Saturday, June 21, 2014

Those Days

Ever have periods of time when it seems you're living entirely at the mercy of Murphy's Laws? If it can go wrong, it does. If it can break, it does... and if it can wreak havoc upon your life, it most certainly will.

That sums up most of the last month or so around here. It may sound a little defeatist but... meh... that's kind of the ruling emotion at the moment.

Even reminding myself emotions often lie doesn't help.

I have a special gift for using thoughts like that as a tool for self-flagellation... "Silly woman, letting emotions get to you! Punishment.. That's what you need." Bah.

One of the issues to rear its ugly head these last few months is, what seems to be, an all out war on my body and mind by PMDD.

Without getting into massive amounts of TMI, PMDD is to PMS what a shark is to a tuna. Not only is everything bigger and nastier, it simply lasts longer... and it really packs one hell of a bite.

I've read about menopause, the perimenopause years and what to expect... But no one mentions that PMS or PMDD symptoms can grow drastically worse in the years leading to true menopause.

In my case, this is pretty unfortunate news. My history of suicidal behavior and self injury during that particular time of month is well documented. It's what led to a diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in '03 or so.

When the symptoms of perimenopause became consistent about 3 years ago, I dealt with it as humorously as possible. It's a normal part of life. May as well accept it and look for every possible opportunity to lighten things up.

Ah, Maxine. So many of us relate to you.

The last 3 months have brought with them a 3-4 day period each month where I'm stuck in my room or otherwise isolated and crying while trying to decide if I should have myself committed or research self-hysterectomy. Yeah, that bad.


Now take PMDD, a crazy making issue all its own, and add the physical changes that occur before menopause and suddenly my sanity is delicately balanced on something so sensitive a breath could tip things.

No, wrong analogy... It's like I've stepped on a Bouncing Betty and if I don't stand perfectly still until it's disarmed, I'll be scattered 200 feet in every direction along with any loved one unlucky enough to be close by when it goes.


On the upside, 3 months of watching and paying attention to my body more than writing or the distractions of the Internet has given me some vital information. I can now predict which days are the worst, which days to prepare for or plan to fight migraines and which days to ensure I can focus on self-care so as to minimize the control this currently has on my physical and emotional health.

Interestingly enough... the rash which sent me to the ER in the wee hours 4 weeks ago started again last night. Instead of waiting for it to spread everywhere, I attacked with mass quantities of antihistamines as soon as I recognized the signs and managed to wake up mostly hive free today.

I haven't checked the dates but either my body is overreacting to allergens at a specific time each cycle or I'm more prone to expose myself to possible allergens... I tend to think it is likely the former rather than the latter but will have to add that to the list of things to watch out for.



The net is filled with cute to biting satire about menopause... whether in cartoon, meme or essay form... it always seems to be about Menopause... well here's a reality check: MENOPAUSE ISN'T THE NIGHTMARE! It's the preceding years that kill you... or make you wish they would. Menopause means the hormonal roller coaster from hell is over. You are finally at a stage of life when you're free of the second (and worse) puberty you weren't properly warned about and can get back to living a life not controlled by a monthly cycle.

Every story I've ever heard about "The Change" refers to menopause and not PERImenopause... which is when the actual changes and occasional breaks with sanity occur.

I know I'm not alone... there is myriad evidence others have it as bad or worse than I do right now... a friend mentioned it was during this particular period of life when her mom pulled a knife on her. It's both scary and reassuring to know feeling dangerous is not an abnormal part of the package.

Anyway...

I'm currenly back on the upswing and hoping to make good use of the time, both around the property and the writing.

Yesterday, the kids and I cleared out the largest of the sheds making room for a car, present storage and a full quarter of the space for whatever creative or messy project I might want to do in shade and shelter.

The shed is a huge deal, if for no other reason than having an area where I could spin around with my eyes closed and not slam into something. Clutter and crowding have worn on my patience for months and it's nice to see a little more headway being made.

Usually, I'll get an area cleared only to have it fill up again before another area can be addressed. A frustrating cycle that leads to nightmares of being featured on a Hoarding intervention program.

In addition to the shed, we've made headway on the yard and garden. I'm working on custom orders before adding more items to the Etsy shop.

As much as I cried and beat myself up last week for only growing further behind in life, the evidence doesn't bear that out. We are taking care of things. It is getting better here on the land. The collective and individual dreams of our family are not out of reach and, you know... all that "I'm okay, you're okay" bullshit.

Also, bought a domain name. That Maya Angelou quote about bearing an untold story... it's here in me and in pieces and parts online and off... but it will be told.

But first, a little more decluttering of life... I don't want to have to run hide in a shed for room to breathe.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Ham Hands and Other Excuses


I've spent the better part of 30 minutes searching for an image that captures how it feels using this bluetooth keyboard. This is the best I can come up with: 


Ham hands. That's me.

That's at least part of my excuse for not writing more lately. Resistant to change is another obstacle for me. I've mostly left the family PC to the boys unless there's no other choice. I mean, Charlie bought this 7 in tablet for me so that I would be able to write anytime, anywhere. That was the whole point behind this extravegant, for us, purchase. Yet here I am, still treating it as a slightly larger tweeting and gaming device.

So, as of today I'm resolving to make this my primary writing instrument, no matter how long it takes my old ham hands to grow comfortable with it.

Really though, I feel like Hagrid with a laptop.

Excuses, excuses.

My resolution to move more has been hampered by sleep issues and the inability to wake at a decent hour to walk before the heat sets in. Or so I tell myself.

Honestly, if I wanted to take a walk, I could do so at night. To the end of my street is 1/10th mile so 5 trips to the stop sign and back is a mile... and the people on my road are all lifers who know the Feathers family so I feel safe... at least now the meth house is no longer cooking... so now its a matter of admitting laziness and taking the steps to change.

For someone who loves new experiences, it's kind of astounding how much I resist change. Usually, that's Charlie's MO... or so I tell myself.

After breaking out in hives last week, I'm wary of working on the declutter the property situation... especially that section of porch. My mold fears were confirmed when Charlie went poking around yesterday and came in hacking and wheezing.

Sure, we have the tyvek suits, gloves and masks but that's more layering than my over active hypothalamus can handle during a Carolina summer... or so I tell myself.

My tenancy toward procrastination is the stuff of  legends... or would be if I admitted to it more often. It really should be a legend. I am the Mistress of Avoidant Behavior.

As much as I need to work on it... it's kind of nice to have something with which I'm an expert... right?

Let's face it. I'm only still writing now because there's housework to be done... and my back can't take that today...

Or so I tell myself.

*Also, accidentally wrote this in the other blog, screwed up the cut and paste and am too lazy to go back and fix it... so... yeah.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What's Your Motto?

