Monday, October 9, 2017

Life is better for whom?

Earlier this year, I started volunteering for the animal rescue where we got Jarvis 4 1/2 years ago. It was kind of an idea that Shawn, my PsychNP, and my therapist were all pretty much no board with. My PsychNP and Shawn really didn't think I was in any shape to get back in the actual workforce. Actually, this conversation may have started at the end of last year, you know, the time of my life that is lost to me. For some reason, I think my ECT psychiatrist was in on this whole thing, too.

It took me awhile to work through my anxiety enough to contact Life Is Better Rescue. Then, I think it may have taken some extra drugs to actually go that first day. The first few days involved cleaning out the cat cages at the Care Center. I had this super skinny, super tall, young kid showing me the ropes. One day, I was slated to go solo, I grabbed Shawn for the assist. As the part of my DNA that is strong within my siblings and I kicked in, I was gagging to dry heaving to being on the verge of vomiting. For some reason, taking a little green poop bag and grabbing Jarvis' shit isn't so bad; but cat boxes and kitties covered in the shit they shat is more than a Kendel (or maybe Sawhill, it might be my mom's genetic contribution) kid could bear.

So, I sucked up my overwhelming sense of failure and additional anxiety, and confessed to my ineptitude.

There was still other work to be done. I didn't have to deal with people or shit (it's hard to tell which of those things is worst) nearly as much. I was doing spreadsheet updates and microchip registrations. Officey, nerdy, anti-social stuff. I was fitting into my niche. But, anxiety still reared its ugly head because, well, fuck my life. I am still filled with an overwhelming sense of ineptitude.

New challenges have been added to my plate. I wish I was talking about a nice piece of chocolate cake, but this is the proverbial plate. So anxiety is kicked up yet another notch. My intolerance for idiocy and assholery is strong. I take the comments of bitches and douchebags too much to heart. I need to get stronger. I need to get harder. But, I also need to be tactful in covering up my disdain for those telling me to "contact me ASAP!" about their application; telling me they'll just go to a breeder; and, telling me I have taken their potential "Savior" away.

With all of these things that probably sound pretty miserable, I manage to muster my way through...still with breakdowns because I am still the mentally fucked up person I've been for much of my life.

The rescue's name is Life Is Better. It's about making life better for the animals we bring into the organization. It's about saving Fallon from euthanasia because grass awns (google it! YIKES!) were in all four of his feet and the shelter couldn't handle that. Now, he has a family ready for him and he walks just fine. Or, there's Gabe who was displaced from his shelter due to Hurricane Harvey and managed to survive treading water for 2 days. And, my loves! The Rottweilers Carl and Chloe, a 1 year old male and 6 month old female who were impounded when their owner was busted for drugs.

But, in my time volunteering, I've come to learn that the name applies to the human animal. Life Is Better. I get to play with and just hang out with dogs and cats of all types and ages. I'm almost a cat person, if the litter box isn't involved. I have syringe fed kittens who don't even have their eyes opened yet. I've learned cats have lots of breeds. I've felt the choke in my throat and the tears in my eyes when a dog I've come to love finds the exact family he/she is meant to have. The happiness that comes when a person emails me about the joy they feel knowing his/her application was approved.

So, yes, all of my issues pop up and almost win the fight; inadequacy, anxiety, and all the other shit my medication cocktail should be helping, come at me full force. But, a lot is better for this human animal's life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Different World View

The other day I was at my gynecologist's for my routine, annual exam. It struck me, again, just how differently I see the world these last few years. There are a lot of things that happen in the world that show a sort of denial about the existence of the infertile. Perhaps some people would call me the "snowflake" of infertility. So, who knows, maybe this post will convince everyone of that.

Getting back to my appointment at the gyno. Since my failed attempt at infertility and my hysterectomy, I have to take a deep breath and brace myself for my appointment. The waiting room is filled with professional portraits of newborns here, toddlers there, and families, too. Then I wade through all of the women in various stages of pregnancy. I think to myself, "Can't they make separate waiting rooms?" How about a waiting room for obstetrics and a waiting room for gynecology? There are more people like me, I think...maybe.

