February 25, 2009

Fleeting: Addendum

I got the following quote sent to me from a friend in regard to "Fleeting":

Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne


Earlier this evening I thought I had finally captured my sanity in a butterfly net and I cheered in triumph. That was premature, as it turns out, because it immediately flitted away. Now I will have to dart around this field of poppies trying to snag it again before the rains come.

Shrimp in a Basket

"…was originally part of an evening called “Shrimp in a Basket.” The show began with me coming out as a sea captain with a cardboard parrot duct-taped to my shoulder. In a rich mixture of English accents, real and imagined, I welcomed the audience and assured them that if what they were about to see became unnecessarily avant-garde Walkmans would automatically drop from the ceiling; I reminded them that they should put on their own headset before assisting anyone else.

Then I scurried off…where I was hot-glued into a giant cardboard lobster outfit. This took about twenty minutes and was one of the quicker costume changes of the evening. I’d persuaded a friend to bring the accordion she’d bought that afternoon and entertain the audience with songs of the sea. By the end of the evening, after five or six sets of at least twenty minutes each, what she was playing was starting to sound pretty good, almost like music.

I reemerged with two women also in crustacean drag. We lip-synched to “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion,” although the audience couldn’t tell what we were doing because the lobster suits covered out mouths. The…stage was so tiny and the costumes, though exquisite, were so huge and fragile that we couldn’t do much more than just stand there while the taped played on a borrowed boom box. Because the tickets for “Shrimp in a Basket” were only $2.99, I think most of the audience felt it was enough for the three of us to just stand in front of them, being big and pink. Then we exited, and it was time for more songs of the sea."

Holly Hughes (from Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler)

February 24, 2009

Pay it forward


I got this from D., and I think it's a lovely idea--especially since I'm really into making stuff right now. The first three people to respond to this will get a homemade gift from me in the next few months. If you really want to pay it forward, you'll make some homemade gifts and send them out yourself!

I am learning about benzodiazepines.

Because I can't get my panic attacks--particularly those at work--under control. I'm a little nervous about trying the Ativan, but am unsure what else to do.

February 23, 2009

"It's funny the things that run through your mind..."

"...when you're sitting in your underpants in front of a pair of strangers. Suicide comes up, but just as you embrace it as a viable option you remember that you don't have the proper tools: no belt to wrap around your neck, no pen to drive through your nose or ear and up into your brain. I thought briefly of swallowing my watch, but there was no guarantee I'd choke on it. It's embarrassing, but, given the way I normally eat, it would probably go down fairly easily, strap and all. A clock might be a challenge, but a Timex the size of a fifty-cent piece--no problem....

She was just a woman reading a copy of Paris Match, and I was just the stranger sitting across from her. True, I had no clothes on, but maybe she wouldn't dwell on that, maybe none of these people would. The old man, the couple with their matching hair: "How was the hospital?" their friends might ask, and they'd answer, "Fine," or "Oh, you know. The same."

"Did you see anything fucked up?"

"No, not that I can think of."

It sometimes helps to remind myself that not everyone is like me. Not everyone writes things down in a notebook and then transcribes them into a diary. Fewer still will take that diary, clean it up a bit, and read it in front of an audience."

(David Sedaris, from When You Are Engulfed in Flames)

Younger men and older women

I logged into MySpace again tonight. I used to get messages from people who thought I was a swinger. Now all I get are 20 year old boys. Here's one that arrived tonight:

your so mesmerizingly gorgeous!
cool bird
oh ya and u def pass for 21 :) your making that 32 thing up right?
take care!

This is sweet, but oh my God! And--were it true--why would I want to pass for 21?

Anti-frou frou

I'm going out to dinner Wednesday evening and am in the process of participating in the restaurant selection. We were discussing places like Beretta and Nopa. I'm sure these places are lovely and delicious and I would be very, very happy if I dined in them. But there's something about the way I'm feeling today that makes fussy phrases like "hand chosen lettuces" and "chestnut mousse" irritate the living hell out of me rub me the wrong way.

