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Riven – Chapter 1 – A Sci-Fi Novel

        Light filtered through the curtains, bathing Riven’s frame in their glow. Her eyes fluttered, ending the trance. Sighing, she grabbed an arm over her head and arched her back like a cat. She froze, and then clamped her hand over her mouth. A low moan escaped from her as the nausea subsided.  Normally she could handle them but tonight the aftereffects of Swimming were kicking her ass. Tiny, thread-like webs stained her vision as she struggled to key in the proper codex on her Scyvie. The device beeped in alarm, noting too much serotonin and cortisol released into her system. Pulling herself up, she staggered over to the medical unit and reached for the tube. Like an I.V., it was made to enter the bloodstream and could be accessed through a sealed, and sterilized unit behind the West panel in her room. Each unit was stocked as needed with single-use syringes. The touch screen display embedded into her forearm, was no larger than half an inch in diameter and was barely visible to the eye. It had three access points for the medical tube one located in the users elbow joint, their hand, and another near the groin. She sighed at the tiny blue warning symbols that flashed across her arm. Her Scyvie would be under review soon. Probably just a routine checkup to ensure there was no substance abuse. Typical. 

        She frowned, swiping her fingers over her arm. The flashing immediately ceased and was replaced by a ten digit keypad. She typed in her seven digit pass-code and was rewarded by the calming chime. Good as new, she thought. The room tilted. Her hand shot out, gripping the side of the panel. The thought of being hooked to anything made her sick. It might have been certain people’s escape hell ninety percent of the population welcomed the digital era but she wanted no part of it. It was the altered consciousness that made her uneasy. Any time her mind wandered, something bad would happen. Once, she thought it had only been under for twenty minutes turns out it was five hours. It wasn’t the first time it happened, and it wouldn’t be the last. The last thing she needed was someone monitoring her Swimming. She relaxed as the Valaxl coursed into her system. It helped to calm the anxiety and hallucinations that came with spending extended hours online. 

        He had been there again. If only Riven could get her mind to work. There was something about the urgency in his transmissions. The most frustrating part was that she could see things, but not the right things. He had appeared to her in the trance-like state several times materializing in hundreds of different situations, sometimes as different people, but always the same energy. No matter how good a Breaker is, they cannot get rid of their signature. It leaves behind little traces of the user. There were several types of breakers, but the kind Riven feared the most were Ghosts. Levi had always called them Wraiths. They wreaked havoc wherever they touched. She knew it was probably just an urban legend, but it kept her from the Aether.

         It was the sub-link that only the most experienced Breakers traveled. Riven could sense him as he watched her his Umbra was a vibrant hue of red that seductively swam through her mind. She always stayed to the main link, the Umbra, but no matter how hard Riven fought to find his link, he was always one step ahead. Shivers wracked her body as she sat quietly, letting her levels return back to normal. 

         The Umbra was a link that connected the soul to the physical body─ every living creature had one. She was a bit fuzzy on her history but Riven remembered it being an accidental discovery by Geoffrey Braun. He won two Nobel Prizes, one for discovering the Umbra, and the other for finally discovering a cure for cancer mutations. She cringed as she remembered how everyone thought cancer was beat in 2025, the worst had happened and the damaged cells became more aggressive with the mutations. Most cases, if not caught, killed a person within six months. All our known cures did nothing unless it was caught in very early stages. It was almost as if it were put into place by the fates to keep humans in check. One step closer, five hundred back.

         It was an unfortunate but necessary discovery that severing the soul from the Umbra resulted in zombie-like behavior. Hollywood glamorized it for years, but it was nothing like they portrayed. Few cases of detachment ever resulted in the soul staying. Once the soul was gone, the person became a hollowed out shell. One good thing came out of the testing at least─ we found that humans could connect to one another not only within a person’s immediate presence, but across a vast amount of space. The furthest distance recorded was approximately 238,857 miles the distance to the Moon. Even then, people were unsure as to how far it could go. Research was still being conducted. Curiously, each individual Umbra was unique in color, texture, and feeling. 

         You could have the Umbra infused with nanite receptors that could connect via machine and internet. There was no feeling with machines only humans or animals could imbue such pleasures. A machine’s presence felt like static electricity, a quick jolt allowing you to fortify an encryption shield against it or, if you wish, permitting entry into your database. As of late she only had one hundred terabytes of free hard drive space. It was ancient, she knew, but she would get around to upgrading it soon. Riven worked furiously to control her breathing as she stood over her bed. A soft feminine voice sounded, startling her.

         “Riven, are you alright? Your heart rate is elevated. Shall I call for Doctor Sid?”

         “No, Nadine. It is not necessary, thank you. Just a nightmare.”

         “Very well, please return to trance or sleep as soon as possible, you will need a minimum of four R.E.M. cycles to function properly. Might I assist you in breathing and mantra techniques?”

         “Thank you but no, goodnight.”

         “Goodnight Riven.”

         Why did Jace prefer that thing? She never understood, though they were made to help, it still creeped Riven out thinking about an unfeeling machine monitoring her every waking breath. If it so chose it could even read wave patterns in the mind and detect your mental stability. Not that it could exactly tell, but it was still unnerving. Riven’s thoughts returned on her earlier meditation. From the moment she could remember her “dream” had always occurred at the same point in time the fifteenth of every month at exactly two fifteen in the morning. Slowly creeping out of bed, she strode down the hall to the bathroom. Her joints cracked and popped in protest. Riven froze as visions began to poke through her encryption. Vivid hues of blue stretched across and bonded with her Umbra as the link was formed.

