Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping up

2012 is almost over. Normally, I have a sense of relief to have another 12 months "safely" behind me, but this year I don't care. It's done and another shitty year is on its way. I'm trying not to start things out with a crappy attitude, but I don't have the energy to pretend things are going to get better. I'm in the same place I was last year, except I'm fully aware of how stupid I was to have hope or to even try.

I'm working tonight. The first time I'n three years. Usually I take New Years Eve off to go see the Winterhawks, but I can never afford to go. As it is, I haven't been to a single game all season. There's no NHL to watch either.

I hope 2013 brings good things for you. I don't have anything else to say.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On your way to heaven, did you say "I'll see you again"?

I got a package in the mail today.  I've mentioned my friend Danny before. He died of a drug overdose in 2004, and though we have never met, I still keep in touch with his mom. Twice a year -on his birthday and his going away day- I send her a card and a letter, and she always writes me back. I hear about his life outside of my (former) little group of friends, and she hears about his life outside of his family. It's bittersweet, but memories are all we have. I just like her to know that we're always thinking of Danny and we'll never forget him. 

In the package I received was a Christmas card, a letter and two little boxes; one for me and one for my sister. Inside was a Serenity Prayer pocket token:


I don't believe in god, but I'm familiar with the serenity prayer. Dan's mom says that everyone in the family has one of these tokens and use them as keychains. I'm wearing mine as a necklace. 

In her letter, she talked about Christmas and how, no matter what age they were, everyone got a present. About how Dan had this friend (I knew him, too) whose father was awful to him, so Dan would bring him home a lot and they all made him feel like part of the family. About how Dan used to take friends to his grandma's house for cookies. I love finding out these new things about him; it's like he's not really gone. And it validates my feeling that Dan wasn't a junkie -- he was a kind, loving man with an addiction. 

In her letter, she wrote:

"After losing Danny, I think of things differently. So many things are not important to worry about. You actually feel good about picking what's important enough to take your time - the most important thing we have. That's where the serenity prayer comes in."

She ended the letter with:

"Thanks again for the cards you send. It's like getting a hug in the mail on a day you think no one remembers."

It made me happy to read that.  Danny wasn't perfect (who is?), but he was ours. And he always will be.  


Friday, December 14, 2012

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

What I thought was just a simple meet up with friends for coffee turned into an afternoon of laughter, food and incredibly undeserved generosity.

I have no words right now except to say I have amazing friends, and I don't know what I would do without them. I'm so overwhelmed by their love and support and kindness that I'm crying as I type this.

I have been dangerously low this past month, so close to the edge, and a few hours with my friends—forcing myself to stand back and let myself accept whatever they had to give—has done more to warm my cold heart than a month of therapy ever did.

If you're reading this, thank you. I don't deserve it, but THANK YOU. From the bottom of my gobvlixi heart, I love you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous."

Deadly shooting at Clackamas Town Center. News won't stop covering it, trying to find reason and meaning in what happened.

I'm sorry it happened, and it shouldn't have happened, but Christmas is the saddest, loneliest, most depressing time of year. More so now than ever before. I'm not saying there's no good in the world; I'm saying it's harder to see the good when you're reminded, daily, for a month, of everything you don't have or have lost or are burdened with. It's no wonder people go a little crazy this time of year. Everywhere you turn, Christmas cheer is being shoved down your throat. It's overwhelming.

Bah humbug. I hate Christmas, and I stand by that hate. If that makes me an asshole, so be it. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

My past is everything I failed to be.

“My hapless peers with their lofty dreams--how I envy and despise them! I'm with the others, the even more hapless, who have no-one but themselves to whom they can tell their dreams and show what would be verses if they wrote them. I'm with those poor slobs who have no books to show, who have no literature beside their own soul, and who are suffocating to death due to the fact that they exist without having taken that mysterious, transcendental exam that makes one eligible to live.” 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To the dreamer there is no waking, no real world, no sanity; there is only the screaming bedlam of sleep.

“There are ships sailing to many ports, but not a single one goes to where life is not painful; nor is there a port of call where it is possible to forget.” 

I have no peace in dreams anymore. When I was a kid, I kept a notebook by my bed, and I would write down my dreams as soon as I woke up. My therapist told me that's probably why my dreams are so vivid and why I'm able to recall them so well as an adult. Considering the nature of my dreams lately, that's not a good thing. 

