Once Upon A Time…
It might sound dramatic, but I was born a weirdo. Literally. In a time when C-sections were starting to take off, my poor old Momma squeezed me out – apparently not knowing until she got to the hospital that I’d developed breeched – a tiny little babe, my tiny baby feet folded up by my ears. My dad always proudly praised my debut, coming into the world mooning everyone in the delivery room while my Mom lamented the fact that afterward, they had to strap special shoes on me to keep my own feet from continually flying up and kicking me in the face.
And it didn’t stop there. I was riddled with pain issues, bad eyesight, and other issues through my late childhood. I spent my teens popping Advil by the bottle on top of the Arthritis medication while going to an art school of all things. In my first year of college, I had to skip class and take a two-hour train back home because I had trouble breathing – my doc took one look at me and had me rushed to the nearest hospital. Officially, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus back in 2000, but I’d obviously had symptoms a lot longer than that.
The Lupus Years
Having a chronic illness forced me outside the norm of a lot of things. As a kid, the pain and fatigue kept me from playing with other kids. As a teen, especially a creative teen who liked to paint and draw, I took dangerous amounts of painkillers to function. It didn’t always work. In college, when I had flare-ups, I’d have to sleep sitting slumped over on my desk at times, or else the inflammation around my lungs could suffocate me in my sleep. I still worked two jobs. My friends had to get my graduation gown for me because at the time of the fittings I was in a doctor’s office getting the news that my kidneys had begun to fail.
Where my friends got jobs and dated, I got a disability pension and IV chemo treatments. I lost hair, gained weight, and earned a body full of scars to keep my kidneys going another ten years. Then, in 2013, they gave up the ghost entirely and I went on dialysis. Still, I was one of the lucky ones; one nasty blood infection, and seven months later I had a living donor. This year (2018) I celebrated my 4th Kidney Anniversary. But with my other health issues, my life will never be in the socially mandated realm of ‘normal.’
And that’s okay.
Meet Abby Normal*
This website is a culmination of a bunch of little thoughts and random happenings along my path to living a life most unnatural. For several years I kept a personal blog called Adventures in Living, which later became a blog for lupus patients and other chronic-illness sufferers called Life Despite Lupus. I closed it in 2016 because I wanted to do something different. I wanted to start seriously developing my fiction-writing skills, and if I went back to blogging, I wanted to do something different, bigger, more personal. But I stuttered…I mean, the stuff I like writing about and the stuff I thought I could maybe eventually make a living off of just didn’t seem to match up. I’d freelanced as a writer and designer for years, but I was tired of the grind of chasing clients who assumed they knew more than I did, creating things I didn’t care about for people I didn’t know.
I also wanted an outlet for my fiction-writing, and maybe even my art. So for two years I wracked my brain with a ton of (ultimately) dumb questions like, “How do I brand my quirky and unique kind of weirdness?” and “How much blogging is too much if I want to do story stuff too?” and “What kind of color scheme best reflects me?” and “Can I make some kind of living off of this?”
Eventually, I got to talking it out with a close friend who listened to my laments of “I just want to write about weird stuff. I like weird stuff.” She found the URL, astonishingly, bafflingly, available for sale, took it as a sign of blessing, and talked me into buying it.
And here I am.
What Will You Find Here?
Mostly my musings about living a life outside the boundaries of convention (whether it’s voluntary or involuntary), and why chucking convention might be the best damn thing you can do for your sanity and soul. Some personal stories. Links and info about cool stuff out in the wide, weird world. And, at some point, short stories, info about writing, and maybe even some book reviews.
*From the awesome Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein