I found out from my primary care physician yesterday (whom I love!) that on the last batch of blood work they did, I tested positive for a screening of auto-immune disorder (ANA). What does that mean? Well, this link explains it further, but basically it means that there's some auto-immune involvement, and they're giving me a referral to a rheumatologist to figure out exactly what's going on. (It was the development of the joint pain that really clued her in.)

Specifics? Well, I got ANA positive, speckled pattern, with increased titers of 1:320. According to that website (and my doctor's info), that means that I have increased levels of antinuclear antibodies in my blood. As far as the speckled pattern goes, well... that and the fact that she did an ANA test in the first place... yeah. It's associated with lupus. The dread disease that keeps coming up again and again lately.

Oh dear God, please... not lupus... I don't want lupus. (It looks so matter of fact typed out, but the truth is that I'm fighting back tears.)

Still... here's hoping it's *just* fibromyalgia... Check out this article on the link between low cortisol levels (which I DEFINITELY have) and fibromyalgia. (Unfortunately, the article also points out that FM is often concurrent with... you guess it... lupus. And other auto-immune diseases.)

Anyway, I'm going back to bed here in a minute, but I wanted to get that off my chest. Today's going to be busy, and yesterday kicked my butt, so I went to bed early... but I woke up at 3:30 a.m., and again at 5. Couldn't get back to sleep, so I figured I'd get up and do my math homework, which I didn't do yesterday because of all the butt-kicking and early bedtimes that were going on. I know myself, and if I wake up without getting enough sleep, just an hour or so later, I'll be overcome with my sleep-deprivation symptoms: nausea, headache, a particular "flavor" of fatigue that I can't really explain (it only shows up when I need more sleep), vision problems, etc. Sure enough, the symptoms paraded through, right on time, so I'm ready to hit the hay again for a couple of hours. A nice little nap to kick off the day right :)

Also, I asked the doctor about possibly getting on disability. She said it's definitely a possibility, and seeing these specialists will strengthen my case, give me documented proof, and we'll be able to go from there. Right now, it would be more like "hearsay". So I'll wait a while, but it may happen... particularly if this turns out to be something chronic. Who knows... it may at least help me get on food stamps, yeah?

Also, had some crazy weird vivid dreams last night. The one closest to waking was my wedding. (There was some other one about a young boy on a plane that ended up having to bail because the plane was crashing, and he landed in the Swiss Alps in winter and he and the other guy who made it with him survived and made it back to civilization somehow.) For some reason, we had set up the ceremony so that I didn't have to walk down the aisle until halfway through. So I was there, watching the rest of the wedding party walk down the aisle (C was shirtless and barefoot in his gym shorts, I might add! And they all did this weird "ring around the rosy"/game of tag thing until they tired of it and dashed down the aisle helter-skelter), and then I realized while holding my bouquet, "Oh! I need to get ready! I'm not dressed, my hair's not done, I'm not wearing any makeup, nothing!"

So I'm running around, trying to find my wedding dress (for some reason we were having the ceremony at the SDA church in town, and all the people I was talking to were actual church members!), and then realized that it hadn't come in the mail yet. But it was supposed to be there, that day at the latest. So I grab the phone book, and I'm dialing UPS to see if they have my package as I run outside to the mailbox, and guess what's sitting on the ground? A box, with my name on it! It was my dress, except that now I had this wrinkled wedding dress with no way to steam it, but I put it on anyway.

Fortunately, my hair was already "waved" (because I used the three-barrel curler on my hair yesterday, so it carried over into my dream), but I had to put on my makeup in a hurry, so I applied my mascara and while that was drying I was trying to figure out which shoes I wanted to wear. Do I want the black boots? Or do I want the silver heels that I bought just for the wedding? Or do I want this random pair of cute white heels that I've never seen before? Decisions, decisions... In the end, the silver heels were the most comfortable, and I did spend 8 dollars on them, sooooo....

Oh, it was a mess.

I woke up before anything else went down, thankfully!

But seriously? On the actual wedding day, I'm not going to wait until the ceremony is starting to get ready. (This probably just has to do with my buying my dress the other day and feeling like I'm losing control. Also, C pointed out astutely that I'm not at all used to making major purchases.)
They say an absent blog is a sign of a busy life.

I just think that I haven't had time to process through anything this week!

So much going on... I think it will calm down after Halloween.

Blergh...

I'm drowning, just a little.
Well, my sister had her baby. Six pounds, six ounces.

SK, aka "Peanut", is officially a part of the outside world now. (God help you, poor child!)

So I've spent the "morning" on the phone with my parents, hearing stories of the labor and delivery, of the dogs' reactions, of the baby herself and her quiet little cry, of how cute she is, etc. (I say "morning" because I woke up late. I made the mistake of eating food last night, and I was up until about 4 a.m. with my pain.)

I didn't realize how much it meant to me to be there when my niece was introduced into the world until I wasn't able to. Like, I really, really want to be there. Family is so important to me, and this is such a major family event... I feel like the kid who watches all the other kids traipse off to the swimming pool from the bedroom window, crushed because I can't go for reasons beyond my control.

I just want to hold her so badly!!

But... but... but... I'll see her when I go home for Christmas. R likened it to going out to dinner and getting dessert as a bonus. I'd be going to see the folks even if Peanut wasn't there, but now I get dessert, too! :)

Also, Mom and I will be crafting our little hearts out for the wedding while I'm there.

Oh, dear. I hope I don't idealize this vacation too much... because honestly, it sounds like paradise. Family, crafting, and little Peanut? Be still, my heart!! <3

I'm so proud of my little sister. She was a champ.
I hate the fact that it's gotten to the point (again) where it hurts (badly) to eat anything... even the good things.

I talked to the guys today about possibly adopting a more allergy-friendly kitchen environment. I hate to do that to them (impose my restrictions on them), but I'm wondering if part of my being in so much pain/sick all the time is due to contamination, like when I worked in the summer camp kitchen last year?

C is on board with the idea, actually, especially since he doesn't eat at home much. Also, we've both been becoming more conscientious about kissing allergen contamination. Like the other night, I went to go kiss him goodnight but he wouldn't kiss me because he'd just eaten ice cream. It makes sense that, if I can't use a chapstick with soy in it because it contributes to the illness (and believe me, it does!), then kissing someone who's just eaten allergen-laden food would pose as much of a risk or more.

I'm just so glad that I don't have the anaphylactic response. I'm grateful it's just gut pain and co.

So maybe we'll end up getting another set of pots and pans; one for the guys, one for me. And go through and cull out the most likely cooking perpetrators-- flours, powdery things, and such.

When we move to the new house it will be much easier, because I'll be starting from scratch in a fresh kitchen. Also, once S is gone, it'll be that much easier, since (as previously mentioned) C doesn't do much eating/cooking at home. If he does eat cooked food, it's usually something S or I made.

Also, I must mention this for posterity: K went into labor Friday night, which means that I should be an auntie soon! :D I can't wait to see that little Peanut. I need to call R about tickets home, too...
Today was kind of a tough day there for a while. My counselor has me being very aware of my self-talk, and keeping an eye on my cycle of depression, so I'll be using this here little place to keep track of that, if I can think of it.

Anyway, I had fully intended to use today to whip out my homework and to get that website done, and I wanted to get it done right off the bat, right?

Well, ended up staying up late with my darling last night, which was nice and all, but... eight hours of sleep later, I woke up later than I had wanted. Okay, no big deal. I headed over and took care of the dogs, then came back home to achieve my goals for the day. (After all, I had done my housework yesterday, so there should be nothing stopping me, right?)

Except roomie S and his friend (my friend too, now I guess... friend-by-proxy) A were here, and A wanted me to braid her hair. After a quick lunch, I did, but it ate up a lot of time. By the time I finished with her and they left for the college, it was already mid-afternoon. At this point, I had to go back to the dogs again, but I took my homework with me. I got one subject done before the guy across the street's really annoying sub-bass booming music gave me a pounding headache (like that stuff always does), and there was no way I could concentrate on algebra. In the process of putting all the critters in their proper places so I could leave, the cat ripped a hole in my tie-dye shirt, and that seriously blackened my mood. (The shirt I made during my hippie birthday. And it's right in the middle, so there's no hiding it.)

On the drive home, I was seriously in a funk. Anxious. Irritable. Stressing. Upset.

Fortunately, my Voice of Reason chose that time to begin talking quietly and compassionately to me.

What are you so upset over? Yes, yes, I understand the shirt. But you were upset before that. Do you realize that you are freaking out over self-imposed deadlines? Neither of those things are due today, you know. You had this rigid idea of what your day should look like, and then when something else showed up, you freaked out. Why so rigid? That's not healthy, dear. Go with the flow. Roll with it. It's okay. Things happen. It's life. This is going to happen again. Learn from this.

Yeah, okay. You're right, Reason. But I still feel out of sorts and stressed. What do I do?

Okay, here's what. Go home, make a cup of tea, and do that mindful breathing exercise that your counselor recommended. Then you'll be calm and collected, and you can take care of your homework from a clear mind.

Yeah... okay. Tea. Breathing. Got it.

