juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Just got back from a week in Corvallis, a longer than average trip because I caught a cold on the way down. It was pretty minor, in large part because I had Devon to look after me and didn't try to travel while sick. I was nervous when I developed symptoms because I'm never great at dealing with adversity but I'm particularly shit at it right now, so I'm thankful. Unfortunately, finding ways to sleep with congestion has done a number on my back and I imagine I'll be recovering from that for a while.

My parents were out of town by the time that I was well enough to visit the house, but I did stop by to pick up a bag of Liberty apples (a tradition; these are my favorite apples in the world) and this year's crop is phenomenal, firm and tiny—I find the smaller fruits to stay firmer longer, be more flavorful, and be an ideal serving size.

While I was there I had a nice long talk with my sister; we haven't talked in person since her diagnosis, so the conversation was long and weighty and hugely reassuring. She's halfway through chemo, and has run into most of the predictable issues but none of the big and dangerous ones. I've always had an unshakable faith in her ability to deal with this, and that's not something that I say lightly: it's something that I know I couldn't deal with, not right now and maybe not ever; I believe that praising a sick person for their strength and bravery can easily slide into the realm of the problematic and belittling. I have a lot of predictable, essential anger at the whole Cancer Thing: it isn't fair and she shouldn't have to be strong—but she is: she has an intense capability and self-control and will, she's giving nurses and doctors What For to ensure she gets the treatment she needs and is able to continue to work and live as she wants to, she's dealing with intense emotional burdens with great aplomb. I'm proud of her and it was nice to have the chance to say so.

All that she's been dealing with also makes me confident in my decision not to get tested at this time, because I cannot do what she is doing.

I was also fairly honest with her about how I've been, which was—well, it was weird. Weird and pleasant, I mean; it fit the situation and felt good to share. But I tend not to be forthcoming about my personal life/health issues with my family, and there's something about the sentence "sorry, I've been too busy being sad to be present and supportive while you were diagnosed with cancer" which triggers every anxiety about the veracity/severity of mental illness.

I'm at ~4.5 months with this major depressive episode, which is by far the longest episode I've had since I dropped out of school; I'm sure that what's been going on with my sister has contributed to its longevity. The day-to-day experience is somewhat more tolerable than it was at onset, but I'm so worn down that it barely matters.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
At the risk of jinxing myself again: a little better day by day. Today I cleaned Kuzco's cage and came down for dinner, which is actually an improvement, and I feel like a living Amanda Palmer song (let's, er, ignore the slideshow). I'm also in a wrist brace for repetitive stress issues (just the right for now, but the left should kick in soon if pattern follows), but an anti-inflammatory has helped reset the back pain, which probably helped to alleviate my mood; bless Devon for forcing me to take one. Good is relative—three spoons instead of none—but, aside from my usual if-I-were-really-depressed-then-I-would-never-feel-better emotional veracity/self-doubt anxiety, any good is welcome. Maybe someday soon I'll be able to figure out what day it is and/or wash my hair.

I've been sleeping crazy hours (no really Juu you don't say), which is disturbing August's schedule. She still sticks to me like my own small shadow—except much fluffier. A few early mornings ago I drifted out of a doze with a cat pressed to my chest, warm and soft and full of purrs, nudging and snuggling me until I was awake enough to check the time and serve her a slightly belated breakfast.

So some of this, some of that, I guess. The idea that this too shall pass raises my hackles for too many reasons (first above all at this particular moment is the above anxiety of emotional veracity), but it's still true. Misery, and a warm black cat. It could be worse.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I felt the turnaround in this cold at around 5a last night. Sleep is the hardest thing for me when I'm sick: I'm never a strong sleeper, lying down aggravates my congestion, elevated sleeping positions aggravate my back pain, and the less sleep I get the longer my illness lingers. Last night I had crazyick dreams, which I guess is no surprise. I went back to college again, rooming in a triple that was located above a library and lecture hall—which sounds really quite lovely, but for some reason you could only get to the dorms by climbing a long, steep staircase through the very middle of the lecture hall, and then going through a tunnel that opened into the low-ceiling third floor dorm. I woke up for a bit, threw an internal tantrum that I'd had another college dream and really couldn't my subconscious at least try to be original, and then forced myself back to sleep. My dream resumed; I was going to my first day of class, but while everyone introduced themselves to the professor I used my turn to throw a bitchfit about how none of this mattered because I was planning to drop out again ASAP, because this was just another one of the stupid, redundant stress dreams that I get whenever something's wrong.

Then the professor stole Devon's car and drove it into a wall and laughed at us, because now we had no way to leave and I would be forced to continue school.

I don't even know, man. My dreams are always like this: as stressful as they are intricate as they are fucking weird.

I woke up after the second bout with the dream and could breathe again. I'm hardly all better, but I'm miles beyond the extreme congestion, irritated sinuses, and lingering cough of yesterday. My lymph nodes are barely even sore—likewise my eyes and the bridge of my nose. I'm still sniffly, but I can breathe. It was a distinct and blessed turnaround, and while I shouldn't jinx it by pushing myself to hard—I foresee a movie and a nap in my future—I am nonetheless having a small, non-exhausting celebration. I'm still sick, but at least I'm recovering now.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Do you remember back at the beginning of the year when I got sick for the second time and was like "wow, this is unusual, how about it NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN?"

