Thursday, December 31, 2009

"I can see through time!" -Lisa Simpson

Dear Jeff,

Happy 32nd birthday. I'm guessing birthdays don't have the same significance where you are, but I thought of you today. I tried to think happy thoughts, but instead I kept feeling a heaviness in my heart, or like a hook was dug into it and pulling it down. I can't really imagine you as a 32 year old. I guess I can, but it seems odd. I don't think you were alive when "Titanic" came out, but in that movie the main character dies when she's an old woman and goes back to herself as a young woman. I can't imagine that you'd want to go back to being younger, since you were only 19 when you died. I actually think of you as slightly older, like about 24. Maybe that means I imagine you aging slower in the afterlife, or maybe I think of myself as younger than I really am. That would make me 30 (in my mind), although today, your birthday, marks the beginning of our annual tradition of you teasing me that you're only 5 years younger than me until my birthday, when I go back to being 6 years older. So enjoy it for the next 20 days.

I was going to spend tonight eating your favorite food (pickles) and watching your favorite show (The Simpsons) until midnight, but I am so exhausted I don't think I'll make it. I did set up a shrine of sorts, and I'm burning candles for you (above). The candles are comforting to me, and you seem to like them. I know you weren't alive for the advent of online social networking (It's a place for friends!) but one of things going around Facebook is to summarize the year in one word. I think I'd have to say exhausting. I was overwhelmed at work all year, and I had insomnia for the last half of the year. It finally went away a couple days before Christmas. I don't know why, but I'm not complaining. I was dependent of over-the-counter sleeping pills for a while there. If I could use a second word to describe the year, it would be hockey. At the beginning of the year I was playing in one league, now I'm playing in three. I went to my first tournament last January, and have played in two more during the year. I think you would be proud of me. Not because I'm particularly good. You never cared much about competition or what anyone else thought. I think you'd be proud of me because I'm having so much fun doing it.

I feel like I can write to you and you are listening. In the years immediately after your death, the distance I felt from you was the most painful. I felt like you had totally vanished, and the emptiness inside me was sharp and cold. A lot of me felt dead too. Now I think it was just frozen, but frozen hard. Like frostbite, it hurts like hell when it thaws. So I stayed frozen for a long time. Now there's just a lot of grief. It feels like oceans inside me, like I could keep crying for the rest of my life and never run out of tears for you. In some ways the grief is more real than it was 10 years ago. I have to believe that if you knew how deeply those of us who love you really felt and how much agony your death would cause us, you may have made a different choice. But maybe I'm wrong about that. I've struggled with depression, and even with suicidal thoughts, my whole life. I've never seriously come close to ending my life, though. You know how stubborn and determined I am. There are times in life where I was probably surviving purely on anger, driven to not let "them" win, whether "they" were our parents, the foster care system, the police, the teachers at school who let me drop out, the universe- it didn't matter. I have grown up a little since then and don't need adversaries in my life to motivate me the way I did before. Thankfully my inferiority complex and me against the world attitude has calmed down considerably. Plus I can channel my competitiveness into hockey. But maybe that attitude was what I needed to get through it all.

You were never like that. You were the easygoing one. The last year of your life, though, you were also so depressed I couldn't even talk to you. You were so far away; it felt like you were slipping through my fingers. I didn't know what to do. I tried to talk to you; I tried to bring up my own struggles in the hopes you would share your current ones with me. I was actually pretty depressed at the time too. I had to get a hardship waiver to drop winter quarter because I had gotten so depressed. So I was struggling. Still, I don't think I ever got close to ending it. In other words, I don't think I've ever experienced the kind of depression you must have been going through when you made that decision. Now suicide seems even more unfathomable to me than it did before. Knowing what it does to the survivors, knowing the pain of being left behind is the greatest pain imaginable, greater than what even could be imagined, greater than what the abuse did to me, much greater than any depression I've experienced. Even though I loved you more than anything and would have given my life for you, and despite all the closeness we shared and how we supported and helped each other through our childhoods, I don't think I am even capable of understanding where you were in your head and heart when you took your life. I was even angry at myself for a while that I hadn't killed myself first so maybe you would have changed your mind, but that probably would have made your suicide even more likely. As much as we had in common and as much as we understood each other, that's a place I couldn't go with you.

I remember when you were a baby and how badly I wanted to hold you and tickle your chin and make you smile, all the way through our dad's cousin's funeral when you were about 9, and all the crying made you uncomfortable and sad, so I put my arm around you and talked softly to you, and you looked into my face the whole time so you didn't have to look at the mourners. I always knew when you needed comforting, and you always came to me when you did. I remember visiting you in Eugene, Oregon during your one semester at college, and buying you pizza from your favorite restaurant because you had no money. We sat on the floor of your ridiculous attic apartment, ridiculous because we couldn't even stand up straight without hitting our head on the roof (even me), and talked all night, periodically calling the local radio station and asking them to play the full version of "in-a-gadda-da-vida". (They never did. I still love that episode of "The Simpsons" where Bart sneaks it into the hymnal and they sing it at church. "Margie, do you remember when we used to make out to this hymn?") I was worried about you. I knew you were lonely, and even then, more than a year before your death, I could tell you were starting to lose touch. You were drifting.

I tried so hard to take care of you, which is why I felt like such a failure when you died. Really, you were the one who took care of me. I don't think I would have survived our family if you hadn't been there for me. I made you smile, and you made me laugh. You had such a dry sense of humor. I was never alone because of you. After your funeral, your friend Leonard gave us a card with a quote from Hamlet- "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times..." It describes you so well. The depressed court jester. You carried me on your back, and I was the strong one. You are still the best person I have ever known.

For a long time after you died, I didn't dream about you at all, and I wonder if you were so far away I would never be close to you again. Then I had dreams where I was trying to save you, but you were already dead. Or dreams where you were mute, and wouldn't even look at me. I would try to help you and you'd refuse to respond. In one, you sat in a house that was filling with water, and wouldn't swim. In another, I was dragging you around, trying to get you interested in things I thought you'd like, but you ended up walking away from me and disappearing in the distance. After many years I finally had dreams where you seemed back to normal and interacted with me. Sometimes I have dreams where I'm just sitting and talking to you, and I imagine you are telling me all the secrets of the universe, but when I wake up I can't remember anything we talked about. At least you smile in those dreams. I feel a little sad when I wake up and I know you're gone, but at least you visit me sometimes. I have no doubt that you are watching over me, and share in my joys and my sorrows. I know you didn't mean to hurt me with what you did, and wherever you are, you are not suffering like you did in life. So that's something. You know how intensely I miss you though. I will always feel that the world would be a better place if you were here, but you will always be in my heart. So, again, happy birthday my dear, sweet brother.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Savage. Found her floating down the Amazon in a hatbox.

I got mad tweeting skills when I'm stressed. Twitter has become my favorite way of calming anxiety at work. I get so anxious sometimes that my heart feels fluttery and I have a hard time concentrating. I get worked up about all the things I need to do, and then I have a hard time settling down with one task or project without obsessing over the ones I'm not working on. It's kind of a bitch. So I tweet little annoyances throughout the day. It kind of gets it out of my head so it's not pinballing around in there, disrupting my thoughts.

Today I was trying to get on top of my continuing professional education credits so I could figure out how many I need to finish before the end of the year (i.e. Dec 31 at midnight). That was stressing me out, but then there were little mini dramas going on around me that people were trying to drag me into. It was like hopping between bowling lanes trying not to get hit by a bowling ball, while tweeting my frustrations. It's kind of amazing how, especially when a row flares up over email, just picking up the phone, checking in with someone, or apologizing for the way something came off (even if you didn't write it) can smooth it over. So I was Peacemaker Kristina! I think I got most of it calmed down, but jeez. It was fairly unnecessary and provided a number of interruptions as I was trying to do an online course to finish up my credits. Then around 6 pm the server crashed and I got kicked out of my training course. I thought if I went home, by the time I got back online it would have resolved itself, but no such luck. So I am stuck halfway through the course and getting a little freaked out that this is due to a whole bunch of people doing the same thing as me, trying to finish credits last minute, and it could be even worse tomorrow, the last day. I'm trying not to think about it. So I guess I'll keep trying and search for my license renewal forms before I forget. Yes, I forget things when I'm stressed too. Rent. Update my annual review and the Sarbanes-Oxley policy and the training stats. Arrrgh! I better get done in time to get my nails done tomorrow, because I just can't welcome the new year with grungy nails. Seriously. I'm not a savage.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aquarians are unpredictable, contrary, & love to argue. But you probably don't agree with that & want to argue about it, right? Well, you're wrong.

