Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wedding Vows

I was married on Halloween. My vows were probably one of the most important writing projects of my life, especially when it really hit home that this wasn't just a pretty speech to make but that these were fundamental promises that I needed to abide by for the rest of my marriage. That I wanted to abide by for the rest of my marriage - for the rest of my life. I struggled with them for weeks until inspiration hit me on the commute to work. I scribbled frantically for twenty minutes, and by the time we hit my stop, I knew exactly what I wanted to say and what I wanted to promise.

I was also given the excellent advice that I should really shut the fuck up and accept the notion that wedding vows are a little corny.

My dad told me a lot of things when I told him I was getting married. The conversation we had that day was one of the most important conversations in my life...I grew up completely assured that my dad knows everything. He's never said 'I don't know' to me - he's always had an answer or just as importantly, help me learn how to find my own answers.

So when my dad talks, I listen.

Dad told me that life's a journey, and it sure as hell isn't a spring road. In the time we've been together, you and I have found this to be true over and over. We started out separated by over a thousand miles and since then we've stuck together through danger, bad health and poverty. I promise to always walk beside you on the road through spring and through winter.

Dad also told me that everyone is always changing. He said one of the most important parts of marriage is being able to accept change and grow as well. I think this is more than an important part of marriage, but that this is also a huge part of what love is. You and I have changed so much since we first started chatting on IRC, since our only dates were in World of Warcraft. I'm so proud of all you've accomplished and how you've grown. I promise to always love and accept you as we grow and change together.

The idea of being a wife is exhilarating and sometimes frightening, but you make me a better person, a person who wants to embrace our future together. For a long time, I never really thought I'd have a future, but because of you, I want a life together, I want our future. I promise to always fight for that. I promise to never give up on it.

It's taken us a long time to get here, but I don't regret a single moment of our time together. I promise to always love you, support you and stand by you, no matter how our road changes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Letter From Home"

O Daughter,

Your birthplace still stands, a monument to you and every new life to come from me
The streets still twist and wind, old horsepaths now busy thoroughfares
My buildings stand but crumble, repaired and rebuilt, over and over
Do you remember walking along my sidewalks, jumping over the cracks?

There is your family still here, and friends
I have sheltered your and yours for ever so long
The homes your grandfathers built waiting for you to run laughing through again
Like ghosts, your laughter, the phantoms of childhood

Nothing has changed and everything has changed
I am as I have ever been, history on display, a tapestry of fact and memory
But I am as you would never recognize, the rest of your peers changing me
And you, O Daughter, never looked back

I raised you, gave you somewhere to call home
More than a where, I gave you home
The comfort, the weight, the shackle and the security
Safe here, you were, until you ran in fear of me

I am not a cage, O child of my boundaries, I am not your jailer
The rest of them stayed within my sheltering arms or
My children leave, but they look over their shoulders and
Flushed from the outside world, from others like me, they return

But you forget my tall trees, my familiar scents, the respect I have earned
You are ashamed of me, my age, my other children and the festering rot that eats away
Hiding out of reach, your voice grows bittersweet and cautious when you speak of me
Do you miss me, O Daughter, or do you hate me - my security and my shackles?

I will wait for you, O child, little girl playing along the banks of my streams
If you return, perhaps you will bring me another
Little girl to play along my banks, to hopscotch on my sidewalks
To jump over the cracks

She will not want to break her mother's back
As you, O Daughter, you break my heart
Your birthplace still stands, a monument
To you and the new life you may bring to me someday

I will wait.
I don't often write poetry because I'm very bad at rhythm and I can never find a style I really enjoy. However the idea of a letter from my hometown to me struck me as something interesting, so here it is. Home sickness is an interesting illness, especially for those of us who are perfectly happy where we are, or are very well aware we're much better off than if we were actually at home. This, of course, doesn't actually stop our hearts from being weird. Personally? I think I get more homesick for my memories than the actual city of York.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Parity and Equality

Yeah, wow, okay, I really suck at this blogging update thing. That aside, I have a wonderful topic to bather on about tonight!

