MY HOLIDAY FLIGHT - No, Not That Kind of Flight
Holiday flight??? Ohhhh, yeah, this year a lot of people had--
No. I mean flight from my home.
Blessedly, I was not one of the people subjected to the Southwest Fiasco. I know some who were but I had decided against flying this year because I still haven't had Covid (knock on wood and head), I remain in that hypersensitive, immunosuppressed category, and I really am not interested in the potential of adding even more respiratory, neurological, and fatigue issues to my life.
The ones I've got stalking me in my own home are enough, thanks.
I had actually planned to visit Colorado for three weeks this year. One of my friends had her 60th birthday party and I was going to drive out and attend. That was one of the surprises her family had wanted to arrange--such a generous gift to me, too. I'd planned to see some of my other friends while I was there and to celebrate my own birthday.
The travel arrangements kept getting more and more hairy, more and more expensive, and then the due date loomed. We needed to pull the trigger on purchasing hotel and car rental (because mine is too old to make that trip and I have to make this vehicle last as long as possible).
Unfortunately, that's when the nightmares reached the point where I couldn't brush them off anymore.
I hate those fuckers, but they never steer me wrong. They not only scream at me what my subconscious has already been whispering and murmuring and grumbling and whining about. But sometimes they're a bit prophetic.
These dreams were filled with car wrecks and accidents, injuries and illnesses, snow storms in Kansas that prevented me from leaving, or incidents in Colorado that prevented me from returning, which wasted tons of other people's money. Over and over, I dreamed of being in a place where I couldn't do what I needed to do in order to take care of myself, either because I was completely alone and stranded on Hwy 115 in a blizzard, or because the environment wasn't conducive to what I needed for self-care.
An endless cacophony of barking dogs when I needed to crash out and reboot my brain. Getting stuck in wall-to-wall traffic on I-25 when I had seizures breathing down my neck, unable to exit amidst a bombardment of honking horns. (Yes, that spot on I-25. Hey, the subconscious uses ready ammunition guaranteed to scare the crap out of you the most.) Being stuck out in loud, crowded places while I knew I was getting sick--a double-edged sword for me being unable to lie down and rest, and the guilt of knowing I was getting other people sick. Brain symptoms and seizures and meltdowns and being dropped on my ass because I'm just too much of a pain in everybody else's.
So I took the hint. Obviously there was something in my system screaming at me to not drive out. I don't ignore signs this blatant.
Okay, I try not to ignore them. Because I invariably pay for it when I do.
As it turns out, this subconscious freak-out was a really fortuitous thing. And pretty prophetic.
A couple days before I would have been scheduled to leave, I realized that I was still leaning on the railing while going down my stairs - a habit that develops every time I re-tear my meniscus. So I set to work eradicating that postural bullshit. Again.
I walked downstairs fully upright. I reached the 90 degree turn at the bottom of the steps on the opposite foot from my usual rhythm. There's no railing at the curve and these are triangle-shaped stairs. My foot hit one of them at just the wrong angle. I was in socks on carpet.
I'm lucky I didn't break my tailbone. As in...one inch to left and I probably would have. As it was, I hit my head, my mid-back, and I had a massive bruise the color of midnight and violet.
So yeah. I would have had to drive across the country on that. While slightly concussed. Or else cancel the trip too late when it couldn't have been refunded because simply getting a car and a hotel the day after Thanksgiving was hard enough.
I'm tellin' ya, there are things my woo-woo side just knows. Because the worst days of pain and disorientation for that entire injury were the very days I was scheduled for travel. So that was a really close call.
But wait! There's more!
One week later, somebody tried to steal my identity through that nasty practice of changing someone's mailing address. I caught it at the first yellow Cannot Forward piece of mail, went directly to the post office and stomped that shit into the ground.
Who knows how far that fiasco would have gotten if I hadn't been home to spy the first insidious sprout poking its head above ground?
A few days before I was scheduled to return home, I had to flee my house.
It's a townhouse that was built in the 70s, back before there were...well...standards. My unit is chronically subjected to the smells and air quality of its left-side neighbor. Apparently this is something the property management company has been trying to address with these townhouses for forty flippin' years, without success.
See, the air ducts between these two units have common duct space and are not sealed against each other. There's no way of changing this without ripping out all the walls under the staircases, in the closet, and in the furnace room. Soooo not worth it in these old places. It's more cost-affordable to sell and move.
