It’s All About the Hustle

I’ve been hustling. And I do mean hustling hard. I’ve got two side hustles going on, on top of the full-time job (which I’m actively seeking to replace with a different full-time job elsewhere – never satisfied anymore, it seems).

One is the tutoring gig, which is frankly more trouble than it’s worth at this point because of an extended commute and a low cut of the pay. But I’m committed to seeing the school year through. They’ve got another month in these parts.

Second hustle is a writing thing I’ve been doing. Fluffy SEO padding shit to trick google. (They probably think I don’t know what’s up, but it’s fairly obvious it’s all bogus to do some hardcore SEO driving. You know, bolding keywords here and there. Burying a “moneylink” in a sea of non-competing, vaguely related links. Appending exactly three license-free stock photos and one embedded YouTube video. Yeah. Fun stuff.) But you know what? I’ve decided that I don’t care. I’m not screwing over any people with the BS articles and blog posts. I’m helping to trick a search engine that tricks people anyway. And while it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, at $15 a post…I can’t afford to linger too long on my reservations. I figure…keep this up a couple of months, and I’ll be back to salient. Quite frankly, that outweighs ethics at this point (to a reasonable extent, anyway).

What does bug me is that the hustle further stymies my own words, because damnit I’m churning out four to eight of those suckers a day on top of my day job. But I don’t know how long the little gig will last, so I’m gonna milk it for all it’s worth.

I think…I just needed to vent that. And say that, no…I’m not trying to disappear. Again. Doesn’t mean I won’t. But it’s not my intent.

One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hustling to do.

Noose

There it dangles, the tiny skeleton,
dancing on its tiny noose, haunting me.

It hangs from your rear view mirror,
reflecting the past into the present.

Skeletons are meant to remain hidden
under layers of skin and despair and false hopes.

But you drag them out,
grinning, heckling, getting off on reactions.

Getting off on pain,
you brag about your conquests of physical and psychological and sexual

abuse.

There it dangles, the tiny skeleton
dancing on its tiny noose, haunting me.

Bobbing in front of the mirror,
dragging the horrors of the past, screaming back into the forefront of my mind.

You are the noose,
wrapped around my neck.

Can you see the scars? They linger still,
finger-shaped bruises in a pretty purple painting on my ghost-white neck.

You are the noose,
wrapped around my heart, my mind, my soul,

my past.

You are the noose from which I dangle,
kicking, jerking, clawing at the frayed edges.

I’ll cut this fucker down, one of these days;
I’ll cut you down.

And then I’ll take those frayed bits and fashion the noose anew,
giving it a new home around your splotchy, bloated, corpse-like neck,

fathermine.

~

P.S. A big fat thank you to everyone who offered up ideas and made banners for me. I’m saving all of them and may rotate them out from time to time. Y’all rock my socks. All the damn time.

A Request and a PSA

Two quick things before I run away from work and drive downtown for Flogging Molly. I’m pumped, aside from a niggling fear that mystery pain will get worse and force an early exit from the show. Fingers crossed.

  1. Request: Does anyone know how and feel like making a new blog banner for me? The one I have now and have had for ages was made for me by The Aussie. It was to be temporary while he worked on something special. But he must have died and taken the banner with him, because that was months (well over a year) ago. I’d love to have something new, but I have no idea how to go about it myself.
  2. PSA: Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Get out there, grab some free comic books and don’t forget to buy something to support your local geekhaven!

Happy Friday. Or something.

Désolée (an un-poem)

I’m sorry, but…
I’m giving up on you.

Waiting for your call, your text, your email.
No more.

When you finally come to your senses,
I won’t be there, waiting as I always do.

Ardently, perpetually, relentlessly waiting.
No.

Je ne renoncerai plus à moi.
Je m’abandonne à nous.
Je renonce à toi.

Désolée.
Je suis très désolée.

Settling In

Work is an asshole. Not as big of an asshole as previous work, with Queen Bitch Extraordinaire. But Queen Bitch Lite still makes for an asshole environment. And since we share a cube wall, I have far more asshole contact than a proctologist. Settling in here looks like: scouring the job boards between writing assignments and interviewing managerial candidates as a side thing I’ve been doing for a different department.

