Awesome WHAT?? ;D

SOMETHING. Awesome Something is right people. I spent the last two weeks in this awesome new business that my best friend owns and operates with her family and it’s truly a wonderful place for people to gather to do awesome stuffs. Whether it be playing Magic, Dungeons and Dragons, or playing Super Smash Brothers, the good times are limitless. The point of this place is to have a spot where locals can come and also tourists to visit and play games and spend time with awesome people. Not only is their a game room, but these geeks have everything you could want to find when it comes to merchandise. Anywhere from Magic Cards, Pokemon Cards, D & D books, Star Wars merchandise, to My Little Pony cards, Harry Potter items, Doctor Who goodies and Marvel too! If you are looking for it, it might just be in stock. The shop also carries a few local artists’ works as well as some items created by my bestie Miss Kayleigh Montgomery. She hand paints and customizes Nerf guns per commission. How rad is that?! The locals love it here and seem to have found a home, and definitely know that they can count on the owners of Awesome Something to be around for all of their geeky needs. They can enjoy snacks and drinks that are for sale as well while you game your day away. Locals are checking it out, and they know it’s a safe and healthy environment for their youngin’s to spend afternoons; once homework is done with of course.

ExtraLife

Even if you are not local, check in on what the shop is doing. They are doing a great job on posting the going’s on in the shop. I myself posted a few videos and photos of what I got up to while visiting. I wore fox ears and a tail that that had sensors that made the ears and tail robotically move based on sounds I would make and buttons I would press on a remote, I dressed up as Han Solo while Kayleigh wore a Princess Leia costume for Halloween, and I also recorded footage of some Dungeons and Dragons action and much more!

As more events go on, keep a look out for what is going on with Awesome Something. I guarantee you they’ll be up to something awesome!!

Like Awesome Something on FB by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/AwesomeSomethingAnacortes/

Han and Leia

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Florida Family Blues: Final Post

In the end, all the happenings and goings on in the household of my great aunt Carol and Hj made me very depressed and upset and I had a major panic attack one night and I was unable to sleep. I purchased my ticket to fly home just in time for my 27th birthday. This left me 2 weeks to tie up all the loose ends that I’d left hanging all over the place. I spent the day with my friend I’d made that summer and attempted to stay in her home until my flight time arrived. I was not able to secure a place to stay through her, but I was able to find a place through one of Hj’s friends whom had taken me out to Bingo a few times. I spent the night with her and she flipped out the next day and decided she was going to try to buy me another flight home to leave the next day. She was telling me that I needed to go home and show my mother that I was alright.

This was upsetting mostly because I’d been away from my mother all summer and she knew all of my plans the entire time and knew I wouldn’t make any rash decisions before letting her know. I had my reasons for remaining in Florida for that span of time and I had plans for it all. This woman was not about to ruin shit for me and so I took matters into my own hands and attempted to get help from my family in Tampa so that I could spend time there and be ready to fly home when the time came.

My last little stop before I left the town of Port Charlotte was to say my goodbyes to Hj and Carol before leaving. And of course to take all of my belongings I’d acquired over the summer and ship them home (I had purchased many souvenirs as well as items of clothing among other things). I made my way to the house over on Easy Street to face the music.

Hj was sitting outside in the sun when her friend and I arrived at the house. I told her I was leaving and she informed me that she was not surprised. I’d been discussing leaving with her for a time because I’d been pushing her to arranging a caregiver for her with all of her dementia issues and her stomach illnesses and I had done all I could I felt to help her. She told me she figured I was bored enough spending my days with a couple of old ladies and helping them out had drained me. I talked with her about how I’d panicked and would be going home shortly. I went into the house to gather my belongings.

I peaked into the Florida Room where the ladies spent their time watching television and looking out onto the canal just off their backyard where the small swimming spa was just outside the sliding glass doors in the room. My great aunt was lying on the small loveseat she tended to doze in most mornings after spending her nights awake due to her restless legs. She lay there now quite asleep. I made my way to the guest room which I’d made my home-away-from-home during my stay and began packing up my things as quickly and soundlessly as I could and taking them outside into the car.

