Thursday, November 3, 2022

I need help (also, what's been going on the last 2 1/4 years of my life)

I told myself that when I came back here it would be because I had something to share.  It wouldn't be another begging post.  I set deadlines for when I'd resume posting, in hopes of giving a sense of urgency that would let me produce something.  The deadlines wooshed passed, no posts were made.

I'm here to beg.  I don't have something creative to share.  This is exactly what I promised myself I wouldn't do.

Let's talk about the last two years.

First, though, as I said, I'm here to beg.

I'm here to beg for over $3,800 dollars.
(Sorry for the lack of an exact figure, the explanation for that is below.)

Donate button is in the upper righthand corner, but PayPal's coded it in a way that you can't just link to the donate page; you have to get there by pressing the button.  I think it's because they want everyone to have a PayPal account, so they make the thing that does require a PayPal account easier to pass around.  That's my page.  (

If you want to signal boost, that's probably the the link to share.  And sweet fuck could I ever use some signal boosting.  Another way to signal boost would be using this tweet, which is at the end of a thread that covers a tiny bit of what I'll share below.

The only upside of the "Donate" button here is that will take credit cards without requiring one to have a paypal account.  A warning about it, though.  If you click it, there's a checkbox that says "Make this a monthly donation".  Don't check that box.  Do not.  It does not work.  It has never worked.  I have no idea why they put it there when it never worked, and I certainly don't know why they haven't removed it.

For monthly donations, use my patreon.  (   Don't expect actual content, though.  At least not stuff that's worth reading.  Most of the posts are of the form, "Hey, I haven't posted anything in two months, and here's why: my mental health sucks.  There might be some promising signs things will improve, but in the next 'Why I haven't posted anything' post, it'll turn out that they were false hope."

I vaguely remembered something about setting up a Ko-fi account, and sure enough I was able to find it.  Not sure when I set it up, but based on the description I used it must have been way back when I still had a camera.  I miss photography.  Anyway, I've reset my password and got back in, so if Ko-fi is better than for anyone, this is my Ko-fi page.  (  If you're gonna signal boost, maybe spread that link along with the one.

Ok, so, the last two years.  Not long before my birthday, I'm pretty sure someone tried to kill me.  I can't prove it, and he had better opportunities that he passed up, but when he started choking me in a rage (before there wasn't rage, he was toying with me) I sincerely believe he intended to strangle me.

For those who don't know, "strangle" means kill.  Specifically, it means "choke to death".

I got back home.  A few days later was my birthday.  I made two posts.  One of them was called, "I survived another year," and given the context, I have to wonder if the experience was on my mind when I made that title.

If memory serves, my birthday was when I realized my cat was gone.  Or maybe my birthday was when I realized that my depression induced immobility (I seriously couldn't make myself leave the house) meant that I'd let enough time pass that the chances of finding her alive had dropped from "very slim" to "almost zero" without me so much as putting up a "missing cat" flyer or asking any of the neighbors if they'd seen her.

Houseguest was gone by then, having had a falling out with housemate that proved they were both . . . actually, one of them's died since then.  If there's any peace to be had, I'm gonna let 'em rest in it.

Out of everything--throwing out my valuables, running roughshod over my house and my life without any kind of permission, causing sewage to backup into my sleeping area, causing a rat infestation, out of every fucking thing--it was my cat that finally made me tell housemate she had to leave.

See, while I'd been away from the house (at the place of the attempted strangling) I'd left the cat and the dog in her care.  When she didn't see the cat, she says she assumed I must have taken the cat with me, which is something I'd literally never done, but that's not the problem.

She didn't call to check, she just made that assumption, decided that the cat not showing up for food or water or literally anything was therefore explained, and ignored her absence.  When I got back home, I was kind of distracted.  Thinking you came pretty close to being murdered will do that to you.

That's why it took a bit to realize that, since my return, the cat had been gone way too long.  She might disappear for a bit periodically, but not that long.  Then, come to find out that she'd been missing not just since my return, but since I left.  A rather longer, rather more worrying, amount of time.

Housemate had apparently decided she was never going to mention the cat to me.  Certainly didn't say a word when I returned without the cat she'd baselessly assumed I took with me when I left in spite of leaving it, like the dog (which she did care for) in her care.