Words are hard. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be: writing for a living. No, the job isn’t particularly difficult. But it’s tough as hell to write well and consistently about businessy stuff, especially while immersed in cubeland with several chicks all on the phone at once. And then, when it’s all said and done…personal words fail me more and more, and I’m left feeling empty and quiet. I need to figure out how to work through that. But so far, I’m still settling in.

Relationships are harder. Though I’ve been “putting myself out there” more, I find myself actually isolating a great deal. I’ve pushed a lot of people away (you here, my WordPress family, were the first…), including people that I know I really hurt in doing so. Depression, anxiety, blahblah, etc. makes us do things that aren’t good for us. Or others. And I’m not even gonna bother saying I’ll try harder. I’ll just take each day as it comes. And dating. I’ve been dating. Some dates have been stellar. Most have been less than. Far less than. Far. Far. Less than. Okay, borderline lock those motherfuckers up less than. And now there’s this nice boy. Really…nice. But there’s no fire. In the belly. In the mind. In the anything. I’ve never been treated so nicely. Or felt less fire. What does it mean? What do I do with that? The fires never stay. They leave, usually with a trail of destruction in their wake. But damn do they keep you warm while they stick around. And damned if I can’t stop thinking about those fires. Longing for them, even. Why can’t there be a nice fire? Anyway. I’m settling in. With myself. My thoughts. My goals, that I still haven’t figured out. But I’m settling in with them, stewing over them, nursing them, weighing them.

Apartment life is sad. I’m so glad I got out of the psychohouse. Those people seriously need some special kinda help. But now I’m in this mostly-empty apartment. A free couch I found on craigslist, and a mattress. It makes me a bit sad and uncomfortable to be there, so I try to stay out as much as I can. At least on the weekends when I’m not working or tutoring. Parks. Gardens. Concerts. Comedy shows. Poetry stuffs. Spoken word. Pubs. Pinball. Markets. Tulip festivals. This one is more of a trying to settle in. But it’s gonna take a while.

This post sounds mostly kinda pathetic. Probably because I’ve been dealing with Queen Bitch Lite all day. She’s totally PMSing or something, and Stephellaneous is ready to cut a bitch.

So..this is me..peeking my head out. Wanting to write, but feeling drained of words from writing all day at work.

I don’t show it…but I miss y’all. And shit is actually a fuckton better than it was in Louisiana. But I’ve still got a lot of settling in to do.

Adulting 101

  • Move across the country, leaving behind (nearly) everything you’ve ever known. Oh wait, that totally doesn’t count as adulting.
  • Job hunt for three months, because you refuse to settle (at least until your shekels run out).
  • Land a job from your shortlist of “dream” jobs…then promptly find the negatives (even though you actually kinda love the work – don’t worry. I anticipate rants aplenty.).
  • Commuting an hour each way, in good traffic – only taking one week to get sick to death of that aspect. To death.
  • Keeping your after-hours tutoring gigs because bills. Because money. Because adulting. Because your “dream job” is highly underpaid.
  • Become a slightly better-functioning night-owl/pseudo-insomniac and running on four hours of heavily medicated sleep-aid sleep at best.
  • Start adding a shot of espresso to your usual vanilla chai latte because tired as fuck, even though the taste makes you want to spew chunks.
  • Neglect the things you like, again, but this time with legitimate excuses (such as the schedule that has me running from 5 AM to 8-9 PM (which is usually when I finally make it back to basement)).
  • Get used to being abandoned by those whom once claimed they’d be by your side forever. Grow just callused enough to make it through the day, but sometimes still cry yourself to sleep at night. Whoops, that got dark. My bad.
  • What I meant to say was something along the lines of: being lonely as fuck. And also something else to do with that “fuck” word. I want a buddy, a companion, a partner-in-crime, a lover. I’m sick of waiting around for things that I thought were something they weren’t. And I refuse to join some dating service. So that leaves me…right here, bitching!

Hmm. I know there’s more, but I have to get back to work. I took a brief lunch break…a break from writing to write. Heh. Fuck, I’m braindead. I’ve written roughly fifty pages this week – stuff like newsletters, newspaper articles, ad blurbs, radio scripts, and now I’m about to start on blogging. I’ve helped perform interviews. I’ve assisted in ad-buying decisions and helped negotiate contract prices. I’ve improved departmental organization. And I’ve been here a week! I’m fucking tired! And pleased – with my job.

