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Anna S.
16 April 2011 @ 03:36 pm
I talked to my brother for the first time today in about 15 years; his voice sounds almost exactly the same as I remember. I talked to his wife, too. It was a technologically challenged call, cell phone to cell phone with fritzy patches. Tomorrow we're planning to touch base on land lines.

This news article is about my mother's death. Details are sparse. I hope to know more when I can talk properly to my brother tomorrow.

I keep having breakdowns with no warning, wild gaspy tears, pain and rage and screams trying to claw out of my chest. The shelter isn't the best place to have episodes; public isn't either. So I keep taking Ativan to suppress the rawest waves of emotion. At least tomorrow morning my case manager at the shelter will be on shift; maybe I can talk to him.

Gulls today ate from my hands.

Edited to add: The dog mentioned in the article, Daisy, is doing okay. My brother's family took her in.
Anna S.
15 April 2011 @ 04:16 pm
It only occurred to me later that, given my recent trend of posts, my last one might read like a fragment of craziness from a fracturing brain. But it's not. It really happened. I don't have any details yet. I gave my brother my phone number to call me; I suspect he's been at the funeral this afternoon. His wife said it was planned for today.

I haven't talked to my brother in fifteen years. It was the same with my mom. With my brother though, it had nothing to do with him, just with my defects of character.

I called my doctor--who is actually a nurse, but no less capable for that, and she set me up with a one-off scrip for Ativan. I went and filled it and took two, so while the tone of the last post reflected shock, the tone of this one probably reflects that I'm a sedated robot. I couldn't stop crying and raging. The professional social worker types I reached out to were not so much good at the helping thing and I realized I was just going to be flinging all my rage at them and also the shelter furniture. So the Ativan.

Social worker A wanted me to talk to him and "process" the news. I managed to not explain that his face is apparently incapable of emotional expression and his voice of any emotional inflection. Social worker B told me that since I "no choice" but to stay in the shelter for the moment, I should distract myself.

The idea of drinking crossed my mind but I pushed it out. I just watched two women, who are supposed to be sober as a condition of returning to a recovery housing program, get wasted on booze and crack. Their example is still resonating as a disincentive.

I'll be going back to the shelter shortly. I tried to think of other options, including getting in my car and driving to Virginia to see my brother, but that's just a thought. I don't know what the point would be. I don't know that my appearance in his life would add anything positive. When it comes to family, I'm a loser. Friends and family. In the shelter, the women think I'm an angel. I'm kind to strangers because I can walk away whenever I want. I set the terms. With family, friends, I guess I'm afraid of entanglement, darker emotions, commitment.

Self-analysis for dummies. I'm glad Will's married and has a wife who's obviously capable of giving him emotional support. He was always the normal one. I don't have a good handle yet on the scope of his reaction--I don't even know how close he was or wasn't with my mom.

I never liked David, my mom's second husband. He seemed like a man with a stingy soul. I don't know yet what his motives were.

Just some stream of consciousness before I turn in for the day. And a brief soak in the kind vibes you all send. I need to hold a cat. A dog even. There should be something between a petting zoo and a eherapeautic spa, where you can just walk in off the street and spend 30 minutes playing laser tag with kittens, or catnap next to a big shaggy dog. In the meantime I will make do feeding pigeons. And tomorrow I'll walk down to the water and feed the gulls again. I never knew until my last visit that they could hover in the air in front of you, wings beating aerobically, and catch bread in their mouths just the way a trained seal catches fish. Talented nutty squawking things.
Anna S.
15 April 2011 @ 11:19 am
I just got on e-mail after an absence of a week or more. My brother and his wife had both sent me e-mails. About a week ago my mother's second husband of the last twenty years murdered her and committed suicide. I need to write this down and now I need to get offline and do I don't even know what.

I am sitting here thinking I should turn comments off on this because I don't even know if I would read them but I admit I desperately want to know that people are reading this and to know there is some response out there. That's all.
Anna S.
09 April 2011 @ 02:12 pm
I'm sorry I'm not posting more. My energy level dropped quite a bit and I haven't been feeling tip-top. On a particularly bad day I got worked up and crosshatched the back of my left wrist with cuticle clippers; not typical and not serious, and overall not a particularly constructive response to frustration. My case manager at the shelter helped me get an appointment for a psych assessment, despite some limitations in my benefits, so it looks as if I'll finally have a psychiatrist. I'm meeting with him on Tuesday.