And that breathing exercise was great. I think it will help me to not be so judgmental of myself... more mindful. More present. Calmer.

I hope.

Anyway, I'm still in a funny place, physically, because my stomach is flipping out. Per usual. But, hey, whatevs.

I feel better, emotionally.

Oh, and did I mention that my sis is going into labor?!
I'm back, baby!

I knew I'd come out of my depression funk eventually... it took a week, but I'm on the upswing.

I just need to manage myself carefully, because it's so easy to work myself into a frenzied lather of energy and motion and manic happiness after being down. It's just so delicious being happy, and caring about stuff, and having the energy to do some things! Very, very easy to go overboard.

And so, today I forewent my walk. (Forewent is the past tense of forego, yeah?) I want it, because I enjoy it, but I recognize that today was such a busy day, with so much running around and cleaning and work and stuff, that I would be overdoing it by taking the walk... no matter how enjoyable walking is for me.

I see this as maintaining those physical boundaries. "Today, I will go this far, and no further." (Did I mention that I'm proud of myself? Go me!) Life is busy right now, and I need to be wise. I somehow passed that big test with flying colors, despite freaking out about not grasping the material, and being too apathetic and unfocused to study really well. (I got over 100%. Really? Really?!) I've still got a lot of school work to do (we're learning slope and average rates of change and stuff in algebra now), on top of the HJ, but those are constants. Fluctuating constants, true... I've got a couple of odd jobs this week and the next, and I'm still trying to nail down wedding stuff. Then there's this holiday stuff, like the zombie haunted house. A group of us are going to see S's big play this weekend, and I'm celebrating my Anniversary of Life this weekend with BJ and F.

Oh, yeah-- Happy Anniversary!!




That was an Astrovan at one point in time.

I'm so happy to be alive. And to have my vision back. And that everyone else survived, too, despite the odds! Six years... I can hardly believe it.

Here's to Life.

More importantly, here's to a Balanced Life.

Cheers.

C and I have kind of a sleep routine, I've noticed. I go to bed hours before he does, usually, but when he comes to bed we just kind of automatically nestle in next to each other. Spooning? Is that what they call it? That sounds weird.

Anyway, if I'm having a particularly restless night, that doesn't go so well for long periods of time, so I'll end up on my side of the bed doing whatever sprawl it is that makes me comfortable enough to doze off again while he barricades himself against the wall with a large pile of pillows. If I'm in a good, sound sleep, we'll stay cuddled up all night long. It helps that I'm short and he's tall, because we fit just perfectly together, and his arm drapes over me just right.

Even if we're not snuggled up to each other, though, we're touching somehow. I noticed that our tendency is to link our feet or legs together. It's like we're holding hands, but with our feet. It's actually really sweet, especially in those groggy half-awake moments. It just kind of makes you go, "Mmmmm... *sigh*" and drift off again.

I love having a bed buddy. Especially one that holds feet with me.
I just got out of a meeting with Father B about our wedding ceremony. He had previously agreed to be our officiant, and after meeting with the photographer I realized that I needed to get cracking on ceremony details. (Who knew that decorations aren't all there is to a wedding?)

Well, there's just this one thing... Father B is very, very Episcopalian. Which is not a bad thing. I've visited his church and pretty thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite the "visitor haze" I always wrap myself in the first couple of times in a new church.

Anyway, the ceremony is also very, very Episcopalian, and he's pretty much tied in regards to what he can change and what he cannot.

It's not bad, but it's very much a church wedding. Which, again, isn't bad, but it isn't exactly what I had envisioned... especially since I'm not "churchy" anymore (even when I was, I still didn't envision the standard church wedding, call me a renegade if you will), and given that C's an atheist, well... He's willing to have some God stuff in the ceremony, but even I'm not totally comfortable with the ceremony. It's just... I mean... I don't really need the Episcopalian church's blessing on my marriage! lol

Here is the "abbreviated" ceremony outline that Father B would follow (since the real formal one just isn't what I want at all).

"...the man and the woman, together with their witnesses, families, and friends assemble in the church or in some other convenient place.

1. The teaching of the Church concerning Holy Matrimony, as it is declared in the formularies and canons of this Church, is briefly stated.

2. The intention of the man and the woman to enter the state of matrimony, and their free consent, is publicly ascertained.

3. One or more Readings, one of which is always from Holy Scripture, may precede the exchange of vows. If there is to be a Communion, a Reading from the Gospel is always included.

4. The vows of the man and woman are exchanged, using the following form:
'In the name of God, I _____, take you ____ to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.'

5. The Celebrant declares the union of the man and woman as husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

6. Prayers are offered for the husband and wife, for their life together, for the Christian community, and for the world.

7. A priest or bishop pronounces a solemn blessing upon the couple.

8. If there is no Communion, the service concludes with the Peace, the husband and wife first greeting each other. The Peace may be exchanged throughout the assembly. (Note: "The Peace" is a greeting, goes something like, 'The peace of Christ be with you', but it gets abbreviated to 'Peace of Christ', or even just 'Peace'. The hippie in me likes the last abbreviation ^_^)

9. If there is no Communion, the service continues with the Peace and the Offertory. The Holy Eucharist may be celebrated either according to Rite One or Rite Two...

So, you can see why I'm having my doubts... I wanted Father B to officiate, to be sure, but... I never wanted an Episcopalian wedding. I always figured I'd get to craft my own ceremony.

Also, been having doubts about the honeymoon. I mean, sure I've priced it out to be like, $800, which is really not a lot of money as far as honeymoons are concerned. However... that's almost a thousand dollars, a sum which could be applied towards the "future home" savings fund. I would rather have a nice home than a trip to Flagstaff any day. Plus we're already planning on taking a trip to the Ren Fair the weekend before the wedding.

So, these two concerns percolated in my mind on the drive home today, and I thought... why don't we do something a little out of the ordinary? I ran the idea past C, and he says he'd have no problem with it, but one logistic would require some thought. I agree, and I'm totally willing to put the work in and compromise some to get a wedding that's way, way more along the lines of what's true to C and I.

What if we hit up a courthouse and get legally married the week before the wedding, go to the Ren Fair as planned but stay in a nice hotel and have that be our honeymoon, then come back and welcome all the friends and family and whatnot and have a nice celebration in the park together as planned? And since we'd be legally married, and we don't care about being blessed by a church, anyone that we wanted to could officiate the ceremony. Then we'd have the freedom to make it exactly what we wanted. C says that the only concern would be finding the right person to do the ceremony, but otherwise he's got no problems with it.

I'm still going to ask C to look over the Episcopal service, on the off chance that he doesn't mind it. But when I mentioned it to him, he gave me the wide eyes and said, "Yeah, well, if you're having second doubts about it..."

Yeah, well...

So, we'll see what evolves from this. The neat thing is that Father B was totally cool with (even promoting!) the idea of getting a justice of the peace if the ceremony isn't something we're comfortable with. And C agrees that he'd still come to the wedding, but as a guest. Since he was the one who did our pre-marital counseling, I really want him to be a part of the wedding somehow, even just as an invited guest. Plus he's a really neat guy. I like him a lot.

Poor

It took me a long time to get to the point where I see $0.00 on both my checking and savings accounts, and to know that I have nothing but pennies in my wallet... and be okay with it.

I know it'll work out. It always does.

Especially when I remember that I also have a nickel!! :D

Or maybe it's just that I don't care right now. Come to think of it... that's probably it.

Really, though, I'm not worried. Why? Shouldn't I be? Well... no.

I have a job. I will get paid eventually. As a matter of fact, I have a small sum coming to me this week for an odd job that I did. And the writing gig? I don't have to apply that to the wedding fund. Yes, I want to, but I can use that money to live if I need to.

Secondly, I have food in the house. I bought groceries with the last check I got, so I'm not starving. C won't let me starve, even if I can hardly bring myself to ask him to buy me groceries.

I have a roof over my head. That's not going anywhere. It's not like I am struggling to pay rent or anything.

I've got gas in my tank. Yes, with my last paycheck I also filled up my gas tank. I still have half a tank, so I can last another 3/4 of a week, at least. (Depending on how much I drive.) That'll get me through until I get paid for that odd job, and I can put that money into the good ol' gas tank.

My counseling is free. Sure, I have to drive out there, but whatevs.

I'm seeing a doctor, and my parents are taking care of the bill. What a relief! And thank God for insurance. (Speaking of, I got my official endocrinologist referral today!)

I'm applying for food stamps this week. I finally collected all the info that I need, and I'll take my textbooks with me and study while I wait. Two birds, one stone.

See? It'll be alright. And someday, when I'm able to work regularly (when I've got my massage business up and going?), I'll look back on these days of scraping by and be grateful... so much more grateful than I ever would have been if I had only known plenty.
Blech.

"Jane Doe Nobody, Humble Servant of the Lord"? Really?

Does God really want us to erase our identities in order to be a good Christian?

If so... I'm out, yo.

That kind of "faith" puts a bad taste in my mouth.

Also, church down the street has a new sign:

"Church was never meant to be safe or predictable. God isn't either of those things."

A mini sermon on how God isn't safe?

