dickensian scenes

.Dear Internet,
I started this a few weeks ago with intent on having it auto-post when I got back to Louisville and of course I never got around to finishing the damned thing; think of this as a catcher-up.

re: The featured image: I’m being mindful of not taking over TheExHusband’s condo but I was allowed to put up my Pop! collection “as long as they are gone when you move out.” Charming guy, that ExHusband.
From left to right: Oswald Cobblepot, Groot, Agent Carter, Kal Drogo, Drogon, Ragnar, Lagertha, Alcide, Darth Maul, and Thor.

I’m doing holiday cards for the first time in ages this year. If you want in on the action, sign up here.
And to step up the game, I’m making the cards this year and some will be pop-ups.

Currently I’m in the kitchen area of TheExHusband’s condo putting together a play list of work out music. Which lead me to continue with my favorite obsession. musing on mix-tapes. To wit: I was cleaning off my hard drive recently and found an unnamed mix tape I made probably in the 2006-2008 range based on the music. It was probably for TheEx as the songs are, from a listening point of view, from that period. I renamed the mix, “Music For Old Flames” (there are also songs reminiscent of TheExHusband and TheBassist), and added only one additional song, GMF (Greatest Mother Fucker) by John Grant, which came out last year.
(Because I am the greatest mother fucker that you’ll ever meet.)
I won’t pretend to be a genius at making mix-tapes but I have my favorites which tend to show up on a regular basis (Ahem. JoyDiv’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”). Yet sometimes I even surprise myself. Last year I made “The Gods Were Listening” mix with nary a thought of JoyDiv!
As Spotify seems to be one of the best places to make mix tapes, it hasn’t deterred me of plowing through my digital music collection (currently over 100gigs and 20K songs) to find treasure. One conclusion screaming out is the most obvious: I like a lot of depressing shit. I come of age in the late ’80s, early ’90s and my taste greatly reflects the period. I used to say, to anyone who would listen, great music stopped in ’94. ’96 tops. That is not necessarily true – a lot of my new favorite bands came up through the ’00s and ’10s. But I gravitate towards UK bands (specifically Madchester and moody Scottish bastards), chill, and dancey pop songs.
Yet it’s getting harder and harder to connect to new music as I tend to listen to only retro channels in Jeeves or one of the pre-fab lists from Spotify, mainly chill stations so my on fire brain can slow the fuck down. I keep a wish list of bands I’ve heard over the years, on Amazon, whose music I wish to collect but to be truthful, going through those track listings today does not hit the remembrance area at all.
I stopped listening to music for a long time as there was too many feelings (FEELINGS) associated with a lot of the songs/bands that it became almost too painful to listen to any music.
I’ve slowly reacclimatizing myself back into the music world and as I’ve mentioned, it’s slow going. My brain flips through a thousand images and memory sparks of where I heard this song or that band. I can never listen to Elbow’s “Newborn” without recalling listening to it on the metro in Rome. “GMF” recalls John Grant, who opened for Elbow in 2014ish in Chicago. Any Bloc Party = TheEx. Interpol = TheBassist. New Order = High School Sweetheart. Bob Dylan = TheExHusband. 50 Cent = my brother. And so forth and so on. It’s not just people but also places, things, happenings. “Head On” by Jesus and Mary Chain = early ’20s clubbing. Morissey/Siouxie/The Cure = Slit Your Wrist hour at a local to GR radio station. Atari Teenage Riot = ExFiance #2. Tool = ExFiance #1.
(TheEx is/was heavily into Stereolab and I still get stabby when I hear the intro to any of their songs.)
The list goes on and on.
As emotionally painful this has been as of late, I’m forcing myself to continue on to reclaim these songs for me. I’ve done this before, and it’s hard, but it must be done.

TheExHusband and I left the cabin last week and I’ve never been more thrilled to leave a place in my entire life. We spent the weekend and that morning finishing up the little things to get us out of here, things we should have done (or I should have done) before the first week of October as originally planned. But life happens, you move on or you get rolled over. I’m a fan of moving on.
But hey! I don’t have to drive 22 miles to do laundry. I can have food at a zillion different places within walking distance. I can go do things without having to plot out the distance and last but not least, there is cement beneath my feet.
I’ll miss the trees, the silence, and the unobstructed sky, but once a city girl, always a city girl.

