That just seems like too much of a coincidence. I am honestly not that freaked out about dying if that is my path.
What I don't want is to put my children through losing me, because LORD do they need me. They need a laid-back, fun, creative, loving, stabilizing influence. They need someone who understands them. And sadly, I am it. Not one of them has a clue about how to love one another. I'm not saying they don't love one another -- I'm just saying they are stupid in the expression of it -- especially the ones with the Y chromosomes.
Tooting my own horn, I know. But facts are facts. I'm not perfect, but I'm by far the best. If I were to disappear before my children are launched, the next few years would be absolute shit for them. Unless a miracle occurred. Which it won't.
I'll just have to make sure I write ten tons of advice. They are smart. They'll get through it. I just hate to think about them having the dreams I used to have about my parents. I had them for so many years! In my dreams, I would discover that they had been alive all along and just avoiding me. They were such terrible nightmares. So horrific.
Why would my parents want to leave me?
I'm sure they didn't, yet they did. I don't want to leave my children.
The other thing I don't want is some ugly, gross, smelly, horrible, painful death. I put in for the dying quietly and unexpectedly in your sleep kind of death. I may need to make a move to Oregon. I always knew I belonged there. With Norma. :)
Maybe I actually won't die. I don't know. It's looking a little sketchy for me right now. I'm sure if you are reading this you are wondering why, so I'll share just a bit of what I found in my most recent cat scan result:
Scattered subcentimeter nodular densities noted bilaterally. These have increased particularly in the right lung field where they measure up to 9 mm in size. Given the majority have a patchy groundglass and semisolid appearance in a clustered configuration would suspect an infectious or inflammatory process. Recommend follow-up chest CT in 3 months.
See? Could be just some sort of inflammation that I can reverse with prednisone and an anti-inflammatory diet. But I've got to admit that the number of new nodules, and the new terms (like "groundglass densities") have got me thinking the worst. There are eight measured nodules in my lungs along with:
"Additional new scattered patchy groundglass densities in the right middle lobe and right lower lobe particularly towards the lung base. Some of these are linear in configuration."
Whatever. I'm just in a bad mood now.
Was that just yesterday that I got back on this journal and wrote about how great everything is?
Sad Woman Sitting: David Spillane
The last time I touched this website was last summer (I think). I left Twitter, writing, and blogging all at the same time. This was not because I was tired of it, but because I got a job that took every last bit of creative energy I had in a day.
When I look back, I can see what a nightmare of a year I suffered from about 9/2017 to 9/2018. I had the mysterious illness (which I still have, but the implications are no longer so terrifying -- they think it is an autoimmune diseases that just crops up, causes inflammation, and makes me cough now and then -- The solution is long courses of prednisone - but it works.)
I miss writing, but I finally have a dream job, so how can I complain? I am putting out a TON of wonderful energy to a large number of receptive people - parents, administrators, colleagues, and most importantly, young people (in the 11 - 12 range). I'm certainly touching more lives positively with this than I have so far with my writing.
It is funny to abandon a website, come back, and find thousands of people are still reading my old stuff. Then I look back at my old journal entries, and it's so embarrassing because I write in a time of vulnerability, and I'm much more guarded when all is going fine for me. I see my vulnerability, depth of thought, superstition, and spirituality. Being in trouble (in relationships, in sickness, etc.) takes a person there, I guess.
Though looking back at my vulnerability makes me cringe, I appreciate where I went psychologically. And I like that I shared it with strangers. I sound a little flaky, I think, in some of them -- but I certainly can't judge that person. She was facing possible serious complications of illness, financial ruin, and perhaps death. How can I blame her for becoming so superstitious? But I refer to myself as "her" because I don't feel comfortable owning that person - I don't feel this way anymore. It is me, though. And I'm glad I have that resource to get me though tough times. I just feel a little strange about it now.
I look forward to getting back to writing in the summer.
And I'm glad I'm out of the struggle.
Andrey Bogoslowsky; Painting, “Portrait of a happy woman with blue
For Every Decision Maker in the Fashion and Entertainment Industry: *“Hie thee hence, and enter upon thine aft-ward portal with that selfsame, diminutive nether member that doth define thee as pateful namesake!”
