Ah, college!

DEAR ABBY: I was wondering how I can enjoy my college experience. I’m mostly wondering about what I should do while I’m in college to get the best experience (other than focus on my classes, because that comes first). What should I try and what things should I do while I’m there? I don’t think college will be like high school in terms of things to do because I will be living on my own with new people. I just wanted to ask your advice because I’m about to go off to college this fall. — EXCITED IN GEORGIA

DEAR EXCITED: Every college is different. When you arrive and get settled, make it a priority to explore what options are available so you can meet new people and find groups that interest you. This will not only enrich your college experience but may help you to form lasting relationships. (c) DEAR ABBY

Felicity, season one, should be required binge-watching.

I actually had a lot of friends in college, but they weren’t close friends. More like the other students who were hanging out where I was. No, wait, I take that back: Jim and Brad. They were probably my best friends in college! I loved those guys.

The three of us (and several other people) did work-study in the print shop. Occasionally we’d sneak into the paper storage room to play paperball, which is pretty much what it sounds like. I had a lot of good times with them. We drove golf carts all over campus to deliver the mail, mail packages, and huge boxes of paper. We had names for all the golf carts that corresponded to their numbers, and each name was bovine. I remember Betsy. 😀 And Spot. And Moocifer. Good old Moocifer.

There was the time when “Dream On” came on the radio, and after it went off I said it was my favorite Aerosmith song ever. Jim insisted that “Dream On” wasn’t composed and performed by Aerosmith. I was totally certain, so Jim called the radio station. (This was slightly before the era of googling everything.)

“Hello,” he said. “You know that song you just played? Yeah, “Dream On”. Who’s it by?” He glanced at me. “Oh, I see. Thanks.” He hung up. “It’s Aerosmith.”

We laughed and laughed. I felt extremely triumphant. I mean, who doesn’t know that “Dream On” is Aerosmith? You can hear Steven Tyler shredding his lungs all the way through it.

Jim was Italian and had a really cool Italian last name. Brad was a country boy from outside of Louisville who commuted into town each day. Jim was romantic and sexy, and Brad was diligent, studious, and industrious. After I once took two boxes of paper downhill in a dolly (rather, the two boxes of paper took me downhill), they made me an award that said, “Megamie, Queen of the Hill.” HA HA HA HA! I loved that silly award.

Once during midterms when I was a stress mess from studying, we were hanging out in the paper room when I commented on the graffiti and cans of spray paint. Jim told me, “Why not add something to the wall, Megamie?”

“Won’t I get in trouble?”

“No, of course not. Why do you think the spray paint’s here? They want us to use it.”

I beamed. “Righteous!” And I sprayed, in bright orange letters:

EVERY DAY IS 

HUMP DAY

Which, from the doorway, looked like

EVERY 

HUMP

There was outrage. But before Gwen, the full-time woman who helped run the print shop, could tell me off, Jim took full responsibility and said he was surprised that I was so gullible. Like, duh. You had to see that coming. (I’m so gullible that my name’s not in the dictionary.) (Okay, that made sense before I typed it!)

But I did acquire the proper chemicals to scrub it off, and then everyone was happy again! And I aced all my midterms.

And there was a hilariously realistic sheep mask that we all wore and were photographed in. HAH AH HAA! That mask was something else.

One summer I had the chance to work there as long as I wanted all day during 8:00 to 5:00 business hours. I wasn’t taking any classes, and it would’ve been hours of easy money hanging out with Jim and Brad, the only two work-studies there that summer alongside me. But I coudn’t conquer my sleep-schedule disorder, and I hate seeing in retrospect how much I blamed myself and felt like a failure over it. Oh well!

It’s great to have friends like that!

Doing it the hard way. Again.

I went over to help my mom today, and she paid me $14,000.

Well, technically, she offered to buy me my sister’s old car at that price (and apparently my sister has had equal or higher offers). I told her not to drop that kind of coin on a car, and that I’m morally opposed to spending more than $7,000 or so on a vehicle. She said you can’t get a good used car for that anymore. For all I know, she’s right. [Shrug.]

But I suspect she was looking for novel and creative ways to keep herself stressed.

I told her, “You should buy it for Codger. He really needs a new car. His old clunker is way worse than mine.”

“I already offered, but your father refused.”

I sat down my hot tea, stirred it, and smiled. “Mother, you must be mistaken. Why would Codger refuse a $14,000 car?” Why am I refusing it? I asked myself. No answer came.

“He thinks it will jack up his insurance bill. I’ve told him I’ll pay the yearly insurance for him.”

My mom felt panicked to get this done before my sister could get fed up and sell the car elsewhere, apparently. While I was still at my mom’s condo, my dad returned her phone call.

“Hello, Phil? Thanks for calling me back. This is about the car. I don’t think your insurance would… well, you bundle with Meg, right, on your insurance?… her name’s not on the policy? No, I don’t think insurance works that way.”

I raised an eyebrow. Is that why my insurance card has my dad’s name on it but not mine? Huh.

“Well, Phil, then it could cost thousands and thousands of dollars to properly insure her! How could you let this happen?”

I sighed.