Man am I having the worst sort of déjà vu.

So I sort of feel like death on a stick; whatever. Last night I watched Heavenly Creatures (based on the Parker-Hulme murder), and it amazes me that it took me so long to discover the film: the style is comically overblown but the acting strong, which more or less evens out; the content is so perfectly to my taste that it's almost disturbing. It's the very definition of an unusually intimate relationship, with consequences that are at once understandable and incredible, sympathetic and adolescent and terrifying. The film itself is fantastic, if you're me, but now what I really want is the story behind it—or, to be precise, I want to read Pauline Parker's diaries. I'm not particularly interested in the true crime, court case elements of what happened. I want the personal, private, subjective story—I want that sort of true. The diaries haven't been published in full, however—and only a fraction of them remains, after the originals were destroyed post-trial. There's excerpts and plentiful commentary, and I may poke at that when back in Portland* and can read comfortably on my laptop (and breathe through my nose at all, and sleep through the night, and do other things that make reading easier), but what I really want is that whole story, that personal retelling, and it disappoints me that it's not available.

For now, while I recover, I think I should find another movie. I hope it's half as compelling to watch.

* Oh, hey, I'm in Corvallis for a few days, for a belated Father's Day visit home and because Devon won't be coming up next weekend so we thought we'd spend a few extra days together here. If there's a plus side to this cold thing, it's that this house smells perfectly fine when you can't smell anything at all!
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I've been plagued by a bit of a cough these last few days, edging towards a bit of congestion. So far it's mild and brainfog-free, but for those of you keeping score at home that makes for five fucking assorted illness so far this year. Back when I never left the house I used to max out at one a year, maybe, if it was a bad year. This, my friends, is ridiculous. We didn't even do anything this time! It's been a quiet week. I started exhibiting symptoms before our one real social-event-featuring-children. We didn't even go in a toy store! I don't even know anymore.

But that's not why I'm writing.

I love Practical Magic the movie—that wonderful combination of magic and wish fulfillment, humor (which actually works for me), strong characterization and strong female characters, setting-as-character, fluff and heart but something wry enough to keep it from being sap. I did not particularly enjoy Practical Magic the book, which may not be its fault (I picked it up second, and have an unshakable bias to what I encounter first) but is nonetheless true—it lacked the film's heart, it was a bit bitter, and little of it stuck with me. In fact, this sort of material is something that I rarely look for in books. Garden Spells was a fun little read, but I tend to have less patience for, or interest in, fluff in my reading material.

Right now, however, I'm sort of craving it. But this is hardly my area of expertise. So:

Recommend me some books that feel like Practical Magic the movie, if you would! Maybe a New England or Southern setting, maybe a remarkable rambling house; probably some strong, or at least well-developed, female characters; the sort of fantasy and magic that makes you want to light candles and plant lavender for luck: maybe not all fluff, but certainly a bit idealized, maybe something like you wish Wicca could actually be; perhaps a little light and funny and feel-good, but maybe a bit incisive or irreverent or dark to balance that out.

It does occur to me that even if Practical Magic the book didn't work out, other Alice Hoffman novels might satisfy this witchy-woman book craving. Is there an ideal place to start with her work, or a specific book that would best fit these qualifications?

Crossposted here on [livejournal.com profile] bookish.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I have been having one hell of a roller coaster ride over here man let me tell you.

Devon was up on Saturday, but didn't stay until Sunday because he's fighting some sort of cold/allergy/sinus infection thing of ick. It was fantastic to see him and I spent half the day in tears. So I said that Portland and I have unfinished business. Devon-long-distance and I have unfinished business and Whitman and I have unfinished business too, and this last week has been a particularly strong reminder of all of that. Normally I have a poor memory, which I may call a pain in the ass but actually rely on to protect me because as it turns out, the last (oh say) ten years of my life? really not worth remembering. This last week has been nothing at all like those years, but there's been so much emotional turmoil that sometimes it's hard to tell, and...

It's just that I remember it all.

Examples wouldn't help you or me—because they aren't your memories, and because fuck no I do not want to dwell on them. But all of it, everything about my time here in Portland, everything about seeing Devon this weekend, reminds me of something else, some random thing that I've done a perfectly good job of forgetting these last few years. Not every memory is awful, but each one is tied a past that is, and so all of it, even the nostalgia, it fucking hurts and scares me.

But after Devon left, Dee hung out with me in the living room for a few hours and we just talked. I talked, I rambled, I touched on some of why this is so difficult and scary, and it was distracting and cathartic and wonderful bonding time. I didn't have to ask for it, I don't know if I expected it, but—ah, this is what friends do, isn't it? They're there for each other. That's still a revelation for me, a surprise—that I have friends; that this is what that means. On Sunday we went walking, in the glorious and gentle overcast weather, we went to Starbucks and poked at awesome stores and had that sort of perfect day where you do exactly what you want, purely because you want to, and come away feeling satisfied, which is no small thing. At night we watched The Dark Crystal and it was fucking fantastic. These things surprise me, too. Happiness always does.