Once we got back to the condo I’ve been unpacking, repacking, and organizing what is mine for what seems like the 100th time. I’ve been donating loads of stuff again but It’s nice to have access to all of my things and being able to get to items in need. It’s been like fucking christmas up in here with “Hey! I forgot I had that!” happening once every 15 minutes.
While I will always been grateful to TheExHusband and TheBassist for opening up their homes to me, it was still their spaces and I did not, honestly, feel terribly comfortable putting my mark in case I overstepped my bounds. I’ve gotten so used to living within my small physical means, it’s difficult to understand what is mine anymore. TheExHusband has plainly stated he doesn’t care what I put up to make the space more “mine” as long as those things are gone when I move out. The Pop! figurines, so far, are the only items that are showcased in his space.
With the unpacking, repacking, and sorting of things I’ve started the arduous process of packing up TheBassist’s stuff and things that remind me of him, putting them in storage. Two months+ on his shirts still smell heavily of his scent. I was planning on burning the flammable things when I was at the cabin but got frightened on losing his tactile memory. Instead, I buried those items deep in one of my suitcases as we were packing up to leave and then into a box of their own.
(Burning the flammables would have been the easy way out and if there is anything true about me is I do not do easy.)
It’s especially hard as TheBassist and I lived together long enough for our laundry to be intertwined. No special soaps were used but the combination of daily household products smells distinctly of his house and more pointedly of him. I’ve refrained from wearing the clothes I had with me when I was in CT as much as I can from those far away laundry days. At one point I may have to just do a load of all those items to purge my olfactory senses from continually going into overdrive.
Some items, like my Pops! and mini MINIs, will not get stored. Those are my things, things I would have bought on my own. The memory that he was the one purchased them will soon pass.
The love letters and the goofy signs he would make for me when I would arrive at the airport will remain in my travel file cabinet. Surprisingly I haven’t read them over and over again (remember I purged his texts and FB messages. Email is archived. His digital footprint will be deeply buried in my NAS), which may surprise some. I may be in pain but I’m not an idiot.
Purging TheBassist has been easier than would have thought. Yes, I have tangible things and yes, I often think of him, and yes, my heart is still broken BUT!, and this is important, I’m not letting this keep me paralyzed from having a life. I’m fucking determined to do for me rather than do for him with the hopes he will come back. I’ve been doing for him (and TheExHusband) to some extent for far too long. I tried to be the girl they wanted me to be.
Time to get selfish.
Of course a week or two after the break-up my thoughts meandered to, “I AM GOING TO REVENGE DATE. FUCK THEBASSIST.” I’m only human after all and a girl has needs. But the thought of starting the process all fucking over again of meeting someone (how classy would it be to hook up with someone while still living with TheExHusband?), starting the life story business, and all the trappings of dating life makes me ill. Watching my friends, most in their 30s, dancing on the dating floor is pushing me to swear I WILL NEVER DATE AGAIN. I once reasoned if the whole TheBassist/TheExHusband blew up in my face (which it did), I wanted a dog, my books, and a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, natch) for my nights. Fuck the world. Fuck love. Fuck everything.
But I’m human. I need to remind myself of my own humanity and I’m not built for being alone. (Not really.) Own space? Sure. Independent? Absolutely. But alone? Never.
When searching for some posts about music, I came across my old profile I used on dating sites nearly a decade ago: Sassy Skirt Seeks Alliterative Ally. I chuckled because 80% of that profile is still true and one I would probably use again.
Dating, however, scares me. I don’t want dick pics. I don’t want to be with someone whose sole communication is digital. I don’t want a burned out, twice divorced 50 year old who couldn’t rock out at a concert. (Christ. I could date a 50 year old without nary a thought to age difference. Gross.)
I want the male version of me.
I’m a jeans and tshirt kind of girl. I swap hair color with the wisp of the wind. I read comics and Jane Austen. I like opera and Icelandic indie. I’m a dichotomy and just like everyone else. You won’t catch me in heels, suits, or my hair in a chignon. I won’t do Jamberry parties or live in the suburbs. I won’t obsess about having a blow out or catching sales at Nordstrom. My nail polish will always be black or a similar hue. I’m always going to get more tattoos. I’m always going to want to travel the world, make snow angles, and marathon watch period pieces AND Harry Potter. I’m always going to collect toys, watch Doctor Who, and wear something with a skull on it. I
I just, in fact, bought a sweater with a Union Jack giant skull on the front.
I sleep with a teddy bear I’ve had since I was 3.
I also want want to argue the critical analysis of late Baroque painters. I want to have conversations about Romantic poets. I want to be swayed why the Bronte’s are the shit. The influences of Romans in classical architecture.
I’m just not your average 43 year old.
Some, it has been said, want me to act my age and stop being an overgrown teenage boy. Look, I can adult. I can hold down a professional job, live on my own, pay my bills, and get shit done. This may not seem OBVIOUS right now as I’m broke, living with my ex-husband, and my mental brain has been all over the place, but before the last 18 months happened? It was all true.
Back to the dating thing. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been single for longer than a few months. TheExHusband and I first dated from 1998-99. ExFiance #2 from 1999-2002. ExFiance #1 (again) from 2003-04. Patrick and Derrick in 2004. TheBassist from 2004-05. TheEx from 2006-08. TheExHusband from 2008-14. TheBassist from 2014-15.
My heart is tired.
And this kind of serial monogamy is what I called TheBassist on when I’m just as guilty of the same thing.
No more. If I want to break the cycle, and I have to break the cycle, I need to take a year off of having my heart trampled. I’m not a casual sex person so that’s easy. Just no jumping into relationships this very second, which shouldn’t be a problem since the dating tap dance makes me queasy.
Pinky swear.
(Plus neither of TheBassist or TheExHusband were fliters, and I used to flirt a lot, so I have no idea how to flirt anymore.)
To sum: Boys have cooties; Lisa has her chastity belt on.

