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My Give A Damn's Been Augmented

So several months ago I sought help for moderate to severe depression -but because I'm broke, I thought I'd be clever about it. I responded to a radio commercial for a depression study in Chicago, and made an appointment for an assessment.

After being diagnosed, they gave me a free bottle of Citalopram (generic for Celexa) and sent me on my way to report back after a month. When that bottle ran out, I was told that my depression wasn't serious enough for the study -because the medication had worked out for me so well. They gave me another bottle and told me to find a regular doctor who could continue to prescribe it.

The medication worked really well for me -I found myself more hopeful about the future, and generally less irritable. My relationships felt healthier -I argued with my husband less, my kids' melting down and acting up didn't drive me to the point of frustrated insanity, and my general outlook was less doomsday-oriented. I have just finished my third bottle (three months of being medicated) and due to certain complications with my school-provided health insurance and the challenge of getting mental health care in the Rockford area -I am out. 

I suppose it should be noted here, also, that during the time I was on that medication I managed to work out the things that had caused me the most depression -the completion of my bachelor's degree, my employment prospects and the on-again/off-again relationship I have with my mother. When I got down to the bottom of this current bottle, I decided it would be more trouble than it was worth to go seek out a medical professional to write me a scrip, so I just stopped taking them. Things have worked out for the better and since my depression always seemed situational anyway, I didn't need medication any more. Seems cut and dry, right?


Apparently, this medication has withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting cold turkey -nausea, dizziness  disorientation and this really unpleasant sensation that I finally found a definition for when I googled the term "Brain Shocks". 

Ultimately, I've come to the hesitant conclusion that the positive effects of the drug are really great -but if this is the cost of quitting the drug, I'm significantly less comfortable taking it. Also, if I'm so much easier to get along with when I'm on the drug (according to my husband) despite not seeing any change in the behavior of those around me -who am I really taking it for? There are a lot of things that bother me about life in general, and that's pretty natural I think, but they are just as real when I'm medicated. The difference is that I'm content with them -they just don't bother me as much. So is taking citalopram for "depression" really correcting a chemical imbalance in my brain, or is it essentially just me taking "the blue pill" a la The Matrix?

It is a conundrum. Right now, I'm toughing it out -I can handle some relatively minor sensory discomfort, if it only lasts another week or so. That saves us money for the drug and saves me the time and effort it would take to get into a psychiatric clinic in a town that invests more money in elaborate sidewalks to nowhere han in affordable mental health programs. It also gives me the chance to see if I can self-regulate now that the things that sucked most in my life are sucking a lot less.

The only question left nagging at me is; should I insist on changing the things in my life that make me unhappy, or is it better to take a "happy" pill that makes me more compliant and less irritated with those things? When I was a younger person without a family of my own, the answer wouldn't even be in question: To thine own self be true, Know thyself, Right motivation = right action. Now that I'm a wife and a mother -I'm tempted by my situations to play the peacemaker... but at what cost?

Is this for real?

Pink Monster

Wow, LiveJournal... blast from my past!

This month I celebrated the ten year anniversary of my starting a blog here, and I'm proud to say I'm still  writing almost weekly (almost always monthly) over at my new blog

Today has been like a dream in so many ways -the weather is somewhere between misty and overcast, I started my first "fresh out of college" job today, and there have been so many positive signals lately that I almost can't believe it's real. Of course, like any self-respecting woman/blogger, I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall. If the worst thing that happens to me is showing for class in an hour and a half and having something due that I'm not aware of... I'll be getting off easy.

So the job...

It was a whirlwind process, my husband got a text last Thursday from lilpollac's hubby and told me to apply for this new position at his workplace. I've been lusting after a job there for a couple of years now, and actually interviewed for another position there earlier this year -a position I did not get. Heartened by the inside track, I went and applied through LinkedIn and the next morning got a message (through our husbands again) that I should call and inquire. I called that morning, sent my resume (slapped together in about half an hour) and got a call/impromptu interview from a guy in California on Monday evening. Tuesday morning he called back and offered me the position, and I started immediately. This morning I showed up at work a full 45 minutes early, left my headlights on, killed the battery in my car and STILL had a great day.

