My Etsy Shop: WindInTheDoor

Well, so, this is kind of awesome. J and I thought it would be really fun to have an Etsy store for vintage clothing and stuff, and we played around with names, and looked at what we had that might sell. I worked in clothing retail for more than a decade, and I’ve always been in customer service, and I’ve missed it. Plus, I have a shit-ton of clothes, guys. I am not kidding you. I love cool t-shirts and cardigan sweaters and long skirts and boots. I love droopy shirts that show off my tattoos. I love shoes. I have a decent-sized closet with lots of shelves (and plastic crates stacked up like college) with jeans, pants and shoes shoved into them. Two hanging racks. Sweaters folded above, on one side; sweatshirts on the other. J has to keep his clothes in the office. 

Did I mention I am also taking up two whole dressers? You don’t often get to see this part of my personality… no one does anymore, much. I can be social, and funny. I have a lot of friends who love me. I am generous, and sometimes a gossip. I can be vain. I like having things. 

So selling some of my cooler pieces that I no longer wear, and maybe that no longer fit, seemed like a brilliant idea. I would be handling clothes, writing about them, designing a shop with every word. Wrapping the things up in neat little packages and sending them away, with a nice thank you note and a lollipop.

And it worked. My shop is called WindInTheDoor from the second book in Madeline L’Engle’s “Time” series. [Although, in that book Meg travels inside her brother’s body to do battle in his mitochondria, and I have no idea what the title even means. But “WrinkleInTime” was taken.] 

I uploaded pictures and wrote a story for the shop and put up J’s old NASA shirt, my rainbow Chewbacca shirt, a pair of Doc Marten mary janes I got from a friend that never fit, a heather gray t-shirt with cherry blossoms, a jean jacket, a couple other things. The NASA shirt sold before the night was over. Other things were quickly favorited. Every t-shirt I posted sold except one I priced deliberately high. Two weeks ago, we had to figure out how to send the Docs to Istanbul, Turkey (it is very expensive to do that, by the way). 

My shop opened February 28 and I’ve had 9 sales, which frankly I think is freaking great. That money literally did put gas in my car and food on my table. So I decided to expand. Ten years ago, I  made jewelry. I called it “elf jewelry” and even had cards made. Nice enough semi-precious stone bracelets and necklaces and wire rings and earrings that I had a show at the coffee shop where I worked and sold several hundred dollars’ worth. We had family friends who had just lost their patriarch and were really struggling financially, and I donated much of the money to them and paid bills with the rest. That was in 2002, maybe? I stopped for the same reason I stop doing anything; I got a little disillusioned, and then I had a bad cycle of migraines. My huge tackle box full of tools and trays and wire and findings and beads got put in the basement. The bracelets all broke, and I didn’t know how to make them sturdier, but still delicate the way I liked them to look. And I got too sick to try. By the time that cycle was over, I nearly forgot everything that came before.

However, the earrings and rings held up really well. And I still have supplies. So I thought, I could make some.  I started with tourmaline and iolite and pewter and did okay. Got better after that 🙂 I’ve only sold one pair, and that to a friend, but it’s fun. I’m out of findings now. With some of the money I’ve made, I ordered some supplies to make rings. A sizing mandrel (mine’s disappeared); a clamp; a wire wrapping tool. When they are delivered Monday I will get another deposit from Etsy, and I will use a bit of that to buy wire, and more silver earring findings.

I’m excited, but sales have stalled and though I’m getting great reviews and some favorites, I haven’t sold anything since St. Patrick’s Day. J studies internet marketing in his spare time and told me it is very unusual for anyone to make more than $100 online in their first year, doing anything. Somehow, my new little shop got noticed right away. I have to believe it will get noticed again.

Here is a link to the shop: 

Take a look!  🙂 







The Migraine Diaries #2: Election Day [2008] available now on Kindle

My second short story in The Migraine Diaries series is now available on Kindle! 

Link to The Migraine Diaries 1Diagnosis [1981]

Link to The Migraine Diaries 2: Election Day [2008]

I am really proud of this one. Writing about myself as an adult is much easier; I am able to use my own true voice much more. And, of course, the memory is much more recent.

