Strangers Like Me

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I climb the steps of a shuttle to take me to the airport. The doors close behind me and off we go. I’m not one to talk to strangers first unless I’m manic, and I was not. Not at all. When a man about my age in a business suit commented “interesting shoes,” I was beyond faking pleasantries; I managed a quiet “these are my Modigliani shoes, but she’s not smiling, so I think they are making me sad.”

“I don’t think that’s what’s making you sad.”

I looked at him and there wasn’t a trace of a patronizing smile across his face; in fact there wasn’t a smile at all.

Please don’t end up at my gate, please, I am saying inside my head.

I exit. He exits and jaunts up the escalator. I think I’m in the clear. Oops. I run into him later on the way to my gate. He wonders where I’m heading to; I tell him I’m going home. I am always finding my way home. But I gave him more. I told him I was in St. Louis seeing a musical, and it was a life changing event. As we are walking, it’s becoming clearer that we are on our way to the same gate.

“Going away or heading home?” I ask. He is just visiting for a few days.

This makes my confession a lot easier. I have something I want to tell someone that I will probably never say again. And he wants to listen instead of talk, so I’m taking advantage of it.

“I had a front row center ticket to Next to Normal. I could have been the main character. Almost. I must have been close to a microphone, because I heard myself crying at a moment when there was dead silence in the theater. And it was projecting. At least that’s what I thought. So I held in my crying when I could, and they turned to sobs, and there were three songs that I am sure I inverse sobbed my way through. Even the hopeful song at the end. When I woke up the next day, my ribcage and insides felt bruised from holding in sobs. I’ve never had that happen to me before. Have you?”

Awkward silence. Or so I thought.

“I will let you know.” I looked at his gray green eyes and they were welling up. “I’m on my way to my mother’s funeral.” He was able to keep the tears just at the rims of his eyes without spilling over. He stood up and cleared his throat. “This isn’t actually my plane.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out his business card and extends his hand towards mine; I look at the logo and read the card as he disappeared into the crowd. He is a truck driver, and he lives in the town I was born in. We could have made small talk about my hometown, but I’m glad we didn’t.

Fight Like an Artist


My art was having a mid-life crisis and dragging me along with it, but we are both back. I cannot wait to get to my studio each day. I’ve also been away due to my most comedic bipolar episode ever. Well, I can laugh now, and I’ll post about it soon. For now, click on that image and read a great article about the “Aggressive Work Ethic of Highly Creative People.”

Coming of Age

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Moody Paper:

I’m reblogging this to show to my teenage daughter, whose first novel shares a similar theme, and whose persistence and unwavering curiosity inspire me daily. These stories are compelling, you’re sure to find one that hits home, so take a look around.

Originally posted on #ShortShortStories:

Everyone knew about the Spectre of Claymoore, the restless spirit roaming the halls of a long-abandoned school, but rumors stirred of who it could be; while so many played into the rumors and composed their own theories, Daun couldn’t help but wonder why there were so many sudden deaths associated with a single school, and why it took so long for the council to close it down. Despite never getting more than speculation about safety codes, complaints, and small-town gossip, the investigation made her aware of a unique focus she possessed, and a dogged persistence that answered the question that so many other teenagers dreaded: what do you want to do with your life?

#ShortShortStories #ComingOfAge

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The Catch-22′s of Bipolar

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Catch-22 number one: The side effect of my medication is that I forget to take my medication.

I think about where I am today in this moment, feeling relatively stable in terms of my bipolar, and excited to be starting an online art course tomorrow. But I’m also aware of how my brain has slowed, how I’m sometimes foggy, and lose my short term memory. My doctor told me it’s a side effect of my medication; it depletes folic acid, and that contributes to the brain fog. She gave me a sample of folic acid at her office, and of course, I forgot where I put it for about three days. And now I know where it is but I just forget to take it. So I put the pills smack in the middle of the kitchen counter with a post-it note that says:
“It’s ten o’ clock. Do you know where your brain is?”

Catch-22 number two: In order to be happy long term, I have to be sad.

During all of my manias I have spent too much money, ruined relationships, exhibited very poor judgement and also had a hell of a good time. The aftermath has such destructive consequences, however, that my psychiatrist decided it is probably safer to keep me a little depressed from time to time than to risk the chance of getting full blown mania. I revisit this decision every time I am depressed, because I feel there must be a better solution. If you are bipolar and have a medicine that works for your lows in conjunction with a mood stabilizer, I’d be interested in hearing what you are taking.

Catch-22 number three: In order to allow creative chaos, I have to be stable.

