The Summer I Went Crazy

Serious content warning for this post. I talk about childhood abuse, trauma, suicide, and sexual assault.


There’s a video making the rounds on social media. I haven’t watched it. I don’t want to watch it. But I’ve seen the comments and I know, basically, what it’s about: a child having a tantrum on a train.

Comments have ranged from “this kid is probably autistic” to “this kid needs to be disciplined” and it strikes me this is just yet another way for people without kids to judge parents for not doing a good enough job; or people with kids to feel superior because THEIR child never had a meltdown on the subway.

It also strikes me how very lucky I am to have been born in 1986 and become a teenager in the 90s. Because I grew up without ubiquitous cellphone video cameras and the ability to post video of strangers online. I grew up without the danger that my one bad day would have meant worldwide shaming of my mother, and custody being ripped away from her.

Before we moved to Hawai’i my summers were split between my parents. (After moving there, I spent them with my bio-sire, for what was called “access” because he required access to his child and I was supposed to have access to my tormentors.)

After the first half of the summer being spent with my bio-sire and his new girlfriend, a woman we dubbed Wife #5 (he’s on #7 now), and her band of ill-mannered, horrific monsters of children, I got to spend time with my mom. This particular summer we went to Hawai’i to visit with people, including my new friend who became my best friend and still is (she was my maid of honor at my wedding).

I’m not really sure why she stuck with me for so many years, because that was the second year we knew each other and it was the summer I went insane.

I was a monster. I screamed and cried and kicked. I lashed out at everyone, including my best friend. I threw tantrums on a regular basis. I said cruel, hurtful things. I tried to kill myself. I wielded sharp weapons and was a danger to myself and others.

No one knew what was going on. My mother was at a complete loss, trying to manage a child who had never acted out on this scale before. She was inches from putting me into an institution, and had the threat of my bio-sire taking custody not loomed, she may have done so.

And I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t tell anyone, because I didn’t have words for it and I blamed myself.

Continue reading The Summer I Went Crazy

Happy Canada Day from your grouchy neighbourhood cripple

I really do hope you’re having an excellent day, regardless if you celebrate Canada Day or not. It’s Saturday and that’s a nice day so have a wonderful one if you can.

As for myself, I’m grouchy and grumpy, because I’m broken. Again.

I’m up visiting my mom in Powell River and I was really hoping we could go to the special Canada Day farmers’ market today (an hour longer than usual!) and maybe hit up some celebrations elsewhere. Just, you know — go out, have fun, see people, enjoy the summer weather.

INSTEAD, I am basically kind of stuck at home. I could conceivably go out but it’d be a bad idea I think. I threw out my back this week, which when you have a spinal injury is a lot worse than just mechanical back problems. How did I throw it out? FUCK IF I KNOW.

Honestly, no idea, and it was probably nothing. I think I just moved wrong.

So now I’m in agony, though the number has gone down from a 10 on the first day to hovering at about a 5/6. (That is, according to my own scale of pain measuring, which…well, I have chronic pain, which means I basically live life at a 3 or 4 for other people. So when I say I’m at a 5/6 for me, that means an 8/9 for people who don’t have chronic pain. It’s really amazing what you can get used to when there’s no help for it.)

I have been grouchy and depressed since this happened and there has been much crying. There’s no really safe bed for me up here (mom’s mattresses are too soft, which didn’t used to bother me but now it does) so I slept in a chair last night. Sitting is painful, standing is painful, walking is painful, and I absolutely cannot lie down or I am fucked completely.

It sucks. Spinal injuries suck. There’s no two ways about it. And I’ll continue to have this life where I’m okay until suddenly, I’m not. FOR NO FUCKING REASON. Because there’s no logic to it. Backs just stop working, and especially when your discs are trying to flee the vertebrae.

We’ve been discussing options. I have somewhat of a plan; a lot of it is just nagging doctors until I get some help. First I really want to see if I can get a referral to a spinal decompression place so MSP will pay for it. They’ll be reluctant I’m sure but here’s the thing: the ~3500 for the non-invasive 8-week program of decompressing my spine that *might* give me back a good chunk of my function will actually cost them less than my other option, which is surgery.

I really don’t want surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary, but we are getting to the point of “I need to fix this or I’m looking at a short, agony-filled life”. So if that means going under and getting my fucking discs taken out and my vertebra fused together, well, that’s what that means.

