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That Girl Who Runs With Foxes

Writer. Rebel. Dreamer.

“Be excited about the prospect of moving on. This is your new beginning…”

Life has been a lot of changes lately. New job, married almost a year, ending one degree to start another… And now we’re talking about starting a new journey. 

In the next year to a year and a half, we’ve decided to start trying for a baby. We haven’t said anything to anyone yet. It’s hard not to when you’re this excited. 

Excited, nervous… worried. Am I too old? What if I can’t get pregnant? What if I’m an awful mother? 

Ugh. I think that I worry too much. 

I’ll just think positive thoughts, get myself healthier, and hope for the best. 

This is a strange journey for someone who never wanted kids before. Then again, I never thought I’d be married either, and I love it. 

Oh, but what if you fly?

There have been so many changes over the last 60 days… I’ve been scared to make some, guilty about others, and there’s been some excitement in the midst of all those changes. 

The first change was that I decided to see a therapist and a psychologist. I’m off of the Xanax, back on the lithium, and taking a much better, less-addictive anxiety medication. So far, I’m feeling tremendously better. I’m finding happiness in little things, and big things, that I’d given up because I just couldn’t function that well. My therapy has surfaced some things that I really didn’t want to deal with regarding my dad, and the problems with my mom and sister. 

I quit a job that was sucking the life out of me. I know work for a local circus, and I’m loving it so far. Aaron works there as well, so that’s a bonus. 

I thought that things were getting better with my mom, but she thinks that I should make up with my sister to make her feel better. When I told her why that’s not happening on my end right now, I was promptly ignored… until her birthday approached. She’s now pretending that never happened, per usual. I’m trying to shrug it off and be less angry. It’s a process. 

I’ll be finished with this degree in January. I’m going back for English with a writing concentration. I’m so excited about it. 

Things are looking up, but I know it’s a journey, and I have to take it. It’s both thrilling, and terrifying. 

Fingers crossed….

“It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap…”

After talking to Aaron a lot, weighing the pros and cons, we came to the conclusion that I needed to make some major changes in order to take better care of myself. 

Today, I turned in my letter of resignation. I’m giving my employer until the end of the month. It is time to take care of myself. 

The amount of relief was staggering. 

On to new adventures!

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is Sunday. Every year, I would spend weeks making the perfect gift, writing the perfect card, and trying so hard to make it special. 

This year, I am very sad. Over the past year, my relationship with my mother has changed a great deal. I feel bitter, still, over her absence from my wedding and her choosing to not be involved. When my wedding comes up in conversation, she always tells me how hard it was for her, how she cried. 

I am expected to be understanding, and over it. Well, that’s how it feels at least. 

I don’t tell her that it feels like being betrayed. I don’t tell her that the entire ordeal plunged me into a depression that I’m still trying so hard to get out of. I don’t tell her that all memories of my wedding day are tainted, no matter how hard I try to ignore it. I don’t tell her how humiliating it was that not a single member of my family wanted to be there for me, and for Aaron. 

Instead, I change the subject. 

This year, I put a card in the mail for her. I’ve never done that before. My heart wasn’t in it, because everything has changed. We’ve seen each other three times since last summer. We live fifteen minutes apart. 

I don’t tell her, or anyone else, that my heart is broken. 

I am magic…

We all have a motto that we try to live by, some mantra we repeat to ourselves. This is mine:

It is the dedication page from “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danieleski. I spent most of my childhood being an outcast. I was bullied a lot for having red hair, for being weird, for reading too many books, and for hating sports. Over the decades, I’ve had to constantly remind myself that I am not for everyone. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care. Sometimes My life would be so much easier if I could just fit in. But I do not fit in. I will never fit in. I am strange, dark, sarcastic, socially awkward, have weird interests, and I can relate far too many things to horror films or true crime facts. People don’t like people who are difficult and weird. 

But I am also magical. Through my depression and anxiety, this is easy to forget, but I am magical. I have the ability to feel the emotions of those around me. I see spirits. I am able to express myself through words. I am funny. I am genuine. I love animals. My experiences give me a unique point of view. 

You are also magical. Remember this. Even at your darkest, you have inside of you a world of beauty and potential and gifts they may not have been realized yet. You are made of magic. 

When you’re not so sure you’ll survive, you gotta swim…

In an effort to battle this year-long depression that just won’t let up, I’m trying to find ways to occupy my brain. Aaron normally does all the cooking in our house, but he thought it would be helpful to me to start doing it. 

I’m going to throw out that I actually can cook, and I cook well. However, things I cook don’t usually involve knife skills or complicated recipes. I stick to things like the family chili recipes, soups, stews, an occasional roast in the crock pot. Baking is normally my thing. 

Aaron’s been giving me recipes, teaching me proper knife skills (he’s worked in professional kitchens on and off for years, so he loves teaching this stuff), and little tricks here and there. I love it. In fact, it has been so long since I found something that I felt good about, that made me feel confident. I love it. 

