Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Haunting of Should

 It took a while before I felt like I could write again.

I'm still wearing all black.

Tatsu, our other kitty, had kidney failure the week after Stardust's own kidney failure claimed her life. I guess he couldn't be without her.

    I think the hardest thing about their passing was Jesse and I worrying about what we should have done. Did we love them enough? Did we not take good enough care of them? Although we heard from several vets if your cats die from kidney failure, that means that they have lived very long, well-cared-for lives. Eventually, I came to terms with it and accepted that the timing, hard as it was, is very beautiful. I still feel connected to Stardust, and I sense that she's happier and more playful than ever. Her body was struggling for 12 years, so it's an incredible release.

    Sometimes, when I feel her with me, I cry because I can't hold her anymore. Other times, I feel joy because nothing can really part us now.

    Now, I feel like I am on a different learning journey and wanted to share my thoughts with you about "should."

What I’ve come to realize is that “should” doesn’t make any sense. “Should” is entirely based on having the same experience and background understanding as myself so that whoever comes to the exact, same, “obvious” conclusion. My background as a CSR (customer service representative) tells me that I will always need your ID from your ID card, for example, so it should be obvious that to not cause problems, you should call in with your ID. But, for someone who grew up expecting to get by on just name and DOB or Social Security number, things we usually have memorized, they may feel like it should be obvious that the ID# is unnecessary so long as you can verify yourself. As the CSR, I feel like you should know computer systems aren’t that simple, and using different data isn’t as easy for us and makes the call take longer, which will get us in trouble with our supervisors. The customer feels like the CSR should do whatever makes the customer happy because that’s obviously good customer service. To the CSR, it is obviously discourteous to not be prepared for a call you are making, so obviously you should be a responsible adult and have your ID card handy when you’re making a call out to someone else whose job can be very challenging, especially because it makes it more complicated to abide by HIPAA regulations. See the problem?

Here are two conflicting perspectives at odds with one another. Neither one of them is really wrong, but to the person enduring the experience, it feels as if their need is clearly right. “Should” ignores all nuance in human perspective, experience, and feelings. It is the opposite of unconditional positive regard, something I have been inspired to aspire to by Carl Rogers. It can be insidious too, because we start to anticipate how annoyed we will be based on how we think things should go. Sometimes, we’re even hard on ourselves, saying we should be different based on some criteria we decided to accept from somewhere.

The way things are . . . are how they are. That’s how it is. I remember someone saying that to me as a teenager and getting pissed because the implication I interpreted was that we also shouldn’t do anything to make things any better. See that shouldn’t? It’s just the inverse of a should and it’s the same problem. Accepting that the present is what it is actually is a powerful thing. It releases you from the should! And, by being released, you can think of how you want to solve things from there. Not because you have to because of some “obvious” solution, but because that’s authentically who you are, a growing person who wants to do better. And since no one can control anyone else, you can make a suggestion, and rather than being mad if someone “should” be doing something you recommend, you can just be like, “Okay. That didn't work. I see it. That’s what’s happening right now.” Don’t make it mean that you might be wrong (though of course, we all are going to be wrong sometimes) or that you need to defend yourself into the ground. Don’t even make it mean that the other person is stubborn and will never get it and is consequently “bad.” It only means the exact thing that’s happening right now: the person you are disagreeing with simply doesn’t agree with you right now in the present moment. 

I often have wondered how many times I have planted a seed in someone else and, somewhere down the road . . . maybe they came to the same conclusion on their own and didn’t even remember our argument. Sometimes, I myself have had knee-jerk reactions to statements made by others, and I’d be annoyed, think about it, ask questions, and then eventually come to an entirely new conclusion that was neither my prior stance nor theirs. And it’s not about should, but because I am growing at my own pace, with my own experiences and perspectives, and I am not going to instantly manifest a new persona with adjusted beliefs just because someone tells me to and tries to overwhelm me with their idea of proof. One thing I learned at a very young age is that even if I came back in time and tried to warn myself about the future, I probably would not have believed everything until I had enough experience to authentically understand it. I’m grateful for any seeds that were planted with love and generosity from others as I grew up, because they did turn into fruit. Then again, there were other seeds that have been ripped out and burned forever. XD

    This is all to say . . . do not fall on the sword of "should" or "shouldn't." Love yourself. Love others. We are all growing from such different places and it makes us really weird and different. Release the suffering of "should," then, and just live and know that your best (and my best) are good enough. And your best won't be the same every day, and that's perfectly fine.

    I miss Stardust. I hurt a lot because I felt like she should still be here physically . . . but I don't need to hurt. She is where she is, and there are some new fun and weird aspects to that (yep, some bizarre cat hauntings; she has a sense of humor). So now, I will let go of what I thought should be and simply be with love from here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Stardust Daffodil


    Stardust has been my best friend for half of my life . . .

    You may have noticed that this blog has been called "Stardust's Oasis" since I started it. This is because my cat, Stardust, has been like a soul appendage to me.

    When I first moved out into a studio apartment, my very first adult, on-my-own living space, I was really lonely. I had moved halfway across the country, leaving family and friends behind, all to be with my long-distance boyfriend (who is now my husband). Unfortunately, he ended up moving halfway across the country himself to go to college, but I wasn't ready to follow him there at the time. I only had a temp job, was severely depressed, and had major anxiety issues (I only realize in retrospect), and it wasn't as easy to keep in touch long-distance back then as it is now. Even with email, many of my friends did not have consistent access and were going through their own problems.

    I decided I wanted a cat. And then I started dreaming of her. Swirling in the stars, the red in her fur shimmering like stardust. I had the dream repeatedly, and each time I went to the humane shelter looking for her, but didn't find her. I'm allergic to many cats, so to make use of the time, I would isolate myself in a single room with one of the cats there, start having a reaction that was destined to last 24 hours and often involved nose-bleeds, and then I'd leave, feeling disheartened.

    I dreamt of her again. This time, when I woke up, there was no question. I don't know why I didn't question it. I just knew she was there. I was so sure that I immediately called a vet near my apartment and made an appointment for her to come in the following day. I called up my (now) mother-in-law and asked her for a ride because I couldn't even drive myself to the shelter. I had no license and no car. She took me, and there she was.

    She wasn't with the other cats; she was in a large cage on the front counter, laying solemnly and looking frustrated and sad to be there. I rushed over, and when our eyes met, the kitty reached out her paws desperately to get me. I knew that she recognized me too, from the dreams. I asked the lady at the counter where she had been.

    "She fought with the cats, so we had to keep her with the dogs," she explained. She'd been there the entire time, but I would've never known since the dogs were in a back room. How did they expect her to be adopted?! I guess she was saved just for me, as my dad once said.

    As I met her in the private room and had no reaction to her, and she reacted to me in an intelligent way, I knew without a doubt that it was all real and it was meant to be. As I was filling out the paperwork and confirming the vet appointment I had already made, they said that she had a prior owner . . . but that she had been difficult, so they had brought her back. I told her that wouldn't happen with us. 

    On the way back to the car with her in the little blue cat carrier I had bought long before, my mother-in-law asked me what I was going to name her, making some cute suggestions. But I already knew: "Her name is Stardust." 

