Tag Archives: cats

Today is December 22, 2017. I am alive and well.

My short memoir piece installed over 4 blogs. Hospital Visit Number 19, final blog.


It is cool in the hospital. I am glad for my thermal shirt, jeans, and thick socks.

Bobby approaches me and says hi. I say hi back.

“Wow,” he says, “You can speak.”

I give him a smile.

“And Smile.”

“Don’t get too use to it,” I say with a grin the size of the Chesire Cat’s in Alice’s Wonderland.

Dr. Purewal arrives at noon. We meet for twenty minutes in which time he determines I am good to go home.

I am on the patio of the hospital. The Phoenix sun is strong, wood thrown onto an already burning fire. The heat reaches my bones. I will be released in an hour. John will go over my medications and aftercare plan.

My mind is a slow hum. The sound is soft like a T-shirt dropped on a tile floor. Today, my mind is my friend. My mind is something to pay attention too. It is a waterfall. Thoughts dropped entering into a pool of calm water, the ripples smoothing out and again returning the pool to calm.

I will go home today and feed my cats. I will sit in a straight backed chair at the kitchen table with my grandmother and eat soup with rye bread. My depression has lifted. I am able to wash the dishes in the sink, dry them, and place them in the cupboard. Exhaustion has lifted. I’m no longer surrounded by dust. Life is clean again, not just a mirage in the desert. I press my hand to my chest. My heart beats strong again. I will protect it, but not to the point of eliminating all relationships. I can be strong and vulnerable at the same time.

I am happy to have my psychosis end. It’s not me that is horribly affected by my loss of reality. It’s the people around me. I am oblivious. I am lost. Those outside myself are well aware. Are present. I am glad to hold hands with my loved ones again. We wish on the stars together and delight in the moon. My wish is simple, stay home and love.


Today is November 13, 2017. I am alive and well.

…aren’t we more like pack mules/than gods most days, picking our way/across the desert or up a mountain path with avalanches/and the heaviest of loads are our grudges and fears/while poetry and beauty rest on our shoulders like fairy wings/or one of those pastries in a shop in Paris,/almost too beautiful to eat, but eat them we do/with their frosting of butter and sugar and eggs.   Barbara Hamby

The truth of our pain is all we have, it is the key to who we are.    James Baldwin

An artist must learn to be nourished by his passions and by his despairs.  Francis Bacon

I love quotes and thought these all related nicely. I write “the truth of my pain.” Maybe it’s true that “it’s the key to who I am.” I also believe my passions are the key to who I am.

My pain is deep and not preventable. Because it’s deep it rarely shows up unless I let it. It can storm and I won’t get wet because of my umbrella. Discard the umbrella, and I get soaked. It takes awhile to dry off. Living with pain with no barrier to disguise it can lead me to tears. It also leads me to people who share my same experience. They have made it through and I can too. I watch as a raccoon puts his paw in a jar to fish out a coin. With his paw clenched in a fist, he cannot pull himself from the jar. He has to let go of the coin in order to free his paw.

I have let go of the coin. I write about having schizophrenia. I write about multiple suicide attempts, I write about being alcoholic. Pain can attach itself to all three of these things. But I don’t stay there. I let go of the coin. I step out of the mud. Sometimes I get help cleaning myself off. Help is always there and it’s okay to accept it.

My God takes care of me. My God always has my back. The right people are placed in my life at the right time. My friends nourish me. I am passionate about loving them. I also hope I nourish them. It’s beautiful to watch my cats bathe each other. They are always clean, but they don’t go outside.

I go outside. I live a good life despite occasional falls. I also write about great things, not just painful things. My car still runs after 256,000 miles. I have the money to get my teeth cleaned. I fill the grocery cart with fabulous foods. I loved the same man for fourteen years without straying. Although we’re apart, I still do love him. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am passionate about flowers bought on Friday, about words falling in line with each other to make a sentence, a paragraph, a page. Life is here. Life is staying.

Today is November 13, 2015. I am alive and mostly well.

