Good Riddance, 2015

Fire in champagne

New Year’s is a traditional time for reflecting on the outgoing year and setting intentions for the one oncoming. Like everyone else, I have been thinking about the way this year has gone, and there’s one adjective that just keeps coming back: crap.

As this year started, I was living in a comfortable home, paying bills, and pursuing various interests. I had even re-enrolled in college. I was unlocking Adult Achievements like I was supposed to. I figured I was cruising into Boss Mode, but I was ignoring increasingly aggressive warnings my body had been sending for years. It’s dangerous for anyone, and foolhardy when you have the combination of illnesses that I do.

So it shouldn’t really have been a surprise when I had a full-on nervous breakdown in January. Consequently, this has been a year full of failures, obstacles, pain, and setbacks. But it’s also provided me with tremendous clarity and opportunity. I now have a picture of where I want to go, and how I’m getting there. I know who I can count on when it all hits the fan. And that group is surprisingly big.

I have an amazing care team at the Institute for Family Health. My mother has been there for me at every step, helping me any way she can. My sister and her husband have been equally supportive, and caring for my older nieces over the summer provided me with badly needed structure and joy. Spending time with Cara, Isabella, and Francesca was the best part of my year, hands down.

On top of that, I have some of the best friends in the world. I specifically want to thank Darcy Ridgway and Grant Beery, who have both talked me through really hard, bad, dark days. Cyn and Deanna, who I often think of as one unit, have kept me from disappearing completely into my own world; it’s impossible to overstate how good it is to know that the invitations to visit are genuine and sent without any pressure, only love. Furthermore, Deanna has been instrumental in helping me get back on my feet with work.

I have been hugely blessed to have some amazing clients this year. Thanks to Nancy, for giving me a chance to help you out. To Lady Parts Justice (and Lizz & Ashley) for your work and your patience as I was sorting this all out. Big ups to the team at Planned Parenthood Action, and in particular to Heather and Miriam, who renewed my hope and joy in my work. And to Jamia and WAM! for the opportunity to work on causes I truly believe in.

I may be telling 2015 not to let the door hit its ass on the way out, but I am full of love and hope for 2016.

Things are hard. I am healing, but I’m also learning that I will never be healed. And that’s okay. I love you all.

Christmas Is Hard, Okay


A few folks have recently called me a Grinch or a Scrooge (or strongly implied it), because I don’t want to sing carols and decorate. But the thing is, Christmas can be really hard. And most of the time, I really don’t want to talk about it with anyone. Let alone people I don’t know that well.

I’m not going to tell them about I used to love Christmas. About how it was my Dad’s and my favourite holiday. How right after Thanksgiving, on the First Sunday of Advent,  my mom and sister would go off to Church and Dad and I would get to work. How we’d turn on the Christmas music and make tea and decorate every square inch of the loft. How we’d set up three different Christmas Villages.  And a train set. And multiple trees. And the wreaths. How Mom and Siobhan would return to a home that Christmas had puked all over. To Dad and me putting finishing touches on things while singing loudly along with whichever album was on at the moment. How deeply warm and right and comfortable it felt.

Or about that one year that we decided to buy a live tree and figured we could get it home together. How we stopped at a cafe for cocoa and croissants to fortify ourselves before hauling an 8-foot Douglas Fir half a mile on foot and then up three flights of stairs. And how we managed to do it without fighting, telling jokes instead.

Christmas was a thing Daddy and I did together; I doubt I’ll ever get it back. We’ve forged some new traditions as a family, and the holidays are again full of laughter and family. But no, I don’t want to play Christmas music throughout December. And I’ll pass on the wreaths and the trees and the Christmas villages. Without the Silly Old Bear’s voice booming through the Yuletide, it’s all just a pale imitation to me.

Maybe that does make me a Grinch. but I’m not the only one. Lots of people have a hard time around the holidays. For a lot of reasons. So sometimes, the best Christmas gift you can give is just letting it go.

Weapon of Choice: To-Do List

I don’t care what kind of job you do, a to-do list can be your best friend. Here’s how I make mine.

The first thing I do every morning when I get to work is write my to-do list. It took me some time to develop my system; I’ve tried a variety of methods, including keeping it online, but because of the way my memory works, writing it fresh is what works best for me. I sit down with my coffee and my pens — yes, plural — and remind myself of what my priorities are for the day. (If you prefer to manage your list with apps and online tools, I cannot recommend Wunderlist enough.)