Whenever it was that I realized that there was no fucking way I was going to find my frail old cat again, I crossed a line for the first time.  For longer than I can remember, I usually haven't cared if I lived or died.  I hadn't wanted to die, but neither did I want to live.  If some kind of eternal enchanted sleep from which you'd never wake up, but neither would you die in said sleep, were an option, that would appeal to me so fucking much.

But I'd never actively wanted to die.  Then, one day, because of my cat, or rather the lack of her, I did.

Then housemate tried to stop me from kicking her out by threatening to kill herself, (she later admitted she didn't mean it, which makes me feel better about thinking she was full of shit when she said it.)

So the cat.  The cat that was technically named "Pandora" but was really named "the Cat".  She was old.  She was frail.  I knew she could be gone at any time.  I worried whenever I let her out, but wanting to go out was the only time I saw her wanting anything anymore, and I wasn't gonna take that one last joy away from her.

I knew she might leave and never come back, but the way it happened, with me in another county and not even knowing until days after I got back because I was distracted by trauma, I wasn't prepared for that.

I'd had her since she was a kitten the size of my fist.  For the vast, vast majority of the time after my mom left this house to move in with her boyfriend, she was the only other mammal in the house, and since the gecko isn't something you can handle (it's apparently normal for the gecko species in question to have too much fear and too much bite to be a pet you can . . . pet) the cat was my only companion.

I wasn't prepared for her to disappear without a trace without me noticing.  I wasn't prepared for wondering if she really never showed up after I left, or housemate just wasn't attentive enough to see if she was waiting outside and needed to be let in.  I wasn't prepared to wonder if she disappeared because she chose to as dying animals sometimes do, because of injury or attack, or because she suddenly found that the doors to my house no longer opened for her.

I wasn't prepared for the lack of closure.

In late August, housemate had found both a job and a place she could afford to stay with the pay from that job.  When she first tried to get a job after moving into my house, the lockdown kicked in just before her first day of work.  The whole time she was here, she was staying rent free.  Houseguest too.

I guess her finally being able to find a job was probably an early sign that, while COVID-19 was in full swing, the US wasn't going to fight it, and we've certainly surrendered to it in the years since.

September marked the return to me being the only human living here.  September also marked when the rat problem drew institutional notice.

Can't remember what I've said here, and I'm not gonna check, but when housemate using paper towels in lieu of toilet paper caused sewage to back up into my house (and my personal sleeping area) the problem was such that a plumber needed to put a giant machine in a very specific place.  That place was the absolute least accessible part of my house.

Furniture that had been stored in the basement for years or decades needed to be moved, and housemate thought it was a three person job.  That's why houseguest originally came.  Then he got stranded by the lockdown.  Then he decided he liked it here and wanted to stay.  Then things went wrong.

But originally he came to help move furniture in the basement.  On the day he arrived I was in a really bad place.  I spent the entire day sitting on the couch because I lacked the energy to stand up.  I heard housemate and houseguest "cleaning" my kitchen, which is not moving furniture in the basement, but was helpless to do anything about it.

They threw out everything.  My blender.  My toaster oven.  A different kind of oven that I always used to cook meat (especially steak) that I don't know the technical term for.  The newer better phone I was planning to replace my crap corded phone with.  Some of my jewelry.  Family photos.  $200 dollars in savings bonds belonging to my sister.  Pots.  Pans.


The kitchen looked clean afterward, yes.  It also looked empty.  I couldn't cook, because I no longer had cookware.

The good news was that it wasn't trash day.  Or, I suppose, the day before trash day.  The bad news was that they mixed the "trash" with the actual trash.  And worst still, they'd mixed stuff I could not and cannot afford to replace with food waste.

They would repeat this process for various rooms, each time claiming that they'd learned their lesson and wouldn't pull the same shit again.  I'm conflict averse enough that I spent much of the time they were living here rent free hiding from them.  I didn't have the fight in me to stop them from doing things I knew they'd fuck up badly.

In fact, when it comes to having fight in me, I seem to have two settings: doormat and . . . not throwing punches, but dangerously close.  Physical.  The one time I crossed out of doormat territory while both of them were here had me grabbing onto houseguest and shoving him against a wall.  It stopped at that, but that just means I was the only one to lay hands.

