23 December 2014 @ 12:04 pm
Dear Yuletide Writer:

I may not have an opportunity to check email on December 25th itself, so know that I am super excited to see what you wrote, and will comment just as soon as I'm able!

23 December 2014 @ 12:03 pm
Greetings! I'm writing from my friend's house, where I am ensconced for Christmas week. It is 48 degrees (whaaaaat?) and I just went to Whole Foods to run errands for my friend (who has to work until tomorrow lunchtime). The tree looks delicious, the presents are all wrapped, there is wood for the fire (that we will not need if it stays this warm). It's a very nice, chilled out place to be. And I have some frappucino!

Sunday night I celebrated solstice with my friends back home. We ate delicious food, and talked and talked (much to the chagrin of the 8 year old, who wanted presents now), and then we opened gifts and it was so much fun. Everyone really dug what I got them, which made me supremely happy. And I got a marble board for rolling out pastry, and a deep-dish pie dish that says "Cate's apple pie" on the side. Adorable!

This afternoon I'll run more errands, and then this evening we're going to another friend's house to sample their attempts to define a signature cocktail for Christmas. This could be very amusing.

Happy December 23rd, all!
21 December 2014 @ 09:47 am
My mother actively guilted me this morning about the fact that I haven't been around for Christmas in nine years.

The last time my parents saw me at Christmas was 2005, before I had confronted my father. They came and stayed in my house, and how I made it through that experience is a complete mystery to me. I was unmedicated, severely depressed, and experiencing chronic PTSD - and my abuser was living under my roof. 2006 I was in the States, and there was no question of me going home because I had some visa issues.

In 2007 I confronted my father and we haven't spoken since.

Today she was updating me on the ongoing saga of her sister's family problems, and the question of whether my cousin would be going to his mother's house for Christmas dinner or my mother's house for Christmas dinner. My cousin's mom feels she ought to see him on Christmas, but his father has told him he wishes he was dead, so that would be a bad situation, for everyone. And then my mother launched into, "It's not like everyone else gets to see their kids on Christmas, is it? I mean, how long since we saw you on Christmas, nine years? You don't come home for Christmas. When did we see you on Christmas last, 2005? Yes, 2005. I have no sympathy for her at all."

On the one level, this is clearly a crying out for some sympathy, a loss that she feels very keenly. But on the other hand, oh my goodness. What does she imagine Christmas would look like if I did go home? Has she thought through what it would mean? That I'd have to stay in a hotel? That I wouldn't be sharing Christmas dinner with her anyway because she'd be with my dad, and I'm never going back to that house again ever, regardless? That we couldn't all open presents together, that she'd have to make choices about where she spent her time, and my father would berate her and bully her for every moment she didn't spend with him? That my presence would be a secret from almost everyone, because otherwise she'd have to explain that I'm not talking to my father?

Of course she's not thinking about any of this - she's just operating in an imaginary world where Christmas would be easy and uncomplicated. But it's not, for a reason that is ever-present in my life, and which makes this season complex enough. Good lord. I just can't even.
20 December 2014 @ 03:17 pm
Today I applied for a payday loan.

I could explain why - give you the ins and outs of the financial complications that have arisen in the past week. But doing that would be my attempt to make myself feel like I'm a deserving person in financial difficulty, rather than an undeserving one. That's a mental trap that I think a lot of us get caught in - we link up our sense of self-worth with our bank balance, and if we can't explain things in a way that makes us seem blameless we shoot right to the other end of things and call ourselves stupid and worthless before anyone else can. Money has such power, and our ability (or inability) to control it builds us up and tears us down in a heartbeat.

Today I found myself wondering how to put gas in the car and food in the fridge. I had a whole range of judgments prepared to levy at myself, but luckily for me I had a friend who intervened, who refused to accept those nasty things I wanted to say, and who talked to me about what choices I had right now. And I thought to myself - I cannot be the only person in this position, facing not only financial challenges but all the associated emotional struggles that come with it too.

So I want to say, in case you don't have someone you can vent all of this to, or in case you just need to hear it anyway - if you're in financial difficulty, it's not a reflection of your worth on this planet, but of other forces - hundreds of them. You're not a failure as a person (or as an adult). Perhaps you could have seen this coming and perhaps you couldn't - it doesn't matter. You are where you're are and it sucks, truly, to feel that things are so out of your control. I can't wave a wand and fix a thing, but I can for sure tell you that I understand, and you are still 100% fabulous and worthwhile.

Today I took our a payday loan, and that says very little about me at all.
14 December 2014 @ 03:59 pm
I was at Target earlier this afternoon, buying some birthday wrapping paper for my niece, who turns eight tomorrow, when I caught sight of the enormous Happy Birthday gift bag in which I put her sister's gifts in October.

