My massage therapist tried telling me that D and M aren't "gone", that I haven't "lost" anything... that their energy is in a different form now, just not the one that I want.

Um, yeah. No. They're gone. Their energy is dissipated. Sorry. Thanks for playing. And thanks for invalidating my grief.

Looking back at the beginning of thisAnd how life wasJust you and me and love and all of our friendsLiving life like an ocean
But now the current's only pulling me downIt's getting harder to breatheIt won't be too long and I'll be going underCan you save me from this?

'Cause it's not my time, I'm not goingThere's a fear in me and it's not showingThis could be the end of meAnd everything I know, ooh, but I won't go
I look ahead to all the plans that we madeAnd the dreams that we hadI'm in a world that tries to take them awayOh, but I'm taking them back
'Cause all this time I've just been too blind to understandWhat should matter to meMy friend, this life we live, it's not what we haveIt's what we believe in
It's not my time, I'm not goingThere's a fear in me, it's not showingThis could be the end of meAnd everything I know
But it's not my time, I'm not goingThere's a will in me and now I know thatThis could be the end of meAnd everything I know, ooh, but I won't go!I won't go!
There might be more than you believe(There might be more than you believe)And there might be more than you can see
But it's not my time, I'm not goingThere's a fear in me, it's not showingThis could be the end of meAnd everything I know
But it's not my time, I'm not goingThere's a will in me and now it's gonna showThis could be the end of meAnd everything I know
There might be more than you believe(There might be more than you believe)And there might be more than you can seeBut I won't go, oh no I won't go down, yeah
My friend that died was only 19. We grew up together in our small church, so even though I didn't get to know him well personally as we got older, his loss is a hard blow. He died of a single gunshot wound in the wee hours of Monday morning, and his parents are devastated.

I texted BJ yesterday, wondering when the funeral/memorial service would be. She told me what she knew, then mentioned that there was a grief counseling session for the youth of the church going on right then. Although I was grieving more for D than M at that point, I hopped in my car and beelined it over there. It was good, and I'm glad I went. We shared stories and memories of M for a good hour before loading ourselves in cars and visiting his parents to share our good memories. They were encouraged by the sharing, but I could see how torn up they were. It must be hard, to have memories of their son constantly surrounding them... even with D, I'm so far removed from the situation that my grieving comes in spurts. If I were back home with the S's, the agony of my heart would be unceasing.

The language that I'm hearing over and over again is, no surprise, that of the hope of seeing these two again. SDA's believe in the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Jesus, that death is but a "dreamless sleep" until then, and that the righteous will spend all eternity in heaven. I was raised hearing and reading and believing this version of things, but as I sat in that room with all the other teary-eyed young people and adults, I realized, much as I did when SOULS came last year, that I don't believe that anymore.

When C came home, I turned to him and said, "I think I'm an atheist." He replied, "...Congratulations?"

I should make it clear that C has never pressured me in any way to leave my beliefs or my church and adopt his viewpoint. He's listened to what I have to say, sat through my explanations of Bible passages and church doctrine, and even listened attentively as I read him Case for a Creator on the trip to and from the Renaissance Festival. He has not hesitated to share his side of things, of course, but his point of view is that I can believe whatever I want, but the important thing is that I believe it for myself and because I have thought it out myself. He doesn't want me to believe and follow something just because other people are influencing me to do so (which includes being afraid of disappointing people by adopting a different viewpoint). Have his beliefs influenced me? Absolutely yes, but that's because as I've begun to question and think for myself these past few years, my church's version of things made less and less sense. God made less and less sense. I began to cobble together my own philosophy, based on my observations of the world around me, and then when I was exposed to C's point of view, well... the two were very similar.

I'm not set in any particular belief system at this point. I'm still... in flux, I guess you could say. I'm not an atheist in reality, for I still believe in the existence of God, or a higher power, or whatever, but... although I believe in God, I don't believe in God. Do you see the distinction?

Honestly? I've found that I'm much happier, balanced, and accepting now that I've left Christianity. The whole "atheists are immoral heathens" thing is so not true. Atheists are some of the best people that I know. I know some really good Christians, too, but I think it has more to do with the person than the belief system. Don't get me wrong-- Christianity has a great philosophy, and if people would live life the way that Jesus espoused the world would be a heck of a lot better place. And that's what I'm trying to do-- live the life that Jesus advocated... except without the God part.

I've heard that without God you can't love other people, that there's no source of goodness without him.  Since I no longer believe that I'm an unworthy person who needs saving from myself, I'm free to see the goodness and love that I have inside of me. It comes from me, from a decision to love the people around me, and so many other people have made that decision independent of any kind of divine mandate or indwelling. Atheists, the supposedly heartless immorals, have done a damn lot of good in the world for no reason other than that they saw the suffering and neediness of their fellow human beings and wanted to relieve it.

I've also heard that being an atheist diminishes the sanctity of life, makes it just some happenstance thing that has no consequence or bearing. While I suppose that's true, in a way (for they don't believe that they are the metaphorical center of the universe as Christians do), I think it brings as great or greater a reverence for life as the belief of creation by a personal deity. Consider these two quotes:

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.” ― Lawrence M. Krauss

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?” ― Richard Dawkins

The thing that really bothered me, the thing that really disturbed my previous lines of thinking, was a quote from Epicurus that I stumbled across that put a voice to the quailing doubts and angry questions I have about God. I began vacillating and questioning while I lived in ID, but there was too much at stake there for me to give full expression to most of my doubts. I broke out of one of the church's doctrines while there, and received a mighty backlash from it. That taught me not to rock the boat. But once I moved away, once the reputation of a wonderful family didn't rest upon my actions, I was free to pursue a path that made sense to me, one that resonated with both my being and my mind. I didn't come across this quote until that time, and it's probably a good thing, because if I had found it while I was still up north... I think all hell would have broken loose. It would have put me in quite the hard place emotionally and mentally, I can assure you.