In other painful things, I interviewed for a librarian position based in Louisville last week. I have an interview next week with a CT college. I, of course, sent myself into tizzy if I had to come out to CT for the second interview and should I contact TheBassist and OMGHERD. What would I do?! First, calm the fuck down Lisa and get through the Skype interview. If you have to come out to CT for the in-person interview, so what? It’s a job. You need money. You’ve wanted this position for a year (it’s a repost). The money, even with the higher cost of living, is fabulous. The area is lovely. You’re close to NYC and Boston. The social plans you’re putting in motion in KY can be applied to CT. You’re 43 years old, buck it up lady.
That quelled my panic. Situation under control. You’ve got this.
I talk to myself. A lot.

Speaking of social, I’ve joined loads of MeetUp groups in the Louisville area and tomorrow I’m heading to a open social. I know, I know, I’m putting pants on and leaving the house. And I’m dragging TheExHusband with me so he can get aired out.

And finally! My fucking brain.
I made an appointment with an APRN to manage my drugs. Intakes are always a delight as you recount your entire sexual and medical history to a stranger for an hour. At least this one did not ask me to roll up my sleeves to verify I was not using needles.
My new APRN and I get along well, which is a relief. We talked about my goals and the big one is to
So there’s that.
It has mostly to do with hormones when I start ovulating, but it’s disrupting my life and it’s making me feel like I’m crazy. The crying jags and the irrational decisions are making my life harder. I just cannot deal with that aspect of my brain anymore.
Other than that, I feel pretty stable, clear headed, and in control.
He’s taking me off of Abilify (thank fuck) and putting me on Risperidone since it’s not a weight gainer (I’ve gained 20-25 lbs on Abilify) and what is one of the first side effects of Risperidone? Weight gain! Jesus fuck!
So that’s me. How are you?

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013

META NAME=”description” content=”Link to me and I’ll…”

Dear Internet,
Re: Today’s title. It’s been languishing in my drafts for years (and I don’t recall what the original intent of the piece was going to be) and comes from a very earlier incarnation of this site (1999ish) when you could throw anything in the meta tags because you could. It was not about SEO, following HTML rules, but about being clever and perhaps a bit naughty. At one point I had t-shirts printed with a spin on the wording.
So there’s that.
Sunday finds us a bit lethargic as we laze about the cabin if you so please. We are both on the mend from ThePlague but it seems even going out and about, even for a little while, is exhausting. I have several appointments this week I cannot reschedule again (they were reschedules from the previous week when ThePlague was in full bloom), including an appointment with a local therapist.
I’m a bit unsure about this local therapist thing. When I called to reschedule, the scheduler seemed a bit, how do I say this delicately, as if he didn’t give a shit. “What time is available?” I says. “Anytime you want,” he says. Err, okay. Do they not get crazy people up in here? Aren’t the therapists have at least some bookings?
I hope this isn’t a waste of my time. Am I in crisis? To some extent yes, but I need to feel a bit assured as I search for support. My experience in Louisville this summer was emotionally debilitating:

Things came to a head when TEH and TheBassist both insisted I up my Lamictal to the last dosage as approved by doctor in Grand Rapids and take myself to the free clinic to talk to someone.
The free clinic in Louisville is designed mainly for the homeless and those on their last hopes. As a walk-in, I was told they could see me when first available slot came open. Four hours later I requested more info to discover the therapists were all at lunch and they closed at 3:30. Would I liked to make an appointment? Sure, why not. Okay, we can fit you in two weeks. Two weeks? Yes. What if I came back tomorrow? You’ll have to start the waiting process all over again.
I called six places in Louisville and every single one was booked out for weeks and months. If I was suicidal, which I wasn’t but I was in crisis, I could check myself in at the local emergency room who could throw me in a locked ward for 48-72 hours. THEN I could get help.

