November 2, 2015

Another Book Giveaway. Hurrah!

I've recently mentioned on Facebook that considering the fact I've been so sluggish in terms of finishing the next Kassandra Lyall book (Night Bound) due to personal crap and health issues, I'd be running another giveaway on one of my previously published titles. So, m'lovelies, 'ave at it! Just comment, name (not in full), email address. If you haven't followed me on Facebook you should, as I'm considerably more active there. I'll do a random drawing at the end of the week and contact the winner.

Cheers, dolls. :)

October 24, 2015

"It Gets Better."



“It Gets Better.”

When you say this to a person suffering from depression, you might as well be barking.

No, literally.

That wasn’t meant to be figurative.

To a depressed person, it’s absolute meaningless drivel.

“It gets better.”

*Insert head tilt.*
*Insert look of incomprehension.*

It’s like holding a drowning person underwater and saying from above, “It’ll be okay, soon.” For one, they’re underwater so whatever you’re saying is distorted. For two, um, the drowning thing – yeah, that.

A drowning person knows they’re drowning.

Likewise, eventually, inevitably, depressed people -- well, we realize at some point that we’re drowning, too. We realize we’re being held under by the gnarled hands of our inner demons; grief, loss, depression, etc.

It’s not enough to tell people, “It gets better,” anymore. This, I feel, is becoming a sort of cop out. “It gets better,” isn’t teaching us to connect with each other. It’s teaching us to shout over the waves, but to never truly and compassionately connect.

Sometimes, people don’t want to hear, “It gets better.”

They just want someone to listen and try to understand. They just want someone to say, “I’m here for you,” and not only mean, but prove it.

I guess, that’s my big message with this post. If you know anyone in your life that’s depressed – don’t seek to shout over their waves or to discredit their feelings in any way, shape, or form. Too often and far too easily, we’re quick to try and offer reassurance. Sometimes, what people really need is just a little love, understanding, and a friend to lean on.

So, don’t just say, “It gets better.”

Go out there and make it better -- more often than not, just loving and listening to someone is a considerably more powerful gesture.

That’s all for now.

Bright Blessings,
Winter


June 20, 2015

"Rabbit, Where'd You Put the Key, Girl?"



I looked at this blog the other day and realized I haven’t updated it since 2013. That’s insane. Holy shite. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing or working on the Lyall series (when I’ve been able to function) – in part, it’s also because I’ve been focused on trying to have my own life, too.

When I started the Lyall series, I was twenty-one. I’m inching closer to thirty and unfortunately, my body feels like it’s ahead of time. By that, I mean, that after spending nearly two years going to the chiropractor and trying to sort out the whole C1 squishing my brain stem and other back issues thing – my doctor finally diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (which is just a fancy medical term for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

It suckeths. There’s no other way to put it. It’s an every day battle. It puts a strain on my relationships (at times – I’m lucky to have very understanding family and friends), and worse, my writing. But, that’s what happens when you suffer from a chronic illness. You find yourself in a constant balancing act – your needs versus everyone else’s. I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself. If I don’t, I can’t take care of anyone else.

On the brighter side, my Generalized Anxiety Disorder is fairly much in remission (I still have PTSD and depression, but I’ll address that later in this post). The medications have helped greatly. But I noticed, again, my writing was taking another hit. I remember when I first got on medications my psychiatrist told me that she wanted to closely monitor my creativity. “Sometimes, medications can stifle your creativity. Sometimes, they can make you more creative. We need to make sure they don’t stifle your work.”

Well, they did. At least, one of them did.

I quit taking Trazodone to sleep. It took me some time to realize that when I didn’t take it, my creative flow started coming back. When I took it, it began receding again. I will say this, it was a bitch to come off of (I’d been taking the drug since 2012, so, even though it’s not addictive... my body was used to having it). I had withdrawal symptoms – physically, at least. And a little bit of emotional, as things started to surface and flow again. You see, the Trazodone was like throwing heavy wet blankets over my emotions. It stifled their intensity. I liked it. It helped me function, but it dampened my emotional nature to the point where I couldn’t write. The things I needed when I sat down at the computer were under heaps of those heavy blankets. And my muse was in the back room going, “Bitch, I can’t help you if you won’t allow yourself to feel.”

No gift comes without a price, eh?

Recently, I’ve become highly emotional. I started crying again. But instead of a gentle tide crashing against the shores of my mind and then receding – everything pulled back, and turned into a fucking tsunami.

I’m not ready to write about this. I started a blog a month ago and never finished it. I’m never fucking going to be ready to write about this. I’m not going to be able to do her justice. I feel like I should be able to do that – especially since she was always telling me how amazing of a writer I am. But I can’t. There are not words in the English vocabulary to explain to you how tragically fucking beautiful my friend was. I knew it the moment I locked eyes on her – she was different. And gawd, her eyes. She had the deepest most compassionate and tortured blue eyes I have ever seen. I remember thinking when I first met her, “Who is this beautiful and magical girl?” She reminded me a bit of Emilie Autumn, but she was *all* Argent Love (I’m using her rave name, as it’s what she would have preferred... for now, at least).

