Category Archives: If I was a dog I’d be dead by now

Sometimes the darkness can be beautiful. But sometimes it’s a real bitch. Depends, I guess.

Hi.

I’ve been a little missing lately.  Not just here.  I’ve been missing a bit inside my head, which in some ways is good because my head is not always fun to live in.

I don’t know if the depression I’ve been dealing with off and on for the last few months has just worn me down, or if it’s one of my auto-immune diseases flaring up, or if I’ve just been lucky enough to get mono AGAIN, but whatever it is feels ungood.  And I know that “ungood” isn’t a real word, but my head is where I keep all my good words and it’s not working well right now.  The rest of my body is following suit and so now I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do to feel better.  I’m taking my meds and getting light therapy and eating well better and taking vitamins and trying to be active and all the other bullshit that you have to do when you’re sick but you aren’t sure where or what the sickness is, so you have to do all the due diligence because otherwise the doctor is going to just wave me away because someone as broken as I am is sometimes expected to be miserable.  But here’s the thing.  I don’t want to be miserable.  I would like to be happy.  And sometimes I am.  Today I feel better and I can concentrate enough to write this.  This sounds small but it’s not.  It’s big.  And I’m taking it.

And I’m not alone.  I’ve seen so many people lately reaching out for help and I’m not sure if I just think more people are struggling because I am too and I’m more sensitive to it, or if there’s something in the air or in the stars that has made this year more difficult in general.  I’ve seen people I love doubt their own light and feel broken.  And maybe they are, but broken doesn’t mean worthless.  Broken hurts sometimes but it is also what makes us different.

Last night as I was going to bed I noticed that I’d let most of the lights burn out in the chandelier and I couldn’t replace them.  Not just because I was too tired but also because I don’t own a ladder that tall.  So the few remaining lights that still flickered on cast a strange shadow on the wall and in a way it was really beautiful.  Like an unconscious mural that painted my house with invisible hands.  And it was striking.  And strange.  And dark.  And haunting in a way that is (literally) a little hard to see and also a little hard to ignore.  And it seemed like a perfect analogy for how I was feeling.  If my head was working better I would be able to wrap this up more succinctly, but if I wait until my head is less broken I might wait forever.  And then you’d never see the strange, dark loveliness that comes out when things are little bit broken.

dark bloggess

Broken can be beautiful.  I’ll remind you of that if you remind me back.

I can’t tell if this happened because I have a medical issue or because I’m just really lazy.

Yesterday I went to pick up my meds and while I was there I handed the pharmacist my prescription for my ADD medication and she was like “Sorry, I can’t fill this one.  We can only fill prescriptions within 21 days of them being written” and I guess I can understand that but I’ve been walking around with this prescription for a month because I’m not really focused enough to remember to refill my meds if I’m out of my ADD meds and the pharmacist was like, “Yes, but you’ll still have to get a new one” and that sucks because first of all, the fact that I’m making my meds last long enough that my next prescription expired proves that I’m not abusing them or selling them on the street, so if anything I should be rewarded by getting more drugs.  Plus, now I have to make an appointment to see my shrink to get another prescription and I’ll have to tell her I kept getting too distracted to fill the prescription that I insisted that I needed because my ADD was making me too distracted.

But technically she already knows I’m irresponsible and have ADD so really it’ll probably just make her happier that she’s doing an excellent job diagnosing me.

Although she’s not really doing that great if she actually expected that I was going to fill my prescription myself within a normal time limit.  I suspect it’s a test and I failed it.  Or she did.  Maybe we did as a team.  I’m not good at evaluating right now because I’m low on ADD meds.

Someone please make an appointment for me with my shrink.  And remind me to get her to call in my meds this time.  And then take me to the pharmacist to get my meds before they call me with that ” YOUR PRESCRIPTION HAS BEEN READY FOR WEEKS AND IF YOU DON’T PICK IT UP SOON WE’LL RESTOCK IT.  YOU ARE WASTING OUR TIME” message.  And then bring me a cheesecake.  And take me to the post office.  And make me drink more water.