Regardless, everything, no matter how useful or valuable, in a given room gets bagged up as trash, and mixed with trash, and sometimes that actual trash is food waste.

I spent the rest of the year digging through bags of "trash" separating the stuff that really was trash from the much larger category of, "I've been suffering for X months because I couldn't find this, thank God it didn't make it into the stuff put out for weekly pickup!"

This was not a fast process, and depression didn't make it any faster.  And, again, food waste.

At the same time, the lockdown forced the city rats, used to bountiful feeding from now-empty restaurant dumpsters, to branch out and look for new feeding grounds.  Possibly exacerbating the problem was an old church, derelict for years, being demolished without any attempt to check if it had become a vermin nest, or exterminate any vermin that might have infested it.

I don't think I made the connection to the church the last time I posted here, a neighbor brought it up rather later as I recall, so I probably didn't mention that.  Then again, we don't know for sure that it was related to the neighborhood's sudden rat problem.

What I do know is that the various rats seeking new food and shelter found a fucking banquet laid out for them in the "trash" I had yet to go through.  It would be nice to say that my garage became their new nesting grounds, but that would ignore something that's critically important.

I've always made a distinction between a clean mess and . . . the other kind of mess.

A clean mess is a bunch of completely dry cardboard boxes in an unruly heap.  A clean mess is when a stack of papers gets knocked over.  A clean mess is a floor strewn with toys.  A clean mess is when you take the dishes and silverware and whatnot out of the dish washer, make sure they're clean, but don't get them put back into drawers and cabinets and such.

An unclean mess?  It's what happens when you don't clear the table after eating.  It's what happens when you don't wash the dishes, it's what happens when you leave food or other organic material around where it can decay, molder, form new and different species previously unknown to science, and/or be eaten by rats.

Having colonized my garage, the rats sent out expeditions to nearby areas of interest, my house being the closest.  Once upon a time they would have found no loose food.  With housemate and houseguest living here, they found no end to food.  Seriously, no end.

No matter how many times I told them top stop leaving food out because we could literally hear the rats chewing through my walls so stop feeding the rats, housemate and houseguest kept on leaving food out, and the rats, being both cunning and opportunistic, kept eating it.  Sure, on any given day they might eat all of it, but the next day housemate and houseguest would leave them more.

They're not just cunning and opportunistic.  They're not just capable of chewing straight through your walls.  They're also stubborn and tenacious.

Once they've found a feeding ground, they aren't willing to give it up just because the previously unending food finally stops.  They'll start experimenting.  They'll chew through anything, in hopes there might be food in it.

They even got into the rat poison I got but then decided against using (didn't want a dead rat decomposing inside one of my walls) but also shampoo, and just . . . everything.

I'd only ever dealt with mice before.

So come September, housemate and houseguest were gone, and with them the supply of daily food that had originally drawn the rats into the house, but the rats had already started experimenting with containers that, while not obviously food related, weren't rat proof (they're a curious lot), and when their usual in-house food supply got cut off, that kicked into high gear.

Containers that had kept the rats out for months were suddenly being proven woefully non-rat-proof as the rats upped their game.

And outside, I still hadn't gone through all of the "trash" because depression and stress, and living with two people who made me want to just disappear while I was inside my own house (not because they were malicious, but just because personalities didn't mesh at all.)

And then the city came to call.

The rat guy showed up, explained he was from the city investigating reports of a rat haven, and asked me to show him around.  It didn't take him long to (correctly) identify my property as a rat haven.

I would later learn that he took this as license to stop investigating all reports of rats anywhere near me, on the assumption that they had to be coming from my property and my property alone.  It's possible that that was true, I have no way of knowing.

My experience with them suggests that they'll set up a new colony, if circumstances permit, no matter how close the old colony is, so in the area the rat guy decided he never had to look into there could have been dozens of colonies, but again, I have no way of knowing.

Regardless, the rat guy, the city public health official, had arrived, and so began a new chapter in my life.

See, a rat haven is a public health hazard because rats carry diseases, and as a result, it's illegal to be a rat haven.  You could be fined, your property could be condemned, the whole place could even be razed if they determined it was bad enough to justify it.  (After all, if a building is declared unlivable and condemned, what's the point of leaving it standing?)

So this is what would happen, and it took me way, way too long to recognize the pattern.

