often I should post about books.  Every time I finish one? ten? end of month?
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 I've left myself a note in my gmail drafts folder.  At least, I assume it's to myself because I can't imagine to whom I'd send it.

"I never realize it's awful until afterwards"

And I wonder if was a meditation on exes or my life up to my early twenties, or alcoholism, or wanting to examine my current life to make sure that there's nothing I'll regret later, no bridges uncrossed.  So now I'm trying to come up with a journal entry that begins with that sentence. For the moment, however, I'll meta-journal about it.



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(How would you punctuate the subject line?)

Yesterday, carrying Tank down the concrete steps in front of his house, I fell.  I don't know why I fell, and I actually don't know how I fell, as in what part of my body hit the ground first, etc. I managed to keep Tank from hitting the ground with anything other than his ass, he was a little shocked and cried for a moment about that, but recovered almost instantaneously.

I, however, did not.   I still managed to get him into the car, drive to the bookstore, sit on the floor for storytime and get him home and get lunch into him before his mother returned.   Then I left her house, and drove straight to the ER.   I could still walk, sort of, but it hurt in ways I was pretty sure my knee wasn't supposed to hurt, and I had already fallen from twisting the wrong way during the lunch-making process.

I managed to drive there, to hobble into the ER, and then I just started bawling.  I'm sure that I'm ascribing intent where none was actually present, but everyone seemed to be being fairly unkind and dismissive.   But eventually someone came in and manhandled my leg, and asked me where it hurt and how badly.

I'm not sure I've ever said 10.   Realistically, the worst pain I can imagine is pretty bad, and the worst pain I've ever been in could have been way worse.  But this was close.  I couldn't answer where it hurt because I could have sworn the pain extended all the way around my knee and for at least an inch outside my skin. 

So I told the doctor it was a 7 when I was lying still.  All the while crying.  He left, said I'd get some meds and xray and to yell if I needed anything.  I tried yelling a couple minutes later, having finally stopped crying enough to realize I was a mess of snot and needed tissues, but I wasn't yelling loud enough.  Eventually someone came in to take my insurance and my money and gave me tissues.  Another ten minutes later someone came by to give me some oxycodone.   Then, onto the xrays.   The xrays involved a lot of repositioning that made me start crying again. 

I get back to my bed, and there's someone in the next curtained enclosure over retching, pretty much nonstop.  I've been known to gag at the cats' gagging noises, so quickly put my headphones in and listened to Very Loud Music.  Some point after this, Light arrives and sits with me and we get the news that there's no non-soft-tissue damage, I should stay off it for the next couple days and if it still hurts next week, make an appointment with an orthopedist.  They give me some crutches, and shoo me out.

I feel like an idiot, like there should have been some way that I knew that it was not ER-worthy pain.  I feel like an idiot because this is not how I intended to spend yesterday, or today, or tomorrow.  I feel like an idiot because I shouldn't have fallen (I still somehow assume that I fall because I'm fat, that there's some one-to-one correspondence.)  For about three minutes a couple months ago, I took solace from the fact that my neurologist had informed me that I had something called an "type 1 arnold chiari malformation" and one of the side effects is potentially decreased sense of balance.  But only for three minutes, because then I remembered that I do still pass all the basic balance tests administered.

So today I'll work from home with Abundance, trying to convince myself that it's totally okay to ask someone else to get things for me, because there's no way I'm going to be able to carry a cup of tea while still on crutches.   And continually repeat to myself "it could have been worse".






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 I haven't been to  the gym in a long time.   In addition to not usually going enjoying going to the gym in the first place, I've had to cope with first a sprained knee and then a gross cold.  Today was going to be my first day back, so of course I managed to get a migraine.  

I don't understand how people go easy on themselves.  I totally recommend it to other people all the time, I think that people I love should be gentle with themselves, understand that not every day is going to be a win, not every day requires storming any barricades.  But I look at myself and see nothing but a slippery slope that ends up with me never getting out of bed again, or if I manage out of bed, never leaving the house again.

Sometimes, I cry at my therapist and talk about how I just want to sleep u ntil I'm done sleeping, play stupid games on my phone until I'm bored, avoid until I run out of avoidance, cry until I'm done crying.  But I don't believe that any of those 'until' states exists, that I could in fact sleep forever, play sudoku for ever, browse pinterest forever, cry forever.   (I regularly remind myself that she's right, that so far no one has ever not stopped crying as far as either of us know).

And the extension of this is, if I ever cut myself slack, if I'm ever not disappointed in myself for not going to the gym, maybe I'll just never go again, and I know that I want to be someone who has gone to the gym, someone who gets the benefits of going to the gym, so I yell at myself until I do, and I yell more when I don't go, even if it's for a perfectly valid reason like I need to lay very still in a dark place and pray to all the gods I don't believe in that the meds will kick in soon.

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Sometimes, when I meet new lj people (through whatever means) I'm tempted to go back and read bits of their past journals.  It feels a little over-stepping, but I tell myself that's half the point of meeting people on the internet, this weird anonymous intimacy/satisfaction of curiosities. 