Yeah, I could have told you that when I was being molested and he (apparently) didn't lift a finger to help me.

Can you tell I'm bitter?

My counselor asked me last week, "So what I'm hearing, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you're angry with God?"

"Heck yes! I'm super pissed at him!"

Yep. Sure am. That's a major obstacle to wanting to figure out this whole religion-God thing...

Okay, okay. I acknowledge that there are a couple of options, here. Perhaps I had false expectations which led to my disappointment. But really, you shouldn't go around telling kids in Sabbath school that Jesus will help them if they only pray unless it's actually true.

Maybe that's part of the reason why "the youth" are leaving the church in droves (if the reports are to be believed). Because they were told that God can do anything, and Jesus loves you, and he cares about you so much that if you lose a sewing needle or need to open a bottle of glue then you kneel down and pray and Jesus will help you. So they test it out. Bad things happen. It's life. It's inevitable. Something goes wrong, and they pray, and... nothing happens. So they pray again. And nothing happens. And your step-father keeps paying you nasty little visits in the night, and beating you, and spending your family's food money on drugs and piddly pursuits, and still nothing happens. Oh, sure, every now and then you find the thing you were looking for (right in front of your eyes the whole time!), but the major issues still go unresolved.

And so you figure that either you're not worth helping, or it was a lie.

I thought the first one for so long... and now I'm swinging 'round to the second one.

I'm not going to lie-- I'm hurt. I feel betrayed. I feel let down. I feel... yeah. I feel like I just wasn't good enough for God to step in and do something. I feel like he should have done something, like they always told me he would, and then he didn't. Like he just doesn't care enough?

Elijah's words ring too true in my head... Maybe God was asleep? Maybe he was on the toilet? Maybe he was otherwise preoccupied? Because why else wouldn't he have heard me? "Before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear."

Um, what?

I call bullshit.

Sorry, God.

So I'm just thinking that maybe the way that I've been going about it is wrong, you know? Like maybe all that crazy evangelical Christian stuff isn't where it's at for me? I don't know how obvious it is here, but I've stopped identifying with SDA's. I don't consider myself one anymore. I mean, it's still a part of my DNA, practically, but... I just can't do that anymore. There's too much grief. Too much anger. Too much fitting myself into a mold that I just don't fit into, too much "shoulding".

It's funny, because I remember C asking me a year or so ago, "Do you think you'd ever leave the church?"

My reply was a cavalier, "No! Of course not! I mean, I don't foresee that happening at this point. I guess it could happen, but I seriously, seriously doubt it..."

Maybe she saw something that I couldn't see, even then?

So I'm trying to find my own path. Yeah, I know, I heard the message at GYC, and in Sabbath school, and over and over and over again, that the whole "more than one way to God" thing is postmodernism and it's infecting the church and the way the youth think and yada yada yada.

But what do you do if THE path makes you feel like a horrible person? What do you do if THE path fosters and inflames the anger and the issues you already have with God? What do you do then?

Suck it up? Accept it as "your cross to bear"? Yeah, probably.

But I'm not gonna do that anymore. At least not right now.

You know what's weird? I feel like a more authentic, more fully-alive, more "better" person since I quit church. I was waiting to burst into flame or something, to become this horrible person... but it didn't happen. You know, because all those testimonies start out with, "I was living a life without God and it was awful and then I found Jesus and now I'm happy!"

Why is my testimony reversed??

This sucks. I'm going to hell.

But I guess I'll be whistling on my way there.
I got several compliments today.

One of my friends from Essential Sciences class (the one I'm freaking out about because it's a super long and involved chapter that I can't seem to wrap my mind around and the test is this Wednesday) told me that I "have the brains of a thousand people!" I have a gift, apparently, and I won't deny it. I realized that in my chiropractor's office up in ID. What did he say? That I was one of the sharpest people he's ever met? For someone who spends all day meeting different people, that's pretty big.

When I showed C the flyer I designed for the 5k run fundraiser the HJ is putting on soon, he thought that it was a professional ad! Now that's a compliment :D

Last night, I had a minor melt-down. I mean, nothing major, I just felt overwhelmed and lonely. There's so much going on right now-- school, writing for that website, the haunted house, keeping the house tidy, wedding stuff... and I was "lazy" this weekend. I almost regret it, but not quite. I think it kept me sane, kept me from having a grand mal meltdown. I just couldn't find the ability to care, really.

Anyway, last night I was going back and forth on whether or not it was selfish to ask C to come cuddle with me, since he was doing something of his own. I just wasn't sure if it was okay or not... not that he'd be mad at me or anything, but is it fair of me to ask? Anyway, I said his name, then chickened out. He, however, came over to where I was and laid down with me, holding and comforting me just like I was going to ask him to. Of course, I told him what I was going to ask, and then proceeded to melt into tears on his shoulder.

Last night, I really just wanted the physical comfort and steadiness, but his words of wisdom made great sense in the light of day, and I'm very appreciative of them (and for him!!).

"Hey, lady, what's up with you?"

"I just... I feel so broken, you know? And just totally overwhelmed by all the stuff that's going on. I've got so many things pulling at me..."

"You're going to be okay. You need to stop worrying. You're doing really well in school, and the wedding's still a ways off and you've got a lot nailed down."

"Yeah... *sniffle* I know. It's just... it's scary being sick all the time, you know? I just feel so broken... and I'm worried that it's something serious."

"We'll get it all figured out, what you can eat and what you can't. You'll get better. But it takes time to heal this kind of thing! And you, Miss Impatient... you want it all done right now. You get impatient with instant mashed potatoes!"

"I do not!! And besides... I'm allergic to potatoes."

"Well, yeah..."

"And I make my mashed potatoes from scratch, thankyouverymuch."

"But you're allergic to potatoes."

"Well, yeah..."

*Both laughing*

"Seriously, lady, you need to stop worrying. You'll be fine."

His advice upon not caring about anything right now?

"Well, find little things to care about until you can care about the big things again."

Sound advice, my man. Sound advice.

And, apparently I'm not a negative person... except when I'm depressed. Then I am.

I later did, in fact, admit to my impatience. He totally called me on it. I do want everything done and decided right now.

Anyway, he was understanding and wonderful, and, more importantly (I think), eminently practical. I didn't appreciate that so much last night, as I said, but mulling it over today helped me to see the truth of his words.

I asked him how he manages to be so patient.

His reply?

"Well, it takes a lot of patience..." (laughter)

Thanks, buddy. Some help you are. ;)

Now, I know she means well. I know she does.

But a sad face? Really?

If she were doing something I disagreed with, I wouldn't sad-face her. Probably.

Sorry, lady, but your sad-face will not cause me to capitulate. I will continue eating meat, and, in the spirit of friendship and equanimity, I will refrain from cracking an Ellen White joke on fb back at you. Truce?

Please stop imposing your personal convictions onto my decisions. It's not like I was ninja'd into eating fish and now I regret it. I made a conscious, intellectual choice that was fraught with other people's expectations, believe me.

And now that I've decided, I'd like the freedom to talk about my carnivorous habits without being sad-faced by your disagreement with those choices. A stony silence would suffice. :)

(Note: This is partly facetious, partly serious. Which is which? I leave you to decide...)
I spent the better part of the afternoon staring blankly at my textbook, trying to wade through it. Losing battle, and I'm so unfocused right now...

So I designed our invitations, instead! :) (At least I got something done!) And I went through the packet on perfectionism that my counselor gave me last week.

And then I drank more water, and then I took a shower while listening to my favorite Owl City songs. Then I realized that I'd had a hankering to listen to Lindsay Stirling's Shadows for a while now, but hadn't. So, as I was getting "dressed" (read: back into my gym shorts and sports bra), I ended up dancing around the bedroom wildly and uninhibitedly for a good five or ten minutes. It was fun! I haven't done that since my senior year of high school. No one around to see me make a fool of myself or *gasp* shake my hips. Or pirouette. Or do some sort of twist/Thriller combo. (Interesting note, I'm still plagued by my irrational fear of hidden cameras. Hmm.)

Regardless, it was fun, and a workout of sorts. My knees hurt now, but it was worth it.

Now I actually want to face some of the things I set up for myself today. I am vaguely hungry, I know that I need a good meal, and I've had a craving lately... so I'm making a hamburger for myself. If it were another day, I'd whip up a flatbread for a bun, but I'm just not feeling it. So it will be a naked burger... with mustard and tomatoes and onions. And some sort of veggie on the side. And sweet potato fries! Mmmm... and I can do the dishes while it cooks. Yes! (I've been really wishing lately for my special mayo and ketchup, but alas. I could make my own ketchup, and I just might, but I know it will go bad before I ever get to finishing it. Again, alas.)

So... positive check in. I'm okay. It's okay.

Would it still be okay even if I curled up in a ball and let the day pass like I want to?

Not sure about that one.
My goals for today? Take a shower, eat a good meal sometime during the day, and... what was the other one? Oh, yeah. Dishes. Haven't done those in a couple of days. (Unusual for me. Usually I don't let dishes pile up in the sink.)

