Black & White: An Update

*This post contains mature language.

This post was intended some months ago. Now I struggle to organize my thoughts as the intended information begins to unravel in enormity.

I will start with the recent explanation as to why ArmedWithCoffee (AWC) went invisible for a period. I went into surgery on July 22nd and I wouldn’t be able to monitor comments. More importantly, I was absolutely fed up and exhausted by my online stalker. Yeah, it’s a lot to unpack but to be perfectly honest, I’m barely scratching the surface. Allow me to explain…

SPRING 2021 [Publishing Goals, Extreme Weather, Growing Pains, Business and a Stalker Introduces Himself]

As many of you know, spring is when I work towards my publishing goals for the year. In retrospect, my goals seem laughable. My checklist was ambitious, given all that I had going on, but ambition has never been my issue so much as circumstances coming to test my already demanding schedule. As noted in a prior post, returning to school in the spring (post winter break) was exquisitely, painfully chaotic. In short, school was delayed by several weeks. Not long afterwards, Texas experienced the “deep freeze,” also reported. Recovering from the repercussions of that statewide experience took nearly a month out of my workable timeline. Families, businesses and schools; recovery was chaos. My publication goals meant nothing in the face of what needed to be done, locally and beyond.

During this time my YouTube channel experienced demanding growth. That growth has slowed considerably, partly by my design. There were months when I had gained 4-5K new subs per 30 days and the demands for more content, and general community engagement, were at an all time high. I cut back on videos. I cut back on client work. I just cut back. I had to. My ad revenue continued to climb so I concluded it a safe thing to cutback on channel growth. All that to say my channel, and subsequent business, took more of my time than I had originally anticipated. I remain humbled by the growth, and more importantly, how many people support my work.

Around March my daughter experienced back-to-back illnesses, thankfully none of it COVID related. I know that because when the kids so much as sneeze in class they are automatically sent to the nurse’s office and tested on the spot. The kids are then required to see their doctor for confirmation and are not allowed to return to school without an official doctor’s note. We saw my daughter’s pediatrician A LOT. Throughout March and April, my daughter was diagnosed with a stomach virus, immediately followed up by strep throat, and finally, advanced allergies (“advanced” meaning adult level, difficult for her child’s body to cope with) all this while experiencing intense growth spurts. For weeks her legs ached at night from the literal growing pains. Like me, my daughter is tall and muscle dense. There was a point when I stopped and said out loud…did you really just go up a whole shoe size in a month? Yes, she had.

It was somewhere around this period in late spring that my online stalker started to communicate on a regular basis. I actually had two emerge around roughly the same time; for the sake of this post, I’m naming them High Boy and Unfortunate Person.

A note about stalkers: All stalkers think they’re entitled to do as they do. All stalkers think they’re unique in their very intense feelings, adding further justification to the harassment. I have one simple rule outlined several times: I am not here, (WordPress, YouTube, or any social media platform) to form personal connections. All stalkers think they are the exception because they convince themselves that their feelings are so terribly unique and precious. Stalkers and other would-be romantic suitors are the very reason my rule exists. Not being the shy type I am going to make this as plain as possible: I will never form a romantic connection with some random internet chode and his useless hard-on, insisting he or she (in fairness, there have been a few females) loves me. I don’t care what your motivation is. Love, sex, boredom, it’s irrelevant to me. I will ignore you and block you where possible. To quote myself, “If I’ve given you an erection, you’re welcome. Rub one out and get on with your life.” I write erotica – IT’S MY JOB TO TURN PEOPLE ON. Arousal is part of the “end job,” not an actual job performance.

I work on YouTube and write on WordPress. I’m not online dating. The difference is intent. Fucking learn it.

Those who have outreached to me hoping the contrary was true are typically disappointed but at least they go away with some measure of dignity. But, oh no, not High Boy, and most certainly not Unfortunate Person. Unfortunate Person really dug his heels in.

High Boy hounded me for months via email. This substance induced fellow (it was obvious) would email me mirrored versions of my stories, altering my characters to reflect a situation I had written, supplementing a version of himself and myself into the scene. His writing was horrid but that wasn’t the worst part. He insisted that he knew ‘I was the one.’ And it was a matter of time before I knew it too. The arrogance. The ego. Arrogance and ego being recurring issues among these types. He insisted upon a “unique connection.” And here’s the thing, they all insist upon a “unique connection.” So how unique can it really be if several times a week I’m being emailed, DM’d, or chatted at by a man who just knows – absolutely knows – there is a unique connection that must mean “true love.” That “unique connection” almost always boils down to my having given this armchair suitor an erection. That erection can always be traced back to either my image on YouTube, or my written work here on WordPress. Usually one leads to the other. Most of these people go away when ignored, however, I got tired of seeing my work so poorly butchered by High Boy I ended up calling him out on Instagram and he scampered off. I was embarrassed for him, and for myself, seeing what he had done to my work. High Boy wrote like he just rolled out of Scarborough Faire on 4/20. It was a lot of “my lady,” this and “my lady,” that. Jesus Christ. I’m not a lady. I’m a foul-mouthed woman with a dirty mind and the tenacity to live life on my terms. As was the case, High Boy and Unfortunate Person both saw what they wanted, both projected what they wanted. Neither knew me in reality and yet both professed undying love for me. Fucking terrifying.

