A Slow Leak

Over the past couple of months, I’ve noticed an ongoing shift in my mental weather.  It’s subtle, quiet, not alarming or uncomfortable.  I can only describe it as a slow leak of caring.  I’m not interested in much beyond making my bits of art and maintaining creature comforts.  This I attributed to lung crud overlapping Henry-grief.  It seemed pretty normal to me, and not worth fussing about.

And it’s not completely new.  I go through cycles of pulling back, detaching, giving the Hermit full reign.  In the past, those cycles included some kind of mental anguish or agitation.  Not so now.  I’m curiously uninterested in friends or family, untroubled by minor annoyances.

So, I confessed to my therapist yesterday in the spirit of full disclosure.  And, I think, to make sure nothing else might be going on.  She agreed that sickness and grief were probably in play, and that I was correct in taking it in stride.  Although, she did ask for my promise to call her if thoughts of suicide became a daily occurrence.  That seemed a bit drastic, but Sonya doesn’t know me that well yet, so her caution and concern are actually quite endearing.  I promised.

Today will be another spent on my bed with art supplies, Emmett, and the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation keeping me company (This was the season Michelle Forbes joined the cast as Ensign Ro Laren—Michelle Forbes who stars with Richard Armitage in Epix’s Berlin Station and who seems to be his current amour.  Seven Degrees of Star Trek.).

I will be content, unaffected by other people or the world.  It seems a little weird, but I’m not complaining.i

Temba, His Arms Wide*

After a few days of sneaky depression, the kind of depression that makes it sensible to lie to my therapist about why I cancelled my appointment, I shoved myself out the door with my art supplies.

There’s always a point in The Black when It starts to thin, when a crack seems possible.  If I push too soon, The Black swallows me with doubt, failure, hopelessness.  I’ve learned to wait, to leave the insanity of my thoughts alone.  In The Black, waiting feels like giving up.  It’s not.  It’s just waiting.

At the coffee shop, I felt the crack.  Like a door ajar in the night, a thin line of light cut across my dark floor.  With that crack of light came a flood of gifts.  Real ones.

My friend, Sue, sent me one of her Care Packages full of Entertainment Weeklys, refrigerator magnets, a CD of her favorite show tunes and the most thoughtful piece of jewelry I’ve ever owned.  She had a necklace made from a picture of Henry.  It looks just like him.

Another friend texted to say that since I’ve always supported his music, he’s sending me an early (and secret, shhhh) CD of the songs he’s recorded so far in the studio.  I know he could be bigger than Billy Joel.

My landlord texted to say she sent my worries about the strong mold smell in my sitting room to Management.  They asked her and her husband/maintenance man to come check it out today.  I’m so relieved.  Visions of black mold have been dancing in my dreams.

An artist/teacher I met at The Muskogee Art Guild emailed me to say the drawing class I so dearly wanted to take and couldn’t afford would be covered by a scholarship.  And my friend, Sally, confirmed the date of her birthday party back in Iowa, so I can take a trip back home and take the class.

There are other gifts, but these blinded me.  Light does that when a person has been sitting in the Dark

I’m mindful of standing open-armed instead of denying or shaking off these gifts, receiving and being warmed.

I am full of color today.

*Caution: Star Trek reference.  The following YouTube bit doesn’t relate at all to this post, but I love this guy’s take on said ST:TNG reference.

Daft Trek

Social Services, the Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of one unclassifiable nut-job.  Her ongoing mission: to explore convoluted government gobbledy-gook; to seek out new services that might actually help; to boldly leap over the cracks in the system where no one has leapt before.

ξ

After I finished the Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation program in late June, the search was on to find some kind of support that might fill the gap.  IPR wasn’t therapy, but working with Aly for two hours twice a week turned out to be the best therapy I’d ever had.  How can you not go deep and actually problem-solve with that much one-on-one time?  Most participants in IPR spend half their time in groups, but we had trouble finding peers for me (I’ve got so much insight, you know), so Aly and I just met by ourselves.

We both knew no social service could provide what Aly gave me, so we looked at the kinds of support I might find.  She and my therapist thought Lutheran Services of Iowa might be a fit.  I went through two-hour assessments with both my caseworker and LSI, was approved, and started seeing a caregiver in July.

I have a caregiver.  To say I have mixed feelings about that is like saying Emmett is a little nervous (though, here’s a barely-related photo of both guys sitting next to me as I write this with Em combed and smiling).

Together

Anyhoo, it’s taken me all summer to get used to the idea of being a person who could benefit from a caregiver.  When I look at it in terms of what I need to stay out of the hospital, I get it.  But, like everything else concerning my mental health, I don’t fit in the usual categories, so we had to get creative.

Leanne, my caregiver, and I met for coffee once a week all summer at the new coffee house (Yaay! Marshalltown finally has a coffee house!)

