Not Today

imageI had a really bad night.

We all have them… It’s eight pm and the kids have forgotten their science project is due the next day and they’re going to fail because they didn’t procure a pivotal piece which they knew they needed two weeks ago. Maybe my husband comes home in a terrible mood because a client was particularly incompetent and ruined a design he’s been working on for a month because they didn’t care to send a simple email asking for a document. Or perhaps the dog literally exploded with diarrhea in its kennel covering itself in liquid shit which also pools in the box and was sprayed on the wall and floor… and I have to get to a school meeting in half an hour.
None of this happened to me. (Not last night at least.) It was a perfectly normal day. I had one client which meant I got to take a nap. The kids helped make dinner. We watched an episode of Lost (our latest Netflix binge-watch.) My husband was stressed, his job has been intense lately, but he was in fairly good spirits… everyone even went to bed on time.
And I lay there in the dark in tears fighting desperately with myself not to go find an exacto-knife and cut myself. I’ve been good. I haven’t cut myself in a long time, haven’t even really wanted to. But oh God did I want to. I wanted to bleed. I wanted to see that bright red substance coursing freely down my arm. Because then I would feel better. Tears coursed down my cheeks and I couldn’t sob like I wanted to because that might wake my husband and he needs to sleep… and besides, I don’t want him to know. I don’t want to see that look in his eye, that fear that I’m losing it. I don’t want to pile more stress on him. I can’t. That would be selfish. And more tears flow because I feel so impotent. And if I admit to wanting to cut, wanting to hurt myself, he might tell my doctor, and they’ll change my meds… again. At the moment I’m considered stable. I’ve been proud of that. I have it under control.
Then why this sudden horrible violent urge that seems to come out of nowhere? Is it because of the memory loss? Yes… is it because of the headaches? Yes… Is it because of the hallucinations? Yes… Is it because I only had one client, and there are only three scheduled all week and I know I’m failing as a massage therapist and I can see the annoyance in my husband’s eyes that I’m not pulling my weight and contributing to the budget enough? Yes…
And they can’t do anything about it. I’m in a down swing, a low point in the wave, a depression. I’m bi-polar. And the saddest part is that to my knowledge I’ve only gotten to ride the high wave, the exciting manic phase, twice in my whole life. Most folks swing wide going up and down. They get to fly once in a while, out of control, dancing on epic euphoria, in contrast to the deep darkness of the down sweep. But not me.
I’m type two bi-polar. This means it took them twenty years to diagnose me properly because until three years ago I only got the depressive swings. In type II you don’t get the manic part until well into adulthood. Which is why it goes misdiagnosed for so long.
They’ve tried everything. Ive been to every kind of doctor you can imagine. And I’ve taken so many drugs I don’t remember all the names. Literally… because one of the newer symptoms is memory loss. I’ve lost the memories of my kids infantries, of my first kiss with my husband. “Hey, Mama. Do you remember when..?” No, I don’t, I’m sorry. I don’t know what day of the week it is, the date, sometimes the month. Help my tenth-grader with trigonometry? You’re funny… I can’t even help the fifth-grader multiply fractions. Tell you about this painting… it’s got nice contrast, probably Renaissance era, but who painted it? Nope, the art history minor is gone just like ninety percent of my college memories.
I can’t speak properly anymore. What am I writing? A blog for this thing… it’s… a bunch of us. I mean we… about… It’s just a thing, okay? I can’t tell you. I’m sorry. Words don’t come out of my mouth coherently anymore, just my fingers.

