The newspaper earlier this month finally said my paperwork was good to go, so now I may finally work on assignments. I’m still seeking a part time job to supplement this. 

Recently I interviewed at my local Sonic and they decided to have me in for a “shadow shift” to see if they would hire me. This ultimately didn’t go well, as they treated it as if they were showing me how to do things when really they wanted me to jump in and do things without knowing this was what they wanted. They said as I was leaving they’d call me with a schedule for the following week, but that never happened. 

Overall I’m not letting this discourage me. I feel like that particular job must not have been the right opportunity. But at the same time, I do have experience at fast food tasks and had I known what they expected I could have exhibited that. 

I interviewed at a local McDonald’s earlier in the fall, and my stutter was particularly pronounced that day for whatever reason. The manager interviewing me asked me if I was on medications. (I’m puzzled as to why she would think this appropriate to ask in a job interview at all.) I told her no. And she said in a harsh way, “Really?! None at all?!”

This town is the town where I grew up, and there are moments where I remember crystal clear why I hated it here. There are also times I find ways to be happy enough here despite all of it. 

I feel like something will line up soon, but I hope no more rude interviewers and no more cryptic “shadow shifts”.

Which way, black cat?

I’ve been absent here for a time. I got that job I interviewed for in April. Almost instantly the load of working 40-45 hours a week meant I just couldn’t write anymore. This felt absolutely shitty after such a surge in writing as I’d had here this spring, but I was also thrilled to be making money for the first time in so long!

About two months after starting the job, the friends I had been staying with asked me to leave their home on one week’s notice. I wound up spending a night at my mamaw’s old house, getting sick from the mold and having all kinds of memories of last fall trigger. I called the crisis line of a local women’s shelter that night and was granted a room there the next day. I stayed about four months at the shelter. 

During those four months I healed some, began taking walks on the weekends and doing photography of the decay around my town. I bonded with a couple of the ladies whose stay overlapped mine. 

But I also began to feel a terrifying strain from the combination of working full time and living in a setting where it was super-difficult to get time alone! I could tell breaking down was coming. With quickness. So with quickness I saved up money and busted my ass to secure housing. 

As I was moving out of the shelter, staff kept remarking I didn’t need to feel rushed to move out. I kept lying and saying I did not feel rushed. The truth was, I knew damn well I was rushing: the break down was just over the horizon by that point, and I knew if I didn’t get my own space pronto it would be a long time before I had another chance to do so line up for me!

I moved into my apartment with about a week left of September, and the next day began to have my break down. For 10 days I couldn’t leave the apartment; could barely even look out the window. I was terrified of everything. I couldn’t bear the sound of the bathroom fan; couldn’t bear the feeling of a bath (which I usually love). Could hardly eat. Spent a lot of money ordering pizza because it was the only thing I could fathom eating. Missed six days of work. 

Went back to work October 2, still in breakdown. Worked all day that day. Next day went to work and after two hours I knew that was it. I resigned that day. 

As that day went on, I became increasingly less verbal. Before I would come out of it that night, I almost went non-verbal. 

After that day though, I felt more hope than I had in a long time. I felt as if something amazing was somewhere on the horizon if I’d just keep my eyes open for it. 

Since then I’ve been hired to do freelance news writing for the local paper (awaiting assignments). I made a new friend online who consistently blows my mind with the encouragement and inspiration he offers me. I started seriously writing poetry again & feeling that part of me rise for the first time in ten long years!

Financially I’m at a struggle but I have confidence I’ll somehow work it out without my life crumbling apart as it had before. 

I’m grateful for everything and everywhere I’ve ever been, but I’m also super grateful to be here now. 

Hopeful & tired. 

I had a job interview today. The company is a mail order/online order business. The position would involve typing and backroom work. I would be off my feet for a part of the day and would spend the rest of the day doing the aspect of retail that I love (without having to deal with the aspects I hate most). The job pays decently well. I want the job; I need a job, period. 

