Category Archives: Serious

Get Vaccinated

2 panels. Unvaccinated: a lone person looking out the window of a home. They are sad. Vaccinated: I sit in the window of a bustling cafe while drinking coffee. Everyone is happy.
2 panels. Unvaccinated: a person-shaped covid virus monster punches a person in the face. Drops of blood and a tooth are knocked out their mouth. Vaccinated: I am in a steamroller rolling over a person-shaped covid-virus monster thing while I laugh like a supervillain.
2 panels. Unvaccinated: person with virus-y body and virus-hair is sucked into a swirling covid-virus vortex. Vaccinated: I ride a triceratops through space. Rainbows stream out behind us. I am delighted.

************************

I got my first covid vaccination shot! I still have about a month of waiting for shot number two and full immunity to kick in, but I am PSYCHED. I do not want covid with my medical history, and I REALLY do not want to catch it and pass it onto my 6 week old baby. I know access to vaccinations is very different around the world. It feels like it’s moving so slowly in Australia (where I live), but that’s probably just because we get so much news from the US and the UK. If you have access and are medically able to, please get vaccinated. For everyone’s sake.

Remember, if you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here. (And actually with the whole new-baby situation, this would be a particularly excellent time to do any of those things if you’ve been considering them).

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Announcement

************************

And I didn’t die! We’re all good! It hurt like fuck (incidentally, I highly recommend epidurals, 12/10, would invite a doctor to stick a pain-killer tube directly into my spine again), but I have a baby. She’s perfect.

I might be a little sporadic in my comics and such for a while as I adapt to this whole keeping-a-tiny-human alive gig, but do not worry, I have no plans to disappear.

Remember, if you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here. (And actually with the whole baby situation, this would be a particularly excellent time to do any of those things if you’ve been considering them).

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

What Happens Next

CW: pregnancy, pregnancy loss, blood, medical procedures.

************************

October 2020.

I never used to be someone who cries a lot, but then I had four miscarriages.

Me, sitting slumped behind a car window, cheek skin smooshed and pulled by the contact. Messy tears trickling down my face and down the window.

Now, I am someone who sneaks away from social events for a quick, private weep. I am someone who burst into tears in waiting rooms when I am told the blood tests I need will be slightly complicated. I am someone who has sobbed all over anaesthetists prepping me for surgery, broken down suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of sex, blubbered as sonogrammers shoved ultrasound wands inside me, and bawled while eating famous scallop pies and trying to be on holiday.

I cry now because we’ve opened Pandora’s box again, and we can only wait as all the familiar monsters come out.

I’m pregnant for the fifth time, and we are on our way to an early pregnancy ultrasound.

Slightly wider angle than the last image. In this one, my partner can be seen in the drivers seat. He says 'Whatever happens next, we'll be okay.'
***

What happens next is it won’t be gone, not on this scan. It will just be ‘a bit behind.’ Someone will say, ‘well, maybe your dates are a bit out, that happens all the time.’ They always start with that because it does happen all the time. Just not to me.

There will be a heartbeat, but it will be slow. I will have to wait a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks having scan after scan, and it still won’t be gone. I will watch as it fails to grow, as the heartbeat slows, weakens, fades to nothing. The whole time, I will keep having symptoms. I will have nausea all day every day. I will vomit.

And as I wait, I will turn into emotional jenga. My side pieces will start coming out. Holes will open in my heart, gaps in my body, spaces in my mind. It will be all I can do to handle them gently and add them back to the top of the stack without losing structural integrity.

Maybe I will start bleeding and the miscarriage will be natural, but that’s only happened to me once. More likely, once the heartbeat finally stops, when there is no chance, I will be given the choice to either keep waiting for it to pass on its own or to have medical management. At that point, which will probably be over a month from this car trip, I will choose medical management.

The medical options are minor surgery or medication. The surgery is a very safe, only a ten minute procedure, but if you have it many times it can start to increase your risk of pre-term labour in future pregnancies. I have already had it three times; for the first two losses, and then for a hysteroscopy to scan my uterus after the fourth. The increased risk is still very small, but I don’t want to let go of the idea that pre-term labour might one day be something I have to worry about. So I will pick the medication that triggers bleeding, like I did the third time.

I will have to go to hospital and stay there all day to be monitored. It will be boring. It will hurt. It will be lonely. I will bring a book to read, like I did the other time.

Two panels. I am sitting in a hospital bed reading a book. A nurse has come into the room holding towels. There is a closed door in the background between us. In the first panel, the nurse says 'What's the book about?' and I respond, 'Monstrous people-eating mermaids.' In the second panel, the nurse looks perturbed and says 'um ... okay'.

I will try not think about the fact that the reason the nurses are always in and out is to collect the ‘product’ of the pregnancy from my pads and from my urine so it can be tested. I will try harder not to think about whether or not I am leaving my not-baby in a bucket of pee on the bathroom floor.

I will try not to worry that I will have to stay in a whole second day if I do not pass enough the first day, like I did the other time. That time, a friend had visited with a gift-book so I was covered for entertainment on the extra day, but this time I will be ready and bring extra books from the start.

Two panels. Again, I am sitting in a hospital bed, reading. A nurse has come into the room and is holding something in a jar. The door in the background is no longer closed, but half open revealing a bathroom. In the first panel, the nurse says 'So ... what's this one about?' and I say 'A refugee spaceship with an insane AI who has a heap of nukes at its disposal, and also there's some sort of zombie rage-virus'. In the second panel, the nurse just looks at me.
Two panels. The first is a close up of my face, behind a book, but my eyes are looking sideways toward the nurse. The second panel is a close up of the jar the nurse is holding. It contains yellow-red liquid with floating red bits.
***
The car with me and my partner in it. We are driving on a road through a wooded area.
***

We don’t talk about miscarriage enough. Certainly not with people who haven’t had one themselves. And because we don’t, when it happens to you, there are two choices. Both have a price-tag.