Up until now, this has been an annoyance. I know when my neighbor does laundry because I can smell his dryer sheets. I know when he's cooking something greasy. And I know when he's using his medical marijuana because I walk into my front entryway and gag. It's never enough to have any actual effect on me. I just despise that smell. At least it's not cigarettes, which I have a really bad reaction to.
But you know what just happened? My lovely neighbor who I adored just moved.
And then the construction began. Eh, no biggie. When my neighbor on the other side moved and my wonderful new friends remodeled that unit, there was some pounding. That's cool. The place is gorgeous and comfy now, and I hang out there a lot.
But I don't share any air ducts with them, which means I didn't catch a whiff when they painted the whole place.
Not so with the other side.
So no shit, there I was, doing my daily afternoon brain-reboot. Not only have I been a siesta girl forever, but now I have to power down every afternoon for my scrambled brains to function. I'd been asleep for about a half-hour when my whole body jerked and my teeth chomped down on my tongue.
What the fuck?!
I almost never have seizures anymore. Not since we started realigning the nightmare that is my neck. When I stumbled out of bed to quick hit my tongue with some peroxide in the hopes of cutting down the time that I would have to heal puncture wounds, the back of my mind registered chemical-smell. It was faint. But it was there.
Alas. I was disoriented from being jolted out of a deep sleep, jacked up from being post-seizure-rific, and...huh. Groggy from the slow seepage of a chemical cloud into my home.
But I didn't know that yet.
I swished out my mouth, spat in the sink, and staggered back to bed. Habitually, I closed the door behind me. Why? Because I have a loud dehumidifier in the hallway outside my bedroom and all summer when it comes on it disturbs my sleep so I just...habitually close the door.
Because when I finally won the battle of dredging myself up from the depths three hours later, I opened that door and walked into a chemical cloud. I almost blacked out from the instant dizzy spell. I was nauseous. My skin, throat and nose were on fire, and I quickly broke out into hives. Of course I had an instant asthma attack--another once-odious malady I have barely experienced since leaving Colorado.
I had rush out of my house, gulp some fresh air, and dart back in to grab enough stuff to be able to flee to my parents' place. So that's where I spent the majority of the holidays and my birthday week. Three days is usually our limit for overnighters, but hey, we do what we have to and nobody strangled anybody in their sleep.
In truth, it was a really sweet series of visits. We ate way too much great food, watched all our favorite movies and some new ones, and played with fun projects. Dad and I are overhauling his old fishing boat that he bought when my uncle passed away last summer. Mom taught me how to darn socks and make bowl cozies. And I got to be a smartass fangirl with my Mac & Barrons cake-of-ridiculata. Wut? It's punny. Pi-cake. And if you know the story...
(No, it didn't wind up on the ceiling. But the last piece sure looked like it did. Heeeeee...)
So at this point you may be wondering what the bleep happened to my house. We sure wondered!
Turns out that aerosolized oil-based primer gives me seizures, asthma, and hives. So that was a solid week-and-a-half of airing out my place with multiple fans on high. Thank you, woo-woo nightmares, because I would have splatted home after a long trip crammed with social interaction and a cross-country drive--and walked straight into a toxic cloud.
Alas, just when I thought it was safe to return, it seems that I don't react well when a construction crew sweeps up all the dust and crap from ripping out 40 year old carpet either. I didn't quite have to flee, but I did have to vacate for another week.
"You need to sue!!!!" everybody keeps shouting.
Sue who? The construction company had no clue this was such an issue in these old townhouses, and they've never seen anybody react to that stuff the way I did. (This runs in the family, actually. We haven't let my mom anywhere near this place.) I mean, heck, I've used Killz myself without a ventilator while I was living in a place, and didn't have seizures so we're still a little baffled about that. Of course, we painted it by hand, not shot it into the air.
The new owner had less of a clue. When my dad called the city's maintenance company, they were all, "Ohhhhh, wow. Yeah, we haven't gotten one of these complaints in a long time. It used to be constant when we had people in and out of them for vacation rentals. The complex I own myself--the gal in that same unit's position has the exact same problem."
Unfortunately, these places were built and sold by the original company who had them as vacation rentals so long ago that we have no legal recourse for it.
