moving house

New house, new blog.  nekomicon.wordpress.com

Wow, hey, it’s been over a month since I last poured out my soul and neuroses here, eh?  I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve been sailing smoothly through life but alas, it’s mostly that I’ve grown weary of always having shit to bitch about and/or analyze.  Well, that and my brain and expository writing have not so much been friends recently.

So, Jen, what’s been going on?

I am 8 days from the end of the semester.  I have drafted 4 of my5 papers (thus far 29 pages of writing with another 7 to go…), shuddered at the sight of one of my two exams, and started reviewing for the second.  I have one paper due Sunday, one Monday, an exam Monday, an exam due Wednesday, two papers due next Friday and one due next Saturday.  I have completed my board postings and readings, and have had anxiety attacks from noon to 3 pm every day for close to a month.  I no longer get any sense of accomplishment at finishing tasks because there is always.something.else.  It’s sort of sucky.

In addition to the massive school thread, I decided back in October to do some editing of old poems.  So I messed around, rewrote, condensed, and then this past week I sent some out to various poetry contests on the theory that they aren’t doing me any good sitting on my hard drive and if nothing else, I really like having people read my writing, even if I have to pay them to do it.  I’m not all ‘I’m gonna WIN!’ or anything but I have at least gotten back to the point where I feel like I can write poetry that doesn’t suck.  That feels nice, honestly–it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to write creatively and I was starting to feel like maybe I’d been kidding myself that I could do it.

I have also been doing the visual arts thing from time to time, or at least playing around with it.  It turns out that, like my poetry, I like the pictures I draw.  Who knew?  And I like to paint, and I like to have ideas, and it’s pretty cool.

I have not played my dholak at all though.  I will.  Just not yet.

Otherwise, I am trying to keep my head from flying off of my body, trying to deal with the daily anxiety, trying to remember that I am really going to finish all of my work for the semester and am going to do it well, and trying to remember that my head *cannot actually* go flying off of my body even if it *feels like* I can’t keep it on.

And I’m excited about the holidays even though we don’t have a tree yet and the Halloween decorations are still up and I haven’t a clue when, how, or what I’m going to do about gifting this year.  I still can’t believe it’s December already.  I do think that we’re doing a Solstice something this year, Lucy and I.  I’ll come up with something.

Festering Headstuff

The funny thing about the Internet is that there is so much we share but still so much that doesn’t come through in pictures or words.  See, y’all probably don’t know that I have a tic.  In my right cheek.  It gets really bad when I am stressed or anxious or upset.

It’s going like crazy lately.

I hate it, but it is one of the few things about me that never changes.

Tonight my psychiatrist asked me if I had ever tried anything to get it fixed.  I never really knew that I could until I was asked the same thing by the neurologist while I was hospitalized with the meningitis . And even though I spent so much time embarrassed by it, even though I cringe every time my husband asks me why I’m twitching, I lied and told him that no, it doesn’t bother me.

Tonight he asked me if I have any problems with obsessing.  And then if I have any compulsions.  And I told him about the one where I have to write or type words sometimes to get them out of my head and move forward.  And again he asked if this bothered me, and again I lied and said no.

And then he upped my script and I made my next appointment and I got outside and I walked home and I tried to figure out WHY DID I LIE?

Because I’m tired of there being all of these things wrong with me.  It feels like there’s always something else to add to my litany of defects, and frankly I’m sick of it.  I just want to take the pill, talk it out, grieve for the time I’ve spent being hurt or hurting myself and freaking move on.  And because it is a constant.  While I’m feeling such complete uncertainty about things, I know there are a couple that I can’t change and they are somehow comforting to cling to.

All the same, I think it’s time to see about getting the tic taken care of.

I am Having Trouble lately.

I am a little on the manic-obsessive side this morning.  I’ve been up for around four hours, three of which have been spent thinking about, looking at, and engaging in writing.  Part of me feels like a floodgate has opened, where I am able to get stuff out of my head that has been festering.  Another part of me feels like it’ll never stop coming and I’ll be stuck with all-new festering headstuff.  [I’m wondering if I should mention to my psychiatrist this week that the meds don’t seem to be taking the edge off of this stuff anymore…]

I have been looking through old journals, editing old poems.  And I am horrified to read how depressed I was.  I am even more horrified to read how many of my insecurities I expected to be cured by no longer being lonely, and how many of them I am still shadowboxing with.