Once I’d packed everything away, Hj and her friend told me I had to have a talk with Carol and say goodbye properly. I walked back into the house and woke Carol and told her I was leaving the house. She reacted defensively and began saying that she’d disappointed me. I told her that no, in fact she had not and that I felt that I had failed her. If I was truly the grown woman I thought I was, I would have come here and helped her as I’d promised from the start to do, rather than being an aid to Hj the entire time. Yes, I had assisted Carol in sorting through some of her papers and such, but I had been unable to help her sort through all her hoarded belongings and had been unable to sell anything. I had failed her completely and I felt it all the previous night when I had been unable to sleep. I told her that I’d been depressed all summer and had done the best I could to try to help her and Hj out as far as trying to convince them that they’d needed caregiving of some sort from a professional, but that all of this had been beyond me. I’d barely known these women for a mere 4 months. Who was I to them? A stranger. I had not felt like family to these women prior to my visit. I had short memories of my great aunt from the last time I’d seen her when I was about 6 years of age. This was the first time I’d met Hj and gotten to know her and basically the first time I’d had the chance to get to know my great aunt Carol.

I can happily say though, through all of the drama and heartache I’d felt over this summer of 2015, that I learned a great deal about these two wonderful, strong, women of this world. College graduates, feminists, and God knows just wonderful people in this world… I love them both. With all of my heart. I am so very happy to know them and have them in my life. Though they have always been far away from me, I know in my heart they are my family. I always will. They are there for me if I need them, and I am here for them just the same. I let them both know this upon my leaving. Yes, it was an upsetting end to the summer, but I honestly know that I left at a moment when I knew I had to remove myself from their home. I had spent time with them, learned about their lives, their struggles, their achievements… I was content in all this. I love them. I always will. One can only hope that family knows this. This is my hope. I love you Hj. I love you Carol. Know this. ❤Carol & Hj

The Gender Playbook

genderqueer.me

A Guide to Figuring Out Your Non-Binary Gender

Figuring out your gender is a very personal process; only you have the “magic” answers to your own identity.  It can be especially difficult if you feel your gender is non-binary, because there is no template for you to follow. This isn’t to say there aren’t some nifty tools to add to your toolbox (or fresh ingredients to your recipe, or whatever other non-macho allegory you wish to employ) making it easier for you to build your identity.

Through the years I’ve gathered snippets of wisdom; advice which seems obvious in retrospect, but is easily overlooked when you’re in the thick of fighting the binary. I also feature voices of other gender warriors who share insights on what would’ve helped them along the way, expanding upon the previous What’s My Gender guide.

So, I present: The Gender Playbook: A Guide to Figuring Out Your Gender.

playbook

  1. Certain Uncertainty

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Florida Family Blues Part II: No Longer On Vacation

Before I knew what was happening, I could overhear Hj throwing up in the bathroom attached to her bedroom. This soon became a norm for me. She said she wasn’t sure what she’d eaten to cause this to happen but that she wanted to talk to her doctor about it at her next office visit. When she did, she informed the doctor of her symptoms of how she’d thrown up and then spent the entire day weak in bed. This had occurred a few weeks in a row since I had come to stay with her and my great aunt Carol. The doctor told Hj that is was due to dehydration. For some reason, Hj always had issues with drinking normal amounts of water and said to me on multiple occasions that she felt as though she was drowning when drinking more than a glass of water a day. So we left with this in mind.

While this was going on with Hj, I had learned about her other ailments as well and about the other medications she took too. Carol told me as well as Hj that earlier in the year, Hj’s memories had began to fade and that she had the beginnings of dementia and had begun to see a brain doctor and take a brain pill to help her memory along. No such luck I’m afraid. Hj’s memory became less and less vibrant the longer I stayed in the household.

