Monday, June 30, 2014

The Legacy of a Lady

I had just come home from yet another 2 week psych hospital stint, this time in Orange County. Leading up to this past one, I had been falling deeper and deeper into the hole again. I was familiar with the hole. I could still see the places where I'd tried to claw my way back out over the years. But this time was different. I knew I wasn't coming out of this one. While I was in the hospital, I was attacked with an onslaught of new PTSD memories and I spiraled out of control. My brain turned on me. My body turned on me. I didn't eat. I couldn't think. So I did what I could.

I cried.

And wrote.
And cried.
And sketched.
And wrote.

The more I wrote, the saner I felt. The saner I felt, the less blurry life became. By the time I left the hospital in late May 2014, I knew I'd have to keep writing if I wanted to stay afloat. “I might even be able to do this for a living,” I thought with a tiny ray of hope.
I'd never felt real hope; just that 3AM 'of COURSE I can clean my whole room now!' manic hope.

I came home,
somewhat content, and settled down to the arduous task of checking 2 weeks of social media messages, emails, and world news. Everything seemed pretty norm-Legendary author Maya Angelou dies at age 86”

My heart stops and I blink. Just...blink. What? But...I wasn't ready! And before I can prepare myself or even open my mouth to swear in shock, I just sob uncontrollably for 10 minutes. I can't contain it.

My rational brain, which is currently on break as I gasp for air, thinks, “Well, she was quite elderly, and she had been ill...she lived a long, good, full, loving life.”


I think back to my
formative years spent with my grandmother, and seeing Maya Angelou's books always front and center on her shelves. I think of Dr. Angelou's story and how she freed herself from her self-imposed childhood silence; how she went on to become a literary icon and true trailblazer. I think of my grandmother and the woman she encouraged me to be, and still does 13 years after her passing; how she worked tirelessly to improve her community and uplift its people. I think of these strong women and I think, “...where are you going?! Y-you can't go yet! I will mess this up so bad!!!”

I'm not ready to let go of
my role models. I've finally begun my journey to discover my own voice, silenced by my own traumas. I'm discovering new ways to help my community. But I still feel as if I need them there, holding my hand and paving the road so that I am more comfortable. I have to remember, though, that just as they had to let go and go on to inspire the world around them, so will I. I wasn't prepared for my grandmother to die when I was 12. There was still so much more me to learn at her knee. I wasn't prepared to lose one of my biggest creative and personal icons this year. It scares me to death.

My grandmother holding me as a baby. No, I don't know how old I was. Age: baby? *shrug*

Dr. Maya Angelou

But apparently, it's time to be ready.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hospital Scribbles #1: The Teddy Grahams Analogy

I'm in the process of taking the things I wrote during past psych hospital stays and typing them out before they become unreadable or ruined in the original medium. Every so often, I will transcribe them here (edited for clarity). This is the first essay of that series, which I've lovingly titled Hospital Scribbles, because when I write in the hospital (incidentally when I write the most; psych units are a hotbed of inactivity), I tend to edit less and "scribble" more and interesting stuff comes out. Reading back on them, I usually think, "What the hell?" followed by "Wow, that makes a little sense" followed by "Seriously, what the HELL? I must have been really bored..."

Consider the following entry (and enjoy!)...

Ever looked at a box of Teddy Grahams?
The chocolate ones are like CANDY when you're on a unit with no canteen run. Desperate times, man...
There's a happy, smiling bear on the front. He's meant to sell you the product. He is the first thing we see and it's deliberate: if we buy and eat this product, we will look and feel like that bear. 
Pictured: DECEPTION.
Most don't even notice he's holding the actual product in his perfect outstretched paw. 

PLOT TWIST - reality!
"This is what you're really getting when you buy's still pretty good and you might like it, but it's not the guaranteed pleasure I promise," he laughs, holding out the offering. 

But even the Grahams themselves are permitted to frolic among the Photoshop paradise, as they have also been airbrushed until they were decent enough for the cover.
"I'm finally fake enough for the real world! I'VE MADE IT!"
But you bought into it. We all did. We bought the damned "graham snacks". 

I mean...frolicking through a grassy field with a crop top and no pants? Who doesn't want THAT life?!
And what we found inside didn't matter. We gobbled them mindlessly, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time without looking or noticing what we were doing.

But one day, you weren't so ravenous, or you were sick of the taste, or whatever...something made you pause when you opened the box again. And you looked before you consumed. REALLY looked. And you found that what you thought you were consuming - which was the product depicted on the box - was indeed a complete and total fantasy. Some Teddy Grahams (save for a few crumbs) looked just like they should. That was comforting: the same product inside and out. Some of them weren't quite as whole as the others, but still mostly resembled what they should. Most had barely survived their journey to you intact. Some were unrecognizable....they were there in front of you, labeled as Teddy Grahams, so you gobbled those suckers without a thought. And tossed the box, empty and worn, in the trash. It served its purpose. Time to start anew. You'll be hungry again soon.