“So, you’re saying you don’t want the car, but you don’t mind if Meg gets the car?”

Either my dad started yelling and/or my mom put him on speakerphone so she could write something down, because I could hear him being argumentative. And my mom was trying to write down a phone number, but since her stroke she gets numbers mixed up.

She hung up the phone at long last and burst into tears. In my mind, I was pushing her energy back onto her so that it wouldn’t pollute me. It took a vicious forcefield.

“I’m so sorry,” she wailed. “I’m sorry for crying.”

I braved a look at her and quickly looked away.

“I just have to make a phone call,” she said.

I hoped she was calling my sister; or Mark, my mom’s boyfriend; but she dialed the number of the insurance agent. Beep, beep, beep! “We’re sorry, but the number you dialed cannot be…”

She ended the call and swore. There were several unholy and repeated references to Jesus, which really upset me; and she kept adding random apologies, as if that could justify her continued profanity, so I grabbed my stuff and fled.

When I got home, she called me and wanted to know what’s on my insurance card. I told her the policy number.

“Is your name on the card?” she asked.

“No, just Codger’s,” I said.

“Oh dear God, our lives are ruined! Ruined!”

“Okay,” I murmured. “That’s nice.”

“How can I make this happen? If you’re not currently insured, it could cost thousands of dollars to get you insured!”

“Let’s just call it off,” I suggested with a shrug.

“Oh, thank you, honey, but I’m not yet ready to give up. I’m going to keep trying.”

I knew there was nothing I could do to dissuade her. She seeks out these stressful situations to avoid feeling peaceful, which triggers deep and abiding guilt and fear within her. Like, wait, I’m happy right now? Oh no! The universe is going to strike me down with lightning! How could I let this happen? Please, God, don’t kill me. I can create more stress! I know, I’ll buy Meg a car. 

Not that I want to sound ungrateful.

jesus

Oh, geez. If she calls and talks to our insurance agent, she’ll be outing my dad for not properly insuring me. [Groan.] Which I’m just now finding out about.

Back when I was still at her condo, I told her that I don’t believe in spending huge money on cars, weddings, or jewelry, but she insisted that I need a reliable car.

“Carlene’s always gotten me where I wanted to go,” I assured her, “except for that one time…” I scratched my head. “Um, every other time she’s gotten me there.”

“Doesn’t Carlene need a new exhaust system, functional air conditioning, and something to cool her engine?” my mom asked.

“Yeah. But it’s just that if I had $14,000, I’d pay off debt,” I explained. “I owe Codger at least that much. If Carlene were to die, I’d rather coordinate with him and share his car than see money spent that way.”

I tried to convince my mom that there are better ways to get a car for less, but she was insistent that you can never trust a used car. “Your sister’s always done the maintenance on her car,” she explained, “so I know the car’s in great shape.”

The thought occurred to me, and not for the first time, that my sister would probably tamper with the brakes in order to get me killed. I kept that thought to myself.

“See, here’s the problem,” my mom explained. “I need to put the title in your name or your dad’s. If it’s in my name and you violently kill a pedestrian…”

I groaned and facepalmed. Because this stuff should be worried about, am I right?

“… then I have coverage of $500,000, but I’ll have to pay the rest from my assets, at which point none of you will have anything to inherit.”

I don’t know. I think the bigger disappointment might be that I killed someone. But huh, it’s a toss-up for sure.

So yeah, that’s the situation. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m really happy just driving my old clunker. Maybe I should simply urge my mom to give me $14,000 so I can repay a lot to Codger. But see, that would be the simple path. And life is dangerous when it’s simple, apparently.

Breakthrough!

I’ve had an epiphany. After discussing my issues with a lot of people, I’ve realized (or come to strongly suspect) that my anger issues are directly related to my mental illness(es), and that taking more medication could be helpful. 

For one thing, that would make me feel so much better about myself, as if it’s not my fault. The self-hatred is awful when things go wrong. For another thing, it’s all tied into paranoia. I can see that now. I even get mad at stop-sign runners because I’m convinced they’re doing it just to piss me off, as if they’re flaunting their immorality in my face because they can. This isn’t rational, but knowing it’s irrational doesn’t keep me from believing it.

My paranoia’s been acting up massively. While walking the dog, if my dad and I pass someone, the person ignores me and says hi to my dad. This is because I’m a misanthrope who avoids people, but it rubs me the wrong way and convinces me that they’re secretly conveying the message of, “Sorry your daughter’s such a paranoid misanthrope! You’re good to tolerate her,” to my dad instead of, “Hey, Phil, how ya doin’?” And then do you all remember that recent commercial? Let me find a link… here it is. The part I relate to is the second person’s story, the blond woman named Cynthia. I’m usually good at brushing those thoughts away, but why should I have to? 

I need more medicine. How has it taken me this long to see it?! And it wouldn’t even be hard. One drug I take, Abilify, I only take 2 mg of. The doctor could increase that dose a little or a lot, because I think some people take up to 24 mg. There’s definite leeway. Seroquel is great but sedationary. We’ll see what he thinks. 

Every time I take a new drug or go up on a drug, I note side effects and start wondering if I need the drug or the higher dosage. Note to self: Meg, you’re a rage machine. If a medicine (or more medicine) can make that go away, then don’t even consider going off or down on the drug. 

