Discover more from Bella & The Beast
INTRO: Hi. My Blog Is a Jackson Pollock Painting.
No, seriously. You have no idea. So let's fix that, shall we?
Welcome aboard! Who am I?
When I’m onstage dancing, the world calls me Isidora. But that’s not my real name. Neither is my nickname, Izzy, or my other nickname, Bella…Belle…BellaDancer. *badum-tssss* I have other monikers. I tend to collect them like your couch collects glitter after I’ve been sitting on it, but we won’t get into that today.
Um…hi. I’m Alex. Or when I write my dastardly novels, I go by Alexx. If you know me personally, you know why.
Soooo…this is me.
(I'm such a newb that I can’t figure out how to do photo captions yet. I will.)
Writey-Fighty-Dancer Nerd - Both Bella & Beast:
Let it be knowne: There are either not enough hours in one day, or else I do not possess enough neuro-synched bodies to accomplish everything I’d like to.
I require clones.
How Did I Get Here?
Once upon a time, I had a blog. I started writing it around 2003 amidst recovery from my first TBI. Upon learning that I had not, in fact, gone insane after my big car wreck a couple years earlier, I read a bunch of other people’s blogs about the subject—
Oh. “What’s TBI?” you ask.
Traumatic Brain Injury.Some people use other terms—not always accurately, which is really annoying, seeing as how this Hidden Injury is already misunderstood and maligned.
Bonk on the head.
Stirred and scrambled brains.
Dain Bramage. (That one is mine, and you’ll hear it a lot around here. Hey, Underworld humor is dark. We have to laugh about this stuff because the alternatives happen more often than we’d prefer.)
The Beastie. (Also my term. This isn’t the only Beast that lives in my moat, but it’s one of the biggest. My appetite after working out is another.)
BI. (I rarely use this one, because I can’t help but think of BM when I hear it put that way, but no. This is not Bowel Invasion. It stands for Brain Injury.)
Mine is from multiple traumatic impacts to my head over three different instances (drunk driver, the fist of an angry man, and a guy not paying attention at a stop sign). Further damage was caused by the year of chronic seizures in the wake of TBI #2.
Which really was poo.
But a decade before that, I had started blogging about my car wreck, its aftermath, and my healing adventures because other people’s TBI blogs had helped me so much that I wanted to pay it forward.
Alas. I couldn’t get any sort of disability assistance—and besides, I didn’t want to be on disability. I wanted my dream career back. With a lot of hard work, I got it—on steroids. When my doctors told me that I would never be a professional dancer again, I flipped my middle fingers “Watch Me,” then leap-frogged over the state-level, twinkled my toes twice upon the domestic scene, and pranced onto the international stage.
Woot! Go me.
This left me with no time or energy to do things like answer the gobs of responses I got on my TBI blog. These comments ripped my heart out. The platform I used didn’t have the capability of disabling comments, so I tried for several years to keep up with replies. Eventually, my dam broke and I had to shut down that whole blog project.
I had to shut down a whole lot of things.
But I had another reason for taking down my writing—a reason I didn’t talk about. See, that blog had been highly censored. It was glitter-washed into an Almighty Overcomer’s Hollywood Happy Ending, so almost nobody knew the reality I was living with—neither the abuses in my professional and home lives nor the truth about my health, or why I’d had to leap-frog over the state level after proving my pessimistic doctors wrong.
Unfortunately, I was financially dependent on multiple abusers. That kept me silenced for a long time. (Kind of a common thing in the disability community, and in the TBI community as well.)
So I bided my time, I enrolled in a karate class, and I promised myself that, if I ever shared my stories again, I would spill my bags of beans.
And so I did!
Okay, eventually, I did.
In 2017, I tried to blog again. And failed. And started once more. And splutter-stepped and stumbled and dodged and squirmed, beating around the bush instead of spilling any beans.
After many acts of stalling and chicken-shittery, I got up the guts to post some personal stories from my past. I received some flack; I fired back on the page; it didn’t kill me so I did it some more. Then somebody bragged on Facebook about how they had outwitted the police checkpoints to catch drunk drivers during the holidays.
The Muse demanded that I repost an updated version of those old car wreck tales. So I did. After that, I Never. Flippin. Stopped.