I find myself dreaming often about my cat, who died in October.  The dreams vary but the end is always the same: she saves me. Something horrible is about to occur, Freddie comes to me and I pick her up and she saves me from destruction. I don't know what that means except that I miss her terribly. Maybe subconsciously I want to be saved, but in my heart and in my head I know there is no rescue. No one can save me but me, and I don't even think I'm worth the bother. 

I dream a lot about people who have hurt me, who I haven't seen in a year or more, who my brain tells me I'm better off without but my heart still hurts for the loss of them. So much so that sometimes I can't breathe, and I hate myself for having felt so much for nothing. I dream a lot about loss and destruction, and no small wonder - my life is one of regret. I have accomplished very little and I have wasted too many years to seek any sort of redemption for my cowardice.  

I am a cynic and the holidays bring out the worst in me.  Christmas only reminds me of my dad and all those old songs on the radio remind me of everything I've lost and everything I cannot or will not allow myself to have.  Every night I go to work and listen to my coworkers talk about their families, about what they're getting their husbands/boyfriends and kids. I think about everyone I care about and I have nothing that I can give them. 

I find no rest in sleep, no peace in waking. I would give anything to change that. 

“O night in which the stars feign light, O night that alone is the size of the Universe, make me, body and soul, part of your body, so that—being mere darkness—I’ll lose myself and become night as well, without any dreams as stars within me, nor a hoped-for sun shining with the future.”  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meaninglessness means there's nothing to stop us from creating meaning for ourselves.

Midway life's journey I was made aware
That I had strayed into a dark forest,
And the right path appeared not anywhere.

I hate Sundays. I think it goes back to being forced to wake up early and go to church when I was a kid. Or maybe it's because I stay up all night so I don't throw off my schedule working the night shift. (Typed that as "shit." Almost didn't correct it.) 

I feel like shit, and I'm working six days this week. A co-worker is on vacation, so at least I'll have six days to get a little overtime. I need to see my NP because I'm out of RXs for my ADHD meds, and I think my anti-depressants need to be adjusted or changed altogether. 

I read 26 books in 2010, 37 books in 2011, and this year I have read 60 books. I have just started my 61st: Driving with Plato, by Robert Rowland Smith.   I'm also watching Planet Hulk, because I have raging ADHD.

Got some film developed the other day. I miss my cameras; I haven't been shooting much lately, especially now that the rainy season started. 

Sunset over the coastal range

Amusing little car at the Grand Lodge.

The Doctor's Office Bar at the Grand Lodge.

Hello, me.

More of the Grand Lodge

The Blue Heron French Cheese Company in Tillamook

More Cheese Company

Hello again, me

Rockaway Beach

My friend, V, and her dog, Ike at Rockaway (annual girls' weekend!)

Goblins at an abandoned lumber mill





To Write Love On Her Arms

My with?




Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. C'mon in.
Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. C'mon in.

Why, yes. I am an amazing photographer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

My cat and my sister's cat were twins in that they were the only kittens born to the stray we took in. It amused us to call them that, being twins ourselves.  I was born 19 minutes after my sister; Freddie was born about eight hours after her sister, Monkey.  Monkey died exactly 20 days after Freddie.

Her health started to decline after Freddie died, and on October 29th my sister made the decision to have Monkey euthanized. We took her to Dignified Pets  afterward, and got her remains back a few days later. On Election night, actually. 

It's been hard, not having the girls in our lives anymore, but I think I can say for both of us that there are no regrets. We had 20 years with them, and they were all good years. The best years. 

Monkey and Freddie, not even a year old in 1993
Monkey and Freddie, not long after their 20th birthday in 2012

Winced my way through another Thanksgiving. I haven't celebrated this "holiday" in over 20 years, for many reasons. And now here comes Christmas. I'm the fucking Grinch, I hate Christmas. I hate the gimme gimme gimme want want want feral group mentality of the whole thing. I hate the spirituality of it, too. Religion is poison. 

