The Drawer Incident

So, a few weeks ago I posted this photo online 


and complained my cat Emmex had made a mess of whatever feather stuffed thing he may have gotten into. (Spoiler alert: I don’t actually own anything stuffed with feathers except maybe an old coat but that’s packed away. Not my finest intellectual moment.)
Today,  I was at work and had this exchange with 16:

I was freaked out for a moment but work got busy,  people broke things they shouldn’t be touching and I completely forgot about the drawer warning.  

When I got home 16 was at work so I was all alone.  Yes! I thought. I’m going to burn some sticks and enjoy a beer on the deck! 

So that’s what I did.  No sooner had I posted this to Instagram where I hoped to receive approval for my languid summer eve,  than 16 texted again reminding me of the previously stated doom. 

I will give you three guesses as to what was in that drawer.  

If you guessed dead decaying robin congratulations! Your prize* will be mailed to you! 
*prize consists of dead bird plus bonus cardboard box

I contemplated attaching a picture but thought better of it because,  let’s admit it,  not everyone wants to see that.  

So now I have a free drawer for anyone who would like one.  Good for many uses: firewood, hitting wasps’ nests out of trees,  and the like.  Do not use it for utensils!

(And now I feel I should clarify: the drawer was empty & unused, and yes,  I had noticed a smell but I thought it was coming from the vent where Emmex likes to climb under the house and in an unreachable place so I sprayed some stuff that way and lit lots of incense.  Yes, lots of incense.)

So I wrote a short story…

I’m not sure if this is real or fantasy. No I’m not trying to quote Queen. I’m just really not sure what to believe anymore.

I mean, Preacher Stewart says it’s probably because I don’t pray enough. Maybe I’d be full on if I was more religious or a better person or maybe if I hadn’t stolen that half a pound of ground chuck back in December.

God, it’s just so messed up.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

Late last June, or maybe it was July, it’s hard to remember all the details, I was struggling, really struggling, y’know? Like too poor to eat anything but ramen noodles struggling. Like being too depressed about my finances to bother doing anything about my appearance struggling… Like standing on the edge of a bridge struggling.

But I got a job finally. It was a crappy little job waiting tables at some hole in the wall pub but after a couple months I had my regulars and they’d tip me decent and I was crawling out of the dark abyss I had been in. Damn it. I was doing it. I was really getting things sorted. I had enough to eat proper sandwiches and broccoli. Oh god, I missed broccoli. I’d buy a metric ton of it with a good chunk of my paycheck and I’d gorge on that stuff every night for the first couple weeks… Yeah.

Anyway, I was crawling out of this hole and I could see it. I could see that light at the end. I even got myself a boyfriend. He was smooth and easy going and exactly what I thought I needed. I mean, if I had looked at it objectively I would have seen it in a different light, but hindsight is 20/20 y’know?

So things are going good for another couple months or so then he up and leaves. Disappears in the middle of the night with half my wardrobe and the stash of 1500 dollars I’d been saving for emergencies.

God, I crashed so hard. The first day I kept it together, but after… After was a whirlwind of destruction and I couldn’t stop it. My entire paycheck got spent on pixie sticks and booze. (I will not touch pixie sticks to this day. Never mind I don’t eat. One thought of those things and I want to throw up. Violently.) I got fired from my job because I guess it’s kind of hard to employ someone who doesn’t show up for two weeks.

So there I was, back in the state I had been trying to get out of so desperately. You know what that does to your mind? I was back to eating ramen noodles when I could beg for enough change from people on the streets; and that was on the days I could get out of bed.

Then December came. God, those cheerful decorations everywhere, the holiday songs, people just smiling way too damn much. I shut myself in my room, piling blankets and towels and other crap over the windows and door to block out the sound of the outside world. I ran out of noodles. And then I ran out of booze.