How hard it is for me to see my self as worthwhile, talented, lovable.

The up-side is that I now have 18 poems to work with, from 1994 to this morning.

The down-side is that I now have 18 poems to work with, from 1994 to this morning and I have no idea what to do with them.

The in-between-side is that if you had asked me last night, I would never have guessed that I had so many poems at all, much less ones I think are salvageable.  Hell, a couple of ’em I think are good, and that’s in the midst of feeling this insecure.

The tough thing is that it’s hard to be depressed, it’s hard to do the work that goes along with trying to get better, and it’s really tough to feel like you’re backsliding.  It’s hard to admit that those years you’ve sort of reduced to a series of stories were filled with honest-to-goddess pain and it’s hard to admit that I spent a lot of time in my early twenties writing about wanting to die because I don’t remember being that suicidal.

On one hand, I can see how far I’ve come in the past 12 or so years.  On the other, I hope it doesn’t take me another 12 to overcome the insecurities I’ve been carrying for most of my life.

It’s a sobering thing to realize that I’ve spent my entire adult life suffering from depression and I only just started being treated for it.  I’m glad I went through this stuff this morning but I now understand why I couldn’t stand reading it before–all of the Confessions of Misery seem melodramatic and overblown until you realize it’s a disease, not a personality weakness.

Out Damn…Spot?

So, you know, it’s like catharsis already, man. I have never felt so unable to get shit out in my entire life.  It’s all balling up in my stomach, all of the fear and, well, fear.  It’s like writer’s block only it covers absolutely everything.

I’ve been art journaling for the past few weeks.  Painting with watercolor, mixed media-y sorts of stuff.  And I love it, I really do.  But it feels a little like nothing after the initial “hey, I made that!”

I’ve been feeling like dancing but there’s either no space or the living room is full of people and I don’t want an audience, I just want to get some of this ick out of me.

I’ve been feeling like singing too, but the thing about having a musician for a husband, even one as supportive and awesome as mine, is that I am acutely aware that I drop out of tune constantly and go flat constantly and I end up singing half under my breath anyway because I’m embarrassed.

I’ve been writing poetry again.  This comes closest to the catharsis of anything but to be honest, I can’t shake the feeling that I need to be producing SOMETHING REMARKABLE ALREADY (aside from the kids who are totally remarkable but seriously, can we do away with the whole making babies as means of expression because I sure as hell didn’t have kids as some sort of performance art/magnum opus deal.)

The other day, yesterday maybe, I went looking for a box in my big basket o stuff in the bedroom.  I pulled out lambs wool and yarn for Lucy’s loom, a bag of fabric scraps and practice knitting, and finally tucked into the basket in the back I found my box of herbs and candles and stones for spellcasting.  And for a minute after, I marveled at how I always dreamed of having the house where you could dig in a basket and find yarn and batting and lambswool for spinning and a box of witchy stuff.

It’s stuff like that that I want to be able to remember when I’m feeling like maybe I have no business calling myself creative, because this apartment is my creative space and all I have to do is stop judging myself long enough to enjoy it.

I Heart Home

Ok, so where were we?


Most importantly, I  have new boots.  They are cute, and only vaguely in an LARP-y sort of way 😛

I would write about Lucy’s recovery but honestly, it’s just like having the pre-surgery Lucy home only with some chest scars and serious residual tape goo.  She is up and out of bed (although she has discovered the glory of pajamas all day), eating regularly, reading like a fiend, making stuff, and generally giving her father and me a hard time.  I don’t know what I expected post-surgery, but I didn’t realize she would be so quick to seem…normal.  Still not allowed to go where there are large numbers of people (which is pretty much everywhere ’round these parts) but she’s otherwise the Same Old Lucy.  Which is awesome, even when she’s copping an attitude (but don’t tell her that.)

We are also doing lots of spider-watching as Ruby is just about the coolest thing ever.  She has been digging up her molted skin and reburying it, changing her burrow around, and generally being completely fascinating.  If you’re looking for any one of us, there’s a good chance we’re nose-to-glass at the vivarium.  Still no news on whether Ruby is indeed a She, but as I’m reading up on tarantula-sexing this morning I’m not sure that we’ll conclusively know any time soon.  Which really doesn’t matter in the long run, but I’m a detail-oriented sort of gal so you know…

Midterms.  Ugh.