It's snowing here, there's 8 inches of snow predicted, there's already the dulcet sound of snowplows scraping pavement drifting through the windows, Abundance and his Viking are hanging out in the kitchen, Light and I are on the couch being sat upon by cats.   Abundance, Viking and I all went to the farmer's market down the street, I got  quark, and braised chestnut ravioli, and roasted pumpkin and brie ravioli, and caramelized onion and sweet potato pierogi, and aged gouda with fenugreek.  The CSA provides enough root vegetables that I didn't really need anything on that front, but the most fun was watching Viking having sincere conversations with the cheesemonger, since he's on the hunt for his very own raw milk.

Delight needed to cancel on our wfh date yesterday, so I puttered around and thought about the nature of the definition of "doing something."  Each morning, Abundance and I tell each other to "go forth and nurture things and create order", and domestic order counts.   I made apple oven oats, and something called "healthy mexican casserole with peppers and roasted corn" which is bland, but a good sort of thing upon which to load avocado and sour cream and salsa, and used up a bunch of the corn tortillas that have been coming with the aforementioned CSA.  I did multiple loads of laundry (both the washing and the putting away), I cleaned multiple rooms, I cross-stitched, wrote an awkward email to my sort-of-cousin. 

Her dad was in hospice care, and died this morning, and I wrote her an email about holding her in my agnostic thoughts, and being too far away to just come over and do her dishes and leave a casserole on her porch, and be the sort of unshowy supportive that I think of as new-england-sympathy.  (I think at some point Chile and I expressed our feelings towards each other by using the phrase "giving a casserole" in our email) and I'd mentioned how I'd come up at the drop of a hat and stay in the nearest hotel, and do all those useful things, and hold her or hold her baby, but I'm not sure if I said the right things. 

Light's probably going to have his first sleepover date next week (unless I count sex camp as a sleepover date).  I know it's made me slightly
frowny, but I'm not sure why and I continue to try to make decisions with my head and not the weird lightly crampy feelings in what I suspect is what people refer to as the pit of the stomach.

All of a sudden both tired and restless, all at once. Possibly time for a nap?  Time to try for one, at least.
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 Another day home sick from work, though today I actually managed to focus enough to do a couple pieces of work.

Mostly, however, I listened to the end of my audio book and read Captain Awkward archives, wondering about the letters I'd write if I ever did, about jerkbrain, about poly, about the nature of friendship, and what to do when I know I don't keep up my end, but still adore people, and wondering if the answer just is I'm lazy.  I know I've grown up a little bit, I no longer think friends are like pokemon, that I need to collect them all as a bulwark against the inevitable being left by some of them, I don't feel desperate, and though occasionally lonely, I'm mostly down with that as being opportunities for lessons in self soothing.  But I wonder how to be friends with people, how often I should contact someone, if it's okay to wait until they contact me, if I'm offending them horribly with my tendency to have migraines and cancel, if there's something I'm supposed to be doing that no one told me.

I journal most days, google docs I share with Abundance, and I made a comment about reading fanfic not counting as reading, and how I couldn't connect it to any goals, and he commented that sometimes doing things for the enjoyment of them is enough, and I find that mindboggling.  And it leads to a lot of strange thoughts about why be alive, what do I want to do with this life, do I dare to look for things I really want?   Abundance had/has a life coach, and when he tells me what they talk about, I'm fascinated and a little bit skeptical.   And part of me wants to try it out, to see if there's some way to realize what it is I want to be doing, and part of me doesn't think that the coach would be ready for this jelly, for values of jelly that consist of cripplingly low self esteem, PTSD and a couple other party favors.

I got a killer haul at the Porter Square Books New Year's Day sale.  I didn't buy any fiction, I'm going to try to continue the policy of reading fiction electronically and then if I really truly believe I need a hard copy, buying it then.  (with of course, the occasional trip to a used bookstore throwing all my good intentions overboard).  Said haul was

something called little codr, which is aimed at four years olds, and I don't know if I want to give it to my nephew/godson Coolidge, who is four, or wait until Tank is old enough to enjoy it.  I love the combination of thinking about things in small steps and the opportunity to control your environment.  

Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as Fuck.   So, I'm not really down with the Thug Kitchen style, I want measurements and precision, but Abundance likes them, and I did make their carrot dogs recently and was impressed/intrigued (despite the fact that I cooked the carrots for 4 times as long as they said and they still weren't cooked through.   

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion. I adore Isa Chandra Moskovwitz and over the top titles.  I'm still not willing to go completely vegan, but I'm leaning towards more vegan main dishes.

50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food: Mindfulness Strategies to Cope with Stress and End Emotional Eating.  I have the first one of these in e-book, and it's actually been very interesting, and not at all shaming (for me at least).  I'm anxious to even put this on my haul list, because I worry it sounds dangerously like fat-shaming and that is definitely not my jam.  But I'm shit at self-soothing, and I know food doesn't usually work, so more tips are good.

Magical Destinations of the Northeast: Sacred Sites, Occult Oddities & Magical Monuments.   (oh the semicolons).  I love guidebooks of all sorts, I love thinking about adventures, and ones that can be done with a day trip or an overnight are even better.  And while I'm still agnostic, I find faith fascinating, so I'm hoping for a good combination of kitsch and sincerity.

and last but not least, A Child of Books, which is one of those children's books actually designed to tug at adult heartstrings, and boy does it ever.  "I have sailed across a sea of words to ask if you will come away with me."






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I am not dealing with this cold gracefully.   Is there a way to deal with congestion gracefully?  I mostly just want to make nasally whiny noises.

I can't focus on anything, I barely have the stamina for anything, today was the first time in 2017 I left the house and that was just to pick up prescriptions, bananas and orange juice.

