<3

In November of 2010, I was living in a quiet town in Orange County with my husband, Dave, and our two cats.  We owned a shop, where we showed off the work of local artists.  In December of 2010, I was accused of a crime at my job and, in the process of dealing with all of that, lost our shop and our home and all of our things.  We lived where we could– hotels, spare bedrooms, cars.  In January of 2011, miracle of miracles, I started a new job and it was a beautiful and safe one.  The year was filled with court meetings and lawyers, illness, and going without– but good people started to flood into our life as quickly as material things left. In August of 2012, as we were in a slightly better place, Dave started a blog for me.   I had no idea what blogs were, but it was a hobby I could afford with the only things we had left– borrowed wi-fi and old laptops. In November of 2012, that blog was Freshly Pressed (which was, at the time, WordPress.com’s method of featuring a post on their main page).  The audience grew, my writing improved, and most importantly of all– I met a lot more really good people.  My husband and I were so entrenched in this community that we decided to host a blogging meet up, which we did in March of 2014.  It was delightful and we were already planning quite a few more, but then instead, in May of 2014, a warrant was filed for my arrest and I turned myself in to Orange County jail.  I spent two months in a two-person cell while I worked out the details of the plea bargain I would eventually sign.  In the middle of that process, I was moved to one big 40-woman cell that we called The Tank.  Later, in August of the same year, I was transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla– over 300 miles from home.  There, I started a job as a porter, switched cells twice, and had over two dozen different cellmates, though never more than 7 at a time. Late November moved me closer to home, to the California Institute for Women (CIW), where I was enlisted into the Fire Camp training program.  There, I met friends, helped in the kitchen, cleaned the halls, tutored mathematics, pulled my hip out of socket, got slapped on the yard, almost paid a woman with postage stamps to stab me in the leg, failed the wildfire training program, had 10 different cellmates one at a time, became a structure firefighter for the prison itself, and moved cells four times.  None of that seemed important enough for the timeline because in May of 2015, Dave died.

Take a deep breath here.  That’s what I did.

Then I went to his funeral, escorted by an officer, dressed in prison blues. Then I fought a fire which allowed me to parole early.   I paroled in July 2015, and walked out the gates to my mother who had flown across the country to be here when I was free.  We had very specific guidelines we had to meet for parole, so I ended up living in a city and county of which I was completely unfamiliar.  Long Beach.  I lived in a house with a family I had never met before.  They were kind. The pattern seemed to hold.  Material stuff out, good people in.  It took a few weeks to start blogging again.  It took a few months for parole to decide I could stay in Long Beach and didn’t have to move back to Orange County by myself.  Those were tense months.  Even grocery shopping, I was in temporary violation.  I could have been flashed, which is what happens to parolees in violation– 5 days thrown back in jail, without any court hearing.  I didn’t sleep.  Eventually, I started that miracle-job again.  I still didn’t sleep.

Two hour daily commutes. A car accident.  A car break down.  My cats were returned to me but I had nowhere to go with them.  Miracle of miracles, the HouseFamily took them in, too.   I wrote a book.  The PTSD got so bad that the day Mama moved my stuff without asking, I threw up till I passed out.  My birthday happened.  I met up with a dozen friends who I met through blogging.  I went to the beach, to the aquarium, to the grocery store. My computer broke.   I read books.  I ate foods that Dave never liked or couldn’t eat.  I told my stories.  In November, we did NanoPoblano again.  In December of 2015, I held Dave’s death certificate in my hand and finally learned how he died.  He depression made him drink, his diabetes made that drink deadly.  I was numb through the holidays, numb through my ten year anniversary, numb when armed officers barged into my house in the middle of the night for a parole inspection.   I went to work that day.  I loved my job.  I loved this blog.  The headaches turned out to be because I needed glasses. I got rid of the things I didn’t need to be keeping.

Somehow it was 2016, and then somehow it was Dave’s birthday, February 22nd, and then I lost a friend to a long fight with cancer.  Somehow I started dating.  Badly.  Then we lost Peggie.  It was April and my friend was telling me that her husband, another friend, had committed suicide.  April showers brought May memorials.  I cried for Trevor.  I cried for Dave. I couldn’t believe that only a year ago, he was alive.  I went to the movies by myself for the first time.  I started writing a book.  I started therapy.  In June, I announced the title — Sack Nasty.  That month, I started reading my poetry out loud again for the first time since before prison.  On Independence Day, I released the book.  I had a book signing.  I helped a friend publish his book.  I got off parole, and was finally actually free. I met a dozen more blogger friends in August when I won a Voices of the Year award for a blog post about prison.   I started a YouTube channel with a friend.  I started a Patreon account. In October, we lost Paul. My computer and phone broke. In November, we did NanoPoblano again.  There was a totaled car, somewhere in here.  Rehab and MRIs.  New bills, new symptoms of high anxiety and PTSD.  There was being told to go home to my country.  There was losing my comic book collection.  There were moments of completely giving up, and then there was December and the world felt new again.

Take a deep breath here.  I did.

I helped set up a Christmas tree.  I walked the streets of Long Beach, smelling like pine, feeling like I was right at home, and that everything was going to be okay.  On Christmas Eve, I got a letter saying I owed $452,000 to the state of California for restitution.  I felt sick the next day, then the next, but that day was my 11th anniversary so maybe I would have felt sick anyway.

All of a sudden, it was 2017.

I started not sleeping.  I started not eating right.  I started feeling like everything awful in the world was about to happen.  Everything made me sick.  Everything is a jumble here.  I disappointed my miracle boss. I quit my job with enough savings to give myself a breather.  I moved out of the house.  There was a lump on my breast but it wasn’t cancerous.  The state emptied my bank accounts for the restitution.  I had no more savings and no more time for a breather, so I started working again.  The constant pain was exhausting and invisible.  Something was not right with my body, with my mind.  I started fixing it with prescriptions.  Then fixing side effects with more prescriptions. There were panic attacks in here, hormone panels and MRIs and endless therapy appointments, both group and one-on-one.  I found out I would likely never be able to have a child.  There was a stalker and a restraining order. There was a talk with the state about prison policy.  Oh, and there were sushi burritos and tater tots with cheese, and movie theaters, and very kind boys who took me on very nice dates.  Boys became singular.  There was travel, minimal, and the anniversaries of all things.  I got used to Long Beach this year and I’ve met some blog friends I didn’t really expect to meet for a very long time.

Rarasaur blog turned 5.   I visited my family back home, in a city I’d never been to before.  Somehow in the chaos of my years, my little sister got married and had a baby.  My baby brother got married and had two.  My younger brother got married and had one. My best friend got married and had a baby, too.  I had a birthday this year, and nothing bad happened. I found a tiny door on the side of my building and made it a gnome home.

It’s November 2017, and we’re doing NanoPoblano again.

And I am tired.

I’m sure everyone’s life looks like this, if listed out, but I am tired just thinking about it and I’m always looking for ways lately to make my life less stressful.  I tell people, on a scale of 1 to 10, I don’t want to mess with anything above a three.

Less than three.

Less than three.

The first year of freedom, I was always looking for the right way to start rebuilding my life.  This last year, I’ve been looking for any way to rebuild my life.  Most days, I feel like I’ve wasted my time.  I feel so ungrateful.  I’ve seen so many miracles.  The universe has given me so many kind people, so many second chances, so many safe places. I’ve been free since July 2015.

Why do I feel so stuck in the brokenness?

Will I ever heal?

Then I really look at this listing of events.  I really look.

And I take a deep breath.

I figure I owe myself about a million more of those.  It has been a long seven years.

 

I don’t mean that to say I am owed anything, or have achieved anything.  I only mean that when I see it all written out, I think to myself, that I have done the best I could. That’s all I would have asked of one I love, and so that’s all I’m going to ask of me.

