The past few days have seen a good friend post several Pink Floyd songs to his Facebook timeline, a news story on Roger Waters' unsurprisingly politicized concert tour and, just now, my iTunes essentially saying, "Okay, asshole, the universe is telling you to listen to the Floyd, so I guess I'll just put you back in cosmic line. Motherfucker..."
There are often reasons for why I choose not to listen to certain songs or bands at certain times. One reason is because of the memories associated with them. Another is because of the pain of musical empathy. Pink Floyd falls into that category, so I have to be careful of my mood and mindset before I partake of the auditory manna that is Pink Floyd.
What exactly is this thing I call musical empathy? Basically, it's when I feel the message of the music so deeply that I become that music. I got a double dose of musical empathy with Pink Floyd. Even though I'd heard their music before, I didn't really get into them until I was given a 45 RPM of 'On the Turning Away' by Uncle Michael in 1986. While I was reading an article in Rolling Stone about Pink Floyd, the next 45 that dropped on my record player just happened to be that record. I heard the song for the first time whilst reading about Syd Barrett's descent into madness for the first time. What are the odds? I felt his story so deeply, so jarringly, I felt like I was losing my mind.
It didn't help when, just a few months later, I would meet the man who would be my closest friend for 25 years, and he was very heavily into the band, particularly 'The Wall'. I saw the movie for the first time with him. We ended up memorising every single vocal noise on the album and the movie soundtrack. There were times when we'd spend almost every evening after work, watching and acting out the film, or just listening to the album and singing along. It was a beautiful time, but also a dangerous one, for me. I was too immersed in it all, and my first bad bout with depression occurred right around this time. It would be a few years before I was diagnosed with depressive disorder, but I think Pink Floyd awoke some long-slumbering serpent that may not have reared its head for a long time to come, if ever.
Do I regret my relationship with Pink Floyd? Only when my mood prevents me from listening to them. This past week has seen me in "one of my turns", so listening just wasn't an option, until today. So now I'm bingeing and it sounds and feels oh so very good!
The past few days have seen a good friend post several Pink Floyd songs to his Facebook timeline, a news story on Roger Waters' unsurprisingly politicized concert tour and, just now, my iTunes essentially saying, "Okay, asshole, the universe is telling you to listen to the Floyd, so I guess I'll just put you back in cosmic line. Motherfucker..."
Before I begin writing this, I want to make something abundantly clear: I am not actively suicidal. Suicidal Ideation is one of many joyful experiences served up by Depressive Disorder. So, let's get that straight. No need to call emergency services. I just need to purge all of this, so it doesn't go any further than unbidden flash thoughts.
After six hours of fitful sleep, my first thought when I woke up this morning was, "I'm thin enough now, I could walk to Rogers Bridge with Smidgen and Toby, and we could jump in the Middle Tyger River. That way, we'd never be a burden or worry to anyone ever again, least of all ourselves."
Off and on yesterday, as the funds just poured out for very damned little, I caught myself considering the peace oblivion would bring. I have placed strain on my family out here, and I'm being a pest to my friends and Tribe for rides and money. I've drug my two homebody furbabies all over hell and half creation to establish a relationship with my mother that never was meant to be. I can't eat properly, I'm always in pain, and honestly, I'm lonely. I feel like I've lost the ability to be (or act) normal in a social situation.
I've felt more like a throwaway than I have in months. And I know it's that damned chemical imbalance in my brain interacting with the uncertainty of my future, but being intellectually aware of what's causing it does not prevent it or alleviate it. I just have to work through it.
It truly is like having a monster living in your mind and, despite your efforts to stop it, it just continues to gnaw away at your will to keep the thing at bay. No one needs or wants a life in upheaval but, when it happens to someone like me, it can be a life-threatening situation. You become a threat to yourself. That's why so many people I know who have Depressive Disorder are hardcore about keeping certain routines. If you find a routine that brings you peace and doesn't rock your psychological boat, you're going to hold on to it with a fierce passion and, if that routine is upset, it can send you into a tailspin.
I'm in that tailspin right now, and I'm doing my best to pull up.
But I'm scared. And my feelings about losing Aunt Tudi aren't even trying to hide right under the surface. And it's gonna get worse before it gets better, because I'm going to have to bunk with Blake in the old house until I can find another place to live, which means she'll be calling me in the night. And it's that main thing that drove me to so much self-destructive behaviour before I left for California. To be back there even for one day is almost unbearable to imagine, but it's going to happen whether I want it to or not.
I feel like my solar plexus has turned into a gordian knot, and my heart is beating funny. My entire body is responding to the stress and depression, and I'm afraid I'm going to fall ill, when that's the last damned thing I need right now. I've already got a urinary tract infection that I'm trying to beat on my own, because I can't afford an urgent care right now.
What's worse is Smidgen's back leg weakness has magnified. I'm hoping it's just arthritis and the stress of travel making it worse, but she's old and I'm afraid it might be something more serious. And I can't take her to the vet. Of course, my mind instantly went there - that I'm going to watch her die because I was too sorry to take care of her. Why do I deserve to live when I can't properly make the lives of those I love have some measure of quality? If Smidgen dies, I am going to be beyond devastated, especially if I find out I could have prevented it somehow, if I had only done more or been more.
My helplessness cannot be measured. I'm doing everything within my power, including writing this, to make sure hopelessness doesn't also get to that point, because I'm not sure I'll survive it.
Not that it's been any big secret, but I barely posted in the Cliffs of Insanity this long time past because 2016 was essentially the year I attempted to jump off the Cliffs repeatedly. I've been in therapy...a lot. I've neglected myself, my friends, my responsibilities, and pretty much everything else. It is only until recently that I've found myself looking forward to the days I attend outpatient therapy, rather than trying to figure out a way to graciously bow out.
So, now, thanks to being a Conspiracy Theorist Hipster (i.e. I was a Conspiracy Theorist looooong before Alex Jones ruined shit for everyone), I'm not sure if the therapy is helping, as in I'm feeling better and more like myself, or if it's "helping", as in 2 + 2 = 5 thankyewwwwwblubbberblubberblubberrrr.