It's so nice to be driving again. I still kind of fear and loathe it, I still take back roads instead of highways, there's still no amount of money that would get me to drive into Boston proper, I still don't parallel park and I'm still nightblind, but I can run errands.   

As a teenager, I believe I was indifferent to driving.  I liked going fast, I like getting myself to my own flute lessons, I liked being able to listen to very loud cassette tapes.  During college, I was the passenger in a car-totalling accident, while I was arguing with the driver about the possibility of radical heterosexuality, they ran a red light and t-boned another car.  I wasn't wearing the seatbelt, because I'd recently had some surgery that made it uncomfortable so to do.  Fortunately, the driver's mother had sprung for passenger side airbags, and I ended up with a busted incision and a glasses-shaped bruise.   This dimmed whatever enthusiasm I had for driving quite a bit.  

After college, I bought my first car out of a literal little old lady's front yard, a navy blue '86 Olds, and she was a tank, with the stereotypical droopy ceiling and low gas mileage, plagued with mechanical problem, but gloriously mine.  Driving was less scary because it had become a way to first temporarily and then permanently flee my parents' house.  I went everywhere in that car, I stippled the interior with cigarette burns, and while I feel like this can't be right, I distinctly remember learning how to unflood the engine with a pencil and a match (possibly also some sort of spray was involved).

Eventually, she became too old to keep pouring money into, and I bought a late-model used ford, which had many newfangled things like automatic windows and a heater that always worked.  I totalled her one snowy night on the mass pike, driving home from being Light's plus one at his friends' wedding, too terrified of my boss to call her and tell her I wasn't coming in because the weather was bad.  I ripped off the passenger side rear panel and mounted myself on a guard rail.  (I'd get to keep the car after that, because somehow the repair place had repaired the side panel before noticing there was also a hole in the floor, so it was two separate estimates, if all the damage had been seen at once, I would have just gotten a check). I got her back, but she was never the same.

Fast forward a handful of years, and Light and I move to the big city, I sell my car to my little brother and we become basically a one car family and I stop driving altogether.  A tree it my little brother's work topples and crushes my car, he and I split the payout and we become a one car family in truth.   

Fast forward another handful of years, and the same little brother's wife is pregnant, and I am lucky enough to get to be childcare one day a week, which requires that I relearn to drive.   And so I do, and while I don't enjoy the actual act of driving, I do love what it allows me to do.
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Another piece of writing from my memoir class. My intention is to try to post every day, and some days it'll be brandy new stuff and sometimes it'll be bits from memoir class, which was another different and interesting exercise in how I try to shape my words for my audience (or try to deliberately not shape them)

**

When​ ​you​ ​start​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​looking​ ​forwards​ ​and​ ​looking​ ​backwards​ ​become​ ​equally  compelling​ ​options,​ ​but​ ​both​ ​require​ ​firmer​ ​footing​ ​than​ ​I​ ​have.​ ​I​ ​see​ ​my​ ​memories​ ​time​ ​out of​ ​joint,​ ​but​ ​mine​ ​is​ ​never​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​to​ ​put​ ​it​ ​right.​ ​​ ​I’m​ ​no​ ​Hamlet,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​don't​ ​think​ ​I​ ​can,  and​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​sure​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​in​ ​right​ ​anymore.​ ​Beads​ ​on​ ​a​ ​string,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​string​ ​broken,​ ​and  half​ ​the​ ​beads​ ​under​ ​the​ ​kitchen​ ​stove​ ​and​ ​the​ ​other​ ​half​ ​in​ ​a​ ​box,​ ​awaiting​ ​restringing​ ​but  no​ ​one​ ​has​ ​enough​ ​focus​ ​so​ ​to​ ​do. 
  
I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​tell​ ​a​ ​story,​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​narrative​ ​out​ ​of​ ​this,​ ​I​ ​want​ ​everything​ ​to​ ​lead​ ​up​ ​to​ ​a  blinding​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​now.​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​show​ ​how​ ​I​ ​got​ ​here​ ​and​ ​maybe​ ​if​ ​I​ ​can​ ​see​ ​how​ ​I​ ​got​ ​here,​ ​I can​ ​see​ ​where​ ​to​ ​go​ ​next,​ ​or​ ​how​ ​to​ ​go​ ​home.​ ​​ ​​ ​I​ ​want​ ​life​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​game​ ​of​ ​chess,​ ​and​ ​if​ ​I​ ​can  see​ ​well​ ​enough​ ​into​ ​the​ ​past,​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​predict​ ​all​ ​the​ ​next​ ​moves​ ​and​ ​then​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​safe. 
 
My​ ​mother​ ​and​ ​my​ ​father​ ​(and​ ​at​ ​least​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​brothers)​ ​are​ ​so​ ​committed​ ​to​ ​the  narrative​ ​of​ ​bland​ ​and​ ​happy​ ​families​ ​that​ ​they​ ​rewrite​ ​stories​ ​entirely,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​was​ ​never​ ​left  outside​ ​in​ ​a​ ​parking​ ​lot​ ​after​ ​being​ ​told​ ​I​ ​was​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​love,​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​ever​ ​get​ ​told​ ​to​ ​stop  waking​ ​them​ ​up​ ​with​ ​my​ ​crying,​ ​I​ ​wasn’t​ ​ever​ ​told​ ​I​ ​was​ ​always​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​quitter.​ ​​ ​​ ​So​ ​I don’t​ ​trust​ ​what​ ​I​ ​remember. 
  