And then today I thought I'd ride on that high—the high of discovering that Devon can leave without the world crashing down upon my shoulders, the high of having loved ones and being happy—by writing a book review and making dinner and attempting my version of productivity, and instead I was singularly nonfunctional and after a mini-breakdown I just decided to lock myself in my room and pretend I didn't exist anymore, at least for a few hours, and ain't that just the hallmark of mental fucking health. It's hard for me to talk about these things with her—to talk about the wild ride of the brain crazies, because I find it difficult to work these things out in words; to explain the effect they have on me and why I don't want to leave my room, because I fucking hate to admit the truth about myself because I just don't like that truth very much, you know? And so I repay her love by being the bad non-communicative friend ... but on the flipside I come out feeling a little better, a bit more prepared to try again.

I feel it all I feel it all
I feel it all I feel it all
The wings are wide the wings are wide
Wild card inside wild card inside

Oh I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll be the one to hold the gun

I've sort of flayed myself alive here: I've opened myself up to the thin air and it hurts like a motherfuck, believe you me. And when I see in there, I don't like it all. It's almost enough to make me wish I didn't know it was there. But I did this to myself and so I can't regret it—and not just because I don't want to look like an ungrateful coward, unhappy even when she gets what she wants; but because I did it because I wanted to. I want this opportunity and this pain. I want to work things out and embrace these new experiences and give myself the chance to become myself. (I want the dog days to be over, if you will.) That doesn't make it any easier, though.

I love you more
I love you more
I don't know what I knew before
But now I know I wanna win the war

So it's been an intense couple of days is all I'm saying. And beautiful. And awful. And intense.

And I think I caught Dev's cold thing.

P.S. Sometimes in the process of writing all these things out I manage to resolve them, at least a bit, at least temporarily, in my head. Almost all the time I manage to tire myself out. That can make my replies to comments absent and/or slow. But those comments are still so welcome and productive and beloved, and I don't want anyone to think otherwise, even if I can't always express it.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
So it seems that the teenagers were recently hanging out here has they recovered from some sort of shared illness. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I'm sure as fuck aware of it now because I've been sick again for the third time since the year started—stuffy ears and to a lesser extent sinuses, dense brainfog, and a wracking cough that will not quit. It feels like someone poured cement in my ears and let it set up in my skull. So that's fun, as they say in sarcasm land. It came at a bad time, piling up on some other physical woes (back problems in particular, wherein my back made it as hard to sit or stand as my cough made it to lie down) and sending me into something of a funk. It and I are both somewhat better now, but if I've seemed quiet, now you know why.

One day, maybe some day soon, I will make an LJ post that is not primarily concerned with my health.

I've been going through a bit of a dry reading spell lately, but made a library run (and finished a particularly meh book), so that should help. I've been watching Durarara!! with Express (or at least I was until I fell behind—I should catch up soon) which has been singularly entertaining—both to go back and have a thousand "ah hah!" moments as I learn that everything that seemed confusing the first time, damn near everything at all, has meaning; and to watch someone else form theories and break out the capslock for that crazy awesome show. I'm nearing the end of Pokémon Black, and procrastinating said end as always. So: same old, same old, thereabouts or so.

Some day soon I should think about a major clean, sorting, and semi-packing as I start to look towards spending significant time in Portland. Some day soon I should ... go spend significant time in Portland. I am many book reviews behind (three, now? more?). I've been pretty damn unproductive. Today though I think I might watch some TV.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Also, as a side note: I am plagued with a lingering cough and a touch of congestion, but otherwise have finally (knock on wood) recovered from this bug. Devon is (knocking again) on his way there a bit faster than I made it, congested but otherwise fine. So yay!

I have, on the other hand, been down with a bad case of the lumps. All I ever want to do is lie on bed under the covers (like, well, a lump). Sometimes this is a bad thing—I may be a bit depressed, and I've certainly been unproductive. Just as often this is perfectly fine, for it is very comfy atop my modal sheet. Either way I've been a bit AFK, playing (tons of) Pokémon and reading and sometimes poking at the internet but doing little more than browsing, because, yes, even sitting up in bed with the laptop is effortful. Thus we explain yet another silence that probably no one noticed because they're hardly uncommon around here.

The health update is more important. It is nice to have some health again.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
We've moved on to productive coughing, which is not really the improvement you'd think it would be. And right when my voice was starting to come back, too!

Meanwhile, Devon's suffering some congestion and feverish chills.

So, yeah. Given the incubation period on this puppy I'd say he caught it about the time I started to notice I had it. Hopefully it won't be too bad for him. He's taking tomorrow off, and will sleep a lot and play video games, and drink fluids, and we'll probably go stir-crazy in this little back room all day (there have been increasing hordes of people here lately) but hopefully it'll help him fight it off. Fingers crossed.

And be ye warned, all who come in contact with me, even on the internet. I am carrier of the death plague, apparently.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
So we're one week into this thing as of today, and I am congested and I lost my voice yesterday. The congestion ain't fun, but: icky cold TMI. ) I've had an almost entirely unproductive, actually fairly minor cough over the last few days, but it aggravated my already sore-throat. If I talk I sound awful and it hurts; if I don't talk, there's no pain. So I'm not talking as of midafternoon yesterday, and I'll keep it up until I can talk without sounding ... well, like this.