So I played really hard at how I came off in the interview. I think it seemed to go well in terms of chance that I may be one of the people chosen to be hired. But by the end I was spent. On my way out I was supposed to sign out with the receptionist. I barely knew how to talk to her. 

As achy as I’ve been getting from all the walking I’ve had to do in my job searching, I was glad to have a long walk home today in a way. I was glad the bulk of the walk was a long country road with almost no houses or businesses on it. 

I put extra energy into this job interview. This is not to say I don’t usually put energy into a job interview; certainly I do. But it’s harder for me to get excited about, say, a job at fast food place than it is to get excited about keeping a stock room organized and handling damaged merchandise claims. The idea of getting to do this while not dealing with being on a sales floor sounds even better. 

Here’s hoping my energy expended pays off. 

Put a hug in your pocket. 

Usually when I write about grandparents, it will be my mom’s parents who I refer to as mamaw and pop. This post, however, is about my dad’s parents who I refer to as granny and papa.

Papa died when I was in kindergarten, so I don’t remember him all that well, but my parents always told me a story. Before papa died, when we would go to their house to visit, he had a small decorative pair of gold metal shoes he would give me to play with. Apparently I would take these in another room and become engrossed with them for the duration of the visit. When we would go to leave I would never hug granny. I would hug papa twice and tell him to put the other one in his pocket to give to her later. 

As I was growing up granny was often a source of hurt for me. She showed me routinely my cousins were more important to her than I was. For example she would invite my mom and I to get pizza with her and my cousins. Every time she would ask which toppings I wanted. And then every time she would state that my cousins wanted sausage so we would be getting that instead. 

One memory that stands out is from when I was maybe about 14. She wanted to take me shopping for my birthday that year, and I knew what I wanted so I told her we should go to Border’s bookstore. We did and I picked out the Kalevala (ancient Finnish epic poem). She bought it for me. In the car on the way back she asked what it was and I told her. She started saying, “Finland?! That’s an odd thing to be interested in!”

Basically she always left me feeling second rate and sometimes belittled. We wouldn’t really bond at all until after she had a stroke, consequently developing aphasia. When she had the stroke we went to the hospital to see her before she “woke up”. When it was my turn to visit with her, I said, “Granny, even though you can’t talk, I know you can hear me and I love you.”

Months later after she had gotten through speech therapy to help her with the aphasia, she told me she had heard everyone that day. She said how much my words meant to her, as everyone else had prefaced what they told her with “even though you can’t hear me”. She also revealed she had been terrified because she wanted to pray but didn’t have words. I told her she had prayed with her heart and that God speaks the language of the heart. She wanted me to write this on a piece of paper for her, so I did. 

She seemed to treat me with greater respect from there. So the last few years of her life, visiting with her was more pleasant. I just wish it hadn’t taken those circumstances for her not to write me off as something of a black sheep grandchild. 

Dandelion greens.

The majority of 2016 for me was marked by significant housing instability, up to and including a stint living in the woods. 

Since having these experiences in a state where EBT (food stamps) can be very difficult to attain/maintain if unemployed, I have become interested by unconventional means of nutrition. By this I mean, ways to ensure receiving nutrition even in a time of having no funds or transportation. 

In this research I have learned of dandelion greens. Read more here: The Health Benefits of Eating Dandelion Greens.

Here is a highlight, regarding nutritional content:

Dandelion greens compare favorably in nutritional content to other commonly consumed green vegetables, providing four times as much calcium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. This leafy green vegetable also contains twice as much iron and three times as much riboflavin as spinach, and, while spinach provides no vitamin E or carotenoids, dandelion greens boast 17 percent of the daily adult dose of vitamin E and 13,610 international units, or IUs, of lutein and zeaxanthin per 3.5-ounce serving. However, dandelion greens are lower in vitamin C and folate than either spinach or broccoli.

Sleepy time?