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"  - Epicurus [341–270 B.C.]

I guess I'll end with that. It sums it up pretty well for me.

I know that at the memorial on Friday (and whenever D's memorial is) I'll be hearing a lot about the Second Coming, and that's fine. To me, all this talk about seeing them again and Satan out there working hard, etc. simply sounds like people trying to make sense of the bad stuff that happens in the world, and clinging to a comforting thought because they cannot face the finality of loss. But I know that they really, really believe it, and it brings them comfort and hope, so... I'm not going to say a word. Not a peep from me.

To be brutally honest, though? I do miss having that comfort... the thought of seeing the ones I love again. I just don't want to truly say goodbye.
He's gone. He's really gone. As in, like, gone gone.

I know I said my goodbyes in February, but I find myself wishing that I had been there closer to the end... to say goodbye when he was actually on his way out. I know it's silly, but... maybe I just wish that I could have seen him again.

Then again, it's not the frail, sickly D that I miss. It's the robust, ruddy, mischievous twinkle in his eye D that I miss. I miss "Ay-a-yellow-filly-havayeeee" and Friday night worships with two guitars and lots of harmony. I miss special musics and Farmer's Markets and picking strawberries together in the cool dampness of the morning. I miss following him around the garden and learning so, so much from him. I miss starting seedlings together, and the funny instruction sheet he left for me, and the pride I took in being the first seedling babysitter to keep the plants alive (and healthy!). I miss the silly jokes, the birthday song that he wrote for me, and the solid advice and keen Biblical perspective. I miss the male voice in our nightly "Our Father". I miss, "Does anyone have anything they'd like to share?" from morning worships.

Oh god, I miss him so much!

And what sucks is that no one recognizes me as a grieving family member... Well, that's not true. C and the girls do, of course, but they get all these "We're so sorry" and "We're praying for you" condolences, but... I'm hurting too! It's not that I want the words, it's that I want the recognition that he was someone special to me, and I'd like to think that I was someone special to him too. He was a father to me. I've lost a dad, one of the only good ones I've ever known, and much too soon. I was looking forward to receiving advice on life, marriage, and gardening for years to come, and to introduce my kids to one of the wisest men that I know. I was looking forward to continued jokes and learning about gardening from him as I started my own for the first time.

The grieving comes and goes. I cried a lot yesterday morning, but once I got to work I stopped crying and got busy... and then I couldn't stop moving, couldn't stop doing stuff. I finally forced myself to lie down and do deep breathing around 9:30. I know I overdid it, but whatever. I just took extra painkillers and called it good. I didn't even wake up in pain this morning, which was really strange for me. A rare experience. Sure, as the day wears on the pain creeps in and crescendoes, but again... extra painkillers.

Today I was just kinda numb (and exhausted)... until I heard a song on the radio. And then I started blogging and the tears just won't stop now.

I know that he's not suffering, sick, or in pain any longer, and that gives me intellectual peace... but it doesn't stop the hurt.

My heart is broken.

Not to mention that a young friend from church that I grew up with was shot and killed yesterday. Two in one day. That was hard. I mean, I watched this kid grow up. We were friends. I sang at his 8th grade graduation. We went hiking together last fall. And now he's gone. At only 19.

Life is sobering. It's beautiful, if your eyes are open, but it's also somber and uncertain. What an exquisitely painful mix that is.

When I packed up some stuff from the apartment on my way home from work, I found a jar of grape juice that D canned. I hadn't opened it yet, because I was waiting for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is it... I'm going to open it and drink to his memory... and cry all the while.

I miss my father. Life isn't fair. And cancer sucks.

Here's the song I heard on the radio. I'm going to post it on J and K's Facebook pages... I think it will be meaningful for them, too.

Received the call this morning that D passed away.

Every time I see, think, or type those words, my breath catches in my throat and hot tears sting my eyes.

If I thought I was done before, I underestimated the depths of doneness one can sink to.

But I will go to work, because I need the money, and because I need something mindless to do.

My heart hurts. I can't imagine how C and the girls are feeling...
Have you ever seen those super inspirational quotes or pictures with quotes on them that people post on Facebook all the time? I have. (Probably because I've "liked" some pages entitled things like "Inspirational Quotes and Pictures". ) A lot of those quotes I've seen have to do with not giving up, not giving in, trying trying trying, and never quitting.

For example:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." – Lance Armstrong

Well, you know what? I guess I fail, because I quit.

I quit trying. I quit caring. I quit trying to make my life into something that it's not. I quit this whole "chronic illness/incessant pain" thing. I quit.

I'm done.

I can't/won't/don't want to do this anymore.

I know that's not particularly motivational or inspiring, but you know what? I don't care. Remember? I quit caring. Besides, it's not my job to be an inspiration for anyone, and I resent the cultural implications that to have a hardship or a disability or setback of any kind means that I have to "overcome" and keep smiling and be all inspirational.

I take exception to the inspiration porn, like the ones I showed above. I'm sorry, Lance, but my pain doesn't subside. So what do I do now? Carol? You've got it right. But I'm tired of trying to change my life. My wheels are spinning, and I'm stalled out. Unknown? My body quit 1,000 times, and my mind is just now giving up, so screw you. And sir Napoleon, I'm of the opinion that my defeat is a little more than temporary. I've been trying this whole time to see it as "temporary", as something that I can get over with some consistent work... or if not "get over", then at least "bring to a manageable level"... but I'm quitting even that.

