Talk Like an Open Book: My Walker

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Health, Too Long For Twitter, Whining

I planned to post this two and a half months ago. I wanted to post it before Balticon for friends that would see it in our room, as warning of sorts. I know my haircut seemed rash for some reason, after years of talking about cutting it all off. Here’s some warning on this one for future visitors to #TheSeuss (our silly nickname for our home.)

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My General Practitioner prescribed something last winter(? Spring?) that I am only now finally coming to terms with enough to post publicly — a walker. Even after the daily struggles that I described for basic self-care, let alone toning and cardio and strengthening exercise, the determination somehow still felt like an accusation and led to a variety of ridiculous thoughts. I joke about living a #VealLife, but denied the need for a walker, in spite of:

  • Using a cane/sturdy parasol for years. They either compensate for dizziness; strength; pain management; removing cob webs from my sometimes slow moving brain; and hooking stuff to pull toward me when necessities are slightly out of reach.
  • Using braces and wraps for a decade. The trigger for their use was over a decade ago and, really, it took a particularly long time to recover from a sprained ankle while dizzy on stairs in December of 2012. I’m now also alternating compression gloves (also a gift from Heather, they help so much!) and various braces to help with hand joint pain (the pain is similar to broken bones, at its worst) and carpal tunnel. They are necessary for any keyboard work, chores or for holding our sweet Little Bear.
  • For years now, when traveling on public transportation, I have been using all the disabled services available. I feel I’m entitled to since I’m also traveling with my handicap placard. Whether it’s seating on a bus or a requesting a waiting wheelchair after getting off of a plane after hours of my joints stiffening at high altitude (a particularly nasty combo). I’ve literally gone from running in 5k’s and training for a half-marathon in 2011, to now simply hoping to survive the luxury of travel beyond a 3 hour radius. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
  • My refusal of scooters as an option to the extent that I have long told loved ones that if they ever saw me in a scooter that they have to knock me out out of it and make me wrestle my way back onto it, to stay strong. Meaning, I could use it, but only when I HAD to. And I had to be ready to demonstrate that I hadn’t given up the fight, not yet. And if I had given up, it would remind me that there still is a fight to be had, every day.

But… a walker?

My heart sank, as it felt a bit like going backwards so many more steps than having to stop running and then regular cardio exercise. But she explained that it would make me more able to move around with the further stability for my continual dizziness as well as balanced support for my lower body. For years now, I am continually switching sides because of the flare up cause by stress on one side or the other, for using the cane. It would lead to more movement, knowing I was supported no matter which symptom had me debilitated, or chose to hit me while crossing a room.

Reminder: None of my illness/conditions are degenerative or terminal. And I only really remember telling a handful of trusted friends, venting fear of what it might be signalling – the next phase in body FAIL. I was already lost in the maze of options of which type would be perfect for me and was frustrated and venting to Heather, an extremely supportive friend, who literally jumped in at offering not only moral support but … a brand new walker. It was one of my first conversations and I was griping and whining, I don’t want to use one and I can’t afford one anyways and making all the excuses possible not to sink to that use.

Heather said that there was an unused walker, a basic one with the tags still on it and everything, back at her home for a family member that ended up not needing it and they’d just never gotten rid of it. Knowing that the lower end was $50+ after a previous Amazon session, I gratefully accepted the gift after the briefest of hesitations. It happened so fast and was so generous, that it made me accept the need and begin using it. In hindsight, I guess I was ready to use one before I knew it.

Boosters at the ready.

I set it up in our bedroom and then didn’t touch it for months. I had to stare it down and get used it, and to measure if I thought it would help move more.

Then, I spontaneously put it next to the bed one night last fall after laying in morning “stores” (breakfast, drink, pills, cane), in the hopes that maybe the first and most painful steps of the day would have me, at least, better supported than the cane gave with the joint pain I had. I just dove in and didn’t think about what it meant.

It was the difference between crawling to the bathroom and walking, granting much peace. Yup, crawling. It’s that bad and you should know that about me. This is me, now and I use it throughout the day in our bedroom.

In the months since then, it’s been a great relief to have it, next to my bed, every morning. I haven’t left the top floor of our home with one, yet. I only recently have allowed myself to assess and decide I need to pass that milestone, too, which means getting a 2nd one for the main floor. It’s where much of my Daughter and Grandson spend the daytime hours and where I’m of my most use as a human baby monitor, when I’m able.

And as a few very kind people know, I had it at Balticon. There are some folks that kept its presence private and secret, after I voiced my embarrassment, or didn’t have to, and they have my thanks for their discretion. It did make the difference to me getting out of the room or having any productivity in our room when I wasn’t able to leave it.

The following week, I asked my Rheumatologist about the weight of it and differences, after she was so happy to hear my motion has indeed increased with the use of the walker in the bedroom. She agreed that I need something lighter because of my Fibromyalgia “hot spots” for the main level of the house making it more of a challenge to use. And because on days I’ll need it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to get the one I have downstairs without aid and I’m shopping for a wheeled option for downstairs. Sexy, I know, but better to know before you visit.