No, this is not one of the quizzes that have been around for at least the last decade... but which we still somehow take because we're bored or curiosity gets the better of us... (I hope you aren't one of these) or because you take that nonsense seriously.

Mostly, this comes from my own recent ponderings.

Back in the previous era of blogging, I would post different quotes, movie lines and bumper stickers at the bottom of entries. When I had the energy, I'd go out of my way to find things relating to the topic of the writing... By just as often, I'd stick with one thing that fit where I was in my journey. Those quotes, for the most part, have been lost to the ether.

Helen Keller has been a role model of mine since about age 7. Her words are a part of me to this day. I can't pass a quote of hers without comment of my own. She's almost a part of my own identity.

In my teens, I learned about Mother Teresa. I'd heard of her before then, growing up in the Catholic Church, but it was in my teens that I realized so much of what she said spoke directly to my deepest, hidden, vulnerable places. They still do.

This past week saw the passing of Maya Angelou, a tremendously talented, passionate woman and survivor of sexual abuse. I've read her work and admired her from a sort of casual distance over the years... But it wasn't until her passing and the resulting memorial pages everywhere that I realized some of the words I've held at my back these last 15 years or so originated with her.


The above words were a driving force in my recovery. Realizing life was about more than surviving was a powerful revelation.


A variation of these words are part of the many lessons I've tried to impart as a parent... And grandparent.

They're everywhere. Quotes from famous people, passages of scripture, jokes and still, those bumper stickers, posted in fancy fonts on pretty backgrounds on social media everywhere. There are even e-card sites turning tweets into memes using retro pictures... Just without credit to their original authors. (Pet peeve)

For most american high school and college seniors, pages of yearbooks are dedicated to highlighting individual student mottos... I didn't attend a regular highschool. If I did, I'm sure I'd have wanted "Sometimes you just have to say what the fuck" (Risky Business)... Knowing that would never be accepted, I'd have ended up going with a line from Heathers or the ironic advice of a middle school English teacher who once rolled her eyes and told me to "try not to confirm too much".

The words of others, good or bad, can have a tremendous effect on how we live our day to day lives. Too often, those words are negative. Harsh statements spoken long ago which we unconsciously parrot back to ourselves on a daily basis.

Long before entering treatment for DID, I began fighting those old messages with passages of scripture which directly contradicted each individual message. I memorized so much, I reached a point where I could quickly call to mind an argument from the bible to whatever words were swirling in my head at any given moment.

In addition to that arsenal are others... Some, quotes from historical figures and contemporary artists, others from people I know and love.

We used to have a quote of Charlie's done in calligraphy and framed. At some point, the glass in the frame was broken and later, one of the grands colored over it in blue ballpoint pen... But the words are etched in my soul both as a mission and a reminder of why Charlie remains one of my true heroes.

"Each day, we must strive to touch the lives of those around us and, in those moments, enrich the world in which we live."

Yup, he's mine. Be jealous.

More recently, Krys shared with me something Dora told her: "Mommy don't be sad that I grow up. One day Caz and me will be mommies and daddies and you will be too proud to be sad anymore.”

What a poignant and insightful encouragement, because they do grow and it's such a bittersweet joy. These words have already etched their place in my memory.

An oft quoted toddler phrase in this house is something Elena said nearly a year ago when her little kid sixth sense picked up on my stress: " Cawm down. Take a deep breff. It be okay.”

Not a week goes by without Charlie or me saying that to someone we love. It's both a humorous statement and encouragement all in one. Plus, we're just dorky enough to enjoy repeating toddler lisp.

However original we may be, most everyone has at least one phrase they can identify as a personal credo. A guide on the map of our lives...

I've long sought just the right original design for a tattoo to be a testament to The Crew. For a long time, the stages of a Monarch Butterfly's transformation from egg to flying work of art was the imagery I hoped to capture... But in the end, it was a Latin phrase with roots in Corinthians that won out. It's short, simple, something life has taught me is true, and, perhaps most importantly, something I can do myself. Money for a professional tattoo isn't even on my list of priorities in life right now.

Amor vincit omnia 

Love conquers all... Pretty much covers it all for the legacy of The Crew.

And really, when it comes down to it... The Crew and words of Maya Angelou have been at the heart of the ponderings behind this post.

While browsing Facebook memorials to the legendary writer, I came across these words:



To say I burst into tears is a bit of an understatement. It was more the breaking through of grief and regret for speaking up through writing all those years only to allow myself to be silenced before the story had been told. Sadness for all the years in between blogs. Fear that it's a story without a neatly wrapped up ending that no one really wants to hear. Finally understanding the gnawing ache that exists when I'm not telling the story through art, music or written word... And the humbling realization that if I'm doing it for recognition, traditional publication, money, ego or any reason beyond needing to do it for my own peace and wholeness, then my priorities are seriously whack.

Like my own story, still coming in fits and starts in the other blog, this post doesn't have a tidy ending... I know what I need to do but haven't quite sorted how to consistently fit it into this chaotic life...

So, let's have a discussion instead of a tidy one line closing.

What's your motto and why?

***

“Come to the edge, he said.
We are afraid, they said.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came to the edge,
He pushed them and they flew.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They came. It pushed them...
And they flew.”


― 
Guilliame Apollinaire 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Unexpected Happy

So, after writing the previous post, I decided to wander the property. There was a pressing weight of failure as I looked around at all the cleared areas nature reclaimed in my absence. 

There was a wave of self-pity for what often seems a one step forward, two steps back life. What if all my hard work comes to naught?

Then I caught sight of one of the wild blueberry bushes I found and marked last spring... Though vines and volunteer maple trees are still fighting for space, I realized one of the bushes has grown nearly 2 feet in the last year. Not only that, but several others were heavy with ripe fruit I honestly didn't expect until next year, if ever.

This deceptively weedy area is home to numerous blueberry bushes and a
native southern magnolia I'm determined to nurture into bloom.

Easily more than the handful I was expecting this season

Plus another heavy with yet to ripen berries

As an additional bonus, the blackberry canes
I refused to mow last year are my height
and heavy laden with weeks more fruit.

Decided not to be greedy today.

So it was, in the midst of a poor me moment, a little evidence it hasn't been in vain. 

It might seem silly to be so thankful... But this is quite literally free, nutritious food. A day of effort last year made room for what will result in gallons of fruit (mostly the blackberries) I can freeze for later use in smoothies and desserts.

A little more effort in the fall and we will likely end up with a regular yearly harvest enough for jams, jellies and dried fruits to last until the next season. I almost forgot all the lunches of fresh plucked mulberries I've has this spring alone... The first year the older trees truly produced enough for more than the birds.

