Need Versus Want

i made an intensely massive discovery Saturday: there is a difference between ‘need’ and ‘want.’

it was totally weird. i have never had to make the choice before between ground beef and watercolor brushes before.

husband blames me for being spoiled, saying i never had to live on my own before, but isn’t that a blessing? it’s true i’ve always had either credit cards or a family member or husband to bail me out if shit got so tight i was gonna go in the red. it’s really “my fault” for being taken care of in a safe environment?

guess what husband, your dream came true. no longer are there paychecks for new shoes. no longer is there dual income to get that dreamy black eyeliner. hell i can’t even *think* of travel!

i get a $500 a month stipend. i have no. idea. how i’m going to make that work. that’s some insane shit for princess $1K a month.

need. i went to Jo-ann’s Fabrics to but something i “needed” to finish a project. but here’s something i like, and oh i could make a really cute dress out of this, omg! owls! score! headband!!!

at the cutting table i sobered up a little, and i put three things back. i ended up with three shortish lengths of ‘need’ fabric, two zippers (need), and then wanted: two long lengths for potential dresses and 2 short lengths for headbands. the cost was ridiculous compared to the fact that this was my last paycheck.

i came home desperately confused. need… want? what is ‘need,’ and what is ‘want.’

from now on i’ll need an extra sharp razor made from my check book’s paper cuts to peel away those layers, look at the purchase, and say to it: “can i live without you?” and answer all the ways i can survive without the owls.

Normal Dragon

My BFF Erin wrote about finding “The New Normal” after becoming Chronically Ill. I cried as I empathized in so many ways, but instead of wallowing, I decided she would inspire me to write about my own New Normal.

the realization that i was never going to be the “Real Me” i conceptually idealized as what i was really like actually happened just a couple of months ago. my family doesn’t see me often due to distance, but i make sure to maintain a healthy phone and written contact with them. one day, on the phone, my father said, “You always sound so drugged, at this last Christmas you were practically a zombie you were so drugged. I don’t know, maybe this is the New Christine we have to get used to.”

my heart went static like an old UHF TV screen buzzed. we used to call it a “bee race,” “My bee is winning!” all my bees stopped and looked at each other: “are we drugged out now?”

i’ve been some version of chronically ill since 2002, but i always thought rehab would get me back to using my mouse with my right hand… ok, to hiking… hmm, to standing? how about just sitting, ok? let’s freakin sit, in a chair, designed for long-term ergonomic comfort fancier than all the thrones my boss bought the other staff. how about WEAR SHOES! SHOES. on my FEET. WEARING.

Chronic Pain is laughable it’s so ridiculous. i… i don’t know if i can describe? telling you all the modified versions of Christines won’t do the point, and hell, i can’t even remember all the Christines i’ve lost so many! i’m like a paper doll, but instead of getting dressed, layers and layers of Victorian doll drawings of dresses are being removed from me. the shoes. the skirt. the blouse. the pantaloons. the stockings. and finally, the corset that was holding it all together. now i stand holding a parasol and faking a paper smile, disappearing in a weak breeze.

then, it all begins again. grieving Christine is a constant process, not just with each layer of paper doll clothes, but just random. some days “i have to take the elevator,” is just i can’t take stairs. other days it’s “god, i fail at STAIRS. CHILDREN take stairs with aplomb!” some days it’s “hahahah! i forgot my pain meds and the lights look like they’re blinking!” other days: “holy shit it is NOT. OK. for lights to blink!”

here’s a thought: dealing with Chronic Pain is as complicated as rolling a handful of a 32-sided die, a pyramid die, and sundry other 12- and 16- sided dice from Dungeons & Dragons and trying to interpret the Elf Damage or something. the taste of the candy red #32, the prescience of the pale blue pyramid, a green 16 like mint jelly–variables upon variables, flavors, delights, enticements, failures… confusion. ultimately, confusion.

so basically every day is my first day playing Dungeons and Dragons to determine my shield and sword strength and powers of magic potions. some are weak as sprinkling dirt on my head, and others are wode and ululations–who knows which day’s Normal is? at least i have no clue; maybe i seem transparent to the people who call me druggie–i think that’s a roll of the pink 13 sided die.

PS, to read Erin’s post on Normal and check out her blog, head here.

Bipolar, with Love

i guess i am having an existential crisis, partially brought on by a pain flare. PS this is the Queen XOXtine you hopefully know and love—so I guess that it’s even more existential that i am exploring my identity. why are we who we are? what is this? i’m supposed to be “creative” because that’s what that is about bipolar, right? do you all have that stupid stereotype in your countries, by which i really do mean whatever country you live in or hale from?

there’s a very influential woman in the US named Kay Jamison, and if i recall both a Ph.D. and M.D. in psychiatry. she’s like the goddess of all things bipolar. her novel, “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” is all about how geniuses are secretly bipolar. so… i’m an artistic genius simply because i got the Russian Roulette of inherited bipolar? i actually might be because i do create objects ‘darte sometimes, but that’s mostly when i’m manic. many people like the high of mania, but i hate it because i know i’m about to do something stupid i’ll regret.

but there’s also the opposite of Kay Jamison: “He was quiet and kept to himself mostly, but he was kind and polite…” then he goes out and randomly shoots a roomful of theater-goers, and the news has a hey-day with his mental illness. they interview all those “nice” neighbors, then interview “experts” on manic-depressive personalities and how if you look just right at the angle he mowed his lawn you can clearly see he is mentally ill.

here’s what happened to me at the job i’ve had over six years: i kept my mental illness to myself until i just broke down. to keep it simple, private, and secret, i told my boss i had a “major depressive disorder.” i hated lying, but who understands bipolar but the bipolar? then i couldn’t keep that under control either. me and my boss were working alone, side-by-side, and i casually said, “i’m actually bipolar, and since i have the library access (i’m an archivist btw), my psychiatrist wants me to read all i can on it.” he said, “you’re bipolar?” i said yes, and in all complete seriousness with no joke he said, “Does this mean you’re going to kill me?”

my heart fell through the floor, i felt puny. i was disgusted and sad. since then he’s learned to be on my team, and he’s one of my greatest supporters. but getting there was extraordinarily hard and still takes coaching

co-worker: “she was such a sweet archivist and seemed happy and friendly in the lunch room.” cut to news reporter— “but, Ms. Pixie had a terrible secret. SHE WAS BIPOLAR!”

 i have no regrets that we got rid of TV no sensationalized crud to clog my mind. no third grade records brought out of a dusty basement that said, “seemed withdrawn from other students,” twisted into a grown-up life of haunting terror. UGH!

and PS, i might change my name a lot. i’m still looking for that “me” that’s out there somewhere.

hearts and rainbows,
Chrissy Pixie