J researched the sort of book covers that “sell.” We’ll see…

A Tree Grows In Ohio

Today I ended up getting the worst headache I’ve had in months, severity-wise. I haven’t been sleeping well and didn’t make it to the girls’ joint birthday party.

And the dread and constant worry of poverty. Feeling really hopeless right now, and know my only job in the world is to make my children feel safe and happy through it all.

“Even the minstrels who came in the back yards and sang ‘If I had my way, You would never grow old’ were sad, too. They were bums and they were hungry and they didn’t have talent for song-making. All they had in the world was the nerve to stand in a back yard with cap in hand and sing loudly. The sad thing was in knowing that all their nerve would get them nowhere in the world and that they were lost as all people in Brooklyn seem lost when the day is nearly over and even though the sun is still bright, it is thin and doesn’t give you warmth when it shines on you.” ~Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

[Sheet Music from the early 1900’s, which I am archiving at the museum]

Migraine365: The Sumatriptan Series

In Fall of 1992, I believe, or maybe Spring 93, I took an Intermediate Poetry class with an instructor and poet named Tom Andrews. He was bald, soft-spoken. I don’t know if he encouraged me, after a number of missed classes and my explanation, to use my illness as muse; but then, I already had, in my fiction class and in my first poetry class. I felt the drive even then to make people understand: these “headaches” that had paralyzed me, left me shaking and bedridden and vomiting my entire life, when some people just took Tylenol for theirs. I was already using pain as art.

My first migraine poem was called “Sumatriptan” after the magical new drug whispered and passed between doctors and neurologists in hospital hallways like code. I was able to get my hands on this drug early, in tablet form, before it was accepted by the FDA, by driving the short distance to Canada. It was 1992. My first dose, a cylindrical wafer on the tongue, truly was a miracle, leaving me gasping in shock with tears streaming down my cheeks as every doom-spelling symptom vanished, the blind spots, the nausea, the weakness, the stabs of pain already emerging. 

As my experience with Sumatriptan grew, so did the poems. It was soon accepted by the FDA as an injection, (I still remember the Glaxo Auto-injector kit) which my 19 year old self ridiculously refused to use at first. “You will use it,” my mother snapped. And I did, with help from friends and boyfriend, and copying the numbered instructions down as another poem. “1. Remove Blue Cap From Syringe Case.”

Tom Andrews liked me. He must have. He graded my portfolio glowingly, writing, “You will have to sign your first book for me.” His own book of poetry, his second, came out in 1994, called “The Hemophiliac’s Motorcycle.” He was one. Who raced dirt bikes. A section of the book was called “The Codeine Diaries.” They were illness poems. He too had turned his pain into art.

Tom Andrews ended up giving me a B+ that quarter, which devastated me. When I went to ask him why, he intimated I may have done a bit too much flirting with my Nietzche-reading, hair-flipping writer friend in class and not enough active workshopping of others’ poems. Participation, bah. Would always get me.

I was very sad to hear that Tom passed away due to complications from his hemophilia in 2001. Around that time, J and I were getting married, having had our first art show collaboration a year before at the coffee shop / bookstore gallery where we’d met. “The Sumatriptan Series.” The first page of the series was published tonight on Migraine365. When J pulled it out last week, seeing it again took my breath away. 

Tom Andrews’ collected works, published by Oberlin College Press, is called Random Symmetries. I, myself, love random symmetries, and see them as signs from the universe that I’m on the right path. Another one I thought about as I worked with filtering and sharpening the Sumatriptan piece online was that I did have access to that landmark medicine earlier than most American migraineurs, having had a forward-thinking doctor, willing parents at $20 per pill, and the right geography. And now, just over 20 years later, having barely outlived Tom Andrews (he was only 40 when he died on a trip to England), I once again have access to a landmark migraine medication before most sufferers. The CGRP medications are creating more and more excitement, making more news, as success rates mount with few side effects, and it’s a preventative. I am so lucky to be participating in my study at MHNI, which just entered the open label phase. I have had one subcutaneous injection of the real thing, and 3 previous possibilities during the double blind phase. You know what I did today? I sat for 3 hours at the museum sorting dusty, 100 year old sheet music in a dimly lit room. Then I went to pick up prescriptions and bought a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, and I ate it in the car on the way home, while “Happy” was playing on my stereo, and the sun was shining as I crested the overpass and drove back into my small, fog-brightened city. It was freaking delicious.

