Category Archives: relationships

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 July 3, 2017. I am alive and well.

I once had a lover tell me we couldn’t be in a committed relationship unless we spent time being bored together. The relationship ended a few months later. I was not interested in being bored.

Webster’s defines the word bore as “to make weary and restless by being uninteresting.” To be a bore is to be a “tiresome person.” Why would I want to place myself in a situation that is boring? Would that be like wiping the same table off ten times because I remain convinced there are germs? Why would I intentionally want to be a bore? Do I want to talk someones ear off because I find what I have to say is important even though the listener can’t keep her eyes from wandering from my face to scoping out the cake at the coffee house, and then excusing herself to go to the restroom after she had just come back from the restroom 20 minutes ago? No. I would rather wash dishes than intentionally bore someone.

What doesn’t bore me may bore another. I have spent years eating the same thing for breakfast every morning. A half a cup of dry oatmeal along with a third a cup of dry oat bran. Pour water into the bowl, pop it in the microwave for 2 and 1/2 minutes and wa-la, cooked oats. I really like this ritual. Because it is a ritual and because I love oats, it doesn’t get boring.

I use to watch hours of TV a day with Guy. It wasn’t so much the shows that interested me as it was the fact that he interested me. I spent hours on the couch holding hands with him. There was no other place I wanted to be. Not even in a cafe in Paris.

I will admit that after Guy left, TV became uninteresting to me. There are only three shows I watch, The Voice, Shark Tank, and 60 minutes.

I read a lot. I read a lot as a kid. My mother called me boring because of this. I’d rather be reading a book than playing slip and slide in the front yard beneath the sprinklers. My mom belittling me did not keep me from reading Jack the Giant Killer and Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.

There is one thing that bores me. Brushing my teeth. A necessary evil that lasts three minutes. Twice a day.

I don’t know what to suggest to people that tell me they’re bored and complain about it. Maybe take a cold shower. Go to the Humane Society and walk dogs. Write a letter to someone you love. Go to the library and read magazines, even the ones about celebrities, or especially the ones about celebrities.

Go jump in the lake and commune with the fish. Jump in the pool and pretend you’re a mermaid. Jump out a plane and seek solace with birds.

I need to go brush my teeth. Thank you for reading.

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 March 25, 2016. I am alive and well.

In this blog, I have heavy opinions. I get concerned that I will lose readers when stating opinions whose weight are more than five pounds. I told myself to get over it and simply write. It is never my intention to upset anyone.

Kick-Ass Creativity and Assisted Suicide are books that were side by side on the book truck at work. I found this curious. I found this right. I believe in assisted suicide when the person wanting to die has already lost their life.

There was a show, which I never watched, titled 100 ways to die. I was appalled. I have attempted suicide at least nine times. I am terrible at dying. All I need is someone teaching me ways to die.

Suicide for the mentally ill, when the body is healthy, is to me the ultimate in self-centeredness. I do know that people, such as myself, are sick also when mental illness rears its ugly head. I don’t want to imply that suffering is any less than a person who is physically ill. I actually think in many cases, the suffering of people with mental illness is greater, but then, I have never had a debilitating physical illness.

Kick-Ass Creativity with assisted suicide is unnecessary. It seems pills are the only way that allows a person to die peacefully, with no pain. Or maybe through an IV like they do death row inmates. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Kick-Ass Creativity is great for those with mental illness. When I was at my worst once again, I got thrown into an art studio with others whom shared common experiences. I began painting and picked up drawing with charcoal. Creativity can come in the form of gardening or cooking, handshakes or smiles, art of all kinds to include mosaics, ceramics, etc., or writing; anything that takes one out of their self, placing them in the zone.

I have chosen the pen to be my axe and words to be my wood. The fact that I don’t dip into darkness that often is mind blowing. When I stared into my window at night only to see my reflection staring back at me, I was empty and tired and alone. At eighteen, I was done. No one could pull me out of the pit that surrounded me. The walls of the pit were made of packed earth. I could not claw my way out. Soft dirt did not exist.

This Sunday, the 27th of March, I will be 52-years-old. My life is full with spirituality as my guide. I love the people in my life and they, me. Seeing my reflection in a window does not bring me to the feet of despair any longer. I walk in light. I may not be able to hula hoop, but I can make soft boiled eggs. I can feed another person. Life is good to me and I to it.

Today is March 13, 2016. I am alive and well.

The following is the first pages of my book in progress, tentatively titled Emma in the Corner:  A Spiritual Quest of Someone Living With Schizophrenia and Alcoholism.

Foreward

This book follows on the back of Mind Without a Home. Much of Mind Without a Home was written when my brain felt sick. The writing is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid. In this second book, my mind feels healed. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like “there is a plate in my head I need to dial into.” And yes, the other realities still exist.

When I write my mind feels healed. I have not been in a psychiatric hospital for seven years. I have held my same job with the library for five years. I have been in a relationship with one person for fourteen years, and am just recently newly single. Guy left me for someone else and I did not fall apart.

Because of this change in mind, my writing is more lucid, hopefully not to the point of being boring. Here is where I don’t necessarily know the difference between chaos, lucidity, and freshness. I really ask myself if I’m misrepresenting myself as having schizophrenia and alcoholism because I am doing so well. Then I am reminded to take it back a notch and remember that I have two illnesses that tell me I don’t have them.

If you are meeting me here after reading Mind Without a Home, welcome back. And if this is your first experience of me, hello and I’m glad you came.

Prologue

Emma. I named her Emma. The baby giraffe stands poised at eight feet, 250 pounds, in the corner of the psychiatric hall. I see her as clear as the lines on my palms. She is not able to hide among the Mimosa trees from which she eats. Her body, camouflage. A spotted stick at rest against a peeling barn.

Trees do not pop up from the gray industrial carpeting. I am the only one to see this stately, serene presence at rest in this tumultuous world:  the world outside this psychiatric unit with its loud honking cars, kids on the playground bullying the fat boy, adults bickering over bills, hate crimes inviting real artillery, artillery being used in seemingly random acts of violence.

My brain is dialed in. Emma is beautiful. I believe she winks even though I am fifty yards away at the other end of the hall.

Emma sees farther than other creatures. The Egyptian hieroglyph for giraffe means “to prophesy,” to “foretell.” I’m sad that I won’t always be dialed into Emma. But I will remember how she made me feel safe, feel cared for, feel loved. A ninety-year-old woman having her toes clipped by her granddaughter.

It is giraffe magic the way Emma can disappear among the trees. In the open, Emma stands out like an exclamation mark. It is too bad others are not dialed into seeing her. They too would feel a tremendous amount of peace radiating from her tail.

Emma’s cloven hoofs the size of a dinner plate can kick a death blow. However, giraffes almost never harm another being. They are devout pacifists with neither aggressive or territorial inclinations. They never lock the door to their home they do not have.

Giraffes have no tear ducts, but have been seen to cry.

Emma can spot a person more than a mile away with her bewitching softness of eyes, high gloss and sympathetic, framed by movie-star-lashes.

She moves as a galloping mare, and as silent as a cloud. I imagine her nibbling on stars when not taking care of me. I grow calm looking at her; my smile as large as a split watermelon.

She’s a symbol for people who just don’t fit in:  they may be too tall, or too eccentric, or simply too different from everyone else. She’s my omen of good fortune.

My six foot body reflects off her eyes. I am in love with Emma.

The nurse announces medication time. I will leave my vision, step into the common reality, assured that Emma will be in the corner when I need her.

I will be here when my brain rights itself.

Emma, me, we will live free.

The facts about giraffes I retrieved from the book Tall Blondes by Lynn Sherr.