Jesus.  I need a babysitter.  For me.

I blame the meds.  Or lack thereof.

PS.  I don’t have a graphic to go with this post so instead I’ll show you the business cards I made for myself.

furiouslyhappycards2Please note that I forgot to put my name on them or a website or even what FURIOUSLY HAPPY is.  I think it’s pretty obvious I made them without the benefit of drugs.  Or possibly it seems more obvious that I am on drugs if I made business cards with Rory’s taxidermied raccoon face on them.  Depends on the kind of drugs, I guess.  But!  You can do this with them:

furiouslyhappycards3

They would come in much more handy if I ever left the house long enough to give out business cards, but at least I have some now, so…you know…baby steps.

 

UPDATED: Hey. You there. You probably need this.

Hey there.  You.

It seems like everyone I know is having a really rough month.  Me too.  But things are going to be okay.  Promise.  October is right around the corner.

Until then, here’s a kitten meeting a donkey for the first time.

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The only way this could be more adorable would be if Benedict Cumberbatch was riding the donkey, while hugging a sloth, who was giving a hedgehog a bath.

UPDATED:  My extremely talented friend, Darth, just sent me this:

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Granted, it sort of looks like Benedict Cumberbatch is making a tossed salad of sloths and hedgehogs while his donkey eats a kitten, but somehow it still makes me incredibly happy.

See, world.  It doesn’t take much.

I’m turning bionic, I think.

Remember when that Who-down-in-Whoville was trying to burrow its way out of my bellybutton and all of you were like, “That’s a hernia.  You need to get that shit fixed yesterday.”  Well, turns out it’s a hernia and I need to get that shit fixed yesterday.  You guys should consider charging for your diagnoses because that was pretty impressive.  If I had more energy I’d start a  website called “Does this look normal to you?” so people could post pictures of weird-ass stuff on their body and you could tell them what’s wrong with them.

This week I met with the surgeon and he felt around my stomach and was like, “Yep.  You’ve got a hole in there, and if we don’t fix it now it’ll just get worse,” but I countered that “Technically I have lots of holes in my body and they’re doing just fine.  In fact, if I didn’t have these holes in my face I’d suffocate.  They’re called ‘nostrils‘ and I’m a big fan.”  Then he explained that it was less of a “hole” and more of a “widening rip in my abdominal wall” so I agreed to have the surgery.  On the plus side, at the moment I can truthfully brag, “Yo, my abs are ripped” although not really in the way that most people might expect.

The surgeon explained that I would be having “robotic hernia surgery” and I explained that I didn’t want a hernia at all, much less a robotic hernia.  Then he paused and clarified that the surgery itself was done by robots and that’s even scarier because I can’t even walk past the tv without the cable going out and the last time I opened the refrigerator it spit ice cubes out at me because all technology hates me for some reason.  The doctor assured me that he’d be in command, and that the robots would just have a bunch of fingers in me that he’d be controlling.  He assured me this was a simple procedure, and that everything would be fine just so long as the robots didn’t suddenly become self-aware and give me chainsaw hands and implant their brain in my head so that they could use me to take over the world.  He didn’t say that last part out loud but I think it was implied.

A friend recommended I look at pictures of the procedure so that I’ll understand how great robotic surgery is because robots can do operations using tiny incisions.  I took their advice and I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a comforting surgery picture, or a scene from a horror film where a robotic spider is implanting robot spider eggs into the stomachs of their hosts.  Either way, it’s disconcerting.

"AAAAAAAAH."

“AAAAAAAAH.”  Also, is that a thermos of coffee on the left?  Why do robots need coffee?  What is even going on here?

Long story short, I’m having surgery on Friday and if all goes as planned I’ll be fine, and if not then I apologize in advance for using my chainsaw hands to threaten you but let me assure you that it’s nothing personal.  You can’t reason with robot spiders.  I assume.

