Posts in category "Photos"

laying low

At some point, the most I could do was sit by the win­dow and face the lawn. It’s hard to say how many hours were spent look­ing out­ward, inter­rupted every now and then by food I could barely taste or swal­low. For a per­son who needs to stay active to cul­ti­vate a sense of worth, it was a sign I was beyond her reach, and at a point where I was no longer able to help myself.

When she began to cry, I asked what was wrong. “I didn’t think you’d give up”, she explained, some­thing made appar­ent when I couldn’t man­age a veneer of pleas­ant­ness for the sake of being polite to friends or strangers alike. I once told her I would stick around for her sake, but in that moment we both under­stood it was a promise I couldn’t keep.



I won­der if I’ll ever be able to. It’s hard to remem­ber what life was like before I was so emo­tion­ally exhausted. Even when the exter­nal sources of stress are far away and my head is above water, it still feels like I’m drown­ing. When that gener­i­cally redo­lent scent of taxi leather hit my nose, it used to mean I had a plane to catch, a flight to take me out of the coun­try, an adven­ture await­ing; now it’s a por­tent of deaf­en­ingly silent wait­ing rooms, and psy­chi­a­trists who know too lit­tle and talk too much.

I keep my fret­ting fin­gers trim but the cal­luses keep heal­ing over, cause I can’t con­cen­trate long enough to improve (also why it’s taken me so many months to write this). The house is a barely con­tained mess. My phone is over­flow­ing with notes, texts, voice mails, things I can’t keep on top of. It’s been for­ever since I talked to Darren, even longer since I made a trip out of town. I’ve grown sen­si­tive to loud noises. I barely rec­og­nize my own face.

That’s how I know I’m not ready to process parts of the past yet. Going so many years with­out a reprieve has left me drained of cop­ing resources, and when I’m barely man­ag­ing my needs for safety and sur­vival, there isn’t any room left for growth or improve­ment. I need more time to heal, to replace upset­ting mem­o­ries with new expe­ri­ences, to be in a sta­ble place before revis­it­ing the most trau­matic parts.

Heather by the window


For the moment, that means work­ing with my nat­ural energy pat­terns and momen­tum as I try to develop healthy habits. It’s left me up at odd hours, eat­ing irreg­u­lar meals, and largely house-bound. Heather tends to my needs and never leaves my side for more than 15 min­utes. I’m for­tu­nate to have a small sup­port group help­ing me look after things — drop­ping off gro­ceries, bring­ing my car for main­te­nance, pay­ing the bills, dri­ving me to appoint­ments — small tasks that seem daunt­ing when so unsure of myself. Misun even offered to help sell the house and fly me to France so I could live under her care indef­i­nitely; if only one could be car­ried by the love of one’s friends alone.

It pains me to be here wait­ing, feel­ing like I’m miss­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for hap­pi­ness every day, but I’ve learned that progress can’t be rushed. Not just cause I have to tread so care­fully through the past, but because I’ve been down for so long that it feels like it’ll never be up again. That’s why I have to trust her when she tells me things will even­tu­ally be okay. Until then, I spend my time lost in the Dark Tower, appre­ci­at­ing a sobri­ety I wasn’t pre­pared for, look­ing for duels in the bor­der­lands, try­ing to feel nor­mal again.

sweet surrender

All his life he had been active, doing things about the house, look­ing after patients, think­ing, study­ing, writ­ing. How good it was to stop doing, strug­gling, think­ing, to leave it all for a time to nature, to become her thing, her con­cern, the work of her mer­ci­ful, won­der­ful, beauty-lavishing hands.

—Doctor Zhivago

Time is giv­ing me the chance to feel hurt with­out hate. If only the process didn’t make the indi­vis­i­ble moments so over­whelm­ingly painful. The idea of being nor­mal seems like a mod­est goal, now that an act as sim­ple as wash­ing the dishes becomes a bur­den I can’t bear. It’s the rea­son I don’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car, the rea­son song and film do noth­ing to help me retreat.

As a result, our lives have been reduced to the sim­plest means of sur­vival. I play my games like a full-time job, slowly pro­cess­ing things I’ve kept in the back of my head as a means of stay­ing safe from myself. We eat, we sleep, we start over again. My respon­si­bil­ity is to myself now, and it’s a good day if I can get one pro­duc­tive thing done, from a sim­ple shower to a step out­side. And if even that proves too much, I’m learn­ing to be okay with that too, as time is mea­sured across expe­ri­ences and lives, not by the moments in which we stum­ble and fall.



When she sees me try­ing to shake the thoughts loose, look­ing for sup­port on cold tile, I’m told to take as much time as I need to get bet­ter, and reminded she won’t leave if I never do. I don’t have to hide my feel­ings or moods, cause she doesn’t judge me for the depth of my sad­ness, nor hold my anger against me. Every day she grows more ten­der than the last, even as I fall and break apart, and I’m learn­ing to under­stand how, when I have such a hard time accept­ing the shade of a per­son I am right now. It’s such bound­less affec­tion that finally makes me feel loved because of who I am, and not what I do or offer or represent.

After so many years liv­ing at arms-length with every­one around me, it’s a feel­ing that’s impos­si­ble for me to take for granted. I can’t help but inter­nal­ize every way her grace brings me joy. Every time she thanks me for let­ting her take care of my needs and wants.

