Friday, December 20, 2013

Wrong thing to say.

I got together with someone that I hadn't seen for a long while over breakfast recently.  Dancing around the elephant in the room, I had to ask her something.  

"I noticed that you stopped talking with me after a few months after surgery- that was two years ago- and now you asked me to add you again on Facebook last summer.  What changed your mind?"

Yup, that's me,  straightforward.  To the point.  


She looked down and then said she didn't want to explain.

I said, "okay."  I was ready to drop it, and was munching on a piece of my omelet.  

She bursted out, "I can't handle your grief, you had been so sad so long time, you won't get better- I decided to give you six months before I gave up on you.  That's why I defriended you."  



Six...  months?    You can't handle it?  

Really, where is the directions that grief has to be limited to six months?  Where is it in instructions that my grief don't have to be about me, but about you?  


That comes to an article that I had read two months ago, and I feel the article is a must for everyone involved, not the nonmoms only, but their families and furthermore, their friends.  Here is the link-  How not to say the wrong thing

This would have lessened pain for everyone.    Less pain.  Less anger.  Less resentment. 

As it is, I know who to talk with, you dear friends and fellow IFers/CNBC bloggers.  It's pretty much safer to talk in this circle, if you think about it.  




Time out.


Nowadays, I find myself saying no.

Eat out?
No.

Hang out?
No.

Take a walk?
No.

Chat on phone or computer?
No.

Read blogs?
No.


Even thinking about going to the grocery to acquire food, that's too much for me.

Sitting here, thinking how I got like this- and I can only come to the conclusion, Christmas is coming up, and I don't want to see the kids.  What I'm missing out.  What I will not experience. More closer it comes to February anniversary, my mood is darkening.

The degree of sadness is different today compared to last year- last year, I was under a black cloud, numb, raging at the world, with a heap of self-hatred and guilt. Tissue box in each room.

 Now?

I'm melancholy.

With urges to bang my head on the wall, if I see a pregnant woman or a baby.  Not giving in, thro.  But... damn the urges!


You have to admit...this is an improvement compared to last year, in a sense.

It's funny- I got a note from an ex friend wanting to talk with me.  I did consider talking with her, but with the emotions I'm going through, especially now with the holidays nowadays.....?

Bad idea.     I'll have to hold off 'til the 'dark season' passes.  That'd be after February.




Monday, December 16, 2013

Tree

Before the surgery, I had always loved the tree- Christmas tree, Yuletide log, Holiday tree as long as I could remember from my childhood.   Looking up at the tree, I had thought the lights as fairies holding candles, stars sparking out of the night, a beacon for Santa Claus to come and drop off presents.    A family tradition to get a tree, decorate it, and bask in the tree lights, with the darkness around us.

Looking back, I realized the tree also was an example of family, everyone getting together front of the tree, to open presents, to enjoy each other, and be reminded of what family is supposed to be.


Supposed to be.

Sixteen years ago, I got a very BIG tree-  7'5 tree, so thick that you'd need two persons on each side, to help decorate the tree (woe be the person in back/corner, having to move by inch, hoping he wouldn't knock the tree down!).   Sixteen years ago, I thought I would have a family; a husband to love, and children to see the magic in their eyes.



I faithfully put up the tree every year, thinking "next year, I'll find someone and have a child."


I had relationships, however, I couldn't picture myself living with each of those guys permanently, and I was unfortunately right.    The last relationship had burned me badly, and I found that singlehood was much better for me.    I then looked into getting pregnant, and that didn't work out; two miscarriages were the result before I noticed the bump that led to the surgery.

The surgery wiped out my hope of having a family.  Children.


Last year, I found myself reluctantly putting up the tree. I found out that I had an hate-love relationship with the tree.

There would be the days I would look at the tree, with tears in my eyes.  

Some days, I'd glance at the tree, thinking there's still hope.

Other days, I wanted so badly to toss the tree out the window, chop it up and toss it into a bonfire.




After the holiday, I decided the tree had to go.  I donated the tree and ornaments to a shelter for domestic violence survivors, so the survivors and children can enjoy the tree in a safe place.


For the last six weeks, I found myself swinging between a desire for a tree and not wanting a tree.   A friend, who spent the road trip with me, encouraged me to get a tree. We didn't get one- and I found that I'm glad about that.  I love her, but I didn't like the pressure, not when I didn't feel ready.

I still searched for trees while surfing Internet, finding myself annoyed when catching myself doing that.


After talking with my therapist a few days ago, about the tree, I realized something.


The 7'5 tree-  it was for my family to be. My dream children.    Hope for family and children.   

Hence the tree never had belonged to ME. It had belonged to my family that was supposed to happen. 

After the catharsis, I then knew what to do.


I looked at trees, taking my time.    Tonight, I went to Target to get some package boxes so I'd mail stuff to family in Kansas, when I thought to myself "why not look at the trees here?"

I saw that the trees were on sale for 50% off. I went, "well, there's this tree I like, don't know if there'd be any left."

I went around the corner to find that the tree model that I liked, was still there, but no packages beneath the low raiser that the floor model was placed on.  I was thinking fatalistically, "that's that..." when a staff member stopped by and asked if he could help me. I shrugged and pointed at where the tree was, "no more packages. All out."

"We can pack this floor model tree for you, 75% off for you."

Serious? 
Serious?  
Is he serious?!  

I knew then that the tree was meant for ME.    Jules, the woman I am, on my own journey, exploring the world.

I took the tree home.    I put it up, decorating it with new ornaments, with some ornaments I kept from my trips to New Orleans and Britain.