         You must listen to me, you are in danger.

          She placed a hand on the wall to steady her balance. The user had completely blown past her mandatory password and sixty letter encryption codes. She was thrust into a connection without first being in the proper trance state. The hall stretched on into oblivion and the world exploded with color. Snippets of conversations flew past in garbled nonsense. This was definitely not a government sanctioned link─ she was in-between, no worse, in the Aether. Her own web that normally was spun to friends or family members did not surround her and she could for the first time view the vast outer space. The cushion that normally protected her Umbra along with others had been completely removed and she felt as if she could simply float away to anywhere. Eternity was within her grasp, it was wildly intoxicating. She could feel the pull of other’s links. The taste was so powerful she wanted desperately to drift.  

         Don’t look too long, you will go insane. You are not properly trained.

         Riven swam toward the voice but couldn’t find the portal linking them. It was as if the person were integrated within her Umbra. 
         “Who are you?” she giggled, “This is a private link.” She wanted to be angry but she felt so free. It was like she was six again skipping along in the gardens outside of her parent’s home. Try as she might she was not able to deflect the connection and it probed once more.

          Riven, there is no time you must go. He is searching for you again.

         “Who? What is going on, I don’t understand.” The link was pulled and she was thrown back to reality. The urge to vomit almost won but Riven managed to keep it down. The last she remembered was watching the ceiling spin from the floor.





*      *      *




     “Riven, Riven. Please, wake up.”

         “…Hmm?” waking she gazed into deep pools of blue. Jace.

         “Oh, thank God. You’re alright. What are you doing up wandering the halls at this hour?” Jace leaned back and rubbed his hands over his face. His mumbled words were a little hard to make out but she managed, “You scared me to death. Why didn’t Nadine read your vitals?”

         Riven brought herself to a sitting position, smoothing her onyx hair behind her ears. She placed a hand on Jace’s shoulder and feigned a smile, “Jace it’s OK, I must have fallen asleep or something. It is two in the morning.” She waved her hand trying to sound casual, “ I was probably sleepwalking.”

         He studied her face in a way that Riven knew he didn’t buy it, “That still doesn’t answer my last question. Nadine, wake.” Soft white light filled the room as the soothing British voice responded.

         “Yes, Jace?”

         “Have you been checking Riven’s vitals? I found her in the hall unconscious.”

         “The last log was taken at two fifteen a.m., I checked on her because of an elevated heart rate. Do you need assistance? Shall I phone the doctor?”

         “That will be unnecessary, I will phone Scott tomorrow. Prepare for reformat.”

         “Understood.” 

         The glow dispersed and they were left to themselves, or as much as they could be left alone by that thing. Riven seriously wished that he would turn it off every once in a while. Their last quarters didn’t have a Persa-Unit and that was perfectly fine with her.
         Gently tugging at her arm she tried to pry away from his grip. When that didn’t work she cleared her throat, “Um, Jace…could you kindly release my arms? I think I’ve lost all feeling in them.”

         Jace turned a deep scarlet and quickly let go. Although he was nearly a foot taller than her and had a fierce disposition, he was as gentle as they come. He stood for several seconds staring at her shivering form. His response was low and controlled. 

         “Well, I was just worried, that’s all. Is it a crime to worry about you?” his chin rose slightly in that way that annoyed her when he was about to go into one of his lectures.

         “Aside from that, its three thirty in the morning for your information and with everything that’s happened

         “I don’t want to talk about it, please Jace just go back to bed. I don’t need your lectures right now, OK?” She quieted, realizing she had crossed the line.

         Riven knew she shouldn’t have treated him that way. Any time she was upset she lashed out at the wrong person, usually Jace. Biting her lip she searched his eyes pleading silently with her own. She sunk at his guarded expression. Go me. The silence hung between them before he turned. Though his speech was quiet, she cringed at the obvious hurt it portrayed. “You know, one of these days you’re going to turn away the only friend you’ve got.” He walked down the hall and into his room. The click reverberated off the small space ending their conversation. Riven stood in the hall for a moment unsure of what to do. It was probably best to talk tomorrow after duty, let Jace cool off. She retreated back to her room miserable. It was better this way, let him hate her. She closed the door and glanced at the time. Great, four o’clock. She’d have to be to work in a mere three hours. Shaking her head, she crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling. Looks like I won’t be getting those R.E.M’s after all. She sighed and spoke to the ceiling, getting out what she should have earlier, “Jace I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately.” 

         Tears threatened to spill but she fought and kept them down. Don’t break your promise. It was a vow she intended to keep. Nothing or no one would ever see her cry again. That was a different time, a different person. Tears were reserved for something Riven refused to give into. Giving in meant being hurt, she couldn’t have that, not again. She needed her head in the game, not just for herself but the people she would have to face in the morning. Turning on her side she forced her eyes shut and tried to think of happier times. She could have asked Nadine to put her to sleep but the thought of that made her skin crawl. Instead Riven chanted the mantra in her mind they taught in the Core. She preferred it to normal sleep anyhow, it kept her mind alert.  


