Revival

“Revival” was written after my grandmother told me about going to a snake-handling church when she was younger. This was probably in the 1930s, and the church was in the Appalachian mountains. She wanted me to write her life story, but I don’t think she gets what that entails. Still, I should have done it, and should still try to do it. I loved to listen to her talk to me about her life and the hardships she had endured, and I always wished I had recorded it but I never did. She’s very old now and I know she doesn’t have much time. When she goes it will tear me apart. My mother has been dead for a very long time, and my father is probably dead (and good riddance). Anyway, this poem was published in a magazine called “Penumbra” and collected in my chapbook “Psychoentropy”. I hope you enjoy it.

Revival

They share the taste of strychnine,

liquid faith like crystal purity,

bottled in a mason jar

scented with the ghost

of last year’s peaches.

 

Dusty boots thump,

and patterned skirts swirl,

keeping time with the choir

of shivering tambourines,

as they cry with broken voices

of the rapturous divine.

 

The Reverend handles serpents,

armed with shining words of God,

and preaches fervent sermons

with the cadence of

the hissing snakes,

sliding coils through grasping fingers

scarred with memory of sin.

 

He sways,

moves with strange conviction,

and teaches salvation

to the undulating devout,

singing in blind ecstasy

in obsolete tongues.

 

They dance,

caught in serpentine embrace,

anointed by the Spirit

with sacred revelations,

as the congregation burns,

wrapped in spiraling religion.

 

~Julie Shiel

Fireflies and Twilight

I’m feeling quite melancholy tonight. I try not to think about these things but sometimes I get overwhelmed. I mean other than my normal depression. Sometimes I just get filled with such sadness that it takes my breath away. I keep hoping to see lightning bugs, or fireflies, depending on your part of the county. I haven’t seen them in years. I remember chasing them when I was little, and it’s something every child should be able to do. I remember being maybe five, and having a firefly in a jar. I smeared the phosphorescence on my fingers so that I would glow too. I showed my mother and she told me that I shouldn’t do that. I asked why, and she explained that it hurt the insect. Of course I cried, but I never did it again. I don’t think I even caught them any more after that because I felt so bad and was afraid of hurting another one. Five year old me wanted to glow like the fireflies and I never thought about the insects being harmed.

Earlier tonight I thought I saw a light flashing on the edge of my garden, but no. It was just someone’s house light flickering through. Everyone knows that bees are in serious trouble, or they should. It’s still not being taken seriously enough here in the US, but people are at least aware of it. This year there are hardly any. People are aware of the plight of the bees because we rely on them to eat. What people may not know is that fireflies are in trouble as well. There’s no big money being made from fireflies, and we don’t rely on them to eat so they are relegated to backpage news. However, while bees help us to sustain our bodies, fireflies do the same for our souls. Seeing the flash of fireflies in the night with the sound of frogs and insects singing is a peaceful experience. It’s quiet, but beautiful and it will move you if you have a heart.

There is something about twilight that has always sang to me. The fireflies are part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s a period of “in between”, a time of no time at all really. It’s not day and it’s not night. It is the transition, the shifting of universes, the curtain fluttering between acts. Everything has a blue tint that muffles the world, but it can also accentuate things. It’s like if you’re with someone, that person is a bright cut out against a cloudy sky. Maybe if I ever experience it again I’ll find the words. It sharpens my senses but smoothes my soul, providing me with a clarity that is hard to find otherwise. It makes me hyper-sensitive to magic and things that don’t exist under the blaring sun and that are hidden under the darkness of night. The natural world takes a deep breath

and exhales.

 

 

 

I should be writing a book but battling demons is messy work. Goodnight.

 

“I slept under the moonlight and set my soul free, caged within jars like fireflies”.”
― Prajakta Mhadnak