I’ll still forget, though. I forget a lot. Oh well. 

God bless modern pharmaceuticals!! 

I hope everyone out there is having a great day!! 

 

 

 

 

Shameless self-promotion!

I’ve been feeling better today and figured I’d do some self-promotion here of my books! I like to do that ever so often. Click on a book cover to find its Amazon page!

nervous

Eighteen-year-old Beth Leonard is a safety girl. She follows the rules and obeys the law. But playing it safe won’t protect her from the darkness of her childhood. Although Beth craves order and stability, the darkness has its own evil agenda.

Beth finally acknowledges the dangerous force which follows one step behind her. Determined to protect her loved ones, she digs into her past and springs into action.

Someone, or something, doesn’t want Beth snooping around. And now that Beth’s safety rules have been discarded, anything can happen.

I loved writing Nervous. It was a great experience. (No spoilers anywhere in this post.)

f12

What if there were a place where life was simpler, where your biggest worry involves your science assignment and your biggest fear is the ever-scary ear-piercing gun?

Welcome to Emerson Middle School: a place where everyone belongs and no one feels left out. The classes are fun, the teachers are friendly, and the grass is just a little bit greener. There aren’t any snotty cheerleaders lording over everyone. Gym class doesn’t require you to shower. The cafeteria has barstools for the shy kids.

Oh, to be twelve years old at Emerson Middle School.

What if you were asked to co-write a weekly advice column for the school paper, and your co-writer was going to be Andi Greene, the coolest girl ever? What if she turned out to be really nice and became your new best friend? Could you handle it? No one ever said life was easy… but what if it were?

Chilly fall mornings, leaves crunching underfoot, sparkly frost on every tree… Dreams that take you someplace and teach you something… Friends that would never abandon you… And a loving mother who has all the answers, so ask her anything!

This is how it was meant to be. Relive middle school through Corey’s eyes. She’s growing up fast but cherishing the moment.

Writing Forever Twelve was pure magic. It’s a utopian fantasy about what it would be like to have a wonderful middle school experience. It’s addictive and has a magical autumnal atmosphere. It contains the first four volumes of the Advice Avengers series and has two sequels: Thirteen if a Day (volumes 5-8) and Winter at Emerson (volumes 9-12). They absolutely must be read in order. They’re spiritual, deep, and about relationships and friendship. They’re not meant to represent reality except in a utopian sense. The writing’s hilarious.

This was my first major writing projet, starting back in October of 2013. I miss writing the series, but it would take a lot to get back into it. I don’t remember all the details about the characters and their relationships, and geez, the whole series is roughly 432,000 words.

unraveled

Marilyn has never been a normal teenager. After a suicide attempt lands her in the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the other patients sense her psychic abilities and ask her to join their late-night society. As Marilyn intuits their past lives, a chilling pattern emerges. Have the members of the Table shared previous incarnations?

In this mind-bending psychological novel, nothing is at is appears to be.

This is a book I wrote about a schizophrenic teenager. It’s a bit of a reality bender. It has a soft spot in my heart.

eve

Fifteen-year-old Eve Thames has been exhausted ever since her twin brother’s accident, which she had nothing to do with. The fatigue renders her impossible to get along with. Hostile and angry about her family’s situation and life in general, she wreaks havoc all day long, every day.

But when she goes to bed at night, she awakens. Guided by a historic mentor, she works hard in a cavernous dreamworld to deliver meaningful dreams to her loved ones. All the while, a dark cloud is looming on the horizon. If Eve can’t manage to take her dream-weaving seriously, she’ll lose what matters most.

This book combines a lot of issues I’ve dealt with: anger primarily, low self-worth, and family issues. Oh. And a guy I used to know is a character in the book. Not sure how that happened, but he’s in there!

behold

An overnight lock-in at church is typically a fun event, but this one is anything but. Several members of the youth group find themselves cut off from the outside world, their friends rendered unconscious.

Annie, who went missing four years ago, connects everyone involved. Her spirit is back and eager to wreak havoc. When her long-ago boyfriend tries to flee the church, he burns himself on the door handle. Cell service is lost. There’s no escape.

A mysterious fog enshrouds the church. Hypnotic and seductive, it holds the secrets of Annie’s disappearance. Everything that has gone unsaid will come to the surface. The truth will be revealed, and it isn’t pretty.

In the meantime, don’t anger the fog.

This book was way too much fun to write. It’s campy horror all the way in the setting of a locked-up church at nighttime. And the fog! Oh my goodness, the fog. What could be worse than Annie’s disappearance? Her inevitable return. HA HA, love it!

My books are all plot-based and action-packed. There are twists and turns aplenty and wild surprise endings.

I’m thinking of writing a new novel soon! I need to put some thought into it. Stay tuned!

Steps for better wellbeing!

TRIGGER WARNING: low-key discussions of suicidality, complete with jokes!

Sanity has been restored.