So yeah. Break’s over. Enough writing. I have writing to do!

Oh. And. HI!

That Time I was Adopted

In September.

Of 2016.

As in, four months ago. At the tender age of 36.

Back in August, when I was mainlining xanax to get through the immense stress I was going through trying to get the fuck out of Louisiana, one of my buddies from work came to chill in my office for a while. I’ll call him “Habanero,” since he’s the biggest RHCP fan I know (besides LE MOI. DUH.).

So we’re listening to the chili peppers and chatting about random shit, and finally we get into Oregon and Portland. Finally landing somewhere around this paraphrased bit…

Habanero: Dude, so I heard you don’t know anyone up there. I laughed when P. Whipped told me that.

Me: arches an eyebrow

Habs: No fucking way. Friends? Family?

Me: Nah. I don’t have anyone up there. I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. shrugs

Habs: laughs and leans back. The whole Pacific Northwest? You know…nada? Maaaaan, P. Whipped thinks you’re nuts. Hell, everyone does. But me? I envy you. You got some serious balls. What’s your plan?

I give him the gist of what I intended – which was to spend a week in an extended stay, during which time I’d find a place to rent and take whatever job I could find.

Habs: Listen, I know a guy.

Me: If this is gonna end with me dead in the desert or in a Mexican prison, I’m not interested.

Habs: Dude, I think I saw that one! ANYWAY. I know a guy: Jalapeño. Jalapeño and I grew up together, and he has family in Oregon. I’m gonna hit ’em up. They’ll let you crash for a couple weeks, while you get settled. I’m tellin’ you. They will.

Me: My eyes must have been big as saucers. This is something I normally would have put the kibosh on I-FUCKING-MMEDIATELY. Really, Habs? You think so?

Habs: I fucking know it. I’ll talk to Jala. We’ll sort it out; you’ll see.

Me: Dude, even if this doesn’t work out – you’re fucking awesome for even suggesting it. For thinking of me. Thank you.

Habs: Nah, you my homegirl. I can’t stand the idea of you going up there like that, with nobody at all. These people are cool. I mean, nice. Like. Nice as fuck. You’ll see.

~

Habanero didn’t contact them until around the last week of August…as in right at the last minute. But he wasn’t kidding. They took me in, showed me around, and now I’m renting a room from them.

It’s weird. And uncomfortable. Awkward as fuck.

And I’m tellin’ you, these people straight up act like they’re my folks. They’ve even introduced me that way once or twice, “This is Stephanie, the daughter we just met in September.”

They text me when they think I’m out too late.

They text me when they think I’ve been gone longer than whatever errand I’m on should require.

I do their laundry for them (sometimes).

I dogsit for them (often).

They drag me to family functions (after promising my presence and tricking me into going by telling me we’re doing SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY THEN WE SHOW UP TO A FUNCTION WITH SEVENTY PEOPLE).

And…

They’re nice. And what I’m paying them in rent has enabled me to drag out the little bit I got back from the sale of the house…so that I can look for a job I actually want to pursue instead of settling for the first thing some agency could dig up for me. I had only been here a week when they approached me and asked me to stay. “The angels sent you to us. It was meant to be. We talked to our medium about you. She thinks you ARE an angel. Will you meet her with us?”

Yeah.

It’s interesting, alright.

And it’s a strange feeling. Being parented. At 36. After a lifetime of little to none of that.

They’ve taken me to the beach. They’ve taken me to restaurants my budget would definitely not allow. They gave me gifts at Christmas and cry and tell me they love me.

So I have to deal with some overbearing shit. So I have to deal with someone who may be at the beginning stages of dementia. So I have to deal with hugs and hovering and manipulation to spend time with them. So I have to listen to them repeat the same life stories over and over and over again for hours on end. So I have to deal with parents. Family.

I’ve also been given this two-fold gift of being able to take my time and pursue something better than “just a job.” And…as strange and uncomfortable as it is…it feels good, sometimes. To be depended on. To be…loved.