You can hide it and remain silent, and the price is silence. You have to pretend every day that your baby didn’t happen. You have to pretend to be happy, or at least normal. You get to avoid dolling out bad news. You get privacy. You get no understanding, no support.

I choose option two. I spoke up.

I don’t regret my choice. Silence is cold and terrible, and I never choose it while I have strength. Option two brought me a lot of kindness and support and love.

But when speaking up is unusual, it has a price-tag too. And the price is you have to keep speaking up. Even on the bad days. Even when the questions punch right through you. Even when it’s the thousandth time you’ve said it. Because you are an educator now.

And because maybe, maybe, if enough people choose option two and enough questions are answered enough times then it will all slide into the pool of general knowledge and option two won’t have a price-tag anymore. Maybe it can be a little easier for the next person.

I hope so.

***
The car with myself and my partner in it. We are now driving on a suburban street
***

Because what happens next, when I’m out of hospital, is that I will be asked,

Three panels. In the first, I am standing with another person. They ask, 'So ... what's the problem?'. In the second, two more people have joined us. They both ask, 'What's the problem?' In the third panel, I am surrounded by people all of them saying 'What's the problem?'

The chorus started after the first miscarriage and grew in volume. It reached its peak by the time of the third miscarriage. I tried to block my ears to the two silent words I always heard at the end.

(with you)

How do you answer a question like that? I still don’t know, but I had to say something, somehow. That’s the price.

I had responses rehearsed:

We don’t know. There might not be a problem. Miscarriages are more common than people think, and most of them are never explained. I couldn’t have prevented this. But the doctors do want to run some tests now that I’ve had so many.

I lost count how many times I said some variation on that. And every time I said it to someone else, I said it to myself too.

No, it’s a myth that stress causes miscarriages. Besides, I wasn’t stressed until after the miscarriages started. I couldn’t have prevented this.

I had blotted out the self-blame after the first miscarriage and the second, shut my eyes and stuck my fingers in my ears and shouted “lalalalalala” every time it tried to intrude. But three times is too many.

Yes, I have been taking the proper vitamins. Plenty of people don’t and still have healthy pregnancies. I couldn’t have prevented this.

And there’s so much judgement around parenting already. People who honestly and idiotically believe it doesn’t count if you have a c-section or feed the baby formula. People who think childbirth is an integral part of being born with a uterus and you can’t live a full life without doing it at least once. People who know the right way to do everything and are always on the lookout for people doing it the wrong way.

No, I haven’t been smoking or drinking. I’ve never smoked at all. I completely stopped drinking whenever we were trying, and I’d rarely had more than one drink in a sitting for years before that. Yes, I stopped caffeine.

I held it off for a long time, but in the end it crept in. The idea that I must have done something differently, must have done something wrong, must not be right for this, must not want it enough, must be broken. And it didn’t matter how many times I said

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I didn’t believe it anymore.

Me. Above my head are the words 'the problem' with an arrow pointed at me.

I was done being an educator. I tried not answering. I tried saying I didn’t want to answer. I tried getting my husband to pre-emptively mention to people we’d be spending time with that I didn’t want to be asked anymore, I wasn’t coping, and please, please don’t do it.

None of it worked. I had already chosen option two, I couldn’t unchoose it. In the end, I answered every single time.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

What happens next is that I will remember the third time I miscarried, in the cruel window when I was still pregnant but the baby wasn’t growing and the heartbeat was slowing, and the nurse who took my blood for a test telling me that I must not want the baby because I didn’t look excited enough. I wanted to melt away in shame. I wanted to explain what it was like, knowing what comes next.

But I just said ‘thank you’ when I left.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

***
Me and my partner in the car. We are now driving through a
***

What happens next is I will see another specialist. Even though my GP ran all the tests she knew about. Even though she’s already sent me to specialists to run the tests she didn’t know about. The new specialist will be impressed with the number of tests we’ve already had done, warn me that more often than not miscarriages are never explained and I should be ready for that outcome, and then run a few more tests.

After the third miscarriage I had something called a HyCoSy. Basically, that’s an ultrasound taken while they shoot saline up into your uterus and fallopian tubes so they can make sure everything is the right shape and not blocked.

Allow me to set the scene. It was an old house made over into a doctor surgery. The hallways still had gorgeous floorboards, the waiting room looked like a perfectly sterile magazine living room, the receptionist was definitely the sort of person who would wear a colour like taupe, and everything smelled expensive.

Enter me.

Chronically ill, professional disaster, mix of dark humour and puns, rarely wears make-up and frankly doesn’t see the draw, never grew out of finding farts hilarious, known to wear dinosaur-print dresses or sometimes men’s clothes, definitely leaning more non-binary than female.

Also, I was wearing leggings as pants.

Fortunately, the surgery room itself wasn’t so scary. It was all linoleum, stirrup-ed seats and ultrasound machines. Things I had been around a lot and was very, very comfortable with by this point.

Me, sitting on a stirrup-ed procedure bed thing next to an ultrasound machine. I am looking off camera and saying 'Hurry up!' with a big smile on my face.

So, there we were. My pants (leggings) are off, my feet are in stirrups, my husband is holding my hand and a stylish lady in heels I only met five minutes earlier sticks an ultrasound wand and a supersoaker up my vagina.

