Thursday, December 31, 2009



Hail pelts down.

I saw the movie Invictus about Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team. He is a great man. I read a biography about him years ago. He is truly one of the greats in the annals of history. What did I know back then? I had the 12-inch LP version of the Specials' song "Free Nelson Mandela" and then the song became obsolete a decade later.

Morgan Freeman is a great actor. You get a sense of Nelson Mandela from watching Freeman in the movie. It was a great day when black South Africans were able to vote for Mandela for president. Nelson Mandela was smart. He lived by his wits and his conscience and lived to see the day his country was set free.

You get the sense that South Africa is a beautiful land until you see the tin shacks. Nobody should have to live like that.

Nelson Mandela was a brilliant man. He had the courage to risk his life for what he believed in. How many of us would?


Today while waiting for the train a woman complimented me on my new pocketbook and said it matched my pink coat. I had bought the turquoise backpack from a street vendor yesterday on the Upper West Side. My new mate and I had walked down Broadway and as soon as I saw the pocketbook I decided to get it because I always wanted a bag in that color. I can wear it in the summer with a black top and my beige linen pants.

That was yesterday, this is today: I arrived early to 34th Street and ducked into Loft where I bought an ivory tee shirt with a rosette design and a short sleeve black cotton knit cardigan to wear together in the spring. I was able to do this because I had some extra money. I'm really not a spendthrift. I love fashion. It could be worse: I could be spending money on cigarettes or booze.

So I feel justified in treating myself. Go ahead: mock me for being obsessed with looking good to a guy to myself to the world. All we need is love on earth and peace here too.

Life will continue: this glorious life.

It's a different kind of energy to wear the short pink coat: I look around and everyone is wearing black. Five years ago I traveled to Montreal and noticed that in that city everyone also blended in. It was early April and they had on black raincoats and I was walking around in my short red barn coat not knowing how to dress. So I recommend if you ever go to Montreal wear a black raincoat if you don't want to be a fish out of water.

Funny: how when I was younger I dressed in black all the time and I mean all the time. It was an instinct. Black was my favorite color. I wore black when I was moody. I wore black when I wanted to be taken seriously.

Now red is my favorite color to wear.

That time: the 1980s. It was a strange decade. Fashion hadn't evolved or maybe it was just different. One thing I know now: dressing well is an act of kindness towards yourself. I have learned this lesson.


We went to the Metropolitan Museum and browsed the European paintings and the modern art. Then went to the City Diner for lunch.

I loved a painting of buildings in a neighborhood which makes sense as the location for a Gemini is the neighborhood and I have Gemini rising in my natal chart.

Felt I could be a good artist if I practiced painting and read the oil painting book before I actually took brush to canvas. The Complete Oil Painting Book I bought with an gift card I received after completing a survey about mental health blogging. One of the questions asked was whether I felt it was therapy to keep a blog and I checked off No. Joyful Music is an outlet for my creativity first and foremost. Therapy is a private matter although of course paid work could be consider therapy because it enables you to recover.

A memory has suddenly come on out of the blue: when I was a kid I took art classes in the summer and on Saturdays.

Why did I stop drawing and painting when I came out of the hospital?

Oh: I marched to other music in college and then the music died.

In February I will begin my painting hobby.

Wish me luck with this. I will post photos of my artwork here as it gets better.

Right now I will go sign off and go to bed.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sundries Aisle Twelve Five AM

Hello again.

You see: freeing up the space I would have to hand wash the sweaters right away instead of storing them in the bottom drawer. I imagine I could free up two drawers and space in the summer closet.

Oh: I dream of these things. I don't see why I can't now.

I would be super-organized if I had no extra space to keep things lying around.

Even now: I went on the Container Store website and bought a 24-section lipstick holder because I just have too many darn lipsticks and if I can't see them easily in the makeup drawer I regret I won't use half of them.

The cubic zirconia earrings look nice and are larger than the old ones yet do not look gaudy or cheap. I will wear them on Wednesday when I go to the museum. Browsing art and dining out warrants the short skirt. I will wear the mocha lipstick which is a brownish pink. The short black skirt. A sweater that looks good on me.