As grateful as I am, you’ll most assuredly get plenty of rants about how manipulative they can be. And how downright fucking mean-as-a-snake the man can be. But when I’m being fair, those times are few compared to how fortunate I’ve been and am right now. This is temporary – they both know that, though they’ve both also said they want me to stay for good. (Yeah, I’m serious. There’s obviously more I haven’t told in this little post: like how I think my very presence has acted as a balm for them and their loneliness, health problems they’re both dealing with, etc.) But I agreed to their rent proposition “for up to a year.” I’m not sure I can deal with the smothering that long, but hell. The way things are going, don’t ask me what comes next. I sure as hell don’t know.

Life is weird. And this new chapter book my life is writing is certainly no exception.

Fuck You, Jiminy Cricket

So I get back to basement after a grueling (read: not grueling at all) day of tutoring (one whopping student). I flip on the gas fireplace and bundle up, because it’s snowing and the basement is cold as fuck. Ask my nipples. (Don’t. That’s creepy as fuck. Pretend I didn’t say that.) I go into the bedroom, flop myself down onto the bed and greet first the boys, then Lucien.

I named my iPad after the librarian in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. And then I promptly filled him with books, anime and games. I’ll give you one guess as to what Lucien and I get up to the most. You guessed it: I wile away the hours playing mindless games. This. Is what I’ve been doing instead of Reading. Writing. Watching. Observing. Hiking. I’ve been sleeping. Fiddling on the iPad. Facebook. Sleeping some more. Sleeping. iPad. Facebook. Sleep. Work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

After the boys abandon me to go wrestle in front of the fireplace, I cuddle up under the blankets. With Lucien. Will he fill my mind with obscure ideas and scintillating wit, as I intended him to? Oh no. Definitely not. You’ve forgotten we paired Lucien with The Stephanie. The Stephanie abuses Lucien and dims his mind with trite rounds of knock-off candy-blasting and time-management games (because she’s oh so fucking skilled at that). The idea is always: 15 minutes to wind down like this. Heh. We all know damn well it never ends up that way. The Stephanie is a work in progress.

Ahem.

So this fucking piece of candy didn’t go where I swear to fucking crackerjacks I told it to, and it ruined everything. My last damn turn for twenty minutes. And I blurt out into the quiet (aside from the insane racket coming from the televisions upstairs),

FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET!

That is what it took to snap me out of my mindless daze. I actually sat up and shook my head. What the actual fuck? First of all, how do I come up with this shit? Second…what the fuck did Jiminy Cricket ever do to me? Or anyone, for that matter?

He goes around teaching that splintered, lying piece of driftwood about manners and morals and shit. He’s like the ultimate good guy. Pinocchio’s a lying little twatmonkey, but Jiminy Cricket?! He’s the adorable little crickety conscience, hopping about, tapping his little cane, and talking about how it’s wrong to steal and lie and cheat and gamble and all that good-for-nothin’-scoundrel, now turn-your-life-around-and-make-your-creator-proud shit.

And here I am, all FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET, because I mismatched a piece of candy and my little witch can’t concoct her fakeass potion on a fakeass game that means nothing. Yeah. Take that, Jiminy Cricket! It’s a double rainbow! What does it mean!

~

I’ve been thinking on this a lot lately: I’m kinda disappointed that I never got detention. Okay, maybe even a bit pissed off at myself.

Part of me says I should be proud that I was covert. I mean, I did smoke cigarettes and pot at school and on campus, albeit extremely rarely. Seriously, through all schooling, college, post-grad, blah blah…definitely fewer than a dozen times. I was too afraid of being caught. (Smokes were different in college, obviously, but even that I kept to a minimum. I never wanted to be perceived as that girl. Even though, I kinda fucking was…kinda.)

The other part of me is (and always has been) sick to death of convention. And sick to Jiminy.jpgdeath of myself for not bucking convention as much as I feel compelled to. Pot at school? No. I would have gotten a fuckton worse than detention. But there were times that I wanted to speak up in class. Stand up for something I believed in (or didn’t). I felt compelled to say something. Do something. But I forced myself to conform. I’m a non-conformist at heart (and I’m not talking about the twats who call themselves non-conformists, then gather in a group and commence to conform to their own set of rules and norms), but I force myself to adhere – often to things I don’t want to or feel I shouldn’t.