    Annoyingly, Neil Gaiman's Stardust was popular at the time, so everyone assumed I named her after his novel. Though I like Neil Gaiman, it had nothing to do with that but everything to do with the fiery stardust in the dream, which I felt represented her spiritual and true nature. Spoilers: I was right. 😅

    The first year with Stardust was the hardest. Though she was good at the vet for the first few trips, after she got an ear infection from dead mites in her ears (acquired prior to my taking her in and treated at the shelter as best as they were able) and after the vet had to do a deep dive to get them all out, she became an enemy of all vets. She used to steal my knives and hide them under her scratching post. She used to attack me in my sleep; you might be imagining a cat jumping on my face, even scratches, but it was more than that. Sometimes, she would go under the bed and start tearing through the mattress. She would sneak up on me in the dark and yowl and leap at me. I eventually had to put her into a carrier, wrapped up in towels, and placed in the bathtub so that I could sleep at night because it was the only way to keep her from hurting herself and me. Not only this, but she would attack anyone who entered the apartment, including myself. This latter bit was made okay by the fact that, for some bizarre reason, if you set her down in front of her cat carrier, she felt compelled to walk in. You had to close it quickly because this unstoppable compulsion really pissed her off, but it was handy to get inside until she calmed down.

    One day, after getting a permanent job to support my haughty kitty princess, Jesse (my boyfriend-now-husband) was visiting and was going to go to my apartment to meet me later. He called me at work and said, "I can't get into your apartment."

    "Why not?"

    " . . . She'll kill me." Keep in mind, my husband is a pretty big, strong guy. Like, it's a good thing he's a decent human being because his fist is the size of a small head. 

    I chided him, because if I could handle her, surely he could. He eventually got in. They also became good friends. While I was trying to teach her to be less violent, he liked to play ferociously with her. I wish I still had the picture as proof, but it seems to have been lost after multiple computer transfers, but one time she was biting him too hard, and then he spontaneously bit her back, and I was taking a picture and accidentally captured that moment. Her facial expression was that of, "Is this what it's like to be bit?" She tamed down somewhat after that incident. The below picture is from the same day, just sampling Jesse's flesh.

    After a series of events, it was time to move. As I packed up boxes, Stardust's anxiety grew. We no longer needed her to be sanctioned off to the bathroom; she slept beside me on the bed and even used the pillow like a tiny person. We had rituals, and I had tamed the wild beast, though most people who met her still found her somehow frightening. I had learned from interacting with her that it's very likely that her previous owners abused her before dumping her off, and we worked through those issues with love and patience. But she was still holding back; she didn't want to be abandoned again. Despite all the good memories we were making, I could tell she had emotional walls up against me.

    When moving day came, I got her sedated (that is a whole other story unto itself with an amusing twist at the end) and we boarded the plane together. When we arrived in my new one-bedroom apartment and I let her out to explore, quickly setting up her litter box and making sure she was comfortable before doing anything else, I saw her look at me with such appreciation and love in her eyes. I knew, in that moment, that she understood the promise I had made at the beginning of our meeting was true: I would never abandon her, and I would do everything I could for her.

    Stardust continued to be a troublemaker, but no longer violent. She stopped trying to bite eyeballs and instead would get on top of doors and jump down on the unexpecting. If we had a disagreement, she would open the freezer just a little bit so that I wouldn't realize until later that everything had melted. This cat learned to scale walls with nothing on them, and I had to put Soft Paws on her just to keep her from wrecking our deposit. But she also gave the best cuddles, understood me (I also was abused and felt abandoned by my bio-mom, who often emphasized how unwanted I was), and was always there. I was happy to think of life ahead with her of at least 12 years.

    When Stardust was 8, plans changed. One night, she wouldn't stop throwing up. Science Diet had a recall, but I didn't find out until too late. Our food wasn't part of the list, but there was clearly something wrong. We went from vet to vet. I ended up spending my entire savings of $10,000 before we got to a vet hospital that confirmed she had IBS. With the diagnosis came the hope of a way to save her life, even if for just another year with her. I had been at a really bad class (bad because it was just an 8-hour advertisement for more classes) my workplace at the time made me go to, and the hospital said they wanted to keep her overnight to observe her. I didn't want her to stay; I wanted her to come home. My wish had been granted when they called sternly during a break from the class and said, "Come. Get. Your. Cat." 😎I ditched the class to go get her with Jesse's assistance. When I saw her in the waiting room, banging around in the familiar blue cat carrier as the nurse struggled to carry her to me, I exclaimed, "MY BABY!"

    The nurse, flustered by Stardust's antics even while sick, couldn't stop herself from looking at me and going, "No." Like, she couldn't believe anyone would feel that way about Stardust. But, her expression changed when I took the carrier in my hands and Stardust's rattling stopped; all she wanted was to be reunited with me.

    Around this time, I started blogging less. I was scared of Stardust dying. This blog is her and my sacred space, in a way. I started it to reach out to my friends and family, and I was surprised other people started reading it and also became my friends. Thank you, guys!! And . . . hi, Germany? I thought to myself, "When she gets better, I'll write more . . ." But, IBS is a chronic condition. It doesn't just go away.

    Many years of research and fearful moments followed. Every year or two, she'd have a bad time. It wasn't until a few more moves, into our permanent home, that we found a vet who also has a cat with IBS and really understood. I also found a vet online who made her own cat food and had cats living into their twenties. She explained why it works and why regular cat food doesn't. None of the food on the market is right for cats despite the emerging organic and frozen options. Knowing this, I will never not make cat food. This recipe not only stopped Stardust from literally puking up blood (along with medication) and gave her back her life from the brink of death, but it stopped Tatsu Maru's (our other cat) UTIs, and another friend to whom we recommended the recipe to had a cat whose diabetes was cured! Most vets do not know anything about cat nutrition, so finding Lisa Pierson is nothing short of a miracle. You have no idea how desperate we were. It must have been frightening to employees at the Bed, Bath, & Beyond who may have been wondering why this anxious and near-to-tears couple was buying a meat grinder and looking so distressed about it (not plotting how to get away with murder, I swear!).

    After discovering that recipe, it was like a miracle. A miracle that required several hours every few weeks to keep up with the appetite of our cats. It's hard work, but it was worth it. Stardust made it past 12 years of age . . . then past 15 . . . 

    I had our daughter, Sabriel, in 2017. At first, Stardust was jealous . . . she even tried to walk on Sabriel's face as a baby when she was napping. Eventually, Stardust took interest in the fact that Sabriel was home when the rest of us were working. She felt grateful for the company and would insert herself into Sabriel's Duplo creations, or appear when Sabriel was playing with toys on the mat. Most recently, she started napping with Sabriel, curled up beside her. They adore each other now.

    But, in the past four years, she's also declined. She can no longer climb the tall cat towers we've gotten her. Due to arthritis and deteriorating kidney condition, she has struggled to use her back legs at times. Stardust mostly rests now and wants cuddles and love; no longer does she prank or cause mischief. Instead of struggling with her behavior, it's a struggle to take care of her while she sometimes deals with incontinence but other times is just fine. In fact, she has come back from the dead so many times that is hard to believe that she won't live forever. Every time I have been certain she was dying, she would suddenly pull some necromantic miracle and be just fine. She has lived far more than 9 lives while Tatsu has looked on with love unrequited. Despite her being a tricky and clever cat who enjoyed games of "fat human needs to run" where she would pretend to do something utterly insane just so you had to chase her, she's been an endearing, wonderful best friend all this time and every morning when I see her beautiful eyes, I couldn't be more grateful.