There really is no better time to have a DS at my bedside (Pokémon Black, hello! I caved and bought it, and I'm enjoying myself muchly. Is anyone else playing BW?), because the screen is a perfect scribble pad; I've also developed a complex, off-the-cuff form of sign language that's one part logic, one part charades, and one part head shaking. Being verbally silent is actually quite strange, because it also makes me textually silent, and vice-versa: if I'm trying to remember not to talk, I start making my IMs as short as possible or type entirely in emotes (/me does something or another—a leftover habit from my years playing Second Life); if I remind myself that that's stupid and typing is safe, then I'm like to start talking aloud when Devon's in the room without even realizing it. Written language is just as important to me as verbal language. I would say also that it's inextricably linked, but of course it is, it is for almost everyone—but for me it's more than just a link: it's more or less the same thing.

Anywho. Remember when I said that this was a wonderfully light sickness thing, almost magical in its way? The fever was still a damn cool experience, and I much prefer this to what I had in January (this is tolerable, even functional; January's turned me into a pile of mush for a few days), but this illness and I are officially no longer friends and it is welcome to bugger off whenever it so pleases. Just so as that it knows.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Today: Congestion, sleep-with-a-tissue-on-the-bedside congestion; poor sleep during a long, cold night. Also the houseguest's surgery, and so the house has been empty and/or stone silent for most of the day. I had been hoping that this was a magical, rare, clean illness, and I'm a bit disappointed to have it turn gunky, but it's still pretty moderate and honestly who the fuck cares—there's no blasting video games, no conversations in the hallway, and sometimes the dog whines because she feels abandoned and alone. It's like motherfucking Christmas over here.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Sometimes I think I could blog about just the weather. That's ridiculous, of course—I go for days without seeing the world outside, hermit that I am. But when I'm out like this, sitting before wide windows, I'm in constant awe of our weather. It rains for the majority of the year around here, and I imagine you have to be someone like me to think that beautiful—but the constant rain isn't boring, it isn't dull. Every moment is unique. Right now we have sunshowers—a silver cloudhaze, but the bright sun beginning to burn through; the light shining through clear, clean air; a heavy sprinkle, a light rain, pinging on the sodden brick sidewalk. The foxes are preparing for their wedding, and the air is sweet.

The sun just broke through, and the rain has slowed to the rare drop.

Give it five minutes, and it'll be something entirely different.

I am doing well today! I have some minor, lingering congestion, so mild that I'd doubt I'd notice anything outstanding if it hadn't been preceded by a fever. My throat is slightly sore, and my lymph nodes swollen. This is the best cold I've ever had, insofar as there is such a thing. (On a surreal note, Express, far away in California, reports a sore throat and fever. This I can't explain even with a long incubation period—we've never even met in person! So ... yeah. At this point I'm thinking nationwide conspiracy, what about you?)

On the flip side, we have Company. Boy's father's friend is staying at the house following a motorcycle accident and preceding knee surgery. I am sure that he is a wonderful person, but the house is small and full enough as it is; right now, he's staying in boy's brother's room, boy's brother and his girlthing have been pushed to the living room, and the house is packed. Worse still, boy's computer is currently in pieces, so the room is a mess, there's little ambient noise, and I have few distractions. In a word, I am miserable: stuck in a tiny back room, hearing every goddamned sound of the constant noise in the rest of the house, with little to help me pretend I am the only person there.

Is this the selfish response to someone else's health emergency? Yes, yes it is. I have no excuses for that.

But there you go. I'm in batten-down-the-hatches emergency mode, desperately trying to stay distracted, often failing horribly. I have little social energy, because I am overwhelmed and scared. I am taking every chance to get out of the house that I can get. Starbucks today is a blessing, even if there are approximately a million college students here.

Clear golden sunlight, now; the sidewalk is drying, and the puddles in the street shine.

Today I am wearing a runched, burnt orange shirt and an unabashedly fluffy cream scarf; my hair is down and slightly waved and everywhere, and an amber necklace peaks from my neckline. It's weird, to have another day when I feel lovely, but this is perfect timing for it, in the pale yellow sunlight, when everything else is so appropriately bitter and sweet.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Sore throat today, less dry stabbing (like yesterday) and more just swollen and recovering. The fever, if it is a fever, was pretty impressive last night: my core was constantly hot; my extremity were shivering. Today I seem to be running a little warm, but it's not accompanied by any chills. I'm a bit achy and sore, but nothing compared to yesterday: like my throat, this feels more like recovery than pain.

So I seem to be on the mend, but then that would make this a 24-hour fever—which seems strange to me. Stranger still, [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes reports similar symptoms ... and we got back from Portland a week ago, which seems like a pretty long incubation period.

