Not Without a Fight

When the dam broke and I was forced to come to terms with the state of my mental health, it caused me to start reevaluating things. One of the positive outcomes was that I gained a backbone. I have always had a smart mouth, but I gained the spine to go with it. Tkout and Dipper assure me that the sparkly Care Bear is still there, I haven’t lost that, and I can outdo Mary Poppins herself on most days. What I don’t do so easily anymore is back into a corner. Nowadays I’m more inclined to stand up for myself. It feels good.

While I was going through my struggles I found I wanted to push people away. Everyone. Almost constantly. I was angry with the people who didn’t (or couldn’t) understand what I was going through and as a result stepped back from me. I felt they abandoned me. The ones who held on but didn’t seem to know how to help? I was angry with them too. The ones that tried to tell me I wasn’t as bad off as I knew I was? I didn’t want to explain it to them. I wanted them gone. Before I knew it, I had whittled my circle down and was in danger of getting rid of the few people who remained.

Tkout and Dipper tried to convince me not to continue pushing people away. At times they weren’t even immune to the purge, but they held on. For them it was different though, I was selfishly trying to save myself the pain of losing them when they moved on. When they had enough of the crying, the insecurity, the wobbly moods, the struggle. What I refused to have faith in was the fact that they weren’t going anywhere. They still haven’t, and I won’t claim that everything is always a field of wildflowers. I still have dark days. I still feel the need to push everyone away, but it’s more when I know I’m not playing nice. When I have too much rage built up and nowhere to release it. When I find myself lashing out at the people I love. When I know intrinsically that “I’m not good with people right now”. Lucky for me they both roll their eyes and stand their ground.

Recently I’ve found that I want people in my life again. Bit by bit. I’m starting to want to make room again. To make plans. To see those plans through. The big test was this past Saturday.

VTVT has been a friend for years. We met while working at PetSmart. I didn’t like her at first. I thought she was a know-it-all and it drove me bugfuck. What I was unwilling to realize was that I was jealous. While I was scraping by living with my parents, scooping hamster shit at a pet store, and waiting for my big break as a teacher, this chick was living her dream. She was a vet tech (VTVT was the name I made up for her when I didn’t like her, based on her penchant of reminding people she was a Vet Tech.) When my jealousy subsided and I started to see who she really was, I realized I not only liked her, but we clicked. She was the person who taught me how to crochet, which is one of my favorite hobbies.

During the Dark Year she was one of the people I pushed away. She was getting ready for her wedding, which I backed out of being a bridesmaid because of the anxiety, depression, and inability to handle crowds. The stress of that coupled with the fact that I couldn’t seem to explain to her what was going on with me only frustrated me more. She made suggestions – do yoga, drink tea, crochet, go for a walk. These are sound suggestions, unless you’re in a dark hole and looking for somewhere to vent your rage. I viewed them as unhelpful, and decided that they weren’t going to make the pain go away or make me better. I pulled away. She still posted on my Facebook wall. She texted. The offer to hang was always there. But I didn’t want to go to the Botanical Gardens. Or the craft store. Or the state park. Or anywhere that wasn’t the dark of my basement or Dipper’s house. She offered to come over, but I found the idea of hanging out with anyone who wasn’t Tkout or Dipper or Phoebe too terrifying to even consider. I always said no.

After awhile I think she figured out that I had closed off. That didn’t stop her from texting. Or offering a ride to the park. Or asking me if I needed to go to the craft store or out for coffee. She didn’t get mad when I wouldn’t text her for a few days. (Or weeks, if we are being honest.) She never blew up on me because while I couldn’t hang out with her, I hung out with Dipper and Phoebe all the time. She was patient.

This past Saturday we finally hung out. She came over to my house and I gave her an afghan I made for her right before the Dark Year started. I also gave her a Star Wars pin with a Funko cartoon version of Wicket, her favorite Ewok. I found it at GameStop a few weeks ago. She loved them, and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t even wrapped them, or put them in a gift bag. She didn’t seem to mind.

We sat in my living room with Zelda and talked for a bit. It felt like we hadn’t ever stopped hanging out. It felt comfortable. We talked about her progress in yoga and my progress with finding a job that made me happy. We caught up. It felt good.