I can't bring these illnesses to heel. So I quit.

I can't make any plans for the next month, week, or day, or even for later the same day. So I quit.

I can't make it through 99.9% of days without prescription pain killers, and I feel guilty and weak for that... so I quit.

I'm just... done. From here on out I'm coasting through life. What's the point of putting forth effort? It hasn't helped yet, and I just keep letting myself down. My hopes are continually dashed. I'm tired. Tired of hoping, tired of hurting, tired of trying to make it work... so I quit. I'm done.

And once I quit, I felt a whole lot better. No more pressure to get stuff done, no more disappointment that I woke up with the same migraine I went to sleep with, no more caring that I only got 5 hours of sleep because of sickness and pain.

You know what? I had ice cream for breakfast. I did. And it was awesome. It tasted like fudgecicles.

So here are my thoughts on motivational/inspirational quotes:

(And just for fun...)
I have been on the couch all day, so sick.

I had two goals today, and I haven't accomplished a one of them. Well, I did make the bed earlier... but I'm still in my pajamas.

I've barely eaten due to the nausea, mostly just drinking water and peppermint tea.

I slept for a while, especially because I was very dizzy and lightheaded. Kept falling over when I tried to stand or walk, and standing made the nausea ten times worse. Not to mention that when I stand up and move, my muscles start up with the burning ache from fibro, plus the shakiness and weakness that made walking difficult. The dizziness is better now, but still there, and I still feel weak. The headache has settled back in as well. I don't think that getting up and unpacking a box is a good idea right now. I'm contemplating a shower, but even that seems kinda risky at this point...

I just hate letting C down by not getting a box unpacked... and also E. I told her I'd rock this grant, and I haven't finished it yet. Granted, she never gave me a timeline, but I always feel that I should complete a project as soon as possible. (Well, I guess I am, since the rest of the time I've been moving, packing, unpacking, or very sick, soooo...)

I don't know why I even bother making plans or setting goals. Stupid chronic illnesses always interfere and ruin things. Sometimes I can power through, but other times I simply cannot. I'm so done being a Spoonie! Can I have my normal life back now?

I'm going to try to get some yogurt down... if I can make it to the kitchen. In the last twelve hours I've  had a couple of bananas, an apple, and some applesauce at various, random intervals. Oh yeah, and I had some rice chips this morning. So it's probably good if I eat something more... solid.

(I'm hoping that I don't come down super sick when I go to work tomorrow... because if I go through there what I went through here when the dizziness/weakness/head problems hit, I will not be able to get myself home. It's a twenty minute drive, and I could barely make it to my bathroom and back, so... I'm a little worried about that.)


We're 98% moved into the new house. There are just a few things left to grab over at the other place, such as the lamp and table, the stuff off of the porch, the cleaning supplies from the bathroom and kitchen, and the food in the kitchen pantry. There are some dishes and stuff, too, but C is bringing a box of those over tonight after work. The idea is that whenever one or the other of us leaves the house, we'll make it a point to swing by the apartment and pick up a few things. That works better for me than trying to do a marathon packing and moving session, and he's at work all day.

I like this new house. Yes, it's small, but I don't mind that at all. I'm used to living in small spaces, and what's more important is that it's ours. (I mean, I had plans to live in a tent for the better part of a year. Small doesn't bother me.) The living room is all set up, minus the dvd tower, and it's quite cozy. The cushy and comfy pillows that L bought for us go nicely with our "new" couch, a tan microfiber sectional given to us by M when his mother bought a new one, and the throw blankets that I've draped over the back of the couch are not only comfortable but handy for when my temperature begins to vacillate wildly. Everything about the couch set up just feels good-- microfiber couch with comfortable cushions, plump microfiber and soft faux-fur pillows, soft and thick throw blankets that feel good on the skin... It's my oasis of comfort, especially when I wake up in the early morning hours, too stiff and painful to stay in bed with C, but needing a place of comfort to rest and take my mind off of the pain. That has been happening almost every morning for the last 2 weeks, at least. I was put off of my routine the first morning I woke up in the house, and the couches hadn't been moved over yet. I ended up sitting on the floor of my craft room, but it was nowhere near as comfortable.

As hard as moving has been on me, and it's been pretty brutal, I've been more fearful of unpacking than anything else. It's easy to throw a bunch of stuff in a box, but it takes so much more energy to pull it all out and figure out where it goes. I was afraid that, three months into living in the new place, we'd still be stepping over boxes and rummaging through bins to get at our stuff.

I told C the first night, "I need your help to break down what needs to be done into manageable tasks, because honestly? Looking around and thinking about what still has to be done is seriously overwhelming to me." So two nights ago C informed me that the goal for yesterday was to unpack one box, do my laundry, and to pick up some stuff from the other house when I ventured out to run my errands. Ok, I can do that, and I did! That set the pace for my daily goals-- one box a day.

It's a good pace. I did a little extra yesterday, clearing off the dining room table and bringing the microwave in from my car, and I definitely felt that I was low on spoons when I finished that. But I had stuff to do, so I headed over to C's dad's place for dinner, dropped some stuff off at S's, picked up some stuff from the apartment, and did my weekly grocery shopping. I could feel a headache beginning behind my left eye when I left the house, and it had bloomed into a full whopper of a headache by the time we sat down to eat. I didn't manage to shake it until about 8 this morning. I guess I pushed it too much, because I barely made it home and got the groceries into the house before collapsing on the couch in sickness. Fibro flu, baby. It strikes when you least expect it! On the bright side, I got to try out my new bathtub, and I love it! I especially love not having to heat a stockpot of water on the stove to get a hot bath. Our water heater is big enough to fill up the entire tub with hot water without running cold! What a novelty.