Being your own advocate about your mental health is a full time job. Every little process, every move, every counsel, every everything needed to keep your brain in a place where you can at least function on a daily basis Is. Up. To. You. So how in the hell can the system expect those who are really sick to keep up with this? The short answer is: They can’t. They fall through the cracks. Lives are destroyed, dignity is stripped, and humanity is pummeled.
I will have been at Throbbing Cabin for two solid months. Was it stupid of me to pull this while in the midst of starting therapy? Absolutely. That’s something I have to take on as my responsibility. But it shouldn’t be that hard to get even temporary help.
It’s even worse when you have no insurance.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2005

to handle roughly

Dear Internet,
I’m on a spree to clean up half-dead posts in my drafts folder, so if my posts seem a bit lackluster from their usual intense energy, that’s part of the reason.
Today is leaving the house for the second time in a week day. Laundry, grocery shopping, other needed errands capped off with seeing The Martian is the agenda. I’ll report back tomorrow how well that went over. Hopefully I don’t have an allergic attack to leaving the house and wearing pants longer than 15 minutes.
For most of the northern hemisphere, October signals decorative gourd, pumpkin anything, donut, cider, and cord month. But for me it always the start of big life changes. October 1999 I started at UUNet/WorldCom and moved in with TheExFiancee2. He and I lasted until October 2001, same month I found out I was accepted to Aquinas College to finish my undergrad. My job at Barnes and Noble began in October 2005. I met TheEx in October 2006. I moved to the east coast October 2014. And I’m moving again this month.
Lots of other little stuff always happens in October. When the 1st rolls around, I am giddy with excitement knowing that thing that will happen this month, whether minute or on a grand scale, is going to somehow change my life.
We made it through laundry and TEH reported he wasn’t feel all that great as ThePlague was doing him in. We opted to skip the movie and do the grocery shopping before heading home. So there we are in TEH’s jeep, Jasper, when it started making a loud racketing noise. TEH keeps driving and as we were about to turn onto M72, sputter and dead. Smoke discharging from the engine.
Jasper is deader than Bill Cosby’s career.
Five separate cars, including the local sheriff, stopped to help us. After the first car, who helped us push the jeep to the side of the road, we waved the rest away. I was floored by how many people were just so kind to us while we were hanging out waiting for AAA to show up.
I’m flabbergasted, really, to think in 2015 someone being kind is so shocking. Dontcha think?

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2008, 1999, 1998

eyes big love-crumbs

Dear Internet,
The crisis is over and I’m feeling better. Yes, I’ve been taking my drugs (because that is the first question people ask). Yes, I’ve been in touch with a local to Throbbing Cabin therapist whom I’m seeing next week. My therapist in CT has been notified (by me) on what’s going on. I have enough drugs to keep me going for some time.
I am fine.
After the small mental hoopla, I caught a massive cold that was borderline strep. The plague1 showed up on Friday as well as did redness in my right eye that didn’t look quite right. Sunday saw me in the urgent care because I was feeling so awful, bodily, I could barely sleep and the red-eye was getting worse. Turned out I had a massive cold in not only in my head but also my eye. Yes, your eye can catch colds.
Since this is all viral, of course I passed it on to TheExHusband. Now we’re two sick peas in a pod.
(The question I keep posing on social media is: How much mucous can a body have? I was informed, biologically, the more hydrated you stay the more mucous the body produces. Of course.)

I’ve been thinking about doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Always a tryer, never a winner should be on my tombstone.
But who wants to wait until November? Why not attempt two novels? Sure, I said to self. Why not?
Why not indeed. Inspired by the framing of a piece I wrote 19 years ago, I started writing. Then I thought of another idea on how to structure it. Then another. Then another.
I’m a big fan of using sketch books for mind mapping. If you flip through mine, you’ll see loads of notes, dialogue, and minutia written down in a variety of colors (thanks gel pens!), which includes the beginnings of several projects. The digital notes are for research I canvas from the internets but the nitty-gritty of stuff is in this sketch book.
While mulling over how to best approach writing a novel without writing a novel, I came up with a couple of ideas that could work. As I was working these out last night, I found I changed the structure of the book at least three times. What I originally wanted versus what came out was fascinating process. But it was encouraging and the current set up is something I can totally do without putting too much stress on my brain. At least, at the moment.
It’s a long slow, hard road to get to anywhere, that’s for damned sure.
In other news, I’m now a contributing writer at nerd underground.
1. I have a tag for The Plague? Who knew.
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!
Today in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2013, 2003, 1998

