Thursday, December 13, 2018

Safe Places Are Hard To Find

Safe Places Are Hard To Find
If you're someone who has social anxiety, depression, anxiety, PTSD, been raped and any other number of things that leaves you needing a safe place sometimes, you also know that sometimes it can be really hard to find them.

Over the years, I've had a few different ones ...my friend Dave's house in Vermont, until he got married and now it wasn't just him there. My friend Rob's place in Canada...until he had to deal with some life stuff of his own. I could list more but even just with two, you get the idea. Except, I'm going to list one more because really this last one is what this post is all about.

Now stick with me here...I know what I'm about to say is going to sound...well, crazy...but I promise you that it isn't. Comic conventions. Comic conventions have been my safe place for years. They're often filled with people that I know, like, and respect. Some of them I'd even consider to be friends. They're also full of strangers, but usually strangers who love the same things that I love and sometimes, I feel safe in a space full of people I don't know. Because of the nature of the event, I can get lost in a crowd. There's no pressure to be "on" or "happy" or anything. I can just be. If I need a break, I can find a corner and sit and watch the people. I love to watch people.

Over the years, I've met a lot of people at shows. Some I've enjoyed, some I've been glad to avoid later. That's just the way of life and personalities. Unfortunately, one of those that I've met and enjoyed has been revealed to be a rather horrible human being.  It's come out that he's treated women rather horribly. He's pressured them into doing things that they didn't really want to do. He's used his position within not only a place that he used to work, but also his position within the industry to lure women in and then mistreat them. I don't mean that he beat them, but sometimes the scars of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct (not the right phrase, but this is so hard to write that I can't let myself get hung up on phrasing right now) outlast bruises and broken bones.

As a woman, learning of his behavior upset me. It ought to upset everyone. But, under all of that was a feeling of deep unease and I've had a tough time figuring out why until last night. I was reading through a post written by someone calling out this man and supporting the art crew that had been working with him on a very popular title. The art crew chose to walk away from the book because they refuse to reward his heinous behavior. I applaud them for that and their actions led to the post I was reading. The more that I read, the more I found myself feeling uneasy, unhappy, and I hate to use the word...but triggered.

It got to the point where I had to shut down my laptop and step away. It took me a while, but I finally figured out what was causing it. I've known this man from the convention circuit for as long as I've known him. Conventions were/are a safe place and now he might be there. Granted, I'm not the type of woman that has ever had a real problem with sexual harassment or come ons...I'm just not the skinny, beautiful type. I've never had a problem with him approaching me this way and I doubt I ever would. Still, now that I know what's lurking in the dark, it's made me edgy whenever I think about the one that I'm supposed to go to in March. I was looking forward to possibly seeing him there. I was excited about going. I was insanely excited. Now? Now, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of what's in the shadows. I'm afraid knowing that I'll be traveling in and out of the area every day on a lightrail for an hour. Before, I was excited for that very same travel. It's always been a place to people watch and to meet new people.

My reality is that he's made a safe place feel not so safe. My reality is that I don't know if I want to go now. My brain has gone into "What if..." mode.  An event that I was so excited and proud (I was awarded a pro level badge this year which is a huge deal to me.) to be attending now has me wondering if anyone would notice if I just stayed home. I'm sad. I'm sad for me. I'm sad for every single woman that he has ever been in contact with. I'm sad for the industry because he's left another dark mark on what's beautiful.

Do you know what else I am? I'm angry. I'm angry that he's done this to me and to others. I'm angry that a grown ass man doesn't know that this is beyond wrong. I'm angry that I'm feeling as vulnerable and weak as I am. Anger is good. Anger is cleansing. Anger keeps me moving forward when I want to hide under the blankets.

I'm also proud. I'm proud of the woman who stood up and told her story. I don't know that I ever have. I'm proud of the industry professionals who have said no more. We will not tolerate this in our midst. I'm proud of the store where a lot of this story took place because they've declared that not only will they no longer stock anything that he's worked on, they're working with this woman to build policies so that nothing like this ever happens again. I'm proud of "my people".  Those are the people that I'm going to be looking towards as I work towards this trip because those are the people that I want to be around.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

What Tristan Means To Me

What Tristan Means To Me - A Katrina Tale
Tristan
Every week I tell myself that I need to come and write and every week, it gets pushed to the side. Not today though. Today, I need to write. I need to tell you things, even if nobody is listening. I just need to.

Most of you will have no idea who the character to the left is. His name is Tristan and he's the lead character in a series of comic books that I've been blessed enough to work on over the past few years. His main job is to protect his boy from the monsters under the bed. Nobody really knows just how much being able to work on his books means to me, not even his creator, Nick Davis.

