Complaint Form to the Universe

I would love to update you on some thrilling adventure I have had recently, or new thing I have discovered, or adorable anecdote from the kiddos.  I would love to tell you about my writing endeavors, and my fishing encounters, and my glorious days of feeling well and wonderful.

I ain’t got any of that.

I can’t tell you how many times I was in the emergency room last week.  I don’t remember.  I know one day it was twice…so that was two craploads of drugs pumped into me that made me completely forget the following day.  And on Sunday night, I found myself trapped under plastic sheeting as they put in a central line, after two hours of trying to find a vein that hadn’t scarred over.  Yesterday I felt better, but also generally like someone hit me with a truck, and then kicked me in the chest for good measure.

I had great plans for this weekend and I was sick the whole time, which sucked because we had the girls and I promised them we would go fishing.  Instead, I was sleeping or puking.  It’s things like this that take a mental toll, too, because then you feel like a disappointment to other people.  Like, my mom made this lovely Irish breakfast for all of us Sunday morning and I immediately vomited it up, thus ending what looked like it might have been a good day.  It’s just depressing.

And then comes Monday, wherein I had plans.  I have reading to do.  I have writing to do.  I have work to do.  But I can’t do a thing.  I can’t sit at the desk long enough, or hold the mouse even, because my arms feel like they weigh 6000 pounds.  The bruises in the crooks of my elbows and on my wrists are aching with each word I type.  The only reason, and I mean the ONLY REASOIN I am even sitting here right now is because I am clinging to a tiny shred of normalcy, and in this moment, that would be my blog.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death, by the way.  It was a terrible week that I wrote of in detail, and this year has somehow simultaneously flown and dragged without him.  Today we are going to the cemetery to place a wreath on his grave.  I haven’t been to it, yet.  The only grave I visit is Ka, so this is one of those milestone-style things for my anxiety.  Thing is, it doesn’t seem such a big deal to me, at least not as it was a year ago when they went to the cemetery after the services, and I went back to my Gram’s house instead. 

Because, you see, I’m stressed elsewhere.  I’m anxious in other areas.  I’m depressed in a different department.  My stupid, stupid, STUPID stomach.

But soon…soon the phone will ring and I will answer and it will be the scheduler for my surgery and they will tell me help is on the way.

Until then, I’ll dream of the things to come, like not getting sick daily or ending up in the ER monthly because they’re going to blast a hole through my stomach (I mean, that’s not the technical procedure, I just like to tell people that.)  Like the fact I’ll probably lose some weight during my subsequent liquid diet and fit into the bathing suit I bought last summer that was just slightly too small.  Ooooh!  And, of course, once it’s over and I am healed, I am GOING TO CLEVELAND TO SEE SAHAR.  That, of course, is the endgame.

So yeah, this blog entry isn’t much more than my complaint form to the universe, but in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t exactly shy away from the realities of chronic or mental illness, and the stomach issues coupled with the depression it has caused is really weighing on me right now.  I’m not going to sit here and pretend it’s all rainbows and butterflies, because it isn’t.  It never was.  But, some days, like today, are tolerable enough.

An Open Letter to the Covid-19 Deniers

Warning:  rant ahead.

Dear Denier,

Hello.  You may or may not know me, but for the purposes of this letter I will state for you a few facts about myself.  1.  I have diabetes and gastroparesis, two chronic illnesses that make my life extra rough.  2.  I was raised in a religious environment, and while I have shirked many of the less savory aspects of that I have retained my core belief in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, not to mention the basic teachings of Jesus on how not to be an jerkface.  That said…

I am sick and tired of seeing people politicizing Coronavirus, denying its impact, refusing to wear a mask, swearing to not receive a vaccine, and fighting to reopen before we are ready.

I saw a post on Facebook listing all the things I supposedly don’t give a shit about if I don’t want to the economy to reopen yet…like kids getting poor homeschool educations, people trapped with their abusers, rising unemployment, small businesses who might go under, etc.  It took every ounce of restraint to not reply with: Here’s 100,000 things YOU don’t give a shit about, along with the photo below.