*             *              *



       

 

Grumbling, Riven rolled out of bed as the alarm went off. It felt like she had just closed her eyes. Nadine is way better than this hunk of junk. She was about to call out to Nadine then quickly remembered Jace was having her reformatted this morning. There was nothing she could do about it and work was work. Not an easy thing to come by these days, especially since the second battle with the IIA . The ‘International Intelligence Agency’ were simply filed under one thing in her mind inhuman. They had revealed themselves many years ago when she was a child. Even then Riven had known she was not like other children. She had predicted her parents death, tried to warn them, but they just patted her head and told her not to worry. If only they had listened to her. They would still be alive today. Snapping back to reality, she stepped into the bathroom and closed her eyes. The auxiliary system felt more abrasive as it sought to connect with her Umbra. Riven steeled herself against its gentle probing making it realize she preferred verbal communication. A charming male voice surrounded her as she walked into the shower.

         “A thousand pardons, Riven. I did not realize you prefer verbal. I will log it in the system for next time”

         “Please do.”

         “Command?”

         “Stimulating shower massage with muscle relaxant.”

         “Understood. Would the lady prefer traditional or interactive?”

         “Traditional” she spat, “Never interactive.” 

         “Apologies, of course ma’am. One moment, checking temperature preferences.”

         The sweet fragrance of gardenias and fresh cut grass filled the air instantly relaxing her. The scent stirred memories from her childhood. Riven and her best friend Levi would play for hours in the Japanese inspired gardens her father created. He was brilliant with landscapes creating many retreats for the rich and the famous. Though he liked many different designs, he had a particular fondness for modern Japanese and incorporated much of it into his own home. There was something about the crisp clean lines and usability that he adored. She carried that fondness into her own home and, like her father, preferred no-nonsense design. The latest trend with over the top patterns and gaudy gold everywhere drove her crazy. Sometimes it was painful thinking about them. Levi and her father, like many others, were lost to her forever. The fourth wall rose sealing Riven in as water spouted from each corner. 

         The warmth melted away the last of her dark mood and her shoulders sagged. It was the only time she felt human. No matter which way she moved each shower head would switch and massage her sore muscles. Sighing heavily, she finished up and called to the computer, “I am done, open please.” The water cut off and the wall receded back into the floor. A robe was hanging ready for her and the tiles felt warm beneath her feet. Ignoring the robe, Riven padded over to the mirror. These were times she loved being in the Core, not many people had clean water, let alone such luxuries as heated tiles. The Core treated them well.

         Warm air rushed from below and above the vanity, slowly drying her body. She sighed and looked at her reflection in the full-length mirror. Fierce turquoise eyes and sharp features stared back at her. She ran fingers through her hair in a feeble attempt to style it. Not that it really bothered her. She kept it just below the chin for a reason. Less to grab, less to style, she always said. Simple, like it should be. Frowning, she caught the scar on her bare honey skin a stark reminder of the evil in humanity. The jagged cut ran from belly to groin─ an invasion she would never forget. If only she could remember his face. Retching, Riven closed her eyes and tried not to think about it. Never again would a man touch her that way. At least now she had her hand-to-hand combat and psych training. She wasn’t completely useless like before. Riven finished dressing in her casual blacks and walked from the bathroom. The color signified that she was on clean up and civil duty today. It was hard work but helped keep hope alive, and that was the most important thing.

         The last several attacks had kept Riven busy cleaning the wreckage that “they” had left behind. She refused to ever relate them to human beings, for admitting so would make them closer to her somehow. At least with the second war came more work and the economy really needed the boost. They hadn’t been completely defeated at least and the attacks appeared to be slowing. She stared across the room, so many senseless deaths over the years. The bastards had risen out of the shadows more than twenty years ago from our own base. They were meant to be our saviors. It was a small group of several thousand members that were stationed on the moon. Among them were the most intelligent, strong, and psychically advanced. A slightly more evolved human individually chosen from every corner of the world. Originally, they were scientists placed there to draw plans for colonization. We were looking at several options at the time, even as far as Europa.  However, they first settled on a moon base. The Moon’s gravity was far less dense than our own, making the launch sequence faster and fuel efficient. They first gathered as much information as possible on the long journey to make Mars’s surface more inhabitable. They kept in contact every three months. The stretches in time became further and further apart.  Finally, the worst was made apparent: All of it, the research, the connection to our society, was completely lost. They were their own nation and felt that they no longer needed our rules. With their own biosphere, resources from Earth were no longer necessary.

         So it began, they honed their powers, biding their time until that fateful day of rising. All of the world powers came together in one great alliance against them, but to no avail. As time went by the government tried more and more rash measures to bring them down. Not a single weapon worked. It was our minds they invaded. They never used a weapon against Earth. Instead, they infiltrated the great minds of the world and watched as we bombed one another. Their Breakers were powerful pulling down every shield put into place. She didn’t know everything involved with a breaker or exactly how they did it, but she knew it was no walk in the park to earn that accomplishment. One of her co-workers at the Core was involved in high level security training, learning just simple exercises when something went wrong and her Umbra severed ever since Riven had no interest in becoming a Breaker.  In any case the IIA took them all down one nation at a time as hope eventually died.

        Years ago, during a particularly nasty attack of the IIA, the government sent salvage teams to scout out the areas where any useful items or materials would be found. Searching through the rubble of what used to be Midrand they stumbled across a very peculiar sight. A young girl, no more than nine or ten years old huddled in the shadows of a small building, her hands pressed over her ears. A little tattered bunny laid at her bruised and bloodied feet. Her gown was drenched in blood from the waist down. The leader of the salvage team padded over to her, his gangly body awkward and unsure. He brushed back his long, black hair and offering his water with kind eyes and a smile. She reached out her arms to the soldier with tears streaming down her face, “mama” she muttered just before her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she collapsed at his feet. 

