On Visiting

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My choice of title has a bit of personal irony about it. (The Alanis Morrisette kind, not the Greek drama kind. Just chill out, people.) You see, “Visiting” is the term used in my Cats and Mages books for magickal teleportation: No muss, no fuss.

Instead, I’ve been visiting the human way: by bus. There’s a reason bus travel is a fraction of the price of other methods; they are small packages of Purgatory. I am old school and if I had my druthers and a whole pile of money, I would take the train—smoother travel, more leg room, and civilized restrooms.

Planes are buses with wings and interrogation from Homeland; their only real benefit is that they get you there a lot faster, so if you abstain from caffeine, you won’t have to pee between, say, New York and Chicago. (Although their toilets don’t have a disconcerting rush of air on your ying-yang while you’re trying—and in my case, usually failing—to relax your traumatized and nervous equipment enough to do the job. In the interest of fulfilling the Interwebs’ true purpose of providing too much information, I will share that I can only pee on a bus if I am close to severe physical pain.)

And then with any travel, really, there’s the schleppage. Because I replaced my laptop with a tablet, and can’t negotiate its wee keyboard, I travel with an additional fullsize keyboard and trackball, which makes for a bulky backpack which is also stuffed with all the things I falsely think I’ll get to on the trip, or forgot until the last minute. I also have a CPAP machine, which, being a prima donna, has its own small case that needs to be stowed in the overhead and thus possibly forgotten.

But I digress. This essay is on visiting, not traveling per se, so we need to talk about the reason for the purgatorial urine retention, which is to see important people in my life. I love these folks a whole lot, which is why I’ve done an unprecedented amount of busing this holiday season.

First up was my trip to my sister and brother-in-law in New Jersey, which was a lot of fun once I got there. I returned home with loot from their fantastic thrift store and a quarter of a metric sheepton of silk scraps. (I’ve always wanted to make a classic crazy quilt, and the Junior Sister scored big on the going-out-of-business sale of a fancy lingerie maker.) And then there was the ride home, which is when the bus broke down halfway between Hartford and Boston. At night. It had lost power, which meant no heat and no phone charging. Our luggage was lined up on the side of the road in the dark while we awaited rescue. Sigh.

Second is my current expedition to New Hampshire two scant weeks later to see my good friend and writing, shopping, and schmoozing buddy, who abandoned Boston several years ago to my great dismay. So far this trip has also not gone as planned, because my hostess’ back went out right beforehand. (The shopping took place anyway, as she introduced me to Amazon’s lightning deals. Sigh again.)

The thing about visiting is that you are taken out of your usual routine. Each hostess inquired about my essential needs with some anxiety, and I replied that all I really needed was pudding to take my evening meds. But that expanded when I arrived—Sis had run out of distilled water, which I need for my CPAP machine, and the writing buddy hadn’t been able to get to the store because of the back, so she provided scrumptious homemade apple-and-pearsauce instead of pudding.

As it happens, neither household does dairy, so my Morning Beverage routine was disrupted. A well-meaning young plumber had misinstalled my sister’s john when replacing the wax seal, so the potty was catawampous, which the reader may by now guess was disconcerting, and my New Hampshire friend keeps her house at a temperature I find bracing, to say the least. (I have Raynaud’s, so keeping my core temp up seems to help keep my hands functional.)

The result of these small deviations from the paths of my life is that I have ended up feeling like a princess, and not in a good way. It’s as if a magnifying glass has been focused upon me, and the bright light of Difference is scorching the skin of my complacency. If I were honest, there’s a whole slew of things I find “essential,” and going somewhere else just points that up, because very few of them are in fact necessary to my vital continuance. I can get by without my CPAP for a night. I can take my pills with food. I put whipped cream in my tea at one house, and almond milk at the second.

What’s really important is maintaining connection with the people: getting to see their faces, hearing their jokes and stories, commiserating with their pain, and peeking into their own life paths. That’s priceless, and well worth a broken-down bus or two.

Back to the bus fail: I learned three things that night:

First: Don’t overpack. Even though I had my sturdy brother-in-law at one end and my son and faithful Sherpa meeting me at the other, I ended up schlepping all that silk along the roadway myself.