Missing t

T has been on my mind a lot. I miss her badly and wish I could talk to her. I’m also seriously pissed off at her. She was the closest person in the world to me, including family. She was my family as far as that goes, and I would have done absolutely anything to help her. From the time we met I was looking out for her, whether she knew it or not. I have no idea how many times I had to stand up for her when we were teens-20s. When I was still scrappy, I suppose. Any time she needed anything I did it for her. I’m the one she called in the middle of the night when something was bothering her. I’m the one who would drop everything and come over if she needed me to. She always had two best friends, me and the other J, but I’m the one she talked to more, saw more, and who was always there. I was the only one at her first wedding, and I did everything I could to make her second special. That’s not putting down J in any way… she lived further away and had kids to deal with. But it remains that it was me that was always there. So when she said I had never done anything for her, I was stunned. I know she’s parroting some bullshit someone must be feeding her, but she should have given it some fucking thought before she repeated that shit. Besides being a damn good friend, I got her a job when she needed it, a place to stay when she needed it, lent her money when she needed it, brought her things she needed, and on and on…. And for her to forget or to dismiss all that I’ve done for her is just appalling.
I hate what alcohol turned her into. It broke my heart. When she started putting the kids in danger, enough was enough. Driving drunk with the kids in the car, leaving them to fend for themselves, leaving them at sleazy motels while she went chasing after her ex… Just not acceptable. When she decided she was going to try to get Jason back after what he did to R, I could not be a party to that in any way.
Still, I thought eventually we would work it out. I thought she’d sober up and realize how she had been behaving. That’s what other people thought too. I was the fourth person to call about the kids. I hated to do it. I cried for two weeks before I gave in and did it. That was after talking repeatedly about it to various people who encouraged me to do so. I know it was the right thing to do but I still felt bad about it. Still, we had been friends a lifetime. I didn’t think anything could break that.
Then damn if she didn’t move in with my ex, of all people. I know she has a problem being alone and God forbid she actually has to work or something, but that was really fucking low. He let her drink so she stayed, and in doing so, made it clear that she did not think we would reconcile. I was already pissed at her, but she still threw away our friendship for a place to drink.

Then to find out that she somehow thinks her fucked up life is somehow my fault, is just too much. She’s the one that ruined her relationship with her kids when she chose her child’s molester over her child. She’s the one that ruined her relationships with her friends over drink. Then her drunken ranting on facebook about how “I’m evil” and to “give her back her daughter” like Raven was a thing I had stolen. She did apologize for that and her excuse was that she was drunk. But I am sick of being blamed.

I was so angry over this the other day I started to log on just to say “fuck you, Tara, you broke my heart”. I managed to control myself, but I tell you, it took both hands to grab hold of myself. I’m so lonely I could die sometimes, and I miss talking to my friend. So many things remind me of her. The memories of 25+ years are wrapped up with her. When she messaged me recently I laid into her. I was still furious. I am still furious. But underneath that I’m just really hurt and I miss my sister. I keep telling myself that she has shown that her friendship is no longer worth having. She has shown how easily she will turn on someone if it is to her advantage. It makes me wonder if she was always such a shitty person or if it’s just the booze. I want to believe it’s the booze, but I honestly don’t know if there is any of her left in there.
I just wish I could go back in time and stop all of this.

Planned Parenthood

I was raped as a teenager. I had just turned seventeen and was a senior in high school when I found myself in a very bad situation. I do not want to go into what happened that night. It is enough that you know I was raped and terrified. I was from an abusive home, and there was no way I could tell an adult. However, I knew I needed help. The rapists were not kind enough to use protection, and I was afraid I might be pregnant or have gotten an STD. I was seventeen, had been traumatized, and my boyfriend, who I loved very much, had decided to blame me for what happened. Suffice it to say, I was not in a good place emotionally.
I did the only thing I could do – I contacted my local clinic. I remember calling them from school, using the payphone out front. This was when payphones were still a thing and before everyone had cell phones.  I made an appointment and the lady asked me what I was coming in for. I told her I needed to be tested for pregnancy and STDs. She asked if I had reason to believe I may have been exposed, such as having sex with someone who was a known carrier. I didn’t want to tell her, but I did. I told her I had been raped and that I just didn’t know. I remember the woman was horrified and asked if there was someone I could talk to about it. She wanted a phone number, but I told her I was calling from school and did not have one  to give her. I told her I was fine, I just needed to make sure, and no, there was no wonderfully wise and compassionate adult I could speak to about the issue. I made the appointment and held my breath.

The day of the appointment, I had to get to the next town over, where the clinic was located. It’s been some years ago since this happened and I don’t remember how I got there, but it would have been complicated. I did not have a car so getting there would have been a real problem. It was a rural area so there was no public transportation available. No taxis, no buses, no trains. I may have hitch-hiked, but after my recent rape I rather doubt it. At any rate, it would have involved some planning to get just to the next town over. Thank God I didn’t have to go to another state. To get to my appointment, I would have either skipped school or taken time off of my job. At that time I was working 4-12 after school, full time, trying to save up the money to escape my miserable home existence.
I don’t remember getting there, but I remember the appointment. The lady I spoke to was the one I had spoken to on the phone, so she knew what had happened. She was compassionate and concerned for me. I was seventeen, isolated, had serious trust issues, and was highly independent. I often adopted a tough attitude as protection, hoping my prickly exterior would keep people at a safe distance. I had not cried over what happened since that night. I had been trying to pretend like it hadn’t happened. Until that appointment. The lady at the clinic was gentle and she was so genuinely concerned about me that I started crying. I don’t remember what she asked me, but it came out that it had been two men, which made it that much worse. She examined me, tested me for STDs, spoke to me, gave me a bag full of prophylactics and a referral to see a therapists, all for free. This is what Planned Parenthood did for me.

Her compassion was what broke me. I had expected her to blame me, to think it was my fault, and that I was a horrible person. She didn’t think any of those things, and she helped me feel a little less tainted. My results came back negative and I went on with my life with one more scar, but I have never forgotten the kindness of that unknown clinic worker.
The current attack on Planned Parenthood by a bunch of old men is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood does so much for so many women. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have been able to be tested. They do cancer screenings, pap smears, give classes, and give prenatal care, among many other services. Providing safe abortions when necessary is just a minuscule part of what they do, and zero funds from federal money goes towards that. Planned Parenthood clinics help millions of girls just like I was. These old men would have demanded that my father was told right off the bat. That would have gotten me beaten and more, and it would have made the whole experience a lot more traumatic. My story is just one, and it happened long ago, but it mattered. Planned Parenthood matters. Abstinence education doesn’t work… teenagers will do what teenagers do. When provided with birth control and protection, unwanted pregnancies and STDs drop dramatically. When you take them away, they rise dramatically. It’s really not a difficult concept. If you want less federal money spent on supporting unwanted children and their woefully unprepared young parents, you spend a little up front on prevention. In my case it wasn’t even a matter of teenagers doing what teenagers do – it was rape. And Planned Parenthood was there.

I don’t think a bunch of old men have any business deciding what woman do with their bodies. Demonizing an organization that does so much for so many is self destructive and it’s just plain stupid. With our current administration, Planned Parenthood is going to need the support of individual people, even if you can only donate a little. It won’t replace the money lost through federal grants, but it might help keep them afloat for a little while. We don’t need more nuclear weapons. That’s ludicrous, dangerous and expensive. But the same old men who don’t think any money should go towards health care are fine with spending money on war toys. They should not be allowed to feel self righteous. They should be called out for the bitter dinosaurs that they are.

You can donate to Planned Parenthood here. They will even let you donate in someone else’s name, so that person gets a nice little thank you note. I, and thousands of other women, have donated in Mike Pence’s name, just because he’s such an extreme miserable example of an old man mucking about in matters that he should have no say in.

Just a suggestion.

Well I had planned to finish writing about my medical emergency, since that’s what’s currently dominating my life. I don’t remember where I left off. My husband took me to the ER, where we found I had sepsis with organ failure, something going on with my kidneys, a host of other things, and of course, necrotizing fasciitis. You know, this is one of those things that is rare and horrible and you never think you or anyone you know will get it. So of course that”s what it was. They rushed me into surgery and cut out all the bad tissue, which was at my abdominal incision and was about to start chowing on my organs. I was in ICU for a while. My husband says it was like 5 days but I honestly don’t remember it. I have a giant hole in my stomach and it always hurts and itches but I was lucky.

The nurse comes three times a week and changes the sponges and all that. That is actually a nightmare because I’ve started healing into the sponges, and need to be separated from them first. The incision is 11″ long, where they did the hysterectomy and them cut it open even more for the flesh eating disease. (There, that’s so much easier to type than necrotizing fasciitis.) It was about 4″ deep, or all the way through, and about 2.5″ across. It is uneven, with a sort of channel that has to be kept open so fluid doesn’t build up. I go see a Doctor, either the gyn or the wound specialist once a week. And the rest of the time I’m home. My husband has been babying me, and waiting on me constantly. I hate to be a burden but he has really been wonderful. I think maybe it scared him that I almost died. Whatever the reason, hes been wonderful. My grandmother called several times and my uncle sent a card. Once my brother found out I wasn’t going to die, I guess he went on with things since I haven’t heard from him. I hope he’s doing the things he should be. My adopted kids haven’t called or anything. Maybe it’s their age, or their generation, but both of them are old enough to know better. It makes me wonder if they even give a damn about me any more.  It breaks my heart, because I would do anything to help them, and I tried so hard with R, but there’s nothing I can do. They’re either thoughtless or don’t care. I gave up the closest family I ever had when her mother did the things she did, and I’d do it again, because I had to do what I could to protect those kids. Now they’re grown. Maybe R living here was a mistake. I’m sure she doesn’t see me the same. I’m human, and I make mistakes and I have faults just like everyone else. I know she was angry at me at times, because she was rude and sometimes mean, and lied about things. That’s her way, but I had hoped she wouldn’t be like that with me. I hope she eventually learns that she has to talk to people, not just disappear or wonder why things aren’t the way she wants them.

Enough. I have the wound vac for 2-3 months, and I certainly don’t want to write about every agonizing episode to healing. I think I’m just moody from hurting tonight.

