Category Archives: Writing

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 26, 2017. I am alive and well.

I am not prolific. Writing a blog every Monday is not easy for me, but I’m up for the challenge. Why write at all? It helps me to order my thoughts. And I enjoy putting myself out there to see if people can relate. Plus, I like words, ideas, and images; my black cats curl up together licking at each other, in love, until Annie swats at Grams with her paw all while my next door neighbor runs her garbage disposal. I imagine the putrid odor of week old chili.

Anthony, a co-worker of mine, is amazingly prolific. He gave me a notebook filled with 300 pages nine months ago. Now he says he has another notebook to give me containing a 275 page story. I know he writes daily for hours and seems to never run into a glitch. The dreaded glitch. I fall into its dark hole and scrap myself on its jagged walls on the way down landing in mud that sucks me in up to my chest. My are arms and hands are still free.

Anthony is constantly telling stories at work. He has the gift of gab, something I lack. I respect his process very much. Mine is different. I’m mostly silent when I’m not on the page, pen in hand.

I’m writing a Young Adult novel. I have read many Young Adult books. If the writing is not brilliant, the story telling always is. I want to see if I can write a good story that has nothing to do with me. I’m hoping to write eight pages a week giving me 32 a month and at least 200 in six months.

I thank you for your attention to my blog. I thank you for your likes and responses along the way. They help curve my frustration at being rejected by fifteen agents I have queried for my second book in the last two months.

May peace be with you.

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.

June 5, 2017. I am alive and well.

I am unable to give you the rest of the piece of writing I gave you last week. A friend says I wouldn’t be able to enter it into a contest because of it being self published on my blog. If you know anything about whether or not that’s true, please let me know.

Excerpt from Emma: the Giraffe at the End of the hall, my latest memoir

Sleep is a wonderful thing, but I think I indulged in it too much this past weekend. I spent both Saturday and Sunday in bed with a book.

Today, I feel like I’m up to my chin in mud. What happened to the light feeling of rafting on clouds? Life spun a change and I am feeling heavy. It’s not a bad heavy. I still breathe freely and deeply. It’s just different not to have my toes tingle.

I send dust to the air and sneeze. My desk looks new again. I wonder if the action of dusting and cleaning, creating a clean space is equivalent to showering..do I get to start new after soap? I say yes because it is so good to feel like I am new again and not some lame robot with battery operated energy coursing through her body.

end of excerpt

“When you narrow your focus, the whole universe opens up.”

I narrow my focus to showering. I don’t like to shower. It takes an hour to do this. I don’t like sacrificing the hour to soap. But to be clean, I think, is a holy thing.

The body starts fresh and the mind follows like a tail on a kite.

I stare out the window. The bushes relax in the wind. The sidewalk is silent; no one walks on it. The side walk leads to a swimming pool. It’s been twenty-five years since I’ve been in a pool. I don’t like the sun or the chlorine. The medications I take cause me to burn easily and I would have to shower to rinse myself of chlorine. As I said, I don’t like showering.

But I do like a clean mind. A clean mind is not a greasy dish. It is not the oil stain beneath the parked truck. It is not the butter cream frosting on a wedding cake.

A clean mind is light infused with imagination. It is thoughts traveling through fresh air.

I will shower today. I will spend time with soap and shampoo. After that, I will dress in loose cloths and sit on my bed allowing my mind to skip beats and travel far.

Again, my mind will move and shift and play with language. A “p” moves me to peas. I will have peas with dinner tonight.

May 29, 2017. I am alive and well.

So, I’m entering a contest with a short memoir piece. I think it’s important to know that I have schizophrenia before reading it. Schizophrenia sometimes influences my writing. Thanks for the read! This is part one of three.

Hospital Visit Number 47

The doctor will try to shake loose my shadow and fail. I seek sleep in the hospital gown and am left with wrinkled cotton creating patterns on my back. The hospital gown is not flattering and catches breeze from the movement of other people. I stand as still as a hinge. I am told the elephants have moved. The teeth of the comb has been cleaned. It is another calendar year and I am again in the same place protecting my heart from the suddenness of a light snow fall. The snow will wait as I am in Phoenix. The psych hospital is the same as I remember; a series of doors the same color marching down a long hall.

When my hands are locked at the knuckles I cannot plant alfalfa. I am told alfalfa is good for arthritis. I need to let my grandmother know this. Her knuckles are tinged by muscle ache. I can’t tuck the charm bracelet she gave me into velvet. Instead, the elephants with their ruby eyes get tossed beside the comb on a tiny nightstand. Strands of hair now wrap around the teeth of the comb.

It is cold in my skin. In two hours my shadow will appear obvious. It will reach the knob of the door before I do. The door does not lock. The psych techs need to be able to enter on a whim. They are in place to protect me from myself. I didn’t realize I was in danger until it was almost too late. The bottles of Tylenol and Ativan lined up on the counter begged for my attention. Had my grandmother not walked in, I would have swallowed mouthfuls and then laid down to leave. I have no idea who if anyone is on the other side to greet me.

I am at the end of the long hall in front of the nurses’s station, in front of the desk where the psych techs spend most of their time. The telephone is on the wall across from them. They can hear whole conversations. No words leave my mouth. How will they know my heart has stopped since noon? I protect it the way a child does her first hat.

There is not enough room in the hall for the tall man to shout, but he tries. It does not get him the cup of cocoa he craves.

 

 

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.