I met Argent through a friend. When I met her, she walked up to my porch wearing a tutu and thigh high stripey socks that reminded me instantly of Alice in Wonderland. I couldn’t stop stealing glances at her. And we kept making eye contact. It was instant, immediate. But I didn’t know that she had felt it too. Not until she found a way to contact me through email. I was so happy when she did. And floored, as the girly insecure part of me couldn’t believe such a gorgeous creature would ever have any interest in me.

We became friends. We started sleeping together. We forged a bond and connected on a level that was solely for us. She told me about her depression and showed me the scar on her head where they’d placed a tube or something when she was in a coma after trying to kill herself. We talked about getting into a relationship, but we were both so uncertain and hesitant and neither of us wanted to mess up the friendship. We knew. We both knew.

“I couldn’t ever bear the thought of finding your body,” I said.

“And I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt you,” she told me.

Eventually, I got into a relationship. We remained friends, of course. We were close. And though we weren’t intimate anymore, our connection never wavered. It was like we had a silent understanding of each other, a secret language that only we spoke. I can’t really say that I grew to love her, as I kind of knew the moment I saw her that she was someone I already loved. It was one of those connections. Those rare and important people that come into your life and you know, on some level, your souls are from the same star or something.

My relationships were short-lived, at the time. Between them, Rachel (Argent) finally sent me this:


I was upset. I wanted to knock her upside the back of the head.

“All this time,” I said. “All this time, it’s taken you to realize all of this when those people I’ve dated could’ve been you. No, they should have been you.”

She was leaving in a few weeks – moving to Corpus Christi. She was convinced that the beach was where she belonged, that it was the thing that would finally make her heart happy. In the time before she left, we remained close. We had a brief taste of what could have been. And then, we let each other go, with nothing but the best of wishes. I wanted her to find a place where she could be happy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Corpus.

She texted me one night and told me she was driving back through Oklahoma to visit and that she wanted to stop by and see me. She showed up at my door in the small hours of the morning and when I looked at her – my heart cried. She was thin as a rail and covered in bruises. She’d started stripping as a means to get by and had bruises climbing her thighs from a costumer that raped her.

I didn’t want her to go back. I told her I didn’t feel like it was a good place for her. But she did. She was convinced that being near the beach was the only way she could ever truly be happy in this world. I told her I felt like she was chasing something that she had to find in herself.

“I can’t find happiness in myself in Oklahoma.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but you’re not finding it in Corpus, either. You’ve been mugged. Raped. Robbed. How on earth does that contribute to your happiness? If anything, it’s damaging.”

It was the ocean. She had fallen in love with it and wanted to be with it even if the situation was completely toxic for her. Then again, I came to realize it was a part of a larger pattern. She suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. I began to call her out on her self-destructive behavior. I think, I was one of the few people that even noticed, and that’s why she was so open with me. She knew I wouldn’t bullshit her. She knew I wouldn’t tell her pretty prepackaged lies. She knew I would listen and that I would actually hear her.

Fast forward, as life continued to move on as it often does. I met a wonderful pain in the ass (my girlfriend, Melanie). And Rachel stayed in Corpus. We kept in touch with each other here and there to see how the other was doing. She made it a point to tell me I was the last woman she’d been with. She still hadn’t found a girlfriend. Eventually, she settled for a guy she met.

“I’m lonely,” she admitted. “And I don’t want to ruin my chance of finding happiness just because he has a penis. You know?”
“I just want you to be happy, doll.”

She fell in love with him – of course, she did, he was fucked up and toxic as hell for her. I didn’t piece this self-destructive tendency together until recently, mind you. However, when she was with him, she confided in me that she had started having nightmares about being raped again.

“I should tell him,” she said.

“Are you sure you’re not trying to sabotage the relationship?” I asked her.

“Honestly, I don’t fucking know,” she said.

She told him and as I feared, things started falling apart in her world. She found herself homeless, jobless, boyfriendless, and puppyless (her words, not mine). This guy and the puppy she wanted became her new ocean. And by that, I mean, that her disorder convinced her, “Hey, these are what we need to be happy. We absolutely cannot be happy without them.”

She messaged me, again, in the middle of the night. “Can I come over?” she asked. She was staying with her ex-boyfriend and he was hanging and kissing on another girl in front of her.

“Of course! Get your butt over here. My door is always open, silly girl!”

We sat up talking all night. She kept going on about how when she left, the girl her ex-boyfriend was seeing got weirded out and left.

“I have to go back and apologize. I have to make things right. I just want him to be happy, but it hurts so much. But I want him to be happy.”

“Rachel,” I said, “this is fucking ridiculous. Why the fuck should you have to apologize just so he can get in some other girl’s pants? Fuck that shit. And fuck him. You deserve better.”

And she would respond with something like, “No, he deserves better than me.”

I’d face-palm. She could never in her life realize just how beautiful she was, how intelligent, compassionate, strong, and etc, she was. When I tried to be optimistic for her and to tell her, “There are other people out there. You could meet a girl, you know,” she’d tell me, “She’d just break my heart and the only girl I’d want is already with someone that she won’t leave.” I had told her I wouldn’t leave my girlfriend. No, she didn’t ever ask or expect me to, she wasn’t like that, at all – we both take loyalty very seriously. But, both of us also knew that relationship-wise, we had missed our opportunity. Regardless, we remained loving friends.

I told her she could stay whenever she needed a place. She admitted to feelings of depression and feeling suicidal.

