Tigertarkla In Your Place

A walk through my mind, oh, we're jogging now, wait is that a couch, I'm going to lie down for a bit

Rose’s Thunder

“It won’t rain, not today.”

Emelia squints at the dark clouds in the distance. She can feel the rumble from them in her bones, but she knows not to question her grandma. It will rain when Grandma Rose says it will rain. She turns her attention back to the pile of pintos she is sorting, removing the rocks and misshapen ones, leaving behind the smooth speckled beans. When she is done she sweeps them all into the pot and takes them to the sink to be rinsed.

She does this for Grandma Rose now. She does a lot of things the older lady use to do effortlessly, but with each passing day, as Emelia grows stronger, it seems like Grandma Rose grows more frail. It scares her, but she would never say this out loud. She knows it is only her who is afraid of the spectre of death that looms.

“Go, feed the chickens, the beans will not boil for a while now.”

Emelia crosses to the door and exchanges her kitchen apron for her outdoor apron. Once outside, she can feel the electricity in the air from the distant rumble of thunder. It has been so dry this year. Drier than she can remember it being in the past, when she was younger and the rain would come every afternoon in short spurts. Then the garden could be watered with the rain that was collected off the roof.

There is no garden this year, just a dry plot of earth. Emelia didn’t have the time to plant it this year, between her job in the city and taking care of Grandma Rose. The gate to the chicken yard screeches when she opens it, dust in the hinges, impossible to keep out when the wind blows the way it does. Only a half a dozen scraggly hens come to greet her as she scatters seed out for them to eat. There use to be more. A dozen or so hens, a rooster, an ornery nanny goat, but time has whittled away at the farm like it has whittled away at Grandma Rose. It makes her ache for what was and dread what will come.

“When the time comes, let your Uncle have the farm. You do not need to be hanging onto this place when you have your life in the city. Let him have it, good riddance.” Grandma Rose spits on the ground.

They are sitting on the porch now, Emelia watching the storm clouds that march their way across the desert. Her Uncle is Grandma Rose’s first born, a bitter cold man with little love in his heart. She hates the thought of him getting his hands on the farm, even if it is where he was raised too. She still feels like it belongs more to her than to him. After all, he had abandoned it all those years ago. It’s what her mother did as well, abandoned the farm and her along with it. And now, she would as well, when Grandma Rose was no longer there to call her back to it.

“Take one of the old jars and fill it with dirt from the garden. Take it with you, that way this place will never forget you belong here.” Grandma Rose had told her, before she had left to go to college.

The jar sat on her bedroom dresser throughout the entire ordeal. Through every dorm room to her first apartment till Grandma Rose had called her back home to the farm.

“Emelia, I need you to come home, just for a little while, till I am gone. It won’t be long now.” Grandma Rose’s voice sounded so frail on the phone that day, nothing like the strong voice that scolded her through childhood or soothed away her fears. She had come, of course she had. She had never failed to do what Grandma Rose had asked, for she asked so little.

“Don’t leave the glass too close to the edge.”

Emelia pushes the small glass of water closer to the center of the nightstand by Grandma Rose’s bed then returns to the task of tucking her in. She pulls up the quilt, hand-sewn by Rose, and smoothes it down like the woman once did for her, all those many years ago.

“I love you, my Emilia Rose.” Her grandma whispers when Emelia leans over to press a kiss to her forehead.

Emelia whispers the sentiment back, voice softer than the wind through the pines around the house.

It’s a flash of lightning that wakes Emelia, quickly followed by the deep rumble of thunder. She lays still, listening for something she can’t voice. The rain starts slow, a ping here and there on the tin roof, then it starts in earnest. A steady roar across the desert filling all the spaces in the house. Emelia glances at the clock before sitting up and swinging her legs to the floor. Grandma Rose was right, the rain did not come yesterday. It came early in the morning today, before the sun was high enough to cast the clouds in grey light. She moves quickly, throwing on a robe and padding barefoot across the hall to Grandma Rose’s room.

She crosses to the bed and lays a hand across her grandmother’s forehead, then quietly she kneels by the bed and reaches to turn on the lamp. She holds the hand that held hers all these years and lets the sky weep for her. Thunder rolls in her chest.