This is MY tree.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pillar of awesomeness


This post is scheduled during my absence.    (It was supposed to appear during my absence, it didn't- harumph)

A few months ago, a close friend and I have been chatting about when we could get together again.  Impulsively, I tossed out "how about a road trip- just like Thelma and Louise?  Without the cliff ending, that is!" 



After laughing so hard, she LOVED that idea!  


Now....we are in the almost end of the road trip, going across the Old South-  Memphis, Jackson, Baton Rogue,  New Orleans (most of the time in that Big Easy!), Huntsville, and all.  

BBQ.  Lighting ceremony of Elvis' home.  Games and laughter. 
Kayaking.   Cabin.  Crawdads.  
Vintage buildings, throwback to 1950's and dark roux.  
Crawdads, masks, carousel, swamps. 
Oak trees, shrimp & grits, 2 am dancing. 
Soul food, plantations and streetcars on the st Charles street. 
Eye candy, tacos and art markets. 

And best thing through it all?   The laughter, the tears, the sisterhood. 



R- seriously- you're awesome!!!    When it comes to example of awesomeness, you're the pillar!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gal Trail





R and I are off on a road trip of the lifetime, through the Old South. Already knockin' 'em senseless in Memphis, Tennessee today!     Tomorrow, Jackson, MS, and then Baton Rogue, LA.

Ciaos!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Toxic friendship


There was someone I was hanging out with a few months; I had started to notice things, that were RED ALERTs of the friendship being toxic.  



I notice after visits, I found myself not liking myself, double-guessing my own behavior and thoughts, even wondering why I feel lousy.  

Red flag. 

Excessive talks about exercise, dieting, and valuing looks (even hundreds of photo poses on Facebook!), looking at me, saying "Why can't you be like me?  Obviously you don't like yourself."  When I tried to say something to point out that we have different lifestyles, I was told "don't be so defensive, god, you're so sensitive!"   So I fell silent, feeling no matter what I'd do, I'd still lose.  

Red flag. 

I started watching what I am saying in conversations, to avoid blowups and tantrum fits- it was easier to say "yes" and "whatever", than to share my differing opinions.  

Red flag. 

When disclosing a bad experience (i.e. a dog getting sick) or even small things (i.e. getting lost in a town on way to a meeting), I get laughter, mocking comments "you twit, how can you get lost?!" or "If she is sick, put her down- so?" 

There were several other red flags, but I selectively ignored them because...

I didn't want to feel alone.    It was getting harder and harder to find people, either childfree or CNBC; and so many times I'd contact a friend to find that she's busy with a daughter visiting, or another parent friend not having time even for a phone chat (even when we scheduled it when kids would be asleep.)   So having someone who is childfree AND local, that's a plus.


Nevertheless, all this came to a stop when I decided to invite him to a labyrinth ritual three weeks ago, (a church invited me to attend a private labyrinth walk, and I was told I could bring someone.) I thought he'd appreciate that since he had been curious about my passion about labyrinths.    I noticed he brought his camera, so I explained that he might need to ask permission of the priest to take photos of the labyrinth ritual and people participating (during the ritual, silence and personal inward journeying can be sober and private).

That's when he went off.  Ranting about having the right to photograph whatever he wanted to, wherever he wanted to.  When I'd say something, "I can see how you love your photography, and you are a good photographer, and how this could  upset you, but this is a church.. You CAN ask the priest.....", he would go off again, saying that the church should appreciate his photography, to show the world about labyrinths...this went on for a while.  

I found myself bursting into tears.  I was taking him to a place that I love so much, and I felt violated.  He then started to belittle me, "crybaby, overreacting."  


I stared at him, and I suddenly thought to myself, "What's wrong with him being abusive?"  I shut down my emotions and told him we're going back- I will not take him to the labyrinth.  He said "whatever, I don't want to go anyway, with you being negative."  

Suit me just fine.  I dropped him off.     Later on, he sent me a photo of my dog,  "she's so cute!" I figured he was trying to apologize in his way or testing the waters-

I'm not taking the bait.  

I talked with some friends to figure out where I was going wrong.  R pointed out, "Wait, wait...you didn't do something wrong-  HE's the one who is messing up with you, making you feel lousy, its all about him going 'me-me-me.'"  I got confirmation of what she said, from other friends, that's it's not me.  It was him, toxicity in the 'friendship.'  


For the last three weeks, I didn't contact him.   It never entered my mind 'til today, when I realized I'd need to get copy of my key from him (when he needed to use laundry occasionally.)   

I told him that I'll come by to get the keys back, when he said he'd come over. I told him no. I already stated that I will come by. He wanted to talk about his trip to college, how lonely he feels, blah, blah-  I stared at him and said, "I'm sorry to hear that you feel alone, but I don't see how that relates to me here getting my keys."  I told him due to what happened recently, I don't feel safe with him anymore, and that to keep his distance from me.  He was, of course, upset, raging "You'll be sorry!  People don't like you!"  I looked at him, shrugging before getting into my car.  I know one thing for sure- he's out of my life, permanently.  And good riddance to that.  


End of this toxicity.    


The geek in me, just had thought of this movie "Aliens", and Hicks (my favorite hero) saying something very simple about ensuring the end of Aliens (nuking the site invaded by Aliens).  



Yes, that means I'll still deal with social isolation especially with parent friends in town, that speak my language.  Harder to find childfree or CNBC folks who can sign...  I can still talk with childfree/CNBC friends on Facebook, email or phone.  