I​ ​started​ ​drinking​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​after​ ​eighth​ ​grade,​ ​sneaking​ ​wine​ ​coolers,​ ​sneaking​ ​vodka  into​ ​Snapple​ ​bottles​ ​of​ ​fruit​ ​punch.​ ​​ ​​ ​I​ ​drank​ ​slowly​ ​but​ ​steadily​ ​through​ ​most​ ​of​ ​my​ ​high  school​ ​experience,​ ​I​ ​kept​ ​this​ ​awful​ ​tupperware​ ​tumbler​ ​of​ ​mixed​ ​hard​ ​liquor​ ​in​ ​my​ ​desk, using​ ​moments​ ​alone​ ​to​ ​replenish​ ​it​ ​with​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​everything​ ​I​ ​could​ ​reach.​ ​​ ​​ ​Fifteen  years​ ​later,​ ​helping​ ​my​ ​parents​ ​move​ ​I​ ​got​ ​to​ ​re-handle​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​bottles​ ​in​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​the  liquor​ ​cabinet,​ ​old​ ​friends​ ​probably​ ​all​ ​more​ ​water​ ​than​ ​alcohol.​ ​​ ​​ ​I​ ​drank​ ​beer​ ​at​ ​parties,  but​ ​I​ ​wasn’t​ ​a​ ​girl​ ​who​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​try​ ​to​ ​be​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​liked​ ​beer​ ​for​ ​another​ ​decade​ ​or  so.​ ​​ ​​ ​College​ ​brought​ ​me​ ​even​ ​more​ ​accessible​ ​alcohol​ ​and​ ​it​ ​would​ ​take​ ​me​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​years  to​ ​really​ ​settle​ ​into​ ​my​ ​Keystone​ ​Lite​ ​and​ ​Jack​ ​Daniels​ ​habits.​ ​​ ​​ ​The​ ​immediate​ ​effect​ ​being  blackout​ ​drunk,​ ​the​ ​long​ ​term​ ​effect​ ​having​ ​something​ ​to​ ​do​ ​with​ ​combining​ ​Zoloft​ ​with​ ​a  whole​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​booze.​ ​​ ​​ ​So​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​trust​ ​what​ ​I​ ​remember. 
  
But​ ​I​ ​do​ ​remember​ ​things,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​here.​ ​​ ​And​ ​maybe​ ​there​ ​are​ ​enough​ ​pieces,​ ​enough  breadcrumbs,​ ​enough​ ​beads​ ​to​ ​explain​ ​to​ ​you,​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​why​ I​ ​am​ ​this​ ​way,​ ​why​ ​I​ ​got​ ​my breasts​ ​chopped​ ​off,​ ​why​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​end​ ​up​ ​dead.  
  
My​ ​story​ ​is​ ​cluttered​ ​with​ ​people,​ ​and​ ​maybe​ ​I​ ​should​ ​try​ ​to​ ​make​ ​pictures​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the  details,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​show​ ​why​ ​I​ ​nicknamed​ ​Iceberg​ Iceberg​ ​when​ ​I​ ​wrote​ ​about​ ​him  (Elizabeth​ ​Bishop)​ ​or​ ​how​ ​Teach and​ ​I​ ​found​ ​each​ ​other​ ​and​ ​how​ ​we​ ​left​ ​each​ ​other,​ ​or​ ​how  Braids​ ​broke​ ​my​ ​heart​ ​more​ ​thoroughly​ ​than​ ​any​ ​two​ ​week​ ​relationship​ ​ever​ ​should have​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​or​ ​how​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​I​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​marry​ ​Light​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​him​ ​in​ ​the  lobby​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hotel.  
  
I​ ​suppose​ ​I’ll​ ​restart​ ​this​ ​many​ ​times,​ ​come​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​and​ ​find​ ​new​ ​angles​ ​to​ ​try  to​ ​get​ ​to​ ​the​ ​same​ ​point,​ ​to​ ​be​ ​lesson​ ​or​ ​warning​ ​or​ ​comfort​ ​or​ ​contrast.​ ​​ ​I​ ​used​ ​to​ ​think​ ​that  things​ ​had​ ​many​ ​beginnings,​ ​but​ ​only​ ​one​ ​end.​ ​​ ​Even​ ​that​ ​seems​ ​too​ ​tidy​ ​now,​ ​and​ ​I’m​ ​full​ ​of  sloppier​ ​boundaries,​ ​stories​ ​that​ ​bleed​ ​into​ ​each​ ​other.  
  
The​ ​truth,​ ​a​ ​truth,​ ​is​ ​that​ ​I​ ​trace​ ​my​ ​life​ ​from​ ​crisis​ ​to​ ​crisis.​ ​​ ​A​ ​truth​ ​is​ ​that​ ​I​ ​trace​ ​my​ ​life  from​ ​loss​ ​to​ ​loss.​ ​​ ​I’ve​ ​given​ ​up​ ​smoking,​ ​drinking,​ ​self-harm,​ ​an​ ​eating​ ​disorder,​ ​drinking  coffee,​ ​drinking​ ​soda.​ ​​ ​I’ve​ ​given​ ​up​ ​a​ ​front​ ​tooth,​ ​my​ ​ovaries​ ​and​ ​my​ ​breasts.​ ​​ ​​ ​I’ve​ ​lost  friends​ ​and​ ​partners,​ ​I’ve​ ​lost​ ​six​ ​different​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​faith,​ ​and​ ​even​ ​more​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​nerve. 
  