Words

That was my first manic event. I woke up one day and felt good, really good. I’d had a dream and thought for the first time ever that I’d write it down. In a frantic obsession I got down forty pages that day and had no idea where the story was going. My fingers wrote it, I was just along for the ride. But damn, it felt good. I soared on a magical wind that had me dancing, it made me feel bright and alive, and for the first time ever I had a sex drive. (And this was after telling my husband two months before I never wanted to have sex again. I still don’t know why he stayed with me.) The rush lasted for nearly four months. Over five million words in four volumes later I was a writer. I’d never written anything before that. I’m a visual artist turned massage therapist. I’d been virtually illiterate growing up. Must be a different part of the brain, writing and speaking, because the words flowed forth, but the speaking was so hard, frustrating, embarrassing, when I couldn’t pull the words I wanted from my broken brain. Pass the red salt… you mean the ketchup? Where’s the goer? You mean the remote control for the TV? It makes the TV go, it’s a perfectly acceptable word for it. Go put on your white kicking pants. Dobak… your Tao Kwon Do uniform. They laugh, my husband, my kids. It’s funny. No… it’s not. It hurts. I want to cry.
This round I’m having trouble reading. Words slide sideways, slipping away from my eyes so I have to read a headline three times before it makes sense. It’s not the first time this has happened. Other times I become clumsy, bump into walls, my hands just let go of things I’m holding, like full glasses of tea. Then I have to clean up the broken glass, and I cut my fingers, and I bleed… and I kneel there transfixed, staring in fascination at the blood dripping to the floor. Did some part of my mind drop it on purpose just so I could see this? I don’t know. I don’t trust my own mind. It tortures me with pain, my head my chest, back. They say it’s all in my head and they’re right. And I can’t stop it.
So I get sent to doctors, to neurologists, to cardiologists because my heart races to 220 bpm when sparring. That’s not good, it’s not normal. And it hurts, makes it even harder to think, to speak, to understand. But why? Why does it do this? They say they don’t know…
I cried last night wanting to cut myself because at the last appointment I had, the neurologist brushed me off and told me there was nothing they could do. This was the bi-polar acting up, go talk to my psychiatrist. Just learn to ignore the invisable bugs biting me and crawling under my skin, and the dark creatures that constantly dog my peripheral vision. They’re not real, get over it.
I live every moment in terror because one of these days I’m going to lose. Will it be my midnight fight with the knife, or my coherent thought because that which is me, my memories, my experiences, my mind, has slipped away through the cracks and I can’t get it back?
I look up to my fellow writers who’ve been wonderful in including me in their midst and I’m even getting over the imposter syndrome. I am a writer, and I’m good at it. But I can’t be a panelist like them at conventions. Those pesky words again that don’t come out of my mouth especially if I get nervous. And nervous doesn’t even touch on the terror involved in going to a Con. And I hurt because I can’t do what they do, be what they are.
I know its foolish to want to be. I’m me. And I’m damn good at what I do. I have my own magic and I help people with it. I am appreciated and I am loved. I’m one of the lucky ones. It could be so much worse.
But look at that shiny knife.
Don’t pick it up.
Not today.

I’m holding onto the Light.

#HoldOntoTheLight

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Reaching Out…

I’m officially going to The Rust City Book Con in August of 2016 as a guest Author! (Not just for fun…)

Yeah… its a ways off but it’s given me all sorts of insights into what I need to do to be ready for such a thing. I spent the better part of last night making up an official Calandra Usher Author Facebook page, because being a real person and having a profile page isn’t enough. (No, I don’t get it, but I don’t have to.) So that’s done. Go like it, please.

Today I updated this site a great deal, putting in more info about me as an author, some more pictures, and the events tab as well. Hopefully there will be more events joining the Rust City listing soon. I’m looking into attending ArisiaCon http://arisia.org/ in January.

Something Something Darkside, Something Something Complete! (In the voice of Emperor Palpatine) 

It’s hard to believe but the series is complete!  Does that mean it’s finished, that I won’t keep nit picking at it and finding little things I want to change… no. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to really put it down. It’s such a part of me. It’s been a crazy ride, and a completely unexpected one. I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t want to write it and the experience was both painful and yet surprising cathartic. But that was Fabian’s plan all along. I still have nightmares about it all but one of these days those will go away too. 

So what’s next? I’m not sure. There are more stories, short ones… things from the Riders’ pasts. I’d like to do a volume for each of them detailing their separate histories but I’m not sure that will happen. 

There’s also the original dream I had back in high school. The one where I met Dean, Ren, Pete, and Fabe… Thought they had different names.  That could be a volume all on its own. 

And then there’s the babies… So much about the kids. 

More in this universe or something new?  Can I do both and hold my sanity?  Who said I was sane to start with? 

Launch Party for The Book of Pete! (The Gospels of Cal’eia vol. 3)

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Yes, my friends… It’s time to release The Book of Pete into the world.