The rat guy would come, and every time after the first time he would berate me, threaten me, and lie to me.  I won't be able to remember every lie, but the only one that really matters is the ultimatum.  Every time he would give a deadline, and if I didn't have things solved to his satisfaction by the deadline, terrible things would happen.

He would go all out to frighten me, and he would scare me so much that I would shut the fuck down and be unable to do anything.  Time would pass, I'd start to become more functional again, and I'd get to work on fixing the the problem.  Because of the time that had passed, it'd become clear that I couldn't get things done by the deadline.

I'd have to divide my time between trying to fix the problem and trying to contact him asking for an extension.  As the deadline grew closer, less and less time would be devoted to fixing the the problem, because it became clearer and clearer that getting it done by the deadline was an impossible task.  I needed some kind of extension or accommodation, or something or all of the work I'd done would be for nothing.

He'd ignore emails and phone calls, it's only now that I realize I never tried sending a physical letter.  He wouldn't just refuse to respond to any attempt from me to contact him, but also any attempt from my mother, who's the actual property owner.

The deadline would come.  I wouldn't hear a word.

Had he assessed the state of property without telling me?  Had things progressed to the next level?  Did I get an extension and the notice just never made it to me?  Was I in some kind of limbo?  What the fucking fuck?

I'd be in outright panic, because the things he threatened me with didn't actually require I be notified in advance.  To prevent them, I needed to convince him I'd made enough progress, or completely fixed X or Y part of the problem, but if I didn't convince him, then the bad shit that was happening was supposed to kick in automatically.

Well, if I didn't even see him, then I surely couldn't have convinced him, so as I continued to hear nothing, I'd just go through a process of catastrophizing that I'm not sure a person without depression, anxiety, and so forth can truly understand.

Obviously literally no time was spent trying to solve the rat problem.  It was too late.  I had to figure out some way to do some sort of administrative magic to undo things that were supposedly already in motion and retroactively get the time I was allowed extended.  And my point of contact wasn't answering his phone calls or checking his email.

At one point I got worried that maybe something had happened to the rat guy.  He was the city public health official.  A search of his name said that he was part of the city's team for responding to the pandemic.  Maybe he'd gotten COVID-19.  What if I was making all of these attempts to contact someone who was in the hospital, or something.  Wouldn't that be terrible?

I tried reaching out to a co-worker of his to see if they could tell me if he was ok.  The co-worker ignored me too.

Eventually either the realization that the ultimatum hadn't come to pass or fatalism would set in.  Either, "I guess, maybe, just this once, no news really is good news," or, "Well, if I'm fucked I'm fucked, might as well keep doing what I was doing," because the simple truth of the matter was I was planning on fixing the rat problem before the rat guy even showed up.  Not like I wanted my house to be rat infested.

So I'd get to work, and it'd take a while to get into a flow of it, like it always did, and my depression would slow me down, but I'd start making some real progress.  It'd be clear that if I could just keep this up, I'd definitely hit this or that major milestone soon.

And then the rat guy would show up, unannounced, and repeat the process.  He'd give me another completely fake ultimatum, I'd believe every fucking word, and he'd leave me too terrified to do anything.

This process would repeat, I don't know how many times, until January 2021.  Or maybe early February.

But during this time, something more important happened.

My mother, as mentioned, is the home owner.  I pay all the expenses on the property, but I don't own it, she does, and so she and I were obviously talking about someone from the city threatening terrible repercussions vis a vis the property she owns.

At some point, she started coming down to physically help me with the work.  We'd spend days together undoing the damage housemate and houseguest had caused.  It's so quick to throw everything you can grab into a bag, it's a lot slower to sort it all out.

The first thing you have to is dump it the fuck out.  Not sure how long it took me to realize this, but trying to go through the bag from top to bottom with the stuff still in the bag is the slowest possible way to approach the problem.

And we worked things out as we went.  And eventually we had a system.  And when rat guy and his deadlines weren't preventing us from working on the problem, we were making progress at breakneck speed.

We were working outside, we had a sort of makeshift giant table set up so the bags could be dumped for easy sorting without needing anyone to be bending down or crouched on the ground or what have you, and actual trash was being separated from recyclables from stuff I'd been looking for for months and it was . . . good.

