the weird door

i’ve slacked on this post because i’ve been trying to figure out how to best honor the themes of fate, faith and forgiveness.  i’m having a very difficult time with focus and concentration.  my head feels like a mirrorball full of helium and tumbleweeds of confusion.  are these symptoms?  i still don’t know what MS means to me.  i’ve explained this to only a few of my closest friends, one of whom spent this past Sunday with me.

i met Nate six years ago through his cousins and we became instant friends.  it was one of those connections that had me wondering where he’d been all my life.  we and the aforementioned cousins went on a riotously fun adventure to the Seneca Wine Trail, throughout which Nate wore a rubber dinosaur hand from a child’s halloween costume he’d randomly found at the house we were staying at.  i’ll forever have an image of him casually picking up pieces of public popcorn off the bar at a classy winery with that dinosaur hand burned in my memory.  he’s that kind of person… the kind who is always creating moments to smile about in retrospect… moments like this one, where he was just casually enjoying a BlowPop with his dino hand.  (i’m laughing out loud right now.)


so, over these six years, we have only hung out a handful of treasured times due to distance but we have kept close contact. when i started making public announcements on Facebook about my health, i got a sweet notification that he had updated his profile picture to a snapshot of us from that winery adventure (see us looking confuzzled in that particular photo below).  so sweet.  even sweeter?  he wrote a heartfelt caption about our awesome friendship and wished me well.  even sweeter still?  he contacted me directly to tell me he was going to be in town and would love to hang out!

britt and nate

this part of the post is going to drive me crazy because it involves more back story and i’ll admit i’ve been sitting on writing this because of it.  as i mentioned before, my brain is london fog town right now and this simple task feels gargantuan.  this part of the post is also super important because the back story is the springboard for the theme of faith.  i hope i do its effect on the day justice.  anyway, here goes…

my Talbot grandparents (the adorable ones i visited and wrote about in the last post) told their good friends about my situation.  these friends told my grandparents that a “healer” would be coming to their church on Sunday and that it would be wonderful if i attended.  my grandparents relayed this invitation to my mom who in turn relayed this invitation to me.

(this is where it gets tricky) i did not grow up in the church but i did not grow up without the concept of God.  you who have been following since the beginning may have picked up on this via my use of [Higher Power] in my first post.  i’ve always been searching for a deeper connection to something, though, and have always kept the possibility of finding that deeper connection open.  i just don’t know where my relationship stands with Him at this point in my life (or if it is Him that i am seeking)… hence [Higher Power].  Nate’s family has Three Springs Ministries, a beautiful Christian retreat located in north central Pennsylvania.  i know God and faith have been a huge part of his life and i’ve always admired that.  keeping something sacred like that is something i aspire to do.

so there’s the pesky chunk of back story.  i’m relieved it’s out of the way and i’ll be even more relieved if its function and format is conducive to this post’s intended theme.

our May Day/Sunday rendezvous began with lunch in Mansfield.  mom came along because, even though she’s met this kid once, she adores Nate too.  we enjoyed oversized plates of chain fare and i filled Nate in on all of this MS business.  he was interested in my treatment plan (which as of yet is still a mystery) and it prompted mom to mention the invitation to see the “healer” later that day and asked him, as a devout dude, what he thought about the prospect of us going.  i know she almost didn’t bring it up and i’m glad she did because this topic of healing caused Nate to open up about some struggles he’d been having and, after a particularly rough night earlier in the week, he decided he was going to challenge himself to stay sober for 365 days.  he said he wasn’t sure what “healer” meant but we could either not go and trounce the possibility of taking what was being offered or we could go and embrace that possibility.  i summarized his statement with “there’s a weird door, we open it or leave it be.”  mom decided to ruminate on it while checking on our grandparents’ house, leaving Nate and i to continue the conversation alone.  i told Nate i doubt i’ll be drinking much anymore and we each downloaded NOMO, a sobriety app, on our phones.  i asked him what he was up to for the rest of the day (no plans for either of us) and then i asked him, “welp, shall we go see this healer?”

so, to the church we went.  the “healer” was actually a visiting minister whose focus was on the healing power of forgiveness… forgiveness for yourself, forgiveness for others.  for years i’ve been turning the phrase “forgiveness is necessary for survival” all around in my head.  it’s gotten me through things i can’t explain… why do bad things happen to good people?  why do good things happen to bad people?  what ARE good people and bad people?  we’re people… we screw up… forgiveness is necessary for survival.

the sermon was really something special and i noticed that Nate was scrolling through his phone for most of it.  he’s a classy guy and wouldn’t be Tindering in church… a closer look revealed that he was reading the corresponding scripture.

Me: is that a Bible app?

Nate: yeah.  get it!