A good friend of mine in Charlotte has graciously loaned me the use of her house for the event so we’ll be having Cake, Beer, and of course… selling Pete. (I mean his book… You can’t have Pete. I’d miss him.)

Books 1 & 2 will also be available.

Saturday March 21st 4:00 – 8:00 5625 ivygate Lane, 28226   

Kids and families welcome 🙂

Does this look like the face of Evil?

FullSizeRender This is Delilah. Yes… the Delilah featured in the series. She looks all sweet and innocent, right? Not so much. Today was exciting. This morning we were all sitting in the kitchen when Annie came racing in with Delilah right on her heels. She was shrieking happily (as only an 8 year old can), and wiggling a red laser pointer on the ground which is what had De-li all excited. “Watch this!” She ran the bright red dot in circles around herself, and the little cat chased it at warp speed then seemed to stop in mid air and execute a perfect 180 as Annie reversed the direction.

“You’re going to make her dizzy, little one, not to mention yourself.” Ren smiled down at the diminutive girl and she nodded excitedly.

“She likes it… see.” Annie ran the light over the kitchen floor then up the side of one of the islands and we all laughed as the little cat leap upward and then slipped across the counter-top and plunged off the other side, totally consumed with killing the evasive red dot.

“Be careful not to shine the light in anyone’s eyes, Annie. You could hurt them.” Pete’s serious tone wouldn’t deter the child who nodded but continued to torment the ferocious feline.

Annie shone the laser pointer all around the room and the cat gave chase, running at full tilt, claws extended for maximum purchase. (Not that it helped her much on the smooth wood floor.) And that’s when it happened.

Dean let the baby slip off his lap and held her hands as she stood giggling, watching the antics of her favorite fuzzball race in circles around us all. Unfortunately Aura was barefoot and Annie ran the light too near her little toes. De-li couldn’t stop, not that she tried, I doubt she even saw the baby. Those claws slashed across Aura’s unprotected foot and all up her calf leaving deep crimson gouges that spurted blood all over the place.

For a second Aura just stood there in shock, then her face scrunched up and she began balling so loudly I thought my head was going to split open. Everyone moved at once. Dean fell to the floor beside her but then hardly moved. His face went white and he seemed at a complete loss as to what to do next. I pulled the baby up and sat her on the table. She continued to wail, not just vocally but mentally. Everyone was cringing as if we could duck under the pain of her cries but the wails continued unabated.

I grabbed a kitchen towel off the counter and wrapped it tightly around her shredded little leg. Fabian yanked out the whole drawer where we keep the band-aids, tape, and gauze and put it on the table next to me. “Let me Cal.” He pulled out the hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment and was about to apply them when Pete stepped in.

“Let me check it first Fabe.”  Pete ran his hand over the wound not really touching it but feeling if an infection ran through her system. He frowned and lightly grasped the skin beside the scratches. A moment later the blood oozing out of the wound looked more gelatinous and then ran clean as the infection left by Delilah’s cut was eradicated. I wiped it away as Fabian poured the H2O2 over her calf. Her shriek nearly drove us all to our knees, and then Pete was helping to bind it.

Annie shuffled from foot to foot her face a mask of grief and regret, not to mention the splitting headache we were all feeling. “I’m so sorry! Is she going to be okay?”

Pete turned to her with a severe look on his face. “You will not play with that thing in the house again, understood?” His voice could be so imposing when he was angry, but that’s true of all of the Riders.

Annie nodded and began to cry. Laura took her aside and though I couldn’t hear what she was saying, she was somehow both scolding and consoling the child at the same time. Laura is an awesome mother.

Dean took the baby in his arms as his energy flared softly around him. The light and more importantly the feeling of his love calmed the baby tremendously. “I’m sorry. I’ve never reacted to blood like that before.” He looked embarrassed which is understandable what with being the leader of the Riders.

I smiled and put my arm around his waist. “It’s different when it’s your baby who’s doing the bleeding.” He nodded and cuddled Aura that much closer then kissed her curly little head.