Meanwhile I've been working on housing program applications and trying to maintain equilibrium. I'm having trouble concentrating on anything that requires diligent or sustained brain activity--which is most of the reason why I haven't been posting, I guess.

My current roommate makes me a little nutty and this morning tried to show me a bedbug bite. She thinks they've finally found there way to our section of the building. If true, I'm just going to faceplant and smother myself in my pillow. Well, no. I won't. But I'm tired of the shelter. The wasted half-days trapped and trying to fill time; the soul-crushing bath and shower rooms; every bowel movement a public event; every shower a big production of flip-flops and plastic bags (to avoid any item I own touching any mold-covered, body-fluid-covered, ostentatiously smeared and germ-covered surface) and storklike balance to undress and dress again without touching walls or floor (my diabetic roommate has developed a severe and debilitating case of what might or might not be athlete's foot--oozing sores, crippling pain).

Wow, I'm a downer. I did capture observational notes that are much more dispassionate and interesting, but haven't gotten around to making them truly readable.

I'm prodding myself to post this despite the mood of these words, just wanting to echo a hello hello to anyone reading this.
Anna S.
29 March 2011 @ 11:39 am
I guess I plateaued on my meds; I've been feeling biochemically challenged the past several days. I have to believe that dysfunctional neurochemicals are at play, because otherwise I ascribe it all to defecits in character--I feel churlish and tacky for not expressing my thanks to people in more direct and verbal ways, and lazy for not writing in LJ, and a loser for not keeping up on my e-mail. But there are no tangible reasons for my "mood." Yesterday I just felt as if I weighed a thousand pounds, and my head felt full of heavy sand. That is depression: the feeling of being sandbagged.

I've been taking notes of things to write about and hope to get some more interesting words out soon.

My chief mental preoccupation right now is finding housing. I think I'd benefit from living in some organized, structured setting for a while, but it's all applications and waiting lists and so it worries me that I'll reach the end of my allotted time at the Crisis Respite Program at the shelter before I find something. (Here is where I chew my lip and stuff.)

I must post more soon; not all my observations center on me--since I last posted I've lost one roommate and gained another. There have been open beds in the women's dorm ever since I got there; meanwhile the men have double our number of beds and are at max capacity. Tensions and tempers remain pretty even so far considering the situation. Apparently they have an epic snorer.

I've been visiting gulls at the waterfront. Yesterday I wrote, "There's something about the beaky whine of gulls that reminds me of cats begging." The open mouths, the sheer energy of insistence. Feed me! They amuse me.
Anna S.
23 March 2011 @ 10:51 am
Toni is definitely talking--not on the phone to someone else, but not to herself either. I only wish I knew what the other end was saying back.

Toni: "They're trying to set me on fire but I don't feel pain."

Unknown: "..."

Toni: "No--no, it's not sexual."

Unknown: "..."

Toni: "We're all going to die for this." (followed by great hilarity)

I haven't mentioned that Toni is remarkably and entirely bald, like a cue ball, and resembles a cross between an accident-prone male hockey player and Michael Berryman. She claims to be leaving tomorrow and I have to admit I'll be a little relieved when she's gone--but at least she's a known quantity. I've been lucky with the bunkmate lottery so far, but that could change any day.

I've been offline a lot--when I set out on an errand, each one seems to suck up an entire day and then suddenly it's 5:30 again and I'm stuck in the dorm for 13 hours with no wi-fi. I bought a notebook to write things in. Very old school.

I've had a few doctor's appointments. From each visit a new constellation of contacts and appointments seems to sprout--psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, social services, etc. I've discovered that I have some medical coverage from the DSHS; I hadn't known about it. They'd notified me months ago, but I'd been too depressed to open my mail. So that will cover prescriptions and--I think--therapy visits. I have a list of counseling agencies I need to choose from.

During my first meeting with my PCP (always a weird acronym to wield) we decided to up the dose on one of my antidepressants. I asked for that and she agreed. Some of my fuzzy pink-clouded ebullience wore off during the last week and I worry about losing traction, getting bogged down in my own head. And apparently any accrued benefits of the meds are really still a ways off, so...what does that mean? What accounts for my recently improved mood? Is it all in my head? (That questions half a joke, half not.)