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Today, I Think I’ll Be Okay

I was eleven the first time I thought about killing myself. I perched on the side of the tub in the bathroom with no locks, clutching a razor that had been left there. I felt the weight of years of shame and mockery. Of never fitting in. Of having it constantly pointed out.

The leggings & sweater combo were probably a cry for help.

The leggings & sweater combo were probably a cry for help.

I had come home that day, as I’d done so many days before, to a house that had the name the kids at school called me burned into the side by shaving cream. I thought about how my little sister had needed to defend me at the local pool. About how every day was full of shame and fear. And I thought about how little chance I had to change it all — I was only a kid and we were living in a small town. I couldn’t transfer schools, I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t figure out how to make my peers treat me like a person.

I held the razor against my wrists and traced the lines of my veins through my pale skin. I thought about how much it would hurt, and how my mom would have to clean it up. I thought about the fact that the razor had been there for months and would be there tomorrow. So I put it down and I went to bed.

Eventually, we moved (back) to The City. I went to a school full of weird kids. I learned that it was okay. I learned that I could make friends. I learned a little of what it meant to stand up for myself. Things got better.

I was thirty-three years old the last time I thought about killing myself. I sat in the middle of my studio apartment in Brooklyn, tears streaking down my face, and I thought about the sharpest knife in my kitchen and the pain killers in my medicine cabinet.

Even with hair that good, I couldn't shake it.

Even with hair that good, I couldn’t shake it.

I thought about the months leading up to that day and how I’d become completely isolated. I thought about how I’d become a source of ire for so many people. I thought about the ways in which I’d become a financial and emotional burden to family and friends. And I thought about how I couldn’t see an exit. I had tried so hard to fix things, to resolve the problem, and nothing had worked. I thought about how much better off everyone would be in world without me and my problems.

I thought about that kitchen knife and I put my hands on the floor. And then one of my cats brushed my leg, and I wondered what would happen to them. I thought about how unfair it would be to make anyone in my family deal with them. I thought about how they could end up in a shelter. I lifted my hands to my face and I cried. Then I got up, washed my face, and went to bed.

Eventually, I was able to get the problem solved. I settled in a new place. I bought furniture. I rebuilt my life. Things got better.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…

There have been a handful of incidents between those two. There will probably be more, someday. Today, I feel good. I feel strong, capable, and ready to face the world. Tomorrow, I might feel otherwise. I am not the only person going through this. And when things do fall apart for us, we aren’t thinking selfishly. We generally don’t fail to understand that we’re loved. That the people who love us will have to grieve and be caused pain; we believe that they are better off mourning us than having to deal with us.

Sometimes, things get better. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes one tiny thought is all it takes to pull us back from the brink. Sometimes it’s not.

I will never be cured. But today, I think I’ll be okay.

Movies Are My Meditation

“Mommy, you think my brain is rough, but you only have to listen to it when I’m awake. I have to listen to it 24 hours a day.”

I have always lived in my head. My brain whirs at a rate of knots all day, every day. Getting to sleep is hard, because I chase thoughts down the rabbit hole without hesitation. I have spent hours contemplating a mistake from twenty years ago that nobody else cares about or even remembers. I have a chronic stomach condition that was brought on by anxiety: a reaction to absurd, neurotic over-thinking. I’ve tried meditation and medication and you know what the only thing I’ve ever found that works to get me out of my head is? Movies.


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So You Want a Kitten

copyright Kate Tull

Tiny, expensive bundles of joy.

You’ve been thinking about it, and you’ve decided that you are ready to add a kitten to your family. They’re sweet, they’re fluffy, and there are tons of them around, so why not? You decided not to go through a breeder, and have booted up and have found a couple of candidates. And then you get to the adoption fees section, and you screech to a halt.

A hundred and fifty dollars to adopt a kitten?! That’s highway robbery! Where do they get off?!