The (Oxymoronic) Blue Bird of Happiness

A few months ago I mentioned that my friend, Brooke Shaden, came to my house to shoot my portrait.  We climbed down into the nearby swamp and I dressed up in a bunch of thrift store clothes that wouldn’t even zip up over my chest and I only fell into the swamp twice.  And we climbed trees and baffled hikers and laughed, and Victor and Hailey and Maile were there to help and it was amazing.

brooke

It was especially wonderful because I’ve been putting this photo session off for over a year because my anxiety disorder makes me continually postpone trips since I hate to travel and finally Brooke just said, “You’re weird.  I’m coming to you.”  I’m paraphrasing.  She said it much nicer.  But she understood.

She wandered through my house before the shoot and I had to explain my propensity for collecting the empty bird cages that hang all over my house.  They’re old and battered, but beautiful and unique, and I explained that whenever I get too overwhelmed I picture myself tucked behind those same bars…safe from worry and people and the terror of real life.  In some ways my house has become my own little cage…one that I love, but one that I retreat to perhaps more than a “normal” person might say is healthy.  I told Brooke that I feel bad about turning down so many meetings and trips and opportunities that some people would kill for but that I know that sometimes saying “no” is the only way to protect myself from the exhaustion that comes afterward.  But I still push myself out of my cage when I can.  Sometimes it’s just a few steps.  Sometimes I fly.  Sometimes I fall.  Mostly I sit inside and quietly watch, but that gives me the opportunity to view and study human nature in a way few get to observe.  It gives me insight and it helps me be a better writer and (I hope) a better person.

And then Brooke looked at my favorite birdcage thoughtfully and nodded to herself and began taking it apart to drag it into the swamp with us because she had a vision.  I didn’t entirely know what she was doing, but I went with it.

(by Maile Wilson)

(Behind the scenes, by Maile Wilson)

And today Brooke sent me my portrait.

It’s me, as the Blue (in every sense of the word) Bird of Happiness.

thebloggessandbrookeshaden

I love it.

Sometimes cages can be surprisingly freeing.


 

PS. I just looked up “bluebird behavior” and turns out that they’re usually timid, gentle and unaggressive, unless you cross them and then they will cut you.  It’s sort of scary just how accurate that is.

PPS.  In the morning I’m going to see the surgeon about removing that Who in my stomach.  Wish me luck.

UPDATED:  Surgery will be Friday.  Robots will be involved.  More later…

UPDATED: My belly button has popped out and I’m not pregnant. Is this normal or am I dying? Seriously.

UPDATED BELOW…

So, this is a weird post and you should skip it if you’re easily grossed out.

Still here?  Awesome.  You are my kind of people.  The kind that can’t look away from grossness.  Let’s go watch horror movies together.  But not today because I think I might be dying.

I’m probably not dying, but that’s where my mind goes first because I’m me.  Here’s the deal:  A year ago my belly button was quiet and unassuming and frankly I did not appreciate it because the best belly buttons are the ones that just don’t really exist.  They less the exist, the better the are.  Unless you’re missing one altogether.  That’s weird.  Not that I’m judging.  Anymore.  Mostly because my belly button just got weird too.

Last year I had my gallbladder removed through my belly button and it went back to normal except for a small scar, but then a few months ago it started to turn into an outie, which I didn’t mind but it seemed odd because my belly button had always been cavernously internal even when I was enormously pregnant.  Then I started getting sharp stomach pains off and on and I thought it was appendicitis but it kept going away so I ignored it, but last night I had my hand on my stomach in bed and I laughed because someone on tv hurt themselves in a funny way and then I noticed that my belly button popped out an inch like a tiny, angry alien.  Then it went back to being normal but every time I laugh or cough it pops out like a Jack-in-the-Box made of flesh.

I made a video but I don’t think I want that floating around the internet.  It’s like having a sex tape, but grosser and less lucrative.  Then people would always associate me with having a gross belly button, or even worse, someone else would claim that it’s their belly button and it would go viral and then Victor would yell at me for not watermarking a video of my belly button volcano.  But I’ll show you pictures because that’s what the internet is for.

Before laughing.  After laughing.  Also, the picture quality is shitty but in my defense it's really difficult to take a selfie of your own belly button.

Before laughing. After laughing. Also, the picture quality is shitty but in my defense it’s really difficult to take a selfie of your own belly button.

It might be a good party trick if everyone was drunk enough because after it pops out it looks a little like a Who down in Whoville.

Maybe this is how Who's are made.  All I need are googly-eyes and some stick-on hair.

Maybe this is how Who’s are made? All I need are googly-eyes and some stick-on hair.

So now I don’t know if I’m dying or if I just have a really talented belly button.  Like maybe I just got double-jointed, IN MY BELLY BUTTON.  Or it’s a tumor.  I prefer to just have faith in the talent of my belly button but Victor says I have to go to the doctor because I think he’s jealous his belly button can’t do that.

According to WebMD I’m probably somewhere between “fine” or “already dead”, but most likely it’s a hernia.  My mom had one when she was my age but  then when the surgeon went in he found and removed a (non-cancerous) tumor the size of a cantaloupe, and the upside to that is that it’s like getting a tummy tuck and people feel sorry for you at the same time.  So this is why I’m finally calling the doctor this morning.  It’s also why I don’t eat a lot of cantaloupe.

I’m writing this because if I write it out then things will be fine.  Who ever writes that they have to get their talented belly button checked out and then later finds out they have belly button cancer?  My guess is that the numbers are small.  I’m not even sure belly button cancer is a real thing, but now that I consider it, that’s totally the sort of dumb-ass thing I’d end up getting.

Also, I’d like to apologize for this whole post.  Blogging is already incredibly narcissist, but I just realized that I spent this whole post literally navel-gazing.  And asking you to gaze at my navel.  Wow.  I think I might need help and not just for the tiny alien living in my belly button.

Going to the doctor now.  Wish me luck.

 

UPDATE:   You guys are not going to believe this, but I have a hernia. (Hat-tip to the 8,000 of you who guessed this immediately.) Apparently my body is trying to forcibly flee from my own body, which is sort of insulting. I guess my intestines saw how easy it was for my gallbladder to escape through my belly button and then they were like, “WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT WAS AN OPTION” and now they’re trying to tunnel out like angry inmates. I don’t blame them though. This body is a sinking ship.

My doctor looked at my stomach and said it was probably a hernia but to be sure she asked me to do a sit-up and that brought The-Who-Down-in-Whoville to the surface and she yelled, “Oh my God. DON’T DO ANYMORE SIT-UPS” and I was like, “I want that on a doctor’s note right now.” Then I can just pin the note to my chest whenever I have to sit next to really thin people who I always assume are judging me. I asked if the hernia was super bad but she said that if I’m careful it should be fine until they can get me in for surgery, but that if it gets worse my intestines could become “incarcerated,” and that “incarceration greatly increases the risk of strangulation,” and I agreed but I don’t think we were talking about the same thing.

Then my sister texted me: “Sooo, belly button cancer. That’s a new one, but if it’s going to happen to someone it would be you” and I explained that it was a belly button hernia and she texted back : “There was a kid at daycare with a belly button hernia. His parents taped a quarter over it and they were certain it would work. It was like they were paying his intestines to stay inside.” Then I asked Victor for a quarter and he said he only had two dimes and I was like “That’s not enough to keep my intestines in” and then he made me stop taking anecdotal medical advice from my sister.

Honestly, it’s like he’s just begging for strangulation.

Two years ago

Two years ago they hadn’t found a way to treat my rheumatoid arthritis.  Two years ago I was a usual visitor to the emergency room when my pain would get so bad that only narcotic injections would stop it.  Two years ago my vacations always ended in wheelchairs, I took drugs that made my face unrecognizable and made clumps of my hair fall out.  Two years ago I was obese, because my meds made me swell up and because just walking across the room made me want to scream.  Two years ago I thought that I was a burden on my family because I spent more time in bed than I did out of bed.

A year and a half ago my doctor got approval to start monthly injections.  They worked.  They don’t work for everyone.  I pray that they continue to work.  I was able to walk.  I was able to move.  I was able to live.  I lost 46 pounds.  I got rid of the steroids.  My hair started to grow back.  The pain that used to be a 9 is now a 2.

Yesterday my doctor looked at my x-rays and said that some of the deformation we thought would be permanent had healed.  And she said a lovely word.

“Remission.”

It’s a lovely word for two reasons.  One, because I remember the pain…and in the place where that pain was is a space left for gratitude.  And two, because it gives me hope.

10 years ago my mental illness got so bad that I finally got help.  At first it was worse, then it was better, then worse again.  Now I fluctuate, waiting out the darkness, reminding myself that depression lies and that it’s a medical condition that I never asked for, quietly battling with tiny demons in my head…until it suddenly passes and the drugs kick in or the seratonin settles or the demons get bored and then HALLELUJAH I’m alive again and things are good and I remind myself that this, this, THIS is real and this is worth waiting for each time.

One day I know that they’ll will find a cure for whatever it is in my head that randomly and unexpectedly clouds things up and makes life turn into a pale, cardboard imitation.  One day they’ll find a cure.  A drug that works.  A shot that makes the demons go away.

A remission.

And I cling to that.  Because that, my friends, is a beautiful word.

PS. I wrote a week ago about how I’d been diagnosed with a severe b12 deficiency that might be causing some of this depression.  I’m on pills and shots and massive amounts of other pills to help the b12 work and I feel okay today after a week of slight craziness.  14 pills a day isn’t ideal, but I’m worth trying every option.  You are too.  Keep breathing.

Hush now

PPS.  Back to silly, cat-focused ridiculousness tomorrow.  I just needed to write this.  Thank you for listening.

Tightrope walker

Today I turn 38.

Marc Davis' concept painting for Disney

37 was a hard year, but a good year.  It was a year of hospital beds and wheelchairs, of worry and mental illness, of fear and more fear.  It was also a year of being ridiculous and silly, of finding drugs that helped more than hurt, of laughter and finding my tribe, and of being furiously happy and stepping out onto shaky  limbs I never dreamed I’d reach.

I got this print last week.  It’s the concept art from The Haunted Mansion.  The girl in the final version they used looks very different – wan and bereft and abandoned.  But this one was peculiarly contrary.  It was perfect.  When I saw it in the shop I knew I had to have it because it was the first time I saw a painting that seemed so perfectly “me.”

Victor stared at me, baffled, and pointed out how wrong that seemed.  “It’s a girl on a frayed tightrope about to fall into the mouth of an alligator.  That’s pretty fucking bleak even for you.”

But that’s not what I see.

I see a girl intent on enjoying the sun while it still shines, smiling vehemently,  indignantly, and entirely celebrating a shining perfect moment even as alligators swim underneath.  Victor said she seemed oblivious, but she’s not.  She knows the alligator is there.

The alligators are always there.

They remind her to smile and enjoy those perfect moments whenever they arise, because life without fear is not a life fully appreciated.  She smiles – not because she’s unaware of the alligators – but because she’s aware of them and because she knows how wonderful it feels when they release their jaws from your ankles.

If you look online you’ll find a lot of critics who claim that the original tight-rope walker’s too-open eyes suggest that she’s just bat-shit crazy…too numb with fear to even understand the danger.  Her mind has snapped, and now teeters slowly, detached from reality.  I can’t argue with that, because that fits with my personality a bit too comfortably as well, but I still prefer to see what I see…a girl who has won a battle.  A girl who appreciates those moments between maulings.  A girl who knows all too well the dangers and pain around her but who has made a conscious and complete decision to be furiously happy in spite of it all.

A girl who knows how to wield a parasol like a fucking ninja.

I see me.  Proudly.

Happy birthday, me.

Look out, below.

I just paid to have someone beat me up

I just had my first ever Swedish massage and it was awesome, except for the parts when I thought I was going to be murdered.