Our oldest son and wife are living with us, and they and my husband are kind to me and I haven’t had to make that move, yet. For that, I’m exceedingly grateful (although not nearly good enough at showing it), because it also allows me to “watch” Little Bear from the comfortable nest of my bed/desk/dining table/sofa in our bedroom. Chooch or Gal are always on the same floor with me, so if any needs arise that I can’t cover still have him safe, but they are free to roam.

I’m the baby monitor, when I’m able to be one, watching him while he sleeps if nothing else. Lifting him, now at 13.3 pounds and two months old, is a painful struggle, but the Baby Bjorn helps, although rarely after getting him in it with assistance. Otherwise, I only carry him a few feet at a time and never on the stairs. Ever. I’m terrible on the stairs now.

Now, as was offered by a dear friend for my cane when I first got it years ago, I could dress my walker(s) up and make it snazzy, but I’ve decided I like the medical/functional appearance of it. It’s a constant reminder that it’s not an accessory, it’s a tool to strengthen my body, and to be used only as needed, not to the extent of my tendency recently towards laziness from fatigue.

I use my current, hefty and solid gifted walker next to my bed, for stretching and light exercise, balance and strength boosting, as little as it is. It’s not as much as other friends have/are doing in the aftermath since brother-from-another-mother P.G. Holydfield’s passing last August. But I’m still fighting where I can, damn it. I have realistic goals that I aspire to so I can make them and feel empowered to aspire to more. That’s my process.

And with all the added stress of moving in difficult times, weight gain has hit this Future Fat Granny. I’m doing ok with little changes and minimizing calories and increasing nutrition in my sustenance (smoothies for TMJ relief). But motion is still so painful that my vascular is not as cardio as it once was. Or whatever.

I’ve got goals for this year, and I need to lose some of the grief and uber nesting weight gain and get as strong as many of my friends are getting, as my body allows. There won’t be a race, but there will be health improvement.

Okay, so, yes, I actually have challenged a few folks to a race to age 100, including my former M-i-L on my Son’s wedding day. She has a lead on me, which she pointed out, and I told her something along the lines of hoping I was there to celebrate it with her. Sincerely. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my sons and I’m so grateful for that.

April 7, 2015

Rushed hospital photos by professional photog. Epic cuteness, and here’s my fave with us.

The health goals are there, and post-Balticon 2015, with the last memorial we have promised to throw for our P.G. is done. So many planned things were not done, but that was because I aimed too high. Those things are stashed away in the hopes we (SpecFicMedia.com) get to throw next year’s New Media Party.

Lookit, with multiple setbacks, thanks to the chaos of our rental home and such, I didn’t go as strong into grand-parenting as I’d hoped. But I can get moving a lot easier with the walker, and once I’m in motion, I keep going until I can’t anymore. Which is, admittedly, not very far, but as satisfying as I can get for now, newly dedicated to enlarge my route beyond the bedroom, first floor and home.

The walker has improved my motion to be less of a burden, and so my new friend stays so that I can try and keep up with all the wonder and surprise that the future holds.

 

 

My Good Thing, 02/20/2014

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch

Dunno if I’ve shared this or not, but after my Ex moved out, our kids and I moved in with my Mom, Dad and college student sister.

They made a home for us within their home, a recurring theme in my life, as I come to realize that I really like having a lot of heartbeats under my roof. The more equal, the better the flow. The more respect and privacy, you level up.

Trying to keep the boys focused on the positive, my Mom instituted “My good thing that happened to me today was __________.” You had to have at least one, even if pre-teen or surly or on restriction, or on a diet (me, eternally) but you could name as many as you want.

After reading a comment on a post Chooch made in Facebook today, all I can think of is, “Well. I know what my good thing is today.” Makes more sense when you know that this is, since that ritual ended long ago when our baby birds left the nest or remain in another, how I state that something bubbly-making has touched my heart.

Earlier, Chooch posted this photo:

Chooch's Tattoo on his right arm.
With this original post:
It only took 42 years, but I finally got my first tattoo! — with Vivid Muse.

So, my good thing that happened to me today? Chooch’s explanation on the 4 heart containers with only 2 filled, matching tattoos we just got.

“…you start the game with 3 hearts, so we added a fourth as a 10 year anniversary level up. Since Vivid Muse and I have them matching on opposite arms, when we hold hands all the hearts fill up so we’re ready to take on the next danger together!”

I initially had a different idea in mind altogether, but when he explained why he liked this design?

Done. Let’s go.

(whispers to myself): Thank you for loving me the way you do.

I’ll follow him anywhere.

The State of The Muse Address

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Hauntings, Health, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter

Chooch and I have been at a marathon pace of giggles (and pain) the last few months, with a nice 2 week bout of illness in there. We are trying to regain balance in our lives after, essentially a three week uprooting of our schedules.