When I got home from the hospital ten years ago, I told my parents I wanted something natural to help me sleep. They spoke with their trusted pharmacist, a lady who often fully urges her customer base to try these methods first. She recommended they buy a product containing l-tryptophan, melatonin, valerian root and chamomile. They did, and I took this each night the rest of that summer. It worked. 

Off and on for a few years I would buy a bottle of valerian root pills and they worked. As I sunk further into alcoholism and alcohol began to significantly worsen my insomnia, I began buying both valerian root pills and melatonin pills and taking them together to sleep every night. It worked for some time and kept my nightly drinking down to a just somewhat more than moderate amount. After some time I found myself needing more melatonin and valerian to do this. And after some more time it got to where only drinking until I had no choice but to go to bed “worked”. Even after this level was reached, for a long time it was still such that if I stepped back from drinking for a short period of even a few days things like valerian would begin working again.

However somewhere in the last year it got to a point where even stepping back from alcohol would not allow valerian and/or melatonin to work in me. I decided recently to give up drinking for good and am well approaching a week without thus far, but I had been fretting wondering how long it would be before I could figure out what would help me sleep/valerian could work again. 

Last night my friend I’m staying with got home from the grocery store and among his purchases was a bag of whole valerian root. Now I had had the pills and the valerian-containing teas, but I had never even seen the whole root itself. Well when I went to bed last night I broke off a small piece of the root to chew. 

I was amazed how well chewing the root worked at making my mind calm down and making me sleepy. I drifted off to sleep. This morning I am amazed and pleased with how soundly I slept and what a low level of anxiety I awoke with. Hello, valerian, my old friend. I may never go back to the capsules/tea again. 

Peripheral umbrella. 

From a young age my mom would have me help her fold the laundry. When it came to anything that might have a stray string sticking to it, she would have to get rid of the string before giving me the item. She did this after so many times of seeing me shriek at the string and run from the room. I had the same reactions to bunched up yarn (for example the hair of a Cabbage Patch doll).

My reaction to string and yarn has mostly calmed down, though it still happens when I’m overly surprised by the appearance of them. What has never calmed down is my reaction to evergreen trees as I pass them. 

I love nature. Time in the woods invigorates me. However if I am surprised by an evergreen tree or if I catch it in my peripheral in passing, I have an even stronger reaction than I ever have to string and yarn. 

This really complicates things at times when I haven’t had a car. Sometimes the only plausible route walking to a place involves passing one or more evergreens. Last fall I figured out something I can do. 

I was staying with a friend, and from his place to Walmart involved a stretch with pine trees on each side and after a brief respite from that a seeming wall of huge cedars that angled toward the road on one side. By this time in life I had gotten pretty good at using my hand to block my peripheral but somehow I didn’t do it right one night. I wound up falling off the sidewalk and straining my ankle. As I laid there waiting to be able to stand up, I thought I have to figure out a better workaround. 

I made it back to my friend’s place and after some thought I decided to carry an umbrella everywhere I go. So now if I see evergreen trees ahead when walking somewhere, I open my umbrella and get ready. The umbrella makes an excellent total peripheral block. It makes some drivers shout odd things at me, but they can shout all they like. My umbrella and I get along just fine.  

Wallflower memories.

Looking back at a blog I wrote briefly my senior year of high school, I found a poem I wrote right after reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. 

Here it is, circa February 2003:

incessant drumming of rain
the pulse of the ocean
the ocean of emptiness
ocean enclosed
ocean of souls
souls joined yet seperated
in these encasements of flesh
in this ocean, there’s no ledge to stand on
and no way out of the hopelessness
so i put on these rose-colored glasses
and pretend away the pain, but
who am i really saving?
or anyone else who might
feel empathy at my despair?
i can’t afford to blindfold myself anymore
i’ve done too much of that
and now my eyes are weary
and my head aches, but
i’ve got to take the time
to learn why
every time it storms i want to cry

There goes missy woodsman and her Voyant cat.