I’ve​ ​learned​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​ever​ ​control​ ​where​ ​my​ ​brain​ ​goes,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​can​ ​control​ ​some​ ​of​ ​my  behaviors,​ ​and​ ​so​ ​I​ ​spend​ ​my​ ​energy​ ​there,​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​be​ ​this​ ​calm​ ​and​ ​coherent​ ​woman,  trying​ ​to​ ​be​ ​amused​ ​by​ ​just​ ​about​ ​everything,​ ​but​ ​even​ ​more​ ​amused​ ​at​ ​my​ ​own​ ​antics.  And​ ​I​ ​worry,​ ​so​ ​often,​ ​about​ ​so​ ​many​ ​things.  
 
 
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(for the new readers, I had a complete mastectomy and reconstruction)

AARRRGH.

I'm sure there's a metaphor here somewhere, but at the moment the inside of the scar on my right boob itches and my thoughts trend murder-wards.  There's no way to address nerves that don't exist, and even if they did, there's no way to address the inside of your body itching (I mean, I guess if it was actually a histamine reaction, benadryl would, but sadly that's not what's happening)

I'm familiar with the post-tattoo trick of slapping itching skin, to relieve the sensation without actually picking at the scab and so I'm occasionally unthinkingly slapping my own boob, even though that does nothing but startle the cats.

It'll pass, it always does, but it's that kind of nagging itch/thought that makes it hard to do anything else with even half a brain.

So, to Porter Square Books annual pre-inventory new year's day sale I go.  I hope I can remember not to slap my boobs in public.
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 There's a lj community called 2017revival, which is attempting to re-find community on livejournal and despite my many feels about both livejournal and community, I'm curious.

This was my intro post.


Age: 41 next month
Location: Camberville, MA

Describe yourself in five sentences or less:

1. I am tattooed, short, bespectacled, poly, queer, kinky, occasionally bitchy (and don't believe that's necessarily an insult), fat (ditto), recovering goth, a voracious reader and my politics lean far enough left that they/I occasionally tip over.

2. When asked by a book to think of a two-word description of my personal style "hestia-punk" is what I settled on, though "goth-schoolmarm" was a close second, until I decided I liked to show too much skin to think of myself as schoolmarmish. 

3. I have four cats, three of them tortoiseshells, and our household has collectively mourned the dog long enough that getting another one is starting to seem like a good idea.

4. I struggle with anxiety, depression, polyfeels, being a in-recovery alcoholic and premature menopause.

5. I was diagnosed BRCA2 positive years ago, have had a salpingo-oopherectomy and a complete mastectomy and while I struggle with both of those decisions, I am very vocal about having made them and believing people should be informed about this kind of thing.

Top 5 fandoms: I have feelings about being fannish, most of which boil down to can you be considered to have a fandom if you don't interact with anyone in said fandom? 

That said, my top five are 1) Teen Wolf 2) any Pacific Rim crossover (I love seeing what people do with the idea of drifting) 3) Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence, 4) any fandom that has an OT3+ (such as White Collar and Leverage) 5) black tea flavored like desserts.

I mostly post about: the aforementioned struggles, my partners, books, food, angst about not knowing how to be social, concerts, things my cats have horked on.

Last three posts: not using my vacation correctly, what I cooked for feast days, and a post that was a writing for my memoir class about my mastectomy.

How often: It comes and it goes, usually in waves. I'm hoping that a variety of factors will combine to make more of the posting and less of the silence. Work in progress, et cetera. 

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This year, I tried something different and tried to read only books written by female-identified authors, with a couple exceptions.

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Once again, I feel like I'm wasting my union week.  (Working for the Beast means I get the week between Christmas and New Years off).

Monday everyone was home, and then Abundance left for his parents in the evening.  Tuesday I cleaned most of the things, napped, went to therapy, and then cleaned some more.  Today, I went and babysat for my nephew Tank, then came home and dozed fitfully for a while, tomorrow I go to my other little brother's and babysit his two kids, Friday hopefully Delight and I spend a day baking.

I'm not sure what I think I should be doing, only that I feel like it should be a capital letter Accomplishment, something lifechanging, something I put off during the year because I don't have time for it.  Or at least I should be cooking and baking.

on the other hand, if I remember to try to say the things to myself that I would say to other people, maybe the reason I'm taking this downtime is that I need this downtime.     Or I just could be lazy and undermotivated and making excuses for myself.  (I haven't gone to the gym in two weeks because I sprained my knee, but it almost doesn't hurt now so I totally should stop resting it, right?)

Other weighty thoughts include by what criteria do I include/organize short fiction on my year-end books-I-read list.  I suspect I'm going to exclude them altogether, but options are being weighed. 


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 It's been a couple days of a lot of cooking and baking.

The annual cake-off for Hands' birthday happened, and I made a raspberry buttermilk cake from smitten kitchen and a double chocolate cake that involved chocolate butter frosting topped with ganache (the ganache called for a tablespoon of honey, which was new to me).  Also, we are required to leave cakeoff with as much cake as we leave, so Hips' awesome almond ring and equally awesome carrot cake came home with us.   There's too much dessert, we've had to leave some in the optimistically named "pantry."

