9.23.2016

A Call Was Sounding



"Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest."  


There are a great many times I articulate myself here on this blog, but there are also a great many times in my life that things happen I don't know how to articulate (or if they even can be.)  This is one of those times of the latter--whatever I say wouldn't make sense, and so it's just going to be a useless babble.

Something amazing happened this weekend.  I did something good and for myself and I can't begin to explain how happy I am.  DO YOU HEAR THAT, WORLD? I SAID I'M HAPPY FOR ONCE.  I have basically always used the word 'doleful' to describe myself and I'm sure I still have plenty of misery to muster up for everyone so don't get too excited, but something has changed.  I feel more like myself than I have, maybe in my life.

Enough blabbing.

 

9.19.2016

Life Lately: September

I was going to be neat and condense everything I've done into several posts, but ain't nobody got time for that.  Instead of writing about the individual events I'm going to talk about everything that's gone on, and my feelings on it.  Cause this is a blog dammit.  READ MY DISORGANIZED THOUGHTS AND ENJOY


Fall is hard.  No matter how much I love Halloween (ALL THE LOVE) or cooler weather or changing leaves or god forbid I don't include fucking pumpkin spice or someone will stroke out--and I love all these things--I get down.  I feel old.  I feel ready for death and I have felt that way ever since I was twelve.  I told my dad I didn't like autumn because it made me feel like I was supposed to die and he gave me a hilariously disturbed look.  Seasonal affective disorder is real, and it grabs me by the metaphorical scrotum this time of year.

One of the things that's been so important for me in therapy is really sitting down frequently and having that heart to heart "but you're here now and here is mostly all right" talk.  It's something I have to do more often when, like now, I'm having nightmares or get triggered by some asinine thing I completely and utterly forget the present, every single bit of it.  When the present is crappy, therefore, I have an even harder time pulling myself up.  And the present has been pretty damn crappy!  Flemith's surgery started a landslide of bad events that would normally cause me to just roll over and give up.  I won't go into them here, but just trust me....bad.

I kept scheduling activities in the hopes that things would change and I would feel some of that "but you're here now."  Despite all the inner turmoil, personal illness, exhaustion, and feeling like I'm pushing a stone pointlessly up a hill, some amazingly sweet touches have taken place this month.

 
-A coworker sent me a photo of wild Utah mustangs (he knows I love them and want to see them)
-A friend came and made breakfast for me, Derik, and Nicky: Elk sausage, egg, and hashbrowns!
-I went to Oktoberfest and had a BLAST!  I even danced.
-Flemith has continued to grow and thrive and be the sweetest cat on earth
-I taught EMT class for my coworkers (more on that below)
-a coworker who knows how obsessed with Mad Max I am, gave me his paracord bracelet
-I went to the Utah State Fair and rode the rides and ate gross food and took a moonlit car drive
-I was in the Utah Urban Arts Festival pin up contest!

EMS Instruction
This is arguably the most important to me and I wanted to talk a bit more about it.  So a few weeks ago the EMT training schedule went up and I got excited because duh I'm a loser.  Leonard, our trainer, picked up on my enthusiasm and asked if I would be interested in teaching a portion.  I jumped on that like a dog all over a steak.  Leonard knew that I had my CPR for Healthcare Providers instructor's certification and that I had taught in the past.  What he didn't know is that I am rabid when it comes to the combination of teaching and EMS--they are my two passions in my professional life.

I think I must contain my enthusiasm as well as a toddler because Toby, my boss, stopped to talk to me about it before the class and he asked if I'd be interested in getting certified to teach.  In other words, a bona-fide Utah State EMS Trainer.  YESPLEASE.  Again, I didn't hold back my intent.  I can't be subtle about this.  Despite being dog tired I completed my portion of the training and it went really well.  I loved it.  I feel so valued and so impassioned when people believe in me this much.  Not only is this the best job I've ever had, but Toby is the best boss I've ever had, and I can't lie, seeing him give me a thumbs up after I finished my class was basically the best thing in the world.

Pinup Contest!
So I entered my very first actual real onstage arguably legit pinup contest!  I've done a few hither and thither that weren't...well, onstage, but this one was! I had to enter and become a finalist (which I already had for another show, but it got rained out) and then had to do my walk and answer questions and pose and the whole nine yards.  I have to say, it was everything I hoped! I met some fantastic girls and got to pamper myself and look all perdy.  Best of all a few people showed up to cheer me on and a few who couldn't, texted me and called me to wish me luck.  I didn't win, but I honestly don't even mind.  The girls who did win deserved to, everybody was dressed to the nines and looked freaking amazing.  I even got to nerd out for a minute and give my 30 second spiel about how important the atomic age is and how I got into pinup thanks to the country's history with nuclear energy and its appeal to me....it was an easier lecture than Fallout....