Again I go back and forth between donating the purple wool sweater and keeping it. Most likely I will try it on one more time and then decide. Although it is not a petite size the sleeves are not long and it does not hang low on the hip, it hits the high hip. So you see I'm torn. What I most likely will do is take it to the dry cleaner to be cleaned along with a pair of black pants. I can do this to preserve the life of the sweater.

All night I've been listening to Jazz88 WBGO that broadcasts out of Newark, New Jersey. Some good music. I realize not everyone likes jazz. You either like it or you don't. I met a guy who likes CBS FM and that doesn't detract me from him even though I cringe when my aunt plays that radio station in the car. It could be a lot worse: it could be Lite FM.

Suddenly lately I remember the ex-boyfriend and memories come flooding back in detail in my mind. It's like I can replay the events of our courtship on a drive-in movie screen they are that vivid to me. Luckily I did not lose myself in him and we went our separate ways. He was a Tiger-the mortal enemy of a Snake so it wasn't meant to be.

Women have to pine for what was and move on because the universe has something better for us down the road. Sometimes only in retrospect do we realize it was a mistake. Yet is reaching out ever a mistake if you get experience and there's something good however fleeting in the union?

I'm glad it ended. A woman asked me about the guy and I couldn't articulate exactly what I meant when I told her he had expectations I couldn't live up to. For one: I'm not always a talkative person and he criticized me for being quiet. To him this was a big deal it was a deal breaker for him.

Interesting. I do not consider it a deal breaker that someone listens to CBS FM and I like modern rock and jazz. I step out in other ways so to speak. Yet I respect that each of us has our own quirky needs.

In retrospect it seems almost scary that the ex-boyfriend expected me to be someone I wasn't. Truly I'm more of a listener and I like to ask people questions to get them expounding on whatever they're talking about rather than switching the topic to something I want to say.

K. asked me in what way did the ex-boyfriend think I didn't meet his expectations and now I realize it was all of the above: my not being able to perform on command for him.

He even told me [in a different way] to shut up when I asked him for detail informed about the people who lived where he did. I wanted to understand what made them tick and why they were content to wear polyester clothing that never went out of style in the Midwest. Like the Haband for Her clothes sold in the back of Parade magazine in the Sunday newspaper.

Do the women wear plaid? I wanted to know. The land was flat and cold all year. There were no museums or cultural events to speak of. That is how I should have known the relationship would go south like South Dakota.

Some things are important to me:

I could only live in a city where I had access to great health care and everything I needed was within walking distance or a bus or train ride away.

I couldn't live in a place where people existed on a steady diet of nothing.
Would rather be sitting at the computer typing with my mind going 90 miles an hour and the jazz station wafting in the background from the other room.

I prefer small, intimate spaces like neighborhoods. It is in the City where I feel the most rooted to the world and all its possibilities for creative self-expression. Round here it's never amateur night: you're on stage every day of your life giving a performance, even if you're just walking down the street.

A friend gave me a white tee shirt with black letters that proclaimed:
Brooklyn, NY: Only the Strong Survive.
I wore that shirt with pride although really it's a crummy thing: survival of the fittest. I wore it because I was strong and I knew I would survive.

I would have withered in the Midwest.

You wonder why this reflection has come on? It's the end of the year. I promise a juicy blog entry for New Year's Eve. "In with the New, Out with the Old." So I kick the memories of the ex-boyfriend to the curb. I make room in my life for someone new.

Come on: you cannot say this isn't the stuff of life: mixing and mingling. My psychiatrist told me I was like any other woman in the City and it had nothing to do with the schizophrenia. One can hope can't she?

So I have learned something I can pass on to you: yield on the things you can compromise on and do not give in on the things that are non-negotiable. A guy must adore you as you are or he's not the one for you.

OK buckeroos: you get that guys? Because if you don't get it trust me women can easily find other trout in the lake. I was hit on by a bus driver the other day even though my hair was sopping wet and I wore my funky eyeglasses in the rain. So there you go if you worry your boyfriend finds something unacceptable about you go find someone else who will like and maybe even admire that trait. Because you can get a guy sopping wet on a bus no problem all the while you look like a drowned cat.

The moral of the story? Be true to yourself and you will attract a guy [or a woman if you're a guy] who is true blue. Acting false drains your energy and is the root cause of much distress and stress and physical ailments too. The body reacts to the mind and the mind reacts to the body. So do yourself a favor: be true to yourself.