Migraine365: Text Update

J had me write what he called an “intro” to our migraine365 website, and it finally went live today. I was so so pleased with it. You should go check it out, but here is the text:

Migraine365 is a graphic novel written and illustrated by John and Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel to demonstrate the effects of chronic daily migraine on the family. Originally conceived as a migraine journal with a new page every day, after about day 80 we found that to be an unrealistic goal and decided to begin publishing pages whenever possible, even if there are very long breaks in between. Some of the pages are about the days we just experienced, complete with a pain scale number and weather summary. Some of the pages are about migraine experiences past. Some are about our family’s history. We have prints and originals for sale to help us fund the project, and hope to eventually publish the entire year’s work as a book.

Elizabeth had her first migraine as a toddler, and was diagnosed at age 9. Beginning in early high school, she began seeing a neurologist, and also tried talk therapy, hypnosis, chiropractic care, looked at dentistry and eye issues, biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation, acupuncture, supplements, a gluten-free diet, Botox injections, a total hysterectomy, physical therapy, chronic pain classes, oxygen, every type of preventative available, and very nearly every type of pain relief available, to no avail. Elizabeth went from heavy episodic to chronic in 2004 with her first pregnancy, had to quit working in 2013, and was approved for Social Security Disability in 2014. Currently, Elizabeth is participating in a chronic migraine CGRP medication study for which the open label phase is about to begin. Though the headache frequency has stayed the same, pain levels have been reduced, perhaps because of the study, perhaps not. Elizabeth has recently been able to return to normal life outside of the four walls of her bedroom by volunteering as an archivist at the local Historical Museum; acting in community plays; and writing her story in a somewhat fictionalized way through The Migraine Diaries (which you can find on Amazon kindle here). She also blogs at and sincerely hopes these projects will help promote awareness of migraine and headache disorders.

John is her husband, migraine coach, and best friend. His career, currently, is in social work, helping troubled kids and their parents. He is also a freelance web guru, lumberjack, general handyman, musician, artist, and activist.

The goal of Migraine365 is to foster migraine awareness through art. 37 million Americans suffer from migraines; a great number of those individuals feel isolated and misunderstood. Like the documentary “Out Of Our Heads,” just funded through Kickstarter, Migraine365 aims to bring awareness to non-migraineurs, as well as to those who are suffering and feel alone. Anyone with chronic illness will be able to find themselves in these pages: all the important events missed, the cycle of pain and depression, the sufferer’s loneliness and guilt. In fact, I believe anyone at all can relate to our story. Doesn’t every family have ups and downs? Isn’t everyone fighting a battle of some kind? That is why Migraine365’s subtitle is “A Story About Life.” We sincerely hope it is as meaningful to you as it is to us. 

 Of course, I try to have this blog remain sort of anonymous, but whatever. Links to migraine365 and my kindle book are all over the place anyway.

And by the way, for my first full day out of bed in about a week? I KICKED ASS.


no more no more no more no more. 

No more living how I want to when we are so desperately poor. No more tattoos as birthday and Christmas gifts; no gifts for me at all.  No trips. No special treats. No piercings. No buying anything for fun, at all, ever. No boxes of hair dye, no make up.

Even if my ebooks and etsy shop make a modicum of cash that money is going directly toward FOOD and BILLS.  I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live with myself.

J has done everything he possibly can to get this promotion at his agency. He’s expecting them to drag their feet, which is what County agencies do. He SAYS he can freelance web stuff, he can sell a painting, blah blah blah. Just get a fucking job. I’m doing everything I possibly can while being on Disability and I know I can’t work yet but that is coming next. GET A JOB. GET A JOB THAT SUPPORTS THE FAMILY. 

Until then it’s extreme austerity measures for me. I’m done.

And by the way this fewer painkillers / more anti-anxiety meds plan failed. I’m still in pain and still anxious and the new meds make me sleepier than I expected them to. And, I’m going to run out of my pain medicine way too soon. Live and learn. Or, live, and never ever ever learn because you’re fucking stupid. Or, don’t live.