* Note: Thank you Chris Berthelson for helping me to express myself with aplomb. I do try to avoid the F-word as I believe that it is not only coarse, it has actually lost its power due to a large percentage of people in the last decade or so using it as a filler (the way some people use, "Ah...."). I have mixed feelings about this because I think it might be that Six Feet Under, my favorite television show, started the F-trend. My title is coarse as well, but I think it is beautifully disguised in Old English.
And the cycle continues...
When I had a baby girl, I prayed she would not be born with the family propensity to be "rounded." (I'm referring to my side of the family, not my husband's). Not because I would love her any less if she were to keep her adorable baby fat beyond the age where fat is considered adorable, but because I understand better than most how it feels to be a curvy girl in a society that adores small women.
I grew up in the seventies. It was widely believed that excess body fat was caused only by poor diet and lack of exercise (the obvious implication being that fat people lack willpower and are lazy). In the 80s and 90s, Oprah's show led many to believe it was a psychological or spiritual problem. I must have some unresolved anger or spiritual imbalance!
Currently, body fat is understood to be affected by diet, physical activity, psychology, genetics, quality of sleep, hormones, consumption of antibiotics (the pink stuff) as a child, food additives and contaminants, some auto-immune disorders, race, hormones, baby formula (Instead of breast milk), and many necessary medications. To me, that all means that body fat percentage is highly complicated, and that scientists truly don't have a clue.
In spite of science's slightly better understanding of obesity, my daughter and her teen-aged peers receive overt and covert messages every day that tell them in no uncertain terms that thinner and smaller is better.
In the chapter, "Do Something About Your Weight" by Carol Schmidt writes:
"A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Women's dieting has become what Yale psychologist Judith Rodin calls a 'normative obsession,' a never-ending passion play given international coverage out of all proportion to the health risks associated with obesity, and using emotive language that does not figure even in discussions of alcohol or tobacco abuse. […] Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women's history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one."
Since the age of seven or eight (when I began to show concerning signs of "roundness") I personally have spent every day of my life thinking about this. I have looked at myself in the mirror with disapproval perhaps hundreds of thousands of times. I have subjected myself to dangerous medications in order to force my brain and body's appetite into submission. I have dieted, fasted on juices, and suffered overuse injuries from too much exercise. In response, some rebellious part of my body and/or brain has often taken over and binged in response.
I was finally able to get off this merry-go-round of misery by happening upon a psychologist who actually knew how to quickly and effectively treat eating disorders. Dr. Joanne Diacogiannis was the sixth (seventh?) eating disorder specialist I sought treatment with. There was no looking for clues of childhood trauma or analyzing my dreams. She just told me what to do and I did it. It worked. Competent eating disorder treatment didn't make me thin, it just made me sans disorder! She understood that the pressure to conform to the thin ideal gave birth to the disorder, and a whole host of resentments against society (but that's another story).
What might I have accomplished in these fifty-two years if I had not given my power to this ludicrous social dictate? I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person, but my young self was no match for the thousands of messages I got from family, friends and non-friends, television, film, and fashion.
Now, with a young one of my own I see the pattern ready to start all over again (in spite of the the body positive movement). And I see my own self-consciousness and lack of self-esteem regarding my body affecting her. And worst of all, I see the depth of her vulnerability about her body size (and as I know you are probably curious, she is a normative weight -- but not "thin"). My first instinct is to help her conform: exercise class, up the vegetables, lower the sugar. Ridiculous. She was born happy, healthy, and with an appetite. Her appetite is not the result of a repressed anger or spiritual imbalance. It just is. And it's fine. What is the alternative to saying it's not fine? A life like mine? Could fighting her own nature possibly work any better for her than for me? I don't think so. I think that the answer is ultimately for my daughter to learn forty years earlier than I did to tell society (including those who would pressure her to lose weight for her health) to, "Hie thee hence, and enter upon thine aft-ward portal with that selfsame, diminutive nether member that doth define thee as pateful namesake!"
I can already hear some of my readers thinking, "But she should be exercising, eating more vegetables, and lowering sugar intake." Well of course. We all should do that, but as a response to dissatisfaction with the size of one's body, it becomes problematic. And for many, it leads us down a path that is far less healthy than if we had never bothered to begin with. I want my child to have a life free of "normative obsession," but I fear it may already be embedded into her young mind.