I write fiction, this point should be obvious. As always, people often believe what they want and act accordingly. The more delusional person really does believe I live what I write; I’m just over here practicing bondage, handing out blowjobs, and having multiple orgasms. Let me be clear, the best writing advice remains: Write what you know. So to an extent it is true. I do have background knowledge in bondage (not actively practiced since…2009?). And yes, I consider blowjobs an art form and take pride in them. But honestly, I cannot recall when I last doled one out. Years? I’ve had next to no motivation and I don’t create art for just anyone. And yes, I have been so blessed as to experience multiple orgasms, always within the confines of a safe relationship and a talented partner.

Here’s the thing – I don’t do random sex. Never have. Never will. I have never understood my sexuality to be random; desire, trust, and respect are baseline characteristics to my experiences and those qualities are not composed randomly or easily. When I was a grad student, I once chose to be in a label-less relationship (what is now styled “stituationship”) because it suited me at the time. I chose it because I felt safe with that particular partner, it was structured without being overbearing, and it met my needs. I wanted to go out some times. I wanted to express my sexuality safely and comfortably some times. And with someone I trusted. I could give myself to this situation while not getting lost in it. I wasn’t in a place where I wanted a full relationship. I knew that, so did he. We both chose it and it was lovely while it lasted. My point is, everything I do is done so with intent. I know what my sexuality means to me and what I have to have in place in order to express it comfortably. Those qualities are never going to be achieved by some faceless person I’ve never met over the internet. It must be this instantaneous world we live in that allows so many to think that insta-connections in love and sexuality are even possible. However, I must insist upon knowing a man’s mind first before I jump his dick with total abandon. I suppose that makes me rather old-fashioned…

Bondage, blowjobs, and multiple orgasms…those are, those were…my personal experiences I’ve used many times over as a writer. I choose what I share and then I wrap a bunch of fiction around it, not once but several times over. Many pieces are pure fiction. The stuff of fantasy.

Shards of experiences, packaged as fiction. That’s the extent of my engagement as an author. These stalkers read my work, they watch my videos, convinced they know me. They don’t. I’m not about to share my real life with some random dickhead off the internet. And I mean that in a near literal sense. From my perspective as a female, when a man comes onto me from the comfort of his computer, he’s not a man, he’s a faceless, random dick. The internet is an open field of electronic, random dick and I have zero inclination to engage with any of it. Back to my non-negotiable rule: I am not here to form personal connections. I’m here to work.

In real life I’m serious to a fault. I despise disorganization. I get overly preoccupied with minor details. I hate being made late. I study recipes for fun. One day I aspire to replicate Chef Ramsey’s famous Beef Wellington without fucking it up. I have personal goals to reduce as much of my small family’s carbon footprint as possible. My daughter’s education and overall well being takes precedence above all things. I pay bills. I exercise selfishly. I mow the lawn. Taxes are done well above the due date. I clean with music on. I organize family gatherings. I drink herbal tea before bed…What I present to the world are my interests. Those interests are tarot and erotica. I am able to generate income from my interests. I’m living the dream. I do what I love, I love what I do. I am online but that’s not an open invitation into my life or my feelings.

Unfortunate Person is proof positive of my rule and the very reason why I will never hold email correspondence with someone from any of my platforms ever again. Unless I know you IRL (in real life) the rule will stand. I used to enjoy the brief email exchanges from fans and fellow writers, not anymore. You can thank U.P. for that.

It started out with a sprinkle of comments on YouTube. Regular, normal, infrequent comments. Then U.P. discovered AWC. Then the comments showed up here. Then U.P. decided to deep dive the internet…I know that because U.P. was the one that discovered the fraudulent channel on YouTube that was ripping off content creators. I was one of the creators whose videos were being exploited. That channel was incredibly small…there’s no way U.P. would have found it unless he went deep diving or possibly even created the channel himself. Given his record, it’s a thought well within reason. By reporting to me this fraudulent channel, U.P. had a reason to outreach to me personally and be a fucking hero.

I was surprised by what U.P. had delivered and I thanked him profusely. I meant it too. I learned a lot about reporting copyrighted material because of U.P.’s alert. It’s at this point that the informal communications from U.P. begin to pick up, all alluding to one thing…him wanting to know more about me. Not long after Valentine’s Day of this year, I received an email from U.P. indicating that the flowers he had sent me went to the wrong place. Before you balk at that, please know the only address I have listed to the public is my business address, and even then it’s a paid UPS box address. For some reason he sent flowers to a coffee shop thinking I would get it which either a) makes him incredibly stupid or b) was trying to work his way into a romantic conversation by making up some bullshit. I have no idea why and I didn’t ask for clarification. By then I was already aware and wary of his purpose, wayward Valentine’s Day flowers weren’t necessary. At some point I thanked him again for bringing the YouTube issue to my awareness but that I was not looking to form romantic connections online, thank you very much, etc. etc.

