Just some thoughts, and things making sense…

For the past few days—probably because it’s been close to the anniversary of the dumpage—my ex has been on my mind.

Don’t worry, I’m OK, nothing drastic is about to happen nor is it in any way shape or form risky. What’s been on my mind are the things about me that probably would have gotten me out of the “relationship” even without the circumstances that there were.

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Started from the bottom… 

I’m self taught.

Yet, I have the audacity to call myself a photographer.


I started from the bottom. Mom’s old film camera and B&W film and things in the backyard. When things went digital I experimented with the things she taught me using an entry level digital camera. It was like going back to class—which is a funny story. The primer she gave me over the years was so thorough that I was summarily booted from one intro class. I already knew the material inside and out. Unfortunately, the class I needed was two hundred dollars above my pay grade.

So I turned to books, articles, and the good old street beat. From instant Polaroid, to Kodak point and shoot, to now, I’ve gone from simply trying to catch what is in front of me to actively trying to blur the line between record and art.

But it didn’t happen overnight. I had to start somewhere.

Washed out on the way to the work shift.

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They always happen after I’ve been left or ditched—the nightmares, that is—and getting back to sleep is a trial because I tend to fall back into them.

This time it was a combination of the ditch and the almost aggressive way I’m misgendered at work. No matter what I do it’s in one ear and out the other.

These things always leave me dizzy and exhausted. I’m not sure my “breakfast”—a double espresso used to shoot my meds—will do much against it.

And now I get to pull a mad long shift…

Almost a week removed from the collapse at work.

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Tesla the kitten. We're all sure she's an evil genius.

I just woke up and am not photogenic so here’s my friends’ kitten, Tesla.

I think I am now in the “medications do weird things to me” phase of treatment.

I dreamt Pharrell was in my kitchen with a bunch of judges and we were trying to learn two things: how to make a good turkey flat wrap with country music on the side, and an indie 8-bit concept-punk game. (Yes it was sponsored by tumblr, why do you ask)

At one point he panicked and I had to talk him down from using HAM, which was banned… So naturally, red versus blue bass pumped low riders follow and we do that instead of the contest.

What hell, medications.

Part of the reality of being po’broke.

The thing about being really poor is that when you don’t make enough money to get yourself something nice for your birthday, it’s a mild disappointment. There is another thing about that fact: when you manage to make just enough to pay off all of the bills that you have that month, you still manage to feel accomplished.

This month is one of those.

I looked at this week’s paycheck and for a moment felt accomplished. I made an amount of money that had a two in the leading number slot instead of a one. I felt like I was getting somewhere. Then I sat down and did the math, and realized that I hadn’t had as much money as I thought.

You know, I actually don’t make enough money to save money for a rainy day—or, really, even a sunny day, most of the time. There just isn’t that much cushion. Especially when you live in such a situation when your rent isn’t even static. Mine’s about to go up for no other reason than it does: it goes up when the season gets better, so that it stays at a rate of 30% of my adjusted income. The little box that I had for my savings is going to be the thing that helps me pay the bills this month.

I’d meant it to be for something else, but that can wait for another day.

…I’d like to do something nice for my birthday, but I just don’t have the money to do so.

And frankly, just getting there and wanting to still be around at that point will be enough for me at this point.

Nine days.

Welp…

Let’s start with…well, how the hell does one describe THIS?

 

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment.

Yes, I realize it seems that I start every other entry with that phrase, but I have a lot of doctors, and therefore there are a lot of appointments to be had half of the time. And I have to work to keep them all straight sometimes. It’s a good thing that three of them are in the same building, or there would be some trouble. Anyway, the usual happened—poke, prod, measurements, weight’s high, blood pressure’s…actually, THAT was alarmingly low that day. We’re keeping an eye on that.

I’ve mentioned once or twice that there’s a problem with my system—peripheral neuropathy, that thing where your body’s nerves are just sort of fried, misfire, and in general HURT A LOT even without provocation. The problem is, we couldn’t figure out why it was happening, because I’m not diabetic. I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t have MS. I don’t even have your basic pernicious anemia, the B12 deficiency that would ALSO cause the problems I’ve been putting up with.