So my dad, Mr. Jerry-Rigger Extraordinaire, has made this his mission of the season. We got the HVAC people in the other day and now they're doing some plotting about how to seal my system without mass acts of demolition. With the technology available today, we're hoping it's possible.
On a side note, it sure is Mercury Retrograde, that thrice-yearly monkey wrench that aims to point out all the breakdowns in communication, systems, rhythms, and habits that we've been living with but that don't reeeeeally work as well as they could. Say what you will about it being a bunch of hooey. I had no idea it was coming right up, and now BLAM! I have just been coincidentally shown a problem I've been living with for the past four years.
I had attributed my ever-growing fatigue as just a symptom of Covid isolation. Depression. Loneliness since all my social groups have gone kaput amidst the Plague. A few more years of living on a planet with gravity. Another major injury that altered my entire physical activity life. Healing said injury. Re-injuring it and having all my grand plans interrupted again. Massive progress on healing my trauma-induced scoliosis, my wreck of a neck, and my brain.
That stuff takes it outta you. And yes, all that is certainly all a factor.
This has NOT fucking helped:
That was the final dustpan load we took out from underneath my stairs. There were four heaping loads before this! It's all the sawdust and crap from when they built this place. They were just too lazy to clean it up.
What in THEEEE BLEEPING BLOP?!
Know what's under my stairs?
The cold air return.
THIS is what I've been breathing for four bloody years.
So when all those chemicals flooded my house, plus all the nasty crap from ripping 40 year old carpet out of a perpetually humid basement...the situation just became uninhabitable.
So now my air ducts are mostly clean. Dad and I hit every part of them that we could reach, and the rest will be done when we seal the HVAC system. And do you think this could happen in the nice spring or fall? Ohhhh, hells no! It had to happen in the middle of the coldest snap of the year. So needless to say, my heating bill was just a little ridiculous from how long we had to keep windows and patio doors open.
Another unexpected (if onerous) bonus to this whole fiasco: in preparation for the construction project, I've finally been inspired to deal with my costume/sewing room. When I first moved in, we had so many construction and reclamation projects to make this place habitable as it was. It was horrific with cigarette smoke, which I can't tolerate, and the inspector missed the fact that my deck was about to fall down around my ears. (Missed it...*eyebrow*) So all my costumes and sewing materials just got shoved into the back bedroom for...someday.
Well, now I have finally gotten around to going through all the boxes and Tupperware containers full of gradually collected Repair Projects. I only have one small bin left of actual repair projects. The rest were exploded jewelry that needed to be mourned and allowed to die a gallant death in service to the stage. This means collecting all the shrapnel, salvaging what can be recycled, and sorting them into their appropriate storage containers.
But the containers were a mess, too.
Kinda like my head these days. I have a lot on my mind--and I don't only mean this house debacle.
A few weeks ago, I just finally got access to oooooold DVDs of dance videos I have maybe seen...once? I was never able to watch a couple of them because the technology was incompatible with my old computer and DVD player. But Handbrake is a miraculous little tool, and it finally, for the first time, allowed me to download a bunch of my old dance footage into my computer where I can edit it and start sharing it, along with the tales that go with it.
There are multiple dances I do not remember doing. Watching a video usually jars at least a few snapshots of the event. Not these. There's even a song that I don't know. When I listen to it, I do not recognize it in the slightest, and I would have had to have done heavy memorization because it was fancy-dancey zills. But it's just...gone. So are some of the other shows I obviously did because there I am, right there on video...
So I've been delving into my journals to try and jar some memories. I've also had to pull them out for some of this latest Dance, Sex & Self-Defense series I've been on about for the past few months, and naturally, we just passed Anniversary Season.
It's a special anniversary this year. It's the year I finally acquire access to my car wreck settlement, after 22 years of waiting and gaining interest. Instead of taking the lump sum back then, I scheduled it to kick in now, when I knew my dance career would be naturally slowing down without any sort of retirement plan to fall back on.
Smartest thing I've ever done in my life.
So now, until the day I die, this settlement will trickle in and allow me to pay a bunch of my living expenses. That's been a massive project--a triumphant, glorious project. But it's a lot of logistical reconfiguring that dredges up deep emotional baggage while also trying to manage this house catastrophe at a time when my subconscious is already in overdrive because it's my RebirthDay.
The 20th Anniversary of my big car wreck took a lot of steam out of me in 2020. All through the end of December that year, I detailed the days leading up to the crash, as well as the two weeks of Holiday Hell--you know, amidst that year's Holiday Hell.
So last year, I had one little blip about the topic, but I was still too burnt out on it to do my usual Holiday Regurgitation & Rant against drunk driving. RAWR.
This year, the bug hit like usual, but there was still a lot of research to be done before I could actually start writing the pieces. Journals, emails, official letters, paperwork...this is the only way I can concoct a timeline for everything that happened in those first years because I didn't form natural memories. I still don't, but back then? No way. So I finished the timeline this year. Now I'm to the point where it's necessary for me to do a lot of...
Names that need to be changed for the protection of the not-so-innocent. Identities that need to be buried, mystified, and obscured. Because all those original tales I posted on my first blog were heavily redacted. Let's be honest. They were downright censored and glitter-washed because I was still dependent upon some of these people for my survival and livelihood.
That doesn't mean I'm going to be whistleblowing and splashing names around with my pointy-finger cocked and loaded. That's not the intention here. THEY are not what matters. Justice and outing and fist-raising RAWR is not what matters.
WHAT happened, WHY and HOW is what's important to these memoirs. Not WHO. Whenever it helps somebody else understand what they've been going through, that makes my flippin day.
For me personally, this is the only way I've been able to regain some semblance of memory--of remembering who the heck I am and how I got here. Until I started this project, it was like I've been in a walking coma for twenty years.
So I'm dancing with a lot of ghosts right now. Sorting and organizing in my mind. Trying to figure out angles of approach. Determining which details are important to the stories and which ones aren't. Deciding which important details need to be painted over in different hues, and which things to leave in an overt, truthful blow-by-blow.
Sorting an entire spaghetti jar of loose random beads is good for that.
Those gazillion pale olive pearls from some old exploded necklace.
Shell, rock, natural materials.
And those glorious little faceted crystalline numbers I love so much.
I have to do this every time I pull that jar out for a beading project anyway--pour out handful after handful onto a felt-lined lid so I can hunt down the type of beads that would serve the project. Now, after decades of, "Umph, I really should organize these...some...year," I finally have.
Sorting beads is like weeding or cleaning. Where the body goes, the mind will follow...and vs. versa. Other projects as I clear the way for the impending HVAC construction included chucking old paint and glue that's dried up...gilding and repairing a beloved jewelry box I inherited from my mom...washing, untangling, and re-twisting pretty tassels that got mangled in a move.
I will have to do a deep-scouring and organization of my entire house now that the dust has literally settled, so this will also be the perfect time to get rid of stuff I don't need. I love purging. I love weeding. I love sorting and finding the perfect spots for things, and I love de-cluttering.
That's always the silver lining of a fiasco like this, and it's exactly what Mercury Retrograde is good for. Because I've been living in crap air quality since I moved in here. I've also been annoyed by the shoved-out-of-sight (but never really out-of-mind) mess of my costume room for even longer. It's been a mess since I had to purge-and-shove it all into cardboard boxes at Mach 10 in 2012 when I fled that house, too.
A bunch of what what I kept sat in a storage unit for a year until I shoved it into the back of a semi truck, caravanned across the country with my parents, and crash-landed in my first of these cigarette-reeking townhouses where I promptly allowed myself to burn down to ash.
This round has been a long, jarring Phoenix dance. It's had many smaller incinerations and rebirths, and it's not remotely done. It's more of a tinkering with Phoenixing, rather than some grand launch and flight into the skies.
I'm not interested in flight right now. I'm far more interested in nesting. These unexpected forced flights have shown me how to do that even better.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: IZZY IN THE NBA: Back to our previous topic with that time dastardly belly dancers infiltrated a Colorado Nuggets game.
--OR: The latest old-school comedy dance video I just edited and uploaded. It's actually one of the songs I just wrote about in that post about the joys and mishaps of trying to accomplish foreign lyrics translation as a baby belly dancer in Northern Minnesota in the 90s.
--OR: Why I don't remember doing a bunch of these dances: DAIN BRAMAGE.
2) Handbrake: Open Source Video Converter - the tech that gave me my old dance videos back, including all the VHS tapes from college onward that I'd converted to DVD and then lost when technology upgraded.