His response gave me reason to believe that he was a rational person and understood what the fuck I was saying. After that brief (and what I assumed was his last) email, U.P. occasionally sprinkled comments on my channel and that was all. For awhile. Then the comments resumed on WordPress and they became much more personal. I ignored all of his emails from that point and weeded out all of his WordPress comments. Because of U.P. all comments are now screened; I have to authorize every single comment before they go live on AWC. Another killjoy, thanks again to U.P.

Then U.P. amplified the creepiness, he would often change his username and created multiple profiles. He gave himself away in every single one so they weren’t hard to isolate and delete. I blocked him on Instagram. I blocked him on LinkedIn (I had just gotten my LinkedIn profile un-mucked too…it’s a whole story. Read, Social Media & Me for reference). I ignored all of his emails and continued to delete all his comments. Unfortunate Person simply overlooked the fact that I wasn’t interested and that I wasn’t responding, and that I had even blocked him across several platforms. These facts are not convenient to the stalker mentality. U.P. insisted he loved me and it was a matter of time before I knew it, accepted it, and would love him in equal measure. It was fate. It was the will of the gods. It was divine timing. It was bullshit.

Like High Boy, Unfortunate Person inserted himself into my poems and shorts stories. At some point I genuinely believed that he genuinely believed I was writing for him and just for him. If Unfortunate Person knew half of what I wrote was based in attraction stemming from just one man, he probably would have shit himself.

SUMMER 2021 [My Dad Nearly Dies From COVID, My Stalker Pays A Visit, Surgery]

I decided this would be the year that I would undertake not one but two surgical procedures; one providing pain relief, the other an honest reflection of my vanity, both considered elective.

I had investigated both procedures two years ago and just as I began to really interview surgeons and understand the commitment required, COVID happened and all non-essential (cosmetic and elective) surgeries were shut down, at least here in Austin, Texas. It made sense. The timing wasn’t right. You want a certain level assuredness when entering into something as complicated as surgery and the circumstances were the exact opposite of certain. I had lived with low-level abdominal pain since 2013 (specifically post-pregnancy) another two years was hardly a sacrifice.

My malfunctioning thyroid gland is the reason why my pregnancy was so difficult. I was in a constant state of lethargy, sickness, and overall pain. [Sitting here and writing this, I cannot tell you how odd it is. I’m a private person and while what I’m about to share is hardly scandalous, I’m just used to keeping these things to myself. But it all relates. It all comes back full circle in this tidy, stressful package I have come to think of as 2021.]

January 25, 2013, I went into labor for 14 hours, which is not unusual where pregnancies are concerned. What was unusual was that I gave birth to my daughter in less than 5 minutes. Note: Labor and delivery are two different time markers in pregnancy. I shocked the hell out of the nurses, that’s what I recall before passing out. I had practiced yoga since my 20s and part of yoga is learning muscle control in the pelvis. Hip health is everything. I could write a post entirely dedicated to healthy hips (applicable to men as well…you have hips, therefore you can have healthy hips) but suffice it to say, it was my years dedicated to yoga, and exercise, that allowed me to deliver in under 5 minutes. My pregnancy was hell. I was in constant pain. Believe me when I tell you I was dedicated to the finish line. In a sports analogy, mentally prepared athletes understand that crossing the finish line assumes the responsibility of some pain. If you expect a pain-free experience in any sort of physical sport, the only thing you should expect is failure. Make room for the pain, expect the pain, train for the pain, and you will know success, and to a surprising extent, freedom.

The nurses assume the brunt work when a woman goes into labor. The doctor is then casually called in when the birth goes into active delivery. My attending nurse was screaming for the doctor on my second push. The nurse actually panicked and commanded I slow down. I locked eyes on her and said through gritted teeth, “fuck you,” and proceeded to push. And out my daughter came just as the doctor came running into my room. I remember feeling satisfied by hearing my daughter’s newborn cries and then I lost consciousness.

I knew my pregnancy was difficult. I knew it was painful. I just didn’t know why. My obstetrician reassured me no two pregnancies are the same and she is right, of course. But I kept comparing myself and my experiences against what other women were reporting. My mental state, my emotional state, never mind my physical state, didn’t add up, not even close. My thyroid was at the center of the ordeal. I didn’t know that as the time. I had concluded my pregnancy was a marathon I was determined to finish come hell or high water. The delivery was my finish line. Do you understand my determination? I was in pain, day in, day out. My responsibility was to see my pregnancy through safely. I had to get through the hours, the days, the weeks, the months; my delivery meant my freedom and relief from the pain. I didn’t speed up the delivery, on the contrary I was pregnant for a total of 9 months and 2 weeks and I was given the choice to induce but I wanted the process to be as natural as possible. I did not opt for c-section although it was presented as an option because her estimated pre-birth weight landed at 8 lbs. Unless it was medically advised to me as necessary, my choice was natural delivery across the board. I kept the delivery – the finish line – at the front of my mind for months and insisted on keeping the pregnancy and delivery as natural as possible.