In happier news, the Portland 2013 Comic Con is coming up in a few months. I'm definitely going. Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery, David Della Rocco, Michael Rooker, Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee, Morena Baccarin... HOW COULD I NOT GO? Of course, I can't afford to buy photos for autographs so I can meet them all, but I haven't been to a Comic Con in years and I'm excited to just walk around the place and see everything going on. 

Since I started typing up this entry, two of my friends have chimed in about the Con. Looks like we're hitting the convention center on Sunday since it's the one day we all have off. 

We're having our Thanksgiving potluck at work this week.  Unavoidable, unfortunately. The theme is mexican food, so I said I'd make cupcakes: mexican hot chocolate cupcakes for the regulars and dulce sin leche  for the chocolate-intolerant. I've never made either before and I have NO idea where to get some of the ingredients, so I'm banking on a food disaster of major proportions. 

I've run out of things to say, so I'll end this with some Loki love.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Mighty Freddie

20 years ago, I stood outside the front entrance of the hell hole that served as my high school.  Like a scene out of The Blues Brothers, my sister came roaring up in my '78 Olds, kicked open the passenger door (the only way to get it open) and yelled, "Get in! Poser's in labor!" I leapt into the car and we sped home.

My sister and I and our best friend spent a lot of time going to concerts when we were in our late teens/early 20s. There was a local dive (love-to-hate/hate-to-love) where we spent a lot of time, made some good friends. Usually we'd run to the nearby Subway for something to eat before a show, and it was from this scenario that we acquired a cat named Poser. Poseur? I forget how we spelled it.  I wasn't there that time, but the short story is that Sis, BFF and another friend found a stray cat, lured her to the car with Subway and brought her home. Mom didn't want the cat, so she kept letting her outside, and we would lure her back with canned food.  Fast forward a few months and a visiting friend announces, "That is one hell of a pregnant cat."  AROO?

On the afternoon of September 4, 1992, Poser went into labor.  Her first kitten, was born around 4 p.m., I think.  We weren't sure how many she had cooking, and we'd never owned or experienced an animal giving birth before, so we waited. Many hours later (a little after 11 p.m., in fact), I was lying on the floor in my sister's bedroom, reading a book and listening to the radio.  Poser was in her birthing box by my sister's bed and all was quiet.   Queen's "Your My Best Friend" came on the radio and a few seconds later, Poser started shrieking.  "Sis!" I yelled. "Here comes another one!"   Poser hadn't made much noise at the first birth, but this second one was a real doozy. It didn't take long; the little creature inside was impatient to get out into the world and make it its own.  And so when the little grey rat thing wiggled its way into our lives, I smiled and said, "I'm naming him after Freddie."   (This was just a year after Freddie Mercury had passed away, and with Queen being on the radio, it was the only choice for me.)   

We later learned both kittens were girls.  Monkey started out as Clovis but has been known as Monkey (or "the Monkey") for most of her life.  Freddie has always been Freddie, though a few years in, my sister nicknamed her the Bee because Freddie's tail was always "buzzing" your ankles for attention.  She'd do this little running move and bop up against you.  Chris called it buzzing and who's the best at buzzing but bees?  And so she always was and always be my little bitty Freddie Bee. 

I have been a dog person my whole life. Friends will read this and laugh because cats far outnumber dogs in my household and I'm always heard to be muttering, "I hate cats" to anyone who will listen.  I don't hate them, I swear. I just love to say I do. I love dogs and their dopey, unflappable loyalty, and cats have always had this standoffishness that irked me somehow, which is ironic because personality-wise, I'm more cat-like than dog. 

Early in their kittenhood, the girls formed attachments: Monkey to me, Freddie to my sister.  And just as quickly, they reformed and switched teams and I was Freddie's and my sister was Monkey's.  Some say that to name something is to make it yours.  I don't know if there's any truth to that. I did name Freddie and we belonged to each other, but I adored both of those kittens equally; I didn't spend more time with one than the other. In fact, my sister spent more time with both of them than I did, since I was still in school.  So what made Freddie decided I was hers? I can't say for sure, and I don't think I really care one way or the other. All that ever mattered to me was that this little, ornery cat loved the crap out of me, and I loved the crap out of her. She chose me, and it always felt right. 