The day before, we'd had a pie-themed day, and so there was pizza for lunch, shepherds pie for dinner, chocolate cheesecake pie for dessert, and then what felt like the crowning achievement, a leek and potato galette with pistachio crust for second dinner.   Abundance's viking brought four cubes of icecream from Tosci's, and I might have contemplated eloping with the burnt marshmallow ice cream.

I have, at the moment, the materials to make a cauliflower curry (to use up some of the farmshare veggies), a lasagna-esque dish, made with beans and corn tortillas.  (I don't even know what you'd call it.  layered casserole, mayhap?) and the pie I didn't end up making, a chocolate chess pie.

Today was a day of laziness and  leftovers and video games and getting the cats high on catnip.   Abundance is off to visit his parents, I'm drinking orange juice out of a skull mug, waiting for my ambien to kick in, which means it's just about time to stop writing something I intend to hit post on.

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I came out to my memoir class as a recovering alcoholic in the first ten minutes of class. being BRCA+ took three weeks, queer took another couple, and poly was the last class.

*****

I don’t imagine a lot of visual details.  I just don’t.  Never have, as far as I can remember.  When I can remember dreams, I tend to remember feelings and plots, but not the actual imagery.


But for this phone call, I still imagine the person on the other end of it occasionally.  Some poor student, in a beige cubicle somewhere, fidgeting with the spiral cord on a headset, with a list and a script.   I knew the call was coming, I was kind of blackly amused.  I knew my answer, but I kind of wanted to find out how they were going to ask.


I don’t remember the words. I do remember turning it into a story in my head almost immediately, thinking that I’d get to tell people that I gave my boobs to science.  And so when she asked, I said something along the lines of “yes, I’m not going to have any more use for them.”


So many indignities, inflicted in so many different ways, but this at least felt funny.  


It’s impossible to actually be prepared for the absurdity of having to cut your own breasts off.  It’s a barbaric solution to a potential problem, but it was the only one that felt available to me.  The social worker didn’t know what to do with me, the breast surgeon was impressed, but admitted that it wasn’t something she came across very often, the plastic surgeon tried to be kind, but failed.


The ones I have now, nipple-less, nerve-less, covered in oak leaf tattoos?   Only the skin covering them is something that I grew, something that came from the factory floor.  The rest is a combination of alloderm (a classy brand name for cadaver skin) and silicone.  As the first surgeon I consulted explained (I did not end up choosing her in the end) the process is something like making an incision and then scooping out all the tissue with an ice cream scoop.  This was the surgeon that moved my necklace aside to take pictures of the originals, as it was an identifying mark, disregarding the fact that the tattoo on my stomach was identifying enough.


I’m BRCA2+.  Fortunately or un, Angelina Jolie has the same mutation, and so now I don’t really have to explain the situation or my choice of prophylactic mastectomy anywhere near as much as I used to.  BReast CAncer. A mutation that disarmed my body’s ability to fight tumor growth.  Easier to explain now that someone famous has made some of the same decisions, but harder too, because her recovery appeared so quick and painless, and mine nearly destroyed me.  


Three years prior, I’d gone to my PCP for foot pain, and she called me a couple days later, having reviewed my chart and suggested I go to a genetic counselor and get tested for the BRCA mutation, based on my familial history.


I remember where I was standing when I took her call, in the room we laughingly call the “sitting room” even though there’s nowhere to sit in it, just because we couldn’t figure out what a room that was neither the dining or the living room would be called.  We painted it a color called Somerville Red, which turned out to be a dark and dusty pink, as if someone had left a red house out in the sun too long.   It’s full of bookcases and a dusty hutch where some random mementos share space with the ashes of my two dead cats and my dead dog, though at this point neither of the cats were dead, and the dog had not even entered into our lives.


I remember what I said, words that I suspect will never ever leave my lips again except when they’re dripping with sarcasm.   “What’s the worst that could happen?”  And while I’m sure there were worse things that could have happened, the test came back positive for the mutation, skyrocketing my chances of ovarian and breast cancer.  


The thing is, nothing actually changed.  I was born with this mutation.  Nothing I ever did could have changed whether or not I had this mutation. Unlike almost every single other thing in my checkered history, this couldn’t possibly be my fault.  I, of course, twisted the narrative almost immediately, and even if the result couldn’t be my fault, it could very much be my fault that I couldn’t handle the answer, and if I couldn’t handle the answer I should have known I couldn’t handle it in advance and not had the test.


After all, never ask a question that you can’t handle all the possible answers to.


In the months and years to come, I’d realize that when I sobbed and asked my husband the terribly unkind question of “can I go home?” (having moved to the Boston area for his job prospects), despite having sold our house, despite all the negative things about Northampton and all the positive things about Somerville, I wasn’t actually asking to go back to a location.  I was asking to go back to a time before I knew that this timebomb was in my genes.


Chile and I used to joke about our time-boobs, like time-bombs, but more body specific.  Before her, the only experiences I’d had with breast cancer were my aunt and my husband’s aunt, both of whom had died from it.  Chile’s mother had survived breast cancer, and when Chile’s BRCA test came back negative we cheered.    It was less than six months later when she found a lump and the biopsy came back positive for breast cancer.