“I think, given your situation, that anyone with depression would feel that way with the things that are going on in your life. But, you have to realize that right now, you’re not seeing things clearly. You’re seeing everything through the fog of your disorder. Your emotions are turned up to top volume and drowning everything else out. I don’t think it’s good for you to see your ex-boyfriend with other girls. I think this is another part of you allowing yourself to be hurt.”

Karmically, she admitted, she felt like she deserved it.

“That’s bull shit,” I said. “It’s complete and utter bull shit.”

She stayed with me the night before she had an appointment with her psychiatrist. I told her I was calling for, “Winter & Argent Time.” She slept that night. It was the first time I’ve actually seen her fall into a decent sleep.
“This,” I thought, “you should remember her like this.”

My dog, Apollo, was curled up against her. It was the only time I’d seen her features at rest, with some semblance of peacefulness etched across them.

I knew when I met her that her trying to end her life was probably inevitable. The shadow that hung over her was so fucking persistent and heavy. On April 9th, she messaged me asking where the lake was that I took her to one time. I was asleep. At five o’clock in the morning, she sent the last text message she would ever send to me.

“I don’t know what’s more appealing to believe about the afterlife… Heaven, hell, reincarnation, purgatory (like I believe), nothing, or something else…”

After speaking with the detective working her case, I found that a couple hours later, she shot herself out on a pier at that lake.

I went into mama lion mode – trying to keep an eye on everyone, trying to make sure everyone else was okay. Everyone kept asking me if I was all right and I pulled the, “Oh, you know I’m more logical than emotional,” thing, and, “No, I don’t need to talk.” I had to remain grounded. I had to focus on reality. Again, I knew when meeting her that this was more than a possibility, it was a probability.

Even knowing that, no amount of logic in the world will help you dodge the pain of losing a loved one.

It took a while to kick in, but I started slipping into a major depression, from which I’m still trying to claw my way out of. The doctor upped my medications and that seems to be helping. I don’t think I’d be writing this if he hadn’t. The grief of losing her has hung a huge shadow over my life. It changed my perspective. The darkness rolled in like fog, and like mist, it began to cling to anything it touched.

Depression is insidious. I didn’t want to be depressed. I didn’t want to be “negative,” or a, “downer.” But depression... it doesn't care.

A few weeks later, it finally hit me. I reached my breaking point when one of my friends, someone hugely important to me, ignored me when I told her about Rachel’s death. I began, in my own way, to understand how Rachel must have felt, how lost and unimportant and small and self-loathing. As I said, depression is insidious. It creeps in uninvited and coils around you, until one day, you find yourself trying to breathe molasses.

Finally, whilst speaking with one of my friends in England, I faced myself.

“I’m worried about you,” he said. “I think you are in denial.”

“I’m in denial of what?” I asked.

“That you’re fucking depressed, woman. You need to let yourself feel! You need to grieve, to cry, to shout, to whatever you need to do to get through this!”

“Yeah, but in order to get through this, it means I actually have to go through it and right now I’m kind of rocking that whole avoidance thing.”

“And what good is it doing you?”

Point made. Point made, indeed. But at that time, it was a little too late. Depression had already walked in and taken a seat at the table, ready to begin its game.

I began wondering who in my life really cared. I started thinking about the fact that people didn’t seem to care about Rachel until it was too late. When she begged people for help, they turned their fucking backs. But when she died, they started spilling out of the woodwork with sympathies. Bull shit. Sit the fuck back down. You’re not fooling any of us that were there for her in her final days.

The metaphorical clouds over me began growing darker and denser. They were heavy with things I didn’t want to face and the more I didn’t want to face them, the more they devoured whilst I tried to overlook them. I started thinking that no one would care if I slipped away, too, except for a few people. For days, I wouldn’t get out of bed. Everything began to seem so pointless. Food lost its flavor. I lost pretty much any desire for anything. Worse, It started to feel like the people I cared about most didn’t really care about me – that they only pretended to. I couldn’t get over the friend that ignored me, just like the people that ignored Rachel.

It hits like a fist, grief does. And it’s triggered by strange things – a word, a phrase, a scent, a song, an image, a memory…

I break down and then apologize for it.

I broke down driving to my girlfriend’s one day and when I stepped out of the car with tears still spilling down my face, she asked what was wrong. A song had come on that reminded me of the last night I spent with Rachel. It didn’t occur to me how weird I was being about feeling until I realized that I was apologizing for grieving, for caring, for being fucking human. I’d convinced myself that I’d become nothing but an inconvenience when I allowed myself to feel.

The last physical memory I have of Rachel is of her waking me up before she left to see her psychiatrist. She woke me, and gave me a hug, and she said, “I love you.”

And that was her, “goodbye.” I’m glad I convinced her to stay with me while she did. I’m glad we had the time together that we did. I will never, for one moment, forget her. 


And that’s the beauty and tragedy of life. They don’t tell you that when you give pieces of your heart away, you never get them back, and that when someone dies or walks away – they take an inevitable piece of you with them.

This is our gift to each other. This is what it means to be truly human. 
And though I am still grieving and breaking down at random moments, I will push and claw my way through. I will be thankful for the things that I have, the loved ones in my life, and remember that these, these are the things that help you through.

Love is everything. It’s the very thing that holds everything together.