And with this foun­da­tion, I learn how to be a per­son again, as I try to write my way out of this hole.

nothing lasts, but nothing is lost

It’s been a few weeks since I left the comic book shop. I’m glad to have gone through the expe­ri­ence of being a pro­fes­sional nerd, to have met the par­tic­u­lar set of chal­lenges involved and flour­ished, but I could tell it was time to quit when the stress was car­ry­ing over from one shift to the next, even with days between.

Without the need to run tour­na­ments, or the pres­sure of deal­ing with cus­tomers, I have a chance to breathe again. That means doing my best not to worry about being pro­duc­tive or happy. Just try­ing to feel okay can be enough of a day-to-day challenge.

Cat in Tigger costume

Their spe­cial bond comes from the fact that she lets him get away with more than I do.

Heather and I are tak­ing the next few months off to regain our bal­ance and adjust to our new dosages of SNRIs. Now that I’m in a place where I’m feel­ing more safe and secure, I can tell it’s still hard for me to let go of neg­a­tive thoughts, even when the stim­u­lus is gone. I’m com­ing to terms with the fact that I’ve been fight­ing depres­sion my whole life, and the fact that I’ll likely be on even more med­ica­tion for the rest of it1.

I wish I could turn to writ­ing for cathar­sis, but I’m not strong enough to process the mem­o­ries. Parts of the past are still too recent, too famil­iar, too painful. And some­times it’s hard to think of the per­son I was only a year ago, even know­ing how far I’ve come. I’m start­ing to real­ize that time is what I need most, which means I also need patience and trust from my friends.

Cat and Magic: The Gathering

The only com­mit­ments I’ve kept are my play­group on Sundays, and my Wednesdays with Lisa. Otherwise, I’m lost in Guild Wars; the eas­i­est way to escape and feel pro­duc­tive at the same time is to work on daily achieve­ments by slay­ing dragons.

And that’s how I lost the Autumn. I didn’t even real­ize the leaves had turned and fallen. Now that I’m not work­ing (and I’m the one who always hosts), it feels like I never leave the house. The only reminder that win­ter is here is when the heat comes on, and the smell of dry fur­nace air fills the room. I was look­ing for­ward to the first snow­fall of the sea­son, but the plows have already been out and I haven’t had a chance to take it all in.

  1. On top of the anti-inflammatories, pro­bi­otics, and psyl­lium husks I take every day to man­age my col­i­tis. []

Troon, from Knomo

My Canon 5D Mark II has been a faith­ful com­pan­ion for five years. It’s fol­lowed me on even the most mun­dane trips, as I wanted to be sure no expe­ri­ence was lost in the years where I found myself grow­ing beyond the fur­thest plans I’d made. However, it’s remained tucked away in the closet for the last while, as part of an effort to more mind­ful of each moment; moments that may be lost when I’m find­ing the right angle or wait­ing for the right scene.

As a result, the trusty LowePro Fastpack I used to take every­where — with space enough for a cam­era body, three lenses, and an assort­ment of odds and ends — no longer fit my lifestyle and needs. Fortunately, I was given a chance to try out Knomo’s Troon mes­sen­ger bag, and dis­cov­ered it’s the per­fect fit for my new journeys.

Knomo Troon messenger bag


Continue read­ing “Troon, from Knomo”…


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July was sup­posed to be my catch-up month. The one where I con­nected with a lover instead of being rushed to appre­ci­ate her at every turn; a chance to fin­ish house projects and all the clean­ing I’ve been putting off; maybe even time enough to go for a walk every day, or the patience to work on fret­ting cleaner bar­res instead of emo­tional doo­dling and clumsy interpretations.

chemo indica leaves


Now here I am, half way through September. Heather and I are at war with our respec­tive pasts, and wait­ing for relief. On top this comes her dad’s diag­no­sis of a metas­ta­sized can­cer of unknown ori­gin. We’re used to being strong for oth­ers, but the uncer­tainty of what may come makes us won­der if we’re truly ready.

If only my mind wasn’t already drift­ing back to those unhealthy and all-too-familiar thoughts. It’s hard enough let­ting go of the sense that every­thing will fall apart at any sec­ond. The depth of my strug­gle has changed me, and I’m still get­ting used to feel­ing uncon­di­tion­ally loved and emo­tion­ally secure. Thankfully, I have a part­ner who tells me every sin­gle day that I’m a good per­son, that I’m impor­tant, and that I deserve to be happy. Consistent reminders are what I need, how­ever small, cause the recov­ery process is going to take far longer than I first thought.

Guild Wars 2


We’ve taken to explor­ing the mas­sive world of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 as a way of cop­ing. Even when I’m away from my com­puter, I think of noth­ing but jour­ney­ing to new loca­tions, instead of the tiny prob­lems that seem impos­si­ble to sur­mount at even my best times. I’ve always been an obses­sive per­son, and my mind would be full of bad things right now if I wasn’t so busy find­ing the next point of inter­est, the next cham­pion to kill and loot.

It’s a way for me to get through the dif­fi­cult days, until they turn into a past that I can look at from afar. I know if I can turn the page on this chap­ter, I’ll have a oppor­tu­nity to become the per­son I want to be every day for the rest of my life.