Words.  Ugh.

That is all.


A day in the PICU is singularly surreal.  The people there are all friendly, and aside from the kid that died the night before, it’s a remarkably calm place.  You see mostly the same people and after the second day, you start to say hello and maybe one of the other parents comes to see your kid because hers is in a coma and there’s little to do while you’re waiting for your kid to wake up.  And you do your best to stay out of everyone’s way while you thank god that your kid is the one who is going  home in a few days, that yours is complaining about the episode of Dora you picked out (already seen) or the tray of clears (I just want some ice cream and milk!) or that you leave the cubicle for a few minutes to grab some lunch.  And even though she has a chest tube and iv crammed into her neck and needs a blood transfusion and, oh yeah, the tramadol and morphine, even though she is suddenly scared of every move the nurse makes and tells you every three minutes that she wishes she had done this last week, last month, when she was in pre-K…they can’t throw much at you that comes close to the fear that you felt the day before, when you kissed her cheek as she lay sleeping in the OR and hoped that the guy running the machine that was working for her heart and lungs was as good at his job as he was at telling you how to order and feed praying mantises because clearly he senses a kindred spirit in the kid with the tarantula.

Leaving the hospital with the kid who isn’t lying prone in a bed is surreal.  The streets all look different when your kid is in so much pain, when you spend so much time trying to give her space.  The sky looks strange.  The lobby of your building looks like a spacecraft.  You come into your apartment and you try to figure out what you’re supposed to do next.  You try to imagine waking up in the morning and doing it all over again and literally can’t fathom hearing and heeding the alarm except for knowing that you will catch hell from your kid if you don’t.  You lay out your clothes and you throw some words together and you rub your aching back and wonder how your sicko kid and husband are faring and try to have some energy left for the other kid who just wants to have your undivided attention for the rest of eternity.


I am exhausted.  I am running on fumes and muscle soother and lip buttah and port wine cheese.  I am so grateful for the people at LIJ who are taking such good care of my baby, and I am so, so sorry for the family and friends who lost their baby last night.  I sat there holding my daughter’s hand as the machine signaled that their kid’s battle was lost.  I sat in the lounge as a man broke down in the hallway, delivering the news and asking people to keep an ear open about what went down and my heart broke.  And I am thankful for these lessons I am getting, the reminders that life is to be treasured and that feeling sorry for myself is a product of the part of me that wants to keep from accepting that suffering is part of life.

3 Days

I am not so much of a wreck today as I was last night.  Last night was really bad, following a really bad day.  Anxiety by light, depression by night.  I tell myself it’s all normal, I tell myself there is no normal, but still my brain finds these ways to make me feel like everything is falling apart.

I started a paper journal.  The only words in it are:  Words Fail.  Because as much as I love words, there aren’t any that I know that can cover the combination of ‘it’s no big deal’ and ‘nothing will ever be the same’ that I feel. I have so much I want to write about but it doesn’t convert nicely to words right now.  I might try poetry.

Speaking of poetry…I have embraced my inner hormonal teenager and bleached my hair, then added plum to try to tone it.  It is now this blotchy blond-and-faded purple which looks terrible down but I absolutely love it pulled up.  I may just keep it.

I got my period for the first time since before I got pregnant and after a shaky first day, I give Lunapads a big thumbs up.  Especially the leopard print ones because it’s nice to feel a little rock star when you’re wearing your period panties.

I have informed all of Lucy’s teachers that she will be missing {insert name of class here} and all of my professors that I reserve the right to flake a little this week and next.  I’m not likely to flake, but if I do this way they know I have a legitimate reason.

I have passed the point of dreading the telling people because I can’t handle having to assure them that everything is fine.  I have hit the point where I want to have everybody admire me for being the proud, stoic matriarch.  I also want a proud, stoic matriarch hat, and maybe some white gloves, and definitely a parasol.  And when I’m not descending into Faulknerian insanity…

I spend some time here in the real world but it’s been really hard for the past week or so.  I keep trying to find things to distract me but I think this has been the wrong approach.  For the next few days, I’m going to pack and plan and prepare and hope for the best.  I may even wallow a little, but I’m mostly just going to put my head down and push through all of this crap.

