love notes into the ether

If you’re an email subscriber, you may have received an email for learning to breathe / projection, which was written and to be published in April 2016 but it didn’t get posted for some reason so it got posted now. I cannot turn off publishing to email on a per post basis so if you sometimes get a deluge of emails from me, it means I’m going through and publishing old posts.


A couple of weeks ago I launched Excessively Diverting1, an all Jane Austen all the time (with the occasional Brontë) blog with the main reason as I am taking front end web development classes, I needed a project and durr, Jane Austen. There is so much news on our Jane, I am spoilt for blog posts and that is not including the long list of ideas I could write about. The blog is the little blog that could and if you’re a fan of our Jane, please do give the blog a read as it would be much appreciated.


It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m finding myself at loose ends today. While I woke up late, I was able to finish the bulk of my chores shortly after noon and I’ve been looking for something to do since then which is hilarious, in its own way, as I’ve got plenty to do such as finish reading the chapters due this week for Mansfield Park or working on homework for the aforementioned front end web dev classes. Yet, I do not find myself attracted to these things right now and it should be noted I’ve been getting tired of my laptop as of late. Everything I must do or have to do stems from working online and oh gods, why? I’ve been online 22 years and it never fails to amaze me how the internet works but I get so tired of it from the news, the gossip, and the work I just want to move to a tiny island and be surrounded books such as this:

(If you’re not familiar with this episode of The Twilight Zone, Burgess Meredith plays a nebbish bank teller who survives a nuclear fall out as he was reading in the vault of his bank when the bomb hits. Realising he is alone, he contemplates suicide before noticing the public library is now all his. Then he steps on his glasses. So I want this but sans the glasses breaking.)

So I take short breaks and do a lot of self-care and while sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough, it does satiate my need for some offline time.

(And yet, YET!, I find myself here writing this post on, you guessed it, my laptop.)


We went home to Grand Rapids for the holidays and I had a lovely lady date day with several of my closest friends. As I love all of them equally, I cannot play favorites but this one is one of my favorites and she asked why wasn’t I writing a book on being mentally ill, specifically bipolar, since it would help so many people such as how it helped her to understand from the live in your face blog of a mentally ill person.

Truth be told, this is something I’ve been thinking about for some time but haven’t verbalized and it is something I’m still on the fence about. Since my nervous breakdown in October 2015, I am finding myself more reluctant to write about my experiences because of the shame so attached to those who are mentally ill (yet I have no problem banging on about it on Twitter, which is beyond public, so there is that). I could not bear, at the darkest time of my adult life, letting those wounds get picked on and over even by those who were doing it out of love. It is so exhausting these days just being that writing about it gives me a headache and a very desperate need to curl up with a good book, hot tea, and a pug by my side with TEH close by.

But oh! My dear, dear readers – I find myself in self-flagellated mode on this topic because wouldn’t now be the perfect time to write while emotions are high and the feelings are low and yet I look at this website on occasion with some disdain. Jesus, how time has changed in 20 years since this little website became a reality where then I would bare my breasts with nipples hard and prominent with a giving no fucks attitude and now I gave you a brief glimpse of my cleavage and demurely mention how lovely you look.


When TEH and I were buying Throbbing Manor in the winter of 2010, the seller was being a fuck twat and jerking us around. TEH and I were living in long stay hotel, our things in storage, and we were very desperate to move into the house. One day while at the hotel, something got in my eye and instead of a cool, “Oh, I must get this thing out of my eye” like some rational person, I went from “OH MY GOD, SOMETHING IS IN MY EYE” to “I AM DYING OF EYE CANCER” and no amount of consoling from TEH soothed my anxiety beast. It took a Klonopin to calm me down and lull me to sleep before I found myself the following day feeling fresh as a dewed daisy and not the least bit anxious.

We laugh about this episode now but it is used as the barometer of my feelings for that particular day. There’s been more times of late where I have scurried into the kitchen to grab my Klonopin because my anxiety was so high and no amount of meditation / breathing / yoga / self-care was bringing me down. I will yell “EYE CANCER!” in a high voice so TEH knows why I scuttling to the kitchen naked but for a towel wrap around my wet hair.


EYE CANCER used to happen every three or four months but now it’s moving to a near weekly basis. Frustration for a lack of money, job, possible loss of insurance (Thanks, Trump!),  mental health in peril some days, and the lack of snow in Louisville (truly) is taking its toll. Feeling frustrated is normal for these are normal things to feel frustrated about but my fucking brain — fucking gods my brain! — takes it to a whole new level and there are days I am so frustrated with my brain rather than my situation I want to get ECT to make it all go away. TEH and my therapists are against this method, I am, ha ha ha, still too high functioning to even consider such a thing and, well, my meds are rather working at the moment, so, why the need?


Before we started dating (or whatever the fuck you want to call what we were doing), TheBassist was hospitalized for deep depression and is in year two or three of recovery yet he still often finds himself exhausted by daily life to such a degree he still needs naps in the afternoon. I thought this was ridiculous — if you can play gigs at bars on the weekends, you can get a damned job.

Ha. Ha. Ha. The jokes on me! I now find myself in the same position where if I do more than one thing a day, even seeing my therapist counts, I need to take a break from the world. Being mentally ill is not only expensive but it is exhausting.


Imagine this:

You have a job and you work in the office. You have your morning rituals and commute times; you interact with your coworkers; you have meetings and lunches with other people; you come home and do your evening meal and delights; you go to bed and you start the process all over the next day. On the weekend you may sleep in and take some personal time. You get recharged and tackle the Monday just like you have every other Monday.

For me, and people like me, we can get up and do our morning rituals. But going out into the world and having to be “on” takes such a large amount of emotional and mental strength we simply do not have so we break down in some fashion. It may be we’re late to work. It may be we take a sick day. It may be we job hop looking for a job we can work without giving too much notice to our mental health. We may cancel evenings with friends or even self-plans like heading to the movies because it’s too much.

Everything is too much. It is overwhelming and there have been times in the last year I thought I was on the spectrum because even certain noises made me jittery (exhaust fans from the kitchen and bathroom). I cannot breathe when I’m overwhelmed in these situations so I need to check out so I can get breath back into my body.

This does not negate the normal exhaustion one feels when one is working 40+ hours a week, has a family, has a home, or whatever it is people my age have — because that is normal. Working takes the piss out of most humans as does daily life but what I want you to imagine is take that weekend feeling of exhaustion, jack it up by 100 and have it compound over the course of the week.

That is what the mentally ill often go through on a daily basis on top of their crazy.


I find myself nearing 2000 words on something I didn’t think I could sum up 500 so maybe this is the sign I need to start planning that book. From the varied research I have done over the last year, it is rare to find an adult fiction book of someone who is mentally ill and NOT depressive as it is to find a non-fiction book from someone in the first person of their own accounts of being bipolar.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.


1. Careful readers will remember I ran an Etsy shop of the same name a few years back in which I shuttered (temporarily) when I was working full time. I do have plans of the store re-opening, I just don’t know exactly when.

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melancholy of the forgotten things

The last few months has been a study in the discovery of self as I’m having a lot of deep thoughts™ on a near daily basis. Nearly every single winner of those races tend to steer me towards my (ir)relevancy and (lack of) mark in the world. There is a toss-up if I am thinking such things because it is winter and depressing as hell outside or that my 45th birthday is in six months.

Maybe it’s both.

It is depressing, as a feeling not as a state. I do not feel as if I’m going to harm myself, do some damage to others or any of that sort but I am feeling a bit helpless and confused, and questioning where I’m going. Even during and shortly after the case came to a conclusion, I felt as if I was on a very clear path. Now that path is muddled and I’m at a loss of what to do and where to go.

To be sure my physical self is fine: I have a place to live (living with TEH where the south meets the midwest), food in my belly, my bills are taken care of, for now, thanks to unemployment. I do not want for material things and I am extremely grateful for what I have. I’ve taken to donating time / money when I can, even if it’s only a few dollars. I want to pay forward all the help I was given and while these gestures may seem small, it’s something.


I have been able to procure a talking therapist last month and we’re meeting on a near weekly basis. I have not worked with a talking therapist in over six months and it is such a relief to word vomit everything from my head with no fear of judgment and repercussion. Like many, I have a wonderful support network of people who will listen but they are not a neutral party to this conversation.

My talking therapist keeps drilling, tho I have a hard time believing, the importance of self-care and self-soothing. It’s not that unusual, really, to have these thoughts and they are not owned by those with short-circuited brains like mine. They are just thoughts, we need to accept them and let them go. We don’t have to act on them or be fearful of them. The talking therapist posited what kind of society are we if taking time out for ourselves makes us selfish bitches? Being able to take care of one’s self does a world of wonder for our lives.

We do not have to do all the things.