Aquarians are also friendly, smart, and honest, so it's not all bad.

I ended up talking about my mom in therapy. I'm kind of getting sick of complaining about my relationship with my mom, but I think it's still a sore spot that I'm trying to reconcile. I love my mom, I really do. There are a lot of good things I can say about her. She's smart, and sometimes funny. She has her fun side. She's very intelligent. I'm grateful that she was a health nut when I was growing up because I think that's made me more health-conscious. I'm grateful that she got me into watching PBS as a kid because public television has been a passion of mine my whole life. Both my parents really value education and learning, and so do I. My mom has an almost spiritual relationship with plants. Her yard is a shrine to native plants. The native plant society where she lives gives tours of her yard. She has a sense of justice that came out when the city tried to force her to plant regular, non-drought resistant grass. She stood up to the city because she felt wasting water on grass in a desert area was wrong. She adores her dog. I know she does love me and care about me, in her way.

All these things, though, can sometimes make her failings as a parent all the more frustrating. I care nothing about my dad. In my mind he's lost the privilege of having any sort of relationship with me. He's a manipulator and a liar. He used me and my brother, and I will never forgive him for out and out refusing to try to help my brother when he made suicide threats in order to spite our mom. He kept guns in the house while my brother was suicidally depressed and he knew it. And whatever he did to my brother while he was living with him, to say nothing about all the cruelty he inflicted on me. My dad's abuse was intentional; I don't believe my mom's was. (Neglect is abuse.) My mom has very serious depression. My dad has no excuses. I don't feel that I am missing anything by not having him in my life. I still struggle with the lack of emotional connection with my mom though.

I feel like we could really have a great relationship if she could just exhibit normal human emotions for once! I mean, really. She has the most insane reactions to situations. Or sometimes the most insane lack of a reaction. Like, find out your daughter is being sexually abused, nothing. Watch your husband almost beat your child to death, call your therapist, go to bed while your child passes out on the floor from the concussion, then wake her up the next day to go to school with a black eye and bruises all over her face. Uh, yeah. It's like she's not all there. I know she's smart, but she's so out of touch with the world around her. It's like at some point some part of her brain, the part that regulates emotions and emotional reactions, just shut down. I realize that nothing she can say or do now will change what happened in the past. I'm just asking for acknowledgment, emotionally genuine acknowledgment. Not this very rational, emotionless discussion I feel like I get when I try to talk to her, like we're talking about some other family that we saw on TV. When I talk to her, it feels like it didn't even happen, or that we were all floating around disembodied while it happened. The ghost family. I feel like she's been keeping me at arms length my whole life, and it's very confusing. She's my mom. It's like we live on two totally different planes of existence. I kept trying to connect with her, and now I've given up. It's hard for me to define what I even mean by connection, but something is missing. I can't talk to her about real things. Anything difficult and I can see her shutting off. Her attention shifts away from me.

I think why this is really frustrating is because I struggle with connecting with people. Part of me is afraid of getting either the disinterested rejection and cutting analysis of my mom or the more aggressive attacks and ridicule of my dad. I feel slightly skittish around other people, like an animal that's been spooked. Part of me is always waiting for people to lash out at me. I don't really feel safe, so I continue to protect myself emotionally. The one person I really knew how to relate to was my brother. My relationship with him was easy, in some sense. I didn't have to work to connect with him. Even though we were both scared and keeping a lot inside, we were totally there for each other. We completely accepted and appreciated each other. I always felt like the best person I could be was who I was in his eyes. He didn't see me as faulty or to blame for the problems in our family. I aspire to be the person I was around him. I like being friendly and open. I like expecting the best of people. I don't like being suspicious and distant. I don't like holding things inside. I especially don't like being disconnected from myself, and feeling numb and floaty. I like feeling present with people.

I have been working on this. I try expressing my real feelings to other people, and when they don't react badly I feel reassured. I try to recognize when I'm zoning out and get back into the present. I try to be observant of how I'm feeling and how people are relating with me. I'm kind of learning how not to feel scared of other people. It's like luring a new kitten out from under the couch. It takes time. It takes patience, and I'm not the most patient person, especially with myself. But I'm learning.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Now I can wake up and face the day

I'm just going to write about hockey and TV, because it's Monday and I have therapy tomorrow. I can't be deep and meaningful every day.

I went to the Kings game tonight against the Minnesota Wild. I have kind of a soft spot for the Wild because my mom is from Minnesota, but not tonight. The Wild won after the Kings tied it in the 3rd, then the Wild scored 12 seconds later. I developed a strong dislike of Cal Clutterbuck.

I came home tonight and my DVR had recorded not just the PBS Newshour, but had also picked up reruns of "How I Met Your Mother", "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil" and 3 episodes of "True Blood". Lewis Black was pitting the NRA vs PETA. That was a hard one. The show debates which is more evil, using comedians so it comes out pretty funny most of the time. I used to support PETA, back before they abandoned their mission of stopping the objectification of animals to objectify women and whore for publicity. I suppose the fact that I used to like them makes me hate what they've become that much more. But the NRA, well, as someone who lost their brother to a gunshot wound I just can't hang with the NRA in any way. Plus death is a little more serious than pathetic sexist jerks. The comedian arguing for the NRA as the root of all evil had a pretty lame "Ripple of Evil", but that was probably because the ripple is supposed to go into a fantastic worst case scenario if the offending person/organization/whatever continues on their evil path, and how do you come up with a worse worst case scenario than we already have? 30,000 people are killed annually in the US by guns. Make that more horrific. So the NRA won.

So on the topic of hockey and reruns, I just have to share this quote from "How I Met Your Mother". It is the greatest sitcom quote of all time (excluding the first 10 years of "The Simpsons"). Just to set it up- this was said by Robin, who was at a Canucks-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. She was also wearing a Canucks jersey- "Damn it Hordichuk, you miss another gimme like that I'm gonna come down there and put a slapper right up your beer hole. Come on!"

That is beautiful.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

They forgot, because they must

It's hard to believe that there's only four more days of 2009, especially since I still have CPE (continuing professional education, for my CPA) credits to do before the end of the year. I am very tired today. I don't know if this is because when I think of all I have to do before the end of December I get exhausted, or I'm still recovering from my recent health problems. I have been religiously taking my vitamins. I wonder how my vitamin D levels are. I'm starting to think I should look into getting some prescription medication to help me sleep. I have been falling asleep without drugs for the last 3 days, but we'll see how I do later in the week. I am starting to feel a little sad about my brother's birthday on December 31. He would have been turning 32. 32! It's hard to believe. He was 19 when he died.

I'm starting to think about resolutions. I like doing resolutions. The time between my brother's birthday and my birthday on January 21 has traditionally been my time to think about my life and reassess. Also, I look back on the last year. I'm in a bit of a strange place with that because I've realized in the last month that part of my memory is missing. I can acknowledge that there are things that happened that I don't remember, traumatic things, but as of right now I still don't remember. I wonder if I will begin to remember things next year. I guess I am remembering little things that I didn't before. The next year feels really mysterious to me. I know it will bring change, because life always does, but it feels even more unpredictable than normal. Right now I am marveling about how much I don't know. Joseph Campbell said something along the lines of, "He who thinks he knows, doesn't know. He who knows he doesn't know, knows." I know I don't know. I don't know that means I know anything other than that.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day After Christmas Report

I think this may be my best Christmas season ever, which is pretty surprising considering all the turmoil I was feeling earlier in the month, turmoil that led me to commit to blogging every day of December. Today we saw "Avatar" and then watched the Kings and then the Canucks play, and ate Thai food. (The picture is me giving the thumbs up to the Kings and Canucks decorated cookies from yesterday.) I very much enjoyed the company, the food, and the hockey games, although the Kings lost to the Coyotes. The Canucks beat the Oilers though. The Kings looked a little flat, but the Canucks were speedy and exciting. It was a home game, and the crowd was cheering so loud it sounded like a playoff game rather than just a regular season game. Maybe the rivalry between the Vancouver and Edmonton was a factor. I saw a map of the NHL on a Calgary Flames blog that identified Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, and then the rest of North America was labeled "the rest of the NHL". I laughed because that does seem to sum up the attitude of a lot of fans in those parts. The Canucks will be on the road for two months, I believe, while the Olympics are in Vancouver, so the fans are probably savoring the home games. "Avatar" was stunning. We saw it in 3-D, which was cool with all the spores and seeds and lights floating around in this new world. It's worth seeing in the theater just for visuals. I thought the storyline was very "Titanic". Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I liked "Titanic". Both movies have their cheesy moments, and extended action sequences in the middle of what is basically a love story, with a hero quest thrown in. I am a big fan of the whole sinking of Titanic in that movie, but I also really liked the love story. I know. I'm kind of a closet romantic. Or maybe I don't hide it as well as I think I do.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Not an Inconvenient Christmas