I emerged on the 22nd of December like a cicada crawling out of the earth. I hadn’t seen the sun in ages so I guess it was a mercy it was overcast. My clothes were dirty twenty times over and I knew what I looked like to the people who walked past. I knew what I smelled like too. I didn’t care.

There was a butcher shop on the corner that had closed early. I knew the guy who ran it, sort of, mostly by reputation. He wasn’t a bad guy, just the sort to take the skin off your back if you crossed him. Anyway, I saw the piles of meat in the coolers and my mouth filled with saliva. You know that deep achy feeling when you haven’t eaten properly and you can feel it tug at your soul? At that moment the only thought in my head was how fantastically delicious a burger would be. I stared through that window for a good fifteen minutes then made a decision. I wasn’t going to rob the place. I was just going to take enough to feed my complaining stomach. So I went around back, smashed the lock and hauled out a couple handfuls of ground beef.

Now, I don’t know how a soul works but my theory, god, my stupid theory… It’s just, y’know how when you die you’re supposed to go to heaven or hell and you get whatever you deserve for eternity right? Yeah no. That’s not it at all. Because I have these flashes and I think this moment right here is what made that in me.

I was coming out of the alley and there was this kid. This kid, geez, couldn’t have been more than seven. And she was rail thin. I mean really freakin’ thin. She was wearing this poofy winter coat about two sizes too big but the wrists that poked out of those sleeves were bones. Just bones. She probably hadn’t eaten in longer than I had and here I was with my ill-gotten beef just staring at her. God, just staring at her.

I handed her the meat, told her to go home and cook it up and I think she was confused. I shoved it into her hands anyway and she finally got it. Making a smile that I swear could have lit up a thousand suns she ran back down the street and turned a corner.

It made me think y’know? I started to think about my life and how that kid was just happy with enough beef for a meal or two. I still hated my life. I still wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep the rest of my life away. But there was this spark of something else.

So at this point I could either go back in the shop and risk getting caught or I could crawl back to my room and forget it ever happened. The problem was that guy, the one who owned the shop, he’d returned while I was standing like an idiot not 100 feet away from his busted back door. He figured it out pretty quickly and I ended up here. I don’t remember what it felt like. I know it must have hurt though because I was black and blue for a month after.

Look, I know what this sounds like but I swear if I had a better explanation I’d tell you. It’s just, I get these flashes y’know? They’re like memories… No that’s not really right. They’re like I was somewhere else and then I just end up back here. I mean, you can call it whatever you want, heaven, paradise, but it’s this beautiful place. Just, god, beautiful and no one’s sad or hurt and it feels nice. It’s just really nice. And I know I died back there but maybe that one final freaking bad decision made up for, like, I don’t know, maybe twenty percent of my messed up soul.

Preacher Stewart says it could be better. He says I could get full on if I prayed more. I could stay there longer. I could get up to maybe fifty percent someday. That would be cool. Yeah, I could handle fifty percent. Split the time between here and there.

There was this one time I saw someone familiar. I think it was my gran but she was real far away and blurry. But I could hear her voice and she just wanted to sit me down and talk. I mean, I’d like to talk to my gran again someday. Maybe if I get to fifty percent she’ll show up again.

I’d like that.

#BLESSED *insert sarcastic overtone here*

I might be dying.  Probably not.  But right now it definitely feels like it.

Sunday I had a fantastic first experience with an anaphylactic reaction to mixed nuts.   Nope.  Never had a nut allergy before so that was an amazing surprise.

Today I decided to experiment and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  (I feel I need to explain there were no peanuts in the mixed nuts from Sunday so I had a reasonable expectation that I was only allergic to tree nuts and not ground nuts, or whatever you call them. This was not the case.) I haven’t stopped leaking and sneezing since. Luckily I have not had the itchy mouth and swollen throat and asthma attack like I did Sunday so I’m still in denial hoping I can enjoy peanut butter and just chalk this up to a horridly allergen-ful Michigan spring. 