Chile went to the same college as I did, we’d known each other since 1996, she graduated a year after I did. We both ended up in New England, we both ended up separately drying out and at some point, got back in touch.   And it was her story about driving to Mt Auburn Hospital every morning with the sunrise to her radiation appointments that decided me, it was time to try to get out in front of cancer, in front of this feeling of living from mammogram to MRI to mammogram in six month chunks.  And so I made what felt like the only decision that had a chance of freeing me and decided it was time for a complete prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.


 
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Red and I lived in a small apartment in subsidized housing in a renovated button factory in a small town called Leeds. Technically, it’s a village in Northampton and no, I’m not exactly sure how that works, even after looking it up on Wikipedia.

I always thought it was called a shotgun apartment, because you could stand in the kitchen and shoot down the hall into the bathroom.  Turns out, it’s called a railroad apartment because all the rooms open onto one hallway . The exterior walls were brick and thick, the interior walls thin and we knew a lot more about our neighbors on every side that we ever could have wanted.  


We smoked outside the apartment in the stairwell, too lazy or addict-ed to go outside.  That’s where most of our serious conversations took place, either there or her car, riding around the streets of Northampton for no particular reason other than we had nothing else to do.


We had plans, boston marriage plans, we were going to buy a house in Northampton, renovate one side and rent the other, then switch and renovate the other side, then sell the house and do it again.  I think we believed that we weren’t going to find romantic partners, or that romantic partners could never be as close as we were.


In college, I’d stage managed a couple plays she directed, we kissed once and had a class called Queer Media together. We weren’t close, or at least I didn’t think we were, but weeks after college she called me and announced we couldn’t live with our parents anymore.  She flew to New Hampshire, borrowed my car, an Olds I’d bought for a grand from a little old lady’s front yard and promptly named Dolores, and drove around New England.


My little brother was sick, his Crohn’s finally diagnosed and proving unresponsive to medication, I couldn’t stay in my parents house any longer, but I didn’t want to be too far away.  So she returned and announced we’d be moving to Northampton, the perfect amount of time away, as good a place as any.   So we did.  She went back to Vegas, packed up her life and drove across the country, I packed up my car and drove an hour and a half south, to set up camp, to set up the utilities, to wait for her.


The aforementioned railroad apartment was our second.  Our first had been charming, but our rent had been raised, our heat remained erratic, and one of our neighbors had tattled about our cats.  We’d managed to keep our landlord from discovering they existed, but we knew it was only a matter of time.  Oh, and the back porch balcony had fallen half-off in a storm, and there was a piece of machinery in the basement you had to kick to turn the heat back on, and any number of other small problems you have in the first  apartment in your twenties.


However, this apartment made no pretenses of not being a shitshow.  The kitchen existed in that timeless yellowing linoleum palette, some of the windows didn’t open and the ones that did didn’t have screens,  and the elevator almost never worked. We got familiar with Northampton’s finest, as they responded to domestics next door. Once, Red's bedroom rained from the upstairs neighbors’ illegally installed dishwasher.  


I don’t remember much of what it looked like, only little details and moments. When we had a Charlie Brown christmas tree that we decorated by buying a Weekly World news magazine and cutting out pictures of Batboy.  When I had to drive my car through side-view mirror-deep water, getting water in all sorts of parts that weren’t supposed to be damp, and I chained something like five extension cords together to run outside to the parking lot so I could use a hairdryer to coax her back to life. When we tried to make something called Guadalupe Pie and it turned out so unfortunate that we named it Guantanamo Pie.  


We were better off this year:  lower rent and a slightly better class of temp jobs.  No more ketchup and rice soup, no more hiding out at Barnes and Noble for heat, fewer dented cans, fewer decisions about cat food versus student loans. We had fun, bringing home boys and girls from goth clubs, watching new Buffy episodes each week at our laundromat.   Red had a job at a bakery for a while, and she’d bring home all the burnt or misdecorated cakes and pastries and so we once ate rum cake for breakfast for almost an entire month.


Everything fell apart in this apartment.  Everything fell apart on the back stairs outside the apartment, smoking Camel Lights and talking about the nature of disappointment.  Everything fell apart when I asked her if she could go with me to the appointment and she said no.  Everything fell apart when I ended up curled in the corner of the kitchen where the counter met the wall, cramping like crazy from the morning-after pill.   Everything fell apart, over and over again for the next year, as we tried fifteen ways to salvage our friendship, as her boyfriend and I got drunk and hooked up on my birthday that year. Everything fell apart as I carefully positioned myself as the fun-loving, low-key, heavy-drinking one, more than half in love with her boyfriend (who also happened to be our boss), as I stopped wearing glitter so she wouldn’t know anyone else was touching her boyfriend.

They’re married now. I’ve Facebook stalked him a couple times.  Once I ended up with a random dick pic on that sort of website (I couldn’t actually recognize it as his or not).  Once I ended up with the birth announcement of their first baby.  


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This was my first memoir piece.  Except for the first week, when we were instructed to go shorter so everyone could read,  for the entire class our only assignment was to write three pages that might conceivably be in our memoir (and critique our classmates' pieces).   One of the fascinating bits of the assignment I thought was that we were supposed to title every piece, the professor believed titling things was an extremely hard thing to do, and so we should practice often.  This one was called like a crocodile.

