willkommen! bienvenue! …you get the idea

From Elen Woderose of the Industrious Barony of Thescorre, come greetings unto all who enter here. [switching hats] Hi, I’m Lunochka, and I’ll be your blogger this evening. What can I start you off with?

I have a rich fantasy life. I write fiction and some verse; current works-in-progress include the bloody doomsday thing that isn’t really doomsday after all and the heavily-edited Immigrant Songs, poems stretching over oh ye gods it really has been eight or nine years since I wrote some of those. I indulge in fanfiction from time to time. I’ll be writing songs this year. I don’t promise they’ll be hits, but I’ll try not to offend your artistic sensibilities too badly.

My pop culture interests bridge the gap between geek and chic. I’ve gone vaguely boho and vaguely prep (see Gravatar), and my favorite trousers are basically a skirt cut in two and stitched up the middle. Send me your old, worn-out peasant skirts with drawstrings in and I will make more skirts. Uh, tell me in advance if you want them back. ;) I sew chiefly by hand, and I have been dragging my bottom on that, so I’d better hop to sometime this month.

I’d like more Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Archer, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost Girl, and Bomb Girls (that one’s a long shot). I don’t know whether The Mentalist got cancelled. I know The Good Wife is coming back, which, yay! My idea of a good horror film is a few hours’ worth of Public Information Films. Or Threads. (The Day After is a little sanitised.)

I finally think of myself as this woman in this place and from it, but I cannot forget, not ever, that the path to serenity wound through a lot of brambles. I’m only technically native to Western New York; for all intents and purposes, I’m a German immigrant. We moved before I began to form memories, and as a result, yes, the worst culture shock I’ve ever had was coming here. I still don’t get a lot of things, but I have friends now, and a beloved man, and for them I would put down my roots.

In order of fluency, I have English, German, and French; I can usually make sense of Spanish in context; I read Arabic script but can’t tell you whether that is written Urdu, Farsi, or Arabic proper, nor can I differentiate between Arabic dialects. I address my loved ones using Russian diminutives and my liege lords and ladies by their titles.

sugar, sugar

“Why do you need some guy to take care of you? Why don’t you take care of yourself?”

Well, Dr. Phil, when this girl was 20 and started dating sugar daddies, the financial outcome looked pretty damn bleak. I wouldn’t pay for Michelle’s company — all that cash apparently can’t buy a decent dye job — but you know? She was working retail, possibly on top of trying to study, and if your family’s not pitching in, that’s a real grind, that kind of survival. She took what she had and made it work for her. Everyone involved knew what was going on, so it’s not as if she lied her way into that cash.

Now, if I were Michelle, I’d have invested the money so I could set myself up for a better future, and then quit worrying. On the other hand? I never needed to resort to being a sugar baby. I had my needs met, with the exception of health care, and by the time that was a problem, I was too worn-down to really date. Besides, I had a partner who stood by me through those darkest hours. Better to have been loved and supported through a tough time than to go it mainly alone for money — because as it happened, money wouldn’t have solved anything. Now I have health care and still not enough answers.

Would I do it?

No. No, I don’t think that’s an option. I’m not a traveller, and apparently Michelle travels with her dates. I’m still not up to snuff, healthwise. I’d need some startup capital in order to solve a few superficial problems (perk up the girls, redo my skin from toe to hairline). I’ve grown into rather a forthright personality who can hold her own with powerful people, but not as arm candy. I’d tell ‘em what I really thought. The only reason I’d consent to appearing at an event on the arm of someone I didn’t love would be to see if I could win some hearts, minds, and wallets around to real social change.

I could sell my time for a good reason. I have no good reason.

As for the couple who are still (!) raking it in off the wife’s past appeal, despite the fact that they’re married and pregnant (!!) — there’s one born every minute, hey? And I see that a chunk of the takings are going for Baby’s college fund. No shame in that. No shame at all, since it’s open and honest between them. You do you. You provide for yourselves and your kin however you can.

The only shame here is that Dr. Phil seems to want to impose his belief system on some incredibly pragmatic people. Why tisk at them when you’re basically a corporate and media whore yourself?

even swag would be nice at this point.

One more sloppy man on one more dating site. I look at them and I wonder why they think they can get away with so little effort. Have our standards as women truly sunk so low?