Then we hopped in her car and headed to the local park. I knew VTVT liked to bird watch. She does it while sitting in her garden at home. I had a fuzzy recollection of her purchasing some binoculars. I didn’t realize how into it she had become. We walked the park trails and she kept her eyes out for birds. We saw a woodpecker right off the bat, as well as some catbirds. She told me about the different birds and what made them special. People often feed the wildlife in the park, but we hadn’t brought anything. Neither of us believe in feeding the wild animals. We think familiarity with humans is to their detriment. Even so, we had quite the entourage. A squirrel, chipmunk, blue jay, and some other assorted wildlife were following us along the trails. They kept their distance, sort of. It allowed for some really nice photos, and certainly it was nice to get closer without the animals being behind glass at a zoo.

VTVT is a bit of a shutterbug, like me. She kept trying to take pictures of birds, whereas I was more into the bugs and the fuzzy animals. Not to mention plants. I love taking pictures looking up into tree canopies. They’re like a slice of comfort. One of her goals was to get a picture of her doing Tree Pose on a tree stump. We managed that with flying colors!

I think we spent 3 hours in the park, and walked just under 10,000 steps. It was definitely refreshing and fun to get together again. I’m looking forward to it in the future, and am thinking of reaching out and asking her for some help breaking the ground for my garden. I have bulbs that need planting, and I find creating flowerbeds to be a bit of a pain in the ass. VTVT built her garden from the ground up, and adds to it every year. But that’s a topic for another post.

This morning I thanked Dipper for not letting me cut everyone out of my life. He was the first to notice it, but only because he had done that himself during his dark times. Tkout listened to my complaints about people, but was always the devil’s advocate for not getting rid of them. He always argued that there was merit, even if it meant that I needed to take a little bit of a break here and there. At the time, I went along with their suggestions, but wasn’t fully sold on them.

After VTVT left on Saturday I started to think about the Dark Year and why I pushed people away. I’m not going to take all the blame – there were more than I few moments where I was justifiably angry with people. However more often than not, I just wanted something concrete to fight. Mental illness is invisible. Even when the symptoms present themselves, there’s nothing you can fight. You can’t strangle depression. You can’t lock anxiety up and throw away the key. You can’t get on a train, plane, or boat to escape them. The same is to be said of the other disorders and diseases. Like it or not, they’re with you for the ride.

I’m a person that, while I don’t relish conflict, I prefer to meet my challenges head-on. Tkout says that I like to fight things out and be done with it. He’s not wrong. During the Dark Year I didn’t know what to fight. I felt helpless. The medicine adjustments were a hellacious rollercoaster. The soaring highs and crushing lows were unbearable at times. When I was suicidal, I didn’t want to reach out and bother anyone. I know everyone says, “If you need anything let me know.” The problem is, when you’re so sick of it all, you don’t want to let anyone know. You want to be out of the picture. No longer anyone’s problem.

Lacking a corporeal target, I turned on my friends. I found fault where there wasn’t any. Where there was fault, I amplified it to gargantuan proportions. Tkout and Dipper saved me from getting rid of everyone, and I can’t express how thankful I am to both of them. On Saturday I realized how much I miss VTVT. There are other friends I miss too, and it’s my hope that I will be able to bring them back steadily. That’s not to say that everyone is coming back, because in going through it and finding my spine, I came to realize some people really are there to use you. The ones that aren’t, the ones that waited, they’re the ones I am looking forward to letting back in.

This post is longer than I meant it to be, but I hope the message I intended to convey came across. Don’t let your illness and the struggle make you blind. If you need space, take it. But whatever you do, don’t listen to the voice telling you to let everyone go. At times your illness will find every excuse in the book to get you to get rid of people. Don’t listen. Don’t allow it to isolate you. Keep fighting the good fight.

 

Yesterday Was a Great Day

I’m going to apologize right away, because I have no idea what this post is about. I’d say it’s slice of life, but it’s more like random and happy babbling. If that’s not your thing, I recommend that you check out the other posts, that revolve around more concrete ideas and reviews.

Lately I’ve been spending more and more time in the company of my Kindle Paperwhite. I’m not even kidding when I say that I take it absolutely everywhere with me. I thought I left it at home the other day when I went to work, and let me tell you, that was NOT going to fly!

I have mentioned in other posts that I have anxiety, and am trying to learn to control it better. It was suggested to me recently to have a cup of Tension Tamer tea every night before bed. My first night trying that particular trick was Wednesday night. Tension Tamer isn’t a new tea to me, I used to love it when I was in high school. Although I have what feels like every tea ever produced sitting in my kitchen, that’s one that I had run out of and never restocked, so I will be going to pick that up later tonight. Anyway, I decided to go with the next best thing – pineapple chamomile. I made a large cup of it, went to my bedroom, and proceeded to read while drinking the tea. I remember talking to my best friend on the phone, and I remember messaging with him. I remember my husband coming up to bed. And I remember saying goodnight to my brother, that I would catch him in the morning.