This morning I woke early and painfully, as seems to be my custom lately. The sky was overcast, and I could feel it in every inch of me. (That's probably where the headache came from yesterday, as the weather started shifting.) My pain killers have been falling down on the job lately, though I'm not sure if it's that my system is adapting to them or that my pain levels have increased to the point where they're not touching it anymore. In any event, even a double dose doesn't do much but take the edge off these days. This morning I was feeling too poorly to mess around with that, so I took a triple dose, and you know what? That does the trick. After about an hour it kicked in enough that my headache went away and my limbs stopped throbbing. I crawled back into bed for a few hours and got the best sleep I've had all week. Now that I'm back up the headache is coming back, and the limbs are starting to throb again, but now I have a secret weapon. I don't want to use it unless I have to, of course, but... it's nice to know that I can still get some kind of relief if things get too bad.

So, today, my goals are simple. One box unpacked. One question answered on the grant I'm working on. (It's hard to do mental work when you feel poorly and your brain is all foggy. I'm learning this the hard way.) Make the bed. Get out of my pajamas at some point. Clean off the garbage can and do the few dishes in the sink. That's all. I may not even get to all of that, frankly, as I'm running low on spoons today. But a box and a question, those are the for sure things on my list today.


Spent all day yesterday and far into the night accomplishing moving tasks and moving furniture and boxes full of stuff over to the new house. C is determined to have it all done by the time his weekend is over, which means tonight. His brother D came over in the evening and helped to move the big, heavy things (like the mammoth, stone-insert dresser that I brought with me the first time C and I moved in together-- it now is the home for the very large fish tank, as it is the only piece of furniture strong enough to support it). After D went home to go to bed, as he had work in the early morning, C kept chugging along while I took a nap around 11:30. I woke up at 1:30 to find C still gone (setting up his desk and computer at the other house), but he came back shortly and we moved our entire bedroom over to the house, as well as most everything else but the kitchen and bathroom stuff.

C was worried about me last night, and said that he knew I was going to be hurting like crazy today, and that he was sorry, but there was no one else to help. I told him that I knew, I was doing it voluntarily, and we'd handle that when we got there. He was right, though. I'm quite stiff and achy today. We finally collapsed into bed around 5 a.m.

I'm disappointed, because I had forgotten (thanks, fog!) that there was an activity this morning, Beautiful You, that I was supposed to go to. Although, having gotten to bed so late (early?), there was no way I was going to peel myself out of bed in time to make it there at 9:30. Some things just take precedence, even if I am bitterly disappointed. I was looking forward to being pampered and getting free stuff. (Shoes! Clothes! Purses! Jewelry! Manicures! Massages! Haircuts! Waaaaaaaah!)

On the plus side, we got a new fridge yesterday, after a bit of finagling and running around. It was a whopping good deal, and oh my gobbles is it gorgeous! Stainless steel, side by side, with a fancy water and ice dispenser and everything! Sears was having a Memorial Day sale, dontchaknow. The up front investment is a bit of a hard blow, even though it was a very good price, but it'll pay off in the long run. We're saving hundreds of dollars. It's just that we're broke now, because it was an expensive investment. But C gets paid this week, which is good, because we may or may not have enough to buy groceries until then... Setting up a household is expeeeeensive. I can't wait until everything settles down and we can see what basic living costs will be here in the new house. But I'm not worried, because C is good with money, and he will make sure that I am taken care of. He is a family man to the core, and responsible as the day is long. He knew what a money pit I was when he married me, so I just need to not worry. (Still, I'm going to do my part to minimize expenses wherever possible, even more than I do now.)

I found my Never Shout Never cd, and I've been listening to it today. Isn't it funny how a certain cd or song can evoke such a strong memory of a certain time, or a set of emotions? I first heard the cd when I was home this last Christmas visiting the folks, and I listened to it incessantly the whole time I was there and for the next month or two.

What comes to mind is bravery. My friend L had just begun another very aggressive battle against her cancer, and Mom and I really got into the Bring the Bling thing to encourage her. I drew a lot of inspiration from her and her fight, because I had just been diagnosed with fibro the month before, and I was still reeling, trying to figure out my new life and this addition to my identity... not to mention struggling with intense pain before I ever got painkillers.

I was full of bravado, hope, and optimism, despite my fear, uncertainty, and pain... and that's what comes up when I listen to this cd, especially this song.

Incessant pain has a way of wearing you down over time. I was brave then, but I hadn't lived with this for as long. I'm still brave, but in a different kind of way. The fresh young soldier is filled with vigorous bravado; the weathered veteran has a worn, hardened bravery. Neither are wrong, but they are very different.

I'm still trying to figure out how to live with the pain and the host of other symptoms that accompany it. It's a day by day process, and sometimes I don't want to do it anymore... like today. I wanted to give up, get out somehow... but the only way out when pain is your life is to quit life altogether, and while I may be desperate enough to contemplate it, I'm not desperate enough to carry through. There is too much that I love holding me here. Too many people that I love, to be specific. If I weren't selfishly hanging around to take in all that love, I could still say that I wouldn't want to betray their love and trust by leaving of my own volition. Either way, I've gotta keep going, if only for the sake of the love and support that is showered upon me on a regular basis.