         It was Jace who had come to her aid that day. Only fifteen at the time, Jace was a child himself trying to find work to support both him and his sister. Though he worked hard Jace’s sister died two years later of some strange and unknown disease. He always believed it was heartbreak that killed Karina. She had mourned her parent’s death until the day she drew her last breath. Jace took Riven in out of the kindness of his heart when nobody else felt they had a use for her. A ‘nuisance’ they said and was content to leave her be. He sensed she was something special and fate had ordained their meeting. It was then Riven decided she owed her life to him and would work hard and strive to do her best. She joined the Core with Jace and dedicated her life to helping others like her. 

         Exiting their loft, Riven turned down the long narrow corridor before it opened up into the main floor. Familiar dark red carpeting with the entwined golden border greeted her as she walked toward the glass lift. Soft white light held up by delicate floating sconces lined the floor.

         “Good morning, Riven” Dressed in his usual red and black uniform, Arthur stood behind the front desk. His graying hair was slicked back and made him look more dignified than ever. His dark skin radiated this morning and he appeared more cheerful than normal.

         “Morning, Arthur. How are the kids?”

         “Oh just fine, daughter starts the Core next week. You all go easy on her now.” He winked at Riven, his usual jovial self. It always amazed her how strong he was. His wife, Belinda, had died just eight months ago from cancer they didn’t know she had. It tore her apart knowing how much Arthur loved his wife. The worst part was that the disease had been curable. If only they’d known sooner.

         She broke into a wide grin, “You know we’re hardest on the newbies. You take care, Arthur OK?” Smiling, she continued across the room.

         That gave him a chuckle. “Hell, she probably needs it. Will do, you too dear.” 

         Getting on the lift, she descended down to the shuttle heading for Tokyo. What was left of it anyway. This is going to be a long day, she thought as she strode toward the vehicles. 

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Handmade Mini-Book Giveaway

Hi guys! My birthday is next Thursday and to celebrate I wanted to give away a hand drawn, hand written fantasy mini book. If you would like to enter, you can enter here. 

I’ll announce the winner on my Birthday!

The story will be all fantasy and done in mixed media. I will hand bind it, draw it, paint it, and write it. I’ve always been a lover of making things and especially for other people. If you know someone that also may love this, send them over to Twitter~

Have a wonderful, glorious Friday dears. ❤

Grey

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The Fat Man – A Christmas Poem (funny)

So for those of you that follow my Twitter, you saw my Christmas tradition of ‘Battle with the Fatman’ I do every year. The tradition continues with this year’s shenanigans. For those of you that missed it, here it is:

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

I was waiting alone for him to come out.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

I’d lined them with noise makers to know when he’s there.

The family was nestled all snug in their beds,

Unaware of the battle that was ahead.

 

 

My dog Ketti laid in my lap, And had just settled in for an evening nap.

When out on the lawn there rose such a sound she leaped from my lap and barked very loud.

Away to the window I rushed to see,

If the fat man had finally gotten to me.

The moon shone brightly on the new fallen snow,

As I waited impatiently for him below.

 

When what to my eager eyes did appear,

but the fat man himself and nine tiny reindeer.

Faster than a bullets through the sky they flew,

And he yelled and snarled his commands to his crew.

On,dasher! On, dancer! On, prancer! and Vixen.

On, comet! On, cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!

Rudolph guide us to that home, travel fast,

For this night we’re going to kick major ass.

So up on the house top the reindeer did fly,

& I reached under the couch & gripped my .45.

 

To my utmost dread I heard on the roof,

the scraping & pawing of each little hoof.

As I tucked in my elbows & was turning around,

Down the chimney ‘Saint’ Nicholas came with a bound.

 

He was dressed in armor from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of guns he had flung on his back,

and he looked like Clint Eastwood but…really fat.

His eyes how they squinted,

His voice, how it scratched!

And he sized me up as he struck a match.

He lit the cigar that hung from his grin,

And he gave a hearty laugh whispering, “what trouble you’re in. ”

 

He reached behind him & drew weapons with a jerk,

And said not a word as he got straight to work.

The first shot fired mere inches from my head,

And I rolled to the ground thankful to not be dead.

I took a second to gather my wits,

When the couch in front of me was blasted to bits.

 

Quicker than lightening I aimed for his face,

but the asshole had teleported to another place.

Ketti stayed hidden as the battle waged on,

the coward, no doubt, was probably long gone.

My family was clueless, or they’re fraidy cats too,

but I won’t let that stop me from killing his crew.

If I can’t take him out with any of my moves,

then I’ll aim my next shot up toward…The roof.

 

With a massive grin as the fat man gained ground,

I squeezed the trigger and he froze at the sound.

His head shot up and his body went slack,

then I lowered my weapon, aiming at his back.

This was my chance, I must make it work,

it was time that he learned to stop being a jerk.

He’d terrorized this town for the last damn time,

and my finger found the trigger as the clock began to chime.

 

The blast was deafening, but my grin stayed fixed,

I’d finally got him that jolly little bitch.

But as the smoke cleared, my grin faded away,

the bastard had managed an impossible escape.

I roared at the magical lights that filled the room,

And swear to the nine hells that I’ll get him, soon.

