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So scared about the election. I honestly feel like Ernie is following me everywhere I go, just waiting to smack me upside the head when I'm not looking.
Woke up from a terrible dream around 6 a.m. Due to some fairly innocuous mistake we had made, our apartment (because we weren't living in our current house) had become infested with disgusting insects.

Something had happened to the bathroom mirror, and all around the edges it was now crawling and writhing with maggots and cockroaches. This was the absolute worst part, but some part of our kitchen had become similarly infested, and some part of our living room. My doctor told me that I needed to stay away from all of these places or I would become terribly sick, so I didn't know how we were going to get rid of the infestation, or how I was going to be able to prepare myself food in the meantime, and my doctor handed me a can of soup & said, "Well, I just happen to have this with me," and then he prepared me a bowl of canned soup (though I don't remember him actually heating it—just opening the can and putting the soup in a bowl and such), and I was thinking, "Okay, dude, that's one meal, but what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?"

Maggots, in particular, are one of the things that totally freak me out. Shannon's scared of snakes. Some people are scared of bees. My big thing is maggots. So my dream woke me up totally freaked out, and I was afraid to close my eyes again lest I fall back into the maggots dream, so instead I just got up.

I'm trying to be quiet so Shannon can keep sleeping soundly, but both cats have been disturbed by my early rising and are moving about the house restlessly. I hope they just leave Shannon alone, so I'm avoiding locking myself in my office to work on the Photoshop stuff I was wanting to work on, and instead hanging out in the living room where they can easily hang out with me while wandering to and fro.

Hypomanic

Been hypomanic for a couple weeks. Sleeping weird hours. Like last night I slept about 6 hours, so I was really tired & went to bed at 9 tonight (2 hours earlier than usual), but then woke up 1:30ish (probably when Shannon came to bed) and wasn't able to go back to sleep & so have been awake since then. So like 4.5 hours sleep so far tonight? I don't really feel like sleeping, but I should probably try again.

(We started me on risperdal last time I saw my Meds Doc. I'll see him again on Thursday & we can discuss the fact that it doesn't seem to be helping thus far.)

This has been a weird night/morning. I spent about an hour cutting out tiny pieces of paper which will be flower petals in my current self-portrait collage project. It's been on my To-Do list for ages, but it's tedious & so I kept putting it off. For some reason, tedious seemed just fine at 2 in the morning when I couldn't sleep, so I've got all the petals ready now. Just need to paste them on. There's a few more steps to finish the project (need to add a nose, lips, and a bit of watercolor paint on the flowers after they're pasted & dry). Haven't decided if I need eyebrows. In the self-portrait, that is. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping my eyebrows in real life.

I added some green to my hair about a week & a half ago. I was supposed to be going to CWC (this was Friday), but got a bug in my ear to dye my roots, because they were really bugging me, so I stayed home & did that instead, and added some green at the same time, because if you're gonna sit around with a head covered in dye for a few hours, you might as well do other dyeing at the same time.

I've been deeeeeep into the Dan-and-Phil "phandom" lately, reading/writing fic, making screencaps from their videos, getting enmired on Tumblr, all that sort of thing. I tend to get really sucked into obsessions when I'm hypomanic, and this seems to be my obsession-du-jour. Or obsession-du-mois, or something. On the other hand, I haven't watched their two most recent videos yet. I think I'm hoarding them. I tend to hoard things I really like.

I kind of want soup. Is it weird to cook myself a can of soup at 4:30 am? Probably. But I'm hungry. I think I'll go have some soup.

Welcome to my life.

Bad dreams

Woke up very early from bad dreams. The last one, right before I woke up, involved all kinds of simultaneous work and home disasters. I seemed to work in some sort of office environment, but it seemed to somehow exist in the same space as my home, even though there were various other employees, supervisors, bosses, secretaries, and such. The washing machine was broken in some dramatic fashion, while something was leaking from the stove (pooling liquid on the ground) and I wasn't sure if it was oil or water, and if it was oil then fire could be imminent. No one was willing to help me with any of this, though I asked both Shannon and my brother to come at least smell the stove liquid to see if they could figure out if it was a danger. They both did, but then walked away in the utter chaos without giving me any feedback.