So, lesson learned about my tendency forward self-pity... And tonight I'll have a little celebration of said lesson. 

I'm not simply flailing with nothing worthy to show for the effort. It's an important reminder.

So, do I just eat them as dinner or really splurge by adding their juice to some chilled wine?

Decisions, decisions.




Five Year Plan

There's a joke format going around twitter about 5 year plans.

I've always been a short term planner/fly by the flaming seat of your pants type... Life always seems to fit the John Lennon line about plans so living as much in the moment as possible seems to make sense. Plus, ADD and a general inability to keep track of stuff tends to get in the way too.

But if we want to buy this land (which we've learned won't be available for sale until December) we need a plan. A real plan. Not a grand dream... But something doable. Something we can not only accomplish but which gives those from whom we hope to seek help an understanding we don't want a handout to buy the place so we can then sit on our collective asses.

On the upside, the appraisals have been done and we only need just over $60K


Current view from my rocking chair

The house is situated on the back third of the property. The area behind the shed in the picture is out of control Chinese privet, mulberry and muscadine grapes. Beyond that, between the grove of pine and maple is the marsh/sometimes pond.

Last year I had grand plans to bank the pond (preventing the wet season river in our front yard), dig it deeper, get rid of the overgrowth and cultivate the grapes and older mulberries.

We cleared it... ish and even managed a raised bed vegetable garden in a dozen of the hundreds of old tires littering the place.

But then Charlie got sick and nearly died and by the time he came home, I didn't have the will to fight the land.

I've done some research and learned a pair of goats can clear pretty much everything we need cleared, if we take the step to protect what we want to keep. Their droppings will help fertilize the land and if we build a movable enclosure, in 5 years time, we'd have everything we want cleared.

Adding more chickens and building a coop/run with handles on one side and wheels on the other would give us a rotating garden. Set the coop in the fall and by spring, 10 hens will completely clear, till, fertilize, and rid the ground of most pests. Move the coop to an adjacent location and they'll not only clear another space, I'll have a handy place to toss most garden weeds, which would supplement the chickens diet.

We have a shed once used for detailing cars where we can store pallets we'll collect over the course of the next year (and beyond). Those pallets would be used to build shelter for livestock, the chicken coop (we have wheelbarrow tires already) and movable pasture enclosures. As the goats clear land, we can choose to add landscape plants, garden features, pea gravel paths or permanent pens for a small dairy cow and an alpaca.

Aside from new nails and screws, most of the hardware such as hinges, locks, etc... is already here. Part of Daddy's collection of "stuff".

For the house, there are repairs to make and an extension we'd like to add. The extension would make use of the one garage/shed on the property with both a strong foundation and solid frame. It's a big enough area for 2 studio apartments if we wanted to do that but we need only 1 more bedroom, a handicap accessible bathroom and larger kitchen space. Extending the house to that shed would be perfect.

We'd connect using a wide hallway ramp rather than stairs and that end of the house would be Charlie and my bedroom, bath and hobby areas... Allowing us to renovate the front of the house for Dan and John, whose 5 year plan includes living at home, working, going to school and helping us get a small homestead/sustainable farm off the ground.

The front of the property has room for two small cottages or trailers which go a bit beyond the 5 year plan but would provide a place for friends or kids to visit or live as life may need. Fact is, both boys plan to stay local as they have their sights set on working for a local aerospace company. Their desire to stick close to family is both their safety net and, I'm certain, a genetic trait from generations of clan life in the Tennessee foothills.

Also, they like living where they can shoot a gun, a bow and  arrows , or "try science" without scaring the neighbors.

But back to the present plan...

Looking at the reality of things, Charlie's health isn't great but he does continue to improve. If he has a place to comfortably sit, he can do any number of things to build, repair or design whatever we may need. He can still do home maintenance... His only real limitation is electrical or magnetic fields... But, that chainmail I've been working on? THAT is a functional Faraday cage which would protect him so he can pass on his electrical and welding expertise to the guys and me.

Using scrap metal and welding to sculpt and create functional or fun art is part of my lifelong plan.

As for income, I'm presently working on the back shed to create a workspace for the items I'd like to make for sale. It's also a great space for cleaning and fixing up various vintage items littering the property and hundreds of old bottles we can sell online or at flea market.

Charlie, Dan and John are working part-time for Jesse (Becka's fiance) and their Amazon store. It's not bringing in huge amounts but it's helping and getting better with each month.

There's also the matter of scrap which can still be hauled off and sold. We have a trailer needing minor repairs. That and a hitch for the jeep are all that's needed to enable us to get the tons of scrap out of the way and add to the home reno fund.

We can already live off our present income. If we take a few steps to de-clutter and simplify, we can stretch that further. Chickens, dairy animals and gardens would, in the long run, cut back on our food bills. Learning the art of preserving fresh foods would go even further to cutting our current expenses.

An alpaca, while not a need, is an animal ideal to the area, less expensive to feed and care for than sheep, and a twice yearly shearing wouldn't cost us. Around here, the people with the skill to shear an alpaca do it for a portion of the fleece. As I don't yet have the set up to process and use alpaca fleece, the rest of it can be sold... If we buy a well-bred female, she can be bred, opening the door for a small measure of profitability rather than cost.

And that comprises most of our 5 year plan.

Some areas need greater thought and detail. I need to work to strengthen myself and restore my endurance to be a farmer... But there's little wrong with me that rehab exercises and time outside at work won't help.

It's a doable plan. It's not an unreasonable dream. It's also a plan that would give us greater self-reliance and stability for the future.

It seems like a lot yet seems like so little. But it's a plan we can break down into manageable parts... And, for me, that's a big deal and an even bigger step.

Because "Plans? We don't need no stinking plans!" isn't a realistic life motto.



P.S. If you want to help, here's the link to our Go Fund Me page.





Saturday, May 31, 2014

When the Past Comes Crashing In

The other day, an old real life friend and current Facebook "friend" messaged me to say hello. It's been some 17 or 18 years since we've had a conversation or been face to face, though we still live local to each other.

It was mostly a nice conversation and we'll probably get together for lunch in the next few weeks... But from the moment she mentioned the name of the church, it was like being swept up in a wave I didn't see coming. For awhile, I simultaneously chatted while spewing my fears on Twitter, in effort to remain polite while feeling like I might just drown.


She was part of a bible study group at the church we attended at the time... A small, supposedly nondenominational but mostly holy roller Baptist congregation which happened to be home of the area's only Christian radio station to play anything but traditional hymns.

I was a deejay (air minister) with the station for most of our 7 years with CotHS. The last 18 months as the only daytime staffer whose shift was more music than recorded or satellite talk ministry. There was a request hour called Lunchline which was both the best and worst hour of my weekday. 