I have taken two fexofenadine and one cetirizine and have now added a benadryl to that count because NOTHING IS WORKING. 

I fully expect my children to regale me with tales of strange utterances and  ridiculous requests upon waking in the morn. This is assuming I survive the eve and remain among the living.  

Drafts

I have, on this site, four unpublished drafts of things I started to write then was either interrupted or I decided I did not want to finish what I had started. Three are several sentences long, one almost a paragraph. The fourth is only half a sentence: “I promised there…” I’m not entirely sure what the fourth was going to be. It was started a year ago so my memory may have fuzzed a bit.

I constantly start things and they sit a while before I get back to them. Recently though I have been finishing things. I finished the Icelandic sweater I started knitting last year and I finished a book I’d been reading off and on for a few years. It is not a bad book. It is a rather good book. The problem was with me. Every time I would start reading it again some major life crisis would happen and I’d set it down in favor of something easier, something fluffier and something not quite as deep. These fluffy books wouldn’t satisfy me however, and I would find myself craving more and more. They were snacks. This other book was a meal.

I recently found myself in a relatively less stressful place in my life so I decided to try again. At first I was afraid something would happen to prevent me, once again, from finishing the book. But nothing happened. I finally finished it. And I feel a bit more me than I have in quite a few years.

You see, I used to eat books. I would devour four or five in a month. Then I had a [insert major life event here] and everything fell apart. I couldn’t concentrate on anything anymore. More things happened in the five years that followed. I fell into deep dark depressions and high anxiety that prevented me from eating at one point for 3 months. (Seriously, nothing tasted good. Nothing. When I had recovered I had lost 50 pounds and most of my mind.)

I’ve gotten better since then. I’m not whole. I’m not sure I’ll ever be. But I’m more me than I’ve felt in the past 6 years. I’m taking an out of country vacation at least once every year, I’m reading more books that have substance to them, I’m not depending on someone else (I could write pages and pages on how this has changed my perspective in life) I’m writing a book (though it’s slow-going and my confidence has been shaky at best) and I think I’m getting to a place where I can trust my decision making skills.

I’m not quite there.

I may need to rewrite this draft a few times.

But I see my life headed in a direction that could lead somewhere I like.

And that’s huge.

I’m going to color tonight

Because the world is scary

I’m going to color tonight

Because I can’t do much about it

I’m going to color tonight 

Because if I can add just one small ray of sunshine

Then I know

That the world is not as scary

As it was before

page from You Are Here by Jenny Lawson

I’ve been uber hermity lately. Like, not answering my phone hermity, not going to church hermity, and curling up with books & knitting & not answering the door hermity.  I have had a rough time making plans of any sort and being around people makes me want to retreat to a less populated area. Like only me populated. Thing is, I also crave interaction. The fact that this makes no sense whatsoever doesn’t matter.

I tell myself it’s fine to practice self care but at some point I have to drag myself out of the funk and maybe interact with the world. I touch a tentative toe into the pool of the outside world. I spend an hour, maybe two, in the swirling eddies of people. I smile, I laugh. Then I succumb to the pull of my home. It’s not that I particularly like my home. It’s definitely nothing special: a broken mobile in a small town away from most people I really know that needs more and more fixing each year. I’d rather move and forget the place but it is still the place I can go where no one comes to bother and I can be guaranteed my alone time.

The world is a scary place right now. I have fears for my kiddos and for myself and for my friends. I can do nothing about most of it. But I’m slowly coming out of it.

I find that art helps. Making it. Seeing it. Just seeing that someone saw something more beautiful in this world because right now it’s dark and gloomy.

And that’s mostly the point isn’t it? Whether you think it’s pretty or thought provoking or gauche or horrifying it was thought as important enough to immortalize, to be kept, to be shown, and that’s beautiful.