    . . .

    In the past few weeks, she stopped eating so much. She is already under 8 pounds. Sadly, Stardust goes through bouts of stomach issues on a regular basis. The vet has explained that due to her IBS, her intestines sometimes lengthen and stretch, but they don't go back. This means that occasionally an obstruction that is usually easy to pass, like a hairball, can cause a more severe blockage over time before it comes out, one way or the other. The more times it happens, the more the intestines stretch, which will inevitably kill her. Of course, her medicine for the IBS also negatively impacts her kidneys but is necessary for life. She's already way outlived the year they thought she had since she started the medication, but during the past two vet visits, they confirmed her kidneys are in decline.

    Still, we had hope. Stardust is a fighter. The fiery stardust of her nature has been as determined to stay with me as I am to remain with her. So it was shocking when she passed the difficult bowel movement and she didn't start recovering right away like normal. 

    We waited. We cleaned her. We carried her to the litter box and back to her resting place. I kept bringing her food, only this time she not only wouldn't eat it but also wouldn't acknowledge it. I had to start giving her water through a dropper. While caring for her, I realized I was waiting for it to "feel right" to know she was going to pass away. It was never going to feel right. I love her too much. We love each other too much. Being sad is the right way to feel about all of this. How naive was I, to think that it would ever feel good? If it did, what kind of relationship would we have had?! Sure, there can be relief that she's not sick anymore and I won't have to scour the floor on a regular basis for signs of illness (and to prevent our Roomba, Fraulein Sauber, from destroying herself on whatever symptom of sickness I find), but having to do that hard work has been worth it because I love her and I would rather see her every single day with those beautiful eyes looking at me with the same gratitude that I feel than live without it.

    After three days of not eating at all, no signs of recovery . . . I woke up this morning with the understanding that if you don't eat, you eventually die. And Stardust is not going to get better. One of the key signs is that Tatsu has stopped eating too. He knew something was different this time. Let me tell you, most of this cat's life is begging for more food and sometimes overeating until he throws up, so the fact that he has been so worried about Stardust that he would stop eating was harrowing. He's finally lost all the weight the vets have been asking for, but not under the conditions we would have liked. He has watched over her each night while we rest, giving comfort during these hard times.

    I called out of work today (8/31/22) because Stardust had pain, and I knew I had to make a choice. And then Jesse started sobbing when he got home and I talked to him because he had been in denial of Stardust getting worse. And, to be fair, we have thought she was going to die on and off since she was 8. We have literally spent 12 years being told repeatedly that she hasn't got much longer, watching her go through tough times and then spring back, though somewhat weaker each time, but still ready to love and keep on trucking. How could we be sure this was it? I was filled with further doubt as she brightened in his cuddles. 

    Stardust is my best friend. My soul appendage. I can't imagine life without her. And that's a huge reason I stopped writing, amongst dealing with so much change and upheaval in my life. I have wanted to write more and reach out . . . but I was scared to. The blog has been connected to her. I know that's weird and makes no logical sense, but . . . it's been hard.

    We deliberated for hours. I was anxious, because what if we're running out of time? I didn't want her to die suffering, or from starvation. She's being strong for us. She seems fine, but she clearly isn't. We've already defeated the odds . . . but what if we could go just a bit more?

    We gave her another bath. We got her into her heated bed and watched her curl up, looking miserable. Thank goodness Sabriel is being so patient with us; she's only 4, and she thinks we should all try to play video games and just pass the time, reassuring us it will be okay because Stardust will still love us and be a spirit when she dies. Jesse and I have to make scary, horrifying adult choices that we can't come back from. It took forever just to call the vet to get phone numbers for hospice. There's no way Stardust wants to die at the vet; it would have to be here, at home. But, what if she can get better again? AHHHHHHH!!! 

    And you know what? We did the hard thing, booked the appointment for tomorrow (9/1/22) . . . It was the hardest thing we ever did. And then a few hours later . . . Stardust is up and walking around. Now we're watching anxiously. If she eats, we'll cancel the appointment. If she eats, then we know she wants to live and keep trying. If she doesn't . . . And I'm honestly torn on what to hope for. Do I really want her to keep suffering just for a little more time? Isn't that what life is? 

    I'm writing this in advance and I hope it's not too sloppy. I'm not sure what's going to happen. It seems silly now that I haven't blogged in all this time because it felt wrong to while she was sick. I have so much I want to say. I've also been busy, working full time and going back to school full time. And having a 4-year-old. And having two geriatric cats for whom we have to make special food and for one of them, there are medications and special treatments to the point that I can never go anywhere because I'm confident no one but me will follow the instructions correctly to ensure her comfortable survival. I'm a little worried my in-laws think I don't like them because I can never go visit because of my work, but it's mostly Stardust. I can't even kennel her because when I do, she won't eat. She thinks I won't come back.

    One time, I dared to go on a week-long vacation and left Stardust in the care of our sister-in-law. Halfway through the trip, I had a dream conversation with Stardust; we connected just like we did before we met in person back in the beginning. She didn't speak in words, but I understood she was scared I wasn't coming back because it had been a few days. I reassured her. I woke up knowing how concerned she was, and I felt guilty. Yet, it was so magical that we're that connected, that we could talk in our dreams. Part of me hopes that we could still have that sometimes after she's gone . . .

    Is that going to be tomorrow?

    Even though we booked the appointment, I'll cancel it in a heartbeat and pay whatever fees there are if Stardust shows any sign that she wants to continue on this journey with me. I don't think either of us will ever be ready for this to be over. Even Jesse isn't ready. She's been with me literally half of my life. I don't know who I am without her. I do know that just recently, I finally found my self-confidence somewhat. I feel secure in knowing who I am and what I truly want for the first time in my life ever. I finally know how to set healthy boundaries, and I have really good friends who I know want to be in my life, not out of obligation or for what I can offer them, but because we truly care for one another. This kitty best friend, my little sister . . . I think she knows now that I'll be okay. That I'm not so lonely and broken anymore, and neither is she. We know we're loved now. Nothing will replace her, though . . . 

    There will be more to come, but for now, I need to spend these probable last moments with her. I was going to delay posting this for now, in case there's a surprise ending, but . . .I don't think I'll have the heart to post this later if I don't do it now. We're planning to say goodbye. She sniffed food but didn't eat. She's trembling in Jesse's arms right now. For now, I am focused on keeping the promises I made to Stardust . . . It's so much harder than I would have thought, or at least scarier. I can't imagine who I am without her here and I can't stop crying. I will follow up after some time has passed, work and school allowing. I don't know if anyone is still subscribed to this blog or not, but if you are, thanks for being here. Thank you for supporting us.