I woke up a few hours later, the bedroom light still on, face-down, my body hanging half off the bed (thanks to Zelda, she’s an aggressive snuggler),  and my Kindle open a few inches from my face. My memory doesn’t include the moment when I took off my glasses and put them on the side table, but they were there.

Yesterday was a really really good day all around. Work went smoothly, and then I got to go and visit Dipper and Phoebe. McDonalds is selling LEGO Batman themed cups with their Happy Meals. Luckily, you don’t have to buy a meal to get a cup, you can purchase them separately. I snagged a red and orange for dad, a red and orange for me, and Phoebe got the orange cup with her meal. All we are missing now are the green and yellow cups. I bought what I thought was a Batman mask for Dipper, but it turned out to be a Viewmaster type toy. Explaining that to Phoebe was a riot! It was hard explaining what a kick-ass toy it was back then, especially when you’re talking to a kid who plays games on a tablet in her hands, and can talk to anyone in the world with the touch of a button.

After we had dinner and checked out our cups, I pulled out my crochet. I’m working on a blanket for one of mom’s friends. It’s a wild colored monstrosity that I almost frogged and started over a few times. Phoebe was the one who encouraged me to see it to the end. It’s definitely going to win the title of Most Colorful Afghan to Date. It’s always dicey crocheting at their house, because Vampira has a way of playing tug of war with me. Usually she’ll pounce on the yarn, tug on it, and then follow it right to my hook. When I was in Dollar General the other night, I picked up a pink plastic basket with a trellis design. It fits 4-5 skeins of yarn easily, and if I start out right, I can spool the yarn from the top without having to turn the whole skein. I put the yarn in the basket, sat it close to me, and began. I think I have momentarily outfoxed Vampira, but I don’t expect that to last. She’s really clever and energetic. I expect this method to hold up maybe one more visit before she finds her way around it. You can see her giving me what Phoebe calls “a look” in the picture on the right. After that she stayed close, thumping her tail and throwing shade at me whenever I glanced her way. Phoebe tries to help me distract Vampira, and I appreciate her efforts, but that kitty has laser focus when string is concerned! While I crocheted, we watched tv, and Phoebe showed me her new Monster High doll. Originally it was a Target exclusive, but Dipper snagged it off ebay for a reasonable price. It’s the version of Clawdeen Wolf where she’s dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood. (Believe me, it’s on the list of things I need for my horror-themed library downstairs!)

Dipper and I had a big brother talk, which I was very much in need of having. My anxieties have been getting the better of me recently, and when that happens, it sometimes is necessary to ground me in reality. After our talk, I feel much better. More secure, and in a better spot in general in regards to the anxiety.

As it turned out, Phoebe hadn’t finished all of her homework yet. She still had to do her 20 minutes of reading. I’m so happy that her school has the students reading every night. Not only is it an important life skill, but it’s fun. Phoebe was already sitting on the couch under her Wonder Woman fleece blanket, so she just needed me to grab my Kindle and join her.

Phoebe is reading a graphic novel called Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. She’s really into it. She’s in fourth grade right now, so the character in the story is close to her age. The story follows the author from grades six to high school. On top of everything else she has to deal with, she trips and falls, injuring her two front teeth. After that it’s braces, trips to the dentist, and all sorts of coming-of-age obstacles. Phoebe would stop here and there to read me a few frames, or show me a picture. She’s a very involved reader, often laughing out loud, or rolling her eyes when the characters do something silly. A few times, she pointed out to me how some of the characters weren’t very nice to each other. Thus the difference between kids and adults. She thought it was mean. I thought the comments were pretty funny, as I read them as sarcasm. Phoebe’s innocence and loving personality is like a little space heater. You can feel it radiating off her.

I’m currently reading 36 by Martin Berman-Gorvine, which is about the tzadikim. The tzadikim are, according to Jewish tradition, the 36 righteous who justify the continued existence of the world. In the story, Martin posits what would happen if something were to happen to the 36. It’s a very dark, involved, and intense novel. I’m enjoying every page of it. Phoebe asked what it was about, so I shortened it. I told her it was two friends on a road trip. Which is not untrue. The difference is that Lonnrot is chasing the tzadikim to warn them that something is happening to the others, and Nahum is more or less along for the ride because he decided since he’s Jewish, he feels responsible for Lonnrot following this “myth”. It’s a little too involved to explain to Phoebe, not to mention she doesn’t have the educational background in fourth grade to understand the Holocaust or many of the motivating factors of the characters. That’s alright. When she’s older, that book will be waiting for her. She was satisfied with that answer, and we started reading.