I am not a great artist. I never hope to be. Any art I happen to create is mostly for my own use and to surround myself with positive thoughts.  I had more pictures in my cubicle in the first week of work than most of my coworkers have combined. I think they find it odd or at least curious. It doesn’t matter. I have to have art around me. It gives me a sense of meliorism and hope. It makes it worth leaving the house and braving those places with people and other scary things.

This world is scary. Art makes it better.

Conjectures of the Not-So-Scientific

​I generally do not have occasion to be absolutely terrified in my life. As an anxious person I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, yay no paralyzing, absolute fear from physical things that could hurt me; on the other hand I wonder if I were to have something to be terrified of, something genuinely scary, like a murderer, or a ghost, or a murderous ghost, maybe I wouldn’t be so terrified of the things I don’t think should scare me stupid.  Like phone calls. 

Palpitations commence if I even consider answering the call of the Dixie Cups emanating from my phone.  Nope.  I just allow the tune of Iko Iko to continue until the caller gives up and/ or leaves a voicemail. If they don’t leave a voicemail I assume it wasn’t important and that no one died so I don’t need to return the call.  

But let me back up a second. I’ve had weird things happen to me. I haven’t always had an explanation, but I assume it’s explained away by something logical.  (When frogs started showing up in my house I assumed they were getting in somehow and not the result of a biblical plague, mostly because I know I don’t run an Egyptian empire and because the water in my house never turned to blood.) However there have been a couple times I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I wasn’t able to come up with a proper explanation.  

There was the time several years ago I was sitting on the couch in my living room, probably folding laundry. It was a sunshiny day and you could see the dust motes floating in the light coming through the window.  It wasn’t dark or scary or menacing but a glass mixing bowl exploded on the counter in the kitchen.  Now when I say exploded…well it sort of cracked suddenly and pieces fell to the floor. I knew I had used that mixing bowl earlier and it was just waiting for its turn to be washed while the dishwasher ran.  Maybe it didn’t want to be washed.  Maybe it said to itself, “not this time,” then laughed maniacally when it was never washed again. Of course this plan probably backfired because what piece of dishware would rather be tossed in the garbage? Maybe it was depressed? 

Perhaps there were tiny fissures in the glass that I couldn’t see.  The sunlight caused the glass to heat up and expand and that is when the bowl exploded. 

I had another thing happen to me just a couple days ago.  

Middle of the night.  Emmex was sleeping on my bed but I wanted to get up and grab a drink. (Michigan winters are dry.) Now, my room had been shut for a while.  I knew Emmex had been in with me the whole time because he had been sleeping on my hair.  When I went to the kitchen though one of the drawers had been opened and I had heard scuffling just behind the vent face.  So I knew it wasn’t my cat who had gotten out and attempted to climb in a kitchen drawer and was now struggling to get back into the proper part of the house. I really did not want to open that drawer further and possibly alert whatever it was to the possibility of a ready victim.  

I stood there for a moment contemplating what kind of creature could have gotten in and what sort of damage it would do when it dashed out at me.  I slowly opened the drawer.  There was nothing. Absolutely.  Nothing.  

It’s completely feasible that this was a squirrel or a possum or a raccoon just scrabbling beneath my trailer and it only sounded like it was coming from further into the house. But I still have no explanation and I was completely terrified for an instant. And I slept pretty well after that encounter. 

This brings me back to my original conjecture. Could I at least partially control my anxiety by being exposed to perceived threats once in a while? Sort of a scare me into exhaustion type of thing.  This might backfire as well.  While I utilize scary shows to make my mind focus on ghosts that could be plotting my death rather than worrying about an apocalypse I usually end up having pretty vivid dreams because of it.  If I “dose” myself too much then I run the risk of my imagination running away with me (it doesn’t have to do much convincing) and causing more anxiety than I had previously.  

I am also a huge fan of over thinking everything as evidenced by this too long blog post.