But yeah, I’d like to do decompression first.

So right now it’s Canada Day and instead of going out and doing something fun I am sitting at my mom’s place and praying that I’m well enough to go home by the time I was planning on it so I can go see my doctor in Vancouver and ask about getting a referral to the spinal decomp place so MSP will cover it.

And if I can’t get that….I don’t know. I have this vague thought of trying to raise the money for it somehow, but I don’t know how to do that, to be honest.

Anyway. I’m going to try to write today, because it’s Camp Nanowrimo this month, and I’d really like to make my goals even if my back is being a complete jackass about it. At least I’m better than I was two days ago; that’s something.

Wish me luck!

Loonily yours,
Katje

Father’s Day is tough for me

I really wish it weren’t. I cut my biological sire out of my life when I turned 26. That’s 5 years this August and yet certain days haven’t gotten easier for me. His birthday. Today. Any day that reminds me: I have no mortal father.

(Immortal? Well, that’s better read about at my religious blog.)

The kind of insidious thing about abuse is the grooming for it can make it almost impossible to escape, even after you’ve escaped. My brain keeps bringing up the script that I’m a Bad Daughter for not calling him on his birthday, or today, for not welcoming him back into my life, because that’s what he groomed me with my whole life. It’s hard to turn off scripts that have been running in my brain since I was young. It’s bad code and I’m still a first year programming student.

Anyway. I don’t really want to write about him today. I wanted to say that Father’s Day is still hard for me, both because of him and now because I was hoping by this point I’d be wishing a happy Father’s Day to my husband. I really want to reclaim this day and make it positive. I keep trying, but so far no success.

So, I figured I’d post here, and offer a space for anyone else who is having a hard time with Father’s Day, for whatever reason. If Father’s Day is hard for you, pull up a chair and snuggle in in the comments section.

A picture of a cozy living room. Two love seats sit paralell, a coffee table between them; behind them is a fire place. Bookcases adorn the walls. The room is full but not cluttered.
Imagine the comments section is a cozy living room like this one.

Talk about whatever you want to — about the day, not about the day. I promise I’ll listen, and I will do my hardest to reply, even if it’s only with a <3 because I’m sending you love.

Today may be hard, but hard things are usually easier when they’re shared.

<3

Katje

The Fear of Long Books

This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.

I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.

The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.

*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*

It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.

Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.

Continue reading The Fear of Long Books

My Friend from High School Died and it’s Fucking Me Up

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 21, 2017.


Last month my friend from high school died, and we don’t know why, he just did, he was in his late 20s and he died of natural causes, which is just fucking me up because what the fuck does that even mean?

Like my brain kind of thinks that if you make it through infancy then random natural causes should be off your list of possible deaths until you are in your late 80s. Unless you’re sick or you get hit by a car or whatever, you should be safe.

But his body just quit. It just quit and there’s no reason to it. He was healthy and in his 20s and it just quit. Natural causes means we don’t know what the fuck happened, he just died.

And I’m not healthy and I’m 30 and I don’t want to die. I say I do all the time and I’m suicidal but I don’t actually want to die, I just want the pain to end and so far the most efficient way for that to happen seems to be death. I learned the lesson of my desire to live when I accidentally poisoned myself with belladonna. (Yes, accidentally.) I don’t want to stop living. I’m terrified of dying too early.

And I’m terrified of my husband dying too early. He’s 35 and since Jesse died my anxiety about my husband randomly dying in his sleep has skyrocketed. (It was already there, because I’m an anxious, fucked-up mess of a human being.) He was sleeping in for a long time the other day and I suddenly had a panic attack over it, I had to rush in the bedroom and make sure he was still breathing.

Continue reading My Friend from High School Died and it’s Fucking Me Up

What I’m Reading

End of March, 2017 edition.

Whoa, this post has proper capitalization! Wonders are not ceasing!

Anyway, it’s Friday, so I’m going to talk about books I’m reading/have read/plan to read. Actually it being Friday has nothing to do with; I just wanted to post this and today seemed good. If I post this sort of thing again it’s doubtful it will fall on a schedule. Still putting it in the Friday Reads category though!

