A Dog Named Juno

So…we haven’t posted in a while, again! Sorry for the delay but we’ve been keeping ourselves pretty busy!

We’ve started a new pet service here in East Nashville called Juno’s Friends.  We walk dogs and take care of them, take them out for potty breaks, and play with them when they’re lonely.  We realized, after getting our pup Juno, that dogs have this way about them.  The way they trust you is miraculous.  They way they look at you with absolute love is astounding.  They are helpless, innocent, and completely dependent upon you.

I had a pup before, named Sebastian, whom I loved very much.  I only got to spend a short amount of time with him because he developed cancer.  We’ve had Juno for 6 months now, had her since she was a 3 month old baby, and I cannot imagine how things would be if she hadn’t kissed her way into our lives.

We are eternally grateful to Stewart and Katrena, the amazing couple who gave us Juno and who still have a very real and frequent part of her life.  It’s amazing to see the joy she brings to everyone; us, Stewart and Katrena, our neighbor Tim, our good friends Hayden and Katie.  Every time Juno greets someone, with her toothy kisses, it brightens their day and clears the clouds for just a few moments.

The love of a dog is absolute.  And we love making our lives all about dogs, and art, and crafts, and being happy.  Ashley and I have both decided we must follow and do what fulfills us, not what fills our pockets.  There’s a lot of big changes ahead for us, but it’s all so full of love.

P.S. And hey, if you live in Nashville and want the best, most caring, and most quality products for your pup…yes this is a shameless plug because we love our local pet shop – update: the original store we were going to closed unexpectedly, so we found ourselves in the position of looking for a great local pet shop, where they loved our pup and boy did we find it!!!- forgive my digression, but definitely check out Mutts and Meows, click the name to go to their website!  It’s located on Woodland, just under High Garden Tea.  Mention coupon code Juno for 10% off!! We love Brianna and Mutts and Meows

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Instructions on How to Draw a Human Heart

First, draw the veins,

blue and throbbing like strips of lapis lazuli;

the size, a fist— white knuckled,

wrapped like ribbons of crystal and quartz.

The heart is garnet, yawning reds and purples

that stretch like a horizon across

the equator of the chest.  Next, ventricles

open and close around pink agate,

paper lines pulsing with colored chalks.

Obsidian outlines make the shape,

a dark, volcanic black curves and curls

around itself.  Opal atriums pump blood

from inner pockets, like pearlescent envelopes.

Now, valves form at the bottom,

as clear as moonstone traced only by charcoal

fingertips.  A pulmonary artery thrusts

itself upon the page, carnelian colors

fanned in a crossroad.  Last,

an amber aorta, rounded and ticking

allows the whole to thump into an

explosion of starred ruby planes.

To the newly diagnosed Bipolar patient…

I remember the diagnosis…me, sitting in a paper gown on a hard metal table.  Much else is unclear.  Except anger.  I remember the anger.  I suppose it was disbelief as well.  Maybe there was a whole gamut of emotions, but the one that stuck out was anger.  I didn’t know why I was being punished.  I often compared myself to Job…thinking more directly that I had messed up in a previous life.  For so long I didn’t think it was even real.  I thought it was all in my head, a by product of over thinking and over imagination.  I needed a brain scan with a dark spot on it; I needed tangible proof before I would believe that I needed to be medicated.

The diagnosis came at 19 and I finally started medication at the age of 22, the day after I had put a gun in my mouth.  I think that’s when I knew, with or without tangible proof, that something was very wrong.  I tried to destroy everything around me, I tried to commit suicide a slew of times, each time waking up in the intensive care unit with the G tube shoved down my nose and throat. I can’t say how many times I’ve been in the mental ward or mental hospital; frankly, I don’t care to count because it’s still a bit embarrassing.  I’m sure there’s been some kind of damage done because of all this, and you think I would’ve learned past the third attempt that I wasn’t meant to go, not just yet.