I’m a seriously picky eater, but I’m trying new things. 

Is this magical culinary adventure going to cure me? No. Every day is a monumental struggle to get out of bed. I take medication for my anxiety around the clock. I’m applying for FMLA. But being in the kitchen makes me smile…a real smile. 

So, here are some of the things I’ve made recently.

First, I tried my hand at shakshuka.

Spicy chicken sandwiches with Alabama White Sauce and Roasted Sweet Potatoes. 

Mole-spiced chili with potatoes. 

Crispy catfish with lemon-caper sauce served with broccoli and farro salad. 

Roasted pork with smashed potatoes and an apple and goat cheese salad. 

Pan seared garlic chicken, roasted broccoli, couscous, and a lemon pan sauce. 

I’m pretty proud of myself. 

An exercise in realizing you need a little more practice…

Not long ago, I mentioned that I was working on a new short story idea. Just to get myself back into writing, I just sat and wrote, describing the area where my character’s garden is located. Since that time, I have not had much motivation to pick this idea back up. I am having quite a bit of trouble getting into it. I have so many characters swimming around in my head right now, and none of them fit this particular premise. So, here is my dilemma: do I try to stick it out, or jump ship and see where these other characters take me? Do I do both?

It is so frustrating. I cannot figure out how to round out this particular villain. Is she a villain at all? I am probably thinking much too hard about all of this.

I am very out of practice where fiction is concerned. The ideas are always there, but fear keeps me from documenting these ideas, and I certainly do not just put them out there for the world at large. It’s funny how I can tell the entire world about my struggles with mental illness and whatever else, but this…this makes me feel vulnerable.

Sometimes it is better to enter the water inch by inch. First your toes, until, little by little, you have submerged yourself. I do not think that approach is going to work here.

So…enjoy…

The air smelled thick and sharp, like dampened dirt. The trees stretched tall, reaching up toward the sky. Everything was bright green from the rainstorm the night before, the plants reaching, drops of water still visible on their leaves. Birds sang short songs in the distance, while the feet of animals snapped branches as they moved swiftly through the wooded area. Water ran quickly over rocks nearby. The entire forest was alive this morning.

The clearing was so small and so hidden that a person could easily miss it without a map. There were no markers, no trails to take to get there. Thick, strong trees stretched upward, encircling the clearing that was no bigger than someone’s living room. The bark was rough, wet, and slick. The ground was carpeted with lush plant life and soft moss. Tiny groupings of flowers dotted the center area, stretched from one end to its opposite. Specks of red, yellow, and purple were in stark contrast to the overwhelming amount of green.

This was the place that was silent. This was the place that made her heart race. This was the place that filled her with excitement, a flutter of anticipation.

This was the place that filled her with relief. This was her Garden.

Remnants of Who We Once Were…

To most people, this photo serves as evidence of one woman’s old obsession with costume jewelry, and a history of retail management. For me, these necklaces are full of memories. There’s a scorpion Aaron got for me in Aruba. The necklace we grabbed on the way out of town to see Rent, where I was surprised with a backstage tour. There are tons of necklaces from my 3.5 year stint at Torrid, where I learned to love myself, where I built friendships, where I found something I loved. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve since lost sight of those things I love about myself. These ridiculous pieces of jewelry outlasted several of those friendships. We embrace when we meet, but we’ve all carved lives for ourselves outside of that place. It is true that we brush off on that which we have owned. We leave fingerprints everywhere…

Who do you think you are?

I have always been jealous of people with rich family histories. It’s probably because I really don’t know a lot about mine. I know that there are singers and musicians on both sides, mostly southern gospel and a rich bluegrass sound. I’ve been fortunate to have inherited a pretty decent singing voice, an ability to identify a song from a few notes, and the ability to quickly learn instruments by ear. I learned to play the bass line of a song in less than an hour, taught myself a song on violin, part of a very simple one on piano. My goal is to actually learn they guitar. 

Anyway, I don’t know much about my family. As you can guess, I am also not very close with my family. 

Aaron and I have been watching “Who Do You Think You Are” reruns. For those who are unfamiliar, this show helps celebrities trace their ancestral roots. It got me thinking, and I do enjoy research, so I signed up for a free 14-day trial on Ancestry.com. The first night, six hours flew by before I knew it. I was digging through census records, birth records, death records, and marriage records. It resulted in this:

It doesn’t look like much, but it has grown significantly in just a couple of days. It turns out that I come from a long line of farmers from Hazard, Kentucky. Homes with tons of siblings. My great grandmother Emma’s second husband, John, immigrated from Mexico. I found his paperwork, and his WWII draft card. Most of the ancestors on my mother’s side were born at home. It sparked a conversation with my mother. She told me that most of her relatives had been married multiple times. One cousin of hers has been missing for decades. 

It has been so much fun. I am loving it. I cannot wait to see what I’m able to uncover. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to know these things until I started looking. It’s important to know where you come from… well, it’s important for me to know where I come from. Turns out, it’s a lot of Kentucky farms. 

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