Now I am at school blogging instead of studying for the math quiz I'll have tomorrow on a chapter I haven't even glanced at yet. Gods, I hope I don't get plowed over by a bus or something on the way to my car. *fingers crossed* 

Occupy Elsewhere

My hands are trembling from a combination of nervousness and cold. I rub the fingers of one hand, trying to warm them with the other as I stare at the small glowing screen on my ancient laptop. My shoulders are still tense from the strain of arching over the keyboard clicking 278 little grey X’s on the Group Members screen in my local Occupy movement’s Facebook group.

Each little click was a person who had used their Facebook profile to find out about an Occupy movement in their area. Of the nearly 300 people who were still in the group at that point maybe 50 were active regularly online and a few factions numbering a total of maybe 30 attended General Assemblies weekly, live and in person. It saddens me to think, as I'm cutting each dangling thread that could have been a member and asset, that the majority of these people never got involved.

They joined a Facebook group that seemed initially legit, as far as being part of the petition of government for a redress of our grievances, concerning the influence of corporate interests on our system of government, and the funding of our electoral process by these same corporate interests. Isn’t that fairly close to what we all want right now?

Some of us undoubtedly want far more than that, when all is said and done. That is understandable -but the journey of 1,000 steps begins with just one. Ultimately, we must all agree to recognize that the current atmosphere in America is overcast. You are either faced with the harsh reality of life as a citizen who cannot earn what is necessary to support a modest living or you are just comfortable enough to distract yourself from these problems by blaming them on their victims.

The forum was created to give Facebook users a group where they could discuss the ideas and events surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC. Groups were just beginning to spring up back then, with the intent of planning direct real-time actions. In October of 2011 I created, invited people to and tended the group, adding other admins who volunteered at the General Assembly on the 17th. Over time it grew and changed and went from ugly to beautiful and back again. Names were called, words were flung back and forth and ears seemed more and more often to simply nail themselves shut. I myself was removed as admin and added back in time.

The curious onlookers, silent in their majority, had come for something that they didn’t find. They wanted to see hope for the future, a banner to rally under... they wanted to know what they could do to make this right. I mistakenly thought that those who were passionate enough to look for contact with like minded others would also be passionate enough to put the cause before the drama. This has not proven to be the case.

Energy is hemorrhaging from this petty infighting and posturing, and it is energy that could be so much better spent that it breaks my heart to see it. Almost as heartbreaking as deleting more than 200 people I hadn’t even had a chance to talk with about the notion of Occupation. These were strangers and friends alike.

A professor from a college course I took 8 years ago, a friend I haven’t seen in years, someone I went to high school with... all of them clicked away for everyone’s best interest. They are now free of the self-stoking of other people’s egos or the contentiousness of so many who post as if they are the best of us all, and the most qualified to respond to everything. They are free from the endless threads, stretching on for 70, 80 or even 100 comments with the same 3 to 5 people snarking each other and flaming anyone who happens to bring common sense to bear.

I have been having real-life conversations with people around me for weeks now about how they really are intrigued by what’s happening in our country, and they’d consider being a part of it if it wasn’t for the ridiculous antics they’ve been watching on the Facebook forum. They are almost a captive audience -waiting in the wings we have had an army watching us and shaking their heads at how silly it was to have hoped for a direction to march in.

That’s what the forum ended up doing, in the long run. It wrecked our hope. When I created it, I wanted there to be an actual group (not a PAGE) that would allow everyone to speak as themselves in a forum. Something they could JOIN rather than “like”. As the group populated rapidly, I saw so many others who had been waiting for something to be a part of. I had wanted to take part in the change for years, seeing the way our country condones and participates in the channeling of money into one very small bracket of the American populace. The 99% movement is very real and very close to my heart, because I have felt the humiliation of being a stereotype and having little hope for the future. Even now, as I begin to lift myself up to take part in something, I feel better and see options where there were none before.

Real or imagined, the Occupation of Wall Street in New York City has started a change in the whole world’s consciousness. We can NO LONGER allow ourselves to be pitted against one another while the men behind the velvet curtains shuffle off to the vaults. We are the vast global majority and we MUST locate and take advantage of our strengths as a whole. We are consumers, we can each make changes in our lifestyles and activities to help further these goals as well.