If I can, if I have the energy and the gumption, I will do BJ's dishes and sweep her floor (and take out her trash) while I'm over there feeding the dogs. Here at home, I'll vacuum, finish reading my chapter on the Integumentary, Cardiovascular, Lymphatic, and Immune Systems, and write the copy for that website. Oh, and make a lunch for tomorrow.

On the bright side, I already finished a quart of water today. One more, and I'm good to go.

I refuse to get down on myself for being depressed!

I told C last night, "Hug me, I'm depressed!"

"Depressed? Why are you depressed?"

"I'm not sure. I just am."

"Well, okay. That's okay."

"Yeah, I know. I'm okay, it'll be okay... yeah."

"Yep." *kiss*

He and I are on the same page about it. Just like, okay, there it is. *shrug* It'll pass. It always does. It's okay that it's here. Not the end of the world. Just... okay.

Has the word "okay" lost all meaning to you yet? It pretty much has to me now. I wrote it too much.
It occurs to me... that I am depressed.

It just kind of occurred to me earlier as I was contemplating, "What the heck is up with me today??"

That's a little disappointing, as I was almost sure that I'd been "cured". (I keep doing that. Only to be let down.) I hadn't had a major depressive episode since I quit facilitating the girl's group, more or less.

I mean, I'm not majorly depressed. It's weird. It's like depression... without the hate.

I could feel myself sliding these past few days, but I somehow thought that I could avert it by being kind to myself, taking care of myself... not being a jerk to myself. You know-- positive self-talk and all that. I'm doing fairly well in that arena, which clues me in to the fact that my previous counselor was probably right-- depression and thyroid problems are definitely linked.

I put the puzzle pieces together. So many of my signs and symptoms, staring me in the face, yet they all seemed like unrelated fragments, not shards of the same picture. Classic Cassandra Depression, though. Funny, that. Irritable (over the silliest things!), so tired, sleeping copious amounts, antsy/restless, night owl tendencies emerging, little to no motivation, stress/freaking out easily, wonky sex drive, appetite changes, only desire is to surf the internet, intestinal distress, disinterest/unmotivated in personal appearance, etc.

Yet... it's not like the depressions of yore. I feel out of sorts, yes. (I announced that last night, as a matter of fact. "Guys, I believe that I am out of sorts today.") Yet it's not that bad. I mean, it's not the deep, dark hole that I fear so much. It's... like trying to walk waist-deep through a bog. But I'm not drowning. And I don't hate myself, exactly. I mean, I'm bummed that I'm depressed after all my efforts to the contrary. (It sounds like I caught a cold or something! lol But really, it feels that way. Like I was just walking along, lalalala, and BAM!) I feel helpless and frustrated, like it seems that I have no choice in this matter... but... it's not that bad. I'm grateful for that. And I refuse to cut myself down, put myself down, hate myself, or otherwise be abusive towards myself.

Despite this, I will continue to be kind and considerate to myself.

I don't really know how to handle this, though. Like... do I try to push through and motivate and get stuff done regardless? Or do I simply say, "Ok, you need to just take some space to be unfocused and do whatever you need to do, since you're obviously not okay to be functioning normally"? (It seems like I'm always having to make concessions for diminished functioning, whether physical or mental. It's getting real old, real fast.)

It was just funny, though, the realization. Like, "Hey. You're depressed."

"Oh. Oh! Is that what this is? Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense... explains a lot. Hmm. Oh."

I'll have to mention this to my counselor this week.
Been thinking about what my counselor said this week, especially as I was out walking last night. (Yeah! I'm back to taking walks again! Not as intense as before, but about 45 minutes. I was feeling so... antsy? I realized that walking is a big stress reliever for me, even if I'm not feeling well. I have a hard time going without, and it's not 'cause I'm guilting myself with "shoulds". It's cause I genuinely feel better when I've had a good walk, and I don't like missing out on that feeling.)

I was thinking about my code, and about my best.

It's still nebulous right now, still in the throes of being formed, but...

My best looks like...

...setting appropriate boundaries (both emotional and physical), and then maintaining balance within those boundaries between obligations, recreation, relationships, etc. Maintaining homeostasis within the boundaries.

I got to thinking last night about my physical health, about how that tends to dictate so much of my days... about how I have to "cut back" on days that I'm not doing well, but I can flex and do more on days or stretches that I'm doing better. It occurred to me that it's not something to be resentful of or guilty over. I am simply setting physical boundaries, much the way I learned to set emotional boundaries. It was awkward and felt wrong at first, and yes, I felt guilty. But I say "I can go this far, and no further", and I stick with that, and I don't let anyone or anything pressure me into going further than I'm comfortable with.

Physical boundaries. "I can go this far today, but no further." A safeguard. A protector. I have days where I'm not doing well emotionally, and I pull my boundaries closer to me and set up camp a little nearer my epicenter than I would on a different day. Boundaries aren't permanent fixtures-- they are flexible. Organic. Made to move with us. Otherwise they'd just be prisons.

I'm going and going and now I feel myself coming to the edge of my strength and well-being, and I must say, "I will not go any further today."

Why should I feel guilty about that?

I'm trying to stop should-ing myself. I'm seriously trying to eliminate the word "should" from my everyday vocabulary.

I believe that part of what I must do to achieve balance and health is to be able to accept my physical limitations... to be able to accept myself as I am. To stop pretending that if I somehow manage to ignore the physical limitations, I'll be... better. Good. Okay. Acceptable.

I hate people that ignore other's boundaries, both emotional and physical. Why would I be that kind of person to myself?

I took a strong message away from my childhood, and from SOULS. If you're sick or hurt, it doesn't matter. Soldier on, suck it up. No one cares, and you're exaggerating. You've got more important things to do, like saving the world. You cannot pause for something so petty as illness. Only if you're in the hospital for something severe are you allowed to be weak, and then for as little time as possible. You will be respected and accepted for this... hopefully. Oh, and by the way? God doesn't care how crappy you feel. You just gotta keep working.

I hate that message. Yet I dislike the thought of swinging to the other side to justify laziness with illness... and I fear that's where I'll end up if I slow down at all. Lazy. Unmotivated. Write-off. Unacceptable. If she'd just tried harder, she would have been worth something.

That's the fear that rises up to meet me when I slow down to acknowledge a boundary. The refrain "I could be... I could be... I could be..." shoots through my consciousness like a de-railed train. I could be doing the dishes. I could be vacuuming. I could be studying. I could be doing something worthwhile.

And the underlying assumption, of course, is that taking care of myself is not worthwhile. I'm not worthwhile. Because if I was... I wouldn't have to slow down. Right?

Where do these messages come from? Where did this come from?

And how do I beat it?

I tell you one thing... I'm going to try, at least... try to set these physical boundaries, and stick to them. I know they'll vary, day by day.

I'm going to try... to simply say, "This is a part of who I am. Not a bad thing, not a good thing. Just simply a part of who I am. I accept this, I will work with it, and I will be okay."

I am ill. And it's okay.

Last night, while wracked with pain, I told C in a momentary fit of despair that he should find someone healthy. He didn't say anything... just paused for a moment, straightened my engagement ring on my finger, and kissed the top of my head. I smiled and murmured, "Okay."

If he doesn't hate me for being sick... why should I hate myself?
Dear God, no.

Not corn, too.

Please.

*whimper*
Counselor's.

Urmph.

(That's kind of a muffled sigh as I sink my face into my hands... in case you couldn't tell.)

It was good, don't get me wrong. It was quite good.

But... it brought stuff to light, you know? Hard stuff.

Challenging stuff.

Stuff that takes work to face.

My homework/challenges/things to think about this week?


  • Define my "code" for living. I had one as a child. I had one at SOULS. What's my code now?
  • Be aware of self-talk, and for every put-down (automatic or not), give myself three "put-ups"
  • What does "my best" look like?
I'm terrified of the last one. I started crying in her office.

It's just like... I dunno. Like if I write it down, if I actually define what my personal best looks like... then it's out there. It's real. I can look at it and say, "Yeah. It's not good enough. I was afraid of that, but it was so nebulous that I was able to wave it away. Now I know, and everyone else knows, that I'm a failure... because this is my best. This is it. It's all I've got."

That's it. The fear of "it's all I've got", and that not being enough. I'm so certain it won't be.

At least when my "best" is undefined, then I and others can assign myself a "best", and I can strive to meet that. If I can't meet it, I can come up with a darn good excuse.

She's trying to work on self-affirmation with me.

I can't put into words exactly what I'm so afraid of... but it's going to be a hard one. Real hard.
Perceptions.

I hate how they're so relative.

And yet, I cherish it at the same time.

It's part of what makes life interesting, after all. C and I have different perspectives on a great many things, though we most always manage to find a bridge between the two, or we find that they link together perfectly.

I read an article a while back (I linked to it somewhere in some post, but I'm not going to bother finding it again) about how we're not actually living in the present like we think we are, and how our memories change every time we remember them. That's part of why I like to blog-- it captures a snapshot of what I'm feeling and thinking at a given moment in time, so that later, when I've changed my mind (wait, I never do that! ^_^), I can go back and see what I thought/believed/felt/hoped for at that certain point.