A cat-human bond is different than a dog-human bond, for obvious reasons, the biggest being the very nature of the species. One isn't more capable of love than the other, or of loyalty, but they go about their love and loyalty in different ways.  You know a dog's got your back. Unless you're a complete and utter cock-knocker, a dog will always be your huckleberry.  Cats? Not so much.  Having a cat is kind of like having a 24-hour help line; you can always reach them, but there's a good chance you're going to be on hold for a very long time. That being said, when a cat is there for you, it's that much more special because they deigned to acknowledge your existence and cater to your emotional needs at all.

Sarcasm, of course. I know well the power of a cat's love, having known the full strength of it for 20 years. There will never be another Freddie. That can be said about any animal, for sure. They are each as unique and beautiful as snowflakes.  But there was something about Freddie that I can't quite put to words.  My sister says we were soul mates, and I believe that with my whole heart.  She can describe it better than me, but that's what we were.  The closest way I can describe it is like bond between humans and their animal daemons in the His Dark Materials book trilogy. They are basically the physical manifestation of your soul, and I don't feel ridiculous in saying Freddie was my soul and I was hers.  We fit each other perfectly. I can't really go into detail, there are a lot of little things that I didn't pay much attention to until my sister told me; maybe she'll comment here and share some stories. I know Freddie and I were a great source of amusement for her. 

Freddie was born when I was a senior in high school. If I had had any kids, Freddie would have seen me and my child through high school and college.  She saw three different U.S. Presidents come and go. She traveled so many miles with me (east, west, midwest), and we kept each other snuggly-warm on countless winter nights. 

I have "owned" many animals in my 38 years, and but have never known any as long as I knew Freddie.  Twenty years.  Twenty years.  God, that has to count for something.  Cats don't normally live that long, and usually the ones that do should have been euthanized long before their owners came to terms with letting go.  Freddie was not one of those cats.  She was a tiny, spritely, impish little cat her whole life, and had very few illnesses in those 20 years.  When she was about a year old, she decided to chew on a wire and electrocuted herself.  She badly burned her tongue and gums, and ended up losing about a quarter inch of her tongue, melted her gums a bit and as a result began losing teeth (rapidly) at an early age.   Whenever I took her to the vet for her annual and the doctor would go to examine her teeth, I would say, "Ok, before you open her mouth, let me explain," and it invariably startled whoever was about to go poking around in there. 

Toward the end of her life, Freddie had very few teeth left, most of which were on the right side of her mouth.  She had this endearing and life-long habit of biting the hell out of me. When she was happy, mostly, but also when she was pissy.  You could almost say happy and pissy were all the same to Freddie, and that would be fine.  The bites rarely hurt because she didn't have very many teeth left, but she was smart as a whip and learned to turn her head and bite from the right side so as to inflict more "damage."  I lied when I said her bites rarely hurt.  One morning I didn't wake up fast enough so she latched onto my cheek.  To this day, I don't know how she managed to hang on with mostly gums and a couple of fangs, but holy fucking hell, THE PAIN.  I lay there in bed going, "Auuuugggghhh!" with this tiny cat gleefully chomped onto my flesh, and don't think there wasn't an evil little triumphant glint in her eyes!  

On more than one occasion, Freddie woke me up by pulling my eyelids open.  I shit you not. SHE PULLED MY EYELIDS OPEN.  Freddie was also a pro at bitch-slapping.  All done in love and affection, of course, but more often than not my sister would hear me talking to Freddie and doling out a few smooches and then I'd yell "OW!"  She smacked the glasses off my face more than once.  Broke them twice.  

I loved that cat. I still do. I always will.  I don't know why she chose me, but if there are gods and goddesses out there, I would get on my knees and thank them every day for giving me these twenty years with such an extraordinary, beautiful, fierce little creature. I did not deserve her, but I am beyond grateful to have been able to call her mine.  

I got her remains back this afternoon.  I haven't been able to sleep at all without her, so I was awake when Dignified Pets called to tell me she was ready to be picked up.  
I lay in bed for a while and cried, then I got up, got dressed and went to pick up my little demon.  