The thin obsession is deeply ingrained in our society. Seems hopeless? Here's a little something you can to help, and it's easy. Click on Rosalie's name below.
From Rosalie Nelson: I’m a 25 year old model, a clothes size 8. The girl in the picture is me. When I walked into one of the UK’s biggest model agencies last year they told me I ticked all the boxes except one -- I needed to lose weight. So I did. Four months later I lost nearly a stone, 2 inches off my hips. When I returned to the same agency they told me to lose more weight, they wanted me "down to the bone".
*Schmidt, Carol (1994). Do something about your weight. In Alison M. Jaggar (ed.), Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics. Westview Press. pp. 220--222.
I have a colleague who described her trip to Peru as "life-changing."
Just at this moment, I don't have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on a women's empowerment trip, yet I have been hoping for something like that -- something that could open me up spiritually, induce spiritual awakening. These last three years I was sinking. My customary approach when I have spiritual, physical, or psychological difficulty of any kind is to blame myself, but this time my instincts tell me not to. I had a job that was literally sucking the life out of me and I believed I had no choice in the matter. I also was unable to see how destructive it was until I left.
The moment I submitted my resignation letter, a process of clear vision and opening-to-spirit took place. I only wish I would have left sooner, but there's no point in regretting what I can't change. My work was not all bad. I did bring some light and humor there, and I believe I helped some really wonderful souls. My contribution was likely not so much to their academic knowledge, but certainly I made some difference psychologically, and maybe even spiritually. There are some beautiful children there who are under a number of dark influences. Their parents are closed off to their own good grace (or as Allison DuBois would say, "[stewing] in their own dark energy"). The children are still attracted to the light, yet it's as if their parents have blindfolded them. They don't do it on purpose; they are just so overwhelmed themselves that they can't help their children open up. Sometimes I think it has something to do with location. Most live in a certain area of the Lehigh Valley that has a heavy energy. I remember reading of a young psychic woman who suffered palpably when she entered a certain geographical area because of an abundance of negative or chaotic energy. I'm not psychic, but I am sensitive to the energy of a neighborhood, or even a single room. Something just isn't quite right about that area.
The wonderful thing is that as soon as I made a decision to leave, my world opened up. I had been feeling unwell in a number of ways. Is there one word that means physical, psychological, and spiritual? I can't find one, so I'll make up my own word in the meantime: sphyirological (sp = spirit phy = physical p and ological = psychological).
So, I had been feeling sphyirologically weaker since September of 2014 when I started there, and by September 2017 I think I was literally dying. I had decided to leave by March 2018 or so, and the healing began the day I gave my notice: 5/2/2018. Maybe I should celebrate that day - new holiday?
The amazing thing is how quickly everything began to get better. It wasn't an immediate healing, but considering how low I was, it seems miraculous to me. I have a new energy for nearly all areas of my life, and I feel excited to greet each day. I'm not exactly content; It's more that I feel motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic. I'm living with integrity. And suddenly I possess a sentiment that can be particularly difficult for human beings to have: self-love. I have never felt such a sense of peace with who I am and what I can contribute to this world.
I quit that job with no other good job prospect. I quit that job when I knew I needed the money. There was no earthly logic to that decision. Though I had a few niggling doubts, I was not genuinely afraid. I had higher powers on my side, and I knew that everything would be better. And what happened? A beautiful job where I can stay healthy and be of real help to others came along so fast! I won't say it fell into my lap, because I am the one who asserted myself to ask for the job. And when I had the chance to interview and prepare for it, I put my whole heart into it. I prayed. I pushed all kind of green-chakra-heart-energy into manifesting it. And I got it. And I (mostly) knew I would. I still get scared that something might make it fall apart, but a higher percentage of my psyche knows that it's going to happen and that it's going to bring good things -- not only to me, but my students, employers, and colleagues.
I've always regretted that I am not psychic the way some might regret not being able to do math or play a musical instrument. Well, I'm not very good at math, but I got an A in trigonometry. And I'm not psychically-gifted the way some people I've met are, but I listened to my intuition for once and look what it's done for me!
