Blood Laughter

I am in bed. It is Monday night.  I have a bandage on my right shoulder from the tetanus shot.  I see only the tiniest red speck on my forearm where they took my blood.

No one would know, truly, the size of this miracle.  I think that is why I have come from feeling proud of my bravery today back around to sad and, ultimately, alone to a degree that I am not prepared for.

I did some meditation this morning, even if it was half-broken when I got the call for my ride.  My father went with me.   It’s funny these days when we have time together, he tells me these slivers of strange stories of his past.  Like I’m being given them to safeguard.  But they are always oddly perfect parables.  They’re always meant to help me if I can just go slow enough to pay attention.  When we went to the ballgame a few weeks ago and I told him how I panicked on the flyover bridge on the highway, he told me about how frightened he was in the St. Louis arch, how it swayed, how he wanted to get the hell out of there. He understood on some level.  There was no judgment.

Today, the story of trying to shoot a bat with a bow and arrow long that had gotten in the house.   Missing, and then, screwing up the courage to kill it with a hockey stick.

Horrible, weird, but somehow.  He understood, on some level, that this was a hard thing that I had to do.  So my father tells me this story and then he sits in the waiting room.  It was our deal to go and out of the corps, he was the only one available.  Once they called for me, the tech very perfunctorily had me march into the room, asked me if I was getting a physical.  I said…maybe? She said well, we have to book it differently if it’s a physical.  So, what is it?  I had a moment of fear that all of my notes trying to mitigate what this appointment might be had been ignored.  I thought there would be peeing and ballpeen hammers, and swabbing my earwax.  I thought it would be invasive in some way – a step too far.  They were lucky, I thought, to get me in the door even if the magic of the meditation was keeping me relatively calm.  Still.  I was there.  I told the tech I was having a physical.

They put me on the scale.  A number arose that was not shocking, but ought to have been had that been my focus. They took my blood pressure.  It was high.  I told the tech I was very nervous and she softened completely.  She said the NP would be a good fit.  She said there was no reason to worry.

The nurse practitioner looked like a slender Marie Osmond.  A youthful, energetic, ex-beauty queen sort of face, but, somehow…perhaps because I decided to pull no punches in my appointment notes about how I felt going into this…she was precisely the right person for me to see.  She said she was very proud of me for coming in.

She asked me if I scheduled worry time every day.  To be able to save anxiety for this predetermined block of time and when things arose, I would know I could worry to my heart’s delight tomorrow, but the day’s worries had been accounted for.  I thought it was a nice idea if I could begin to siphon even a drop of this madness, get one drop of control.

I said I wanted to lose weight – she didn’t bring it up.  She thought I should do keto.  I thought.  Okay.  Okay.  I could do that.  I understand that.   I could get clear and do it and see a difference, just like what I wanted, just how I wanted this to go. I became as truthful as I dared.  I trusted her.  I didn’t feel like she put out any of the information callously or to frighten me.  She had me breathe, and in the end said, I seemed much calmer.  She took my blood pressure again and said it was way down.  Normal.  She said I should have a mammogram and for the first time, I didn’t feel like the word had a bullet in it.  It wasn’t wreathed in flame.  She’s scheduled one and there will be a gynecological exam.  She said she could do it next time or the doctor she worked with was excellent, too.  It isn’t a shock that she was 100% professional, but it was a shock that I didn’t feel some secret judgment, I couldn’t even invent the secret judgment I wanted her to have to make me feel defensive.  I didn’t see her curl up her lip at me, see some dark stain, some obvious sign of physical…lessness.  She just saw me as a very nervous patient, someone she wanted to help.

Finally, she asked if I needed a tetanus shot, if it had been more than five years.  I considered – I was here.  I could be brave within the bravery and get it now or try and find more bravery later.  This seemed less likely so I went ahead and got it.  The NP said her farewells and that I had to go downstairs to get my blood drawn for the lab work, but first the tetanus booster.

Another tech arrived, and I, now feeling comfortable telling the whole world that I was terrified of doctors and needles and the whole health care racket, told her I would look away to keep myself calm.  She shrugged, unbothered, and rolled up my sleeve.  I turned my head waiting for something.  Finally, I looked back and she was applying the bandaid.

And I broke out laughing.  I felt absolutely nothing.  The whole thing was hilarious to me, so much anguish and terror in a teapot and even if I didn’t want to be amused by decades of pent-up anxiety unraveled in a single hour…I was.

Of course now, I ache to beat all holy hell on my arm, and now, there’s a lab report in my email and I hope I will make myself read it soon.  Still.  Even if there’s no one in the world who truly sees what this took, the mountain that got moved, the thoughts that are erupting and I will save words for tomorrow…it happened.