She was the smallest cat we ever owned, but she was the mightiest.  Nothing phased her. Ever. She was fearless and unflappable.  Freddie was, in fact, the original honey badger. It was her particular delight, every morning, to dance along the edge of my bed and wait for my dogs to wake up and come over to see if I was awake.  Freddie, little stinger of a tail whipping back and forth, would wait and bitch-slap them mercilessly for daring to get too close to her domain.  Mind you, one of my dogs was a 95+ lb German shep/pitbull mix, and she would knock him on the snoot like Ali.  And, like Tyson, she was not afraid to bite his face.  I had to pull her off of him once, and his cheek stretched out a few inches until it slipped out of the grasp of her angry little gums, and I swear to god Luke's eyes teared up. I still laugh about it to this day.

Yes, she was small.  Eight pounds at her heaviest. And yet, I'm still shocked to see how small the container holding her remains is.  How can something so small hold 20 years of love and light and laughter and companionship? Freddie, she was a black hole.  A tiny little ball of such incredible love and memory, I can't help but get pulled into that warm, bright light and that gravity. And what happens after doesn't matter.  I let go and I fall back into my soul and all that's left is everything we ever were and everything we always will be.  Nothing can ever take her away from me.  Not being able to hold her close at night or wake up to her purring little face in mine (so dangerously, bitingly close), it doesn't matter. It hurts, but it doesn't matter because it means Freddie was here.  Freddie was here, and she was mine and I was hers and that love and that bond that we had will always have a place in the universe and in my heart.  We existed together and that will go on forever.  I believe that with all of my heart.  I am a skeptic and a cynic and I believe that that love is an energy that will always exist until the universe itself comes to an end. And when that happens, I'll be broken down into memory and energy and I will be back with my little Freddie Bee.

I am not someone who is comfortable with emotion, but I sit here in this Starbucks, drinking shitty coffee and using their "free" wi-fi, sobbing openly and not caring at all who can see me.  I loved that cat and I would give anything for 20 more of those wonderful years with her, and the loss of her deserves more than a few tears.  This blog entry is the best I can do. I wish you all could have known her, this fierce little creature.  She was a fighter and a champion, and she was my best friend.  

I love you, little Bee.  I will see you again.  Rest in peace, Beezer. You were the best part of every one of my days.  




The best part of waking up


The Bee

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What the heart has once known, it shall never forget.

You're my only one

Ooh you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me
It's you you're all I see
Ooo you make me live now honey
Ooo you make me live

Ooh you're the best friend that I ever had
I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you're my best friend

Ooo you make me live

Ooh I've been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You've stood by me, girl
I'm happy, happy at home
You're my best friend

Ooo you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive
Ooo you make me live now honey
Ooo you make me live

You're the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I'll never be lonely
You're my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
You're my best friend

Ooo you make me live

I'm happy at home
You're my best friend
Oh ya
Oh you're my best friend
Ooo you make me live
You you're my best friend

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Second Stranger

I started this 100 Strangers photography project (via Flickr) a couple of years ago. The idea is to hone your photography and social skills by approaching total strangers and asking to take their picture. I'm a social reject, but I need to build up my people photography portfolio, so I decided to give it a try.

My first photograph was two years ago at a Robin Hood festival. A woman spinning alpaca fur into yarn.

So I figured it was time to get my second stranger. I stopped to talk to this man and find out when he and his (very small) group get together to protest. I've seen them around a couple of times, but thinking back, I'm always fuzzy on the date/time.

We had a little chat and I thanked him for his time and said that my sister and I would try and join them next week.

I forgot to ask his name, but I can remedy that next week.

P.S. I took this photo with my iPhone, which I (personally) don't think counts as a real photograph (fuck digital) but I think the image is important to share.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fat lady singing

Vacation over. Back to work tonight.  While I did not have a good vacation, I'm still sorry to see it end. Someday I'll actually be able to afford to go somewhere and do something. 

Saturday I went to my friend's party. Had too much rum, passed out on the floor by 10:30 p.m. 

That's about it. 

happy autumn equinox







Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Take a run and hide yourself away.

Went for a run this afternoon. Nothing particularly mind-blowing about that, except that I walked to the track. It's a 1.2 mile trek, one way, but the walk back up is the real ass-buster.    My house is at an elevation of about 1,000 feet and the elevation at the track is 500. So the hike home is uphill. A steep, winding mountain road.  It was around 80 outside and I was feeling it even before I hit the track, but my run actually went pretty well.  The walk back home went better than I expected, too, though that may be because I stopped frequently to stuff my face with the blackberries that line the road.