I’ve taken the following proactive measures for better equanimity:

  • I wrote to my psychiatrist, because a few people suggested it, and then it occurred to me that my bipolar (or something else–there’s a long list) might not be as well-medicated as it should be. I just told him about the problem and said he can figure out how my meds can best be adjusted. Sometimes I can tell when I need more or less of a specific med, but this is one of those times where I have no clue where the breakdown is occurring. I meet with him at the end of August.
  • I met with my life coach and she wants to focus on my self-esteem. I think I have great self-esteem, but when this sort of thing happens, I become filled with self-loathing and self-hatred. She’s convinced she can improve my self-esteem and thus minimize my outbursts. More power to her! I’m willing to try it.
  • I’ve discovered self-help videos on YouTube about anger, vindication, temper, etc., etc. It’s a wealth of information I’ve never tapped into.
  • I might order more self-help books.
  • I’ve cut ties with the contests. I often sense that these things go wrong because I subconsciously sense that something’s not working out. But ever since the person I dislike won the latest competition, I’ve realized that winning it doesn’t have any value, at least not to me. I can find other contests and/or write a new novel!
  • My dad wants me to meditate. Huh. I might look into it, or into other New Age concepts, because it’s always been my language. I’ve been reading spiritual books since I was twelve, but it’s been a while. Not a bad idea!
  • I spoke with my mentor, who has an amazing attitude about life that I’m trying to emulate.

Oh no. Okay, I also wrote the following joke about my experience with calling the crisis hotline. Just fair warning, this isn’t meant to be disrespectful to mental illness, but here it is:

So, yeah, I called the crisis hotline. The nice man on the phone kept asking what was wrong.

I was sobbing, of course, and couldn’t talk. He had to coax it out of me, but I finally blubbered that NBC reported who won the gymnastics event several hours before they aired it.

“Yeah,” he said. “The phone’s been ringing off the hook all day for that exact reason. I feel ya.”

It felt nice to be understood.

HA HA HA H AHAHAHHA! Ohhh noooo.

Actually, okay, that incident did come up in our conversation, but not quite like that. In reality, he managed to get me slightly calmed down after we discussed the major issues, and then he asked if I enjoy watching television, and I was sent right back into hysterics. That seems funny in retrospect. But I’m still mad at NBC. Hmmph.

(For the record, I don’t think I was ever suicidal. But I was an unholy mess. I was inconsolable and totally hysterical. It took ugly crying to a whole new level of ugly. If I hadn’t called the hotline, I think things could’ve gotten worse very quickly.)

What it all goes back to!

I’m feeling much better today, having slept it off. I know what my anger goes back to, but that doesn’t mean I know how to fix it. When I was living in Georgia, down south, and working at KidsPeace, my coworkers constantly bullied me, but I didn’t recognize how awful they were. I figured they were just… better than they seemed…? Like I gave the benefit of the doubt to everyone, and I always had. (This is going to be the short version of events.)

Then the bullying and my mental health got so bad that I had an awakening of sorts. I realized how awful my coworkers were, and I also realized how awful other people had been to me previously in life (youth leaders, churchgoers, etc.).

And I was appalled! I’d let those people just treat me terribly back when I was a teenager at church, and I’d always told myself, “Oh, she’s looking out for my best interests. It just doesn’t seem that way.” (My youth leader reported my mom to CPS for the sole goal of getting me out of her office. It worked!)

So after I moved back home from Georgia and was certifiably insane, I started lashing out at everyone from my former church. They all hate me now. It’s mutual.

So now, whenever anyone crosses me and I sense impure motives (I’m way less likely to get mad at someone who says something hurtful to me because they’re trying to help, like, “Meg, you’ve got to quit being mean to people and feeling sorry for yourself,” or whatever), I go batshit crazy and retaliate. I feel that it’s morally wrong of me to let someone hurt me and get away with it unscathed. (And by “unscathed” I just mean I want to hurt people with words.) But the problem is that I can’t break this belief. And I want to break it!

I spent years after I moved home lashing out at everyone. Angry letters. Angry emails. The works. I’m obviously in a better place now, but that mental block is still there. I feel like, if I let someone mistreat me and get away with it, then I’ve just… how to put it… I’ve just betrayed myself. Like, really, Meg, why didn’t you go after that person? You’re going to let him/her get away with mistreating you, just like when you were a naive teenager and your youth leader was scheming against you and you were too dumb to see it?! 

But that’s what it goes back to. I need serious insight on this, so any thoughts are welcome.

I just spoke to my mom about it and she was very supportive and tried to help. I have to give her a shout-out for that, because I usually portray her in a rather poor light. (Have you noticed?) She understood.

The unicorn killer.

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidality and calling the crisis line. 

So, my life has fallen apart. What else is new? I have an enemy from the NYC Midnight forum. Her name’s Taylor. She’s a prissy bitch. Last October, she was pivotal in causing things to go awry on the forum because she’s a bully and a “mean girl”. I was suffering just watching her sickly sweet acts of condescension, and I couldn’t stand to see her ganging up on everyone and destroying them. I tried to stop the argument and wound up fleeing the forum. It was ugly.

I lashed out at Taylor in very inappropriate ways. (Although if we’re being honest, are there ever any appropriate ways to lash out? Huh.) I tried to trigger her with issues involving eating disorders and abortions. It wasn’t exactly my finest moment. I was barely hanging onto my sanity. But I’m not trying to make excuses.

