A Song About Me

A few days ago, I wrote a song. Well, since I didn’t put it to music, I guess it’s a poem, but the rhyme-scheme is verrry hit-or-miss, which makes me uncomfortable. I don’t care for that modern-style poetry they have nowadays, in my mind, it has to rhyme or it’s not a fucking poem, but ANYWAY…. I posted it to a closed group so I could share it with people, but it got closed down. I still want to share it, despite the risks of offending some people. So after some careful consideration, I have decided to share it here even though a) some folks might be upset by it and b) it’s not that good of a poem. Hey, this concept woke me up in the middle of the night to make me write it down, so, here goes….


A Song About Me

I was raised in a home full of music
Mamma wrote songs about everything
A fight with dad, cross-country trips
Births of babies and losing her virginity,
But Mamma never wrote a song about me.

Did I cause you too much pain?
Growing up with strife and fear
Was I too hard to explain?
Did I bring too many tears?
Tell me, why’d you never write a song ‘bout me?

Mom wrote a song when Daddy died
And two songs for her own Daddy.
Mamma wrote about her sister
And the child I used to be
But Mamma never wrote a song about me.

Now it’s true I brought her sorrow
But she wrote ‘bout pain a lot
I guess I didn’t bring enough
Pain or joy to earn a my spot
‘Cause Mamma never wrote a song about me.

There’s no question Mamma loved me
There’s no question Mamma cared
But the woman I turned out to be
Must’ve had her running scared
‘Cause Mamma never wrote a song ‘bout me.

My flaws are all too obvious
Though my skills can’t be denied
But for forty of her sixty years
I’m the one who made her cry.
Is that why Mamma never wrote a song ‘bout me?

I’m the reason I’m an only child
I know that much for sure
But perhaps she felt betrayed
By a child who never quite matured.
‘Cause Mamma never wrote a song ‘bout me.

Mom wrote songs ‘bout parenting
And Mom wrote songs ‘bout being tough
Songs of laughter, songs of tears,
But I guess I wasn’t good or bad enough
For Mom to write a song about me.

Did I cause you too much pain?
Growing up with strife and fear
Was I too hard to explain?
Did I bring too many tears?
Tell me, why’d you never write a song ‘bout me?

Don’t Leave Me Here, Please!



What’s The Morgan Chronicles all about?

When I was thirteen years old, I began writing a novel. It was inspired by a photograph I’d seen, and was going to be a great, fun romp. But it never happened. I was completely unable to write that story then, so I’m writing it now.

Picture this:

The year is 1984, the place Great Falls, Montana. The scene: a thirteen year old girl gets the latest record from her favourite rock band and takes it home to play it. Inside the cover is included a glossy 12″ photo essay booklet of the band. The last photo in the booklet is about to change her life forever.

That girl was me, of course. I got that record and looked at those photos. The album was Arena, by the band Duran Duran. The last photo was of the bass player, John Taylor. He was just sitting there, trying to look sexy and probably wondering when they would break for lunch. Just another day at the office for him. But there was something about the way he held himself, the look on his face, that caught my imagination, and not in the way the photographer or rock star had ever intended. I saw a story in that photograph that had nothing to do with Duran Duran, or John Taylor, or rock and roll. It had to do with a magician’s nephew. The story was entirely mine.

I have no doubt that if that photo had never existed then the story would have come out anyway. It was inside me all along. Something else would have eventually triggered it in some form or another, it was only a matter of time. But it was that photo, and because of that the story took the form it has. So set aside thoughts of other forms, styles, characters. Forget about alternative media. It’s a book. It has these characteristics. It is my story. Because it was that photo that started it all. The photo at the top of the page.

To anyone else in the world, that’s a picture of a rock star doing his job: selling himself. And it wasn’t intended to be seen the way I took it, I’m sure. If it were, everyone in the world would be writing this book instead of some other book, and I’d be a really boring person because I’d be writing the same book as everyone else. So. Not intended to be seen like I see it. Good. So what did I see that no one else saw?

I saw pain. I saw (and still see, whenever I look at this picture) a pain so deep it is unutterable. It is beyond pain anymore, into that state of incomprehension where nothingness is bliss. I looked at that picture, and the first thing that came to my mind was this: “My God, he looks like he’s been sitting in a dungeon for five years!” It just popped into my head, just like that. Not physically, of course, he’s a well-groomed and well-dressed young man. A little on the scrawny side, but healthy enough.

No, it was the look on his face, that look of resignation and despair. The look of “You can’t hurt me worse because it doesn’t get worse.” I saw myself in that man’s face. My own despair, my own pain. The dungeon was an emotional one, not physical.

A little overly melodramatic, don’t you think? Well, yes. But then, remember that I was thirteen. A teeny-bopper. And even at that age where one’s just on the cusp of not being a child anymore, I’d been through some fairly serious traumas already. Right there, in the blink of an eye between childish fantasies and teenagerish fantasies, my story was born. And that’s a melodramatic point in one’s life.

So I had this character, this guy who’d been sitting in a dungeon for five years. Now what? We can’t just leave him there. He’s me, and I don’t wanna be there. We have to get him out of there. This is the whole point of the story. He’s me, and he needs my help to become someone stronger than he is now. I gotta get him out of there. The other rock stars will help him out, they’ll be the other characters in the story. See, this one is doing this, and that one over there is gonna do this, and then this guy….

No problem, my thirteen year old mind said. I can do this easy! And she sat down to write. And fell flat on her fat ass.

I still have some of those earliest writings. I very seldom throw things away. I still have them, and I intend to keep them, too. But they’re horrifically awful, trust me. The clumsy and imitative attempts of a child. But they served a purpose: they helped fix the story firmly in my mind forever. The details have changed, some of the characters’ names have changed (though interestingly, some haven’t), even the geography has changed. But the story has not altered one iota from that first moment of conception. And any time it wavers in my mind, all I have to do is look at that photo again. It’s actually taped to the side of my CPU, and as I sit here typing it’s about a foot from my left hand.

