Because of my recent undiagnosed illness, and the difficulty with irregular blood pressure and pulse rate, I am supposed to keep my anxiety and activity levels low for the time being. Not only does this mean I’m on medicine that makes me want to sleep 12 hours a day (which I don’t have the luxury of doing, because the dog has to get walked, and rarely will my roommate think to do it so I can sleep in, even when he’s up.), and I’ve gained 20 pounds between retaining water and not being able to exercise, and I have no money because my job put me on “probation” for the entire month of October and effectively cut my workload by 2/3rds, it also means my social outings last less than three hours and frequently involve some level of panic attack or social anxiety getting there. The fact that I have not been diagnosed or treated means I still have symptoms of anxiety, need to be careful monitoring my blood pressure, and am on Valium every waking moment for vertigo, and still get 2 to 3 “migraines with aura” each month.

The condition they think I might have is a complex one, one that requires a $1200 test my insurance won’t cover just to get a diagnosis. The traditional treatment for this problem is 6 months of bed rest to see if it heals on its own, benzos (in my case, Valium, the only one I can tolerate.) for vertigo and anxiety, and treatment for depression or other associated issues. If the problem does not heal itself, surgery on the inside of the ear is needed.

You’d think all this would be the breaking point for me: the 12 doctors, the insurance company that isn’t convinced I don’t have a “pre-existing condition” and won’t pay for anything, the lack of funds to get the diagnosis and subsequent treatment I need, the constant calls from creditors, the potential Valium addiction, and the fact that my mother just had her 5th stroke and won’t leave the house, and my father is in a nursing home facing the loss of his legs. You’d think this would be the breaking point for someone they DON’T repeatedly point at and say “You have an anxiety disorder”, much less me.

But it’s not. Somehow, I’ve been surviving. The breaking point is the lack of understanding from those in my life.

My roommate has been stressed; he has depression and anxiety and is working 50 hours a week. So, he doesn’t do things around the house, leaves a dirty panini maker with smelly chicken grease on it for days, dishes piled up in the sink, and is constantly leaving me notes or calling me during my work day so I can do favours for him.

Today, he sends me an e-mail telling me I need to cut him some slack because he spends all his time working. (I complained about the panini maker). Then he asked if I could load and unload the dishwasher, walk the dog when he normally does, and etc. He said “You’re the one that’s home, and you’re doing it with medication”.

Never mind that, yes, I’m trying to do everything on a combo of medication that would keep most people my size asleep for the past three months. Never mind that I don’t exactly get slack: he has friends over to watch TV (and not a single one of them, or the TV is quiet), knowing I get migraines from lights and noise and am supposed to be RESTING. He doesn’t do me the favour of walking the dog before work so I can get some extra sleep, knowing that with my meds, I need it…even when he’s up. I don’t get a free pass for being sick; if I don’t do stuff, nobody else will. If I don’t do my work, I get fired. And everything he asks me to do, I do…I don’t complain about how stressed I am and how much I work. Prior to getting sick, I’d easily work 50 hours a week, every week, and have the stress of deadlines and other people working for me to manage. It didn’t mean anyone cut me any slack.

And by the way, I am not AT HOME. I am WORKING AT HOME. There is a difference.

And then there’s the Guy I Am Currently Dating, who, on one hand, tries to help me out through this difficult time as much as possible, supports me when I can’t leave the house, runs errands for me, reads the stupid crap I write, loves me even when I doubt my ability to succeed at something as basic as monogamy and committment, and has even offered to help me pay for the cost of the expensive test I need. On the other hand, when I forget to do something on my to-do list, he lectures and pushes about it, reminding me of how the situation is only going to get worse and worse and worse, not a great technique for someone with anxiety that’s prone to feeling unable to handle the weight of the world on her shoulders. When I asked him to stop because I couldn’t handle the anxiety he was creating, he then got withdrawn and “Fine. Whatever. You don’t want me to talk”. On a good day, someone shutting down and just being unwilling to communicate because they don’t like what you have to say is a tactic that raises my blood pressure through the roof, and hurts me intensely. I had to hang up the phone on him, because I couldn’t handle the arguing and the way he was upsetting me.

All this after he pointed out how physically and practically difficult it was going to be for me to get home for Christmas…which I already know…but that the alternative is missing out on what might be the last Christmas my family is ever able to spend together. And instead, I’d be alone in my sad little apartment on Christmas, eating my TV dinner, because he’ll be with his mom, the woman who lovingly referred to me as the ugliest piece of shit ever, Casey Anthony, and when I was out of the hospital for a day, told me three times she hoped I’d die.

The question isn’t why doesn’t anyone cut me some slack, or why am I having a hard time coping. The question is why don’t I spend more days feeling suicidal, because not being here would make life so much easier to deal with.

I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of nobody understanding what I’m going through. I’m tired of being the one it’s OK to treat like shit and dump all of your crap on because your life is hard.