She wrote a scathing review of one of my self-published books on Goodreads so she could get even. I buckled and apologized (not because of the book review, which I’d reported to Goodreads–I think it broke a few rules), but because I felt bad that there was so much hate and negativity.

Hi, this is Meg. I want to apologize for being awful to you. I’m very sorry. This week has been stressful for me. I don’t handle forum stuff well, and it hurts me to see people being mean to each other or ganging up on each other. It’s just not something I can handle without going batshit unhinged. I hope you can forgive me. I’m staying away from the forum, obviously, and I think that’s best for me. There are some things I can’t handle. I’m not sure how other people handle it. Anyway, I hope you and I have better days tomorrow.

Edit: I’m not trying to blame you for all that. I’m not sure what the hell happened on the forum. But I do hope you’ll forgive me. I’m very sincerely sorry and not trying to start something, I swear. If I can make it up to you somehow, let me know.

She wrote back thusly:

I forgive you. Thank you for apologizing. None of us are defined by our worst moments, thankfully

[You wrote,] If I can make it up to you somehow, let me know.

The only thing you can do is try to think about how you would feel before messaging others out of anger. If I actually did have an eating disorder or experienced trauma due to pregnancy, those messages would have been extremely triggering. I do not, but I mention it because I don’t think you would want to cause that kind of mental harm upon another person

Hope you find some peace

And I added:

Thank you, I truly appreciate it. And I have given it lots of thought and am frustrated with myself for not being more in control. I strive to be a better person than I am, more often than not, but I’ll still give it more thought too and try harder. I guess all we can do is hope not to lose it again and keep trying. Good luck in the current round of flash fiction!! 🙂 Thanks so much.

That was the end of our conversation. But it left me feeling worse. A lot worse. Like I’d tried so hard to make things right, and she just kept lecturing me and acting all holier-than-thou; and she didn’t apologize for anything.

I left the forums because I couldn’t handle that level of hostility and snark and backstabbing. But I got a new stalker account and just recently started using it to rate all of her topics 1-star.

It’s been nine months. I have no idea how she knew it was me. I figured there would be a long list of possible suspects.

She sent me an email saying:

Stop harassing me

I’m about 95% sure you’re the person one-starring my forum threads.

Move on and stop harassing me.

If you do it again, I’m reporting it to Charlie and getting you IP-banned from the forums.

I wrote back:

Report whatever you want. I have no comment.

She was furious and I felt good, like I’d gotten one over on her.

Taylor posted this about me on the forum:

Zelda… I’m 95% sure that you’re the one doing this. Go away, you absolute troll, and stop harassing me and others on this forum. This behavior is pathetic and annoying.

(Zelda, for anyone curious, sent me extremely toxic PMs last year calling me anorexic and accusing me of having had an abortion for absolutely no reason. Apparently she’s still obsessed with me.)

If I see it again I’m reporting it to Charlie.

Then something truly awful happened. Last night before bed I saw the recent results of the short-story competition. I’d entered it but hadn’t made it to the final round. Taylor won.

I was floored. I’d had this whole fantasy of getting revenge on her by outwriting her and scoring higher. Well, that ship has sailed. I read her story. It had good elements but was devoid of emotion or sentiment. Oh, and one character kills a unicorn.

Something shifted inside me and I realized that it’s pointless for me to do the contests. If I were ever to win, the fact that Taylor has won will totally devalue my being a winner. There’s no better way to describe it. It would be like winning a gold medal in the Olympics when one of your teammates is a snarky bitch.

That hit me really hard. I’ve dreamed of winning or placing in these contests for years. Now that dream is gone. I no longer want to compete, nor will I. Sure, I might find other writing contests, but NYC Midnight was a big part of my life, and now it’s over.

I emailed Charlie, the head of NYC Midnight, thusly:

You gave the gold medal to that prissy little snot who tried to get me banned? Not cool! This is the person who posted a question on the forum begging to not get that promotional email you send out once a year. Yeah, her. You let HER STORY win!! You’ve just rewarded a total lack of morality! I know, writing isn’t about morality! But there must be something deeply flawed with your scoring system that it awards points for stories that are written by a shallow little bitch who has no heart, no conscience, no remorse, no deeper awareness of anything past her own nose. Think about that, Charlie. She owns the forums, and she made me flee them. Now she won. Why don’t you just marry her, too? She’s ugly. You could do better.

Don’t bother writing back. I know you won’t ruin my chances in these competitions, no matter how insane I get. If you had it in you to do that, then Taylor never would’ve won. Geez. It’s horrible that her writing has been validated. Horrible. That prissy little piece of street trash feels special now. Great job, Charlie! Great job!

Charlie was not amused.

Today I figured I’d start the day with the Olympics. Big mistake. The commentor on NBC said, “Just several hours ago, [name redacted] from [country redacted] won gold in the ladies’ individual all-around. You can catch all the action later during prime time.”

I was stunned, and the individual all-around is my favorite event. It’s stuff like this that could reignite my paranoia that the universe is out to get me.

I emailed Taylor:

You won! Congratulations, you cheap piece of trash.