But you know what? I'd rather have that than dealing with a toxic 'friend'.   

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sunshine Award

I was flabbergasted, pleasantly when I checked my email neglected for a few weeks- for a good reason if you had checked my last post.  Hope of  A Crack In Everything  had just nominated me for a Sunshine Award-   I hadn't anything like that before- it's always awesome having some folks sharing their appreciation with you, especially on this lonesome path which could easily knock folks down (when you think about it.)  This is a way to remind us readers (and writer) that we're NOT alone!   Thank you, Hope, for that!  :)

*A Sunshine Award is given to bloggers whose posts brighten your day.  The rules are:

1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post.
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award.
5. Link your nominees and let them know they've been nominated.



I am quite intrigued by Hope's questions!

1. Where do you feel the most at home (other than, you know, in your actual home)? 
  New Orleans.   No matter where I am, as long as it's New Orleans, I feel at home- in the French Quarters, looking through old books at a forgotten bookstore; sitting under the shadow of Spanish moss of an huge oak tree at the Audubon Zoo; or laughing among family at a local eats. And in two weeks, I'll be there!

2.  What song brings back good memories? Despite being deaf, I listened to music when I was a teenager, and so I just loved 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson.   (Yes, I know of his history, but damn, his songs are great!).  I dressed up as a zombie, and led a pack of kids through the dance at the Lake Drive school for Deaf one time- and even now I'd listen to that song and do some of the moves!

3. When did you know that you were ready to have children?    That would be 2009, when I realized I was about to become 40 in a year.  I started to do research, especially with the fact that I wasn't with anyone.

4. What's your next big (non-child-related) goal?  Do a 2-month road trip, hitting U.S. Route 66 and back roads.

5. What's one of your pet peeves?  Saying one thing, and then saying one other differently later on, which is hypocrisy.    Be honest, even if when you know it'd hurt me-  better NOW than later.

6.  What's one of your favorite keepsakes? Wooden spinning toy!  The paternal grandpa had it when he was a kid in late 1910's, and then he passed it to Dad- who then gave it to me.   I guess when my nephew is old enough, I'll pass it on to him.  


7. Cats or dogs?  Dogs, hand down!   Dogs come greet you at the door, and insist sleeping with you, and you can even go to places with dogs!


8. If you could live in any other place or time, what would it be?  New Orleans in 1920's!  The history, the music, the passion, the food, Joie de vivre!  

9. If you had money to give away, who would receive it?  Schools in New Orleans.   They had lost so much during the Hurricane Katrina and the flooding.   Books, supplies, and after-school activities.

10. When was the last time you laughed really hard?  Last night!  Among awesome friends, over a possible road trip in the future to Chicago, including what to see, including  Hunkomania!  *giggle*

Answering those questions were pretty awesome. Thanks for the opportunity, Hope!

Now here are my nominees:

1. Amel at Serenity in Chaos
2. Nicole at Real Life & Thereafter
3. Michaela at A Single Journey
4. 1nonmom at Childless does NOT mean less
5. Mali at Not Kidding in NZ
6. Roni at AT Deaf-Blind Dream
7. Klara at The Next 15000 Days
8. Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled
9 (blank)
10 (blank)

(note:   Others that I love to read, are private blogs, so I'm leaving them alone.)

Here are my questions for you.

1.  Chocolate or Vanilla?
2.  What is one thing you would rid of,  from the world?
3. What is in your bucket list for the next year?
4. Where do you feel the most comfortable (outside of your home)?
5.  Movies, originated from books (i.e. The Help), or books, originated from movies (i.e. Cowboys and Aliens)?
6. If you could live anywhere (no limits), where would that be?
7.  If you win the lottery ($64 millions), what would be the three first items you would acquire, (or get done)?
8. What is one of your rants, that put you on the soapbox?
9. If you had one chance to a time machine that can only go ten years ago (2003), what would you do?
10. Done any jokes lately? Spill!

*Of course, it's all optional.  The main rule is no guilt!  We all have some intense things going on, so I'll understand if you don't have time right now, or if you pick just a few favorite questions to answer.  If you do participate, please post a comment that links to your answers and nominees, so that others can go check them out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back on board!

Had been away for a long while, due to being sick and taking a self care 'vacation' for a few days.   Due to it being October, there is a mixture of sorrow (miscarriage anniversary, the tumor, and several traumatic anniversaries) and joy (bonfires, colorful leaves, costumes, haunted houses, Halloween/Samhain), I knew I needed to be away from everything, including reading others blogs.

I didn't want to think about my childlessness; I didn't want to recall what led me onto this path. I didn't want to relive the grief and confusion.  

I wanted to live in the present.  And that's what I did for the last few days.

Gone to Cobb's Haunt, which is a corn maze, with zombies jumping out among cornstalks, grabbing at you.

Cobb Haunt Vignette (from Joseph Phelps)


You can get an idea what it's like walking in the corn maze... NO lights (except for strobe lights here and there)..I took advantage of the full moon-  took me 32 minutes to get out!  I have to see if I can do that again- that is if Cobb Haunt is open this Halloween (It's my goal to do three places all on one day!)

I went fishing- I hadn't done that for a long while, and so I caught two bluegills.  I hadn't caught that kind before, so I had to google up if there were recipes to determine if I can cook 'em or not.   I also went to a spa to treat myself to a body massage, pedicure and manicure.  I needed that for a long while.

And there were absolutely nothing to do for some days, and I LOVED that.  Freedom to read, catching up on movies, and doodling and painting.