Suddenly there was something to say…

We begin with our gratitude.  I am grateful for the opportunities my job has afforded me financially.  I can follow whims.  I can chase down dreams of my youth.  I can ramble into a convention, see what I want to see, and ramble home.   It is very lucky and it is the framework, currently, for a life that might have otherwise been wholly unsatisfying.

I got to shake the hand of someone else I believe is doing true good.  Who is a piece of something that matters so much to me.

Tomorrow, I would have noted once, is the day I am going to the doctor.

I just don’t want to open it up and agitate the world.  It’s enough that it is happening and it is a thing I swore in private conversations with the self, the sort that never show up here because they demand that I am small and fearful and beholden to all the terrors one can invent, that would never happen.  Ever.  That it was too much.  That I would pass out by coming within a thousand feet of the idea.  That I am broken in such a way that there was no such thing as pre-emptive care.   It would happen and it would be so significant and terrible and painful and devastating that health care would happen to me, not by any will of my own.  It would be traumatic and expensive and I would regret not being able to marshall enough bravery just to find out that the road I was walking would eventually lead to a field of upturned nails and glass.  But to do otherwise, the inner talk insisted, was impossible.  I could more easily sprout wings.

And life continues, and I believe myself over fact.

Except, somehow, some way, past me did not inform the fear and made an appointment.  And it will be a morning of terror, but I’ll end up knowing how, if possible to right the path.  I’ll be able to ask the question I want to ask which is less a question than a request…tell me, with your authority, your review of my chart, as I might ask a shaman, a palm reader…tell me what to do with what’s before you.  This addled person who is alone so often that food is friend, is solace, is a bridge between moments well before it’s sustenance.  Tell me who is so exhausted, with stringy, fine hair, and weak eyes and sore boobs and this blubbery gut, tell me if it’s a cup of broccoli M,T,W, and a cup of squash the other days.  Hand me the calendar and say, do this.  Try this for a week and see if you don’t improve.  Do this and don’t do this and you likely will settle down.   Drink water.

All these things I am entirely capable of doing, but won’t unless I’m prescribed.  Right now, I can’t seem to lift a pinky to take care of myself and this…is a novelty.  This is a curiosity. What horrors will we uncover?  What grand sins?  But if I can begin with the rule of law, a place that can’t be bent, I can carry that perhaps with me back to therapy.  I can work on the road behind me that is guiding the road ahead.

I exist as a person who existed as a child who dealt with being shy and afraid and alone and less than the daydreams that flooded her brain by flooding it at regular intervals with secret, and aggressive treatments of sugar.  Who would steal cake mixes, stir them up like E-Z Bake Oven recipes with water and a quick nuke in the microwave, and hide them away in her room. Feasting there, I remember one thing about it and one thing alone, the high of the sucrose.  Of accomplishing this secret thing that was wrong, that none of the other girls did.

I never cut.  I never did a thing to draw a single eye to blink.  But I did do this.

I remember being punished for this upon discovery.  Spanked, or given time outs or just yelled at.  But I had so much time alone to tiptoe to the kitchen, draw a fingertip across the dessert undoubtedly on the countertop, and pinch a taste of five or ten.  I do not recall being asked why in any serious fashion I was doing it.  Why one serving did not satisfy me.  I don’t know what I would have answered if I had.  There was no real meditation, then.  I don’t think I knew how gasping and desperate my soul was.  Is.  It was all inner voice, no, sense of self evolved that had the idea that I was not striving garbage.  Endlessly clawing through waves and veils of fantasy towards someone, something rooted in reality, held back by a perfectionism that kept dropping me on my head.   No matter how I started towards my goal, I was going the wrong way.

My mother was ill.  My father at a job that didn’t pay enough.  We were loved, but let loose.  My body did not turn athletic like my parents’ at puberty.   Whatever faerie qualities I might have claimed as a girl dissipated and I got soft and round and my short height accentuated these features – made them unforgivable flaws.  It felt like being abandoned by a part of myself I thought eternal, I thought was real magic.  It was a devastation.  Truly.   While the girls around me shot up and started running track, and drawing romantic attention, I wanted only to go back to Tolkein and Elfquest and not feel completely at odds with my vision of beauty.

But there was no going anywhere but where I could get in my head, and when I got back from that place, I sat alone at tables, I walked alone in hallways, sat alone in busses, smiling like an imbecile at people who knew me as a Stranger so they didn’t imagine me as a threatening girl with opinions.