Second: Don’t travel with your sweet little messenger bag that doesn’t zip. I dropped all my stuff trying (and failing) to scramble onto the first Good Samaritan bus that stopped, and lost my pricey prescription reading glasses.

Third: People are awesome. As soon as the other passengers heard about the loss, at least four people leaped off our cold and dark bus into the colder and darker night, looking for my glasses with their cellphone flashlights—and they were found. It utterly transformed the night for me.

And in the end, that last is what visiting is all about. People are awesome, and each treasured friend is worth the adventure.

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”—Bilbo Baggins

My Brain is a Border Collie

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I have this freakish thing going on: Although I can be miserably incompetent at many things (like housework and math), I’m wicked good at decoding my native language–I can read really hard stuff (and really bad stuff), think about it, and then spit it back out in writing. I also write at least tolerably well myself, and I write a lot. (No, not here; I’m sorry, followers! I just don’t want to have a whineblog, so I try to post only when I have something to say.) But I’ve written a doctoral dissertation and ten novels, seven of which are finished. (My first book, which needed to be split into a trilogy, is currently up on a mechanic’s lift being taken apart. In my copious spare time.)

I can also write non-fiction, and I’m an excellent editor. If I didn’t enjoy my day job, I could probably manage as a free-lancer. (I’m on disability, thank God and my fellow taxpayers, which limits my income. So I’m not fantasizing about limitless wealth here.)

Putting it a different way, my brain is one of those amazing little Welsh border collies who can herd sheep into marching-band patterns: Neither of us is close to the unified field theory, but man, are we good at what we do! It took skilled training and the sort of hyperfocused attention that only dogs and ADHDers have. (All dogs have ADH–squirrel!)

I’ve spent twenty hours this month working on a huge grant which is vitally important to a bunch of people I love dearly. They have a spectrum of writing skills, and the first draft was sorting out their various snapshots of the same subject, so we wouldn’t make the nice folks at DHCD tear their hair out. It was sort of like the Hebrew Bible, where important stories in different versions are all just plopped in next to each other, leading bored children to try to figure out just how many animals Noah took with him anyway. Only I don’t just have the J and P authors, I have three social workers, an accountant, a grantwriter, an IT guy, and the entrepreneur heading the organization. Kind of crazy–and I love it!

Taking paragraphs apart, fixing sentences, and moving things around is fun for me. I am more than happy spending my prime creative time (3 a.m. to 8 a.m.) doing this. I would probably do this for free, but I crave an iPhone. (Hey, only a 6, and I found a good deal. I’m not that crazy.)

My border collie gets bored a lot. NaNoWriMo is sort of me buying a flock of sheep to keep it occupied. But that’s only once a year. Major grants like this one only happen once every decade or so. What to do?

So the answer occurred to me this morning at about 5 a.m.: Maybe I should try writing poetry. Truth impels me to say that I can change things up most by attempting to write good poetry. It will be interesting to see if the mutt can make the sheep tap dance. (I promise not to overwhelm you with the results of this cockamamie idea.)

Confession: I loathe most modern poetry (the sort you wrote in high school with lots of emotion on each line) so will probably pick some random classic format for structure. An extra lap or two around the flock, and a nice huddle of well-behaved words as a result. Sounds like–squirrel!

Stuffing

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I was eleven or so. One afternoon my parents called me into the living room for some minor task, and inquired almost angrily what my deal was.

My face working, I stammered out that I was trying not to cry.

Well, what did I have to cry about?

I had cut my finger just moments earlier, while peeling an apple in the kitchen.

So why didn’t I cry?

“B-bec-cause y-you told m-me n-not to,” I wailed.

Oh, well then, cry away! I was told, with the largesse of a Victorian philanthropist, and I burst into tears.

I don’t recall being told not to cry, but I’m sure that I was. My mother was sexually abusing me nightly, although my conscious recollection boiled down to an eternal blazing fury: I hated my mother, but didn’t know why. My dad, on the other hand, as ignorant of the abuse as I, merely beat me a lot with his belt, mainly for not cleaning my room. To this day, when I hear somebody sweeping, there is a flashknot in my stomach.