P. S. - I apologize for having to moderate comments. In the past years, there was spam popping up. I started having to spend more time getting rid of it than doing homework, so I just made it so all comments have to be screened, which made the spammers stop. Don't let it stop you, real people, though. I might be slow to write these days, but I need to connect to the world once again as I know what I have to say. Blogging might be antiquated in the world of videos (and I'd love to make videos, but editing isn't something I have time for right now), but I just need to make art and communicate with others the way that's right for me in the moment and stop trying to be perfect.

Thank you again for being here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Communication About Pregnancy and Parenting

Hey! Long time no write!

To be honest, I feel a little bit that blogs have fallen out of favor, at least for me. I used to write to keep in touch with friends and family, and now there's seemingly too much social media available for that and I gave up on blogging a bit because I felt like people probably didn't have time for that.

Today, however, I had a topic I wanted to talk about that is too long for Twitter or Facebook, so . . . I'm BACK! And PREGNANT. For the first time. At age 36. Yep. Even before we were really trying to get pregnant, we got all kinds of "advice" and "requests," which are already pretty weird. Now at almost 34 weeks pregnant and still fascinated with the psychology of things (for those unfamiliar, I had a 3.97 GPA in my BA in Psychology; I freaking love psychology and ongoing research), I wanted to write about my insights. I think lots of people really don't think about these things and there's a bizarre culture surrounding how we talk about parenting and pregnancy. Here we go!

Bias warning: This is only my introspection and you're welcome to disagree; my hope is by discussing this, it will help everyone's overall communications on these topics.Most importantly, I hope that we can learn to be okay making our own choices for ourselves and knowing that mistakes are going to happen and that's alright too.

Pregnancy and Parenting Advice

Pregnancy and parenting advice is a little bit strange for several reasons. Like many types of advice, it is often unsolicited. However, most advice is given knowing the audience. For example, my husband and I are very comfortable with one another since we've been talking to each other for 21 years and love and respect each other. If we notice something, we speak up to the other without waiting to be prompted. It goes well probably 88% of the time, and the rest of the time could be attributed to having a bad day or some deeper issue. It's the same with friends! I have friends I can say anything to and feel pretty safe and some friends where I know to keep my trap shut. We know our audiences; we learn what causes drama and what doesn't. What makes parenting and pregnancy advice weird is that people give it without knowing their audience. At ALL.

I should start by saying that both my husband and I are very proactive learners. If we want to know something, we take classes and read books (yes, multiple), and we even go so far as to track down the research and check out its methodology and look for multiple supporting or non-supporting sources as the case may be. We're thorough.

At first, when I received unsolicited advice, I was like, "Oh! Maybe I'll learn something new!" But, I find that most of the time, unsolicited advice is for the benefit of the giver, not the receiver, and is often actually more of a judgment and demand rather than actual advice. :} It's truly bizarre. I don't think people even realize that they're doing it.

Examples of unsolicited advice/requests I've received that falls into these categories:
  • "Children shouldn't play video games." (I grew up on educational video games and am grateful for all my father taught me about computers because it's definitely made me a more capable person and an extremely valuable employee. Also, video games are a wonderful storytelling medium. I even wrote a huge report on several studies on video games and their impact on children while getting my BA, and the research all pointed to children developing more skills they can't or don't get elsewhere, including genuine teamwork skills far better than those developed in forced groups in school.)
  • A 3-page critique of our baby registry from someone I've only spoken to in person twice. (My husband, Jesse, and I noticed that after the critique was received that said person didn't even buy anything from the registry. I spent over a month creating that registry based on heavy research, really painful digging through reviews and options, and deep introspection about what would make our lives easier since we'll both be working and can't afford daycare and will be essentially handing off our baby to each other throughout the day. I even carefully evaluated what kinds of things we could "wing it" with and dug through our house to find out if we had alternatives or variations that would work. Even tried to keep prices low because I hoped that if other people wanted to help us out, it wouldn't be an insane request for help. The person who wrote this critique had no idea how much work went into it and never asked.)
  • Asking for our child to be named after someone we didn't know for most of our lives.
  • Telling me what vitamins and supplements to take through my husband.
  • EDIT (added this one as an after-thought because it's ridiculously common): The "I-bet-you-forgot-you-are-having-a-baby-and-it's-going-to-be-challenging" type of advice. Usually, this emerges when you're not talking about the baby but about yourself. In my case, it's been "Man, I'm looking forward to being able to walk around normally with my body after I'm done being pregnant," or "I'm looking forward to no longer having nausea," and just talking about concerns within your own body. People have this bizarre tendency to, instead of showing sympathy or empathy or just listening to you vent or sharing in your hope to return to having control over your own body, say things they clearly think are clever such as "Except you'll be walking around with a baby." :> Or, "Except then you'll have a puking baby." It always comes in as a smart comment like they think you've forgotten that will happen or never stopped to think about it. We didn't forget; we're not talking about that right now. And I think about it all the time. Of course, paired with these comments almost always comes some form of advice. Even if it's good advice, I have to say that (and this is just for me) if I'm not talking about the baby that's already consuming so much about my life already, I'm not really interested in talking about baby stuff right now. I wanted to talk about me. :} Talking about pregnancy symptoms isn't an opening for advice or talk about the baby. Even further removed is talking about things not related to the pregnancy at all and people still managing to use it as an opportunity to give advice.
Obviously, these are pretty intrusive examples and certainly aren't all of the ones we received. The advice I want to give for better interpersonal communication is this:

1.) Know your audience and know yourself. Do they actually need your advice? Is your advice just an opinion you want to thrust onto others? Will it be welcome? And, are you doing this for yourself or really for the other person? Be honest in this assessment. It's okay if you just want to chat about things, but take a step back and realize if you're creating a situation in which someone's options include agreeing with you or feeling uncomfortable because they disagree. Know if you're looking to feel needed versus if the other person really needs you.

2.) Depending on the relationship, it's probably better to wait to be asked for advice. And, if you are asked, only answer the question asked. Someone coming to you for advice should be honored by respecting that they only asked you about one thing. This is not the same as permission to open the floodgates and give them all of the advice that you've been holding back on giving. :} You may be eager to help, but refer back to #1.

3.) As written about so eloquently by Amanda Palmer in her book, be aware of the difference between an ask and a demand. If you're asking, that means "no" is an acceptable answer. I know some people think of a "no" as being rude, but it's actually a person's autonomous right. In my case, when I've been asked and said no it's because I didn't want to argue and I knew I didn't need the advice because I'd already done the research and hard work and made up my mind for myself. That's a healthy way to be, so I hope that instead of perceiving it as something rude that perhaps you can see it as healthy and have trust in whomever you wanted to give advice to. Of course, it's our responsibility on the receiving end to try and be nice about it. :}

4.) Check your information first. Just because you think something is true doesn't mean that it is, and blurting out something that isn't accurate creates more drama than it solves. Before you have a knee-jerk reaction to someone saying something about parenting/pregnancy and feel the need to "correct" them, or before you offer requested advice, think about the sources of where you've obtained your information. Is it up to date? Was it really true? What proof do you have? Have you really done the research? If it's only your experience, know that you're working with bias (and your needs may not be the same as the needs of the person you're giving advice to). And, if thinking about all of these things seems like too much for you, maybe it's better to refrain from giving advice? Maybe.