Gimli’s Travels

It started two and a half years ago.  I bought a Lego Gimli figure to take with me places because my dad had loved cosplaying Gimli and it was like taking him to all the places I had wanted to take him while he was still living.  

He was disabled, had a rough time getting around and when he did push himself he would pay for it later.  He still wanted to travel all over. When he was younger he spent his army days in Korea. His pictures were spectacular. I know he had always wanted to take my mom travelling but with 4 kids and a teacher’s salary it was too expensive. 

So when he passed I got uber sentimental and decided since I couldn’t take my dad places I would take Gimli.  

So I took him to Nepal.  

This is on the window sill of my guesthouse room in Kathmandu near Durbar Square.   I’m pretty sure that’s where I left him. Accidentally.  

I was so sad, but then I thought, hey maybe some person will find him and get a smile out of finding a Lord of the Rings character in such a random place.  And I knew my father would have enjoyed that too. 

The original plan had been to take the same Gimli everywhere, but I think this turned out so much better. 

So when I planned my Iceland trip I also wanted to get another Gimli to take with me.  A thoughtful coworker gave me a Gimli on a keychain so I didn’t have to search online.  

At the guesthouse in Ísafjörđur. 

And while snacking at the guesthouse outside of Reykjavík.  

I actually chose the place to leave him this time.  A cozy nook in a rock near a river where he could see the horses, hear the ocean and gaze upon the mountains. I carried him around until the last day of our trip so he was full of all our memories. 

I’m currently planning a UK trip.  I’ll be taking another Gimli to leave in a random location. 

I had to search harder this time because they’re getting scarcer.  I ordered 4 more just to make sure I would have a Gimli for a few more years.  

Regardless of if/when they run out I know my dad would get a kick out of knowing there will be random Lego people left all around the world because of him. 

Detour

It’s December 23rd and I’m driving to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  My kiddos need food for the next day and I have a couple last minute gifts to buy.  Christmas music is playing through an app on my phone.

December in Michigan is usually snowy.  This December has been the usual mixture of slush, then warmer weather, then freezing temps so it becomes ice, then more snow creating a lovely sandwich of death just waiting for you to venture out. 

I’ve come over a hill and there’s a car in the median on the opposite side of the road.  The light is on and it looks like he’s just spun out in the last couple minutes. I make the decision to turn around because while it’s not icy out now it’s supposed to get bad tonight. 

I pull to the side of the road and push the button for my hazard lights then crunch through the snow (sorry new boots) to check on the person inside. The car is stopped over a road sign.  This guy isn’t having a good day. 

He’s older than me.  I’m a terrible judge of age but I’d say he’s closer to my mother’s age than mine.  I ask if he’s okay. He rolls down the window and says yeah.  I don’t see any injuries and ask if he’s got a phone to call someone.  He’s disoriented.  He has a phone. 

He steps out of the car and I catch a whiff of alcohol.  Yikes. I offer him a ride because no way am I letting him get back behind that wheel.  My original plan was to help him call for a tow or try to push him out of the ditch but that car’s stuck tight. 

A truck pulls up behind us and offers a pull out.  I say thank you thinking I could probably drop the car on the side road just across the way then drive this dude home.  After a few minutes of this second stranger digging snow out from the front of the car and hearing his unseen kids giggling in the cab he tells us the snow is too deep to get his tow rope around and recommends calling for a tow.  I thank him and tell the first guy (I’ll call him K) I’ll give him a ride.  

I ask K where he was headed and he says Grand Haven. I balk.  That’s probably a good 35-40 minute drive one way what with the storm coming. “You live in Grand Haven?” I ask. 

“No I live in Grand Rapids.” 

(Sigh of relief.) “Okay.  Give me your address and I’ll get you home so you can sleep and deal with this tomorrow,” I gesture to the car.  

K gives me the address and it’s a max of 15 minutes away. He’s slightly wobbly as he walls to my car. I turn us back the way I was originally headed and it starts to snow. 