Blue is the GPS route. Grey is the actual route.


I should be able to sleep well tonight. Got lots of exercise, sun and fresh air. Now I'm off to the state park to see if I can't find Mars and Zubenelgenubi. 

Dazed and confused

I'm officially on vacation until Monday. I'd be more excited about it if I were actually doing something, but the truth is my car is on empty and I'm so broke I won't be able to fill the tank until Friday (payday). 

I had originally taken Friday off so I could go to the Winterhawks home opener, but my cat has been having some health issues lately and I'm hundreds of dollars in debt for her medical care, not to mention all the other debt I have. I can't justify a hockey game right now.  So that fucking blows. I've been to the home opener every year for several years now. 

I can't afford to get my meds refilled, so I'm going on three days off my antidepressants. I would really like to just go to sleep and never wake up again.  I'm tired of everything. Tired of the sadness, tired of the pain, tired of uncertainty, tired of the shame, confusion and things left unsaid.  I don't know how to get out from under it all, and I've about given up trying.  Driving home from work this morning, I was so overwhelmed with everything, I went into a crying/laughing fit. I felt like I was losing my mind. I had to pull over until it passed, and then I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried some more. 

This is why I don't like to take vacation.

Saturday my friend is throwing her annual party, and I'm looking forward to that. If I stop to think about it, I get nervous because parties aren't really my thing (at all) and I don't know very many of the people attending. I'm a social pirana and I don't really do well in social settings.  I'm an observer by nature, and I'm content to just sit back and watch people, fascinated by how easily they live their lives.

Maybe I'll bring my guitar and find an out-of-the-way place to play and work on some songs. 

I may or may not be going to Virginia for vacation next month around Halloween. I'm also going to see Margaret Cho on the 13th. Pretty excited about that.  I haven't been to Helium since last year when my friends and I saw Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald. My friend and I met Scott; I'm still in shock.  I really really really hope we get to meet Margaret. I want to talk to her about kidney stones. 


Nothing else to say, I guess. 




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"All it takes is one person to tell someone they're not alone."

It's National Suicide Prevention Week. I know, shouldn't we prevent it every day? Point is, there are people out there who have no idea there is help available to them. There are people who feel alone and that they have no one to turn to. 

Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year.

Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.

There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.

Between 1952 and 1995, suicide in young adults nearly tripled.

Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.

In the month prior to their suicide, 75% of elderly persons had visited a physician.

Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring.

Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm.

For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed.

80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.

There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.

The highest suicide rate is among men over 85 years old: 65 per 100,000 persons.

1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.

Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide.

The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.

By 2010, depression will be the #1 disability in the world. (World Health Organization)

In 2004, 32,439 people died by suicide. (CDC)

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 15th). (CDC)

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)

It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS)

An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS)

There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)

Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.

Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.

Last year SAVE educated 10,618 youth & parents on depression and suicide prevention.

Last year SAVE received 810 requests for information from 72 countries.

In 2004 it is estimated there were 811,000 suicide attempts in the US. (AAS)

There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS)

According to the Violent Death Reporting System, in 2004 73% of suicides also tested positive for at least one substance (alcohol, cocaine, heroin or marijuana).


Saturday, September 8, 2012

A warrior acts as if he knows what he is doing, when in effect he knows nothing.

Has it been a year already? I'm doing the Warrior Dash on Sunday, two days shy of a years since the last one.  Am I any more prepared than I was last year? No. Perhaps less so. Do I care? Not much. There's more mud this year, and I'm ready to get down and dirty. 

When I was 15 I had surgery to lengthen my right leg (three inches). My mom had left the decision up to me, and I was okay with it up until I woke up from surgery.  As I emerged from my anesthetic stupor, I stared down the length of my hospital bed at the huge lump under the blanket.  "That's my leg," I thought.  "What the hell have I done?'  I started crying and told my mom to tell the doctors I'd changed my mind. She explained to me that it was too late and I'd just have to deal with it.  I was terrified of what my leg looked like under the blanket. The only sense I could get was pain. A lot of pain. For the first couple of days after my surgery, my whole life revolved around the clock and how soon I could press the button for more morphine.  Once I was weaned off of it and reality settled in, I studied my freak show leg and began to accept it and I did what I had to do to heal and move forward. It wasn't easy, but I had no other choice. I'd made my decision and I had to live with it. 