There will be many posts about Hawaii, if I haven’t said so already. I have many thoughts and house rules now, because of my love of the natural beauty they protect so well on the island of Kaua’i, if not all the islands of Hawai’i.

Our middle son T, now 17 years old, looking out over the beauty of Hawai'i as we drove through Waimea Canyon.

Our middle son T, now 17 years old, looking out over the beauty of Hawai’i as we drove through Waimea Canyon.

Until I can manage the mischief, I am doing a lot of picture posting (visuals are my best communication tool at the moment) at my Flickr site, and because I haven’t bothered my most wonderful husband to help me get this blog, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to update. And prolly G+ since I am resigned to our future Skynet overlords.

My handle at Flickr and most other sites is Vivid Muse (with or without spaces). I do filter pix of our kids and of the minor children of friends. You have to ask for me to not let a solo photo of your child be public, it truly is a big exception. If anyone finds that I’ve slipped, please message me and I’ll correct asap.

In case you haven’t seen elsewhere, I stopped all assistance to Ditched by Kate in April of last year. I finally admitted that I simply was not physically or mentally able to be representative of their image, so I resigned. Chooch also left the band, months later, for unrelated reasons. Our friendships with the band remain, which was a goal from the very beginning. I’m very grateful that’s happened. I will never forget my part of DBKhaos and wish them all the best, sincerely.

I have so many things to express, but am needing to organize them. The biggest thing I have to say is about the Charity Cancer Anthology, (title TBD) and my inability to publish it.

I have been battling ever-worsening invisible (mostly) chronic pain for four years now. There are different aspects and associated issues, but basically, my body is hindered by pain, and my mind is hindered by fog and long periods of inability to focus, remember and/or communicate coherently. I am not the person to do this job the way it deserves to be done. However, it must happen. For my Mother’s piece and the other pieces that will be included have amazing messages to share. And because cancer will not stop, neither can those that fight it.

Because my Health Blahs, as I call them, are chronic and not alleviating, I must assume that I must find someone willing to take this on. Chooch is unable to do it for work schedule and personal reasons of his own. Cancer is a common word in our lives, suffice it to say. Too soon, doesn’t begin to cover it.

I will be reaching out and seeking advice on getting someone else to re-promote, take additional submissions, edit, publish and market the book along with Chooch. I have stipulations, because of the excruciating personal nature of this publication, but he will be the one in charge of those.

Please contact Chooch or I at Viv@VividMuseCreations.com if you have suggestions, criticisms, or services you’d like to donate, since this is a non-profit charity book, and also if you have services that you think will help us spread the word far and wide to raise the greatest funds possible to wish this evil disease into the cornfield.

My deepest and most sincere apologies to those that in some case have been waiting years for this anthology to be published. It is in your honor that I show my gratitude with this public apology and embarrassing level of detail of by failings. Please direct any response to Viv@VividMuseCreations.com with ideas, criticisms, requests to add more selections, alter/add to your current submission or any other matter.

Please know that I’ve let myself down more than I’ve let anyone else down. In moving out of cocoon-mode, things have to be completed this year. Nothing that lingers because of fear/embarrassment/pain will see the dawn of 2015. This is my goal. (Warning: As part of my typical foolishness, I will be channeling Mabel Pines from *cough*Disney’s*cough* animated series, “Gravity Falls,” by embracing awkward and embarrassing things and putting them in my rearview mirror. I’m human. I make mistakes. I’m moving on. Feel free to join me.)

As a result, I have something similar to Write or Die in mind for this blog. I have to schedule the post when I begin writing it. I have 1 to 4 hours to hone it, since I get lost in Fibromyalgia Fog frequently or migraines take me down. If necessary, that means posting before proofing. (I can’t wait to see if I screw that one up. Future half sentences ahead!)

And I’m tired of looking at super short thoughts that I’ve captured that I feel like I have to expand on into a more coherent post. I am rarely coherent. If you know me in real life, you know this already. So, my misfires are a part of my “voice” or POV. (We’ll see how long this lasts. I’m coming off a great weekend.)

I think this will help with the 70 or so pieces of thought and 4 journals full of thoughts. Lose all my baggage and keep our beloveds and keep our human and material treasures close.

Oh and we my do a new Into the Blender Podcast, soon-ish. We did a google hangout on Nov 1, 2013, our 10th and 11th anniversaries, but the audio isn’t up yet. We will hopefully be able to do an occasional episode the same as PG Holyfield and Chooch produce our SpecFicMedia.com shows. Record a live show in Google+, while broadcasting live to YouTube channel and then strip out the audio and post in our podcast feed.

And because of another kind nudge, this time from Dave Slusher, I’ll attempt to talk into a microphone soon for my stale, sporadic at best Girl’s Rules Podcast. I have little control over whether or not I’m physically able, but I will try.

Maybe something will come of it that others can relate to and also help with my successful-to-date fight against isolation.