Brew House

This was all part of my care plan—to get basic support.  It’s not therapy, but more than friends and family can provide.  For that hour, I get to talk without worrying about my social skills or being reciprocal in any way.  Most human interaction is two-sided.  Conversation is give and take.  And, while Leanne and I do converse, the point is we don’t have to.  For that hour, she’s there for me, and if I need all that time to process, I don’t have to feel guilty, or selfish, or worry about ruining our relationship.  Over the summer, we honed that process to where we’re both comfortable with it.  And it is a true and valuable tool.  Like my new soaking tub, I can relax with Leanne now and just let go.

The other part of my care plan is for Leanne to help me keep my apartment clean this winter.  Since I’m allergic to dust mites, I need a clean living space in order to avoid the asthma flares that lead to bad colds and, often, pneumonia.  And, since winter historically brings more severe depressive symptoms, cleaning (like anything requiring effort) flies out the window.

Halli, the LSI director, told me that their caregivers aren’t housekeepers.  They help clients set goals and work alongside them.  I’m expected to do the real work.  I like that concept.  I asked my sister to do that once, to come over and just help me figure out how to get my place cleaned.  I remembered what a huge help that was.  If I could get used to a stranger coming into my home, I thought that kind of support might help me avoid getting sick so much.

So, last Wednesday, Leanne came over and helped me replace the filters in my air vents.  It’s a big job, I even got the consultation from specialists of air duct cleaning in Kansas City, MO.  All the vents are in the ceiling.  I put filters in the ones I could reach by standing on a chair, but that was five years ago.  Last week, with a real step-stool, we replaced the black filters (ugh!) and got all the vents covered in the hour Leanne helped me.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning the grill on the intake vent (gross!) and laying filter material across that, too.

Intake Vent

Awesome!  Except I didn’t think to wear a mask.  Oops.  Now I’m fighting the very thing I tried to avoid—a bad head cold that will probably go south soon.  I should have known better.  I wore a red shirt that day, and we all know what happens to those guys.

Prototype Redux

I’ve never reposted an old post.  I figure I either have something new to say or I don’t.  And if I don’t, then this platform stays quiet until I do.  But Leonard Nimoy died yesterday, and I can’t find new words.  This man/actor/character has been a part of me since Star Trek aired on September 8, 1966.  I was nine years old—impressionable, starving for attention, a little fan-girl waiting to happen.

So, I offer, again, the collage piece I made about him in 2011.  Prototype.  All the images used in this collage are original, pictures I saved from entertainment magazines as old as Star Trek’s first TV Guide cover in 1966.

tiny salute

Protopype

I’m excited to present this finished piece.  It carries so many layers of meaning for me.

As all fathers do, mine created the template for all subsequent relationships with the men in my life.

As a tween, I transfered my longing for attention and protection from my dad to Spock, the ultimate unavailable man.  In my fantasies, I found the secret pathway to Spock’s heart.  Of course he would never demonstrate his affection, never claim me as his, but I knew he would protect me.  It seemed more than I could ever ask for.

My affection for Leonard Nimoy is deep and abiding.  He was, after all, my first.

Star Trek Into Darkness

After JJ Abram’s reboot of Classic Trek in 2009, I didn’t think it could possibly get any better.  If you haven’t seen his new offering, don’t walk, run to your nearest cineplex.  If you’re a Trekker like me, there are endless reasons to love this movie, but this was the ultimate.  Live Long and …*gulp*… *sob*.

Star Trek Into Darkness, Spock, Zachary Quinto

The Challenge

I had to post this new Audi ad because… well… BECAUSE!

My Cyber Life

handmade greeting card, collage artThese days, what with my Zero Money Initiative in place, I spend most of my time at home on my computer.  And I’m finding a whole new life there.  It’s Pinterest, really, that’s sucked me into this Ether World.  I’ve found dozens of Pinners who share my interests.  And since my taste wanders all over the place, there’s a lot to keep me enthralled.

There are the nerdy fan-folk—the Tolkein aficionados, the Trekkers, the Joss Whedonites.  I’m in Nerd Heaven, wandering through all the rare photos, video clips, jokes and articles about my TV shows and movies.  There are the science puns, and inside jokes, and cross-over weirdness that combines Star trek with Firefly and Sherlock Holmes.  My geekiness runs rampant.

Battle Cry, The Hobbit, Thorin OakenshieldThen there are the serious armies of movie star fans.  Any male actor, living or dead, generates a plethora of appreciation (Female stars get plenty of attention, too, just not so many shirtless photos or comments about fainting).  Here, I have found my obsessive/compulsive, delusional tribe—women all over the globe tipping the scale from fan to stalker.  I breathe a little easier knowing I’m far from the craziest end of the spectrum here.  I’m actually rather refined and discriminating in my male appreciation.  Tasteful, even.  Ahem.

sheep, IrelandI can explore my love of Ireland and dream about going there by connecting with Pinners who are either from Ireland or who have shared their vacation photos.  I can listen to the music, meet infamous sons and daughters of the Eire, and learn the country’s history.  All the beautiful sites, the people, the festivals—they let me taste of the Emerald Isle while I scheme about how to get there.