Right now a pizza out of a box and a 40 in a paper bag is sounding more my speed.

So! I had an epiphany. I read the drinks menus and skipped the food parts. If they want to bathe their cows in hibiscus water and blow gentle kisses at them, that is fine with me--I just don't want to hear about it. The point I am so slowly making: Nopa's drinks won me over. Three kinds of sangria. Enough said.

February 21, 2009

I am laughing.

Last night I was messing around on MySpace before I went to bed and I got a notification that I had a new message. This surprised me, because I don't use my MySpace account much anymore even though I still like it better than Facebook. (This would sound like heresy to many people, but I don't care.)

I digress.

So I get a message from this 20 year old kid who asks, "how r u? what r u wearing?" I thought, "Oh, sweetie. Stop being ridiculous." I typed back, "Your mom's underwear," and went to bed.

This morning I woke up to find that he'd written again. I wondered what he possibly had to say as I logged in. He'd typed, "which ones?"

That made me laugh. A lot.

February 20, 2009

Sex, dating, sex, love, sex. Sex.

You know, you spend so much time as a kid and an adolescent being curious about sex: sneaking peeks at pictures and movies associated with it, gathering sketchy information from others kids and their older siblings. You look forward to the day that you will finally know what it's all about.

I accidentally had an orgasm when I was nine during an innocuous situation, and I spent years trying to figure out how to make it happen again.

In junior high and high school, my friends and I speculated about it and eagerly shared experiences when one of us had done anything remotely related to it (i.e., "he kind of stuck his tongue in my mouth and moved it around").

There was the momentous night when I lost my virginity in October of 1992. It was momentous only because of its symbolism; it certainly didn't FEEL momentous physically. In fact, it kind of sucked. And I will always associate Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" with awkward fumbling and pain.

Then there came sex with someone I loved with all of my being and it was changed forever.

It seems like once you get to the magical place called adulthood, you should finally be able to think about something else. This is not true. There are long dry spells, and ohmyfuckinggod they BLOW! (or not, as the case may be...)

If I just wanted to have sex with SOMEbody, that would be quite easy. Unfortunately, I don't work that way. I'm pretty jealous of those that do. I've tried, and I hated myself and the empty way it made me feel. I'm not saying I want to marry the guy tomorrow, I would just like to actually care about him.

There is the issue that I'm still learning about this whole dating business. It seems like after 40-50 of them, I should be getting better. I feel like astoundingly little progress has been made on my part. I hear lots of theories and advice: play hard to get, be honest and up front when you like someone, blah blah blah. I never paid much attention to those things, and I know myself well enough by well to know that being a way that is not me is definitely not going to work.


Sex. Sex, sex, sex. *sigh*

February 18, 2009

I am looking for something today.

But I can't say what it is.

I got on Craigslist and looked under "barter" to see if I could figure out what it was I was looking for. I found one person offering to trade divorce strategies for an occasional weekend place to stay in Tahoe.

That's not it.

I found another person seeking a tall BAMBOO (no idea why "bamboo" needs to be emphasized to such a degree) in exchange for jewelry, calligraphy, or a stay in a condo in Puerto Vallarta.

Those aren't it.

Someone else has Brett Farve and Bubba Franks Green Bay jerserys for $1 or golf equipment.


February 17, 2009


The presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder; the term "dual diagnosis" is often applied.

"The truth is always in flux."

"What we're doing is catching it on the fly."

-author Brenda Miller on creative nonfiction

February 11, 2009

Loving Blankey

As a child I had a blanket that I loved.

Blankey was an off-white, fuzzy thermal blanket with a satiny outside border about two inches wide. He didn't get washed very often since our parting was so difficult for both of us, but when he did I loved burying my face in his warm, fresh softness.

It was important for me to show Blankey how much I loved him. I would hug and nuzzle him and tell him repeatedly how important he was to me.

I began to worry, though, that this wasn't enough.