What had happened was far more complex than I ever could have planned deliberately. I just wasn’t that clever. I’m still not. My thirteen year old mind had no clue what it was doing to itself, that it was telling a story about itself. And the girl I was would have denied it if you had accused her of it, too. And she would have been completely wrong. Because that’s exactly what this book is: it’s a story all about me, and the process of taking my pain and transforming it into something useful. Taking that character who suffers pain and healing him. And it’s not the least bit subtle. But I didn’t see it for years, because I was too close to it to see anything.

When my brain said “He’s been in a dungeon for five years!” I didn’t attach any particular significance to it numerically. It just popped into my head, as I’ve said before and probably will again before this article is done. But looking back on it in hindsight and with my vastly superior mathematical skills, five years before I was thirteen, I was eight. And that’s when my major trauma occurred. My subconscious was all but bludgeoning me over the head with symbolism, and I missed every last bit of it for years on end. It’s also far more conscious than I am most of the time. Honestly, I don’t know how it’s managed to put up with me all this time. I don’t think it knows either.

But I was deeply in denial, as one sometimes has to be if one wants to maintain the illusion of sanity, which I desperately did. So I ignored the symbolic bludgeoning, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge anything beyond “I’m a Duran Duran fan and these guys inspired a story in my head! Aren’t they cute?”

I needed to be a dofus at that point in time.

Well the story stalled and fell flat, as I’ve said. I was wracked with anguish. I had to write! I couldn’t write. This story was going to make me explode, but it wouldn’t come out. I was the biggest failure on the planet and would never amount to anything. Stupid childish dreams and stories. Come on, story, get out of my head! Go the fuck away!

It never did. I’d box the thing up and ignore it – once or twice I did that for years on end! But it never went away. It never would.

I thought to myself, maybe if I try some other medium to express the story through… So I tried writing music and poetry, drawing pictures (huge numbers of very bad pictures), even sculpture – anything to get this story out of my skull! But nothing worked. I was stuck with it. Just when I thought I’d put the whole thing to rest forever, I would see that photograph hovering behind my eyelids, and those eyes imploring me “Don’t leave me here, please.”

Don’t leave me here, please.

That was Morgan’s refrain, echoing in my head year after year. And those eyes, so full of pain, imploring me to help him, even when I couldn’t. So the story never died. But I certainly despaired of ever writing it down. All I knew how to do was sit by Morgan’s side in the dark cell and reassure him that he was not alone, that I was there with him. And we’d wait, together. In the darkness.

I’d take it out every year or so and make an attempt, but it never got anywhere. I agonized over blank sheets of paper and blank computer screens, begging my brain to work, but it never did.

And then, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2004, I was hospitalized for suicidal depression. Sadly, it was not the first time. But it was a significant time. I stayed there for a week, far longer than I ever had before, and something happened. I had brought my book out of storage when I went in, because I’d noted over the years that the best work came out of me when I was most depressed. Great, I thought, get something useful out of this sheer hell. Why waste all this perfectly good suffering?

And that week the ideas started to flow. Something had changed, and to this day I don’t know what, but a floodgate opened, and the ideas came rushing out of my mind and onto the paper like they never had before. The Rian culture was born that week, entire and complete. The ships the Eleli Rei and the Ipar Izar, Emmy and Bartok. Also the Erlayan culture began to really shape up, though much of it was still waiting to emerge. I finally figured out where Paige fit into the story that week. Morgan was standing up and walking towards me in our shared subconscious. It was exhilarating.

What I hadn’t really understood was that I had to stop being exclusively Morgan in order for other parts of me to be able to help him. But I hadn’t realized that I was Morgan in the first place. Like I said, I’m just not that smart. It’s hard to see those kinds of things from inside a dungeon cell. And I’d built that cell with thick walls and a very stout door, very difficult to break myself out of. Believe me, I did a good job of imprisoning myself. Because I’m also Laric. I had to have enough of me become Jasper before I could break Morgan out of Laric’s dungeon. And that’s why I couldn’t write before – I wasn’t Jasper enough to do it. I couldn’t write Morgan out of that cell because I had no idea what was on the other side of the door out there, what to do with him. And at thirteen, I didn’t know how to be anything but Morgan, even though all the other parts were there too. Laric was definitely there. But I didn’t realize that I was him, I just knew he was there. I didn’t realize that I was anything at all.

Okay, so what else?
My characters. “Played by” Duran Duran, but all my own. I just see their faces when I picture these characters. Well, except for Paige, of course. She’s someone else altogether.

Do you think there is a single writer out there whose characters are not parts of their own subconscious? I mean, whether they’re aware of it or not. People always say ‘write what you know’ – and what do you know better than yourself?

Which is, of course, why I couldn’t write a book about my own healing when I wasn’t healed. I didn’t know anything about being healthy in my spirit.

So, my characters.

First and foremost, always, is Morgan. He IS the story. Morgan is my ‘wounded child,’ and everybody has one. It’s not just for people who’ve been through major traumas and woes, it’s everyone. You have a wounded child too. I know you do. Because everyone has had something they didn’t want to happen. And you may react rationally on the outside, but inside there’s a pouting child who doesn’t like it and wants it their own way. And doesn’t get it their own way. Wounded Child.

My Wounded Child was (and is) very full of pain. She’s had a lot of wounds over the years. And for the most part, she turned the pain in on herself. I’ve been eating myself alive for most of my life. Because to me, inflicting that pain on anyone else, even sharing it, would be unconscionably rude. It’s my problem, after all, not yours. So I kept things in, and it always got worse. Limited amount of space, ever-increasing filler. It’s like shaking a closed soda, and the fizz fills up all the air in the bottle. Or a pressure cooker, where the heat expands everything and makes the pressure.

So occasionally I’d explode. It happens. I’m not proud of it. In fact, I’m mortally embarrassed every time it happens. It turns into more pain for me, I blame myself for causing pain to others, it’s something else to use to eat myself alive. Like I needed more guilt. I’m a guiltmaster. I put myself in a prison made out of pain and guilt. And the more pain I suffered, the thicker the walls got, until there was no room for me to move or breathe. And that would cause an implosion. Or explosion. However you choose to look at it, I suppose. Depends on your perspective, really. At any rate, the system would become unsustainable and would cease to function.

And that’s Morgan, and the dungeon cell he’s in. Sitting in stasis, hurting and unable to heal, unable to move on with life. For a story, you make it literal.