More oddly, this has been almost ... pleasant. I'm not saying that I'd sign up for another round with it if I could, but this has been an idealized bout of illness. The symptoms are real but moderate and they've hardly destroyed my quality of life, the aches have been unpleasant but I know how to deal with them, the fever has made me spacey and talkative (and fascinated by my own physical state), and an illness without coughing or a runny nose feels almost ... beautiful.

I don't know how to describe it, really—this may be one of the things that you get or you don't. I've always idolized the death-bed consumptive, those pale sick waifs, so beautifully frail, so sympathetic; I glorify the down pillows and white gowns of bedrest; I'm the sort to read The Secret Garden and envy Colin: don't mistake me, I want to be wheeled to the garden, but I want a curtain-drawn bed and servants too.

That's not what real sickness is, of course. Sickness is messy and unsympathetic and it's sure as fuck not comfortable no matter how nice your pillows might be; even being papered and pitied and coddled is miserable—miserable to know that you have to be, miserable to know that people think of you as Sick. I know that, and I think it's because I know that, because I know what it's like to be hurting too bad to move, to be viewed with doubt and impatience, to be treated with kid gloves, that I envy the non-existent ideal of an illness that is beautiful, weak and strange and beautiful.

As it turns out that 24 hours of a mild fever aren't far from that ideal, for me.

Just watch, I'll be attacked my mucus imps now and will spend a week blowing my nose in bed while the universe teaches me a lesson or three. But yesterday—as much as being sick is never fun, really, no matter its associations with daytime cartoons—yesterday was oddly wonderful. Wonderful, and a little heartbreaking, and very surreal.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Sending an introduction to Florence + the Machine email to my father, who keeps asking "What is Florence + the Machine?" given that he keeps running into her—on my shirt on the cruise, on TV during the Oscars when we were over for dinner last night. Crying like a child (well not a child, of course: like a woman, growing) while I listen to "Dog Days Are Over" from the list of videos I've dig up videos to include. Ah, what else is new? You'd think eventually this would wear off, this unavoidable swell of emotion but ah—not yet. Despite myself I'm not really complaining, but it did make it ... well, difficult really, to include that track in my email. It felt almost too personal, almost too raw.

Have yet to reach sniffling, but I'm miles deep into the land of shivering and aching. I'm probably running a fever, but I don't know for sure. I much prefer this to mucus: I have a lot of experience dealing with pain, especially muscle aches and general stiffness. With pain, I have high tolerances and many ways to cope. Mucus: less so. But I tell you, today of all days? Today, the one day in my menstrual cycle where I get cramps? When my cramps always show up not in my stomach but my lower back? Fuck you too, body; fuck you.

At least my chocolate is dairy-free and therefore safe, because I need it today.

Ironically, I look lovely today. My hair is gorgeous and my pain-drained (even) pale(r) skin tone is quite flattering against it, and despite the discomfort of today I slept well last night and my eyes are clear. I tend not to think I'm beautiful, in part because few people, especially women, in this culture ever do, in part because I don't fit my own aesthetic taste. But I am sufficiently divorced from my appearance, for better or worse, that sometimes I see my reflection and know, objectively, that I look pretty good. Today has been like that all day long. I guess ... uh, I'll just have to come down with colds more often?

I am Posty McPosterton today, I know. Tumblr has been teaching me to think it little blurbs as well as overlong essays, which is an improvement I suppose—but it does mean you all have to suffer my list of A Billion Things To Say.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Meanwhile, I started my period today and I do believe I am getting sick: tickle in the back of the throat, stuffy sinuses (especially ears), and a hint of achy feverish blah. So yes this is fun, in a world where "fun" means "miserably fucking ironic," but ah, oh well—I am at Starbucks anyway, I preheated my travel mug and so my coffee is steaming beautifully, there is heavy rain and wet roads outside my window, and shall attempt this productivity thing nonetheless. Worse case is that boy comes to rescue me if the cramps or cold win the battle.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I've recently playing Yume Nikki, which is a small, free, independent game made by one person using RPG Maker, about the unusual dreams of a woman named Madotsuki. I'm enjoying it immensely, and as usual I've been blogging about it if you want to hear all my thoughts on this strange and brilliant game.

Unfortunately, Yume Nikki is a PC game, and keyboard controls—combined with IM, email, journal posts, and some original fiction I'm writing—have been enough to trigger my intermittent wrist issues. I'm being good and wearing my braces and typing only infrequently, but I can't for the life of me compose anything while chicken-pecking* and everything, everything, is sitting half done: emails and posts and that wonderful, painful video game. It's amazing how much of my life circles around a computer and keyboard. And, of course, the less social I'm able to be, the more social I want to be.

So this is part rant and part PSA. I am part of the tech-gen wounded: my rigorous computer use has put me temporarily out of commission, and it's driving me batty. (And if you were ever thinking there was something you wanted to send me that didn't require immediate response, this would be a wonderful time. I want to interact with people—I just can't talk.) So now we all know.

* This has certainly driven home the connection between mind and motion: when the physical process of writing changes and deteriorates, so does the mental process of composition. This only makes bad things worse, because it means I can't even get thoughts on screen one index-poked character at a time.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I am not dead! There are moments when I wanted to be dead, like the night before last where I got virtually no sleep because I was tending to a violently runny nose. But that night was also the turning point, a flush-out-the-system point, so even if I met the sunrise feeling like a zombie I was remarkably better on the cold front. It's all been good news since then, and now I just have a lingering cough which is annoying—but far from miserable. I can live with that.

