Category Archives: relationships

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.

Today is February 21, 2016. I am alive and well.

I want to have a party with fake alcohol and see how many people act like they’re wasted; rum, not rum, roars through the thin man who pinches the breasts of the host. She giggles, then slaps him after coming to her senses–the slap smells of beef, a fingerprint left on his cheek.

I want to repay all the kindnesses my friends have shown me all their lives. A sunflower bends at the neck in welcome. I hand out handkerchiefs, love wrapped  in knots of stripes and polka dots–it is simple.

I want to travel the world bagging people’s groceries. A stick of butter rubs skin with a potato in London. The jolly man in Brazil grins with green jello the color of palm leaves. Canned beets are slippery in Seattle. A banana rots at the foot of an onion in Germany. Radishes remain the dirty spice that they are everywhere I go.

I want to say meow during a speech. All the dogs will riot when they learn the bill won’t pass the Senate; it’s a matter of boxers wearing helmets in the ring, the blood loss would be cut in half with the ear out of the way.

I want to believe in God. God has come to me in the form of a twisted branch in a tree three stories high. Leaves rejoice!

I want to have a story worth telling. I wake to the woman mowing the grass outside my open bedroom window, smell the grass, chamomile with a touch of honey. Paint a purple mustache on my niece’s doll. Ask her where Ken’s head is.

I want to take a cute girl to the moon. She smiles as I strap her into the card board box. The stereo explodes with the sound of flame. I tell her “close your eyes and imagine cheese.” In no time, we hear mail being dropped through the door’s slot and know we are still grounded. The moon is another dream, like cows pirouetting to Greenday’s Awesome as Fuck.

I want to go to a city where nobody knows me and act like a completely different person. My name will be Betty, an easy name, one I will recognize on a stranger’s tongue. I will wear boots and smoke cigarettes and smile only in the grocery store from where I buy slices of cake. My downfall is butter cream frosting. I like it on toast in this new life of mine.

Today is January 30, 2016. I am alive and well

This is dedicated to two women whom make certain I don’t go without food or coffee. Guy also contributes to my financial affairs, although this is not about him.

Love Letter Written with a Wishful Penny Attached

I borrow letters from the alphabet at no cost to anyone. The letters never run out but occasionally get lost in the paper clips and rubber bands, the empty ice trays or rolls of toilet paper. How do I curve where we are headed without falling into the abyss of tired “Gs.”

This is about love. “Js” jump at the chance to be involved. I can handle one jack rabbit jumping over the name John; a dear John this is not. I’m trying to say this is about love. About love being so much more than a penny. Although, pennies can decorate an evening on a porch of a restaurant known for its linguini and musicians tucked in corners of the building, on low, serenading everyone.

I have little to offer others than letters and toothy grins. It’s a stretch for me to get this on paper because there is so much I want to give. I usually trust that most written words find their niche; they roll over on a line and butt up into a sentence. Sometimes an exclamation settles it, but usually it’s a period. Love is not lost with a dash. A dash simply means something else is a attached, maybe the geranium I spotted sitting in the window of Pete’s Pizzeria.

It feels like I am moving further away from you while enlisting all these words to form paragraphs. It was not my intention to write paragraphs. I was going to turn all this into a poem. My printer has plenty of ink. My type is showing off; it’s more useful to me than a magenta crayon. Crayons have to be sharpened and, well, magenta is too bright for me right now. I’m thinking more gray. Did I mention the band serenading the patrons?

How many letters ago was that? “A few,” you say, and aren’t I glad you finally showed up. I do know you were there all along like one does a dog leaving a muddy trail across concrete.

I am reminded of a poetry class I once attended. I would write long stretches of words and turn these stretches into the professor. At long last, the professor said “Kristina, I have yet to see a single poem from you!” So I wrote a poem, a very bad poem that contained poison ivy and love gone wrong.

My love for you is raw and bridled, reflected in the flank of a horse. It’s not sexual. There is no kiss that follows hello and walks away with a promise. We are not attached by anything greater than an intimate friendship; intimate because we show up to dinner vulnerable, willing to share anything that belongs to us, lingering just below the edge of consciousness.

I’m winding down like a girl who does “around the world” with her yo-yo, her yo-yo landing safely in her palm.

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.