But despite the abuse and neglect, I was not allowed to cry. What to do? I stuffed it, of course, and those tears waited with corrosive patience until an excellent therapist coaxed them out in my 40s. It took a lot of therapy, and to this day I am what’s called a “stress crier.” It’s a pain in the butt, if only because my sinuses swell from all the mucus and I can get a migraine from the pressure unless I hit myself with four sprays of fluticasone, which tastes unpleasantly of an incongruous lilac but works well.

I still stuff emotions, primarily anger, but I’m working hard on that. I write the feeling words large and circle them in my journal. The result is something that looks a lot like cantankerousness: I suffer fools badly, and have started to show up for myself.

I am trying to turn into a cranky old lady; to further this end, I have stopped dying my hair now that I’ve buzzed most of it off. My face still looks ten years younger, due mainly to genetics, not smoking, and sleep and hydration, but the crop of silver on top is like a snake rattle: Step over my log with caution, because I’ve been here for a few many turns around the sun now, and I have learned how to bite.

I nipped somebody this morning over something small, and was amazed at the level of satisfaction it afforded. (There is somebody who has taken it upon themselves to walk the website I manage, and if they find a 404 link, they email all of upper management. It’s been annoying for eight years, and I finally had enough. I told him that this tactic just made me look bad, and I would appreciate being given a private heads-up, being the webmaster and all.)

I’ve been chanting to change my karma, and (coincidentally I’m sure) had the most stressful month since I was homeless. I thought meditation was supposed to mellow you out, but maybe the mellow has to clear away a whole lot of muck before it rests easy in your soul. What do you think?

In Which Our Highly Trained and Educated Heroine Uses Her Mad Skills

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I’ve been noticing over the past several months that the helping profession is disproportionately filled with women. If I thought about it at all, I figured that it was connected with our socialization as nurturers—and that it was probably also spurred by the low pay/hard work equation which keeps women trapped as sub-par wage earners, despite our often heading single-income households.


I recently attended a training on motivational interviewing (where there were 13 women and two men), and my fellow students voiced my own tendency to want to FIX IT. (This in MI is bad.) I joked that MI was going to be a hard sell, because everybody in that room got there because they were fixers. On the job, we’re so often—possibly even usually—faced with a crisis, small or large, that demands immediate action: fixing.

However, this very morning I was given a small—a very small—crisis, and instead of getting all Socratic with my recoveree as I should probably have done, I . . . fixed it. And then after a few moments, I had to stop myself from further inserting myself into my recoveree’s issues. “Stop being a mommy,” I scolded myself. And then it hit me: Women—fixers—helping professionals—mommies.

How many of us still carry things like emergency bandaids?


In fact, I suspect that helping profess—ah, hell, call us what we are: fixers. I suspect that fixers are in a way uber-Moms, regardless of our gender. We’re the people other moms call for a consult, or would if we were better able to listen and less willing to roll up our sleeves with a savage grin and fix the hell out of the thing. This is obviously a social problem, which is counter-productive to our own self-care. Fixers (and for this I mean women) are probably short on friends of the galpal, chillaxing with the homeys variety. And that can only add to our stress, which ironically makes us poorer at what we do.


It’s all very well to tell us to listen more than we speak. That just makes most of us give ourselves a smug little pat on the back, because we do listen—it’s just that at the end we tend to give out a well-reasoned solution to the issue. Fixed! Check! Pleased to be of service, ma’am!


I’ve gotten to the point of keeping silence because once you take my fixing away, I don’t know what to say half the time. I just crack out one of my large supply of listening noises (got ‘em for every occasion) and hope my conversational partner will comply by continuing her flow of words. I’m glad to be learning techniques for what can be thought of as stealth fixing fu: I need them for me.

My Bariatric Journey Continues

Saturday June 16, 2018 – 6:30am–three days post-surgery

I guess this is a sort of a morning pages entry because my brain is still kind of fried. Potatoes. When will I see another potato? Not that I want one. Don’t want anything. Must keep taking sips. So far I’m still carrying IV fluid I think—pee not dark. Or maybe I’m doing it. I don’t know.