I have plans that I’ll share with you later. Tomorrow’s post will be a picture, so don’t worry about having to read another treatise.  Today, I am just trying to live at less than three.

Less than 3.

< than 3.

< 3

Pepper2017
We’re blogging every day in November. CheerPeppers.com

 

68 Comments

    1. Yeah, I try to keep the details to a minimum, even here, because I don’t want to feel like a lifetime movie. 😉 But yes, it’s been a whirlwind. On the bright side, it makes me very grateful for quiet days. 🙂

      Like

  1. So much. Such strength and pain and beauty. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I cleaned my desk out this week and found the letter I mailed you in prison but addressed with marker so it came back to me. If only you knew all the people pulling for you because of all the ways you shine light in this world. Sending hope, if that can be sent.
    (And what you have here isn’t a treatise, it’s an outline for a book… a powerful, sad, beautiful book.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, maybe Hollywood would want your story. On a serious note, you are making a difference in this 60-something’s life, just by giving me something beautiful to read and reflect on every day. Thanks. And hugs. Lots of hugs. All the hugs.

    Like

  3. If I could send you all my strength and all my love inside of something pretty, I would. Sending everything positive that’s in me your way. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You’ve seen me read poetry Ra, I take deep breaths in order to slow my mind down. I take deep breaths because sometimes so much is going on in my head that I feel like I forgot to breath. I’ve been through a lot, not in a comparative way to you but I’ve been through stuff and I’ve come to realize that regardless of what I think of myself, I’m more powerful than I could even imagine. And just when I think I have no more power, I somehow summon more. We all can take on so much more than we could ever imagine.
    Speaking truths through vulnerability have helped heal me and in turn, I’ve been told, have helped heal others. You are the epitome of this. I’ve never seen anyone do vulnerability better than you. Which is, in my opinion, why you summon, what seems to us on the outside, superhuman strength despite what you have had to deal with.
    Deep breaths. Take as many as you need.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ❤ I do like less than three's ❤ hugs so many hugs. (I just remember Bill telling us that we hugged each other like long lost high school friends… of course we did. So many internet hugs were built up and had to come out all at once!)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I don’t mind reading a treatise if it’s this interesting. I read it whole…Reading it made me realize there were so many other things that we didn’t know happened to you. But them again, the same can be true of everyone, we don’t always talk about everything for one reason or another. As you said, “everyone’s life looks like this”, figuratively speaking.

    When you’re down, never forget to take that long, deep breath…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I wish you a great future, as starts every day, when you wake up, no matter you got your sleep or not 🙂
    Life can be tough and we can choose to handle as much as possible best possible, which you are an excellent example for.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just send you love Ra. And more love. And more love. There’s nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other. Ask nothing more of yourself than that. As you realise – you’ve done the best you could, and will always do the best you can, no matter what.
    Alison xox

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Ra
    I have no words.
    Scratch that. I have many many words, I just have nothing to add, nothing to help, nothing to support or change or lighten or…or anything.
    I can offer hugs but you have real people who hug you and that is so much more valuable than virtual hugs (although I think they’re good too). I can offer to open the windows so that your deep breaths contain more oxygen, but I’m a million miles away (more or less). I will offer you my thoughts. Take them or leave them as you see fit.

    I feel, after reading your condensed list of events, that I should probably never feel the need to complain about my life ever again – nothing in mine even starts to compare to anything in yours – but I know that I’m rubbish at shoulding, and comparison sucks, regardless of the direction.

    I had a similar ‘epiphany’ the other day, tho on a much smaller scale; I felt (and still often feel)) so totally incapable of dealing with everything, let alone winning at any of it, and it took listing everything I’ve been involved with recently to realise that I need to be more patient with myself, that I am only one person, that I am doing the best I can do in the circumstances, even if I know, or at least think I know, I could do better given more time, more sleep, more distance between all the things.