Here’s the thing:  it is totally possible to care about all of that, AND care about the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones, AND worry about government overreach.  None of these things are mutually exclusive, and if you think they are then you are devoid of something, whether it be in your brain or your heart.

I am high risk.  If I get COVID, I will likely end up in a hospital.  A ventilator will not be out of the question.  Death will not be out of the question.  I am a sick person already, and this virus preys on sick people.  But it also preys on the healthy, and your denial isn’t going to change that fact.  So, when I see you say you won’t wear a mask or get a vaccine, what you’re saying, to me, is “I don’t care if you die.”

Now, I don’t care about politics when it comes to this.  I don’t care what Trump or Cuomo did or said or whatever.  All I care about is that people are dying.  I am sick of hearing…

“Oh, but people die from the flu.”  Yeah.  34,000 last year.  Except it’s been 4 months and 100,000 have died from Coronavirus.  Do your math. 

“Oh, I shouldn’t have to wear a mask in the store…that’s tyranny!”  About that…you have to wear shoes and a shirt, too, but no one has a problem with that.  Grow up. 

“Oh, this is just being exaggerated by the left!” Yeah…tell that to the other 187 countries who don’t give a crap about our government. Get a global perspective.

And the kicker?  The thing that really gets stuck in my craw?  The people who seem to be so against quarantine are the people who mourned hard when the towers fell.  We lost 3.000 Americans that day, and you wanted to help.  You wanted to do anything you could for your country.  You flew your flag and cried during your news stories and some brave heroes even flew in to help. 

But 100,000 in four months?  Fuck ‘em.

I don’t unfriend people for political beliefs, but I will drop you like a hot potato if you’re selfish enough to put my life in danger.  If you’re stunted enough to be unable to accept new facts and adjust your beliefs accordingly.  And if you’re cold enough to ignore a global crisis because you feel inconvenienced.  That is all unacceptable behavior to me, and has to do with who you are at your core, not what you believe in. 

I wish you luck.  I’m no holder of grudges, and I wish well even on the people who have wronged me, because I was raised to believe that forgiveness is key.  Some people weren’t, and that’s ok.  But, if money and politics is more important to you than human life, you’re missing something, friend.  And I’m not interested in sticking around until you find it.

Sincerely,

Brigid

/end rant.

And So It Begins.

At the end of August, I finished the assembly of my chapbook.  I thought, as I always think with these things, that is was crap, so I sent it off to be read by my few trusted readers and the reviews came back raving.  So, the bravery that lives deep inside me came out to play, and it sent my little book off to a few prospective publishers.

In my search, I came across one company that I particularly liked.  They’re local, which delights me, and have published a couple books by a poet I like.  I did a little research on them and found that they were accredited though the Better Business Bureau, and a member of the Association of American Publishers.  The reviews I found were all 5 stars.  The interviews I read with the editor were good.  The articles I found about upcoming releases were great.  So, in October, I sent an inquiry to them as to whether or not they published chapbooks.

In January, I received a response, telling me that my book sounded interesting and to forward my manuscript for review.  The review process, they said, would take about three weeks.

Months passed.

A little over a week ago I decided to write an inquiry letter, which was stressful as I have never done such a thing.  Usually I log my submissions and let them sit there until I hear back, but I was on pins and needles over this particular publishing company.  I figured out how to sound polite and professional and sent a little note asking if they received my book and were still reviewing it, and wishing them all good health.

On April 20th, I received a reply: “It would be my pleasure to help you publish your poetry.”

After more research and discussion, it came to my attention that this was a hybrid press.  Meaning, it’s sort of a cross between traditional publishing and self-publishing.  I do have to pay certain fees, which bummed me out at first.  But then I made a pros and cons list.  Yes, it would cost a little money, but it’s a good way to get your first book out there, and establish your portfolio.  Plus, I have complete control over the design and layout.  And on top of that, I look at it as a learning experience-I’d pay for school, wouldn’t I?  And in the end, I will have my book, and be able to sell it, and make that money back.  I went to Mark with my concerns, afraid to ask him to finance me when we have so many other things that need our financial attention.  His reply?  “I’d pay anything to hold your book in my hands.”