I feel: tired and achy. Weak and low energy. Hmm sounds like I just had surgery, heh. No drugs to take the edge off—sucks that they were out of liquid Tylenol yesterday. Mercifully, I’m not in what I think of as post-surgical pain at all. Truthfully, the only really bad piece is the right side of my neck. I have no idea why. It went away for a while when they a) gave me Imitrex and b) sent me home, but I woke up with it again. Possibly from weird pillowing.

Allergies were gone in the hospital, but now I’m back to catland, so I’m draining. At least I’m not puking when I yack up stuff, the way I was that ghastly first night. It feels like I got more anesthesia than I’m used to. Apparently I looked really bad in the recovery room—some nurse told my folks (A, T, Ryan) that they’d probably be keeping me through the weekend! Although they did keep me till the afternoon. Maybe those dozen spoonfuls of tomato soup freed me.

More poop. Everything except water has some solid components, and our bodies can’t use them, so out they go. I just figured this out. Duh. I was thinking maybe my bowel would have a break.

According to my scale, I lost a bit over 25 pounds prepping for the surgery. I kept recounting the pounds—seriously? That much?

11A—Sitting here with a sippee cup half full of protein shake. It’s half full because that’s about all my stomach can hold right now. For the visual: Last week, my stomach could hold about a small mixing bowl worth—Thanksgiving dinner—and now . . . I have a juice glass. A very upset and angry juice glass, which is making weird sensations and tiny noises, as this is really My First Meal. Or at least that’s the goal. I’ve had what you could call nibbles for the past two days, mostly pudding and yogurt to help me choke down *shudder* powdered pills.

The sippee cup is to regulate my sips. (It sounds so dumb when I put it that way.) A minute amount, about a half teaspoon or so at a time.

I have been catching up on sleep as if I were getting paid for it. I have the annoying misfortune to need a lot of sleep anyway—I run best on 10 CPAP-monitored hours—and you don’t even have the opportunity for that in the hospital. And I got maybe three hours that first horrible night. I was so sleepy! But the dry heaves kept coming.

Sunday, 6/17/18 6am

Still not at home in my body. These early mornings are the worst, without so much as tea to get me going.

January 5, 2019, 7 a.m.

That was six and a half months ago. I can tolerate a limited amount of caffeine now—more than one cup of coffee makes me jittery. I’m on a “normal” diet, which means I can eat most regular food as long as I obsess over protein. Protein: I got put back on the shakes when a huge amount of my hair fell out. (Fortuitously, I had a lot of hair to begin with, so it’s not noticeable.) A protein shake—a good one—has something like 30 grams of protein, which is more than is in a whole pound of beef.

What’s changed: I now weigh 214 pounds, meaning I’ve lost almost 70 pounds, 50 of that post-surgery. (The prep was draconian, ending with two shakes a day and a Lean Cuisine. I was starving! But it slimmed down my liver enough to let my surgeon do the procedure laparoscopically.) I’ve gone from a size 26 to a size 18 in pants, and have dropped down two bra sizes as well (four inches from the band and one cup size). Many parts of my body are beginning to do the shar-pei thing—I have pleats under my butt and along my legs. The bones and muscles in my arms show now. (My daughter was fascinated by this. She kept squeezing my forearms because she could. I told her to stop after I bruised from it. [She didn’t grab all that hard, but I’m on a blood thinner for non-surgery heart issues.])

People sit next to me on the T and the bus now. I can cut my toenails with ease. I can even cross my legs. Interestingly, I seem to need an hour or two less sleep. My stamina is improving, and I no longer walk with a cane or need physical therapy.

The downside: I was expecting it, but it’s pretty brutal. I used to be well insulated in my own blubber, but now that so much of it is gone, I am freezing! I’m sitting here in a shawl, after going and goosing the thermostat up to 74. Heavy sock slippers. Sweaters are my friend. I’m glad I’ve slimmed down to where I can wear my down jacket again.