One day, a few weeks after I'd returned home, I was sitting on the couch doing "pin care," which consisted of cleaning the pins in my leg and refreshing the pads and foam around the pins.  I was watching TV with my dad (Star Trek) and during a commercial he asked, "If you had the choice to do it over again or not, would you have the surgery?"  I told him yes, I would.  He said, "You're very brave. I couldn't handle what you're going through."  This from a man who served in Vietnam. 

I really had no idea what i was in for when I said I wanted the surgery, and my dad's praising me felt wrong. Not on his part, but mine. I felt it was undeserved praise because I went into it blindly. If I had known how hard it was going to be and did it anyway, that would be one thing. That would be brave. But I foolishly thought, "I'll have this surgery and my legs will be even!" and I went in for the surgery thinking it would be easy. Coming to terms with how wrong I was about the whole thing, that was a mess in itself.  But I made it through that painful experience and I bare my scars (all 14 of them) proudly. 

I had no idea what I was in for with the Warrior Dash, either. I just wanted to get muddy and run around in a fuzzy helmet with a medal around my neck.  It was hard. Really, really hard. And not just because I hadn't trained for it. I put myself through hell last year, and I made it through. I walked most of the 5k, but I didn't fault myself for it; I made it to the finish line and that was my only goal. Well, I had two goals: one was to finish, and the other was to not finish last.  I reached my limit, physically, and I went beyond it, pushing myself harder than I ever had in my life. I quite often felt like I was dying and I thought about giving up more than a few times, but quitting was never an option.  This was the first race I had ever run, and I was facing mud, barbed wire and fire.  I knew I was crazy, but it was too fun to pass up.

There are some new obstacles this year, but I still have a pretty good idea of what I'm in for. What's got me most excited is that I will be doing the race with four of my friends this year, instead of two. Plus another friend is coming along for moral support (and to hold my stuff so I don't have to check it). 

Pain is survivable. I've got scars to remind me what I've been through, how far I've come, how strong I am, and how brave I am to keep going.

I can't wait for tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.

A few days ago, a friend told me I had an iron tongue. She was telling me about her roommate and how he wasnt really talking to her all of a sudden. She said, "He reminds me of you in a lot of ways. He's got an iron tongue, like you, and he uses it to push people away."

I felt "off" after that. Relieved that she knows how I am and is still my friend; afraid that if I keep this up, she won't stick around. I'm having trouble not being how I am. I thought about that a lot on the way home, and when I finally fell asleep, I had an incredibly vivid dream.

I was sitting alone on a high hill in the middle of the night, surrounded by forest on all sides. There were no lights anywhere but the sky. It was a lot like being in the Upper Peninsula, but even more isolated. In the dream I knew I was the only one around for miles and miles. There was no sound at all except for a faint melody, I could barely hear it, and in my dream I knew it was the stars. I sat there reciting constellations and after a while someone started walking up the hill towards me. Though there was enough starlight for me to be able to see the forest around me, the figure approaching me was dark, just a shadow moving up the hill. It wasn't menacing in the least, but I wasn't happy to see whoever this was. I wanted to be alone. 

The figure (still just a moving shadow) sat down next to me and nothing happened for a long time. Finally, I said, "I don't really know anything about stars." The shadow said, "Tell me what you do know about them." 

I told him that the stars are always there. Some are dying, some are being born, but the light will always be there, for as long as I live. No matter how overcast it might get, no matter how much it rains, the stars are always there and I will always see them again. I look up and nothing changes except their position. My whole life, the stars are the only ones who have stayed and will never leave. No matter how dark it gets, there is always that light, and I can always find it. Even if I get lost looking up there, I can still find my way back to something familiar to bring me home. Polaris, Betelgeuse, Castor and Pollux, the Northern Cross; someone is always pointing the way, no matter how turned around I get. 

I stopped talking and the shadow said, "Nothing up there can hurt you." I didn't respond and he continued, "As long as you live, there will be pain. You will suffer. You will be alone, but that will be your choice. There is no comfort in isolation, and there is no hope." 

I said, "There is comfort and hope in knowing that any disappointment or pain or anger or sadness comes from me and no one else. No one can hurt me but me."