Happy New Year, kittens.
*rooster crow*

Dragon*Con 2012, Part 1

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention, Friends, No Whining

I’ve decided the 20+ draft blog posts are going to be posted with some regularity, even if unfinished. Since our family podcast, Into the Blender is having drastic changes discussed, I’ve decided to brain dump family journal stuff here. Some will require what seems like unattainable bravery, so they may not ever see the light of day. But I have two memory journals that I’ve filled in the last year or so, maybe there will be something worth sharing there if I run out of things to post about.

Rather than grabbing a stale post I thought I’d do a (To The Best of My Memory)Dragon*Con Timeline in bits and pieces. I can’t work on my photos until my craptop is rebuilt anyways. I will work on the drafts as I come to them and as my mood strikes. Some may seem out of date, but that’s how I roll now, apparently.

Of note: No matter who you are or how I feel about you, I will likely have forgotten some of our time together. Part of the high cost of having a multiple health issues requiring loopy making meds? You don’t get to choose what or who you forget. That’s why photos are so important to me. I rarely drink alcohol because of the risks of interaction with some of my medications, yet I still have a faulty memory, far more faulty than ever before. If I don’t type it here, it doesn’t make the time any less special. And the photos I’ve seen so far from hubby and friends: Bruce Press, P.G. Holyfield, Tony Miller, Timothy LeGower and many others, have been both laughter and horror inducing (sometimes I have so much fun I forget to think about camera ninjas).

So, Day 1 of our trip, to be told in a rambling fashion as things occur:
Chooch and I left NoVA on Wednesday morning and after a DMV FAIL on our part (solely our fault for procrastinating), we arrived in Charlotte, NC that evening. We stayed at our BFF PG Holyfield’s lovely home, and he cooked dinner for us and some dear and local friends, Shawn and Jess Murphy, and also a new friend. We had lots of fun and laughter, and I always love seeing them. We got to share some extra wicked giggles, and even coined the phrase that would remain with us for the whole of the weekend and beyond.

Wonderful, clever people, but after they left I’m drawing a blank on the rest of the night. I think the boys did played Gloom while I tried to stay awake? I do know there were giggles, but that is nothing new when the three of us get together. Chooch had “night before” jitters for the long drive and couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night, but slept well on Wednesday night.

Thursday morning had us out the door for the drive to Atlanta (after doing the dinner dishes from the night before, fearing the repercussions would make it impossible to reenter the house upon our return. I think after two separate years, we can include Bojangle’s as an official tradition on our D*C road trip. (BoRounds, people!) After much enjoyment on my part on the long, but too short trip road trip, we got to the hotel and headed to the parking garage to prepare to unload.

I did have a moment of lamentation over having seen no costumers yet, chalked it up to being only Thursday and then heard an engine revving in the parking garage. We turned to find the Speed Racer car pulling around a corner. Yes, we were in the right place! *sigh* Dragon*Con!

We got checked in and got settled and headed off for con registration. At PG’s suggestion, we did onsite registration this year instead of pre-registration, and only invested about 10 minutes total as opposed to the over 2 hours we spent in 2009. (It was in the company of Patrick McLean, so don’t feel too bad for us.) Yay for Thursday arrivals! The line for the store was longer than registration, so we skipped getting lanyards and such.

We kicked off our arrival by splitting up – PG off to get prepped for the Star Party and us to meander and find food off property. I was greatly disappointed that someone I had planned on spending the rest of the day with had something come up, but we girded our loins and decided to  have a magical time regardless. First stop: Subway! Don’t laugh, it was the closest thing to real food that was packed full of people. Then to the room before heading to the bar.

Our permanent reset point was the Hilton hotel bar, which turned out to be where we ran into most of the folks we now. As we were being seated, the waiter excitedly told us that Lieutenant Uhura was at the bar and it was the most exciting person he’d ever seen in person. Working at the hotel that hosts Dragon*Con, that’s really saying something. Sure enough, there sat Nichelle Nichols, the original bridge hottie. She was there with another woman, but that beautiful face was impossible not to recognize. She had silver hair and this low-cut blouse on, fully rocking the ensemble and we were agog. Seeing THE LIEUTENANT UHURA within hours of our arrival? Toasts all around our table for our sighting, which she quickly beat out of there when she realized people were recognizing her.

We saw many friends. We made new ones. We laughed and giggled and told stories. We ended up in our room with hubby setting up the PS3 for gaming breaks between panels, etc., and we settled back and stayed up too late, as per usual.

There are hundreds of photos that document the weekend and I’d have to go through them to identify all we saw and when. I’m too impatient and will add another post linking to my photos in Flickr, with some going in to Facebook as well. I’ll also correct any faulty memory bits. But Nichelle Nichols? That was pretty bad ass. No pictures, because we respected her clear desire not to interact at that moment, but the memory remains.

Part 2 will be coming along soon, where I will likely be documenting what I call Magical Friday. Travel tip: I never stay away from home without the gorgeous and travel tested bottle set I bought from my beloved friend’s Nineteen O’Three Etsy store. Over more than a year of hard travel use, with no peeling, fading or bubbling of the labels. They are wonderful quality and the unique designs make the exact bottle I need easy to spot even if the text is out of sight.