NO. It is NOT OKAY.

Meanwhile, I still have to work and maintain a semblance of a normal life and can’t sleep the 12 hours a day the drugs I’m on want me to because I still need to work, and there’s never enough time or money or energy.

Many of the doctors I’ve seen have suggested all of my symptoms are psychiatric, and there’s not a single thing physically wrong with me. While I don’t agree with that, and there’s enough evidence to support the idea that I, in fact, have an inner ear disorder that was the trigger for my anxiety and panic problems, I’ve come to see that I do in fact have some form of anxiety disorder.

I resisted everyone telling me that because I’ve been through tough situations and always been able to cope. So, to all of the sudden, experience debilitating panic attacks, extreme social anxiety (an irony for a person who’s never been happy being less than the centre of attention, and couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t like large groups of people), and an emotional feeling of “If you push me one step further, I am going to snap and go postal” that it’s hard to control…it doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve always been stronger than that.

For the first time, I see why I might have developed an anxiety disorder that reached a breaking point after 30 years. It is because inside, I am sad. I am angry. I am totally pissed at being marginalised, put down, unappreciated, or the one who is always there to take the brunt of a negative situation or pick up the slack because I’m a good daughter, a good friend, a good co-worker, a good Meetup organizer, a good roommate. I’m angry that, when I’m the one who needs help, most people are focused on themselves, or look at me helplessly saying “I don’t know what to do.”

I’m pissed off because I don’t want to be the strong one, the fixer, the one who constantly gets kicked around by life, but dusts herself off and smiles and goes out for drinks. I don’t want to be the one who gets treated horribly and is required to hear horrible things about herself or is just ignored because I’m empathetic and compassionate and understand you have problems.

Know who has problems? ME.

I’m angry because I don’t deserve to be the one you always want to change and think love is about pointing out “Here’s what’s wrong with you”; the one you care about but won’t leave your wife and family for; the soulmate you wouldn’t choose over money and stability; the one you loved but cheated on and lied to for years until you married someone else; the one you hook up with and never call back, or tell all your friends about it later; the one you try to drive out of town with rumours and gossip and are cruel to because you don’t approve of her choices and lifestyle; the one you pretend to be friends with but bash behind her back; the one you have to pretend you don’t have history with or feelings for because it doesn’t fit in how our lives work today; the one you love now but won’t leave your overly clingy mother to start a life with somewhere as independent adults; the one you get close to and then push away because you “just can’t deal with it”; the one you turn to when life is rough for you but don’t really need the rest of the time; the one that’s just not worth noticing despite being a largely fucking amazing human being.

Know who else just can’t handle it? ME.

And maybe now that I’m sufficiently pissed off I won’t have anxiety anymore. That would be awesome,if it turned out that my anxiety was just 30 years of repressed desire to punch other people in the face, instead of being nice and smiling and hoping everyone still likes me.

Know who just doesn’t care anymore if you like her? ME.

It’s time to start taking care of me and putting me first, because apparently not doing that makes you one amazingly pissed off human being, but since anger, rage, frustration, and punching others in the face are not kind and ladylike ways to respond to situations, you have a martini and smile and call your best friend to vent.

It’s not enough. It doesn’t work. And that’s why I know so many people in their 20′s and 30′s on anxiety medications or mistakenly told they’re “depressed” or “bi-polar”, and put on a pill or two that makes them feel that way if they didn’t already. That’s why it’s easy enough to eat tons of junk food or just not eat anything at all, in an attempt to make the stress go away. That’s why it’s easy enough to start drinking as soon as the office shuts down. That’s why we’re a society of broke, pissed off people with tons of responsibilities that are addicted to one thing or another and often define “happy” as the point in time when other people leave you alone and let you sleep.

Plenty of people work 50 hours a week, so clean up the freaking panini maker.

#OccupyAlaynasApartment

This is the funniest article I’ve read in a long time.

I’m technically not a Generation X-er, but close enough to identify with most of the major events that defined that generation, even if I missed the bubble. (I think those born between 1978-1981 should be referred to as Generation XY, since different sources site different dates as the start/end of generations.)

Still apathetic after all these years. Time to listen to some “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and have a martini. :P

tags, ,

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Although today was not the best of days, mostly because health-related issues were the worst they’d been in some time, probably due to the weather changing rather dramatically (from 83 and sunny to 53 and rainy in 48 hours), I did try to make the best of it. In addition to work and reality TV night, I also caught up on some phone calls, did some reading, completed some SwapBot stuff, and in a burst of inspiration, decided to write in my poetry journal.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 8 years old, and my first published piece was in a literary journal at the age of 10, so it goes without saying that it’s been a crucial part of my life for much of my life…and like many pieces of myself, one that got lost along the way.