However, I was desperate to get my mind back. I was desperate to get my body back. You’re damn right I pushed that baby out in 5 minutes. Her actual birth weight was 7.7 lbs and long. You generally don’t refer to babies as “tall” as they can’t stand, but you do refer to them as “long,” the first of many comments about her height.

My thyroid had been badly compromised. Creating a human life is utterly taxing on an already healthy female. The hormone fluctuation is constant, demanding, and all consuming to create another living being. The thyroid works overtime. Mine broke during the pregnancy. I’ve documented my thyroid journey several times over, I won’t recap the experience here, but it is now understood that my thyroid was likely malfunctioning (specifically under-functioning) since my teen years. I was tested for hypothyroidism several times over the course of my life and the results always came back negative or normal. This is exceedingly common as even a little bit of hormone in the body will be enough to show a positive result. It was not until I was diagnosed as pre-coma in 2014 that my blood results showed a complete absence of the thyroid hormones. The pregnancy proved too taxing for that already temperamental gland and it wasn’t until I was days, maybe weeks, away from losing consciousness that it was discovered. My then doctor later told me she was hard-pressed in making a call to have me hospitalized, she wasn’t entirely confident I was coherent while speaking with me. My daughter was only one year old.

It took years to recover after my thyroid issue was discovered. Years to dial in the medication (type and amount) and for my body to heal as I had extensive internal damage from my underperforming thyroid and then the difficult pregnancy.

Months after the pregnancy (and pre thyroid discovery) I felt the beginnings of what would be long-lasting pain in my abdomen. My abdominal muscle wall had also become compromised by the pregnancy and birth. A malfunctioning thyroid did not help the situation as the thyroid plays a critical role in both regular health maintenance and vital healing.

The more I “rested” the worse it got. When I moved around, I didn’t feel the pain as much. And then came the next several years (nearly a decade) of my constantly being on the go in order to not feel the pain. This pain is the reason I exercise like a lunatic. I average 6 hours a week of cardio, core strengthening exercises (specifically 500 crunches and other abdominal exercises weekly) and yoga.

Fast forward to 2019 and I’m 38. My thyroid is under control. I’m in peak physical condition. My vitals are comparable to someone ten years younger. But I still have persistent, low level pain in my abdomen, only really apparent when sitting too long (I stopped enjoying going to the movies back in 2013). I finally have the space to follow-up with this aspect of my health where my thyroid has been the star of the show since 2014.

“Tummy tuck,” my GP advised.

“Tummy tuck,” I stated with some confusion and a nonplussed disposition. “I’m not talking about stretch marks and skin,” which I did have, and realistically most women do post-birth, or have experienced large weight variances, I had experience with both. Just to emphasize this point, a malfunctioning thyroid wreaks havoc on your health.

“No, no. I’m talking about an advanced tummy tuck.” And she proceeded to explain that advanced tummy tucks involve realigning the muscle wall of the abdomen as difficult pregnancies (like mine) often lead to muscle misalignment and therefore experience discomfort ranging from moderate to severe.

I was shocked. A fucking tummy tuck? She told me to investigate the different kinds and consult a plastic surgeon.

I did exactly that and you know what? There is a HUGE range of tummy tucks and many women opt for them for pain relief. It has nothing to do with post pregnancy vanity. A misconception I was still trying to wrap my head around. Another reason I should know better than to judge and I consider myself to be a pretty openminded person. If you don’t know shit about a topic you shouldn’t have an opinion on it. I only knew what a tummy tuck was based on television. In other words, I didn’t know shit.

What’s weird is that I have always believed if a woman wants a boob job (or any kind of job), it’s her business. I don’t know why I had never applied the same non-judgement to tummy tucks. Maybe it’s because I was so far removed from the idea. My pregnancy was painful. I had earned the damn stretch marks and the skin. Proof I had carried a big, healthy baby and had done everything on my terms despite the pain. My body bears the marks of womanhood and motherhood combined. I could give a fuck about tummy tucks.

I had interviewed several surgeons and they were fine but I didn’t feel it. I understood an advanced tummy tuck was correct for me but I couldn’t find a surgeon that I felt understood my particular trajectory of health and all the major strides I had taken to get my body back. I didn’t stop at “normal,” I went for “optimal.”

I. Take. My. Health. Seriously. I needed a surgeon who could see and appreciate my dedication to my health, and not just label me as stubborn and ambitious. Oh, I am stubborn. I am ambitious. But I am also equally dedicated to everyone and everything I’ve ever said yes to and that includes the promises I make to myself.