Clearly, you're thinking, "OK, I'm the mindless consumer, I get it." Yes, you are. Everyone is. Everyone has used a relationship for their own selfish needs, only to discard it when it no longer served them. But everyone is the bear on the box, everyone is the Photoshopped Teddy Graham, and everyone is - in some form - a Teddy Graham from the box.

Being in various hospitals over several years and hearing so many stories, I've come to notice that everyone projects their best self to get through life...and love. But if people look closely enough, you can see the true self poking through the charade they try so desperately to hide behind. Usually, people are ashamed of that, not resembling that illusion more. It's explained away with "well, everyone has problems" or "no one's perfect!" defensively; not because you saw the true self (the actual product depicted on the box), but because you might see their core (the actual product inside the box). But we're so selfish as humans that we don't care; we emotionally suck each other dry, or use each other to serve our sexual, mental, psychological, or financial needs. And it's not until we are satisfied that we start paying attention. And while some are happy with the box the picked, or rarer still, just got lucky, the majority of us decide that maybe if we had known of the contents beforehand, we would have chosen differently.

Stop it. If they were defective in any way, they wouldn't have been in your damn box of Teddy Grahams to begin with.

We're all defective.
We're all liars.
We're all hypocritically judgmental.
We're all consumers.
We're all Teddy Grahams.
We're all people.

(originally written May 26, 2014)


  • What do you think contributes most to people hiding who they really are?
  • What's YOUR favorite Teddy Grahams flavor?
  • Any other comments or thoughts?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

When I Said "New Experiences", Universe...Not EXACTLY What I Had in Mind

I'm writing this post on Saturday night, 3 days after my last post when I said I'd come back and tell you about derby practice. Well..I'm back...
I've been a bit busy.
Yep, I fractured my ankle Wednesday night. My first ever broken bone! Let's take a moment to, er, 'honor' this bucket list moment.

All right, moment's over. This is the worst.

The first hour was splendid! I hadn't been at practice for a while, so it was nice to see the ladies again and get back into drills instead of just aimlessly skating. I did alright for having been gone so many months. Of course, things were going too well, and while I was practicing my crossovers, I slipped and fell on my ankle. At first, it REALLY hurt, but then the pain started to lessen, so I thought I just hit my anklebone on one of my wheels. I don't know what a broken bone feels like! I got some help from my teammates and friends getting home. Sure, I couldn't put any weight on it, sure I had to crawl on my hands and knees up my three porch steps and to my room (and I live in a single-story home), but who knew it was broken?

Well, my dad, for one. To which I replied, "...and you didn't want to share that information with the class?!"

Having a broken body part has taken me through a lot of emotions in 72 hours. I've cried because my ankle hurt so bad, I couldn't get up and pee. I've crawled from the kitchen to my room with a plate of food (a personal life lowlight). I've screamed at no one in particular because of crippling frustration with the medical field. Not only am I almost out of pain medication, but because of my fantastic HMO, I can't use the ER referral for the orthopedic surgeon. No, I have to wear a splint that's meant for 1 to 2 day wear for FIVE DAYS until I see my primary physician on a walk-in appointment - which could take up to 4 hours - and get the referral from him...oh yeah, and then I actually have to MAKE the appointment with orthopedics!

I've laid in bed and felt completely alone on this excruciating journey. But I know I'm not.

Through it all, my derby sisters have been absolutely amazing. It's been overwhelming to see how much these women (who I've known maybe a year at most) have embraced me as a true sister, more so than some people I've known for years or even my whole life. I've asked for what seemed like the world, and they responded like I asked for a pencil. I truly love them, and it's heartwarming to know that they truly love me.

Anyway, it's been 3 days and I am 300% done with having a broken ankle. I'm bored, I feel useless, I need to clean up, I want to take a bath, and I WANT TO SKATE, DAMMIT.

I would also like some Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Any combination of those will do just fine, please and thank you.

Have you ever broken a bone? Tell me about it! Any tips on how to survive this HELLISH NEVERENDING NIGHTMARE?!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I completely redid my phone playlists. From scratch. It's not like it was my whole library. Just FOUR HUNDRED SONGS or so.

I'd tell you (who am I talking to?) more, but because I insisted on being so neurotic about this tedious process, I'm running behind in getting ready for practice. And guess who still needs to switch out her outdoor wheels?!


I'll be back tonight. With stories. And TRAIL MIX! I made it myself...seriously, who am I talking to??