Almost as if by a message from fate, I lost my beloved poetry journals, which I’d meticulously written in for years. Shortly thereafter, while indisposed and without internet, I lost my domain, which stored the only remaining copies of many of my poems and all my short stories. For the past year or two, I’ve been trying to piece together fragments of lost creativity, always excited when I come across something not taken away from me.

At one time, I had a significant amount of material for an amateur writer: three volumes of poetry (one each from 1993-1999, from 2000-2005, and from 2006 until the present), plus a collection of 12 short stories. In addition, I was publishing a daily and verbose blog, until deciding to take my feelings offline entirely due to some negative experiences in 2006.

I had kind of had to come to the acceptance of the fact that, through some bad luck and negative situations, much of my creative work from most of my adolescent and adult life was gone. It was a hard separation to deal with, and as a result, I largely stopped expressing myself, writing few poems and not resurrecting my blog until last year.

Today, the best thing in the world happened. I was able to rescue a huge portion of material from an earlier, more online-oriented phase in my life. Not everything was there, of course, but I was able to retrieve a number of webpages, all my short stories, and close to 100 poems. It isn’t that everything…or even anything…I retrieved is good, worthy of reading or compiling, but it’s mine and it is immensely special to me.

I feel like a piece of me has been restored. This autumn and winter, which I anticipate will largely be a period of convalescence and solitude, since I’ve been suffering with illness, and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I intend to reconstruct my poetry journals, and also perhaps add some of my old pages to this site, just for nostalgia’s sake. At some point, I’d like to cross off one of my “bucket list” goals and actually publish my volume of poems, even just for those closest to me.

Some days, you feel like life has rewarded you with allowing you to unexpectedly unearth a jewel. This is one of those days, a day where I’ve regained a piece of myself that’s been gone for some time. I feel more complete, more inspired, and jubilant about this admittedly unimportant discovery.

Dreamlike Nymph
If the world of dreams truly is an interesting look into a person’s subconscious, a way to explore one’s deeper self, I’m a case study any Freudian would love. My dreams are so vibrant and real that they’re often a second life—or, since there’s a video game that’s already claimed title to that one—a third life. They run the gamut from realistic dreams that seem no different from anything that could happen to me in everyday life, often leaving me confused and disoriented when I realise those things didn’t happen, to fantastic, movie-quality scenarios complete with plots and well-developed characters (I once dreamed up an entire movie where a companion and I were forced to hide and then flee from Nazis that were pursuing us, all within a maze of an industrial-looking building.). I’ve dreamed up Law & Order episodes from beginning to end, as if I were watching them on television. Sometimes, I am a character in both sorts of dreams. Sometimes, I’m an observer, the omniscient third party watching or telling the story. I’ve had multiple dreams where I see/experience my own death, only from the third-person perspective, so that waking up upon dying (as happens in most death-related dreams) doesn’t always happen, allowing me a glimpse of this “after death” world. The thing I’ve taken away from these dreams is that death is not painful or scary; the moment when it occurs, my death in the dream world, I feel a sense of numbness, of everything draining from me, followed by a sense of lightness and non-being.

Again, a more spiritual or psychologically-intuitive person would probably have much to say about that.

Sometimes, DreamLand is populated by people I know, and the emotional attachments and feelings I have toward them reflected by my dreams. Other times, particularly when the story does not involve me, my dreams are populated by people and places I don’t know. This led to a period of me believing I had “psychic dreams”, as I’ve had a number of dreams involving scary and unfamiliar scenarios which then happen within a day or two of the dream. My earliest remembrance of a “psychic dream” was as an adolescent, dreaming about being stuck on an amusement park ride that wouldn’t stop…it just kept going faster and faster until it crashed. The next afternoon, a mishap happened at an area amusement park where a rollercoaster malfunctioned, killing 13 people and shutting down the park temporarily.

One thing that bothers me is that I will often have dreams about those with whom I have personal relationships, and it’s difficult for me to tell the difference between what is some form of intuition or future-prediction, and what is simply a reflection of my subconscious. I can clearly recall sleeping next to an ex-boyfriend, and every single time, I’d have a dream in which he’d cheat on me or betray my trust. In reality, he was doing exactly that, many times, though my conscious self didn’t discover it until months later. I also had a recurring dream when living with another ex-boyfriend, in which we were not together, but I could see his life with another girl, a person I’d never met, but I could describe in exacting detail. I’d jokingly told him my mind had found his perfect woman, because every time, she was the same person. After we broke up, he sent me a message telling me he’d met someone, and the odd thing about that was the resemblance to the girl in my dreams when we were together.

I often have dreams in which the Guy I Am Currently Dating and I experience some sort of discord. This is almost always based upon him blatantly ignoring me, physically walking away from me, or abandoning me for someone else. It makes sense that, on a subconscious level, this is a concern of mine. He is the type of person who hides his feelings rather than engage in conflict, is often busy with a number of obligations, and with whom I have a special connection, but frequently question whether or not it is that “soulmate” thing my idealistic self searches for. (although my rational self does not believe in, and hence the belief that I am essentially a non-monogamous person, always in need of a different person to fulfill different pieces of human connection that are dear to me.) I have had these dreams, of being painfully ignored or abandoned in different scenarios, almost since the start of our relationship.