Christmas was FUN. We were three of the chattiest friends ever. Actually, most of it was probably me and my Aquarian soulmate. Canada is a Leo, so she told us what to do and we kept her cracking up the whole time. We actually went from having really deep conversations about things like how we feel about our bodies, dating, and children, to making each laugh so hard we cried. Literally. We teased Canada about being too nice, and encouraged her to get used to inconveniencing other people by demanding that I go out to get her and PJ ice cream on Christmas night, even though I can't eat ice cream. I ultimately avoided that one by serving them my dairy and gluten-free pumpkin pie with fake whipped cream. The pie was a hit, the fake whipped cream was not terrible. It was a little weird. The gluten-free sugar cookies were definitely a hit, and definitely sweet. We frosted them and then added sprinkles in the colors of our favorite hockey teams. The actually meal was amazing. Canada made turkey, which was way good. I managed to choke on it, which is pretty common with me and food I like because I put too much in my mouth at once and then try to breathe. We also had dairy and gluten-free mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, broccoli, and waldorf salad. They were all amazing. I turned the heat down too low on the pot with the boiling potatoes so the flame went out, so when we went in there to mash the potatoes the gas somehow inspired us to sing "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog". PJ almost called an ambulance. After dinner, we watched "The Hangover" while Canada and PJ worked on a puzzle. The tragedy of the night was when Canada's dog Starbuck stole a puzzle piece and chewed it up.

Before all that, we went to the hospital to visit Canada's baby twins. PJ held the girl, Madison, and I got to hold the boy, Alexander. Having that adorable little baby in my arms was the most incredible feeling. He slept most of the time, and he was so warm and relaxed that I felt the most relaxed I've ever felt. I felt content deep in my heart. After we left, I still felt that relaxed energy for the rest of the day. PJ said something about hockey while holding Madison and she made excited baby noises, so we know she'll be playing in no time. (Of course Canada plays, and I know both of them from one of my teams.) Alexander has a great name for hockey, so there's no question about him either. I sleep satisfied tonight knowing Canada is raising the next generation of hockey players and PJ and I will be their aunties. Also, next year we'll spend Christmas chasing them around Canada's house and encouraging them to be Kings fans.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.


Here's my dairy and gluten-free pumpkin pie! I did have to cook it for longer than the recipe again, but I think it will be good. I'm taking the pie to Canada's house tonight, so I have to be patient until I get to try it. I also made dairy-free whipped "cream" with soy milk. It's kind of good to me, but I doubt anyone who could eat dairy would choose it over the real thing. But I'm glad to have it. I think it will be good with the pie. I'm making a waldorf salad too. Cooking is fun. I'm a former 4-H kid. It's hard to find the time, but when I do I can cook and sew like a regular farm wife. I'm so small town.

I'm off to see Canada in L.A. Maybe I can get her to break out the accent!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm taking a ride

I got my finger zapped this evening. I'm getting laser tattoo removal on the tattoo on my finger. Thankfully this is the only tattoo regret that I have. They upgraded the machine since last time, so it hurt extra bad. My finger is a little swollen and throbby now. This was my 10th treatment, and it's close to being done. There is just a faint blue blob.

I am so tired tonight. Last night I slept poorly. Nightmares again. From what I remember, it was very Alice in Wonderland because people kept changing sizes. There were adults and children that became very tiny, and children that turned into adults suddenly, but then became small. There was a lot of hiding, so the small size was better for hiding but very scary as well, because if you were found you could be squashed. There was also falling long distances, and machinery. Scary industrial machines. It was very imaginative.

I woke up around 3:30 am all terrified. It was hard to open my eyes, and it seemed dark and cold and flat in my room. I felt small, like I had shrunk during the night. My shoulders and neck were completely stiff. I turned on the light next to my bed, held my dragon and cactus doll to my chest and slowly crept out of my bedroom. There was a faint hissing coming from the living room, which turned out to be the heater. I turned on the lights around my apartment until it seemed more warm and bright. There were still shadows, but at least it seemed like my apartment again. I don't know what I was afraid of. It felt like I was somewhere else. I was trying to orient myself back into the present, not knowing where the hell I was coming back from.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

There is radar in my heart

It feels a little strange that a couple weeks ago I was in such turmoil, and now, days before Christmas, I feel so calm. Part of it is that I let myself feel everything I was feeling when my nightmares brought up suspicions and disturbing memories from when I was young. Since I am now willing to allow myself to feel what I am feeling, and have the support and faith of my therapist and my BFF in Seattle, I was able to go with it when doubts crept into my mind, questions from as far back as I can remember that I was never able to face before.

There's been a shift in me since the turmoil began. I now believe myself. I believe what I remember; I trust my recollection of my family, the way my parents acted, the way I felt at night and around my dad. I don't doubt myself anymore, or feel that it matters if other people do. I was there. I know more about it than anyone else could. It was a blow to lose my brother as the only witness I had to how bad our family had been. But I am a witness. My brother never doubted me and I have struggled to internalize his faith in me the way I did with my parents' lack of belief in me. I know that deep down there is more in my memory that I don't have access to right now. It is a little disconcerting to know things happened to you that are hidden either because you were too young or they were too traumatic for you to bear. I do know something happened. I may remember more or I may not. But by bringing my suspicions into my conscious mind, the doors are open to my own perceptions.

It takes a lot of effort to suppress your own memories and thoughts. It has also made me feel fragmented. I've taken pieces of myself and pushed them away, separated and isolated them. Now, it seems almost magically, my past is more clear. My life is more coherent. Most of all, the way my family acted makes much more sense to me. I felt like my brain was a cell phone that wasn't getting a signal but keeps searching, endlessly, wearing out the battery and getting nowhere. Something was missing before, and I just couldn't reconcile how I felt, what had happened, and how everyone in my family had acted. I had that Wonderland feeling that I was in a world that was off, nonsensical, and I was lost trying to understand it. The thing is, I haven't really figured anything out or came to any firm conclusions. I suspect my dad sexually abused me when I was very young, probably before my brother was born (when I was six). I don't know it for sure. But it's something I've suspected at least since I was in middle school, I just couldn't admit to myself that he could have done something so depraved. Just acknowledging that possibility makes my family, both my parents, seem even more dysfunctional and emotionally destructive than they already did. But that also makes the feelings I have about them and my childhood, the terror, the severity of my PTSD symptoms (especially the disassociating) and my brother's suicide make more sense. Whatever was off about my understanding of it is not off anymore.

Maybe it's just acknowledging to myself how messed up my parents were and what they were capable of that allows me let go of the guilt I felt over thinking horrible things about them, and wanting to blame myself so I didn't have to blame them. Amazingly, I'm not feeling guilt over my brother's death either. Now I see how helpless we both were, how powerless we were as children to deal with how our parents treated us. I see how insane and lacking in appropriate boundaries their behavior was, and all the doubts about my own sanity float away. I remember how crazy it was in our house, how unpredictable, how irrational. That was my parents doing, not my brother or I. I remember how little parenting we got, how often I felt like I had to be the adult and take care of me and my brother because our parents were acting like children, to each other and to us. I remember. I remember plenty.

My mind is open now and I am at peace with myself. I did the best I could have done. I feel kind of weird about seeing my childhood self as a separate part of me, my "inner child", but some part of me needed to be acknowledged, comforted, understood, believed, and accepted for living through all the things I lived through. All of it. That part of me now feels at peace. I knew I needed to do that for myself- that the approval and faith I really needed was my own. My present to myself.

P.S. Ovation TV is having a Battle of The Nutcrackers World Games ("It's universal unity in unitards!"). Ooooo, I like. The Nutcracker performed in five different countries! Talk about an Christmas orgy. The Russian dances in the Russian production are completely stunning.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Rat King

I'm actually getting excited for Christmas. I'm going over to a friend's house (my friend Canada), and another friend, who is also gluten-intolerant, is coming over as well. We're going to have a turkey dinner (dairy and gluten-free), and make gluten-free cookies. We're also going to play games and maybe watch movies, and visit Canada's twins in the hospital. (They were born early, and are still at the hospital.)