The one who hit “like” obviously didn’t read the profile. Yes, sorry, you do live too far away. No, I am not taking a chance on a tiny man in red swim trunks in front of a pretty Victorian with no trees in the yard. Ridiculous. Utterly absurd. If I bother with a man, he’s simply got to try harder than that. Certainly he’s going to have to try harder than the polo-and-khakis IT uniform. Jeans and a button-down make a fantastic casual outfit (but please go with shoes other than sneakers). Shave your face. Style your hair. When in doubt, realise that the barfly portrait is not your most flattering and choose another. If we have to look nice in our photos, so do you! Take your visual cues from film noir and class it up a little, will you?

And for pity’s sake, write well. Write with wit. If you have even half a brain, I really would like to see it. Don’t be the same generic outdoors-sports-beer-sex man I’ve rejected a hundred times before. Have interesting interests. Have a life outside your dating efforts, because desperation is never attractive. Talk about the good times we might have together, because otherwise I assume I’ll have to develop a fondness for your hobbies. If you want a woman with plans for her future, have plans for your own.

I won’t be a man’s first serious, long-term relationship. He certainly won’t be mine, and really I’m old enough not to want to bother teaching someone how not to fuck up. By all means date younger if you have no idea how. You won’t be wasting my thirties if you “find yourself” at forty or later wanting something I can’t give. I’m pretty settled in terms of what I want from a man.

I can’t say the same about women, precisely, but I know generally the kind of life that appeals to me, and women can be bullheaded but I trust us more to be able to sit down, communicate, and make it work. That’s bias. I am not obliged to believe otherwise, given my life experiences. Of course some women will never come to the table — so they won’t be worthwhile, either. I suppose I am more comfortable showing the soft parts of myself to a woman than to a man at this point, and therefore better able to share what needs sharing.

Drowsy now. I should eat something (carefully!) and fill up the tank with a little more Pepsi. I’ve a long night ahead, in which I intend to finish some schoolwork — oh, don’t laugh at me; I did get permission from my professors to work past the deadline! And I’d like to sew in my downtime. The muslin proceeds apace. I might have a body piece, sans sleeves, to try on before too long. That would be lovely.

switch to classic mode.

Bomb Girls got its wrap-up movie. I watched it tonight. Loved. It. Of course it pulled no punches, but it gave me a particular happy ending I needed to see.

I’m up awfully late considering 1st Advent is tomorrow and we’re going to St Mary’s. We’re hedging our bets that at least one church in a half-hour radius will have stuck to traditional services. I need to celebrate the new liturgical year in the old way. Of course, part of why I’m up past the end of the film is a desire to get things pinned and steamed in place. The long sides, I’m telling you now, will all be beastly. I start at the far end of the ironing board and let the pieces I’ve done hang off the end. Had to figure that one out as I went, yes. I’ll have to take measurements once more before I even cut gores. Loose basting stitches for the seams, I think. I’m going to use this as the basic pattern for more than the one gown. I only have to cut a pair of wider sleeves for use with the green panne.

This being the Christmas season, I anticipate ease in choosing greens and golds for my gowns. I want to trim the sleeves of the undergown for sure; I may add bands of the same trim to the panne. When I go to do the sideless surcoat, I think I’m sold on creating bias tape out of the spare panne and popping that on wherever I please — ooh, and maybe something fuzzy for around the body holes? Genuine fur’s out (practicality, not principle), but I’m going to go looking for the softest faux I can get.

After all these gowns are finished, it will be time to focus on canvas tentage and a bed. A good autocrat makes sure her staff and/or her future baron/ess get the last cabin going. If I go with a wall tent, there’s certainly room for a bed, and Mama and Rosi can always share an airbed if they want to camp. (I will worry about what they will wear once my camp is sorted. Priorities.)

I can do everything that needs doing if I do it a step at a time, and I don’t just mean the SCA stuff. I can’t be careless about it. I need to plan. I need to look things up and put them in my appointment book. Yes. I will feel more in control if I can see it all laid out right.

some things change and some things stay the same

Acknowledged: that from my teenage years in fandom onward, I was a shipper of some flavour. Except for those joyous hours spent on the Hornblower boards on A&E’s website — and this is back when they were still more Arts than dubious Entertainment — I had my pet couple on every show. I saw love everywhere. It was in my nature.

Since then, I’ve grown to expand my shipping into more inclusive arenas. Got two favorite couples that make equal sense? OT3! Slash? No problem! Love is genderblind, after all. But not shipping at all?

Enter Olivia Benson, post-Elliot Stabler.