It was a really enormous bag.

And it struck me that the reason niece-who-turns-eight wasn't getting a big bag was because her birthday is in December when I'm juggling gifts to multiple people. It also struck me that if I were a kid, I would remember exactly the size of the bag my sister got, because that's how kids work some of the time.

So I perused Target, looking for things that my niece-who-turns-eight might enjoy, but I couldn't find a thing. I knew she wanted a tablet of her own, but that was well out of my price range. I saw some Wii stuff, but I'm not up on what she already owns. They didn't have any cool shoes. I'd already bought her a tshirt and a book, so I didn't want to buy her more clothes. (Besides, she's decided she's firmly against pink and purple, which meant shopping in the boys' section, and the boys' section had nothing cool. Where are your Captain America shirts, boys' section? Niece-who-turns-eight LOVES Captain America. As she should.)

I remembered, then, that niece loves bath things - that at the annual craft fair we go to, she's always bugging me or her mom to buy her bath stuff from a lady who makes soap and bath bombs. So I took myself off to Bath and Body Works and figured I would get her stuff to make a nice basket of grown-up bath things and that would make her happy.

First, I spent an age smelling everything and trying to figure out what an eight year old would like, and second, I tried to find things in the line that had signs saying buy three, get the fourth free. Because who doesn't love free? Choice made I got to the counter - and found out that it's actually buy three (of a very specific kind) and get four free (of a lesser kind). I only had two of the qualifying expensive things, so I needed to buy one more expensive thing to get four lesser things, which I patently did not need. I restrained myself from doing it just because it sounded like a bargain (and probably wasn't) and said no, I just need these things, they're for a gift.

They totaled SIXTY ONE DOLLARS. And I, being stunned, paid it. I do not have random sixty-one-dollar piles of money lying around, but I paid it, and I came home, and I looked at it, and I was all, holy shit, I just spent SIXTY ONE DOLLARS on bath stuff for an eight year old.

My life choices. Look at them.

I totted up how much I spent on her sister, and sadly, the $61 is probably what it takes to be about even, which I know matters not one whit to anyone or anything save me. But still - BATH STUFF.

I hope she stinks of this stuff every day for months. :D
13 December 2014 @ 01:27 pm
Don't go looking for happiness where you lost it

I saw this phrase on tumblr ten days or so ago, and loved it. Such good advice - and something I'd never considered before.

I've considered it since, multiple times, every day. This season of the year is fraught with emotional minefields for me, as every commercial and every store sells the idea of family togetherness. Many seasonal cards and even comments from well-meaning friends and colleagues take on the same approach - this is naturally a time of year for family, and everyone has one of those, right?

I long, as most everyone does, for that family togetherness, even though it's an impossibility for me (and for many other people, too). I feel moments of regret that I cannot go Christmas shopping with my mother, for example, or sadness that I cannot send a card that she can display on the mantle (because my father would go apeshit). I imagine being in England in this season. I second-guess my whole life and wonder if I'm doing the right thing, striking out alone, or whether I should have sucked up my misery and experiences and put family first. I know, intellectually, that the answer is 'no' to that and other, similar questions, but this is an emotional battle, a yearning for something that's presented all around me as elemental.

So to be able to say "Don't go looking for happiness where you lost it" has helped me so much. I still get the moments of regret, sadness, and second-guessing, but I can at least deploy this sage bit of advice against them. How can I be happy in the physical place where I lost my happiness? If I avoid the house in which I was abused, how happy can I be living in a hotel for Christmas, with my mother choosing my father first in everything? How can I find happiness in the well-worn mental spaces where I put family first for thirty years of my life and became as miserable as it's possible to be? I can't. And to have someone say 'here's why it's a bad idea to do what you're doing' with such simple kindness is transformative.

It takes a lot of mental energy to play this game day in, day out, which is no doubt part of the reason that, given the opportunity, I've been sleeping twelve hours a day. I'm sure for so many of you reading this, you'd sleep twelve hours a day, too, if you could. This time of year can be brutal. But that little phrase has given me a lot of hope, and maybe it'll help someone else out, too.

Love to everyone struggling with depression, anxiety, mental illness, loss, alienation, and loneliness this time of year. You're in my heart. ♥
10 December 2014 @ 06:34 pm
I saw my psychiatrist today, and left with my heart feeling lighter. What a lovely thing! We talked about the work situation that was so dogging me this fall, and my sense of needing to invest my sense of self in something other than my job. She gifted me with some lovely straight talk, and then said, "This is wonderful! You are growing up!" Which startled laughter clean out of me.