endangered species, animalsThen, there are all the boards devoted to nature—weird and gorgeous wild animals; amazing forests, rock formations, fauna and flora.  There are Pinners gathering information on preservation, animal abuse, conservation, and every aspect of green living.  I’m constantly amazed, shocked, inspired and delighted by all these lovers of the world.  I can indulge in my love of elephants and skunks.  And there’s no end to the folks who love cats—great and small.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV, Joss WhedonMy cyber and material worlds are starting to mix, now.  I’m spending more time at the library searching for things I saw on Pinterest—books on visiting Ireland and England, movies like “War Horse” that I thought I’d never watch (but found out Tom Hiddleston/Loki  and  Benedict Cumberbatch/Sherlock Holmes are in it).  I picked up the first season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to watch some early Joss Whedon, and checked out a great mystery novel by Tana French on a Pinner’s recommendation.

I’ve heard Pinterest described as a horder’s dream come true.  A person can collect all their favorite stuff without taking up any space (or creating those scary towers of books, papers and clutter every proper psycho-killer’s home requires).  But, for me it’s gone beyond that.  Yes, I like to create my boards with a certain amount of flair and artistry, but I look forward to learning something new, digging deeper into a topic, sharing a funny video that I hope will make others cry and lose urine like I did.  It’s a new way of interacting, a new kind of community-making.

And it makes me happy.  That’s something to stick a pin in and hang on the wall.

Etsy, the Final Frontier

Patrick Stewart, Captain PicardI’m not what you’d call a mercantile mastermind.  While I worked many years in retail as a bookstore manager, I never really studied consumer buying patterns or business strategy.  And while my ex-husband worked in advertising, I saw it more as entertainment than any kind of an aid to sales (I still think some commercials and print ads are more hilarious than the TV shows or magazines they support).

So it’s no great wonder that I’m completely stumped by Etsy and my little shop there.  I signed up for a very modest amount of advertising, but have no idea what the statistics generated by these ads tell me.  Terms like “Impressions” and “Views” are lost on me.  I just add new cards and collages to my inventory, crossing my fingers that shoppers will magically stumble over them.

Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Worf, YarOne little statistic I was able to untangle was that several shoppers have been looking at my collage of Leonard Nimoy.  It seems Star Trek is a “hot tag,” or a term people use to look for stuff.  I’m not really surprised.  We Trekkers are everywhere, waiting to take over the Universe with techno-babble and rubber foreheads.  And Trekkers like stuff.

So, in what I considered a brilliant marketing move, I started working on a line of Star Trek cards and posted the first ones to my shop today.  I’m having a blast crafting them, digging out images I’ve saved since I was a wee Trekling, choosing captions that are especially cheeky and irreverent.  But, will they sell?  Ahh, this is the question worth it’s weight in gold-pressed latinum.

Time will tell.  Unless there’s some disturbance in the space/time continuum. . .

Party Assemblage

Plans are coming together for my Callinda Celebration Party on April 21.  I’ve reserved the community room in our apartment complex, made and sent the invitations.  Just when I was ready to raid my little savings account (the start of a new car fund) in order to cater the food, Mom offered to pay for everything.  What a wonderful gift!  I fully intended to celebrate in style, not put out a bowl of M&Ms and cheap punch, which is what I can afford.  I wanted to celebrate life now, not wait a decade when I may or may not be able to buy a car.  Get fear out of the way and miracles happen.

Now I’m in the process of making the party favors.  I wanted to create a little piece of art for everyone to take away with them, so I printed out quotes from the book and made a little platform for them.  This involves sewing fabric onto cardboard (yes, I had to learn how to sew again), lots of paint, stamping, embossing, beading, funky fabrics, sequins, fibers and the accompanying glues, tapes and tools.  I’m taking this:

And turning it into this:

I can only do three or four a day (sewing into cardboard, even with a thimble, is a little rough on the fingers), but in the meantime I can attend to other party details.  Like ordering an alien-looking, Zen floral arrangement for the table, and washing up the glass service party trays from my mom’s basement (and a recent find at a local thrift store).

Assemblage is a study in details—one more layer, one more bead, one more texture.  I’m hoping my party will hum with subtext and delight the eye.  The overriding theme is joy, and I can hear the laughter already.

It’s Done!

The last three chapters and an epilog are now posted—Callinda is finished.

It’s taken me a little over a year to rewrite this story from a draft done while very sick in my bipolar disorder.  It’s a milestone, a dream come true, a harbinger of bigger and better stories to come.

I plan on celebrating with a party.  Invitations will be in the mail.  For you address-anonymous folks out there, who have stuck by me in my quest to see Queen Marapura and Captain Archer through to the end, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  And I’ll raise a glass in your honor.

To read Chapter 26, click here.  To read notes and maps on the story Callinda, click here.  To start at Chapter 1, click here or scroll through the nested files under “Heaving Bosoms” in the banner headline above to find the chapter you want.

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