This year managed to be a bust,

but next year, yes, next time he will be crushed.

 

You can follow my mini-campaigns weekly on Twitter as well for more awesome adventures. ❤ Greysanta

 

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Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year, the one that makes you reflect over the past eleven months and wonder: How did I gain another ten pounds after eating so poorly for the past two months? smh, we’ll never know.

But what I do know is that it’s a mixed bag time of year for me. One that I usually find myself contemplating over the good and the bad. I feel somewhat accomplished in my writing endeavors, having completed a few short stories and almost finished with my next novel. If you’d like to check out my work, you can read it here. 

I’ll be slowly updating them on here too with links to the other parts. If you really are enjoying my work and would like to support me, you can here. I post my work free because I’ve always been torn over charging others over it since it really is a joy of mine.

One thing I am ripped up about is I didn’t get to send my work off to a publisher this year like I’d hoped, but my goal is to do that this coming year. There’s always this still-small voice in the back of my mind that says, “you’ll never be good enough.” She won this year, unfortunately. The depression was real this year you guys.

Not because of the fact that I don’t love every moment of my life and cherish those in it, but because I shut down. To add to that, I work something like 70 hours a week and creativity can be stretched thin when you get home at 6:30 and have to go to bed at 8 to wake up at 4. I got down because I need to do this in order to survive, but my heart has always been with writing and creating. I love sitting in front of a blank canvas, or a blank google doc and just─ going to town.

I know every artist/writer out there wants to do this, but I think it really is the most important thing to us. We thrive off of expressing that creative energy, it moves us. My guilt, and downfall, has always been being timid about asking people for things. Namely, money. And I wonder if every artist struggles with this very thing.

I think: “Ok, you are going to start promoting your work and stop offering it for free.”

Then, the evil half that takes up like 80% of my brain goes, “bitch, look at these other writers and artist out there, you ain’t shit.”

Then, it happens.

I agree with her and just keep throwing it up for free. I need to get to a place emotionally where I can view my work as worthy. And see, this is where I struggle.

Those of you that read my blogs know that I come from a past that is not exactly Disney movie friendly. I find myself pushing everyone away, yet feel sad that there is no one in my life. Depression does this to you. It makes you think, “I don’t need anyone in my life, and I don’t want to be in theirs” and then later you think, “I’m so alone and need someone, why doesn’t anyone care?”

Idk, maybe because you sit on your ass eating cheetos and ignore the 9,856,420 text messages at people’s attempt to get you to hang out with them? Then eventually they stop caring because it seems like you don’t.

It’s an odd mixture of being eternally hopeful, and completely hopeless. 

It’s exhausting and annoying, even to you.

So for all my fellow sufferers out there, I just want to say that you are not alone. My Christmas will be quaint and quiet, but I’m going to force myself to have a good one this year and focus on the positives. Hopefully you will too.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and love yourselves. ❤

Grey

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Tuesday Musings – Anxiety in Men and Women and How they Differ

stress

 

Before we begin, let’s just all take a breath. A deep one.

Ok, we ready?

Anxiety sucks. For anyone that has ever experienced it knows─ it is the worst.

From panic attacks to full-blown panic disorders many people in the U.S. (and in the West in general) suffer from this. It affects their daily life, and their long-term life.

It’s so prevalent in our society that many people affected by it are shown to take more time off of work, are far less social, and are less likely to finish school. Think about how that impacts their quality of life. 

Could you imagine waking up, your heart pounding for no reason as you lay in bed? Everything feels off. I mean, really off. Like at any moment, the world would explode around you and you just want to run away. But, you can’t. You are stuck in your own skin, feeling this miserably-awful gut-wrenching fear and that you are not ok.

Your skin is clammy, your fingertips like ice.

Your chest is tight and your heart just won’t stop beating like you’ve run a marathon, both ways, uphill in the snow.

It gets better. Many people that have crippling anxiety also win the genetic lottery with depression. Oh yeah, this girl right here knows.

Party at Grey’s place, wut wut

While mine stems from my childhood and early adulthood trauma (yay PTSD) many more are affected by this in some form or fashion. Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men. Why is this, I’ve wondered?

Well, there is some debate to this but many people believe it is due to girls and women experiencing trauma earlier in life. That, or if it is possible that it is inherently increased in women.

Oh great, thanks ancestors.

Another fun thing our brain tends to do is process serotonin release slower than our male counterparts. 

While we all laugh it up and drown our sorrows in wine and other recreational drugs

Molly-Percocet

Let’s be real.

Women tend to ruminate and medicate to cope while dudes get physical. Curiously enough, men also have the positive side of their brain light up when they are under pressure. Damn, I wish my brain got overloaded with serotonin and cortisol.

Ladies, we can learn from this. One of the biggest challenges I faced when going through treatment was to shut that shit down. My brain tends to do this thing where it loops all the bad things on repeat.

Oh, you don’t like that? It used to taunt.

Let’s turn this shit up to you crying in the shower for thirty minutes to end your day.

Yeah. My life was hell for the better part of fifteen years emotionally. I still get bouts of it, but I’ve learned a super secret technique I’m going to share with you:

It’s called keeping yourself busy, mentally and physically.

Get real physical guuurl. Because thinking is the devil.

No, not in an unhealthy way. Clearly if you have issues that you need to go talk to a professional about do that along with this. However, several studies have shown that as Westerners, we have way too much idle time and we also suffer from more anxiety and depression than those in other countries. I think if I had to work my fingers to the bone every day, I’d probably collapse in bed in a heap of exhaustion and not have time to focus on all my mental hang-ups.