My fingers have been silent for awhile. I imagine them covered in mud, unable to snap one musical note. There is no water to rinse with. There are no paper towels to dry with.

I am standing outside in a black cotton shirt and jeans, my boots lined with faux fur that peaks out the top. My boots are waterproof.

It begins to rain. I extend my fingers. They are without mud.

Not only have my fingers been silent, but I have been  quiet in my emotional life. I have not read e-mails. I have not lined up coffee and meals with friends. I have not wanted to go to meetings, but I go anyway. I’m behaving like a depressed person who still showers, eats meals, and makes it on time to work. Maybe I have simply needed to be still. Stillness grabs me in a tight embrace.

The cats have enjoyed me being home. They wrap themselves around each other on my bed, butted up against my legs. I pray not to have to go to the restroom anytime soon because I don’t want to disturb them. Yes, they have taken me hostage. They are black and cute, one chubby, one skinny. I don’t want to be a writer who is always writing about cats.

The stillness allows me to reflect on my current life. My brain has not been sick for a long time although schizophrenia is tethered softly to me. The other day, I had to Skype with a psychiatrist whom I didn’t know. The first thing I said was, “This is weird.” I asked if other people were tapping into the computer, listening to our conversation. She told me the computer was secure. I sat for ten minutes saying yes to some questions and making certain she didn’t change my medications. I have been hospital free on these meds for over seven years. I have not had to beg a psych tech on the unit for dental floss. I can retrieve dental floss from my bathroom drawer whenever I want, stretching it out to any length I want.

I wil blog more about my reflections in stillness another time. This blog has gotten long. Be well. me.

Today is September 14, 2015. I am alive and well.

There was two liters of frozen beer awash in the kitchen sink. She was ready with her straw, the kind that bent at the neck. In three days, she was to celebrate 22 years of sobriety. What’s a little beer among cats. The beer was frozen with the hope that by the time it took to thaw she would come to her sobriety. She always said beer was a waste of time. It wasn’t high on alcohol points, not like 151 Bacardi Rum.

She was naked. Another way to buy her some time to think should she abandon the beer and go to the store for rum, she would have to dress. She imagines herself slowly pulling on jeans that were in need of a belt. She would forego the bra, putting on a loose T-shirt that hid her breasts. Shoes and socks could be done in a snap.

This all began with a dream she had while she slept. She was at a bar ordering a Long Island Ice Tea, heavy on the rum. The bar was one with many mirrors. She could just make out her reflection between the Creme de Menthe and the Bourbon. Her eyes were flat. The sparkle had left even before the drink. She felt hollow like a broken clarinet. The music on the juke box singing of dying from the drink couldn’t stop her. The Long Island Ice Tea came with a little umbrella. “Aloha,” she said as she wrapped her gloved hand around the glass.

And then she felt her cat lick her face. Not even the beer was real. It was a first dream. She shivered under the air conditioner like a cat stuck in snow. In three days, she would celebrate 22 years of sobriety. For that she would dress, wearing something that flattered her six feet and a hat. Dreams be damned. She shook them off like a dog getting rid of its pony tail.

Today is August 17, 2015. I am alive and well.

I am stumped at how to proceed in the rewrite of my second book which remains untitled. When I get stumped, I walk from my study/bedroom into the kitchen to have a glass of water or make a cup of coffee. Then I pace back to my desk, sit quietly, and hope to start typing. Anything would do just to break the silence of the keyboard or the drag of my pen across lined paper. If nothing happens, I walk back to the kitchen and drink again. Thank God I no longer drink alcohol. I would get tanked and drool over the keyboard, my head eventually falling to rest, making “Q’s”across the screen.

I did my laundry today. My shirt smells like the Fabreeze that was in the detergent. Lavender. I would prefer the apple that is in the dish soap. Smell for me is odd. I mostly don’t like house smells–broccoli, beef, toilet bowl cleaner. But I do like outdoor smells. Hot Pavement. Bushes. The smell of sun like heated water. And I love the smell of gasoline; it reminds me of murder mysteries the way it smells like danger.