It can be hard to be the orphan at someone else's family celebration, and I think Canada is as relieved as I am to just be hanging out with friends. Although I do have to say that my last Thanksgiving with friends and their family was a lot of fun. The food was wonderful, and bingo was a riot. Literally, it almost was a riot! Very passionate bingo. I am touched that for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are going out of their way to make dairy and gluten-free food that I can eat. It actually makes me feel a little emotional.

I am going to attempt a Kristina-friendly pumpkin pie again this year. I absolutely love pumpkin pie. I got a pre-made wheat-free crust, and I have a recipe for the filing that uses soy instead of regular milk. Last year, it took a really long time to cook. I don't know if it was my oven or the soy milk just didn't set up like cow's milk. Maybe I should try my friend's oven and see if that works better.

There's a Christmas tree in the lobby at work, and it smells intoxicating. I love that evergreen tree smell. I have to pause for a bit when I go through the lobby to take it all in. We're inclusive, so there's also a menorah and Islamic decorations too. Just to make this week an orgy of holiday cheer, I'm watching the San Francisco Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker on PBS. It is quite lovely. I was in ballet when I was a kid (age 4 to 14). I quit when they wanted to put me on point shoes because I didn't want to ruin my feet. Our ballet teacher had been a professional dancer, and had to walk with a cane because of what it did to her. I totally have the wrong body for ballet anyway- too short and curvy. The teacher was always smacking me in the butt with her cane because it stuck out too much. I did okay because I worked really hard and have high arches. (That's my MO, people- a little bit of natural talent and working my ass off. Not literally, of course.) The other girls taped their boobs down and starved themselves, though, and I just wasn't into that lifestyle.

I still love to watch ballet though, and sometimes I'm a big dork and dance around my apartment, doing plies and leaping and pointing my toes. I blame ballet for my fascination with the show "So You Think You Can Dance" and occasional urges to listen to classical music. On the positive side, my flexibility is a plus in hockey. I can go down in all sorts of awkward positions and not hurt myself.

So I'm thinking Christmas won't be all that bad. I don't even feel slightly hatefully about it this year. I'm a little sad and anxious, but not as much as I thought I would be. We'll see how I feel later in the week.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Come on, Doctor, show me the stars!"

I had the BEST weekend. Last night I had so much fun going to the X show, and tonight I played hockey and it felt GREAT. It had been forever since I'd been on the ice. It's actually been 10 days, which is really a lot for me. I don't think I've had that long of a break from hockey this whole year. I was a little worried I'd would have forgotten how to skate or something, but I felt so good out there. And I was fast and furious! I was going all over the place. Granted, we had way more people than the other team, but I was chasing some of them down and back-checking my heart out. I loved playing soccer in high school, but hockey is the absolute funnest to play because you can get going quickly, then change directions, go sideways (that always blows my mind when I do it too. I am literally thinking, "I can't believe I'm doing this!" as I'm doing it.), backwards, and it's the best if you feel like you're on the edge of losing control and wiping out spectacularly. If I don't feel slightly out of control I figure I'm skating badly or not hard enough. I didn't just make that up- my instructor said if you feel too comfortable on your skates you're probably not doing it right. Edges. It's all about edges. and bending your knees. and looking up.

Skating by itself is a good time, but then you give everyone sticks and the puck is flying around and you're crashing into people and trying not to fall down and watching for your teammates and keeping an eye on everyone on the other team so they don't sneak around you- seriously, what could be more fun? I'll tell you- NOTHING. The X show was close.

All my teams are underdogs this season, which is kind of hard because we are all competitive. You probably have to be to get into hockey. And there's the pride thing. But we have a lot of fun regardless. My fabulous Canadian friend who just had twins was back playing for the first time tonight. We talked Canadian to her to pump her up, i.e. "Hey you hoser, take off, ay!" (I miss Bob and Doug.) She got an assist, so I'm sure it helped. Canada kicks ass! I screamed myself hoarse on the bench- "Go Canada, go Michigan, go Rock Star, go Mad Dog, go Zam!!!" (We all have nicknames. I'm ketchup because I wear # 57.) When we scored our one and only goal, our bench went so crazy that the scorekeeper and the referees all looked at us in wonderment, and the other team slunk over to the face-off circle muttering, "Shake it off, we'll get it back." like we had just gone ahead, even though they'd already scored on us 3 times. That's the best thing you can do on a team that doesn't win a lot- celebrate everything you can. Everyone said it was a really fun game even though we lost. I was just so ecstatic to be back on the ice I was beaming.

As if that wasn't enough, new episodes of Doctor Who started on Saturday! I watched "Waters of Mars" today, and next week The Master is back! (The Master is a rogue Time Lord, the Doctor's nemesis.) The Doctor is currently companion-less. I was really hoping for him to take Lady Christina de Souza (in the picture) from a one-off a while ago, because she is basically ME in Doctor Who form. Despite spelling our name wrong, if I was a character on Doctor Who I would totally be her. She only lasted one episode though. The Doctor ditched her. He is soooo unreliable. On the bright side, I guess I have my next costume!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

my head's gonna crack like a bank tonight

Shut up, I saw X tonight! (Yes, all the original band members.) They played all my favorites- my song, "Nausea", and "The Unheard Music", "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not", "The World's A Mess, It's In Your Kiss", "We're Desperate", "Some Other Time", "Soul Kitchen". I was kind of surprised by how different some of the songs sounded without Ray Manzarek rocking the keyboards. That gave their albums "Los Angeles" and "Wild Gift" such an odd, distinctive sound. Definitely not your average L.A. punk band, even without the keyboards. Damn, that was such a fun show. I can't believe I can even go see X play, more than 30 years after they were formed, and almost 30 years after all those songs that I love came out. How crazy is that?!? Back in the day, I was so disappointed that I would never get to see all these bands that I loved live, and now a lot of them have re-formed and are playing again. It's an amazing age we live in. I never thought punk would have this kind of staying power. I can't imagine what I would have thought if you told me 20 years ago that when I was in my thirties I'd be an MBA going to see punk bands from the 80's. I never would have believed it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

a strange dust lands on your hands and your face

I am depressed. I was too sick to play in my Lady Kings game tonight. *sigh* I did go to work. We had our holiday party in the afternoon, so it was really only half the day. I got some things done in the morning, so that was some good productive time. My stomach hurt and I was tired though. I have a pretty bad headache and a fever now. For our holiday party, we went to a restaurant on Fishermans Wharf in Redondo Beach. This is where your sympathy for me dries up, because we sat on the patio and it was 80 degrees outside. Yes, this is December in Southern California. It sure beats rain for three months straight.

So, you might find it ironic, as I do, that I am vitamin D deficient. A couple weeks ago, when I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection, I also got a physical including blood tests. Everything came back good (I even got smiley faces for my cholesterol levels and pap smear. Good pap!) except my vitamin D levels are "very low". I find it surprising that anyone residing in L.A. would be vitamin D deficient, as that's basically saying that I don't get enough sun. I really feel that I am getting loads of sun. I guess being a pale skinned goth girl who wears lots of black, long sleeves, and sunscreen is actually cancelling out the effects of the sun. My sense of style is so powerful. I just imagine myself as a cartoon with a cloud over my head, following me around. "I'm only happy when it raaains; I'm only happy when it's complicateddddd, and though I know you can't appreciate it, I'm only happy when it raaaaains. I feel good when things are going wronggg. I only listen to the sad, sad songggs. I'm only happy when it rains. I only smile in the dark. My only comfort is the night gone black..."*

Sometimes I wonder if I'm one of those people that will only be happy if I'm miserable. I don't think I am. I think I'm happy despite miserable things happening. But I do seem to cling to feeling miserable over my brother's death, as if being totally happy would mean forgetting him and how much I still love him and miss him. There's something about PTSD that you focus on the darkness a lot. You don't trust the light. You don't want to get too used to being happy, having someone around, not being poor, having enough to eat, sleeping well, having a job, feeling free- because in a second you think you could lose it all. When you've spent your life on the bottom, moving up in the world, you see how far you could fall. You don't see safety nets, only sheer drop-offs.

I still get tested for HIV because of my first tattoo. I was 19. We cleaned the homemade tattoo gun and needle/guitar string, obsessively, but didn't quite think through pouring the ink back in the bottle after dipping the used, bloody needle in it. Ops! It's been almost 20 years, and I still stress out when I get tested. I have this moment of panic, like, what if I have AIDS and I'll be sick for rest of my life? I'm still negative (of course. Haven't so much as had sex without a condom since then.) Also negative for syphilis, hepatitis, herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Rock on with my bad (I mean, risk-adverse) self. Getting a positive of any of those would be more surprising than the vitamin D thing since my sex life is the opposite of active, but still good to know.