It sounds like a lot of money, but you should slow your roll on it. Recently, my cat (who I’d adopted from a friend) unexpectedly gave birth to a litter of kittens. Had I gone through a shelter, that would never have happened. I love both her and the little furballs, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but that might well have been better. See, kittens are not without costs. But don’t take my word for it, let me break it down for you*:

  • Vet visit $35.00
  • Rabies Vaccine $21.00
  • Strongid (de-worm) $15.00
  • Revolution (heartworm control) $18.00
  • Medical Waste Fee (test for worms) $4.00
  • FVRCP Vaccine $20.00
  • Feline Triple Test (HW/FIV/FELV) $60.00

You’ll have to visit the vet three times ($105) – to get the FVRCP Vaccine and its two boosters ($60) – and you’ll have to pay two medical waste fees ($8) to confirm the kitten is worm-free. Now you’re up to $287, per kitten. That’s not including the cost of spaying ($200) or neutering ($150) your furry friend, which is something all cat owners should do. Add all that up, and you’re looking at $437 – $487. Sure, there are discount spay/neuter programs. If you are on public assistance, the ASPCA will spay your cat for free. Otherwise, it’s a $125 charge for either procedure.

When you really sit down and look at what you get when you go through a shelter, that $150 – $200 doesn’t look so bad: you’ll be going home with a pet that has had all of their tests and vaccines, has been certified healthy by a vet, and has been fixed. For at least a third of the cost that you’d face from acquiring one elsewhere.

Shelters aren’t looking to make a profit off your adoption. They’re not even looking to break even. They are trying to get a small percentage of their costs back so they can continue housing, helping, and placing animals that are in need.

So, you’re looking for a kitten? Go to your local shelter. And if you don’t have room in your life for one now, consider making a donation, anyway.

*These are all based on my vet bills, at a reasonably priced vet in Brooklyn, New York.

I Am Not a Unicorn

Hi, my name is Kate, and I am Girl Who Loves Sports. I love hockey and baseball, and will happily watch football, basketball, and soccer. I am also a Geek Grrl: bring on the comic books, cartoons, fantasy and sci-fi novels, even the occasional video game.


holy crap, TWO girls who like dude stuff in one place!

I don’t want a cookie for this. And I don’t want your gleeful surprise at finding a “chick who digs dude stuff,” like you just found a unicorn in Manhattan. I’m going to let you in on a secret: you haven’t.

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Embracing “No”

I haven’t written something in a while, but here is a video I just made about the importance of embracing the word “no” at work.


Racism, Privilege, and Trayvon Martin

Yes, fellow white people, I am totally making fun of you.

I have a couple of quick points that I’ve been turning over in my head as I’ve been watching the daily discussion about the Trayvon Martin case. Think Progress has a great rundown on it, in case you’re not caught up.  The FBI has opened an investigation, but you may still want to sign this petition; there are miles to go between a grand jury being opened and justice actually being done.

1a. Can you imagine what it would be like to look at your child every day when they leave the house and know that someone in power could gun them down and not even be brought to justice for it? I can only barely grasp how terrifying and awful that kind of feeling would be like.

1b. If imagining that fear is a purely intellectual exercise, rather than a fear that you live with daily, count yourself lucky, but know that this is a privilege. There are countless people for whom that feeling is a daily reality; people who have to teach their children how to survive an interaction with the authorities because it is a vital survival skill.

2a. What happened to Trayvon Martin was put in motion by centuries of policy and prejudice on the part of white people. Were it not for that deep-seeded racism, nobody would have hesitated to put George Zimmerman in handcuffs and drag him to a holding cell.

2b. This situation – none of these situations, because there are many – is not about the actions of one white man. One white man stalked a teenage boy and then shot him down. A group of white people saw and heard what was going on and failed to act. Another group of white people decided that it was totally plausible that a man who had 100 lbs and a gun over the kid with the bag of candy acted in fear of his life. And it is a society led by white people that created the environment for this to happen. This doesn’t mean you are individually a bad person, but it means that you – and me – are part of a group of people who are responsible for this situation. And just as we have allowed groups of people to be tarred with the brush based on the actions of individuals, so do we then have to accept that tarring in these circumstances.

3. The miniscule amount of prejudice you may potentially go through as a white person is NOTHING in comparison to what non-white people in this country have to go through every. single. day. So sit down and listen. And for God’s sake, learn to use the internet for some more than just porn and piracy; it’s nobody else’s responsibility, outside of grade school, to teach you about things that are a matter of historical record.

Learning to Love My Body

This is my body, and I love it just as it is.

Yup, that's my body. In a "Losers" tank.

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