Annie has jumped in my lap and is licking her paws. Can you imagine licking the hair on someone’s head? I write about my cat with trepidation. Cats can become too cute. Grandmothers, too sentimental. And love, well. Truth be known I have written about all these things. Particularly love. Love connects me to life, keeps me showing up when I think I can’t anymore. When I can’t drag my body or mind forward. When I am used up. I am too thirsty. I am not a writer The magic is gone. Then I drop a “t” and add “a-s-t-e.” I am hungry again. I feed my new found passion with “rrrrr,s.”

Today is July 4, 2015. I am alive and well.

I look out the window and see wind. The green bushes shake with it. I believe it sounds like a young boy trying to whistle.

My twin bed, upon which I recline, is settled across from my bedroom window. The foot of my bed is three feet away from this window. The window blind retired months ago when it broke loose from its socket. It rests unused on the floor. The cats occasionally jump on it causing it to emit a crinkling sound.

My room is no longer private. Anyone can look in and see me or my furniture. Outside my window are many windows of many residents–six stories of windows. I am on the first floor. There is a sidewalk twenty feet away. At night is when I’m most vulnerable. Light on, my bedroom glows like the sunset radiating in the split y of two branches. People can see in and I can barely see out.

I can’t change in my bedroom into anything but socks and shoes. I carry a T-shirt, jeans with sparkles on the back pockets, indigo blue underwear, and a padded bra into the bathroom. My breasts are tiny as those of a sixth grader. The padded bra is deceitful. I like it anyway.

Eventually, I want to get plantation shutters. I am waiting to collect money like my grandfather did pennies dated before 1920.

It is peaceful this morning. My hair is tied in a pony tail on top of my head. Grams climbs my pillow, then bats at my pony tail with her paw. I wonder if cats know when a person smiles. I smile.

Writing from bed is better than trying on new blouses, better then buying caramel apples. My bed is no longer my prison. I’m no longer driven by depression and psychosis, unable to put my feet on the floor, wishing for death.

I have a lunch date. My friend likes to talk about books, writing, and recovery. I am able to have conversations on all these subjects. I dine with grace. The red velvet cheesecake is amazing.

Today is June 23, 2015. I am alive and well.

So I need to respond to my own blog from the 22nd. When I said Grams pesters me I also needed to say that I love that she does. I love giving her my full attention and how it feels when she lays on  me. Pester away, I think!

I am including a poem. My poetry hardly ever goes over big, but I keep trying.

The Mercedes Parked at the Curb

Write a line with today in it–today I woke late. Still, the morning didn’t run away in leopard slippers. I was able to bend my body in prayer and ask God to relieve me from self. Self keeps my mind  tethered. In order to truly know God, I have to be out of my mind.

Outside, the leaves catch cool air after they sneeze, then land on the ground leaving me to carry them inside.

Bottom of my shoe, bottom of my soul, a messy expanse of leaves laden with dirty veins. They travel into 900 square feet of wood and tile, couches that lounge lazily, lights that have yet to wake, a kitchen counter read for slaughter—I lost the cutting board months ago.

I take the ready to go broom. I see another fall through.

God has been with me since day one. Infants cry, infants smile, their first shoes are bronzed to live eternally.

How many people have I embraced since Fall? How many have I left above the rug to point North, to sit with cornflakes and 2% milk.

God understands me. Sometimes, words are really not what they’re hyped up to be. To be.

Today I wrote of yesterday. Mother died some yesteryear.

Today is June 22, 2015. I am alive and well.

I am an alcoholic. My natural state is one of drunkenness, yet I’m sober 21 years. I have schizophrenia. My natural state is one of psychosis, yet I’ve been hospital free for eight years. How do these miracles happen? I allow a spiritual God in my life and take right action.

God is everywhere outside and in our personhood. I can know myself deeply and get beyond self. Self is connected to all. Self is connected to God. The more aware I am, the stronger my source of instinct and intuition. Think of the notes of a symphony. Think of trees and leaves.

God will not do for me what I can do for myself, but God will do for me what I can’t. God lifted me from my natural states of being. Today I live a joyous life.