I realize of course that I was supposed to be helping aid my great aunt in her sorting of her belongings, and whatnot. However, I realized soon after arriving just what I was involved in. I was to be helping a hoarder. It was clear that this was no small feat to be helping her because she had multiple locations of where her hoarding could be found. It was in her bedroom, where she no longer slept due to lack of space, it was in my bedroom (the guest room), it was in their RV sitting parked outside, it was in the office suite of 3 rooms that she rented each month to store more of her hoarding. This was an undertaking that I had not anticipated. What my great aunt wished to do was to clean up her belongings and sell what she could and donate what she couldn’t so that she could use the office suite as her art studio and then would be able to teach as well at some point. This idea to me sounded wonderful and I was hopeful in the beginning. Then I started to sort through the years and years of unopened envelopes and newspapers and magazines that had piled up over the years that she had not disposed of for some reason or other. These were all habits of a hoarder. And then some. I won’t bore you with too much more detail, apart from the fact that I realized that their was nothing I could do to help the situation and so I got to a certain point and basically gave up.

Carol, my great aunt, had these hoarding tendencies, and also she was a night owl. She’d sleep all day nearly apart from when she had a doctor appointment and of course she’d wake up just a few moments before her soap came on each afternoon to catch the entire dramatic episode of The Young and the Restless. It was obvious to me that Carol was not happy and that she was terribly depressed. Hj and her fought constantly like a married couple. And why wouldn’t they?! They had lived in the same household for 15 years. Carol though, it seemed to me had something of a mood disorder. This thought occurred to me upon witnessing one of their little rows when having dinner and my aunt one moment was throwing her cane across the room, and then just perhaps 20 minutes later was calmly sitting and eating supper with us and laughing over a television show. I believe she has some form of mood disorder because her mood would change so rapidly I felt it wasn’t normal at all. I brought all of this to her attention to no avail. Carol was not up for seeking out help I soon learned.

Hj was my main concern. This was mainly because soon after my arrival, she became so ill that she was hospitalized and had certain tests run on her to find out the cause of her illnesses that were making her stomach upset and forcing her to be so weakened. Five days after being in the hospital, Hj was released home to Carol and I and we watched over her until she was to see a doctor about the results of the tests they’d conducted on her. This doctor basically told her that she had ulcers in her stomach and scarring from ulcers she’d had in the past and that he needed to go in surgically and remove any bacteria in her stomach and bile duct that was causing her to vomit. Once Hj heard all of this, she knew this doctor’s treatments were out of the question. You see, Hj had never had surgery or any major ailment in her life. She was fit as a fiddle and the moment she was less than so, she looked for another route. I couldn’t blame her either. The doctor was a total loon. Hj later found out that her ulcers were aggravating her pancreas and it caused her to have pancreatitis.

During this time, I was basically cooking, cleaning, driving, and assisting both Hj as well as my aunt in anything they required. I became a caregiver overnight when no one was around to realize this. I was working my summer away, all day every day. Making sure that Hj took her medications each day, making sure that her dog Charl-le was walked each day, washing any laundry or dishes here and there, and also cooking meals for her and Carol anytime it needed to be done. Driving to doctor appointments, driving to the grocery store, taking cars in to have work done on them and so on.

I was somehow doing all this and forgot that I needed to have time off for myself. Thankfully a friend of theirs would come by and take me out for an evening of fun occasionally to learn how to play bingo or whatever was nearby and entertaining enough to get me out of the house. Yes bingo isn’t necessarily for my age group, but it got me out of the house and my mind off of the situation I was in for the time being. I had time to think about my future and my time in Port Charlotte, Florida and how I could help Hj and Carol in their home. I also had time to think about how long I wanted to stick around to care for these ladies. Wonderful though they were and even tried to get me to meet their friends by hosting little dinner parties in their home and getting everyone to come out here and there so we could all eat dinner together for a birthday or just because even. Fun was had, but also difficulties as well.