We need to remember to put ourselves first– a concept I rationally understand but have a literal difficulty in implementing.

Yesterday I found myself in a state over something I couldn’t control but was desperately attempting to. I took to my meditation app and I could not concentrate for fuck all. It was a struggle to keep focused on my zen buddha nature as my mind kept wandering over to that particularly riddled state and other things that were not important enough to give as much currency as I was giving them. Too fast for my liking, the 15 minutes are over and Andy from the app is back soothing me with his subtle British accent.

I do not feel better. I am now frustrated because I could not complete the simple task of sitting still for 15 minutes and being present.


An example of a daily frustration: I worked in the state of New York when I was living on the east coast this summer and since I worked long enough to garner unemployment, this is who is feeding me each week. The conditions tho are bit long and can get tiresome of what I need to report every week in my job search. I have to, and I do, track everything from job searching and profesh website1 updates to interviews and rejections. I have to work on job searching three days a week. Many of you may remember when I was heavily job hunting for librarian gigs I was searching every fucking day.

My medicating therapist spoke on the influx number of jobs coming to the area. Sure, if you’re into light industrial and retail. Several websites put my earning power at $93K. I have never earned that much, and while I’m glad for their hopefulness, it gets a bit irritating that the jobs they send pay in the $15/hr range. If that. Most jobs are paying in the $8-10/hr range.

I’m going to be a pretentious, over privileged asshole. I worked hard for my degrees. I made $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea so I have settled for $ReasonableAmount – which is significantly less than $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea. I’m finding a lot of jobs that require at least a college degree paying $10K less than my $ReasonableAmount.

I would gladly settle for a retail job at my favorite stores but the pay there starts at $9/hr. I calculated working 40 hours a week, which would be impossible, the gross would be $30 less a week than what unemployment brings. If I work a day, I will not make close to what that day would bring me on unemployment. Retail jobs are out. Tutoring jobs, which pay between $18-22/hr, would be ideal but I would have to hustle to find work and those gigs are not guaranteed source of income. Tutoring jobs are out. I’ve been rejected from positions I’ve interviewed for, with a $10K a year less salary than my $ReasonableAmount, for being overly educated. My resume is in front of your face. What on earth would have changed from submission to the interview?

I have removed degrees, modified what I did at jobs, cut my resume from six pages (academic) to two (standard). I have resumes for different fields. I have placed a variety of my resumes on eight job boards, including a state and city sponsored ones. I call staffing agencies and specialty recruiters. I have emailed recruiters that I have worked with in the past. It is not as if I’m not looking for a gig, but I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable given my education, employment history, and skillset, asking for $ReasonableAmount is not, in fact, unreasonable.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not take this as an invention to email me your suggestions on how to find a job. My interview rate per number of job applications (1 in 5) is better than the norm (1 in 10), so obviously I have that down pat — it’s a matter of actually getting someone to hire me.


What was the point of that angrily worded section? To give you an idea of a daily frustration. Instead of stepping back, coloring or knitting or working on something else to self-soothe/self-care, I stew. Fuck the man and all that has and will potentially happen because I’m getting nowhere.


My talking therapist is an optimist. The right thing will happen at the right time, she says. She believes it too. She tells me I’ve got options. I’m starting an extensive front end web development program in January. If I get off my arse, I can start selling my writing. There are other things I can throw in the fire. I am not, by any means, out of ways to improve my standings but it just might take a bit longer. Take a bit of work.

Work hurts.

I have to remember, as my talking therapist keeps telling me, things, no matter how much I want them to, will not change overnight. Every small fucking step I’ve done this year, even if it feels like I’m spinning my wheels, is an improvement over before. I need to think of 2016 as a year of growth rather than a year of nothing. Because I did do work. I did make some ground.

But the work hurts. It is painful and maddening and slow.

Talking therapist said that’s okay, it will hurt. By being here, acknowledging on being present, you’re slowly changing something. It’s new and unknown. That is okay.

That is okay.

1. I’m consolidating my librarian website (lisa.rabey.net) with my writing one (lisarabey.com). Choose your own adventure, motherfuckers.

fearless

1906fish

[I’ve started posting weekly over at my newsletter with bits, bobs, and summaries and while it seems I’m neglecting this site, I don’t plan to. Think of the newsletter as Fanciful Delights on steroids.  View the archives to get a feel and come join!]

What does it mean to be fearless?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately and I frame it as, “What would 24 year old Lisa think of 44 year old Lisa?” Would she approve, shake her head, be curious or angry at some of my choices? Would she be proud of me or disappointed? With the information guiding her, would she make different choices to shape another version of me?

