Finally. Here is a moment of relief.
It's been a difficult year.
I've let go of so much. The challenge seemed almost impossible at first, but I'm really beginning to understand how reality likes to work.
You don't keep anything in the end, so what is the point of holding on to everything until then? Especially when the things you're holding onto aren't even real, or essential to experiencing joy, love, peace, or the fulfillment inherent in truly living life.
In November 2022 my partner and I moved from Truckee, CA back to Austin, TX, and upon moving back into our house, we realized:
⚡It was infested with cockroaches.
⚡The sewage wasn't draining properly.
⚡The water heater broke.
⚡A tree fell on the roof.
⚡In January, we adopted a kitten, and he had ringworm. He gave it to everybody.
Things were not going well.
I woke up in the middle of the night to a cockroach bolting across my face. Like, DID IT HAVE TO CHOOSE THAT ROUTE.
Not too long after that I was brushing my teeth before bed, and I unhinged the lid of my retainer box. There were two cockroaches inside.
ON. MY RETAINERS.
Okay, it was personal.
I'm not gonna lie, I gained a lot of respect for cockroaches during that time, but we cannot live in the same house. I'm lucky that my partner is a master at reality, and he was so determined to evict the colony that it only took about about two months to exile them completely.
⫸ By the way, Jesse started the entire process by putting on YouTube videos of cockroaches - cockroach farms, cockroach facts, people who eat cockroaches, and I think it kinda helped. They're actually really social and sweet creatures ⫷
But that's beside the point! I still have PTSD when I see a dark spot on a wall.
• • •
We had just come from Truckee, where the land is public and almost infinite in its sprawl, there's clean water everywhere, and our pitbull, Ellie, was
👑 THE QUEEN OF FREEDOM 👑
When we got back to Austin, she was hot, restricted, lonely, and bored so we got her a kitten to help ease her back into her life in the big city.
Enter Lincoln, so cute and tiny and sweet, and we all fell madly in love with him 😻
As nearly all of the kittens adopted out from Austin Animal Center do, he came with ringworm. I had had one prior experience with the fungus from another adoption of a shelter animal 10 years prior, and thought it would be a small issue.
It was not.
The ringworm was all over all of us (and our house), and we were on the internet several times a day trying to find ANY new information on how to eradicate it, but all the same sites had all the same noncommittal information, and we were relegated to following steps in a nightmarish sequence, where each thing only minimally helped, but all were essential to the process of eradication.
⚡We separated them
⚡We covered all our furnishings with sheets and changed them twice daily
⚡We did 🤔 ….a thousand loads of laundry every day?
⚡We scrubbed walls and mopped floors twice daily
⚡We bathed both animals daily
⚡We invested in a Woods Lamp (which showed us where the ringworm was growing in the hair follicles)
⚡We applied Lotramin to ourselves and the ringworm sores on the animals every few hours.
⚡Ellie and Linkie were given an oral medication daily, which, the vet explained, would take 3 WEEKS to kick in.
One day, since we knew that ringworm effects the hair follicle, we lit up our trusty Woods Lamp in the darkened bathroom, and found all the spots on Ellie where the ringworm was beginning to grow into the hair, and we shaved those sections before they could into sores and spread even more over the furnishings and us.
HA! Got out in front of it.
We put her out in the back yard. She got a sunburn. Her skin was sore to the touch. We began apologizing and applying coconut oil to her ringworm spots and sunburn several times a day.
WHEN WAS THIS GONNA END???
The ringworm tried to rear its ugly head a second time after 12 weeks, but we went to some backwoods vet in Garfield, Texas who prescribed us THE REALLY STRONG STUFF, and we finally got rid of it.
• • •
Around the same time, early in February I got a message saying that my Meta accounts were suspended, and if you want to know more about that, you can read my first blog post titled, “Quantum Disentanglement”, but eventually both profiles were permanently disabled.
• • •
In late February, I got the news that my longtime sister friend, Liz, who lives in Truckee, had been in a terrible car accident, and that she was unconscious, and had suffered a diffuse axonal injury (DAI), a type of Traumatic Brain Injury.
Jesse and I moved back to Truckee.
For the prior two summers I had worked with Liz at her wedding venue, Dancing Pines. Two other gals had been her core staff since the beginning, so it was determined that we three, along with Liz's husband, would run the venue for the summer of 2023. There were 18 events on the books, along with a slew of tours for 2024 bookings, venue clean up and general operations. Their beautiful site is located in the Tahoe National Forest, and operates off the grid, which is challenging in a normal year.
Consolidated and planned seamlessly by our fearless 2023 leader, and Liz's second coordinator in command, the season actually happened with very little upset. No brides cried, at least not by our doing.
I cried a lot.
Lizzy came home from rehab in July, and so fortunately I was invited to be one of her primary caregivers. This was all thanks to the generosity of her family to make it possible for me to be there.
She came out of rehab labeled a high fall risk, and she could not hit her head at this stage of her recovery. It had been very clear - she cannot have another injury to her brain. She will not recover from it.