I have a brand new set of these bottles to give away, even though I want to keep them for always. Watch future posts for info on how to enter.

Favor: PLEASE make comments here on the site instead of in Facebook or Twitter or G+. I may never see them and will certainly never see them when reviewing posts in the future. I would love pictures linked to, stories I’ve left out, anything that could make the memories come back or the ones I do have linger longer. To feel safe to do this, some of you may need to know that…

Of Important Note: I not only don’t capture email addresses to use, I wouldn’t know how even if I wanted to sell you out, which is not my style. Even if so, I would have to get Chooch to help me, and he would refuse. So, don’t worry about US using your email address, ever. They don’t go into my email address book or anything like that. Feel free to comment. Or not. Whatevs!

2012 Conventions

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Too Long For Twitter, Uncategorized

Two things I want to announce on the subject of conventions:

My planned conventions:

Chooch and I will attend Balticon, only one week away, at the Hunt Valley Marriott in Maryland. I am shocked and gratified that this will be my 5th in attendance and 4th as a panelist!

At this point, I’ve not received my official schedule, but as of now I know that I am scheduled to be at:

  • Friday’s Meet and Greet
  • Saturday at 8 pm (I believe) in the Derby A Live Recording of SpecFicMedia.com Presents – Beyond the Wall: A Game of Thrones podcast. Come join our entire ‘cast cast as we explore the HBO series “Game of Thrones” as well as the book series. We vigilantly try to avoid spoilers, but either the cast or the audience may drop one or two. Based on our recordings to date, expect more F-bombs being dropped than spoilers. *It is known.*
  • Sunday at 10 pm in the Chase, I will be joining authors Barbara Friend Ish and P.G. Holyfield as we do readings from our works. Nothing makes me more nervous than a reading, but I hope to do it up right for my breast cancer anthology, with a tentative July release date.
  • When feeling up to it, my standard meeting points are the foyer, the bar, the courtyard or the Dealer’s Room.  Is it true there is no

I will be attending Philly Comic-Con, June 2 and will remain in Philly until the 4th for a private celebration. At this point, it appears that work obligations make keep Chooch away for this one.

We hope to make the trek to Dragon*Con for Labor Day weekend, but we will not know until closer to September if we will be able to attend or not.

TuacaCon, hosted by P.G. Holyfield and presented by SpecFicMedia.com is a virtual convention with writers, artists, musicians and performers giving their all with no travel costs! The date has yet to be determined, but the last two years was great fun and free! It is rumored that it may occur in Northern Virginia this year, and have even more folks in the live audience than ever before!

Also, if we meet at Balticon, Philly Comic-Con, Dragon*Con and/or TuacaCon, please know that for many possible reasons that I am sometimes easily confused or overwhelmed, hopefully due to one or all of my Health Blahs** or treatments. Please do not take offense if you get a negative vibe from me, in nearly all cases I can assure you that it is not you. It’s me. I am posting this here in case I have trouble verbalizing or am unaware of the issue. I don’t want a fuss made, I just want to avoid causing any misunderstandings.

Otherwise, I’m shy but say hi if you recognize me. Or leave a comment, @ me on Twitter (@VividMuse) or whatevs to let me know if you will be at any of these and maybe we can meet up!

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**Health Blahs – my term for my small collection of non-life threatening, yet problematic maladies.

Ahhh! So, That’s What’s Wrong With Me

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Hauntings, Mom, No Whining

I realized the day after writing my last post, WTF is up with me?, exactly what was wrong with me: it’s January.

Over the years, it has become a month full of emotional landmines, one right after the other. My son LT has flown back to his father’s, the 5th is the anniversary of the death of a dear friend and also the birthday of Chooch’s deceased brother, the anniversary of my mother’s death from breast cancer, and my son’s 15th birthday (won’t get to celebrate with him this year either, thanks to finances) is in a week.

It was six years ago, also a Friday the 13th, that my brother called me and said the words I had feared hearing since her first occurrence of breast cancer in 1991.

I was fresh from the shower, rushing around and getting dressed to stay with my Mom so my brother could go home and sleep after spending the night with her. We knew she was near the end of her life and in clear moments she knew it and was scared. We never left her alone. It was bittersweet that she spent less and less time clear of mind as the cancer had spread into her skull and brain.

I was half-dressed and rushing to the kitchen to make a PB&J to eat in the car on the way to the hospital. I didn’t have a scheduled time to get there, in fact, in hindsight I’m no even sure I was expected that morning. I just felt an urgency to get to her as quickly as I could, waking hours before my alarm was set and bolting out of bed.

The phone rang and I immediately collapsed to my knees mid-stride and started crying and praying. My husband woke up instantly, which never happens, and answered the phone. He then came to find me and wrapped his arms around me on the dining room floor, telling me that she was gone, crying just as hard as I was. (I now have a begrudging smile, because I again recognize that there are no two other arms on this planet that she would want comforting me more than my husband’s. She adored him on sight.)