“What do we do with this little critter?” Ren was holding Delilah up by the scruff of the neck. Her tail curled upward around her belly and her her whole demeanor screamed that she would like to be anywhere else. Ren looked at her disapprovingly and I could tell he was considering giving her to Fenris.

“Just let her go. It’s not her fault. Besides, you know she can hold her own against that werewolf.”

Ren reluctantly dropped the little cat who scurried from the room like a gray streak of lightning.

“Bad Di’ah.” Aura still has trouble pronouncing the cat’s name but it’s so damn cute nobody minds.

The rest of the day was much quieter though all of the Riders kept very careful watch over the baby. The way they passed her around I don’t think she walked another step until bedtime.

No one saw Delilah for the rest of the day, but when I went to check on Aura a little after midnight, she was curled up in the babies crib as she usually is. She raised her head and purred at me when I ran my hand over her soft fur. “You’re lucky Aura doesn’t hold grudges.”

She smiled at me as only a cat can and tucked her nose back under her tail before going to sleep.

I know you’re not supposed to let animals sleep in the crib, hell, you’re not even supposed to have stuffed animals in there as they could smother the child; but Delilah has been protective of the baby since the first night we put her in the crib. I always believed there were monsters under my bed (still do) but in this case, Aura has a monster IN her bed… but luckily it’s on her side.

 

 

 

A short story…

One of the women in the writers group I attended last night is participating/running/helping with a Kickstarter project called The Weird Wild West. It’s an anthology of stories that have a theme based on the old west, whether it’s Cowboys in outer space or simply has aliens in our world. And since the project funded way over the top of their goal, they opened up a few slots for new stories. So I thought… Did any of my Riders do something during that time period?

Pete had a very unique story about that. It surprised (and kind of sickened me.) I really try not to hold their pasts against them but sometimes it’s difficult. I mean I know he’s personally responsible for quite a lot of the plagues that have ravished our world, but it’s easier to think in the abstract than hear about an individual experience like this one.

Anyway… I’ll let you know if it’s chosen. But you should check out the project. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dackley-mcphail/tales-of-the-weird-wild-west?ref=discovery
It’s going to be a great book, lots of talented writers involved.

At Dean’s urging I submitted two short excerpts, one from one of the books and one from a (not so) short story that happens after The Book of Ren, to the WNBA (Women’s National Book Association… Not the basketball people) I had a really hard time fitting the guide lines. They want a maximum of 3K words and my short stories generally go way beyond that. I finished one last night that was just over 25K (But I can’t tell you about it yet. I’m not ready to. It’s a really sad memory, and the wound is still too fresh.)

That’s part of why I’m doing all this writing. It means I don’t have to think too much about right now. Ren said it would help me deal with stuff. It’s not like I can go talk to a psychiatrist about the Riders of the Apocalypse, not if I don’t want to end up back in a mental institution. (Seriously to be avoided.) Fabe actually has a doctorate in psychology, but I can’t exactly talk to him about everything since he’s a big part of the issues I’m having trouble with it right now. And I haven’t seen him in… I’m not sure how long. He disappeared after… but no, not talking about that yet. One of these days.

I have to figure out what to do with all the short stories…

Pete is almost Ready

So, obviously I’m not so good with the blogging thing. I’ve been so busy writing the books and taking care of the farm that I totally forgot to get back to this thing.

The first volume, The Book of Dean was published on Sepember 21st, 2014… The Book of Fabian was published on December 21st, 2014.
Pete is set to launch on March 21st, 2015, and Ren will be released on June 21st, 2015.

It’s exciting… And crazy. I never imagined writing anything, and then having it published?

I’ve written a few more short stories… Other memories of things we’ve done together and even things from before I met the guys.

I admit that I love seeing the reviews on Amazon, and am amazed that people like the stories. I hope there will be more (stories… Though I’ll take more nice reviews as well)

I love writing. I never expected to, but it’s just another art form. Like sculpting wood with Ren in the shop, this is sculpting with words.

I’ve learned so much more about writing as I’ve done this, hopefully for the better.

As I said, Pete is almost ready (the book, not the man) I’m still going through the manuscript looking for typos. I use the word SO too often… and apparently put in too many exclamation points. It will get better. I’m young… And immortal, so I have lots of time 🙂