Last night, I had a dream in which we were at an event, filled with people. There was a lovely woman in a long white dress—a person who does in fact exist—who was speaking at the event. I had completed something I had to do, when I spotted The Guy I Am Currently Dating talking to this woman. I went over to approach them, and they hurriedly rushed away together, pretending not to see or hear me, although I know they did.

In my dream, I followed them, and eventually found them, lying on a secluded grassy hill, talking to one another in that close but not necessarily physical way that people share when they are not yet lovers, or have a past history that’s difficult to avoid. Despite the fact that all they were doing was talking, the intimacy of their body language upset me, and I confronted them.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating looked guilty, and said nothing, while the woman accused me of overreacting, being irrational and crazy. I remember telling her, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, but you can have him, because I deserve better”. When she insisted that she didn’t know what I was talking about and nothing was going on, I said, “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and I’m so sick of the way he talks about you, like you’re this perfect ideal woman that can do no wrong. Whether you see it or not, I deserve someone who looks at ME that way, who talks about ME that way. I’m so tired of not being as perfect as you.”

I walked away, and neither of them followed me, confirming, in my mind, that what I said was the truth.

The woman in the dream is a real person, although not one that either I or The Guy I Am Currently Dating have regular contact with. She is pretty, extremely intelligent, and has a number of interests and a general self-sufficiency that make her a very attractive person. In the past, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has admitted to having a crush on her, and it has, on numerous occasions, irritated the hell out of me that whenever he discusses her or anything she’s done, it’s in terms of the-brilliant-loveable-person-who-can-do-no-wrong….whereas I often feel that things I do are taken for granted, or simply not understood or appreciated.

This dream confuses me, because I don’t know if it’s about simple jealousy, or about a petulant “You’re not my soulmate, and you don’t understand me or admire me in the way I need” outburst. Lately, I’ve been struggling a little more than usual with my committment to permanently embracing a monogamous lifestyle, particularly after a long conversation with a poly-oriented person with whom I significantly connected in the past, and who does understand the struggle of not being able to find everything you need from others within one person, but not being able to cultivate other relationships for fear of crossing boundaries.

Yet, in my dream, I was not willing to allow The Guy I Am Currently Dating to cultivate a relationship with someone who might be closer to his ideal mate in certain ways, and was upset by his attempts to do that, even on a spiritual or intellectual level. This tells me I am both expecting and offering monogamy in our relationship, even if I fear it is selfish and may make us both less happy.

Or, it was just a dream about something random where my boyfriend pissed me off. As I’ve said, it’s hard to tell which dreams are meaningful, and which are just there to add drama and entertainment to my life. :P

There once was a woman who had one hundred faces. She showed one face to each person, and so it took one hundred men to write her biography”.

—Anais Nin

I must say, people end up on my page looking for some bizarre, dark, and morbid things. My analytics program has told me that recently, people found my page by Googling for “Amy Winehouse casket photos”, “Amy Winehouse autopsy photos”, and “Deaths On Atlanta Subway”.

Ugh. For those who don’t know me, I might have a very dark, Gothic kind of streak that runs through me, and I might think vampires are sexy (the Anne Rice ones, not the 16-year-old effeminate boys that glitter.), but I’m actually possessed of a pretty fragile constitution when it comes to blood, death, gore, and all that other stuff. I haven’t seen a horror flick since I was 11. You’ll never see any sort of blood or graphic violence on these pages. In fact, I’ve had to recently start de-friending well-meaning people on Facebook because they’re putting up pictures of cute dogs saying “This is Fido’s last day on earth. He will be executed tomorrow”, or because they’re putting up photos of abused children to let us know this is what happens when we don’t care. I’m all for the well-meaning causes, but my sensitive nature can’t handle seeing the photos and being reminded of the cruelty that surrounds us every day.

Anyhow, I’d originally meant to write about a topic that’s gruesome and heartbreaking in a completely different way: rejection.

I don’t think rejection is an experience any of us takes particularly well, because the natural response to being rejected is one of “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?” Sometimes, there are answers to that question: there are reasons you didn’t get the job you wanted, or a guy/girl you liked never called you back, or you put yourself out there and things weren’t a rousing success. Other times, though, that’s just the way things are, and nothing about you or how you handled the situation could have changed the outcome.

I have a number of talented, intelligent, beautiful friends in the world that I see limiting themselves due to fear of rejection, and this behaviour is so ingrained in them, I don’t think they recognize it. I have a friend who is one of the smartest people I know, but never puts himself out there to get rid of the job he hates, allowing him to find out what he really wants to do. I have another friend who is so physically attractive that there is never anyone who doesn’t notice her when she is in the room…but she lacks the confidence to go anywhere by herself, or to approach strangers without the company of a friend. The more I look around my world, the more I see tons of examples like this.

