NaNoWriMo and Brain Leakage

I’ve decided to take a break from my weird life shits and discuss something of great and ill-advised import: I’m finally going to give NaNoWriMo a go. For many years it has been my intention to participate, but something always thwarts it. Although, really, that something has generally been me: I typically am too busy, forget when it starts, or just forget it exists altogether. Forgetting is a skill at which I excel.

But this year due to a series of badness culminating in my taking a semester off for the first time in three years (including summer breaks), I’m jumping in. I am not sure what I’m going to write though, which I guess is a big ‘oh shit’ thing in the NaNoWriMo world. Most people spend the year preparing for this like you would a marathon. Many have outlines, titles, plotlines, character profiles – everything ready to go come 12 a.m. November 1st. I’m not like that. I don’t really know what I’m going to do.

That’s not to say that I don’t have options or whatnot. I have a notebook full of story ideas that I draw from and add to frequently. So I’m set for something to write about, I just haven’t picked yet. I’m not sure if I should choose one I’ve been mulling over for a bit, contemplate something from the idea book or go completely random and pull one from a hat.

I took the semester off – as in started classes and then withdrew when life became too overwhelming – because of the stress, but also because my migraines are back. With a vengeance. I had successfully whittled them down to one every once in a while, and now I have been having them every day for weeks straight. And there really isn’t anything I can do about them other than take this medicine that doesn’t make it better so much as make me sleepy and weird. Sleepy and weird with my brain leaking out my eyes and ears. It’s crazy frustrating. I can’t read or go online like I’d normally do. I have so much to do and am just unable. Did I mention that my migraines are vertiginous? Yeah, so that’s fun. Now I think that maybe I’m setting myself up for failure with this NaNoWriMo thing. Glutton for punishment am I.

 

Arts

I’ve been encouraged to do art-type things on a more frequent basis, studio access or not, to help me deal with my current shituation. So I got this tiny Moleskine knockoff. It’s roughly 3” x 4” and I’ve been trying to scribble in it at least once a day.

In the midst of my grandfather chaos, my uncle, aunt and father have been having this sibling painting competition. Meaning they’ve been painting in these Barbie watercolor books with my nearly three year old cousin, and have decided my art degree qualifies me as judge. It also apparently qualifies my uncle to make snide little comments about my being unemployed. This is a thing with this particular uncle. I couldn’t list the bullshit immature crap he’s pulled on me since I’ve been born. No, that list would take many blog entries. He likes to take little digs at me for no reason. Literally no reason; he would say mean and nasty things to me and about me when I was a TODDLER. The man is immature as fuck. Even in his 50s.

He spent a few days using my art degree as an excuse to make little digs, implying that I’m so bad at art I can’t get employed. So I whipped out my tiny sketchbook that I have been keeping on me at all times, and his wife snatched it up and dropped her jaw. ‘CAUSE I CAN FUKKIN ART. “That’s how it’s done son.” I declared, thus slightly smiting him in front of his laughing wife, sister, brother, mother, nephew, teenage daughter and one of his teen sons.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the pencil.

So that’s all I got. Next time perhaps I’ll regale you with tales of amusing librarians, and tell you what it’s like to cry in the basement of a house that is falling over.

Until then, please enjoy this Andrew Bird playlist, composed by my psychic MP3 player just for this occasion.

 

The Psychic MP3 Player Presents: A strictly Andrew Bird Assortment

  1. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
  2. Anonanimal
  3. Polynation
  4. Happy Birthday Song
  5. Hover I
  6. Far From Any Road (Be My Hand)
  7. The Giant of Illinois (Dark Was the Night version)
  8. Orpheo
  9. Unfolding Fans
  10. Desperation Breeds…
  11. Tin Foiled
  12. Near Death Experience
  13. If I Needed You
  14. Grinnin’ In Your Face (Fingerlings 3 version)
  15. Pulaski At Night
  16. Cathedral in the Dell
  17. Fitz and Dizzyspells
  18. Frogs Singing
Advertisements

A stupid update and stupid Ebola

IMG_7788

I realized that I haven’t been posting lately and although I’m sure no one has noticed, I have, and that right there goes against the whole point of this blog experiment. This is not to say that I haven’t tried. I went and started about half a dozen of these but then got too overwhelmed or tired to complete them. So here I am with a brief synopsis on my junk, which I may or may not go into further detail on at a later date.