I would like to preface this next bit by saying I have spoken to other people who have had this procedure and most of them described it as kind of uncomfortable but not the end of the world. That’s what I was told to expect, and if you are ever in this position, it’s probably what you should expect. I have also talked to people who had a similar experience to me, but we’re in the minority. I don’t want to make people nervous about this. This isn’t the usual way it goes.

Okay?

Okay.

It was weird.

I could feel the water. The sloshing. The cold. It went up my fallopian tube, and I could feel that, could have traced the path on my abdomen with my finger if I wasn’t distracted by the fact iT HURT A FUCKING LOT.

This isn’t news for approximately half the population, but cervixes don’t like getting poked. And, turns out, some of them not only super hate it but are downright vengeful about it and stress out your vagus nerve if you dare.

That is to say, I fainted.

If I was someone who looked pretty even when they cried, I daresay I would have come around fluttering my butterfly-wing eyelashes saying something like, ‘where am I?’. If I was wearing taupe and could use perfume without my skin itching, I’m sure I would have at least managed, ‘what happened?’ or possibly ‘I want to speak to the manager!’

Me lying flat on my back on the procedure bed. On one side, my partner stands looking concerned. On the other, a stylish woman with a stethoscope and a supersoaker stands looking perturbed. I am yelling 'I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.'

Look, I went before we left home. I’m very organised like that. So I’m claiming it was further vagus nerve shenanigans that caused my bowel to twist up and initiate voiding procedure. It’s definitely linked to your gut. I Googled it.

The specialist wanted me to lie down until I felt better, but I was not going to last that long. So, even though things were still a bit grey around the edges, I got up and tried to put on my pants (I mean, yeah, leggings).

Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t a great idea. I immediately had to drop to the floor and put my head between my legs when I started fainting again.

Still without pants.

So my husband and the very stylish lady in heels I only met fifteen minutes earlier got down on the floor with me and wrestled my pants (YES LEGGINGS. With holes, since you have to know. Cut me some slack, I was having a medical procedure and I dressed for comfort).

Also, this whole time my uterus was squeezing itself out like a dishcloth. On the pain scale, I was at ‘literally writhing in’.

When I was successfully wearing my holey-leggings-as-pants, I had to be supported out the examination room, back through the photoshoot-ready waiting-room … all so I could violate an orchid-infused bathroom definitely within earshot of the horrified receptionist.

Anyway, what we learned (other than my cervix needs anger management classes) was that the miscarriage hadn’t quite finished.

A month after I had sought medical management for my third miscarriage and spent two days in hospital with nurses collecting all my blood and ‘product’, and there was still some left inside me.

It wasn’t over.

***
My husband and I park the car. I wipe the tears off my face as I climb out.
***

What happens next is I will have to deal with it for a lot longer than people expect.

Once the fourth miscarriage appeared to be done and dusted, I started bleeding again. It was several months later—my period had returned ages ago and everything had seemed back to normal. Except this bleeding was a little early for where I thought I was in my cycle. Still, that can happen. So I got a pad and settled in to watch a movie with a heat-bag to help with the weirdly-terrible cramps I don’t usually get.

A short while later, I went to the bathroom and…

View of the inside of my underpants as I sit on the toilet (no body parts showing). The pad in my underpants are soaked in blood, as are my underpants. There is a giant blood clot on the pad. I say 'Well shit'.

This, for anyone not familiar with periods, is not remotely normal. You aren’t supposed to totally saturate a pad edge-to-edge to the degree of sodden-ness where if you hold it up, it drips. You aren’t supposed to soak your underwear as well. Or lose blood clots the size of an adult’s fist. You especially aren’t supposed to have all this happen in a little over an hour.

Two panels. The first shows the entrance to the Emergency Department. The second shows me in consult with a doctor. The doctor says 'We don't know. But you're not dying.'

The bleeding slowed, and I was deemed a waste of the ED’s time and sent home.

But it wouldn’t quite stop. Every few days it surged back to the massive-cramps and fist-sized clots degree. An ultrasound revealed nothing more than that my uterus was indeed full of blood. So, since my specialist wanted to get a scope in there anyway to hunt for anything that might be causing miscarriages, they took the opportunity to combine that with the surgical medical management option to clear any teensy lingering bits of pregnancy, which was everyone’s best guess at what was causing the bleeding.

It seemed to work.

***
My partner holds the door open for me to a building with a sign proclaiming 'ULTRASOUNDS R US'
***

What happens next is I will fail at my job. I will not be able to write or draw amusing things. I will not be able to concentrate. My time will trickle away, wasted. It won’t matter how frustrating I find it. It won’t matter how much I want to get things done. None of this is ever optional. My body, my brain, will hibernate without my permission.

Everything I have shoved down will come back up. I will step into dark rooms and flash back to that first dark room, the first time something was wrong. I will close my eyes and see the grainy ultrasound screen with the huge yolk sacs of my twins with no embryos attached. I will shut a door and it will be a hospital bathroom door and I’ll know that behind it is a bucket of pee, abandoned on the floor, that may or may not have contained some cells that once had the potential to be a baby. I will see any blood as a nightmare, the beginning of the end.

I will shove it down again.

I will not be okay

***
My husband and I sit in the ultrasound waiting room. Another happy and heavily pregnant couple are called in ahead of us.
***

What happens next is that I will think about life without kids. I want kids, I know this. But I also know I can be happy without them. What I can’t be is happy in this endless cycle, this limbo, this hellish groundhog day. I can’t be happy knowing exactly what happens next, and that it’s always horrible.

I will look around me for other people who can’t have children. I’ve met one or two, in a once-removed sort of way, but no one who is close. I don’t know any people my parent’s age without kids (if not biological, then of the step variety), and no one else in my close friend group has even tried.