And I needed a surgeon who could see that. I wanted this procedure to be the end cap to all my hard work. In the late spring of this year, I finally met the plastic surgeon I wanted to work on me. She has amazing credentials and is an athlete herself. She took one look at me and knew. She fucking knew everything my body had been through and saw how well it had recovered. She genuinely praised everything I had managed to achieve, my tone, my muscles. She felt my abdomen and the tight but misaligned muscle groupings. After prodding over the difficult area, she looked up at me said point blank, “You have zero fat in your abdominal,” I could have cried. All that exercise just to experience some relief from the pain. To have someone else appreciate everything I’ve been through and to see my own efforts in making it right… That’s when I knew, I found my surgeon, Dr. Crawford, and booked her for the summer.

I also signed up for an arm lift, the second procedure and purely cosmetic one. I am tall and I am lanky, both legs and arms. Excess skin can show itself dramatically on different body types. My arms being as long as they are, it’s no surprise that a little skin looks very dramatic. It wasn’t a lot of skin under my arms, it just LOOKED that way because I have such a huge “wingspan.” Silly or not, my arms have always been my point of insecurity. My reasoning was ‘to hell with it, if I’m going to do this surgery, let’s do the arms too,’ and I’m so glad I did. No matter how many weights I lifted or yoga poses I performed, there’s no getting dropped skin back to that degree of tightness. My legs? Yes. Ass? Yes. My oddly long arms? No. Gravity at it’s finest. As I type this, my still stitched arms are looking damn good. No regrets.

Fast-forward to June 20th, Father’s Day, my brother (name withheld) 18 years my junior, calls me. Our father tested positive for COVID. Not only that, my brother confesses to me that he himself tested positive for COVID only 6 days earlier and painfully admits he likely gave it to our father. They both share similar anti-vaccination beliefs and my brother put off telling me (as I have very strong vaccination and masking practices) about himself but felt I should be informed about our dad.

I lost my shit.

I blew the fuck up.

I raged.

I lectured.

I let my 22 year old brother have it while he coughed laboriously into the phone trying to clear his airway. He was at the end stages of his COVID experience. My brother assured me that he had only been coughing up blood for a few days but that the fever was gone and swore he was doing better. My brother felt obligated to tell me about my dad because my father has a major underlying heart condition and a rare blood disorder called, polycythemia. My brother was the only person available to see to my father’s care. I live roughly 3.5 hours from him but distance is not the issue, I have a child that is not old enough to receive the vaccine. Taking her with me, leaving her alone, or in the care of someone else for an extended period of time, these were all non-options. My being available to personally take care of my dad was also out of the question. I had to act as phone support to my brother for what proved to be one of the worst weeks of my life and let me tell you, I’ve had some fucking weeks in my lifetime.

My brain does what it does best: Control the chaos. We talked. We planned. I told him what to say and how to say it when speaking with medical professionals. I walked him through scenarios and we discussed what was acceptable for his condition and what was an emergency for his condition. I emphasized that he (my brother) had to be prepared to treat our father like a child (not believing in vaccination automatically makes this a possibility #sorrynotsorry) and make executive decisions regarding his treatment and care. And to communicate with me regarding all changes. And to my brother’s credit, he did. He did everything we discussed to the letter and saved my father’s life twice in the process because of the protocols we put in place.

Given my professional back ground (see About) and my own experience with generalized anxiety, the best way to reduce anxiety is to plan for it. Work with your anxiety, not against it, and you will master anxiety.

I’m grateful we covered as much as we did because things escalated quickly. First, it started with a few trips to the ER as my father’s bpm hovered at 120 while at rest (not good) and his fever hit 104 (also, not good). The ER would pump him full of liquids, dropping the temperature and bringing his heart rate down, then they would release him. They repeated the same set of directions: Stay home and treat this like an aggressive flu. Our mutual concerns were my father’s underlying conditions. I knew without being told how delicate a balance this would be. With an underlying condition, symptoms are that much more exacerbated and potentially lethal. It was shortly just after 72 hours of being diagnosed that my father was admitted to an ICU unit. The fever had subsided but his oxygen bottomed out. It was clocked in the 50% range. His lungs were filled with fluid but he wasn’t coughing. He wasn’t coughing because he was being suffocated from the inside out by the blood that had built up in his lungs. My father was placed on forced oxygen and regained consciousness not long afterwards. As you might imagine my dad was hysterical, waking up in a hospital with a tube in his throat, laid up in a quarantine room (something you might imagine from a sci-fi movie)…naturally, he panicked and pulled the tube out of his throat and with it blood sprayed everywhere. My brother was commanded to leave the room as my dad went blue almost immediately, even for those few seconds without oxygen support. Seconds. There were no talks of prognosis for the first 24 hours after admission as the name of the game was one thing and one thing only: Stabilization without incubation. Incubation is the last and desperate step. Needed if medically necessary. I won’t go over the reasons why. It’s easily researched and you’ll understand why for yourself.