Growing up in the world of performance, I experienced a lot of rejection at an early age. It’s one world in which going on a job interview is liable to give you feedback that is hurtful enough to make you cry on the spot, but you don’t. It hurts everyone in the world to hear you’re not talented enough, not attractive enough, not graceful enough, too short or too tall, too fat or too skinny, or that you should consider cosmetic surgery to improve your image. It hurts every single person who’s been told they’re forgettable, or come across as someone the average person will dislike. But it’s part of the job, so you go home, you cry, you think mean, negative things about yourself, you think mean, negative things about everyone else, and you go to the next audition, and the next, and the next.

I also didn’t necessarily grow up in the healthiest, most loving family environment, and hearing a list of the ways in which I failed or wasn’t good enough was a weekly, if not daily, concern. The result was a tendency toward perfectionism: I told myself I would keep on working and unfailingly try to improve myself until everyone loved me and found me irresistible.

Of course, this is a far from healthy mindset, particularly when it leads you to secret, in-the-closet self-destructive behaviour, as it did for me…and many like me. But it never occurred to me that I couldn’t handle rejection or I didn’t like myself. Instead, I spent a lot of time looking at myself from a cold, almost removed point of view, seeing everything there was not to like about me and vowing to become a more perfect person. I thought being perfect would lead me to being loved, and until I got there, I didn’t deserve love or appreciation.

It wasn’t until after I moved to Atlanta and stopped performing that these issues became apparent. I didn’t love myself, and I didn’t truly expect anyone else to love me, but I’d gotten so used to hiding behind a wall of arrogance and fearlessness that said “Fuck you, I don’t care if you like me or not.”, that I didn’t consider it a problem. When a relationship ended or I got fired from a job, I didn’t handle it well. But I had no doubt that life would go on, and that jobs and relationships were replaceable. And at the same time, I was crumbling from the weight of my own imperfection.

At the end of a particularly difficult and intense relationship, I asked my partner how he didn’t know for sure that I wasn’t the right person for him. (He’d suggested we “take a break” and “see other people”, which, in my years before discovering the world of polyamoury, translated to “I’m really just over you”…which, in many cases, it does.) I remember standing in front of the coat closet in my apartment, and him saying, “I know, because when I look around the world and see attractive, capable, confident women, I find myself wondering what it would be like to be with them instead of you.”

And that was the first time I realised just how brutal rejection can be for certain types of people. It isn’t just about hearing “no”. It’s about something more personal, all the ways in which you’ve failed—failed to be perfect, failed to live up to “potential”, failed to make someone else happy. That failure has always been something I can’t live with, something I struggle with on a daily basis.

People often tell me I’m socially fearless. I’ll go up to anyone and introduce myself. If I’m attracted to someone, I’ll let that person know in a pretty straightforward way. I’ll sit in a formal restaurant by myself, and take the NYC subway home at 5 AM alone. I’ll travel the world myself…and in some ways, prefer that. There are few “dares” that get a flat refusal from me.

On the inside, though, I’m constantly struggling with the fear that someone won’t like me….and it’s no accident that I’ve not only gone through my life encountering people who don’t like me, but despise everything I embody and actively work to humiliate me or bring me down. I’m constantly struggling with the knowledge that I’m not as beautiful as this person, as smart as this other person, as gracious and likeable as another. Some days, I wonder how or why anyone could love me at all…because I never figured out how to be perfect. I never figured out, even, how to look in the mirror and see someone others will like.

I still often have the desire to act out in self-destructive ways nobody ever has to know about, to add to my list of imperfections. I often wish I could just escape from the world at large for a few months, and re-emerge as a happier, skinnier, more attractive, more accomplished, healthier person. I never do these things, but the desire for that to happen doesn’t disappear…and the belief that I’m surrounded by people who love and support me despite being so imperfect never quite sinks in.

I’m writing about this topic because recently, a few people have talked to me about how hard it is to meet people, how dating is a challenge, and even approaching people can be difficult. I do understand. Particularly in Atlanta, a city besieged by the “If everything about me appears perfect, everyone will love me” mentality, the tendency to get to know others for who they are is often not there…because it requires a vulnerability people aren’t willing to reveal. I understand just as well as anyone. In some ways, this is the worst possible place for someone with my particular set of issues to live (though Dallas is very close behind, and Miami even worse.) , because it’s filled with people with the same issues and insecurities who also have the money and the dedication to do something about what they don’t like in themselves, whether it’s apparent in a high-powered job, a new car, perfect teeth, discrete nips and tucks, or the need to appear like a carbon-copy of their best friends.