Liv after Elliot is different. She’s more sure of herself in a lot of ways. Her dress sense, her hair, her demeanor, it’s all more consistent. Maybe that’s Mariska Hargitay settling into herself, too, but I’m seeing a character who, once out of Elliot Stabler’s shadow, began to be written as a woman realising a great deal of potential. What she wants is what she wants. Nobody’s going to tell her what to do about it anymore. She used to ricochet between tough as nails and vulnerable. Now, even after tremendous trauma (the Lewis storyline), she’s found a middle path. Comfort in herself.

Meanwhile, I can leer at Raúl Esparza all I like, because ADA Barba is a beautiful, beautiful man with a certain sharp gleam in his eye. He’s got the looks and the brains. Yum.

But I don’t need to pair Liv with anyone on the show to be interested in the show. I kinda like it ship-free, actually. I like seeing these people without the love affairs. My headcanon still holds that at some point in their history, Liv and Elliot were potentially better together than apart. Maybe if they bring him back and he’s gotten himself in order (i.e. saw a doctor about why he left; actually divorced his wife instead of staying with her for the sake of an accidental son) then they could be something. Other than that? Meh, I say.

…well, except that Kathleen Stabler is grown-up enough that her meeting Alexis Castle would be interesting…

fortissimo… then piano.

It’s… heretical, almost, to be the person whose chief expression of Christian faith is musical. To believe it can all exist, to find in God music and in music God, this is likely not what Sister would teach but where my brain finds the crossroads. Because what sustained me, underneath anything my teenage self would’ve professed, was a driving devotion to music. It kept me in school — I mean that; if not for music I’m not sure I’d have seen the point. It gave me a social outlet. More even than the written word, I could pour my soul into music because it was sacrificial and loving and nurturing to do so. Writing was solitary, for me. Selfish. As I moved up through the Wind Ensemble, like every good Hufflepuff, I seized on the duty as much as the glory. I have always needed to devote myself to others in some way. You will know, if you get to know me, that I am at my worst when I have nobody to nurture. My section filled a need in me that I wasn’t aware I had (although if at fourteen I knew I wanted to be part of a committed team-type relationship, and at eighteen I was the liberal who wanted to marry young…).

So I found God in music and music in God, yes? And if I had not been drawn to a particular Mass, I might not have decided to try with the choir. If I had not decided to try, I would have laboured under misconceptions which were uncharitable in the extreme. If I had not decided to try again after feeling I had failed and the match wasn’t there, I would have missed a lot of subtleties about what had been going on at my beloved old St. Cate’s and why.

Perhaps it’s silly to some that I should conclude it was the hand of God asking me to be part of this choir for him. To me it has almost been inevitable. God understands a great deal. I like to think he even understands heretics who try to find him where they can in a world given to great hardship as well as great joy. Being God, surely he knows what he made when he made me. He gave me Mavis, that she should see what she couldn’t in life. Maybe he’s giving me music to hear what letters from dead holy men don’t quite drive home. This is the same God who made Mother Julian and St. Hildegard, and how improbable were they?

Not that I am ever going to be a saint, but I know what it’s like not to conform, and to find delight in it when trying to conform hurts too much.

This is a long-winded apology. This is an admission that I have been wrong. Now I have to make it right, and I will, quietly, one breath and hug and step forward at a time.

protips for people like me from cupcakes and cashmere

Cupcakes and Cashmere has an article about working from home today; there are ten tips and I find them applicable to my own study-from-home gig. I have bosses, technically, but they’re very hands-off. Independent study really is independent.

I have recently been making myself get dressed every day and work somewhere other than bed. Depression, for me, includes letting my self-care slide. If I get into better habits in that respect, and make myself follow the routines, somehow the rest of the day falls into place that much more easily. As for working outside my bed, well, a) I can’t very well stop for SVU breaks in a room with no DVR, and b) one important component of sleep hygiene is reserving your bed for activities performed in a bed. Currently, for me, that’s sleep. Okay, and a brief morning check of my email from my phone, but only morning. It helps me transition into wakefulness.

Since Eleven and I split, I’ve been making sure to schedule things with other people, or at least stick to the things I already had scheduled. The SCA is my main social outlet, and once I think of places I’d like to go, I’m sure I’ll find more. I did give the local church choir a try, but I can’t with the Praise and Worship-style music that’s taken over (dude, we are Catholics; we get to DO high church). I want to go to something Saturday night at RIT where the price at the door goes straight to MSF, plus I get to dress in pretties and dance.