I will look around for them in public life. I see them sometimes, but rarely. Mostly these people are child-free by choice, which is great but isn’t me. And mostly, at least if they are women, I will see them questioned, undermined or even demonised for that choice.

I will look for them in stories. When I find them they will be peripheral. Sad shadow-creatures. Objects of pity who are always a bit haunted, who can never be complete. Who willingly die to save other people’s kids or other people with kids. Who are permanently damaged.

I don’t want to be permanently damaged.

I think I’m already permanently damaged.

So I will make my own version. I will daydream that it’s years down the track, the cycle is broken, I stopped trying and am at peace. Maybe I will foster or adopt, but those can be difficult and expensive processes, and I have health issues so I might not be chosen. Either way, I will be okay. I will have a future, and not just one where I exist but one I like and can enjoy.

And in the present, the daydreams will make me happy.

***
***

But, eventually, what happens next is that I will try again. Despite my better judgement. Despite the hopelessness. Despite just wanting it to be over, to move on. Because I can’t move on. Because none of the tests have said I can’t carry a child to full term. Because the last monster to comes out of Pandora’s box is the most destructive of them all.

Hope.

Two panels. In the first, I am sitting on a procedure bed. My partner is next to me. A sonnogrammer is sitting in front of an ultrasound machine saying, 'It looks perfect! Strong heartbeat.' In the second panel, I burst into tears.

************************

A note to update:

That was October 2020. I am now in the third trimester, only a couple of months to go, and the baby has been doing great. It’s actually kicking me right now. Although it hasn’t entirely been an easy pregnancy (most notably first trimester nausea, all trimester fatigue and general emotional baggage from the last four years), and we’re not at the finish line yet, I’m much, much happier. I do still cry a lot, but now my reasons tend to be things like That Puppy Is Obscenely Cute or Someone Said Something That Reminded Me Of The First Few Scenes Of The Animated Tarzan Movie. (i.e., It’s a hormone thing).

A please-don’t-attack-me note:

You are correct, I didn’t mention or portray any pandemic safety stuff in the bits that took place during 2020. This isn’t because I am an irresponsible dickhead, it’s because I live in Australia and covid was very much under control at the time of that scan (however, the story of my 12 week scan, which took place during a local outbreak, would have looked very different). Over here, any time we don’t have covid cases in the community (i.e., most of the time), things are pretty normal. In fact, I am incredibly lucky that thanks to the quick action of authorities and the consideration of most Australians in following advice and restrictions, planning a pregnancy during the pandemic didn’t feel too risky.

A note for readers:

The books I was reading in hospital were:

  • Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant (pseudonym of Seannan McGuire)—entertaining monster horror with queer and disability rep.
  • Illuminae, by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff—YA space opera told through an (effective, not annoying) epistolary format.

I recommend both if they sound like your sort of thing.

A note on terminology:

Some people who have had miscarriages do not like the term ‘miscarriage’. The idea is that it makes it sound like your fault. I.e., you carried the baby wrong. And self-blame is something that many people who have had miscarriages struggle with.

The other term used is ‘pregnancy loss’. Personally, I don’t see how saying you ‘lost’ the baby is much different from saying you ‘miscarried’ it, and since I am talking about my own experiences here, I have gone with the terminology I feel comfortable with.

Which is ‘miscarriage’ … but with a caveat.

I lean away from using it as a verb. I.e., I tend not to say ‘I miscarried’. That does feel blame-y and ick and I don’t like it. However, I am okay with using ‘miscarriage’ as a noun. I.e., ‘I had a miscarriage’ or ‘the miscarriage’. And I think it works the same way with ‘loss’. As a verb (‘I lost the baby’) it’s blame-y and ick, but as a noun (‘I suffered a loss’ or ‘the pregnancy loss’) it’s fine. I don’t get angry or upset when other people use either of those words as verbs, and I’m not asking you to do that, it’s just what I personally prefer to do.

That said, everyone is different. If you know someone who has had a miscarriage and they have mentioned they do not like ‘miscarriage’, please do respect that around them. Definitely don’t use my acceptance of the term as reason to ignore their feelings.

The usual end note:

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

(Actually, since we’re about to get an additional mouth to feed this would be a particularly great time for you to do either of those things.)

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Productivity

Two panels. First panel: text reads 'remember, your productivity ...' comic is in greys and shows a dinosaur looking harassed, rushing around with stacks of paper, scribbling notes, picking things back up while a cat pokes around, trips them up and generally is a bother. Panel 2: text reads '... is not your worth.' Comic is in colour and shows dinosaur and cat napping on a couch.

*************************

I have struggled with this a lot since becoming chronically ill, and even more so since the pandemic started. Sometimes I need the reminder.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

UPDATE: This comic is now available in my store.

I Wrote A Novel*

And immediately I thought to myself, I should write a story about writing that story. It could be meta and funny and clever. I have so many amazing anecdotes about this process, e.g., the time I sat in a Casino for a bit to see what the fuss was about for Research Purposes, or the time I was working in a café like a Proper WriterTM and the waiter actually asked what I was doing and I got to say ‘writing a novel’, or the time used a sword.

So I sat down to write this meta and funny and clever story.

After several months, four abandoned drafts, many unintended tangents into grim trigger-warning topics, an existential crisis, giving up twice, extreme use of the backspace key, and many, many, many cups of coffee all I had to describe writing a novel was …

9 panels of me writing. Several in front of a window with changing seasons. One in a cafe. One in bed. One in a garden. One on the couch.

… a montage.

No, worse than a montage. A montage without a kick-arse soundtrack.