So, here is my official announcement that I am in the process of publishing my chapbook with the press I wanted most.  I am already working on it and learning about the development.  I am excited.

I asked my goddaughter if I could use a photo she took for the cover, and she obliged.  When the publisher sent me the mock-up of the cover and interior document, that was probably the moment that the shock finally wore off.

See, I didn’t really believe it for a bit.  I didn’t believe that someone wanted to publish my stuff.  I was trying to talk myself out of it (“well, it’s a hybrid press so do they really like it, or do they just want my money?”) while Mark was trying to talk me into it (“people do not publish books they cannot sell and make money off-they think it’s good enough to sell.”)  Sahar helped, too, pointing out that I was getting more for my money, given the services offered and the effort and cost of self-publishing.  And it should be noted that submission periods for chapbooks are few and far between, so theoretically I could be querying this for years.  No.  That’s too much.  And yet, even after the decision was made, I didn’t believe it.

I didn’t believe it until I saw the cover.  Until I saw the page layout.  Then it became real.

Still, there exists that unbelieving part of me that just knows something will go wrong.  The money will fall though.  The finished product won’t be what I see in my head.  No one will buy it.

I talk myself into these worst-case scenarios, and I know it’s because of my anxiety.  I know it’s false, because mental illness is a liar, and everything will get worked out in the end.  So, despite my fears I will make this happen, and actualize one of my dreams.  The whole book is about fighting depression and anxiety-maybe I should take a note from my own page, and fight against all these voices in my head that tell me it isn’t good enough.  There is another voice, quiet yet persistent, that insists I am doing the right thing.  She is joyous and excited, and I hardly ever let her out to see the sun, but I hear her nonetheless.  It’s that voice I have to listen to, not those loud and demanding ones that say I’ll never do anything I set out to accomplish.  Those voices are wrong.  It is the small voice, always pushing me, always celebrating my accomplishments, that I need to pass the microphone to.

Anyway, in closing, I’m publishing my first book.  I’m scared, I’m excited…I’m hoping you buy it.

The Ghosts in the Machine

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about poetry.  As previously mentioned, I just completed a chapbook of poems about chronic illness, and I am now awaiting feedback from my trusted sources.  In the meantime, I am looking into different publishing options and considering leaving my house to go to a poetry reading.  That might not seem like anything, but trust me when I tell you it would be a big leap for me.

I have also been reading and rereading my chapbook, and I found that I have a common theme in many of my poems, and that is ghosts.  I’d like to expand on that.

There are many kinds of ghosts in my life, ranging from those I create to those that are real.  As far as real ghosts go, I have always believed in them, likely because of my imaginary community that was a little too specific for even a child’s make-believe games.  Then there was the time K saw the faceless man in my attic, and I later learned that a guy shot himself up there.  So yes, I believe in ghosts.  You may think that’s ridiculous…whatever.

But I’m not here to write about real ghosts.  Instead I am thinking of the ghosts from my poems, the ones that nip at my heels and haunt my mind.  These ghosts are much scarier than the real thing, in my opinion.  A real ghost can’t hurt you.  The ghosts in your brain can do damage.

I have bad feelings related to certain times in my life.  Once, when my grandmother died, and I found her in her last moments, and watched as my mother desperately tried to save her.  This broke my small self, and according to my psychiatrist caused my first instance of PTSD.  Later, came high school.  I loved high school as much as I hated it.  It reminds me of smoking cigarettes.  I love smoking, but I hate my addiction to it.  While high school was by no means an addiction, it is where I was at my worst, emotionally.  I was undiagnosed and unmedicated, and I was a train wreck human being.

In my twenties, I suffered another setback.  Through a series of events, I lost faith in many things I had once believed in.  My response was to act out in small ways-drinking too much, smoking weed, staying out all night.  I wanted to forget that I was in pain.  I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel my feelings.  That I couldn’t be angry, because who was I?  In the grand scheme of things, in Gods great universe that I believed in at the time, who the hell was I?