I spent a good portion of this morning crying on the couch, defeated and discouraged. After some time, I crawled back into bed with C, who partially woke up and wrapped me in a sleepy embrace. He just held me for a very long time, and it was what I needed to calm down and stop sobbing silently. I realized (again) that he does want me here, he does love me... I am valuable to him, even in my current condition.

So, tomorrow is a new day. Here's hoping I'm brave enough to face it with a smile on my face.
As I was pondering how to cut away my medical costs this morning, I thought that killing myself would be the perfect way to save my dad and C some money... but then I remembered how expensive funerals are, and I gave up the idea.
I'm stressed 'cause I'm depressed... or is it that I'm depressed because I'm stressed? Or maybe I'm both stressed and depressed for a different reason entirely? Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter... the reality of the two things is enough.

The day started off well enough. I got my hair cut, finishing out the transformation. That made me giddy, especially because I quite like how it turned out.

The purple is for fibromyalgia/lupus/abuse awareness, and the red is because it looked more awesome than teal on the swatches. Teal would have been pretty sweet, though. Next time.

While chopping bell peppers for my salad at lunchtime, I suddenly flashed back to a memory of D involving bell peppers, and I just lost it. I cried for a good 5 minutes, overcome with grief. Then I was okay, but still sad.

I worked today, very hard. I like work. It makes me feel like a useful, contributing member of society... like I can actually still do something, you know? And my boss values my work very much. She considers me invaluable, actually. I know I will never be replaced unless I should actually choose to leave. But now I am tired... more tired than is reasonable for the amount and type of work that I did, and that's... frustrating.

I stopped by the bank on the way home and started the process of trying to get a personal loan, which is terrifying because I will have to pay it back and I don't have that kind of money... but I have to get this car thing taken care of. There is no postponement option. I hate being in debt. Hate, hate, hate it! And I feel like I'm in so much debt... That stupid credit card that has saved my butt so many times... I'm trying desperately to pay it off, throwing everything I have at it, but it still doesn't go away. It pisses me off that I'm in this situation, honestly.

And then I called R to see if he was comfortable co-signing the loan (he's not, which is fine), and we ended up in a conversation about the stress and troubles of life back home. Without going into details... it's troubling to me. I know that's their thing, and there's nothing I can or should do, but I still just want to see everyone happy and healthy, and right now that's not the case.

So it's the end of the day, and I have work I could be working on, but I'm all worked out. I'm tired, and I hurt, and my painkillers are barely taking the edge off, and I'm nauseous, and my guts are cramping, and it's been this way all day... and the day before... and the days before that... and I'm just getting really sick and tired of being sick and tired all the damn time. It gets so old, so fast.

I want to move as many of the smaller things to the new house as I can tomorrow, and put the boxes and stuff already there in their appropriate rooms (most of which I've already done, but the last few loads were just dumped in the living room), but... I can't do it by myself. I know that I will just make myself very, very sick, and I can't afford to do that. I asked a friend to help me, but she can't tomorrow, so I don't know what to do. It's frustrating to have a job that needs to be done that I could have done in the past, but now I'm helpless. It pisses me off, frankly. And it depresses me. I just want to sit down in the middle of the floor and cry. Tears of frustration, anger, and sadness. Like a little kid who needs a nap. I need the world's longest nap, and I need to wake up from the nap all better.

I seriously considered telling R today that I'm not going to doctors anymore, that I'm getting off of my medicines and whatever happens, happens. I am so tired of being a financial burden to him, like an anchor around his neck. I never wanted this... I may still make that decision. Like, after this run of acupuncture is done, I don't want to ask R to do it again. It's thousands of dollars for the long-term treatment plan, and I can't do it. I can't bring myself to do it. I just can't do this anymore...

No more doctors. No more medicines. Just me, curled up in bed, hoping to make it through another day with my sanity intact.

My life is fucked.

I'm sorry. I told you I was feeling stressed and depressed. I have no "it'll all be okay" optimism left in me right now, and I can't fake any of those inspirational life lessons. I got nothin'.

What did I do to ever deserve this? I must have been a kitten killer in another life. They say karma's a bitch, but I really wish she'd tell me what I did wrong before she slaps me. I probably killed kittens with other kittens, and then killed those kittens with rainbows that I turned into drugs to sell to children.

I just really don't want to do this anymore. I could use some of those kitten-killing rainbow drugs, honestly...

Alright. I'm done bitching. 'Cause believe me... I could go on and on and on...
I did two things today. One was foolish, the other was brave and awesome.

We'll start with the brave and awesome. I marched my happy little self down to the local beauty school's salon and got my hair streaked with bright red and vibrant purple. How is this brave and awesome, you ask? Well, I've been wanting to do this for years, literally years, but I've been so afraid of what other people might think (because I have a reputation to uphold, you know) that I never could bring myself to give voice to my personality in that way. But I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and C agreed to pay for it, and then my massage therapist told me today to do something fun, so... there I went. I was supposed to get a haircut, too, but we ran out of time, so I'm going back in the morning. Nothing crazy, just a shorter version of the cute, choppy bob that I loved so much last time my hair was cut. The layers will really show off my new colors nicely. I'll make sure to get at least one decent picture.

The foolish thing? I marched my happy little self down to the local beauty school's salon without taking any painkillers or snacks with me, or even a bottle of water. Big mistake. (Granted, I had no idea how long it was going to take, but it was still a foolish oversight.) I was there for three and a half hours, sitting in uncomfortable chairs, holding the same position... and then I had an HJ meeting afterward, so by the time I got home I hadn't eaten in like, 5 hours. That's bad news for me. I was able to score some apple juice during the meeting, to boost my blood sugar a bit because I was shaking. That got me home, but I was so nauseous and painfully sick from not eating that it almost wasn't worth it... but the black rice and grilled asparagus that I forced down really did hit the spot. I'm super worn out, though. Skipped group. I just couldn't do it. Plus I've got work tomorrow.