While Hj was over here struggling with her illnesses, my great aunt Carol was in her bedroom playing Sudoku or doing a crossword puzzle or something to pass the time. She tended to keep to herself unless I made a point to spend some time with her and show her some affection. This was all well and good at times, but it was rare. We may be family, but this was the most time I’d ever spent with my grandmother’s sister, as well as the longest amount of time I’d ever spent with any family member other than my immediate family back home in California. Neither of us were used to each other, but we both grew to know each other somewhat over the months I was there. Whether it was by looking over the large family tree she’d gotten from one of our family members and seeing who I was related to, or maybe by going for a short dip in the pool that they had just outside the lanai (Florida Room) right off of the canal where their home was, laughing together over silly songs from her childhood or talking about my sexuality or religion, or whatever else popped into our heads bobbing in the water of the small swimming pool that was heated by solar panels.

These little things that made up my summer; these things that simply helped me get to know my great aunt and her housemate Hj, just made me stay as long as I did. No matter how ill Hj was, and no matter how horrible the tantrum Carol threw, I was there for them. I chose to be.

Florida Family Blues Part I: Getting to Know The Ladies of Easy Street

So as some of you know, I have been in Florida for the past 4 months.

For those of you who did NOT know, I have been in Florida for the past 4 months. 🙂

When I was let go from my job back in March, I had little idea of what my next move would be. Since I was in debt from all the ER bills and other medical bills that had stacked up from my seizure episodes, I had little choice but to hold onto my money and revamp my resume to begin submitting immediately. Or so I thought…

My best friend at once told me I needed to come visit her, so naturally I figured I would do that while I had the time and some funds left over from working hard lately. I bought my plane ticket to head up to Washington to visit Kayleigh in Anacortes, WA. Kayleigh and her family would be soon opening the now open shop of geekery, AwesomeSomething, so I knew that I would be helping out with that while in town.

Next thing I knew, my great aunt in Port Charlotte, FL (just a 2 hour drive South of Tampa, FL), gave me a call and offered to give me room and board if I would fly out to stay in her home and help her with some tasks. She gave me the list of tasks and I informed her that I would have to think about it and should I choose to go, that I would leave post-Kayleigh visit trip. She agreed and I took a week to weigh my options.

My great aunt’s offer was as follows: I was to receive room and board including meals and use of the amenities and pool they had at the house should I assist her in sorting out her belongings and preparing for a yard sale or two and then setting up an office suite for her to have an art studio that she could paint in and do crafting and possibly to teach someday. To me her plans sounded fantastic, however, I was unemployed and had to think about my future and also the most recent medical bills I still had under my belt to pay off. Naturally my first urge was to apply to a few jobs that week so I did, but I also thought about the fact that I had immediately applied for unemployment insurance through the Employee Development Department so I would be receiving money that way for the next 6 months or so. Having thought about all of this, I figured it would give me a chance to do some writing and to get out of my house and away from my parents for a change (no offense Mom and Dad, but I am grown and I could use a little time in a different household even though I cannot yet support myself). My aunt also had told me that she wanted me to help her write about her life and meet a writer friend of hers to get some advice on my writing and on how to get published someday. It all sounded amazing as the week went along.

I gave my aunt a call once a week had passed and told her that I had purchased my plane ticket to fly out in a month once I had visited my best friend up in Washington state for her birthday. She agreed and promised she would reimburse me the funds for the plane ticket and was looking forward to my arrival.

The weeks flew by as I made my arrangements. I visited Kayleigh and in the process fell very ill with a horrible earache and infection, which I also passed on to Kayleigh before leaving Washington. Altogether it was a terrific trip and we had fun just chilling at home and she showed me her new shop that was to open later in the summer with her mother’s help and brother. When I got home I quickly made sure that all of my things were taken care of before I left on my trip to Florida. I was off before I knew it! Frightened to leave my family for so long, but excited as hell! The longest I’d ever been away from home was just a few short weeks. I was in for some shocking stuff that was for sure.