Her response:

Thanks! Hopefully you can move on and let bygones by bygones. I’d really like to just be left alone

I replied:

Fair enough. You’ve really hurt me. I tried so hard to apologize to you last fall and you were just mean about it. But yes, there’s no way to fix things. It is what it is.

I emailed Charlie again and demanded refunds for the two contests I’m still involved in. He sent the refunds and said:

Ok Meg, that’s probably for the best at this point. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt a few months ago and everyone deserves a second chance, but it’s very hard to keep up with all these rude emails and demands. You had mentioned before you were dealing with mental illness issues, so I really hope you can get some help if that’s still the case. I’ve refunded both entry fees back to your account. Best of luck with your writing and with everything else.

At that point I just lost it. (It’s amazing I held onto it for so long.) Pretty soon I was sending him insane emails. I got mad at him for blaming me for what went wrong on the forum! I was victimized by it! I wasn’t causing the forum upsets! I became unhinged.

I was referring to the multiple emails you sent me calling me names and threatening to post negative reviews, I’m not blaming you for anything. Please don’t self-harm!!! Please call 800-273-8255 right away

Oh yeah, the emails I’d sent him then. I’d completely forgotten, and I still don’t remember (but I sure do believe it!).

Oh God. I’d forgotten about those emails! But you were so forgiving, I didn’t think you were mad. I block things out. I wanna throw up.

Yeah, that’s all I remember is that he forgave me. The rest is a blank. The emails I sent today will be a blank by tomorrow, too.

Charlie wrote back and insisted that I contact the suicide crisis line, so I did. I was ugly crying. I’m normally more articulate, but I couldn’t even explain to the guy on the phone what had gone wrong. I was a complete mess.

To be honest, I’ve felt off for a few days or so. (I’m not sure. I’m bad with time.) I got mad at a stranger on social media, and then all this stuff with Taylor started. It’s been on my mind that I was abused by my mother during summertime, and it’s starting to seem clear that I get angry or have issues every year around this time. And my dad abused me in winter. That gets triggered then, too.

I’m not going to sit here and declare that this is all Taylor’s fault. But I can’t imagine why I wanted to pick at the wound. My problem is that I can hold a grudge until the cows come home. Actually, longer. I need to deactivate the part of me that’s vengeful and filled with hatred. I’ll try some more self-help books. My dad said I should stay away from Taylor, and at this point it’s a huge certainty that I will, but knowing the universe, this same problem will just recur with someone else. That’s good news for Taylor, but bad news for me.

Charlie wrote back and was really nice about it. I appreciate that. He does seem to care. It’s sad that I’ll be parting ways with his contests. But I think it might be the right choice.

My best hair color!

I’ve gotten onto a pretty good diet of: oatmeal for breakfast (500 calories); a homemade, huge waffle for dinner (400 calories) with two turkey sausage patties (160 calories total); two Lara bars for late-night snacks (440 calories total); and optional popcorn (somewhere between 300 and 400 calories, counting the oil).

Sans the popcorn, this maxes out at around… doing the math here… 1500 calories. I’m finally primed for weight loss. Dinner can also be switched out if I want to eat something else. It doesn’t have to be a large waffle and turkey sausage. But that’s optimal for weight loss.

A few slightly unhealthy dinners I like are a California Kitchen barbecue chicken pizza, which has 880 calories. That’s not optimal for weight loss, but it also won’t break my diet. Likewise with some coconut shrimp I discovered at the grocery store, which has 760 calories (in the whole box, all of which I eat) but also loads of fat, cholesterol, and other bad things.

So those dinners are on standby for whenever I’m having a dreadful day and need some edible comfort. The brilliance of this is that I don’t have to worry about turning to junk food (although I’m still going to eat chocolate while on my period, as a notable exception). I mean, I could probably choose those aforementioned dinners every day, but I wouldn’t lose weight. I wouldn’t necessarily gain any, either. But it’s good to have that option available. It gives me a buffer.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a pixie haircut. Should I get one now or wait until I’m skinnier and therefore sexier? (If it’s possible for me to be sexier than I already am…?)

Good grief, Meg, are you chanelling your inner Blanche Devereaux? You only think you’re sexy.

This is true. I do think I’m sexy, but I’ve also intuited that guys never go for me. It’s been that way my whole life. I don’t know why. I guess I’m too sexy?

Meg, you can’t be too sexy. That’s ridic. 

Oh well. I guess the important thing is that I think I’m sexy.

I bet I can be more attractive than ever if I lose weight, because back when I was thinner and younger, my hair was naturally light brown. And since then I’ve realized that blond is my color. Blond flatters me and makes me as pretty as possible. Red is disastrous, and black is… questionable, and also hard to maintain. It rinses out (as dye), whereas bleach just needs to be touched up. See, here’s a photo of me on my 27th birthday. My mom threw me a party and invited all her relatives. I was having a psychotic break from reality, but the partygoers didn’t seem to mind.

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Gee, yeah, you can sort of tell.