I’ve been so fucking well-trained at conformity. So fucking well-trained at tucking my head and saying “Yes, Ma’am,” and “I’m sorry, Sir.” That sometimes I fear I can’t break out of it and even tell the difference anymore: which ones are my own personal guidelines, and which ones are the ones I’ve been inculcated with? Which ones do I want to keep, and which ones do I want to dash?

A work in progress indeed.

~

So perhaps this sudden, “Fuck you, Jiminy Cricket!” makes a lot more sense given the things I’ve been contemplating lately.

Perhaps I’m saying “fuck you” to my own enforced pseudo-conscience and searching for my own.

Or perhaps I’m fucking insane.

Either way, at least my musings separated me from Lucien for a bit.

The Ubiquitous 2016 Wrap-Up / Navel-Gazing New Year’s Post

The ‘net runs rampant with posts about how 2016 is the most terrible year ever to be had. No, not the years of the Bubonic Plague outbreaks. Not the years of the Holocaust. Not the years of Genghis Khan’s hordes. It was 2016: the year we lost certain celebrities, the year of yet more unfortunate film adaptations and remakes, and then the year Trump became President Elect of the United States. Tragic? The latter, for sure. The former happens all the time. It’s called life. Sucks, yeah. Any loss of life is tragic for the individual and his families. But come on. The loss of my dear Leonard Cohen and isn’t enough for me to call 2016 the worst year on record.

Fine, I glossed over the Trump bit. That was intentional. I don’t wanna talk politics, but if you wanna know how I feel about him, specifically – I’ll just say – fuck that guy. And not in a fun – I wanna do you all night long kinda way. But with like a mile long, herpes-infested cucumber-up-the-ass kinda way. That opinion has nothing to do with politics, by the way. (Okay, that’s not 100% true.) But it tends to spring forth from a woman when a man tries to grab her by the pussy because he’s a slimy-ass rich celebrity who thinks he can get away with it, because he can. And is my little STD-ridden cucumber fantasy hypocritical? Yes, I’m aware. That is all.

~

So. That’s the Internet’s 2016. My 2016 was far less focused on celebrities, and actually far less focused on Trump that my little rantlet makes it sound. A couple of Very Important People encouraged me about how well I’d done this past year, not to mention all the encouragement I received here from the WordPress fam. But the thing is, the saying, “I’m my own worst critic” is an adage for a reason. Upon reflection, I’m thinking they were right. It was messy (isn’t life supposed to be?), but I did make progress. Sure I want it to happen faster, cleaner…Right. Fucking. Now. But that’s not how shit goes down. In my typical random fashion, here’s some shit that did go down in my 2016.

Divorce – Yep. Let’s get that one out of the way. Surprised? “Regulars” probably are. Thing is, I was separated for somewhere between 4 and 5 years. But he refused divorce, and I didn’t pursue legal channels to enforce it. So I was stuck. In so many ways, I was stuck. 2016 was the year I finally asserted myself, broke the toxic patterns that had ended our marriage and stood up for myself. It took roughly five years, but it’s now official. Now…one never marries intending for things to go down that way. We’d been a couple since I was fifteen. But if things do go sour (and they did), it’s fucking toxic to be held in limbo for so long. With the support and urging of a couple of very strong and important friends, oh and some strong doses of anxiety meds, I finally asserted myself and ended that limbo.

Therapy – I finally caved and tried therapy, after at least twenty years of decrying it as a scam. I’ve tried talk therapy as well as meds, but with all that I had going on concurrently – in addition to limited financial means – I haven’t found the right combination yet. But. I do intend to try this out again. I’m still taking Lexapro, at least until my refills from Louisiana run out (soon), and I have a handful of Xanax left. But I haven’t been able to afford new doctors yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get that sorted soon. So 2016 was the year I finally really began addressing my mental health.

Masturdating and Social Interaction – Along with my therapy, I also pushed myself to move beyond my boundaries. At least a bit. I took myself out to a couple of movies (Deadpool, yeah! And something with Bill Murray, because Bill Murray!). I took myself to a concert. I took myself to a poetry slam (which I haven’t told y’all about!). I took myself to Happy Hour (more than once). And I even took coworkers up on invitations a few times. I mean, this chick drank IN PUBLIC. She did not dance. She did not karaoke. (How many times does she have to say HARD LIMIT for people to get it?) But how she laughed. Oh how she laughed. 2016 was the year Stephanie hid a little less.