I arrived at the airport in Fort Myers and ended up having to wait over an hour for my aunt and her housemate to come and get me. They ran late and some other stuff, but there they were! My great aunt Carol and her housemate Helenjane (ONE WORD!), who everyone calls Hj. These wonderful ladies decided to take me to Golden Corral for dinner before taking me home since I hadn’t eaten a real meal since very early that morning before my flight. We ate and returned to the house where Hj gave me the grand tour while my aunt went back to my room, the guest bedroom, where she was still clearing away some things she had been storing inside. Before I knew it I was passed out from exhaustion and happy to be in my temporary home for the next few weeks.

My great aunt has a cat that is 19 years old named Purr (Mr. Purrfect) and Hj has a small black poodle who is 15 years old named Charl-le (Charlie). These pets seemed to be their little kids that they took care of as these two had never had children of their own. They also have a small RV that they have parked up in a side driveway next to the house because they go out with a group called the Florida RVing Women. It was clear to me that they had spent many of their retired years in this RVing group and I had heard that they had had several RVs as well over the years. I also found many golf clubs around the house and golf trophies as this was another sport they participated in. Hj had grown up in Long Island New York just up the street from a place called Rockaway Beach. She attended school and grew to love sports. When she went off to college she yearned to teach physical education, and that she did! She ended up teaching physical education at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. My great aunt Carol also went to college and moved around much with her family when she was young and became a physical education instructor as well at the University of Wisconsin in OshKosh. The two of them ended up meeting by chance when my great aunt Carol was attending some courses at a later age and the two retired around the same time and moved down South to Port Charlotte, Florida to retire and have been housemates for the past 15 years.

Getting to know these two and caring for them just completely took over my life this summer, and I will tell you all about that in the next post I make.

“My Tunnels” – Submission to the Florida Weekly Writing Challenge

I just happened to come upon this one morning while reading the local newspaper while eating breakfast and was in search of something interesting to read and thought eh what the hell, I’ll see how this goes and what comes from it. I’m not at all expecting to be published, this was just something to do for fun. Take a read if you’d like. Thanks!


Florida Weekly Writing Challenge seeks your glorious works of fiction once again

08/20/2015

“Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.”

— Francois René de Chateaubriand

We tend to agree with Monsieur de Chateaubriand. And as is our custom this time of year, we aim to inspire some glorious writing with our annual Writing Challenge. Two winners will receive a ticket each to the Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference Nov. 5-8.

Using this photo as a starting point for your creative process, we’d like you to come up with a narrative work of fiction of 1,500 words or less. Florida Weekly will accept your original stories in Word format or pasted into the body of an email until midnight, Saturday, Aug. 29. There will be more photo prompts in the months to come. Email them to writing@floridaweekly. com and we will print the best submissions on these very pages. No “snail mail” copies will be accepted. Be sure to include your name, address and contact information with your submission. The earlier we receive your submission, the better your shot at being printed. For more information on the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, visit fgcu.edu/siwc.

Thanks for writing, and good luck.


Below is my submission:

It was one of the many railway tunnels that I’d slept in that summer in the countryside of France. The Red Train runs through it every few hours and so I had to keep moving or I would be hit. I’d found myself living on the streets once I’d lost my job and had traveled so far into France and decided not to go home and face the shame that I’d been feeling. I had told my family that I wanted to live abroad and that once I’d had my fill of the country, I would make my way home to them. That was about four months ago. Yes, it’s true that I was doing fairly well thus far with my little job at a local grocery mart as a courtesy clerk of sorts, but once they found out I was an illegal alien and did not have the proper paperwork to stay any longer in the country, my boss at the store had told me he wouldn’t turn me in, but that he couldn’t employ me for any longer. I moved out of the little house where I had been paying to rent a room from an elderly woman. She wasn’t the sweetest and when I’d told her I’d lost my crummy job at the store, she told me to get my things out by the next day at noon. Not that I’d brought much with me, but man was that a shock to my world. I never even dreamed that I would be living on the streets in France. This beautiful country had been so good to me, and yet I suppose it was mostly my fault that I hadn’t really planned this out all that well. I searched out shelter and knew of a local railway nearby. I went straight away since the summer heat was pounding down anywhere the sun cast it’s rays upon the pavement. I couldn’t find a better shelter than this currently. I was moving from tunnel to tunnel so that I wouldn’t be found. I’d spend my days working on coming up with some form of plan to get a job again. It’s true that the laws regarding immigrants were frightening and I just was not prepared to head back home with my “tail between my legs”. My parents had thought this whole trip was a bad idea from the beginning and I just felt I had to do this for myself. I saved up a couple hundred dollars and came out this way with next to nothing with me but my wallet and some clothes and my passport. I was initially only supposed to stay for the two weeks that were allotted tourists to stay in the country normally, but I called from my hostel I’d been staying at after just three days to my parent’s home to let them know that I had found a job and decided to stay a while longer for the summer. They really had no way to argue with me being so far away, but they warned me about holding on to my money and told me that this wasn’t too bright seeing as my passport was only good for the two weeks as a tourist. I wasn’t about to let them tell me what to do. My parents had been good to me yes, and put me through college, but they only paid for my schooling if I went and received the ridiculous nursing degree they wanted me to get. From the first day I was born, they pushed me and pushed me to attend medical school for they were both physicians and had a local medical practice that they ran together. They truly were quite a dynamic duo together and had some of the highest ratings in our area for their profession. I never wanted to be a doctor. They knew this. I never felt like someone who could spend my days treating the ill. Pushing me as they always did and being such wonderful role models as they were, I promised them that I would commit myself to at least going to nursing school if nothing more. This seemed to satisfy them somewhat and so I received my certifications and became a nurse. This naturally grew boring to me and I wanted to go on some form of adventure. This summer was going to be the one. Yet, here I was, sleeping most of my days away in this lonely, cool, dry tunnel out in the countryside of France. It was a wondrous place honestly. The placards on each tunnel fascinated me and I had learned much of the history of my current home. Moving from tunnel to tunnel and getting to know these tracks was so fulfilling compared to my life back home with my ridiculing medical whiz parents that I simply found this life so much more relaxing and just was not ready to find my way home. And so I roamed on across the countryside in search of more tunnels that lay undiscovered and not slept in by myself. What made inhabiting these tunnels so grand? Why did I find myself fancying being something of a hobo or vagabond or vagrant in this land so thrilling? Perhaps it was because I was an alien in this foreign land. Perhaps it was because I was so far from home and so far from my medical past and my judgmental parents. Or perhaps it was even simply being a migrant. Moving about like an animal in the wild with no rules and no laws to hold me back. This lifestyle that had come to me was just one of the many splendors in my life right now. These trains making their way across the countryside were just like me except for one major difference. The trains speeding through the tunnels were doing a job and their job was to transport the people of the countryside from one place to another. My job was simply to wander aimlessly or so it seemed. The thing was, I did not see it that way. I felt as though my purpose was to bring life to these tunnels. The bricks and cement that lined them felt my warmth and felt me living in them like blood runs through veins and arteries. Unlike the giant masses of painted red metal, metal that would screech on by at times carrying people straight through them, I was there to care for the tunnels and to be their friend. They had no one to show them love and in this I felt I had a purpose and a meaning to my life here. I was a friend to the tunnels. I had no idea whether I had been the first friend to these particular tunnels on this railway line, but once thing was for sure, they were deserted apart from myself and to me this meant something very important to me. The breeze blowing through the tunnel I was currently in helped me believe this even further to my core.