And here I am more recently as an older (and much saner) blonde:

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And here’s another photo of me with blond hair:

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I just really think blond is me. Those photos minimize my double chin via the lighting and my hand position in one. So once I lose weight and get a cute haircut and touch up the blond, I’ll be soooo pretty. Prettier than ever, and I’ve never felt pretty, whether or not I’ve ever been pretty. I think I deserve to feel pretty!

I’ve been vacuuming dog fur all freakin’ day, and I’ve finally made a dent in it. LuLu is still “blowing her coat”. I’m exhausted. Time to watch the Olympics!! Go Team USA!! I put this photo on my computer’s background:

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We have the athlete and the vaulting path. It speaks to me.

Gee, for the opening of tonight’s Olympics, they’re playing sappy music and showing videos of family members who couldn’t go to Tokyo too. Lame. Sappy. Ugh. Get to the action! Oh, okay. Five minutes in, and we’ve gone to commercial. I see. Why’d I even bother to turn on the TV on time? Oh well. Ah! Eight minutes in, and gymnastics! Off I go to watch the pommel horse!

Simone Biles, an amazing gymnast!

SPOILERS: Olympic gymnasts ladies team competition (in case it hasn’t aired wherever you live)

[Note: I blog for fun, and I’m certainly not a professional journalist by any stretch; and I don’t have word-for-word quotes on hand here, but the last thing I want to do is misrepresent any Olympians, so I tried to quote them as accurately as possible based on what I remember they saying.]

That was hard to watch.

I could tell Simone Biles was tired a year ago when the Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus, and she was stressed by it. She said something about how hard it would be to keep working alongside USA Gymnastics for yet another year. (This is the organization that allegedly looked the other way while everyone was being molested.) (They’ve ousted the evil Karolyis, and good riddance, but they’ve got a lot more to answer for.)

She’s been uncertain all year in the competitions leading up to the Olympics. In the qualifying event of the Olympics, which aired two days ago, she made mistakes but still qualified for every event due to her routines’ high level of difficulty and accompanying high start value.

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And then in today’s team competition, in which she was meant to lead the team to Gold medal victory, she was warming up for the vault when she landed badly and did a full forward somersault on the mat. That goes above and beyond the sort of error you’d expect to see. Then when performing her vault for the judges, she–from all accounts–spaced out midair, did one too few rotations, and landed really low on her legs. She apparently lost her position in the air and her awareness of her body’s location in space. Huh.

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While watching this I was aware of the futility of feeling pressure to be perfect. It’s not possible. No athlete is a machine. There’s always going to be a mental game as well as a physical game.

The commentors rewound the tape and showed us what she said to her coach, which the commentors picked up via lip-reading: “I don’t feel that I trust myself.”

She left the floor after said vault, which was scandalous. I read a book as a kid about gymnasts, and in the book you were never allowed to leave the floor due to emotional reasons. Like, your coach would get really mad. I don’t know how accurate that fictional portrayal was, but of course I’ve heard worse things, too, a la the aforementioned Karolyis.

Then Simone returned and told her teammates she was out but wanted to support them in their efforts. It worked out that three athletes were supposed to perform each apparatus, and with Simone gone, that’s how many were left on Team USA.

Jordan Chiles, a good friend and training partner of Simone (the commentors were calling them “Biles and Chiles”), seemed thrilled to death by the news that she’d now be competing in every remaining apparatus. Her attitude seemed to be, Simone’s out, and now’s my time to shine. I felt like she could’ve been a bit more discreet about her feelings. She was literally giddy with glee and doing a funky dance. Of course, this attitude came to bite her in the booty when she did her floor routine and fell all over the place. She was too damned giddy about her friend Simone’s predicament to focus on her floor routine! And gymnastics is all about the focus. Good grief.

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Needless to say, Team USA didn’t win the gold medal, but they did take the silver. That’s pretty great. 

Anyway, back to Simone. None of us watching had a clue what was wrong except for insinuations that it was her mental game (and possibly her mental health?) that had prompted her to withdraw. Her coach admitted that nothing was physically wrong with her.

Simone was onhand to give support to her teammates, and she was also eager to hug the winning team. She was acting normal and very graceful, given the circumstances. She didn’t seem to be having a nervous breakdown, but I was worried. Nothing she’d done was adding up to me.

Afterward, she said that she’d been stressed, and that earlier that day after training, they’d all had to wait five-and-a-half hours. That made me sad, as the Olympics should be a special experience that shouldn’t render you exhausted or leave you short of sleep. She said she’s been dealing with a lot and has had a lot on her mind. The commentor, Nastia Liukin (a former Olympic gymnast), said that when gymnasts get spaced out (or whatever she called it), it can be dangerous to perform their routines. I don’t doubt it. Nastia said it happens at times to all gymnasts. (I guess they all hope it won’t happen at the Olympics! AAUGH.)

Simone said that mental health is important in sports and needs to be prioritized. She said that it’s okay to sit out an important meet if your mental game isn’t on. I admire that.

She said in an earlier interview about the molestation disaster that when it happened to her, she compartmentalized it and couldn’t cope with it for a while. Then she and her grandma/mom cried. (She was raised by her grandmother.) I got a similar sense seeing her on the floor tonight that she was stressed, spaced out, and elsewhere; but what’s really amazing is that she proactively took herself out of the competition instead of risking loss of life or limb. It shows amazing strength of character to acknowledge when you’re having an awful day and to throw in the towel, even at the Olympics, where no one wants to have an off day!