I took my dogs to a pet supply store for their Howl-oween costume contest.  Due to Derby being popular around here, Hairy had a jockey on him!


and Lola went as a bumblebee-  Sweet Sweet Lola!  


We all got some awesome treats despite that neither had won- but that's all right.  I got to show off my furry kids in their costumes..and had gotten some ideas for next year- perhaps Star Wars or Walking Dead theme.  

Oh that reminds me-  everyone got a kick out of my t-shirt that I wore while walking through the corn maze and the dog contest.  
Can get this t-shirt from Handsay.com


Nowadays I feel pretty much  human, and it's easier to handle triggers, especially with babies and pregnancy. I recently had talked with friends about Pennsylvania news of a guy being arrested for rubbing a pregnant woman's belly, and there was no pangs of hurt in my heart.    

That tells me that I'm doing it right my way during the journey.  


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Flu whammy

Hadn't been to the blog or reading blogs for a long while.  The yucky flu had hit me the week before last,  and while recovering from it last week, I got a flu shot.


Big mistake.

Relapse of flu, with a whammy.

So currently taking care of myself, with ginger ale (Thanks, Amel!!),  my Elfquest (Thanks, Wes!),  my book, Styxx (Thanks, Michelle!!) and soup (Thanks, Pat!!)



Well, on the bright side, I got to get familiar with the chipmunk living near my porch, finding out his preferences for food- did you know that the chipmunks love to munch on stinkbugs?   I found that out while being sick and annoyed enough on smashing stinkbugs that keep trying to get into my place!   So at least my porch is very tidy,thank to the chipmunk, Mr. Clean!

 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oversharing

Today, there was a meeting where I had to attend, with folks from several organizations.  I know some folks there, and that they are parents.  

I have no problems with attending meetings at all.

It is the time after meetings that I dread.


Why?  

That's when the parents would start to talk about their children.

Today I was hearing about toddlers learning to walk and babies nursing and making messes.

One lady was oversharing, going on and on and on about her kid learning to walk, sharing photos on her cellphone, and I was visualizing in my mind......



Nice visual, yeah?

I was very tempted to do that, and I got another visual going....





I gave an excuse to get out and took a deep breath outside of the door.


I was processing on why the heightened reaction to the parents sharing, and I can only come to the fact that I'm already vulnerable due to emotional anniversaries in October, and then bam!  Everyone then talked about children; that's when I found myself emotionally alone, when I didn't need that reminder.

And that wasn't pleasant at all, hence the angry visualization.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"What did you do for the summer?"

I know I hadn't written much this summer.   Have been busy with the travels, classes, family, activities, and staying in the present.  

108 out of 150 books completed in the Goodreads goal for 2013- Whoo!

Learned how to make mead.

Advanced ghost-hunting class and a ghost hunt at the Talbott Tavern.

Experimented with beading and jewelry. Found out- not my thing, but that's okay!  :)

Sold a labyrinth painting for the first time. (Could I tell you that it felt like seeing a kid off to college?!)

Camped twice, in Natural Bridge National Park and General Butler State Park.

Met my nephew. Family reunion.   Learned how to play spoons with cousins.  Spoons is an hazardous game if you ask me!

Waverly Hills Sanatorium again.  

And the Louisville Zombie Attack. (photos/video is included)
               (mind you, I'm not much about zombies- but hey, it's always fun wearing make-up and chasing                          folks!  Now only if they have werewolves.....)


Majority of days were good to me in a sense that I wasn't numb.   It was easier to handle emotions most of the time, be it good or bad.  There were a few days that it wasn't great, but that's all right.  We're human.


That's what I'd say if I was to come to school and the teacher said, "what did you do for summer?"


Thursday, September 19, 2013

PMS and Activism, what a mix!



Happy 2nd anniversary-
You still kick ass, Occupy Wall Street!



It has been 2 years since September 17, 2011 when the Wall Street had been taken over by the People (us).   They are still alive in many ways, a variety of fields, such as:

Boulder, Colorado:  Occupy Boulder Flood Relief

New York City: NYC 2nd anniversary

Yahoo news

and more- you can get more info with the link I attached to Occupy Wall Street/NYC.   I only regret that I wasn't able to be there this year.  

That's okay- I can still be an activist, as I'm doing this weekend, then again in 4 weeks in October, and again in November, covering five states.   


And by the by, PMS finally re-appeared in my life two days ago, after being 'missing in action' for a year and half after the hysterectomy.  I suspect I did have PMS now and then during that time, but grief had immensely distracted and numbed me in the meanwhile.  

That's all right, I'm good with that.  


PMS and activism mixed up-  the world, watch out!  



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Children of Elfquest

I am taking a page from Jody Day's Gateway Women blog, especially the tradition of identifying childless role models (such as Georgia O'Keefe, an artist, and Susan Anthony, a civil right activist), to give my own childless heroes a well-deserved recognition, and of their contribution to the world, the geek world, that is.


That would be Wendy and Richard Pini, the creators of Elfquest. What is Elfquest?  It's a comic book that came to life in 1978, of a story about elves (certainly not your Santa Claus elves or Tolkein's elves) trying to survive and find their place in a two-moon world, after their ancestors were stranded on the unwelcome world.  The main characters include Cutter, the 11th chief of the Wolfriders (yes, the tribe members literally ride upon wolves and live in the woods); Skywise, Cutter's best friend/blood-brother (and smart-ass, if you ask me), and Leetah, the healer for the Sun Folks (another group of elves who are peaceful and living in the desert.)