Many of us are also voters, and as hopeless as it may seem to change the mind of a representative who’s been bought and sold -we have to continue to make our voices heard. Eventually we could create a wall of sound that would drown out the ch-ching of their cash registers and force them to recognize they are outnumbered. This is a challenge that we CAN meet head-on, but only if we are together in the charge.

My local General Assembly voted to remove the forum and fall back on actual involvement at the official website or in person. As the Dr. Frankenstein of this particular Facebook creation, I was relieved to put this monster to rest.

I sincerely hope that many or more of those who were freed from membership in that social networking nightmare will come back together elsewhere and continue the discussions that need to be had all over this country. Whatever happens online just please, please, please... don’t forget that we are all part of the 99% here, regardless of how savvy we may be with words on a screen. In the real world, we are all on the same barge and it’s been sinking for years -this may be our last chance to get off.

Let’s all do something to change the world, whether we’re in a group or all alone. If you feel that you’ve lost something in the deletion of this group -I’m sorry for that. But I can guarantee you that commenting on Facebook posts is one thing that will NOT help you accomplish that dream.

People SUCK. Please help the kitty.

Originally posted by kylecassidy at post
Via Citykitties (emphasis mine):

A good samaritan found this cat today in a gutter by Clark Park, half dead. He is now at the Cat Doctor with a body temperature of 90 (normal is 102) and blood PCV of 8. The Cat Doctor housecat, Diamond, is currently donating blood to save his life. During the exam, the vet found that this cat has a microchip. When called, his "owners" reported that he was acting sick, so they put him outside. If this makes you as angry as it makes us, please channel your anger in one of two ways: visit our website at and make a donation to help us pay for his care, or share this post and encourage others to do so.

Click to donate.

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Thanks for giving

Rave Girls
Today I received something that I have been waiting for... something that seemed at times impossible, unlikely and completely essential for my future happiness. 

Since June or July (I'm too lazy to check back entries and figure it out) I've been actively struggling to get myself out of the hole I was in spiritually and emotionally. I wanted to be back in school, and I decided to go at it full bore regardless of how bleak my financial situation might look. I applied on time, but due to a mis-communication (this is diplomacy speaking, here. I want to say idiot student worker, but I won't. I guess I just did. Oops.) I ended up not having everything I needed as the rest of the school got their awards.

By the time I found out there was more paperwork needed, classes were already well under way. Fortunately, I completely ignored the first person who told me it wasn't possible to consolidate the Perkins loan from 2003 that was holding up the whole process.

It's November 24th, and I've now waited months for one financial entity, weeks for a check to get mailed to my old school, days for that school to fax the letter that clears my final past loan from default and weeks again for NIU's financial aid office to process all of that, review it, and send me the notification so that I could accept it. Now that I've done all that, I hope to God it doesn't take weeks to get to the Bursar because classes that I want (nay, NEED) are already filling up for spring semester and I can see the cap and gown in my very near future.

I say very near because for the last 4 years I have been ...I guess "wallowing in self pity" would be harsh but true. Life hit me like a speed train in 2007 and although I'm still recovering, for the first time since that January I feel like living might actually present some viable options for the future. Six months from now I could be bawling my eyes out at the Convocation center in DeKalb with a handful of friends and family watching from the arena. NINE YEARS ago I decided that in order to support myself and my son in this world, I had to get an education. I've lost so many people along the way, but I've gained a family and now, finally, I'm going to gain my B.A. in Journalism. I feel sort of numb, when I thought for sure that I'd have a good long cry once I finally got the news that I could graduate.

Don't get me wrong: our financial challenges are not over, not by a long shot. But I started this semester only half sure that my financial aid situation would work itself out at all, and as time went by I began to wonder if I was going to find myself ONE SEMESTER away from a bachelors degree and then run out of time or funding (or both). It seriously would have driven me into a padded room and one of those jackets that teaches you to love yourself a lot. Hopefully mine would have extra straps, because I would squirm a lot, I'm sure.