in the woods, late at night

Dear Internet,
Everything is delightful at the cabin.
The tree guy came out and 10 trees need to be removed either for some tree disease, growth problems, or were hit by the storm. TheExHusband (TEH) is here to chainsaw and chip away at the pieces that are easily chippable and chainsawed. He brought up a TV, the argument being if he wants to rent this place, there are things that renters are going to expect: Like a TV with some kind of DVD appliance and a working upstairs bathroom. I think TEH’s goal is to get most of the reno and repair work completed by the end of 2016 with renting beginning 2017. So if anyone wants to rent a cabin in Leelanau Peninsula, mere minutes from Lake Michigan and cute as balls towns, just let me know.
I’ve been doing all kinds of writing while I’m up here. I woke up the other night with two lines stuck in my head, ending with writing 1K words on paper before falling back to sleep. When I transcribed it the following day, it wasn’t half-bad. Not awesome, but not too shabby for half-asleep notes.
One of my problems is organizing the ideas. I get it, I’m a librarian. I’ve been known to organize my underwear. But this is a hot mess. Here is what I’ve been doing AND is working for me: I’ve created a project in Scrivener that tracks stories in progress, stories completed, pieces I’ve sold, and so forth. I use a Google spreadsheet to track markets/submissions/payments. But ideas themselves, fiction and non, live everywhere. I originally bought my Filofax as a proper planner, finding I could not keep track of things digital (strange, no?). But the calendaring was insane (putting the same event on paper and digital), so I ripped out the calendaring pages and turned it into a one stop project/writing book.1 Once I organized the beast, trascribed the ideas and notes from all the other places into the appropriate sections, my writing life is much more manageable and easier to transport.
My non-fiction work has been selling, which has been awesome, but to non-paying/token markets, which has been frustrating. I am keeping to my guns and not submitting to markets I would not personally read. It’s a weird balancing act: One group proclaims: “Get your name out there, submit everywhere and everything” and there is my side which is to submit to only places you would read or want to read. I’ve been told it’s about building a  personal “brand,” which makes me squeamish. Dude, all I ever wanted to do was write not worry about this “branding” bullshit. I am tenacious but also stubborn as hell about such matters.
My fiction has been a struggle. A big struggle. It’s not for lack of ideas or writing the beginning but for getting past the beginning and finishing the damned thing. My novel is so stalled right now, I can’t even joke about it anymore.
I can create pretty great flash fiction, but anything beyond 2K words is eluding me and it, unsurprisingly, frustrates me.  Because I’m broke as fuck, I’ve signed up for the free MOOC from U of Iowa, How Writers Write Fiction. The two big writing cabals to hone your chops are the U of Iowa’s MFA program for fiction and Clarion SFF, both of which I cannot afford, so this MOOC has been a benediction from the gods. (There is a whole argument on whether to get a MFA. Or not. I wobble back and forth on what to do but for now the idea is just shelved.)
Other MOOCs of similar ilk are more generated, I found, on teaching people the inner workings of writing, such as how to construct a sentence and so forth. Stuff you find in high school composition class. I was/am not opposed to heading to a community college (cheap, local) but I’m not in a place long enough to actually attend the classes. Internets for the win.
I’m traveling again at the end of the month and as I said to TEH this morning, what I am taking with me keeps getting smaller and smaller. When this whole journey began, Jeeves was so jammed there was barely room for TheBassist: And he was driving. Now the amount of shit I’m carting around is 1/3rd of that. In fact, for the last two weeksish, I’ve been living out of two, medium-sized, bags for clothes, two baskets carrying my books to read and other writing miscellany and lastly messenger bag which holds my laptop, cords, and Filofax (see above). Teddy is always in the house with me; what more do I need?
I can easily answer this question: A home, a place for my books, and a world to call my own.
I am exhausted.
1. How I organize my writing/projects: Front matter is that week’s-ish TODO list, the tabs (stories, books/freelance, jobs/classes, misc) bought from Etsy, extra paper also from Etsy, and last but not least, my beloved erasable gel pens.
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2000

gather your bones

Dear Internet,
I’m currently sequestered up at the cabin in Northern Michigan, closing it down for the winter for TheExHusband. It’s beautiful up here, as it is always beautiful up here, at times it makes my heart ache. I came up too late, missing the last summer hurrah at the beach; my fat girl bikini remains unworn. The weather has dropped considerably since I’ve been here, which means apple cider, cake doughnuts, and decorative gourds will be all the rage for tourist traps, those damn trunk slammers.
Coming up to Throbbing Cabin, I knew there was lack of Internet, which was fine. Lots of the cute as balls villages around here have libraries with said resource. I checked and double checked I could access many of the programs I use “in the cloud” (quoted because that makes me giggle), such as Dropbox and Evernote offline. Many of these programs keep local copies on the hard drive, thus making it easily accessible for me to get to without Internet access. Easy peasy right? Slowly close down the cabin AND have plenty of time to work on my masterpieces.
No. No 1000%. Just checking email (chock full of images these days) and websites ate into my data like mad. I begged and cajoled with TEH and he agreed, if he wanted to rent this place out, WIFI would be needed. So tada! I am on the internets.

Yesterday marked the end of National Suicide Prevention Week. To “celebrate,” as it were, semi-colon tattoo is now living on my right wrist.

Tattoo #17. Go big or go home.
Tattoo #17. Go big or go home.