That said, before I get into the heavy shit I need to dump on whomever is unfortunate enough to chance upon it, I need to confirm with those who've known me for a while: what do you think? Four is the correct answer to the 2 + 2 question, yes? Or is my mathematics as shitty as ever? I leave it to you.
I haven’t done one of these in about 10,000 years, so let’s get this show on the road.
1. Full name: Tracy Angelina Evans
2. Nicknames: Tin, Tinhuviel, George, Darth Shriek
3. Birthplace: Asheville, North Carolina USA
4. Birthday: 10 September, 1967
5. Where Do You Live Now?: San Diego, California
6. Parent(s): Father Unit has passed. Mother Unit is here in San Diego.
7. Sibling(s): ZERO
8. Looks: Better off invisible.
9. Favourite Animal(s): Anything non-human, except for millipedes and centipedes. Like humans, they can go fuck themselves.
10. Favorite TV Show(s): Impractical Jokers, Better Call Saul
11. Favorite Kind(s) Of Music: Most everything but Country and Opera.
12. Favorite Movie(s): Sci-Fi, Unusual, Conceptual, Foreign
13. School: Some college, focusing on English and Veterinary Assistance
14. Future School: I’m too old for this question. The Chapel Perilous
15. Future Job: Testing new, effective sleep aids.
16. Boyfriend/Girlfriend: nah
17. Best Buds: I’m a bit of a hermit these days.
18. Favorite Candy: Milk Dud
19. Hobbies: Music, reading, writing
20. Things You Collect: Grudges, CDs, movies, moments in time.
21. Do You Have A Personal Phone Line: Yes
22. Favorite Body Part Of The Opposite Sex? The eyes and brain
23. Any Tattoos And Where Of What?: Red & Black Triskele on right hand, Green Shriekback logo on left hand, Mwanza Flat-headed Agama with green and blue hues instead of pinkish and blue.
24. Piercing(s) And Where?: not anymore
25. What Do You Sleep in?: clothing
26. Do you like Chain Letters: aw HELL NAW.
27. Best Advice: Reality is peripheral.
28. Favorite Quotes: Hope for the best, expect the worst. - Mel Brooks.
29. Non-sport Activity You Enjoy: sleep
30. Dream Car: A transporter
31. Favorite Thing To Do In Spring: Avoid the sun.
32. What’s Your Bedtime: Whenever I’m lucky.
33. Where Do You Shop: Wherever I can.
34. Coke or Pepsi: Cheerwine
35. Favorite Thing(s) To Wear?: Something loose that will allow me to blend into my surroundings.
36. Favorite Subject(s) In School: English and Creative Writing
37. Favorite Color(s): Green, Red, Black
38. Favorite People To Talk To Online: People with brains and a wicked sense of humour that has set them on the road to Hell.
39. Root-Beer or Dr. Pepper? Root beer
40. Do You Shave? I’m too old for that bullshit.
41. Favorite Vacation Spot(s): I don’t do vacations. My favourite place to BE is England.
42. Favorite Family Member(s): Smidgen
43. Did You Eat Paint Chips When You Were a Kid? WHAT?
44. Favorite CD you own: Currently Without Real String or Fish by Shriekback
45. The ONE Person Who You Hate The Most: Going with an old standard here and saying Pat Robertson.
46. Favorite Food(s)?: Potatoes
47. Who Is The Hottest Guy or Girl In The World?: I have a very short list.
48. What Is Your Favorite Salad Dressing?: Bleu Cheese.
49. When You Die, Do You Wanna Be Buried or Burned Into Ashes? I don’t care, as long as I end up on Craggy Dome.
50. Do You Believe In Aliens?: Absolutely.
51. If You Had The Chance To Professionally Do Something, What would You Do? I’m already a Professional Misanthropist.
52. Things You Obsess Over: Various artists, ideas, philosophies, theories, general weirdness
53. Favorite Day of the Week: Don’t bloody care.
54. An Authority Figure You Hate: The Feudal Mistress still tops the list.
55. Favorite Disney Movie: Bambi
56. What Is Your Favorite Season? Winter
57. What Toppings Do You Like On Your pizza? Cheese, with extra cheese, and cheese on the side.
58. Do You Like Your School Food Itself (As In The District Food): I never ate it.
59. If You Could Live Anywhere, Where Would You Live? Avebury, Wiltshire, UK
60. Favorite Thing(s) To Do On Weekends: Sleep, if I can accomplish it.
61. Favorite Magazine(s): Don’t have one.
62. Favorite Flower(s): White rose
63. Favorite Number(s): 5
64. Favorite Ice Cream flavor(s): Ben & Jerry’s Wavy Gravy
65. What Kind of Guys/Girls Are You Attracted to?: Dangerously intelligent, beautiful, talented, and hilarious.
66. What’s Your Most Embarrassing Moment? I inadvertently introduced myself to someone as his wife.
67. If You Could Change One Thing About Yourself What Would It be? I would be fearless.
68. Do You Eat Breakfast First Then Brush Your Teeth or Brush first ten eat breakfast: breakfast first.
69. Favorite Time of Day: Whenever I get to sleep.
70. Can A Guy and Girl Be Just “Best Friends?”: Why not?
71. Do You Ask The Girl/Guy Out Or Do You Wait For Them To Come To You?: I don’t go there anymore.
72. Do You Mind Paying For Sex? I never would.
73. What’s The Most Important thing In Someone’s Personality: Sentience
74. Do you have a pager or cell phone? Cell
75. Favorite Sport: Flambodious Butt-walking
76. What Was the Best Gift You Ever Received? Love
77. How Long Did This Letter Take You To Finish?: Not very long.
78. What Did You Listen To While Completing It?: Electric Light Orchestra’s Alone in the Universe.
79. Are you or would you like to be married in the near future (next 5 years)? NEGATIVE
80. Don’t u just hate how psychics never win the lottery? I hate it more than I don’t win the lottery. I hate psychics, especially the ones who claim to talk to your dead relatives. They’re grifters who should be drawn and quartered. The End.
As most of my longterm pals here on the Cliffs know, I underwent a Rouxen-Y gastric bypass operation on 22 March, 2004. For any newbies thinking of having the surgery or scoffing at me, thinking I took the easy route out, do not delude yourself that any part of it is a breeze. You have to go into it with the mindset that anything can go wrong, from your not surviving the operation, to your body developing health issues directly related to GBS. The procedure is a tool that you must be emotionally and psychologically prepared to use safely and correctly; otherwise, it would have been all for naught, and I couldn't imagine such a horrible end to what seemed like my last, best hope.