So, there’s the ghosts.  There’s the Gram ghost, the high school ghost, and the faith ghost.  Now, the Gram thing doesn’t affect me on a day to day basis anymore, which is an absolute delight.  From her death stems my anxities, however.  For instance, if I care about you, you can guarantee I’m worried about you.  So, I suppose in that way it has affected my life, but I feel like that’s a benefit more than a burden, really.  Yes, I worry about you, but that’s how I express my love.

The high school thing likes to sneak up on me.  I’ll be minding my own business, acting like a normal 36-year-old, and then something will happen or come up in conversation and I will be hurdled back twenty years.  I particularly identify this time with my budding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  I slid into my obsessions easily and frequently-sometimes it would be so bad I would actually wish I had the hand-washing kind of OCD, just so I could focus on something outside of my fantasy world.  It took a lot of time for me to come to terms with my high school experience.  I like to focus on the good things, though, when this particular ghost comes calling.  Specifically, my friends.  They were really the only good part.  Well, and the building was nice, I suppose.

Finally, there’s the ghost of mid-20s past.  This is the tricky one.  This is the one that my therapist likes to bring up every so often to blindside me with: “So Brigid, let’s talk about the year you spent questioning everything you believed in…”  This one is still a battle.  This is the ghost that features most prominently in my chapbook, though all of them reside there.

Poetry is personal, in my opinion.  You are sharing your observations and feelings, through the lens of your own perception.  When I read poetry, I do the same thing; I look at it though my own frame of context.  Sometimes, it will touch my soul, and she will scream out “Me, too!” and I will feel like I just made a new friend between the pages of a book.

I carry these ghosts around in my head, and I know I will never let them go, but that’s okay. They make up little parts of me, the parts that feel the deepest.  They are the wellsprings from which I draw my words.  My chapbook would not exist without them.  My writing would not exist.  So, I live with this haunted mind in hopes that one day someone will read my words and say, hey…me too.

Lost Weekends

Well, this weekend was a total wash.  I spent both days in the ER getting hopped up on zofran and morphine.  I did not get to spend time with the kiddos.  I did not get to work on the things around the house I wanted to work on.  No projects were completed, my house is messier than it was before, and not a single plan was followed through with.

I walked into my office to find the lamp on the floor, papers everywhere, and my desk drawers open.  It looks like I’ve been robbed.  I know that at one point L asked if he could take home a computer game and I told him it didn’t work.  I wondered briefly where he had found it.  Now I know.

However, someone found a photo of me and Mark and taped it to my computer.  So that’s adorable.  But why…WHY is the lamp on the floor??

Having gastroparesis downright sucks, but what I find to be the worst part (after the pain and vomiting, that is) has to be how it saps your life of time.  I planned on taking the kids to the zoo this weekend.  That clearly did not happen.  I just got bunk beds for the girls and was going to help Mark set them up.  We couldn’t, obviously.  I was going to make a nice dinner on Saturday.  They had Little Caesars, I had a lemon ice.  All our plans got delayed or cancelled, and I feel like I am ruining everyone’s weekend, not just my own.  My poor father, who sat with me both days at the ER!  I’m sure that’s not how he intended to spend his time.

Next week is my sisters 22nd birthday.  I missed her 21st as I was in the hospital, and I really do not want a repeat of last year.  We’ve made plans for the weekend, to go see our cousins band play.  Bernie was born on Halloween and there’s going to be a costume competition, so that’s appropriate.  On Saturday, I intend to go to Pumpkinville with Jaime, to buy cider and feed goats.  And on Sunday either we will go to my parents for dinner or I will make some chili and watch the game with Mark but either way I will have a lovely Fall weekend and I will NOT GET SICK.

Or so I tell myself.

I woke up this morning, and as I was laying in bed I thought to myself, Am I ok?  How’s my stomach?  These were my first thoughts.  They are always my first thoughts.  When I felt confident that I was not going to puke, I got up and made my way through the house, past the bunk beds waiting in the dining room, passed every single board game we own stacked on the coffee table for some reason, into the office with the lamp on the floor.  I have so much to do today and I don’t want to do any of it.  I probably won’t; I just don’t have the energy.  However, I am glad to sit at my chair among the mess, and type on my keyboard, and update my blog, because it means that time is not being stolen from me.  It means that I am here.

poof