Even now, I miss radio. I miss the unique experience of being in front of a microphone yet invisible... The sense of reaching out to others yet staying safe inside my glass box with my controls.

That time in radio, that I miss yet believe to be a part of a past I'll never recreate or relive is a really good metaphor for the Wall of denial and delusion I lived behind during those 7 years.

We moved to SC only months after the disastrous therapy session which sparked the creation of a mental brick wall between my then present understanding of self and all the splintered, fragmented parts I'd struggled to understand. 

*sighs*

Did that paragraph makes any a sense? 

In April of ’91, while pregnant with Becka, my second child... I took drastic action to silence and shut away the voices and memories I'd lived with since about age 3. After that moment, I was someone else. Someone malleable and desperate to be who I perceived I was expected to be. 

My influence was the belief I was a disappointment to my parents, to a student therapist, Charlie's parents (who hadn't really accepted me) and after the move, a church that taught every mistranslated idea of men and women that still holds back the Christian church of today.

Without opening the #yesallwomen can of worms... Those 7 years taught or reinforced to me a lot of the damaged bullshit I've had to unlearn since entering treatment for DID... And since leaving a traditional southern church environment.

So, T messaged me and 7 years of trying to be the perfect Christian Wife and Mother jumped on my back and started slapping me around.

A simple "wow, pastor sure has mellowed and gentled since those days" hit me as "you should come back to this church" and all I could think was HELL NO, WE WON'T GO!

I'm not only a different person than I was almost a generation ago, I'm only barely recognizable to her. But I'm not so changed that walking into an environment I KNOW isn't healthy for me wouldn't fuck with my head in ways there's no energy or will to fight right now.

I don't have the energy to fight the battle for equality that must still be fought in the average southern church. I certainly don't have the energy to sit through a southern gospelized version of praise and worship. Sorry, but twangy music makes my teeth itch and my skin crawl. I don't think I can trust myself to hear LGBT bashing from another pulpit without screaming BULLSHIT... which at this church would really cause a scene as the Sunday service is broadcast live.

This is the church and radio station I embarrassed and misrepresented when, as The Virgin Mary on the Christmas parade float, I breastfed my 3 month old daughter (Rachel, in her first acting role as Baby Jesus) under my robe before the parade began. A local shock jock saw me and when I wouldn't pull back my robe for him to see my daughter, he went on air to talk shit about it and basically suggest I went topless during the actual parade. 

Rather than defend me, the pastor/station manager gave me a dressing down for feeding my infant daughter in public and banned me from participation in the next week's parade.

You've seen the controversy over public breastfeeding that still rages in America. This happened almost 22 years ago when a breastfeeding mom was expected to keep her baby and herself at home during mealtimes.

I could go on... and expose the degree of "bitterness" I carry... air the dirty laundry of the past and prove I haven't come to terms with such things... I could open myself up to hearing from people who hate Christians and Christianity and decide my post is the place to attack... or from Christians who want to admonish me or Jesus juke me for refusing to attend an organized church service right now... But I've done that... Over and over and I'm too damn tired for that particular fight. I'm burned out. I'm taking time to heal before jumping back in. Deal with it.

It almost doesn't matter what I say about those years when I denied myself... The person my God created in love... and submitted myself to backwards and damaging ideas of who I am supposed to be... because there's nothing I can say that wouldn't elicit dismay I haven't abandoned faith in Jesus altogether or self-righteous disapproval I'm not following Him according to someone else's idea of what is right. 

*facepalm*

This is what even thinking about CotHS does to my thinking. This is only part of the swirling shit storm raging in my head.

I don't want to go back there... But no lie, there are things left unfinished in my life... Regrets which need to be laid to rest and goodbyes which need to be said.

So... Lunch it is. In a public, noisy, safe space. Because it's never the wrong time to put away old wounds and accept peace.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No, The Blog Isn't Dead. Just Hibernating

I have to admit surprise, finding after months of silence anyone finds their way to this blog at all, much less on a daily basis. Perhaps that should be encouraging and a reminder someone thinks there is something here worth reading.

I'll try to take it as such.

The silence, as usual, comes from feeling overwhelmed, which is followed closely by fear and confusion which then starts an avalanche of negative thoughts... Both old and new.

The passing of Charlie's Momma brought with it unresolved wounds and guilt for Charlie and me. 

It took him years to process the loss of his Daddy... And I can see the effects of this new grief in him daily.

Add to that the estate and probate issues, the reminder our home isn't really ours (yet) and trying to figure out the best way to make it our forever home... And that's a lot for anyone to deal with.

Opened an Etsy store only to then run into complications at home that make finding a reasonable and reliable work space, challenging at best.

It's 3 am on a Wednesday morning... There's so much more to say here but John, the night owl, has decided he needs to know all the details kept from him about Dad's 3 weeks in ICU last year.

To be honest, it's been on my mind a lot lately too. I wouldn't have picked tonight to talk about it...

But them, not talking has been a problem too... And John deserves to have his questions answered.

So, here's a post. Not much of one but it will have to do for tonight.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting Games and Other Things Beyond My Control

I'm a control freak.

Yeah, shocking, isn't it?

Stop with the feigned heart attack. I can feel your sarcasm oozing from here.

Anyway...while we wait for someone from Charleston County to come assess the value of the property, there's not much to be done as far as planning to buy the property.

There's 2 possible scenarios... Either the land is worth very little, meaning raising 66% of that is entirely doable... or the land is worth so much we're better off letting it sell and taking our third to buy elsewhere.

Until we know, we're waiting.

I hate waiting. Things beyond my immediate control are Scary Things. They invite worry, which is something I've yet to learn to avoid. They inspire what ifs which are usually the base of worry and I'm really skilled at the what if game... which would be a great talent if it did anything other than steal energy... What if is right up there with I can identify any TV show or movie from 5 seconds of dialogue or music as far as interesting yet totally useless skills.

I've enlisted the boys in helping me create a dedicated workspace for Etsy creations. Right now, I have to make use of whatever tiny space is available at any given moment and it's rough on the creative process. I do a lot better when I can spread out some materials and let my mind wander. By tomorrow, it should be possible to spread out on the dining room table and get to it.

Assuming I don't let what ifs get in the way there.

Oh look... the table is clean and there's plenty of work space.

Meh... this is another disappointment of an entry... but maybe I can do something else creative today.

Assuming a freak brainstorm doesn't fry my few remaining neurons.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking Back as I Move Forward

This entry from The Crew diary is scheduled to post in a week but I wanted to share it here now. It's a reminder to me how much my faith plays a part in my life and recovery. It's also a reminder that my battle against stereotypical Christianity isn't a recent thing... I'm proud of this writing done more than a decade ago. This man reminds me a lot of a certain ass hat over at Huffington Post.