It's dumb how just sitting in a chair for three and a half hours can completely knock me on my butt. I resent that. I did get to explain fibro and chronic pain a bit to my hairdresser, though. Of course, because I came in with my walker, it was a natural conversation topic to come up. It made me realize that I'm really interested in advocating for chronic invisible illnesses in my community, but I really don't know how to go about doing it without seeming like I'm complaining or throwing a pity party. I'll be mulling this over, I'm sure... keeping my eyes out for ideas and opportunities.

Despite my mistakes, it was a pretty good day. I'm happy. In a hell of a lot of pain and thoroughly exhausted, but happy.
I figure it's high time that I chronicled the events of my wedding day, and I have some spare time on my hands, so I may as well bite the figurative bullet and do it. Fact is, it's so much more pleasant to reminisce than to try to craft a meaningful narrative from my memories... but I know that I'm the kind of gal that needs some solid documentation to refer to in future times.

When my hard drive crashed recently, I lost a few recent photos and things that I hadn't yet backed up, but my greatest loss was the programs I had bought, such as iPhoto, GarageBand, Pages, Keynote, etc. I'm sure I still have the disks around somewhere, but they're hidden amongst my belongings that are now scattered to kingdom come from the move, which is frustrating. Fortunately, I uploaded all of the wedding and honeymoon photos to Facebook, in addition to having all of the wedding photos on a thumb drive. Whew!

Actually, I wrote up a summary of the day over on a bridal site that I frequent, so I'm just going to copy and paste that sucker, with the appropriate pictures interspersed. So much easier... and if I think of anything else, I'll just insert it in the appropriate place in the timeline. I'm a genius!

Without further ado...