Grandma Rose use to tell her, when she was young and easily frightened, “Don’t be afraid of the thunder, my Emelia Rose. That is only God speaking to us, in words we can’t yet understand.”

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I’ve Got 99 Projects…

… And I’m not working on a single one.

Bipolar disorder is often associated with creative types. Mental health disorders run rampant within the creative community in general. To the creative mind bipolar disorder can be a blessing and a curse.

My main creative outlet is writing though I occasionally delve into other art forms. Writing is like breathing to me though. I’ve been doing it for so long it comes to me more naturally than other expressions.

The blessing of bipolar disorder is that I sometimes have an unlimited fount of ideas. I think I could sit down and write for the rest of my life and never come to the end of the stories I have to tell.

The curse of bipolar disorder is keeping the interest and energy required to actually finish a project active. I have written one novel to completion and I am stalled on it because I can’t dredge up enough interest to do the final edit I need to do to start sending out manuscripts. I have two half written books that I’ve been working on for like 8 years. I’ve got random chapters written for a half dozen other projects to work on. I’ve been promising to do a serialized project for at least 3 years. I have so many projects I love and want to work on, but I either can’t get the energy to work on them or I can’t find the focus. It’s incredibly frustrating.

For a little perspective, all my posts like these were done in one afternoon, maybe like 3 hours total of work. They have been in my drafts since April. APRIL!

In the future one of my goals is to get a better leash on my creative energy. I am not entirely sure how I will do this but I suspect it will require scheduling a specific time where I sit down and work on my myriad of projects.

Picking Flowers in the Apocalypse

One of my most frequent methods of coping with a bad mental health day (month, year…) is by playing video games. Despite growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s video games didn’t really become a major thing for me till I was about 20. There is really no surprise that this corresponds to the time when my bipolar disorder was at its worse.

According to my xbox statistics, I played about 653 hours of video games in 2017. That’s pretty much me spending the entire month of February with a controller. Take into consideration the fact that I almost exclusively play rpg games it means that I spent a solid chunk of time wandering around collecting imaginary rocks and plants.

It’s easier to cope with the destruction of all mankind by giant aliens than it is to cope with depression sometimes. On that same note, this amount of video games is probably not the healthiest way to cope. That’s why in the future I plan to work on incorporating more varied mechanisms (preferably ones that include outdoors and exercise) into my life. I won’t cut out video games completely though because let’s face it, sometimes picking flowers during the apocalypse is the only thing that held me together.

Astrology

I thought I read you in my stars

Somewhere between Venus and Mars

The charts, the cards, the lines

They pointed your heart to mine

I read the constellations on your skin

Telling me we would never end

I forgot to account for the moon

Because you left far too soon

I now know from the start

I should have listened to your heart

Which was singing a song

Signaling our doom like a gong

I should have seen the signs

How clear they were in your eyes

The warning ever repeating

That your love was fleeting

My eyes have instead seen regret

No, Not that we ever met

But that I couldn’t plan ahead

When wrong stars were read

Queering Things Up

One of the unfortunate things about having an early onset of a mental health disorder is that a lot of development things kind of get pushed aside. For me one of these things was my sexuality and gender identity. In middle school when people are thinking about first boyfriends and girlfriends, I was writing poetry about suicide. In high school when people are starting to explore the wide world of sex, I was trying to cope with anxiety and listening to copious amounts of Keane. In college where you might start experimenting with things, I was trying really fucking hard to stay alive despite the near constant screech in my brain telling me I didn’t want to be on this earth. I was about 23 when I got my diagnosis and in typical stubborn fashion I was 25 when I finally began to take meds for it.

25 is kinda late to be going through shit that I probably should have been exploring when I was in my teens. It’s been 3 years and I am kinda getting a grasp on it now but there is still some things that are fuzzy.

For instance, I am fairly comfortable with my bisexuality (I’m not going to get into the politics of labels but for my case bisexuality = pansexuality). This is one of the few revelations I had when I was a teen so I have a long time to get use to it. Still there are times when I debate whether or not I actually like men, because generally I don’t. Like my standards for guys are so high but girls, not so much. Still I keep the bisexual identity because I see a dude and I think, “nice”.