Cake was balm.  Cake was cocaine.  Even if the understanding was that Cake was a treat that rational people could control their desire over.   I would eventually stop, I believed.  I would eventually grow up.  I would eventually be able to go to the doctor and tell them who I was and let them see me, help me, keep me on track.   That is how everyone did it and that was the general understanding.

But why would you go somewhere and pay to show them the worst parts of yourself, to see their features tweak and turn down, to lay out the overdue library book of your body and beg for forgiveness when nobody had to know?  Nobody had to reject me romantically, nobody had to reject my body for a failed construction, nobody had to confirm the break and if I could just hold out for a hundred years, I can escape this world with nobody saying the words loud enough for me to hear.

I am beginning to feel – to know – that I can’t hold out that long.  I have to go to the doctor and hear bad news and I have to update my prescription for my glasses.  I have to know my weight.  I have to do situps and not look for baked goods to save me from myself.  I have to drive my car in the rain and over bridges and places I haven’t been before.  I have to tell you I don’t love you and I can’t sit here, not loving you, pretending I am just on the edge of being someone you could love.

I can’t go backwards.  I can dream and make beauty and health and fantasy out of where I am if I can get the fear out of it.  Flush my heart of the stories and the saccharine.  I can go to the doctor tomorrow, and take the little prick.

Meanwhile my mother moves from week to week, from CT scan to CT scan.   Good to good to good to…some point which is either better or worse.  Until, as she says, they come up with the miracle cure.

Plus, I’ll save $300 on my insurance.  Which I’d forgotten about as well, until just this moment.  Money that will justify something frivolous or motivational or just…not cake.







who the fuck knows what might come out

I have just come from a little bit of meditation.  It is a fairly remarkable thing to be quiet and not online, even just for 10 minutes.  But I am grateful for my calm app today.

I am glad for the sound of lapping water.  I am glad for the reminder of diligence met with gentleness.  I am glad for the desire to come to the page and think in the quietness of my own life and not the stories that others want to share.  Mine.

Life has been a slice of collapsed ego of late, the eggy meringue turning to soup over a far too sharp lemon curd.  I forgot a meeting today.  It wasn’t on my calendar.  But if I’d stop to think, I would have known.  Priorities are bad.  Nobody’s mentioned it, so now my not mentioning it is a secondary strike. Too concerned with the sugared dream world, a place where you are linked to others and not alone.  Too concerned with making right now suffused with food and numbness that you can’t sense what’s gone to rot around you.  The joy of an ebbing depression is how much you let turn to shit while you were out.  Sometimes, in such moments, I think, when you look around and feel failure and waste…your mind sends you right back out to sea.

But there are some curiosities to attend to whilst we linger on this shore.

Why on earth after fifteen years did you decide to reach out and friend me on Facebook?  Old, old, old…friend?  Boy I knew once.  Boy who was one of the boys orbited the girls in the great firmament of my youth.  Shorter than the others, I remember, aquiline nose, a name that matched mine.  But mostly, one of the pack.  One of the blur.  I looked up at them, all of them, in wonder and loathing and expectation and resignation.  I thought for sure that one of them could love me – in whatever definition or understanding I held love in at that time – and they all took their turn in apogee in my view.  Each of them, preppy, sporty, goofy, above average intelligent guys, all of them friends, all of them in social agonies with the equilateral cadre of girls.   I was not among them.  I was not, be it in their eyes or mine, a romantic possibility.   They had money.  They had the right clothes.  They matched.  I spoke with flowers in my spare time.  Dreamed of spiraling towers, delphinium.  I pined with the power to set cities ablaze, but it was offset by a self-shame as immovable a force as any love was unstoppable, and so it was…being among them, hearing their jokes, observing their flirtations and dramas, learning the way an invisible wall feels brushed over your fingertips, crushed into the winged bones of your back.  I insinuated nothing.  I folded my hands, stomped out all embers, and graduated alongside them.

If I was seen on occasion by any of them it was because I was smart.  It was because I could write and while none of those boys gave a damn about me, they didn’t turn their noses up at my writing. And there was a painful sort of respect I earned up there on my fence.  I asked nothing of them, I didn’t give off any particular signals.  I wasn’t a friend.  I wasn’t a buddy.  If I was a cipher, they were perfectly content to leave me unsolved.    I did not die from this, perhaps I gained some screwy strength that let me manage growing up, but I did hurt.

It is an age-old story.   Without Facebook, there was no reason to expect to hear from any of them again.

He – this voice from the past, if I think about it – would talk to me, now and again, though.  I remember that.  Never particularly smug or mean.  There were many others I thought of first, but my wandering eye didn’t exclude him.  I remember his mother being nice, involved, remembered me once or twice over the years.  My mother was nice, but never involved.  Save once.  A coercion never repeated.

