willkommen! bienvenue! …you get the idea

Hi! You’ve reached the blog of Lune Lyon, alias Cass, alias Elen of Thescorre. Don’t worry. You’re probably in the wrong place. :)

I write. Obviously. I mean I write more than blog posts. 2014′s projects include Nuclear Winter, which is not actually as grim as it sounds; Cherry Blossom Girl, an introduction to Ada Kirova and Rory Maclean; and as ever, pieces of a fantasy universe in which nobody wants to be the queen (but somebody must). And that’s just the original stuff! You want my fanfiction? I’ll link it from AO3 as I write, or you could check my Tumblr.

My pop culture interests bridge the gap between geek and chic. I’ve gone vaguely boho and vaguely prep (see Gravatar). I am looking forward to Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Archer, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost Girl. Oh! And if Canada would give us a little more Bomb Girls, that’d be luvverly.

I’m not from around here. Technically, yes, I’m a native Western New Yorker, but I don’t remember any of it before we came back; my dad used to be military, and when I was a toddler, we moved to Germany, where he had met my mother in the first place. I am that rare US citizen who had to assimilate. It didn’t even begin to take until I left high school… eleven years after we returned here and thirteen after coming stateside. If I can’t find a word in English, I may well have it in German or French. Just for kicks, I practice my Nasta’liq alphabet using English words — phonetic transliteration is nuanced and therefore great fun. My bootleg manga habit shhh reminded me that I ought to learn a bit of Japanese, and this time it’s taking. Yay!

Don’t hesitate to say hello, or bonjour, or guten tag. I even respond to hajimemashite, ni hao, and as-salaam alaykum.

the foot on this soil takes root

America
I am American
Please can we start again

I have your passport.

I mean I have a passport that looks like yours. Citizenship too. I don’t know why you decided I was still too other to make my home in the country of my birth. It’s left me feeling stateless.

You were destroying yourselves while you were destroying me and you didn’t stop to look at what you were doing, no, not once.

I got nothing
But mounting debt and fear
We scratch our heads
Wondering how we got here

I can tell you exactly how you got here. You circled the wagons. Success was American. Misfortune was Other. Only now you have to look around and admit that you’ve had misfortune, too. Does that make you Other like me?

Why does it take conscious effort to embrace each other in a time of pain? What happened to community? Why am I shocked to the core when I see it happening? It shouldn’t be this way, land that bore me. I disown you so often because you disowned me first. My dad gave you the best of himself and his daughter you met with scorn because she was the product of that life spent serving.

At seven.

Twenty-one years later, the lyrics of this song feel like they could fit me. America, I am American. What are we doing? I can say “we”.

There are Americans by birth and by adoption who are trying to counter the model you gave me. I embrace them. I reject, rather, the cruelty of the irresponsibly prosperous, who forget you were ever anything else the second you get yours. Someday you may need help, and I will be there. You will never acknowledge what you did and I will help you anyway. Someday you will see how stupid you were, long after anyone could write it off as kids being kids. Someday you will become sensitive to the pain you caused.

Then I will hold you when you cry like you didn’t hold me. This is how I’ll pay it forward, what love I have been shown.

hooked into machine

I don’t know how to depersonalise the personal.

– Hysterical sobbing, loss that isn’t mine reminding me of loss that is, a fervent prayer there will be no more, and a day of rollercoaster emotions. What else is new? I guess this is: burnout. About a week to go and running on empty. Headache. Nausea. I want to go away on holiday and forget about my problems. There are no holidays for people like me. Well, there are, but the thing about them is that they take place right here, which is not really an escape but a very long weekend with a terrible adjustment period once I’m back to the grindstone.

(Though there are angels. I will say that, and do not let me minimise that knowledge. There are ponies in piles, like my uncle taught me.)

So I really and truly don’t want to go to the hospice to have to learn about death. It’s not that I fear the dying themselves. I think if it were just a matter of sitting with them and existing, I’d spend my holiday there — and don’t think I’m ruling out a week’s volunteer work, either. They have someone with fibro on staff. They’d find a use for me. I think what I dread is making use of people who have come to Benincasa to jolly well get some peace. Or am I assuming that’s what they want? Well, what else will they get in a two-bed hospice in a bedroom community?

I don’t know what I’d ask them. Tell me all your thoughts on God? Why did you come here? What song do you want at your funeral? Jesus, it’s all so intrusive, and it’d all have to be done like an interview, with notebook in hand, because my memory is shit. We’d all three have to be awake at the same time. These days I manage all right thanks to the wonders of caffeine. Still. I’m full of trepidation.