The work computer was broken and I was being blamed for not having a receipt, even though I hadn't been the person in the office who purchased it and that person had never given me the receipt. I tried to pick a flaking piece of plastic off the new work phone, and it ended up ripping a whole strip of hard plastic off the top so that the whole thing was going to need to be replaced.

And I received a MANY-paged hand-written letter from our annoying "millennial" neighbors (the ones I don't like IRL because they threw a fit & blamed *us* when their truck was towed from in front of our house due to their own illegal negligence) blaming us for something involving dogs, but I hadn't actually read it yet. I'd seen the very end of the letter, though, and it said that they were going to be moving away "in Danny Boy," which apparently meant February (dream logic), and I was happy that they would be leaving, and this somehow also related to our own plans to move to Hawaii, but I didn't want to read their fucking whiny letter & wanted to just punt it to Shannon, but it was something I was going to have to deal with on my own. They had also included in the envelope a bunch of literal individual alphabet letters which would form some kind of message when I arranged them into the correct formation, but I knew I wouldn't be able to decipher that message until I'd read the inevitably whiny, responsibility-deflecting, us-blaming letter, which I wished I could just throw into the inevitably imminent stove-leak kitchen fire.

The dream was a constant barrage of blame and responsibility and chaos and just one thing on top of another on top of another on top of another until I felt like I was going to scream and no one would help me.

When I woke up, around 7, I decided I didn't want to return to that lovely, relaxing world & so I'd just get up & maybe read some fanfic or something, since I'd already gotten nearly 8 hours of sleep. It was still dark outside, but I'd sorta HAD IT with the sleep world, because it was way more stressful than the real world at the moment. Then I decided I should write this all down, because my therapist always loves to talk about my dreams. And that brings me to now, when I think I'll sit back and read some Dan and Phil until it's time to go hang with Crystal & Julia in our usual Thursday morning get-together.
Been sick for the past 6 days because of my flu shot. Unfortunately, the standard flu shot (the only one that is widely available) is incubated in egg, and so for some reason my body always reacts like I've just had about a dozen eggs injected into my body simultaneously. Given the fact that 3 eggs in a week is enough to make me a bit ill for a couple days, the flu shot just sends my digestive system into complete panic for ages. But CWC is such a petri dish of germs (seriously, it's like a pre-school) that I prefer to get the flu shot, not only for my own protection but also so that I won't contribute to the spread of plagues at CWC. Shannon points out that once we've moved to Hawaii & I'm not going to CWC anymore, I might want to just stop getting flu shots, because they make me sick enough that it just might not be worth it.

Feeling annoyed at my mom. The last time she & Nally came to visit (a couple years ago), she said this would be their last visit—that I would always have to be the one flying out to visit them from now on—because she couldn't afford it anymore now that she's retired. And then she keeps telling me about her various travels around the East Coast since then. Today I got email telling me all about her recent trip to New York, Vermont, and Maine, and mentioning that she's going to Ireland for a week in March. You can afford to go to Ireland, but you can't afford to visit your own fucking daughter? I mean, it wasn't like she said, "I won't be able to visit as often." She said she wouldn't be coming to visit me EVER AGAIN.

I feel weird about being ticked about it, because Shannon & I are planning a trip to the U.K. next year, and so it seems sort of hypocritical to be annoyed with my mom for going to Ireland. But it's not her trip to Ireland that ticks me off: it's the fact that she said she wouldn't come to visit ME anymore because she can't AFFORD it, but she can apparently afford all this other traveling. I just feel like it was a lame excuse, that she loves to travel but doesn't give a shit about me.

But in her email today she also mentioned that Nally is growing his hair out because right now it's too short to dye it & he wants to dye it blue like mine. That made me smile the biggest smile in ages. It made me feel connected to him & kinda like "Oh, my little brother looks up to me & wants to be like me" & that was really nice. He & I had a phone date a couple weeks ago & it was great to talk with him. He seems to be doing pretty well.

While I've been sick, I've become obsessed with Tumblr, which never interested me before. There's an active fan community there for these two British YouTubers I've been following obsessively, AmazingPhil (Phil Lester) and danisnotonfire (Dan Howell). Tumblr (and Twitter, which I've also been tentatively exploring for mostly the same reason) sort of puzzles me, but I've been having fun. Here's one of Dan's most recent videos (with a bit of Phil featured, because they're housemates & were heading out on tour together in the story related in the video), which I really liked:



And a recent Phil video, to show his endearing vloggy style:



Must admit, I'm more of a Phil fan, though I love them both. Dan's very articulate and often thought-provoking, but Phil's a Hufflepuff, like me. His totally unself-conscious dorkiness just makes me smile.