Actually, small request? Could go put on your favourite montage track on. Spotify, mp3 player, CD, tape deck, vinyl, acapella cover band taking requests, however you play your music. Doesn’t matter. Got it? Cool. Now that’s playing, would you mind looking at that last illustration again?

… any better?

Yeah. Figured.

It wouldn’t do. This may come as a shock, but I have standards for this site. Not every loose thought or whim ends up here. I try do an acceptable-if-not-amazing-enough-to-get-widely-known job (and since no one has shared my stuff enough to make me widely-known yet, I assume I’m hitting that sweet spot. This is definitely fine and deliberate and not at all a secret disappointment to me).

I thought a bit harder about what the writing process was actually like, and finally I came up with something else.

3 panels. Panel 1: me lying upside-down on couch. Partner says 'what's wrong?' I say 'I need someone to tell me my writing is amazing'. Panel 2: partner says 'your writing is amazing'. Panel three: I look tortured and yell, in a tortured sort of way 'WHY WOULD YOU TELL ME SUCH A HORRIBLE LIE?'

I thought, better. Much better. It introduces some conflict, reveals character, and does that satisfying thing where I am completely honest about what a terrible person I am but somehow this entertains people rather than driving them away probably because they wrongly assume I am being hyperbolic (and I have just done that thing again by pointing it out). I have finally, in Proper WriterTM terminology, advanced the story.

Excellent. What happens next?

3 panels. Panel 1: me sitting at my desk, looking like I have just come up with an incredible idea. Panel 2: my excitement fading as I realise that idea isn't a real idea after all. Panel 3: me side-eying the reader in apologetic fear.

Here’s the thing.

Writing a novel felt like carrying the one ring to Mordor across an endless plain. It felt like slipping into a Lovecraftian dimension to stare down the old gods. It felt like fighting to the death in an arena for the entertainment of the Capitol (… if all the other tributes were me as well and I was also everyone watching it on TV, anyway).

It took years. I made myself chip away at it, re-write whole drafts, do better each time. I used it as a distraction from my miscarriages, my growing depression, the world. Sometimes the thought of it sitting on my laptop waiting for me kept me hiding in bed in the morning, other times it got me up early.

But all that happened in my head. From the outside, it just looks like a montage. And I don’t have a meta and funny and clever story to tell about writing.

Nevertheless, I have set up a brand spanking new alternate site so I can chat about writing ad nauseum for, ideally, the rest of my life.

Me presenting my laptop with my new site on it and saying 'Ta da!'

Maybe chuck it a follow if that sounds fun?

* Pretty much. Some final polish to go still, but I’ve done four-ish total re-write drafts as well as several editing rounds. It’s there. It exists. I feel I’ve earned use of the phrase ‘I wrote a novel’.

*************************

So my new blog is OVER HERE. It will be different from Silence Killed the Dinosaurs, and Silence Killed the Dinosaurs will absolutely continue as is, unaffected. You do not have to follow the new site, particularly if you have no interest in writing, fantasy novels, or me as a person and not a stick figure. But, if you do, head on over.

Other light-hearted, non-dramatic stories and comics collected HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

[Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this post contains the names of people who have passed away]

I know I promised fluff, but now is simply not the time. I’ve been watching the police brutality and the protests happening all over the US. This is just my statement as a white Australian, and it is intended for white Australians.

It’s really easy right now for us to look across the sea and say ‘oh, that’s terrible, good thing we’re not like that’, but the truth is we are a lot like that. Just with fewer guns. We are also a colonial country built on stolen land and the destruction of Indigenous culture and lives. We have our own racism problems—both the covert, microaggression variety that protects and builds into the more overt, violent variety. Since a royal commission into Indigenous deaths in custody in 1991, we have had over 400 Indigenous deaths in custody, not a single one of which has resulted in a conviction.

This is unacceptable.

I want to do something about it, and I hope you do too. Here are some resources.

US Stuff:

There are a number of places to donate to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. I’m not familiar enough with the states or legal system to easily break it down, but I’ve found a few basic ones:

National Directory of Bail Funds—a collection of bail funds for different states across the nation to pick from.

The Legal Rights Centre.

If anyone from the US has any suggestions for me to add, please leave them in the comments (I am particularly asking this of white allies, since I’m pretty sure black people have enough on their plates right now without critiquing my blog posts for me).

EDIT: Suggestions from comments:

American Civil Liberties Union.

Australian Stuff:

Fund to support the legal inquiries on behalf of David Dungay Jr, who also died on camera saying ‘I can’t breathe’ while authorities pressed on his neck.

A petition to change public drunkenness laws in Victoria which, all the way back in 1991, the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody recommended to be replaced with community health oriented approaches instead. In 2017 this law was used to arrest Yorta Yorta women Tanya Day, who was then injured in custody and died.

In Western Australia people can be imprisoned simply for not being able to pay a fine, and the vast majority of those imprisoned for this reason are Indigenous single mothers. The Free Her Fund helps these women

The Healing Foundation, which supports ongoing trauma caused by the Stolen Generation and forced removal of children.

If you are Australian and on Twitter (or even if you aren’t Australian but are on Twitter) and aren’t already, I highly recommend following IndigenousX. I have been for a while, and now I support them on Patreon too. If you aren’t on Twitter but would still like an easy way to hear Indigenous perspectives, you can watch NITV.

And, please, when the dust settles, however it settles, don’t forget. Be anti-racist. Speak up when people around you say racist things—give them the opportunity to know better, let the other people around you see that it isn’t socially acceptable. Use your position to do the right thing. Pay attention. Give a shit about other people.