And Thanksgiving was . . . a little sad. No big pigout for me. However, it was the only time I’ve actively missed having a normal-sized tummy. Most of the time, it’s been fine. I remember how dire it sounded before I really looked into the surgery, and I can assure the curious that it’s no big deal. I get (a little) hungry, and I eat little meals. Restaurants are a pain, because I am limited to appetizers, else I end up taking it home and eating it at least twice more. (Portions in this country are as massive as you’ve heard.)

This is approaching tl;dr, so I’ll stop here for now. Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask questions!

My Tummy is Officially Tiny Now

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For those of you just joining: I am a 55-year-old ciswoman of mixed racial heritage who started this journey with a BMI of 49, cardiac artery disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. My knee muscles never bounced back all the way after their replacement surgery a couple of years ago–although the titanium parts work fine, at 285 lbs they had too much to haul around. So my mobility has been limited for the last two years and I need a cane on stairs. I had a minor heart attack two years ago, and when they went to place a stent, my right coronary artery was 95% occluded–as the OR nurse said, I was one cheeseburger away from The Big One.

Being fat runs in my family, and although I whimpered in the back of my throat when I hit size 26, I actually have a healthy ego and have been a fat activist. I still support anybody’s body, although if you’re as unhealthy as I was, I suggest you . . . think things over. I will never proselytize, and there are other modalities of getting your body healthier besides the one I chose.

But then came the day my very nice, non-fat-bashy cardiologist turned to me and asked, “Have you ever considered bariatric surgery?”

Tl, dr: I’m not a skinnyism fascist, and I didn’t do this to become gorgeous, because I started that way. My kids need me, and I can’t afford to die yet.

The Surgery: After looking at the options for bariatric surgery, I chose the sleeve over the bypass for two reasons: The “connect piece A to piece Q” part of the bypass creeped me out and . . . damn it, I wanted to be able to cheat a little without an unpleasant physical reaction to simple carbs called dumping syndrome. (I was gambling, because some people dump with the sleeve anyway.)

I ended up losing 25 pounds to slim down my fatty liver, which was in the way, and every so often I would think, “Well, you’re losing weight . . .” (And then I reminded myself that we’d been to that rodeo before and it had all come back, as it does for 95% of the dieting population. True, there’s only a 56% success rate at five years with the surgery, but I know how to succeed and have been given the tools.)

For the last two weeks I was a ball of nerves, but despite an administrative glitch that postponed me a week, I showed up at Boston Medical Center last Wednesday, and the deed was done. Every single staff member (except maybe one nurse who was a tad brisk) was a complete honey and I am proud they are my co-workers.

It was rough. Probably because my surgeon had just reshaped my normal footballish tum into a small banana holding maybe 5 or 6 ounces max, I had horrible post-op nausea and retching, and the anesthesia took a long time to shake. (I’ve been induced with propofol a lot, and it never did this before.) Thus, Wednesday night flashed me back to hyperemesis with my daughter (18 weeks of non-stop “morning” sickness with 7 hospitalizations) because I haven’t had an experience like that in 30 years.

Pain, on the other hand, has been almost non-existent. I’m just on tylenol. Liquid tylenol, which isn’t as yummy as Robitussin but a lot better than the liquid bactrim I’m on as prophylaxis against my kidney stone, which of course picked this week to give me a UTI. What I am mostly is exhausted. I feel like I’ve walked through fire.

Probably the worst part is that all my meds have to be powdered. Imitrex? Kinda nasty. Metoprolol? REALLY nasty. Ranitidine? Worst of all. I know there are those of you out there who chew all your pills, and I think you’re freaks. Brave, wonderful freaks. How the hell do you do this?

I will be on a liquid diet for the next 2–3 weeks, and then graduate to very soft food. Most of my hunger-making hormones were secreted by the part of the stomach they excised, so I will have no appetite for the next half year. Right now, that’s just ducky.  It’s all I can do to stay hydrated right now–that’s the first goal; the second is high protein intake to reduce muscle wasting.

I’ve already lost 5 pounds from my pre-surgery weight. But the big news is that my diabetes has somehow gone into remission: No more insulin (I was on a high dose, too) and not even oral meds, thank all the gods, because those pills are huge and I’m sure taste awful.