That precise turning point was strangely awesome. I mean, it was disgusting and annoying, but to be in touch with my body like that—to watch if suffer, fight, and overcome illness in one painfully long night—was fascinating and reaffirming, in the way that biological processes can be that and still be gross, too.

Being seriously congested for a couple of days has also forced some compassion into me. One of my more fundamental flaws is that it's difficult for me to be compassionate towards things that I don't understand: I can project and extend my own experiences onto similar experiences in others, but if I don't have a frame of reference with some level of similarity (no matter how fleeting), I find it difficult to imagine what someone else is going through—or (though I hate to admit it), care. I know this is a flaw, so when my first reaction is "what's the big deal?" I try to catch and correct myself, but sometimes first reactions slip through. Devon's allergies always confuse me, because I don't have any (nevermind that my mother and sister both do, and I rationally know that these things are valid and real), I don't experience it and so I can't—well, I can't figure out what the big deal is supposed to be. Dander and dust make you sneeze? Oh come on, man up.

Yes, there is a deep irony here.

Anyway, right now I am keenly aware of just how fucking miserable it is to sneeze, and sniffle, and feel like you may never ever be able to breathe through your nose again. I know that the immediacy of this will fade (another of my fundamental flaws: living in the moment), but right now: all my sympathy, fellow snifflers, you have it. And I'm sorry for every time that Devon's allergies have annoyed me.

Being able to breathe through my nose again has, today, been my greatest joy. We've been having another cold snap, and the air is brisk and refreshing, cold as ice water, and I can feel it—I can breathe it, I can feel it in my throat, everything that was swollen and clogged is now open again and it feels cold air. That's silly, yes. But it's also glorious.

Which is basically this post in summation. I am remarkably less sick! That's not really worth reporting (let me give you the chronicles of my mucus! uh, no), but it sure does make me happy.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Well, denial only works for so long because I am most certainly sick. It's pretty mild, insofar as I'm cognizant and actually have a the drive to get out and do things, if only to distract myself from the annoyance of my symptoms, but my constant throat tickle has morphed into congestion from stuffy nose to sore throat, my hearing and taste are a little dull and I'm a bit achy especially in my joints (which is almost redundant atop my back pain—seriously, body, where has your originality gone?). It's annoying, and it makes me alternately desperate for distraction and allover grumpypants, but it's not really all that bad.

Mostly I'm bitter. I feel like I'm being punished for going on the damn cruise. Rational? Well, yes, that's probably where I picked up this bug. An unrealistic personification of the random whims of nature? That too. But damn if it don't make me bitter. I was good! I traveled and attended and saw people and did things, and I made sure never to touch anything in public bathrooms with my bare hands, and now I'm being struck down by the annoying cold of doom.

Sleeping is the worst time, because it gives everything a chance to settle and go from stuffy to helpIcan'tbreathe. If that weren't bad enough itself (because I'd love nothing more than to sleep all day and hurry this cold away), last night I dreamt of returning to college and the night before I dreamt of a neverending cruise. The first is my standard anxiety dream: some people end up naked in public places; I've gone back to college a hundred times. This time, I went to a school where the dorms looked like hotels and I had failed to sign up for classes—intentionally so, because classes are half the part of college that my brain is convinced that I Cannot Do. After my first day of wandering around without a schedule, fellow students took me out to lunch in this mega city where you had to wait in line for half an hour before even coming into sight of the fast food restaurants.

The endless cruise was more or less a normal cruise, except that each time we flew home something would go wrong. One time we were at luggage claim and our bags were missing, so we turned around and climbed right back on a plane to fly back for another cruise so we could find our luggage somewhere on the journey. One time we had made the entire drive home before remembering that we had to turn around and do the whole thing all over again. It was all of it, no annoyance skipped, the car ride and security and plane ride and week-long cruise and return trip and then the whole thing over again and again until I woke up.

If cruising becomes the new anxiety dream, I will not be pleased.

So yes. I am sick and bitter and grumpy about it, even if I shouldn't be surprised. Now I'm going to go read while I wait for Devon to wake up and play distracting video games and maybe feed me alphabet soup.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I feel you, oh tickle in the back of my throat. I have done so for about 24 hours now, but I refuse to be punished for the cruise by suffering a cold, and so I am staunchly pretending to be perfectly well until—and I hope it doesn't get to that point—I no longer can. Because right now, all it really is is annoying, not disruptive in any way, which is a blessing. While ignoring the throat-tickle today I went to Starbucks to spend some productive time out of the house. I used to do that all of the time, and then fell out of the practice of it, but I should really get back in—it does me good, and gets book reviews written. (I am many behind.) It was a lovely day, I looked lovely too; it was a good use of my time.