Purpose

5 panel comic. Panel 1: I am slumped in a chair saying 'I haven't been doing enough.' Panel 2: 'what's the point of me?' Panel 3: I am still talking, my partner approaches holding our cat. Panel 4: he dumps the cat in my lap and says 'He needs somewhere warm to sit'. Panel 5: I sit with cat, no longer slumped.

*********************************

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly fluff, but ideally it’s not a downer either. Despite my resolve to post fluff as often as possible through all this, I have been … struggling. My old friend depression has been circling. Which is not particularly surprising, given everything. So if you’ve been wondering why the comics dropped off even after I promised, or if you’ve been hanging around your own comment sections, wringing your hands, waiting for me to appear and leave inspiring words such as ‘nice! I liked this’ … sorry. I’m working on it. 

But don’t worry. I’ve got a major in psychology, antidepressants, and a decade’s worth of therapy under my belt*. I’ve passed through this before. I can do it again.

* and my cat, I guess. But despite this comic, I don’t think cats are in and of themselves the answer to depression. Sorry. They can help, sure, but for actual clinical depression probably get some medical advice.

*********************************

Safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Forward

WOW 2020 SUCKS HEY

Generally for everyone in the entire world, it seems. My personal suckitude began in November 2019 when I had my fourth consecutive miscarriage, and then continued as I evacuated from bushfires threatening my home, watched the rest of my country burn on the news, visited the ED for a sudden and scary bleed, had an array of blood tests and scans and finally a (very minor) surgery, and has now peaked (fingers crossed this will be the peak, anyway) in a fucking pandemic.

I’m not someone who’s ever been into inspiration as a thing. I don’t have ‘live, laugh, love’ emblazoned on my couch cushions. (Fine if you do, just not for me). I do not like, share or even relate to any quote that has ever been super-imposed on soothing nature photography. (Again, fine if you do). When my wedding celebrant said with delight that, as someone prone to writing, I would surely come up with something beautifully inspiring to say to my soon-to-be-husband during our ceremony, I told her I wouldn’t because just getting married was enough for me.

But, still, sometimes I say to myself,

forward

Just the one, lone word.

Forward is exciting.

It means the future is coming. It means keep going, there’s more. It means you can’t go back, so don’t wait around.

I said it to myself when I decided to propose to my now-husband. I said it to myself when we started trying for a kid.

The word 'forward' in yellow letters on a big block arrow pointing forward

The last few months I’ve started so many stories and comics. I start them with big ideas and enthusiasm, but then somehow they twist off the path I imagined and end up somewhere darker. What I’ve created here is heavily autobiographical, and right now I can’t tell you anything about my life without talking about my miscarriages. They touch everything inside me.

Sometimes, that’s okay. It has helped me process, and it comforts me to hope that sharing creates a degree of openness on a difficult subject, makes even one person feel less alone in a giant mess of trauma, or at least semi-prepares someone who doesn’t yet know they’ll go through this too.

But other times, it isn’t. I don’t want everything to be tangled and dark. I don’t want to rehash endlessly, lost and unable to re-find the path. I don’t want to soak everything I make in pain.

Forward is healing.

It’s picking yourself up of the ground. It doesn’t have to be about rushing to do or achieve things; it’s just about taking the next step. Maybe the next step is taking some quiet time or establishing a habit of getting outside in the sunshine.

I said it to myself after my first and second miscarriage.

The word 'forward' arranged in a semi-circle around a flower.

I’ve always had anxiety. Insomnia has been a huge problem throughout my life. I have had panic and anxiety attacks. There have been days I couldn’t make myself leave the house. Sometimes I get so worried around people I can’t speak, no matter how much I want to. My voice just shuts down.

For the last few years, my anxiety has been focused on my health. I’m only 30, but my body has betrayed me so many times. I can’t trust it anymore. Any time I get a headache I’ve have to be talked down from self-diagnosing a brain tumour. Every twinge is cancer. Every cough is death.

Covid-19 isn’t bad in Australia (yet), but I can open my phone and see tweets, articles, footage from China, Italy, France, South Korea, the US, everywhere and peek into potential futures.

I need some balance.

So over the next few weeks, months, whatever, I’m going to try and create some nonsense.

It won’t be easy. Fluff has been a challenge for me lately, even pre-pandemic. I’m probably going to have to push out some absolute clankers just to keep the gears turning. I can’t promise how regular or successful I will be, but I’m going to try really hard to make this little corner of the internet a softer place for a bit.

Forward is grinding.

It’s for when you are lost. It’s for when you don’t know what happens next, but you know it can’t be nothing. It’s for when a whole journey seems impossible, too big, and you have shut everything down to the next step.

I said it to myself after my third and fourth miscarriage.

The word forward made out of arrows and surrounded by a tangle of arrows pointing in all different directions.

I’m worried.

I’m worried about what happens when I run out of toilet paper because everyone else has panic-hoarded it. I’m worried about my older relatives. I’m worried about my chronically ill friends. I’m worried about my siblings—both of whom are doctors working in hospitals. I’m worried that next fire season a bushfire will reach my town, my home. I’m worried I’ll just keep miscarrying forever. I’m worried about lurking tumours. I’m worried about living in a country with a marginal environment and unsustainable habits while the world gets hotter.

It’s scary outside, and it’s dark inside.

Forward is not about choice. It’s going to happen anyway. The future is coming, and you can’t go back.

One more step.

Dark tunnel, small glimmer of light at the end, word 'Forward' written simply in white

P.S. Wash your damn hands.

*********************************

Update: I have created a  NO  VIRUSES HERE page. I will collect all my new fluff there as well as gather other fluffy creations from the past few years. 

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Number 4

I’ve had a fourth miscarriage.