Another place that doesn't always have a view of infertility is the grocery store. I remember when the struggle was fresh and real and I was still getting my period. I went to buy tampons. Where did I have to go to buy them? The baby aisle. I had to walk by diapers and wipes and baby oil and all the other stuff to get my box of tampons. I believe I teared up the first time. Not every grocery store is set-up that way, but I've managed to be in the ones that were.

The world view I really wish would change is the view some people have of people without children. People think it is okay to ask questions and imply things. There's the times childless people are holding a baby, "Oh, that looks good on you?" Or, "The clock is ticking." Those questions/comments are so intrusive, not funny. There can be a number of reasons for not having children and people should start to realizing they should keep their noses out of it. Also, if you do know that the situation is infertility, don't ask about adoption or surrogacy or embryo donation. In my case, not that it's anyone's business, my trying to get pregnant was for Shawn and me to have a baby together. I wanted a piece of me and a piece of him to come together for me to carry. It was about us coming together in the closest way possible.

So please, just think about someone else's silent struggles.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

My favorite color's green except that one shade

Last weekend Shawn and I were at a comic convention to promote his comic, The Specialists. Conventions are always an interesting experience, and this was no different.

As I was sitting there and as I walked around, I took in so much. At the end of it all, I had a mix of emotions. I wouldn't call it envy, that green eyed monster, because I think that has anger behind it. I wasn't angry. I admired the creativity that was expressed; the art and the writing. And then I felt sad. It was a sadness about my wasted talents.

Years ago, I did draw. Not the black & white doodles that were worth framing and displaying in my own house, but realistic images in pencil. The last one and one I'm most proud of was a little over 20 years ago. I did a drawing of my nephew from a photograph I had. Is it convention worthy? No. I probably wouldn't be able to get any money for it, but it was good. I look at it and I know it is him.

Why did I stop taking art after 9th grade? Why did I stop doing it on my own? I don't know. I guess it wasn't on my life's trajectory.

Then, there's the writing. College papers and my creative writing course about wrap up my use of writing. I never wrote very long papers. Really was a minimum requirement kind of gal. The longest story I could manage was a single page. Why didn't I do more with that? I was an English major....I was an English major who didn't want to teach and was headed to the convent where something would be figured out.

These thoughts about my undeveloped talents are happening in the midst of some of Shawn's thoughts about himself as a writer. His doubts about his talent. His thoughts that when he writes nothing good comes out.

Shawn is amazingly talented. His creativity with the wedding vows he wrote put my vows to shame. I mean, Mad Libs and Dr. Suess? Who does that? Who does that well? Then, he writes The Specialists and has a vision of the story that will culminate in 12 chapters. He also comes up with these vignettes about himself and our dog, Jarvis. They are so funny. He is, indeed, gifted.

In thinking about all of this stuff, I've come to realize that my brain doesn't work in fiction. I don't have imagined stories to write with made up characters and places heading toward some plot point to resolve. My drawing needs to have an actual, existing thing for me to follow. And now, my hands get the shakes at any old time they feel like it, so that's not conducive to drawing.

Maybe, if I did more way back when, my brain would know how to make stuff up.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Should have

There's the old "coulda, shoulda, woulda" adage of life. We all have moments of our lives that we wish we had played out differently. There are some times that are filled with more regret than others. It's life. But, that doesn't make it easier.

When I was a kid, there was this woman from our church who was active in some of the same groups as my parents. She was an Italian woman who was part of a Pre Cana group for engaged couples. She cooked for them and wore her "Signora" apron. Her husband had his matching "Signore" apron. That was my first memory of Mrs. Scotese. I was still pretty young when Mr. Scotese died, so I don't have many memories of him outside of his apron wearing.

Mrs. Scotese was a grandma, literally, but also in character and personality. She wasn't an older person toward whom I felt awkward. I would approach her without hesitation. With some of my "shyness" (read as "anxiety") it was nice to have someone who made me comfortable.

Her name was Eleanor, but to most she was, "Ellie". To me, she was Mrs. Scotese since I was a kid. My parents probably would have laid into me if I tried calling her, "Ellie". She drove a Cadillac with vanity plates that read, "Elle", if my memory is right. I can't remember the order, but one Cadillac was a burgundy color and then there was an cream color. Seeing that car parked at church brought a smile to my face.