10/7/2002

this was written to a man who has, for several years now, hosted a series of pages and message forums devoted entirely to claiming that DID/MPD, recovered memories, or treatment of ANY kind for psychiatric reasons, to be not only invalid, but *contrary to the Word of God*.

if Christianity is triggering or offensive for you, this is where you might want to stop reading.

we first saw this site (i will not link to it) last year when this man posted links in several message forums for littles (alters younger than 9). we were outraged, hurt and so upset we nearly had a fight with charlie over his refusal to hack this guy's site and take it down.

in doing some research on FAQ's about DID or relating to someone with DID, we happened upon this site. this man does all this in the name of God, which is a perfect example of the hypocrisy that turns so many from religion. he further shows his truly hateful nature in the 'attack of the MPD's' game on his site. the purpose of which is to zap the therapists and DIDers *invading* the earth and save it from destruction thru deception. yeah folks, this guy is for real. this guy's message forums are not intended for true debate on the validity of DID or recovered memory, but rather a place where he can bait multiples into an emotional argument he can throw scripture and finger pointing into, in hopes of proving the *sin* nature of multiples.

anyway, we wrote a response to one of his rantings and want to post it here. there is no anger or offense here. more a tremendous sadness for someone whose own wounds fuel his own nightmare....

"Check out the newspapers. Also check out the talk shows, or your neighborhood therapy group."

I find it sadly interesting that these areas are where you tell people to look for evidence that those with DID use it as an excuse to escape responsibility for their sin. The first two involve secular media, clearly a bad choice when one is seeking truth. As to the local therapy groups, the simple fact is, that wounded people are often so busy taking responsibility for the lies their woundedness has planted in their hearts, that they are not immediately able to take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Learning to accept responsibility is part of not only the healing process but the walk of one who follows Christ.

The first concern I have about your site is the blatant and proud hatred you sow. The game at the bottom of the first page is beyond cruel and is the equivalent of a game for klansmen to play at lynching those they also hate. (My spell check tells me that klansmen is a *proper* noun. I refuse to capitalize such a heinous word). The second concern is the lack of not only truly scriptural backing you have for your beliefs but the questionable sources of physical evidence and proof of your statements. They too are just as fallible and hard to prove as the stories from multiples you so angrily point a finger at. There are a number of scriptures it would be tempting to point out about loving your brother, casting judgments, and taking splinters from your brother’s eye that come to mind. As well versed as you seem to be, you should have no trouble locating them.

Paul said that when he was a child he spoke as a child, understood as a child, and thought as a child but when he became a man, he put away childish things. (1 Corinth. 13:11) Before I get to the point of that verse, it is recommended you read the entire chapter as well. This is not a matter of taking one verse out of context. The simple fact is that you and I only know in part and it will be before God in Heaven when we will know, face to face, the entirety of His Word, His love, His truth. This same chapter also reminds us that these three remain; faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.

As to the verse paraphrased above; the phrase 'put away' is literally translated to 'render harmless'. Is that not what turning from the sins of the world does? Is that not what filling your heart with scripture that negates the enemy's attacks of condemnation does? Faith comes by hearing. We speak the scripture aloud so that it comes to the brain through both the eyes and ears. As its truth takes root in our hearts we are able to answer the one who taunts because we have trusted in His word (Psalm 119:42). The lies of the worthlessness and filth or stupidity of those who have been wounded in life, that you feed in your site, are the very lies the enemy would want a wounded person to believe. Because of God's grace and wisdom, WE are able to shrug off that which resembles the lies the enemy has filled our life with and embrace instead the words of God.

Can any of you say with honesty that you have never behaved in a childish manner in your adult years? Of course you have. We are human, created in God’s image but imperfect because of sin. Anyone who has suffered trauma, whether abuse related or not, carries it with them until, by the Grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, that sorrow is healed. The very mechanism of dissociation that is at the heart of DID is something everyone does to some extent in their lives. Highway hypnosis being a classic example, but more recently we heard stories from survivors of 9-11 speaking of being in the stairwell only to find themselves four miles away with no memory of having got there. People in the moments before an accident may describe feeling as if time had stopped or drastically slowed in the moments before impact. That is also dissociation. A child living with repetitive trauma will learn to escape the unbearable through dissociation.

That does not mean that the memory has to be blocked, only to be ‘recovered’ years later. In my case, most of the abuse was never forgotten, only the emotions and the acceptance that those things had happened to *me* were locked away. When one is hurt as a child the emotional growth is often stunted (that would be a soul, rather than physical or spiritual, issue), causing that person to retain the childishness within them for many years. Phobias are a very good example of that. When Christ is given authority over that event, the maturation of emotional responses can be accomplished. It is highly doubtful that anyone on this list can say they have not one area of their life that does not resemble a child more than an adult. It doesn't even have to be related to trauma. A child coddled and petted their entire lives will remain childish throughout his or her life because they were never taught to grow as one should.

To address the concept of emotional healing being a soul issue; we know we are created in the image of God, correct? In His image in that He is three in one with The Father, The Son (who is the body), and the Holy Spirit. We also are three in one with a soul (our mind, will and emotions), a physical body, and our spirit, which belongs only to God and cannot be divided. It is the soul that is left wounded by trauma (the word trauma means any event which has a powerfully damaging effect. It does NOT have to be abuse).

The soul of a man is often referred to as his ‘heart’. When we are sorrowful or wounded we are said to be brokenhearted. The word brokenhearted appears only twice in the bible as one word. (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18) All other references to a broken heart are two words. The literal translation for ‘broken hearted’ is sorrowful. In the original texts the word ‘brokenhearted’ is translated to fractured or broken soul. That, my friends, is exactly what DID is. Because Christ came to heal and not to condemn, there is no fear that He would turn away from healing the brokenness of my soul. There is not one promise in scripture I have not seen the Lord fulfill. Just as much as you may despise us (scriptures about brothers turning against brothers come to mind), God loves even the multiple.

He does not require me to be one mind. He forgives the fact that I am a ‘double minded’ person, because He is slow to anger and knows the cry of my heart is wholeness in Christ. Just as Jesus reached out to the very dregs of humanity in His walk on this earth, so does God reach even the shamed and broken. One is not required to be perfect in order to be acceptable in God’s eyes. He sees us as He created us, as we are and as we will be. He knows the journey we take and has lovingly provided both Christian and secular people to travel with me. As with Much Afraid in Hind’s Feet on High Places, these people have been sent by the Great Shepherd, not to heal me, for only God can do that. Not even to ‘guide’ me, for it is His Word which guides this healing, but to be my companions and friends on this walk. They are there to help direct (even the agnostic doctor has yet to advise anything contrary to scripture) and to be by my side when my enemy would try to attack.