5.) This one applies to all communication styles, but I've gotten a lot more of it while pregnant and it's also a pet peeve of mine. Don't argue and then after you've spoken your mind claim that you don't want to argue to end the conversation, or even worse storm out on the person you're speaking to. Yikes. If you feel like you have to say something to someone, and you want to be truly heard, then the right thing to do is be willing to find out that you're wrong and be willing to listen to the other point of view of the person you're talking to. If you're not doing that, see #1 and #3. No one wants to listen to someone who isn't willing to listen to them, and behaving in this way is one of the most aggressive forms of ignorance I can think of. I have to say, when people use this "communication" tactic it appears that they are afraid of being proven wrong and are bailing to avoid that happening. It makes you look bad as well as making the person you were talking to feel bad. Strive for healthier communication! You can do it! I believe in you. :)

People aren't all bad, though! Which is a segue into my next thought about parenting communication.

Information is Quickly Outdated or Irrelevant

Even with the best of intentions with advice, parenting/pregnancy thoughts/ideas will quickly become outdated. This was a very recent revelation to me. Having been pregnant or actively being a parent does not give anyone the kind of credit that 10 years of software development gives a programmer. You don't graduate to have more experience. In fact, no one knows everything about pregnancy and parenting; let's establish that first. My being pregnant doesn't make me an expert on other people's pregnancy experiences, and someone else having been pregnant before doesn't make them an expert on mine. Not being pregnant or a parent also doesn't necessarily give you an "objective point of view." XD Knowing someone who is currently pregnant and getting advice from them hardly makes an expert either.

What am I saying here? No one is qualified to be giving advice on every topic. Even my doula uses an outdated book, though she is a great resource for most things and is currently going to school to relearn! (In fact, we're lucky because she's doing this for free as part of her education credits.) My midwife knows what she needs to know to be a great midwife, and the sonographer knows what they need to do for the ultrasounds, and the trainers for our classes knew what they wanted to talk about in class but didn't have outside information about other research (for example, our breastfeeding instructor had no information about babies crying because of REM cycles and the apparent need for mothers to be cautious about overfeeding). I think we should all be reasonably able to accept that no one knows everything, and that's okay! And, information you once thought was true and useful may become outdated within a decade or less. Even information that is still true needs to be treated with caution.

A great example is that two of my friends recommended that I get lanolin cream for my hospital bag  because I intend to breastfeed. I didn't know anything about lanolin, but I figured if two of my friends were recommending it then it merited researching and potentially adding to my list. There are still semi-recent studies that show lanolin is very helpful. However, the additional information I discovered through my own research was that lanolin can sometimes include pesticides. Even when it doesn't, it comes from sheep, and in my personal experience sheep can actually be pretty disgusting animals and though I'm sure it goes through some cleansing process it still sounded gross to me. With this lead-in from my friends, I could find more recent research that shows that breast milk itself and other alternatives are just as effective or more so than lanolin. This is great news, as it reduces potential risks to the baby. Obviously, lanolin worked just fine for my friends and their children are okay; nothing about this new information disputes their experience or invalidates their feelings about it. It's just that there's now new information that's available for me so that I can make my own informed choice. I'm going to avoid lanolin and try one of the alternatives.

Also, the experiences people have are not universal. Those who tell me it's important to have children be outside alone even as toddlers, for their development, don't seem to recognize that it's not an option where I live. All of the people who recommend this raised their children in places that had secured yards or farms, and they knew all of their neighbors. I don't have a secured yard, I live directly on a street where I've witnessed a few collisions from my window (and people speed all of the time even if they don't crash), and in this day and age I'd almost definitely get contacted by CPS. I'm not saying I want to coddle my child or be a "helicopter parent." (What a horrible, judgmental term, btw.) I'm just saying I have to do what's right for me and my situation. Of course, someone out there who might read this may be screaming internally that children must be watched at all times. Notice that these points of view are both opinions and not facts, which makes them even less relevant. Though I don't have any research within my grasp at the moment, I'm fairly sure it's safe to assess that these two different sets of children, raised differently, could still grow up to have just as happy and fulfilled lives as the other, just as children who are breastfed versus formula fed will all be okay. Love is probably the most important thing, I think. And even that is only an opinion! If you live in a war zone, that's obviously not going to be true for you!

I prefer to be optimistic and believe most people's intentions are good. :) Especially those with prior experiences of things they feel went well with their own children hope to pass that on to loved ones. And, they likewise hope to avoid things they felt were negative experiences. Once again, I think communication can be improved by not taking it personally if someone has a different perspective than you. In my case, I choose to honor many things that I perceived to be good experiences between my father and myself, or my in-laws and myself and their kids. At the same time, I also want to branch out and try new things with my husband, create our own traditions, and find out what works best for us and our child. After all, just because it works well for other people doesn't mean that it works well for everyone.

Not a Dichotomy, and Not Mutually Exclusive

Some people I know have a tendency to get butt-hurt over silly parenting/pregnancy things. In some cases it's data that's changed that they refuse to accept for reasons unknown to me, and in other cases it seems to be that they become defensive. In any case, the type of arguments about parenting/pregnancy that I'm talking about emerges usually because some expert source has supplied information to the masses and, based on personal experience (which can be very valid!) someone develops the notion that the two ideas are mutually exclusive or are a dichotomy. These are logic fallacies, and I encourage folks to take a step back and think about why they are getting so upset over these things . . . because most of it is really trivial.

One example: one of my friends rolled her eyes at me because I mentioned concern about blankets in a crib with a baby and SIDS. This is something that, if you're seeing a doctor/midwife about your pregnancy, using a pregnancy app, or reading any pregnancy books, you're going to get slammed with information about. In her experience, her baby was cold and wouldn't stop crying until he had a blanket. She felt, seemingly very strongly, that this meant that the SIDS concern about blankets was stupid. But, the two things aren't mutually exclusive! You can be aware that blankets can be a suffocation hazard and be aware that you need to keep your baby warm. My immediate thought was that with SIDS, they're concerned about loose blankets. Swaddling, therefore, would be safer if your baby needs to feel warm and safe. So, maybe that will work well for me since my baby is going to be born in winter. Her judgmental reaction was so off-putting, though, I just didn't say anything. :} I know that while she had a strong reaction, it doesn't mean she's going to be losing sleep judging me over that. That's not true of everyone, though, and this still creates a very negative communication experience.

As for dichotomies, some people treat information like light switches with two possible outcomes. With babies, parenting, and pregnancy, they seem to believe things are very simple. Either the research is right, or it's wrong. No room for middle-ground. No room for exceptions or confounding variables. What a scary way to live! I think it goes without saying that things are not true in every instance. There's usually exceptions to the rule, sometimes many exceptions to the rule. That doesn't make it invalid or not worth thinking about. It's a bad habit many people have about many things. It's infested our view of politics, bigotry/racism, and so many other hot issues in addition to all of the little ones. It's contagious because our brains like to have things simplified, but it doesn't make it right. In fact, it makes it harder to hear each other and understand what other people are saying if we try to think of everything in dichotomies. The nature versus nurture debate is the most obvious example! Why are there only two options given? Why are they considered opposites from each other? It's a non-argument; you can't have one without the other, and it implies that only two options for perceiving parenting. If you're thinking in dichotomies, I encourage you to question that line of thinking because the dichotomy you're visualizing is probably a fabricated construct.