I have been a full-time seasonal cheer-maker this week, and I'm very blessed that my job allows me the time to get my season on at this time of year. I came back from a trip to Chicago on Monday (no wildlife or cars were hurt in the making of this journey) and spent all day Tuesday wrapping gifts, packaging cookies, and mailing boxes all over the US (and to Canada). Today I've been cleaning my house ready to host my bookclub's holiday party this evening. I'm ridiculously excited to have two Christmas tree plates to serve nibbles on. I scored them at Goodwill this morning, and believe me, it was only by ruthlessly and continually reminding myself that I have nowhere to store extra things that I managed not to come home with a whole set of crockery with holly on it, and twelve tumblers covered in snowflakes.

Tomorrow I head out of town for a dermatology appointment, and to see siriaeve, and we will have our Christmas. Hurrah! And then by this weekend I can actually turn my attention to work again. Or wrapping more gifts. ONE OR THE OTHER.

Yuletide status: awesomesauce. I'm still immersed in my canon, and loving it, and while we're getting close to deadline, I have a bunch of time next week to devote to writing, writing, writing. It's going to be so fun to brush off my fingertips (um . . . hopefully I'll use less awkward metaphors in my actual story) and get to work. Yay!

Happy Season of Light, all!
04 December 2014 @ 12:34 pm
I didn't post yesterday, because I spent my afternoon and evening glued to news of the NYC protests, and that was so much more important than anything I could have told you about my day. The same is true today - so much to read, so much to absorb about where we go next, what we do to change this deeply unjust system. Today's a day for me to shut up and listen, not to speak.
02 December 2014 @ 06:29 pm
I already missed the first day of posting - well done me! I will give myself a pass (you don't have to) because I was away on business yesterday, meeting with people from 7.30am to 8.30pm, which left me precious few braincells to expend on wrangling words. Sentences, what are they?

But today my business was finished by 10.30am, and I drove to my friend's place in Chicago, and there I am happily tucked in. Her dog and I had a nice nap this afternoon in a pile on the couch, and tomorrow I drive across town to help her sister with some household organizing. I love this shit.

I feel that I have very little to say about myself today, except that I am obsessed with Hozier's "Take me to Church," which siriaeve told me about 11 months ago, and I forgot about, and then rediscovered, and now, wow. Cannot. Stop. Playing. It.

I hope you're all well and enjoying the beginning of December! Oh, and if you have a something you'd like me to talk about this month, leave me a comment. I will do my best to oblige!

28 November 2014 @ 08:53 pm
Happy belated Thanksgiving to those who celebrate! I had a lovely, relaxing day with my friend M, her husband, and her kids. It was very mellow, since it was just the five of us, and we ate, drank, and were merry, and M and husband snuck naps while the rest of us were watching Elf. Sneaky!

Today I did not enter into the crazy that is Black Friday, although not out of any principled reason, as I really do enjoy shopping. It's just that I've bought almost all of my seasonal gifts, and I certainly don't need to buy myself anything, so no reason for me to enter the throng. Instead I went to a prayer vigil about Ferguson and my own town, and then to a tiny craft show at a local barn, and then to the small businesses on our main thoroughfare with M and her elder daughter C. I didn't buy anything, but M got a lot of Christmas shopping done, and it was fun to be out and about. I ran to the store afterwards to pick up the remainder of the things M and I need for cookie baking tomorrow, and then back over to M's to eat leftovers for dinner and to collude with her husband about what he should get her for Christmas. I even told him to empty the cache on the browser so that she wouldn't get adverts on facebook for where he'd shopped. I am so good at this shit.

Now I am exhausted, and contemplating an early night, as I have nine hours of cookie baking ahead of me tomorrow. This is an annual Thing, where M and I bake all day (aided by beer and/or wine and lots of nibbles) and make hundreds and hundreds of cookies to give to friends and colleagues and family. It's a truly nutty undertaking, but it's also fun, but I feel - like a marathon - I should carb up and sleep well the night before. Carbs were taken care of at dinner, so now it's just a question of sleep!

I hope you've all had a lovely couple of days, whether you are celebrating or not!

Oh! And I will do the post everyday in December thing - so if you have something specific you'd like me to talk about, leave a note in comments. Otherwise I will just blather. That may or may not be appealing to you, depending on many things. :D
18 November 2014 @ 10:25 am
I have a cousin, S, on my mother's side of the family, who is pretty troubled right now. He's suffering from depression at the very least, and self harms, and things that my mother mention make me think there are a whole bundle of other issues in the mix, too.