Meanwhile Beryl is still absorbed, day after day, in her organizing project. I haven't witnessed anything being thrown out. Mostly things seem to be moving from one pile to another. Anything that involves words on paper she reads very carefully; sometimes she tears out articles, which go in their own particular stack.

We are both OCD in our way, though the scope and focus differs. I have all my possessions enclosed in zippered plastic bags, the kind that bed linens and pillowcases come in. What can I say. I had them. I might also be the only person in the shelter with a bottle of all-purpose, lemon-scented cleaner and a roll of paper towels.

Every time I go to the shelter bathroom, I walk in on a conversation about bed bugs.


When I look at my PayPal account, I freeze in gratitude. I'm working on that. The gifts mean a lot to me. There is something collectively angelic about this gesture of giving. In response, unsurprisingly, I've had a reflex of uncertainty and self-doubt: why me? I've given too, not just taken, but I still feel off-balance right now. I want to be on the side of the angels.
Anna S.
19 March 2011 @ 02:55 pm
I finally braved the shower at the shelter this morning. I've been squeaking by for a week on modified whore's baths and sink shampoos, more or less adequately I think, but there's a limit. The shower stalls are dungeon-like, but the water was hot, and with flip-flops on it wasn't the tragic experience I'd feared.

There's a protest in downtown Seattle today, something about Israeli apartheid. A block of cops have wedged themselves in between Pike and Pine, paying very little attention to the protestors, Hare Krishnas, Scientologists, Nation of Islam pamphleteers, pollsters, and street magicians. Here in one of the central Starbucks, a homeless woman cradling a tiny service chihuahua is being warned against sleeping.

My newest bunkmate, the one with anger issues, I'll call Toni. Toni has been puzzling me. You know how, since the advent of Bluetooth-y devices, it's sometimes hard to tell on the street whether someone is talking on the phone or to themselves? It's like that with Toni, except she's usually lying on her bunk, her head just out of direct view, murmuring in a chatty tone spiked by occasional laughter. I'm nearly sure she's not using a phone, but someone does seem to be filling in the blanks to her side of the conversation.

I've been worried about Beryl. The smell I thought came from her bunk actually turned out to be coming from under it. She's a hoarder, and the space between the bottom bunk and the floor (she's in the top bunk) was stuffed with papers, magazines, clothes, plastic cups, food stuffed in bags, loose fruit, unmatched shoes, and a hundred things she'd be better off without right now.

The staff had apparently also mentioned the smell to Beryl, which drove her into an obsessive search for it. This was Wednesday, the day before the big Spray Event and our enforced day-long evacuation. Posted signs warned us to store everything in our lockers--anything not put away would be thrown away. As of Wednesday morning, though, Beryl was sitting on the floor, surrounded by crumpled bags and her chaos of belongings. I watched with a vague sense of doom as she sorted items into categories without actually subtracting anything. She'd pick up a ragged mass of papers and get lost in reading ads or articles; pace slowing, she'd rip out selected pages and stack them to the side. The blast radius spread, spilling out from under the bed and across the floor of our small room. The entire lower bunk was also taken up with her stuff, along with a tall double-door locker, easily three times as big as the standard lockers we were assigned.

Wednesday afternoon, I returned from errands to find two of the case managers digging through the piles, making judgments on the fly about what to keep and what to toss. They wore gloves and held giant garbage bags, the kind you use for bagging raked leaves.

"Where's Beryl?" I asked uneasily, eyeing the scene.

"I don't know," one of the case managers said in a deterrent tone, avoiding my eyes.

"Are you putting stuff in storage?"

"We don't store things."

"Oh. Does she know…um?"

"I really can't discuss that."

Beryl came in about an hour after they'd finished. It was painful to watch her work through the shock. I talked to her for a long time but she couldn't completely grasp what had happened. I could only help up to a point, because I couldn't really grasp it either. She'd been trying so hard to get organized, to root out the smell, to prep for spray day. And of course she'd expected to have until Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m., deadline for leaving the dorms. There'd apparently been no warning of the official purge, no formal ultimatum from the staff, who made executive decisions about what items were trash and which weren't. It was hard to take, even to witness.

I say "apparently" though, because Beryl has a knack for diverting her train of thought to more interesting ideas if danger looms.

Later, I wondered aloud, tentatively, how she was going to fit her remaining bags into her already stuffed locker.