Halfway through the guy told me to “smell” I was all “What?” and I opened my eyes and his hands were over my face like he was just about to smother me and I yelled “WHAT?” and he said, “I said ‘smell‘” and so I did and it was eucalyptus. I assume that’s some kind of aromatherapy but I have to think that the relaxation gained from smelling eucalyptus is not worth the stress you get from thinking you were going to be smothered.  Maybe it’s just me.  Then he rubbed the eucalyptus into my body.  Except by “rubbed” I mean “punched.”  I smell like I got beaten up by a koala bear.

Then he started pulling on my limbs and pushing them back in and it was kind of like if a class of kindergartners were told to kill you using only their hands and feet.  Then he tried to dislocate my arm.  Not on purpose, but he kept doing this thing and my arm was getting crunchy(?) and so he pushed harder and then I realized that he was trying to align my shoulder-blade except that I’m double-jointed and so he was trying to fix something unfixable and so I’m all, “Oh, it’s supposed to be like that.  You can move on”

Then he asked, “Um, have you ever had an allergic reaction to lotions or essential oils?” and I was all “No, why?” and he told me that my arm was really red and I was all, “Oh, that’s because YOU JUST TRIED TO DISLOCATE MY SHOULDERBLADE” but I didn’t say that out loud because at this point I was a little afraid that he was going to murder me, because who enjoys inflicting that much pressure on someone?  Sadists, that’s who.  But then it turns out that I am allergic to the oils, or that maybe I’m just breaking out in hives from the stress of my stress-relieving massage.

The only good part was when it was over and the guy was all “Make sure you drink a lot so you can flush your body of the toxins” and so I was all “Hell yeah” but when I got home and poured myself my second booze-slushie Victor said, “Water.  You’re supposed to drink water” and I was all “He was not specific“.

And that’s why there are so many typos in this post.  Because I’m therapeutically drunk and sort of bruised and dislocated.  That was not relaxing at all.  Next time I’m just skipping straight to the drunk part.

There might be some sort of voodoo curse on me.

I’m three weeks behind on this but I actually do have a very good reason which does not involve drinking or taxidermied alligators, for once.  Victor got a really horrific infection in his broken arm and was in the hospital for so long that I forgot where I lived.  Then Hailey and I both came down with strep and when they finally let Victor come home they put him on an antibiotic that costs $2,300.  After insurance. Then all the corpses from the Indian burial ground beneath our house started floating up in our pool and I considered moving to Canada and investing in my own bone saw.  (FYI…only that very last sentence is an exaggeration.  We don’t have a pool.)

But after all of that crap I realized that I probably need to have a bit more in savings in case this happens again so I’m going to stop turning down graphic ad offers on my blog and start offering them in between actual posts (labeled as ads right up front, of course).  I promise they won’t be awful.  And I’m not using an ad network so if you see an ad it’ll be from companies/bloggers/artists who actually contacted me directly and are bad-asses who are cool with advertising on a blog which no sane company would ever be advertising on.

PS.  If you want one they start at $250.  Email me advertising@thebloggess.com if you want details.

**********

Let’s begin the weekly wrap-up, shall we?:

What you missed on Ill-Advised:

What you missed on Good Mom/Bad Mom on the Houston Chronicle:

What you missed on my sex column (which is satirical and vaguely safe for work if your boss isn’t a complete douche-canoe):

What you missed in my shop (tentatively named “Eight pounds of uncut cocaine” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

What you missed on the internets:

This week on Shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:

The week’s wrap-up sponsored by my real-life friend, Stephanie Smirnov, who just started a truly fabulous blog about finding horsemeat in your refrigerator (among other things). I once found a sack of sheep intestines in my refrigerator. There’s a lot of that going around. Also, I just want to point out that Stephanie is in charge of a PR company that isn’t afraid to invite me to molest the hot, gay guy from Project Runway. She’s not paying me to mention that but I’m going to anyway because that kind of bad-ass PR-ness should be rewarded.