There are moments in creating a work of art or writing, when the work takes on a will of it’s own. I begin the work, my hands move the paintbrush or pencil, but my mind starts telling me which direction to go. This is when my judgements quiet, I experiment, and trust that no matter where this chaotic process leads me, it will have taught me something. It hovers in moments of uncertainty and it either destroys the work or makes it better.

I have learned over the years that if I don’t take care of the chaos in my life, that crucial moment of chaos in my art will lose it’s strength and purpose. I will sometimes try to control it because I feel so out of control. The result is lackluster work that never went far enough into risky territory to inspire people to relate to it.

What are the Catch-22′s of your mental illness, creativity, or life?

He Gave Me a Pizza and I Gave Him a Pen

ImageI returned the napkin that I stole from County Line Barbeque without incident.  No arrest.  The napkins were still the same, so I just slipped it on the table.  I even ordered an all vegetarian meal as penance.  

Today the pizza guy delivered a pizza; I signed for it and stole his pen.  He asked for it back, eventually.  Pointing to the antique desk on my porch with a puzzled look, he tried to figure out why the seat was in front.  I gave him a moment to process, and he got it.  I pulled the seat up and down.  “It’s old, it’s from Sicily.”   He smiled.  “Cool, that’s cool. Can I have my pen back, unless you need it?  It’s my only pen.”  Now I wonder if he even cared about my antique desk at all or just wanted his pen.  Men who deliver, they are always trying to find a way to let you down easy.

I have stolen more pens than napkins, and certainly have stolen fewer hearts than the two of those combined.  I feel I’ve returned them all; sleep will come easily tonight.

 

Why you can’t take me anywhere

I am famous for tearing my paper napkin all around the edges after I have finished dining at one of the finer establishments in my city. If only they would all use cloth napkins.

To be honest, I am not a suitable patron of restaurants that have cloth napkins, either. I cannot tear at cloth, so I forget I have one in my lap; when I stand up to leave, it falls to the floor, or in the case of County Line Barbecue, I somehow manage to steal it. I have had that napkin for twelve years and have not returned it. But this week, that’s my goal. Rest assured, I have washed it but never used it again, as my guilt has only deepened over the years. Plus, it doesn’t match my other napkins. It’s crimson, and mine are…well, mine are all paper, with pictures of delectable cupcakes on them.

I think I’ll eat at County Line and just sneak that crimson albatross out of my purse and onto the table. I wonder if they even have the same colored napkins, with the same thread count?

I don’t know if this is something I can be arrested for, so I’m not entirely certain it’s something to be blogging about. Incarceration may be the only way I can redeem myself in the eyes of all five of my blog followers who are furiously googling the recidivism rate of napkin snatchers. I will keep you up to date on my saga, curious readers. I’ll have one phone call, so one of the five of you give me your digits, and we’ll start a phone tree from there.

Not so moody paper

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For the last twenty years I’ve utilized the creative process to expunge the negative feelings I experienced; my work is neutral or dark in tone. Relationships, when depicted, seem twisted, and it was all very much needed and genuine at the time. But I am challenging myself to try something new. Brighter colors and a different kind of beauty that focuses less on past suffering and more toward joy. Maybe it will be a successful experiment, or maybe I won’t feel that I am in my own skin, but I think it’s worth a try.

I felt like I needed a guide, and I have always loved the work of Kelly Rae Roberts, so I have signed up for one of her e-courses. It doesn’t start until mid-February, but I am already excited about the possibilities and it is helping me with a very important DBT skill already.

As I am winding down with DBT therapy I am finding that my art is integrating the concepts and skills we use on a daily basis. One of those is opposite action, which is, as it sounds, mindfully choosing to behave in a way opposite of an emotion that isn’t effective. All emotions teach us something, but there is a difference between experiencing pain, and choosing to dwell in it, which leads to suffering.

I also chose Kelly Rae Robert’s e-course because there is a community section where participants will interact, and I have been longing for more of a community studio time without having to leave the comfort of my home studio. I am so excited to see if I am able to take her teachings and apply it to my own work, creating my own unique look that may have a thought provoking message for others.

Zero to …DBT

So I’ve been trying to do the Zero to Hero exercises, but also keep up with my DBT skills of being effective in balancing life beyond this computer screen. I took off my Zero to Hero cape for a while and decided not to decide anything right now.

I don’t know what my blog wants to be, it just wants to have a tantrum and take a nap. That’s exactly what it is going to do for a few days until it brushes itself off and gets to deciding what makes a blog worth reading.

Until then, enjoy Zero to Hero for those participating, I’ll be commenting on blogs when I am able.

hugs and germ free kisses,

Moody paper

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