S's father has ruled that S cannot come to the family house anymore, and has said to S's face that he wishes S were dead. S therefore has some Pretty Big Issues with his dad. His mom goes to see S on her own, but in S's opinion she's always clock-watching, making sure she'll be home at the time she said she would. This makes S mad as hell, as well it should.

This morning my mother tells me that she's advised S not to push things because if S puts his mom in a position where she feels like she has to choose between S and his father, she'll choose his father. This is astounding enough to me, because hello, mother, you have done exactly the same thing. BUT THEN: "I just think she [S's mom] has no confidence in herself as herself. She'll never stand up to [S's dad]. He's bled that confidence right out of her." HELLO? "S just needs to be careful." To which I said, "None of this is S's fault - the problem is entirely his mother's, and he has every right to be mad at her." And my mother agreed.

I spent this portion of our conversation mouthing 'oh my god, oh my god' to myself, unable to process just how deeply in denial my mother is to not see the absolute parallel between herself and her sister. I mean, my mother's capacity for denial is well documented on this journal, but still, I feel like we just hit new heights.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat even.
17 November 2014 @ 05:13 pm
Some of you may remember that back in 2008 [I hit a deer] on the stretch of interstate between my house and the airport. So began an odyssey that lasted several months, because I inhaled glass, and my lungs were really mucked up for a long time.

Well, TODAY I hit a pheasant on that same stretch of road. Poor thing punched a hole clean through my bumper, cut my windshield wiper fluid line, and may have damaged a tire. I am fine, which is for the win - although I say this after knocking on wood, considering how last time turned out - but my car needs epic bodywork, and the only rental place in town lacks cars until Wednesday. Still, I consider myself very lucky to have driven on from the contretemps, and been able to navigate my way to the body shop to have them take some pictures and give the car the once over. Tomorrow I drop the car off for the real work to begin.

But oh my god, what is WITH that stretch of interstate? I mean, I do live in the middle of nowhere, it's true, so there tend to be a lot of animals and birds and the like, but still. STILL. I am adding pheasants to the list of creatures with very little brain.
05 November 2014 @ 07:48 pm
Tomorrow morning, I head off to a retreat that lasts until Saturday. Oh, blessed be, I am so, so, so looking forward to it.

Today I was the recipient of some epic mansplaining from a colleague (let me tell you, sir, how much I don't need you to explain sexual violence against women to me), and a tangle of issues to do with another colleague being sexually harassed (can we just stop with this shit, please?) and it was dark two whole hours before I got to leave work. BOO.

But tomorrow I get up and drive to the airport and fly to Michigan and retreat for three days. My heart is so happy at the very idea.

30 October 2014 @ 09:48 am
I have my Yuletide assignment! And for added joy, I actually know my recipient. ♥ Wheeeeeee
29 October 2014 @ 07:13 pm
This morning I woke up and took my meds, as I usually do. Only I realized, a moment later, that I'd actually taken my evening sleeping pills instead. DOH. I took my proper morning meds and proceeded to imbibe all the caffeine I could get my hands on - tea at home, two cups of coffee at the hair salon, an extra-large latte on my way to work. It worked pretty well! I was super chill all day and all I can conclude is that in the sweet spot between caffeine and sleeping pills is a place that is not unlike taking a tranq. (I have never taken a tranq, so actual comparison may be shady.) I am going to sleep SO well tonight.
25 October 2014 @ 04:30 pm
I got a package of stickers in the mail today that say "You Are Beautiful"! Which is so lovely! However, I have no idea where they came from. Did someone send them to me? Potentially everyone could have sent them, so thank you everyone! And particular thanks to whomever it was that did :D
25 October 2014 @ 01:53 pm
Hello, dear writer. Thank you so much for being willing to write something for me - that is the best gift of all! Below you'll find some musings on things I like and don't like to help you out (I hope!), but know that I will love whatever you write, I'm sure of it.

More!Collapse )
24 October 2014 @ 10:17 am
I just asked my boss if my employer would pay for me to become a citizen, and she said yes! They have a lawyer who handles the whole thing, which means I will be told specifically what to do and when, and I love that a lot.

I am THRILLED (and a little bit terrified).

(Appropriate icon has never been more appropriate)
21 October 2014 @ 09:09 pm
This is why I no longer sound English to most ears - because this is more or less my home dialect, and it's impenetrable to almost everyone in the States :D Yay, Sir Patrick!

20 October 2014 @ 07:55 pm
Today my therapist asked me, "are you afraid if you date you'll be raped again?"

I burst into tears. So that would be a yes.

What a hell of a mess that is to unpack. Discussion of rape beneath the cutCollapse )