As we sat and read, Vampira came over and demanded that I scratch behind her ears. She purred loudly, and for the first time ever, I caught her drooling copious amounts. Phoebe was overjoyed when Vampira hopped onto the back of the couch and settled down with us. It was fantastic! To the point where we actually read a little over the 20 minutes.

When I went home, I made some more pineapple chamomile tea, walked Zelda, got my Kindle, and hopped in bed to read. Zelda grabbed a chew toy and hopped up on the bed with me. The only thing missing was that it was a Thursday. That would have been perfect as a Friday so I wouldn’t have left early!

 

Good morning!

Well, here we are, six days into 2017. So far, so good. The worst of it was a week I spent in bed with an upper respiratoryhappynewyearmonsters-sm infection, courtesy of this crazy weather we’ve been having.

Before getting into any new posts, I thought I would take a moment and get us set up and ready. (Old habits die hard – especially for teachers!) I’ve decided to make some improvements, part of what Dipper and I call The Reclamation. I may have alluded to it in previous posts, but it’s the idea of reclaiming who you are after a particularly rough period in your life. It’s like resolutions, but more long-lasting.

Here are mine…

  • BETTER HEALTH. I am focusing on making the changes that I can make and stick to. For example, I’m on a 3-day streak of making my own breakfast before leaving for work. So far, what I’ve noticed is that I’m not starving by lunch, and my bank account has a little bit more padding. I’ll be adding biking and swimming at the gym when I’m better and fully over the aforementioned upper respiratory infection.
  • MOAR BOOKS. You can never have too many books! I joined Goodreads.com’s book challenge, stating by the end of 2017, I want to have read 79 books. I haven’t finished one yet, but I’m making good progress. I also want to sit in front of my bookshelves at some point and categorize all my books on Goodreads.com, so that I have everything catalogued. (Oh! And I also fell in love with my Kindle, some seven years after Tkout bought it for me. It’s never too late!)
  • CROCHET ALL THE THINGS! I still owe some crochet gifts to people for Christmas, and I was working on a 2016 temperature blanket. I want to finish those items, and then move forward. I miss learning new stitches, and I am embarrassed to admit that I have 12 bins of yarn. I want to plow through that, because nobody in their right mind needs that!
  • MOAR REVIEWS! I owe book reviews to a few authors. Now that my life is balancing out from my 2016 year in hell, I intend to make good on my review promises. And sooner. Reviews will be on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and of course, here on CharnelHouseReviews.com.
  • GROW UP. My husband and I have been in our house for four years. It’s time to really take stock of what I have, get rid of what’s no longer useful, and make space. Not to mention, I’m still bringing stuff over from my parent’s house. Most of which is from my teaching career.
  • NO MOAR DRAFTS. Before writing this post, I almost worked on a previous post from last Easter. But I decided my 2017 Declaration of Intent post should be first. I want to sort through my post drafts, finish some, trash others, and then start new in the new year.

Let’s make this year super groovy!

 

An Easter Movie Extravaganza!

Super 8 (film)

Super 8 (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter day, I sat down and watched “Super 8” for the first time.  (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m from an atypical family, and we don’t always watch sappy movies on the appropriate holiday…)  In any event, the enigmatic trailer combined with a rave review from a class of 5th graders at my previous school caused me to accept the invitation to watch “Super 8”.

At first, the movie seemed to go pretty slowly.  I sat there crocheting for most of the first half hour, positive that I wasn’t missing anything.  From what I could tell, it was a slightly updated version of “Stand By Me” – a bunch of boys running around doing their thing while the parents don’t watch them.  So far, so good.  The fact that the children were using a camera to make a zombie movie added a very nice touch.  Then there was the train crash scene.  I don’t think I have ever seen a more terrifying train crash scene in any movie.  I immediately dropped my crochet and watched as tons of metal went flying across the screen, all to the tune of various (glorious) explosions.  Absolute and unabashed awesome.  Arguably one of the best wreck scenes in any horror film I’ve seen in awhile.  It seemed to last forever, but never get boring.

From the train crash onward, it was hard to look away from the screen.  Each scene got progressively more interesting, and the plot thickened.  The usual suspects were in abundance: freaky military personnel, absentee father, crazed alien.  What was unusual about the movie, was the unexpected twist in the storyline.  “Super 8” gleefully transcends every alien movie you’ve ever seen, while retaining shades of “E.T.” and “Aliens“.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This movie really is THAT good.

