Category Archives: family

Today is May 22, 2017. I am alive and well.

I miss clothes shopping. There is no money in my budget to do this with. The truth is I own 17 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of dress pants, 5 blouses, several shirts and several jackets. I don’t need anymore clothes. To think I can wear a different pair of jeans everyday for a week and a half is mind blowing. And I don’t grow out of them. My weight is stable.

People think I’m naturally thin. This is not true. I work at it. If I had my druthers, I would eat cake with butter cream frosting on a daily basis. I love butter cream frosting. I always go for the flowers. If a cake has whipped cream frosting I am disappointed. Cake is an elixir. Cake is a joy. At Safeway Grocery there is four different kinds of cake, single serving of all, in the same container. Whoever thought that up is a genius! And yes, I would eat it all at one sitting.

I also exercise a great deal. I’ve been lifting weights and walking on the treadmill for years. Guy, my ex, is a personal trainer and set me up well with this. Currently, I weight train with Christy for an hour four times per week and walk on the treadmill six times per week for 50 minutes. Believe it or not, I don’t like exercise. I wish I could send my body to the gym and leave my mind at home reading books.

I’ve been thinking about homelessness a great deal, lately. My sister did telephone me. She is homeless. I asked her where she slept, hoping she would say a shelter. She didn’t; she sleeps on the street. Maybe there’s a park nearby. There is a big park by the library where I work. People commune in the grass. People sleep in the grass.

I wonder about little things being difficult. Where do you charge your phone? You’re on FaceBook…where do you use a computer? How do you shower? How do you maintain your clothes? I mean, c’mon, I have 17 pairs of jeans and they’re all laundered.

I have a full refrigerator, a stove/oven combo, and a dishwasher. I don’t use my dishwasher, but I do have one. I also have a microwave I use to heat water often in order to make coffee. I have coffee, by God. No, God has nothing to do with my coffee, but God has given me life; I’m talking spiritually. I say in respect to my sister, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I spend time in the hope of growing my spiritual condition. If I were on the streets, would I do this? Probably not. Where is God in my sister’s life? Maybe that’s not a question for me to ask.

I love easily today. I love my life today. Any problem today is a luxury problem. And have I mentioned?…I have two cats who curl up to me as I write in bed. Heaven.

Today is May 14, 2017. I am alive and well.

Is it too cliche to write about mother on Mother’s Day? I do it anyway.

My mother has been dead for a long time. I miss her more today then I did when she first died. I have more life experiences to share with her. A whole tablet full of life; sentences that breathe…I had a boyfriend for fourteen years who left me for another woman and moved to Florida. Mom was not familiar with me having boyfriends. She knew me to have girlfriends. She hated the fact that I had girlfriends.

Mom died from a liver that stopped working. Yes, it was an alcohol related death. I knew she drank too much, but I didn’t know it was signed up to kill her. She was walking around as usual on Thursday and then in a coma that night. The second to last thing she said to me was from a psychiatric urgent care. She was acting crazy and her roommate called crisis. Crisis took her to the urgent care. She said to me she trusted “all the wrong people.” I’m certain she meant my father for one. He ran away with another woman the same month that both mom’s parents had died. It was tragic. It was a river stopped by a damn beavers had made. The flow interrupted. She asked me one morning to go to my father’s apartment to catch him with the other woman. My father was living in an apartment for work and would go home on the weekends until he wouldn’t anymore. I refused to go catch him.

The psychiatric urgent care wanted to clear my mom physically before treating her mind. They thought she looked bad. She fell into a coma in the ambulance on the way to Lincoln Memorial hospital. Honest Abe. The honest thing to say about her death is that her alcohol consumption killed her. She was a drunk. I tell her story with the hope that other people will put down the bourbon, knowing that alcohol is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” A person can’t direct what heavily drinking will do. The alcohol is the beast with all the power.

I visited her at Lincoln Memorial. The last thing she did was sit up and stare at me. I told her I loved her. I told her I knew she loved her daughters. She laid back down with a sigh. And that was it. She died without waking again. She was only 58. Five years more than I am right now. Five years I have to set the world afire doing my thing. What is my thing to do? To write. To read. To work. To love. To write.

