Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Two Kinds of Homework, or Books and Svadhishthana

For my MFA homework: I'm writing out the origins of my fucked up little city as well as finally giving myself permission to attack this novel as a YA vehicle. My mentor, while always being positive and encouraging, always takes time to give me excellent reading suggestions so that we are both on the same foot as far as concepts and things to try. A few books she suggested that I really enjoyed are St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell, Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and Structuring Your Novel by Robert C. Meredith.  Earlier today I updated by accumulative bibliography (I use Easy Bib online and I love it! So simple!) and added all of my entries together. I have reached the desired goal of 80 entries including, research articles, novels, books of poetry, graphic novels, selected chapters for critical study and lecture classes. 

Everything I read now is icing on the cake and, as per my mentors suggestions once again, I'm excited get to work reading Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop by Stephen Koch (this is more for after I graduate but I'll peek now!), The Stranger by Albert Camus (this one is a reread), Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee, and (probably after I graduate) On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee.  I cannot begin to describe how excited I was to get the latest package from Amazon.  I had just ordered the Coetzee, Brooks, and Koch books and knew they would be arriving any day.  They arrived yesterday while I was getting ready for my shower.  I heard the door knock and so I cautiously, nakedly made my way through the hall to peer out though the spy-hole into the stairwell area.  No one was there.  I knew right away it must be a UPS drop off.  So I opened the door and extended a naked arm, as well as one renegade boob, out into the world (because stopping to put clothes on was NOT an option!) and snatched the box quickly into the safety of my home and bosom.

Today's Blog Lesson: Reading is good for you.  Masturbation is good for you.  Any questions?

For Wiccan Spirituality homework: We were given two articles to read and some exercises to try. I've already read the first article and loved it!  Other parts of homework were to interact with and get to know water as an inspirational and life-giving thing, as well as research the second chakra which is the chakra most associated with this element.  Well I found some great sites (Chakra Center, Chakra Anatomy, and Kundalini Yoga Meditation) that offer similar yet valuable information on the second chakra which is known in Sanskit as the Svadhishthana "one's own base."  The thing about the second chakra is that it focuses not on pragmatism but on 'feeling' and creativity. It is, I suppose, the human condition chakra. This is the stem of our feelings and emotions and our sexual drives and desires. It can become clogged and blocked and interrupted which usually leads to a damming of our creativity or an unhealthy obsession with sex in its shallowest of forms.  

Pleasure is good, touching is good, coming together as humans or even exploring one's own self is good. But not at the expense of enjoying the rest of what life has to offer. When this chakra is in good working order, a person's creativity blooms, they feel strong in their sexual identity, they enjoy the release that emotions and sensations have to offer, and they do not fight against their feelings. For women, especially, this is a creative center as it lies within the womb area of our bodies. Even if a woman chooses not to, or has no occasion to, have a child, her uterus is one of the most creative places inside of her. It is in a state of change and hormonal cycling, always growing and losing and starting over again. Painful periods and trouble menstruating may cause blockage in the second chakra and, some believe, blockage in the second chakra can cause painful periods and trouble menstruating. I think this last bit is incredibly interesting. We know that emotions bring on physiological reactions in a person (anger causes tension, adrenaline; grief brings tears, tightness of chest, pain, aches, soreness, etc.) so who's to say how much of our period pain comes from oxygen deprived muscle tissue and how much of it stems from improperly balanced second chakra? Something to think about anyway.

My Own Private North - and the Jobs Don't Bite

Today Hannah and I went to spend time with a coworker of mine.  We finished up American Horror Story: Freakshow and ate tacos.  I have to say that after finishing up that insane train ride, I don't think my Death Man novel is nearly as fucked up as my fellow Solstice peeps think it is!  I suppose I'll just have to take Sterling's advice and make it much worse and much hotter.  I told my coworker about the 'make it worse; make it hot' mantra.  I still hold that phrase very near and dear to my heart. 

Recently I watched the movie 'The Interview.'  Many of the jokes in the movie seem too far fetched to come from truth (the idea that the Supreme Leader is so much like a god that he doesn't even go to the bathroom), but last night I watched the Frontline Documentary on North Korea which was filmed two years ago... and even the most bizarre aspects of 'The Interview' were actually based in truth.  In fact, 'The Interview' was pretty fucking accurate. 