It made me think more deeply about the nature of reality, and perception, and differing viewpoints. Think about it. (They use this argument in favor of the authenticity of the Gospel accounts, by the way.) If something happens, like an accident or a robbery, and several people see it, each person will have a slightly different account of what happened. They each bring filters to the situation that kind of determine what they will notice as important, what will stand out to them, and what will have an emotional impact. Same situation, different perspectives. Are they each wrong? No, not at all, but they certainly won't be a video-recording of what actually happened.

It's interesting that our modern world has gravitated so much towards the clear and unbiased reporting of fact, yet is still so stridently insistent that each person's perspective is unique and right and okay, all the while pressuring us to conform to a certain perspective. It's a mess. But interesting.

Probably as long as there are more than two people on this planet, someone will be "right" and someone will be "wrong". It happens. I don't think it's right (see?), but it happens.

And I know just as well as anyone else that I have my own filters that affect my perception of events. They can skew my understanding of a situation faster than you can say "Jack Robinson". (Although I don't know why you would say that...)

I have crazy filters and responses when it comes to situations with father figures. The situation with B really, really screwed me up. Trying to figure out my place in the S home and my relation to D (and his biological daughters!)... that was a mess. I think I did pretty good, but it was still stressful. I know that my perspective is subjective, and I know that my dealings with dads are greatly, greatly affected by my past history.

Take, for instance, the situation with R.

Yeah, remember that blog post that I never wrote? It was about R.

All that junk went down, and I flipped out. Old wounds and roles and complexes and coping mechanisms just sprang up out of nowhere, and I was lost.

I also admit that I was wrong.

To a point.

What happened, happened. It wasn't as bad as I had initially thought, but it was still... bad. I guess. Inappropriate? I mean, if C responded to situations in the same way that R does, I'd be gone. No doubt. I couldn't live with that in a partner.

Ahh, but R's not my partner. He's my dad.

And he is. Really. He's my bona-fide father, at least in my eyes. He's been the best father I've ever had, one of the few men that I can look up to and actually respect (Grampa being the other one that comes to mind, although I can't literally look up to him, since I'm taller). I ask him for advice, and he comes up with the most amazing things. He knows how to talk straight to me, yet comfort me at the same time. He rescues me over and over again and doesn't think twice. (Yeah, it hurts to swallow my pride and let him, but I'm supremely grateful for it.) He's just... I mean... he's a good man. And I love him. I'm actually tearing up as I write this, because sometimes it just hits me how good it feels to know that I have a dad, after all these years, you know? Someone I can trust, a protector, a strength... someone who will take care of my family because I'm not there to.

He's also human. He has his own filters, his own wounds and roles and complexes and all that. We all do. And so I understand why, in an intellectual sense, he sometimes throws down like he does. I don't like it, I don't like it one bit, but I get it.

But when K called me, when I heard what had happened (the highly emotionally charged, abbreviated version, of course! lol), it felt like I had lost my dad. It felt like the R I know and love had been whisked away and G had been planted right there into the scenario. It felt like I had failed to protect my family, but it also felt like gut-wrenching betrayal, because I'm not supposed to have to protect them from someone I trust?!

It felt like I had lost R, and G had come back again.

And what happened at Christmas the other year, that was inappropriate. I don't agree with how he responded at all, and I refuse to minimize it. It was abusive behavior, and it was wrong. You shouldn't treat the people you love like that. Does that make R an abuser? Not necessarily.

I know, I know, dichotomy. But I truly don't believe that R is abusive. I know I freaked out at first and thought that. I've changed my mind. My perspective changed. And that's okay. He does act in ways that are abusive sometimes. That's true. But he, as a person, as a father, as a husband... he's a good man. A good man with faults and wounds of his own. And he makes mistakes and bad calls and yeah, we suffer sometimes when that happens. But my dad is not an abuser.

Good grief, I'm glad to be able to type that.

But at the time when this "domestic dispute" or whatever went down, I felt like I had lost R. I had lost my dad. Again. F**K! Why does this keep happening? How could I have prevented this? Why did I ever trust him? Why did I ever love him? I should have seen this coming! Etc. etc. etc.

Truthfully, I was scared to talk to him. But... he called me (what was it, like a week later?), and... he was still R. He was still my dad. Still the same guy I know and love. And you know what? He brought up what happened, and we talked through it. I got his perspective, which I hadn't heard before. It helped me see the big picture more clearly.

Nope, it wasn't as bad as I had thought. Also, my emotions weren't as high then. Also, I was coming back out of the depression I'd been in, so I wasn't as emotionally high strung. Heh.

But no. It was still R. I hadn't lost my dad, after all.

After that conversation, and further conversations with Mom, my perspective did change. I thought R was an abuser for a while. I don't anymore. I still don't think that they've got all the wrinkles ironed out, and I think that there are definitely still some dysfunctional dynamics floating around that household, but considering where we all come from, can you really expect otherwise?! I also believe that the family is the healthiest now that it has ever been.

I really have a good deal of hope for my little family.

I wish I had blogged this a long time ago, actually. But the concepts were just so huge, and it was all still so emotionally charged... I just never could bring myself to do it. I didn't know how to wrap my mind or my words around it.

So... summary?

Bad stuff happened. I didn't have all the facts, and I was influenced by my past, and I freaked. I calmed down, R called and we talked, and I realized my error (while still maintaining that bad choices were made-- I'm not absolving anyone of responsibility, here!). Relationship restored, life moves on, and here we are several months later. (Also, since then Mom has had some perspective changes that have domino-effect changed my perspective. Like, how he and she approach money? He's not a miser, she's a big-time spender with no concept of how much money they were actually bringing home. Do you know how glad I am they worked through that?! It's been a source of contention for foreeeeeever.)

I love my dad. He's going to walk me down the aisle. He's going to be a stellar grandpa here soon. And I know he's trying really hard. And I also see the progress he's made, and I'm really proud of him.

So... I guess that's what I wanted to say about R.

Just wish I'd thought to say it sooner.
What a day. A busy day. A good day. Didn't feel the greatest, but I made it through. And it's not over yet! Working on homework, getting ready to head over to B and J's to watch something with them.

School. I made it back to class today. Apparently, I was missed. (At least, that's what the teacher says lol) Just in time to be a group leader again, and help my group wade through some math problems. (Fast forward 5 hours to the homework, where I'm cussing and shouting and shaking my fist at the heavens because I hate stupid math and I've made it 24 years without needing to know how to factor out polynomials thankyouverymuch and I don't see why I have to start doing this junk now and all I really wanted to know was fractions and I learned that so just graduate me already!)

Doctor's appointment. I really, really like my new doctor. Aaaaaand... guess who got a referral to an endocrinologist? Yeah, that's right! Yours truly!! And just in the nick of time. Even this doctor suggested fibromyalgia as a strong possibility. (Did I mention that it had come up repeatedly in my research recently, and is a strong possibility for some of the "new"(er) problems I've been experiencing? Yeah. Great. But maybe I'd be able to get on disability with it? Who knows.) 

C's days off changed to Tues/Weds, so he was around today to witness my math debacle. Blkajweriushlt. That's all I have to say about this math homework.

Attended a lecture put on my one of my teachers and his wife. It's about this system-- not weight loss, exactly, but like a healthy lifestyle system-- and they're health coaches, and it was kind of like a health seminar that I would've attended back in the SDA system. Pretty neat. Anyway, it looks like something that I'd really like to pair with my massage practice, once I get up and going with a clientele. Best part? The health coaches get paid, but it's not a pyramid scheme. Kinda a little confusing, I think, but it's legit. Everything is backed up by clinical trials and science and Forbes Magazine nominations for Best Small Business of 2011... that, and I trust this teacher. 

Staring down the barrel of the fact that I may never be able to be a traditional 5 day a week/9-5 worker, this opportunity is a welcome thought. I wanted to be able to share the health message with my clients somehow, and this is a great, packaged, streamlined way to do that without overwhelming them. It's got a great built in support system. It's pretty cool.

Came home and C was putting on pants, which signals a foray into the outside world. We went to the sporting goods store for a new pair of boots. (C runs his into the ground, and these ones are pretty much on their last legs... no pun intended. Heh.) He's been talking about getting me a pair, and they were on a crazy good sale, so we picked me up a pair, too. Yay, combat boots! So romantic :) (The way to my heart is a twisted, offbeat one.)

We hit up my favorite sushi place, and I got adventurous and ordered a custom made Dragon Roll. It was delicious. Got a call from J while we were eating, so we headed over to her place when we were done to meet with our wedding photographer. We talked logistics and looked at her work, and I have to say that I'm pleased and relieved. I was worried it was going to be one of those, "Oh yeah, I have a friend that takes pictures" but they're really not any good. She is right up my alley, though. More of a natural style, not posed, she generally fades into the background and snaps the events as they happen. Also, she'll set up a photo booth at the location, so people can come and just have pictures taken as they please. Again, I'm just pleased and relieved.

Home again, I cranked out the rest of my math homework, settled down here to blog, and C is talking to me about the new video game he's playing (something about aliens, and it's actually really cool. I've been watching him play.) In a few minutes, we'll head over to B and J's to watch that movie, and then I'll definitely be ready for bed.