Note: I’m linking to the Amazon pages for these books and using my affiliate link. If you buy via one of these links, I make a little money, and you don’t get charged extra. So I really appreciate it if you choose to do that. <3

What I just finished

Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. I read this at the suggestion of my husband and I finished in 2 days, which is the fastest I’ve finished a book in a long, long time.

It’s military sci-fi, it’s hilarious (I was constantly laughing and reading out little bits to my husband), it’s heart-wrenching, and it’s just darn good. I’m probably late to the game on it seeing as it’s been out for 17 years but hey, better late than never. If you enjoy military sci-fi I highly recommend this book.

I was actually going to read the rest of the series that we have right away after, buuuut I had to actually get work done and couldn’t spend the next week reading non-stop. Soon I’ll be able to take a reading vacation (hopefully) and when I do I am devouring the next few books.

What I’m currently reading

The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger. SO GOOD.

This is non-fiction; it’s about a series of symbols found in cave art in many different places and times. It’s fascinating; I’m only a little bit into the book, but I was lucky enough to see von Petzinger speak in October at the Writers’ Fest. It was then that I was like OK I NEED THIS BOOK, so I managed to convince my mom to pick it up for me.

One of the really cool points von Petzinger makes in the book is that throughout human history, we’re always building on what our ancestors did, standing on the shoulders of giants — but these people that she talks about, these early humans, they were “the original giants.” They’re the basis for all we have now. All the art and meaning and culture they had, that was the beginning. And by learning about it, we can better know ourselves.

Also, the thing that made me fall in love with von Petzinger a little bit when I heard her speak was her talking about making all her research, when she’s done with it, open-source — so that anyone wanting to continue it, build on it, do their own thing inspired by her work, doesn’t have to re-trace all her steps. All her work will be open to scientific community. Which is a great and necessary attitude to take, in my view.

Seriously, highly recommended book, especially if you find anthropology and archaeology as fascinating as I do.

What I plan to read next

Showdown by Diane Morrison.

Diane Morrison is an indie author friend of mine, and she hosted the Pagan Fiction Authors Takeover event I did a couple of weeks ago. I ended up winning a copy of her new book, Showdown, in a giveaway she hosted recently, so it’s next on my list of books to read.

I’m pretty excited to dive into it because it’s pagan fiction and a western and I find that blend pretty intriguing.


Ok, that’s it for this edition of Friday Reads. It will be a while before I do another one because I am a very slow reader. Also no idea if it will even be on a Friday.

Loonily yours,
~Katje

Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 14, 2017.


I used to hate Valentine’s Day with an all-consuming passion. Before that, I adored it.

In my childhood, Valentine’s Day was great. It was my half-birthday (approximately 6 months from my actual birthday) so my parents (well, mom mostly) made a big deal of it and how I was their Valentine. It was about celebrating family love.

I got a little older, and my best friend’s little brother would ask me if I was his Valentine every year — and I would say “Yes, of course I am!” because he was a sweet kid.

I got a little older, and the teacher had to order the other students to give me valentines so my envelope wouldn’t be empty.

I got a little older, and I realized that not only did no one else give a shit it was my half-birthday, no one even knew what a half-birthday was. Apparently it had been made up by my crazy family.

Continue reading Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

notes on gabapentin, day 6

ok, so 6 days of taking my new meds. here are some notes on it.

  • it works. i mean, it definitely stops my twitching when i’m awake. however i’ve noticed, now my twitching has stopped, that i also have nerve pain in my extremities. i just never noticed it before because i was always either jiggling my limbs or twitching.
  • i’m not worried about the nerve pain, as it can take 2 weeks for gabapentin to get rid of it. so if i still have it after 3 weeks, i’ll worry.
  • i sleep really well on it. first 2 nights i used it were on the recliner, because my neck was so stiff and sore. i never sleep well on the recliner, but those 2 nights were the best recliner sleeps i have ever had. and the third night, in bed, it put me into a mini-coma.
  • i’m still tired during the day, but i also haven’t been taking my iron daily and i have a massive sleep debt of like, 20 years. so i’m expecting to still be tired throughout the day for a while.
  • even though i’m still tired throughout the day i’m way more awake than usual.
  • side effects i’m experiencing: drowsiness (useful), slight dizziness and nausea, when i wake up in the morning it takes me longer to shake the sleep fog, and longer for my vision to come back to normal, and some extra bleeding and bruising (which i’m not actually 100% sure is from the gabapentin, as it could have other causes right now). all in all, nothing too severe and nothing i’m not willing to deal with in order to get a better night’s sleep. (regardless i’ll bring up the side effects with the doc when i see him next, which should be a week tomorrow.)

conclusion: it’s working, and so far i’m happy with it. will continue to monitor it for any severe or scary side effects, and am waiting to see how close to “normal” i’ll get with regards to feeling awake in the day, but for right now allowing myself to feel cautiously hopeful that this might be the answer to my sleep woes.

and now, i am a sleepykat so i am off to bed. yes, at 6am. don’t judge me.