Quitting a Toxic – But Solid – Job & Moving Across Country – For the town I lived in, I had it made at my job. Aside from Queen Bitch, that is. But the direction things were moving in the last month or so would have had me in a new department under a brand new director with a brand new title and brand new salary. Yeah. There was no pressure at all at work. They didn’t beg me to stay or make my decision increasingly harder and more panicky each and every day. No. Not a chance. (I hope your sarcasm detectors are on and working.) Point is: Stephanie took shittons of Xanax in the last month and especially in the last two weeks in Louisiana. I met with a brand new therapist on the proverbial eve of my departure, and after an extended session, he agreed with all of my decisions. Except: he disapproved of the job I intended to accept in Oregon. It would have sapped me of my all and left me wrung out and an even greater emotional danger to myself than I already was. In the end, I agreed with him (though I had a tough time with the decision), but that has me still unemployed at the moment. I have made the move, though, and I’ve been in the Greater Portland Area since September. Newsflash: I Fucking Love Oregon. And, as yet, I have no regrets. 2016 was the year I gambled everything, turned my back on “everything I’ve ever known,” and risked staid stability to chase a dream in spite of everyone breathing down my neck what a fool I was. And I’m damn fucking proud I did.

Dispensary – Fucking right. I visited a dispensary for the first time. I’m in Oregon, dudes. What did you expect? So yeah, I got a J and a lollipot. I still have half the j left. (I may have a piss test in my near future. Yeah. Even in Oregon.) And I’m totally having the lolli if I land the job. Or at least part of the lolli, in celebration. Hm. Or maybe the other half of the j. Oh yeah! Pretty sure I’m gonna smoke it up with someone over Skype. I’ll toke over here. He’ll toke over there. It’ll be neato. Except I’ll have to find somewhere to do it, because of my “roommates.” Yeah. Remind me to tell you about them. I’m in a…weird situation. But one I’m grateful for. It’s just…fucking weird and uncomfortable sometimes. A lot of times. Anyway. Yeah. Old Stephanie never would have been brave enough to just stroll into one of those places, even though I’d have smoked whatever my friends brought out of there. I don’t see why people still think it’s such a big fucking deal. I’ve been smoking pot since…11 or so and I turned out. I still wouldn’t have gone in there. 2016 Stephanie? Dispensary-bound!

~

There’s probably more shit. I mean, it was a whole fucking year. But I need to get my shit ready for tomorrow. I don’t have a real job yet, but I do have a little side gig in the afternoons. Tutoring some kids on algebra and science. It’s not much, but at least it’s something for now.

I don’t do resolutions, so I ain’t making promises about writing. But when I come back, I’ll maybe tell ya about Oregon stuff. Oh! Oh! And I’ll leave you with a lovely piccy taken right here in Oregon, this very day.

img_1361
Accidental Penis: A Counter Stain

The Ankle Story about My Foot

Okay. So. I’m not dead. And I’ve been told I have to quit my fucked up emotional/mental block, stop stalling and fucking write for fuck’s sake. I promised I’d do so today. I swore when I came back, there would be this long explanation and apology and replies to all of you kind and beautiful people…but that’s part of what has kept me away. The anxiety ratchets up higher and higher the more I think about it. And the thing is, I don’t really even have much of an excuse except that I’m kind of a fucking headcase sometimes (which most of you already know).

So. Ahem. Part of my promise is that I wouldn’t delve into the whole thing right now (okay, okay, I’m getting to it). Instead, I’m supposed to copy and paste VERFUCKINGBATIM a rambly, typo-ridden tale that I rattled off to Ezekiel months ago to explain my whole broken foot thingy. Which for some reason he kept calling a broken ankle. Hence the title. Apparently, I’m not allowed to edit this rambly stream-of-consciousness mess. (Thanks, Ezekiel.)  So, without further ado, here’s The Ankle Story about My Foot.  (Brace yourselves. It’s messy as fuck.)

~

On the way to Glacier, I spent a day and a half at Badlands National Park. I did a trail called The Notch. My Fat Ass climbed the notch. I had CROSSED IT OFF my list of doable trails. But then I FORGOT the name of the trail, yeah?

So I’m walking along, see a trailhead.