My surgeon, Dr. Paul Ross warned me that I would have excess skin and probably a lot of it. He explained that, as he understood it, no insurance company in South Carolina, be it workplace insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or anything like that covered that surgery. In SC, the skin removal was considered cosmetic and, if I decided I wanted it or I very much needed it to avoid constant skin infections, the surgery would be self-pay.I made my peace with that information and proceeded, because my genetic history combined with eating cheap and not wasting anything (this is one of the reasons why so many people at or below the poverty level are fatter than those with extra coinage.) had me hurtling toward an early death. And it wasn't just death. It was the constant pain I was in, especially my knees, and the vitriol I had endured from 1st grade and on through college. I wasn't in it to look good, because I never thought about my appearance. I'd had family and peers to keep me abreast of how "chunky" I was. The Paternal Grandmother Unit made my clothes, because we couldn't find outfits in the girl's department that would fit me. What few clothes we could afford to buy had to be found in the "Husky Boys" department. The last reason I wanted the surgery was my appearance. My self-worth as far as my looks were concerned had been eradicated years before I had ever heard of the surgery.
I had tried every diet then known, and nothing worked worked past the maintenance portion of whatever plan I trying. The screenings for GBS in the late 90s and early 00s were intense. I had to go through a bevy of tests and even talk to a psychiatrist, who as an utter prick. Still, I held in my knee-jerk reaction of weeping and shutting down. By the end of all poking, prodding, unprofessional antagonism, and appearing to be appropriately worshipful of the insurance company BMG offered, I was deemed a good candidate by the doctors. At the time, BMG offered Cigna Insurance, who refused to approve the surgery and told me to go to Weight Watchers for six months, then they'd revisit my claim. But, with the year change, BMG dropped Cigna and went with United Healthcare. The doctor sent UH all his paperwork, my current comorbidities - deteriorating knees, chronic pain, skin infections, clinical depression, and sciatica. Thankfully, I had not yet developed diabetes or heart issues, which were prevalent on both sides of my family. Within a week I was approved.
I made one promise to myself as I was wheeled into the O/R: No matter what happens, I will never regret getting this surgery. There have been moments of difficulty, over the decade since the operation, but I've never broken my vow. In early 2011, I was prescribed a medication the doctors said would help with my depression and insomnia. I can't remember the name. It worked for the insomnia for the first week, then I was back to square one. It didn't do a thing for my depression. They kept me on it for three months and in that time, I gained 60 pounds, despite my increasing my exercise and adding even more protein to my diet. I stopped the meds and was beginning to lose the weight I'd regained when Aunt Tudi died.
Since August 2011, I have not paid much attention to what I eat or if I eat. I lost the rest of the side effect's weight plus 20 more by doing nothing but lying in a foetal position on the love seat and watching reruns of Law & Order: SVU. And I did not stop losing weight. I ate whatever was available when I had any appetite at all. A lot of what I did eat just came right back up. There were days I just didn't even try. The only time I felt enthusiastic about anything was when I'd look at myself in the mirror and see how truly gaunt I was getting, because I wanted to disappear. I began to fall down a lot. There were times I couldn't even stand up. My blood pressure kept tanking out on me, and my anemia got worse, because I stopped taking any of my vitamins. I had 0 fucks to give, so why bother with any of it? In mid-August, 2012, I began vomiting copious amounts of blood and could barely raise my head. Aunt Janice had me rushed to the same hospital in which Aunt Tudi died. I couldn't even stand for an x-ray of my stomach, probably because my blood pressure was 62/35. I had developed an ulcer because I'd been eating aspirin for my Fibromyalgia, headaches, arthritis, and injuries from falling, even though I knew GBS patients are supposed to avoid that like the plague.
A few months later, at the end of February, I attempted suicide by taking all the meds I could find in the house and washing them down with Vodka. Obviously, I survived. I spent some time in the hospital and one of the doctors I saw was concerned about how ill I appeared and had some labwork done. Everything was fucked up. He asked me about my eating habits, and I told him the truth - that I ate when I thought about it, but I rarely thought about it. He asked if I was taking my meds properly, and I told him that I was not. I only thought about the day Aunt Tudi died, and I had no desire to engage in Earthly matters that always end up being senseless and not worth engaging in. He asked about my weight, since he knew I was a GBS patient. I told him about the medicine that made me speedily gain a lot back, but I'd since lost it all and more. When he asked how and I told him about my great invention, The Grief and Stress Diet, consisting of curling up on your love seat and watching TV without moving except to maybe go to the bathroom, he told me that what I had been doing and was still doing was attempting passive suicide. Those who engage in such behaviour usually don't realise that's what they're doing. They just want the world to stop, but may fear doing anything proactive to make their final dream come true, so they just stop. It's a slow, painful way to go, which is also a motive for those who feel they've irreversibly damaged someone or something they dearly love. It's a kind of capital punishment for the crimes they perceive they have committed.
So when I moved out here and found a physician, the first thing she did was draw blood and have me give a urine sample. It wasn't long before I was getting an urgent call to come in and see her. She wanted me to start taking vitamins again, and urged me to at least try some protein shakes, because I had let on that almost everything I ate, what little I ate, I usually lost shortly thereafter. She said that I was close to entering starvation mode, like an anorexic person, and I needed to do anything I could to pull myself back from that threshold. It mostly went in one ear and out the other. My teeth had already begun to feel the brunt of my vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and vomiting at least once a day, without fail. It has now gotten to the point where the doctor is demanding I come in once a month for a B12 shot and I must get labwork done every three months. She groused that I was just a hair away from Malapsorption Syndrome.
I'm trying to remember the things she told me I must do. I keep up with the calendar in typical OCD fashion, which is constantly. I'm still not eating as properly as I need to, but the extenuating circumstances are the issue in that matter, so it's not of my subtle slide into anorexic thinking. Still, though, I'm doing the best I can, and plan on getting a hotplate and pot and pan so I can properly cook vegetable dishes, now that I can actually chew. Yeah, my passive suicidal behaviours did in my teeth, which were never good, thanks to my dad's genes. There were complications in getting the dentures properly aligned so, after a year of eating soft food - mostly instant potatoes that I can whip up in my microwave - I can now begin to relearn how to chew with the faux fangs.