My brother was hysterical but for very different reasons. Understandably, he felt guilty. If our father died, he would carry the cross of it. Right or wrong, makes no difference. He would assume our father’s death as his responsibility. I was on the phone with him, talking him down. Having seen what he just saw and being dismissed by the hospital (they literally yelled at him to get out of the room and leave the hospital) his adrenaline was flying and he was crying, talking incoherently to me while getting in his car. I begged him to take his hand off the ignition switch. Tears streamed down my face while I yelled at him over the phone to get out of the car. I said point blank, “I can’t handle my dad and brother dying on the same day, get out of the goddamn car!”

We went through the long night. The doctor’s called my brother and advised him to be on call…just in case. I was on call as well.

I worked. I didn’t know what else to do. It was surreal. Not my response. When in doubt, I work. When my brain and heart requires quiet time, I often work. It’s how I switch gears from my emotions. Anger is the only exception, then I launch into a really aggressive workout. It was surreal in that I was filming for my channel and I would frequently take emergency calls that I later edited out. It’s so damn weird to see one of the worst periods of my life so oddly captured on camera. A lot of people say they can’t understand that. How could you go on, working? Not just working but working around the clock. I’ll tell you why, because for me it’s far worse to do nothing. I don’t possess that off-switch. In my personal life, I have often been accused of being cold and detached. So many people live and think in black and white yet fail to understand the basic simplicity of such duality: One cannot be had without the other. The moon follows the sun. Thorns grow alongside the rose. To know hate is to know love. To be that cold and detached, by definition, requires I have that much feeling, that much love. I have to give my feelings a place to go when they can’t otherwise be relieved or expressed. Work is as good a place as any.

Dad slowly recovered. Day by laborious day. He was released from ICU after the 7th or 8th day and then shortly readmitted again. Pneumonia had entered his lungs and required another week’s worth of hospital grade oxygen support. Day by laborious day. Dad – by the fraction of a hair – pulled through.

And in tune to all this? A steady background noise I could not get rid of?

My stalker, Unfortunate Person, was keeping up his one-sided emails and comments and general declarations of love. Subhuman, piece of shit.

I’ve explained my circumstances here and there throughout my work on YouTube and posts on Instagram and this asshole is still stalking me, coming on to me through unwanted comments here on WordPress and in email while my father was dying. I know he saw the posts because he told me. My rage towards Unfortunate Person had become a focal point. His face had become a portrait of red in my mind’s eye. I know what he looks like because he had the stupidity of sending me pictures of himself. Again, I am not corresponding with him. I am not encouraging him. I want nothing to do with him and he knows this.

And I did nothing. Why? Because some part of my brain still believes in the old adage: Ignore the bully and they’ll go away. You better believe stalkers are bullies. The intensity of their misguided and immature feelings allows themselves to do as they do. Believing they are entitled despite being told to stop. Here’s the thing…

Ignoring the bully didn’t work when I was kid, a teen, or a young adult. When I was growing up, I was smart but poor. I was the measure of excellence in the classroom but grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Those kids and their parents, they never let me forget my place.

The bullying still didn’t stop when I was a young professional, surrounded by others just as determined for academic advancement as I was. And when you’re old enough to know better, there are plenty of insecure assholes out there more than happy to insult your brain, your body, your achievements, because they can’t or won’t dare to do more with their own lives so they take it out on you. The bullying and the bullshit never stops.

I’ve earned my education, my accolades, my career, and my fortune. I made a name for myself and I did it under the force of my sheer fucking will. I realize now I didn’t achieve all this by ignoring the bullies, nor by engaging with them. I achieved all that I have because I refused to stop. I let my achievements act as my response; the ultimate middle finger.

And now this stalking piece of shit dares to tell me it’s just a matter of time before I understand he and I are destined? I am meant to love him? Motherfucker… You. Know. Nothing. You know less than nothing. You most certainly know nothing about me. About what I’ve been through. Who I’ve loved and why. The friends I’ve lost and the family I’ve buried. You know nothing of my ambition and my ability to achieve. You know nothing of what I’ve done to succeed. I look like a plaything to you on YouTube. In reality I would rip your goddamn throat out. I wouldn’t think twice about it. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect what’s mine. Nothing.

Unfortunate Person has come to represent an amalgam of everyone who has ever stood in my way, determined to tell me what to do, what to say, what to think, and what to feel. All misguidedly wrapped up in this insistence of love when really he’s naught more than a creepy fuck. And I have zero respect for creepy fucks.

I also realize that by ignoring U.P. I have remained silent on the whole subject, making Unfortunate Person increasingly bold. Even silence to a stalker is better than open rejection – I realize much too late. I should have been authorizing his comments from the beginning, telling everyone on WordPress, ‘creepy, asshole right here’ with a finger emoji pointing back at his user name. I should have exploited all his handle names and comments on every social media platform I have so everyone could see this fucker. But again, I thought, if I just ignore him, he’ll go away. Nope. Silence is golden even to these assholes.

Unfortunate Person kicked it up a notch on the crazy meter when I received another unwanted message: I’m in Austin. I would like to see you. This occurred roughly a week prior to the 4th of July.