While I was hugging Blankey, I would notice that the part of him that was hanging down from my arms was not being touched. What if that part didn't feel loved? I'd scoop it up into my arms, too. Then I would notice a part of Blankey poking out near my shoulder. What if that part didn't feel loved? Unable to stand the thought of any part of Blankey feeling neglected, I would adjust and shift and hug until Blankey was in a hard little compact ball with my entire body curled around him--trying to touch every single part at once--in a fetal position on the floor.

My mom would say, "What are you doing?"

"Loving Blankey," I would answer in a strained voice, with my face nearly buried in my knees.

"I was quick to learn but slow to understand."

Alternative title to this blog: Confidential message to C.

I didn't realize you'd moved away. I hope your new home is making you happy. It's good for you to be able to make memories in a place I never was.

P.S. I hope you remembered to check the top kitchen cabinets and got my fondue pot and bread machine. I didn't remember they were up there until it was too late, and I've always been sad about it.

February 9, 2009


I am trying to make sense of things and, for better or worse, the best way I know to do that is to write.

Thank god I took up writing instead of drugs. It would have been so easy.

All day I’ve been mulling over my life and hundreds of experiences and memories and thought patterns in my head. I have worried for months about what was wrong with me, and on occasion I mentioned some of those worries here in this blog.

I have a lot to learn—a LOT to learn—and I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But the path that I was spiraling downward on was terrifying enough that I want to tell people. I want to tell EVERYONE. I want everyone to know so that they can recognize these things in themselves, in others.

I am learning that obsessive compulsive disorder doesn’t always look like the classic textbook example that everyone is familiar with. It doesn’t necessarily involve washing one’s hands a hundred times a day, or checking to see if the door is locked a dozen times before climbing in bed. It certainly can be those things, but that’s not the only manifestation.

It’s always been roaringly loud inside my head, and I have no way of knowing how that compares to other people. I’ve always had things that I’ve done to calm myself, whether I told anyone or not. For me it was less about preventing some specific feared thing from happening and more about “putting things in order” inside my head. At an early age these things ranged from rocking myself and chanting, as I’ve already mentioned, to long, drawn-out prayers, smelling things, and counting. When my anxiety was more than I could bear and I was alone at night, I would pretend I was in one of my grandparents’ arms, being rocked to sleep. I would wrap my arms around myself, kiss my hand and touch it to various parts of my face, and say, “Sssshhhhh…..sssshhhhh….I love you. Go to sleep. Sssshhhh….”

Given the things I was experiencing as a child it’s no surprise that I needed to find my own ways to sooth and console myself. What I’m trying to understand now is how and why this has continued to affect me—with ebbs and flows—over the years. Especially now.

I’m telling it all now, okay? I’m not holding back. You’ve been warned.

Over the course of the last couple of months I have been on a downward spiral. [Cue Nine Inch Nails, please. Thank you.] I felt like I was losing control over my life. The best analogy I can think to describe it is this: It felt, at times, like there was a tiny person in a rocking chair inside my brain, rocking furiously. When this person started to rock, all I could do was be consumed by it. I was unable to do much of anything else.

A couple weeks ago at work I had a panic attack—the third I’ve ever had. I felt hysterical and inconsolable and terrified and helpless. I called my friend Shannon. I didn’t know what to do. I blurted my terror out to her, and she spoke to me soothingly as long as I needed her to. All I could think was, “What the hell is my problem? How does everybody else do this…this…LIVING?”

I went through several days between Christmas and New Year’s where I was obsessed with the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to look at it, to read about it, to think about it. I needed to remember the times I stood on it and to visualize the way the water had looked when I was looking down.

Let me be clear. There was no time that there was a train of thoughts where I thought, “Everything is bad and it will not get better, therefore I will _____.” It was just an obsession. An absolutely terrifying obsession.

It felt important for me to know how deep the water was under the bridge. Exactly how far was it to the bottom? I read about the topography of the sea floor under the San Francisco Bay and how it has changed over the years due to dredging. I read that “it’s relatively shallow, and in some places is as deep as 100 feet.” I reasoned that some of the deepest places MUST be under the Golden Gate Bridge, to ensure that the ships could go safely under. In my head I decided that it must be 98 feet deep at the particular spot I was imagining. I would think to myself over and over, “98 feet deep. 98 feet deep. 98 feet deep.”