That is about all I can give as this has been a long and winding road the blog entry went down. Truth be told the bus driver asked me if I were seeing someone and I told him yes. The guy told me he would rather see someone than date someone so that he could keep his options open to see someone else. Writing that last sentence it sounds like the bus driver was a player. Trust me he was just burned by the ex-girlfriend he talked to me about in great detail.

Either you're in a relationship or you're out. I don't believe in the "one and a spare" philosophy of dating where you keep an extra guy on the side while you're dating someone else. One dating coach recommends you see seven people at once-count them: seven.

Now are you as exhausted reading this as I am writing this last section of the blog?

The women told me I was right to tell the bus driver I was seeing someone rather than my having to turn the guy down when he inevitably asked me out [because I could tell from his line of questioning where it was leading].

Oh: it was just another day in the Big City. You can't buy moments like these driving down a two-lane highway because the nearest attraction is two miles away via car. What kind of blog could I possibly write if I wasn't privy to these rich details? I wonder if I could twist into poetry the image of a french fry factory on the road or a cornfield. Could there really be seven ways of looking at a cornfield and writing about it? Please someone prove me wrong if I'm mistaken in that a flat world is really flat. Maybe in the summer the light plays on the corn in a golden way. Maybe in the winter the corn is sleeping. Those are two ways of looking at a cornfield.

I'll take the microphone at a poetry reading any day over the long drive to a pastel mall in a car the size of a boat.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

And She Was

Today I wore the taupe ultrasuede vest my mother bought me for Christmas over the black wool turtleneck with the skinny jeans and black ankle boots.

My aunt gave me two $25 universal gift cards. Will possibly use it to buy a sweater in Loft. I have no room in the bedroom closet to hang anything else. Hanging up the new taupe vest in the closet is tight. A sweater I could place in the armoire on the shelf above the hanging rod.

Yes I could see how women would like more space to store more items yet I will resist that temptation. Tonight I will place the purple wool turtleneck in the donation bag unless I decide to keep it one more year. Next year I would like to buy some cashmere crew necks.

Most likely I will buy a new sweater with the gift card although really I don't need any new clothes. Tonight I hand wash a sweater that I had stored in the bottom drawer of the armoire. That's the drawer I use to store clothes that are waiting to be washed. See: how organized I am instead of keeping clothes out on a chair or dumped on the bed. I admit I'd toss clothes on the bed after wearing them rather than immediately place them back in the armoire or closet. Now I've cured myself of that habit. For now.

A chair or bed should not look like Fresh Kills-the largest landfill in the world. A columnist on the Internet espoused making your bed in the morning as an instant mood booster and that is the sure-fire way to feel on top of the world. We do not need litter all over the place. It is easier to dump clothes on a chair yet taking the time to place them back in the closet or drawer is the better habit to adopt.

I'm so happy now because two women have posted comments here. Thank you.

I understand now that I love sweets and that is my downfall. Tomorrow I will return to the gym. After I exchange Dad's sweater today I will buy a pair of cubic zirconia earrings to replace the missing pair. I lost one of the earrings. Will see about buying a bigger stud this time. Would love to buy a pair of diamond earrings.

The reality of gaining weight with Zyprexa and the other culprits cannot be dismissed. I'm lucky I was given Geodon the first time the psychiatrist tried me on an atypical. I will be the first to admit when I've gained weight because of my own excessive eating. I realize how much I weigh is under my control. I would have no one but myself to blame if I gained weight. Besides I'm 44 and my metabolism has slowed. I cannot eat as much as I used to in my early thirties. I certainly can't have tons of sweets.

The manufacturers of Zyprexa lied when it first hit the market and said it didn't cause weight gain. That was a bold-faced lie. At least with the other drugs the manufacturers were honest. Nobody should have to make the sanity versus vanity choice.


I dream of boots on the floor and making space in the closets. What can I expect of life in the next two years?

The Aveeno advertisement got it right: The best way to predict the future is to create it. I'm writing a new chapter in the book of my life .

I certainly don't want to go at a horse-and-buggy pace in a Zip Car world.

Only one thing I know: it is the end of the year and nothing can begin until January.