Today, while his current project is stuck in Kickstarter limbo, I need to tell that story...not because I'm hoping it will push people to go and fund it, though if it does, I will be grateful for each and every penny, but because it's time. I need to share this piece of my life with you.

You see, most would see my childhood as typical. Sure, I was raised by my grandparents, but that's not terribly unusual. It happens. From the outside, everything looked great and it was, as long as you never looked at the time that I spent with my mother.

Times at my mother's were like that book that opens, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.". You never quite knew which one it was going to be. It could be a grand time of playing games and hanging out or it could be one of the nights when her and her friends would smoke pot and wake you up to come out and entertain them. It could be gardening in the backyard or being screamed at, cursed at, and told that she wishes you had never been born. You just never knew. The only thing I did know was that my teddy bear was always there for me. He'd soak up my tears and he never complained about how tightly I held him. Not even once. He was my stability in a very rocky world.

Fast forward a lot of years, a lot of traumas, a lot of changes, and the one thing that never changed was that some sort of teddy bear has always been there for me. It's still a constant in my life. The collection has expanded and sometimes who has caught those tears has changed, but when I'm alone, on the worst of days, there's one by my side to remind me that I'm not alone and that I'm not fighting alone.

Somehow, I found Nick in the chaos that is the internet and we became friends. I reviewed his early books for Life With Katie and then, I think, for Geek-o-Rama. Then, a few years ago, he started letting me edit/proofread on his books and it was a bit like finding home. I felt as if I fit. Nick not only let me play in his universe, but he gave me a chance when there weren't a lot of chances coming my way. I will be forever grateful for that. He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.

He let me work on a series of books that were all about protecting children, about giving them a safe space, and about watching over them. This touched a part of me that I thought I'd buried. Now, that same series is at risk of not being funded and that's breaking my heart a bit. I've realized that I need to see this project funded not just because it's an amazing book with amazing talent, but because I need for other children to see that they aren't alone in whatever it may be that they're battling. This project is personal to me and I don't think that people realize just how much.

For two weeks, I've been on social media asking for pledges and asking for people to share it and I don't feel as if I've been all that successful. People don't see my name as the project runner and don't bother to read the page to see that I'm editing this book if it gets funded. If it doesn't, I don't get this job. I don't get to hang out with Tristan and Wilma as they fight off the no-names and children, perhaps children who really need to see this story, won't have it available to them.

This project means so much to me that I've pledged to it myself. I've pledged more than I will ever be paid for it, but that doesn't matter to me. It matters far more to me that this project get made and that this book be made. If I could, I'd back the entire thing myself and then donate the rewards to the local children's hospital that my oldest has spent time at. Heck, if people wanted to back, but didn't want the rewards, I'd have them tell Nick to have them sent to me and I would still do that. For now though, all I can do is continue sharing this project on social media and to try to keep hope alive as each day ticks by.

For those of you who have taken the time to read this, thank you for letting me share my story with you. I've found that sharing can lead to healing and each post here is a tiny step towards that.



Sunday, November 4, 2018

Still Plugging Along

Still Plugging Along

It's been about a month since I last checked in and quite a bit has happened. My youngest auditioned for and was accepted into the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Orchestra. He's also been filling out college applications and all of the work that comes along with that. I think he still has two left although one should just be a matter of filling out an extra form and getting that submitted. As a mom, I'm proud of him for being on top of things and for being so responsible with it. As a mom, I'm also a bit sad that my baby is pretty much all grown up. So grown up that I haven't had him at my house in about three months because he no longer has a car (due to an accident) so he stays at his dad's so that he can easily get to work and school. 

The oldest has been coming out when he has a few days off in a row and I've loved having that time with him. It does my heart and soul good to spend time with him. I look at him and his brother and I often think that no matter what else I've messed up, I've done okay with helping them become good men.

As for me? I've had my ups and downs. The hardest thing has been the loss of my cat. The boys and I got Byron from a no kill shelter in New York just over 10 years ago and losing him was like losing my best friend. He let me cry all over him, hug him, pet him, cuddle him, and he loved me as much as  loved him. In his last minutes on Earth, he kept pressing his paw into the palm of my hand and looking to me for reassurance. Missing him doesn't begin to describe me this past week.

Still, life must go on and I'm up to my eyeballs in far too much. I'm trying to mentally begin to prepare for the holidays. They're going to be tough because the boys spend Thanksgiving at their dad's and both will probably be working. My oldest will have Christmas Day off because Walmart is closed but I don't know if his brother will work. It's tough when they get older and get lives of their own.  On top of that, November means KYJO rehearsals and NaNoWriMo. I'm determined to finish book 3 of The Tether Saga so that it can be published. Of course, day 4 of NaNo and I'm 3 days behind on writing! Life keeps happening!