I want to talk about the Mental Health Parity that just got pushed through with the massive bailout bill. Mental Health Parity (read more) is a measure that requires insurance companies to cover mental health as wholly as they cover any other kind of illness. If you weren't aware, most currently insurance plans have a much, much smaller limit on mental health care than they do any other kind of health care.

For example; if you have cancer, you keep going back to the doctor regularly for treatments like chemotherapy and checkups. However, if you have bi-polar depression, most insurances will only pay for your first few appointments with a psychologist. My current insurance covers 5 appointments. Many cover up to ten.

To put this in perspective, when I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I began long-term therapy. I had a session with a psychologist every other week for four years, not including a partial hospitalization (2 1/2 weeks), full hospitalization (2 weeks), and group therapy (a few months). The only way my family could possibly afford this was through secondary state-based insurance. Without the Pennsylvania ACCESS program (only for minors), I would never have gotten the treatment I needed.

Let's say you're a severely clinically depressed adult who has a job with benefits. You finally decide you need help, so you call a psychiatrist. Ignoring how ever many appointments it takes for your psychiatrist to help you figure out your medications (because I honestly am not sure how those are figured into the 'covered sessions' in most plans), your psychiatrist will help you find a counselor or psychologist.

Once you've found a psychologist, they'll begin by talking to you and formulating a diagnoses to work with what your psychiatrist has already diagnosed you with. From there, they'll start a treatment plan, which will involve, education about your problem, causes, dealing with, addressing your issues, working through your issues, ongoing support and long-term planning. The treatment plan itself can take three or more sessions to outline. This means you have two sessions left for your actual treatment.

So many people aren't getting the help they need, because they can't afford it. Insurance companies, before this parity, were not addressing the fact that mental illness is just as dangerous and serious as any other kind of illness. Now, though, they have to address that, now, though, an illness is an illness, mental or otherwise. It's incredible news, and I hope it actually goes into effect as spectacularly as it sounds.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Welcome, dear reader.

In a recent discussion about blogging with a friend, I wondered if the only difference between a blog and my LiveJournal was pretentiousness. My friend readily agreed that's pretty much the only difference between the two forms of internet journal networking. We didn't discuss that blogs generally look a lot cleaner, have a more easy to use interface and happily attract a slightly more mature reader. Well, that's the idea, anyway.

So with nothing else to prove my budding pretentiousness, I've decided to start up a blog. You, as my dear reader may ask, 'But why should I read your blog when I already have to wade through your LiveJournal? Are you, oh author, trying to act like an adult?!'

Fear not, brave reader! I've got a plan.

I'd like to make my LiveJournal just that - a journal. It's for writing about occurrences in my life, events happening, perhaps even the quintessential LJ-brand bitching. This blog, however, is for me to force myself to be productive and even creative. This blog is, if you'd like, a project. Here I'll write about topics that are (hopefully) interesting and thought provoking. Here I'd like to actually provide bits of my writing, instead of letting my creativity get coffee stained, torn and left on the bus. How's that for pretentious?

I like to fancy myself a writer, but I need to come to terms with the fact that writers write. Lately I've mostly just ranted, rambled and lectured. There's nothing wrong with those rants, rambles, or lectures, but if I'm going to do any or all of the above, I should at least get the words typed or written down some where. That's not only writing practice, but two birds with one stone.

The only other thing that you might find interesting, dear reader, is the name of this blog. I've entitled it 'Black Dog' in reference to a term coined by Samuel Johnson and popularized by Winston Churchill as a nick-name for major depression. I suffer from this malady, having been diagnosed with it ten years ago. It's an illness that plays a large role in my life and is a common theme in my writing. I'm always happy to answer questions about depression and mental illness. Both topics interest me and I believe strongly in the need for wider mental health education and understanding.

I will be setting weekly goals for myself here and hopefully actually achieving them. I am very open and even needing constructive criticism for my effects; everything from grammar to content to style. Please do be constructive, I'm trying to toughen up my skin but it's not too thick, yet. I think the real thickness starts to come in when the money does. Someday!

This week's goal: Write enough world building material for my work-in-progress novel that I can present a world overview on this blog.
Due date: Thursday, August 14th