The shadow said, "Haven't you hurt yourself enough? Don't you think someone is waiting for you with open arms?" I said, "No." He said, "How can you be so sure?" I responded, "Because no one stays, ever." "Why is that?" "Because I'm not worth it." He asked why I thought that was. I didn't know what to say to him. I started to feel sick, so I lay back in the grass and closed my eyes. I could still see the stars but the trees, the ground, the shadow, everything else was gone and it was just me up there with the stars. It was cold and .... soft, somehow. I felt cradled, I guess is a good word for it. Like I was wrapped in someone's arms, like there was no sadness or hurt or anger or fear anywhere in my heart or in the universe. I could hear that faint music coming from the stars and I turned over and that's when I woke up crying. 

It was one of the most lucid dreams I've had in a long time. I'm still surprised I can remember so much of it. I don't need to analyze the dream to figure out what my brain was up to that night; I need to get back into therapy. And I need to stop pushing people away. I don't know how to do either of those things right now, and I'm too tired and empty to care.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weird Wind and the Cat Couch

Last weekend I went back to Rockaway Beach for "girls' weekend."   It was me, my friends V and S and two other ladies I hadn't met before (G and D).  Lots of good food, too. My S'mores cupcakes were a hit.  

vegan s'mores cupcake

I got off work Saturday morning, drove home, picked up a few things, hugged Tank and headed to Rockaway. V and G had gotten there late on Friday and when I arrived, they were getting ready to walk down to the beach. I work graveyard with V, so she knew all too well how tired and in need of sleep I was, so I crashed in the back room and asked V to wake me up at two.  She did, and I think I slept for another hour, then got up and hung out with the gals. It was very quickly decided that another walk to the beach was in order, so we spent an hour or so walking by the water, taking pictures, talking, enjoying the sun. 




Basically, we just lazed around, ate, drank, smoked, etc. until dark, and then we loaded up the cooler with some wood and marshmallows and headed down to the beach for a fire. 


(G, D, me, S)


If you've never sat around a fire at night on the beach with the waves crashing (visible) nearby, you're missing out. Oh, it was lovely. I don't know how long we were down there, but eventually we packed up and headed back to the house.  More eating, smoking, drinking (arnold palmers and, I believe, oolong-infused whiskey? sooo gooood), bullshitting. Lots of laughter. I passed out on V's dog for a little while, and then we all went to our respective beds and konked out. 

In the morning, we had breakfast, cleaned the place up, packed up our stuff and hit the road. On the way home, G, V and I stopped at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company in Tillamook. They were there for the cheese. I was there for the petting zoo.  We didn't stay long. V and G took off and I stayed for a little while to wander and take pictures with my Nikkormat. Then I got in my car and headed home.  

A few hours later, I was back on the road, headed to Portland to meet up with my friend A and her four kids (ages 13, 9, 4 and 2).  The plan was to go to Lents Park and see "The Goonies."  I had a great time, though the kids scattered pretty soon into the movie. It was an awesome crowd, cheering in the right places, yelling out lines, cheering for the Goonies. My people. I'm willing to bet I was the only honorary Goonie in that park, though. HA.


(me and the kids. the 13-year old takes great pleasure in being taller than me.)

On the way home, I stopped at Walgreen's because I lost my hair tie thingy.  Walking the store, I noticed two guys standing in the parking lot. One of them was honking. That's when I noticed four ducks standing in the handicap spot.  Long story short, I spent a half hour in the parking lot watching four ducks with two stoners at 1:00 in the morning.  It was awesome. I fed them some graham crackers and an Odwalla bar and me and one of the stoners tried to convince the other stoner that ducks are man-eaters, that they have shark teeth and prey on humans.  I said I'd seen it on National Geographic. We almost had him convinced.   Stoner #2 and I tried herding the girls down to the pond at the bottom of the hill, but they ran into some bushes and waited for us to walk away. Then they waddled after us.  That's when I shot this video:

Good times.  Eventually, I made it back home and the rest is history. 

In other news, I'm teaching myself to play "Wish You Were Here."  I was having trouble getting a handle on it and then I found THIS guy, and viola! 

If everyone taught songs by singing the chords, the world would be a better place.