… and this is why NOMO and The Holy Bible are now neighbors on my main screen.

at the end of the sermon the congregation was invited to speak with members of the church who had been prepared to heal through prayer.  you could get in one line and be prayed for, you could get in a second line and be anointed with oil and/or you could get in a third line to have a more intensive one-on-one healing experience.  i stayed put, awkward from my mostly churchless existence.  Nate got up to get in the first line but came back a few minutes later because he wasn’t “feeling the spirit.”  this caught the eye of one of the church members who immediately came over and approached Nate.  this man counseled Nate, who confessed his struggles, and he started to pray for him.  it was an intense experience.  I held Nate’s hand while this stranger prayed over him, hugging him and allowing him to emotionally release and… forgive.

my grandparents’  friends who had invited us in the first place came around with other people i knew and other people i didn’t and i was prayed for too.  we were embraced by strangers like family.

i couldn’t (and still can’t) shake the feeling that this all was fated somehow… Nate and i being in town at the same time for the first time in forever, our simultaneous struggles, the weird door appearing for us to walk through it together.  i’m so glad we took a peek to see what was inside… because it was beautiful and just what we needed.  much like our friendship from the very start.

my body feels like shit but my heart and soul feel golden.

and now, a photo of us before we walked through the weird door.


my appreciation for you all is as intense as a cherry healing prayer session.




backwardsbot : blog birth

the symptoms have been there for a while.  like, years.  the zero sense of direction, the constant confusion by spaces, the dizziness, the blackouts, the fatigue, the unfinished projects, the daydreaming, the no sleeping… all coming to a head nearly to the day i turned 30 on April 13, 2016.

this blog, in a sense, is my way of externalizing and tracking and correlating and remembering and documenting it all… it’s already overwhelming.  big surprise.

is this blog just going to be a big list of wonder dribble?  yes.  most likely.  (i love lists.)

where do i start?

when did it start?

i guess i’ll start with two weeks ago…

i’m living in pittsburgh, mostly alone, as my partner travels for work frequently for long lengths of time.  i wasn’t even worried about spending my big 30th birthday alone but i was eventually informed that i would have two mystery guests arrive at around noon on Sunday, April 10, and that they would stay for a few days and to not worry about planning anything, that they would bring the party with them as they always do.  score.  this was super exciting.  who could it be?

i was overjoyed when i answered the door to find a half eaten piece of pizza, an empty bottle of wine and two giggling besties on my stoop.  it was Jones and Chloe.  YAS.  this is going to be the best birthday.


we wined, we dined, we enjoyed royalty treatment at the Ace Hotel complete with champagne, negronis and a Martin guitar (coolest amenity ever).  we swam like mermaids in the bathtub.  something, though, kept tugging at me… am i soaking this all up?  am i experiencing this to the fullest?  why is it so hard for me to remember where we are/what we are doing?  I spoke to them about it at length during our stay at the Ace… my frustration with myself over not being able to just sit down and answer my own questions. i have the motivation and the thought to, but I don’t have the… drive?  i couldn’t even put my finger on what was missing or what was bothering me.  i just knew something wasn’t right.  it hasn’t been “right” for a long, long time.


Jones and Chloe had to hightail it back to NYC on Tuesday (April 12), so i dropped them off at the bus station and went about my day, not without getting lost on the way home (while using GPS).  when i arrived home and pulled off the beanie i’d use to disguise my infamous “brittany bedhead”, i experienced a severe pain on the back of my head.  it was like being cracked with a bat.  it was like that time my middle school ass ran into the handle of a dumpster with my skull, full force, and smacked the back of my head on that slab of concrete where i laid unconscious, unable to move and at the mercy of my friend Frankie’s heroic diligence.  what the hell was this?  i swear i didn’t get hit…

On Wednesday, my actual birthday, i woke up groggy because the head pain was too much for me to lay my head on my pillow.  i had marathoned documentaries on HBO all night (the one on Robert Mapplethorpe, the one on the illustration process at the New Yorker, the one about God’s Children, the one about the lesbian who discovered her late great aunt’s amazing artwork and crusaded for her cause)… all entertaining, all none too helpful for the pulsing and twisting knotting its way up my nape.  grogginess wasn’t going to be an excuse, though, for it was officially my birthday and i had made promises to myself that i was determined to keep : get out of the house, take myself to lunch somewhere nice, confront myself with some journaling and self-reflection, maybe round it all out with a visit to my favorite tasting room.  but first, i’d have to get my mail.