Skywise and Cutter
 (copyrighted by Wendy and Richard Pini)


The story wasn't limited to them, tho; there is a community of other characters, from the treeshaper Redlance to the glider Aroree, to trolls Pickaxe (yup, you read that right- *giggle*), and to preservers that could pass for winged fairies and humans aren't forgotten either. They range from enemies to an human daughter adopted by elves. War, love, death, life struggles and joy, laughter and tears, and philosophy could be found on pages, giving one awareness of worlds beyond what we see.


For me, Elfquest was a lifesaver.  

In 1984, I was a teenager, in a new house, in a new state, new school, away from everything familiar to me. Even more when you get to think about me being deaf, furthermore isolated and bullied.    I plummeted into depression.

It was one of those weekends I had to go with mom to her work on a Saturday.   There was a newspaper stand, that had a limited selection of books and a rack of comic books nearby.  So I was peering at the rack of comic books for something to keep myself busy while mom was working upstairs.  Used to see covers of Spider-man and Batman, I was surprised to see an unusual cover of  a group of pointed-eared humanoids, walking across a desert.  

( Elfquest copyrighted by Wendy and Richard Pini)

What struck me was their desperation.  Walking in an hostile environment that can bring death to them.  You would presume that one on the cover is already dead.    I opened the comic book, reading about the elves losing their home to a fire, and of choosing to walk the desert, not knowing if there would be cool dark woods on the end.  They took a gamble on an unfamiliar object that Skywise (turned out to be an lodestone) acquired in the caverns of the trolls. I was so mesmerized, drawn into the world. The colors, the words, the pictures, I was lost in the sphere and I welcomed the depth of the story that swallowed me.   


I was startled awake when a hand laid on my shoulder, shaking me, and I looked up, blinking in an attempt to adjust myself back to the harsh reality to see that it was mom. She was telling me it was time to go home and to put away the comic book.  I begged for her to buy the issue for me; she refused as usual.  Images flew through my mind while I was staring out the window in the car; Cutter worried about his injured tribe member; Skywise's confidence in his lodestone even that he only got it a few hours ago; and the doubt on whether the tribe would survive the walk through the desert, with two wolf deaths.  They may be a tribe, but they were also a family.

I wanted to be one of that family.  I forgot that I had a plan to kill myself that night.  

Instead, I was considering wildly on how to gain all that Elfquest issues, knowing that mom  wasn't keen on me reading comic books.  It was a week later when we went to WaldenBooks (anyone remember that book chain?), I found that Elfquest are available in graphic novels!  I was freaking out- "I MUST have those!"    After convincing mom that I'd do all my chores without complaining for 30 days, she is to get me all graphic novels she could find.  You can picture anyone a parent would think to herself, chuckling "that kid won't go through, it won't happen."   

I did do all my chores, even extra ones without complaining!    On the 30th night, I reminded mom of our agreement, showing her the calendar with checked days, that she had to get all the graphic novels. 

Mom knew she was beat.  

After floating through the school day, waiting impatiently at home, and peering outside to see if mom had arrived, my heart was pounding.  I was right there at the door when mom came in, and I exclaimed, "wherearemybooks?!"  She handed me a Waldenbook bag, in which I quickly drew two graphic novels, Elfquest Books 2 and 3.  After being told that the two others (1 and 4) weren't there (of course, I grumbled!), and rushing through dinner, I ran to my bedroom to devour the books.  

(Elfquest copyrighted by Wendy and Richard Pini)

It was basically in the wee hours of the morning (3 o'clock if you have to know) when I looked up, dazed, finished with the second book (Elfquest Book 3). 

A spark was lit in my soul. 

I wanted to live.

If the elves can survive the challenges, so can I.  If the elves could live through hardships and still live day by day with eyes of joy, so could I.   I drew hope from the illustrations, breathed in perseverance and courage from the characters, and welcomed life.   I wasn't alone anymore. 

When I found myself forgotten and bruised from bullying, I opened the book to remind myself, Winnowill (a villain) tried to control the Wolfriders because they were different. Humans tried to erase them from existence. The elves refused to be victims, and so I had the choice too, to refuse being a victim.  I refused to tolerate bullying; I spoke up.  Bullying stopped, (and hitting one back, certainly did help.)    

When I felt darkness of depression upon me, I buried myself under the blanket, with a flashlight and the ragged-corner books, welcoming me back to the two-moon world. 

It took two another years before I finally got the Book 4, and another year for the Book 1 (I know I should have started with Book 1, but damn, that was always out!)  My beloved Grandma managed to find a copy, Book 1, for my Christmas gift- the best present ever!  

I must make a confession. In a few years later, I was a college student, aspiring to meet Wendy and Richard one day. I was visiting an interpreter friend who lived in Poughkeepsie.  I was telling her about Elfquest, and of my dream, adding that the couple was living in the same town.  You know what she did?  She asked me for the address- I kept saying "No, no that'd be RUDE of me to show up at the door...! They would think me an insane stalker!"  

Next thing I knew, I was at the door, dragged out of the car by the friend, to the door.  I stood there, frozen in excitement and terror.  The friend prodded at me "go ahead, ring the doorbell." I was overcome with racing thoughts: "ohcrapohcraptheyaregoingtocallcopsonmeohcrapohcraptheyaregoingtothinkmecrazy!" 

So she pushed the doorbell.  

Then, Richard was there.  It had been over fifteen years ago, and I still remember vividly to this day, his curiosity about two strange women standing front of him, both signing with hands (although one was voicing for me).  The friend had to poke at me to say something, in which I rushed out my name, where I came from, how much I love Elfquest, rambling all in one breath. Bless her heart, the interpreter friend managed to get it all out for Richard to understand what I said.  Richard took it all graciously and smiled, asking me if I'd like to come in.  Would I ever!!??