I drew journal comics to process the experience. I’ve decided I will post them here. I have written about miscarriage before, (first two here, comics drawn after the third one here and here) and I don’t think I can do it again. Not like that. To do that, you have to revisit it. And I can’t.

On that note, you don’t have to read this. In fact, if you’ve had similar experiences and know that reading about this will bring things up for you, please don’t. Don’t do that to yourself for me. I would never ask it of you.

Some notes:

  • I changed my drawing style a bit, mostly in regards to colouring and use of text. This was to make it easier for me to get things down and move on rather than spend all day every day on colour schemes and shadows and details.
  • I recently had my hair cut differently, and this is a journal, so I drew it the new way.
  • I drew in ways that felt right at the time. If things felt like a mess, I let them look like a mess. If it felt like lots of small words jammed in, I wrote lots of small words jammed in. For better or worse, the occasional illegibility is a feature not a bug.
  • Dates are in the order we do them in Australia. Day/Month/Year.
  • This wasn’t drawn retrospectively. Although I didn’t always draw the comic on the actual day, I always planned it on the actual day and usually got it done within a few days.  I didn’t start this knowing what was going to happen on the 20/12.

Ready?

Here we go.

*********************************

13/11/2019 It's happening again.15/11/2019 Text: I just want to walk and walk and walk until I'm gone. (series of panels of me walking getting smaller and smaller until I'm not in the last one)18/11/2019 I haven't done a pregnancy test. (plausible deniability) But I'm about two week late. I had symptoms and they stopped. Now I have light cramps and spotting (just like the other times). I know how this goes.21/11/2019 Text: at least the lack of symptoms makes it easier to ignore (panels of me doing day to day stuff, making breakfast, reading, working in a cafe) Text: most of the time (panel of parents entering cafe with small baby)21/11/2019 - 26/11/2019 (series of panels of day to day things, catching the bus, going shopping, going to the bathroom...) Text: plausible deniability repeated many times, in the centre it says "maybe I'm wrong and it will work this time". (final panel: blood on undies. Speech: "FUCK")26/11/2019 Text conversation. Other person says "How has your day been?" My reply: "I probably can't have kids, hey." Boarder around panel is red.8/11/2019 Background is red with repeated old comic from the ‘expecting’ story repeated in the background. Text: I don’t want to go to the doctor. I’ve done this before. I know how this does. The 3rd time was horrible. (I couldn’t write about it) I know it was happening. I didn’t want any more scans than were necessary to prove I wasn’t about to bleed to death (unlikely, there wasn’t even that much blood). Watching things slowly come apart the first 2 times had been traumatic (I was still having flashbacks to the 1st scan—the moment I knew). But he sent be for 4 scans, multiple blood tests. And I had to watch it happen (again). I hyperventilated in waiting rooms. I cried all over nurses. It didn’t have to be like that (again). Panels showing phone conversation with my sister (a doctor): “don’t do it. We’re all visiting home next week anyway. We’ll look after you.”29/11/2019 Text: Better do a test since it's not worth getting my knickers in a twist over a (very) late period. (pregnancy test with two lines.) Text: 2 lines means pregnant ( except for me it means miscarriage)1/12/2019 Nine panels over a red background. 8 of the panels show me and my partner sitting on the couch, exactly the same. Text: Pain gets boring. We've done this so many times. It's the same. And it sucks. And I'm sick of it. (In the last panel I say "Can we just go to the movies?" and my partner says "Absolutely")2/12/2019 A plane flies across a red sky.3/12/2019 A series of panels over a red background show a car stereo, musical notes, food, a bird dropping a shell to break it, a beach, and a car driving.4/12/2019 (panel showing me and other happy people eating food in front of an xmas tree) Text: Since all this started 3 years ago Christmas (even early Christmas) has been ... (second, very small panel with me sitting alone in front of a closed door) Text: split6/12/2019 (series of panels showing me reading, behind me people carry things) Text: When we were little we used to decorate chairs for birthdays) (panel, my dad says "Is this an early birthday thing for Lucy?". Another panel shows my siblings have decorated a char for me) Text: I had forgotten.7/12/2019 A plane flies back across a white sky with some red clouds. 9/12/2019 Background hatched red. Two mes face each other. One says “Maybe you don’t really want kids”. The other says “Maybe that’s fear talking. Maybe you just don’t want to hurt anymore.” The first me then says “Well, maybe that’s just heteronormative social values talking. Maybe you only think you want it because on some level you’ve absorbed the idea women aren’t worth more than their breeding abilities. Did you think about that?” Text (in red): (Yes, I am worth more than this).11/12/2019 Text: I feel wasted (word hatched under with red). It’s not simply that I could have had a kid by now—more than 1 even. It’s not even the biological clock thing. I’ve been in survival mode (words hatched red) for years. I’m missing writing opportunities. I’m not building my readership. I’m not enjoying my life. I’m not thriving (word hatched red). I just want to be happy again (words hatched red). I don’t know how to be happy again (words hatched red).12/12/2019 I am waking up in bed, my partner is standing holding a (red) present saying "Happy 30th!"15/12/2019 Two small panels show a coffee with latte art, speech saying “annnnnd my latte art is a penis butterfly, isn’t it?” and people laughing. Text (in red) “…. Later 15/12/2019”. Most of the page is taken up by scribbled black. I sit in the dark. My partner is opening the door, backlit, saying “are you okay?” and I say “Nope.” (nope is in red).17/12/2019 (in red). Three panels of me talking to my therapist. In the first, she says “wait, you’re doing less work *while you are part-way through a miscarriage* … and this makes you a failure?” In the 2nd panel we just look at each other. In the third I say “Well, of course it’s stupid when you say it like that.” And she says “Have a rest”.19/12/2019 (in red). A doctor checks my blood pressure while I say “… also, I think it’s time I went back on antidepressants” and the doctor says “agreed.”Also 19/12/2019. A nurse is taking my blood. Text: I remember another blood test years ago—just before we started trying to check things (everything was fine)—and on the radio in the background hearing coverage of the 2016 US election. A radio behind us has a speech bubble saying “… and in world news we are minutes away from a vote to impeach Trump…” Text: timing is funny.20/12/2019 42 degrees Celsius, windy. Panels in red. Smoke twisting through one (in it, I say “I smell smoke”, then blotting the background. Four panels showing a phone screen with a map and a red area (red means it’s too late to evacuate, take shelter). The red area gradually spreads towards a dot labelled “us”. In the last, a wide yellow area covers the dot (yellow means enact your bushfire plan). Text, white on black smoke: “There’s a whole thing in Australia about being bushfire-stoic. Being tough, showing competence. But when the sky is all smoke, the sun blotted out, the wind oven-hot, and you only have vague reports to track the fire front … this isn’t my first fire, but it’s my first as an adult, the first where I have to decide. (in red) It’s scary.” Some extra panels with me and my partner. He says “The wind is supposed to change … in a few hours.” I say “We’re on the far side of town … but CFS building fire alerts show it’s already gone around of over other towns.” I say “I don’t know.” He says “I don’t know either.” I say “ Then we go.”also 20/12/2019. A series of panels show smoke receding as we evacuate (cat in a carry cage, us packing car, police directing traffic at a busy intersection, arriving and being welcomed at another house). And then watching tv, the reporter says "... temperature is dropping and the wind changing even as I speak..." Text: good for us. (small map showing wind change, fire front changing and spreading away from 'us' .... to move toward other dots) Text: ... but not for them.21/12/2019. I am getting blood taken by a nurse, who is saying “and confirming your address … oh. Are you home yet?” I say “On our way. My husband is in the carpark with the cat.” She says “Will I see you back again in another 48 hours for a 3rd test?” I say “Depends what the doctor thinks about my HCG levels.” Text (in red): “I’m still spotting a lot. My pregnancy hormone levels (HCG) are low, but not zero. People talk about miscarriages like they’re a single event, but mine have all been long drawn-out processes.”25/12/2019 Text, large: Merry Christmas I guess. Panel showing my partner opening a present, saying “It’s … an IOU”. I say “Sorry. This month has been a lot.” He says “I get it.” Text: “(although it is my first day since November with no bleeding)”27/12/2019 Another blood test. My doctor called with the results. My HCG levels still aren’t zero, but they’re so low she’s happy to say the miscarriage is essentially over. Besides, I’ve stopped bleeding. I might leave this here.29/12/2019 Red is pouring down the page. Text, white on red: "Psych! It's not over (it's never over)."30/12/2019 - 5/1/2020 Background red. I sit in front of the TV watching footage of more bushfires. I say "Hell". Text: "(Happy New Year, btw)"6/1/2020 A road running from unburnt landscape into burnt. Text, white on black: “I feel guilty the fires didn’t reach us.” “Everywhere I look I see bad things” “I’m not sleeping well”. Text, black on white on the road “I’ve started antidepressants but they’re still in that initial phase where they make things worse instead of better”also 6/1/2020. Text, white on black splotches: "But the bleeding has stopped. And it helps to help. Give (requested) supplies. Donate. Visit local businesses". Text, black on white: "Be ready. It will probably happen again."