So I've learned: 1) I will be taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 weekly for 12 weeks, followed by 2,000 IU daily. 2) My doctor is really bad at spelling STDs, except HIV and herpes. 3) I think I'm paranoid.

*"Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage. (This is my favorite kooky video with people wearing animal masks though. This video is totally great, too, but no animal masks.) "I Think I'm Paranoid" is also a Garbage song. The blog post title is a line from Morrissey's song "Everyday Is Like Sunday".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Mmm, sleepy. Sleepy and bored. Not much to write about when I'm just hanging around my apartment being sick. I am making some progress with organizing and cleaning. I have to go back to work tomorrow because my group is having our holiday party! I still feel sick, but I can take one day (half day) and then there will be the weekend to rest. I have a hockey game tomorrow as well. I'm totally undecided on playing. Guess it will depend on how I feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Terror of the Three

I feel strange today. Wide open. The dark places inside me feel less hidden and less menacing. The little girl inside me is calm, maybe even a little satisfied. I can feel my brother beside me, and he seems proud. We are all sitting together. I remember a time when I begged him to come back to me, and I felt his tears falling on my face. I dreamed about him walking away from me and disappearing. I dreamed of him being physically with me, but unresponsive, refusing to even look at me while I tried to save him from drowning or freezing to death. Now I feel him sitting next to me, smiling encouragingly. He is silent, but his face says everything. I'm doing good. I'm doing right by him and by myself. I'm not afraid anymore. None of us are. Not even that little girl, because she knows I'll stick up for her now.

I'm having a bit of a Wizard of Oz (one of my favorite series of books) yellow brick road moments. The three of us are finally together, hand in hand, walking down that road together. It's one of those, it's not the destination; it's the journey, kind of roads. A road that takes lots of courage, brains, and heart. It feels like it's going to be a lot easier when I'm not fighting or hiding from myself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breathing is GOOD

Caravaggio by Simon Vouet

Today I had therapy, which got me out of my apartment, which was good. I am going a little stir-crazy. I started getting emotional just driving there, though. Last week, I brought up a gigantic hole in my past and my memory. About the farthest back I can remember in the "my parents were awful" saga is my parents arguing loudly in their bedroom about me. I knew it was about me because their bedroom was across from mine and I could hear my name. When I was in junior high, a neighbor who had some heart-to-hearts with my mom about me told me that my mom had argued with my dad about how he was treating me, and even threatened to leave him if he didn't stop. The thing is, I don't remember what my dad was doing to me before or during the arguing. I don't remember any verbal or physical abuse. I remember my dad being very affectionate towards me. I remember both idolizing and being terrified of my dad, but I don't remember why I was terrified of him when I don't remember any violence from back then. The violence seemed to start after the arguing.

Whatever it was, my mom seemed to accept the abuse going forward, the abuse I do remember. Their arguments stopped, and the yelling, death threats, and hitting started. I really don't remember it happening before that. I thought maybe it started after my brother was born. I know my relationship with my dad changed dramatically, and that I never had much of a relationship with my mom. She didn't seem to bond with me. She was not affectionate with me. I tried to get her attention when I was a kid, and that seemed to annoy her. I felt like more than anything she just wanted me to go away.

I am afraid of sleep. The nightmares I have, there is this crushing fear of someone coming into my room and doing something to me while I'm sleeping. I feel totally vulnerable at night. When I was a kid, I dealt with it by keeping my room extremely messy. I am a very neat, orderly person. I like having everything put away, everything in it's place. It kind of drives me crazy when something isn't where it should be. I felt the same way when I was a kid, yet my room was such a mess that you couldn't walk through my room. I had to sneak through on my toes to avoid stepping on something, even though I hated that because I might break something I liked. Why was it so messy? I totally know why. If someone came into my room at night, I would hear them tripping and stepping on things and I would wake up. It was a warning system. Or they wouldn't come in at all because it would be too hard to sneak in without someone hearing. Me or someone else. The real question is, WHY WAS I AFRAID OF SOMEONE COMING IN MY ROOM AT NIGHT AND DOING SOMETHING TO ME???

There is a Doctor Who episode (actually a 2-parter in Season 3 of the new series- "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood") where the Doctor hides himself from aliens that are pursuing him by making himself human. That way, the aliens can't detect him and he can protect himself. He puts who he really is in a pocket watch, and charms the watch so that it looks like nothing special to him and, without knowing why, he thinks it doesn't work and doesn't bother opening it. He keeps the watch with him, though, and when he does eventually open it at the right time, the knowledge of who he is comes back to him and he's the Doctor again. In the meantime, he thinks he's human with a regular human life. He dreams about who he is though, but thinks it's just his imagination. When confronted by his assistant with what the watch really holds, he resists opening it. He wants a regular human life. He wants to get married, have children, and grow old peacefully, even if it's not his real life. Even if his past remains a mystery. Even if he never knows who he really is.

Your mind doesn't need magic to keep something hidden from you that's there all along, if it's so horrible and terrifying that you can't deal with it at the time. I may never totally remember what happened to me when I was so young. I do know that all the little questions that blended into the background are now too obvious to ignore. So many little things, so many feelings that didn't quite fit before. How I felt disgusted and ashamed when my dad would do something affectionate towards me, like pat me on the knee or squeeze my shoulders. Why I was so good at dissociating (floating out of my body so I didn't feel what was happening to me) before my great-uncle had even sexually abused me. My mom insisting that she stayed with my dad to protect us when she was at the same time turning a blind eye to him verbally and physically abusing me. How she treated me like a rival for my dad's attention, and how I got the feeling she blamed me for the problems in their marriage. How I sometimes slept in the closet or woke up early, before dawn, and hid in the backyard. The way that they treated me, like I was dirty and damaged. Like I was a liar. Untrustworthy, when I was too young to even question them, to think that they were anything but perfect. The way I felt so ashamed and disgusted with myself. How I feared for my life when my dad was violent, but when he was affectionate towards me it was almost worse. Why my mom was so upset when my brother moved back in with my dad after she had left him. What my dad did to my brother before he killed himself.

I was raised to not believe my own reality. I was told that what I was experiencing was something else. I learned to not trust myself. I feel so many things right now- anger, disgust, sadness, fear, horror, confusion, and a little bit of freedom. I feel unburdened to finally acknowledge these questions that have only been able to get out in my nightmares before now. In therapy today I cried until I couldn't breath anymore; I was so stuffy. I still can't, and my temples are throbbing and my eyes burning with tears. But I got through all the intellectualizing, all the logical arguments I was making to myself, assuming that no one would believe me and I didn't think I could believe myself, and got to a point where I believe myself. I believe what I'm feeling, and I believe what I know. I believe what is real. I thought I'd need to convince other people before I could convince myself, but I don't need that anymore. One of the things that devastated me so much about losing my brother is I lost the only person who I felt would always believe me; who knew me. He knew I wasn't a liar. He knew I wasn't a troublemaker; I don't make things up. He knew how loyal and honest I am, and that I would never have caused the things I was held responsible for, that I wanted harmony and love in my family. I cared about our parents and never wanted to think anything bad about them. He thought higher of me than I did myself. No more. I believe myself now, and I'm willing to take on whatever that means for myself. Whatever it is, it's reality.

A week ago, when I first brought this up to my therapist I tried to backtrack and wondered to her why I even needed to think about this. I remember lots of abuse, obviously I was severely abused without even remembering this part of my life. What is the point of bringing up more? As soon as I said it, I realized how ridiculous that was. This is my life, my history. This is part of who I am. I deserve to remember my own life. Today she asked me if I was afraid to delve into this whole other level of abuse, not knowing what this means and how it affects me. Yes, I am afraid. But I really do feel a weight lifted of me, to acknowledge this to myself. I feel like I've given myself something really important- permission to remember and believe what I remember. Permission to think my dad capable of this, despite how it makes him that much more awful and depraved of a person. Permission to think my mom capable of covering this up, of doing such a pitiful job of protecting me and my brother, of being more concerned with her marriage than with me. Of the two of them making a sick bargain that my mom would accept my dad verbally and physically abusing me if he would stop sexually abusing me. Of them working together to convince me that I was the problem. Of my brother being sacrificed to this twisted and corrupt family. That I was the one meant to be sacrificed, and somehow came back from the dead. How fucking crazy and unbelievable it is, and yet, it is.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Benten the sea goddess

I was hoping to write a real post today, but again, I spent most of the day sleeping. I even slept through most of the Kings at Canucks game, which really sucks because it seemed like a good game, from the parts I caught in between snoozing on the couch. When I tried to force myself to stay awake, I would go cross-eyed and fall asleep anyway. I haven't been vomiting, but I am nauseous enough that it is hard to eat, and I am extremely stuffy. I'm sneezing almost non-stop.