Then there’s Laric. Here we have the ultimate badguy. The antagonist. The nemesis. Call him whatever you want, actually. It doesn’t matter. I know what he is: he’s the same pain, the same guilt and grief as Morgan, except he’s turned it all outwards instead of inwards. Rage. Laric is rage. Laric has suffered intense trauma too, has unhealed wounds. Laric is not a simple badguy with the big black moustache and a snivelling little sidekick. He’s a real person who’s suffered real life and reacted badly.

I’ve found that I love Laric very much. He needs as much love as Morgan does. And from me, he gets it. I care about him very much. He’s a loveable guy. My self-hatred, taking it out on everyone else that he can. So in the story, a tyrant and a monster, hell-bent on hurting people and controlling them. Control. If you’ve had control taken away from you, if you’ve ever been helpless (and who hasn’t at some point?), then you know the feeling of wanting vengeance for that helplessness – you want to be in control. And that’s what Laric is: anger and rage and a fierce determination to be in control. You can prove you’re in control by being able to hurt others with impunity, and that’s just what he does. He’s really very insecure.

Who comes after that? Brand. Similar to Laric, but quite distinct. Lack of self-respect, as opposed to rampant wrath. Brand is utterly convinced that he’s useless and worthless, good for nothing. In fact, I cover that fairly overtly in the prologue of the book. Brand has accomplished nothing and is not expected to accomplish anything, and therefore feels that he is a useless person altogether. Other people in the story do great things, or are very powerful or charismatic, or whatever. Brand is just Brand.

Brand covers his uncertainty with bluster. Brand is a dandy, a fop. He leads whatever he can, fashion, haughtiness, he demands respect from whoever he can. He can be a real nasty piece of work, but it’s all because he’s trying to prove himself to be superior because he feels deep down that he’s not. He tries too hard, trying to cover up his perceived inadequacy. He wants to earn the respect of his friends and family instead of just having it. And he does have their love, he just doesn’t believe in it. He doesn’t believe in himself.

But then there’s the flip side of all this hatred and pain.

Jasper. And Paige. Let’s start with Jasper, since he’s been in the story since the very beginning. Paige came later.

Jasper is unbridled confidence. He can do anything. He is heroic, larger than life. He is Morgan’s rescuer, the mythical person I wanted to swoop down from the outside and love me and heal all my pain. Of course he’s an unrealistic person. Nobody is like that, not in reality. He’s a superman. He can do anything, fix anything, vanquish all enemies.

He’s deus ex machina for Morgan, the catalyst for healing. The proverbial kick in the ass, as it were. So he is useful, but he’s going to find over the course of this story that he’s not all-powerful, and he can’t solve all problems just by being strong. But I get ahead of myself.

Paige is next. Paige showed up much later in the story. I mean that literally. The story consisted of five main characters, and then she showed up one day and said “Hi there, I’m Morgan’s little sister and I’m gonna be a part of your book.”

To which I replied, “Get lost, you little punk. I’m busy. You have no place here.”

But she refused. She won’t go away, she’s very stubborn and very persistent. I could never find a way to work her into the plot, though. I finally came to accept her, that she was in the story, but I couldn’t figure out where or how. In fact, it wasn’t until this last year that I even figured out which part of my subconscious she was. I didn’t figure it out on my own, either. Dana told me who Paige was.

Paige is my self-love.

Paige loves Morgan, more than anything in the world. And Morgan is my Wounded Child, my id, my me. She’s protective and loving, unconditional love, really. Morgan can do no wrong, Morgan is all, Morgan this and Morgan that. When he needs help she helps him. When he needs comfort she comforts him. Whatever he needs, whatever it takes. She’s the counter-agent to Brand and Laric.

Which makes my pushing her away for so many years particularly interesting. I was completely unable to accept the concept that I might be able to love myself. I was too much Brand and not enough Paige. Even after she showed up I wouldn’t let her in.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “well she said five characters plus Paige, and she’s only talked about four characters plus Paige. Where’s the fifth (or sixth, depending on your perspective)?”

I left Galen for last because he’s quite different from all the others. A very different part of my subconscious altogether.

When Galen suffered trauma, he ran away from it and refused to let himself feel. He disengaged completely. He observes but does not participate in the emotional drama of everyone else. Ram Dass talks about being aware of your ‘observer’ – that’s Galen in my story. He watches, and even helps in a passive kind of way, but does not take part himself. And he’s gonna have to.

Galen is a healer, and when people get hurt he patches them up. He has much more potential, but refuses to live up to it because that would mean becoming involved. In fact, he sees fixing other people’s wounds as proof that it’s too dangerous to feel. People get hurt when they feel. He’s not willing to do that.

Circumstances, however, are going to force him to take an active role and participate and feel. He has to join the rest of the characters and be a part of the story. He is reluctant and resentful, but he will learn to let his guard down and be vulnerable.

So while the rest of the characters have a definite opinion, side, alliance, etc… Galen does not. He is as neutral as he can manage to be. He wants to be neutral, uninvolved. He gets swept up by Jasper and Paige and dragged into the story will-he nil-he.


How I do love all my characters, all these different parts of me, working together to make me a unified, complete whole person!




At this point in time, I have finished writing two novels and am working on the third while also shopping around for a publisher for the first. The story grows by leaps and bounds every time I work on it!

I Have A Roommate!

So I haven’t posted here in quite a while, but honestly, not much has happened in a while to blog about, until just recently. And here I am now.

So, I reconnected on facebook with an old high school friend of mine, and we were talking about our hometown of Missoula. Neither of us stayed there very long after high school, but both of us remembered it fondly. Life takes you places you weren’t expecting, after all.

Recently, he moved back to Missoula, looking for nostalgia, comfort, and home. Well, they say “you can never go back,” and it’s just sadly true. The old hometown has changed so much, he was deeply disappointed with the place. It has grown too big, there are too many new stores, new buildings, it is too modern, just… too much like California and not enough like Montana. And he’s right.