So, I’ll end this blog post with this bit of advice:

Love. 

Love hard. 

Love without hesitation…because life, life is too fucking short for stupid bull shit. 

Peace and Love,
Winter




October 15, 2013

Yo Heave Ho!



The one thing constant in life is change. It’s the old cliché we hear all our lives. For sure, it’s true. Even things unseen to the naked eye are moving and changing every minute, every second of the day. I once read somewhere that in a matter of seven years, we've shed all our old skin (like snakes, just much more slowly) and are completely different people. Of course, we look the same, but we’re not. We’re different than we used to be. Our experiences have changed us. Our thoughts have changed us. The natural cycle of things has changed us. Day turns into night and then day again, but it’s not the same day that it was yesterday, is it?

I’ve been on hiatus for quite some time. I had to step away from the blog to find my inner voice again, to go through the passages and experiences and growth spurts I needed to go through to crawl out of the other side of the cocoon. I’m generally one of those people that doesn’t like to talk about what she’s going through when she’s going through it. I tend to take things as a private journey, especially my struggles.

I once had a friend tell me after I got out of a near two year long abusive relationship (this was many years ago) that he had no idea what I’d been going through and thought I’d been really happy. I wasn’t. It was just that at the time, I didn’t want to talk about my personal problems. It was easier to pretend everything was hunky dory than drag out my relationship issues and admit to someone that I was allowing someone to treat me like shit. In a sense, I felt like I had to be the tough cookie everyone thought I was. But mostly, I didn’t want anyone telling me I was being stupid. I’m pretty self-aware and always have been. I knew that. I generally know when I’m making a totally flawed decision. But I also know this: life presents us with a multitude of opportunities to become a stronger and better person than we were before. Some experiences we have to ride out, for our own soul-growth (even if it’s just to figure out you can’t save someone from themselves and to discern the kind of crap you absolutely won’t put up with in a relationship).

There’s always an opportunity to gain wisdom from your experiences. How you allow your experiences to shape you is your choice. You can either allow them to corrupt you or enhance you. In other words, as they say, you can allow them to make you better, or bitter. And for your own sake, choose wisely.

I’ve been through some shit for the past year and a half. I won’t say, “Oh, I’ve been through a lot,” or, “I’ve been through hell and back,” because in the grand scheme of things, some of my shit’s like comparing a mosquito bite to a spider bite – that and, some people are weird and get really uppity and competitive when it comes to, “who’s been through worse,” or, “what hurts worse.” Honestly, it annoys the fuck out of me when I see people do that. Pain is pain, plain and simple. Yes, pain is subjective. Just because you stubbed your toe doesn’t mean another person smashing their finger in a door doesn’t hurt any less. Same goes for emotional crap. Get the fuck over yourselves and start respecting another’s pain instead of being childish and whipping it out like a penis in the boys’ locker room to see whose is bigger.

I will straight up tell you to shove it. Don’t be a selfish prick and expect to win anyone’s sympathy, (or empathy, for that matter), if you can’t show a little respect to your fellow human. I’ve seen this crap way more often than I’d like, and every time I do, I’m like:







Anyhow, off my soapbox.

So where have I been and what I have been doing for the past year? Well, I went through a divorce. I overcame a two year stint with severe agoraphobia and panic and anxiety disorder (don’t ask me how it got so bad – it’s a long story, but suffice it to say that some part of my brain just went, “Nope! No more. We’re done. We don’t like the world anymore. Hide in house. Write. Write like madwoman!”). I’m still going through chronic pain from neck/back issues that are apparently the result of an old injury. It sucks. On my really bad days, I end up in bed for three to four days in a row. Essentially, my spine is trying to impale my brain. Right, that’s a complete and total exaggeration. But again, it’s a pretty shit deal. I’ll be twenty seven in November, and my body is already at that point where it’s like, “Haha! Up yours!” There was one day I was sitting in my friend’s car, JUST SITTING THERE, and one of my ribs popped out of place. In the words of my chiropractor, “You don’t forget what it feels like when a rib comes out of place.” No, no you don’t. I gave one of those mini-girly, “Ah! Ah!” screams, the scream that says, “This really hurts, I’m trying to emote my pain, but I suck at it ‘cause I’m not a screamer.”

“What? What’s wrong?” my friend asked.

Of course, all I could tell him was, “I think my rib has decided it doesn’t like me anymore. It jumped out OVER NOTHING!”

And this happens more often than I’d like. Most of the time, I just grit my teeth and roll my eyes and then I go to my chiropractor and I pout and let him work his magic to put my runaway ribs back into place.

But it’s not just the ribs. It’s the C1 subluxation that’s hell on my body (and it’s pressing on the nerves and tissue surrounding my brain stem). The pain radiates through my skull, my neck, my shoulders, and well, pretty much my entire body. It throws everything out of whack. I asked my chiropractor what was going on – how is it that my entire body will start aching like I have the flu? The culprit, of course, is my neck. Hello, anti-inflammatory drugs! This was actually something I discussed with him when I went in yesterday. Now, my chiropractor is also a licensed acupuncturist. Except, he doesn’t use needles. He uses a little device that sends a small electronic pulse or shock through the acupressure point. When I told him about my entire body aching, he decided to try something different in conjunction with my adjustment. As soon as he picked it up I gave him a, “What the hell are you about to do?” look.