⚡⚡As she climbed into bed for a nap on that first day I was with her, I was trying to help her get her body into the bed. We were both laughing as she finally got her knee onto the side, and then flung herself into it, her head just barely missing the wall.
“Oh, my god,” she chortled. I was shocked at how that could have gone.
“Elizabeth! You have to be so careful, dude.”
“I know," in her hoarse voice as she laughed, "can you imagine?”
In our disbelief of her situation we laughed until it hurt.⚡⚡
I began to recognize little ways she was lacking in self-awareness. I could see how much she was becoming herself, but this also kind of clouded my ability in the beginning to see her deficits for what they were. She really didn't have the cognitive ability to understand the gravity of her situation because of her brain injury.
She needed constant help and eyes on her at all times.
Eventually she was able to start taking walks around Dancing Pines, and inevitably, because she's a boss - like, the kind you want to be - she would see things that were out of place, messy, or just felt wrong, and we would work to move things, clean up, and figure out organizational solutions.
She has always been super organized, so I took this as a very good signal that she was coming back to those skills.
We would spend several hours every day between Liz's therapies going through things at the venue, but the caveat was that she didn't have much memory from the prior year, and she was not retaining much in the way of new memories. She would move or throw things away that she didn't recognize as essential, and I would hear later that the item was needed by someone else on site.
Sometimes we would do something at the venue, and she would forget that we had done it, or why we had done it, and the next time she might make a request for a different solution.
I realized in the moment one day that we don't just have patience. We practice it.
Liz is a leader. I would have unquestioningly followed her into a fire before her accident, and I wanted so much for her to be able to gain back her ability to lead as soon as it was possible, so I had to be really careful not to get frustrated with her in these moments.
It was kinda hard.
One day she didn't remember how I had previously moved 80 reception chairs from one area to another, and when she thought about having me move them back.. I cried.
Luckily, she did have an understanding of what was happening, even if she couldn't remember everything, and we learned to laugh about those things, too.
Every time Liz sails a new hurdle, I beam at her in admiration, inspired by witnessing someone I admire so much shine a light in her moment of darkness, and I'll say, “She's back!”
“She's back,” she'll reply, her smile shaded with introspection.
Lizzy is cognizant now of what a long recovery she is undertaking, and no part of it is easy. There's always some reminder she isn't who she was, but then again… are any of us?
What is the point of holding onto our prior selves? Our achievements, our goals? When they don't apply to our current situation, don't they just hold us back from accomplishing what is in front of us?
I believe that all of the situations over the past year have been literal riddances of parts of myself that were not real. They were made up.
The cockroaches, while admittedly very fucking real in the moment, were also illustrating something overgrown in myself - something unhealthy. Because a few cockroaches here and there are not all that bad, but an infestation of creatures feeding on decay within the walls of your home is an indicator of something much deeper.
The ringworm, same.
The sewage drain, same, same.
The tree falling on the roof? Maybe it was to knock me over the head and get my attention.
“Hey!” It might have shouted, “What's going on in there?”
Same with the cold water. WAKE UP.
The expulsion of me from the social media platforms I had been relying on for over a decade to source my sense of identity was a real blow. I knew it was an identity crisis by this point, but I had no idea what that even meant. Who am I now if I'm not even allowed to participate in this?
What really riled me up about it was that I was expelled with no explanation, apology, or indication of my wrongdoings. It felt like I had just been erased with no explanation, and it felt like a different kind of death.
It felt like murder.
Yeah, I'm guilty of finding fault in myself based on some concept I have about my identity that I'm failing to live up to. That's so pre Two Thousand Twenty Three.
I'm sure I'll go back there some more, but I'm understanding the message now.
Out of the most challenging situations, we can either learn to rise from the ashes, or be blown to the wind.
I don't believe either is inherently good or bad, so long as we are choosing what it is that we want. At some point, we may eventually succumb to the wind, but so often I've allowed myself to be blown this way and that, with the thought that I'm just dust, not the wind itself.
I am ready for a new paradigm. Limitless belief in what I can accomplish from my true identity. Unlimited frames for viewing who I am by what I am interested in learning and creating, and by how I process the reality around me.
Sure I'm a songwriter, and for a long time I've looked at myself through that very limited frame. But that means I'm a writer, too. I'm a generator of ideas. I'm able to relate what I've learned to others, which means I'm also an educator. But these labels don't do much more than to enable me broader frames with which to view myself in the world.
I AM A CREATOR.
I know how to take what I've experienced and synthesize it into something meaningful, and I can grow out of the stage of dust I've been in, so that I may feel the wind of my own current brush past the pedals of my flowery face.
I AM IT ALL.
For the first time in a long time, I have a clear path forward, and I am applying all the skills I have acquired to who I am, and expressing it.
And I trust that this process is showing me to my true identity. The identity of my soul. Something that can never be evicted, exiled, eradicated, disabled, expelled, murdered. I AM something to be shared lovingly with the world.