In that same interview, she said she’s stayed with the sport in order to enforce the changes needed in light of the Karolyis’ corrupt treatment of gymnasts. Simone said she has a huge social media presence and wants to use it to protect current and future gymnasts from being molested and otherwise mistreated.

One thing I hate about this sort of competition is that it forces you to be “on” all the time. Instead of scoring everyone’s personal best, you’ve got to perform it under pressure. It would be different with, say, a writing contest where you submit something you wrote in your own time. And that aspect of competing seems brutal to me because it’s impossible to be perfect. Simone said, “We should be able to go out there and have fun, but my head wasn’t in the game.” I’m glad it’s fun! It looks like Medieval torture to me, but I agree that it should be enjoyed. I was really impressed that she pulled out to protect her best interests while still cheering for her teammates.

A fine serving of hysteria for breakfast.

It’s been a terrible day.

It started with an email from the DMV reminding me of the appointment I made to take Mother to get her real ID next week. The real ID is going to become a requirement for national travel here in the US. A regular driver’s license won’t cut it anymore, but you can use either a real ID or a passport, the latter of which my mom’s already applied for.

The email said that a certified birth certificate would be required. I recalled that my mom didn’t have a certified copy when I took her to get her passport. With some reluctance I picked up my landline phone to call her. I wasn’t awake yet, or I might’ve handled the situation better by… I dunno… sending an email. Or smoke signals. Maybe some semaphore.

I gave her the bad news.

“So, you’re saying that I need a certified copy of my birth certificate to get my real ID?” she asked.

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying,” I said with heavy hesitation. I cringed.

“NOOO!! NOOO!! NOOO!! Our lives are ruined. Our lives are ruined! NOOO! NOOO! Oh, why, why? Why, why? And I was in such a good mood. I just went out to eat with my friends and everything.”

“Uh-huh,” I murmured. “That’s nice. I’m sure you had fun.”

I found the page on my internet browser (I use a box computer here next to my landline) where she could apply to get a certified birth certificate. (My mom does internet on her cellphone, but she can’t fill out a form easily that way.) “Okay, so, what’s your father’s full name?” I asked.

She recited it for me, and I started typing.

“They want your driver’s license number,” I said.

“NOOOO! NOOO! NOOO! Why, why? Why, oh why? Our lives are ruined. Our lives are ruined.”

I told her what was on the screen. “They use it to verify your identity, and they charge $1.85 for running the info and confirming that you’re you.”

“I’ll need a magnifying glass,” she warbled. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. I just can’t cope with anything.”

“Eh.” I facepalmed.

She read her driver’s license number to me twice, and we’re hoping for the best that she read it correctly.

After an eternity, I reached a payment page. “I’ll pay for you, and you can reimburse me,” I said.

“And it’s $1.85?” she asked.

“Nope. It’s around $18.00,” I said.

“NOOO! NOOO! NOOO! Why, why? I thought it was $1.85!” (Just let me assure you all that mother is quite well off financially.) “Why isn’t it $1.85?” she asked beseechingly. “Why? Why?”

My brain started to shut down. So my mom started asking me all these mind-numbing questions. “Are you going to call and cancel for me? Ask them when we should reschedule. I don’t know when I’ll get my birth certificate.”

“It’s coming in September,” I said. “September is six to eight weeks away.”

“Just promise to ask them!”

“Okay,” I lied. “But listen, you have plenty of time. We’re also getting you a passport, and you could just use it. But also, the email said that the date for needing a real ID for national flights has been pushed back to May, 2023.”

“Who said that? Who said that? Maybe you’re wrong,” she crowed.

I glanced at the official-looking email. “The federal government,” I replied. “And I don’t think they’d lie about it.”

Then, things got worse. My mom, perhaps trying to atone for ruining my day, started trying to have a conversation with me.

“Are you reading anything these days?” she asked.

“No.”

“Are you writing anything?”

“No.”

“How’s your father doing?”

“Great.”

“How’s your dog, LuLu?”

“Great.”

“Are you getting rid of all the shedded dog fur?”

“Yes.”

Because, see, it’s impossible for me to verbalize it when I’ve run out of energy. And at this point, she was sucking what faint vestiges of energy I still had. Eventually, several minutes later, she got the hint, but she also took offense.

“Very well,” she said. “Bye.” Click. I hadn’t even said goodbye or hung up the receiver yet. Nice.

And that was how my day started, before I could even eat my oatmeal and take my psych meds.

However, I have a good evening planned. The Olympics come on in half an hour, and I’m excited to watch the ladies’ team event. I think I’ll just veg. I spent several hours earlier vacuuming up dog fur on my hands and knees. I got two areas done, but there’s so much more.

Oh! You all want to hear something wild? I dreamed I lost five pounds. So this morning I decided to weigh myself. Wow! My weight’s down from 209 to 205! Oh my goodness! What a great way to start an otherwise horrible day!! I might blog more about that later!

I hope everyone out there’s having a great day!!

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