I suppose it’s odd to become obsessed (because that is what it is) about a conversation that could never take place. (And if I know anything about time travel, you cannot cross meet yourself in the past for the sake of disrupting that particular reality.) But here I am, feverishly thinking about it and wonder what the fuck have I done with my life, how can I fix/change it, and how can I put my past into real rest while keening for the approval of 24 year old me.

These are questions no one, despite what they tell you, has perfect answers to. To be successful, to really be close to successful, the choices have to be close to nonexistent. Small choices and decisions that will shape the world as you want it but it will be slow and not the insta-quick sold by snake charmers.

Let’s get back to 24 year old Lisa. In the year she was about to turn 25, she met a boy on on the internet and within a few months of meeting him, packed up her bags and with less than 500 dollars in her pocket, took the airplane ticket he offered her and moved to the Bay Area without knowing a soul. They lived in an illegal apartment slash walk out basement where the landlord was a dominatrix who lived with her submissive on the main floor. The illegal apartment had two rooms, a toilet, and a kitchen sink. Showers were to be taken in the main living area as well as where we kept the food.

It shant be no surprise to anyone Lisa and her fellow broke up a few months later when he told her at a conference in Las Vegas (flight and hotel paid for by his company) he had met someone else and was going to move in with her. As luck would have it, when Lisa got back to the Bay Area, the submissive moved out (or was kicked out, I could never really remember that particular detail) and Lisa moved into his bedroom in the main house. Eventually she got a job, moved on with her life, and well, we know where that path took her.

What does it mean to be fearless?

Today we would call Lisa at 24 stupid, reckless, irresponsible, and a risk taker. I would call her gutsy and fearless. She saw a chance to get out of town she was growing to hate to an area that might prove to be wonderful. She knew she would land a job somewhere, eventually, and pay her own way. She navigated Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley like a pro. But while these things were slowly coming together, she lived off of generosity of friends as well as by luck.

I would repeat a similiar scenario several years later when I left a relationship with a man who was to be my future husband for a possible job and another boy across the other side of the country. The relationship, and the job, didn’t last but three years. Then I moved on my own to be with myself across the country again to finish college and get a life I saw myself living and bore no resemblance to the one I just left behind.

This is a pattern driving most of my life: taking chances on the unknown in the hopes that the result would give me what I want. Necessary knowledge of possible events, of future choices, or something secure (housing, job) never came into question. I knew I would have housing, a job, and things that I needed. Not necessarily what I wanted but always what I needed.

What does it mean to be fearless?

Twenty four year old Lisa was beset with sometimes crippling anxiety but its form was different than Lisa at 44. Then it was physical and now it’s mental. I thought nothing of hopping in my car and driving miles and miles for something when now if I’m doing anything longer than 100 miles, I need to get my car looked over even though my car is in excellent shape. Then I was on the go, on the move, and now I’m a homebody who comforts in telly and knitting because I get weary of social events. While it was rare for me to ever be home any night of the week, now it’s rare for me to not be home any night of the week. I clubbed until 2AM and worked at 6. Now I’m, mostly, in bed before 10PM – 11PM and up between 7AM – 8AM. Then I made a lot of rash and what would be considered risky decisions. Now I cross-examine anything that could remotely go outside my closed life.

Lisa at 24 was an adventurer at heart and while me at 44 still has that same desires, my adventuring has taken on other forms.

The argument could be made my bipolar, life choices, and decisions is what configured who I am today and I would tend to agree with you, but there remains an element that is missing and I believe that element is fearlessness. Even with all of that being said, the move to the east coast for a job that may or may not work out (hint: it didn’t) was an inspiration (as someone said to me) because I was willing to take that chance. Those close to me, seeing the red signs I was refusing to see, saw it was irresponsible and too risky. I was fearless but with a penalty and is it any wonder being fearless in the future seems like a very bad idea. If it’s not guaranteed, then what’s the point?

I speak with 24 year old Lisa a lot these days and while she shakes her head at some of my antics, we both agree there are no regrets. Bad choices and decisions, sure, but no regrets. We discuss the good things that came into my life based on those risky decisions. Not all but definitely some. We’re pretty proud of our achievements because we’re now not two divided persons of past and future but a whole being with memories of current and past and the soon to come.

So I ask you again, what does it mean to be fearless?
And the answer is simple: Living with no regrets.

[Cross posted to Medium]