And all of this takes advantage of my flexibility, and I do give thanks for that flexibility. It lets me see doctors without angering my supervisor or leaving holes in a schedule. I have had reason to see a lot of doctors. I have fibro. I have a mouthful of consequences of self-neglect (and until December 9, one of said consequences is a great gaping hole — we learned yesterday that I can endure one! hour! in the chair.) I have depression and anxiety, for which therapy and medication are essential, and the best times to obtain both are during the day. I wonder what people do when they need to see doctors outside standard business hours? I guess when I hang out my shingle, my hours will be different from most.

I keep things tidy in my own way — all my useful stuff in a carry-box or my purse, so when I come downstairs for the day, there it is, right where I need it. I also have a day planner so I can chart out my to-do list according to when things need doing.

There are tips that don’t quite work for me yet. In terms of getting outside, I do that in summer, but past a certain temperature threshold, my body yells at me. I do, however, enjoy the sunlight that streams in through my bedroom window. I make sure, instead, to stay physical somehow, and if I find I need a light boost, I do own a sun lamp. I may even go for a short tanning session at some point, if I find myself getting too wan.

I am all about being smart with my money, but I’m nowhere near having enough to invest for retirement. Maybe when I’m earning. ;) I moderate my spending. I balance needs and treats. I look for deals that will still yield quality. I’m currently deciding whether to buy or to piece out a cloak, for example. I’m totting up the price of muslin enough for the layers I want for my next set of garb, plus linen for the undergown, panne for the overgown, and this one delicious brocade for a sideless surcoat — and notions! It’ll fit me better than bought and look just as it does in my head.

Two things that don’t work for me right now: healthy snacks and setting hours. I don’t know when I’ll have energy to do what, and my circadian rhythms are decidedly wonky. Aside from scheduling things that must be done when they must be done, I have to allow myself flexibility. The reasons behind the snacks are perfect for people whose bodies can put on weight, but mine can’t. I wish I had reason to “avoid overeating on an hourly basis”. I need food that’ll fill me, and at this point, I can’t afford to be picky.

I can anticipate that there will come a time when I’m working from home, but for a boss (hope springs eternal), and these will still work fine when it happens. It’s great advice. You should go check it out for yourself if you’re interested.

a house, a life, and a change or ten

We have a smallish upstairs by modern first-world standards: three bedrooms, two baths (one mine, one the master). Storage is… an issue, and I’m hoping at some point to solve the issue of the basement pong, because if we could actually keep stuff down there? It is ENORMOUS. Solves many issues. Or we could take everything out of the garage, scrub it, and move stuff like camping gear out there — throwing all the junk away in the process, might I add.

So. Discounting the master, that’s two beds, one bath.

And I feel like I’m living in a cavern in the larger bedroom.

Maybe five of you reading this have been in the larger bedroom. To its credit, it has room for things like a TV and, well, the enormous bed I’ve had for years. But I haven’t been sleeping well in that bed and I don’t watch the TV. It’s a nice TV. I wish I made better use of it. Since I can’t get the DVR stuff up there, it’s kinda pointless. I watch TV downstairs except when I’m so sick that I can’t leave my bed — but my next laptop will be even more badass than this one, so Netflix access will be no problem.

Two nights ago I started sleeping in the smaller bedroom. Last night I figured out I needed my nightstand and moved that in. Cue upset voices, because apparently an entire bedroom in this house belongs to my aunt — who has been unable to make it over after all for two years running. Much as I love her, she does not live here, will never be here for more than two to three weeks a year, and therefore does not get her own room.

I’d like to swap one room for another. I have been told in no uncertain terms that it ain’t happenin’ at least until after my aunt visits. That’s… look, if I’m okay sleeping in that back room in a way I’m not in the front, I’m not leaving it for the front room. I’ll fix up the front room so it’s gorgeous, but that back room, which is half storage anyway, that one I want for me. The TV can become a part of the guest suite. My shoes don’t have to live on a rack; they can sit in a bin, that’s cool with me. Then we can have the rack downstairs and use it for whatever the household is wearing at any given moment. The only other piece of furniture I could see wanting to be moved is my desk, which, like I said: storage problem. If we solve it, fine, the desk moves. If we don’t, fine, the desk stays where it is.

Brass tacks version of Things I Need In My Bedroom: a bed. A nightstand. A hamper so my clothes don’t end up on the ground. (Since mine got poached.) I’d like a dresser for what folds; there is already a closet for what doesn’t. I don’t mind if we keep garb in it too. We can line that front bedroom with the existing bookshelves! The bins will be just as unsightly in there, except less so because they will take up a smaller percentage of the room! (And I think I just heard my mother giving away my bike to my aunt! Swell!)