When last I posted it was shortly after my cousin’s memorial service. It’s been really hard, and affecting me in strange little everyday ways – but also in big ways. Like how I celebrate Christmas sort of ways. This year has been upsetting and disruptive to my routine, traditions and things that make someone like me – someone with major anxiety and depressive issues – on edge.

My great aunt, who is really my grandmother (she was there for me like a grandmother when her sister, my actual grandmother, wouldn’t be), suffered a series of strokes that have left her barely able to think, see, hear or speak. The matriarch of my family, as well as the single wisest person I know, has now lost everything, is in a senior living facility, and her life is being dictated by this monster of a cousin-in-law whose motives in the whole situation are dubious at best. I feel so entirely helpless in this that I don’t know what to do. TheRapist has tried to help me with it, but she doesn’t understand our relationship. She doesn’t get how for the majority of my life I felt that only one person in my entire family understood me, and I’m losing her: systematically, and in most despicable ways.

A terrible run in with the cousin-in-law has also started a strange thing in my family. People by and large are on my side because this woman is particularly offensive. However, it’s making things hard in other ways.

My house is entering its fourth year of renovation. Meaning that my entire house is in disarray, half of it has little to no electricity and no lighting, many of our belongings are in storage (including stored in my studio – thereby preventing my being able to use it) and it’s just not a big enough house for this much disruption. The main reason this is happening is because my father insists on doing these renovations by himself, but he doesn’t want to do it. He’d rather play with his boat or his band. So a project that could be finished in a weekend or two has taken nearly four years. Any interference from my mother or me is met with hostility and accusations. It’s created an environment of stress and resentment that is just too much right now.

Especially considering that my mother has atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. We finally got the heart failure into remission when she just made all of her stress worse and now it’s acute again. Awesome. Add to that my father quitting his fucked up (once epically awesome job) for a new one, and having to wait for the new health insurance to kick, it’s been a ball over here.

And it’s not just my mom who is sick. Our ancient greyhound is not doing too well either; and we don’t expect to spend another Christmas with him.

Personally I’ve not been in a good place. I may have to have a surgery next year that I’m not really on board with but am afraid I am without choice. My anxiety is at epic levels (obviously), I’m unemployed and unemployable. I am now, for the first time in years, officially broke. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Everything has been coming at me from all angles (even more things, things that I don’t want to even mention, lest I well up or throw up), and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my grandmother called crying yesterday. My grandfather isn’t well, and instead of going to the doctor or the hospital, he’s refused medical treatment and aid. He won’t let us move him or let the ambulance take him. He’s announced that he wants to die and won’t get out of bed and eat.

So right now there’s this epic vigil going on at my grandparents’ house. We’re all just waiting for him to knock it off or die. And seeing as he is a stubborn old fool, and he isn’t well to begin with, he’s going to slowly die in his bed, breaking the hearts of his four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. And there is nothing we can do about it.

For the first time I really don’t think that I can handle this. It’s literally too much for me.

So there’s that. My completely bullshit life, and the reason I’m not really up for much socializing or generalizing or blogging.

____________

Before I go, I do have something I’d like to say about this Ebola outbreak. There’s been a lot of panic, a lot of bullshit reporting, and apparently even some ignorant and ridiculous conspiracy theories. But what it comes down to is this:

The reason why Ebola is spreading through Africa uncontrollably right now is because of poor sanitary conditions. The poor sanitary conditions are a direct result of having no access to clean water. This is a larger, much more terrible, much more difficult, underlying problem that needs to be addressed and no longer ignored.

Having no clean water is a major and horrific reality that you almost never hear about, and that most people in the western world don’t give a shit about. But the fact is, around a billion people worldwide have no access to clean water. An estimated 345 million of those people are in Africa alone. So now these diseases that are rare, that are containable – hell, some that should have been obliterated ages ago – are free to go unchecked because there is just no way to maintain sanitation when there is no sanitation to begin with.

What is happening with the Ebola outbreak in Africa is only an issue with us in the Western world because it’s starting to affect us directly. And like most things that happen around the world, they get ignored until they affect us directly. It’s sad.

Coming up with new treatments that only first-worlders can afford, or doing special new screenings at airports is ignoring the real issue and placating the few. It is the equivalent of walking into the most used room of your home, seeing a steaming pile of shit in the middle of the floor, covering it with a facial tissue and then walking away.

Without fixing the whole problem, the core problem, the ACTUAL problem, things are going to get worse and worse. For all of us.