Relatedly (if you're in my head, anyhow, connecting Starbucks and getting out and looking lovely to this ongoing quest of mine towards personal improvement), I have a weird request to make. I am in search of shoes, and do not know how to find them. In the past, shoes haven't been much more bother than a trip to Payless, but I've been discovering that my disinterest in shoes and all other fashion items has less to do with disinterest in them and more to do with disinterest in popular examples of them. I don't want flimsy little flats or silly pointy heals; I want chunky black shoes, and knowing that I want to find a decent-quality pair that I really like.

The problem is that I'm not trained in these things—I find shopping an alien concept, but perhaps shoe-shopping most of all. So the question is: do shoes like I want exist? if so, where can I find them? My first priority is a pair of black shoes that look like (and I know this is silly) Shiny Thing's Flare Oxfords in Second Life: [1] [2]. Black, shiny leather, laced, a little bulky/oversized, ideally with a bit of a platform and/or heel but without aggressive tread, with a square-ish and large-ish toe. The women's shoes I've looked at so far seem to be all frills and pointy heels, no thank you; I've had somewhat better luck looking at men's shoes in a kid's size range. Skecher's offers up Cool Cat - Pixel which is pretty promising; Cool Cat and Alley Cat may be too, and Raiders - Buccaneers have a neat platform look but I'm not sold on the overall shape. ETA: Dr. Martens 8461 may work—Docs have thin sharpness to their uppers which I don't like, but the overall shape is spot on. The perfect shoes in this category would take oversized and chunky and run with it—I don't want platforms and I'm not quite aiming for Kingdom Hearts, but I want my shoes to look bigger than they are and maybe give me a bit of height.

Secondly, more as a pipe dream, I want boots. Something like Shiny Thing's Glossy Ribbon Boots from Second Life (outing myself again as a massive dork): [1] [2]. Black, shiny leather, somewhere between calf- and knee-high, maybe a bit of platform, chunky heels, square toe; lacing detail probably preferable, but buckles may work too. I have no idea where to even begin, here. None of the popular women's boot designs appeal too much. I could consider combat boots, maybe. Honestly I don't know what's out there, or what might work.

I wear a size 8 or 8 1/2 women's shoe, preferable wide. I wear a size 6 or 7 in men's shoes. I'm aiming in the $50-150 range; lower is better, but dirt cheap isn't necessary.

Do things like this even exist? Where might I find them? Where can I browse shoes in a productive way? What sort of brands may turn up styles like these? Are you some sort of magical shoe genie thinking, "silly Juu, this is the pair you want?" If so I suggest you send me a link.

Teach me how to buy shoes.


P.S. I am, finally, pretty much caught up on what I feel like I need to get caught up on of what I missed while I was gone. But if you find yourself wondering if that means I personally snubbed your important piece of news or heartfelt post, link me—I may have missed it.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I am finally feeling better. There was a turning point last night so distinct that I could almost mark the hour—and it came not long after Devon brought me orange juice and a brownie, so I am now convinced that this is the cure to all ills. I'm still coughing, still a little snuffly, but this is my body shedding the last of its illness—rather than wallowing in the production of more. I even slept well and had good dreams, a rarity at the best of times but particularly impossible as of late. I am pleased, because it's about damn time: I started noticing my first throat-itching symptoms one week ago come tomorrow. Apparently, that's my version of a "little sick." Do I feel like I'm being punished for the fact that I'm getting out of the house more often? A bit.

Jumping back to the subject of sleep: I've been thinking on the disconnect between my self-as-human and self-as-cat again, this time as it relates to sleep—and to obsessive thought. Thinking on—and bemoaning, to be honest, this last week while I needed sleep to rest and heal but found it even more cruel and fleeting than usual.

And so I'm going to talk about (among other subjects) my therianthropy. Confused as to what the hell I'm on about? Review my first post on the subject and/or my therianthropy tag. Think this stuff is just too weird? Feel free to skip this post.

I've had issues with sleep since middle school—I used to sleep as little as possible, as self-punishment but also to avoid dreaming. These days I'm more at peace with the need for sleep and the nature of dreams, although my dreams are more often than not nightmares, but these days I'm also plagued by problems with sleep. My sleep is never predictable—I get it in three hour cycles, sometimes as few as one cycle a night for weeks on end, sometimes sleeping half the day away although I tend to wake every three hours for a little while.

Getting to sleep—at the end of a long day, but also after each mid-night wakeup, is the hardest part. Some of it is physical, the simple discomfort of a bad back and a curvy body that demands an artful arrangement of pillows to keep everything aligned and unstressed. Much of it is the fact that I'm prone to obsessive thinking.

I've mentioned my obsessive thought before but I don't know if I've ever tried to explain or describe it. It's an aspect of my anxiety, but it's also a simple part of how my brain works—an aspect of my nature that sometimes causes anxiety. It's like having a song stuck in your head: a phrase set on repeat. It can be anything, hurtful or harmless (I obsess over sour memories, troublesome conversations, problems which are huge to me but would be foolish to another; I obsess over video games, over sentences, anything at all, though I've particular fondness for that which contains repetition or rhyme). Sometimes it's a small annoyance at the start, but after hours (sometimes years; I still obsess over mistakes I made as a ten year old) of incidental repetition or minutes of unremitting repetition it grows tiresome—moreover it's so resistant to change that it grows stressful: I can't stop obsessing. That's a simple statement with a vast import: I cannot stop obsessing. I can't think long, coherent thoughts. I can't concentrate. As a result I can't enjoy, engage, even distract. I am stuck obsessing—repeating a sentence fragment, rearranging letters, hating myself for an offhand remark—indefinitely.