He seems super outdoorsy, fit, I guess, and while not married, maybe, also possibly politically questionable in the sorts of ways I would speculate a well-off white kid from the suburbs might end up 15 years later.  Doesn’t post a lot, really.  Months and months between posts.  Curious what he thinks of me, now that my whole Facebook life is open to his perusal.  You’d imagine there was some trigger, some reminiscence, some reason to decide to ping me – me, this person who was an aggressively innocuous teenage girl presence in his life some decades ago.   Faceless, really.

But, one supposes, after a thrillingly short imaginative journey after receiving that request…envisioning he’d had some unspoken crush for me and just now, just now, so many years later, he realizes he must have m….no.  No, he hasn’t said a word in hello, and I was, I assume, just a name recognized on a list.   A You Might Know… might as well.

And so as close as the Internet allows 2 people to become, we are as strange to one another as we ever were.  And I am tired and ready for a bath.

Answer the Hail

The thing I think I can think about right now is that I have enough time to write all the words I could ever want to write.

I have an hour here and I can easily provide the universe with five hundred words.  Even if my attention span isn’t long enough to think of the precise analogy I want to make about mayflies and hummingbirds.  Everything is buzzing so quickly and there’s no need.  We are not in any sort of race and it would be grand to have our brain engaged as we deal with the things that dealing with is requested.
Some things that over this long period of not posting you are likely unaware of:
I have a new bathroom.  It is almost, almost done.  There is art on the wall, and the murky, slimey sht brown walls are now white and it no longer feels as though you’re taking your turn in a dark outhouse that might instantly be converted into a coffin every time you use it.  The bathtub is sparkling white.  There is a glass case full of boxes in which, one assumes, I will soon put my particular lady-items so they’re hidden away beneath shelves of neatly appointed white towels.  There is a glass display of my fortune telling notes and a glass case full of a vintage rabbit door stop.  There is a wall of gloriously spa, sea foam green, vintage tile.  There will soon be a haunted mirror – albeit haunted by a ghost who wants you only to see yourself in the best possible light.   There’s a oil-rubbed bronze faucet that pours out a fountain of water into this deep basin.
There’s still some things to do.  Baseboards are not back where they should be, the medicine cabinet I hate is not yet spray-painted white and hung, the mirror needs to be hung, the faucet and shower head will remain a terrible silver for now, the vent needs replacing.  The toilet seat needs to be changed out because the new one creaks and I’m terrified it’s going to send a shard of plastic up my rear at some inopportune moment.  The door is still going to this honey brown because painting one side of a door is apparently gauche and changing that would mean changing all doors everywhere.  And that is a project too grand for me to finance.
Suffice to say, this suffices.  This little room makes me terribly happy.  Because it is visible change that I instigated and my family executed at my direction and being in there does make me feel hopeful which is necessary in this time where you wonder how the hell you’re ever going to feel hopeful about anything again.  Just terror from on high day in and out.  I worry about leaving the fan on in case the fan overheats at how much I need it to cool things down.  It’s just one little fan, you know?  Fighting against the heat death of the universe.  Hard not to feel empathetic towards it and say you’ll get by, let the darkness do what it can.
What else?  I am deeply, deeply grateful that I have Critical Role.  I’m going to get home.  Say something to J because I feel out of sync there.  Life has de-synchronized me.  I follow the wills of the chemicals inside my brain.
Oh, I suppose I should also note, because it is impossible, and yet it is true:  I have a doctor’s appointment in a few weeks.
Maybe there doesn’t need to be commentary about that just yet.


  • Take it in bullet, pellet, blow dart form.
  • Specifics.  Concrete behaviors.  Rooted actions.
  • I cooked. I ate.  I put my plate in the dishwasher.
  • I let it go.
  • I took a shower.  Washed my hair.   Made it possible for me to go to work in the morning with food to eat there and a snappy outfit.  Snappy is overselling it.  I will be there with clothes on that will not get me fired – my usual bar.  I may, all things going well, paint my nails.
  • I thought about the man who is not my boyfriend.  If I let that go, what does that mean?
  • I got the external fan going on my hot little laptop.
  • I need to read a book and not just a business book for work.  My word well is running dangerously dry.
  • I need to get back into my body even if the body says no. Or yes.  Or needs a stronger mind at the till to direct it one way or another.  Floating around is not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • I need to post.


Turns out the only way to get out of a long stretch of not writing is to write. There is fodder: a golden-rimmed Schrodinger’s mirror (which is to say that all mirrors are both haunted and not haunted until such point as you can determine, solidly, that it is haunted), the terrors of tile haze, the American Gods episode before the the NEXT American Gods episode which…uffda, and sitting on the comfortable window seat overlooking the atramentous world as it inches towards the dispiriting inevitability of a 6am Monday morning.