I miss you mom. When the cats are both staring at the entrance to my bedroom, I choose to believe it’s you who has come to visit. You give me strength. You taught me to be courageous. I will always be your daughter. I will live past 58. I hope you are proud of me. I love you like I do walking. I walk forward with you on my mind. You, leading me to water. Thank you.

Today is May 8, 2017. I am alive and well.

“You’ll find her at the corner of Hansel and University at the edge of an orange grove.” I answered the phone at 3am. The phone attached to the wall in the kitchen. It’s years before cell phones. Phones still had cords.

Her friends left her drunk at the side of the road. I found her in the dirt, rocking, her knees pressed against her chest. An orange had landed beside her, too heavy for the tree to hold onto. Abandoned. Lost from the rest. She had been treated like a pariah. She was 13. A kid in need of help like a toddler who can’t find her mom because mom has walked into another room.

I was 16. It was a good thing I drove and knew where the keys to my parents’ car were. I hoped she wouldn’t be sick in the car. Helping her get into the car was like moving a bag of pastry flour from the pantry to the counter. It takes two hands. She is dead weight with no handle.

There was no conversation on the way home. I left the radio off on the chance that she might want to talk. She was silent. A stone settled into mud. A body settled into leather.

Once home, I helped her to the toilet. I had to pull her pants down. Unzip her so she could pee. I left her alone, giving her a little bit of privacy. Ten minutes later and she was still on the toilet. She had passed out.

Somehow, I managed to get her into bed. Fortunately no puke gathered in her lap.

I pulled her desk chair beside the bed and sat. Someone had told me that a drunk person could get sick and drown on their own puke. I was a big sister taking care of my little sister. I was a light from a flash light, the beam steady on her face. Even passed out, she was beautiful.

So, if you read my blog a few weeks ago, you know that I ran into her again after seven years of no contact. She is 49 today. She looked like a homeless crack addict. It saddens me to know I can’t dump her into bed and watch her. She hasn’t telephoned yet. She remains lost to me. It hurts. I am tied to her like a helium balloon to a string in the hands of God. Hopefully, when the ballon pops, it will be reeled in and given the chance for new life. Not thrown in the trash but smoothed out on the desk. A picture of a kid playing in water on its rubber surface.

Today is May 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

The first thing my sister said to me when I ran into her after 7 years of no contact was “Wow, you’re still alive.” And then my uncle said to me yesterday “I bet you didn’t think you’d see 53.”

It is true. I had no intention of living to 53. A driver has no intention of holding up traffic when her truck stalls out. I have had somewhere between 15 and 20 suicide attempts in my lifetime. The last one was in 1999. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to die since then; that’s simply the last time I attempted. Maybe the East Indian doctor with the soulful dark eyes, smelling of lavender, rubbed off on me. She told me at my bedside in the hospital ICU that I had a lot of life to live. That I had something special to offer. A five-year-old gets excited when she opens the door of the restaurant for her mother for the first time, offering entrance. I got excited about my book being published in 2014. It documented my recovery from schizophrenia and alcoholism. And yes, my time away from my last suicide attempt.

I have been free from the obsession to die for sometime now. That thought had plagued me like wanting a cigarette, needing a cigarette, in a smoke free coffee house. All thinking got set aside as I prayed for God to take me after swallowing handfuls of pills.

I am very bad at dying. It is hard to kill one’s self. I believe that those who do die from suicide were meant too….I can’t tell you why I believe this. Some ice cubes in a glass of tea float to the top while others remain at the bottom. I can’t tell you why all the ice doesn’t float to the top, getting in the way of the straw.

I am in the way of death. I have floated to the top. God removed my obsession to die. Life is new to me on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes. I was excited to be able to do this on my own. On occasion, my shoe becomes untied while walking on the treadmill. I push the pause button and then bend over to tie my shoe. Ready to walk again, I hit a button and the treadmill resumes.

Life resumes. I love breathing. I love eating cake with butter cream frosting. I love that my cats woke me up this morning wanting kibbles. I take care of two living things. They thank me by curling up against me while I’m on the bed napping, writing, or reading.