Gender Language

Last, but definitely not least! Although you might think this is about over-gendering babies, I actually think people worry too much about that (I never wanted to look like Barbie, but I loved Barbie dolls; I loved looking in magazines but never felt the need to look like or be like the girls in magazines; there are plenty of strong women in video games and have been for a long time. If you didn't find them, you're not trying.). I'm actually talking about how fathers are treated.

My husband was very lucky, along with his brothers, to have his father as a stay-at-home parent. His mother was the breadwinner in his family, and it sounded challenging as there were few fathers during that time period doing what he was doing. Today, I would argue that more fathers are involved in some way or another with parenting. More fathers have access to information they didn't have access to before. Yet, in literature (even literature received from our birthing classes and community programs), they write about fathers in a demeaning way. The writing implies that men are inherently stupid about parenting and need help every step of the way to bond with their child. Obviously, it's challenging. A mother can breastfeed and a father can't, for example. But it's upsetting that fathers are treated as outside people instead of equal partners in parenting.

Each parenting relationship with children is going to be unique and different. My thought here is that we just need to change the narrative to be less presumptive. The narrative where mothers inherently love their children and are giving and fathers have to be taught how to be emotionally available and not kill their children because of goofing off and being irresponsible and silly. This narrative is dangerous. My biological mother never loved me; she was abusive and horrible. I went to various resources for help (a school counselor, the police, and a community program receptionist for abused children), and because she was a mother, all of them laughed in my face or couldn't believe she would do the awful things that she did. Ironically, my mother-in-law who is very sweet was accused of abuse because she rushed her boys to the hospital when they were hurt. :p Argh. Anyway, if anything was perceived to be wrong with me, it was assumed it was my father's fault, but he was the good parent. Even after long days of working hard, he'd stay up to make extra time for me. He was the one who read with me. He was the one who wrote educational programs to help me with areas I was struggling with in school. He was the one who made sure I had things that I needed and noticed my love of music and encouraged me to pursue it by buying me instruments and showing me midis. I spent a ridiculous amount of time correcting people about their assumptions in regard to my family.

Of course, gender can't be treated by individual experiences either. On this topic, I feel an increasing importance in making no assumptions about either gender and keeping that in mind with literature for forthcoming parents.

I'd also like to see more inclusive options available for fathers. There are many online baby groups and apps, but the weirdest thing about them to me is that there's no option to sign up as a couple. I can do that for my shopping list app; why can't I do that with the father of my child? Why can't we both receive information about our growing baby on a regular basis? Why are men not allowed onto the forum with women so that they can understand concerns about pregnancy and how to support their partners better? Or, maybe your partner isn't a man. At any rate, the partner should be included in some way and have the same access and ability to share accounts and experiences and polling, and right now it's geared toward the mothers only. Yet, there is a lot of literature that talks about the exclusion of fathers/partners. Let's stop talking about it and do something to fix it!

Alright. That's all of my thoughts on that. I think everyone has to make the best decisions for themselves and I dream of inclusiveness. I know people want to support each other, and sometimes we're just misguided in our efforts. I know I have been myself, so I certainly don't blame anyone else. It's tough. Hopefully this blog will help someone think about communicating differently and maybe even improve your relationships with others. It's important to be honest and open as well as respectful.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Music Production Laptop

I know, I know. I'm not writing blogs as often as I'd planned. I have to admit, when I made up my mind to work on music I thought it would happen a lot faster, as it did when I was in high school. Back then, I really maximized my resources and was fine with the little bit that I had. Now, my imagination is pretty grand and I find it difficult to put my music out into the world when I know it could sound better. So, I've been struggling in a familiar place of wanting to make something, but being stuck needing money to create my dream, and ironically the means I have to make money leaves me with very limited creativity time. Heck, even with working from home, it leaves me with very little time, period! But, I have a good job, a wonderful family, and a few nice supporters. :) Yay!

So, as long as I move forward slowly, that's still progress. I remind myself daily that no one starts where they end up, and that's okay.

I also had a problem where the nice old production computer my big bro gave me suddenly died and wouldn't wake back up. EEK! But, playing with it taught me a lot about what I really wanted in a music production computer. I need portability, so I can record in places with different acoustics and not have to move giant instruments to the computer; I could bring the computer to them. And, likewise, I could bring a laptop to other artists for collaboration.

So, I saved up, sacrificed some things, and found a laptop that while not advertised as being for music seems perfect. On December 24th, I finally acquired my music laptop! Even better, it's very equipped for making music videos, so that's something I will try to accomplish in the future. Huzzah! One milestone reached!

Sadly, my DAW is another $500-$525 (depending on where I can purchase it from). Right now, I have $270 saved up toward that objective, so we're well on the way! In the meantime, since my laptop is more portable, I'll hopefully be able to carry it around and work on notating my music in MuseScore on the go instead of just when I'm not exhausted and still have a moment in my office. This is nice because it will allow me to move to my piano, or hang out with my family in another room while they do other things, and so on. For me, this is a pretty huge achievement. The best part? It cost less than the desktop computer I had been looking into getting originally. Like, nearly $1000 less. Yowza!

Therefore, while there are no new stories, art, or music posted right now, I am still progressing in the right direction behind the scenes. :) Thanks to those who have supported me thus far. We will keep on trucking along! Never give up! =^--^=

--Jessica / Dream Senshi

P.S. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Baseball Cap" by Jesse T. Jones

"Baseball Cap" 

By: Jesse T. Jones

WARNING: This poem is not G/PG-rated. Parents/authority figures, please read through the poem to determine if it is appropriate for your child/dependent/person-you-are-currently-responsible-for before sharing it with them. Thanks!

This is my baseball cap, I got it from my dad
This is my baseball cap; it's blue, white, and red
This is my baseball cap, I got it when I was ten
I wore it all the time, back then

This is my baseball cap, I wore it at eleven
I wore it when we won, fourteen to seven
This is my baseball cap, I wore it at twelve
I wore it with my friends, laughing at ourselves

This is my baseball cap, I wore it at one and three
I wore it as I climbed grandpa's apple tree
This is my baseball cap, I wore it at one and four
I wore it while I worked at the grocery store

This is my baseball cap, I wore it at one and five
I wore it every day, when I was still alive
This is my baseball cap, I wear it as I'm dead
I wore it when I put the bullet through my head.

This is a poem which was written by my husband, perhaps to be put into a collection of short stories and poems we have written at a later date. If you enjoy this, or things we've done like it, please consider being a patron at . Patreon allows fans to help artists create more by donating a small amount each time an artist creates something. :) You control how much you pay entirely! Donate as little as $1 a month, reap behind-the-scenes and other benefits from your favorite artists! Check it out, even if you don't want to be our patron. Perhaps there's someone else out there you can be supporting. :)

Hope this poem gave you feels. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Call Centers - Abuse

This is going to be a serious conversation, folks. If you're here for the fluffy kitties or music, then I'm sorry. I need to say this, and it's dark enough that I don't really care to put it to song at this time. We're going to talk about violence.