~katje

ps: i think it also made my breasts bigger, which i consider a win. at least i do today; on a day when i don’t id as femme as i do today, it’ll probably cause some severe dysphoria. c’est la vie du genderqueer.

This is not for you: Productivity and Chronic Illness

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 7th, 2017.


I read a lot of articles on productivity and improving one’s creativity and making life better. How to do better, be better, accomplish more, feel satisfied with my life, not feel like such a fucking failure all the time. I read these articles because productivity and discipline are things I struggle with and I want to see if there’s anything out there that can give me a leg up in reaching my goals.

About 90% of them are explicitly not for me.

I struggle with discipline, but I’m also chronically ill. I have trouble being productive because I’m a procrastinator, but I’m also disabled. I struggle with gratitude because I haven’t developed a habit of it, but I also suffer from severe mental illness.

There are very few articles out there about productivity that write with any of these things in mind. Almost all of them talk about “willpower” and “making time” and “a morning routine is essential” and “you need to practice gratefulness” and “breakfast WILL give you energy!”

Willpower? Willpower means nothing when I sleep through the 10 alarms I set; it’s not about using my strength of will to not hit the snooze button, it’s about salvaging my wreckage of a day because my body refused to wake up, refused to even hear the alarms until it got 12 hours. Articles that write about “having the willpower to get up earlier” are telling me nothing new; they’re just telling me something useless, something I’ve heard time and time again that does nothing to help me with my issues.

Continue reading This is not for you: Productivity and Chronic Illness

Not everything is for you: kids and Deadpool

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 17th, 2016.


I suppose it was inevitable. People have taken their kids to see Deadpool…and then complained it wasn’t appropriate for kids.

Look. I am the first person to say that the MPAA ratings are bullshit and usually far too puritanical. I believe parents know better than a bunch of film-rating execs what’s appropriate for their kids. What’s more, the MPAA ratings are hopelessly vague. An “R” rating doesn’t tell me if a movie is going to have an animal dying, which will have me more upset than a kid pranked with a fake trip to Disneyland. It doesn’t tell me if there’s going to be a rape or attempted rape scene, which will trigger the fuck out of me. I’ve learned that the best way for me to enjoy movies or TV shows is — if I think there’s a possibility there’s a chance for these things that will really upset me and basically ruin my entire fucking week — ask someone who’s already seen it, or have my husband pre-view it for me so he can warn me, and be on hand for cuddles afterwards if I do, indeed, decide to go through with viewing it.

I grew up watching things that were well “beyond my age”. When I was 10, mom took me to see the Kama Sutra movie in theatres — “Just act like you’re 18!” — because she knew that I could handle a positive portrayal of adult sexuality. And, in fact, probably needed to see a positive portrayal of adult sexuality, seeing as by the age of 10 I had already been assaulted. She was right. The Kama Sutra movie did not scar me (though the “sequel” which was “American tourists rekindle their marriage by exploiting Indian traditions” kind of did).

But that was one of very few positive experiences I had watching things beyond my age when I was very young. I was a really sensitive kid, you see. I’m still sensitive now, but I’ve had to grow an unnaturally thick skin just so I can survive daily life (which is full of people saying I’m too sensitive, a sissy, a coward, a pussy, etc). I was easily scared (still am, and horror is one of my fave film genres) and very empathetic towards suffering seen on screen — especially for animals.

When I was a little kid, my dad showed me Alien and Aliens. I still adore these films, but the truth is they scared the shit out of me when I first saw them. (I mean, duh, they’re scary films.) I was probably way too young to see them whenever I did the first time. I don’t remember how old I was; I just know that the Aliens franchise was part of growing up for me.

Continue reading Not everything is for you: kids and Deadpool