I did finally get my anti-nausea medicine tonight. It was 10:30 pm before I decided to brave the pharmacy. I stocked up on Gatorade and sinus medicine. Then I drove around for a while because I didn't want to go home. I am getting lonely and bored spending so much time alone sick. Maybe I should ask my friends, who have been so great about offering to come take care of me, to actually come take care of me. I just know if I see people I'll feel like I should entertain them, and I am so not entertaining right now. I am snotty, sleepy, and my butt is shrinking. This happens when I'm too sick to eat- my butt disappears. My pants are falling off me. Thank god for drawstrings.

It's so sad that TV seems to become less entertaining when I'm sick. I watched a "So You Think You Can Dance" marathon while snoozing and balancing my checkbook this afternoon, and I can honestly say that balancing my checkbook was more stimulating. I just watched "How I Met You Mother", and even though that show is normally amusing, I think I only laughed once. It was about smoking, and I did think how amazing it is that I stopped craving cigarettes after the last one I smoked. It wasn't that long ago, maybe 3 months. It just felt unnatural to smoke, and I felt so sick during and afterward, that I think I'm really off it for good. It used to feel so satisfying, and now it feels like the opposite of that. I started smoking when I was 16, and I've quit lots of times, sometimes for years. I still craved it, though, but not anymore. That seems pretty amazing, that I will never smoke again. Yay. I guess people can change and grow out of things.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I am so drained. I could have slept all day, but I did laundry. I washed everything- my bedding and blankets, bathroom mats, all the clothes I got sick on (a lot). Everything is clean now. I can't wait to get into my clean bed. Besides tired, I'm stuffy and cold. I can feel the pressure in my sinuses, which worries me that I still have a sinus infection despite the antibiotics. I am inspired to get my apartment organized, though, with what little energy I have. Only 18 days left in 2009. I could make a serious dent on this chaos in 18 days.

I have a new Tiny Dungeons & Dragons character. She's a Goliath Barbarian named Penny Romana. Apparently Goliaths "view life as a grand competition and call on primal power to enhance their considerable physical strength and endurance" and Barbarians have "incredible and devastating powers." This is definitely a wish-fulfillment character, as I wish I was feeling that kind of strength and power right now. I'll just capitalize on what little I have, and pretend for the rest.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Swedish Meatballs

Today it rained a lot. Seriously. It felt like I was back in Seattle. I got my car serviced. I had an appointment, so I called them this morning and said I needed a ride home after I dropped my car off, and for them to come pick me up when it was done. They said, "Sure!" I only live 2 miles away from the Subaru dealer anyway. There's a guy at the dealer who's totally into me, so of course he was the one who drove me. He says he likes my smile. He asks me if I have a boyfriend, and I say no. Then he asks me why I don't have a boyfriend. I say, "Uh, I haven't met the right person?" I don't know how to answer that question.

My cousin came over to see me, and we got sushi. It was my first solid food in 2 days! I did pretty good. I ate 3 pieces of sushi, edamame, clams, and some salad and miso soup. He took apart my ceiling fan and determined that we could not fix the light, so I'll have to call the apartment manager. Then we put together some Ikea furniture that I bought, oh, like 6 months ago. Now I have a dresser for my hockey socks and jeans. Yay! I am inspired to share this. Yummy Swedish meatballs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Durga Mahisasuramardini

The last 24 hours have been rough. I started throwing up around 10:30 pm, and by about 1:30 am I knew I had to get myself to the hospital. I drove myself there- a difficult task as I was throwing up the whole time and extremely weak. My vision was blurry and unfocused. I made it there, and they were very sweet to me. UCLA has the best nurses. I didn't talk to the doctor much, but he was nice too. They got me on an IV quickly, with anti-nausea medicine and morphine. (Everything was cramping up.) They took blood work and said I had stomach flu. About an hour later I got a second dose of everything, and slept until about 6 am. I ended up driving myself back home. I told them I was just going to drive to a friend's close by and he'd drive me the rest of the way home (since I'd had two doses of morphine), but I really couldn't figure out how to get two people to come meet me, so one could take my car and the other drive.

I took the side streets and drove the speed limit, and it worked out fine. I continued to throw-up every hour or so, so I drank a little water and juice so I had something to come up instead of bile. I had prescriptions for anti-nausea medicine and some else (more was happening than just vomiting). It wasn't until 3:30 pm that I could talk myself into driving to the pharmacy. It was pretty awful. I was so tired, and still so nauseous, but I was afraid I would get worse again if I didn't get the medicine. Turned out they didn't have the anti-nausea medicine, and I won't get it until Monday. I got a big bottle of Gatorade and the other medicine, and threw up all over the parking lot at home. Amazingly, though, even without the anti-nausea medicine that was the last time I've thrown up. I sipped on the Gatorade and kept it all down, and now I can drink juice and water without it coming up. The feeling in my throat that told me it was coming up has totally gone away. I have no desire to eat, though, and I am exhausted. I've just been sleeping and sleeping. My head hurts a little, and my eyes are still pretty unfocused but better. I don't know if this had anything to do with the catered food last night, or stress, or just a coincidence, but there does seem to be some symbolic value to my body violently expelling everything out.

Okay, I have to lie back down now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Clams on the half shell and roller-skates. Roller-skates.

We had our work holiday party tonight. They set up a big tent in the grass (where they have the programmers fair). It actually fit a lot of people. This year they told us to wear coats because they had a snow machine. It turned out to be really hot in there because of all the people, and if we got too close to the fake snow we started coughing. Kind of disturbing. The food was also mostly Kristina-unfriendly. Sandwiches and pizza. There was some of the worst karaoke I've ever heard, and that's saying something since karaoke was a favored drunken pastime of my business school cohorts. I did impress my co-workers with my love for disco. They were surprised I knew all the songs. These company events tend to sound like wedding receptions because of the music they play. Still, I managed to stay about an hour. Now I'm really, really tired. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Maybe I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Unheard Music

Friends warehouse pain attack their own kind a thousand kids bury their parents there's laughing outside we're locked outside the public eye some smooth chords on the car radio no hard chords on the car radio we set the trash on fire and watch outside the door men come up the pavement under the marquee there's laughing inside we're locked outside the public eye

-X, The Unheard Music. Karni Mata icon.

Today, on Freedom Day, I celebrated by playing hockey and staying out of the drama. I just can't tolerate drama along with my inner turmoil. I set up in front of a guy driving to our net, and he tried to go through me. He knocked me on my knees, but I was proud of myself for standing my ground/ice, and grateful for my new women's shoulder pads with extra strong chest protection. That could have hurt, but it didn't. Well, maybe it did a little. I liked my line; I concentrated on the game; I almost intercepted some passes, felt frustrated that I kept missing them, but then congratulated myself for at least being in the right place to intercept passes.

Yesterday. Yesterday I was able to look into a place in my mind I wasn't able to before. I feel confusion and sickening horror. I also feel more solid, because I was looking at a part of my past that had been a total void. It's a time that was before the abuse I remember took place. It's still a dark room, but one that I can acknowledge exists enough to walk into, but too dark to really make out much right now. I want to write about it. I don't want to be vague, but I feel too overwhelmed. I'm fortifying myself with coconut water and corn nuts tonight, fortifying myself to face something that could be more terrifying than everything I've been dealing with up until now. It is truly amazing to me how strong a person's mental defenses can be, and how my mind has been able to slowly reveal things to me when I am ready to process them.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Then you should say what you mean,"

the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least-- I mean what I say-- that's the same thing, you know."
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"
"You might just as well say," added the March Hare, "that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like'!"
"You might just as well say," added the Dormouse, which seemed to be talking in its sleep, "that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!"
"It is the same thing with you," said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.

-Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Chapter VII: A Mad Tea-Party

I was just watching "Alice" on Syfy (what a stoooopid name change), a reworking of Alice in Wonderland where Alice is a grown-up black belt who is afraid of flying, the March Hare is an assassin, and it turns out to be a love story between Alice and the Mad Hatter. Ooookay. I don't know that I have anything more to say about that.