I work in a call center. I'm the dreaded person you have to call to when you need help with your issues. I do it because I genuinely enjoy helping people. Whenever people ask me about what I do for a living, I immediately feel the need to apologize because . . . let's be honest: who enjoys calling in to call centers? And it's a double-whammy for me because I work in insurance; most people hate insurance too. I think just about everyone has negative connotations with customer service because we can all think of a time when we've had bad customer service.

The problem is  . . . we feel like it's our right be angry. Okay, sure, it's natural to be upset when we are violated in some way, and emotions are hard to deal with. I definitely don't think people should try to ignore or suppress their feelings. We have to figure out how to resolve them, and that can only be done by being aware of them and facing them.

I think we can all agree that someone walking into an office building with a shotgun to threaten the receptionist to get to whom they want to see is a wrong way to resolve feeling upset. That actually happened at a former place of business I worked at a call center for; the result was that we were no longer allowed to give out addresses or even the city we were in, and we were told to lie about the weather outside because we didn't have the resources to protect us at our call center. Isn't that nuts? We've also had to have security guards on alert because of very serious death threats and other violence that people said they would come to the office to commit. And, some of said people have actually come to the office, so these are not empty threats.

Physical violence is something that we know to be extreme and not okay. Self-defense is one thing; attacking people is another. I think we can also agree that attacking people physically is not productive. If the person can fight you back, then your attack is futile. If they can't, you're a bully and that person isn't more likely to do what you want or to have "learned their lesson." They will just be violated by you. If your end goal is anything honorable, it should be to have an issue resolved so that you are no longer violated. Obviously, violence won't resolve your issue, though some people make believe that revenge is justice. It isn't. It's just revenge and makes you worse than the people you've hurt. And, those people that get physically hurt aren't always in power to help you stop being violated anyway.

Let me allow you in to a secret: in customer service, I would love to always tell you the answer that you want to hear. That would make you happy, which means that I can feel good about my job and knowing that I made you happy. But, I can't always do that. We have rules we have to go by, like in every other job. And, before you say, "That's why I ask for a supervisor," our supervisors have rules too. We have to obey government and state laws that govern our workplace, the work itself, and rules laid out by everyone above us. And no, you can't talk to the CEO. Does the CEO at your job take calls? No? I didn't think so.

Okay. So, why do people think it's okay to use emotional violence?

I hope that anyone who has read this far really stops to think about this. People know it's bad for children; how many people aren't aware of the uproar on MySpace or Facebook when a child or teen commits suicide? This type of violence is also called psychological, mental, or emotional abuse.

We, as a society, seem to think it's okay to use verbal/emotional abuse to get what we want or to let off steam. It is NOT. It is the same as physical violence (I have littered some links to studies throughout this blog; read or google your own, but be aware of the consequences of actions). Because it is less tangible, we struggle to regulate it. This is in combination with the cultural thing where feeling hurt and emotional because of being abused is somehow unacceptable. People are even cowed into believing that they can't allow their bad feelings of being hurt by emotional abuse be a "burden" to friends and family who could listen and help them heal. And, if you think that I'm overreacting because I just work in a call center, I was physically abused growing up for years . . . and trust me, I went to the police and I went to school counselors all to no avail. This is a real problem. One of them didn't even want to discuss it, it made her so uncomfortable. Even the man I married struggled with this at first, and he loves me. People are uncomfortable dealing with these kinds of feelings or hurt and are even less comfortable committing to assisting with them because it is difficult to prove. So, people can get away with a lot of emotional abuse; that doesn't make it okay. Also, it's very upsetting that the rules favor the customers when it comes to emotional abuse; customers can abuse all they like, and that's supposed to be part of one's job. Even the research on abuse in the workplace is focused on co-workers and supervisors, but not customer abuse. Because of this, there is higher awareness within organizations, but customers tend to feel like they are always right and are not responsible, no matter how badly they behave.

At my first job in a call center, no matter what kind of emotional abuse we endured, we were not allowed to hang up. I'm sure some people reading this are already trying to justify that in their minds. "Oh, but most of your calls aren't that bad," and "We all  have rough times at work." The fact that we accept this culture is the problem. And, there is no justifying it. It is persistent over time, and it hurts. Do you know that I literally stayed on the line with people for 4 hours at a time, sometimes 2 hours after my shift was supposed to have ended, being emotionally abused? Granted, that wasn't every day, but it was regular. Unsurprisingly, I didn't feel bad when I left that job.

Today, my work is far more reasonable, but the emotional abuse is still there and it is regular. I'm there to help, and I will do everything that the rules allow for me to do. I will even challenge rules I think are bad and risk my professional reputation because I believe it is the right thing to do. I take my responsibility to be respectful seriously; I don't want to be an abuser either and I know it doesn't help. I know that most people in customer service don't take everything that seriously; trust me, that's frustrating to me too. They make it harder for me to help people who are relying on us. And, like all slackers, they make our supervisors and supervisor's supervisors create rules that are obstacles for the folks who are genuinely trying to do good work. But the thing that kills me inside daily, makes me sparkle a little bit less, that makes others resentful and give up on trying to be good employees, are the emotional abusers. The people who call in and think that it's okay to yell and scream, ask tasks that they know are impossible, or refuse to help the customer service representative to help them and then act indignant about it. And, it's not just our civilian customers. In fact, other professionals tend to be the worst. :( It's really upsetting.

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. And, I'll even give kudos to the person who calls me up and vents and says, "I'm sorry. I know it's not you specifically, but I'm just so angry about the situation!" Hey! You have a right to be angry, and I appreciate that while I'm there to take on the onslaught, you took the moment to realize that I'm a human being with feelings. To the person who calls up to do nothing more than be a bully, though . . .STOP. I think so many people justify it as, "I'm calling in to fix my problem that you jerks messed up, so you deserve what you get," and then they go on to allow nothing the other person tries to do to help them to be good enough and are abusive the whole way.

And, this emotional abuse really does hurt! We don't talk about it in the office because, again as a sickness in our culture, we think it's "not professional" to have feelings. That is . . . so messed up on so many levels that I don't even know what to say about that aspect of it yet. But, I have seen people get off a call where you could hear the person on the other line across the ROOM yelling at them, and they go to the bathroom in tears to try and hide their pain and suffering while they do what they can to recover, scared to return to the phone and be abused again. Multiple people. They never say a word, but they suffer. I don't tell others, either, for that matter, because I'm scared of losing my job or having people think less of me, like they did with my other abuse. And guess what? They aren't any better at their job afterward, bullies. If anything, they're worse because they are shaken up. If you don't want us to screw up, then stop creating a hostile work environment! No one works well under those conditions. Even worse, some of those people feel the poison of that emotional abuse and take it home with them. They bottle it up to keep their families safe, but the hurt just festers and festers. Sometimes, despite best efforts, it spreads, and that's the worst. :( Or, good people just quit. I've thought about it recently. In fact, I almost called my supervisor this morning because I was in tears. Thankfully, it came at the time of my first break so I had time to talk to my husband and calm down.