It was good.  Human contact that wasn't stressing me the fuck out, someone who loved me within arm's reach, working outdoors in a good season for it.  The cooperation helped me from falling into a complete depressive slump.  My mental health might make some days slower, but with my mom there working with me it didn't grind to a halt.

My garage, which had been filled with fucking bags upon bags was getting cleared out, and we were talking about when we'd finish it and move onto the house.

The rare things that housemate and houseguest had realized they shouldn't throw out were in jumbled unsorted piles in the basement, and they were where we'd potentially find the most useful things that had gone missing, or at least, the most useful things that had gone missing that we hadn't already found.

For all of the progress we were making, none of it was making my life in the house any better, but the garage had to come first, because the food waste still mixed in was the biggest thing keeping the rats around.

There was a couch way in the back of the garage that had been there since I was a child.  I can vaguely remember using it when it was still in the house, but I can't attach anything else to those memories.  Rats had visibly been nesting in it.  It was too big to take to the dump in my mom's vehicle, so we were gonna rent a truck.

That was gonna be the day we took all of the "definitely trash, but unable to be thrown out the usual way" stuff away.  It was gonna be a major milestone, and after it happened there'd be only a few more things to finish up in the garage, and then we could move on to the house.

The day came, my mom had called and told me she was on her way.

Then she called again.

I can't remember if it was the police or Child Protective Services that called her, but she'd been told my sister had been sent to the psyche ward, and she would have to drive up and take in my sister's kids.

The people at the psyche ward wanted to have my sister committed, by my sister won the hearing that would have committed her, and so she only spent a week in the psyche ward.  She never got custody of her children back.

My sister blames my mother.

At first my mom was taking care of three children, at her age, she and her boyfriend couldn't handle that, and my sister's children were split up.  Since then, my mother has cared for the eldest, while the other two have been outside our family.

With a child to look after, my mom no longer had time to come down and help me deal with the situation at the house.

Just like that, my only source of human contact disappeared.

That was, if I'm not getting my months confused, late November 2020, meaning the cycles of rat guy terrifying me into being unable to do anything would continue for a few months more.

That didn't help, but . . . I think it's the only source of human contact thing that's the bigger deal.

The work my mother and I had done was enough for the rat population to dwindle, the rat guy disappeared from my life.  We were into 2021, and . . . only source of human contact had disappeared.

Also, at some point in there, I got sick.  COVID-19 symptoms, but without the worry I'd give it to my mother, and without anyone else I was in contact with, I couldn't muster the motivation to get tested.

That's not important.  What's important is that when I stopped having that human contact, it was like the bottom dropped out, my depression got so much worse, and I just stopped.

All this time later, and the work my mother and I were going to do in the house hasn't been done.  So much stuff, important stuff without which I can't fully utilize my house and, especially, my kitchen, has yet to be found.  The whole basement is basically a "no go; too much clutter" area.  Thank God they didn't put any food waste down there.

But that's the present, back to early 2021.  Because there was a . . . let's call it an alternate source of human contact for a bit.

For a time in early 2021, my sister and her boyfriend were camped out in her van in my driveway.  My anxiety was at the highest level it's ever been, basically non-stop.

At some point, they had a disagreement, and my sister decided she didn't want to be outside.  She decided to clean up while she was in here.

I probably don't need to explain why that very concept triggers my anxiety at this point.  That, ultimately, wasn't what led to the breaking point.  It was the noise.  Sometimes, I'm hypersensitive to sound.  Every noise was so overpowering it was like a physical attack.  It hurt.  She wouldn't stop.

Two modes: doormat; physical.

She wouldn't stop.  It was hurting me.

She was pretty close to the front door, going through some stuff the dog had knocked over in the hallway it opens up to.  I pushed and pulled her out of my house.  I didn't know what to do.

Later on, I couldn't tell you how long--a day, a week, a month?  Probably not a month--she was in my house again, and refused to leave again, and said that if I touched her she'd call the cops.  Quite possibly reasonable.  I don't know if pushing and pulling constitutes a crime, but it's definitely getting physical, and that's not a good way to solve problems.

I found a third mode: calling the cops.  (Credit to my sister for giving me the idea.)

Terrified, because I was inviting people with guns into a potentially volatile situation, but calling the cops none the less because I didn't know what else to do.

They got her to leave, thankfully without any violence.

I think it was the next day she showed up and acted like nothing had happened.