I’m not socially fearless, by any means. But what I’ve learned is that if you don’t forget about yourself long enough to reach out to others, you’ll spend your life by yourself. Nobody is perfect, nobody is out of your league, and even if rejection hurts, it doesn’t always have a single thing to do with you. No matter how great you are, everyone will not like you. Everyone will not be charmed by you, find you attractive, or even care to converse with you. Some may even instantly dislike you, for reasons that don’t matter and you may never know.

The important thing is that some people WILL like you, find you attractive, want to get to know you, see something special in you. And the person you’re afraid to talk to? Well, he or she has a secret list of insecurities and fears and baggage just as long as yours.

So, talk to a stranger. Go to a movie by yourself. Apply for a job you don’t think you’re good enough to land. Ask that person you’ve had a secret crush on to go out on a date. And if there are things you’d like to improve about yourself, whether it’s getting in shape or going back to school, it’s never too late to make those changes. In fact, if you’re like me, you try to re-commit yourself to building a better life pretty frequently.

Being open to whatever comes along seems to work the best for me. Trying too hard to make things work and beating myself up over my repeated “failures” is a personal self-destructive trigger, and will send my life in a direction I’d rather not go. In the immortal words of a legend, “You can’t always get what you want..but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

Life has a way of pointing that out…even if you don’t know what you need, the Universe sometimes seems to.

Forget about yourself for a little while. Try. Take a chance. Put yourself out there. And whatever comes back, know that you’re better for the experience, because it’s never about the results. It’s about knowing you don’t have to be perfect in order to be loved, liked, appreciated, or successful. If you did, none of us would ever be happy or do anything worthwhile.

Yesterday, I took some time to go through the over 800 unmoderated comments sitting on this website. It was a slow and arduous task, but finally, I’ve gotten myself caught up.

You see, I initially made the decision to keep comments moderated because I have my fair share of enemies, people who don’t share my life perspective, and people who, quite frankly, aren’t shedding any tears over my stories of days that go less than well. However, it turns out that’s less of a compelling argument for moderating comments than the fact that I am somehow constantly being attacked by spam-bots. They leave at least 5 spam-oriented messages per day, and it’s more than a little annoying.

In the midst of going through the tons of spam, I realised I’d had some actual comments on entries, most long outdated. Some were from friends I know and love and speak to fairly regularly, but others were from strangers asking for advice on things. Since it interests me that a stranger would care to visit my site (I mean, many of my closest friends don’t read my blogs.), it’s even more mysterious that someone would ask my advice on something. But, since I had a few questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

* Question: “How do you go about getting past writer’s block in order to write for a living and be productive every day?”I’m not going to lie, not every day is productive, particularly since I’ve developed this illness, which affects both my creativity and how fast I can work. Much of the work I do, it’s easy to become creatively challenged, because you see a lot of repeat requests for what’s essential repetitive advertising copy. I try to have more than one project going on at a time, so if one really bores me to the point of being uninspired, I can switch gears. Sometimes, I’ll ask my boyfriend for ideas, and he’ll say something that will spark a sentence and get me writing again.

One of the best cures for writer’s block, for me, is letting things flow organically. Writing on here, in my journal, or an e-mail to a friend doesn’t require too much thought or worry over being creative or interesting enough. It’s just second nature. Taking a break to blog or Facebook or e-mail helps, as long as I don’t get sucked into the vortex of spending hours on Not Work.

* Question: “Are you afraid people will judge you when you write so much personal stuff on your blog? Why don’t you just stick to less personal topics?” The answer is, of course, I’m afraid of that all the time. But every time you put yourself out there, you’re in a position to be judged. If you let that fear of being judged limit your expression of yourself, you can’t be an artist. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over a decade now, and from the moment I started, I was always willing to be more personal and more real than others. I get notes from people on FB telling me I should limit what I share, or friends angry about being written about on this blog. On the other hand, I get people…some friends, some those I barely know, and some complete strangers…write to me about their personal struggles. One thing I’ve learned over the 10 years is that openness can engender resentment and fear, but it can also engender even more openness. The fact that an article I posted about my life would inspire a teenage girl I’ll never meet to write to me about her struggles with an eating disorder, recovering from sexual abuse, dealing with depression, or engaging in self-destructive behaviour absolutely stuns me. On a selfish level, it makes me feel significant. So, I’ll keep sharing.

*Question: “Why don’t you put pictures of yourself and your life on your website?” This is an easy one. First off, there have to be some levels of privacy in every online space, and mine has always been that I’m most comfortable letting my voice speak for me. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting photos of other people in my life on here, and I’m not really interesting, bizarre, or attractive enough to make daily pictures of me anything anyone would care much about. I do love art and photography, and you’ll see some interesting visuals on this site…just not of me; unless, of course, I happen to appear in someone’s art show or something. *laughs* If you friend me on Facebook, I’ve tons of photos on there, so you can verify I’m a real person. But, truly, I’m just an ordinary girl. You couldn’t live vicariously through me without being bored.

* Question: “Who is Christina Perri dating?”. You know, I’ve absolutely no idea. While I love Christina Perri and we share a lot in common, I don’t actually know her in person. Maybe if I’d spent more time in Philly our paths would have crossed. I do know much of her material on her album comes from her experiences dating someone with BPD (borderline personality disorder.) It seems that’s complicated enough without press getting involved.

* Question: “Are you really polyamourous and can people actually be happy living like that?” An odd question, but the answer is yes to both. I’m currently in a monogamous relationship, but I suspect that a certain amount of “wiring” goes into determining whether or not one is suited to a polyamourous lifestyle. I was non-monogamous for about 7 years, and then I met the right someone, and things changed…but I sometimes suspect that, at heart, my beliefs and outlook on the world might allow for less traditional relationship arrangements. Acting on those beliefs is a different story. Many people are happy in all types of relationships, and the poly lifestyle can be a rewarding one, but it’s not for every person nor for every couple. I refer anyone who’s interested in learning more to “The Myth Of Monogamy” by David Barash. Also, watch the film “Kinsey”. :)

* Question: “Do you meet a lot of creepy people at Meetup?On occasion, I’ll run into the bizarre, rude, or just plain disturbing person. It’s the exception, though, and not the rule.

* Question: Did you meet your boyfriend through Meetup.Com?” Yes, I did. I also met some of my closest friends, including my current and former roommate. It’s a great resource I can’t say enough about.

* Question: “I like the pictures you post of costumes and arty stuff. Can you do a Halloween costume blog with suggestions and stuff?” I wish I’d seen this a month ago when it was posted, but yes, that’s a good idea. I love talking about costumes.

* Question: “Are you willing to have guest posts on your blog by writers that want to get their name out there?” I’ve never done that before, but I’d be open to it, if your posts fit the theme of my blog, which is largely about relationships, pop culture, entertainment, and surviving life as a young person in an increasingly impersonal digital age.

If you guys have questions for me in the future, I strongly suggest sending them to me via e-mail: ladyguenevere@gmail.com. It won’t take 5 months for me to see your comment, and you won’t think me rude for ignoring you.

Mailbag empty! Spam bots, disappear!

“And a woman spoke, saying,
Tell us of Pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burns your lips, has been fashioned by the clay
Which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears. ”

~ “The Prophet”, Khalil Gibran




Note: This started out as a letter to a friend. But the more I wrote, the more I felt it was something everyone needed to read. Because my story might be yours, or the story of someone you know.

In case you’re not on FB, here’s a summary of my life story:

“After racking up over $30k in medical bills, paying thousands out of pocket for medicines, tests, and doctors’ visits, being debilitatingly ill for three months, and being told I was simply “crazy”, they finally find a test that might be able to diagnose/treat me, and I can’t get it done because they want $1200 TODAY (which they didn’t tell me prior to showing up.). Not only am I part of the 99%, but when I die, which will be on my own terms and not theirs, I hope everyone who ever knew me will help use my story as an example of a loss to humanity that was preventable”

This world is not designed to treat me, and people like me, with any sort of compassion or humanity. In fact, when it comes to the values our world espouses, compassion and humanity seem to come far behind money, looks, cool stuff, power, personal accomplishment, and ME,ME,ME,ME.

I’m not sure I want to be a part of such a world. There isn’t a place for me in it, and I’m not sure there ever has been. This situation just *proves* it, more so than anything else I or my loved ones have been through.

People are hurt, shunned, denied treatment, left to die, and treated as if they don’t matter because of a variety of factors every single day. Money may not buy happiness, but it does buy survival.

One day, I hope someone wakes up and sees that our world is not just losing lost human beings in the corporate, money-oriented, self-centred process of living, but a lot of “might have beens” and hopes for the future. Right now, however, few I encounter seem to care one way or another.

I hope those people remember that one day, they too will get sick. One day, their children will be in need of care, an accident will happen, or a loved one will be on the brink of death. And when that happens, they’d better hope they have an insurance company that’s willing to work on their side, plenty of money in the bank, and happen to be treated by a “compassionate medical professional” that actually gives a shit. Chances are, they won’t, because that’s karma for you.

Every day, people die. Every day, people are left to deal with their mental and physical ailments because they can’t afford the endless merry-go-round of insurance payments, co-pays, deductible, out-of-pocket expenses, and $50-100 every time you so much look as a doctor or someone wants to give you a drug. That is, if you’re not one of the 40% of Americans that just flat-out can’t afford insurance. The sad thing is, one of those people might have cured cancer, become a world leader, changed the face of society, or just built a loving and beautiful family. But that doesn’t matter that much. We have plenty of people. What matters is that you have the cash in your pocket to entitle you to the help you need.

Our society is full of rules and viewpoints I don’t agree to play by. As with most games that stack the deck, I’m opting not to participate. Being on this earth is thoroughly optional for me, and I opt for quality of life over quantity. I don’t fool myself into thinking that I might have changed the world. It’s a little late for me. But, I’d like to think I might have been worth keeping around, if someone had cared to treat me not as a bizarre medical case, not with someone that can either pay or not pay for a diagnosis, but as a human being.

Anyone who thinks medical care in our country doesn’t need reform should get to know someone like me; smart, educated, personable, empathetic, with a zest for life…and an illness that isn’t properly diagnosed, treated, and may not only be a life-threatening issue, but the non-diagnosis of which has greatly impacted that person’s economic status and ability to get by in the world. Because that could be your friends, your parents, and anyone you know. That could be you. And you may not have the luxury of waiting until 2014 to see if things improve.

People are human beings. When the next generation of medical professionals is being trained, I hope somewhere, that’s emphasized. People deserve your empathy and your compassion, because they are human beings. And the next person in need of compassion, help, and empathy might just be you, or someone you love. I can only hope that when your time comes, someone is there with a helping hand, in a way nobody has bothered to extend to me.

This last week wasn’t really the most stable one, at least when it comes to interpersonal dynamics, friendships, health, money, and emotional well-being. Other than that, of course, it’s all been pretty boring.

Rather than writing about the tons of interesting…and mostly personal and off-limits….anecdotes that passed through my life this week, I’ll just fill you in on the list of life lessons I learned that have helped me grow into an older, wiser, and more perceptive person.

1) There’s often a very fine line between friendships and romantic relationships, and that line is not always—not even half the time—defined by whether or not you’re sleeping together. In fact, “defining the relationship” is probably one of the most traumatic experiences that occurs between people. Life is way more complicated than that.
2) When it comes to people you once allowed yourself to care about, merely the passing of time and the changing of the relationship does not result in you caring less. The reasoning behind who emotionally affects you a certain way, and why, defies reason. Life is complicated like that.
3) When it comes to people with whom you shared a connection, and then stopped liking or respecting for a bit, time not only heals many of those issues, it allows you to again see the things you liked about them in the first place. These things typically fall into the “Too little, too late” category. Life is complicated like that.
4) When it comes to people with whom you shared a connection, but probably should have liked a little less than you did, the desire of those individuals to want to sleep with your best friend(s) is an instant cure for any of those uncomfortable feelings. That’s one of those few life lessons that’s totally not complicated at all.
5) When it comes to other people whom you like, but struggle to communicate with in a conflict-free way, there’s always talking about the weather. The untimely arrival of Fall means Atlantians can avoid awkward and conflict-free conversations for at least the next two weeks.
6) When it comes to other people, virtually everyone wants what they can’t have, and when that thing becomes attainable, it’s almost always less interesting. In the rare cases this is not true, you’ve stumbled on to something good. At that point, life gets a little less complicated, with the exception that you will continue to want what you can’t have, and what you don’t really want.
7) Alcohol is a better and more successful treatment for those with mystery House-like diseases and anxiety disorders than are any drugs, prescription or otherwise obtained. I don’t understand it, but martinis and good company heal things.
8) Reality TV is not a contributing factor to any illness, but it won’t be long until doctors start putting it on health questionnaires and psychological inventories.
9) When it comes to knowing how you can expect to get along with others in your life, Meyers-Briggs is right almost without fail…in my not limited personal experience. :) They’ve figured out a reasonable way to navigate the complexity of life and predict which of your friends you will ultimately end up fist-fighting at some point.
10) It doesn’t matter how often you talk to your parents, or how far away they live. They will undoubtedly call you at the most inconvenient time, every time. It’s like they *know*
11) When someone is telling you that you don’t listen and therefore are not as sensitive to the feelings of others as you think, and your mind is already formulating the appropriately indignant rebuttal before that sentence is even finished, they may be right about you.
12) That couple that constantly breaks up and gets back together? It surprises no one when they get back together. If I worked for Hallmark, I’d design a card for that.
13) Overhyped parties where the premise is that everyone should dress kind of the same are, unsurprisingly, the most boring parties in the world.
14) Open mic night at comedy clubs are typically painful experiences. Very few people can ever say their first time was amazing, noteworthy, and memorable. Open mic is no exception.
15) You’d be surprised who doesn’t seem to remember you, or expect you to remember them, when they send you an e-mail. Perhaps I just have a far clearer memory than most.
16) It *is* possible for me to get from PJs to “ready to go out” in 15 minutes. An award should be given.
17) When I am 94, I will be Andy Rooney.
18) Witty sayings should pay more, even if you don’t print them on a T-shirt.

That was my week in a rather large nutshell. This upcoming one won’t be nearly as exciting…the highlight being my dizziness test on Wednesday. Considering I have panic attacks and other unsettling physical and emotional reactions to my unexplained vertigo, 75 minutes of doctors moving you around and saying “Are you dizzy yet?” doesn’t sound like a good time.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. A speedy diagnosis means more good times will be shared, and I’ll have less time to sit around and think about life. :P