So I drove over there (I live in Butte, which is only an hour and a half’s drive from Missoula) and “kidnapped” him for 24 hours. I said “Take a look around you at Butte. We’re behind the times. The city is old, it’s falling down, it’s laid back, informal… this city today is like the Missoula you and I grew up in. You might get that nostalgia you’re looking for here rather than in our actual childhood home.”

And it worked. He likes Butte. I don’t blame him. I like Butte, too. People here are friendly, laid back, the place is NOT posh, it’s just comfy and kinda dilapidated. You don’t have to mind your p’s and q’s around here, because everybody’s dirt poor and we all just sort of get it. We’re all in it together. The attitude is officially informal and mellow.

So, I live alone (with my four cats, two budgies and eleven snakes) in a three bedroom apartment because my mother bought this duplex before she passed away, so I would always have a place to live. And I’m a hair’s breadth away from being a hoarder, this apartment is jam-packed to the rafters with stuff (junk or treasures depending on who you ask), but there’s a spare bedroom with a bed in it, so why should it sit unused? I told him to come stay with me, and he accepted.

I was talking to another friend of mine who works at a local pizza place here in town, and she mentioned that they need a day shift cook. Oh? My friend just happens to be a cook. In fact, he used to own his own restaurant. A quick phone call later, and he’s got a job waiting for him when he gets here. It’s like kizmet. The whole universe conspired to make him move here.

Now he’s been here a week. He’s been working for three days, and loves his new job. Came home from work today with a huge grin on his face and glowing report of happiness on the job. And he cooks meals for me, and I hate cooking! He calls himself my housewife, and seems to be blissfully happy about it.

What worries me is that I’ve been living alone for the last twenty years. I’m used to walking around my apartment naked and not worrying about what other people think and always doing my own thing at all times. I’m worried that the stress of having another human being (even a fantastic human being) in the house will freak me out and I’ll drive him away. I’m worried about this because I don’t want it to happen. Having him here is awesome. I think it’ll be good for me, if I survive it. I want it to work. I want to be adaptable and succeed in this whole “having a roommate” thing. It happened so fast, but it feels so right. The original idea was for him to just stay until he could afford and find a place of his own, but now I’m not sure I want to let him leave. I think having him around could be so good for me if I can learn to tolerate another person’s presence. Maybe he can help me de-clutter and get my life in shape again…

And just so we’re utterly clear, there is no romance happening here. He and I are like brother and sister. And he is as gay as a treeful of monkeys, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. We can ogle men together, even! It’s all good. Please, universe, let this be as good for me as it has been for him. I live in hope!

Lucky, lucky us!

So I was talking to a friend I ran into at WalMart today about ‪#‎FirstWorldProblems‬ and how hard life seems at times, when really it isn’t at all. I mean, sure we all have our issues, but most of us have roofs over our heads, food to eat, clothing to wear, etc. The conversation sprang out of her reading a rant I’d posted on facebook a few days earlier, which is not too relevant to this blog post, but it didn’t come from nothing. Point is, we both acknowledged that we’re a lot better off than we tend to think we are, and we shouldought be more grateful than we usually are.

The conversation picked back up while I was going through the checkout, with the checker commenting that people often come through his line complaining that their day is totally ruined because something or other is out of stock, and I reiterating that these people need to get a grip on reality. He said mine was “a welcome perspective.” You know, the cashiers can’t get TOO comment-y at work, they have to be polite and all that, but I could tell he was sick of spoiled people whining about inconsequential crap. Really, how important can it be if you’re buying it at WalMart?

So I walked out muttering to myself about “Us spoiled rich folk who don’t know how good we’ve got it”. And I have to ask the genpop: Are you still spoiled if you KNOW you’re spoiled, or does that just make you lucky and grateful?

Today I am grateful for so much, so many, many blessings showered upon me from every direction. Friends, family, and even strangers. The people who built my house. The power company. The water company. My internet provider. The farmers and workers who grew and made my food. The people who made my clothing (and the fabric from which I made my own). The people who invented, manufactured, and built my computer, television, cellphone, and mechanical bed. The truckers who brought all of it to Montana for me! All of it! All the doctors and nurses who’ve ever kept me healthy, and the lawyers and secretaries and office workers who sit in cubicles all day and push paper around so that I don’t have to. The garbage collectors who take away my trash, let’s not underestimate how incredibly valuable they are! And thousands, millions more people I can’t even name, all over the planet, because products I use and enjoy come from everywhere in the world. I do not live in a vaccuum. I am so ferociously spoiled, and I just want to take a moment to acknowledge it. I would like to think that by reading this, you feel a little gratitude for all those people in YOUR life, too. Because they are, and your life would be poorer without them. Think about it. A little gratitude goes a long way. Take a moment to feel the awe and the wonder and the majesty of it all.

Are we lucky, or what?

How Fat-Shaming (doesn’t) Work

For those who don’t know how it works…

I got fat-shamed at the gym today. Yeah, you heard me. I go to the gym. I work out 3-5 hours a week on weight machines and in the pool, swimming laps. I was just congratulating myself on a job decently done (I’m not spectacular, but I do what I can which is all anyone can ask for), when I happened to run into a friend, and we began comparing notes. She is larger-than-she-wants-to-be, too. Hmmm… LTSWTB. I’ve just invented a new non-word. Yipiee. Of course I’ve changed her name because it’s none of your business who she is, but “Jessica” and I began having a conversation about techniques, attitudes, determination, and other things like that. Then this guy comes up and butts in to our conversation.

I was watching him work out on a piece of equipment I’d been using half an hour earlier. It’s the one where you sit, and there’s this long bar over your head that you pull down on to lift weights. I have no idea what it’s called, but you probably know which one I’m talking about. Anyway, I asked the guy if he had tried the machine sitting the opposite way, as I find it easier than trying to jam my legs under the padded bar they have in front of the seat. I also see a lot of guys using that machine and they’re leaning back and grunting and pulling on the thing, and it just doesn’t look very effective to me the way they’re doing it. This fellow was much the same as the others I’d seen.

He explained that he couldn’t do it backwards, because he had to have the thigh brace. He was, you see, lifting more than his own body weight, and so needed the bar to hold him down. He did about five reps on the thing, and then stopped. WTF?