Another thing the doctor discovered after seeing I had gained over 20 pounds in two months, was that my thyroid had finally died. Having been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Syndrome back in the 90s, I knew this was going to happen eventually. Once I got on thyroid medicine, though, the weight has been coming off. My only exercise resource here is walking, but much of it is very hilly. The more I walk, the more my back feels like it's going to shatter. About that, I was also diagnosed with spondylosis that is pinching four discs in my back. My pain doctor mentioned month before last that she was glad to see me losing weight, as that would help take stress off the problem areas in my spine.
And I got to thinking... The medical care and programs made available to disabled people here in California are like the polar opposite of South Carolina, so I took the chance and called my insurance to see if panniculectomies were covered in my policy and, if so, how much the copay would be. As I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I was informed that the surgery has to be precertified and, if it were approved, my portion of the bill would be $264.
So, yesterday, I went to see this dude, one Dr. Jason Hess, to whom Dr. Denysiak had referred me. After an examination, he said he wouldn't see any problem getting not only a panniculectomy approved, but also an abdominoplasty, since the insurance I have has covered the surgeries for patients who had far less skin to get rid of. I should know in two weeks or less.
One more thing about the gastric bypass surgery and how my actions years later could have easily killed me. On the morning of 1 July, I decided to take a walk with Toby. Toby refused to cooperate, pulling out of his harness several times, so I brought him back to the house, then headed out again. But I forgot my water. Where I wanted to walk, though, a little convenience store with some Mexican name, has lots of water, and I figured that would give me incentive to reach my goal. En route, I found a homeless elderly lady working on her cardboard sign for the day. It wasn't even 10 and she already looked hot, miserable, and defeated. I didn't have cash, just my debit card, so I offered to get her something to drink and bring it back to her. She thanked me and assured me she'd be right where I initially found her.
I was gone for hours. I missed a turn somewhere - this neighbourhood is like a maze - my voice navigator wouldn't work, and the sun prevented me from seeing the phone screen. The only things I can recall about this adventure gone wrong is that, at one point, I collapsed in some shrubbery in front of an apartment building, and the tenants came out to see if I was okay. I told them I was, but I wasn't. I sat there for about 15 minutes, got up, and started calling for Toby, as I thought he'd run off. I remember a soccer field. I remember a dude who refused to give me any directions to a store or fastfood joint, just so I could pull myself together, and he told me I looked and acted like a drunk and to keep away from him. I finally swallowed my pride and called the Mother Unit, who sent Matt to try to find me. Eventually, miraculously, he did. I had walked almost 4 miles, making a wrong turn every time. I never saw the old lady again.
After that incident, I didn't feel right for a few days. I kept blacking out, I had to hold on to whatever I could when I made my way through the house or to the bathroom. I couldn't bend over without getting swimmy-headed, and then the Migraine from the Inner Ring of Hell came upon me and decided to linger for three days, leaving behind nausea and auras to keep me company for two extra days. Once I was able to look at the computer screen, I began hunting for reasons a person would suddenly become so confused, unbalanced, and feel as though a seizure was about to come on, and I found something very interesting. Apparently some people who have had gastric bypass surgery develop seizures a few short years afterward. Most of the time they are associated with hypoglycemia, which also causes a person to fall down more than stand up, and behave like an erratic asshole. Confusion is also a player in this Olympic team of NOPE. This could be why my neurologist has not found the cause of the seizures I started having 4 years and 4 months since my GBS.
Finding all this out, you'd think I'd give in and say I regret having the surgery. You would be wrong. The surgery allowed me to help Aunt Tudi more. I recovered swiftly from my knee replacement because I was half the woman I used to be. I'm no longer gawked at wherever I go (unless, of course, I'm acting like an escaped mental patient). I've gotten to travel, and hope to travel more. It has made it easier to go vegetarian and is the reason why I haven't had to get my right knee replaced before the preferred age of 50. Everything I do is much easier than it was before the surgery. I wouldn't be able to sleep on this wee bed with a cat and dog if I hadn't had the surgery. And if the surgery ends up having a hand in my death, I want the record to show that the malapsorption and defenciencies that may have led to my death were the result of my actions, or lack thereof. The gastric bypass surgery did not kill me; rather, the tool I chose to accept, I later used against myself, even though I didn't realise what I was doing at the time.
If I die, I die. There will be less of me to cremate after Dr. Hess has his way with me with Aetna's blessing. I hope I don't die any time too soon. Whenever and however I die, I shall do so with no regrets about the gastric bypass surgery.
The other day, I came across this article - and soon found myself in awe of the information the piece provided. It’s an image-heavy article, which means this post will also be image-heavy. I’m not copy-pasting the text, so I strongly suggest clicking this telling image to be taken to the full write-up, especially if you’ve had a breakdown, know someone who has had a breakdown, or you ever fell victim to one of my unexpected, late-night, inexplicable and incoherent ramblings via email, blog commentary, or any other method by which you and I maintain contact.
With each image that applies or have applied to my experience, I will share how it felt for me, if I suffered from the description in the picture. The first one here will show what will be behind the cut, should you decide to read further.
For me, this was not a sudden mindset, but a gradual one. In crises, I was always the one that held things together. I could switch off parts of my brain, and do what I needed to do at that moment in time. At the age of 12, I was the one who gave directions to the paramedics, when my great-grandmother had her massive stroke. Granny was a non-functioning, human-shaped manifestation of panic, and Aunt Tudi was frantically trying to get things ready for when the ambulance arrived to the point where, honestly, she was being a detriment to any progress we might could have had. It was only two days later that the upheaval found me, at which time I became non-functional for a period of time, just a few days. In times of turmoil, I realised I could take care of whatever situation I found myself, then release it all later in private. The only times I ever lost that ability was the night before Granny died in 1993. The doctors told us there was no hope, and she could die at any moment. Since Granny also helped to raise me, having lived with me all my life, I fell to pieces. But the next morning, when she died, I was cool as a cucumber. This was Aunt Tudi's mother, to whom she had been excessively close. This blow to her emotional well-being is something she never quite got over. I was the one who had to make Granny's arrangements, and I did so in a disconnected manner, devoid of bothersome emotions. Things needed to be done, and there was no one but me stepping up. I remember a cousin remarking that I had to be some sort of Vulcan, or just callous as hell.( Click this if you care to continue. )
(From a post made on The Vampire Relics' Facebook Page with some extra added mental meandering that happened after the fact.)