    Keep breathing, I need to read how you keep on keeping on, how you stay so positive, how you keep your head above the waves. To be honest, I think we all need you. No pressure though! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thud. You are one amazing woman and reading your post today made me realize what I already knew. You are a survivor whose life has somehow crossed mine in a small way and I love that. I am sending love and hugs and all good things under three your way today.

    Like

  11. As horrifically moving this post is, it is made up of words. Words like THUD. Just a word. A thousand THUDs could not come close to the impact of the actual events you have endured these last seven years. Even your words are beyond me. Nevertheless, keep writing, Ra. Because sometimes words are drops of healing rain on the soul of the one using them. And keep taking those deep breaths. That is where you will find the gratitude and the love. And of course from all of us, but we are only words in comment boxes.

    It occurred to me that 3 should be the code for a broken one. If I could break my heart with/for you, I would. If it would help. But as you have come to learn, only you can mend that heart. And mend it you will.

    Take a deep breath. I just did.
    ❤ you, Ra.
    ~C

    Like

  12. Sure wish there was an edit button. For some reason an entire section disappeared. It read that less than three is H T M L code for the heart and that perhaps greater than three should be code for a broken one. Sorry about that. Clearly code is beyond me as well and something I typed in there did something unexpected. 😉

    Like

  13. Some life are bigger, thornier, scarier than others. Some are smaller, more anxious and like to shy away. Some are wide, some are narrow, some are old, some are new. There is so much love in the world, and so much pain, and you drew it all with the wonderful literary gift you have. I cried reading this, and I really wish you so much more love to battle out all the pain.

    Like

  14. We’re not super close, my fault because I’m so reserved, but I think that you’re an amazing person. And because I have depression, anxiety and PTSD myself, my heart hurts for all that you’ve been through.
    But…and please remember this, Ra…like you always say…you are loved. ❤

    Like

    1. Thank you, Kitt, for being a part of so many of those happy moments. Definitely up for lunch or dinner! I never seem to get out to Orange County though. Maybe we should try another Blogger Interactive type of meet up?!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. An emotional rollercoaster and a sprawling beast of a piece that packs a punch. If you make a list, it is going to feel worse because you are experiencing all that you have endured over the years all at once. You are still here to tell the tale though, that is one of the most important things to remember, you are strong and you will always have the support of your friends and family to give you a boost when needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David. I think this is one of those situations where my good memory is more curse than gift. I always perceive my memories as a giant list, 🙂 But on the bright side, as you say, it’s why I have a tale to tell. 🙂 Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t think of how many of these little hiccups and joys have been rambled on your sofa or in your cars or to your husband at full-speed. The safe space to ramble helps. I love you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. ❤ ❤ How can time slip by so quickly? Three and a half years since prison… I remember when Andree’ introduced you to me – albeit via WordPress. Sending you love and hugs and thuds ❤ ❤

    Like

  17. Biggest of hugs, Ra ❤️ Taking deep breaths sounds so good to me. You’ve been through so much. I know what you mean about healing and trying to find a way to rebuild your life, even though our circumstances are different.

    Healing isn’t a linear thing and I’ve stumbled a lot the past four years since life has decided to throw all kinds of emotional challenges my way! But like you, I’ve decided that small steps add up. Change one thing at a time. Hopefully, it will all come together and feel a little better each day. You’ve got this, and you’re doing so well ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  18. omg….you are lucky to have even survived all you have been through. Definitely give yourself a break. I feel like I haven’t been there enough for you sweet Ra. I wish you weren’t so far away. I really wanted to come down when I was off, and it would have been so nice, but I was suffering stress, and then some kind of head cold, and my neck went out and I couldn’t turn my head, and I ended up being ill and in awful pain the entire time I was off and accomplished nothing that I had hoped to accomplish. This year has been tough for me, but nothing like what you’ve been through. Breathe….. should take my own advice too. lol Hang in there….love and sweetness to you. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

Rawr?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s