Today is April 10, 2017. I am alive and well.

So I let my friend, Gloria, know that I would be posting a blog every Monday. Letting her know this makes me accountable. I’m a say what you mean and do what you say kind of woman. I will indeed make an effort to post every Monday.

Rather than write, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading. Sometimes I flash back to 1998 and the two years I spent depressed, in bed, wishing I would never wake. When I did wake, I read. It was two years of chocolate cake, cheese danish, and reading. I was so sensitive to sound and stimulation that my grandmother’s feet shuffling down the hall outside my bedroom door infuriated me. I was the stalk of a sunflower who had lost all her petals and could only dream about the color yellow. The stalk I was, rotted. I had to morph into the roots of a potato, a yam, something of the earth that was sturdy enough to withstand long periods of drought. Waking was brutal.

I have an enormous fear of depression. I never want to find myself confined to a bedroom for long periods of time again. I don’t want to rot in my own mind.

I have a friend who is severely depressed. I share with her where I’ve been. I might as well be talking to a snail. She doesn’t respond to things I say, but then, I could not perk up from pep talks, either. I could not fathom that someone else could have been locked in the tunnel, also. No light. Little breath. Short gasps. And me, tucked beneath dirty sheets.

Thank God life has moved on since then. I read today and remind myself I am not chained to books. I can put the book down and fix myself a spinach salad. I can put the book down and shower, allowing the water to massage my shoulders. I can put the book down and wash my sheets, making myself comfortable in the family room. I answer the phone. I put gas in my Fore-runner. I drive to work. And I do work.

I may have a dark night, but I don’t have dark weeks. I am free to roam outside my home. I love being alive the way my cats love watching the wind rattle the bushes from their perch on the window sill. The light pours in. I am alive. I feel my cats rub against me and I do love.

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 March 23, 2017. I am alive and well.

I haven’t posted a blog in several months. I was unable to got on Word Press. Thank you to all who have recently become followers. And always, thank you to those who have been with me for quite some time.

I just started looking for an agent to represent my second book. My query letter is as follows:

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 alcoholism and 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 waiting for 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.

Today, I am comfortably single with many friends to be responsible to. I am loved beyond the edge of language. A great sense of peace occupies my days. This is what this book is about; my journey to peace and love.

I’ve had one rejection stating that she “wasn’t grabbed.”

I appreciate any opinion you might have regarding my query. Hope you’re having an inspiring day.

Kristina

Today is July 15, 2016. I am alive.

I have never written about world events. Just like Orlando sickens me, the massacre in France sickens me. How can a person hate so much? The TV telecast did say that here is security in many areas where the perpetrator/s are caught before doing damage and taking lives. We don’t hear about those places. We only hear about devastation.

Is it hate that propels the perpetrator/s to commit such heinous crimes? That’s only part of it, I suppose. I’m tempted to use a metaphor for hate here but hate is nothing but hate. Brutal.

Outside my window, the day moves on in Arizona. The heat on my skin feels tender for about thirty seconds after leaving an overly air conditioned room. After that, it’s like touching the bottom of a frying pan, waiting for it to cool down so it can be washed. The air conditioning in my truck washing me in indoor breeze is desired.

Do I hate? Do I hate random things like a scorching sun? Do I hate that my truck guzzles gasoline like a thirsty baby on the breast of her mother? Do I hate the perpetrator/s of violent crimes? Does hate trump a loving heart? The love poured forth for all the victims by strangers is powerful. Maybe demonstrations of love are mightier than hate. It is true that hate cannot strip a person of the capacity to love, emphasize, feel compassion unless hate is summoned like a callused hand; the callouses prominent on a hardened palm.

Seek love. Offer love. Play the ace with a welcomed queen. I don’t want to minimize anything by using poetic language, but poetry is my call to love.

Today is July 11, 2016. I am alive and well.

My struggling has scuttled away on the back of a cockroach (this is imagined, I don’t have cockroaches in my condo). I brush my obsessions into a small box with a lock and throw the key down the garbage chute. The key clangs as it hits the metal of an empty bin.