The cops said you need to be firm, I'm not good at that, and just not let the person back in, because without a, "You're not allowed here," limit being continually enforced, sooner or later, the person will be there and refusing to leave again.

I'm not good at being firm, and ACAB is definitely a thing, but being able to say, "The cops told me not to let you back here," made things easier.

Thus ended my sister camped out in her van in my driveway.  (Sometimes with her boyfriend, sometimes not.)

As 2021 dragged on, and things involving custody of my sister's children got increasingly heated, my depression and anxiety worsened, and I kept on getting drawn into things, and every time my phone rang it felt like an attack, and I dreaded hearing what the message might be (I screen my phone calls) and when the answering machine filled up, instead of clearing it off or picking up without screening, I just left it full, and let it ring until the person on the other end gave up.

I also stopped checking my mail.  I'd bring it in the house so the box didn't get full, and then drop it in a pile somewhere without even checking who it was from, much less opening it.

This led to me missing what would have been my first dentist appointment in years.  This cost me my food supplement.

As of January 2022, I haven't been on food stamps.  It took me so long to try to deal with it that they said it was impossible to reinstate, and I'd need to reapply.  I tried.  In April.  I haven't heard back at all.  Naturally, I should call them.  Find out what's wrong.  Fix the problem, stop spending $200 I don't have on food each month when there's a (potential) solution just a phone call away.

That is not how I have spent my year.  I've spent my year letting my depression lead to me getting so undernourished, dehydrated, and/or sleep deprived that I can't function.  Undernourishment is the most expensive one.

There comes a point where you don't have energy to prepare food, meaning even if you have food you can't use it unless it's the right kind of food (grab and eat, think a granola bar or a cookie.)  I think there was an entire month where I ate granola bars almost exclusively, but eventually you don't have grab and eat food, and that's where the expense comes in.

If you don't have the energy to prepare food due to lack of calories, and the only food you have in the house is food that needs to be prepared before it can be eaten, then you need prepared food delivered, and enough of it that you'll have the energy needed to make use of the food you do have.

That can cost in the realm of half a month of store bought food.  Needing to do it multiple times?  It adds up.

Someone who was reading in 2020 and has a good memory might notice that I left out the part where my dog got hit by a car in March of 2020.

She's doing fine.  She's been doing fine.  All she needed was to be kept stable, have a blood transfusion, and have her punctured lung fixed, and she was basically back to normal.  As soon as the medications she'd been put on wore off, she was completely back to normal.

When Chloe got back from the emergency vet, completely recovered except for medication induced . . . drowsiness, I think it was, the sense of urgency--the thing that had let me fundraise in spite of my depression-- disappeared.

I stopped trying.

Living on public assistance is always living near the edge, one major disruption away from complete financial catastrophe.  Never fully dealing with the debt that came from paying for Chloe's life to be saved?  That put me closer to the edge.

I'm not sure how much closer, but there have definitely been disruptions causing catastrophes causing me to go begging, but they all sort of pale in comparison to the big ones I'm facing now.

The lack of my food supplement, the fact that when I managed to get that dentist appointment rescheduled I didn't take into account the effect of the lack of my food supplement.

Briefly, fixing my teeth is not covered even though the holes in them are rather large, and I always knew I'd need to fundraise to pay for it, but I didn't really think about what it would mean to be doing that in the middle of other financial problems.  I just thought that I'd finally get my teeth fixed.  In fact, it's only the teeth on the right side that have been fixed so far, but sweet fuck did that cost a lot.

Ok, so, lack of food supplement for 11 months now, repeatedly needing to do the expensive shit that is buying emergency "Undernourishment has left me with too little energy to make food, so I need stuff that's already made delivered to my door" food, dentistry, having to pay for all of this shit on credit cards, interest, late fees, interest on late fees, and Vladimir Putin waging a genocidal war in Ukraine.

Because of that last one, heating oil costs more than twice as much as it normally would.  The weather grows cold, my tank isn't on the verge of running out right this second, but it is close to empty.

I've had my phone, internet, and power cut multiple times for non-payment.  (Only ever one at a time, mind.)  Twice I've had someone come to my door to say, "I'm here to disconnect your water, if you don't want me to, you should pay now."