That is something I have learned, now, after an extensive history.  I was in a family therapy once and I remember this therapist said something to me that I carry with me.  She said if I were to leave, to die and be gone, I would leave a void in the universe, a complete and empty tunnel that only I was supposed to fill.  No other person would ever fill that void and everyone who was near it, couldn’t help but feel it too.

I’m a star gazer, a constellation chaser…so this, this reference to the universe struck a cord with me and since then I have not tried to kill myself…no matter how hard the episode may be, I’ve learned to ride it out.  It takes immense strength, not from me but from Ashley, to get me through these times.  It took 12 years, and yes that is YEARS, to find the right medication regimen for me.  You can name most mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics and I’ve been on them at one point or another.  I even went so far as to consider EVT therapy because I wasn’t sure where else to go.

Medication helps but it doesn’t cure and episodes still happen.  I still know the tingling feeling that crawls up the back of the eyes when mania is eminent.  I still know the compression of the vertebrae when depression sets in.  My episodes have become few and far between, though, because of my medication.

I can’t promise there aren’t days I don’t wish I didn’t have to take it.  I hate the handful of colorful pills and capsules I take in the morning.  And sometimes I do think about the pure creative passion that happens when I’m manic that I can’t quite reach when on medication.  But I know better.  I’ve lost far too many things by stopping my medication than anything I’ve ever gained from it.

I don’t tell you these things to scare you, I don’t tell you my history because I think yours will be the same.  I tell you all this because these are things you will feel as you work through your diagnosis.  You will feel anger, you will feel disbelief, there are so many things you will have to endure, and no it’s not fair because you already have to endure so much.  All I can say is to hold on….don’t let go.  White knuckle this life because it is so worth it.  There are times you will feel like leaving is better than staying, but the world is beautiful and you are unlike anyone else.  You feel things to the nerves in the tips of your fingers, your heart thumps so loud in you chest you can’t ignore that pounding, everything in you aches for everyone else out there suffering.  But stay, because there is that void and there are people around you who need you, you and all your faults, all your impulsivity, all the mistakes you have made as well as all your future mistakes.

But you grow, and you learn.  I lost everything, just everything once….based too much on a bad decision, didn’t look where I was going, stopped taking my medication for four months….and just like that I had fallen.  I lost everything.  But just because you fall–and there is no deus ex machina in this life–just because you fall, doesn’t mean it’s the end.  It doesn’t mean your bad, just remember to cut yourself some slack.  Mental illness is not a cake walk, there are not instructions, we are all just riding this coaster without safety belts hoping we and keep on holding on.  When it seems that darkest….

just don’t give up ;

Triggers

I can’t help but imagine

what it was like

when I ran

four blocks in the rain

to lay on your porch,

crying.

How I slept with you that night

to see if I was gay–

but you took it in stride,

crawling off of me like a spider.

We lay there and smoked cigarettes,

afterwards,

when I cried about being a lesbian

and you said

“At least you know now”

like I hadn’t just tested my sexuality

on you.

State Street lit up with the rising sun

and you inhaled

your smoke like a wind tunnel.

I left that morning,

new but old;

and heavy,

so heavy.

Children of Troy

We play in seas of pavement,

scorched grass

just beyond concrete curbs.

Kids in a box—

shoe polish eyes and Kool-Aid smiles.

 

The air full of water,

drips

crystal blood

from dogwood blossoms.

Sprinklers hum,

buzz,

cry.

Tiny fingers wrinkle like dry paper

and sunbaked dreams.

 

We lie in dead deep ditches,

baby soldiers

rusty with earth.

Bare black feet—

combat boots and tootsie roll toes.

 

The chain-link front lines

pushes

aged shadows

over thirsty sidewalks.

Screen doors slam,

bang,

plead.

Camouflage houses made of brick

and M-16’s.

 

But at night,

we are fireflies,

buoyed in fuzzy dusk.

Ocean slick moon

baths our tank armored flesh.

Our wings flutter

throwing heaven in all

directions.