Over the next 15 minutes he tells me he’s been going through some stuff, things have been bad and it’s a sign from Gd that I stopped to help him. I’m sympathetic.  

Yes, I don’t know this man whatsoever and it does go through my mind a few times that I may be giving a ride to an axe murderer.  Nevertheless, I see someone who needs help and I want to do what I can.

I’ve got my guard up but K is having a rough time.  I tell him I’ll get him home, not to worry at this moment, and to sort it in the morning. My mother’s voice is yelling in my head about putting myself in dangerous situations.  K starts telling me about growing up in the church, getting away from it, but trying to get back into it lately.  

15 minutes isn’t very long.  I think it’s enough to be able to tell when someone is hurting and just needs another person to listen. 

When I drop K at his home he gives me his number, profusely thanks me, offers to take me to a lavish dinner.  I decline. I’m honestly just trying to help someone. Before he leaves my car I give him the name of my church, time of service and address.   

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. My anxiety is on high alert from talking to a stranger but I hope he finds his answers.

I drive to the grocery.   

I’ve Got A Theory…

I sleep in awkward positions. Mostly  because I fidget often during the night but also because Emmex loves to come in and cuddle my face at the exact moment I’m drifting off. This results in much shuffling of the kitty and a large amount of purring happening (no matter how much I shove him) in the vicinity of the pillow resting area. Thus, the sleeping configuration most used is the one where I’m on my stomach, pillow clutched between arms, and Emmex sleeping as close to my face as he can possibly get. I woke up this morning and thought my arms had fallen off.

I mean, it’s not unusual if you’re in a static position for long periods of time for a body part to go numb, especially if you tense up like I tend to do. But I woke up and in my stupor could not detect the limbs which generally protrude from above my armpits and below my neck. 

Emmex was unconcerned though this would presumably affect him a great deal. How would I get him breakfast? How would I change the litter box? How would I shove him off my face in the middle of the night?! He continued purring in my ear like it was a perfectly normal morning and my extremities hadn’t  just disappeared in the dark of the night. 

Of course, my arms were and continue to be attached. (Surprise!) But then I started to wonder if that actually could happen. 

Restricted blood flow could be a very serious matter. They used to cut limbs off on the regular because of tourniquets and whatnot. This is a pretty crude method of saving a person or at least prevent them from having some rotting zombie meat stick attached to your body for the rest of your life but it’s effective.  Truly, who wants zombie arms which could go all possessed-Ash-hand on you at any moment? 

Okay, but assuming you didn’t cut off the zombie accessories and just….just let them hang there (instead of cutting them off and attaching a sweet landscaping tool like, say, a chainsaw) …your ligaments and muscles and skin flaps would eventually rot because blood would no longer be sustaining them. of course that could potentially be transformed into a cool windmill-like weapon if you spun really fast. And it wouldn’t hurt because: numb.  

I would assume the fingers would fall off first because they are the furthest away from the blood flow. It would be extremely disconcerting to be able to feel your fingers but then your shoulder just uncouples like some bad B movie special effects. So you’d start with fingers you could just flail in any general direction (not very intimidating, seriously, picture it.) and then you’d get the wobbly elbows and shoulders like some grotesque marionette.

Oh and the smell! Can you imagine the putrification of such appendages? You couldn’t go out to dinner (nevermind you have no workable hands to feed yourself) or enjoy the smell of roses or walk into one of those craft stores that have the awesome cinnamon pine cones without smelling the vile rotting flesh hanging inches from your nose.  You might be able to mask it with some really good candles or body spray but then you’d just smell like a 19 year old on the prowl and that’s not pleasant either. 

So assuming I am correct in all this (and let’s face it I usually am) and my arms had stayed numb for long enough they probably could just fall off.  I could have been slowly turning into a noxious, no-fingered monster whose sole purpose would have been to take out people with my windmill kung-fu action but Emmex just continued purring.