The last few months have been a game of Dr. House—work with a list of ideas, throw ideas at the list, throw as many medications as my constitution will allow at it, and see if it will work. Everything that we did that approach with had some problems with it—the annoying one, the time we thought it was shingles (excuse me, the time we HOPED it was shingles), the medication gave me the worst nosebleeds, and I had to drop it like a hot potato. It was unpleasant. What was MORE unpleasant was the fact that it took three instances of elimination process—dropping everything else I was taking at the time—to uncover it.

*record scratch*

I don’t recommend that, especially if you’re on a crapton of head-meds. It will Fuck You Up if you don’t know what you’re doing.

*music resumes*

Anyway, back at the doctor’s office, I explain the NEW annoying crap that my system’s been doing, plus the return of the stomach ulcer and the havoc it’s wrought on my system in the interim. As I’m explaining the new neuropathy stuff, the doctor explains that Ulcer 2: Electric Bugaloo is because—LUCKY ME—I have severe IBS, and anything that could irritate my gut will therefore come with a free dose of the It Gets Worse trope. In my case, that means the ibuprofen that I had to take after the time I got shot wrecked my stomach a bit more hardcore than it would have otherwise. All I really can do right now is avoid any stomach irritants until it heals.

Oh, and THAT’S the good news.

Next thing that happens, doc orders me to stretch out on that cold table thing and starts prodding at places
To my shock, EVERYTHING IS RAW. (Especially the ulcer zone.) The bad leg goes twitchy when he gets to it, just like it did at the neurologist’s office, which I explain when he jumps—it’s a fairly violent twitchy, like if everything in the leg was a joint and he hit all of it at once with one of those reflex-hammer-things (I have no idea what those things are called).

It’s at this point that the doctor informs me that now we KNOW what we’re dealing with, and that there is no way my insurance is going to cover these medications.

“What are they?”

“Gabapentin, Neurontin, that sort of thing.”

Fuck, I think. “That sounds like fibro meds.”

“If I were you, I’d think about filing for partial disability, or medical, both if you can manage it.”

Fuck, I think again. “What if I did and it didn’t work?”

“Keep at it, make’em tired of seeing you, and as SOON as you even get a MAYBE,” he says, “get back in here, because if we can’t get this managed, it WILL get worse.”

“Ain’t gotta tell me twice.”

So, what Friday boils down to is this: the neuropathy diagnosis was an UNDER-diagnosis with a dose of optimism, hoping that it WASN’T worse than that. What we’re actually dealing with is fibromyalgia, which is a step ABOVE your garden-variety neuropathy—for one, it doesn’t take the diabeetus to show up. Medicine knows jack shit about it, or what causes it, or why it hits who it hits. It doesn’t kill, but boy will it make your life hell.

But there is an upside:

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Good Boy: The Life of Sparky

An article on Cracked today went over a few science myths that we learned in kindergarten class as kids. Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but we most certainly didn’t go over the Coriolis effect or introductory aerodynamics. The origin of diamonds and how dogs do or do not sweat , however, did come up.

Those two items got me thinking about something that meant a lot to me as a kid, though.


My grandfather—Big Dad, as we called him—was a hunter. He got a puppy with the intent to train him as a hunting buddy. He was this pretty little golden collie mix—I don’t know what he was mixed with, but he looked like a fluffy lion-wolf thing. He asked me and my cousins to suggest  a name for him.

“Sparky! He’s all gold and sparkly!” I suggested and with my five-year-old self tried to go up and pet the little guy, but then my cousin shoves me. I eat a  mouthful of hardwood floor.

“That’s a stupid girl name.” They both laugh. Stupid boys.

I get reprimanded by my grandmother for what I’ve done. I’ve already learned to try to ignore those—they were the boys™ and they were special, because they were the only boys in this generational family chunk. Mom and Dad had taken me aside for this a long time ago and I’d had time to make an almost-peace with it.