The eye cover has been helping with sleep... sorta. I fall asleep easier, but I'm still super restless all night long. I woke up way early this morning, but fortunately was able to drift off again for a few hours.

Had an interesting convo with Mom today, in addition to everything else. I really want to process through that, because there's a lot... also the conversation I had with E yesterday... and the stuff from my counselor last week... It's just hard to find the words for all that stuff. It's heavy. It's kind of... abstract. It's good, but... hard to frame into words.

If I were blogging facts, this would be easier. But, no. It's feelings. Thoughts. Impressions. My perspective on the world, whether that be right or wrong. And those can be the hardest things to convey accurately.

(On second thought... writing copy for those websites has proven to be a mite difficult as well! Maybe facts aren't that much easier...)

Also, funny story: I wound up hunting for a blog post that never existed anywhere but my mind. I have a bad habit of having conversations with people in my mind without ever actually translating it into reality, then acting as though the event really did occur. C calls me on that sometimes. Well, I do that with blogging, too. (Like my counselor stuff from this last week... coulda sworn I'd processed it out on here, but nope!) I had this post that I was sure I'd written, because I'd written it out in my head so many times... talked it through with trusted friends, processed through it while on walks, talked to God about it a ton. I totally thought I'd posted about it. But searching for it proved me wrong.

Just another example of the malleable nature of how we perceive reality. It scares me sometimes, just how subjective reality really is.
'Cause you can never hear enough about my wedding, right?! Right.

Last night I came across a couple of readings, and I shared them with C, to kind of feel out what he might like for the ceremony. He really liked the first, as did I, and he described the second as, "a good description of love".

I'm thinking that the first would be great as the vows that we seal and frame. The second may work as part of the officiant's reading/speech thingy. I'm still not sure how it's all going to work.

What I really think I'm gonna do is just lay low and collect inspiration, then as the time draws nigh I'll hijack C out for sushi or something, and we'll write the ceremony together. That's what I really want.

Before posting the two readings, though, I did want to mention that I woke up this morning, still sick, but much boosted and buoyed by the discovery that the C family sent me a package!! (It came while I was sleeping.) I'll have to take some pics and get them up here later, but it is a lovely little box carved from a chunk of aspen log. The drawer is shaped like a heart, and it's got a little stick drawer-pull. Even better than that? It's got another secret little heart shaped drawer in the backside of the first drawer!!!! (I cannot use enough exclamation points to describe this thing!)

I feel so loved :) And they nailed it perfectly. I adore it. And I adore them. I am so blessed to be loved by so many great people, I tell you.

And, also, my midterm grade for Intro to Essential Sciences is 98%. As my teacher said, "You can't get much better than that. Keep up the good work!" Yayee.

So! The readings!

Traditional Irish/Celtic Wedding Vow

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself.
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me, for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require,
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night,
And the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.
I shall not slander you, nor you me.
I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in
Private and tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is the marriage of equals.


To Love Is Not To Possess
James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are--and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.
Now people can donate to the wedding fund, easy-peasy. :)


C took me to the pumpkin patch today.

I woke at a good time (covering my eyes to block out all light is helping with my sleep problems some-- helps the pineal gland regulate the production of melatonin), and spent a couple of hours working on a project for C. Don't tell him, but I'm compiling all the blog posts I've written about him, letters I wrote to my future husband, and letters/notes I've written to him into a book, which will also contain the backstory of our "love story". It'll be my gift to him, either before or after the wedding. Haven't decided yet. The reasoning behind it is that, on that first night we spent back together figuring out and declaring our undying love for each other, a repeated comment from both parties was that we could write a book about our story-- a multi-volume set! Also, I figure it'll be cool for the kids to read someday. They can see how their mommy and daddy got together.

After showering I spent some quality time with C while he woke up, then headed off to Goodwill to cobble together my costume for the zombie haunted house. I'll be a pseudo-military survivor leading groups through the supposedly uncontaminated abandoned warehouse to the safe zone. Unfortunately for us, we find out once we're inside that the place is infested with zombies, and I try to get the group through safely. As I'm herding them out the large steel doors at the end, I get snatched by a zombie and the door slams shut. (This will allow me to make my way back to the beginning and start with a new group.) On the other side, they receive their "rations" (candy) and are chased by zombies/military personnel out the gate and into the parking lot. It's going to be an adrenaline rush, that's for sure. And gross. I hate zombies. If this weren't for the HJ (proceeds are being donated), and if I didn't love theater... Well, I won't be a zombie, anyway. I'm a survivor. Ooh-rah!

I was disappointed to realize that today is not 50% Off day as I had thought, but I didn't realize it until after I'd paid. Too late! It was pretty inexpensive regardless. Even after tattering up the clothes, I have a feeling that at least the shirt will become a favored item of clothing... especially after it's spattered with fake blood.

When I got home, I whipped up some chicken, broccoli, and black beans. I was the only one who ate the beans (which were great with the chicken, 'cause I cooked it in green salsa), but C actually voluntarily ate a good size helping of both broccoli and chicken! And cake. lol. I had more broccoli for dessert.

After hanging out for a while, watching an episode of some tv show S has on his computer, and having an INCREDIBLY silly conversation about S cloning dinosaurs and C training, riding, and taking them into the store with him ("What? It's my seeing eye dinosaur!"), we packed up and headed out to the pumpkin patch.

The patch itself wasn't much special-- a local church puts it on, and it's geared towards little kids, but there was no way I could know that-- but we had fun regardless. We worked the hay maze and hung out in the petting zoo, where I made a couple of good friends, both of the donkey persuasion. One bit my shoulder and then stared at me after I gave him a good talking to, and the other (a miniature donkey) kept butting me with his head in search of scratches and trying to climb in my lap. No joke. Unfortunately, C says we cannot have a donkey. Apparently the dining room is not a great place to keep one. (I say it'll keep the snake good company.)

Our time at the patch was over rather quickly, so we swung by WalMart on our way home, ended up wandering around the aisles looking at random things. Mostly exercise equipment. And candles. He bought me three candles, because I couldn't decide what scent I wanted. Simmering Apple Cider is wafting through the room as we speak.

C and I also had some really good conversation about our future kids, the atmosphere of our future home, instilling morals in our kids (in addition to self-defense tactics) and such.

We came home and I tidied up, cleaned the bathroom (as I've been hankering to do for days, but just didn't feel well enough), worked on my costume, took a walk, and now I'm watching the Princess Bride as I work on the bail websites.

Pshew.

It has been a really, really good day.

I'm so glad I'm feeling better.

I love my mate.
When it comes to planning a wedding, sometimes you have to say, "Forget what we're supposed to do, what do I want? Forget what everyone else has done, no matter how odd or awesome, what do I want to do?" I had to do that with my dress.

I'd been poring over the frothy lace and chiffon creations, trying to find the one that I loved and wanted to have my picture taken in and remember with fondness as the dress that I wore on one of my favorite days of my life, and... basically, trying to find "the one".

And I found one, several actually, that I liked and would look great in... yet I kept coming back around to the search, like I just hadn't found "it" yet.

And then I realized... I don't think there is an "it". I don't think that I will find "the one". Because, really, I could wear any one of those dresses and look gorgeous. I know it. I'd be stunning. But I can't choose them all. Choosing one inescapably means saying "no" to other options, and I had to realize that and come to terms with it. (Also, had to come to that conclusion with choosing a mate. I don't believe in "the one" when it comes to spouses, either. You will inevitably come across people in the future that you could have had a great relationship with, but you chose your spouse, and so you close the door to all others. I think that idea of "one true love" is super damaging, because if you "fall out of love" then it means that they weren't "the one" and now you must continue your quest to find "the one" and leave the one that you chose behind. It's all rather silly, and very, very painful.)

I had to sit down and think, "Okay... I have to choose one dress. What do I want? What do I gravitate towards?" Forget the lace, forget the chiffon, forget the tulle, forget what the bride is supposed to wear. They're pretty, to be sure, and I hope to someday have an occasion to wear a lacy, frothy dress and feel beautiful. But on this day, where I so much want it to be a true expression of who the bride and groom really are, what do I want?

And I realized that I want the forest green renaissance dress. I just hadn't thought it was allowed. I wanted all these other weddings that I'd seen, with the cute vintage dresses and the "we really don't care and just kind of threw it together because we're getting married and that's all that's important". I resonate with that, because it speaks to a truth within me that it is the fact that you're getting married that's important...

Yet I began to err in the same manner as when I was ingesting all that Wedding Industry materialism stuff.

I formed my thoughts around their thoughts. Only a little, but enough to make a difference.

And then when I began to take a step back and say, "What do I want?", I realized... I do want a party. I do want the pretty tables with the pretty plates with the nice centerpieces and the tasty looking cake. I do want a lot of the "weddingy" things, and that's fine.