Was I ever going to go home? Of course. I simply wanted to enjoy my life as a free spirit. A spirit that could move about as it pleased like a ghost out of the past that would wander endlessly and be passionate about doing so. Did I miss home? Sure I did. I missed my parents as well. I’m sure I would return and end up working for them at their medical practice and help them with their dreams as well as come up with my very own as well and eventually figure out what it was that I really wanted to do with my life and what sort of schooling I could go into where I could be more enthralled with in life and find some sort of passion and fire for where I could be happy for the majority of my life. Like every responsible adult should. Right? I just wanted to keep going in these tunnels and letting the thoughts flow endlessly about being there for the tunnels and bring life to something that was once so very lifeless, cold and sooty. I felt for the tunnels and they felt for me too. Maybe in some ways we were alike in this way. Cold and empty and in need of someone to bring life to us. Was I to find something in life that would fill my soul up in this manner? To be sure, I would have to leave the tunnels and seek such a thing out. Not today, and not tomorrow, but definitely soon. Definitely soon I would leave my tunnels in the beautiful France countryside. But not now.

Battle Scars Across My Shoulders

As a teen, I had acne. NO SHIT. Almost all teens get acne.

Having said that, I will let you guys know immediately that I will NOT be posting any photos on this post of acne. Yay! You’re saved from that nasty hormonal grossness that most of us have been through! So anyways, I had acne. BAD. I had it all over my poor reddened, pimple covered face. Also, I had acne on my shoulders and back. I had zits here and there and everywhere as most teens do. What I also had though, was something that is called Keloid Scars. A keloids is a growth of extra scar tissue where the skin has healed after an injury. This problem is more common in people ages 10 to 20, and in African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Keloids also often run in families. So basically on top of your scar, is another, puffy, welt looking scar, resembling a burn scar. Lucky me right? How did all this come about? Well it started with the acne naturally and then just turned ugly and permanently left me with little reminders all over my shoulders and back. Thankfully though, my face was left wonderfully clear! I have a story to tell, and it won’t be pretty, so here is my warning now, if you get squeamish like I do, leave now please to save your stomach the pain of having to endure this puberty-rich story, and I plan on using my most gruesome terms in my vocabulary of course.

So you know, around the age of 10 or 11 it started. The tell-tale little nasty pustules began appearing. I would scrub my face and put makeup over the things, but their was no stopping them. No matter what I tried to rid myself of them, nothing helped. And then…my mom caught me trying to hide something one day as I was walking wrapped in a towel from the bathroom to my bedroom.

“Sarah! What is that?” she said.

“Uh what?” said my stupid teen self back, acting as though I had no clue what the hell she was talking about.

She pulled my in by finally getting a good look at my face and shoulders and what I had been hiding was something that I never should have hidden in the first place from my own mother. I had acne not only on my face, but on my back and shoulders as well. It was bad to say the very least. My towel had splotches of blood on it from where I had the worst ones. I had to explain to her that they would bleed every time I would shower and wash myself because the skin was so very thin and would break open each time I’d wash. Each time I would dry my body off with my towel, I would rub them and irritate them further and the blood would get all over. Also, I ended up having to show her that my bras and t-shirts would get blood on them and would sometimes get stuck to my skin because during class at school, I’d be still for so long that the blood would dry and fuse the fabric to my skin. Each time this would happen I’d have to rip it apart from me. In high school it was a common thing to hug your friends, and yet for me this was not possible. I would always tell people to not touch me when they would lean in for a hug, or touch me in any way. Sometimes I became very angry because of this and would wear large baggy clothing to try and ease my pain and feel at least a little more comfortable with what was going on in my mind as well as with my body. I was in pain so often and told no one.

Upon my mom finding me out, she began by taking me straight to the doctor to see if their was something to be done about this bad acne that was causing so much harm, both physically and mentally. The doctor started trying different creams and ointments on me like “Retin-A Micro” and other antibiotic ointments. I felt like every doctor visit was something new to try out. Month after month, I went to my primary care doctor until I was finally referred to a dermatologist nearby. Same thing, I was to try out the external medicines and keep my skin clean with whatever was the latest cleanser for my face and back and yet nothing seemed to help. My mom was also trying her own little things on my skin like witch hazel and other natural remedies at home. Not a difference at all. This went on from maybe 7th grade into freshman year in high school.