There’s one other problem. It’s supposed to be “our personal experiences”, I think, but our own losses don’t count. That hurts. I’m still grieving. It’s not been long at all since I had to confront mortality creeping down through the generations. My uncle was the first uncle I’d ever lost. Every day I look at my dad and I begin to see him and I know the years are rushing by too fast. I know there’s nobody now to stand between my parents and the abyss. Does it scare them? It scares me. I’m not ready to be alone.

I cried because I’m so afraid to lose anyone else.

There was just no time to properly savor time at the hospice and to learn from, rather than interview, the residents. I regret underestimating the time I needed to get everything done. It’s 1:04 and I can’t believe I’m considering more cowbell — um, Pepsi. My wrist aches from scribbling in that workbook. After I finish it, I’ve got to type eight or nine more chapter summaries, to say nothing of a reflective paper, and how am I going to reflect properly on a term I felt didn’t teach me much of anything? How do I say “In fact, learning was not facilitated” except by saying it, and how do I not fail the course as a consequence? And there’s one more paper on depression to go, but I have actual guidance from that professor!

How do I not burst open over the next seven days?

I ought to sleep. I can’t. I can’t write another word by hand. I can’t even concentrate on fiction. I’m puttering out, so low on gas it’s ridiculous. But how do I refuel with anything that won’t corrode my works?

the start of something beautiful

It used to be transgressive enough to be a girl who liked girls.

God, I feel ancient, complaining like this. How they’re all so young and wild and I’m so… middle-aged, except I’m not, I’m only 28. And the companionship I want is for more than just the years she’s here for college, so no, I’m not looking to be with an undergrad. Even grad students go on. They go away. I want someone who’s planning to stay here for the foreseeable future.

I’m still such a virgin. I’m new at this. I’ve been bi forfreakingever but did I act on it? I tried. Once. And she kissed like all the others. But she felt safe. She made women feel safe. I just didn’t like the way she kissed. Why did I not go on and try other girls? — Because I wanted two other guys and I didn’t meet anyone else. But what if I’d made an effort? What if I’d tried harder, not so blinded by the unattainable (before, during, after)?

The question remains: where does a girl who likes girls go to get with girls? And girls who won’t judge her for liking guys, too (or keeping one in her life)?

. . .

If they weren’t real people, I’d say Trixie and Jenny on Call the Midwife were totally going to end up lovers, especially with Trixie’s gorgeous new pixie cut. Traditional she ain’t. She’s the one who wears the most trousers. She’s also the most lipstick, go figure. And Jenny… she runs into such trouble with men, she’s so awkward except as a mother figure, but in her world of women she’s perfectly herself.

I’m a Trixie. I can handle men just fine. I’m definitely not traditional-for-the-fifties. My mother is a hell of a lot like Sister Evangelina. But I’m also a Jenny. I mother the boys I haven’t made cry. I would be at rest at last in a world of women. Elen n’ha Katarina. I can be soft and comforting.

. . .

You know, I was talking with Eleven about the prospect of going to a gay bar. Well, an all-LGBTQ+ inclusive bar. Or just Pride, this year. He said I should have a wingman; I just don’t know where to get one and I am not taking Simon again. No. No frelling way. To show up with a guy who isn’t either gay or taken (or both) invites the perception that I’m, what, trying to impress him by dancing with other girls? And if I go with a girl, what if everyone thinks we’re together when we’re just friends? I’d be going because I’m looking and I don’t know how to fucking pull short of wearing a shirt that says “I’m here, I’m queer, and I want the start of something beautiful”. I should dig up that rainbow dog tag I bought. The woman I bought it from that year said that the people who wore it ended up taken — and look at me, taken and still wanting! Is there merchandise for that?

. . .

I don’t want someone who’s going away when she’s done with school. I don’t want someone who fails to care about the world beyond this place. Where and who is the balance?

oh, white collar, i miss you.

I couldn’t get into White Collar this season, which makes me sad, because the older episodes bring me such happiness. I’ve got “Company Man” from 2010 playing. Neal and Peter didn’t have ugly secrets, Mozzie was getting to know the rest of the team, and best of all? No Sara. No. Annoying. Freaking. Sara. I could reasonably believe Neal and Mozzie would become part of the Burke miscellany, a family for two people who needed it more than anything. Mozzie would’ve made the ideal mad uncle, and the chemistry Neal had with both Peter and El just slew me.

And who doesn’t love Diana and Clinton? — No, not together, though I freely admit I’d date Diana. Mmm, Lady Suit.

We did, of course, lose the possibility of more Hughes via Actor Existence Failure, but oh, how I loved Ross “Liebgott” McCall as Keller. What a delicious villain!

I think the show lost me a little bit into Season 5. I saw where the Neal and Rebecca thing was going and I didn’t like it, or that Neal wasn’t actually growing as a character. I didn’t believe “once a criminal, always a criminal” of him. Mozzie, sure. But I really thought Neal was changing.