i made my way down the spiraling five staircases of hell to the front door, head throbbing with each footfall.  maybe it was the decline, maybe it was the sudden burst of sunshine, but i found myself suddenly battling a severe case of what i’ve formerly referred to as “spaghettiskeletonitis” (see?  this has been going on for a while), and i lurched forward, falling, dragging my right ankle along the jagged sandstone on my front stoop.  shit, that hurt.  ouch, my skin is hanging off.  more expletives… i’ll spare the rest of the gory details.  i was instantly cheered up, though, when i found a beautiful mystery necklace in a quaint black box in my otherwise empty mailbox.  (i would find out later that this was from my best friend and college roommate Guyetti.)


i set out and kept my promises to myself that day.  pad thai at noodlehead, journaling and a brew or two at full pint, a quick stint in a funky thrift store where i saw the coolest elvis lamp ever (it was so hard to leave without it), a sip of cava brut for dessert at some wine place a savvy bartender suggested and, finally, a nightcap at rock room.  fun enough.  happy 30th birthday to me.  i did it all.  with a dead phone.  that didn’t charge over night.  and the next day, everyone thought i was dead.  after responding to the plethora of worried texts, calls and voicemails from my partner, my parents, et al., i was ready to go about my day, no hangover in tow but for the same nagging, jagged pain right square on my occ.

i spent the day nursing my newly fixed cat, scored nearly a fully new wardrobe at a nearby thrift for $10 (during which i had to leave because i… COULDN’T REMEMBER WHY I WAS THERE… oh yeah, that’s right… i want some neat new grandma clothes.  i’ll go back in and pay up).  I got home, unpacked my things, put on some Mogwai and collaged for the first time in at least a month.  i was in pain but i was happy.


And then… Saturday, April 16, I woke up with a fever.  i cancelled plans with the infamous aforementioned Frankie for birthday sushi (raincheck, galpal!) and, suspecting my ankle scrape was infected, i GPS’d the nearest ER.  i was directed to Allegheny General Hospital and, after getting lost a few times, per usual, i arrived… and couldn’t figure out how to park.  so, i did what any other “sane” person would do and i just. kept. driving.  until i found an urgent care location in Shadyside.  i parked well enough, took my number in line and waited for a bit.  after describing my symptoms, they sent me ACROSS THE STREET to the ER at UPMC.  across the street.  i literally just had to cross the street.  but, since i have literally a rorschach’s test sense of space, i walked allllllll around the block, with traffic, because i’m the backwardsbot.

i described my symptoms, they quickly got me needled up and, after a preliminary test for a UTI came back positive, they decided that it might be good to admit me for the night because of this head pain i’d been having.  friends still think i might be dead.  friends still think i might be trying to party for my birthday.  nope.  very much alive, very much in pain and very much trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  tests, tests, tests, meds, meds, meds… Frankie the Faithful and her precious little girl are there to help me through and, after much insistence from Sister Jones, i finally cave and ask my mom to make the 4.5 hour drive down from the boondocks to the city.  Thank.  [Higher Power].  I.  Did.


“We think you might have MS.”

my mom held my hand as the neurologist calmly scrolled through (what i like to call) the mosh pit of lesions in my brain.  so.  many.  lesions.  for probably so.  many.  years.

i wouldn’t say i was shocked… there were tears.  it happens when your mom is holding your hand while you get scary news.  it happens when an authority on a scary subject speaks to you with resolve and empathy.  it happens when you realize… holy shit… THIS.  this is why.  this is why i’m the backwardsbot.  this is why the world is a Rubik’s cube to me.  this is why i have spaghettiskeletonitis.  this is why i’ve been a total bitch to Guyetti (and everyone for that matter) for trying to talk me through directions, for trying to protect me.  this is why i haven’t finished a damn thing in years.  this is why i couldn’t talk to myself… why i couldn’t understand my own language.

dad, The Captain, flew in from the west coast the next day and my parents remained by my side for the rest of my stay.  i cried hardest when i got a sudden burst of overwhelming love for my life.  my friends, my family, my past, my present, my FUTURE.  i sat on the toilet in my hospital room, wiping away the makeup i’d done terribly with my reduced motor skills, exploding with gratitude, a geyser of tears and dribble.  RELIEF.  RELEASE.  everything.

yes, they thinkmight have MS.  heck, i might even have a brain tumor.  or Lyme (preliminarily positive, but i guess that doesn’t mean much in the way of Lyme).  whatever it is, i have it.  i’ve got it.  in every sense of the phrases.  happy 30th birthday to me.  happy birthday to me in general.  it really does feel like a rebirth of sorts.  i’m crowning into a new age where perhaps i will know myself better and, [Higher Power] willing, the question/answer ratio will be evened out.

i look forward to recouping in my favorite place in the world, Dagtown USA, with my friends and family for the next few days while i wait for my official results.  please understand that i am so appreciative of the outpouring of support and love i’ve received so far through this and it is one of my top priorities to return calls/messages as soon as i feel well enough to do so.

i’ve only just begun speaking to myself.


love y’all.