When I reached about 15 years of age the dermatologist I was seeing decided to start me on an oral medication which was the strongest drug at the time in the world of medicine for acne and it was called AccutaneIsotretinoin (trade name: Accutane) is a powerful drug used in the treatment of acne. Four to five months of Accutane treatment usually leads to clearing of acne so they said, but in rare cases it could take up to a year and a half. The most damaging side effect of Accutane is serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. It is critically important for women not to take Accutane while pregnant, and not to become pregnant while taking it. My dermatologist was to start my treatment as soon as I began taking birth control. AT THE AGE OF 15. I was then sent to a gynecologist for the first time in my life.

My Gynecologist was very nice and talked to me about sex a little and about the pill before she could allow me to begin taking it. I was also to undergo a Pap Smear for the first time and blood test beforehand to test my hormone levels and to make sure I was healthy and had no infections of any sort. Turns out my hormone levels were way off and this was cause for a majority of my acne problems aside from it running in my family of course. I was cleared about a week later and returned to my dermatologist with a clean bill of health along with my prescription for birth control, and each time I was to start a round of the drug Accutane, they would also have me take a pregnancy test to make sure that I wouldn’t be causing my child any defects should I get pregnant. I understood why everything was happening and I was ready to be free of all this pain and blood and ugly festering skin blemishes on my body.

All this and by my side was my mother, quiet and making sure I had all things taken care of and I made it to all my appointments and that I took all the right steps along the way. I began at last to take the drug called Accutane.

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On the website of the Food and Drug Administration is a PDF Medication Guide for Accutane which states that: Serious mental health problems may occur. Accutane may cause: depression, psychosis (seeing or hearing things that are not real), and suicide. Some patients taking Accutane have had thoughts about hurting themselves or putting an end to their own lives (suicidal thoughts). Some people tried to end their own lives. And some people have ended their own lives.

Little did I know that I would be one of the ones who would be so affected by these side effects. And I was. I became very depressed and had many thoughts about suicide. I did not ever once self harm or drive myself to actually consider ending my own life, however, the thoughts were always there. I was on Accutane for a year and a half. My acne cleared. Eventually my depression did as well as I was helped out by my friends with this and because my pain was finally gone. I was able to interact with my friends normally once again and could allow them to touch me and hug me should they wish to. Senior year I was left with practically no acne and a smile on my face. But at what cost? Was it worth all the jumping through hoops to get there? Could I have outgrown the severe acne by myself?

My dermatologist finally decided it was time to discuss the keloid scars that had developed on my skin. The only treatments that were available at that time were injecting of the scars with corticosteroid injections one at a time to try and treat them, or send me to an alternate specialist to see what they could do. I did not want to go through the injections because they’d be painful as well as expensive. My mom took me to the alternate physician and he informed me that he could do nothing for me as he gasped in shock when I showed him my shoulders covered in the scars. He told me that their was an experimental study running in Los Angeles to do laser treatments to remove scarring such as this.

I looked him square in the eye and asked him “Would the laser treatment be painful?”

He told me that indeed it would. I immediately said no, and my mom and I left that doctor and never returned. As we drove from the office my mother began to silently cry next to me in the car. She pulled over and began sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at me that she wished their was something she could do to take the scars away from me and that she hated that I had to go through all that I had to come out with these hideous marks on my body in the end.

I looked my mother in the eyes and told her that I loved my body and that I loved her for trying so very hard to do all she could for me, but that if I was going to go to college in less than a year, I did not was to be sitting in class or at home and trying to be comfortable and be going through even more pain. I was done trying to rid myself of something that happened naturally when my body healed. I accept my body for what it is and I love my scars. I wear them proudly and she knows this now. I wear tank tops like anyone else, or dresses, or anything in which my scars are exposed and I feel perfectly alright. Thought I can understand why she is so low about such things, I think she has come to accept my decision regardless because I am very happy now. I am so happy with them that whenever someone asks me about them, I have a story to tell about my tough ride with my acne and what I went through to get them. They are my battle scars and I would not be myself without them.