At this point, I’m exhausted. My dad is just showing signs of shaky improvement. My own surgery is scheduled for July 22nd and this asshole has flown into my city. I saw red. I had several pre-op appointments (standard for any major elective surgery) and my blood pressure continued to rise with each visit. My BP is typically 120 over 70-something, by the time my surgery was due I was hovering in the 140s over 80-something. I was so stressed out near the surgery date, I nearly didn’t get approval, that’s how high my BP had shot up.

Because of my upcoming surgery I still concluded to ignore Unfortunate Person, and focused on my work almost exclusively. I had doubled down on videos so I could have several weeks off for post-op recovery. They all required editing, uploading and detailing. I had a deadline and I was determined to meet it. Oh but U.P. ..he sent me message after message, becoming increasingly desperate the longer he stayed in a city where I was clearly not responding the way he had hoped.

One message begged me to spend the 4th of July with him. Unfortunate Person sent me messages indicating he was near my alma mater and actually had the fucking nerve to invite me out for coffee near St. Edward’s the very place where I had dedicated years of my life, practically a second home. I was educated there. I was honored there. I started my career there. I had fallen in love there. I was furious. The nerve of this motherfucker. Inviting me to coffee on my turf. The phone calls I could have placed – in a heartbeat – to have this asshole detained or ejected…I have roots in this city and they run deep. The people and places I could have called…in a fucking heartbeat. I hate calling in favors and I hate asking for them, but oh, knowing I could. I could have thrown the switch on this motherfucker at any time. Even the coffeehouses he had “invited” me too, I knew some of the baristas there would have been more than happy to tag that asshole.

Because of the rate of his messages, and points of geographical references, I knew exactly where he was most of the day (and no where near me) and like most men I could never tolerate he had that one outstanding feature I absolutely despise and am simultaneously amused by: Underestimating my intelligence. I don’t know what Unfortunate Person was thinking other than the fact that he was really, really, really frustrated. He could not get what he wanted from where he was in the world and concluded it was a distance issue (instead of my intended reply of ‘I’m not interested’). Unfortunate Person decided it was best to close that gap by literally flying out to my city. Mind you, he’s not a U.S. citizen. This asshole actually flew in from another country, that’s how fucking crazy he is. He really thought distance was the reason why I wasn’t interested. I said it once, I’ll say it again, I’m not online to date. If he had listened the first fucking time, but surely he is the exception to the rule. Right? So the fucker gets on a plane and hits me with emails (all sent to SPAM) and comments in WordPress (all sent toTRASH) begging me to join him in eternal love.

Unfortunate Person made me reflect back on myself and in ways I did not care for. U.P. seemed to prefer to send his comments here more than any place else and I resent the fact that when I opened WordPress, I felt like my website was being held hostage by his unwanted attentions. Now he was in my city, haunting places near and dear to me. I shut AWC down. I thought about deleting AWC altogether. Only a few short stories and one poem of mine in real world publication to hint at my existence as a writer.

I emailed U.P. one last time, days before announcing going into surgery. I repeated I wasn’t interested and that I would not speak with him again. His messages became shorter and less enthusiastic. I realize, again, how wrong I was about, ‘ignore them,’ which really amounts to, ‘ignore the problem.’ We all know ignoring the problem makes things worse, not better. I should have told him off and made his harassment public. God knows, I have the means to do it.

I haven’t heard from Unfortunate Person since I announced I was going into surgery. That hopefully means he gave up and fucked off. If he decides to resume communication I have an all new approach, which I’ve more or less outlined here and so much more. Not just for U.P. but for all potential future assholes. Specifically those assholes who have a very hard time understanding, “no means no.” Unfortunate Person was clearly too distracted by my cleavage to pay attention to my personality. Despite the smiles and lame jokes, I have a serious streak that runs through me like a bolt of perpetual lightning. It’s in my eyes, my voice, my words; I protect the people I love and keep their secrets. Privacy is sacred to me, so too for those I surround myself with.

For those I do not like, the opposite is true. I don’t compromise with bullies, I never have. I see now a stalker is just a glorified bully, not to be tolerated or ignored. I will openly name every one of them (and more) if they cross my path again.

I continue to heal from my surgery. My energy is recovering quickly as the surgery provided the pain relief I had so hoped for. My arms are looking gorgeous and my stomach…I’m not even two weeks out from my surgery and I can see what Dr. Crawford was aiming for. She didn’t just realign my internal muscle wall, she tightened everything from my bust line down to my pubic bone.

Months from now as the stitches release and the incision lines recede, my abdomen will look as sexy as a bellydancer’s stomach, as tight as a 18 year old cheerleader who kills it at competitions. I mean, damn. My doctor did GOOD. I used to wear corsets and waist cinches for comfort, they helped ease some of the tension when I had to sit for long periods of time. They’re sexy garments, don’t get me wrong but now I get to wear corsets because I want to and not because I need to. I also don’t need to wear corsets for waist framing anymore. Thanks to the tummy tuck and Dr. Crawford’s amazing skills, I’m an hourglass…minus the pain.