It's painful. And that's what I go through most nights when I try to sleep—and that's how it's been this last week when I was more-than-usually physically uncomfortable and found it that much harder to fall asleep, and so had that much longer to wait for an obsessive thought to arise, settle in, and keep me awake.

The only cures I've found are to stop thinking or to intentionally pick an obsessive thought. This is why, in the worst of my depression, I sometimes do nothing but watch Law & Order reruns and why I often watch movies as I fall asleep: if I can clear out my brain and replace it with the passive occupation of consuming familiar media, I can smother obsessive thought under a blanket of white noise. The problem is that as soon as I stop, as soon as I free my thoughts, the anxiety can return. So I have obsessive thoughts I turn to intentionally. I sing Donna Donna to myself half a dozen times in a row. I go through the alphabet, alternating English and French, over and over. These are repetitions too, but they are familiar and sometimes comforting, and because I chose them I can control them—so that they are not negative, hurtful thoughts; so that I have a calming illusion of control over my own mind. If my obsessive thinking hasn't kicked in yet, I sometimes plan my dream house, tell myself short stories, or visit my meadow*—familiar but longer meditations which keep my thoughts focused so there's less chance that a pause will open the door to obsessive thinking.

The cat doesn't do this. My self-as-cat can feel anxiety: mistrust, skittishness, fear of stranger and of dangers. But as I've written before, my self-as-cat doesn't feel the sort of anxiety that my human brain is prone to, these obsessive rounds of thought. In fact, my self-as-cat wants to spent hours and hours doing nothing more resting. That's another simple sentence with great import: The desire for rest and sleep, for thought-empty stillness, is a vital part of my therianthropy, and that's a vital part of myself. A cat that can't catnap hardly feels a cat at all.

Madison has a sweater, a red chenille business which no one would wear but she loves to sleep on, and since it got put down within her easy reach she's done little but lay on it. She purrs and kneads, suckling the fabric; more often she just sleeps, curled up nose to tail in a neat small round. As she did when she discovered the guinea pigs's bedding, she's been forging her usual outside excursions just to stay there, comfortable and pampered and often asleep.

I have a passion for modal which rivals my passion for chocolate—there is no fabric softer or smoother, and after I fell in love with it Devon got modal sheets for the bed in a subdued spring green. I have a pillow-top mattress and a down pillow, I have A/C to keep the room cold, I have a little den of comfort which I rarely leave. But when I pass Madison in her curl of sleep I still envy her, because I can't do that. I need to wrangle pillows into a back-pampering pile to be comfortable for long, but more importantly even with every comfort arranged just for me I need a book, a film, a conversation; I need a b c d running repeats in my head or "on a wagon bound for market" for the fifth time—I need these things because if I don't have them, instead I have a word, a sentence, a "should have said," a "can't believe I did," a "do they remember?" in a loop so endless that running it has fatigued my thoughts, a repetition so insistent that the trap of it frightens me. In the middle of the night, when I've slept for three hours and wake again like clockwork, if I immediately try to go back to sleep it's even worse—because on the liminal edge of dreams the repeated thought is even more immersive and I can have mental images (which, at other times, escape me) and so I can also obsess over that sight, that action, as well as those words. At those times I can find myself trapped in obsessive thought for a solid half hour, which ends only if I get up for a while or if I finally fall into dream—a dream more often than not tainted by some obsession.

I know that there are far greater complaints out there—I'm not the most miserable of the miserable. I know that I'm not the only one that wishes: oh, for the simplier mind (and life) of a beast! This is not about my status as a special snowflake. It's not even entirely about my obsessive thoughts—they can be hellish, but ever since I discovered the little tricks that help me deal with them they've become a more manageable evil.

What pains me is that how my brain works defines me-as-human, and it separates me from me-as-cat. My self-as-human and self-as-cat are not separate identities, but sometimes there is a wall between them, sometimes they are at odds. I wrote before that "in order to be myself, I have to move beyond myself"—that I have to overcome some aspects of myself-as-human in order to be myself-as-cat, and there's a certain pain in realizing that, in experiencing the disconnect within myself; there's more of a pain in the long nights of sleeplessness and anxiety where I'm not only suffering from those miserable repetitions, but also because I am not myself, you see; because I cannot be who I ought.

* The comfort, sometimes the saving grace, in all of this is that my meadow—an open field with a single large tree and a single small house where a single 60-some woman resides—is the realm of my meditation and where I let my mental self-as-cat run free. It's the most difficult of my mental distractions because there's so many levels of complexity (immersing myself in cat-body, trying to imagine the meadow when I can't image images, etc.), and I can't indulge it unless I'm in a pretty healthy mental state; if I'm not, it soon disintegrates into obsessive thoughts. But when I can manage to run there, it's a blessing: an escape from the troubles of my human brain, and a chance to experience a more complete version of myself-as-cat.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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