When watching all of these things about North Korea, I realized that my little dystopian city is actually quite like a microcosm of this country.  That my Luminary is the Supreme Leader and that he really does have god status among the elite and the serving class.  People fear him instead of love him, but they act like they love him because their fear what will happen if they don't.  In North Korea, people are executed for watching foreign movies and television (these things are regularly smuggled in by defectors and others).  It's frightening to me that my novel, which I intended as a model of Sharia Law and Christian Fundamentalism, is actually a modern day portrait of North Korea.  All dictatorships have common threads, of course, and so it's not surprising the my dystopian mimics NK - it's surprising that it perfectly mirrors it!  This has made some things very simple for me as I find I truly have a perfect model for the awful society I am writing about - albeit on much smaller scale.

Apart from inundating myself with North Korea, and sketching and re-sketching maps for Le Nord (North City), and creating a timeline of how North City came into being and who ruled when and how - I've also been filling out job application after job application. So far I've had several email responses saying thanks but no thanks, but no bites.  A little bit ago I filled out the application to get into the Spokane Housing Authority lottery - I'm pretty desperate at this point.  We need things to happen, we need a life of our own again.  I'm doing what I can, but we're pretty financially drained at this point and pretty much out of options until I can finally snag another job.

Also, about four more bills from Kootenai Hospital have rolled in. I'm looking at upwards of $7,000 now - which is more than I make in a year.  As soon as my W-2 gets in I will go to the business office and have a nice long chat - also I'll refill out the FAFSA, and get my taxes done, too.  I'm hoping for a decent return and should manage one unless something's different from last year.  So we'll see.  Life is hard, as per usual.  But just like the cat dangling from a tree limb on the famous inspiration poster, I'm going to just 'keep hanging on.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bills, Maps, and the Lessons of Water

I got the bill finally from the whole hospital fiasco.  As it stands I'm over $5,000 in debt to Kootenai Health.  Next step is to go in and get the debt settled as much as possible.  In other news, I've been applying like mad for some other job.  It's so frustrating because I do really enjoy my job and I really love some of the people I work with.  But I can't survive on nothing and that's pretty much what this job pays.  It's a blessing that I'm still getting the pay increase for now but soon that'll be gone just like my hours are pretty much gone and then I'll really be up shit creek.  

In other, other news: I drew a map for my dystopian novel and I'm really quite proud of it.  I am either going to use colored pencils or watercolor to give it some life but I think I want to make a copy/scan of it first just in case I totally ruin it in the effort of trying to make it pretty.  Like the image below.

Last night was the Spirituality Circle in Spokane.  We talked about the element of water and it was really interesting and got my creative juices flowing quite a bit.  I have a great many things I want to do so that I can incorporate water into my daily ritual for health in body and spirits. 

Talking about water at the Circle brought up some really cool memories for me.  Cool and humbling I should say.  When I first went to Germany to volunteer for the Girl Scouts Overseas, I learned to canoe down the Main River (pronounced like 'mine').  Starunner, Eeek, and I (my camp name was/is Quetzal) all joined forces as team Colorado during the test run down the river.  We boasted of our natural talents having come from the land of white water and how we were going to show our prowess as Canoe Queens.  Well, of course, Team Colorado tipped right on over into the river.  We were the only ones who tipped in fact.  A small lesson in humility. 

Another memory where water kicked this Virgo's ass was when I worked at another summer camp, this one was in Post Falls.  Hannah and I went to work for a summer camp program as one-on-one aides for young adults with specialized needs.  I worked with one young individual who was non-verbal, a bit prone to violence, and a complete water hater.  Well... one of the outings found us all at a lake.  There was canoeing.  So of course I wanted to get out there and play!  I spent about half an hour convincing my client that I wouldn't let him get wet, that I was a professional at this.  And finally he let me lead him to the dock and then carefully down into the canoe.  He was doing well.  But then I stepped down into the rocking boat and it was all overboard from there.  I found myself standing almost knee deep in lake muck with a six foot teenager clinging to me for dear life much like a cat when faced with a bath.  He was not happy.  Hannah's clients however found it hilarious.  I was actually really proud of my client that day - he didn't freak out on me or get violent, he just stared at me with sad puppy eyes while I got him out of the lake and got him cleaned up.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sour Grapes and New Goals

So, now that we are really getting into the first month of 2015, I feel it's good to stop and reflect on how I 'do not' want the rest of the year to go.  So far I've been to the ER nine times, been called in for an interview with TSA only to be told I 'failed the interview portion of the airport assessment,' and I've had some serious monetary struggles due to missing work for my health.  From here, things can only go up.

I've adopted sour grapes as my motto for the first part of the year: I had been really upset at the situations preventing me from going to the MFA residency at the start of January but now it seems that providence was on my side.  I probably would have had to go to the ER in Boston and that wouldn't have been good for anyone, ergo, it's better that I ended up with the extended semester.  And it's good that I did not get the TSA job (even though the money and the benefits would have been amazing!) because I am not a robot in my work and I enjoy interacting with people more than stiffly shucking them through a line and I would have ultimately despised my job.  So back to the job hunt and better luck next time.

I have so many hopes and dreams for this year.  Instead of listing 'resolutions' I'm going to make a list of my overall goals for 2015 and they are pretty straightforward and, I think, very achievable. My Goals are as follows: finish my Creative Thesis and Graduate from Pine Manor College, get a better paying job, use better paying job to get an apartment for Hannah and I, move to Spokane, volunteer with the Spiral Scouts and the IEPG, enjoy and celebrate a dear friend's fall wedding, and begin preparations for a Handfasting/Wedding ceremony for Hannah and myself which is most likely going to happen in the spring or fall or 2016 or 2017.  I think all of these things are within my ability to accomplish.  

As far as smaller, daily goals that I want to start putting into practice: daily meditation and daily lesson, daily writing, and a rekindled effort toward better health through exercise and positive food choices.  Something else I want to start doing again is drawing.  I miss the connection of hand to paper, also my friend gave me a finger drawing table from Wacom and I think that actually might be something to start playing around with, too.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Starting the New Year in the Emergency Room

New Years itself was pleasantly spent with friends playing cards and Monopoly. The next day however, the small bump on my shoulder (over the trapezius muscle) was no longer the small irritated bump it had started out as three days ago. It was large and painful - very painful - and while I wanted to brush it off as an ingrown hair that had gotten too big for its britches, my mother, girlfriend, friend, and friend's grandmother all said to go to the ER. I didn't go that night. I took some pain medicine and pushed through. The next day, January 2nd, during a delightfully slushy snow storm, I managed to make it into Heritage Health.  

The Physician's Assistant took one look at my 'near-to-the-neck' infection and sent me over to the ER with instructions for them to ultrasound the area and get me started on IV antibiotics. Apparently the ER doctor didn't get the memo. Instead of a sonogram, he came at me with a needle of Novocain and a scalpel.  Several years ago a cyst ruptured in my ovary. The pain from that was the worst I had ever felt in my life.  Until the scalpel. This man hurt me so badly that all I could do was sob and sob until my guts ached and my head felt ready to explode.  And then... after he cut me and found no way to release the infection... then he ordered up the sonogram.  During all of this he didn't even get me a damn pill for the pain. I don't think he even believed I was in pain at all - just some stupid girl bawling cause she isn't happy.  Ugh.  Anyway, the sonogram hurt, too, as he pressed down right onto the infection.  He did it right there in the little waiting room - using small sonogram tools including the vaginal probe.  Not sure why.  Also, I forgot to mention, I was alone during all of this.  They wouldn't let Mom or Hannah go back with me because I was in a room set up for three people and it would be too crowded. Only there was no one else there.  It was just me and two other empty beds and a shit ton of free space.  I was not amused.  

Dr. B didn't even wipe off the gel from the sonogram, didn't even patch me up. He ordered me pain medicine and antibiotics that I could go pick up at the pharmacy. And he said if it doesn't get better in two days to come back. Big fucking surprise - it didn't get better. So back we went to the Emergency Room. This time I was taken to a room and given a proper ultrasound but only after being hooked up to an IV and given lovely, lovely pain medication.  Afterward I was started on the IV antibiotics that had been called for two fucking days ago. No. Totally not bitter. And so off I went on my merry way. And back again and back again and back again - every twelve hours to wait the requisite hour through triage just to get a five minute dose of keflex shot into my IV. In the end I went to the ER a total of nine times, eight of those were for IV antibiotics.  I saw a different doctor almost every time.   The few I saw more than once were really sweet to me. But I'm not going to lie - I'm glad I won't be seeing any of them again any time soon. And now begins the battle with the business office and to show them how destitute I am and see if there's any way to write off some of the expenses. I can barely afford to pay Heritage Health at $25 a visit so I'm not sure how I'll handle the much larger amount that I've amassed in 2015. What a great start to the new year.