That fantasy scenario is fading fast, though. Today I checked my financial aid award notification email and (fingers crossed, knock on wood, do whatever you have to) it looks like I'm not only going to be able to cover this semester plus child care, but next semester as well (plus childcare). Sure I'll be over $60,000 in the hole by the time all is said and done... but I'm so used to being screwed by my own poverty it's becoming sort of normal.

It feels pretty strange, thinking that for the next semester I won't have to overcome guilt every time I walk past the secretary's desk at the day care because I haven't paid my bill. Hell, next semester I can even purchase the TEXTBOOKS for my classes... Although I'm grateful to say that my grades will be above decent this semester, I'm a mix of proud and dissapointed that I managed to pull it off without purchasing a single book. Next semester I won't be taking that chance.

Anyhoo... this Thanksgiving I got what I've wanted for nearly 5 years now. Hope.

Serious business

My heart fluttered with anxiety this morning as I stood in the doorway of NIU's Financial Aid office. It felt sort of like those lumps that lodge in your throat when you're really upset or heartbroken -only in my chest.

Open registration for the Spring semester of 2012 opened yesterday, and I'm a senior ready to graduate in May. Those precious few classes between me and the ceremony could be full even now, and I couldn't register early because there's still a hold on my account placed by the Bursar's office.

In any case, the lady at the window was very nice and informative... she gave me hope by verifying that my documents were received yesterday (they were sent two weeks ago!) and I should be recieving an award notification in the next few days (if not tomorrow) that will apply to the current semester. I do still have the option of applying for private loans after that, but I'm a little uncertain as to whether those are as easy to acquire as those offered by the state.

Supposedly student loans are not affected by credit rating... but I know the Parent Plus loan is. Either way, I'll have SOMETHING to apply toward the nearly $5000 this semester has cost me. Wish me luck (and speedy email returns).

We're not in Kansas anymore


I feel as if I'm stepping cautiously from the front door of my house into a world of alien colors and problems. It's been so long since I blogged here, or anywhere, without fussing over how much traffic it might bring or whether or not it will appeal to a non "mommyblogger" crowd.

In short -I've lost sight of my own passion.

Once upon a time, I used to come here and LiveJournal to my heart's content. I'd feel better after putting it all out there, in text, for the world at large (that is, the world that didn't include my friends and relatives in Rockford, IL) to read and comment on. I actually had an interactive blog back then, at the turn of the century. Now I'm playing a ridiculous game of trying to not blog anything that couldn't be linked to for a writing job or stumbled upon by a prospective employer or networking contact.

What has brought me to this? I want to write about my kid peeing his pants every day and my husband being an ogre in disguise. I want to get some of this weight off my chest and bare all for the mysterious internet trolls and lurkers I associate with at heart to read and take comfort in. I want to relate.

That's what I need to do... but time has become my number one enemy and my most sought-after ally. I haven't got enough time during which I can actually think, write, meditate or otherwise be introspective. I used to be funny... I used to read my own posts and smile -I honestly think I was a better writer in those days if only for the daily (sometimes multiple times a day) posting I did.

Here's to new beginnings.

Fear Itself

witch girl
It's funny how the pursuit of one's dreams can be such an exchange that you forget the destination. Which direction am I even going?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I knew that I loved to read, and to write stories or papers or whatever was required of me. I like writing for myself, and enjoyed the chance to write for others. It seemed like such a simple dream, and despite the encouragement of others with regard to my skill -I was still given the impression that it's more difficult to make a living writing than just about anything else.

Maybe it's that image of the starving artist, or the writer who's struggline to make ends meet, that has been written into our culture as a romantic supporting character perpetuating the belief. I don't really believe it's true anymore, but at some point in my youth I bought into that and I have to say it has screwed me more times than I'd like to admit.

Why someone couldn't push me towards writing, complement my ability, and leave it at that I will never know. It always had to be accompanied by the hints and the smirks and the broadcasted idea that writing can't be your MAIN job -it has to be done on the side.

Maybe if you're Stephen King.