He showed me around in the place, the room where he was editing pages for Elfquest: Kings of the Broken Wheel.  He showed me how to put a speech balloon in a panel. He printed out an Elfquest cover with Cutter and Rayek in front, with Cutter saying "Hello, Julie!" and handed it to me.  I was drowning in awe. When I thought we would have to leave, Richard asked if we would like to meet Wendy. 

I was FLOODED, oh yes oh yes!   So we walked down the street, to a cute house.   We all entered, and Wendy was coming out of a room, smiling. I felt like a guest, with the gates to Elfquest just swung open to me. She showed me art she had done, which took over the room from floor to ceiling, and items that fans had sent to her, including two cloth dolls, Cutter and Skywise and a real elf-sized sword, New Moon, Cutter's sword! She encouraged me to pick it up, and it was surprising heavy yet light, and I was so delighted when I realized the pommel could be taken out, revealing the hidden key!  I rattled off many names, even minor characters, in which Wendy admitted she couldn't remember every single character and their names (that ought tell you how much  of this obsession was back then!).  I asked her even if there'd be a deaf elf, in which Wendy said there was, a mother of a major character.  I was glad to hear that, since as you know, dear readers, I'm deaf.  The interpreter friend's fingers were flying fast as I talked about how Elfquest changed my life, and how happy I was to meet with them at last. Richard and Wendy were wonderful hosts! 

Standing outside, waiting for the friend to unlock her car door, I was in a blissful mystification. She laughed and said "Now, are you sorry that I dragged you here?"   

So it had been 28 years since Elfquest entered my life, shifting the path from despair to life. 


This year, Elfquest is celebrating 35 years, with so many books, with a variety of artists and writers all in the two-moon world, but always watched fondly by Wendy and Richard Pini.   Thanks to Wendy, underground comics were growing popular (not of the Marvel or DC universes).  Their having a company of their own with the Elfquest story, independent of the mainstream comics, contributed to people aspiring to create their own stories, such as A Distant Soil, for one. There were so many comics that I couldn't include 'em all here.  And to add, Wendy was the ARTIST and writer with her husband being co-writer and editor, which was unusual in the 1970's.  Comic artists had always been men, until Wendy Pini's entrance into the comic book world (as Red Sonja- cosplay- which is another story! LOL) 

Now what does childlessness have to do with the couple?  They chose not to have children.  They chose to give life to characters in their mind, to put word of whispered stories onto pages,  and to introduce the two-moon world and the pointed-eared ethos to a world used to caped superheroes. So Elfquest was created...and shall we say "And they're off!"  One'd think that the couple would feel absence of children as they get older.  You'd be wrong.  

So many readers have seen themselves in the stories; many explained how Elfquest had affected them personally- even saving some lives (and mine). So many stories mirroring our lives in ways you could not imagine.   From the elves' story, we rediscovered humanity in ourselves, and rekindled hope in seeing what life can offer us, with new eyes.  So many of us have been inspired, that even some of readers are introducing their own children to Elfquest, giving the stories a new generation to live on.  

And that's where Wendy and Richard find their joy in.    As Richard said in this article "Elfquest- 35 Years and Beyond", after being told over and over by fans describing how Elfquest influenced their lives, even saving some of them, Richard said, "Any time someone says 'you inspired me' or 'you helped me'-- you're our kids.  You are our spiritual and creative and artistic and wonderful kids.  And thank you all for being that... You are now our family, our tribe."  

His quote helped me realize something- we do not have to rely on parenthood, to find our place in the world.  There are other ways to leave a mark on the world, as Georgia O'Keeffe did with her painting, Susan Anthony with her activism, and Wendy and Richard with their Elfquest.  There are other ways to be a family, a tribe, to raise and/or teach children and individuals. 

So from my heart, I thank you, Wendy and Richard.   You saved me and many, and in turn, you can trust that Elfquest will be safe in our hands, our heads and our hearts.  


( Elfquest copyrighted by Wendy and Richard Pini)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stay mum or not.

I wrote this post six months ago- overlooked it it'til now.  Sorry about the delay.  


There was someone I have felt close to. She too dealt with infertility- the bottom line is that she said she had made peace with her infertility, not being able to be a mother; now she's in her early 60's. I have known her for more than fifteen years. I had looked up to her for many things, seeing her as a mentor for the religious path I have been on for over 20 years. Now on my childless path, I had looked up to her through the months going in and out of the hospitals, and when it struck me that I wouldn't be able to be a biological mother. I I still vividly remember when I was crying on phone, she said, "Go ahead and cry, cry it all out of your heart. Listen to me, don't obsess about it too long. Don't waste all your time on this. I got over it soon enough, and so will you." 

When I found myself still down 3 months after the hysterectomy, I started to think something was wrong. After 8 months, I was thinking "am I obsessing over it? Am I not letting it go?", drowning in self-guilt and self-doubt. It took reading blogs like Life Without Baby, The Road Less Travelled, Real Life & Thereafter, Serenity in Chaos, and books like "Silent Sorority" by Pamela Tsigdinos, "I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to say No to Motherhood" by Lisa Manterfield, and "Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility" by Janet Jaff, Martha Diamond and David Diamond. There are more blogs and books that I could read, but to me, those blogs/books I listed are more significant- helping me realize that:

"Grief is not a straight path, it's a continual cycle, very much like a labyrinth with its countless turns and stripes short and long. Uphill, downhill, it's all that."