New lease on life!
New leaf turned over!
I'm in love with life again.
I rarely read my own writing, but now and then I go back and skim and remember what was happening at that time. I did just that today, and I am struck by how different I was at about the point where I'd been coughing for five months. I don't look back with blame. I'm amazed that any human being could cough for that long without going absolutely bonkers! And the process of cycling through doctors? I was too calm and friendly as some of them (or their office staff) unintentionally broke down my fragile psyche nearly as much as the cough. Examples? One office lost my short term disability papers and gave me the run-around for weeks. Another doctor had good results for me (that I did not have MS) and left me hanging for days because she was busy. As my daughter said, "You should go all Norma Bates on them." But that's not my style. I'm calm and friendly, and that's not always an asset.
As you can see from the baby sunflower above, I am in a good place. I disappeared, died, became a seed, sprouted, and now I'm almost blooming. I didn't rise up from the ashes as I had imagined, but I certainly have been reborn. The thing about this cough is that it is entirely isolated from other symptoms. When it's gone, it's gone. I'm 100 percent. It is as if it never existed. And I have got to put that request out to the coughing gods to leave me be.
Officially, the doctors think it is an undiscovered autoimmune disease. Which is fine. It's better than any of the other diagnoses they scared me with.
Another life event that is helping me to bloom is that I won't be returning to traditional teaching again. I am really sad about losing the remarkable students I have had this year in the seventh and eighth grade, but work-life balance is only achieved by having sixty days off in the summer (which is inherently unbalanced). Where I work, teaching is like stepping onto a merry-go-round that is moving far too fast, and being forced to stay there and live there for nine months.
On another topic, I have noticed that my illogical girl-crush on Vera Farmiga is waning. Maybe it's because Bates Motel isn't on any more, or even more likely because I expressed all of that irrational feeling via Marina. Regardless, it's on its way out and I feel a little guilty because it's been over four years. Check this out: "Thoughts After Midnight." One other depressing thing is that my desire to be like her was pure fantasy. She's thin like your average film star, blue-eyed, wealthy, and uber-confident. I'm rounded like your average American, green-eyed, middle-class, and sub-confident.
Here's another topic. I ran three miles yesterday. I miss the flat landscape of Minnesota.
I am back to my day job and that makes me feel more inhibited. There is so much wrong with my day job.
That Vera-esque eyeball is painted right on that pumpkin seed! It's by Salavat Fidai whose artistic career was borne out of losing his job. Could that work for me?
I have not been back here for awhile because my seed had been sprouting and I'd been so, so busy with great plans. But then they all "fell to shit" (as Norman might say), so here I am in my favorite place to whine. Sorry. I titled this something about self-destruction, and I don't even have the energy to write about it. And I'm too embarrassed to reveal what I have been planning and thinking about which fell apart. Of course it fell apart. "Some folks lives, roll easy as a breeze." (Paul Simon)
Is there no redeeming value in just giving up? Don't bother exercising, trying to make life better, trying to achieve? How would my life be different if I had no goals? It might be better. I could just rest more.
What if I just lived in a little town and spent my every spare moment drinking in a bar?
1. Academy Award
2. Tons of money
6. Genius (recognized and rewarded)
9. Success all around (family)
11. Good King Midas
22 days of meditation with Oprah and Deepak revealed in him a vicious, internal monster who wants him dead.
It's just waiting for a chance to take over. More evil than the grammar police. The intensity of its hatred is beyond logic. WTF? The second he lost focus, it lashed out and robbed him.
Part A: I am very grateful that I do not seem to be susceptible to biological depression (unless I'm so very disconnected with my body and mind that I am able to be in denial about it). Having said that, like any other human being who isn't a psychopath, I am vulnerable to reactive depression (meaning depression in response to a life event or events). This year's illness (which I think is over?), combined with job disappointment, combined with family disappointment proved to be the perfect trifecta of misery. I have been depressed. When I'm down, I write, so I have a clear record of my descension (that is a real word) along with my metaphorical disappearance.