A month ago, I tried to work out what it would take to get me back to living right on the edge of disaster, instead of living in a state of ongoing . . . whatever the fuck you call this.   The very drawn out early stages of a disaster in progress.

I came up with $2,511.12.  I was wrong.  I didn't take into account heating oil, and also that tally comes with the sort of rosy idea that I would have gotten my food supplement back right then, whereas I spent the past month barely functional, certainly not reaching out and solving problems.

When I say I didn't take into account heating oil, I don't mean the increase in the price, I mean even if I had raised that much (I raised less than a fifth) I'd have had nothing set aside for heating oil.

So, what I didn't raise then plus heating oil is circa $3,500, but that assumed I'd have my food supplement back, where I actually used some of what I did raise for food instead of digging myself out of the hole, and I had another starvation-mode episode, putting it to circa $3,800.  (I bought more than a normal month's worth of food in hopes of avoiding a future starvation-mode episode.)

The reason for the "circa" is that the price of heating oil fluctuates by the day.  There's also some additional things but . . .

But let me tell you about the day I bought food.

After a while of having trouble getting this prescription or that authorized or filled, I finally had all of my medications and was taking them and they seemed to be working.  I finally had appointments related to sleep apnea set up, and treating that could be the missing piece that finally lets me break through from, "As good as I can ever get, but still worse than I should be," to, "Actually fucking normal, like a mentally healthy person would be."

I had a talk therapist again, and had just finished a session with him that was cementing my belief he was gonna work out really well for me.  I was back in contact with my primary care physician, and had just gotten a blood pressure problem sorted out with minimal difficulty.  All signs were positive, and it seemed like all I had to do was drink some water and go to sleep at a reasonable hour, and I'd be ready to finally make some phone calls and sort out the food supplement issue.

There may have been other signs too.

AND I bought a bunch of food with a specific eye toward making sure there was enough grab and eat stuff to avoid another starvation mode thing.

Things really seemed to be looking up, and I had hope.

Then the payment didn't go through.  Tried it a couple times because I was told the machine was finicky.  Still declined.  Tried a different card.  Didn't work.  Card three failed because I hadn't noticed that it was expired and a new one was already in a pile of mail in my house waiting to be activated.

Card four worked.

So after I get home, and I get the stuff that needs to be refrigerated or frozen put away, I hopped onto my computer to figure out what was up with that shit.  And it turned out that it wasn't actually . . .  I should have seen it coming.  I knew that I raised less than one fifth of what I needed, and the fact I was barely functional for a month didn't mean my financial problems had taken a vacation.

Things were bad.  Things were very bad, but they weren't necessarily unexpectedly bad.  I had come up more than $2,000 short of my "avoid catastrophe" price tag, so where did I think things were going to be a month down the line?

I started doing a new tally.  I remembered to include heating oil this time.  I added in the cost of dealing with the starvation mode thing.  I added in what buying food for November had taken away from paying of what I'd needed back in October.  I hit $3,800 plus or minus, depending on the fluctuations in the price of heating oil.

When I'd bought food, I'd also stocked up on some non-food supplies that were well overdue, the cost was definitely more than the fluctuations in in the price of heating oil, but how much more?

I stopped.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I didn't want to know how close to $4,000 it was.  Fuck's sake, I couldn't even raise $500 when I went for $2,511.12 a month ago.

What did it matter what the exact tally was, when there was no hope regardless?

So I never did check the price of those last things.  I just know that they're enough to turn "$3,800 plus or minus" into "over $3,800."  How much over?  I don't even want to know.

Doing that tally took me from the most hopeful I've been in . . . years, probably, to depressed to the point of being just above non-functional.

And that's where things stand.

Plus $64 because Capital One, a card I don't think I've used in a year, charged me a membership fee, and I didn't notice until after the payment was due, so then they charged a late fee on the membership fee.  Paid it off so I won't have to worry about interest on that and another late fee come December.

So that card's completely empty, but if things keep going the way they're going, I'm gonna fill it up too, because I'm in so deep that my debt can only grow.

And the price to get to a point where that's not true anymore?  $3,800 dollars.

Over $3,800 dollars.

For a writer who hasn't published a chapter in over two years, and a would-be amateur photographer with no camera.  I don't see a way out of this, which is why--even though I promised myself that when I finally returned to this place it wouldn't be to beg--I'm here begging.