She lived down the street from us. When she would drive by our house and I was outside, she would honk and wave. I loved that. She was also a school bus driver. Her bus route took her by our house and, again, she would honk and wave. I looked forward to it.

Then, I grew up. Then, I moved away. Then, I wasn't so good at keeping in touch and visiting. Then, we became Holiday greeting card exchangers. I would hear things here and there from my parents.

Two weeks ago, I was in Cleveland. Mostly to spend time with my parents. I thought about Mrs. Scotese. I asked them about her. She wasn't down the street at her house anymore. But, she was down the street in the other direction at Hospice. She was in her 90s and she was declining in health. I kept thinking I should head down to see her. Maybe take my dad with me. My mom was still recovering from some stuff and I figured it wouldn't be wise to bring her. Visiting kept popping into my mind, but I never did. I shoulda.

This morning, I found out she passed away. I wish I would've visited. But, I can picture her honking and waving her way out of this life.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three years since the day I thought I stopped being a woman

I can't believe I am 3 years post-hysterectomy and that I still have to look up how to spell "hysterectomy". I think I am making progress from year one  and year two. I take that back. I think I'm doing better most of the year. This day still makes me an emotional wreck.

However, time moves slowly, especially without a period to measure it by. Seriously, the lack of having a period isn't the worst thing. But, I was left with my right ovary, which, in case you were unaware, still functions along with the endometriosis. This ovary is kind of getting its panties in a twist which isn't helpful when you are trying to move on from your infertility. Ovaries are assholes.

Here are my first two posts that I wrote just a few days post surgery. They may give insight to how far I may have come.


Things still aren't how they were supposed to be

The sting still stings. The hurt still hurts. I have moments when I wonder what things would have been like if we started things earlier. That's partially because I'm at an age that, before all of this, I didn't want to get pregnant. The "what ifs" can make you mad and I already have enough madness in me.

Hey, SCORE! I don't always cry at baby related things. The gut kick from seeing a pregnancy announcement/photoshoot/ultrasound; a baby shower or a gender reveal; the most adorable baby clothes or furniture or pictures is now a little twinge of discomfort. I will say, I do get choked up at baby and young children cosplayers at conventions (unless it's Deadpool).

For real, things are sort of better. I know that my female reproductive system isn't what defines my womanhood. Steps toward healing are being made. Life is going on, even without a "Happy Period"!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This may just be word vomit

As I start to write this post, the Facebook is blowing up with shares of articles about the suicide of Linkin Park's singer Chester Bennington, a friend of Chris Cornell, who's suicide I wrote about back in May. Today, apparently, is Cornell's birthday. Today's post was going to be about suicide before I even heard this news.

Over the last week, I watched the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why". Wow. Stop now if you don't want spoilers. So, so many thoughts. Let's get some of the minor issues/pet peeves I had with it out of the way.
  • Hair and makeup was not good; the bruises and cuts left much to be desired to be believable; Hannah's haircut wig was also not believable.
  • Except for Bryce, these kids were sophomores in the flashbacks and then juniors in the current time. How were some of them so heavily tattooed. I'm guessing parental sign-off was no big deal or they had serious connections. 
  • The 25-year-old (I looked him up because I thought he was the least teenage looking cast member. To my surprise he was only 25. I was guessing 30.) omniscient, omnipresent, gay, Latino, with the classic Mustang Tony. 
  • Clay's mom being the defense attorney for the school. Total conflict of interest in my book.
This isn't my first suicide based post and, sadly, I'm almost certain it will not be my last. I will not stop writing; I will not stop sharing.

What brought me to watching the series was an article I read about two families suing the show for the deaths of two girls who killed themselves after watching the series. And, then, in the show the parents of the girl who killed herself are suing the school for causing their daughter's death. These lawsuits really got to me. I was riled up. 

One of the stages of grief is anger. In my opinion, did you catch that? In my opinion, that anger stage is greater in the case of violent deaths and suicides. That anger is being acted upon through these lawsuits. The stage of anger gets drawn out in the legal process. 