One of the themes that threads throughout all three books is that of Absolution (it's important because of the capital A!). I'm not referring to just Christian absolution but the essence of the word itself, sparking the human imagination to entertain the possibility, or feel secure in their faith to believe without question, that forgiveness for anything is possible. One of the sub-hives, the Hive of Redemption, established by Thiyennen, took the idea of absolution to a whole other crazy level with many of its members, including Thiyennen, resorting to behaviour seen in the travelling Flagellants during the Black Death. This twisted version of what may achieve absolution is studied in depth in The Augury of Gideon, when Thiyennen and his allies capture and imprison Cadmus Pariah.
Of course, all of this is only my opinion, and I respect and will aggressively defend your opinions on the matter, because that would be only fair. The nature of true absolution, in my opinion, partially based on personal experiences, is one of being accepted and loved for who you are, faults and all, and being able to return to a possibly simpler (as in uncomplicated) point in your life, when you could embrace wonder with abandon, and be shed of guilt that only serves to break spirits down rather than build them up. Absolution happens when you no longer accept such programming imposed on you from almost the point of birth throughout your life.
A song by Eliza Gilkyson, entitled 'Emmanuel', is very close to what I have believed in the past regarding redemption and absolution, and it still has an effect on my beliefs (or lack thereof in recent years). Superficially, the song would appear to be Christ-centered (this is different from Christianity-centered in my world, so just bear with me), it addresses the longing we all carry, regardless of religious or spiritual persuasions, to return home, or to the past, or to some place or state of being that existed before we think fell to the lies of shame and sin that weigh much of the modern world down. Even that storyline, documenting the spiritual enslavement of humanity, shows up in 'The Blood Crown', the fault of which is clearly placed at the Apostate's door.
The first time I heard the song, at work in 1993 (I was inspecting the CD the song is on), I listened to it from a Christian perspective, although I am not Christian, based on its title alone. Assumptions are easily made, are they not? When the words sunk in, my first interpretation was of a reality where the fallen angel Sammael is welcomed home by Emmanuel after going through incarnations of humans, animals, and even things (a rock, at one point!) before he could bring himself to revisit the music he had made prior to leaving in pursuit of the glories and tragedies on Earth. This interpretation dictated the last picture in the video.
The bigger story the song tells isn't one that heaps guilt, fear, and ultimately spiritual banishment if you don't toe a particular line on the listener; rather, it gives the message that, even after you've experienced and done all you feel you need to, both the good and the bad, the door will be open when you want to walk through it to whatever you believe is there ('What Dreams May Come' is an example of what I'm trying to communicate here). From that perspective, the song does not belong to just one faith. It belongs to all faiths and all levels of spiritual sentience, including Atheism, human and non-human. It is non-judgemental, and can be enjoyed on a purely secular level, particularly from a psychological viewpoint. Liking and agreeing with Carl Jung may help here, too.
I believe that's truly the only way absolution or redemption can be achieved. It's an acceptance and a presence of old knowing that we tend to lose in the physical realms, and many may perceive such acceptance and old knowledge to be an external phenomenon, which is completely acceptable, but I think it also is present within everyone and everything. All that said, even though my history with the song predates all three books, 'Emmanuel' is definitely a strong musical presence in 'The Augury of Gideon', considering both the song and book address the concept of cyclic returning so that healing may follow.
I believe that Eliza Gilkyson achieved something greater than all of us, including herself, when she wrote this song, and I think it's one that should be shared with as many people as possible, not as a means of conversion of any sort, but as a campaign to allow us to not only forgive one another, but to forgive ourselves.
The video is one of my much earlier attempts at movie-making, so please overlook the general sorry mess it is. The song is rare and the album it's on has been out of print for ages, so there's more people than not who have never heard it. My making the video was an attempt to rectify that crime against good music. One thing I did want to draw your attention to, regarding the video, is that the pictures used, with the exception of the last one, are all tapestries or tile mosaics in the Byzantine style, or at least that's what Teh Intarwebz told me when I started collecting images for the vid. Byzantine art was a major influence on the physical appearance of the Tarmi, specifically because of the eyes of the people in the art. If one did not know, one might assume that everyone in Byzantium had gigantic alien eyes and, as a teenager when I started mapping my personal myths, I got all caught up in the what-ifs that arose in my mind from studying the art. (And why hasn't Ancient Aliens addressed such possibilities yet?) Using these images for the video helped me tie in the importance of the song to my own mythologies.
So, if you're still with me after this godawful ramble, I hope you enjoy the song, and I encourage you to share it people who may benefit from the non-demoninational and/or secular message of hope that it is never too late to embrace the absolution sitting around waiting for you to pick it up. It's inside you already, despite what you believe or don't believe. You were born with it, it's still there, and it'll be there until you die, if you're an Atheist, or continue on with you, if you believe in the existence of afterlife and the many flavours in which such beliefs come available. Even if they don't need a message like that, but do appreciate good music (and who doesn't?), I feel the song would be a gift to them, as well.
If you want to learn more about Eliza, she has a website: http://elizagilkyson.com/
I also made second crap video using another song from the same album, this one focusing on any number of pagan histories after encountering invading religions, sung from the viewpoint of a priestess who lived such a history, but the song is specially focused on the Divine Feminine, as it is represented in the song by the catch-all Goddess name, Diana. It's called 'I Become the Moon' and it also had an effect on the writing of the Relics trilogy, especially 'The Blood Crown,' which features the Tale of the Blood Moon, whose narrative focuses on the triumph of the Apostate over the remnants of Tarmian civilisation, and the subsequent tragedy of humanity losing its way in the wilderness of the conquering magus' lies.