I imagined that my "death" would result in a rising up like a phoenix. I thought I might have a great spiritual awakening and it would be all very dramatic and result in a completely new life for me -- money, career, fitness, relationships... furniture shopping. I had perused google images for beautiful renderings of phoenixes. (They almost all look gaudy, or tacky, or silly or something).
At present, I am coming out of this depression/purgatory. It's very much like a cloud that chases me, and hovers just above and behind where I can't see it. When I think it's entirely gone, it moves directly above me and then descends. I have learned that in moments in which the cloud lifts, it is still lurking, so I won't say I'm over it yet. At the moment, I feel free, and that is wonderful.
So. I've figured out that I'm not going to rise up like a phoenix. Instead, I am now appearing again, but as nothing more than a little seed. I need a whole lot of light and water to get going again. Hopefully meditation and exercise can help me with that.
PART B: (I thought about making Part B its own post, but it fits here, because it is part of what give me hope)! Here is the first critique I have received from my latest completed screenplay, Marina. It is from the Bluecat Screenplay Competition which I entered due to its reputation as one of the the ten best to enter (I'll never enter another cheap skate money-making scam competition again. Why just hand over my money for some digital laurels?). Anyway here is the critique! I'm very excited about this:
BLUE CAT CRITIQUE OF MARINA:
What did you like about this script?
One of the strongest aspects of Marina lies in the writer’s ability to create characters that feel nuanced, believable, and authentic. Marina and Charli, for example, are both incredibly interesting to follow throughout the story, and their relationship within the narrative allows for a number of really emotional scenes. They are so well-developed that I can’t help but wonder if the writer knows or has known people like them in real life. Their shared scenes together are especially revealing, and their dialogue seems to have a great sense of chemistry. These characters have different personalities and serve as foils to one another, which, in turn, allows for great conflict and chemistry to arise.
In most scenes, the writer has done a good job of making her vision clear to the reader, which is certainly a testament to the writer’s overall skill. Also, the tone is consistent, which allows for an easy and enjoyable read.
Furthermore, the writer should be commended for her ability to stick to three act structure. All of the appropriate story beats occur at just the right time, which is certainly a testament to the writer’s skill.
I found the scene in which Marina has a panic attack and clutches her chest to be really well-written, suspenseful, and harrowing. The writer has done a great job of bringing the stakes to a boiling point, and then allowing it all to simmer in the hospital scene that follows. This sequence reveals a great deal about Marina’s insecurities, character flaws, and what she values at her core. I got to know Marina so much better through this scene. Well done!
In the end, I found it truly heartening to see Marina admit to caring about Keith. This is a great moment to end on, and it serves as a culmination for Marina’s emotionally satisfying character arc. I had hoped that these characters would share the final scene with one another, and I’m happy to see the script end on the strong connection between them.
Overall, Marina is an interesting script with a lot of great attributes. I have just a few suggestions in mind to help move it in an even more positive direction.
What do you think needs work?
Though Marina, Keith, and Charli, for example, are interesting characters, their dialogue does not feel particularly unique to either one of them. Each character’s dialogue should contain speech patterns that differ from one another and it should be difficult to reassign one character’s dialogue to the next. I would suggest going through the entire script to ensure that each character has his or her own distinct voice. This will not only help the reader to easily tell the characters apart, but it will also help in sympathizing with the obstacles and challenges they face.
Also, Marina can benefit from more descriptive action and less dialogue in a number of scenes, specifically in the second and third acts. The great deal of dialogue has resulted in a script that is a bit too talky and at times feels void of the proper imagery. Each and every page in a script should contain a mix of dialogue and descriptive action. This will help to ensure that the story is told in both images and words, as opposed to just one of the two. Providing this mix of descriptive action and dialogue also helps to keep the reader’s attention, as too much descriptive action can be hard to follow.
Lastly, none of the supporting characters feel as well-developed as Marina and Charli. Though they are minor characters in comparison, it is still important that they are just as well fleshed-out as Marina and Charli. I’d like to know more about their backgrounds, so as to have their characters enhance the main storyline and Marina’s overall character arc.
Overall, Marina needs a few edits, but nothing of which the writer is not capable of fixing. In taking the suggested changes into consideration, I am sure that this script will be headed in an even more positive direction. I commend the writer on their effort so far and wish them all the best of luck in future drafts!
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