Historical nightmares are new. 

Things I saw in my dream last night:

  • The remains of a 12th century highway overpass, which was standing over a 12th century cottage, both made of medieval plywood. 
  • An ancient frying pan which was glazed in a salmon pink coating with my great great great great grandfather’s initials (in fancy script) molded into the bottom. 
  • A set of kitchen canisters and salt and pepper grinders made of glass and pewter that stacked around each other like  matryoshka dolls from the 16th century. The far-flung relative of mine who was showing them to us on the family estate wanted to have recreations made so we could have some too. 
  • Scenes from said relative explaining our (totally dreamed up) family history including the doctor who cared for a now-poor family from the aristocracy. 
  • An ancient microscope hooked up to a 15th century touchscreen that allowed said kids to discover and draw extremely small details of natural things, and somehow also the whole town, but with extremely small lines. Sorry Antonie van Leeuwenhoek but we got there first, with better tech. 
  • The beginning of a plague that made people vomit extremely large volumes of something that looked like pepto  bismol 

I am relatively confident that during my next trip to England (whenever that is) my cousin and I will not be able  to locate any of these family heirlooms. 

Standard Transmission

It starts as a purr

then a hum
then a growl
then something deeper than a whine, but just as frantic

And you can feel it coming up
through the bottoms of your feet
the engine vibrating against the soles
the rattle and growl of the pistons meeting explosions
of such great force

three thousand rpm
thirty five hundred
four thousand
faster faster faster
get where you are going

until you’re aware of the vibration
of your pillowy lungs against the
casing that protects them from your
steel ribs and
the whole of your skeleton humming along
with the yowl of the machine
from the top of the steering wheel
to the gearshift cradled in the palm of your hand

Seeing your chance
you change lanes, swing to the right
then slam your left foot into the clutch
all the way to the floor

the machine

 

pauses

 

expectantly waiting

until

you

shift

 

the engine sighs

you sigh.

 

you start the car, idling the engine warm and texting a note
“I’m done work, I’m heading home.”

(Apologies to Irving Berlin)

Blisters, blisters,
Never were there such devoted blisters
Covering the surfaces of hands and feet
I only shoveled out the sleet

Popping, peeling
Proving that my nerve endings have feeling

When a certain storm drain clogged up from the plow
I cleared it off and then said ow

My skin is like tissue
It’s got some issues
Blisters from every run
I get dog hair splinters
And in the winter
It wrinkles in wind or sun

Blisters, Blisters
Trying to toughen up
so no more blisters
Many socks have promised to protect
But nothing can

Lord help the blisters
From walks with my brother or sister
And Lord help the blisters
Covering both of my hands

Race anxiety

We are less than one week until the Rock and Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, which means we are in the sweet spot for total anxiety. What if I don’t finish? What if I fuck it up? What if I do it with all those people watching? What if I annoy my family or embarrass them or something stupid? Maybe I just shouldn’t go.

Really at this point it’s the money spent that keeps me going. Too late to cancel the race. Too late to cancel the hotel room. Time to just do the job and finish the race.

I know exactly what this is. I go through it for pretty much every social event. It’s the fear that everyone will stare at me and think I’m a freak and that nobody actually wants me around. A few of my friends have figured me out, and they call me an hour or two before a party or a talk or a session with a “But I’m going to be there so you have to come!”

I’ve been known to return the favor.

It doesn’t take much to set it off when I’m this close to a big event, and I’m well-aware that my usual anxiety meds probably can’t do the job against a fear the size of Texas.

My psychiatrist has me on strict orders that if I’m about to totally lose my shit, I go for a walk. All the running magazines say that before a really big race, I should rest my legs. These, as you may guess, conflict.

I’ve been resting my legs since a 5-mile walk on Sunday, which means I was primed and ready to blow by this afternoon. Instead of freaking out at someone, I went for a walk.

I went for a walk, and I got lost, and I walked 3.5 miles on my lunch “hour” that was a lot more than an hour because I couldn’t figure out which of the three trails to take and why are there no signs on the trails? And when I got back, I was as good as new. Well, as good as new for someone who was supposed to be resting her legs so her hips don’t fall off on mile eight anyway.