“You have all those piercings and you’re going to tell me you’re scared of this?”

“No, I was just trying to figure out what you were doing.”

Oh yeah, that’s another thing… After overcoming the agoraphobia, I came so far out of my shell, more than I ever had in my entire life. Panic and anxiety disorders don’t just spring up out of the blue and it was something that I’d struggled with forever, but like I said, at some point, my head just gave up the fight. I was tired of being uncomfortable ALL the time. I was sick of every day feeling like a constant struggle to be a normal functioning adult in a world that scared the piss out of me, in a world that empathetically overwhelmed the shit out of me. So, I sought a refuge where I felt comfortable. Only, that doesn’t help. It’s like going in the dark room and feeding the beast. It only made it even more difficult for me to reemerge from the hole I dug myself. I started having anxiety attacks in the comfort of my own home. I didn’t have a sudden epiphany to get better. I knew I would when I was ready, but for so long, I wasn’t ready. I knew what I was going to have to do to get better and it scared the shit out of me (I mean, I didn’t know off that bat, but I figured it out eventually when nothing else was working). For so long, I’d been against the use of medications. It was my absolute last resort. For so long, I’d been strong on my own. But for some reason, this was worse, so much worse than any of the anxiety I’d dealt with. It literally felt as though a switch had been flipped in my head. You know those stray cats you see and that moment when their pupils dilate and they bolt? I felt like that every single day for two years. I wanted to bolt out of my skin. And for some reason, where I used to be strong and able to fix myself – it got to a point where I couldn’t. My mind was so stuck in the pattern that I couldn’t break it. I tried CBT, but it was like my body had lost all the tools it’d spent years acquiring. I couldn’t control the fact that walking down to the mailbox in front of my house sent my malfunctioning body into a fight or flight adrenaline response. All my life, my father had told me, “Mind over matter.” But when your mind isn’t working like it should… good luck getting it over the matter. I couldn’t sit in a room with a stranger without my hands trembling slightly, without my chest feeling tight and uncomfortable. Even when I gradually exposed myself as a part of my own exposure therapy, I could not control my body’s reaction. I found it ridiculous, stupid, even, but belittling the condition didn’t make it go away. No amount of intellectualizing or being smart enough to “know this,” helped me.

That was the point that I realized I was banging my head on the wall with the same approach, hoping over and over that it would work. And that I realized, I had to try something different. I looked at my life. I weighed the pros and the cons, and ultimately, I contacted a psychiatrist. I wasn’t living. I wasn’t experiencing life. I was wasting away and the only thing that kept my head above the water-line was my writing. Seriously, if it wasn’t for my work, I probably would’ve totally lost my shit. Maybe not in a, “That bitch needs a padded room,” sort of way, but definitely in the way that I would’ve lost all sense of purpose. Writing was my anchor.

‘Course, come the day of meeting my psychiatrist I was spiraling around in my ever-perpetual state of worry. What if, what if, what if… The phrase had become the bane of my existence. Throughout the whole ordeal, only a select few friends knew what I was even going through. One of my dearest friends gave me the best and most encouraging advice. It was simple, really. “You need to do what you need to do to be happy.” During the course of the agoraphobia, I’d had people try to push me out, try to fight me out, try to force me out. A lot of people didn’t understand it. Some did, but a lot didn’t. They reached in and tried to change me. But they couldn’t. I couldn’t even change me at that point. Where were the keys? Who the fuck knew.

I was lucky to find a psychiatrist that was willing to allow me to decide what I was comfortable with. She started me on baby doses. 10mg of Prozac, 50mg of Trazodone for sleep, and Diazepam for panic attacks. Of course, I stumbled. There was one point where I tried Buspar and ended up tweaking some serious shit off of it. It’s all about finding the right balance. Medication shouldn’t stifle you or mess you up, when the combination is right, it just helps you to be more of your authentic self. Buspar and I don’t mix. I ended up crying and laughing at the same time on it. Yes, funny, but ah, not my idea of a good time! So, no go on the Buspar. Eventually, she upped me to 20mg of Prozac. It wasn’t an immediate savior. As many of you know, medications don’t work like that. But slowly, day by day, I started feeling better. I started feeling a little brighter, a little more optimistic and not as petrified and overwhelmed. I’m a firm-believer in the fact that so much is bloody chemical now and it’s amazing what those chemicals can do to you when they’re out of balance. Medication didn’t save my life. It helped give me back the tools to save myself. It helped me to get out there and LIVE again. Oh, those evil pharmaceutical companies… Yeah, I no longer feel that way. Especially given the fact that as I said earlier in this post, I began to come more out of my shell than I ever had in my life. We were lucky, really lucky to get the right combination of meds on the first go (with the exception of the Buspar hiccup).

All my life, I’ve been absolutely petrified of needles. Yes, even when I worked in a vet clinic. And yeah, I was that girl that had a tattoo and yet, hated needles. I’d never had the balls to get any of the piercings I wanted. The first piercing I decided to get was my lip. My sister-from-another-mother took me to get it done. While I was lying down, awaiting to be pierced, she said, “You know, you’re not going to stop here, right? You’re going to want more, after this.”