Everything that happens everywhere in the world, everywhere on this Earth affects us directly. There is no us and them. There is only us. This is our problem and it is spreading. It won’t be long before it’s a rampant issue in the US. And note how I said ‘rampant’ – because it already is becoming an issue here.

So I just wanted to point that out. I also want to point out that these massive problems aren’t impossible. There are solutions. Everyone and anyone can help. You can raise awareness. You can demand it become a central political issue. Go to water.org to get further educated and see what else you can do to help bring clean water to these areas.

That’s it for now. Later.

A Memorial and a Song

rat pack

 

We were heading past the funeral home, down Mass. Ave searching for parking, when I saw him and recognized him immediately. No one else in the world naturally looks like a forgotten member of the Rat Pack, slightly stumbling in his dark suit, smoking a cigarette in that particular way. “There’s ____.” I told my parents. It couldn’t be, they said, he can’t be here; he has a show tonight. But I was right, it was him. He was stumbling away from his godfather’s memorial service, crying, escaping. Doing exactly what I wished I could do. I worried for him. I always worry for him. He has MS, and he is gifted, and sometimes I worry that he’ll feel too awful or too good and push himself too far and get hurt or lost or stuck or what. I can only imagine that he must feel trapped in his life these days. It’s because I feel that way too.

We found a spot across the avenue, practically beside the crosswalk that ends directly in front of the mortuary. I hate the place. I have been here, so many times that I often find myself outside the door giving directions to incoming mourners. “The viewing is in the reception room, through the lobby on the right – just follow the line. Yes, there are restrooms. Go straight, through that small anteroom there and they will be in front of you – it’s a straight line from the front doors.” I’ve memorialized so many loved ones here, that I can tell you where the phones are, where they hide notepads, pens, extra mints and tissues. I’ve even been upstairs in the residences/offices.

When Mum gets out of the car I am worried. She doesn’t handle these situations well, it’s hot out and she isn’t healthy. She has atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. I am beyond paranoid that sometime soon I’m going to be in this situation again, only this time I won’t be filing in to pay my condolences, I’ll be on the receiving end.

We get across the stairs and go inside, only to be greeted by the countless throngs that comprise my extended family. Everyone is smiling, even those who are crying. People are reminiscing and laughing. My cousin – who died this week of a sudden (mere days between diagnoses and death) and devastating re-occurrence of cancer – wanted this to be a day without tears. And being atheist and not one to stand on maudlin formality, this memorial service would be it. So we were instructed to be happy and not to cry; there should be no sad tears in the celebration of a life.

I spent most of the time in a corner talking with some of my close cousins (the deceased’s niece and nephew) comparing photos of our dogs and talking about our new grown up lives, the other part of the time I spent with another cousin, an eleven-year-old with whom I am so close I consider her a little sister. We were in a little anteroom, next to the central air vent, goofing around. When a family member asked us (bemusedly) what we thought we were doing I replied: ‘Putting the ‘fun’ back in ‘funeral’.”

All around us was this almost painless, least-stressful wake/memorial service I had ever spent in this particular building. That is until I encountered the widow, a woman whom I have loved and respected and truly admired throughout my entire life. I should say rather, that she encountered me. She appeared seemingly out of nowhere, a specter, a ghost. Pale and in obvious shock she said my name, hugged me lightly, kissed my cheek, and then disappeared.

I have never in my life seen someone so completely devastated, heartbroken and destroyed. My breath left me. I was afraid for her; I am afraid for her. I wonder if she is eating, if she is sleeping. I worry that this is all too much for her, and that she shouldn’t have had to endure this stupid event.

 

I want to tell her how much I love her and that I’m there for her. But I’m the weird, black sheep little cousin, more like her niece than anything else. But I worry. I so, so worry.

 

We left the funeral home after two hours – four hours early, therefore missing the speeches and official reminiscing. This was surprising as my Mum is usually a stickler for the formalities. We wound up at my grandparents home, the ancestral manse, conveniently within walking distance of the service. We talked to my Gran, who having learned that I recently began seeing a therapist (or The Rapist, as I call her) insisted on knowing what for. “For lunacy” I told her. She was not amused.

 

 

My cousin died this week. He was a brilliant man, gifted and giving. He piloted planes and helicopters. He taught English in inner city schools. He was a sports car aficionado and driver. He was an accomplished bluegrass musician and he was teaching me how to play Jolene, the banjo Santa left for me by the tree. What’s more he was a survivor; he wasn’t supposed to die – he had been cured.

I feel cheated, but what’s more I feel like the world was cheated. Because it was.