There’s been arguments.  Some of which have yet to be resolved.  They will be, well before anyone actually says something that moves the needle in any way.

My mother is no longer biding her tongue, which, were it someone other than her, I suppose I would be endlessly supportive.  Her no longer biding her tongue means telling my younger sister that she’ll never have grandkids and me, I get nothing, nothing save the unending, unspoken omissions that fill the void.  I think she would have said it if she thought it, so for her, it’s already written off.  So I slammed the door.  And she’s sick.  And I shouldn’t have.  But I had to, it was so involuntary, a ballpeen hammer to the one small confrontational bone in my body.

It will be forgotten even if it would be healthier to be the straw for either of our camel’s backs.  My heart is broken, but like all humans, we move at nothing short of cataclysm.

I realize now that the vulnerability I felt at my last therapy session can’t be the reason to never be vulnerable again.  And the driving has to stop the madness.  20 extra minutes out of sheer avoidance.  Is this the sort of thing people take pills to fix?  I feel like it’s just me knowing it fucks me up and I want to not feel fucked up, so I figure out a workaround.  I don’t need help, it’s just my 20 minutes.  It’s just me paying to deal with the shit I create.  It’s not like I could just not create it.  It’s me.  There will be shit, no matter what.

I want to just take the bridge again.  To figure out how to except the freakout.  it just feels so dangerous. I feel physically like all the blood is rushing to my head and my face goes on fire.   That seems like something a doctor could help me with if only I hadn’t also concocted, probably around the time my mother got sick, the most genius gift for myself imaginable.  A blackout, break the Richter scale fear of doctors.  One that I always am 100% certain I could resolve, in the same moment I am 100% sure it won’t be in the next 6 months.  One that has been at that point of tension since it developed.

Maybe more tomorrow on that.  I need to crash and not think. But I started, and maybe we’ll determine I cannot be stopped.

The Conjurer

come back down, come back down into your own head.  stop fluttering around there

As a character in my new passion American Gods is wont to say:  Angry gets things done.

Yesterday, I was an open wound.  I was a scream.  Even if that scream was muffled into a heaven of pillows.  I ask for help and I get a few hours of kindly received help – we’re remodeling the bathroom and there are sighs and comments and things that I can ignore because it’s understandable…my imperfections so cloistered away and they visit and of course, they have opinions.
But it’s on the second day when I haven’t slept due to the help provided resulting in the idea that I need to empty a bucket of water draining in my bathroom at 3am, and with the coffee and sugar and general shit I’ve been eating to stop feeling, when I’m getting shouted about and ordered about and not responding appropriately and then told I am not allowed to be upset, how DARE I be upset.   And everyone just bowed their head at my evisceration.  I must have deserved it in their eyes.
And so I turn into liquid fire and say nothing…except to think of how I can be in such a catbird seat as NO ONE would  DARE say such things to me again.  And the plan, the only thing I can tolerate, is to say nothing at all and do something for myself. However long that takes.

There’s been a lot happening and nothing in the usual way and I haven’t been able to form words for it.  Mostly because of the usual reason:  words mean you believe something.  What I have to say is that for me, for this, the purposes of here and now?  Words do mean something, but it doesn’t have the permanency of stone.  I just need to know what’s rattling around in my skull as I can know it today – not for perpetuity.  I am not a stone.  I am changing all the time.  I will change, irrespective of anyone’s opinions on the how or why of it.  The broken record breaks and the record player plays it anyway.
I went to Seattle and I had a great time and flashes of memory and very tryhard Mexican food, and glorious burgers, and roaming and being amongst my kind, the hills, and the crumpet place, and just rolling down one of the aforementioned hills and finding a Safeway, and dear baby Pancake the wonder Pom and Critical Role running through my veins and lots of moments you only get at a convention:  the sheer randomness of sitting in the massive atrium of the convention center just minding my own panic and watching the homemade R2-D2s beep and bloop at one another.
I need to be back here, but I didn’t realize the impact of a thing I did which is to say I did the right thing for the right reasons and my brain.  I went to therapy and I told what are some of my most secret secrets.  Not of pain, unless, I suppose, we are allowed to think of the aura that shame radiates as a sort of pain and I think…from experience….we should.  A shame that passed and left these great, heaving tunnels through my head and how I sort of mapped them and decorated them and run this curious little trolley up and down between them depending on the weather outside.  I don’t know how or why I did it, but I did.
None of it makes sense.