Tomorrow is my freedom day. This term was introduced to me by a friend of mine for the anniversary of the day you escape an abusive relationship. So tomorrow is my second anniversary, and also the second anniversary of when I moved into my apartment. This makes today rape day since it was two years ago that, on the eve of me moving out, that boyfriend forced himself on me. I don't know if it was to prove a point, or because it was his last chance to do that to me, or whatever other reasons a rapist might have for being a rapist. I don't know that I have anything more to say about that. As is the way things work for me, it will probably be about a week before I know how I feel about today.

What I'm not talking about is the insane conversation I had with my therapist today. I'm still processing. It was kind of a life-altering, mind-blowing hour of my existence. Just to put a symbolic point on it, I came home and immediately went about figuring how to remove the light cover in my kitchen so I could change the light bulbs. One was burned out, and the other was actually not working because it was broken in the socket, and took some effort to pry out. So now my kitchen is brighter than it's ever been, which really highlights what a mess it is. Now at least I can see to clean it up. Subtext- I pried something open today in my memories, but it's kind of a lot to try to write about right now.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Make sure you do it wise

I just got back from the Kings playing the Calgary Flames. We were so close it was kind of insane, especially all the action in the corner and against the boards. I am so proud of the Kings! They kept the energy up the whole game. Last time the Flames were here, Iginla got a hat trick, and I was sitting in the nosebleeds. This time, the Kings won and I could see their facial expressions. Wayne Simmonds had a priceless moment where he was deking around someone and gave him this mischievous look. The Kings looked like they were really having fun.

I get a little starstruck at these games. It feels pretty exciting to be so close to someone like Iginla, Phaneuf, or even Kiprusoff (I'm especially fascinated with the goalies for some reason), players I've watched on TV and heard so much about. I'm on a first name basis with the Kings, at least I think I am, but when I got to talk to some of them at a Meet the Kings event, I felt pretty giddy. They all seemed nice and like normal guys. Then I see them play and it blows me away. I still feel as amazed at hockey players and what they can do with a stick and a puck, flying down the ice on two thin little blades as I did when I first discovered the game. Watching a game so close to the glass, I can't even compare what I do when I'm "playing hockey" to what they do.

Driving home, I thought about my brother and felt sad, for the 100 billionth time and I'm sure there will be 100 billion more times, that I can't share these things with him. I hope he can know what I'm writing in the afterlife, and know how much I wish I could have gone to hockey games with him, and he could have seen me play, and we could have laughed and joked about it the way we did about everything. A Green Day song came on the radio just as I was thinking this. Something about that band makes me think of my brother, not because he ever listened to them, but because when I hear them I remember times I was listening to them and missing my brother. By some coincidence I started listening to Green Day shortly after Jeff died. His memory feels so real then, his strange sense of humor and subtle mischievousness. His way of taking the world so seriously, and at the same time not seriously at all. It's a game, a painful, painful game, but a fun game too.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Streetlights, people

Tonight, as I was driving home from my game in Panorama City, I realized something magical- there's a Del Taco on the way to the freeway. AND, it has a drive-through, AND, it's 24 hour, AND, it's next to a Starbucks with a drive-through. So without even getting out of my car, I got tacos, french fries, and a soy latte. You may wonder if these things all go together. YES. The magic of Del Taco is that you can get tacos and fries together. Even better, these are the cheap crispy tacos and crinkle fries. But does a soy latte really go with tacos and fries? Surprisingly, the three of them together are the perfect combination. I swear. This could get dangerous, because one of my women's hockey leagues plays most Sunday nights at Pano, and I experience severe longings for both Del Taco and Starbucks. I moved here from Seattle, so of course I'm a coffee freak. Since moving to L.A., I've also developed a serious taco habit. Until El Super Taco around the corner from my apartment burned down (along with Japanese Fast Food!) I was getting tacos once or twice a week. It's times like these that I think fondly of one of my favorite Sex in the City moments- a guy is bitching about Carrie smoking on a hotel balcony, and she yells back, "I have an ADDICTION, sir!" I just can't quit tacos and lattes.

I've really taken to L.A.'s car culture as well. For one thing, I love my car. Penelope is the first new car I've ever owned, and I feel pretty happy driving around, usually alone, singing at the top of my lungs (and often hurting my throat in the process) to my iPod or geeking out on NPR. I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but I play hockey with a reporter for KPCC, the public radio station I listen to. I didn't realize it at first, but one day we were talking in the locker room and she said something about working on a story. I said, "Are you are reporter?" and she said, yeah, she worked for KPCC. I said, "No way! What's your last name?" and she told me, and I yelled "NO WAY!!!" because I hear her on the radio pretty much every day. In my mind, she is the biggest celebrity I know. Yes, I consider her to be a celebrity. She's on radio! She even brought me to their Christmas party last year, so I got to meet a bunch of other people I hear on the radio. I was so overwhelmed. That may have been more exciting to me than seeing Prince at the New Years Eve party, Angel (David Boreanaz) at the hockey rink, or Boone from Lost (Ian Somerhalder) at LAX. (Yes, seeing someone from Lost at the airport was a little creepy, too.) Going to a taping of Washington Week and seeing Gwen Ifill in person may have been a little more exciting, though. I love you Gwen!

So yeah, hockey, tacos, drive-through lattes, celebrities (even ones I care about)- life is pretty exciting here in L.A.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

December Blues

Since December is such a difficult month for me, I decided to blog every day of December. It started accidentally- I posted on December 1, then December 2. I thought, why not post every day this month and see if it helps me get through the month. I often find it hard to write. I think of things I want to write about every day. Sometimes I take notes, or I just turn things around in my mind until they become more developed. I did this when I was writing poetry. Usually it started with a school assignment which I would let roll around in my mind for a couple days until I had an idea, then a phrase or a line I could build on. It's the building that I put off. It can take me 3 or 4 hours to write a blog post, and I keep thinking I don't have time to finish a post so I don't get started. I hate not finishing things. I hate that feeling that I'm putting time into something that might not get done. It seems like a waste of time if I don't end up with something accomplished afterward.

I guess I am impatient that way. Longer projects can be frustrating, because I can't see the end. If I can't imagine the end, it's hard to get started. I guess it's not totally impatience, because it took me seven years to get my CPA license, and involved multiple, intensive steps- getting my MBA, passing the four sections of the CPA exam, then the ethics exam, get a job in audit and then auditing for two years, and submitting my application (much easier in Washington than in California). That was a concrete goal, though. I could measure success in a very black and white way, either I have my license or I keep trying. I knew the steps I needed to take. It was all very clear. It wasn't easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was clear. Kind of like working in accounting. The right answers are usually unambiguous.

Black and white thinking is a symptom/trait/possible outcome of growing up in an abusive, alcoholic, or otherwise dysfunctional family. I don't totally understand why, but I think part of it is that your family life was so chaotic, and cause and effect gets so messed up in your mind. You're told that you're causing the abuse, but then you can't make it stop. You believe your parents love you, but then they treat you like they don't. It can really make you long for straightforward situations, obvious answers, structure and predictability. It feels so good when something works the way it should. It feels good to understand something, to know the right answer. It feels good to try to do something, and be successful at it.

I can tolerate a certain amount of greyness, but I feel really satisfied to reach some black and white conclusion. Like, we debated this point, but we came to a decision and that's final. I may have disagreed, but I had my say and now the debate is over and we're moving forward. We played this game, and some of the calls (or lack thereof) were crap, but we reached a final score. I was rooting for one team, but I liked some players on the other team, but regardless, one team won and the other one lost and now we're done. I guess you could say I am a fan of the shoot-out after 5 minutes of overtime when there's a tie in the NHL. I prefer that to leaving the game as a tie. Ties are so wishy-washy.

Unfortunately the Kings lost in the shoot-out today. It was a total rollercoaster of a game- the Kings were so on top of things in the first period and had the St. Louis Blues back on their heels, but the second period they were not so great. Then they tied up the game with 34 seconds left. That was exciting, especially since I was there to see it. Too bad the shoot-out was so one-sided.

My teams are the Kings and the Canucks, and I despise the NY Rangers. That much is definite. But I at least have an opinion on most of the teams in the NHL. I didn't used to like the Blues because Brett Hull annoyed me. Then I found a player I did like on the Blues- David Perron. I initially liked him because he's #57, my number. But besides being #57 (hey, there are only 3 #57's currently in the NHL, and I love my number), he's really good. If you don't believe me, check out this goal.