I might make an effort to watch the next season. It’s only been picked up for six episodes. I hope the show gets a better farewell than Smash, anyhow.

unaccustomed to

I don’t like the influence Facebook has had on my ability to keep a journal. Instead of saving up thoughts for a lovely, coherent entry, I microblog. Then again, when I was fifteen and sixteen I made short, excited entries in my Livejournal. Facebook and Twitter would’ve been ideal then. Not so much now. I have more to say and consider, more, perhaps, than may be said here, or indeed to anyone. Know please that I am considering, at the very least.

“The Remorseful Day” on WNED. “Lewis, I’m having a heart attack, but first, I’m going to help you break this case!” The way he prepares for his death fascinates me, damn that professor’s eyes for opening mine. He actually sits down and arranges his wishes: he’d like his body to go to science, and no funeral service of any kind, please. I’d do it that way. I will do it that way. I should. I should sit down and work out my wishes. Combine Morse with Five Days at Memorial and I’m inclined to make sure everyone knows what it is I want in the end. One thing’s clear to me after this semester: we do a lot for the dying to keep ourselves comfortable. We don’t privilege their voices nearly as much as we ought.

“Lewis, here we are in Coronary Care, but I’m going to give you another major break before I go.”

It’s his life’s work done.

Will mine ever be? For while there’s life there’s bound to be work. Cases may come and go, but I may need to be persuaded to retire during a lull in the action. Do I maybe want to die on the job, somebody’s Oma to the end? Do I want them to find my gnarled little body in its papa-san (there may always need to be a papa-san), with my laptop open and my final can of Pepsi just cracked? And will it be a curly straw or just a cheap straight one?

Even Morse has someone to mourn him. I must live in the hope that, like Morse, there will be someone left to mourn me. Maybe I’ll become one of the venerable aunties and uncles of Thescorre. Maybe I’ll have to move. The younger generation of my own family has forgotten I exist. The children I took swinging at the Kirchweih won’t have a face to put to the name of that distant cousin. Julia’s babies, Georg’s, these are not yet born. They could know me someday. Being hypothetical, I cannot count on them. So it’s the family I make and not the family who made me who will come to matter most.

Do you wonder why I cling so hard to the people I meet and love? It’s because this is the magnitude of my loss. Thirteen years. My grandfather. My grandmother. My father’s best-beloved brother between them, and Pat-next-door. Before that thirteen years, I was down two grandparents already, three if you count Ray, probably four because I doubt Dorothy made it to the Century of the Fruitbat. I get to stand around and watch them all fall, or forget me, and I know why the Doctor loves his TARDIS better than any other soul: she is the constant. She is eternal. He can survive millennia and she will watch over him.

I’m going to lose everyone who loves me, but if new people love me, it won’t hurt as much. So I can’t shut down. I can’t give up. And I won’t go away without being pushed.

do not call for help.

When I am at my least rational, I feel as though death would be preferable to finishing the mountain of work I’ve yet to do this month. I know I can’t kill myself. I won’t kill myself. But whenever I get a flutter of chest pain, I wonder if God is being merciful.

I hurt. There is just no not-hurting anymore. I am one giant charley horse.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this. I’m sorry, whatever it was.

why I’m anti-anti-psychiatry

There are people in the world who will tell you that it’s completely subjective, this matter of mental health, that you don’t really need those nasty drugs, and they make things worse.

In some cases, they will be correct. Depression can be a natural reaction to trauma, and as the trauma resolves, sure, so will the depression. This is why I haven’t messed with my meds for many years — no depression has been that severe. No, not even the one where I sat under Jessica’s office table and waffled about going inpatient while uninsured. That happened after months of my family being totally broken. I got a psychiatrist, and he monitored me, but it turned out I just needed to hit bottom and be caught. Realising I could be caught when I fell was good medicine all by itself. School started and I had little goals, little successes. Very little brain fog.

Some depression has more than just trauma behind it.

I was depressed for the better part of ten years before anyone decided to medicate me. I have been medicated for eleven years this month. That’s a total of twenty-one years living with a fire-breathing flying monkey on my back. Sound like fun to anyone else? No? I have had one hell of a life, I’ll say that up front, but it’s not enough life to have your umpteenth nervous breakdown before you can vote. No reason to suffer that much from being brought back to America unwilling; no reason to develop panic disorder doing something you love (in my case, a solo at a band competition in sunny Virginia Beach — first vacation I’d taken in years!). What ought to have been mere teenage bagatelles hit me like anvils.

And no, the first medication wasn’t the magic pill.