I know that I know nothing about weight-lifting, but that doesn’t seem productive to me. What is he trying to accomplish? Would it not be more effective, in the quest to build muscle, to set the weight lower and lift it more often? I’m not talking about down to ten pounds, but certainly down from 170lbs to, say, maybe 100lbs? Mind you, I didn’t ask him that. I didn’t feel like listening to a lecture, and I’m glad I held my tongue, because what little conversation we did engage in was horrible.

See, he began telling me and Jessica all about his weight loss adventure: how he’d changed his diet radically to exclude all sugars and all carbs, reduced his portions, and went to the gym. For three months he’s done this, and he’s dropped roughly 30 lbs.

At this point in the story, I congratulated him on finding what works for him (though privately I doubt he’ll be able to maintain it in the long run), and reminded him that not everyone’s body works the same way, and that there are many solutions to the same problem depending on who you are. For example, I told him, I used to be a lifeguard and water aerobics instructor, and would be in the pool about ten hours a week. During that time, I did not alter my diet in any way whatsoever, and lost about fifty pounds (Which is all true, btw. I know exercise works).

He vehemently disagreed with me, repeating the incredibly ignorant and highly offensive “calories in/calories out” diatribe of so many thin people. It’s pure and simple, he says. Nothing you do will ever help you lose weight if you eat carbs, period. Because it’s not sugar that turns into fat when you eat it, it’s carbohydrates.

By this point in his ranting, I was ready to punch him. Seriously seeing red, pushing the anger down as hard as I could and carefully controlling my breathing. And let me tell you, that’s the REAL weight training right there! I don’t know how much of his irritating prattle “Jessica” and I tolerated, but it felt like forever. Finally he wandered off, and went to play with himself somewhere else. I followed Jessica over to her next machine and sat by her side while she continued her workout. I was done for the day. He never took in a word of what I said, except to acknowledge it just long enough to deny it all and tell me I was a worthless pile of crap who would never succeed. He also asserted, in great ignorance, that genes have nothing to do with one’s weight, and went on at some length about that. By this point, I was almost unable to speak, and so I didn’t even try to engage. He had already judged me, so why bother defending myself? He wouldn’t hear me, he’d just hear whining and excuse-making, not legitimate scientific facts.

So, having “pointlessly” (because, after all, I’d already eaten carbs that day, so what’s the point?) done a hundred reps of that machine at 40lbs, and a hundred reps of another machine at 40lbs, and tried the NuStep until my legs gave out, I really couldn’t take any more of that. I chatted with Jessica for a while as I waited for my calm to return, then headed out. Got in my car and drove away.

I’ve been out of milk for a day or so, and been very broke, but just that morning I’d gotten a deposit in my bank account, so I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things I’d run out of. I was still fuming and furious with Mr. Bullshit, and just wanted to hurt him. Really, like smash into him with my car and then back over him a few times to make sure he would never get up again. Extremely angry, violent thoughts running through my head. Yeah, I get those. All the time. I watch horror movies to calm down from anger fits, because if I can see someone else doing it, then I don’t need to.

So I get to the store, get in the electric shopping cart, and start wheeling my way around. I picked up some fresh strawberries, a cantaloupe, a gallon of 1% milk, a gallon of orange juice, two boxes of cookies, a box of brownies, four mini-pies, three tv dinners, and a thaw-n-serve chocolate silk pie.

On the way home, I stopped at the Dairy Queen and got a medium cherry-cheesecake blizzard.

That’ll teach him.

See, the thing is, I’m a rational, intelligent, adult person, but when I get fat-shamed, logic and reason go completely out the window. There is nothing but the pain, and the anger, and the need to strike back at the person who hurt me. Of course, I’m not allowed to run people over with my car, so I have to find some other destructive, hateful and awful thing to do. Something that will ease my pain and make me feel better while I hurt someone or something.

And food is the answer. It soothes my pain and anguish and rage. It comforts me deep down on a spiritual level and makes everything alright. Food will never hate me, it will never judge me, it will only ever nurture me and make me feel safe and loved. Food doesn’t care if it’s my genes or my behaviour or my attitude or the flame-retardant chemicals in my sofa cushions that makes me fat. Food doesn’t care if I’ve been to the gym or mass-murdered every health nut in the nation to get all tired and worn out. It just loves me.

It does not hurt the man who hurt me if I eat an entire chocolate silk pie in one sitting. He will never even know. So why do I do it? Because it’s comforting. Because when my mouth is full of that luscious, perfect heaven, he’s not there in my mind at all. He’s nowhere. He’s destroyed utterly in my world. He ceases to exist. And I’m still here, and food still loves me.

Can you begin to see why that would be a worthwhile thing to do? Why it is reasonable, in that mindset, to take that action? Not just reasonable, but actually necessary?

Fat shaming does not work. And there’s the insider’s explanation of why. You ask your fat friends to read this article, and they will tell you I’m not a lone weirdo. Fat people feel this way. It is the way our minds work, and it is why fat-shaming is just about the worst thing you can do to a fat person if you want to help them lose weight. I’m not off my rocker here. Well, maybe I am, but the point is I’m not making a false claim about this, nor am I an isolated or unusual case. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and it plays out the same way every time. I’m fat and worthless? Fine. Then I’ll BE fat and worthless. Take that, asshole! You happy now that I’ve eaten my weight in pasta? No? Want me to eat more? Fine, I will. Go away and leave me alone, I was doing well before you opened your big mouth and told me what a loser I am!

I’m a horrible person. I know that, I didn’t need you to tell me. Now go away and let me die in peace. I hate me, too. Everybody hates me, or should. Because I’m repulsive and disgusting and will never be anything else. I know, I know. You’re completely right, it’s true. I should just kill myself now and get it over with. Save everybody the bother of being polite to my face until I keel over from my own weight and they can’t find a coffin big enough for me and I have to buy two funeral plots coz I won’t fit in just one.

I think I’m gonna go eat some of those brownies, now. I’m tired from all this emotional writing.

(This is an older piece of writing, it didn’t happen to me this year. I’m just sharing it now.)

I’m engaged!