Until this past December.
Why I’m sniffing around Substack.
I’ve been a Wix gal since I switched from MySpace (yes, MySpaaaaace…space…space…) to an actual website. Say what you will about Wix. Disabled dancin’ girls don’t get to have luxuries like web-developers, and my attempt to decipher WordPress without possessing those skills left me wanting to bang my head slowly and steadily against unyielding objects.
Not so smart for the Dain Bramaged One.
In those days, there were no slews of instructional videos or articles to tackle WordPress, so I built my dancey site on Wix, all by me onesie. Things seemed grand for a time.
Then in 2012, after TBI #2 booted me from Mild to Moderate brain damage, my life had to halt once again. My driving clearance got revoked, I slammed the door on marriage, jumped off that financial cliff with no wings, and had to move across the country where my parents could help me.
I rebranded. I had to.
There were many reasons—physiological, neurological, and emotional. It was such a dramatic change that it will take a completely separate blog to begin diving into the creative process of all that.
But I didn’t know that while I created my new website. I also had no idea what would happen when I added that bean-spilling blog to the site.
Writing openly about trauma, disability, violence, and abuse lost me followers and fans. It cost me people I’d really thought were my friends. I suspect Google has me on Here There Be Beasties alert, which is…well…you know. Fair. It can get NSFW and 18+ around here.
Ye be warned.
When I started sharing links to my new site on social media, it got me shadow-banned on Fakebook and outright banned on Instagram. I was really baffled, because people write about this stuff all the time. And heck, I hadn’t even slammed down my most inflammatory diatribes yet against drunk driving, ablism, sexism, rape culture, domestic violence…you know. Just a couple of my pet causes.
Nope. When the muzzling started, all I’d done was stop writing solely about happy-pretty dance, and start spilling those beans about what had happened when a drunk driver rammed me.
So I kept my toys at home on my website’s blog, and I played in my sandbox with my three friends who followed me there.
Well, I hear this is the place for the de-platformed. I hear this is the anti-Facebook.
The final kicker came this past December when Wix - my beloved online home since 2007 - force-upgraded me into a pricing tier with a bunch of bells-n-whistles I don’t need.
For almost twice the price.
I asked to downgrade. They said my site was too big for that. I asked for the precise size of my site and where the overage was coming from—the site itself or the blog. They said this information wasn’t available, but that acquiring it is “in development” so I could vote on it. I’ve been voting on it for a lonnnnng time. So I explained my situation—that I am a disabled person on a fixed income, trying to salvage the career that TBI and Covid obliterated. I said I needed this information so I could adjust things on my end at a price I could afford.
Ohhhhh, we can’t have that.
They prefer to lose me as a customer than give me this information. In fact, when I asked to be moved up the chain of command for support, I suddenly, “accidentally” got kicked from chat.
Yeah, I’m gone.
Today’s project was going through the Drafted Posts folder on the old blog, copy-pasting all those tales to double-check that my Scrivener had the most recent versions.
Lo and behold! They finally informed me in the back office that my website storage is 6.7 GB.
Out of 5.
When I spoke to them last fall and winter, then bought myself 2 years of migration time, that plan was supposedly for 3-10 GB. Now suddenly it’s 5?!
I AM TRIPLY GONE.
Now I’m here, poking around. So then? Curious about what I do? Do you have TBI, too? Do you share any of my pet causes and like the way I deliver my thoughts? I’m a martial artist, yo, so there will be times when I don’t pull punches. Are you my kind of weirdo?
If you think you might be, let’s dive a little deeper into what that means.
The Jackson Pollock Drip Painting.
Don’t know who Jackson Pollock is?
A series of synchronistic bread crumbs led me to Substack, which I’ve long heard described as an inferior platform, a den of miscreants and villains, a place to avoid. Maybe it is. I dunno yet. But I like the communities I’ve perused so far, and I did write a blog series called “Villains & Sidechicks: The Characters That Made Me.” Plus, we haven’t even gotten around to talking about my steamy, gory fiction.
But we will.
Just not here.
Perhaps I’ve finally found the right place. We’ll see. I’m too new to Substack to know how I’ll be organizing all the different flavors of what I do. I only know that in the six years that I conducted my blogging experiments, learning how and how often I naturally write—learning if I could sustain a blog at all—and discovering what I most love to write about, several themes emerged. They’ve each become so developed that they need their own home now.