So far, no regrets, other than some purely post-surgical self-pity. We’ll see how this goes. I’ll keep you posted.

 

That Bariatric Thang

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My cat knows it’s Sunday, and that hence our household runs an hour early. I am trying to let my son (the cat valet) sleep in for fifteen minutes. So Zoe is biting my legs–with great affection, I hasten to add. Unbidden, I get this flash of a post-surgical nibble. Maybe the fat helps insulate the nerves, and now it will hurt more. Maybe it would startle me into acting out on Zoe. And then maybe–

(You’ll have to excuse me. I think the most horrible things. Not just sometimes, but consistently. I suspect that this is part of why we writers are often a dour race.)

After attending group info sessions (three), visiting the dietitian (a couple of times), a shrink-person (who then needed documentation), a nutrition doctor (who put me on vitamins), my cardiologist (something of a character) and consuming hundreds of protein shakes, I was given my surgery date for my gastric sleeve this week. It is now less than three weeks away. Yipe!

I only lost ten of the sixteenish pounds I had to lose pre-surgery, so in a few days I start the no-kidding diet, which I’ll be on for the two weeks before the operation: shakes for both breakfast and lunch, and *gulp* a LeanCuisine dinner. “Couldn’t I just have another shake?” I asked the PA.

Nope, and “you’ll be hungry,” he warned. However, two weeks of this should take about eight pounds off. This is so all the instrumentation can fit around my corpulent little liver–thank mercy it’s laparoscopic “bandaid” surgery. (Yes! You too can have your stomach essentially removed through a two-inch incision!)

I don’t mind admitting that I’m freaking out. There are like all these voices in my head screaming, “What are you DOING???? Aieeee!!!” But then there are things like the looks of relief and satisfaction on the faces of all my medical personnel: When I started this project, I had a BMI of about 50; the ten pounds hasn’t done much to that. I also have “the trifecta” of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiac artery disease.

Plus high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and needing help to get things off the floor, not to mention not being able to easily take care of my feet–my tummy is in my way. So losing a bunch of this is only a good thing. But it’s still scary. I’m also afraid of the loose skin making me look like a shar-pei. We will have to see.

 

Please Nominate Tribe of Tiger!

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If you like me, my writing, or even the abstract cause of Good Writing in general, please consider this!

Because I won NaNoWriMo last year, I got the chance to have an actual human being at Kindle look at my book and give me editorial feedback. To get this, I had to enter Tribe of Tiger (the most recent kitty book) in their Kindle Scout reader nomination program, and that’s why I’m pestering you today: PLEASE, go to this link and nominate my book. It’s just a few clicks. All told, it took my sister less than three minutes, and that was with me on the phone as she did it, which slowed things down.

Here’s the link. It includes the first two and a half chapters of the story–enjoy! (Story reading optional; you can download it onto your Kindle.)

There is a chance that this may actually get me professionally e-published, with an advance ($$$!) and everything. I’m crossing my crossable digits.

 

Looking for a Word

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(Just skim the two paragraphs of techie art neep if you’re not interested in paint. The essay proper begins below them.)

I just participated in a month-long journal challenge with a group of women artists, and Got Religion–I discovered a new medium! It’s Japanese watercolor, often called “gansai tambi” as that’s the ad blurb used by the manufacturer to describe them.  (It literally means something like “vibrant aesthetic.”) I majored in what I suppose I must now call Western watercolor in college, making full sheet (22×30″) color field paintings (think Rothko, only busier) and thinking I was having the time of my life. Then fast forward thirty years and here’s this stuff that made me squee when I unpacked it. (Disclosure: I had a $50 gift card from doing a survey, and went on Amazon. The 36 pan set, three water brushes, and another six-pan set of metallics left a buck and change on the card; YMMV.)

Part of my honeymoon joy is being forced once again to learn what stuff does–the great thing about the big abstracts I did as a kid is that it showed me pretty much every trick Western watercolor and its French cousin, gouache have up their sleeves. It’s a little like gouache, a little like either sort of tempera in consistency, and behaves on paper like nothing else I’ve found. The pigment is crazy thick and you need a lot of water to make it behave like . . . watercolor. Sigh . . .