So here we are with a few weeks left in September.  I have an impromptu camping trip coming up in a few days that I'm really excited about, because after the pomp and circumstance of a pageant, I really need to be makeup free and grungy, eating hot dogs from a stick over the fire.  I'm also going to take this opportunity to tell as many skinwalker stories as I can.

I also booked my ticket to go home in October, and that's in the back of my mind for now.  I have more to look forward to, it seems, but these small and simple gestures of kindness from people in my life have so far gotten me through a mostly pain-free September.



9.12.2016

Birthday Playlist // Bloggy Brunch!

29
I try, every year, to put together a playlist at my birthday that I feel reflects who I am in that year.  This year I was really surprised at how many of these don't have lyrics.  I usually enjoy lyrics that pertain to me (conceited, don't care, it's my birthday) but so many that spoke to me are completely instrumental.  I'm going with it and taking it as a sign that I need to talk less and listen more.

A lot of the themes with these songs are life and death--okay mostly death-- though there are a few personal relationships of my 28th year thrown in there ('Dollhouse' and 'Black Sun' for the bad, 'Perfect Day' and 'Tell Me Now' for the good!)  At first I thought the life and death theme was just me and my morbid tendencies, but after I found Helvegen and started thinking about Odin a bit I've begun to believe that I'm yearning for a death of certain things and a rebirth of others.





Sacrifice
If you're not familiar with Norse mythology, Odin, on his eternal quest for knowledge and wisdom, sacrificed himself by hanging himself from Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life that holds all the nine kingdoms within its branches (and for good measure he speared himself too.)  The interesting part is that he states in the Hávamál, written in his own words, that he was "given to Odin, myself for myself."  Odin was the Allfather, a powerful immortal, so this is really fascinating to me.  He found himself a suitable sacrifice, and in so doing, gained the unparalleled magic and wisdom of the runes.

I really like not only his tooth there, because he hung from a tree with a spear wound with no food and water and commanded the other gods to leave him, which is pretty badass, but he saw himself as important enough to sacrifice for unheard of wisdom, he didn't mind giving up and going without for the promise of something better.  In the end, he believed gaining new knowledge and bettering his own wisdom and thus self, was the most important endeavor. It's comforting for me to find a parable like this and I plan on giving it a lot of thought over the next while.

Excerpts
I wanted to post so many lyrics but the snippets don't really do the songs any justification.  Instead I'll leave a bit here from Helvegen, arguably the best and most appropriate song for my oncoming 29th year, and it's a song for warriors going to Hel, so that's comforting right?

Alt veit eg Odin
kvar du auge løynde
Årle ell i dagars hellenn 
veit ravnen om eg fell 
Når du ved Helgrindi står
og når du laus deg må riva
skal eg fylgje deg
over Gjallarbrui med min song

I know it all, Odin
Where you hid your eye
Early or the day's end
The raven knows when I fall
When you stand by the Gate of Death
And you have to tear yourself free
I shall follow you
Over the Resounding Bridge with my song


9.06.2016

Aging Out of Foster Care: My Story

A few good rules of thumb with vlogs is to keep it concise, to not get distracted by a spider on the wall, to not curse every other word, and to not yell.  It's also a pretty good rule of thumb to not add in snips of you texting and head bobbing to the namesake song of your blog (Haifisch) but I am not here to tell you what rules to break.

Sorry this is so long.  Actually no I'm not.  I'll do better when it's not as complicated of a topic.  If you actually sit through this miserable tale, kudos.  I won't hold it against you if you don't!


Aging Out of Foster Care

I’ve spoken about this before on the blog, but it really deserves an in-depth discussion.  Aging out of the foster care system--what it means, and more importantly, what it means for the youth who have to endure it.  “Aging out” isn’t a part of most lexicons, but for those of us stuck in the system it was a term we looked apprehensively toward while we were in care, hoping for independence and success when we grew up.  As adults, it’s a sickening term that illustrates how little we were cared for and how poorly equipped for the future we were. “Aging out” is probably the easiest topic I can talk about to prove that the foster care system is disgustingly broken and an ultimate failure.


Before I start throwing those opinions around, let me give you a few statistics.  Read these carefully.

Approximately 20,000 teenagers ‘age out’ of the foster care system annually.  Either they are emancipated (parental rights are stripped and the teenager is automatically an adult) or in most cases, they simply turn 18.   

