Category Archives: love

Today is August 28, 2017. I am alive and well.

The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes, and hung them like bangles in my mind.   Hortense Calisher

Words are like shoes on the hooves of a horse, created by a blacksmith, marking the earth as she gallops, the earth a ready piece of paper.

Sentences propel me forward. I walk a mile with the word love on the tip of my tongue. I love the way the sun circles my chin. I love the way light lets me see the little Shih Tzu ten yards in front of me. Love mixes with my saliva creating a wet kiss. I kiss the cheek of my friend than wipe at it with my index finger leaving only a bit of residue. When it dries I kiss my friend again!

The word God rests in my palm, relayed to the bark of a tree I touch. I imagine gnomes in the trunk tunneling beneath the roots mining for ore. I shake Christy’s hand. God rests between us. God rests inside us. God brushes my ankle like a lizard looking for shade beneath my pant cuff.

Words are bees. They can produce honey or sting.

They make names and reference points. My friend Pat lives with two cats, TIkka and Lily, in a one bedroom condo below a Spanish tile roof. The three of them watch the moon from the patio, steady in the sky, winking in response to their stare.

Even if wordless words will still attach to me. A person says of me, “she toppled to her left landing on the grass a foot away from the picnic table.” Words later will feed me potato salad and slices of cheese.

I am glad for the scratch marks produced by my pen and the Times New Roman that marches across my monitor as I punch the letters of my keyboard creating, yes, words, sixty six words a minute.

Today is August 21, 2017. I am alive and well.

It takes far less courage to kill yourself than it takes to make yourself wake up one more time.   Judith Rossner

I have spent days finding life particularly hard for no good reason. I trip on the curb of a sidewalk in front of a beauty parlor. One of the manicurists sees this and comes to offer a hand. She picks up the magazines I have dropped and my keys, than reaches for me. I don’t take her hand for fear of pulling her over with me, both of us landing hard on the sidewalk.

An invisible hand offering to pull me up each morning is always there. Most of the time I actually take it. The grip is strong. I don’t fall back against my pillows but instead place my feet on the floor and stand. I turn on a light. My little area in this world brightens. My cats walk figure eights around me and between my feet. I am able to feed them kibbles for breakfast.

I use to wake but not wake, if that makes sense. My body would motor around the house heavy with depression. It hurt to move. It hurt to talk on the phone. It hurt to sit at the table with my grandmother with whom I lived. Magically, this changed.

I have attempted suicide many times in my life. My last attempt was 20 years ago. I remember it clearly. My grandmother found me unconscious in the living room after I overdosed on Ativan and called 911. I woke up in the ICU a day later to the stare of an East Indian doctor. She was young. I guess mid-thirties. Petite of stature. Probably, 5′ 4″ and a hundred pounds. She took my hand and told me I had much to do in this lifetime, that my life was important. I said nothing but let her face imprint itself on my heart.

I’m no longer the cactus who refuses to bend in storms, refuses to let go the thorns. Instead, I’m a bush who waves in the wind and allows herself to be pruned.

I can’t say that I wake up happy all the time, but I do wake. Eventually, it occurs to me that I’m living in love. That my life is charmed and blessed. I’m a 6′ tall woman with no weight on my shoulders. My stride is wide. My gaze no longer haunted. I roam around in my day a free spirit. The ball and chain that I use to be attached to sits quietly in a corner of my bedroom as a reminder that movement has not always come easy to me. But now I do wake. I do walk with my breath a steady in and out.

Today is August 7, 2017. I am alive and well.

If a mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream, and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself, worry about its soul, do time-and-motion studies, admire the shy hooves of a goat, know it will die, enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart.

Diane Ackerman

I contemplate my mind frequently. It is an engine attached to the caboose of my heart. When mind and heart are in sync, beauty happens. For me to think my mind is special is amazing for I have schizophrenia. I am at peace with this. I wouldn’t change it as it has given me bursts of creativity. Yes I have rough patches, grass browns when needing water, but they pass and I’m left in wonderment.

I believe my soul wants to live in real time. My conscience floods my soul with magic. I believe in the power of soul to ignite hours each day. A candle not gathering dust. A wick waiting to be lit. I don’t worry that my soul will become polluted and I’ll end up in hell. I don’t know that I believe in judgment day.

I’m not certain what “do time-and-motion studies” means. Does it mean we follow a clock? Recently, the library I work at flooded. I was moved to a branch while repairs are being made. I let the boss at my new location know it was really important for me to get my same hours. Time matters. Fortunately, she accommodated me. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, yes?

I feel time move. Especially recently in respect to my age. There’s a gentleman I want to ask out but he’s twenty years my junior. He was an infant when I had my first real kiss!

The line “admire the shy hooves of a goat” is beautiful. I admire the swift feet of my cats, the way my friend sips coffee, the sun entering my windshield. Often, small things vibrate like the pigtails of a toddler.