Here's the thing, shit happens, terrible shit happens in our lives. The person who commits suicide makes that choice. Perhaps there are cases where someone can get them help and they will grab that lifeline. But, no one should feel guilt or should be blamed. 

This brings me to you, Hannah. Your suicide wasn't a whim; it was thought out. The tapes show just how much you thought it out. I had moments of feeling unsympathetic toward you. I was annoyed when you pushed Clay away and said on the tape that you wanted him to turn around and come back. That is not fair. Don't put that on him. He did what you wanted. You said, "No" and he listened. That is what boys are taught to do. And, then, the Guidance Counselor, stop being vague with him and expecting him to know what you are seeking help for. And then expecting him to come after you. Yes, things were really shitty. You, in my opinion, misread things sometimes. Zach liked you and tried. You went off on him because of an awkward teenage boy moment where he said something that didn't come out in the best way. He brought up the whole "best ass" thing, but he was trying to say that he knew there was more to you than that. Not everyone is an eloquent speaker, especially high schoolers.  

So, here I am, in anger; anger for putting blame on others; anger toward expecting others to know what you want/need from them. In the end, suicide comes down to the decision of the person.

In the moments of my life when suicide was trying to make its way into my psyche, I don't recall blaming people. Most of my ideation was passive. I just wished I would stop existing, not wake up. Typically, I don't develop plans. It doesn't tend to get that far, mostly because I fear failure. Things like, the gun will jam or not hit me the right way; someone will come in the garage; the pills will make me vomit before killing me; the razor blade thing always freaked me out. 

One thought that I often had years ago was on I-271 in greater Cleveland. I was just visiting family and actually happened to be on that stretch of I-271 I'm talking about. This thought usually happened when I was in college, but whenever I drive it now, I have a moment of discomfort. Where I-271 North mergers with I-90 West, it's a pretty significant turn, not 90 degrees, but kind of sharp. I always would think about driving straight, not taking the turn. Again, though, I always figured I wouldn't succeed. 

So, here we are. Someone's suicide is their choice. As always, you NEVER, EVER, EVER know what is going on in someone else's life. 

And, in the words of Ellen, "Be kind to one another."   


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spidey really did come home for me

Before I met Shawn, there were a lot of things I wasn't into that he brought to my life. I really wasn't into a comic book heroes and the movies about them.

All these years later, I'm all about superheroes and sci-fi. I've gone with him to midnight releases of many a movie. Now, we are a bit older and too tired to stay up that late, but we wouldn't miss the opening weekend for the world....unless it's one we're not that excited about (ahem...DC pics...ahem).

This weekend we saw "Spider-Man: Homecoming". I loved it. It's my favorite version of "Spider-Man" in movies and my favorite portrayal of him. It's now one of my top picks of any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It was entertaining. That word really fits. There was humor and drama and action.

One of the things I loved the most about this movie is truly human aspect of this superhero. For me, this movie was about a teenage boy, Peter Parker. Yes, he is Spider-Man and, in this movie's depiction, the boy isn't separate from the hero. Tom Holland gives a perfect performance representing a teenage boy; a teenage boy who wants desperately to be a superhero like his hero, Tony Stark/Iron Man and the Avengers; who wants to be Spider-MAN! 

I've heard some reviews talking about the teenagers in the film being John Hughes-esque. I can see this. There's awkward crushes, school competitions, assholes, and a dance. All of these things, however, aren't how Peter Parker's adolescence really reveals itself.

I suppose "Spider-Teen" doesn't evoke much fear from his enemies. This teenage superhero has that teenage sense of immortality, the "it'll never happen to me" kind of worldview. Peter wants desperately to be independent. He wants to prove his worthiness to Tony Stark, his mentor, to join the Avengers, but he doesn't really want to follow "rules" to get there. We all know, to teens, rules doesn't apply because they knows it all. His recklessness gets him into trouble, as it does with most teens. Seriously, I'm not pulling out stereotypes, these are adolescent behaviors and that's what makes Peter Parker a great character. The 15 year old Park IS a 15 year old Spider-Man and that's right where he's meant to be right now.