Except─ hold on, I have.

This year, I quit my full-time job to help run a company. On top of all that, I write and stream. I started noticing something I never had happen before. My anxiety was easing because I felt like I had purpose─ which gave me drive. Something I haven’t experienced in a long time. My depression and anxiety have always centered around feeling worthless and that I didn’t feel accomplished at the end of the day.

It was something I always lacked because I had the same facts drilled in my head every day of my childhood:

you aren’t good enough, you never will be, you’re useless, you’re pathetic. 

It all goes on.

So, while our hormones react differently (and different centers of our brain light up during stress and anxiety) there are a few similarities between men and women with anxiety.

The major one that a lot of people report is the feeling of impending doom (yay flight center of the brain!) shortness of breath, tight chest, and the feeling of discomfort in their own skin.

Unfortunately, having estrogen and progesterone kind of plays havoc on our brain-place. Ugh, as if women needed more added stress to their lives.

Don’t fear, ladies─ there is hope! With a healthy dose of physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and daily mindfulness and rest, you can combat the daily demons.

Numerous studies have shown that taking as little as two minutes up to twice a day of breathing exercises and mindfulness of stressors/triggers(TRIGGERED) you can lower your stress (and blood pressure) to a healthy level.

I use the breathing app in fitbit. Some people love Calm

There are many others, but I’ve heard good things about these. I know they help keep me stay on track, just like having a regular daily routine and lots of sleep. (but damn, sleep is important.)

I think we can all take a little time to appreciate the importance of ourselves, and others and value what we have to offer each other. I tip my hat to the guys on this one, so far it’s worked for me and maybe it can work for you too.

But hey, just my thoughts on a Tuesday.

Take care everyone and feel free to discuss below. I’m more than happy to share my own battles and victories with anxiety and depression.

Love yourselves,

❤ Grey

 

 

 

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Holiday’s Confuse Me

Ever since I was a little girl, I could remember being wildly conflicted. I liked being near people, but interacting with them was exhausting.

The strange thing is, I can talk about anything and usually get along with others easily.

But to do it all the time? Brings a great weariness to my bones.

I used to stream 6 days a week. o.o Can you imagine? I think it’s for some people, but definitely not for me. I prefer the ‘record a show and post it afterward’ format. Engaging with people just wore. me. out.

Mostly, it’s the toll it takes on your soul and then somehow being ‘ready’ to be with your loved ones afterward. They got a half version of me. And gurrrrl─ the crankiness is real.

The holidays are a special sort of pressure for someone that is used to being alone for 8-10 months out of the year. My family has never really understood that and I get razzed over it constantly.

I’m mostly just a hermit, but I do occasionally like the company of others.

Sometimes. Maybe.

Ok, let’s be real─ I would probably build an empire of bots, order everything off of amazon, and cook for myself. (I just need those damn bots to be made for companionship, I’ve got everything else covered.)

I have this odd problem of understanding people’s life issues that sometimes make me seem─ cold or distant. When someone tells me an issue, I tend to offer them a solution. I hear that is a no-no, and have learned since then to pause before answering and ask if they would prefer comfort or to just listen vs. telling them what I think is the ‘correct solution.’

That isn’t to say that I don’t understand emotions, or that I lack those sorts of feelings─ I just can’t understand why people tend to stay in situations that make them unhappy.

I didn’t understand what they all got upset over when they got dumped. I guess I’m someone that has always found a brighter side to everything. Like, “oh well, at least I get more time to myself now─ win!” I offered this explanation once and was promptly told that normal people don’t work this way. I still to this day don’t understand why it’s upsetting to not be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me─ but, I can at least offer comfort to those that it does upset.

High school was fun, y’all.

My entire life has been this viewpoint:

  1. Presented with problem─ research problem, find solution. Excellent.
  2. Presented with emotional problem─ research problem, find several solutions, offer said solutions─ receive angry person?
  3. ???
  4. shitshitshit 
  5. panic and run away
  6. lock self away for several months until everyone has forgotten about it
  7. resume normal friendship
  8. excellent.

I had the same problem understanding girls in my life. I would hear them complain about certain shoes, or hairstyles, or clothes and I would say, “just…don’t wear them?”

Holidays to me are a giant weird blob of nope. 

I have to drive hours through an area I’m not familiar with to sit and listen to a side of the family that makes me want to tear my ears out. (I go because my dad would get sad if I didn’t) I stopped participating the the gift exchange years ago because the gifts for women always included some sort of horrendous body spray/lotion set, skin paint, or smelly wax. And not the good, clean scented smelly wax that you burn after you poop─ but an odd, mysterious musky scent that all older ladies seem to slather on everything they own.

Then, there’s the endless amount of questions which inevitably lead to the fact that I had a horrible, awful childhood with nothing remotely entertaining to talk about. (unless you count my interaction with other human beings.)

I still cannot understand why handing someone a gift card or money is viewed negatively. Alternatively, I do make things for people─ but there is that still-small voice that says, ‘you know, they could just buy what they want instead of you spending time and effort making something that collects dust.’

Yet every year I’m made to be part of this horrible ritual.

Until, recently.

The last few years my family grew further and further apart. I started realizing it just last year when the tiny little social creature that lives in a locked box of my subconscious peeked out and said, “it’s time.”