Edith Cataria is a pseudonym. I don’t hide behind it. Most folks I know in real life know of this name, friends and family alike. If someone from my life came upon any of my online presence, here or otherwise, I would be recognizable. 

For me, pseudonyms  (and I’ve had a few in my life) are important in identification. You may have seen me mention how an obsession with Kurt Cobain once saved my life. For years my pseudonym was Aqua Seafoam, which you may recognize as coming from the lyrics of Nirvana’s “All Apologies”. 

At another time my pseudonym was Voyant Cat. This was to honor the memory of a cat I had named Voyant. Voyant and I had a very transcendent bond. He was a woods cat at my mamaw’s house at first, showing up shortly before I went off to college. We connected instantly and I named him Voyant, as in clairvoyant. 

Our bond stayed as strong even when I’d be away at college for months. I’d come home and arrive at mamaw’s and let out a long whistle, shouting “Voy boy!” Maybe 3-5 minutes later he would come barreling up out of the woods and crash into my legs. Mamaw was fond of saying, “There goes missy woodsman and her Voyant cat!”

When I graduated college, after getting through the aftermath of my night in the hospital and getting a room in a house, I took Voyant to live with me. He wandered off, presumably to die, in 2009. I dreamt of him many times thereafter. 

Now for Edith Cataria, and I think this one will probably stick a long time if not for life. A dear friend (with whom I’d say I have the same kind of transcendent bond I had with Voyant) once told me the story of how his last name came from his great grandma Edith. He told me Edith was not her birth name, but a name she assumed after escaping an abusive situation. The name struck me. I didn’t begin using it right away, not until a couple years later. 

One day, I think in 2014, around when I had begun to fully claim at least to myself that I am autistic I set about to create a Live Journal and Voyant Cat didn’t feel right anymore. Edith Cataria came formed in my head at once. Cataria is simply part of the scientific name for catnip (nepeta cataria). I do espouse the medicinal benefits of catnip, but I can talk of that another time.

My real name is one I honor and love, and it is me. But each pseudonym is also me and they are loved by me as well. Edith Cataria, however, feels like home. 

I believe that it is okay, and even makes quite a bit of sense, to have many names over the course of a lifetime. After all we are not stagnant beings, spiritually or otherwise. 


My excitement from finally saying in a public space that I’m autistic (my ‘Follow the cat.’ post here yesterday) led me to decide to tell a friend who I had not previously told. Her response, however, was not what I expected from her. She simply wanted to say to me that it’s possible to have social anxiety without being autistic. 

I held my tongue pretty well, because from my knowledge of her I am willing to grant the benefit of the doubt that she just isn’t informed enough. I told her simply that was far from being all there was to my story. I left it at that because I couldn’t handle furthering the conversation. 

It does hurt getting this kind of reaction from a friend, though, especially seeing as we live in the same house. It does put me a bit ill at ease, wishing I just hadn’t attempted to talk to her about it. 

As I understand it social anxiety by itself would mean a person could read and understand others without difficulty and had the knowledge of how to interact successfully in the range of social settings, but anxiety would cause them to fear negative reaction and act fearful. That’s not the case for me. When I ask someone if they are mad at me when it turns out they are not, it isn’t because I’m overrun with anxiety making me think irrationally. It’s because I literally cannot tell, even in my closest friends, the difference between: mad, tired, bored, sad, pained. If I don’t ask, I won’t know. Asking isn’t a sign I’m being irrationally anxious; in fact asking prevents me from becoming anxious. 

This is not to say I don’t deal with anxiety socially. I do. I have anxiety about how badly or not my stutter will present itself. I have a lot of anxiety about how to word things; whether I will be understood and interpreted correctly. I have anxiety as to whether people will be put off by my need to pace around during conversation. I’m even more anxious when I’m in a setting where I can’t pace. 

I feel at some point I will want to try and clear this up with my friend, but right now I’m not prepared to do so.