 

Anyway, all week I’ve had this song trapped in my head. It came on when I was told he was dying and hangs on even now. I don’t know why this song, I don’t know if he even knew of Andrew Bird, and I don’t know that the subject matter has anything to do with anything at all or what it means that it’s trapped in my brain. But here it is.

Typewriters and Canscer Scares

So I have somehow inherited (if this is the proper word for it) the typewriter of a beloved and popular uncle. By inherited I mean, I posted on Facebook how I wished I had a proper, old-school manual typewriter (as opposed to my much beloved electric Smith-Corona) and a cousin told me that he wanted to give me my uncles’ typewriter which was rescued from the rubbish when they cleaned out his house after he moved away from the old neighborhood.

I don’t know much about the typewriter, other than my uncle loved it. He was a letter writer apparently, and he took very good care of the instrument while it was of interest to him.

Sufficed to say, although the typewriter I had in mind was a turn of the century Remington, I am much obliged for this specimen. With every tap of the keys my Smith-Corona slams the hammer against the paper with enough force to pierce it – and indeed on occasion it has. It is an angry thing and quite appropriate for my artistic purposes. Am curious to see how I will fair with this new noise; it seems a might bit tamer than the bitter THWACK! of my old electric. Now all I need is ribbon and I should be all set. I am looking forward to penning another chapter or short story on it in the future.

Typewriters of Famous Writers

Once I have done something to facilitate the accessibility of mine hovel (to some degree of efficiency) I shall commence with the disparate and fictitious nonsense such is my literary career. Which are just fancy words for ‘once I get all my ducks in a row, I shall shoot them’.  Every time I manage to get some of the crazy out of my head and on paper all I get is a stomach ache for my reward. I have a few people I force to read my crap and ask for advice, but I don’t know. Not that I don’t trust them, it’s just maybe I need a wider sample? Or better yet – no sample at all?

In other news, probably more pressing, my surgical endeavors were successful. Thus far at least. Phil has been removed and is living somewhere off the grid. My foot has a badass scar, and as we all know, chicks and hotties dig scars, so perhaps this will all work out in my favour one of these days. I am healing nicely, the stitches, bandages and the boot (I had to tromp about in a boot of doom and keep my foot otherwise elevated) came off after three weeks.

The biopsy revealed no canscer – Phil was just a freeloading asshole. I had hoped at least for teeth and some hair, just for fun, but nope. The nerves in the area will be a bit raw for a while, and I have to keep an eye out for unusual colorations or swelling, but otherwise I was sent away from podiatry with a clean bill of health. So huzzah for me.

Like I have mentioned before, this is not my first cancer scare. This is like, my fourth in the last decade. So, although I should be more upset that this keeps happening, there is nothing more I can do. I eat crazy healthy, I even try to grow my own non GMO food. I try to exercise. It’s just how it is I guess.

In fact, the day after the stitches came out I had my annual intestinal probe. They found another giant adenoma, like they did during my first cancer scare. With my intestinal disorder I have a seriously elevated risk of colon and other cancers of the digestive tract. The first time was like Defcon Five around here, everyone in a panic, me keeping everyone together. Then I got a big speech from the gastro-doc informing me that although I don’t have cancer now, the polyps he removed were an early form of cancer. He told me I basically had stage zero cancer and that there wasn’t much that they could do other than be more vigilant. So my colonoscopies went from every three years to annually, with intermittent testing in between, and my cancer risk has gone from ‘elevated’ to one-in-three or one-in-two chances of getting ill.

So that’s going to be fun.

My biggest issue with getting sick is everyone else around me; these things freak everyone out more than me. So if it seemed that I was nonchalant about Phil I wasn’t trying to be coy; I was just trying to downplay it and see how things turned out before reacting. Or overreacting, rather. My family is populated with amazing, giving people. But it’s also populated with worriers – as in ‘worry-myself-sick’ worriers – and people who make other people’s misfortunes their own personal tragedies. Plus, since the dawn of e-mail and Facebook the rumour mill is alive and well and surprisingly even more ill-informed than ever.

So my colon is clean – yet angry, and my foot is sore but healing.

I didn’t get to go to Blick after all, because I am TOO BROKE, but I did manage a copy of The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas for one of my classes. It was really good and worth it. I was surprised and not surprised at the same time that my library didn’t carry it, and that in fact none of the libraries in this part of my STATE had it. So maybe when I am through with it I may donate it. Maybe.

I am a selfish bitch.