While you’re watching, you might recognize some familiar names in show biz.  (Fortunately, recognizing them doesn’t mean that they’ll stick out to you as a particular character to the point of it ruining their current role!)  The project was spearheaded by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  You  may remember J.J. Abrams from “Armageddon” and “Lost”, and if I have to tell you who Steven Spielberg is, well then you’re not fit to be reading this article.  Other familiar faces include Ron Eldard (who played Dodge in “Ghost Ship“), Joel McKinnon Miller (“Men in Black”, “Just Like Heaven”, and others), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights“, “King Kong” and “Early Edition”), Amanda Michalka (AJ of “Ally and AJ”), and Elle Fanning (little sister to Dakota Fanning).  Whew!

If you’re looking for a movie that is out of the ordinary and very entertaining, I highly recommend watching “Super 8”.  The movie is well-acted, the plot is interesting, and the train crash is not to be missed.  If you do choose to view “Super 8”, make sure you stick around for the credits.  The kid’s zombie movie is included as part of the credits – and it’s actually pretty good!

Gadzooks !

Kätzchen

Image via Wikipedia –> Yarn !  OMG !

Ha ha !  Chris and I just came back from a stroll among the shops and I saw my first yarn bomb!  For those of you who don’t know what a “yarn bomb” is, it’s a random piece of knit or crochet that covers something.  This particular yarn bomb was a bit of crochet around a pole.  The pole was part of a gate, and the yarn bomb covered the bottom.  It made the pole look like it had a claw foot.  So cool!  If you’re unfamiliar with the results of yarn bombing, then check out this link to my google.com search: yarn bomb.

We tried Moxie – the much maligned soda of Maine.  It was touted by our Duck Boat tour guide as a mix of “dirt and cough syrup”.  Apparently us Buffalonians are more resillient – it tasted like thin root beer with a hint of anise.  Not bad.

I thought I would throw that out there – just saying.

P.S.  Here is a link to some other Maine Monster Foot Yarn Bombing. The pictures are from Freeport, Maine, where I was staying.  Maybe next year I will yarn bomb my own city.  🙂  Thanks for the comment, Rose !  I never would have looked that up if you hadn’t mentioned the holiday.

Scary crochet patterns…

Homemade Cthulhu, adapted from pattern in Cree...

Image via Wikipedia

This post does not include the many patterns you can find for free online.  I don’t want to post those just yet, because I want to make sure that I give proper credit to those brave men and women who came up with them.  Again, links to amazon.com are provided.

Not too many of these types of books out there yet, but let’s hope!

For the Frankenstein in all of us…

Homemade Cthulhu, adapted from pattern in Cree...

Image via Wikipedia - Aaah, the Cthulhu crochet pattern. <3

Today I’m going to do a series of posts that cater to the crafting crowd.  I have noticed that the subject of the macabre has come up in various art forms and is now readily available for the artsy person to create.  This should help you with any parties you are throwing this coming October.  (Or if you’re just creepy year-round like I am, you could do these crafts just for giggles).  If you know of any other books, please share them with me!

All of the following posts will be categorized by type of craft, and filed away under the “Arts and Crafts” section of this blog.  Enjoy !

Cute crochet minions in every size…

Creepy Cute Crochet

Image by SewPixie via Flickr

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Yes this is a media review site.  However, this book is fairly important to me because it was what got me to start learning to crochet.  I was searching for “Cthulhu” one day when I was bored and I came across “Creepy Cute Crochet” by accident.  I went out and bought it the same afternoon (you should have learned by now that I am in impulse buyer of zombies, and anything book related.)

The patterns are ranked in terms of ease, but since I’m still a beginning I haven’t done any of them yet.  The patterns are really nice and cover tons of ground with regards to the subject matter.  There are even wizards, Trojan warriors, and Amazonian women to crochet.

This book is a must-have for any crafty zombie lover !  In fact, I was perusing another blog and found out that windgie79 at craftster.org actually used the patterns as the basis for a whole set of Left 4 Dead zombies.  She made the specials, and they all look pretty cool !  If you want to check them out, go here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=286431.msg3245554#msg3245554

By the way – for those of you who are not familiar with amigurumi, they are cute Japanese crocheted dolls / toys.  They have branched out into all sorts of things such as ornaments for Christmas trees.  Amigurumi started out being animals, but the art form has taken on inanimate objects.  The key word being cute…just look at the figures on the book above.  Cute.  You can look up all sorts of patterns if you like, including one I just got a few minutes ago that features an eyeball with a nerve ending.  (http://www.instructables.com/id/Crocheted-Eyeball/ if you’re looking for the pattern.)