I need an icon with my bue hair. Perhaps I'll go make one for this post.

Is it "brave" to dye your hair blue?

I don't see my friend Peni very often, but she was my inspiration to dye my hair the first time & to continue trying, because she dyes her hair with really cool ombre effects & encouraged me to stop worrying about the mess and whether it would turn out "right" & just do it. This was November of last year. Anyway, she continues to have an interest in my hair color, but I haven't seen her since this most recent dye job, so I posted a photo on Facebook in which I tried to show a bit more of the variation in the colors:



Another friend, Katherine, tagged someone I don't know in the comments & encouraged her to dye her hair similarly, telling her that this was her color. The friend responded, "I love the color! If I were only brave enough to color my hair like that..."

It made me stop in my tracks. "Brave"? It had never occurred to me that anyone would consider it "brave" to dye my hair. My only concerns had been practical ones. Would the color last long enough to be worth all the time and trouble of the dyeing process? Would it make an ungodly mess? How would I deal with the inevitable roots, since my hair grows so fast? But saying that it's "brave" implies a fear of other people's reactions, and that never occurred to me. I didn't dye my hair to please anyone but myself (okay, and Shannon, since he told me he really liked the idea) & I really never thought about what other people would think. That's why I was so shocked when everyone—friends and strangers alike—responded so enthusiastically and vocally. I still get compliments from complete strangers pretty much every day. And it isn't just people I pass on the sidewalk or meet in the pharmacy check-out line: I've had an old man lean out of a second-story apartment window to yell down that he loves the color, and I've had people call out compliments from passing cars. I've had people—from the contractor caulking our bathtub to my primary care doctor at my annual physical—ask if they could touch it. It's been really surprising, and I think that's primarily because I really didn't factor other people into the equation when I made & executed the Blue Hair Plan.

So it never struck me as "brave," and this stranger's comment on my Facebook post puzzled me for a couple days. But then I remembered that I spent the first 30-40 years of my life doing my level best to be completely invisible, to blend in with the wallpaper, to avoid being noticed at all costs. Life with my violently abusive step-father had taught me that silence and invisibility were my best defenses against the scary things in the world, and I'd taken those lessons very much to heart. I wore the blandest clothes possible, never any bright colors or loud prints. When I got to college, I started wearing pretty much nothing but jeans and t-shirts, a trend that continued up until only a few years ago. I didn't wear jewelry or other accessories. I didn't paint my toenails. I didn't do anything that I thought might make anybody look at me and make any kind of comment.

So I realized that the "me" of 30 years ago would NEVER have dyed her hair this color, not in a MILLION years. The prospect of all those people staring at me every day would have been absolutely horrifying, possibly even terrifying. And then I realized that the "me" of 20 years ago wouldn't have dyed her hair this color, either ... and the "me" of 10 years ago wouldn't have done it, either! But the "me" of today never even worried about what other people would think or if they would stare or if it would make me vulnerably VISIBLE. I did what was once utterly unthinkable by calling attention to myself. There was a time in my life when that would have meant getting smacked, or at least taunted, definitely hurt in some way, but apparently I've left that time behind, because that fear just wasn't in me when I decided to dye my hair blue. It didn't feel brave—it just felt like something fun to do. But the "me" of 10 or 20 or 30 years ago would have considered it unthinkably brave.

So I made this little picture, showing the transformation. This is what 15 years of hard work & therapy can do.

then&now.jpg

Scary dreams about hiding from murderers

Scary dreams about murderers last night. I mostly remember hiding from them. They were in the same house as me, and it was two different groups of disparately scary men who had joined together, like a motorcycle gang and the mafia or something, and they were hunting down all the people in the very large house (my family? my friends?) and killing them all, and I knew I was in imminent danger the whole time.