My Damsel-to-Dangerous journey from doormat and punching bag to black belt and beyond.
My eternal hunt for silver linings and healing techniques in the aftermath of trauma: TBI, abuse, assault, and C-PTSD. Seeing as how all but one of my major traumas are a direct result of those things that inspired me to become a martial artist, I intend to cover both of these intertwined topics here. Really, it’s all self-defense which, at its root, is simply self-value, self-care, and self-love, ideally paired with compassion and clear communication.
The arc that needs a home of its own is Creation & Innovation. Art & Nature. My life weaving together dance, storytelling (on both page and stage), martial movement, and meditation. That will be under my stage name, Isidora.
Once I’d been writing long enough for the blog to start looking like that Pollock painting, I tried segregating it into Categories. Then I added a Table of Contents to help navigate the ever-mushrooming monstrosity. Last, I attempted to organize this Beastie via the theme of my dance teaching system, which is made of 5 Elements in East-West fusion. Handy…vivid…
Alas, it’s still a mess. The back-stabbery by Wix was the final straw. So I have spent these past couple moons doing research on how to move and reorganize it, building cross-referenceable databases, making more color-coded circle graphs and flow charts, and fermenting. It’s getting there.
Exploring Substack is a big piece.
What Should You Expect Around Here?
Whoa…you’re still here? Shweeeet.
I’d love to give you a consistent rhythm. My health does not allow me to do this. This is one of the many reasons why I’ve burned through Voc. Rehab agencies in two different states, why my last councilor had to remove me from the Traditional Employment track, and why I also had my application denied for the Small Business Self-Employment route: because I just never know who is going to show up when I open my eyes in the morning, and who will be in the driver’s seat a few hours later.
Bella? Or the Beast?
My posting average (except when some major issue arises) is about every week, unless I’m working on something really tricky and sensitive that needs extra time, conscientious consideration, and research. But after a constipated pause, often it’ll be the runs around here so…yeah. It usually averages out.
As for subscriptions, since I’m so new around here that I haven’t decided what paid subscribers would get. Honestly, I hadn’t planned on putting anything up live yet, but I just experienced something odd that almost never happens to me: I stumbled across a Writing Prompt Challenge that actually sparked an immediate story in my mind.
Yes. Me. A prompt inspiration.
So I pounded it out. Now I need an account upon which to post it in order to participate. Since the deadline is tonight at midnight, that’s why this intro is so half-assed. I will tinker with it for clarity in the future, as well as my operational procedures.
But let it be known:
I will not put my Dain Bramage posts behind a paywall.
I will not put my Trauma & Healing posts behind a paywall.
I will not put the archives of my old posts behind a paywall.
I will not put the ability to have discussions about these topics in the comments behind a paywall.
As one of those people who is financially dependent upon charity for my survival, this is one of the only ways I have of giving back. The people who are most likely to need hearing what I have to say about these topics also have a higher likelihood of needing financial support themselves.
As such, I don’t put my dance videos behind a paywall either, or even monetize them. You’ll get to see plenty of that around here, because it’s the way I express this stuff when I don’t have the words for it yet, or when I’m not in a situation where it’s safe to talk about it openly, or sometimes…because dance and music can hit on a deeper or a different level from writing.
“Words cannot always do the work we need them to. Music is there for when words fail us.”
~Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
This is why I’ve become attached to sharing my favorite music with you. Not only to give plugs to fellow artists and entertainers, and to introduce you to the ones who inspire me most, but because sometimes that’s the deepest way I have to speak to you. I am, after all, a child of the 80s and we were the original Mixtape Kids.
So I’ll eventually figure out what to do about paid subscriptions, especially when I’m not really up and running.
I just wanted to play with that Prompt Challenge, but I figured I should probably introduce myself before tromping in with a bullhorn.
G’head. Snide remarks welcome. Especially if you know me.
Since I just got my butt kicked this past winter due to some unexpected snafuss, and since we just passed Equinox, I’ll leave you with this. Here’s to sunlight in the rain, and blossoming where we can.
Thanks for reading Bella & The Beast! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.