*********************************

The bushfire I evacuated from on 20/12/2019 was the Cudlee Creek fire that burned in the Adelaide Hills (my home) in South Australia. It destroyed more than 80 homes and claimed one life. Although it didn’t reach my town, it did reach others in the area. Blackened trees and burnt ground are visible from (and sometimes very, scarily close to) the main streets of many of them.

And that fire has not been the only bushfire in South Australia over the last couple of months to destroy homes, the environment, and lives. Notably half (actually, literally, ridiculously half) of Kangaroo Island (a place I have holidayed,  a place my brother lived for a year, a place where relatives of mine own property) burned the other week, claiming two lives. That fire isn’t out yet, and as weather conditions are bad today it is spreading and several communities have been evacuated and are under Watch and Act (yellow) warnings even as I write this.

Meanwhile the fires in New South Wales and Victoria (which have made international news) are utterly horrifying and still going. At this time an estimated 1900 homes have been destroyed in NSW and at least another 200 destroyed in Victoria. Many lives have been lost. These fires will certainly not be controlled for some time, and they are expecting considerable fire danger weather tomorrow.

There have always been fires in Australia, but not like this.

If you are able, please consider donating to the fire relief. There are a lot of places to donate. Here are some basic ones:

People:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief. (Australia wide).

South Australian Bushfire Appeal. (South Australia).

Fireys:

CFS – Country Fire Service (South Australia’s volunteer firefighting service).

RFS – Rural Fire Service (New South Wales’s volunteer firefighting service).

CFA – Country Fire Association (Victoria’s volunteer firefighting service).

Animals:

WIRES – Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (New South Wales wildlife rescue organisation)

RSPCA (SA) – Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (South Australian appeal specifically)

*********************************

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Refill


I am working at my desk, writing with a green pen. There is also green in my body. Text says "sometimes ...". In the next panel I stop writing, the green is gone. I hold the pen up and tap it. Text says "I run out of ink". I am no longer at my desk. In the final panel I am walking on the green grass, listening to green music. The text says "and have to refill"

*********************************

This is about creativity, which I firmly believe is green.  However, it can be about other things too if you like.

This comic is available in my store! It’s available as a print, mini print, poster, travel mug, and other things.

If you want to support my art more generally, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.