"Oh, they won't fit," she said, surprised at me. And I realized on a moment of brain-locked shock and dismay that she intended to take the two massive bags with her and babysit them from 8:00 to 4:00, somehow, somewhere.

I suspect that she accumulated most of her belongings while staying at the shelter. I worry about her getting kicked out of CRP into the main shelter; she's already stayed longer than the program guidelines recommend. She keeps getting lost in fuzzy mental loops, like a staticky record skipping on the same spot. I know that feeling, I've been in that place, where the effort of making a single phone call is an emotional wipe-out.


I have been receiving funds and am like a hamster twitching at input. Several directions at once, and I want to respond every which way, but find myself burrowing instead. I might also have beady eyes and a pink nose.

I'd like to say something deep and gracious, like, I express the universe's gratitude on a particle wave of endless thanks. Thank you for the strawberries I ate yesterday and the dollar Sue Grafton novel I'm reading today and the dominoes and card deck I bought for the CRP ward. Thank you for today.

a wave of particular hamsters
Anna S.
17 March 2011 @ 11:13 am
I'm going through comments now and it's lovely to read them. As I just wrote elsewhere, writing and getting responses helps me feel connected and safer. Like I haven't totally fallen off the grid. I've been isolating myself (or "self-isolating" to use psych-speak) for a long time. I've been so alone, largely of my own making, and the loneliness has been pretty crushing. I need to stop self-crushing, I guess...or something like that. It got to where I felt as if a large, critical portion of my brain had been excised, leaving this empty space, void of will and life. I need to work on ways to better describe that feeling. (It's good to be working at words again.)

It's definitely enough for me to write and be read, and to get responses. On the other hand, I'm not a completely crazy person, and I'm not to proud to turn down offers of help. I know very well both how karmically good it feels to give help, and how excruciating it can feel to ask for it. I've had trouble asking before. Now I'm not so much asking as just accepting. I'm willing to accept what help has been offered, hugs, good thoughts, and all the rest. I have a PayPal account already associated with my eliade@gmail.com address, and I'm pretty sure that's sufficient to receive transactions...(?)

You can be sure I'll fund my own rescue first and foremost. I'm not cut out for the streets. But I also haven't been able to entirely shut down my impulse to do stuff for others. I've already been a bit more spendy that I should helping other people out, and I beed to keep that in check so that I'm not undermining my own escape efforts. But I also desperately want to do something for the CRP wing where I'm staying. It has a pitifully small common area with close to zero amenities, and a little would go such a long way. There's no hand soap, for instance; no AA Big Book, no Bible, nothing on the walls, no games whatsoever, not even a pack of cards. I could spend just twenty bucks and improve the atmosphere strikingly. And I want to. And I'd like to know that if my bunkmate is half-starving, I can supplement her diet once in a while with a fruit cup or a Subway sandwich.

Anyway. I'm still going through comments and feeling very *huggy*. I have a doctor's appointment in a little while, then I'll be hopping back online for some additional time, before returning to the shelter around 4:30, which is when they open their doors again after the grand extermination event.

::waving from Seattle::
Anna S.
16 March 2011 @ 09:31 am
I've put off reading LJ comments and e-mail the last few days. I've had some errands that involve complex itineraries of bus routes and walking and timing. Complex for me right now anyway. The walking parts are good for me, but I haven't been sleeping well and I'm trailing a sleep debt around behind me like a limp binky.

I've been waiting for the right moment to dive into reading and responding, which is probably my kind of "all or nothing" thinking. It's not like I have to speedball everything in one energetic sitting, but I feel like I do.

We just got a new roommate, who apparently has some anger management issues, though so far not directed against us.

I have my first appointment with my shelter case manager today, and am hoping that some structure will begin to cohere out of the chaos. I'm not sure what to expect.

Oh, tomorrow they are fumigating the shelter and we'll be forbidden entrance for the day. A lot of time to kill. I'm kind of tired just thinking about it. I'm trying not to do things like going back to bed in the middle of the day, but I think I might go back this morning and try to take a nap. Then I'll have my appointment, and then hopefully I'll get back out to someplace with wi-fi and come be sociable on LJ.

Anna S.
14 March 2011 @ 11:17 am
Just posting on the fly again to say I haven't had a chance to read comments to yesterday's post, but I look forward to it. :) I've just realized I have to go back to the shelter to get some stuff in preparation for a doctor's appointment today.