I’m somewhat comfortable identifying as genderfluid, or nonbinary. I think my doubts with this one are the fact that my body still presents mostly as female. I generally don’t have a problem with it other than a fairly intense hatred for my breasts. Sometimes though I feel really feminine and I doubt those moments where I feel really masculine. Like I am making shit up. Mostly though, I just feel somewhere in the middle, like a balance of feminine and masculine forces. I’m learning to kind of go with the flow on this and accepting that most people don’t give a shit how I present day to day.

The one I struggle with the most is identifying on the ace spectrum. Here’s the thing, I have a fairly strong sex drive but the thought of anyone touching me or engaging in sex with anyone literally revolts me like 80-90% of the time. So I’m not entirely sure what that is about but I kind of think I should probably have sex with someone before I come to any conclusions.

Mostly though, I just kind of figure my identity is going to be in flux for a while and I’m okay with that.

Boundaries and Besties

I think, sometimes, I’m not really good at being a friend. I don’t know if it is really super easy for anyone to transition from childhood friendship to maintaining adult friendships. When it comes to friends, I can count on one hand the ones I consider best friends. Only one of my besties lives in the same town as me, one lives clear across the nation, the other only the next town over (which in Wyoming means they are an hour and 1/2 away). Thank god for modern technology because otherwise I would have no hope of keeping up with their lives. All of my besties are in different stages of their life too. One is just starting to try and figure out what they want out of life. Another is single, knows what they want but is struggling to figure out how to obtain it. The third is married and has just welcomed a new addition to their family. Between distances and inhabiting different spheres of life it can be hard to maintain friendships, but layer on my own particular brand of mental illness it can be damn near impossible.

I know I can be a somewhat difficult person to handle. I tend to either over or undershare. I can be clingy or I can disappear from you life forever. I’m not always emotionally available. I can be jealous and possessive and I get vindictive when I am hurt. The thing is I know these things about myself and have learned to incorporate a few personal rules to help me navigate my current and future friendships.

  1. Honesty: I think honesty needs to form the basis of any personal relationship, romantic or platonic. Does this mean I need to tell my friends about every little secret or every thought that pops in my head? No. What it means is that I have to be honest about things that may effect our friendship. Like if my brain decides it can’t cope with life much less my friend’s existential crisis, I let them know. I let them know when I am going through rough times, I let them know when things are going well. I let them know what I feel about them, that I love them.
  2. Oversharing: going hand in hand with honesty though is oversharing. My friends don’t need a breakdown of my every day trials and worries. Let’s be honest it can be a bit overwhelming. I’m not saying I don’t share pretty much everything with my friends but I try not to dump all of it on them at one time. Like that’s what therapists are for, not best friends.
  3. Quid pro Quo: I can’t also be on the receiving or giving side of the relationship. This means I can’t only talk to my friend about what is bothering me and then completely ignore their own trials. It also means that I can’t just be there for emotional support for a friend without letting them provide the same for me. Relationships are are give and take which means you have to both give and take.
  4. Make an effort: This is important because I am such a homebody I would never leave my house if I was given the option not to. This means I have make and effort to connect with my friends. It can be as simple as checking in with a friend once or twice a week to see how their week went. It can mean making solid plans and committing to them. Both surprisingly hard things for me to do. It also means making an effort to take an interest in their lives. This could mean reading a parenting article, or watching a movie trailer or listening to a podcast. Nothing too major but things that keep me informed of what is going on in each of their spheres.
  5. Say no sometimes: one thing that I have done on past friendships is overextended myself. I try so hard to be everything a person needs to be that I turn myself into a martyr. I don’t like being a martyr so inevitably I react with the other extreme, selfishness. To strike a balance I have learned that sometimes I need to say no. Like, I can’t let you borrow money, I can’t listen to this right now, I don’t care to watch that movie. True friends accept no as an answer
  6. Accept the boundaries they put up: Just because you can see (or think you can) exactly what a person needs to do to fix their life, doesn’t mean you get to keep pushing when they tell you to back off. You are their friend, not their therapist, their mother, their doctor or anything else. You don’t have to fix your friends, you just gotta be there if you can and help them when they want and if you have good friends they will do the same.
  7. Be Yourself: It can be really hard for me to not absorb the personalities of my friends, but my friends are not my friends because I am a clone of them. I am allowed to have differing opinions and quirks they may find annoying. Besides what is the point of being friends with someone useless they are a unique individual with their own likes, dislikes, opinions and views of the world. I mean I don’t want to differ on everything, (I prefer it if we all agree that electing an orange cheeto to run the country is a bad idea) because mutual interests are generally what helps a friendship form but I don’t expect them the agree with me on everything.