So here’s a thing, lemmie tell ya about it. I’m really gonna do this, mind you.
I’m getting married.
Every girl dreams of having a big wedding, right? Fancy dress, big cake, surrounded by family and friends, big reception, the whole shebang. Right? Except then what? Then you’re stuck with some guy forever. Oh, and I haven’t met him yet. I’m getting tired of waiting.
But I am not letting that stop me! No.
I am gonna go for it. I am gonna do it on my own. I am getting married, all by myself, with nobody else. I am gonna marry myself.
Yeah, you heard me.
A bit egocentric, isn’t it, Josie? I hear you ask.
First ring that arrived in the mail!

First ring that arrived in the mail!

Yeah, maybe. Or maybe it’s just exactly what I need. A huge celebration to let the world and my subconscious know that I’m beautiful, I’m powerful, and gosh darn it, I’m worthy! So I’m gonna get the dress and a ring (I’ve already bought a selection of [granted very cheap, but I’m very frugal, and I’m okay with that] engagement rings) and I’m gonna stand up in front of a preacher-type person and a crowd of my loved ones and vow to God that I am gonna love, honor and cherish myself for the rest of my life. Then we’re gonna party.

I think that’s worth making a fuss over. I think I’M worth making a fuss over. So I’m gonna. I don’t need to wait to find a husband to make that fuss. I can commit to loving myself. To honoring myself. To cherishing myself. And yes, everyone can do that in a quiet, personal way every day. But I want to make a fuss.
There’s a part in some ceremonies where the celebrant asks the witnesses to participate in the marriage, to help the couple live up to their wedding vows. I’m definitely putting that bit in. If my friends see me failing in my vows, I would want them to help remind me of my promise to be a good caretaker of myself. Because I’m so good at forgetting.
Nothing in my vows is going to preclude me finding true love from a man or a woman (hey, I’m not picky) and someday marrying them. It could happen. Maybe I’ll meet my spouse at my wedding, who knows? They’ll be a friend’s plus-one or something. Don’t laugh. It could happen.
I have not yet chosen a date. I have not yet chosen a venue (though I have several options, including outdoors ANYwhere and at least one church that’s willing to host such a ‘unique’ cememony). But some things have already been decided. Like my grandma Rita’s earrings that I’ll definitely be wearing. I wouldn’t consider walking down the aisle without them, in fact. Some other stuff I know I’m definitely gonna do.
I plan on designing the ceremony from top to bottom. I’ll be drawing on traditions from lots of different influences for inspiration. I am a Baha’i’, after all. So while some things will be straightforward stuff you’re used to in a traditional American/Eurocentric/Christian ceremony, other things will not be. You just never know with Josie, and I like to keep it that way.
I’m making this announcement to everyone (although yes, some of you already knew) across every platform I have an account on out there on the internet: facebook, blog, author page, twitter, etc. today, but who knows when the ceremony will be? Not me… not yet…
But hey, I’ll keep y’alls updated. Coz I’d probably love to see you there!

I don’t remember asking for your opinion

I’ve been me for a long time now. My whole life, in fact. That’s 44 years now, a respectable chunk of time.

I went through puberty at… well, that takes a few years to go through. I started at age 8. I finished up around 11 or 12-ish. Still a respectable chunk of time ago. 36 years, give or take.

Medical doctors have to attend college, and then med school. They have to study for a long, long time to get smart enough to be doctors, a long time before they are allowed to practice medicine, prescribe drugs, cut on people if they’re surgeons, etc. Like 8 or 9 years for schooling, then 3-7 years of internships, and then finally they are doctors. Let’s say 16 years to be a real top-notch pro. So a fair chunk of change out of their lives. And I appreciate that. They are experts on the average human body.

But I am not the average human being, and I am not living in the average human body. I should know, having been me my entire life. Post-pubescent me for 36 years now, even. I note post-pubescent because puberty is when one’s body chemistry does the “chrysalis” thing and shuffles, re-arranges, and when you’re done, the adult form emerges. I’ve been living with my adult chemistry for a good 36 years now. I know how my body works and how it does not work. I am an expert on being ME. I’m more of an expert on being me than any medical doctor is on the average human, it might be noted. I know me really, REALLY well.

My body chemistry is not average. If it were, I would not have need of any specialized medications to control it. Clinical depression is an imbalance of body chemistry. It is not sadness. It is not a lack of properly balanced chi. It is not a poor attitude. It is not laziness. It is not my diet. It is not God’s punishment for a sin I have committed. It is a physical imbalance like diabetes or autism that makes me different from the average human. In that respect, it is no different from my Meniere’s. It is part of the genetic lottery I drew at birth. It is what my body is.

It is not who I am.

It is also not something that’s gonna be controlled by happy thoughts and tai chi. Please stop telling me you know more about my body and my condition than I do. Stop pretending you care and the overabundance of your great heart makes it okay for you to insult me. We both know better. Get down out of my face with that care-trollery, you sanctimonious buffoon.

I have been unmedicated. I know what it’s like. You were not there, you didn’t see me, didn’t experience me at my horrifying, suicidal, nihilistic worst. You did not hold me while I sobbed my guts out, literally crying until I vomited for hours, or tore bedsheets to one-inch squares in my frenzied panic attacks. Years later, my mother was still finding pieces of her shredded bed linens behind her bureau drawers. Unmedicated me was only safe to be around because I had something besides a person to shred. My mother sacrificed her linens willingly…

I have a relative who has told me right to my face that “…things were better in the 50s when people didn’t talk about their problems all the time, and didn’t take lots of drugs to mess up their heads.” She is in complete denial of her own mental health issues which are so clear to everyone but herself, it’s kind of heartbreaking. But to be told that the medications I take daily to keep my head clear, that those are what are causing my problems? – THAT is a special brand of madness reserved only for the tin foil hat wearers and conspiracy theorists. And she doesn’t see it. She doesn’t understand. She just grinds on in her ignorance and her anger and her addiction to painkillers, cigarettes and alcohol. Merciful heavens, I know she’s in pain, she survived esophageal cancer for crying out loud, but she’s not doing a thing in the world to try to better herself, not one single, solitary thing. She is, however, trying to drag me down to her level because misery loves company.

But I won’t go.