The problem here, for me anyway, isn't that I was misled (although I was). It's that I fell for it so hard that I gave up my dreams of becoming a writer because I didn't think I'd be able to support myself or my children that way. My academic career started off with a bang; the nearly perfect GPA I had as an English major at Rockford College (3.87 -Dean's list and scholarship awards) wasn't enough to convince me that this was my calling. It didn't dissuade me from the fear that I'd be on welfare trying to raise Sebastian alone waiting tables with a BA in English Literature. It forced me to back down from my dreams, and to transfer to a state school with more "professionally viable" majors I could apply my skills to.

Journalism isn't the farthest thing from my dream -in fact I'm fairly certain that it's going to allow me to transition back into it fairly well. Writing spans across so many more platforms and mediums these days -you don't have to write for a newspaper when you can write articles and be published online (or self-publish if you REALLY don't care about making a living, but just want to be seen). I can do this, and my skills are in demand even now.

Unfortunately, the problems have changed. I still have the financial obstacles -ever present and consistently moving farther away from me, so I can't hurdle them until I get to where they are. But now that I have embedded myself in the University and in my classes, I sit in these public computer labs for several hours both studying for classes and finding myself unable to produce what I want to in the limited timeframe I have to actually write.

I need to set aside a specific period of time every day for writing. It can't be lab time or school time, or even "me" time. It needs to be WRITING time.

I just need to figure out when.

Stolen Scripts (GRRM repost)

Originally posted by grrm at Stolen Scripts
Parris and I have always been big supporters of the various charities, both fannish and mundane, that raise funds through auctions at SF and fantasy conventions. It's a great way to raise money for worthy causes, have a little fun, and get some unique items into the hands of collectors. In fact, I just finished shipping off five huge boxes of books, games, t-shirts, and other collectables to our hotel in Reno, to donate to the various charity auctions at worldcon.

(Some items will go to SFWA Emergency Medical Fund auction, some to the BWB fund-raising drive to pay for their party, some to the worldcon's own charity).

Unfortunately, there are a couple items that won't be auctioned at worldcon. We had hoped to bring a couple of signed scripts from the first season of the HBO series GAME OF THRONES with us, and the good folks in Belfast were kind enough to donate them. Dan Weiss sent them across the pond (registered and priority, signature required).

All that arrived was a battered envelope and Dan's cover letter.

The US post office delivered the envelope in a plastic baggie with a pre-printed note apologizing for the "damage." But this was no error in handling. The envelope was torn open at one end, and both scripts were gone, though Dan's letter remained.

I am convinced the scripts were stolen.

Last year we donated a signed STAR TREK script to a charity auction and it brought $1200. These two scripts may not have gone for quite that much, but they would have brought home some significant bucks. Someone in the US Post Office (we believe the package made it across from Belfast relatively unscathed) recognized their value and removed them.

So... I am putting out the word to all my fans and readers. Whoever sold these scripts will presumably try to cash in at some point. So if any of you ever see scripts fitting this description turn up on ebay, one of its competitors, or on some dealer's table -- notify me at once, and report the stolen property to whatever local authorities are appropriate.

Here's what was taken: two teleplays, final shooting scripts for episodes nine and ten of season one, "Baelor" and "Fire and Blood," autographed by writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director Alan Taylor, printed on white paper.

Like Bloodraven, I have a thousand eyes and one. So let's keep 'em all peeled, boys and girls.

Better Than Yesterday...

Grrrrr hand
 I can't write during the day. At night I lay in bed thinking of stories and wishing I could just print out my thoughts, considering getting out of bed to write but knowing that I have to be up with the kids and deal with being awake in the morning... I am completely useless when I stay up so late, and when I sit down at the computer the next day, all that motivation and passion and imagination is stifled. The kids are in need of attention, and the bills and the phone calls and the preparations for school and the messy house and the animals and EVERYTHING are there in front of writing.

Yesterday was horrible. Between fighting off the hopelessness that just keeps washing over me completely, and the kids doing everything they aren't supposed to and Charlie fucking up one room while I try to piece back the mess in another... I just wanted it all to end.

I wish I could just lock myself away in a cabin in the woods and not see another human face for at least a week. But then I would DEFINITELY not get back into school.

Then I would be lost forever.


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