I really, really do not want or need much. Right now, I feel secure curled up in the corner. That bed has no memories in it. I put on rain noises and I sleep like a child — that is, the nightmares weren’t, last night, and if I’m focusing on the rain noises, my brain is forced to slow down and turn off. Win.

I’m striving for minimalism, here. There are steps along the way. If I never take them, I’ll never get there, will I?

. . .

My mother asked me how I expected to be independent, and what was I working on with Rachael?

I have a day planner that works for me. Big step.
I’m driving myself short distances to get where I want to go (like choir practice).
I gave myself the day off from the routine yesterday, but I am now consistently getting up, brushing teeth, dealing with my face, and getting dressed. Anyone who has ever been where I have been knows what a huge deal that is.
I’m making time to study. This is time I would’ve spent doing pointless crap before.
I’m making time for Pax planning, which was beginning to fall into my chaos pile.

Big changes start as and with small ones. Nobody’s habits adjust overnight. The big stuff is so much easier to contemplate when I work on the small stuff. And it’s all in how I view it: when I look at the house/my life as this giant insurmountable obstacle, I sit and stew and get nothing done, or else I pick at it aimlessly and give up in frustration. When I take it in small, manageable pieces, change happens. Good change. And I’m not going to say no to that.


I’m trying to figure out how sex-positive feminism is of any use to me personally and I’m thinking it’s not, not with the things I want from a relationship.

Men get to call me a prude if I don’t put out.
Men get to accuse me of playing games.
Men get to whinge about their neeeeeeds.
Men get to do those things and call it feminism.


And I apparently shouldn’t care about my number, but I do. I, personally, as a woman, should get to decide how I feel about the number of partners I’ve had, as well as the context. If I know I’d only wake up disgusted with myself if I did it too soon, is it not my right to wait? Or is this one more way for women to be made into emptiness and nothingness except when a man is having us?

How does a good man live with himself knowing he’s just pressured a woman to violate herself and her boundaries?

How does he look himself in the face in the morning and not see how much of the problem he still is?

I want a better man. I don’t just want a good man who grudges me my time to be ready, who waits impatiently, pushes me, needles me. I want a better man who realises that what we can be together is best when we’re both enthusiastic and fully willing — and for me, that includes love, trust, and commitment beyond the next few dates. For me, it’s knowing I won’t be used and set aside. That’s what I require. No less will do. No less should have to do. It’s not exactly radical to ask that your partner treat you with decency.

I mean, it might be radical feminism, now, to insist on that. It wasn’t always. The line moved. Standards got flipped on their head until holding back became a radical act. It’s a radical act of love for myself, to speak up in favor of behavior that will leave us both feeling all right about ourselves. Not just all right. Good.

So that is my radical feminist moment of the day, I suppose. Or at least it’s my radical moment of expressing my feminism… and one that has an eerie amount in common with conservative thought on the same.

i suppose this is inevitable.

As I age, I do have to face the fact that I will start running into health care professionals who are my age or younger. Sometimes it is magical, watching people begin their careers, taking the things they have learned and applying them in the real world — doing it well. It’s when they botch it that I sigh and despair for my generation.

Take my psych nurse. (Please.)

I admit I was not in the best of moods on intake. I truly was not. Then again, I had gone about a month and a half doing squat to improve my life because motivational anhedonia had its claws in me. Also, it isn’t the client’s job to be in any particular mood. I was sullen. I was tired. But I knew what I needed and I managed to convey that, I thought. By contrast she was… “suburban” is the best way to put it. It’s the only adjective I’ve got for polished-blonde-looks 35 at the most. She looked like she’d never not fit in a day in her life. Like she’d always belonged.

So she intimidated the hell out of me. But I was game. I needed to try. Right? Don’t give up until you give it a chance. We decided I’d try going up to 20mg of Celexa. Nice thought. I was queasy for four days straight. I went back down to 15mg, because that trial failed. I told her I needed to take it slowly, but that I was still interested in going up to 20mg. I was just… splitting pills.

When I got tired of splitting pills into eighths, I asked — or thought I asked — for 10mg tablets. I got ‘em, all right. Enough for 15mg. Which hadn’t been working over the summer. Okaaaaay. I called for my next refill and said “Hey, uh, I need to have enough to be able to go to 20″ which got interpreted as “Let’s give Maria 20mg tablets again!”