So...there is far too much happening and I'm doing a fairly good job at keeping afloat. I guess that the most important thing is that I haven't given up. I'd love to say that things will get smoother, but for this month, at least, they won't. It's going to be a rocky road but I know that going in and I've tried to schedule out what I can and I'll try to breathe through what I can't.

Until next time...keep on plugging along! I'm right there with you.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

So Far, So Good

So Far So Good
Well, this is week 2 of the desktop sticky note/daily theme plan and so far it's gone pretty well.  I've had to be a bit flexible with it since things have popped up, but it has helped to wake up each morning with at least an idea of what should get done that day.

Last week, I managed to get half a book proofread, a story written and submitted to an anthology and a major part of the living room cleaned out. I'm thrilled to report that we can now walk around the entire room. So far, so good.

Tomorrow is cleaning day again so my goal is to finish up the living room (few areas that need a pick up, bag of trash to the outside bin, and then vacuum the whole lot), do a load of laundry or two, and maybe even start on the bathroom. The overall goal is to have the living room and bathroom done this week so that next Wednesday, I can start in on the kitchen. That is one project that I am not looking forward to but that is beyond necessary.

Other than that, tomorrow night I'm attending a financial aid seminar at the youngest's school. I can't believe that we're already at college applications and how to fill out a fafsa! I do have to say though that while he seems to be procrastinating on filling out the applications, I am proud of him for coming to me about this seminar to ask if we could go before I had a chance to ask him about it. It helps reassure me as a parent that I've done something right when he shows this level of responsibility.

The rest of the week is busy...proofreading on Thursday and then the first NaNo class for the year. I've never actually taken any sort of writing classes and while this one is about organization, I'm looking forward to an evening of being out and of note taking. Do I need a course on how to be organized? Nope. Am I going to go so that I can start getting into the right mindset and to socialize? You bet your sweet bippy.

Friday is our last home football game and senior night. I can't believe it's Roger's last time performing on that football field during a halftime. I can't say the last time performing on it because Saturday is our marching band invitational and with a lot of luck, they'll be performing the show at the end of that.

So, quite a busy week ahead and there's been some extra stuff thrown in... my oldest son wanting to try out Special Olympics, still jumping through hoops for him to go to school in January, and then a doctor's office calling me today about setting up a surgery consult for January. Oddly enough, I seem to be handling everything okay. Maybe because I have a bit more routine it doesn't throw me as much when something pops up.

I know that this hasn't been the most educational or even fun post, but thank you for taking the time to read it....and I hope you're doing well.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

From Chaos to Contained

From Chaos to Contained
From Chaos to Contained - My Mind, My Life
I sat down nearly two hours ago because I wanted to write here. The problem is that I had no idea what to write about. My brain kept circling around a problem that I'm having that I can't figure out a solution to and sadly, it's something that I can't really write about here. Then, inspiration struck!

Okay, that's dramatic. It's more like I was sitting on the couch, staring through my laptop as I tried to figure out what to write about and suddenly I remembered that my laptop has the sticky notes feature. I love this feature but somehow I go months without remembering that I have it. Tonight, I remembered and I figured out a way to make it work for me. Yay!

Last week, I wrote about my idea for "themed" days to help me focus on what needs to get done. In the time since, I've let the idea sit in the back of my head and not really done much with it. My oldest read my post and told me that he liked the idea and thought that it would really help. This week he's here with me and today we got to work on it. I spent the day working on various site(s) and hanging out with him. It was nice to get that stuff done, but I realized that my memory issues have been getting a bit dodgy lately and I kept feeling as if I were forgetting something I should be doing. Enter...the sticky notes!

From Chaos to Contained - Laptop Sticky Notes
The desktop on my laptop. I need to do an icon clean out!
I sat down at my laptop and created a sticky note for each theme. Then, on each one I listed the theme and any/all tasks that need to be completed on that day or for that project. The nice thing is that these are easily to make changes to if I need to and I can view them any time where I'm not sure what I should be doing. I plan on doing my weekly planning each weekend and whenever I sit down to do that, I'll be making sure that these are updated for the upcoming week.

Doing this tonight made me realize that chaos has crept into other areas of my world and so I'm going to be sitting down as soon as I can to work on a similar system for those areas. The one that my brain keeps coming back to is my writing. I need to finish Nevermore and then come up with a plan for future books. It's time that I stop flying so much by the seat of my pants and have a plan. I've always worked so much better that way, but for whatever reason, I have't applied my need for order to my writing. I need to work on that.  It's time to take the chaos that is my world and bring it back in order. It's time to go from chaos to contained ...a place for everything in my world and as much of it as possible in its place.