So those are my rules, what rules do you live by for friendships?

But, What Do You Eat?

When you live in the middle of ranching territory, particularly in conservative Wyoming, this is a question you get a lot if you choose to tell people you are vegetarian. To be fair, I usually get this from the older generation who seem to be unaware of the concept of vegetables. Younger people seem to just accept it. (The younger generation is why I still have faith in America.)

Generally, if the conversation continues the topic of why I chose to become vegetarian about 2 years ago comes up. Cue a deep sigh. My reasons for becoming vegetarian are a bit complicated.

There’s the straight forward reply. I did it to reduce my impact on the environment, but in truth that’s only like a smidgeon of the reason. Sometimes I say it is for religious reasons. Now, I am not particularly religious but I follow the wiccan rede. My personal interpretation of it leads me to understand that I should do as little harm as I can in the world. Sometimes I say it’s because I love animals and I couldn’t reconcile loving animals and eating them. Sometimes if I don’t want to justify it I just say that I didn’t like meat all that much so I may as well give it up.

All of these reasons informed my decision. Things that didn’t affect my decision was the idea vegetarianism was healthier (if done right it can be but it isn’t by default), that I would lose weight (I am roughly the same weight now as I was before I went veg) or a sense of moral superiority (eating or not eating meat doesn’t make you any less or more morally superior to the next person. A lion isn’t morally inferior to a gazelle, they both are just animals deriving nutrition from the environment in different ways.)

Anyways, the takeaway from this should be, that if you think I am somehow starving myself because I am vegetarian, you should probably consider taking a look at the rest of the food pyramid.

Salads

I’ve been packing salads for lunch because, I need to eat lunch and also vegetables. (Also, I am trying to prepare for living on my own while actually functioning in spite of the bipolar and one of the areas of importance that I have identified is my eating habits, which are horrendous) Basically what I have been doing is prepping 5 days worth of lunches like Sunday evening. I have these quart cup Pyrex containers that are really good for this. I pack the same salad for the week because it usually takes me about 5 days to get sick of eating the same thing.

Last week I did a Mediterranean inspired salad because I remembered I had falafel in the freezer. It was mixed spring greens (my salad base go to), cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers (the small ones), mozzarella (those little balls of the fresh stuff) and falafel. I had some Greek yogurt dip stuff for the falafel and the peppers and then the rest of the salad got a dressing made of olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. I combined that with some tomato basil wheat thins.

This week I am doing a southwest style salad. Again I started off with mixed greens. To that I added, tomatoes (Roma, diced), red onion, orange bell pepper, black beans (canned, unsalted, drained and rinsed), and corn (frozen, fried with a little olive oil, salt, chili powder and cumin till they were just a little roasted. I stirred the black beans into them before I added them to the salad). I paired with a salsa Verde yogurt dressing (I think it has avocado as well) and some tortilla strips for a crunch.

I also take along a small thing of yogurt (I’ve been doing chobani because it’s been on sale and I prefer the Greek style yogurt) and a fruit of some sort (bananas last week, berries this week). I also drink one thing of flavored green tea (Xing brand, the entire can is about 180 calories). I just do Huel shakes for breakfast then whatever I find for dinner because I haven’t gotten that far in my meal planning yet.

(Also, for the record, I am not counting calories. I find that when I do that I don’t eat enough food because I focus too much on the number. I am just trying to eat reasonable portions instead. Like my salads general consist of about 3 packed cups of leafy stuff and a little less than a cup of other things. )

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