I went on two pretty much simultaneously. The Ativan was to manage the fact that I sat in a corner and screamed like the doctor was going to kill me. I’m shocked he didn’t just grab a blowgun and shoot me full of Haldol. Would’ve been justifiable in someone who wasn’t 4’11″ and, by that point, maybe 93 pounds. I figure he knew he could just sit on me if I got fighty. Am I happy they failed to tell me Ativan came with dependency? My dad even kept it from me. Bless him, I think he was just happy to see me out of panic mode. Lexapro… starting that was shit. I thought I was going to puke it back up that first night, and I wasn’t quite right for the next three months. (Junior year? What last ten weeks?)

Lexapro wasn’t right, exactly. Its cousin Celexa would be, once I got the rest of my life sorted out. Like I said, hell of a life. Along the way, I made new friends. I don’t have full-blown bipolar, but I experience hypomanias, agitated depressions. Or I did a lot more often before I started Klonopin. Yep, I’m an easy fix. That particular psychiatrist gave me the side-eye. They’re not used to patients educating themselves about medications. That one peddled me Lamictal, but I declined. In case you’ve never tried: yes, you can say no. I promise. You have to be strong sometimes and accept that it might get you labelled non-compliant or diagnosed with a personality disorder for the wrong reasons. (By which I mean I did have borderline traits, but the dude who first brought it up did so when I refused another mood stabilizer.)

Medication is useless in a vacuum. You need therapy. I needed therapy, and it’s no coincidence that I finally got better when I combined the right meds with the right therapist. You’ve got to have support. You can’t survive this without support. I got better because I was able, at last, to see that monkey and hand him a damn breath mint. “Here, take this, and quit burning my ears.”

I have only had one true disaster along the way. Hello, Remeron! Please never come near me again with your noradrenaline and dopamine reuptake effects. The damage meant adding Atarax, which is an antihistamine, because what was left of my natural appetite took a nosedive. It also meant a valerian supplement at night. I don’t take much, just eight drops compared to the half-to-quarter-teaspoon originally recommended.

Pregnancy on these drugs is controversial. Good thing I don’t want to be pregnant. Yes, sometimes I feel I’ve had certain choices taken from me, but the alternatives are so unthinkable. What if I wanted to give birth? I don’t trust this cocktail, but without it, what would happen to my mental health? Never mind worrying what will happen to the kid when it’s born; I kill myself before that happens, the kid doesn’t stand a chance. So. Should I decide to parent something that isn’t housebroken, there will have to be a surrogate. That is the price for the kid coming out unaffected by my meds. Nobody can know, and there are always genetic mutations in play, but I will minimize the risks.

And that is my choice. There are parents who are on fewer varieties of drug who are making educated decisions to try for pregnancy. That’s their choice. There are studies making the risks look staggering, and there are studies minimizing the risks. God knows who funded which ones; I know the government funded one of the “don’t do this shit” papers. Studies have followed children whose parents took drugs (prescribed and illicit) and researchers found that poverty was the largest factor in those children’s success. I wish I’d saved the link. I’d link it far and wide.

As for my continued use of my cocktail, hell, yes, I’ll keep going. It hasn’t failed me. Circumstances have failed me multiple times. I know what it feels like to need a change and it’s orders of magnitude worse than this. This right now is stress combined with academic weirdness. That’s why I have Wade, to help me sort things out. That’s not why I have Eleven, but he’s really useful when I get turned around. You can probably thank him for my career goals. I’m going to put Wade and Eleven in the same room Monday night and watch awesome happen.

I could have turned left so many times and died of it. I didn’t. I stayed this course and I’m going to be okay. I’m even going to be well. I wish the same for you.

superskinnied.

I told Wade how much I miss eating like my growing teenage self. I told him I’d risk all the frightening unknowns about being on a cannabinoid, even long-term, if it would help me gain to a healthy 95-100 pounds. That this life is not worth it if I have to live it starving. Which I am. Starving. Malnourished. Not on purpose. So completely a result of the abuses to my body. This bonsai-tree self is inadequate. I am dried-up, though not yet old before my time. I have hips, at least, but no breasts, and gray! Already! Gray bits of eyebrow.

I have this thing — thinness — that so many people try to die in order to achieve, and I want to throw it away because I want to feel real. I want to be able to buy clothes without hating myself. I want breasts. I know I’m lovely when I fake them up, and I know I’m lovely without, but some part of me wants breasts that weigh something. I want more time in this hourglass.

They say that after you lose weight, your body will make you hungry again. Why did mine stop feeling hunger? Most people in recovery eat on their missing pounds. Why couldn’t I, except on Remeron? What’s different here? Why can science offer me nothing?

. . .

I feel rather like a horse tethered to a wheel, flogged as I trudge in circles trying to live up to my owners’ expectations. Make of it what you will.