To also mark the occasion, I passed around my suicide attempt essay and not my mother’s attempt. Not intentionally, surprisingly, but because of my divorce of her, I haven’t given her a thought in months. So why would I remember to mention what we have in common?
Strikingly, no one wanted to talk about the pieces other than my mother’s reception towards me after I attempted. Top pieces read in a very long time but nothing about my attempt. Not a, “glad you didn’t go through with it” or “how are you feeling these days?”
Wasn’t one of the main points of suicide prevention week is to stop the stigma? Weren’t we supposed to open up and talk about suicide, how to prevent, how to better equip ourselves when having a dialog on mental health?
And yet, nothing really changed, has it?
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!


Dear Internet,
There is a before before to this story.
I’m currently wrapped up like a mummy at the cabin where it is currently 60F outside, prepping it for winterizing for TheExHusband. I stopped by a local village to have dinner one night when I saw TheEx. Remember TheEx? Oh, I sure as hell do. My rage against him may have subsided but the idea of cutting off his member and dissecting his testes still tastes warm and fresh in my mouth.
So there I was, having dinner, and I see him with a woman and some kid. Maybe his wife? Why else would he be up in this area? His parents have a condo in a large ski/golfing resort that is so full of white privilege, you may contract hives. Why else would he be up here if not with his (current) woman? Why do I care so much?
Because I’m nosy as hell and all of my questions must be answered.
He saw me; of course he saw me. How could you miss me and my overly obnoxious laugh? We played peek a boo through stranger’s shoulders. I forced dessert down my throat to prevent leaving before him. I won the fake war of insolence.
And of course we didn’t say a word to the other! What kind of heathen do you think I am?
Once when we were together, actually many times, his road rage almost killed us. As I said in the above piece, he would beg, cajole, and plead his apologies; me forgiving him as a woman (then) rightly should. I was blinded by everything — he was the (then) closest substitute to TheBassist and I was hungry for that connection. TheBassist and I had been broken up for 1 1/2 years – the thought that I found someone so much like him (but not him) was too much to ignore. I was blinded by the probability. Lusted after the possibility of a TheBassist lesser.
Boy, was I glamorized.
Seven years later, TheEx and I are side-eying each other in a restaurant.
TheEx left me a gift all those years ago, not that you swine, but a new anxiety that causes a fear of driving. Specifically on highways.
It’s called catastrophic thinking, and I had no idea it had a name until a clinician recently asked me a few questions as I spoke, giving a name to the demon.
I run scenarios in my head, while driving, from getting decapitated by a semi getting out of control to careening into cement barriers to having my car going dead in the middle of a major construction area. This despite all of the assurances I give myself such as if Jeeves broke down every 1000 miles, you have bigger problems to there are others who are sharing this anxiety with you right this very second (thanks meditation!). No matter what I do, short of taking drugs, I can’t shake the thoughts of something happening while I’m driving.
To illustrate the point of the ridiculousness of this thinking, last week I drove a thousand miles from the east coast to ThrobbingCabin to help TheExHusband out. I wasn’t getting any job offers, or even interviews, I was going stir crazy, so I left. Again. I figured the sojourn to the cabin would do me good (true), help me think clearly (true), save on finances (also true).
I drove alone.
The only hiccup was getting lost because fuck a Ohio turnpike and their terrible directions!
So I drove a thousand miles, nothing happened, and I’m more or less (more) driving a thousand miles back at the end of the month.
Rationally, RATIONALLY, I know what I’m thinking is irrational. I know that the likelihood of a fatal car accident is .0103% or 1 in 10,000 for every 100,000 people. The likelihood of getting into a car accident at all is 1.76%.  I KNOW THIS. I know this, but I cannot stop thinking about what that less than 1% means to me.
(This thought process exploded last night as I came back from the city to cabin; 20 miles of unlit highway. Me with my Xenon beams and assholes with their brights, in front and behind. My eyes ached and I had a headache for most of the night after my driving escapade. Tonight I’m heading back to the city and I’m nervous, ALREADY THOUGH IT’S HOURS AND HOURS AWAY, of coming back here. Fuck a duck.)
I talk myself down. I remind myself I have driven across these United States with nary a thought, TWICE. I’ve driven from Michigan to the east coast at least six times in the last year. Some of it alone. I’ve driven to lots of long places, by myself, and I come out fine. So why the freak out?
With me, anxiety can be drilled down to a singular incident which builds upon itself into this catastrophic thinking. TheEx’s road rage has finally manifested itself all these years later, which causes me even more irritation than anger because I just want to be done with him. This hold over me is paper thin but it ill not rip. It’s annoying and in some ways, it’s fucking with my life.
Because it’s paralyzes me. It paralyzes me to the point I often cannot leave the house, enjoy my time socially with other people, or even enjoy a nice car ride.
My therapist says most anxieties can be worked through, controlled, and often cured. I am too impatient to get rid of the driving one, I want it to begone! But it’s something I have to control and work on, slowly and methodically.
Something that only I can deliver myself from. And lots of Klonopin.