Within four years of aging out:

-25% have been homeless
-less than half graduated from high school
-More than 80% are unable to support themselves
-40% were on public assistance
-half were unemployed
-75% of youths in the criminal justice system were once in foster care
-38%maintained a job for at least 1 year, 
-60% of the young women had given birth to a child
-median weekly salary was $205

That’s pathetic.  Are you kidding me?  Pathetic.  And I’ve been homeless, and I just barely graduated high school myself.  I am the only foster alumni I’ve personally known who hasn’t had children yet. Many girls I was in foster care with were either pregnant or got pregnant immediately after leaving care, usually without a diploma.  It’s taken me the better part of ten years to support myself and I still have lingering debt, and I’m one of the lucky ones.

Why are these statistics so depressing?  Where does it go wrong?  Looking at that it would almost seem that foster care is prepping kids for disaster.  And it is.  I'll try to summarize how.

Furthering Emotional Damage
Foster care is a mad flurry of putting a kid somewhere away from the state’s wallet.  Best case scenario, it’s with a parent.  However, what these dense motherfuckers don’t seem to realize is that the entire point of the system is getting kids AWAY from damaging families.  Families are not inherently good, thus the whole “unfit to parent” dilemma that puts kids in the system.  This equates to a lot of failed reunions and repeat offenders--kids who enter, then re-enter, the system.  Even still, the goals of caseworkers are simple.  Get the kid out of foster care.  If a shitty family isn’t possible, the next option is a shitty foster family or a shitty family member.  I realize I’m being cynical here, but the truth is that very few family members or foster families want to take on the task of being a stable, “forever family” to any kid, much less a mentally and emotionally damaged one.  We’ve all been abused, probably physically, probably sexually, definitely emotionally.  By the time we’re teenagers it’s a far cry from a picturesque Little Orphan Annie story.  Nobody wants to raise that, much less help that transition into adulthood, which is hard as fuck for the most well-behaved teen.


Let me repeat this.  The statistics speak for themselves; most youth will age out without any type of future plan or security.  Whatever security they carve out for themselves will always include a broken family at its core--that is enough to ensure failure in most cases.  But then, to add, they are juggled around like hot diseased potatoes and abused even more by caretakers along the way.  Another depressing number:  the rate of sexual abuse within the foster-care system is more than four times as high as in the general population; in group homes, the rate of sexual abuse is more than 28 times that of the general population.  What the fuck, seriously.  I mean at the end of the day, the system is pretty much “let’s take these kids out of an abusive environment so they can all get raped.”  This is how we are prepared for adulthood.  Foster alumni sit around and talk about things like being starved as punishment and getting fondled by our caretakers the way other adults reminisce about playing sonic the hedgehog or getting lost in the park.

No Preparation During Care
So these hair-brained ideas of getting these teenagers a home that will put up with their emotional outbursts and PTSD and suicidal issues and self-harming tendencies are successful slim to never.    Nobody wants that in their family, blood or otherwise.  At this point the kid is just floating around waiting to turn 18 or get emancipated, whichever happens first.  And what are we doing to help them while they float around?  Not a goddamned thing.  I can tell you firsthand, NOT A THING.  I had to go to a few mind-numbing stupid seminars as a teenager where I did the most inane, stupid “life prep” skills in the world.  Things like a blank checkbook (yeah that turned out to be helpful) and a motivational speaker who had never even been in foster care and was telling us how to succeed.  Yeah, helpful.  Other than that it was just a slew of caseworkers and families, moving moving moving.  Different school after different school.  Getting physically and sexually assaulted by foster parents.  That was the preparation I got for turning 18, and my situation is a very average, mild situation in foster care.

No Independence In the System
What’s the one thing you need in America to get on your feet?  Unless you live in a substantially urban area, it’s a car.  You can’t work without a car.  And what do you think foster youth are pretty much guaranteed to not get when they turn 18? That’s right, a car.  Most states don’t allow foster youth to get licenses or learner’s permits unless a foster parent or relative signs them onto their insurance--yeahhhhhh, you can imagine how frequently that happens.  In the seventeen homes I was in, I never met a foster youth with a license, if that tells you.  So, there’s another tick on the box of leading us right to failure. Anything that helps wean normal teenagers into adulthood, like getting a job, a savings account, a car, a curfew--is usually completely neglected for the foster teens.  I was insanely lucky that my foster parents let me have a job waitressing for a few months, because I got used to the idea of having my own money, and liking it.  That was where the independence ended for me; I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was 26 and it was only my fear of drugs that prevented me from going absolutely insane heroin queen once I aged out.

Even the Perfect Formula Fails 
So let’s say a foster kid wins the foster care lottery and ends up with a scholarship and school funded and a program to help them graduate college?  There are grants aplenty out there for us poor souls.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself (though a whopping 4% of foster alumni graduate from a four-year college) but I was pushed by others and pushed myself to do everything in my power to get into college and made it--and still failed.