Which brings me to the next part of my level of fucked-up. Now that no one wanted to meet up, it made me recognize how much I miss being a part of─ well, anyone’s life.

My brain: “I like people, they real nice”

Also my brain: “I hope half the entire planet dies in a pile of shit and fire.”

I know, right?

So, I’m always stuck between absolutely feeling lonely and 100% do not want human contact like, 80% of the time.

I guess the weird and messed up point I’m trying to amble my way over to is this:

Don’t screw up relationships with people that tend to show they care for you. Also, no matter how crazy your family makes you, they still love you and choose to be a part of your life.

And for the love of all that is good, please stop texting that ex (or anyone) you never got over. If they aren’t in your life─ they don’t care. And neither should you.

Take it from someone that focused on all the wrong people for a majority of her life.

Love yourselves.

-Grey ❤

 

 

 

 

 

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The Watchmen Part IV – I’ve Decided – A Horror Novella

I stood outside for a moment as I watched the cars slowly pass. Everything moved so much slower here than it did in Dallas. No one seemed to be in a rush, or cutting each other off. It really was beautiful and even from here I could make out the mountains in the distance. I would be going back home tomorrow. Not back up to mom and dad but to my place in Dallas. I still had to figure out what I was going to say to both my parents─what I could say to anyone. Devon’s smile flashed in my head. I found myself wondering if he would smile at me like that again before we all faced the end. I think given time, I would have liked to get to know him better. I’m not sure in what way, but I know that I enjoyed his company. I certainly didn’t want him to die in the way that I have been. No one deserved that. 

 

I trudged into my room, setting my key-card on the nightstand and my bag on the floor. Whether I wanted to or not, I was going to that funeral tomorrow. Not just to show my support to the company, but to talk with a close friend of his. Maybe he spoke to someone before he passed away or he had confided in someone from our department. I’m not sure of the dynamic between him and his team, but I knew that him and Devon worked together a lot and seemed comfortable talking to one another. I would worry about that tomorrow. 

 

I picked up my phone and checked my messages. Mom had sent me a link to a pie recipe she found and asked if I would like her to make that this year. Leave it to mom to ask something like that a solid three weeks before Thanksgiving. She was forever worried about including everyone. Last year she had managed to cook a full traditional thanksgiving and a full vegan one for her sister. Aunt Marie was always obsessed over something─ her fine wrinkles, the little bit of weight around her tummy, the horrible meat industry and how they all lobbied together to get the public to buy into meat and animal products. I would get a link to a documentary at least a few times a year. Everyone had an agenda. Though, admittedly she probably wasn’t wrong about the lobbying. I’m sure it happened in just about every industry. 

 

I admired her for it none-the-less, I certainly couldn’t do it. I tried being a vegetarian for a while and promptly lost my shit. Even my mom had broken her no cursing rule and told me to stop being such a bitch. I still laughed at that from time to time. My mom, miss prim and proper cursing me out and shoving bacon in my face. I guess we all had our limits and I apparently was a real asshole when I didn’t eat meat. 

 

I opened up my work email and glanced through. There was a few messages from corporate about Zedd and a personal email from Devon. It was titled ‘I’m sorry for all of this.’ I immediately opened it. 

Hey Kate,

 

I just wanted to say again that I am so sorry your first week happened this way. Zedd was a good friend of mine and to say that I am in total shock is a bit of an understatement. I hope that this hasn’t changed your mind about working for us in any way. I hope to have you on our team for quite some time. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow, we’re all going to work half a day and then attend the service. You are more than welcome to join us or head home. You won’t be judged either way. 

 

Take care, 

Devon  

 

I reread it and then hit reply. 

 

Devon,

 

I want you to know that I plan on staying with the company for a long time. In no way is this anyone’s fault and I would never hold you or the company accountable for someone else’s actions. I’m sure that Zedd had a reason for all of this even if we couldn’t understand them. I lost a good friend of mine this way before high school, so I do have a bit of an idea as to what you must be going through. Just focus on the good times and the time you shared together. I’ll see you tomorrow at the office. 

 

Yours,

Kate

 

I was surprised to find a bit of wetness had gathered in my eyes. It had happened nearly ten years ago but I remember James. In some ways, he had reminded me of Zedd─ quick witted, shy, but very vocal when he was passionate about something. Why did it seem like the best people in the world took their own life? This thought depressed me more and more over the years. I remembered taking several psychology courses talking about how some of the most brilliant minds struggled with daily depression. I could believe it. Seeing the world as it really was had to have its downfalls. 

 

I sighed heavily on the bed and then pushed one foot over the other as I shoved my shoes to the floor. I just wanted to be done with all of this─ done with knowing about it and most importantly, done with feeling it. I had a few hours before I would have to leave for Dallas since it was a ten hour trip. We were expected to be in tomorrow morning, so I would have to go back to my place in time to shower and dress. I wasn’t honestly sure if I had something appropriate to wear to a funeral. Most of my clothes were very casual and the few dresses I owned were sun dresses. I couldn’t exactly show up in a flowery sundress for the death of a coworker, and jeans just seemed wrong somehow. 

 

After a little bit of searching, I found an online delivery service that would pick up something for a nearby store and deliver it tonight. I quickly browsed through some dresses and pantsuits before deciding on some slacks and a blouse. I at least had some black flats at home just for this sort of occasion. My parents had always told me to have a pair of black dress shoes in case of a wedding, or funeral. 