"Not everyone experiences infertility alike. No one walk the same path. Each person goes it her way, with individual coping, access to support, and courage on their own time."


That was the catharsis for me; I had to let go of my expectations and society's expectations on how I:

"should complete my grief,"
"should move on,"'
"should shut up, be quiet."

I have been an advocate for women power, Deaf community, HIV/AIDS education, awareness of child abuse, domestic violence, more, for long as I could remember. So, returning to advocacy, as a tool to help myself heal, while noticing how infertility, childlessness and childfree life are still overlooked and/or judged in society's eyes, I was thinking, Why not? This is something I can do. Empowering people and empowering me. I walk the walk, and I can say "have been there, done that- and I got this stinkin' T-shirt."

So in time, I would share a post or meme about infertility here and there on Facebook, occasionally...testing the waters.
Mostly, I'd get a few likes, two or three comments affirming or at least, asking how this happened to me and/or how they could help someone infertile in their family or among friends.  

I felt emboldened, to share some more posts, although I drew a line at 'oversharing' because even I don't want to focus on infertility alllll the time in my life. I keep a balance as possible, mostly advocating and supporting causes, (including fighting against domestic violence and oppressing women). I like to share positive memes, introvert memes and geek memes- What can I say? 

Anyway, there would be some dry weeks without a post about infertility, then 2-3 posts a week. I did notice when I would experience depression (trigger of pregnancy announcement, or a glimpse of a baby), I'd start looking at infertility and/or grief posts/articles to validate and comfort me, normalizing what I'm going through. From there I'd find a good article to share in goal of making the word infertility public; to share that infertility exists for someone in your life- if it's your sister, your cousin, your best friend, or your teacher. Or at least you know that you're not alone in this.

A day before Infertility awareness week, I was already 'down' due to a friend who had recently have her baby. I congratulated her about her son's birth and sent her a baby gift earlier that week. That's the best I could do, while hiding her (which I tend to do with friends/relatives- when they announce being pregnant, or going through pregnancy, I hide them. I say nothing. It's for my self preservation.) Anyway, looking forward to advocating awareness about infertility, I had already shared a article about how to be supportive to infertile friends earlier that week. That day, I noticed I had a private message from the dear friend. I was quite aghast of the horrid tone in the message, chewing me out for being open about my grief,, posting "8-10 posts about infertility DAILY", "taking up all her new feed with all negative posts", "it being a friggin' year of this." And right after that, she de-friended me.  

I was quite flabbergasted. I even had a friend check my page to see if I truly post infertile stuff "8-10 daily" as I said in one recent post; turned out that accusation wasn't true. I had to talk with a good friend who is also an IFer. More we talked about my response to the email, it drew upon me.

It wasn't about me. It was about the friend's own pain of her infertility.  

I tried to put myself in her shoes- back then there'd be not much support in 1980's. No support groups on Internet, or at least forums to talk it out. It would have been lonesome for her and other women back then. It might be presuming of me to say this, but it might be easier to sweep it under the rug, to pretend that it didn't hurt anymore. I could be wrong, although.

Me, I chose not to pretend that it was 'all fine'. After struggling thinking I should put a deadline on my grief, and learning I didn't have to. The journey is mine, not anyone else's.

I chose to face my grief, and I chose to be public about my childlessness/infertility- in goal of removing the sting of taboo, normalizing and shrinking sense of stigma from the word 'Infertility. More I speak up in advocating, more women (and men) have contacted me privately, thanking me for putting the spotlight on this issue. They are not ready to open their hurt to the world, yet they appreciate that they are not alone anymore.

So that led me to realize that the friend possibly experienced re-opening wounds of her infertility; maybe that she hadn't proceeded through her own grief. Hence, it's pretty easier for her to lash out at me outward, instead of looking inward of her own pain.

That furthermore led me to realize three things-

I had hid certain people who go through pregnancy, for self preservation.. Why couldn't she have hid me for her own preservation?

I moved some people to close friends or favorites, where I could see their posts while NOT seeing others' posts. Why couldn't she selected close friends in new feeds where she'd see their posts, not mine?

She could have de-friended me; well she did. After sending me that horrible email, that was. However, she could have done this all along before now then- why waiting a year and some to do so, doing it as a dramatic exit?

I don't know the reasoning behind this. I just wish she could have talked with me about her reactions, her perceptive about me sharing posts about the topic she is not comfortable with. The email's message was absolutely unnecessary. I feel sympathy for her, and what she had gone through; I also understand how she chose to face this devastating trauma. However, I am not definitely happy how she projected herself upon me, putting a deadline of grief/healing on me, and when I didn't, she chose to think that something was wrong with me. She forgot, I'm NOT who she is.

How I address my grief, how I choose to draw strength from advocacy and helping people, refusing to 'sweep under the rug', that is certainly not wrong for me.

That's the difference between her and me.






Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wolfgang


Wolfgang has been with me for almost 3 months 'til today.  

In that months, I saw Wolfgang bloom from a scared, skinny dog with a flea infestation, multiple bacterial infections, and worms, to a healthy and happy dog, very frisky and loving.   He had played daily with Lola; they were buddies, "BFFs"

Before I took him in, I checked with the condo association and the landlord if it was okay to take him in, due to him being a foster dog (not a permanent dog), I got the go-ahead.  