Yes, I am many. Yes, I bear guilt and shame for the evil done to me. I take responsibility for the sins committed by choice, no matter which ‘part’ of me chose. They are all parts of me, like a broken mirror that remains in its frame. There are no ‘lost’ pieces. God knew me before I was formed. He knew that this child of rape would live a very hard life. He knew that every pedophile I came across would recognize an easy target. He knew that I would be wounded by people I don’t call my abusers. They are my adoptive mum and dad. Two incredible, giving and sincere people who loved in the best way they knew how. Two people who, even at their worst never intended harm or to leave lasting scars. They too were imperfect children of God. They still are. In part because of my multiplicity, not only have my parents sought healing for their hearts (not through counseling but through their faith in Jesus) and forgiveness for sins committed in ignorance, it has brought a family of 11 closer because we were all able to acknowledge that as hard as we tried, we were not the perfect family. We have all done things for which we need forgiveness. In the 3 years since the ‘official’ diagnosis, this family has moved far closer in relationship to one another and to God.

This process has validated me as a child of the King, has taught me oh, so much about God’s perfect love, about truly trusting all things to Him. No mere man can sway *us* from our path to wholeness. Were I to die tonight, it would be one spirit who would stand before God and only one soul. I know that whatever imperfection remains when I stand before Him, will have already been healed. Until I do stand before Him, it is my responsibility to give each piece of myself over to Him (bottom line, it’s no different than being saved while still holding onto sin. We must choose to hand it to Him and repent that we may be healed), to heal and put back in its rightful place. Father God has given me many gifts, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have witnessed His mighty works, in the form of broken bones healed as we (my pastor’s wife and I) watched my daughter’s shattered and purple face, return to normal in moments. He can do ALL things and I long ago ceased questioning or angrily condemning that which I do not understand.

I do not understand why only one part of me has a heart murmur, or why some are severely allergic to things others aren’t, or why the astigmatism in both eyes only shows up when a certain ‘part’ takes the yearly eye exam. I do not understand why these terrible things in my past had to happen, but I know that it will ultimately be to His Glory because that which the enemy desires for evil, God can bring to His Glory. I know that because of scars on my arms and the things I’ve been through, I can be a vessel for God to do His work. Like Dave Roever, my scars are a bridge between the wounded and the Love Of Christ. We do not feel compelled to offer ‘proof’ of our multiplicity, nor do we care if you refer to us in the singular. We are accountable to God for our shortcomings and wrongdoings. We are accountable for how we live no matter what has happened or how hard it is to turn these things over to Him. I will answer to Him for every hateful word I think, speak or write. As will you.

The Body of Christ has been at war with one another from the days of Paul. There is no light that can be shed through a cover of darkness. Salvation and freedom can never come from hatred and bitterness. For all the people who have been hurt or outraged by the pages here, it is those who propagate this shameful example of Wisdom in God or Love in Christ who will truly pay the price.

May God have mercy on you,

Marisa and Crew

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Home is Where the Crazy History is...

Last week, I took a deep breath and created a page on GoFundMe. It was a hastily created page as I didn't take another breath until it was up and shared. Count it as another in the collection of Big Scary Things in life right now.

A few close friends have made contributions because they've known us a long time and have an understanding of the importance of this fund-raising project.

No, it's not for charity or for covering someone's medical costs. It felt selfish to post because it's a plea to help us buy a 4ish acre piece of land.

We're trying to save our home.

One of the highlights of the last year. Walking our duck on a leash.
This is not the first time we've tried to save our home. We once owned a house in a subdivision. When the house & Charlie's and my health were beyond repair, we did a video submission to Extreme Home Makeover. The show was cancelled shortly after we mailed our submission and due to a decision to help someone else rather than make the mortgage on time, we lost the house. It's not a decision we regret and if given the choice, we'd do it again. All this was during a time when it seemed most of America was losing their homes. It was devastating but we knew we weren't alone.

We received a paltry settlement from the bank after a class action lawsuit against the bank for predatory lending practices... but we still lost that home. It took some time but we're okay with it. It was no longer where we were meant to be.

Around this time, Charlie's mom received an emergency, quadruple bypass. In the following months, it became clear she would never be able to return to her home of 45 years or live independently. Despite the abominable condition of the home and land (which had one been a junkyard), or daughter Krys and her husband Steve agreed to move into the house to help keep it standing and to prevent the looting of the property. The rest of us moved into a nearby rental house.

Over the next 2 years, Momma moved to Texas to live with her sister, Krys, Steve and my brother from another mother, Jonas, all took care of the house and land. in 2012, Jonas had to move up north to care for his mother whose health was failing.

That fall, we invited a family to live in the only other building on the property. They needed a place to stay and we wanted to fulfill our promise to Momma that we wouldn't let everything fall to pieces. The family moved in with the understanding they weren't in a position to pay rent but could do repairs to make the place reasonably livable.

In November of 2012, Steve took a job in Boston which meant he and his family would be moving just after that Christmas.

Our lease wouldn't be up for another few months so after Krys and Steve moved, Rachel stayed in the house until the start of the new semester. When she went back to school, Dan, John and I took turns staying at the house several days a week so someone was always there. Krys was not able to take her pets so Bella, the greyhound mix and Keif, the epitome of a barn cat, joined our pseudo zoo.

Over the next several months, we did our best to clean the property, clear land, plant gardens, repair structures and gather ton after ton of scrap metal into sheds to improve the overall appearance of the property, discourage the looters who continued to wander on the land (that's a story all its own) and prepare for what we hoped would be Momma's eventual return to her home where we would care for her for her remaining years.

Clearing brush so a car could travel the driveway... and being a dork.
Despite the work, we were never able to bring Momma home. The money needed to bring the house to code and safe for a wheelchair bound woman was beyond our reach and hers. We couldn't secure grants without her being in the home and we couldn't physically care for her while the work would be done.

It was a frustrating, losing situation that left Momma feeling abandoned and uncared for.

Here we are, a year later... Momma has passed away and now comes dealing with the will, the land and the occasional (ex) family member who is looking to get everything she can after finding out she was never added to the will.

Wow... this is a longer story than I had intended.

We want this land. Charlie's brothers do not. We need help to buy their shares. This is why I created the GoFundMe page.

No, it's more than that. It's a request for help to fulfill a dream. We're seeking assistance in attaining more than ownership of a piece of property but also in laying the foundation for what Charlie and I have wanted for as long as we've been married.

In the next post, I'll share that dream... as well as where we are in pursuit of it... Our plan to make it happen and how any contributions will be used.

We're not giving up. Our kids have too many memories here to walk away. Our kids want their kids to know this place... and we intend to do our best to make it happen.