We'd had to write a paragraph about why we were taking the class on the first day, and I used the phrase "Unsympathetic Narrator".  I thought it was just a play on unreliable then, about being someone who tells a story in a way that leads the reader to have absolutely no sympathy for the writer.  Someone in the class regularly critiqued me for indulging in too much self pity in my writing, but another classmate informed me that she'd be heartened to see some self-pity, that it would be a kindness to the me I was writing about that I hadn't been showing much of.  And then I realized that the unsympathetic goes at least two ways, I am also (usually) unsympathetic to me.  

***

The truth isn’t just one thing. All those police procedurals tell us that eyewitnesses are unreliable and so here I am, unreliable eyewitness to all the things that keep happening. I impose narrative structures on unrelated things, wanting to make sense of each event and even moments later, I can’t tell what actually happened, if there is such a thing, and what is only the parts that reinforce whatever framework I’m pretending my life has.

Lesson was my first love. We were teenagers, he was dating someone else, we almost never touched. But we hung out in bookstores, reading each other poetry, telling everyone we were someplace else, with someone else even before I was shunned. We swapped Tori Amos bootlegs and Sandman comics, watched Kurosawa movies together. We wore flannels, played Magic the Gathering, did our Latin homework together, laid on the trampoline in his backyard and talked, staring up at the sky, close enough that I could feel him in the tiny  hairs of my arm, even if we didn’t touch.  We talked every night on the phone, he’d click over to the other line to tell me his girlfriend had called, and some nights, he’d hang up on me, and some nights he’d hang up on her.

We ended up kissing in a parked and running car in the post-Christmas days of December, two years later, and I remember being worried that he’d be able to taste the crazy on me, convinced that it would taste like aluminum foil. Or blood.

But high school happened. His best friend’s mother, my English teacher, decided that I was anathema and that none of them should speak to me again. She told me “sometimes when we need love the most, we deserve it the least” and sounded like she was doing me a favor. I believed her, and it made perfect sense that the entire group - Lesson, Lesson’s girlfriend, the aforementioned best friend, his girlfriend and an assorted cast of characters - would stop talking to me on her say-so.

Lesson saw me in secret, occasionally telling the others he was using me for my Latin homework, or that he had to babysit his little sister. We didn’t go out in public anymore, he couldn’t be seen with me, the closest we’d get was meeting behind the Taco Bell, where I’d sit on a pile of torn-up concrete slabs smoking, and he’d pace and tell me how hard this was for him. My only moment of something like pride had me wearing too much vanilla oil and rubbing my wrists all over the upholstery of his car, a tiny olfactory claim.

When I write about him in my journals, I call him Lesson. He told me that I should never learn the lesson that his actions were teaching me, the melodramatic self-aggrandizing asshole. But he also gave me my favorite backhanded compliment, telling me that I was patient like a crocodile, lying in wait for him to fuck up, even if nothing ever changed when he did. I loved that image, predatory patience. I still do.

We spent the next eight or so years drifting in and out of each others’ lives, doing different kinds of damage every time.  Eventually, we lost touch. I used to tell myself that time brings everyone who isn’t an asshole back around, trying to absolve myself. Some nights, I still miss him. Some nights, I still believe he was right, I’m not worth keeping.  But on some nights I remember - fuck that noise.



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Haven't been posting and I keep making resolutions to post over and over again and they work for a few days, a few weeks and then stop.  

I miss the heyday of livejournal (kids, get off my lawn, etc) and I know it doesn't come back, that most of the socializing moves onto other platforms, other formats.  I've been logging into facebook occasionally, mostly to see pictures of my newest niece (I'm up to seven niblings now) (I do love the niece/nephew + siblings construction).

Memoir class is over, and now I have a handful of medium-smallish piece (1000-1500 words).   The class might keep meeting sans professor, I came out to them (as poly) in the piece I wrote for the last class,which I didn't have to read I just got to send them home with, in a piece I wrote about my little brothers and why I'm not telling them.  So, I'll see what the reaction is, if it's silence, if the invitation remains extended.

I'm contemplating anonymizing (at least a little bit) the pieces and posting them here, to show them to a different audience, to find out what showing them to a different audience feels like.   Delight's told me that my pieces got progressively more conversational as the class progressed, as I became a little less emotionally hermity and I know I shape myself for my audience, like water to a container

I'm working from home today, both with and without the airquotes.  I feel worn out, lightly beaten down.  I suspect some of this is not going to the gym, but I also am babying my knee-sprain, terrified I'm going to make it worse.  So I may have already gone to the gym for the last time in 2016.  For now, I snuggle with Delight's dog and watch indulgent hulu, possibly dozing off while doing so.  Oh, and write some more holiday cards to strangers from holiday_wishes.  And clean.  And try to figure out what to do with a lot of farm share carrots.  Maybe even grocery shop.  Who knows how my ambitions will scale to match the day.  For now, soporific animals surround me on a couch.
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An almost-friend had a gathering last weekend in the name of just fostering community.  I couldn't attend, being the sickfaced sad thing I am right now.  (I can see germ-sharing being a way of building community, but it doesn't seem like a particular kind one), but I've been thinking about it since the invitation.
  
I'm screening responses to this, but right now, I think the best thing I can do to feel more connected (other than give money and look for volunteering options) is send some love through the mail with no expectation of return, just hope of brightening someone's day.

Leave me your address and I'll send you something.  Hell, if you know someone who could use a little random love by the post, leave their address.  
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