She’s not the only one. There are so many, many people out there who are convinced that Big Pharma and Big Brother are one and the same, and they are Out To Get Me ™ any way they can. Now I’m no fan of the tactics and woefully lacking ethics of Big Pharma, nor am I living in ignorance of their multitudinous crimes and sins against humanity and general decency.

But I am chemically imbalanced all on my own without their help, in my natural, un-anything’ed state. I was unbalanced long before I took my first medication. I was a freakin’ mess, folks. And I’m here to tell you that without those medications from Big Brother Pharma, I would probably be dead today, just like Robin Williams.

Because Depression is a killer. People weep when Cancer kills a victim. “Oh, she was so brave, she fought to the end, she was so heroic, alas!” But people blame the victim when Depression wins. “She was weak, she gave up, she stopped trying, she was selfish and didn’t care about those who loved her. She should have tried harder.” Stop it. Depression kills. It kills as surely as Cancer ever did, as surely as a car crash or having a piano dropped on your head will kill. It is a deadly poison that eats away at your mind from the inside, a poison created by your own body, a poison that whispers to you in a voice no one else can hear, until you can hear nothing else, and it screams and sings and whoops its war cry and drowns out every other sound in the world until you go mad from the repeated mantra of you’re-no-good-no-one-loves-you. Who amongst you wouldn’t be desperate to get that demon out of your head any way you could?

Guess what?

The drugs quiet the demon.

And the kicker is that it’s a lottery as to which drugs will work for which person, too. Because the standard drugs don’t really work all that well for me. I’m on something that turns most people into a zombie (Thorazine), and it’s brought me to life. I am vivacious and happy and energetic on this med (in combination with two other psych meds), and it was out of a desperate need to sleep that I rolled the dice and took the prescription my doctor offered me. I knew I might get the “Thorazine shuffle” as it’s known in the psych med community. I was suffering from horrible insomnia, and at that particular moment, didn’t care what it took. I needed to sleep. And accidentally stumbled upon a miracle. Because everyone who has whacked-out body chemistry is whacked out in a slightly different way, and responds to the meds in a slightly different way. My doctor admitted it. He understands. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s seen it happen. Random results. YMMV. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, and there’s no way to predict or control the results. It really is a roll of the dice. I got lucky. I’m now getting the sleep I need, and as an added bonus, extra energy and cheerfulness! Not the usual Thorazine patient.

The point is, everyone is an individual. You cannot just walk up to someone and say “This is bad for you, you must cease and desist,” without knowing them, knowing their history, and knowing their situation. Someone online, who doesn’t even know my real name. Someone who has maybe seen a profile pic and therefore knows I’m overweight. Someone who knows nothing about me besides that, and truly, not even the reasons for that. That someone can’t freaking prescribe for me. Stay out of my life. You don’t know. I know. I know what’s best for me.

My doctor and I have sat and discussed it rationally like two intelligent adults, and we have decided what works best for me. Him, an experienced psych doctor with years of accumulated knowledge in his field, and me an experienced me-be-er with years of accumulated knowledge in my field.

You’re just some schmoe with an opinion.

Which I did not ask for.

So keep your schmoe opinion where it belongs: between your ears and out of my life. Because you’re not an expert on being me. I’ve been adult me for 36 years now, and I know how it’s done. You don’t know me at all.

Stress is fun!

There is SO MUCH to do starting a new business, I can’t keep track of it all! What’s my EIN again? Okay, I found that! Now, do you have your reseller’s license? My what? Seriously? Okay, nobody told you ANYthing, did they? Farg! Back to the drawing board! And an account with USPS and UPS and FedEx so my customers can choose their own favorite shipping. Duh. Why did I not think of that? And do this, and do that, and do the other thing…

Wow. My head is spinning, and aching, and I’m so tired.

I am scared to death, I don’t mind admitting. If this doesn’t work, I will be out a crap-ton of money, with no way to recoup it, and broker than ever, and losing money fast. But if I don’t even try, then I will still be losing money, just at a slightly slower pace. My income is lower than my expenses. Mom left me with a lot of expenses, owning two properties, a car, all this craziness. Real estate costs money even if you’re not using it, just sitting there it costs money. It’s crazy! I’m so scared. I have to do something, and I’m not qualified to do much of anything. Dropshipping doesn’t require much more than checking emails. This, I think I can do. Maybe. After I’ve paid someone else to set it all up for me, at least…

I have bigger dreams than this. Really I do. Grand, noble dreams of providing the public with things that they need, doing good in the world, helping people, making a difference. But for right now, I’ll just be happy if I can stop losing money. That’s dream enough for today. I’m not there yet, but to stop sliding backwards would be great. Breaking even would make me deliriously happy at this point in the game. Then we can worry about forward progress.

And I have to get that damnable apartment next door rented out. Fast. Gotta get a tenant in there so the pipes don’t freeze and speaking of real estate costing money, EMPTY real estate is a nightmare! Tenant, please, now! Rent money would be nice! Someone’s coming to look at it tomorrow, please let them be good! It’s a lady with two kids, and she says she is willing to paint herself and she’s figuring out section 8 and yes, I take section 8, I don’t care where the money is coming from as long as I get it, and yes, the house is section 8 approved because my last tenant had it. Just somebody, please, move in already!

Stress? Holidays? Don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything’s fine.

An Impassioned Plea

I’ve been conversing on facebook with my younger cousin lately about politics (G-d help me!), and we’ve gotten into some pretty heartfelt stuff. I wrote a reply to him tonight that was so long, facebook wouldn’t let me post it. I had to break it up into two posts, and even they were two very long posts.

We were discussing something I’d done earlier tonight. This blog post will consist mostly of quotes from facebook, but that’s because why type all this stuff twice? But I think it will make for interesting reading for a wider circle than just those three or four people who might click on a nested thread. You see…


On my way home from running errands tonight I stopped and picked up an elderly woman who was out in the flying snow and the dark, begging on a streetcorner. I drove her in my warm car to a drive-thru, bought her a meal and hot coffee, and returned her to her spot (at her request), after ascertaining that she did in fact have a warm place to spend the night and people to take care of her. She hadn’t eaten today, and was trying to raise enough money to make it to the next town over from here (about 120 miles, two hours’ or so drive on the highway) to see her daughter for Thanksgiving.