But I did what was good for me, which was the right thing to do, and which is still something I’m learning to do.

So now there’s a pain in my hip and four days to the race, and you know what? I’m going to get good and mad at it and I’m going to take that sucker down.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

Many days, I think that depression can’t be beaten, can’t be controlled, can barely be contained.
This is one of those days.
Robin Williams is reported to have committed suicide.

He was a crazy alien who always found something to love about humanity when I was a child.
He was the teacher who pushed his students though – and beyond – the breaking point of experiencing life.
He was the father that forgot, then remembered, he was the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
He was the man who said, “it’s not your fault,” and made me believe that maybe it wasn’t.
He was the stand-up comic who made me laugh at pain and drugs and alcoholism and sexuality and all those things that a young woman is trying to figure out in the world.
Whether it was good parenting on my folks’ part or good timing on mine, I couldn’t say, but I never saw a character that Robin Williams played that didn’t keep that spark of hope that we are good people who do the right thing alive.
His irreverence made me feel alive.
It is almost unthinkable that such a man would ever consider extinguishing his light.

And yet.

And yet there are the dark days.
The demons are sitting on my chest, whispering in my ears that nothing is worth the effort, painting my eyes with blackened brushes.
The monsters in my heart are calling for me to bury my feelings in anything, food, drugs, sleep, anything that will stop my muscles from aching and my heart from shattering.
The bastard voices in my head are detailing everything that will go wrong, magnifying every fear and every pain.

On those days it’s a miracle that any one of us survives.

I accept my depression because I know it isn’t my fault. The chemicals in my brain aren’t balanced the way I would prefer.

I accept that my broken brain leads me to feel things differently, to approach them differently, to value them not the way that others do.
I prefer to take medication that helps my brain feel and do things more normally.
I understand that some may not.
I understand sometimes the medication doesn’t work.
I’ve learned both of those lessons during a dark spiral that tore my world apart.
Every day I have to accept my depression again, have to choose irreverence over darkness and life over silence.
By the time I’m 63, maybe I too will no longer want to fight.
I hope I will.
I hope I’ll continue to seize the day.
I hope.

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

If you ever feel like suicide might be an option, please talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline will talk to you online or over the phone. No matter what problems you are dealing with, they want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Vote for a boat (anchor)

My dad was a Lightship Sailor with the Coast Guard. Not only is Dad no longer a Lightship Sailor, but all of the Lightships have been decommissioned. They’ve been replaced by unmanned buoys.

The Lightship Sailors Association works with the Portsmouth, VA Naval Shipyard to preserve and protect lightships and historical memorabilia at the Lightship Museum.

The Virginia Association of Museums is accepting votes for the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts to help raise awareness (and funds) toward saving some of the state’s historical artifacts. The Lightship Museum has a mushroom anchor on the list.

Please visit, check out the artifacts, vote for the mushroom anchor, and consider making a gift to the museum. (Or for that matter, any museum. Museums are important.)

Sherlock Holmes and the Swamp Thing Bigfoot

Sherlock Holmes and I worked to solve a mystery of a dead camper in the Adirondacks. We found some unusual tracks and marks… Eventually we traced them back to a society of indigenous Neanderthals and/or Bigfoot that live near Lake Placid.

They’re much bigger and taller than us, with fur-like body hair, but they wear animal skins for clothing and have a democratic society. They’re rarely seen because they can also breathe water, so if pursued they just walk out into the lake and stand on the bottom until the pursuers go away. They can make their skin fluoresce on command, so they don’t need fire to see or move through the water or the heavy forests.

One of their children accidentally killed the camper. I sobbed. I don’t remember how Sherlock decided that we were going to resolve the case, only that we couldn’t take this tiny confused person out of their society into ours for punishment.

That covers about a third of my dreams last night but the act of writing it down erased the rest.

I wish dreaming burned calories. I’d weigh 90 lbs soaking wet and eat half a moose daily.

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