I’ve heard it said that I need not apologize for my God. I hope that you who follow my blog aren’t put off by my faith and belief in divine intervention. The artist William Blake called what he believed in as cosmic imagination. I like this. I am free to contemplate a life filled with cosmic imagination. With this contemplation comes a belief that I call shall not want. Eventually, I get to this point.

I want a house with a fenced in yard and doggie door complete with dogs. I wish I could follow my ex and spend time with his grandchildren. They call me Auntie Kristina. I hope they don’t forget me.

My desire for things may not pass, but I will acknowledge today that I want for nothing. I have everything I need today to have a joyous life filled with purpose and meaning.

Grams and Annie, my cats, sleep on me as I write this from my bed. When I brought them home from the Humane Society, I thought they were feral. I thought they would have nothing to do with me. How wrong I was. Grams, the neediest, often pesters me for pets and needs my full attention. She bats at my hand when I hold the phone, a book, or a pen.

Cats are of God. I actually believe they are psychic. They know when dead family members and friends enter the room. I take comfort in this like I do while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.

Today is March 22, 2015. I am alive and shaking…

…I won’t be going into why I”m so rattled, though.

I laugh because when I brought Grams and Annie home from the Humane Society they were basically feral. Now Grams is all over me most of the time. And Annie will come and snuggle up to me if I take a nap. Grams is a black fireball, always wanting to bring heat to my body. Annie is the soldier at the window, making certain we are safe. I am their mom, watching them prance around. Cats are certainly grateful.

I did not prance and was not graceful growing up. I was a gangly 6′ tall girl at 13. I left my body to spend time in my mind. I would appear to be sitting at my desk in ninth grade, but my eyes took a bow and I would be traveling by flight to Switzerland. I picked Switzerland because the Swiss seemed so beautifully neutral and anonymous. They don’t make the newspapers. There is no war in their country. I love chocolate and have a great respect for money.

While in Switzerland, I dreamt i covered huge canvases in bright colors. Today, they would be considered sister canvases to Rothko’s work. He the dark colors and me the bright. He the solemn one and me the free spirited one, a fly landing her and there and everywhere, terribly curious as to what the spot of life I live in brings. Rothko came to  a tragic end; he took his own life at a young age. I have had over ten suicide attempts in my lifetime. I am really bad at dying. It’s amazing that I will be 51 on Friday.

I live in my body today. I don’t need alcohol to do that for me like it did for so many years. My height at Christmas time is a beautiful thing; I can be in a crowded shopping mall and not suffocate.

Today is March 16, 2015. I am alive and well.

They know she enters. Their cat eyes focus as snap dragons, their ears perk, the shape of the end of a butter knife. I take a breath in. Hold it as if I’ll be able to hear her. She is thinner than air, lighter than the flame at the end of a paper match. Death has left her to dust my desk.

I need more than cat knowledge. I need the miraculous–her framed photo to fall, my desk chair to quiver, her hands on my keyboard. I let breath out. Nothing changes in front of me. There is no mist.

But I feel her. She is warmth around my wrist. Pictures as memory–her teaching me to make a Greek salad, her on the toboggan with me, the snow not biting because she leans forward, wrapping her arms around me …I feel her coat as I do skin.

She is here as I feel the love for her. This love reaches out and comes to rest on a spindle. The love is invisible but strong. The spike of the spindle I imagine rotates like the bowl of a blender turning powered cocoa to chocolate syrup.

Mom, you make me bold. I am able to ride in an inner tube down the stream, opening into the river. I can jump off a cliff to the water below. I can write anything I damn well please. Ketchup mixing with mustard. A bare ass flashing me outside my window. President Obama not being given a warm welcome by all the vets at the Veteran’s Hospital.

Your mail came to me for a while. I don’t know how they found my address. I didn’t open it knowing you don’t need a bank account any longer. You don’t need coupons. You have no need to buy a car. Your mail made me sad. It was not you sending me letters. I miss you like I do leaves in autumn. Be at peace. Walk in the grass. Hold my love as you do fog.