I knew what the call was (why else would the phone ring at 6:30 am) and immediately went from praying for her release from the horror of her life to begging for her to come back because I wasn’t ready to be without her. I needed her to teach me more, to make me a stronger woman. The kind of woman that could lift a burden from the heart of my children the way she could do for mine. Tirelessly and full of unconditional love. And I mean unconditional, because I was not an easy person to parent. I frequently rebelled, still do, even against myself. But I still needed her and suddenly was unable to imagine life without her presence.

Shortly thereafter, I reflected that to be in the room where your Mother is and know that this body, the one that you had been pampering, comforting and consoling, is no longer your Mother… well, it is the strangest bit of surrealism that I have ever experienced. My Mother was literally 2 feet away from me, but she was no where to be found. Still, I couldn’t help tucking the blankets around her feet as I always did, because they were always cold. I felt a fool when I realized what I was doing, but no one mocked me. Hell, wrapped as deep as they were in their own grief, they probably didn’t even notice.

So the subconscious knowledge that this day was coming, along with all the other anniversaries, good and bad, are what I believe to be my huge sense of being swallowed in negativity. In talking with my therapist about the dates mentioned above, the excruciating negotiation process in selling our home, an devastating ongoing family crisis that I am not free to discuss here (we are fine), frantically packing and selling everything we own without sentimental value in preparation for downsizing to a smaller living space, having a near-death experience with Kaylee and missing another birthday of my son’s – these have all managed to make this a real crapper of a month to get through after the stress of Christmas.

Happily, we have no fewer than four loved ones born in January to celebrate. And we got to ring in the New Year with people that rejuvenate us. Moving forward we also have the unexpected joy of taking part in the daily lives of powerfully close friends, and by extension, two beautiful young girls. This includes watching a dance recital for 3 and 4 year olds that was so magically rejuvenating that I could feel the weight of sadness falling off of me in chunks as we giggled and cheered their performances. I told their father that I wished for a pill that could impart what we were feeling as we watched these vibrant little spirits dance and twirl in front of us. Nearly all of the adults to a one were shiny-eyed watching not only their child, but also being charmed by the other girls, all of them working so hard to be brave with such nervousness and barely controlled frenetic energy. I found that it filled my heart containers to over-flowing and used the memory of the two sisters dancing together to pull me out of a panic attack the next day. The memory is truly powerful and medicinal to this old girl.

The highs and lows of this month, in addition to new health issues for myself and for my husband (we’re fine), have me both hiding and clinging to the people that give me strength, whether we talk about the hard things or the good things going on in each other’s lives. It’s just the being with them, the contact with them, that soothes.

I will go to Arlington Cemetery to take my Mom flowers and will return home to work on the book I am creating in her honor. I will survive the emotional landmines of January as the tough chick she raised me to be. And I will take time to revel in the joyful moments that occur along the way, exactly as she raised me to do.

I will love you forever, Pocket Mom!

Not Just Another Tuesday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Firsts

Today is the fourth anniversary for the podcast my husband and I do, called Into the Blender. When we started out, we had my two sons from a previous marriage living with us and were negotiating the difficulty and hazards of long-distance, as well as navigating the frequently difficult negotiations required when co-parenting with someone that you very likely have massive piles of stinky baggage with.

Our lives have changed in a myriad of ways since that first upload, and it’s impossible to sufficiently explain why it has taken us so long to post a new episode. Our last one was our Live from Balticon! episode in early June. I will overly simplify things by saying that it has been an extremely chaotic summer. More so than any other of my life, save the one immediately following the departure of my now ex-husband. I think we are ready to re-enter the tubes, and I think I speak for my husband as well when I say how grateful I am for the friends and listeners that have asked for new episodes. Knowing that folks actually have an interest in our little corner of the world is pretty damned nice, I have to say.

Another reason it’s a big day is that I am finally doing something I should have done years, possibly decades ago: seeing a therapist. While there are a few parts of my life where I’m extremely private, this is not one of them. I have long supported friends and family as they have sought help, and believe that even if nothing else is gained, having someone to express your deepest and darkest thoughts to is a wonderful gift to give yourself. I am blessed in that my husband and best friend already provides this for me, but I now choose to seek help in dealing with my issues instead of venting them. I see repeating patterns, situations and relationships that I need to figure out. I have, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, issues from my childhood and first marriage that are still impacting me and having a negative impact in my current journey. And because I love my husband beyond measure, I want to find a way to finally work on these and other issues before I drive him running and screaming from our marriage. 😉

It’s a really big step, one that most people I know have already taken. I’m definitely a late bloomer, and am completely grateful to my the folks that have supported me in getting to this point. Whether you gave me a shoulder to lean on or listened to my insecurities or just smiled kindly when I veered off track, I thank you. I am writing this in the wee hours of Tuesday morning,with my appointment later today. I have no clear idea of what it will be like, other than what I’ve seen in movies and on TV. I think my motivation for writing this post was a preemptive tearing off of the band-aid, so to speak. A gesture of honesty before the pending anxiety attack provoking session.