Of course my mind knows it will die someday. My brain will shut off. My heart will stop beating. My feet and hands will be still. I use to want to speed this process up. I have attempted suicide at least nine times, three of them ending in my waking in ICU. Not wanting to die anymore is an act of God. I value my life and hope to give something back.

“Enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart” of which there are many. I’ll leave you to meditate on this. Thanks for your readership.

Kristina

Today is July 31, 2017. I am alive and well.

I found god in myself/and I loved her/I loved her fiercely.   Ntozake Shange

This quote jumped out at me. The passion of this statement is like a toddler commenting on the smell of flowers for the first time. The passion is as great as the passion a homeless woman experiences as she bathes for the first time in weeks.

I have found god in me. The god in me is a small light that blazes in the creases of clouds. The god in me pushes me into the world when I fear Harm is waiting for me around the next corner. Harm is alive, just waiting for me to trip over my shoe laces, landing in his outstretched arms before realizing there are no laces in my shoes. I will not trip, at least not today. God has my back.

I refer to god as he although I have no problem with others who think god is she. One of my best friends prays to mother goddess and is not shy about letting people  know that. At the close of AA meetings, we always say the lord’s prayer which begins “our father.” My friend passionately and with purpose loudly says “our mother.” Sometimes I want to cover her mouth because I don’t want people judging her. I’m certain she would say “judge on,” not allowing people to get under her skin.

“I loved her fiercely.” I do love god fiercely. I also love words fiercely. My cats, fiercely. My friends, fiercely. Fiercely is such a perfect word. It exudes strength and purposefulness. It fires me up not allowing me to wade in dark water but rather coast on a paddle board.

“Cosmic imagination.” That is what William Blake referred to as god. I join him in this. God is cosmic imagination that pierces me from within leaving me passionate about this life I have been blessed with.

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

So, I need your help. I have to date received 20 rejections from agents regarding my second book, Emma. I rewrote the query in the hope of making it stronger. Below is my new version. I would love it if I could get a yay or nay from you; nay you wouldn’t read the book based on the query, or yay, you would. Thanking you ahead of time. me

Emma, the Giraffe at the End of the Hall follows my book Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia. Kirkus review called Mind Without a Home “inventive, jaggedly lyrical, and disturbing.”

Emma is my continued journey away from the crippling effects of schizophrenia. Unlike years ago, I am addicted to life. Life shows up in good form and in bad. The dark isn’t a terrible thing; it’s simply a moment without batteries. My mind is treating me well; dust stops at my ears. I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet. I am a little beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.

I make a home outside the psychiatric hospital with a lover, Guy, and two Shih Tzus. Seven years go by, and I remain hospital free.

I lose the lover and dogs without losing my mind. Guy was good to me for as long as he could be.

The book comes at a time when people with mental illness are targeted in the media after  hellacious acts on their part. The percentage of those challenged with mental illness committing a crime is really low. My account lets people know that someone living with schizophrenia can be a sane and productive member of society with no tendency toward violent behavior.

The book is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid but lucid in its own way; the hat covers my grandmother’s head allowing the air to slide along her nose. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like there is a plate in my head that I need to dial into. And the other realities still exist.

Today, I am comfortable single with many friends to be responsible to. I am loved beyond the edge of language. A great sense of peace occupies my days.

I would be happy to send you more, or the entire manuscript, to help you decide if it is for you.

That is the end of the query. Someone told me I needed to drop one of these two sentences,”I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet” or “I am a beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.” Which one do you think I should cut out?

Again, thank you for your help.

Kristina

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

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  -Anais Nin

I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to throw a curve ball at my future when it is possible to throw a no frills fast ball. Straight and in the glove. Thrown back at me straight and in the glove.

“Tight in the bud” is like being an unopened can of chicken noodle soap gathering dust in the pantry. I deny myself and someone else nourishment. Rather than being noticed in a crowd, I remain on the periphery of people, my arms folded against my chest, void of deep companionship and the experience of others.

I have loved one man deeply with all of me. I use to think to do this meant I would become lost to myself. I have worked too hard to bring myself forward and in doing so gain an understanding of me in my body, home in my body, to throw it away.

Loving Guy was like pulling off a bow, unwrapping a present, opening the box and finding wool socks and slippers. Comfortable. Warm. Protective. Easy to slide in and out of. We held hands everywhere; in front of the television, on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, at restaurants. 14 years of intense loving, giving of myself, and receiving from him.

He is now in Florida with another woman. The love I have for him hasn’t changed but obviously the delivery of that love has. Our contact is not physical. Our contact is through telephone calls and texts.

I live single today. As a single woman, I can do so much more. Read when I want. Write when I want. Cook what I want. Have coffee dates with friends when I want. I am a force tugged at only by my cats. I am a tree with bare branches looking majestic even in winter. In the fall, I support leaves that offer silent beauty.

I am of myself. I am that blossom that Anais Nin writes about.

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 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…..