I will be talking more in-depth about why Thursday, but it boils down to not being prepared.  I mean, you take a kid who didn’t have indoor heating until she was in foster care, and then got juggled around the state of Tennessee changing families like most people change their wardrobe, battling things like physical abuse, sexual abuse, a prison mentality and hierarchy with the other girls, being the new kid in school, a head full of lice for years, and the lack of any stable and reliable adults--that pretty much spells it out.

So even if everything is done right and a possible “success story” is in the works, it’s pretty much like walking a tightrope.  I still feel like I’m walking it to this day, even though the system is behind me.  It is something that will never leave me, as I’m sure most alumni can agree.  I don’t think the general public understands that the system is so much more damning than helpful--it’s pretty much the same story as prison.  Prison takes people out of the world and puts them in a big dogfighting ring and does the opposite of life preparation.  Foster care is a mirror of that, except there are no criminals.  There are abused children.

Maybe that's why adolescents who had been in foster care were nearly two and a half times more likely to seriously consider suicide than other youth, and adolescents who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than other youth.

Too bad counseling isn't mandatory, and any counseling or therapy foster youth might be lucky enough to get is subpar.


9.05.2016

Oktoberfest 2016

Or, "Let me yodel you the song of my people."





 


Are you following me on Instagram yet?  You monster, why not? 

Bloggy Brunch // Things Happening!

How to tell you're bad at keeping up on blogging: it's September and you still have to finish a post about your vacation in July.  That's pretty bad.  But it's okay, because I have a few things on the table and so this post is more of an update about those than an actual focused entry.  I only do this when I have too many disorganized thoughts to pick one and write about it, but they're also for reader's benefit, since they're all new features.  I needed to spruce things up around here!


Without further ado:

Vlogging - I have whined internally about not having the best software long enough and I don't care anymore.  Expect to see some vlogs.  With crappy sound and video.

Foster care series - I had one planned and decided this month is the bests time to do it since I would rather not drag down one of my favorite months (October) with depressing foster care writings.  I've got the topics all penned out and I'm nervous because I decided to do two per week, which is a lot even though it doesn't sound like it.  I wanted to push myself though, so we'll see how it goes.

Weird Wednesdays - I don't much like doing a weekly themed post, but the idea to write about something I love that's weird has been on my mind for months.  It can be a song or a book or a band or a food, just something weird (trust me, the well runs deep and full on me and weird.)  So that's also going to start in September and I'll roll with it as long as it's fun.

Bloggy Brunch - I was excited to get involved with this linkup, as I've known Nora for a long time now (can it really be years? what?) and though I've been so busy I can't see straight for the past little while, I'm going to be joining in!  Thanks Pam and Nora!

Rules:
1. Link up ONE favorite post that you'd like to share with others. This can be a recent post or an old favorite from your blog. (We only ask that you don't link up the same post week after week! That doesn't help your blog or the link up.)

 2. Spread the love to others in the link up. (A good rule of thumb is comment on two or three other links.)

 3. Share a link to this post on social media using #bloggybrunch to let your friends know you linked up!

4. Have fun, be social, and spread the word - after all, that's what link-ups are all about!

5. Join us on Twitter at 11am PST for our weekly #bloggybrunch chat! Then, return next Sunday and link up a different post! By posting a link, you are giving us permission to use one image with a link back to your blog if you are featured next week!

 This link up opens on Sundays and remains open for the entire week.



9.02.2016

Ghost Town in the Sky

This was a prompt from the 8-Minute Memoir.  The prompt was 'billboard' and I kept seeing the board for Ghost Town enter my mind--I kept writing long past the 8 minute mark, however...

If there was a delicious ice cream sundae of cherished family memories in my brain, Ghost Town (and Santa's Land!) would definitely be the vanilla bean bones of the sundae.  This place was so special for our family, and for me as a child, and not just because it was a happy place.

 
Obviously we didn't do a lot of normal family activities, unless 'normal' equals 'Little House on the Prairie', which for most people in my generation, it does not.  That is kind of what I felt like a lot as a kid anyway; Laura Ingalls stuck in a time warp and going to school in 1990 and returning home to 1874.  Going to my first theme park illustrated this clearly.  I was a sheltered, ignorant kid with no idea what a theme park even was, I hadn't even seen National Lampoon's Family Vacation by that point.

September Monthly Goals

And my birthday month is over.  While I love summer and all things August, I can't say I'm not so excited for fall that my mouth is literally watering.  And I totally haven't already dragged out the winter/fall wardrobe and bought a bunch of tights and a few cardigans...nope haven't done that...



A Hard August
Unfortunately everything good that happened in August was completely and totally overshadowed by Flemith's near-death experience. I will never forget how it felt, being in that dark bedroom alone, bawling my eyes out for hours and feeling so helpless and alone. I'm not meaning to be dramatic, only honest at how devastating it felt.