There is no time to die today. Afternoon approaches. I know I will eat vegan chili, salad, and cornbread. I know I will wash my hair later. I will leave the house today to go to a sobriety meeting. I am 53 and loving it. So I say to my sister “I am alive and well.” She responds with a “thank God” and “it’s good to see you.” It is good to be seen. It will reach a 115 degrees here in the desert. And then there is air conditioning to be found inside.

Today is April 24, 2017. I am alive and well.

Two friends let me know they wanted to know how I felt in my last blog; how it felt when I broke my wrist and got called a boy. I thought how I felt was implied in the actions I took. They said not.

When I walked myself from the two teachers, without talking to them, to the nurse’s office I felt alone and my wrist hurt as if a big foot had snapped it in two. I was a shy third grader, too afraid to ask for help yet showing up at the nurse’s office like a colt on the way to a blacksmith for the first time.

Dressed in pants with my hair short and my body long I was mistaken for a boy. One particular time, I was walking down the street with my grandfather. We were heading home after getting ice cream. A neighbor called to my grandfather and asked if I was his grandson. My grandfather replied “granddaughter.” The damage was done. I was hurt and embarrassed; a small dog wet from a bath looking like a rat. My grandfather tried to make good by bringing up my report card. He said he was proud of me. All A’s.

I ran into my sister at my psychiatric clinic. I was there to get medication. I heard her say “Kristina.” Looking up from my book, there she was. She had deeply wronged me years ago so I had walked away from her. Until that moment, I hadn’t had any contact with her since my father’s funeral seven years earlier.

Seeing her was terrible. She looked like she was suffering. She looked haunted. A friend said of me decades ago that I look haunted. Now I know what she meant. It’s something to do with the eyes and expression of the face. A child waiting to be scolded for licking all the frosting off the cake.

My sister is a drug addict along with being mentally ill. It has never been more obvious. She no longer has her Sandra Bullock good looks. She is missing her front teeth and the teeth that she does have look rotted. Her face is tanned like that of a person who can’t get away from the sun, who has no shelter. Although it’s not cold, she is wrapped in a blanket. Her pants are hospital issued and her white t-shirt has seen happier days. It is no longer full of air and breeze like soft cotton is when new.

I give her my phone number but am not particularly kind to her. All said, she is still my baby sister. I wish I had been more welcoming. It’s been six days and she has yet to call. If anyone reading this knows her, please encourage her to get a hold of me. I am an older sister wanting to erase some of her strain, wanting to offer her a hot cup of coffee laced with vanilla syrup, wanting to embrace her in a hug that is intended. All said, I do love her. It hurts to know she suffers. It hurts like frost bite on a winter day, so unnecessary if simply clothed. There but for the grace of God go I…..

Today is April 3, 2017. I am alive and well.

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.

Today is January 16. I am alive and well.

Dear mom. I’m missing you and your sloppy smiles that fall to the sidewalk as you glint in afternoon sun. The smell of Opium rounds the corner ahead of your polished toes, red like ketchup.

I’m the only one that sees you’re wearing ocean blue flip flops in the desert. I’m the only one that sees you’ve come to life again like an orchid blooming for the second time.

Missing is like this–shaping squares out of windows, framing the height of a mound of sugar.

You sweet in a short dress allowing for knees.

I see you, but I’m greedy. I want your touch on my arm, prompting me to embrace your five feet eight inches, my chin on your shoulder.

How is death? I wonder. “Painless,” you say. The air hangs like dead drapes.

I want to believe you fare better than you had in life, scotch taking your breath, leaving you slumped over a coffee mug. A fool says the liver is not important. You lost yours when it became laced with liquor. All talk stopped.

You looked beautiful in your coma, a painting unlike the Mona Lisa.

I imagine a peach at rest on your chest, waiting to be bitten, its juice making rivulets.

Your arms appear stiff, your hands unclenched. Life escapes from between your fingers that stare at nothing. You hold nothing.

I am glad for the glimpse of you standing in my doorway. It lessens the missing, my missing found in my closed palm, my missing cascading over me as you glint in the afternoon sun.