*Long Post Warning and LOTS of pictures!*

"Well, I did it! Technically we did it, but I'm going to bask in the light of my accomplishment a little here, since there was a point during the rehearsal when I realized that holycrap holycrap holycrap we're actually going to get married to each other forever and ever! for realsies!, and I was not actually sure that I could go through with the wedding. (See picture for hilarious facial interpretation of internal feelings.)
This is the point during the rehearsal when I started getting nauseous and freaking out and wanting to call the whole thing off, or at least just elope. It's not that I didn't want to marry him, I was just fearful that getting married would ruin our relationship. Plus, I mean, a wedding is a Big Deal and a huge Life Change (for most), and I tend to panic in the face of such things.
However, I got over myself, and you know what? Our wedding was totally badass. I loved it. On the wedding day, I had no panic, no fears, no doubts, no hesitancies... Nothing but assurance within that I was making a damn fine choice and that I was going to be very happy.
The wedding that I spent six months crafting and envisioning sort of went to hell in a handbasket in  a few regards (what wedding doesn't?!), but the wedding that came out of it was even better than I could have imagined. To begin with, our venue for both the ceremony and the reception was a lovely little out of the way section of a local park that is surrounded by trees and flowers. It's called The Hummingbird Garden, because in spring it attracts hummingbirds by the droves. (Hummingbirds are also my favorite bird, and a very personal and spiritual sign of good luck for me, so seeing a bunch of hummingbirds whizzing about and hearing them chirp their happy little messages soothed me in an indescribable way.) I was hoping for cool weather, as a heat wave had hit us, and the projected temps for that day were the low 90's. Ugh. I felt sorry for the folks who had come from, well, anywhere else, as they are NOT used to these kinds of temperatures! It turned out to be very windy instead, and while that really threw a monkey wrench into some of our decorating plans it kept us all cool and comfortable. *Whew!* That was especially a concern as there was no shade to seat the guests in for the ceremony or reception. Several people showed up in the early morning to help us decorate and set up tables and chairs, and they did a fantastic job. (Side note: I got sunburnt that morning while "helping" to decorate the park! So all of the work that I'd done to get rid of my funny spaghetti-strap tan lines was for naught... and it totally didn't matter.) My husband and his brother did great work stringing long strands of beads through the branches of the paloverde tree we were to stand in front of, and even though they did it WAY differently than I had been imagining, it looked so much better their way; very romantic and fairytale-esque.
Fun fact: I've had this idea in my head for many, many years that I'd like to get married when the paloverdes are blooming. (I've also had the idea for a long time that I would marry outdoors.) To my disappointment, it didn't appear that the paloverdes would bloom in time for my wedding. However, two days before the wedding, every tree in town burst into riotous yellow bloom! So I did, indeed, get to be married while the paloverdes were blooming. That was really special to me. (See all the little yellow flowers?) By the way, for those who don't know, "paloverde" literally means "green tree" in Spanish. Can you hazard a guess as to why? :)
One thing I learned in force from the days leading up to the wedding, and the day of the wedding itself, was how to receive from others. I'm a "doer", and a giver. I like to help, and I especially like to do it myself if at all possible. I hate asking for help, because I have this terrible fear of imposing upon others, bolstered by large and unhealthy doses of guilt for stupid stuff. However, the stress of the impending nuptials really ignited my chronic illnesses the week before the wedding, and I was very sick and in a great deal of pain most of the time. My friends and family knew this, and they refused to let me do pretty much anything the entire time they were there. For instance, a friend of mine came over before my guests came into town and cleaned the apartment for me. When my guests got to town, they took over the decorations, spending the entire morning setting up, decorating and guarding the site of our wedding, the assembly of favors, the baking and frosting of special allergy-friendly cupcakes, cleaning my bathroom(?!)... everything they could. And I had to learn how to receive this outpouring of love and care with gratitude. It was difficult. Very difficult. But it also marks that period of time as a very special and intimate time, because I don't think I've ever been so cared for by so many people. I felt so precious and valuable; it was incredible. And I also saw that, while some people may not have felt that I was making the best choice in marrying an atheist, they still loved and supported us as a couple because of who we are as individuals and their connections to us. It was very telling that there was little to no familial or friend drama during our engagement or during the time immediately before the wedding, with the exception of some well-meaning warnings from more religious friends, which I took as a sign of their love, support, and care for my well-being. I saw in a big way what a difference surrounding oneself with healthy friendships and relationships makes when it really comes down to it.
We all showed up at the park at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (lol) to set up tables and chairs, decorate the ramada, and string beads from the tree that would serve as our backdrop. While I wasn't allowed to do much, I did end up doing a lot of shuttling and running around in my car. Some of the people that I was counting on showing up to help decorate were completely AWOL, but some people that I didn't expect to come help at all showed up and put in the bulk of the work, so it all evened out. As I mentioned before, my husband and his brother worked their magic on the paloverde tree with our long strands of beads, risking limb and life for beauty, because those things are loaded with some wicked thorns! My coordinator took care of everything, basically. I gave her the general idea that I had for the "look" of the scene, and she passed the vision on. Everyone kind of came together with their own artistic license, and it worked beautifully. There were some funny moments trying to deal with the stiff wind that was whipping through the park, and the men worked mightily to string up a bed sheet at one end of the ramada as a sunscreen for the cake later in the day. It kept coming loose, so one of the guys would climb back up the ladder, shout, "Twine me!", and go to work implementing another method of keeping the bed sheet tied to the rafters. It worked... eventually.
"Twine me!"
Since the only thing I was allowed to do was roll silverware up in napkins, I took off while my minions were still decorating the park in search of cute underwear to wear under my dress. It occurred to me that morning that I had nothing special and fancy to wear, and I wanted something different than the usual, so off to the mall I went. However, everything was closed but Wal-Mart, because it was Easter Sunday. I never knew that everything shuts down on Easter like it does on Christmas, but it is apparently so. I ended up grabbing several pairs of cute panties in different sizes, just in case, and... apparently my butt is huge, because none of them fit. Like, none of the 6 pairs. That was disappointing.
My mom, who was doing my hair and makeup, came over to our friend's house where us ladies were all getting ready, except that she was late, because that's my mom. She did a beautiful job with my hair and makeup, but because of her lateness and the length of time it took to get me ready, we ended up having to skip our pre-wedding portrait sessions that we had planned. Our photographers were very chill and continually reassured me that being late was no big deal. After all they wouldn't start without me. (Um, being late actually is a big deal. For me, anyway. And I SWORE that my wedding would start on time! Which it did ^_^) So we missed the picture session, but we got to the park with a half hour until the ceremony was supposed to start, so we had time for a first look (which was pretty cute!), and then we mingled with our guests who had already arrived. I suppose that this is a little unorthodox, as many people seemed surprised to see me wandering around in my wedding dress, but I didn't even think about it until later.
She's joking, really. It was a posed shot. Convincing though, no?
I had both of my parents walk me down the aisle, because while my step-dad has really stepped up to be a father to me when I had none, my mom has been my best friend my whole life, and raised me all by herself for most of my life. She and my step-dad only got married 6 years ago. I actually wore the very same dress she wore when she married him. My step-dad's mother was dying of cancer at the time, so to honor her my mom wore a necklace that my step-gramma gave her. When I married in my mother's dress, I wore a necklace made out of a kilt pin that my step-gramma had given to my mom, who then passed it on to me. We kind of made a little tradition there, with the dress and the jewelry from my step-gramma, which I thought was very neat.
When we got to the head of the aisle, my parents handed me off to my groom, and I picked up my walking stick from the officiant, which I had decorated that very afternoon while getting my hair and makeup done. It's the one C bought for me the weekend before at the Renaissance Festival (so I wouldn't have to use my walker as much). I had been hoping to do the deed without any walking aides at all, but I realized the morning of the wedding that I would definitely need some support up there, as well as help walking. I was already dealing with a minor flare, just due to the stress of the wedding and having an influx of people from out of town, but the day of the wedding I awoke in some pretty severe pain. My parents helped me walk down the aisle, and my stick helped me the rest of the time, plus I was downing the upper limits of my pain killers. The neat thing is that most people thought the stick was just for decoration and didn't realize that I actually needed it! That was cool.
The ceremony, which we wrote ourselves, was only about 15 minutes long, and it included a Wax Sealing Unity ceremony, instead of the unity candle or sand. (Our officiant was gaga over our ceremony, by the way. He forgot to do it, but he had wanted to print out copies of the ceremony and have them available at the reception for people to take home. He just so appreciated how meaningful and personal what we put together was, not to mention well-written... which I'll take the credit for. ^_^) I had printed out our vows and one of our readings on a piece of paper, and then we melted two colors of wax together at the bottom of the page and stamped it with our very own wax seal, the Celtic knot of eternity. I couldn't find an actual seal that I liked, so I bought a leatherworking stamp and C assembled a handle for it. During the ceremony there was a place where I maintained the whole time that I was going to read a poem, all the way through to the rehearsal. However, I surprised him by having my guitar handed to me and singing "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. (The only people in on the surprise were a few people that I told, my friend who was in charge of the guitar, and our officiant.)
Twine me! Oh, I mean-- Ring me!
Actually, the order of things was this: song to C, the vows and ring exchange, the wax sealing ceremony, then the piece de resistance. C's best man/brother D was charged with guarding the wooden ring box with his life, which he did, and then handing both rings over at the appropriate time in the ceremony. In all actuality, he pulled the drawer from the box that held the rings and handed C the drawer.
After the pronunciation and the kiss, we scampered off to my husband's truck for a few minutes to ourselves, where quilts and pillows were set up in the bed of the truck for me to rest on. He had bought a celebratory can of Arizona Green Tea for us to split (our favorite beverage, hands down!), and that's what we ended up using for our toast. We drank out of a drinking horn that we purchased the weekend before at the same Renaissance Festival where I got my stick, but I did it wrong and accidentally splashed tea down the front of my dress. (The dress was fine.) Before the cake cutting or drinking horn toast, my grampa said a blessing for the food and for us as a couple, as I had asked him to, and it was very special for me. I wanted to include him somehow, since he has been my father figure for most of my life, and is basically just a very, very good man. I wanted to honor his role in my life, and I think that having him give the blessing captured that well. It meant a lot to him as well.
Catch sight of the ramen box in the background that the favors never got taken out of? LOL

