I’m reading a young adult novel The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. A young adult novel because I’m interested in writing a young adult novel. And yes, the main characters in the book are ghosts.
One of my closet friends has been a ghost hunter, recording paranormal activity. Obviously, she believes, without a doubt, that places can be haunted. I don’t know that I believe this. I do know that I feel my grandmother and mother near me at times. I don’t know if that’s because they truly are or because I will them to be with all my might. My cats, Grams named after my grandmother, and Annie named after my mother, do often stare at space intently as if they’re watching something move about. Their ears prick up and their eyes focus. I imagine a gust of fog entering my bedroom like smoke trailing from a lit cigarette in somebody’s hand.
I’m also listening to Andy Cohen read from his diaries. I wonder what makes his drinking coffee and buttering toast more interesting than someone else doing the same thing. Seeing as his diaries made it to fourth on the New York Time’s Bestsellers List he must be doing something right. The mundane becomes extraordinary. I wonder if he can make flossing teeth entertaining simply because he’s Andy.
I write memoirs. I must think, like Andy, that something I’ve done is worth telling. I’ve listened to people say “write what you’d want to read.” So I’ve done this. I’ve written about hope despite the fact that I have schizophrenia and alcoholism. My sweat is no sweeter than others; I’ve just managed to wipe my brow on page ten and change my socks for a clean pair on page eleven.
Writing about my life is hard, is fun, is something I hope to continue doing even if or when someone tells me I’m boring.
My struggling has scuttled away on the back of a cockroach (this is imagined, I don’t have cockroaches in my condo). I brush my obsessions into a small box with a lock and throw the key down the garbage chute. The key clangs as it hits the metal of an empty bin.
One of the things I know about living a sober life is that things change. My thoughts are not clinging to my brain waves like the keys of a piano in the fingers of a beginner playing chop sticks, after chop sticks, after chop sticks. Things have shifted. I am at peace.
I just finished listening to the audio book The 27 Club. It talked about the fact that musicians Brian Wilson, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse al died at the ago of 27. All deaths were linked to heavy alcohol and drug abuse. I find this bit of trivia astounding. The world mourned their passing. The world lost major talent. The world was robbed of beauty.
I think of my own suicide attempts. As being no celebrity, my death would be a quiet one. After one attempt at suicide, an East Indian doctor came to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit of Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. She was petite. Her hands delicately hung at her sides. Yet, there was a power to her. She said to me, “you still have something to do in this lifetime.” Her words were kind–unlike the treatment I was getting from some of the nurses. I met her gaze and realized she was not kidding or saying something for lack of saying something else comforting.
I do remember as a kid looking into the mirror and saying, “you will speak before audiences and make more money than you’ll ever need.” I have spoke before audiences while telling my story of sobriety. I have read from my poetry manuscript during my defense for my Master of Fine Arts. I have read at a local bookstore parts of my memoir, Mind Without a Home. I still have yet to have a good deal of money, but don’t doubt that it may happen.
So, it is miraculous again to be at peace after a couple of trying days. I am blessed. Thank God for this wave of linen bellowing from a clothesline.
I am no mother for reasons I can list: one, I’ve never been financially stable; two, I would have to come off all psych medications which would traumatize me and God knows if it would in turn, traumatize my fetus; and last, I would hate to pass on mental illness. I do have friends who have mental illness and have children. They are wonderful parents and their children glow.
My own mother died at the age of 58. Her liver stopped working. She went into a coma and died shortly after. Literally, she was walking around Thursday day and then in the early hours of Friday morning, slipped into a coma. I knew she drank too much but didn’t know that Jack Daniels would chase her into an early death.
I regret time not spent with my mom. Her last year, I was deep into a depression that often stole my mobility. It was like being a stone amongst stones and then being removed to sit on a shelf in a wealthy woman’s home, quickly being covered in a sheet of dust. Occasionally, a person would wipe me clean. The clean wouldn’t last. My shine would be ruined. Being depressed is intense. The world is not welcoming. A fly enters a car. The windows are rolled up. The fly is trapped indefinitely. I am underwater but eventually float to the surface in one big gasp. Depression leaves me. My mother is still dead.
Astonishingly, I was at my mom’s hospital bedside and she sat up and looked at me. Rather than tell her I loved her I said, “I know you loved us.” She smiled, huge smile, then laid back down disappearing into the folds of white cotton sheet.
I miss my mom daily. Sometimes, I will write a poem just for her. I choose to believe that when my cats eye a certain spot suddenly in my room, it is her looking out for me.