Anyway, I whacked out a basic image to use as the Tribe of Tiger cover and came back to the computer because the sun was in my eyes. I noticed, almost as a by-the-way, that I was ecstatic. It was very much a body feeling–a combination of terrific sex, a filling breakfast, and a satisfactory trip to the loo. Oh, and the best coffee. I feel this way every time I make art I’m pleased with, and even when I’m depressed, it makes me feel at least some better, at the very least while I’m making something.

I thought to myself, “Weird. I guess sex is the closest many people get to ecstasy.” Maybe joy too. I don’t know how that makes me feel. Am I right? If so, am I being kind of snobby to feel a bit sorry for them? Or is this more about me being abnormally unimpressed with sex?

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some great sex. It just doesn’t hit the same spots as, say, the smell of oil paint, which makes me tremble and moan. I have similar reactions to music I like, which is to say, much of it, but maybe particularly early music (think Byrd and Tallis).

As for writing, the feeling is more subdued, possibly because I’m not getting as much sensory input, and it’s more draining. But I still come away from good sessions feeling like this is why I’ve been put on earth.

So what do y’all think? Especially other creatives–is it better than sex? Is it ecstasy? Or do we need a new word?

Journalish Entry

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inky hand

Who’s procrastinating? I am! I am!

My still foggy brain figured out how to add the photo and still have text next to it; faithful readers with sharp memories will notice this as a new skill. Yay me!

I’ve been depressed for most of the past two months–Christmas cheered me up, which makes me feel shallow and trite, but there it is. (Can a person be trite? Sure they can. We’ve all been trapped at that business dinner.) It’s not that I spend hours gloomily musing on Being and Nothingness, it’s more that I don’t know what to do. (As in, read a book or play a game. As far as Being and Nothingness goes . . . ) Worse, once I figure it out (if I do), I spend seemingly hours getting it done because I am far more easily distracted than usual. This is a common symptom of depression, but I have ADHD, so who can tell?

I am open to suggestions. I can’t take meds, because I either have a weird reaction to them, or they might make me manic. (Trust me–or trust those who’ve been close to me–you don’t want to see me manic. I don’t do anything amusing like start new religious movements, but I do end up in the hospital. Pity. Being manic feels great! Which is why it’s so hard to treat.) I am working my WRAP plan. But here’s the hell of it: If I am trying my best, if I am doing something borderline productive (like blogging), it means I’m having a good day. If I’m having a bad day, I can’t even focus on a video game. Arrghh.

In other news: Although I have been faithful to my protein shake breakfast, to the point where it now feels normal, I’ve only lost about five pounds. I had it pushed a little lower, but the holidays snuck two pounds back on. Sigh. (This matters because I am due for bariatric surgery this spring, and I must lose 16 pounds so they can maneuver around my massive fatty liver, cuddled around my stomach like a protective bloat of tick.) However, I have dropped my application off at the Y, and the guy who Does That will come back from vacation any day now. Sigh. Seeing as I don’t get a surgery date until I see their shrink (March) I have some time. It’s only 11 pounds, right?

Tribe of Tiger (this year’s NaNo and the third in the kitty series–Eureka, published here, is in the same world but is not strictly canon) is SO close to being finished it’s a bit scary. I’m at the point where the next two or three paragraphs will wrap up the main action. There must be a name for this feeling that I should kill somebody off for it to be good art!

I’ve been doing more visual art lately–got involved with an art journal challenge. Seeing as I wimped out on Inktober, I would have been more reluctant, but, golly mo, my daughter makes those blank books! So I begged one that had some invisible flaw, and have been having a great time. Sure, I’m behind, but it’s an improvement over Inktober’s 12-day performance. (To be fair, what slowed me down then was lack of scanner access; I learned from this mistake and have been doing just fine snapping pix from my phone.)

OKCupid (deliberately not linked because drive-bys) used to do this thing where they made you pick three words to describe yourself. So I guess right now they’re fat, depressed, and creative. I could do worse.