At one point, it was nighttime, and the whole house was dark, and I knew the murderers were coming, but I had nowhere good to hide. A man I knew and trusted (Shannon? Donald? Jay?) was asleep in the room, and I wanted to hide under his bed to sleep where I would feel safe, but the bed was too low to the ground & I couldn't fit underneath, so I slept on the floor next to the bed, knowing full well that I was totally vulnerable in that location and that the murderers were sure to find me in the night and that I was going to die. But then I didn't die, somehow, and had to keep sneaking around the house hiding the next day.

At another point, I was in a room in full light, and the murderers came in, and I held very still, and it seemed like they weren't noticing me. Like magic! Like they thought I was a statue or a mannequin! But then one of them walked up to me and started gesturing to my face or something and commenting on me & I realized that they could see me & knew I was there, and I waited for a moment when I thought they weren't looking & ran out of the room to find somewhere else to hide.


Obviously Ernie-related trauma dreams, though I don't know why they're plaguing me right now (the past two nights!). During the day, I haven't been having too rough a time, haven't been thinking about the past much, been working on a fairly optimistic, positive, future-looking art project (something I can do to allay the boredom while sick without wearing myself out). Something to discuss with my therapist on Wednesday. She LOOOOOVES when I talk about my dreams.

Dreams of abandonment

Weird dreams last night about people moving out and leaving me behind (possibly due to recent conversations about whether my moving to the Bay Area was an abandonment of my brother and/or whether my mom moving to Florida was an abandonment of me):

In the dream right before I woke up this morning, I was living with a housemate (I think it was my friend Sharon in England, who was never my housemate but we did live in the same dorm), and she had decided to move out very suddenly. It had something to do with wanting to move out before her work knew, so that she could have some time before they wanted her to start interviewing people (because for some reason her moving was going to mean they would need to hire another person, not to replace her but to help her). As she packed up her stuff, the apartment looked very empty, especially the bookcases.

Pretty sure it was in the same dream: I had a baby, still an infant, and the woman who I’d hired to take care of her when I wasn’t around wore these strange, Roman-sandal-looking leather laces up both her forearms. I hadn’t asked about them, but at some point she started talking about them (while she was leaning ominously over my baby’s crib), and they had some freaky meaning, like each cross of the leather related to some bad deed that she wanted to do but wouldn’t allow herself, or someone she’d harmed, or something like that … something that made me think, “I need to get this freaky violent lady away from my kid!”

For some reason, I thought I might be less lonely in Sharon’s absence if I started taking my baby with me to work each day. (I did this with Cobweb and Munchkin for the first couple weeks I had them, when they were tiny kittens.) I wasn’t sure my boss would be okay with it, though, or if I’d be able to do my job effectively while also taking care of a baby.

Pretty sure it was in the same dream: The authorities found a dead body, and I saw them lifting it in the distance with a crane. I thought they were lifting it out of a lake, and that it was someone who’d drowned, and I thought maybe the body was bloated and that’s why I couldn’t make any sense out of the shape. I thought maybe it was a pregnant lady, and that’s why the shape was so weird. It turned out that it was actually a young guy, and he’d been hit by a car near CWC. The person telling me referred to a very dangerous “jump crossing” in the area, and said that the guy had been hit there & that I should be careful when crossing the street. (This was all surely a reference to the 19-year-old guy who got shot and killed near CWC about a week ago.)

Pretty sure it was in the same dream: I was helping some man, maybe working for him, when I overheard him telling someone he was going to plant phones (and I was somehow helping him with the phones, unknowingly) on 20 people in downtown Berkeley, and he was going to target “tech-oriented people” (which made me think in the dream that Shannon would be in danger for some reason), and the planted phones would have some kind of incriminating material that would get them in trouble with the police. I wasn’t sure what to do about the whole thing, how to protect his intended victims, but I thought I could at least warn Shannon and anyone I knew to watch their bags and pockets & make sure no one was able to plant anything on them.

But the dream ended with me back at the apartment, and Sharon’s boyfriend or father (her dad actually died the year I was in Scotland) or Guy of Some Sort was there picking up the last of her stuff, and the apartment looked completely barren, almost like all *my* stuff was gone, too. I was trying to think about how this could be a good thing, how I could rearrange my stuff and take advantage of all the extra room, especially on the bookcases, but mostly I felt sad, and said (presumably to the guy hauling the boxes away) that it was going to be very lonely without her.