It also, of course, is about what C wants. And he is more traditional than I am. He's not horrified by the idea of my wearing a dark green dress, but it's pretty much the major concession to weirdness that he's prepared to make. (Keeping in mind, of course, that our definition of "weird" might be a little subjective... since our roomie will definitely be attending in a kilt, and we're both happy about that.) He is steadfastly opposed to my carrying a bouquet that is comprised of anything but real flowers. (So... no pickle bouquet. As I've mentioned.) He did, however, say that I could put the pickle bouquet in a jar on the cake table, so I just might get it yet! And yet I still have to wear shoes when I walk down the aisle.

Anyway, the idea is just that... it's our wedding. What do we want? What do I want? What does he want? We have the authority to make it anything we want, and not be bound by traditions and "supposed to's" that do not apply to us.

I have to keep that in mind as I begin working on the ceremony itself.
I'm about to head back to bed for a while, but I thought I'd do a little musing, since I'm up... (and finally got my big school project to submit! Finally!)

Yesterday was a good day. I was sick, very very sick at times, but it was still a good day.

B, his wife J, and their son X came over just after C and I had gotten up for the day. C had just jumped out of the shower, so was still in his towel, and I was still in bed, so I... well.. wasn't exactly clothed? (I've found it's far more comfortable to just ditch the pj's, except in cases where one might be required to jump out of bed, such as visiting friends or a fire or something. Then it is decidedly uncomfortable.) They were gracious enough to wait in the living room so we could get dressed. Too kind. Hah.

After C went to work they hung around for a while, picked up a pizza (which I didn't eat, thank you very much!), I gave B a massage, then they took off to have family time. I dinked around online, did my math homework and studied the lessons, made supper, cleaned the living room and kitchen, vacuumed, then walked over to their house to hang out until C got off of work.

I guess I put out too much effort doing all those things, because I started feeling really sick while I was there. J drove me back home, and I gave her a massage, too. We chatted for about an hour until C got home, then she left to go pick up her husband and his brother, since they were going to come over and hang out with C. While she was gone, C and I had a nice bonding time. Then everyone showed up and we all hung out on the bed/around the computer for a few hours. J and I looked at wedding stuff, and the whole group of us had loud, passionate conversations regarding different details of the wedding. It was really fun, actually.

Shortly before they left, I began feeling very, very sick again, and it was hard for me to sleep last night because I felt so ill. I got a few hours of restlessness in, but I still don't feel well at all. I'm wondering how long this is going to drag on? I want to be back in classes this week, so I'll take it easy this weekend.

C and I are going to the pumpkin patch tomorrow!!!!!!! Yay! Also, he's being switched to a different location in the jail, which is good. It means less drama, hopefully. He's happy about it. (There's a lot of stupid stuff going on right now with supervisors being jerks and other officers just being inept... but ain't that always the case? Even when Mom was working there, it was nothing but drama drama drama.)

Last night it rained. Even during the day, it was cool and beautiful, and I kept the sliding door open and the front door propped open with an axe to get a nice cross breeze. The apartment was all aired out and fresh. I loved it. I think I'll do the same today. Even the snake got excited :)

J and B are an interesting case. They got married because J got pregnant, and they fully admit that if X had never come along, they wouldn't be together. B jokes about when J is going to finally leave him, and I think he means it. But J and I were talking during her massage last night, and there are some crazy issues surrounding that relationship that leave me unsurprised as to why they would banter like that. You see, B grew up in a super-dysfunctional home. Like, worse than mine. Way worse. And he has these negative coping mechanisms and such that he's never addressed, and also he tends to try to destroy the relationships with people that he loves. He loves his wife, therefore he sabotages the relationship. Mostly subconsciously. But he also doesn't know how to communicate with her, which is a big deal.

J was raped, and has crazy PTSD. When she and B met, though, she had her coping mechanisms of drinking, sex, and working out at the gym. When she got pregnant with X, her coping mechanisms were taken away (and especially after he was born) and the PTSD reared its ugly head in a big way. Add to that the fact that her entire (large) family/support network is all the way back in Texas, and you have a lot of anxiety. B doesn't know how to deal with her anxiety. It drives him nuts. He says so. And he's a self-described (and wife-verified) a-hole, so that doesn't help. That's just how he deals with things.

So J and I have a mutual understanding borne of traumatic experiences and PTSD, which is unfortunate, but I'm glad we have that connection.

While J and B were talking about their relationship and some of the pitfalls yesterday afternoon (or "morning", for me ^_^), I mentioned how C and I had some of the same problems (like him zoning out over Diablo and my having such a problem with that, and how we worked through that), and briefly told the story of how we worked through it and how C learned to talk to me while he was playing video games and how I got okay with what he was doing, etc.

Later on that day, B made the comment that he's going to try to learn how to talk and play his games at the same time, because C figured out how to do it so he should be able to as well. (Or something along those lines. Basically, C inspired him to try, which is cool.) That's something J has been pressing for a long time, so it's music to her ears! And it's... amusing?... to me that C and I would be inspirations, role models for another couple. I just never expected it.

After C got home, I was relating this anecdote to him and he kinda smiled. Then he told me, "See? You're better at this kind of thing than you think."

"What kind of thing?"

"Being a good person, and all that."

Hah. What a cutie. I told him that I really appreciated hearing that. I also prefaced that story with how I had realized, watching B and J, how wonderful and healthy our relationship is. And it really is. That mutual respect does wonders. I know several couples who nitpick and potshot each other all the time (my grandparents included). You know, the snide little nicknames and comments, the subtle put-downs, etc. There is none of that in our relationship, and I don't think there's any place for that. Why would you put down someone you're trying to build up? I would never, ever think to call C an idiot or stupid or dumb or whatever... Okay, maybe if I was really, really steamed, but probably not even then. I may be super ticked over something that happened or the way he went about something or the way he responded to me somehow, but that doesn't make him stupid or whatever. I know he's not any of those things, and I guess it just seems to me that you tend to more easily believe what you consistently apply to a given situation or person. If I go around referring to C as an insensitive oaf all the time, I'd be more inclined to believe it, yes? (Which he's NOT, btw.)

Upon reflection, I do teasingly call him "mean", but I believe that's the farthest I ever go. And it's usually in a flirting manner, so I think that cancels it out. Incorrigible is another one, but that one is true! :)

Anyway... I just... I'm really, really grateful for my man, and for our loving, healthy relationship.

I can't wait to marry this dude!

(Speaking of which... I decided upon my forest green renaissance wedding dress, and C forbade my carrying a pickle bouquet. I'm mildly put out over that one, and hoping to convince him otherwise. Or maybe I can just have the pickle bouquet to throw?! I dunno. Oh, and yes, there is a story behind the pickle bouquet. For another time.)
And thus I have an appointment with a "real" doctor this coming week. Mom told me to send the bill to them. I balked and protested (because I said I was never, ever going to depend on them for money again!), but then I realized the sanity of that course. Mom said that they've discussed my financial situation, and they understand. Especially now that Mom's working. Really? I wish I didn't have a financial situation that needed to be discussed! Yet the way out of that is to go to the doctor and get better-er, and the way to do that is through the financial discussions and calming the accusatory voices long enough to ship the bill off to Mom and R.

So I'm going to a "real" doctor, a "primary care physician", who, hopefully, will refer me to one of the two endocrinologists that I could see. It was actually the *nice* endo's office that pointed me to this doctor and said they were really good, so here's hoping. Obviously the two work together, so that's good.

I was doing some research this morning on adrenal insufficiency flare-ups and whatnot, trying to figure out why I get so darned sick for no apparent reason all the time, and I guess that AI is totally linked to hypothyroid, and the two are totally linked to fibromyalgia (which... I wonder...) and all that is totally linked to IBS and (food) sensitivities and all kinds of fun auto-immune stuff. Looks like I got the short end of the stick on the immunity side of things.

Maybe this doc will be able to help me figure it all out.

One thing's for sure... I can't just keep doing what I'm doing and hope that I'll make it okay. That's not going so well. If I want things to change, then I need to take steps toward change.

Thank you, God, for insurance, and for parents who will help me to get healthy.
Can I just carve out a little space for a bitterness party? Just for a moment.

(More like overwhelmedness turned desperation turned bitterness/frustration.)

I understand that your job is to answer phones and give info, and you're damn good at what you do. Cutting me off in mid-sentence like that to crisply inform me of the standard approach to a situation has left me reeling with awe and respect at your expertise as a secretary. (I can only pray that you're not the doctor herself, otherwise I'm already biased against you.) I just want some effing help, okay? I wouldn't be calling you unless I was at the end of my rope. I'm not a frickin pleasure seeker out for a cruise through local doctor's offices.

Specialists. So damn hoity-toity. Well, I don't have a primary care physician. You wanna know why? Because I'm poor, that's why. Does that mean you won't help me?

I didn't even get to ask my question, you brisk b----.

How in the everlovin' schmiggedy do I get help with this?

I'm so tired of being sick.

And I'm so tired of being brushed off by doctors.

I wouldn't even consider dealing with your office again, O Most Exalted Of Secretaries, except that the professor I like and highly respect recommended you.

Hopefully it's enough to overcome my distinctly anti-jerk bias.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled, optimistic programming.
...but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down! (Side story: when I was a kid, my mom had a cassette tape with this Chumbawumba song on it, right next to that one by the Proclaimers, 500 Miles? I rewound and rewound and rewound those two songs over and over again. And again. ^_^ To this day, those songs are near and dear to my heart. I think part of it is the accents. Heh.)