 

I sigh, browsing through the t.v. It had been a long time since I’d been to a funeral. The last one had been my Nana Genny’s. It had been a very cold day, the sort that made you shiver no matter how many layers of clothing you put on. I was still in my teens, old enough to understand death, but still immature as to what it actually meant. It didn’t really hit until grandpa Jay had started dating again. When he remarried, mom had stopped talking with him. I’m not sure why she did, after all he was only human. He’d been with nana for over forty years. It must have been hard to have been used to being with someone for so long and then they were gone. I don’t think I would want to be alone either. I still called him from time to time to check in and see how he was doing. Grandpa Jay had hoped someday mom would come around. I did too.

 

A chill ran along my arms and up through my head. I wondered if maybe I was getting sick from all the stress. I wasn’t one to get sick often, but when I did it normally took me out for a few days. I had the flu once as a child and I’ll never forget it. It was probably why I got my shot every year and washed my hands like it were some sort of religion. The kids always poked fun of me for it, but guess who never got sick? Let them laugh, cleanliness always wins and I was the proof. 

 

After wasting some time browsing my phone and trying again for the hundredth time to find these mysterious Watchmen, I decided that a trip to the sauna sounded better. I was worried that since it was still somewhat early in the day it may be crowded, however when I arrived there was only a family in the pool and an older man in the hottub. The sauna was people-free. I slipped my shoes off and walked into the heated bliss. I sighed, stretching out on the bench and wiggled my toes. It felt good─ really good. The heat stung a little to breathe but I didn’t mind that. I just wanted this chill to ease away. I couldn’t tell if it was all in my head or if I was actually getting sick. 

 

I close my eyes and breathe deeply, only focusing on my breath drawing in and out. I imagined that I was floating in my own ship in the middle of space, staring at the small particles floating by. The sun heated my back as I faced out toward the galaxy. Jupiter loomed nearby, huge and deadly─ but beautiful. I stared mesmerized by the swirling multicolored gas as I bathed in the glow of the sun. I am completely alone. This has been my form of meditation for years. Somehow, the thought of being completely isolated and floating through space comforted me. I think it would probably have the opposite effect on most people. For me, it was a haven.

 

I find myself often wishing that I could be alone. Totally alone with nothing more than me, my computer, and art. Art has been a way of life for me for as long as I could remember. I would love to sit outside and draw everything I saw, especially people. I’d brought my sketchbook along on the trip and thought that it was probably time to do something calming before the funeral. Plus, I would need to present something at work tomorrow. We had the weekend off, but I always grew anxious not having anything to do. 

 

I took several long, slow breaths. Don’t think about that now, I say to myself, think about the warmth. I focus on the heat and my breath. Suddenly, my mind wandered to the first night I experienced all of this─ the first night I experienced them. Despite the terrifying sensation of another being thriving off of my pain, I was curious about what they were. Their black hoods flashed in my mind, nothing but blackness behind them. Their long, thin bodies would disappear into a sort of translucent grey haze. They would never move, but stand perfectly still and stare.

 

They never said anything. They didn’t need to. You could just sense them. Sort of like when you were a child and tried to sneak up on your parents. No matter how quiet you thought you were being, they would turn around and shout, ‘boo!’ scaring you instead. Only, these things were more like a heavy and dense presence, pressing in upon you until you could barely breathe. Your breathing becomes shallow, your chest heavy. Your heart feels as though it will tear its way from your chest. Then comes the cloying, damp air as they invade our plane of existence.

 

They stand there, merely existing where they should not. Yet, all of that I could get used to if it were something as simple as discomfort. Nothing compared to the sensation of dying again and again, painfully with no sign of reprieve. If it was as bad as my dreams, if that’s even what I could call them, I would lie there suffering until they released me. Death didn’t scare me, living did. I could handle knowing that the blast would take me out in one shot and I’m gone. 

 

There was a thought that had started sprouting with each passing day. Little by little, I watered it and you could see the bud forming just above the soil. It’s perfect little leaves wrapping protectively over it. Zedd was right to do what he did, and I was going to follow suit. Whatever these creatures were, they weren’t going to stop. I was going to die slowly, and horribly. I could try getting out of the city, stock up, and move out to the middle of nowhere, but it wouldn’t save me from the fallout. Unless I could find someone with an underground bunker, that’s willing to share. There had to be a few of them out there, right? 

 

That would save me, but what about the nearly eight billion people out there? In seconds, entire cities would be wiped out, followed by radiation poisoning and then black rain. The bombs would take people out directly in the city immediately, but the ones just outside of it would suffer slowly, painfully, and then finally die after days of agonizing pain. People like my parents. Families. 

 

Even if a decent sized population had managed to somehow make it, the hospitals wouldn’t be able to keep up with that sort of catastrophic event. It would take decades to recover from it. 

 

I sigh, my eyes opening as I stared up at the wooden ceiling. I wanted to be hopeful. I wanted to be one of those people that have decided that no matter what, humanity could prevail and I could save them. The truth was, no matter how hard I tried or what I said, I had zero proof. 

 

And proof was all that would matter. If I was me, listening to someone tell me that the world would end, I would laugh, maybe roll my eyes and move on. 

 

No matter. I would do my best to warn them all and leave with a clean conscience. 

 

I had made up my mind, as soon as I got back, I would make it my mission for the next five days to do what I could. I didn’t want to live in this world, or the way it would be, but I could help everyone else that would be stuck here.