6 Days

I am hesitant to write anything about our pre-admissions visit yesterday.  On one hand, it’s a little “look at me, feel sorry for me” even for my attention-grubbing self.  On the other, kids have surgery every day and when it’s your kid who is having surgery, there’s little more comforting that remembering that fact.  And so the latter wins out.  I will most likely be doing a lot of “we”-ing in this because I’m not entirely sure that I’m ready to address how I am feeling or what I am thinking.

We like the surgeon.  This is so critically important it sort of surprised me.  Not that he has experience or credentials, but that he sat with us for half an hour and explained first why we were doing the surgery, and then how it would be done, and after going over the risks, he explained the many fail-safes they have in place to do their best to keep any of the risks coming to pass.  We toured the Pediatric ICU where Lucy will be for the first day after her surgery, got our time, and then were seen out to the lobby to reel a little bit before we were picked up.

And so now we have a plan.  We know who is getting us to the hospital, who is watching the baby while we are there, when it will start and when it should end, and where we will go to see her when it is all over.  The PICU is not nearly as bad as the Neonatal ICU was when she was born, although I did well up with tears when we left–it isn’t fun and games there but at least the patients are larger.  We know we like the hospital, the nurses, the doctors.  We know where the cafeteria is, and where to go to get non-hospital coffee.

There’s still a lot we don’t know, of course.  And the list of risks involves some pretty heinous stuff, although mortality is at the very lowest point of riskiness.  We have to have a lot of trust.  Thankfully, we do.


I am both a wreck and completely handling this all Remarkably Well.  Simultaneously,even.  It’s the strangest feeling to have this pain bubbling under the surface while knowing that it’s not there because I’m not processing things.  I’ve been able to reduce the anxiety through exercise and distraction, the depression is mostly contained by the Welbutrin, and the lack of concentration/memory is just going to be there until this is over.

I am becoming less and less afraid that this will be The Thing That Drives Me Over The Edge.  That my lack of breakdown indicates that it will be coming later.  I have to keep reminding myself that I had my breakdown, I got help, I have people who know that I have Major Depression and am being treated for it, and that I will not just lose it and off myself.  It will be a long time before I get over the residuals of this fear, but it’s normal, I would imagine, for children of suicides.

I am trying to keep using words even though I feel sometimes as though half of my vocabulary has been sucked out through my ear.  Even when I stammer or use the wrong word or mangle the pronunciation, I’m trying to use them anyway.  I feel somehow like words will be my salvation through all of this.  Words and love.


I am switching to a paper journal to log the rest of this experience, I think.  It warrants a book of its own, and besides that, I feel the need to buy myself something special, to treat my feelings as important instead of as a burden, and to coax my words to stay with me.

As Steff would say, “[I] don’t know whether to shit or go sailing.

9 days

It’s the anxiety that is the worst.  Not fear about the procedure, or about getting behind on my work–that I can deal with; it’s tangible.  The anxiety though–the waking up fine and being overwrought with dread halfway through my morning coffee, the need to move move move move to keep from becoming mired in terror–it’s starting to get to me.  One day of it was fine, but this second is really terrible.

I am happy to be seeing not only the therapist but the psychiatrist tomorrow because I need to hear that this is normal and that it isn’t going to swallow me up and never let me go.  I know these things, but hearing them from People Who Know Such Things is kind of critical at this point.

Friday we have the pre-admissions testing, the weekend is her last of soccer for the season, and then it’s school school school clearance surgery.  Nine days left to wait, nine days to try not to panic, to try to keep it together, to find ways to fill nine days’ worth of hours.

One of the hardest things to deal with is my newfound inability to remember anything.  I go to run errands and skip a store.  Last night I forgot to pick up our CSA share.  I am editing my chemistry paper and do not remember writing an entire passage of it.  To be completely honest, I don’t even know if the paper is ok to turn in but I’m submitting it anyway because fuck it.  An item off of my to-do list is worth more than a grade right now.

I am trying.  I just don’t think there’s anything I can do but wait for this all to pass.