It was a very spiritual experience for me. Did it hurt? My lip did, but only for a moment. And yes, I went back and got more (I’m proudly sporting twenty and baby, no regrets!). Someone asked me, “Okay, what’s with getting the piercings?” I joked about a mid-twenties crisis, but aside from the fact that I was really facing my fear of needles by having them shoved in my body – I realized, it was very spiritually symbolic for me. “It hurts,” I’d explain, “for a moment. And then for the next few days it’s a little tender and sore, but if you take care of it, if you tend to it, it heals, and it doesn’t hurt anymore and you have something beautiful left behind. That’s what they’re about. They remind me that, yes, things in life hurt, but pain is temporary. If you take care of yourself and your wounds, time does heal them. And even if it leaves behind a scar, as generic as it may sound, it’s a part of what makes you who you are.”

Yep. I’ve changed. I’ve grown. I’ve blossomed. And I’m happy (most of the time, obviously life doesn’t work on ‘happy mode’ all the time – to think so is unrealistic). I’m single and have been for about a year and I’m enjoying its perks. After being a serial monogamist, I’m enjoying being an independent cat. I don’t feel like I need a relationship to complete me. I’m pretty damn complete on my own right now, focusing on my friendships and my family and my work.

So, there you have it. I’m still around and landing on my feet. :)

Brightest Blessings,
Winter

June 5, 2013

Upcoming Release.

Here's the cover and back cover blurb for my next novella, scheduled to be released in October. :)

Cheers, lovelies.


For Cadence Strong, life is one repetitive boring motion. Wake up, go to school, spend time with friends, and go to sleep with very little excitement in-between. Struggling with depression and feeling disengaged from the world around her, Cadence pushes herself to be a “normal” young adult, hoping that at any moment she’ll wake from the monotony of it all and feel human again. When she meets Harmony Black, everything changes. She feels a strong connection with the confident and outspoken stranger and begins to think she’s found just what she’s needed to feel like she’s living again. But what she doesn’t know is that there’s more to Harmony, so much more, and her new friend is about to turn her heart and the world she think she’s been living in right on its head.

March 15, 2012

PMS and a Cheeseburger

In spite of my hellaciously wonky sleep schedule, I went to bed around two in the morning last night and woke at six-thirty this morning out of a strange dream.

In the dream, I really wanted a cheeseburger and so I went out to get one. This woman in the dream seemed to be completely against giving me a cheeseburger. “What kind of cheeseburger do you want? Can you explain this to me in detail? You know prices have gone up,” she went from being really annoying as I tried to order a cheeseburger to personally attacking me. I tried to deflect her comments and to remain calm, despite the fact that I wanted to lunge at her throat.

I went off and did other things in the dream, I suspect, to calm down. Somehow, I ended up walking around a department store looking at coats (don’t ask). But, I am nothing if not persistent, and I caught sight of the exit and headed toward it.

I was going to get my cheeseburger, damn it…one way or another. I left and called the woman that had come between me and my cheeseburger-y goodness (mainly to chew her out).

Finally, after successfully battling her and taking her down verbally, I was free to get my cheeseburger.

But at that point in the dream, I hung up the phone and said, “F*ck it.” I didn’t want it anymore.

Instead, I wanted cookies and cream ice cream with caramel sauce.

And that’s when I woke, gazing into the dark and thinking, “Oh yummy above all yummies, I do want that!”

Given that it was six-thirty in the morning, I got up, put the moka pot on the stove, and sat down to write this blog instead.

The past couple of days I’ve felt crabby, bitchy, and all around PMS-y. Apparently, PMS has leaked into my dreams.

I don’t consider myself much of a bitch. I mean, sure, I can be – but I make an effort not to be, even when I’m feeling fussy, short-fused, and totally impatient with the people around me. I tend to crawl into my shell when I’m not in a good mood. I crawl inside and hang a sign on the imaginary door that reads: For Your Own Good, Do Not Disturb. I deal with my irritability with humor, I try to make it less, try to laugh right in its big ol’ irritable face.

And then someone will say something to me and I’ll respond, realizing that whether I will it or no, my voice has changed. It’s taken on a bitchy and somewhat snarky growl and then I feel bad. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m like a werewolf with a full moon approaching – but instead of this insatiable urge to go postal on someone’s ass, I want things that keep my inner bitch at bay. I try to tame myself. I nibble on chocolate. I crave steak like something fierce, and so I give into the craving, and when I do this, when I give into my cravings for ice cream, or chocolate, or steak – my inner bitch does start to calm down a little bit. And it’s good, because I’m not too big of a fan of her, either. That’s the one thing that gets me, when people give you that look that says, “Wow, I really don’t like you right now.” Do they think you really like dealing with yourself then? All you want is your damn ice cream so that inner bitchy voice shuts the bleedin’ hell up and you no longer feel like a wolf ready to bite someone’s head off in a matter of seconds, only to then have to deal with an immense amount of guilt once your normal self kicks back ‘on.’

And that’s part of the fun of being in a relationship with a woman, I suspect. (Note: Totally being sarcastic). You’d think, as women, that we’re better equipped to deal with each other’s PMS. But, this is not often the case. We’re better equipped at absorbing each other’s PMS.

Like last night, my wife pointed out that I’d taken complete control of our evening (and I had). While she was on the phone dealing with work, I was like, “I’m going to rent a movie. And I want steak. You buying?”