And if any of this inspires you enough to want to read the books, here's the link to them, for your continued convenience: THE VAMPIRE RELICS ON AMAZON.
Tracy Angelina Evans was born on 10 September, 1967, in Asheville, North Carolina, into a small family that had more in common with the Addams Family than the Waltons. Her father was a slightly off-center Jack of all artistic trades (radio DJ, photographer, writer, journalist, singer/songwriter, comic, and Japanese commercial actor - go figure), so it was convenient that his nickname was Jack. Her mother is a first generation Hippie, who adores artistic/crafty endeavours, reading, watching horror movies, and anything to having to do with nature and the animal kingdom. Her grandparents were Big Band Jazz musicians and singers (maternal grandparental units), painters and storytellers (paternal grandmother unit), and CIA operatives (paternal grandfather unit) in what was then West Germany. She was raised by her eccentric aunt, Tudi, and paternal grandmother unit in Asheville and, later, in Duncan, SC. She began artistic pursuits at the age of 4, when her grandmother told her to go draw flies. Too young to get the joke, her first pictures were of flies. The spiders came later to eat the overpopulation of flies. Webs were really fun to draw. She began writing animals stories around the age of 7, but switched to human-centered sci-fi stories at 13, when she heard the Electric Light Orchestra's album, Time.
Language and mythology became an important part of Tracy's education at an early age, and she was fascinated with religion. Early on, she wanted to be a preacher, but was told only men could do that. Then she wanted to be a nun, going around with a towel held to her head with a plastic mixing bowl to signify her cornette, but was told only Catholics could do that. Her mother was Jewish and her father was a non-practicing Southern Baptist, so the natural progression from these lofty origins, along with the dashing of original spiritual aspirations because of denomination and gender, is for the offspring to embrace Pagan and Pantheist philosophies, which became intertwined with her sci-fi sensibilities, the music prevalent in her life, and what little she could grasp of actual science, particularly physics and psychology.
In her junior year of high school, she chose to do a research paper on anti-Utopian societies, or Dystopian worlds, using A Brave New World and 1984 as the frame work for her paper. This turned her into a conspiracy theorist and affected the general tone of her writing from then on. During this time, too, she began building a personal myth around an ancient alien race that came to Earth before the rise of humanity. Part of the process of this creation was the invention of a new language, based loosely on the Indo-European family of languages with a hint of Finno-Ugric. (How, really, did two countries so far apart from one another end up sharing a root language, anyway? Finland? Hungary? What say you?)
At the age of 19, Tracy's genuine love of music, combined with her knowledge of a wide variety of musical genres, gave her the opportunity to work in the music industry starting in 1987. She left Wofford College to pursue this career. For almost a decade, she literally (using the correct definition of the word) got paid to sit and listen to music, during which she was allowed to read, write, draw, or anything else that did not deter from her job in the quality assurance department of what was then BMG/RCA Music Service. Another nine years with the company saw her going into music promotions, which drove her clinically mad.
Her Tarmian mythology got a metaphysical shot in the arm when Tracy began studying ancient Pagan religions and dabbling in the then still fresh New Age philosophies in 1990 and going forward.
Also in 1990, she discovered what would become her favourite music band, Shriekback. They would end up having a profound effect on every aspect of her own artistic endeavours. Thanks to her entering the virtual world of the Internet in 1998, she got to eventually meet some members of the band, and help to promote them and their music since 2000. They were kind enough to allow her to use lyrics from their songs as chapter lead-ins for her books.
After the death of her aunt in 2011, Tracy moved to San Diego to be closer to her mother, taking with her, her non-human friends Smidgen (a giant cat with a partially erect furry penis for a tail) and Toby (an obnoxious deer Chihuahua who had been abandoned at the veterinary hospital for which she briefly worked as a Vet Assistant), her music, book, and DVD collections, a few clothes, and her computer.
She is quite active online, maintaining a 12-year-old blog on Live Journal, called The Cliffs of Insanity, and sharing amusing and/or infuriating bits of info and images on her Facebook page. Besides writing and devouring copious amounts of music, she enjoys drawing badly, and is trying to learn how to use an art tablet. She also loves to read, watch movies (any genre but romance), make videos for You Tube (some vids for Shriekback, some vids to share songs that might not otherwise be available, like the more obscure Celtic folk tunes of Dougie MacLean and Talitha MacKenzie, and some funny bits and bobs, like The Tim Roth Tutorials), going to drum circles on the weekend to work out her djembe and get a contact high, and enthusiastically waiting for the End of the World. Over the past few years, comedy has also become of great import to her mental health. There's a reason why we have the cliché "laughter is the best medicine."
Tracy has a strong affinity for non-human Earthlings (camelids, reptiles, birds, and mantids, in particular) and was involved in cat rescue for some time in Duncan, SC. At one point, she was seeking homes for about thirty cats she had tamed and nursed back to health, earning her the title of Crazy Cat Lady in her neighbourhood. (All the cats were re-homed.) She has worked to rehabilitate many species, including a hypoglycaemic hummingbird, a family of opossums to whom she gave epic Nordic names for no reason whatsoever, and a variety of lizards. She is in love with a planet she sees aching under the yoke of human oppression, and would do anything to see that change. She claims to be a professional misanthrope, which is most often channelled into Cadmus Pariah, but she likes you. To the best of her knowledge, her lineage includes Welsh, Scottish, English, Jewish, Dutch, Hungarian, African, and Cherokee genes, making her a class A mongrel.
After years of change and countless reassessments of her belief system, Tracy is now more comfortable with the concept of Jungian archetypes and how they are recurring themes throughout human history. As it stands at the time of this writing, she's working on a fourth Vampire book, she's still a diehard Star Wars/Star Trek sci-fi/fantasy nerd, an apostle of JRR Tolkien's and Robert Anton Wilson's, an opinionated grouch, and a constant victim of synchronicity, which tends to spread the wealth of weirdness with anyone in close proximity. She has a short list of heroes that include Jeff Lynne, Carl Jung, Barry Andrews, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Starhawk. She is also one of the 14 remaining people on Earth who dislikes Joss Whedon and that for which he stands, and has actually lost friends because of her opinion. If she had her druthers, Tracy would move to Avebury, Wiltshire, and groove on the ley lines' vibrations for the rest of her life.