Last Friday, during work, I got an emergency call from the landlord telling me that the condo association is threatening to press me to get rid of *TWO* (including Wolfgang and one of my furbabies H and L), due to "violation of two-dog policy." I was stunned and pointed out to him and he and the condo association agreed that I'd take care of the foster dog until he finds a home. I added that the flyer is already out with several rescues, of him being ready for adoption, and that I have a family interested in adopting him.  He said that the neighbors were complaining (I can figure out who since there's two neighbors in condo that don't like me), and that if there's more complaints, the association can evict me if I refuse to comply with the issue.  To get rid of Wolfgang *AND* either Lola or Hairy.   I asked him if he can encourage them to postpone that 'til third week of September when the family comes by (they live in Ontario and will be driving down that time to get Wolfgang).  He said he can't since the condo association sent him an official letter already, giving him a notice of warning, of a week of deadline and he had already used two days arguing my case with them.   At that time, I knew I had no options left, but to send out messages of urgency to the family and other rescues.  The family did not reply in the three days, when one rescue said that they can take him in right away.  

With a heavy heart, I drove him to West Virginia today- a road trip taking 7 hours round way.  The rescuer reassured me that Wolfgang is in good hands.  

What sticks in my mind at this time, a few hours after returning to town-  

They threatened MY babies.  Lola and Hairy. 

I don't like the condo association anymore, I don't trust them anymore.  They did not talk with me. No neighbors had talked to me.  No one bothered to find out Wolfgang's story, or that he had a potential forever family. But no... they had to have him out all because he was a "third dog." (never mind that I got permission- which I should have asked in paper, instead of vocal- but that's after the spilled milk.)  They threatened my Hairy and Lola who hadn't done anything wrong, who have been with me all the years while living here. I don't feel comfortable here anymore.   

Nevertheless....  Ain't happy.  






Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Love relatives, but they can be hazardous.

Back from the family visit.   The celebration of Grandma H's 95th birthday was awesome, especially with reuniting with some relatives that I hadn't seen in more than a decade (or two).  It's always comforting to be with family...a joy to reunite with brothers and dad, yet it's bittersweet, seeing cousins bending over to talk with their little girls, or throwing balls with their boys.   My emotions were plummeting, then going up- pretty much an emotional roller coaster.



It was also significant that I met my toddler nephew for the first time.  I was anxious, staring at him wondering when I could touch him without me shattering.   My SIL was sweet yet aware, so she didn't push him toward me. We did it in small steps, such as me sitting next to him, then me touching his hands- you get the idea.  Gradually, it was pretty much as walking into the cool water, getting body adjusted to the temperature, you know?  In time, I was able to hold him but not long.  He isn't the type to cuddle, and at this time, I'm all right with that.  It was humble to find that I already love him at sight, and I do look forward to see him again.  SIL and I are talking about doing that again in a few months.


I was pleasantly surprised about numerous relatives being supportive, not pushing for me to socialize with children until I was ready. After a few hours, I was able to talk with some cousins' children, especially one pretty much a clone of me-  a book-lover, geek, liking math and science.  Imagine a 11 years old girl and a woman in her 40's chatting about graphic novels and pre-teen books (such as Harry Potter- we both found we absolutely LOVE Hermione Granger!)  One relative even brought up adoption fundraising- I was touched that she has some awareness how this option can be challenging in terms of finances.    I admitted to her that I have been thinking about that.

In all, the family visit was much better than I expected when it came to my emotions. I didn't break down. I didn't cry.  I didn't hide in the bathroom (well, I did hide in public in a way.) I didn't avoid the pregnant relatives.

That's a good step, in my opinion.


It was two days later, when it was time for me to fly home.  The flight was in the afternoon, so  I stopped by to see my other grandma (with dementia) in the morning. I wanted to grab some more time with her, she was becoming very fragile. It was when I was about to hug her, when she patted my stomach and said "you're pregnant?"


A crack in the shield.  That moment, I knew I was going to lose it.  I tightened up my shields and smiled, while telling her no I wasn't, that I was plump.    Then the aunt wanted to stop by a store to get something, on way to the airport, so I went along with her. 

When I realized where she was going, I was thinking, "you're kidding me or what?"   Nope, she was going to the baby section, the least place I needed to go, especially now.  I called out I was going to the restroom, instead. I waited for her outside.  

So, when the layover was in Chicago, there was two hours before the flight back into town.  I gave myself something I deserved for not losing it all, like crying on the floor.  

Got an Upside-down pineapple drink, finding a corner to myself, and started reading my new book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can't stop talking." 


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fast Forward

(from movie "The Princess and the Frog")

I didn't realize 'til now that I am flying to see family in a few days.    Where did time go?    

Summer flew by faster than I expected- as if someone pushed the "fast forward" on a channel remote and it is all a blur.  

I couldn't figure if that was great or that it went fast by-  don't get me wrong-  there was some days that was totally awesome (hadn't yet shared my post on another blog- 506 reads in one day, and a lot of comments- WOW!- That's a record for me.)  Other days, not so great, and the rest of days, you know how that was. 

The trip to see the family is making me anxious.   A part of me is excited; I hadn't seen some cousins in 20 years, and we'll be celebrating our grandmother's 95th birthday this coming weekend.  A part of me is a bag of emotions- it'll be the first time I'll see my nephew in person- he just had become 1 year old. I hadn't yet put words on those emotions.     Another part is sad- I'll be seeing my other grandmother, who is dealing with dementia, which I had written about:  Remembrance.    Her dementia is worsening to the point that she is not able to complete sentences anymore, or remember anyone but Grandpa (who died in my 20's).  

So you have it....all juggling with emotions.


And they call it a vacation?   My ass.