Just when I think I've got it down, that I've won... I get sick again. Bother.

It looks like today will be a "sick-day". Maybe I'll make some veggie-noodle soup later. At any rate, I've been up since 4:30, in pain. Trying to sleep, to no avail. Trying to get rid of the pain, to no avail. Hot baths and pain killers just aren't cutting it today, folks. And sure, I could soldier on and tough it out. I know I could. I've done it a bagillion times before with way worse pain. (SOULS, anyone? Ugh.)

But I'm trying to do things differently with my life these days. I'm trying to be kind to myself. I'm trying to allow myself to be frail and chipped and human and, yes, even sick.

The way I figger, if I can be kind to myself in and through this sickness, then it will pass quicker, yes? Rather than flogging myself on to greater heights of productivity?

I said it aloud last night, and I'll say it again-- I'm so glad that I have a lifestyle setup that allows me to take sick days if I need to.

I mean, sure. I'm worried about money. I told C last night/this morning that I'm worried about it. I don't know how I'm going to buy food and gas for the rest of this month, and I only have 6 dollars in my bank account. (Yes, there's the money I just made writing, but that's ear-marked for the wedding... and there's my tithe, but that's not my money... so it's not like I'm fully destitute, but none of that money is available, you know what I mean?) Yet I trust that I'll be okay, that something will come through. It alway does.

So what am I going to do with the endless hours on my hand during this sick day? Rather than spend it all on the internet, I'm going to pursue another income-generating idea that I had. I'm not going to say what it is, just in case it doesn't work out. (I hate having to eat my words.) But... we'll see. It might go well. Oh, yeah. And I'll do homework, too-- midterm, studying for a test, and math homework. And I'm going to try to sleep, if I can. And I'd like to make a wreath. I'll probably hammer out some of the next website I'm working on, while I'm at it.

You see? A sick day doesn't mean an unproductive day. It'll be good. That's what I told myself about two hours ago. Today is going to be a good day.

Regardless.

Mish-Mash

Also, cha-boi! (Yes. Say that phonetically, emphasis on the last syllable and drag out the "ee" sound on the end. It comes out something like "cha-boy-ee", each one almost a distinct syllable in and of itself. Your daily slang pronunciation lesson. You're welcome.)

I submitted my first web-content writing "manuscript" last night, and the guy said "very good". Yeah! I'm an author now! Hehe. The most important thing is that I'm getting paid, and that money will go directly to the wedding fund. (E cancelled work again today, she's taking care of the grandkids. While I completely understand, it's frustrating that I can't depend on a certain amount of workdays a month. I'm applying for food stamps again this week.)

I asked C last night about our wedding philosophy, so to speak. Like, what are our goals? What are we trying to do, here? What are our priorities? Because knowing that will really help me to ruthlessly refine the wedding budget and pare out unnecessary things that I may *think* I need (thanks, Wedding Industry/Blogs!) but that really, in the light of us and the coming years, won't mean anything at all.

The reason I got to thinking about that was the conversation with J and B the other day. You know, the one where they said, "Hey, we're buying your wedding photography"? Anyway, J said something about the toast, and I jumped in with, "Well, we're having a dry wedding. No alcohol. Martinelli's!" (Neither of us drinks. And C's extended family has a problem with drinking too much. And it costs more to reserve the place if there's booze present. So... no alcohol. Plus I don't like being around people that are drinking, really.) So then J says something about the first dance. I pipe back up with, "No dancing. We're not having dancing."

The way she looked at me was like... I was a foreign species or something! Like she couldn't understand why we wouldn't have dancing. I'll tell you why-- I don't dance. C doesn't dance. My entire side of family/friends don't dance. (Except for the Big Books dance. Right, J? lol) Why would we invest in something that is so unimportant to us, just because that's what you're supposed to do at a wedding? No, thanks.

So I got to thinking... what are we about? What's important to us? How can I keep "us" and our goals in mind so as to prune out unnecessary items that are just "supposed" to be there? (Thinking on it later, though... that's exactly what I've been doing all along, anyway. Evaluate, consider, discard. Like bouquets. Why? I might, just because I have a really fun idea of doing a "bouquet sneak" rather than a bouquet toss, but... both of my parents will be walking me down the aisle. My hands will be full. I don't really see the purpose, other than that I love fresh flowers, but... I won't be home to enjoy them afterward, or I'm going to throw them to someone else?! It doesn't really seem relevant to me, other than "that's just what you do". Says who?)

I asked C last night, about our goals. What's important to us? What are our priorities? He held contact while he slowly lifted his index finger in the air. "Get married."

Pause.

"That's it."

Well, then. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. That is what the man wants, and that is what the man shall get! Everything else, to him, is extraneous.

You know what?

I feel the same way.

Yes, there are details pertinent to "Get married." that are important to each of us, but the details do not comprise the goal. (He insists that I must wear shoes. I want a cake and Martinelli's, darn it! And we both agree that we want a ceremony, not to run off and get eloped.)

It's almost like I was expecting authenticity to be difficult. But really, in regards to planning my own wedding... it's not. (In normal, every day life, heck yes being authentic is hard!) I believe it's because one of the major, underlying tenets of our relationship is that we are both very authentic people. C is, for sure. What you see is what you get-- no coy manipulations there! And I'm gaining authenticity in my own life (with much support from C), and we are both very real and transparent with each other. Looking at the basis of our relationship, it only makes sense that this "true to ourselves" would spill over into our wedding ceremony. I just need to remember that I don't have to make things harder than they're not.

And it's good to know where we stand. :)

(Edit: Hah-HAH! This totally sums up my thoughts on the matter! Totally.)
I don't want to become a wedding blogger, I really don't. Yet it seems like that's all I've got to talk about lately.

Can I just say it?

I'm excited. I'm really excited about marrying my best friend, and I'm all wrapped up in the planning because I love to plan things.

Need I be ashamed for either of those things? No. No, I don't.

So why do I feel like I have to apologize whenever I bring up the wedding?

Probably because I'm so afraid of imposing myself upon others... afraid of asking too much. Afraid of wanting or needing too much. Afraid of being too intense and driving people away. Afraid of wearing people out, wearing them down, until they are little more than lifeless, withered husks...

Yeah, I know. Optimistic, isn't it?

I suppose it's just that lifelong exposure to let-down, abandonment, and false hopes. It's no wonder, really, that I'm neurotic about such a big step and all that accompanies it. I feel badly for C, because I'm constantly second-guessing his desire to be here, to be a part of this, to be with me, to want to spend time with me, etc. etc. etc. (That's where the Squeaky Hammer of Refinement comes in. It would be the Squeaky Hammer of Justice/Righteousness, but he'd have to be avenging something, or righting a social injustice or something else that doesn't really apply to the situation. Unfortunately. Because Squeaky Hammer of Justice just sounds so cool!)

It's like, okay, yes, I know that you love me and that you want me to be happy and that you're not going anywhere and that if wedding planning makes me happy then you're totally willing to put up with it and wear that cute little bemused smile and pat me on the head, but what if you change your mind??? What if you decide it's too much, I'm too much, and you don't want to sign up for this after all?!?!?!?!

What if you decide to leave?

And so I'm afraid. So afraid. Deep-to-my-core terrified. Because I don't want to live without you anymore. I don't want to see if someone else's hand will fit mine the same way. I don't want a new story, I want our story, tumultuous and melodramatic as it is.

I'm afraid to be fully myself, because what if you don't like that much "me"? What if I drive you away? I've been known to be intense. Too intense. I think. (I mean, didn't I have that problem with D? And G? And J? And H? And... yeah. Really? Do I need to keep going?)

I don't really trust guys to stick around, you see. And maybe that's part of the reason why I've taken off on you so many times in the past... because if I leave first, then it won't hurt. Because, really, I don't want to live apart from you. I never have.

I'm excited to marry you. Ridiculously excited. And that comes out in "crazy planning everything and talking about it all the time" mode. That's why I stayed up until two a.m. last night crunching honeymoon numbers, planning it out... all the while daydreaming of being on adventures with you. With you. My husband. And then coming back from the adventure and being mundane with you... as your wife. (Good grief, I can hardly bear to say it! It's so wonderful!)

I also have this irrational sense of impending doom. Like, I'm waiting for the axe to fall on our happiness and wonderful plans any moment now.

But then, you knew I was neurotic already, huh? :) You, who have sat up nights with me, holding me while I raged and cringed and sobbed and cowered in the dark... You, who have held me close when I just needed a hug and a good snuggle... You, who have mercilessly teased me, knowing that I both need and love to laugh...

I don't want to be apologetic about us anymore, about the wedding, about my plans... and I don't want to be afraid anymore. I really don't. I'm sorry for my fear, and I wish it weren't so.

Honestly, though, I'm glad it's coming out and bubbling up. This means that we can talk about it, you can bop me with the Hammer, and we can deal with it. We'll be stronger than if I just simply labored alone under the blistering waves of oppression.

I am excited. And I refuse to be apologetic about that.