The cake cutting was kind of funny, because C didn't realize that the ribbon around the cake layers was actual ribbon, so he was a little stymied at first while making the cut. He sawed through that sucker, though, and I fed him a bite of the "normal" cake while he fed me a bite of the "special" cupcakes that J had baked. (The "safe" frosting that I had picked up had been refrigerated as per label instructions for the week before the wedding, after I opened it for the cupcake test run. However, even after letting it sit out overnight it was still very stiff and congealed... so the girls used it as a sculpture opportunity and turned my cupcakes into full blooming roses! How cool is that?) Also, Mom outdid herself in creating TWO cake toppers for our confectionary needs. The first one, the one on the big cake, is one that I designed (sorta), but the second was a surprise to me that she brought with her. She used one of our engagement pictures, and believe it or not used the same heart-knot design around the border that I chose for our cake! And that without communicating about it in any way. Great minds think alike :) (Honestly, I wasn't happy with how they looked on our cake... Sloppy, I thought... but hey, I didn't pay for it, so I don't really care! It was a gift from C's dad and his lady.)
Karateeeee CHOP! (Seriously. That's what I was doing.)
While everyone ate, we had a giant inflatable 20-sided die for people to play with, and some rules to go with it. If you rolled an 11 or higher, the bride and groom would kiss. If you rolled a 10 or below, you had to go kiss someone else! Our good friend was supposed to do a fire breathing show during dinner, but it was too windy for him to perform. He did finally consent to do a little show right before we packed up to leave, but the photographers were already gone, so we only got video. It was pretty awesome, though.
My mom and my husband's brother read toasts from our absentee matron of honor and best man, a married couple, since the best man had joined the military and gotten shipped out the weekend before the wedding. That resulted in his wife and son (matron of honor and flower boy) moving to Texas two weeks before the wedding, which we were all sad about. Fortunately for us, my sister and my husband's brother were willing to stand up there with us as our wedding party. (We had a lot of issues with dearly beloved people not being able to come due to finances, health, school, or all three.) After the reception wound down, my husband and I and our families stepped aside to do those wedding portraits we had missed earlier. While we were doing that, all of our friends pitched in and packed up the decorations and tables and other miscellaneous items we had set up in the park, so that by the time the pictures were done, everything was more or less cleaned up. We were out of there by sunset, headed home to change and pack for our night in the fancy hotel room that I reserved with part of our budget. We stopped on the way home to get some sushi, still in our wedding clothes, and the employee manning the register freaked out. It was hilarious! He took a picture of us on his phone, and the owner (who we've gotten to know through our consistent patronage) asked if he could put us up on the restaurant's Fb page. We said sure. :)
I'm really glad that I have the pictures to look back on. While the day did go by fast, it wasn't a blur, but there were so many things that I just didn't see happen. For instance, while we were trying to light the wick on our wax during the sealing ceremony (during our very windy day, remember?), our officiant stood behind us and spread out his robe in an attempt to block the wind for us. I had no idea until someone told me about it, and then I saw it in pictures later! And the pictures spark memories and stories that might otherwise get covered in dust and forgotten.
Sneak attacked! :)
It was a really, really great day. So many things were different from what I had so carefully planned, and I'm grateful for that. It showed me that even when I "lose control" of a situation or hand the reins over to someone else... it doesn't mean that the world will end, or even that it won't get done well. In fact, so many things were done better than I could have done them myself. It was a valuable set of lessons for me, and it was wonderful to be so showered in love and good wishes from those that came together to make the day possible. It really was a group effort; even though I planned it, they accomplished it. I just got to sit back and watch. Oh, and eat cupcakes. And kiss my new husband. I got the good end of the deal, I think...
Also, having just been to another wedding... C and I found it near impossible to refrain from comparing the wedding we were at to our own wedding. I've decided that I love our wedding. As I said, many things were different than I had planned, but still... It was so much fun! It was bursting with personality. The wedding we attended was sweet, simple, and heartfelt, and I think it matched the couple pretty well. C and I, however, are not your average couple, and our wedding definitely reflected that. I have heard again and again not only how beautiful the wedding was, but much more frequently how much fun it was and how it was so "us". That's the thing that people remember, and that's what I remember. We did it our way, our style, and included the things and people that were important to us. That is what made my wedding day not only memorable but meaningful.