Friday, March 21, 2014

The Corruption of Our Foods Stuffs

If the title gives you the idea this will be a food purity rant attacking GMO's or tossing out buzzwords like Paleo or gluten or *puke* kale, this isn't that post. Such a rant may well come one day but there are people with far more passion and eloquence filling the interwebs with information and righteous rage right now and I'll let them take the helm.

No, the corruption I wish to address tonight is cereal companies bastardizing the simple pleasures of setting fire to marshmallows speared on a green stick.

Some corporate demon, whose name I won't mention, mostly because brand names go in one ear and out the other has released what they claim is a S'mores flavored breakfast cereal.

Let's forget for a moment no one has ever scientifically proven what soilent greenesque ingredients make up the marshmallows found inside cereal boxes and hot cocoa packets but let me clear up a common misconception... MARSHMALLOWS AREN'T CRUNCHY IN NATURE unless applied to an open flame... or if you eat the raw root of the plant for which the true memory foam food was named.

Also, if the marshmallow, when placed in a microwave, doesn't expand like a magic balloon and subsequently fill your dwelling with the smell of scorched sugar, it can't be considered a marshmallow. If there isn't an FDA ruling on this, shame on them and their screwed up priorities.

A S'mores cereal? It can't be done! Sure, you can approximate the flavors of graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate in a prepackaged box of chemicals and (rumor has it) alleged grains, intended to be eaten while it drowns in some type of milk-ish liquid... but the only milk that goes with s'mores is lukewarm, close to turning milk pulled from the bottom of a Coleman cooler and served in tin mugs around an open fire.

Look, I know I'm one of the privileged few to have the experience of leaving the warmth and comfort of home and electricity to sleep in a canvas shelter on rocky ground while swatting mosquitoes and praying the snakes don't seek out my sleeping bag for warmth. Not a lot of people in younger generations understand eating fresh caught fish for breakfast or finding out just how versatile canned beans can be when fish aren't biting. (Sadly, not great bait) I grew up eating s'mores the way God intended... standing around a smoky fire, in the dark, having pretend sword fights with the cooking sticks and seeking the ideal degree of browning on your marshmallow. Growing impatient and setting it on fire, quickly extinguishing the fire, peeling off the charcoal crust and rushing over to the adult with the Hershey bar and graham crackers while the marshmallow is still squishy and warm enough to melt the chocolate causing both brown and white sweetness to ooze from the side of your cracker sandwich.

That is a s'more.

Also part of the tradition of s'mores is when at least one person goes out of their way to remind you the origin of the treat's name. "Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts/Your Native Ancestors happened upon the concoction and they were so good, everyone was compelled to beg for s'more!" Without the passing of the legend, you are doing nothing more than stealing the rituals of proud campers and pyros of generations gone by. This muddying of our limited culture must be stopped.

Part of the appeal of the treat is the conditions required to do it properly. If you don't go to lengths to set the proper tone, you're just stuffing your gob with something you can replenish with a trip to the pantry.

Now, I'm not a s'mores addict... merely a purist. We`ve done them in the fireplace, over gas flame, over beeswax candles when the power went out... we, as a family, have tried them several ways, including (I`m shamed to admit) an electric oven... but the true s'more is cooked over an open, preferably wood, flame.

THIS is NOT a S'more. This is chocolate marshmallow pie
 
This is a true and properly constructed S'more
 
This infographic outlines proper s'mores construction

S'mores and open wood flame are so inextricably linked in my psyche, the house could be engulfed in flame and I'd be looking for the marshmallows... But that's just me.

Just know, if I ever see such an abomination as s'mores cereal in your home, our very relationship could hinge on you learning the difference between this horrible, chemical filled, atrocity and the time-honored chemical filled treat of the campfire.

The difference.
Learn it
Understand it
Live it

You don't know what you're missing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Etsy Shop and other Scary Things

So....

This is the banner for my Etsy shop
Calling the shop CraftivityDisorder. It will go live as soon as I put together a few things to list. It took the better part of five hours to get it this far but I'll consider it a win for now.

At first, it seemed like setting up the shop was another mental masochistic move because, I don't have enough things to occupy my energy and brain space, right? But I've wanted to do it for years and never had the courage. There are still so many things in life I allow to corner me into a paralyzed ball of panic... if I pick one to fight it's possible to keep moving forward.

It's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

Back in the day, writers block pretty much meant not having inspiration for a few days. Lately, it means so many things stuck in here, I can't sort out enough to pick a topic or attempt sentence construction... for weeks on end. Frustration doesn't seem a strong enough word to describe this feeling.

There are lots of topics to choose from but once I grab hold of one, the words do a spinny, twisty, catch me if you can thing and I end up having a mental flail.


Have you seen this? It's mesmerizing in a way hard to describe. It's also where my mind goes when I'm trying to write anything serious or heartfelt... bizarre, surprisingly well coordinated dance of pointlessness.

Lost you yet?

Still making progress on the Resolutions, though a few are continuing processes and one depends on Charlie's ability to help. Perhaps it would help to revise them on a quarterly basis and add new ones here and there...

- move (yes, it's a problem)
- breathe (also a problem but not because of lingering smoking effects)
- keep exercising my shoulders. what I've done entirely on my own is working.
- look at myself through eyes of grace.
- rest
- play (totally slacking in this area)
- write
- begin attending open mic night each Tuesday
- get the boys to more young ASD meetings and generally teach them to socialize
- sell whatever, do whatever is necessary to have the necessary exams to find out of my euterus is trying to kill me.
- hide less
- forget about finding a church and develop relationships with people outside any specific building.
- make something, ridiculous, extrodinary or beautiful from found junk at least once a month.
- learn welding.
- finish weaning myself off SSRI's. 3 steps over the course of 6 months to go.

There are several Scary Things going on right now... and not all of them are in my head. The sooner I commit them to print, the sooner I'll have head space for coherent writing and creative making things pursuits... and raising money to keep our home.

Ideally, by the end of the month, I'll be able to settle enough to write about our trip to Texas, Momma's funeral, meeting a friend and spending time with my brother Ben and his awesome family. Maybe I'll manage to find the funny again and, if nothing else, poke a little fun at the weirdness of life.

For now, this will have to be another bookmark of a post to let you know there's nothing to see here but I'm not dead.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keeping Our Home

I'm going to post this link to each new post for awhile.
It's a lot to ask.
But it's a worthy dream.

We have a chance to stay here. We have the chance to build a new home here... and to create the place we've always dreamed of having... to share with family and those in need.

It took everything I had to create the page so I'll leave it here for now.

Take a look... and think about it. We have 3 months before the land has to be listed for sale. For the first time in a long time, I'm certain we can do it... because I know it's the right thing.