She's absolutely certain that she is uncertain about everything, and that is most certainly a statement loaded with uncertainty.
At Buckingham Palace in 2006.
Over the past couple of months, I've been trying to make sense of why I tend to rapidly bounce between agony and rage. And I have decided that the rage is a side-effect of the agony. It is an act of self-preservation.
All my life, I've been able to sense the feelings around me, and when I was introduced to TV, that sense extended to the people and animals I saw in shows and news stories. I emotionally participated in the joys and sorrows that were brought to my attention, and it was usually a good experience. Sometimes, though, an indefinable ache would impose itself on me when I would see people or animals suffering in some way, if only emotionally. And that ache tended to linger long after the experience itself. It never truly left, but it would just get bigger and stronger with subsequent events that added to it.
This ache would also impose itself on the more positive feelings I tried to enjoy when emotionally linked into my environment. After the nasty break-up of the Parental Units, which kept me in a kind of limbo, both physically and mentally, it became harder for me to grasp onto the good feelings and embrace them simply for what they were, without the ache encroaching on them.
So, around the age of 7, I began to avoid anything that might pique an emotional response. It would be a few years later when I'd learn the word stoic, but that was exactly what I was striving for, a sublime state of stoicism. To a certain degree, I was rather quite successful in my efforts. I avoided anything that might threaten too much emotion, and I sought out people, situations, books, art - anything - that would encourage nothing but positive reactions.
But, with the death of the Paternal Grandmother Unit in 1993, a crippling blow to my stoic defense left me exposed in a way I had not been since 1974. I was still young in my Wiccan Tradition, and had been regularly opening myself up to psychic possibilities, especially when participating in Circles. That combination threw me deeper in the emotional experience than I had ever been. I found myself struggling to read news stories of what was going on in the world. And many accounts of animal abuse I might accidentally stumble across on TV or in the press would leave me incapable of function on any level. I'm not exaggerating. There were times when I was physically violently ill, trapped in the bathroom, repeatedly vomiting.
Since then, it's only gotten worse, and my practice of stoicism has been, and continues to be, lacking merit in fortifying my emotional keep. In 1999, I gave myself the permission to get angry. And I've never looked back. If there's such a thing as stoic anger, I have it. In spades. It could be described as a cat in self-defense mode: standing still, muscles clenched, puffed out to look bigger, and vocalising her displeasure. A lot of it is false bravado, but some of it can only be described as an assurance that, if pushed too far, she will take an eye out with her claws.
Since 2011, though, I've had to step up my objections to the pain and suffering in the world. Instead of enjoying a little bit of "down time" with stoicism, I find I have to maintain a low level of anger just to be able to function. My default setting is seething, and it can be exhausting. Fortunately, humour can come to the rescue, and often does! But, when I open up my newsfeed on Google or Yahoo, simple headlines can throw me into despair. I can't watch shows or movies that even hint at animal abuse or atrocities inflicted upon a human or humans by other humans. The ache never fully goes away and the seething is there to keep me from losing what little mind I have left.
I often find myself wishing I were a full-blown sociopath or a psychopath, because I envy their inability to empathize. When people wonder why I rage against so much, I hope they realise that the rage is a side effect of empathy, a defense mechanism.
Sometimes, anger is the only thing that keeps me from killing myself.
But he told me a few sessions back that, that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to lose control. He wanted me laid bare, so we could build on something healthier for me. He wanted me to do the exact thing I did not want to do.
So, yesterday, late in the afternoon, it was getting dark, and I was preparing to get Toby into the house, which I did. Then I double checked that Smidgen was on her usual throne, my bed. Everything seemed in order.
But then, leaving the beasties in my room, I came back out and began to frantically search. I called out Chester's name two or three times. Matt, who was going up the stairs, stopped and asked me who Chester was. I was kicking myself both emotionally and mentally, but I "manned up" as "they" say, and tried to explain to Matt that Chester was the Yorkie who used to live with Aunt Tudi and me, and later on just me. And I explained to Matt, I had no idea why I looking around so frantically for a dog that had passed just a few weeks before I left for California. Matt found this extremely funny and said something along the lines of "your dead dog won't come, no matter how much you call for him." He was literally guffawing, and called to the Mother Unit what had just happened.
I just turned around, went into my room, and closed and locked the door. And I cried as though my heart would break. It was the first thing I did when I woke up at 2 AM, then later in the morning when I saw Matt.
Dr. Harrington asked how I came to have Chester, and wanted to know how he died. I explained to him about Winston dying in Aunt Tudi's arms when we went to visit him at Dr. Patch's. I've never seen her so attached to a dog, and I wanted her to have the chance to be blessed with such feeling again. I searched the sparse rescue homes in the Upstate, but no joy. I finally found a breeder about 30 miles away from me. Aunt Tudi picked the pup for her, and we spirited the bundle of joy home.
He was Aunt Tudi's xmas and birthday gift that year. As I was trying to tell the doctor everything that had happened, and how devastated I was to first, be stupid enough to call a dog that was no longer alive and second, the scenario turned into fodder for Matt's ridicule.
The entire time I was telling Dr. Harrington this, I was crying as though my heart had broken. And this made me feel even worse, that I was crying so hard over Chester in front of anyone. It was as if I placed more loss and grief over him, than I ever did Aunt Tudi. The doctor asked me if I had ever heard of transferance. Of course I had. The dictionary definition is: Psychoanalysis: the shift of emotions, especially those experienced in childhood, from one person or object to another, especially the transfer of feelings about a parent to an analyst. And he just looked at me for a moment.
"You know where I'm going with this, don't you?"
"That subconsciously placed all my hidden emotions and grief onto a dog that was brought to our home specifically for Aunt Tudi."
He just smiled, and I apologised for bubbling. He reminded me that this was exactly what I needed to do. Well, this made me cry even more. He made it quite apparent that with the one brick of stoicism metaphorically weakened by recent emotional upheaval, we could get down to some brass tacks As he was talking me down, though, he asked why I hated so badly to cry, especially in front of anyone else. I told him that the stock answer for bullying those days was the "sticks and stones" mantra. And if anyone did pick on me, avoid contact and never, ever cry, because the bullying would get worse. I learned to keep my head down, avoid eye contact.