I had vivid dreams about the bridge. I dreamed of what it felt like when my feet left the side for the last time. I dreamed of what I saw on the way down. I dreamed of the sound my back made when it broke upon hitting the water. I dreamed of the light disappearing over my head and of sinking down…down…98 feet deep.

I alluded to bits and pieces of those thoughts here and here in an effort to channel them into something more creative and to work them out of myself. It wasn’t working, and when a couple of friends picked up on the fact that there was some scary shit going on in my head and wrote to me about it, I felt embarrassed. Touched, but embarrassed. And I stopped trying to express it.

I didn’t have the language to tell my friends what was happening to me. It was like the acknowledgment of this blackness that was overtaking me gave it even more power—telling people I can’t do this anymore. I avoided it not out of pride, but out of fear that admitting it meant I had lost the battle. My aunt said, “Sometimes the depths of sadness within you scare me.” Me too.

I was starting to scare myself so much that I finally emailed my doctor out of desperation. The best way I could think to describe it was, “I’m going down.”

Believe it or not, this is a happy story. Now it has a name. Now it has a face. Now I can finally take back my life from that by which it has been so consumed. The relief is indescribable.

There are still many unanswered questions, but I'll get there. I'll get there.

Thank you for reading with an open mind. I write this out of weakness, because I don't have the strength to hide it all anymore.

Closure, answers

Today was my grandpa's funeral.

Today I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder with panic disorder. This helps a lot of things that I have thought and done since childhood make a lot of sense.

I imagine I'll have a lot more to say about all of this soon, but for right now I'm still processing everything.

I'm relieved. I'm exhausted. I'm glad to have a name for whatever it is that's been happening to me in conjunction with depression, especially in the last couple of years. The times as a child that I spent obsessively counting things and the hours I spent rocking back and forth chanting to myself (as described here, for example) were early signs. Other things from the past few weeks that still feel a little too intense to talk about but I probably will try soon--those make sense, too.

I'm so relieved. I'm not a lost cause. I'm crazy, but at least now I know what kind of crazy I am.

February 8, 2009

This phenomenon cheers me up.

I think it's really funny that people are hacking into traffic signs and putting up crazy messages. Look here and here for examples.

Short vignettes

My grandpa always worried about whether and how I would remember him when he was gone. I can remember being little, and he would tell me how much his grandpa meant to him and how many good memories they had together. He would say quietly, "I hope you remember me this way." Oh, if he only knew.

Actually, he did know, because I told him.

* * * *

I remember that fateful day when coach took me aside. I knew what was coming. "You don't have to tell me," I said. "I'm off the team, aren't I?"

"Well," said the coach, "you were never really on the team. You made that uniform you're wearing out of rags and towels, and your helmet is a toy space helmet. You show up at practice and then either steal the ball and make us chase you to get it back, or you try to tackle people at inappropriate times."

(written by my friend Seth, and I love it beyond belief)

* * * *

When my great-grandmother "Mimi" was dying in the fall of 1997, I went home to visit her one last time. I sat on the edge of her hospital bed and stroked her hand. Despite her weakened condition, her eyes still shone a brilliant, feisty blue.

"Mimi," I began, "are you scared?"

"No," she said simply. "I'm tired."

* * * *

"Sometimes you lie in a strange room, in a strange person's home, and you feel yourself bending out of shape. Melting, touching something hot, something that warps you in drastic and probably irreversible ways you won't get to take stock of until it's too late....I could feel serious changes happening to me the longer I stayed....I felt knots untie themselves, knots I didn't know were there. I could already tell there were things happening inside me that were irreversible."

February 5, 2009

Last night...

...I heard my grandpa's voice for the last time.