I don’t know how much of the process I’ll share. Probably not much, because I do have difficulty in revealing such personal information. But I did want to let folks know that I’m doing it in hopes of encouraging others that are on the fence to take the plunge. I don’t expect that the first therapist I see will be the perfect fit or that all my issues will become crystal clear and I’ll be able to heal and change in short order. Instead, I expect that it will be a lot of hard work and that there will be a lot of pain involved. Most worthwhile things are just so. But I think I’m worth it.

Happy ItB Anniversary, Chooch. Can you believe the journey we’ve been on since we started it?

Zombies, Harry Potter and Healing

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Mom, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter, Uncategorized

I had previously never given zombies much thought, but recall that as a teen my friends and I watched every B-movies our tiny Texas town’s video store had. The grosser the better. Naturally, many of those had zombies of one type or another. I had certainly seen many more nasty movies in the intervening 19 years. And while I became more squeamish after my children’s separate but critical health issues, I don’t recall any zombie anxiety until Halloween of 2006.

While out shopping for Halloween costumes and decorations with the kids at a cheesily and spookily decorated party store, I realized I was shaky and freaked out by the skeletons and zombies. Although none of them resembled her, I envisioned my Mom in their place. Even worse, I was unable to stop picturing her in various stages of decomposition in her coffin, wearing the clothes she had been buried in. It was the first Halloween since her passing away, and I can assure you it freaked me right the fuck out. Happily that effect has eased immensely, mostly due to being inundated with movies, TV shows, songs, audio dramas, games and apocalypse preparedness plans. And I’ve been working hard with meditation to shut it down when it start to creep in.

But at my core, zombies still freak me out. It’s not something I like to think about, and have worked really hard not to hate those that make Zombie Jesus jokes and stuff like that. Especially those that continue to make them when they see my discomfort. But they don’t realize it’s not a religious issue for me. The Christian/Catholic in me doesn’t care. I reconciled that bit long ago. But having those images in my head? It’s why my zombie preparedness plan only has one constraint: Are our kids relying on me for survival? If yes, I’ll fight tooth, nail, blood and tears for their lives. No? Self-destruction. If my kids aren’t with us, then I want to be a goner in the first wave. I don’t want to see my loved ones like that. Yes, that’s very literal and takes the fun out of it. But that’s how my brain works. When I visualize it, it’s extremely hard to un-visualize it. This is true for all things. Chooch and I even have it as part of an “In Case I Become Undead” Pact: Zombie = bash my brains out. Vampire = join me.

But when hearing about zombies, I almost always return to  standing next to Mom’s coffin at the cemetery at her funeral.  I tried to be a solid and calming influence on all the kids, as I calmly put a rose on her coffin and gave the cold, hard wood one last touch. But on the inside, I felt like a four year old, screaming and throwing myself on the coffin and begging for Mommy to wake up. Not having to be brave or strong or a good example, and just being able to grieve and let it all out in one hysterical rush.

My family rode together to the cemetery in two limos and, to my comprehension at the time, were wanting to leave pretty quickly after the ceremony. But I had to force every step away from her. I didn’t want to leave her alone. I wanted to stay and keep her company the same way I had during her chemo treatments and for all those months in the hospital. Even when she was unconscious.

I wanted a blanket to cover her, as it was so cold that morning. I knew what she was wearing was lovely, but had no warmth. I worried about the rain and the snow, and her being left out in the elements without even an umbrella to keep her dry. Crazy, right? But I’d spent the last five months in constant care of her. I even carried her pain pills with me that morning, knowing she had no use for them but unable to leave them behind.

My whole life her feet were always ice cold, and I was suddenly mad at myself for not remembering to wrap the blanket I had been crocheting for her for months around her feet to keep them warm. I remembered too late and still have the unfinished blanket.

As we slowly walked to the cars, I remember telling Chooch how mad I was at myself, for not having anticipated the need to stay and driving separately. The family needed to leave, to be in motion, to have this part over. But I needed to stay and watch over my Mom for just a little bit longer. I curtailed my time and headed to the waiting car.

It doesn’t come as a shock to anyone who knows me that I have an undying love for my Mom. She was not perfect, and she made a lot of mistakes. I don’t see her through rose-colored glasses. But I still miss her everyday, and I don’t care one whit if anyone else thinks that it’s “unhealthy” or that I should be “over it” or that I’m “using it for sympathy.” My loss is my own, and I expect no one else to fully understand it. Not even my husband, and he knows everything about me. It’s a multi-faceted issue, one that is very private and inexplicable. I don’t see it ever completely fading away.

Today would have been Mom’s 68th birthday. I’ve been pushing it out of my mind with lots of activities and stuff going on, but now I can’t ignore it any more and the blues have arrived full force. Part of it is because of the big part that Harry Potter played in our lives. The first three books had a tremendous healing power after my divorce, and it was also a huge bonding thing for me and my boys. My oldest son, Naughty Bear was the perfect age to be spellbound by it, and we were just reminiscing about playing hooky to see the first showings on opening day for the first few movies to watch it together with my Mom and my Dad. We even had an Epic Harry Potter Halloween party. And I do mean Epic.