Sometimes the solutions to things are the very things staring you right in the face...


Sunday, September 16, 2018

So Many Things

Welcoming Weight Loss - So Many Things
So Many Things
Get ready for a very real post. Not to say that any of my posts are fake but this one is pure free writing and there's a chance more could come out then I'm planning. I guess we'll find out together!

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how things had to change for me and for my weight. Tonight, I ate oreos for dinner. Not an entire row or anything, but enough. Why? A combination of reasons:

1. I don't have any money to go and buy groceries before at least Wednesday. That leaves me with whatever is on hand and the two bag meals that are in my freezer to eat.
2. I'm overwhelmed and the thought of attempting to put together anything that isn't an open and eat it package has me hiding.

Why am I so overwhelmed? Let me count the ways....So Many Things...

My house is at hoarder status and I have a furnace that doesn't work. While we don't need it yet, we will soon and due to the condition of the house, I cannot let the landlord know so they can get someone out to fix it. 

In an attempt to help with this, I spent 5 hours tackling a major portion of our living room the other day. Since then, I've been coughing up a storm. I can only assume that I inhaled way too much dust. I pretty much have to wait it out, but it's holding me up from getting down on the floor to tackle the next section. It also makes it hard to sleep which leads me to...

I haven't slept well in about 3.5 weeks because late on August 21st, I got a phone call that my youngest son had been in a car accident. He walked away with just bumps and bruises after his suv rolled, but seeing the accident scene and knowing how easily I could have lost him has been a serious ptsd trigger for me. I have trouble getting to sleep before the early hours of the morning and then my body just wants to sleep all day to make up for it. It's slowly improving but it's led to the fact that...

I'm falling further and further behind on things. I currently have 7 books waiting for proofreading and I'm about 3-6 months behind on the last book on The Tether Saga. The only bonus, if you want to consider it that, is that the co-author of the first two books and the man that owns all of the rights to this series hasn't spoken to me in about six weeks. In fact, I'm fairly certain that he has me muted on FB messenger which is where he wants to communicate. This has added another level of stress to things as it makes me feel as if everything is up in the air regarding that.

Also, since I haven't made any money off of any of the three Tether books that I've already worked on/written, money is a bit of an issue. Well, let's face it, money has always been an issue. I gave up on the idea of working outside of the house due to my own health issues (mental and other) as well as my boys needing me to be available. We get by due to the generosity of a friend who helps me cover things...but suddenly there are more things than usual and it's freaking me out. My current list of things I need money for?

  • Photos of the boys from the photographer who shoots sporting events at the school. He has amazing shots of them and due to their dad no longer doing school photos, I really want these to help record all of the awesome things they've worked so hard at for the past 4 years. (Cost for all of them? About $100)
  • Bills (duh, right?)
  • Cover for my Kindle that the boys went together to buy me before the screen gets ruined.
  • Trash bags...a lot of trash bags...
  • Roger's orchestra fees ...they more than doubled this year and this is a program that he needs to be in. (Cost including all the gas to get him there and back? $1000)
There are other things, like NaNo coming up with classes next month. The classes and then write ins are free, but they're 45 minutes away and at a restaurant...so gas and food. If I dwell on this, I can think of more things...but let's move on...

To what, you ask? Well, that's the problem. I'm so overwhelmed and I'm so frustrated that I'm overwhelmed. I feel as if all I ever do here is write about negative things. I don't think I'm a negative person, but you'd never guess that here, would you? I feel like I need to apologize to all of you for not being this uplifting beacon of hope. I wish that I were, but right now, it feels as if the universe is squashing me.  

When I decided to start tackling my weight issues, things seemed so much more even keel. Then, I decided to face my fears and start tackling my dental issues. Now, I'm sinking but still trying to be all brave with things. I have yet another dental appointment tomorrow morning. This is my 4th in less than 2 months. It sucks but I'm more afraid that if I don't go, I'll never get those problems fixed. As for the rest of it? I just don't know...

I've spent hours trying to figure out a way to make everything better, to make it easier. I've thought about walking away from social media and blogging until I get things under control, but it gets mighty lonely living in the boondocks without any friends. So, I threw that idea out. What I really need to do is clear my plate, but that's tough when some things just need to all be done at once. I can't not do the dental stuff, I can't not work on the house, I can't not get the proofreading done...Those all have to be done right now. I've considered taking a week at a time to dedicate to each of these things..well, not the dental work. Can you imagine going to the dentist every day for a week? That'll cause nightmares...