I have so much to look forward to and I am grateful. My brother is fully recovered from COVID and my father continues to improve, slowly but surely. My daughter enters 3rd grade this year and I could not be a more proud parent. My channel continues to grow and I have many milestones to look forward to there. Around the 50K sub mark I plan to develop merchandise with Sassy signature comments. I receive enough requests for merchandise but I would like the channel to be further developed before launching tee shirts and coffee mugs. The fact that there is demand at all (for my work, never mind merchandise) is a humbling thing.

Next year we hope to travel to Hawaii where I will rock my new bod and my daughter will finally get to explore the volcanoes (volcanoes are her thing) and I still have my UK trip. I should say, long awaited UK trip. It’s been part of my travel goals for so long now I sometimes think I have gone. And I have tentatively began to outline new publishing goals. I am considering trying my hand in the fall submissions, something I have traditionally avoided in the past and stuck to spring submissions.

I’ve also begun to toy with the idea of doing recorded readings. I have been told more times that I can count that a lot of people watch me just to listen to my voice. I get that. I listen to a lot of people on YouTube just for their voices. I often experience unintended ASMR just through someone’s voice. I was thinking of creating recorded readings just for that purpose and it would help keep my Christina Schmidt YouTube channel active as well.

I don’t know, but that’s the beauty of it. As I continue to open up to what I want, the more I am presented with the means to do so. I continue to take chances, and I continue to understand my worth, my abilities and capabilities.

Given my year you would think I would look forward to very little, afraid of every new turn and twist. On the contrary. My threshold for bullshit is astounding. I dedicated a good portion of my life in helping others navigate those difficult moments and decisions, those aspects in life we must all confront from time to time. I’ve come to see changes not as threats so much as opportunities for growth and new avenues. Changes don’t scare me. The inability to change scares me. The inability to find the good in the bad is what scares me. I have many things to look forward to for having completed so much of the worst parts of my own marathon. That’s the thing about finish lines, you don’t see them at the start of the race. You have to trust they are there and propel yourself ever forward. Eventually, you lay eyes on the fucking thing and you know you’re going to be okay.

I reopened ArmedWithCoffee in a grand fashion, or I should say, grand for me. A poem I swore would never see the light of day again was not only rereleased, I had cleaned it up to reflect my current skills and standards as a poet. I had originally written The Kiss years ago and it reflected my fledgling attempts at romanticism and true-to-life moments in unrequited love. I’ve since retitled that poem as The Kiss 2.0, and in a short period of time, now reigns as my most successful poem published online.

I was a writer. I had no intention of becoming a poet until the universe saw fit in handing me a muse, one I longed for but would never know intimately. I am ultimately grateful for the experience. I learned a lot about myself. I let go of what I needed to let go of. Namely, I could not change my feelings so I reworked them…over time. The Kiss 2.0 represents what High Boy and Unfortunate Person, and all the other self-entitled, emotionally stunted assholes will never understand. If you truly love someone or something, you let them go.

While I empathize with my stalkers, I have no sympathy for them. They were active participants in everything they did and said to me. They spent months haunting me demanding justification for their feelings when I had made myself crystal, fucking clear from the beginning.

I’m guessing their feelings stem from very misguided attraction, High Boy and Unfortunate Person don’t know me to have real feelings for me. They see me on YouTube, they read my erotica, and it’s all so new to them and intriguing, etc. They fail to see me as a real person, mistaking my work as a call for love and really crazy sex. Comparatively, I knew my person in real life and had ample reason to develop feelings for the person he actually was and not for some romanticized version of the man. Regardless, unshared feelings are unshared feelings. You cannot force a connection where it is not wanted. The difference between me and my stalkers, when I did not know what else to do with my feelings, I became a fucking poet.

In the absence of my feelings having a safe place to go, I created the safe space through art. There’s an anthem for you, “Don’t be a stalker, be a poet.” You will write a lot of crap but at least you can bitch and moan in verse. You create art and if it’s good enough people will identify with you and tell you how much you’ve helped them. Now you have a new skill, a new medium, and a new way of understanding yourself while honoring your precious fucking feelings.

It’s a beautiful day in August. I go back to creating original content for YouTube next week. I’ll still be in stitches (that I will cover, respectively) but ready and able to shuffle the cards, allowing them to fall as they may.

I will the stars to bring to me what is meant for me, while I work towards that which I choose for myself. There are things you are meant to experience. There are things you are meant to choose. I believe now as I have for years: Life is equal parts pre-determined and self-willed. It was never one or the other. Black and white exist together, because one cannot be had without the other.

I look forward to discovering my new body without the pain.
I look forward to hugging my father again.
I look forward to growing my channel.
I look forward to being a parent.
I look forward to travel.
I look forward to love.
I look forward.

But right now, now I look forward to dinner. I’m fucking starving.

With Love,
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee

PS – Yes, there is a Wrestle, Part III. I swear.
PSS – Excuse typos. This is a long post and for the first time in nearly decade, I sat for several hours without being in pain. I’m grateful and just a little tired.