Go out there and look up psychology studies. Nothing supports this kind of behavior for conflict resolution. If you are emotionally abusing anyone, you are just as bad as the person who threatens to come in with a shotgun. Acts of emotional terrorism are not okay. They don't make you cool. They don't make you tough and more empowered; it rarely changes anything except for riling other people up to behave just like you and create more acts of emotional terrorism or break people down so that they're not functional anymore. We do have to stand up against being violated, but that isn't the way to do it.

I know it isn't easy, especially with movies promoting the notion that this kind of "justice" is amusing and cool. All that I can ask is for everyone to stop and think. Before you yell at your kids, your co-workers, your employees, or your loved ones . . . before you say something negative of any kind, think about the repercussions. Think about how you could do it more productively. Work at it; it's not easy. I've struggled too. When people don't listen, it makes it hard and it's easy to feel like the only option left is violence, physical or emotional. There's no real resolution in that, though. And, if something isn't working, the only thing to do is find another way. For every person, that other way might be different, but I encourage you to find it.

There are things I could personally request of our customers that I think I would be perfectly justified in asking (and I'd love to blog some things to help folks understand more about what we do), but all that I am going to ask for is the most important thing: Please, recognize that emotional abuse isn't okay. Realize what a monster it turns people into. Stop accepting it. And, if you have any suggestions about promoting this change, then put them in the comments!! Let's share the thoughts, ideas, and support, and spread them! That's all I'm asking for.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Believe" - MuseScore Draft

So, last month I had been planning on drawing and/or writing stories on here as filler. Then, I had some mental breakthroughs . . . I got courage, and I started working harder. My big brother gave me his old music production computer until I can afford the one I've been dreaming of. This all really changed everything!

In the past few weeks, I started plowing through the software on my brother's computer, getting familiar with it and wanting to record directly from my keyboard. What I discovered is that isn't really my style. At least, not until I have my music notated. I know many people I admire do it entirely the opposite way; they play it, record it, and worry about sheet music later. Quite likely because I am playing all of the parts myself right now, my mind can't contain it until it's notated. So, I chose the instruments (roughly) that I want to use in the fancy software on the old production computer, and then I've spent all of my time cramming in MuseScore, my favorite notation software (it's free and SO fast and easy to use). I was amazed! Once I knew what I wanted to hear from the fancy instruments (although, I may change my mind about them . . . there's so many options!! GAH!), between that and hearing the song in my head, it spilled out so easily. And so, I have the rough midi draft of "Believe" available below.

I was going to start with a different song, one that I was sure would be very well-received, but this one was insistent. I heard it every time I woke up, as I was falling asleep, in the shower . . . It demanded to go first. :} So, it shall. I hope you like it! And, though I am scared of it, bring on the constructive criticism. * hides behind a boulder * Although, I'm going to say before you can, yes I know the sound isn't leveled. I left this intentionally rough because when I port it over, I'd just have to redo all of the work again. So, meh. BUT, that being said, any ideas on what needs more or less would be good. I'm considering taking down the percussion during the chorus a notch, but we'll see.

I hope you listen all the way through and check out the lyrics! For your convenience, I have also added them below.

So, if you like this as a midi, please consider becoming a patron for me at Patreon. You'll get a free copy of the official song once it's released as well as more secret background information about it if you're a patron! And, being a patron doesn't have to cost much at all. You can be a patron for $1 for each piece I create or less (you set the max you are willing to pay per month!). So, check out my patreon account here:

Believe by Dreamsenshi

"Believe" lyrics:

It's alarming how while
I had meant to feel nothing at all . . .
I give you all I can.
I don't know what to do . . .

Do you harm or beguile?
I shouldn't think on things so small . . .
It's not part of my plan,
or all I thought I knew.

Because I've learned not to believe
in faerie tales.
Who are you to come and undo
all the pain that I've gone through?

If I try to believe,
you will break my heart . . .
So, I'll just imagine . . .

. . . Your disarming smile.
You make me the belle of the ball.
Not ashamed of who I am.
It's too good to be true . . .

Because I've learned not to believe
in faerie tales.
Who are you to come and undo
all the pain that I've gone through?

If I start to believe,
you will break my heart.
So, I'll just ignore . . . that . . .

I know I can't stay,
even if danger weren't in the way.
I just wish this dream could be

It's charming and futile.
I fear I . . .am starting to fall . . .
Moth to the flame of this man.
My heart beats only for you.

Because I long to believe
in faerie tales.
I want to be free and undo
all the pain that I've gone through.

I need to believe
you will hold on to my heart . . .

Monday, August 5, 2013

Music Computer

As anyone who has been reading my last few blogs probably knows, I've been saving up to get a music production computer so that I can record my music and finally get it going. I've been posting stories in the meantime, but they really aren't primarily what I want to do (even though I love them!). So, I had reached out to my brother to actually apologize for being stupidly busy and not spending time with him more often in the past year. :( I felt bad, because my big bro is a really great guy. After explaining to him what's going on with Terinati and I, he responded back excitedly about his own music projects and that he had an old music production computer I could  use until I can afford the one I'm saving up for! :D

So, Mike came over yesterday and we set up the old computer, and it's amazing-sauce. Seriously. I can't believe how awesome things sound on that machine, even with cheap $10 speakers. I've got some work to do now. =^--^= I am one lucky kid sister! This couldn't have happened at a better time because on my personal computer, the hard drive is going . . . which means I will more than likely need to replace that before I can afford the new production computer. 

The good news is, MUSIC SOON! Sooner than would have been possible otherwise. I'm really going to work hard to get some demos so you guys can see why you'd want to be a patron of mine (if you're not a patron already). Also, I will have to show you some of my brother's work, because in my humble opinion, he is far more talented than myself and deserves to be heard. :) Maybe we'll even make music together (that would be one of the greatest things ever, I think). Only time will tell though.

There's a lot of work ahead of me, to be sure, but this knocks out a big obstacle. I do have a goal list, but it is quite long and complicated, so I don't think you'd be interested in that. :} I will keep you posted so that you know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! I'm so pumped right now. Every time I woke up last night, I had songs in my head . . . and they finally have a really good place to go. SQUEEE!

SOON!! =^00^=

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Everybody Dies"

The following is a mock children's book. If you enjoy it and would like to see more things like it, or more things like this, please consider becoming a patron at .

"Everybody Dies"

Written by Jesse T. Jones

Illustrated by Jessica P. Jones

PARENTAL WARNING: Not intended for use with small children or impressionable adults. For entertainment purposes only.

There's something I'm going to share with you

That I've come to realize

No matter where, or when, or who you are,

Everybody dies.

Your favorite musician

Is likely very close

To dying of something terrible

Like suicide, or overdose.

If you have a hamster,

Or a kitty or a pup,

Some day they will play dead,

And never get back up.

Your grandma and your grandpa

Could bite it any day

So tell them that you love them

Before they go away.

Every time your parents drive

While talking on their phone

They raise their chances even higher

Of leaving you alone.

At any time, night or day,

Anyone can die

From burglars, terrorists, and nasty storms

Or possibly things falling from the sky.

So before you go to bed tonight, know that this is true:

Every person must die some time; tonight it might be you.


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