The Notch?

I wanted to do that one, right?

Yeah! The Notch! Sounds cool!

I walk along for a while.

Then BAM. These steep, nearly vertical wooden steps held up on steel cables.

My heart was in my throat.

I nearly turned around.

You can’t do this, Stephanie. You’re too fat. Your arthritis is all hurty. You have GNP to look forward to. You can’t do this. YOU CANNOT. YOU ARE INCAPABLE. YOU’RE WEAK. YOU’RE FAT. YOU. CAN. NOT. DO. THIS.

And then I quite literally charged the motherfucker.

The self-hatred talking somehow lit a fire that had the opposite affect.

And I charged that motherfucking ladder.

And about 2/3 up, I froze. I froze.

And I started crying.

Shaking.

Realizing how afraid I was of the vertical climb at this point.

Realizing how weak my legs already were. (It’s not that high of a climb.)

And I started saying, out loud: I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

Then I’d haul myself up to the next step. All the while afraid I was gonna fall and break my neck.

I can’t do this. I can’t. Ohmygod. What do I do now?

And then I snapped.

Again.

And said out loud.

FUCK YOU I CAN’T. FUCK YOU. YES I CAN!

And I finished it.

There were these hugely muscular dudes at the top waiting to go down (if I’d known this, I wouldn’t have climbed…good thing I didn’t know). I waited for ridicule, instead…they both high-fived me and were all “FUCK YEAH! YOU DID IT!”

I knew I’d have to go back down later, and that scared me, too.

But I focused on the trail ahead.

I nearly fell a couple times.

Had some scary moments of “I can’t” again. But I kept pushing forward.

Got lost at one point.

Found my way back.

I was so proud.

I climbed The Notch!

Me!

Sure, other people were running up and down the fucker. Could do it in their sleep.

But me?

Yeah…my body wasn’t up for it.

BUT MY MIND WAS.

And I did it.

So.

GNP a couple days later.

My thighs were still PISSED.

But no way was that going to stop me from exploring heaven on earth.

One night, about halfway through, I knew I had a big hike ahead of me the next day. 12 miles in the mountains.

So I’m stretching at my campsite.

I know there’s a word for it.

But I’m kinda dim. So let’s see.

You know the stretch where you’re standing on one foot and you reach behind yourself and grab your other foot and pull it up to your ass? That stretch?

I was going for that one because it feels sooo good. And I needed it.

I grabbed for my foot.

Got my ankle instead.

Hand slipped.

BAM. My big toe flew straight down to the picnic table. Straight. Down. With all that force.

I clamped my hand over my mouth, screaming into my palm, and fell to the ground.

Blood was everywhere. I lay there for probably fifteen minutes.

Finally got up, limped to my first aid stash, cleaned it up.

Saw that I had split the nail in two.

Couldn’t move the toe without crying.

I had to skip the next day’s hike. I was supremely upset.

This was going to be an epic hike.

And I had to skip.

So instead of wallowing around in the tent all day, I wrapped my toe up all crazy padded and drove to some of the more lookout kinda sites.

The next (last) day, I scrapped the plans I’d made for it and did the hike I’d missed instead.

Fucking. Epic. Shit.

But at the very beginning/very end, there are these really high steps cut into the mountain.

I should have sat on my butt on the way back and eased myself down.

Because fat.

Because knees.

But I didn’t.

I practically flew down those steps.

Got a super happy pic at the end of the trail. People high-fiving me because I was so excited and pumped and like fist-pumping the air. I did it!

By the time I made it back to the car, I was limping.

By the time I got my boot off, my foot  was so swollen I couldn’t articulate my foot/ankle.

I had broken my left foot.

And they only discovered it was broken in January. Because the breaks never showed on X-Rays.

Finally had an MRI in January, and two breaks in that foot.

After doctors had implied it was all in my head.

~

So. Uhm. Yeah. Ezekiel was right. (Yeah, yeah. Piss off.) If I even started trying to edit that, I’d never post it. (Which would defeat the whole purpose – to get my ass back to Stephellaneous and my dear Peopleaneous.) Look at that mess. Holy twatmonkeys. FYI: That’s a glimpse of what rambly conversations look like with The Stephanie.

P.S. Sneak Preview: I’m in Oregon. More to come.