By the time I’ve managed to stand myself up, the name Sparky has been accepted, but only after one of the boys™ has suggested it. Then he lets us play with the little guy.

As it turned out, Sparky was the brightest little pup ever. He learned at an amazingly fast rate, and by a couple weeks in he knew Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Take Cover, Down, Shake, Bring The [this is where you point at the thing and say its name a few times while he processes it] and It’s Too Cold Huddle Up.

My problem was, he grew up.

As in way up.

As in he got so big he started to scare me.

After a while the cousins started using the threat of turning him loose to scare me. Sparky was a beautiful, majestic beast, all golds and glowing and beautiful rippling muscle. And I was—am!—a tiny little preemie kid that never really caught up to the family standard size, with spindly little bones and no muscle on her body. I seriously thought he’d mistake me for a Milkbone one day and eat me as a snack.

So the day Big Dad picked me up on a lark and dropped me on big Sparky’s back was terrifying.

Then Sparky took off.

In D&D, halflings have an option for a canine mount. I don’t THINK my Big Daddy had any contact with a D&D module, but he had a sense of humor, and he knew about how much Sparky could haul, and I was a little 30-pound thing at five (IF I WEIGHED THAT MUCH!).

So here I am riding on a big golden dog with a huge cheesy grin on its face as it does laps around the ludicrously huge backyard. Big Dad’s grin is a matching one to Sparky’s, I see, when the dog turns around and brings me back.

I was never afraid of Sparky again—he’d charge at me but he’d slow down, nose boop and then cuddle when I was there from then on—with permission from Big Dad we’d run laps to keep him in prime hunting condition. The two of them helped to expand my palate—at least, as long they remembered not to TELL ME what the meat was before I tried it, because I didn’t like knowing the food had a face before I ate it. (Squirrel’s pretty tasty, if you can believe it.)

The day Sparky died, no one saw it coming. The Midwest has a bit of a spider issue—I’m not a fan of those bastards anyway—and the beautiful guy was bitten somewhere we couldn’t spot, between the toes of a paw, so we didn’t know until he was gone. He hadn’t responded to an offer of laps, and only bugged me and Big Dad for a few cuddles before lying down to go to sleep. He didn’t wake up from his nap.


We buried him that day in the shade of his favorite tree. It took a while to do—I kept patting him, hoping he’d warm back up and wake up.

It didn’t happen.

“We have to put him in, Grasshopper.”

“But it’s Sparky. Sparky always gets up.”

“Sparky was tired. Now he has to sleep.”

“But it’s Sparky.” I patted his nose. His nose had never been that cold. It was like ice, and there was no breath. That’s where I started to realize it.

“Do you know what happens to good dogs when they’re gone, Grasshopper?”

I shook my head. I was rubbing Sparky’s ears now. They were cold.

“When you bury a good dog,” Big Dad said, “the Earth takes special care of them. One day when your children’s children’s children come to this spot, they’ll be able to dig here and find a diamond, and Sparky will protect them through that diamond for all time.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Old Injun man told me this—the one with me in the war.” Big Dad stopped to adjust his false teeth—the ‘Injun’ wasn’t a racist slip, it was his teeth slipping. They slid back into place with a paklok that made me smile in spite of the situation.

“Okay.”

After we lowered him into the hole, a squirrel kicked off a branch over is, jarring enough leaves to let a brief flash of light onto Sparky’s fur so that I could see how shimmery he was one more time. I stopped Big Dad in the middle of a shovel of dirt so I could jump in the hole for a second. I had to do one thing first.

Sparky looked just like he was sleeping. It was a simple matter to believe his spirit would wait there until the day his body was new and shiny, waiting for someone to find it and bring it in as an amulet of protection. I smoothed his fur down and arranged him so he was in his favorite comfy curl, and when I was satisfied that he looked happy, I gave him a pat on the head.

“Good boy.”

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