Go Fund Me

Bah

It's sad how little time it takes for blogging to become difficult again.

Charlie's Momma passed away February 20. Since then, I haven't been able to face an open blog window and with each day it grows harder. I'm fighting to breathe and type at the same time as I type this. Blasting Queen in my ears helps a little but not enough... so expect rambling, incoherence and um... stuff.

*headdesk*

It's probably better to post this as is and let it be a marker. A reminder for me to just do it and not worry about how it looks or sounds and to keep fighting to put whatever is bopping about in this head to print. It's the not writing that allows it to become this choking alphabet soup of maddening confusion.

The mighty Mississipi... and also my mood

It will get better. Just have to keep opening the window and trying.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Adventures of Spider Damma

I know I've talked about fear before. Generally, the things I fear are not tangible... emotions, experiences, conflict... the kinds of things which affect me more on an emotional level. Things I can touch are rarely sources of a realistic or phobic level fear.

Except spiders.

Spiders are scary.

Borrowing this from Allie Broch. A.K.A. Hyperbole and a Half

As Allie so hysterically explains in her post about spiders... they are scary and it's okay to be scared of them. Let's face it... the above is a pretty good description of what many of us see when a spider crosses our path. It's a many-legged death machine packaged in a small body our eyes perceive as being at least 4 times its actual, measurable size.

Before I go any further and tell my own story, here's the reminder:


Also Allie. She has a book. It has no spiders. It's safe to buy.

I don't remember fearing spiders until I was about 7 years old.

The day we moved into our new house in Montgomery, Alabama, I found a spider in the bathtub, sitting happily in the center of a web that spanned the width of the tub. I didn't see the spider until already seated on the toilet in a vulnerable position. It wasn't possible to simply run or cry for someone to come squash it so I kept a wary eye on it until my business was done. I then backed out of the bathroom, never taking my eyes from it until I was certain it couldn't possibly jump on me and deliver a painful death bite to the center of my back where it wouldn't be reached or swatted.

I had a bit of an active imagination as a kid...

The day we moved into that house is also the day one of my brothers teasingly told me alligators lived in the sewers and grew to enormous proportions. It was also the last time I let my butt touch a toilet seat until we moved back to Virginia... but that's an entirely different story.

There were other experiences, from seeing a cheesy horror film about mutated, killer spiders which then spawned another recurring nightmare, to the day when I was 10 and a black widow spider crawled across my bare foot in the garden.

I could tell the stories but there are several and they aren't really the point. The point is that by the time Charlie and I married, I was a true arachnophobe. The tiniest of house spiders was enough to cause genuine panic.

I've fought hard over the years to overcome this fear. First, because I didn't want my kids to share the fear and second, because of necessity. During our years in suburgatory we had two summers during which our garage and yard were completely overrun by brown widows. You couldn't go one minute outside without finding one and I lived in a state of perpetual fear for my kids, the animals and what sanity I had left.

Overcoming my fear of spiders became a matter of survival. Someone had to be brave enough to deal with the poisonous ones and the ones too big to be allowed space in our house. As Charlie worked long hours at the time, that someone needed to be me.

In the last dozen years or so I've reached a point where I can run into the big black house spiders that occupy the eaves and wooden sheds of our region without batting an eyelash. I've grown comfortable allowing the huge black and yellow garden spiders space within my own garden, recognizing they are beneficial and even attractive. It's even possible to walk into a web without doing the "OHShitohshitohshit" dance of terror which you'd think was the traditional dance of my people. I'm not even too afraid to smack one with my hand if a shoe or wad of tissue is not readily available.

To my own amazement, it's no longer a knee-jerk response to kill them on sight.

Live and let live... mostly. Black and brown widows and the brown recluse are exceptions. If it's venomous enough to do real damage, it doesn't make the cut. Period.

Today was flea market day and when we passed by the reptile shop on our way through the inside, Elena asked to go see the snakes, lizards and turtles.

The reptile shop also had an unusual furry surprise today... a pair of enormous black and white bunnies who made me grateful we're currently broke. They were begging to come home with Damma... I know rabbits rarely make noise but they were speaking... "Take us home. You know you want to take... us... home." Who am I to argue when a member of the animal kingdom deigns to speak to me, a mere human?

Don't argue with my delusions. I like them.

Anyway...

For reasons I can't articulate, one of the two rose hair tarantulas on sale also decided today was the day to say something other than "I'll kill you and suck out your innards in the dark of night."

It said "Pick me up. I'm a nice arachnid and much more pleasant to hold than the scorpion in the next tank. He wants you dead."

Without fully thinking it through, and with my last tarantula encounter running through my head, I asked to hold Rosy. (I don't know if that's his name but he is a he and if his name happens to be Rosy it's because of his personality) The proprietor picked him up and placed him in my open hands.

Elena stood in front of me with a look of total fascination on her face. Becka was backed into the lizard display and contemplating escape. The salesman was telling me about rose hairs but I was too focused on the one on my arm to hear him. I don't remember if Becka said I was crazy when I asked her to snap some photos... I only registered the pained groan she made before reluctantly taking a few pictures.


Becka didn't take the above photo as Rosy explored my arm. There's a good chance I won't get the pictures Becka took because she'd have to look at them to send them and that's not likely. She's still annoyed by Elena's desire to hold it too.

The first two responses I received to the tweet were from Krys and Rachel who responded with *runs screaming* and "Why?" respectively. They (as well as Becka, Dan and John) were with me the first time I intentionally touched a spider in effort to face the fear and, afterwards, they had to help keep me on my feet as I stumbled toward the exit trying to stay conscious.

Why did I decide to hold a tarantula today?

Because I've been terrified of spiders the vast majority of my life. Because my fear of spiders has incapacitated me and made me so irrational I once begged Charlie to come home from work just to kill one. Because I've refused to go into entire rooms of a house after seeing a large spider. Because I refused to enter our attic in Durham the last 8 months we were there because a big, furry, brown spider crawled out of one of our storage boxes. Because I once called an exterminator friend and tried to talk him into coming back from his vacation to kill a Carolina Wolf Spider which had survived half a can of Raid and was under the porch where my kids and I liked to spend time. Because, despite my best efforts to be brave in front of my kids, the fear of spiders passed to them.

I decided to hold a giant spider today because I've spent a good chunk of life terrified of one thing or another and fear is an energy, rational thought stealing emotion that's controlled more of my life than it deserves... and if I can face up to any fear and kick it in the huevos then that's what's going to happen.

And I did.

And I'm very proud of myself for taking the chance.

I even liked it.

I might even go visit Rosy again and let Elena hold him too... if I can keep Becka from incurring the "You squash it, you bought it" policy.