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This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2010, 2008, 2008, 2000, 1999

the gods were listening

Dear Internet,
When I come up to the cabin alone, one of my favorite rituals is to sit on the front deck, regardless of time. Morning, noon, or witching hour, doesn’t matter. How a tiny prism of the world, a thousandth of a second, can make me feel so whole I will never puzzle out. But this is not a puzzle I want to complete and I leave it alone in its whole messiness.
I slept about five hours this morning before waking to the sounds of trees rustling against the A-frame. I’ve been alternating between completing my chores before the gaggle of females arrive and sitting on the front deck steps, while even as music has been playing cranked up to 11, there is still a silence that cannot be broken.
You can write things down, you can think deep thoughts, but hearing those same words spoken low to yourself is a whole nother beast. I said few things, to reassure myself of my thoughts. I side-eyed the chipmunks playing tag in the leaves and haltingly went on. I poured forth on secrets and loves, and thought for the briefest of moments to grab my phone to record this sunlight confession and immediately killed that thought dead. No, no evidence. Some rituals need to be completed without verification of proof for the masses. Once those secrets are let loose on the wind, only the gods can hear me. Only they can heed my prayers.
As I spoke, the wind started picking up amongst the treetops, the leaves rustled in agreement which gave me the confidence to go on. Yes, the gods are listening. I closed my eyes and smiled into the sunlight, the shadows moving like a fast forwarded film across my eyelids.
And I continued, I don’t know how long. I offered up a lot of prayers, requests, and pleas, the wind picking up in agreement with each of my punctuations. I poured forth love back into the world and love was returned back to me.
I stopped and opened my eyes, at the moment a particular song had ended. The treetops bowed to my requests and as the wind whirled around me, I knew my prayers had been heard and would be answered.
My ritual now complete, I came inside with the sunlight guiding me back towards life.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2012, 2008

swallowing me whole

Dear Internet,
It is oh so very late. But is this not the perfect time, my friends, for confessions and madness? Is this not the perfect time for moving back the veil and saying hello to the little man who controls us all?
Yes, yes it is.
Whenever I come up to the cabin, I am always expectant to see a bear lounging on the front deck, a deer moving near the fire pit, some kind of animal making its presence known. I never see those things and I’m almost always somewhat disappointed by the lack of fauna. But today, today was different. Today I saw a lump in a chair and upon closer inspection, it was a dead bird. A robin to be exact. Fresh enough there was no maggots, still full bodied and bright red chest. I called TheHusband in a panic. What the fuck am I supposed to do? This was never covered in Girl Scouts. “Dump it in the woods and wash your hands,” he replies logically. I will, I said. Soon, I promised myself. But the night got carried away with long talks and friends coming round. The bird lays still, untouched by any predator, waiting for its final place of rest to be chosen by me.
So here we are, at 4:30AM and I’m on the front deck listening to the silence. The wind is not rustling, there is no movement within the trees. The driveway leads up to a road, which buttresses up to a t-section. I stared intently into the darkness. There was no light, not even from the stars, and there was no sound. It was utterly still and I thought this is what death must be like. No light at the end of the tunnel, only the ever present darkness that envelopes you into its embrace.
When I was 10, maybe 11 or 12, I decided to write a book about suicide. I began the research at the local library, a small offering in a town of 20K souls, many whom would never leave beyond the confines of the city limits. I can still see myself of the then so clearly, biking to the library, checking out my books, and then riding out to a cove I had found, packed lunch in tow, that was on a shaded embankment on the St. Clair River. I would read for hours, the river rolling by and Sarnia nearly in my grasp, then pack up my things and come home.
Thinking about it now, all these years later, I remember no one knew what I was  doing. This quest of mine to find an answer, a string, a hope that things could change. I was determined then, oh so very young, that I could puzzle it all out. That even the complex and academic texts I was reading would not deter me. I envisioned the book being published when I was 15, I was very adamant about this, and the book was going to be my ticket out that place. I would win awards, accolades, and scholarships. Everything would turn out fine.
So no one knew, and thus, no one stopped me. The librarians left me alone — they were tired of my incessant questions, reading above my pay grade, and winning the summer reading program every year without fail. How does one kid read so many books? But it never occurred to any of them, why is this child checking out books on suicide? Why did no one contact my family? Or take me aside to talk? Why did no one care?
I think of me then – what drove me to do this? What was the seed planted that lead me on that path? Why couldn’t I just enjoy my Barbies like all the other girls my age?
I was so solemn in my youth and so alone. There are flashes of insight of the then. A birthday party here, slumber party there. But I was almost always alone. Every adventure I took, ever place I cycled to, every ice cream bar I ate, every fort I built – alone. What was I protecting myself from? Why did I always feel so isolated from the world? What drove me, at the age of 10, 11 or 12, to want to write a book on suicide?
Tonight I peeled back layers of my armor and let myself wallow in music. I began with the 2007 remaster of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, followed by Interpol’s first two albums, Antics and Turn on the Bright Lights, and decided why the fuck not? And hustled on with Elbow’s first disk Asleep in the Back, moved on to their second disk, and made half-way through their third before finally saying enough.
I cried. I never reached the point of ugly crying, but I did get close. I understood I was grieving; grieving for my father, whose been dead for over a decade. Grieving for that lost soul of my youth, wandering around trying to find answers to questions that were too big to be asked. I grieved for the could have beens, the missed connections, and alternate universes that would never come to be. My heart felt raw and exposed, but I knew I had to push on, to not keep it contained. If not now, it would never happen. To find joy, you have to feel the pureness of sorrow. Fuck, that sounds so cliched, but perhaps because it is a universally accepted truth.
Was the book ever finished? No. I don’t know what happened to the now abandoned project. At some point I must have stopped. But when? And why?
On the drive up, I obsessively listened to two songs. 12 tracks between them. For a 100 miles, before I swapped over to another band, only to pick back up on my quest on the last 20 miles to the cabin. Even now I cannot stop myself from listening to those two songs as I write; as if they had the power to change the past.
I knew what I was doing. The songs themselves didn’t, but the behavior does. It matters to watch patterns. I need to be aware, but the exhaustion of constantly being ON to function within society can wear thin some days. I gave myself goals. I can make it to Big Rapids. Now I can make it to Cadillac. Now I can make it to Kingsley. Now I can make it to Cedar. Just a few more steps, then you are at the cabin. Now you can turn off. But the music still plays on repeat in my head, even when there is silence.
I stopped listening to music a few years back because I couldn’t to bear what it was doing to me. Music was once the surest ways I could feel, but then I stopped feeling and I thought, what was the point? But now, I need to always feel. I need to always feel the needle marking its way across my heart. I need to let the ghosts go free.
It is oh so very late. I am not afraid for I can feel the weight of all that love that surrounds me, keeping me upright and ready; it is what propels me to go forward even when all I want to do is disappear. I wish I could live in a world where all those I love could be always near and not hundreds or thousands of miles away, so that they will never leave.
I have so many people to love! So many of them love me back! I would put weights in all of their hearts and marry them to my charm and grace.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2012, 2008