I heard her when she said, “I don’t know what’s been released.” I did not, however, hear her when she said, “There’s nothing out there I want to see,” in the same sentence. And eventually, that led us to bickering.

“How can you say, ‘I don’t know what’s been released’ and ‘there’s nothing out there I want to see’ in the same bloody sentence?” I asked. “It’s friggin’ contradictory! You said you don’t know what’s been released!”

“You shaped our evening, on my day off, around what you wanted to do.”

“Yeah, and what’s so wrong with spending time with me, having a lovely dinner, and watching a movie?” I swung right into defensive, feeling as though she was trying to heap onto me more guilt than I was willing to carry. Didn’t she understand I wanted to watch a movie so I didn’t talk and leak a bunch o’ bitch all over the place? I’d told her earlier, “I’m feeling crabby today, it’s nothing personal, and I’ll do my best not to take it out on you.” And yet, all it took was what felt like an accusation to set me right off, and then I said something that set her right off, and then:

“You know, every damn dog in this neighborhood can probably hear you right now!”

“I’m just freaking sure they can! That’s the effing point! This is my STOP ARGUING WITH ME voice! It’s supposed to hurt your ears so badly, that you STOP FREAKING ARGUING WITH ME!” I said, still in my whiny-growly-screechy voice.

And then we kicked back, shut up, and watched our movie (the movie I picked out).

My wife and I used to be able to fight. I mean, we’d get bleedin’ pissed off at each other and hold grudges over shite for days. Now, we’re kind of like cats. But we understand each other and what exactly we’re doing when we argue: We’re both finding a safe place to unload pent up stress. In some strange way, we don’t take it personally. I think that’s one thing that really makes our relationship awesome. We don’t argue often, mind you. I personally loathe arguing, but when I get heated up, I don’t back down very well. I will drive that damn thing straight into the ground, until it’s twitching and like a spider that’s been whacked, trying to hang in there, but failing, all eight of its limbs beginning to curl inward toward its body. My wife is just as stubborn.

Like cats, we get taken by weird random moments of conflict inspired by frustration and irritability with something else in the universe (not always each other) and we hiss, spit, swat, and then afterward, shake paws and say, “Good game.”

I’ve learned through years of experience that sometimes the best thing you can do is put a lid on your own emotions and force yourself to walk away. It took me years and a lot of nasty arguments to learn to cage that instinct in myself that said, “Pounce, fight, attack, seek, destroy, annihilate, rawr, rawr, rawr.”

When I was younger, I didn’t understand it. If cornered, I felt like the only option I had was to unsheathe the big claws and let the stinger fly. Yet, experience and age offer us wisdom (they don’t always make us wise, because we don’t always reach for the knowledge that’s available to us), but the wisdom’s usually there for the taking. I’ve learned to cage my inner lioness, take a deep breath, get up, and walk out. I’ve learned it’s not weak to do such a thing: It’s considerate, really. Most arguments are pointless, despite the fact that we find what we think is a focal point in an argument,  we’re usually trying to convince the other person to think or feel as we do or we're just unloading emotional energy. Sometimes, it can be healthy, it can be therapeutic, but there’s a line we have to draw and not cross. Sometimes, you’ve just got to pick up your emotional shite, walk out, and calm down before you say something stupid or deal a blow that makes a casual argument escalate into a big scary monster argument.

My wife and I have learned the art of arguing and then letting it go. After we argued last night, she came back to the room and said, “Look, I know you might not admit it, but I know you’re irritated, in part, because we haven’t got to spend as much time together as you’d like due to me having to deal with work related issues on my day off.”

Even though I was lying in bed, glaring at the television set, that little bit of trying to understand made my stinger start to go down and my mane less ruffled.

And that’s when we let it go and curled up to watch a movie together. We love each other, even when we argue. Oh, we might want to clobber each other a bit, but we still love each other and we’re aware of that even when we’re trading witty comebacks.

During a break in our movie, we stepped out into the kitchen. I grinded up some coffee for Rebecca and made a cup of tea for myself and then we hugged and Alonzo, one of our cats, walked up and leaned up against our legs. We picked him up and held him between us in a purring sandwich-y hug.

People are not perfect. We’re flawed, we’re damaged, we’re messed up sometimes, but we’re a lot of other good things, as well. You can’t expect each other to be perfect and you can’t expect to get along and to see one-hundred percent in the same direction, all the time. We’ve each got stuff we have to deal with and Bec and I both agree that when it comes to our relationship: It’s a safe place. It’s a place where we’re safe to be ourselves and a safe place to express our feelings and to argue if that’s what we need to do. It’s a safe place, because that’s what we make it. We make it safe with forgiveness and compassion. We make it safe by being in it together, by being committed and not judging the other too harshly. And as fired up as I can get, one of my strong suits is the ability to empathize with the people I care about (and the same goes for my wife – we’re a lot alike in many ways). There have been times when I’ve riled Bec up, just because I knew she needed to get something out of her system, and afterward, she’s understood that’s exactly what I was doing.

I opened myself up and said, “Bring it on, get it out, I can take it,” and afterward, I threw it off and left it on the ground. As I said earlier in this blog, it’s not always about us. It’s about other things that get dragged into our midst that we need to kick the shit out of and banish. It may seem in that moment that we’re opposing each other, but we’re not. We’re still working together.