My current thought? 

Daily "themes"....

Monday - Site work...this has been this way for a few years and I need to keep this routine.
Tuesday - Proofreading before I have to drive the youngest 90 minutes for his sax lesson.
Wednesday - House, focusing first on the living room, then the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and studio.
Thursday - Proofreading
Friday - Combination day of light house/football/review work
Saturday - Day of rest (plus things like marching band competitions for the next month)
Sunday - Planning for coming week

Do you notice what isn't anywhere on this schedule? Writing. For the time being, the book has to be on the back burner. I'm not happy about this, but if I want to get through the rest, I don't have much of a choice. If any of you here are fans of the series, I pray that you can be patient. I promise that I will get back to it as soon as possible. The latest? November for NaNo. I'm not starting something new until this is totally finished. 

I suppose the real question is...will this work? The answer? I have no idea. All I can do is try. I can keep trying to be in bed trying to sleep by 2 am and work that back. I can keep sitting and just breathing when it would be easier to have a meltdown. I can appreciate every single moment that I have with both of my boys and not feel guilty when I put everything else to the side to watch tv with them. I can help my youngest make final decisions as to what colleges he's about to apply to. I can do my best to just keep going. 

It may be one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one breath at a time...but I'm going to do my best to just keep going. Somehow, I will handle so many things.




Monday, August 20, 2018

Sick of Being Sick

Sick and Tired
 I've lost track of how much I've said this lately.
I know that I told y'all that I was going to get my act together and start posting weight updates weekly here. I have totally failed at that and I feel an incredible amount of guilt for letting not just you, but me down too. The problem is that my body is letting me down right, left, and center.

Where to start? I know that I posted about going to the dentist last month. The end of June? Anyway, on July 6th, I went and had my first two extractions done. Thanks to the nitrous, I survived. After, I had to go to Walmart.  Why? Because due to laws, they can't give you pain med prescriptions in advance. I'll let you imagine how pleasant of an experience it was to sit there for an hour, starting to drool blood, and waiting for this prescription. Knowing that people were judging me either for how I looked or for the reason why once I explained it to them. I know it shouldn't matter, but when you're already drained emotionally from the process that got you there, it's hard.

The recovery wasn't tragic, but I certainly didn't feel good. Then, just when I was starting to eat real food again and my stomach was starting to recover from the minimal food/motrin combination, I developed another infection. They don't want to bother with an antibiotic, they just want to move up the date to extract the rest of my bad teeth. So, I've been sick with that for over a week now. Low grade fevers, things not tasting good, upset stomach...and the only way to clear it up is to put myself through what I just got out of...which means another week's setback.

I keep telling myself that it will be worth it once it's done, but it's so frustrating. I just want to be healthy. I want to have energy. I want to be able to get things done. I keep falling further and further behind. Even the absolutely must dos are only getting done barely.

As if that wasn't enough, there's been some problems that involve my ex and his wife so I can't talk about them here. It's too public. Let's just say that it's spiked my stress levels insanely high over the past couple of weeks.  The combination of all of this plus a lot of little things had me run, not walk, away from social media. I just couldn't handle people. It's been a week and I'm barely sticking my toes back into that pond.

....and I just caught sight of the time. I have to go to my mammogram and get that done. This being a responsible adult thing is bullshit. I'll be back in a couple of hours to finish writing this...which you won't even realize the break except that I just wrote it...lol! ....

....and I'm back! I was squished and squashed and made to hold my breath, but I guess it's okay because she gave me a single square of chocolate afterwards. I'd have rather had a sticker.

So, I've been off of social media for about a week now and while I miss people, I find that I have a very low tolerance for them. As I told someone...For those familiar with the spoon theory, I'm out of every utensil in the drawer and I'm stabbing at things with a stick that is vaguely shaped like a chopstick. It is getting better in some ways and very much not in others.

Just Breathe
A reminder for us all.
Mostly, I'm finding myself missing certain people. The problem is that these people aren't accessible to me and they're what I've dubbed my safe places. They're people that I can just be with. Having them no longer accessible to me makes things worse in some ways. It's harder to handle everything on your own sometimes.

But,that's just what I have to do and what I'm trying to do. For this week that means making sure I have a proper shopping list to prepare for not being able to eat real food this weekend as well as my oldest being here and him needing to eat real food. It means getting myself to all of my medical appointments this week. It also means making sure that I'm where the boys need me to be. It may be a week of baby step after baby step but if that's all I can do, that's all I can.

For now I'm going to curl up with a book for a while (I'm behind on reviews) and hopefully lose myself in its pages before I start on that shopping list...


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