I did not ask if she was a veteran. I did not ask if she was a refugee. She is a human being in distress. She is absolutely no different from me in any way except the random luck that life handed her. I’m no better than her, she’s no better than me. I believe the Christian phrase is “there but for the grace of God go I.” I fed her, warmed her up, gave her a few bucks, and sent her on her way. It is really cold and snowy out tonight in Butte, and supposed to be getting worse as the week goes on. No one should be out in the cold begging on a streetcorner tonight.

Turns out she was from Newport, Mass. Small world, eh? She’s been out here for about thirteen years, she said. I told her I’d been here a bit longer, and explained about the small hill towns “west of Greenfield.”

Does her being from Massachusetts make her somehow “more worthy” of being helped by me, a fellow Massachusetts native? No, it does not, in any way, shape or form. No more than her being female makes her more worth of being helped by me, a fellow female, or her being American made her more worth of being helped by me, a fellow American. Those distinctions did not come into play in my mind or my heart. A human being in need was the metric I was using. The rest was a coincidence, and something to talk about while I drove.

I would have done exactly the same thing if she were a Syrian refugee. I don’t care where she was from. I truly don’t. She was in my car five minutes before I found out where she was from, which was information she volunteered. She blessed me by giving me this opportunity to help, to put my action where my mouth is.


To which my cousin replied,
“That’s pretty unbelievable that you did that for someone, I’m sure not many people would do that these days! When you think about it, random acts of kindness like that were so much more common a few decades back. Hitchhiking was a commonality because people were more willing to help out their fellow man. It’s too bad how the world and our cultures have shifted…

I think where I differ from you is the fact that our country and our society is not built to take on helping EVERYONE all at once. We focus all of our attention on ONE subject, ONE problem, ONE solution at a time. The only topic our president has been talking about for the past couple weeks is his strategy on ISIS and his plan for refugees. He doesn’t mention anything about the bills recently struck down for veterans, nor addresses the problems in his own country. While I’d like to see everyone get the help they need, I know it’s simply not possible. And therefore when the choice needs to be made, I’d choose my people first.”


And I replied (abridged)

“… when the choice needs to be made, I’d choose my people first.”

I can understand that. You start right where you are and you do as much as you can with what you see around you with the resources you have. Which is precisely what I did today, because I am only one person, as are you, as is N_____ (as she angrily pointed out), as are we all. Well, most of us are, anyway.

….. long political rambling here…..

… but I wanted to talk about the personal stuff. There are so many things I try to live my life by that get boiled down to sound bites, snippets, and memes, and sometimes those are so infuriating, but sometimes, that’s the best way to get complex ideas across.be the change 2

BE the change you want to see in the world. Don’t wait for it to happen, MAKE it happen! Why is it “pretty unbelievable” that I would help this woman on the streetcorner? It shouldn’t be. It should be plain, simple, common decency. The fact that anyone would consdier it “pretty unbelievable” makes me horribly sad!

Usually (not sometimes, not when I’m in the mood to, but USUALLY), when I see someone on that particular corner, I bring them food, because a lot of people in Butte beg for alcohol or drug money. My logic is that if they are reduced to begging, they’re probably hungry. Even if they have food at home (and have a home), they’ve been standing on a streetcorner probably for hours, and are likely hungry. If they are druggies, they probably need a good meal, even if they don’t want one and would rather have my cash. So I drive down to the nearest fast food restaurant, which is a Wendy’s, and drop a couple bucks on a few burgers and a soft drink (or coffee if it’s cold out) instead of handing them cash. That way I *know* my money isn’t going to feed a drug habit, and I’ve still done something for someone. I do this quite regularly. But when it’s cold out, often by the time I get back, the person has left, and I’m left with food and drink I don’t want/need because I’m not hungry. So with this lady, because it was cold and dark, and I was worried about her, I took her into my car to make sure she was okay, and when I found out she was, I returned her to her spot. After feeding her. That way, she didn’t leave before I could get back with her food.

Don’t wait for society to change. Change it today. Change it inside yourself. It’s never gonna change if you expect it to change from the outside-in. You have to change it from the inside-out. Start inside yourself, and work outwards as you go. You’re absolutely right when you said, “…our country and our society is not built to take on helping EVERYONE all at once…” and it never will be if we don’t MAKE it that way. One human soul at a time. We can’t do that with laws, edicts, rules, and regulations. We have to do it with our hearts. Because (here’s another sound bite) you cannot legislate morality. People have tried that for millennia, and it doesn’t work. Whether it’s recycling or abstinence or drugs or whatever, you just cannot pass laws that will force people to be “good” people. Which is why you’re right about our country and our society not being able to help everyone at once.

But if enough people just suddenly started being nice, and saw how good it felt (I got so much of a high off of helping that woman, I can’t tell you how much more than money it’s worth!) to do that, they’d all become addicted to doing good. You can’t get that high anywhere else, I’m telling you. If people did that, and other people saw them doing that, and saw that high, and said “Hey, what’s going on? I want that!” and tried it too, and it spread like a virus or a drug… people would be lining up to change legislation for the good, and it wouldn’t be an effort, or a sacrifice, it would be a joy.

But if people don’t start with themselves, then no, of course that’s never gonna happen. It’s all purely hypothetical. Point is that it’s possible, though. We’ll never know if you aren’t willing to try.

I’m not singling you out, mind you. Not putting blame or guilt on your shoulders. I’m trying to plant seeds in your mind. Little idea seeds of hope and love and courage. Yes, someone getting in your car might have a gun or a knife on them. They might car-jack you or rob you or hurt you. That could have happened to me tonight. I took the risk. Willingly. Because of what *might* have happened, and DID in fact happen, which was that a nice, elderly lady got a warm meal and some gas money, and she now knows that there’s at least one nice person in Butte who cares about her well-being. And she’ll carry that with her for the rest of her life. And maybe she’ll pass it on to someone else somewhere down the road. I faced the fear, the possibility of death, to share some love and compassion with a stranger, because I would rather die with love in my heart, than live safely behind locked doors in fear. And today, I practiced what I preached in the main post above.

And you can, too. I believe in you. I believe in all humanity. BE the change you want to see in the world. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Create it yourself.