He stopped his treatments and came home from the hospital so that he could die in the house in which he and my grandmother raised their children. His doctors give him a couple more days to live without dialysis. I will still call to hear updates on him, but I wanted him to know who I was the last time I spoke with him. He has already begun hallucinating--sipping drinks and seeing sights and people only visible to him.

He is the person I love most in the world, and my last of four beloved grandparents who made me the person I am.

My mom is in the bar getting drunk, and I feel far away.

February 3, 2009

A spreading warmth

I peed my pants today. I was at work. Actually, I wasn't AT work so much as I was beating on the doors and windows of my office suite desperately screaming while I was peeing my pants.

Let me back up.

My wonderful friend Shayna and I are starting to work out together. I'm doing a 5K in June, and I've been working on drinking more water. A LOT more water.

I got in the car at 6:45 am to drive to work (40 miles away) with a giant cup of coffee. Shortly after the drive began, I had to pee. Really, really had to pee. I figured I'd rather just continue driving to work than turn around, so I decided to stick it out and kept drinking my coffee.

When I finally arrived, I sped into the parking lot, grabbed my things, and raced to the office on the second floor.

I couldn't find my office keys.

No one else would be at work for a little while yet. I laid my bags in front of my office's front door and assured myself: "Someone will be here soon. I just need to walk around and think about other things and wait."

I paced.

I hummed.

I cawed at crows on nearby power lines, leaving them looking puzzled.

I watched the parking lot for co-workers.

It was working for awhile.

At last, our intern Mai pulled up. I started to shout excitedly, "Mai! Thank God!" She was going in the back door, and did not hear me. I sprinted down and caught the door, scaring the hell out of her and nearly causing her to drop her sticky rice and beans. (She's very soft spoken and easily startled.)

I burst into breathless explanation as I started toward the bathroom, but remembered my purse and briefcase and gym bag lying outside near the front door. Abruptly I changed courses and ran to get them, only to idiotically get locked out of the front door in my haste and lunacy. I screamed, "NNNNOOOOOO!" I pounded on the front door.

Mai didn't come.

I ran around to the back door and pounded on it.

Mai didn't come.

I went to the side door and banged my fistful of keys against it.

Mai didn't come.

I went to the exterior windows closest to her office and pounded on those, too. I started to pee, and beat on the windows more and more frantically with a wail: "MMMAAAAAIIII!!!"

It was too late. I was feeling that complicated feeling of relief and warmth and shame.

Mai poked her head out of the building with a face full of fright. "Oh, it's you!" she breathed. "I was so scared! I was in here all alone, and I didn't know who was beating on everything."

"But you knew I was here!" I protested weakly, trying to cover myself with my bags. I locked myself in the bathroom with my shower supplies and the change of clothes in my gym bag.

Immediately after my attempts to salvage my dignity, I went into the office kitchen to make some more coffee, and managed to pour a pot of water all over the counter.

Today is AWESOME.

February 2, 2009

Conversation with N.

Alternative title to this blog: Feedback that should not need to be given, but sometimes you've been wandering around in so many mazes in confusion that you need it.

N: Good, that's good. It's supposed to be fun. You're supposed to smile and laugh and do things and have a good time. Love is supposed to be joyous. If it 's not, then something's not right. If you're terrified and upset and worried, it's not right. If those things happen, you know it's something you need to get the hell away from.

A: I didn't cry at any point, either.

N: Good! There should definitely be no crying the first time you meet someone--I don't care what the reason is. It's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to make you happy.

Please pardon my dust

I'm working to go back through my old blog entries to add labels to all of them. I didn't start labeling until a few months ago, and there were hundreds of entries left uncategorized from my blogging dark ages. I am finding it necessary to add a few additional labels, too. For example, my waxing adventures (and my colorful esthetician, Penny) have necessitated the new category of "wax on/wax off."

This will make it much easier to look stuff up (for me and for both of you that read this). That way, if you want to read every single thing I've written on the topic of love (categorized as "L is for the way you look at me" and by far my very favorite topic), you will soon be able to do so. For better or worse.