Chooch and I watched Harry Potter 7 tonight with LT and NB in anticipation of watching the final installment at the midnight showing on Thursday night. It pisses me off that she only got to see the first four movies, but at least she got to read all the books. Having it come out the same week as her birthday stirs up a bunch of sadness at what she’s missed in the last 5 1/2 years, but I’m working really hard to shift my attention instead to all she did experience, as well as the tremendous impact she had on the lives of her family and friends.

While DM’ing with a friend about it in Twitter, she reminded me to celebrate Mom, enjoy Harry Potter and have dessert first. That last is a tradition that had slipped my mind, based on my Mom taking LT to dinner one day and randomly deciding to have dessert before dinner. So I’m deciding on her birthday dessert in the morning.

I also want to toast Mom, but, and here’s the irony, when trying to think of a wine or liquor that she preferred, I suddenly remembered that the drink I most remember her ordering was a Zombie. She did order one or two Long Island Iced Teas in my memory, but over the years when she was in the rare mood for a drink in my presence, it was a Zombie.

Isn’t she a kick in the pants? It feels as if even now she’s pushing me to toughen up. I don’t even get to hold on to a weird weakness! So, yes. Mom. I get it. I need to do some more healing. Message received, loud and clear. The family I embrace is helping me to come to terms with a lot of things, including not having your physical presence in my life any longer.

I guess at this point I should apologize to anyone that’s bothered to read this far. I don’t have any grand closing statement or clear train of thought. I’m just clearing out the shadows in my brain and dumping ’em here for my own purposes.

So, Happy Birthday, Pocket Mom. I was damned lucky to have you as long as I did, and I know it.

Mom and Me on my wedding day, 2003

My Good Thing Today? It Was Only A Dream.

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Too Long For Twitter

Dragon*Con on a Disney cruise ship. That’s the best way my sleepy brain can describe it.

Friends Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine and P.G. Holyfield took over a ride to film a promo for P.G.’s upcoming book release. They didn’t tell us and used our reactions, and those of others, as part of the promo. Bastards.

Ditched by Kate played a concert in an onboard theatre. They rocked the anus off of everyone in attendance. (Don’t be scared, that’s a good thing.)

Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit nearly shat when he met Shatner in line for some damn ride I can’t remember and Shatner knew of his impression of him. PRS doing Shatner for Shatner. That’s a lotta Shatner, yo.

We were 8 to a room (big room) instead of 4. My “Mommy Check” after everyone was packed and gone captured 2 handfuls of steampunk/gear earrings, pins, gauges, necklaces, hair clips, etc.,. (I remember sharing with my 3 permanent Con roomies, and Rich and Susan Z., but not the other 2 people.)

Daniel Dae Kim, the actor that played Jin from Lost, has a very strong accent. He pretends not to for acceptance in America. Also, he’s the utmost gentleman and saved this lady from extreme distress. I <3 him.

Natalie Portman is far more beautiful, charming and mischievous than any of us could have ever hoped and dreamed. She’s The Complete Package, if my dream is even only half right about her. *swoon*

People that usually are unkind about me behind my back were nice to my face.

People that are usually nice to me were extremely cruel, with exceptions of extreme kindness from a few beloveds.

I spent most of the time separated from Chooch because of panel schedules and social responsibilities. That is not unlike Balticon 45 ended up being.

These are only things I can remember after waking half an hour ago. I conclude by saying that we should keep Dragon*Con on dry land, in Atlanta, where it belongs. It’s just… safer that way.

Balticon 45 – In Lieu of a Wrap-Up

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Uncategorized

As the title implies, I’m not doing a rundown of all the exquisitely awesome and awful things that happened this year. Chooch has con crud and I’m just not up to it with everything going on here.

Suffice it to say I saw many beloved friends, some old and some new, and this year’s con has had the greatest impact in my life of any I’ve attended.

I treasure all the laughter and kindnesses of friends, especially those that came to my reading. I couldn’t have made it through that without each of you there, lending me strength. I hope I did Mom proud.

If you attended and took photos, please add them to the Balticon 45 Flickr group I created. It’s a great way for folks to uncover the many photos taken, regardless of how they are tagged. If you rely solely on Facebook, I would ask you to reconsider for at least this pool of photos. Many have left FB due to privacy issues and it would be a shame for them not to see the photos you have taken and shared. You can always link to Flickr from Facebook, and you also get to see how many folks have viewed them and it allows for folks to “Favorite” them to find in the future.

The next episode of Into the Blender may include a run-down, if Chooch is in favor of it. If not, know that I tremendously enjoyed all of the events I participated in or attended.

Whether you made it to the show or not, if you want more info on Chooch’s band Ditched by Kate, you can go to their website. There will be information posted soon about how to get a physical  or digital copy of their EP, Stumble.