———

In a completely separate dream earlier in the night, I dreamed that I was living with my friend Julia and some third housemate (not Crystal). Julia and I were close, but the third housemate didn’t really connect with us, so she didn’t hang around the apartment with us much, so I didn’t know her very well.

Third Housemate Girl decided she was going to move out, and her dad came to pick up her stuff, and he was a scary, criminal-type guy. I didn’t like having him in our house! But he was boxing up her stuff, so we let him get to it. He tried to make conversation with me, but I was totally scared of him & so avoided him. (Ernie reference?)

Then Julia got a notice that she’d gotten another apartment she’d applied for, and it was going to have much more affordable rent and be just generally a lot better for her, so she was moving out, too! While I didn’t care much about Third Housemate Girl moving out, I was really sad that Julia was going to move! But then Julia said that I could come with her to the new place, though it would be much smaller, and we could just share the cheaper rent. I wasn’t sure this would work, though, because I definitely need a private room of my own where I can close the door and get solitude when I need it & it seemed unlikely that the new apartment would be large enough for that to be feasible. The dream ended without the question being resolved.

What’s weird is that I wasn’t worried about the practical, pragmatic things that immediately come to mind when I’m *awake*, such as “How can I afford the rent if my housemates leave?” or “Do I need to find new housemates?” In both dreams, I was only worried about the social aspect, mostly about being lonely (and needing my own space).

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Songs that remind me of Shannon

Been wanting to make a list of songs that remind me of Shannon. I don't know how to do that Spotify thing, so I'll just link to YouTube videos:

Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"
(Just been listening to this a lot lately & feeling sappily romantic)


Ingrid Michaelson, "The Way I Am"


Jason Mraz, "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)"
(Song about post-9/11 paranoia, but with a Shannon-like message of "chill out, people!")


Jonathan Coulton, "My Monkey"
(What a good relationship is really like)


Adam Sandler, "I Wanna Grow Old with You"
(Couldn't find a good version of this on YouTube, but here's the clip from The Wedding Singer)


Queen, "You're My Best Friend"


Bill Withers, "Lean on Me"


Assorted Intricacies, "Roll A D6"
(Okay, this one doesn't remind me of my *relationship* with Shannon, just Shannon himself—I did first meet him at a roleplaying session, after all!)

Feeling ... something unpleasant

Been feeling weird lately: withdrawn, upset, unhappy, and just exhausted by everything. On Tuesday in the art room, at a loss for what to work on, I turned to my old stand-by, the self-portrait, because it often helps me figure out what's going on inside when I'm having trouble putting things into words or even identifying what's happening. This was the resulting watercolor:

IMG_0038.JPG

I started out with the hair, which was cheerful enough, but then it all went pretty unpleasant from there. When I finished, I looked at it & thought, "Hmm. I'm apparently not doing that well." It's gratifying and interesting to me that art can be so effective at helping me figure out my emotions when they're confusing the heck out of me.

On Wednesday, my therapist asked me lots of questions, trying to explore what flavor of "unhappy," I was feeling, concerned that I might be slipping into depression, but I explained that depression (for me) tends to feel very passive, and I'm feeling pretty actively unhappy right now. There's an energy behind it, one that resulted in a very cranky, fight-picking email to my mom a couple days ago. With my therapist, I came to the conclusion that I'm angry, but I still feel pretty confused. Anger isn't a very comfortable emotion for me, as I tend to identify it with abuse and violence (since that's what anger always meant when I was young). I try to remind myself that anger isn't a good or bad thing in and of itself, that it's only if you react to it by mistreating others (or yourself) that it becomes a problem; but I think I'm still having trouble dealing with feeling angry, especially as there isn't anything currently happening in my life which I can pin down as a cause. I think it's all about past events.

I've been thinking about starting work again on my "Trauma Project," the collage book I started last year about the upsetting and damaging things that happened in my childhood. The first collage book I did, which focused on my reaction to my kidney disease diagnosis, really helped me express and process the opaque emotions I was having at the time. I think getting back to the Trauma Project might help with the stuff that's got me tied up in knots right now. But it's scary to contemplate, because it opens this whole upsetting can of emotional worms that has overwhelmed me in the past. But not opening that can of worms seems to leave me in this emotionally constipated place of confusion and vague, persistent unhappiness.

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