Death and medical

I’ve been close to death multiple times in my life. Sometimes due to violence, once that was self inflicted and now through illness. When I say close to death, I don’t mean “Wow, I could have died”. I mean “Wow, I should have died and I don’t know why I didn’t.”

A couple of weeks ago I had to have a hysterectomy. It was an abdominal hysterectomy because I had very large fibroid tumors. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard surgery. I was in the hospital for a few days and they sent me home with what I thought was a working case of strep throat. My throat was sore, and at first I thought it was from the anesthesia tube, but it continually got worse. Within a couple of days, I had developed white patches all over my mouth so we made a call to the Doctor and she called me in an antibiotic. That week I didn’t get better but it wasn’t getting worse either. I finished the antibiotics and my GP called in another type of antibiotic. However, before I could start it, my body started to crash and burn. This was Friday,  and I was incredibly weak, my voice was almost gone, and I had started bleeding. Just fyi, if you’re squeamish you may want to stop reading.

If you’re still here, I had been spotting throughout the week but I just had a hysterectomy and thought that was probably normal. However, my stomach incision had started bleeding as well and it was foul. I was so weak I was needing help walking and my husband really went all out for me. If you’ve ever run a high fever, you know that spacey feeling you get? Sometimes you’ll hallucinate things, even if it’s not full on bugs on the  wall. I was feeling like that, and I was so hot. I remember feeling my face and how hot it was but that you weren’t supposed to be able to tell about yourself. I took my temperature with one of those touch thermometers that you rub across the skin, and it said I had a fever of 105. I thought that couldn’t be right so I got my husband to take it and he got a reading of 104. I was running chills so he gave me Tylenol and put me to bed. A few minutes later I got up to go to the bathroom with his help, but when I got up from the toilet a pool of black blood came from me. I have never seen blood that color and didn’t know it could get that color. It also had the consistency of pudding. (Sorry, but I did warn you…) I called for my husband and he  got me into a pair of pants and we went to the ER. I was so weak I could barely walk and was shaking badly. He wheeled me in and I’m pretty sure I looked like death on a stick judging from the looks I was getting. And I smelled. That was the worst for me, because I’m usually a lotion fanatic and love pretty scents. I remember telling someone that anything that smelled like that should be dead. I was closer than I knew. Well, the Tylenol was helping to bring the fever down so by the time the ER was working on me it was at 103.5. I swear I think I sweated through the mattress, all while bleeding this foulness. I was given a vaginal exam but they couldn’t find the source of my illness. My white blood cell count came back as 28 and she told me it should be between 4-6 so obviously my body was trying to fight a massive infection. Without knowing what the infection was, they put four bags of antibiotics in me right off the start. Then they moved me to a room where a stone faced nurse was not at all helpful. Every time I had to pee, I’d make a bloody mess and need to wash up and change underwear. The blood was coming from my stomach but Nurse Ratchett wasn’t hearing it. My blessed husband is a bit OCD so he was cleaning up behind me. So Nurse Ratchett not so subtly suggested that I wash up. Well by this time I had already washed up three times in the hour or so I’d been there. I soon hado pee once again and this time my husband went and got a nurse to show her where I was bleeding. All of this is sort of a blur to me but apparently that finally got something going and my Doctor was there – heels and all, since it was her date night apparently and she made sure we knew it. She told us I had necrotizing fasciitis and they were preparing a team for surgery.

I will continue tomorrow… I think writing about this helps me come to terms with it.  I had a nurse here today doing my wound packing thing, which is a whole other nightmare.

Bloodletting

I haven’t been posting since I was censored, but I need what little bit of relief I can get from writing. I did write some things and not post, but damn, I’m already so isolated.. I don’t need to make it worse.

There is so much noise in my head. I get overwhelmed with the things that are hurting me until I feel like the pressure will just make me explode. I don’t think I have ever been so alone as I am now. My brother is in jail, my grandma is 89. R is busy with her day to day and besides, I am supposed to be her rock. Even if they were near, I could not talk to them about these things on my mind. T was my family and I still, even now, have a hard time believing what she did. I guess it’s a bit late in life to learn that while blood doesn’t count for much, if they aren’t blood they can walk away. That’s not really right though, because blood can do that too. Anyone can. I ran across the last letter I sent her. I want to forgive her. But I think she is still in denial that she ever did anything wrong.

I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why she did what she did. I don’t care how much fucking booze she had in her system or how bad she’s addicted, she was the only constant in my life and I never thought she was even capable of doing these things.

I know this is disjointed and rambling. You should see the inside of my head right now. This is blood letting is all. Let a little bit out before it rips me apart as it overflows.