Wegmans was kind enough to get it changed to two 10s instead of one 20 a day. I appreciate Wegmans.

This morning I walk in with my crochet, yes? Prepared to be amiable enough. Not chummy like sisters. Just. Amiable. I get one question about how well the Celexa’s working and then she starts in on the two benzos I’m on.

I expect this from people who don’t hang out their shingle as psychiatrists or equivalent. I do not expect it from people who make their living prescribing these meds, specifically these meds, only these meds, to people whose case histories they should understand well enough to know that I have had enough trouble finding prescribers for one lifetime. That I came to her because the office has no policy against prescribing one person two benzodiazepines. I suppose I assumed this meant their practitioners, all of them, had a handle on said drug class.

From people who do this for a living, I expect, at most, “How do you feel about…? No? Okay, no. Cool.”

But I said no. I said a flat no. Three times. Which should’ve been it. No? Cool. Instead she started in on me like I knew absolutely nothing about the drugs. I told her I’d been on them for eleven years. I told her I knew where my cognitive decline came from. Correlation. Causation. I have fibromyalgia. It does that. I remember when my brain turned soupy. I know what a drug-related decline should look like — a hell of a lot more gradual than what I’ve experienced. As for tolerance issues, honey, I passed the “uh-oh, she’ll have withdrawal!” threshold three months into treatment. I’ve stayed within reasonable limits since then, and that is usually enough for doctors to nod and be okay.

I did all that while she was a sophomore in undergrad. Turns out she graduated high school two years ahead of me. Somehow I’ve tripped blithely through eleven years of medication not caring what it does to me? Somehow I have managed to know nothing about my own case history? Do I really look that ignorant at eleven-thirty in the morning?

I asked her how old she was. Apparently that’s some kind of inappropriate. Okay, it was the wrong question entirely. I should have asked “Exactly how long have you been practicing?” I had to Google to find out she’s only been doing this for nine years and I’ve been stuck with it for eleven!

I told her I needed to function, and that things staying the same would be my best bet. I had — have — people counting on me. I have a degree to finish. I have a family whose patron saint is Murphy. I do not have time to screw around with teensy gradations of benzos, feeling like crap the whole time. There may come a day when I can check myself in and let the doctors screw with my meds all they like! This is not that day! That day is not even remotely in sight!

On my way home, I called the office to request a new prescriber. I’m done with her. Carol on the phone said the practice would have to discuss it. I told Carol my reasons for asking. Maybe that’ll actually matter. I like Rachael a lot; she works with me, understanding that I am a person with agency and sense. In other words, she’s a social worker. Nurse Wretched there must’ve hatched from her university floating happily above real people and their lives, because for the life of me I can’t imagine any better reason for her complete disconnect from who I am and where I’ve been. She’s not discussing this stuff with Rachael? She’s not understanding it? Whatever. New. Prescriber. ASAP. I cannot deal with the cheerleader any longer.

every nerve glowing like

I’ve seen more ladybugs in twelve days than in twelve months. As omens go, that one is positive enough, but better still, the writing of Shonda Rhimes. I don’t care if I’m spoiling you for tonight’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Callie is standing on her own.

Callie is learning how to be herself first, too. And that’s where I need to be. I don’t want to live resentful; I want to live free, joyous, loving. He doesn’t want my love if it shackles me in any way. (Well, he will keep the love, but we are who we are: we keep love forever, because in our hearts it doesn’t spoil.) He doesn’t want my promises if they shackle me in any way.

We knew that we would step back and apart if the day came when we were obliged to choose each other instead of saying “Yes, this is how I am best.” We cried, together and apart. We miss what was, but would we take it back unchanged? I don’t believe either of us would. He wants me to go walkabout. He won’t have me back on a pretense. If he and I are ever again together, and one of us doubts as deeply as I have, then when we step apart the second time, it will be for keeps. No possibility of reconciliation.

You must understand that I do still consider reconciliation on the table, somewhere. But it is a large table with a lot on it. My things. To sort, to throw away or embrace as I will. I did the physical cleaning this summer. The emotional comes next.

Maria N.O.S. Not Otherwise Specified. It’s the term they use in medicine when they’re sure something fits the category, but it expresses itself atypically, or there are no good words for it. That’s me. I am not otherwise specified in a ton of ways. Some I can live with as open-ended questions, some I am still figuring out, some are defined now because not defining them hurt.

move forward and walk under a brighter sky
every nerve glowing like a firefly

I have to try.

I have to try.