I also like TJ Oshie (#74) on the Blues because, wait for it, he's from Mt. Vernon, WA. Mt. Vernon is only slightly bigger than my hometown, Pullman, WA (population 26,232 vs. 24,675). For someone to make it into the NHL from Mt. Vernon might be even more amazing than Keith Ballard making it into the NHL from my mom's hometown, Baudette, MN (population 1,104, but Baudette is in Minnesota and hockey is a religion there, as opposed to Washington State, where hockey is a religion to only a select few, like me. But I moved.) Oshie is very good as well. I also like how the Blues have a nice balance of older, experienced players (like Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk) and the young, up-and-coming. Ergo, I like the Blues this season, except when they are playing the Kings or the Canucks. I also like any team who's playing the Rangers, at the time they are playing them. Hey, you think my team affections are based on silly reasoning? Yours is just as random. Go ahead and explain the scientific and logic-based reasoning for why you like teams. Yeah, that's what I thought.

I also love Keith Ballard, and his team the Florida Panthers. I even started the Keith Ballard fanpage on Facebook. Keith is having a worse November/December than me. Maybe he should blog it out.

Oh, so back to the point of this post, which is that I am going to post every day this month. It's a totally doable, concrete goal. It also is pushing me to just write, and not worry so much about time and writing something all brilliant and insightful. I think it will be good for me to just write this month.
really likes the Blues this season, except when they're playing the Kings...or the Canucks. Go Kings! Hi #57!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Hockey = awesome, except when it means antibiotics overdose

It seems pretty likely that I got so sick the other day because I played a hockey game after taking my first dose of antibiotics. With the first dose, you take 2 pills, and playing right after that was probably kind of stupid. By right after, I mean 6 hours, but still. That is the primary reason why I am avoiding getting on anti-anxiety medicine. It might help my stress levels go down, but at the same time, I am very sensitive to medication, get sick to my stomach and migraines easily, and I really get that rush of overprocessing medication when I exercise. Plus, I think hockey works better to reduce my stress anyway.

So I have a game tonight (in 2 hours, 4 hours from my last dose) and I'm really torn about playing. I don't want to screw up the medication so my sinus infection isn't effectively combated, and I don't want to get sick again, but at least I didn't have to take 2 pills this time, and maybe my body is used to it enough that I won't react like that again. Sounds like I'm making excuses. I suggested to one friend that I could take it easy, and he said, "Take it easy in hockey??? You can't do that!" He's right about that. Another friend suggested I could play wing instead of center. I didn't really like that suggestion because I like playing center. At the same time, center is a lot of skating (making it totally impossible to "take it easy") and I'm not very good at it. I am fairly decent at getting back on defense (as the center has to help out the D in your own zone) and backchecking (requiring the really intense skating because you're usually chasing someone down). But offense I'm not so great at, which is kind of important. I have a hard time bringing the puck up because I don't control it very well, and I have a tendency to let passes bounce off my stick so I lose the puck. I was pretty good at passing the puck to the center, but of course that is of little use when you ARE the center. Damn.

I just started playing center this season because my Friday night women's team- the Fighting Blue Smurf Lady Kings! lost our star center and we need at least 2 centers. I often play center on my men's team because I just get put there. I hear the occasional guy on my team gripping under their breath about me being at center (yeah, I have ears, smart guy), to which I say-

1. It's not my decision. The team captain decides where people play, and he seems to like putting me there.

2. At least I get back on defense. That seems to be a problem on our team, that the offense doesn't help the defense out. I do.

3. Bite me. If you're so good, score some goals, why don't you?

4. At least I'm trying to get better, instead of just bitching. Anyone who thinks women are a bunch of drama should compare the level of drama in my women's leagues to the men's. Men are not less drama. You think the NHL is not a bunch of drama?

Look who's bitching now. I'm venting, though. :) It's been frustrating to be sick for so long, because I know I'm not 100% and that drives me crazy. I certainly don't want to be coddled, but it has not been fun for me to be suffering through not being able to breathe through my nose, having miserable lung capacity, and coughing almost to the point of throwing up on the bench. Plus getting sick from the antibiotics. So I'm just going to whine about it on my blog, since I can't at games. Waaaa, poor me!

Okay, I feel better now. Three guesses as to whether I play tonight, and the first 2 don't count!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What was meant for you was meant for me

Okay, I am not tolerating the antibiotics well. Last night I woke up with stomach cramps and a migraine. I tried to walk it off (around my apartment), but by the time I had to get up for work I could barely move. It hurt to even turn my head. I called in sick of course, and pretty much stayed in the same position in bed until 1 pm. I did manage to eat something so I could take some pain killers, and went to therapy. I still have the migraine and a stomachache, AND my ears hurt. Sometimes the cure hurts more than the sickness...

Therapy was good. My therapist really wanted to tell me how interesting I am because I don't have borderline personality disorder. She said in the field of psychology there is something of a debate as to whether severe child abuse almost always leads to this disorder. Borderline is very hard to treat and has a poor prognosis, primarily because it is characterized by an unstable and highly disturbed sense of self. Therapy is difficult with someone who's identity is constantly shifting, like building a house on sand. (I learned that from my undergrad psych classes.) So she said I was unusual in how I had the background for borderline but psychologically did not deal with my situation in that way. It was kind of funny the way she said it, like I was a particularly fascinating experimental subject. That sounds bad, but she didn't say it in a dehumanizing way. I was actually very flattered. I remember when I learned about borderline personality disorder it made me a little nervous, because they do make it sound like child abuse just automatically leads to a personality disorder of one kind or another. We talked about the turtle metaphor, which she was all over. She thought it was a fitting improvement to the box metaphor.

Therapy has really helped me come to terms with how the combination of physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse, and neglect I went through really was quite severe, and that I did an amazing job of living through it with my personality and psychology intact. My shell had to be thick and strong, and the way I dealt with it really did allow the core of myself to go undamaged. I am a highly functioning adult considering how disturbed my upbringing was. All I have to do is look at the history of abuse and mental illness (including alcoholism and suicide) in my family to see that I fared pretty well. It feels good to know that in some ways I really bucked the system. I was meant for something much worse. I can build on my turtle shell much easier than on sand.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tickmark of My Life

I have swine flu. :( JUST KIDDING! I have a sinus infection. I actually suspected that was why this sickness was lingering on forever, like, a month ago, but I had overconfidence in the Neti Pot. Really I just don't like going to the doctor, which is weird because my primary doctor is really nice. My medical insurance carrier is changing at the end of the year and I couldn't find her in the network, so I made the appointment for a year-end check-up before I had to find someone else. Turns out they do take my new insurance. Too bad my therapist is still not in network, although I will just be sucking it up and paying more for her. There is no way in hell I am giving up my therapist, stupid insurance.

Now that I am hopped up on antibiotics, I am kind of annoyed with myself for waiting so long to go to my doctor. She kept saying, "6 weeks is a long time to be sick!" and I totally agree. I'm hoping to get my energy back soon, when my body's not so exhausted fighting this. I'm also hoping my sleep might get better too. Last night I actually feel asleep without taking anything, but I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. My therapist told me that the nightmares are flashbacks, and that's why I wake up so terrified. It still feels totally real, even after I wake up. It feels like there is an evil presence in my apartment, but I'm too scared to get out of bed to reassure myself that there's no one there. My therapist has been encouraging me to orient myself in my apartment when I wake up, so rather than staying in the terror of my subconscious and slipping back into the nightmare, bring myself into my conscious mind that knows I'm safe in my apartment and the fear is from the past. Easier said than done, though. I really tried to get myself to get out of bed and walk around until I felt free from the nightmare, but I was too afraid.

I started sleeping with stuffed animals as a way of comforting myself. They do seem to help a little, at least in feeling safe in bed and feeling calm as I curl up with them before I go to sleep. One of them, my tokidoki cactus friend Sandy, has a little description that sounds perfect for my inner child- "The cactus is a sign of protection. Kids are naive and vulnerable and need protection. Sandy and her friends slip themselves into cactus suits because they think the world is a cold and scary place, and they need some armor to face it. The cactus is the conserver of water, and water means life. The Cactus Friends are the representation of life, of being fragile and strong at the same time...and pure like water."

Like when I was a kid, I think my stuffed animals have personalities. My skelanimal (who looks like a skeleton kitty) is the littlest and kind of high-strung and nervous, so he/she (haven't decided yet) sits with Boneses the bear, who is motherly. Knuffle bunny and Lava dragon totally hit it off, so they are always together. Knuffle is wacky and quiet, and Lava is serious and quiet. Sandy stays closest to me. Maybe next time I wake up and I'm too afraid to leave my bed, I can take Sandy with me, and if I do find someone in my apartment I can poke them with her cactus thorns. Or Lava can breathe fire on them.