daily walk: sugar maple drive

Dear Internet,
I’ve long known I’ve had a fairly flat ass. It is not so flat as there is no shape, but the shape of my ass does not match the width of my hips. This became even more obvious this week as I found myself, after sitting in one place too long, walking around the cabin doing high knee bends and massaging my bottom. Today I had been inside all the day, working on my book, and around 4PM decided to do a walk around the neighborhood to get some muscle tone back.
Throbbing Cabin is situated in the old chalets that were used to support Sugar Loaf, a ski resort that was one of the best skiing areas in Michigan but has since been shuttered since 2000 due to bad property management and unpaid taxes. About 65-70% of the homes in my neck of the woods are seasonal, mainly trunk slammers, who come in the summer months for the views, wines, and beaches. With the area being named one of the most beautiful in the country, and Traverse City within spitting distance, we know how fortunate we are to have landed this place at the time that we did. Even more poignantly without the ski resort for support, many of the chalets have gone vacant and  were falling into disrepair.
So while we’re in a tiny, sparsely populated subdivision, it’s insanely quiet here. The sub is surrounded on two sides by cherry orchards and forests, the third side is the old ski resort, the fourth is wide open field that is used for  crops.
It’s a strange juxtaposition of seasonal and yearly homes that make this place unique. You’ll have places like ours, A-frame or similar cabins built to mimic Alpine styling, then WHAM! A more modern home shows up in your view complete with paved driveway, satellite dish, and siding.

Sugar Maple Drive

Distance: 1.07 miles
Walk time: Roughly 22 minutes
Pace: 17:14/mile
What is most remarkable to me is the stillness. I can count on one hand the number of cars I hear drive by every day and at night, the stillness is broken by the creatures of the forest. So I admired the tree tops, and the odd mailbox, and thought how can you capture silence in a picture? Can you capture silence at all?
(I will not tell a lie, I close the windows at night not because I think there may be a Jason Voorhees hanging around, but that a curious bear will rip off the extended panes, rip through the screens, and somehow squeeze their body through an area 3 feet high and 1 foot wide.
Yes, I do have an overactive imagination, thank you for noticing!)
The sub’s diameter is exactly one mile, which makes it perfect for my walk. I came across some people doing yard work but most of the homes sit closed up, as evident by the piling of old newspapers and weeds in their drives. I saw whom I assume to be a young father taking his dog, a toddler, and a baby out for a stroll. He seemed more startled to see me power walking with my earbuds in and determined face than I was of him —  but I had seen him yesterday around the same time doing the same walk.
Slowly, as I continue to observe, I get the feel and the rhythm of the place.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998