We can say we hate arguing as much as we want, but when it comes down to it, every time we learn how to better deal with an argument and how to take the time to understand more fully where we’re coming from as individuals, it strengthens our bond, it reinforces the safety of our relationship.

We’re reminded that we’re not perfect in those moments, but that our bond is strong, our love and friendship is strong, and that we work pretty damn well together. By establishing that safety in our relationship, it makes it even more valuable. We love one another enough to argue and get over it, instead of trying to get even. We try to make it something productive instead of destructive. And though I try not to take my PMS out on her, it inevitably shows when I’m PMSing. Neither one of us needs words to communicate with each other. Being so constantly in-tune with each other often lands us in the same boat and so whatever we’re dealing with, dark waters, choppy waters, inner storms – we find a way to navigate and plot a course together.

Even if every now and then, we’re tempted to knock the other affectionately overboard.

At least if we do, we know one of us will always finally talk some sense into ourselves and throw out the life-saving flotation device for the other.

And baby, that’s love.

March 8, 2012

"Eh, What's up?"

I heard a lot of things from my mother when I was growing up. Most notably, was the phrase, “You’re weird, child.” It used to leave me grinning, although, a bit perplexed. How was I weird? I wasn’t trying to be! Of course, I didn’t have to try. Eventually, I realized that and I learned to embrace it.

I still get that look from her. I don’t always get the, “You’re weird, child,” response, but I do get the look -- the look that tells me she’s standing there wondering how she ever gave birth to such a strange woman.

I’ve come to learn, it’s a Pennington trait (I figure it has something to do with our British ancestry. Let’s face it, Brits are weird, even the most unsuspecting Brits have a weird sense of humor somewhere in them... That’s why I love ‘em).  As I’ve come to know distant relatives better, I’ve seen a similar weirdness in them and learned that it is, in fact, genetic weirdness. My mother agrees. “You come by it quite naturally,” she’s said. “Any other family would disown you.” You may wonder then, about my siblings. Yes, they’re weird too. But that’s not what this post is really about.

Earlier this evening, I approached my mother about a post I’d made on Facebook several days ago. Mind you, it was a post of a cat picture I’d drawn using Paint on my computer while I was sick and doped up on cold meds. Somehow, one of the markings on the cat came out looking very odd to me. I realized after a moment of gazing at the artwork I had so proudly drawn in my foggy-headed and sick-addled state, that the marking looked either like a lava lamp or a butt-plug.

Here's the post:

“This is what I’ve been reduced to: I’m not sure if that’s a lava lamp or a butt-plug on its back…”


(The entertainment value of drawing pictures of strange cats while doped on cold meds is high, sorry).

Of course, because she’s on my friend’s list (I just didn’t have it in me not to friend my own mother) she saw my drawing and commented:

“Who slammed the door on its poor tail? LOL”

I was momentarily taken aback, and so I replied, “You’re not concerned with the butt-plug looking mark, mother? Just the tail?”

A minute later, after no response, a thought occurred to me and I added, “Wait, do you even know what a butt-plug looks like?”

Still there was no response from her end.

A couple of days passed and she still hadn’t bothered answering my question or responding to my comments. Naturally, when I saw her this evening, I brought it up.

“I noticed you never responded to my comments on Facebook,” I said.

“What comments?”

“The comments on the cat picture, of course. I asked you if you know what a butt-plug looks like.” I was betting she didn’t and that’s why she hadn’t responded. Oh yes, my spidey senses were tingling!

She was silent for several moments.

“So, do you know what a butt-plug looks like?” I asked, starting to grin.

“No, I don’t know what a butt-plug looks like,” she said.

At last! Victory!

And then, “And I don’t need to know what one looks,” she rambled off. “Why would I? It’s useless knowledge I don’t need to keep and carry around! Not all knowledge is worth having!”

I grabbed a pencil and notepad that were nearby and began to sketch to the best of my abilities.

“Sure you do,” I said, tearing off the leaflet of paper from the notepad. “This is what a butt-plug looks like.” I held it up in the air between us, showing her my drawing over the breakfast bar. She gazed at it, looking somewhat confused.

I used the pencil as a pointer. “This part goes into the anus.” I circled the tapered shaft of the plug I had drawn. “And this,” I circled the flat base, “keeps a person’s arse from gobbling it up.” (And yes, I really do say 'arse,' it's not just something I type to sound less offensive).

She continued to gaze at it, and so I turned it sideways, made a semi-thrusting motion in the air with it, and further explained that, “It’s essentially like a tac for your ass...you just push it in and voila!”

“Why would I need to know this!?” she asked, appearing somewhat horrified and bewildered.

I turned the drawing upside down and said with a slight smile, “Because if you look at it this way, it looks a bit like a carrot.”

And that’s why I’m weird
. I feel this strange urge to traumatize my poor mother with little facts and tidbits about things she feels safer off not knowing about. And I gain a certain sense of satisfaction from it, from wondering if she’s going to be able to look at a carrot in the grocery store the same way again, or better yet, when Bugs Bunny pops onto the television set and says, “Eh, what’s up doc?” will she be able to keep herself from remembering?

At least now she’ll know…

That’s what’s up.

Brightest Blessings,
Winter