It's been a while, hasn't it?

I'm not exactly sure where to start, to be honest. Maybe the good things that happened this past year?


*crickets chirp*


Well, my mother managed to get through her bout with breast cancer mostly intact. That was good.


Also, I finished my fine arts degree, seven years later. In December, actually, instead of May, when I'd actually completed the last of my coursework, because I was a fucking wreck thinking about my mother lying in bed, barely able to move, barely able to eat, constantly in pain from the treatments she was undergoing an ocean away, and, well, handing in that paperwork just slipped my darned mind. Golly gee.

No one likes to be reminded that their parents aren't immortal super-beings who will always be there when you need them. The thought is terrifying when you first experience it as a child. You file it away in the darkest corner of your brain and do your best not to think about it again. Well, until something like this happens.

It probably doesn't help that my family has a habit of lying to each other through their goddamned teeth if they think that it'll make the other person worry less. They tend to be lies of omission, for the most part. (Hence the reason why my parents still don't know I'm just a leetle bit gay, or that I worked as an artist's model for about a year for extra money). My parents decided to lie about when my mother got sick, and just how serious it was. For the kids, of course. My father refused to let any of us come to visit them while she was undergoing treatment. There were no pictures, no descriptions of what was going on. No, that came afterwards, when it was all over. Everything was just fine, fine, fine while it was happening. Don't you worry.


But she's alive, and for now, that's what matters.


Other good things that happened? Well, as I threw in there somewhere, I managed to finish my fine arts degree. Which means I'd get an extra special paper hat when I applied for a minimum wage dead-end job. Or I would have, if I could have found some place that would hire me. Being unemployed for months on end, unable to even get a job at Starbucks, made me feel like finishing said degree was so worth it. Tee hee, I jest. They don't give you special paper hats; you have to make them out of your diploma.


I wound up taking one more class this past fall in order to get insurance coverage for the rest of the year. It was cheaper to pay $2000 for the policy and one class than to try and get a month-to-month plan. It was pretty much a blow-off course, but it kept me from going completely off the deep end from boredom and desperation.


Unsurprisingly, I sank into a serious depression once the semester started. This was far from the first time this has happened, so I more or less gritted my teeth and got through it. Until one day, I couldn't. So I forced myself to go back to the counseling center on campus and ask for help. I would rather have driven rusty nails through my skin than go, but I did it. My therapist, dealing with the psychological equivalent of a gunshot wound to the gut on top of a bunch of long-festering, suppurating sores, suggested medication once again.


Surprisingly, I agreed. (I have a rather poor record with pharmaceuticals, and generally prefer to suffer through things rather than deal with the side effects that tend to come along with medications.)

I've been on Lamictal since mid-October, more or less. It's a strange little medication. Designed as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy, it also works as a mood stabilizer for manic depression. Don't ask me how. All I know is that I'm under orders not to go off it suddenly, lest I wind up accidentally inducing a seizure.

Being diagnosed as bipolar is another positive thing that's happened this year, I guess. Or at least it means I won't be prescribed medication that causes fits of mania anymore.

Also, to be fair, whatever the medication actually does, it's helping. For the most part, my depressive cycle's gone from being months long to being a few days, maybe a couple weeks at the outside. On the down side, it's a lot more painful to go from being up to down now, since it's no longer a slow decline so much as a switch that gets flicked from off to on.


In addition to the magical piece of toilet paper that is my diploma and eight more months of health insurance, I also came away from this past semester with a new goal: to apply for and complete a master's degree in art conservation. There is no work available in Buffalo for an artist, a theatrical costumer, or a copy editor-- at least, none that I've found. There's almost certainly no work here for a conservationist, but I'm pretty damned sure that it exists in other cities, and at a higher pay grade than operating the fryer at the local burger joint.


So I've decided to go back to school-- for realz, this time-- and begin the coursework needed to apply to a master's program next spring.

Meet a brand-spanking-new chemistry major.




I've already had issues trying to get into the courses I need to complete my goal along the timeline I've set. There was a Kafkaesque dance with the school bureaucracy that lasted several weeks to make sure that I did, in fact, graduate in December. I was only able to begin registering for courses on Thursday, and classes officially start on Monday. Not least of all, the main course I need to take, Fundamentals of Chemistry, is completely full. I need to beg, borrow, or steal my way into that course, because, goddammit, I'm not letting anything get in my way from now on.


Not bureaucracy. Not anxiety. Not my own brain doing its best to sabotage my efforts. I have a goal now, and I'm going to go through with it if it kills me.