He told me that I've been internalising shit a very early age and now, it's time to purge myself of emotions and grudges, or else I would implode. I told him about the writers' group and the walk around Mission Valley, whatever the hell that is. I'm also going to a writers' group.
We talked a bit more about my rampant misanthropy, and how I could feel like I do, but like individuals. Still, though, we are part of the problem on this planet and, if even one human survived it could well proliferate the virus again. He wanted to how just one person could this. In one word - parthenogenesis. So he asked for clarification about how I want the world to end, that surely I would want to be on the planet, and not have to deal with people any longer. I explained that I wasn't keen saving the planet for myself. I was keen on our species exiting the Terran stage. That we were a bad experiment living in a petrie dish some intern forgot to dispose of.
That's all I can think for now, but it is pretty intense nonetheless. More soonsoon
I go back to him in two weeks.
I'm going to try to change this, mainly setting up a journal that Dr. Harrington can read at his descretion. I doubt that many, of not any, journal entres make their way here. Honestly, I'm thinking of trawling the many entries I've made here since 2002. Maybe with this "secret;" the bird debacle will make the grade, as will this pseudo, as will my full intention to get over these problems, and turn my eyes to Paul and Amy. can help by just ache for her, and ho she's alightl
In other self-incriminating info news, I have joined a small a San Diego hiking group. Matt and the Unit wanted in on the action. So, we'll see. Five miles used to be nothing to me. I'll probably fall and bust my head open like a fresh egg.
I am also seeking out a writers' group. I need to get out of this house more. I have options, unlike in South Carolina. Despite my rampant misanthropy, I fully admit that contact with my own species could very well therapeutic.
He has finally finally finally changed my meds. I've been taken off the zombie meds that have crippled my writing muscles. I am now on Cymbalta. He asked me about any manic states I may have experienced in the past few years. Although few and far between, I have experienced them. So I told him about them. He seems to think I may be on the depressed side of bi-polar, so he's trying me on Lamictal as well. And he gave me Seroquel to help me sleep. We'll see how that works tonight.
All in all, I like this doc. He's soft-spoken and listens. And it doesn't hurt that he looks like Walter from Fringe. Not one bit. What can I say? I'm strange.
Your result for The Are You A Sociopath? Test...
Egad! You're 72% sociopathic!
You exhibit a couple of the traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder (Unremorseful; Blameful of others; Manipulative and conning; Affectively cold; Socially irresponsible; Disregardful of obligations; Nonconforming to norms), but unless things get worse it's probably not anything to worry about. Keep in mind, however, that some of these traits are also characteristic of other personality disorders. You're not off the hook yet.
I should mention now that this test is inherently flawed, due to the fact that someone who was a true sociopath or psychopath would not be telling the truth on an online test.
paisleydaze, your turn!
Jilldo is an inspiration, as a wordsmith and also as a treasurer of the Imagination. Of all the ficlets she has shared with me this is, by far, my absolute favourite. Click the linked paragraph. That's not a suggestion. It's an order.
The doctor had a long wooden dowel in hand, which he used to rattle one of the chains. slowly, JD raised his head and stared not at the doctor but at me. I gasped slightly, forgetting myself for a moment. His eyes were startling, like a kaleidoscope. His stare was intense, like he was looking right through me. Suddenly, all I could hear was the sound of my heart beating as his eyes bore into mine. In an almost slow motion, the corners of his mouth turned up into a smile.
I am in a dark place and I'm trying to salvage what I can by withdrawing. I tend to self-destruct when in this frame of mind. I burn bridges. I burn everything. Later, sometimes, I regret my actions. I know enough about myself to know when it's wise to lay low before I just raze everything to the ground.
I remember once, when I was a kid living in the A-frame chalet in Black Mountain, I felt the Bleakness on my soul and I decided to cheer myself up by throwing my balsa wood airplane from the second floor loft and watching it circle slowly to the floor below. I saw where I was doing no wrong; however, Granny expressed displeasure at this activity. Instead of just stopping, I went to the most remote are of the chalet and proceeded to transform my airplane into toothpicks. I couldn't go outside and fly it because the neighbourhood was not the best in the world. I couldn't fly it indoors. What was the point in having it. And, even as it broke my heart to watch my plane reduced to tiny pile of shredded wood, I could not stop myself from destroying it. Why keep it? It was of no use to me and I obviously could not let it be what it needed to be: an airplane. The only logical course of action was to get rid of it.
Throughout my life, I've transformed various figurative balsa wood airplanes into smouldering piles of toothpicks. I've almost always regretted it later, but it never stops me from going there when I become of a mind. What usually triggers it is the feeling of uselessness or hopelessness. If the plane can't fly, just ground it....permanently. Right now, that airplane is me. I don't see where I serve any viable purpose anywhere. I'm frustrated on the publishing front and wonder why I even bother to continue seeking out an agent. One of my literary heroes, Russell Hoban, whose heavenly written voice is sadly barely known in his country of origin, had to leave the US and move to England in order to ever have a hope of a writing career. I have no such option.
The more I observe the ebb and flow of current events, the more it seems obvious to me that I'll always be here in South Carolina, surrounded by people who view me as an aberration, a freak of nature. And, what's so desperately depressing about this is, I know there are people out there of like mind, people who share with me an uncanny world view, and I will never have the opportunity to enjoy any level of friendship with these people. I seem destined to live out my days alone and misunderstood in one of the worst possible places on the planet for someone like myself.
What I have to do is come to grips with this fact of life without destroying the few balsa wood airplanes I've been lucky enough to borrow. There's nothing that I own but a handful of characters no one cares to read. And everything else is so unimportant as to go completely unnoticed at worst, or held in vague disregard at best. I'm weary of the same story playing itself out in my life as time marches on. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a lesson to be learnt from the repetition at all or if it's just some cosmic joke whose punchline is utterly lost on me.
And people wonder why it is I get excited about 12/21/2012.
Guess it's time for me to be labeled. Please proceed.
So, to continue on with my obvious self-importance, I'm now posting pictures that I have taken over the past few days. Happy viewing!
( lookie here )
In closing, I'd like for someone to explain why I find the new Doctor so irresistible when there's not a thing about him that should be attractive in the least.