One of the things I know about living a sober life is that things change. My thoughts are not clinging to my brain waves like the keys of a piano in the fingers of a beginner playing chop sticks, after chop sticks, after chop sticks. Things have shifted. I am at peace.

I just finished listening to the audio book The 27 Club. It talked about the fact that musicians Brian Wilson, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse al died at the ago of 27. All deaths were linked to heavy alcohol and drug abuse. I find this bit of trivia astounding. The world mourned their passing. The world lost major talent. The world was robbed of beauty.

I think of my own suicide attempts. As being no celebrity, my death would be a quiet one. After one attempt at suicide, an East Indian doctor came to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit of Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. She was petite. Her hands delicately hung at her sides. Yet, there was a power to her. She said to me, “you still have something to do in this lifetime.” Her words were kind–unlike the treatment I was getting from some of the nurses. I met her gaze and realized she was not kidding or saying something for lack of saying something else comforting.

I do remember as a kid looking into the mirror and saying, “you will speak before audiences and make more money than you’ll ever need.” I have spoke before audiences while telling my story of sobriety. I have read from my poetry manuscript during my defense for my Master of Fine Arts. I have read at a local bookstore parts of my memoir, Mind Without a Home. I still have yet to have a good deal of money, but don’t doubt that it may happen.

So, it is miraculous again to be at peace after a couple of trying days. I am blessed. Thank God for this wave of linen bellowing from a clothesline.

Today is July 4, 2016. I am alive and struggling.

I stopped taking my anti-anxiety medication three months ago. I had been on it for at least ten years. The doctor said my body had probably gotten used to it and it no longer was doing what it was intended to do. For two days, I have been riddled with anxiety to the point of being paralyzed. Anxiety is like having all the nerves outside my skin, pulsating with fluorescent lighting. It is having a brain obsessed with what could go wrong:  my truck could get a flat tire again or die in traffic; someone could have logged into my checking account; my home could get bed bugs; and the new, cheap products for my face could cause me to break out in a rash. Silly. Nonsense. Whatever it may be called, my mind doesn’t drop my obsessions easily. They pin themselves to me as easy as pinning a name tag just above my left breast.

I have been hiding out in books. No writing. No shaving my legs (I’m a hairy Greek girl). No cleaning my condo. I talk my way through grocery shopping and laundry, grateful that I’m able to do those things.

Maybe the solution is to take anti-anxiety meds again. That seems too easy, like filling an empty ice tray with water. Today, I choose not too. I am happy to be free from one of my seven medications. The others my brain needs–I don’t want to fall off the scale again. Here’s to weight keeping me stable. I am heavy enough not to float away with a lopsided mind. This is good.

Today is May 27, 2016. I am alive and depressed.

I am no mother for reasons I can list:  one, I’ve never been financially stable; two, I would have to come off all psych medications which would traumatize me and God knows if it would in turn, traumatize my fetus; and last, I would hate to pass on mental illness. I do have friends who have mental illness and have children. They are wonderful parents and their children glow.

My own mother died at the age of 58. Her liver stopped working. She went into a coma and died shortly after. Literally, she was walking around Thursday day and then in the early hours of Friday morning, slipped into a coma. I knew she drank too much but didn’t know that Jack Daniels would chase her into an early death.

I regret time not spent with my mom. Her last year, I was deep into a depression that often stole my mobility. It was like being a stone amongst stones and then being removed to sit on a shelf in a wealthy woman’s home, quickly being covered in a sheet of dust. Occasionally, a person would wipe me clean. The clean wouldn’t last. My shine would be ruined. Being depressed is intense. The world is not welcoming. A fly enters a car. The windows are rolled up. The fly is trapped indefinitely. I am underwater but eventually float to the surface in one big gasp. Depression leaves me. My mother is still dead.

Astonishingly, I was at my mom’s hospital bedside and she sat up and looked at me. Rather than tell her I loved her I said, “I know you loved us.” She smiled, huge smile, then laid back down disappearing into the folds of white cotton sheet.

I miss my mom daily. Sometimes, I will write a poem just for her. I choose to believe that when my cats eye a certain spot suddenly in my room, it is her looking out for me.