The pink punch short coat arrived and it fits me so I keep it. I modeled it for the women who told me I can keep the sleeves the way they are and don't need to hem them.

K. also suggested how to continue with things and she made perfect sense. We all have our own quirky needs and I can respect this. That is all I can tell you in here. I'm content to settle for Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right. Cracker [the rock group] did a song called "Mr. Wrong" which was laugh-out loud funny you have to listen to it to appreciate it. A song about a guy with a porn collection and a rusted beat-up car. I used to listen to Cracker a lot in the 1990s. I have three of their CDs.

So what's it going to be? I do not know. I won't rule out anything.

All women surely would understand. It seems like a dream life-do I hold out for the dream? Or go my own way?

I cannot tell you now what I hope to happen a year from now. You will read about it in SZ magazine in the summer 2010 Living Life column.

Always I hold out this hope.

Tonight I have given you all I can: XMas rapping, the pink punch coat, an inkling of the future. Now I must bid you good night and scrutinize this blog entry to see if it is acceptable. Were I to publish my books I might feel differently about the content I include in here. For now I can only give you the personal made universal.

Like a note in a date book that sums it up:

December 26, 2009-

And She Was.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Into a Swan

Lucky: browsing through this magazine cheers me.

Most of the clothes I wouldn't wear yet seeing the fashions invigorates me with hope. Truly I feel the right outfit makes a difference.

The pink jacket has shipped and I should get it next week so I'll go to the tailor to have the sleeves hemmed. The green coat will need to be hemmed as well even though it's also a Petite size.

Today I wear the silver-tone circle ring which also cheers me that I bought at the Bryant Park Holiday Fair. Lost one of my cubic zirconia earrings so I would like to go back to the store and buy another pair because they are cheap: under $20. So today I do not wear earrings, only the ring and my red cotton hooded knit sweater jeans and black patent snow boots to go into the City.

Do you ever wonder how you look to other people? Do you wonder what people think of the clothes you wear and your jewelry and shoes and pocketbooks? I do wish I could see myself the way others see me. Is my red sweater the same red another person sees? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one woman's treasure is another woman's thrift store horror.

So you see. The is the endless riddle. We cannot know unless we ask and asking is out of the question unless the other person can be trusted and we value their opinion.

One thing I won't do is ask someone what they think of me: I won't give them that kind of opening because they will only offer a shortcoming most likely. I also don't like to ask others how I'm doing for exactly the same reason. Your own confidence must be your guide. Developing that confidence is critical.

Your must develop a passionate eye for what is your style, what is not your style and how you would act and not act. I often ask myself, "What would Audrey do?" as in Audrey Hepburn. She volunteered her time as a humanitarian at the end of her life traveling to places in Africa from where it wasn't guaranteed she would return. I read about this in the Pamela Clark Keogh book Audrey Style that Aunt Rose gave me for Christmas one year. I recommend the book. It features endless photos of Audrey and a guide to Audrey's style that you can use to make it your own.

Issue 1 of Boho magazine featured a poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when she was asked to share her "beauty secrets" and I'll reprint it here:

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People,
even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,
reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will
find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others."

The poem says it all. Now you understand why Audrey Hepburn was one of the greats.

It has hit with a force: colors! colors! Cool ones. Not black. Not brown. Not charcoal. Green especially. Blue as well. Would love to build up the green in my wardrobe. I have not so much blue. I used to have a blue pinstripe suit with a short skirt and zip-up jacket from Express circa 1996. Not much blue now. Would love to find an indigo suit for when I interview for the next career.

Red too. And a color in Allure: Elizabeth Arden Color Intrigue eyeshadow in Gold for the eyes and Revlon's Ravish Me Red on the lips. A winter palette for the face. The Sonia Kashuk eye shadow duo in Razzle Dazzle also looks good has a light golden shimmer.

These are allegedly the hottest shades of the season: warm gold hues, blacks injected with sparkle, and bold, bold reds. Ha! Well then. Very well. I shall see how to wear my face minus the black of course. The lipstick and gold eyeshadow I can do. Yes I can. A subtle way to look dramatic. No smoky eyes.

When I was young in college I wore Almay eyeshadow trios with brown charcoal black shades and blue twilight black combos. I shudder to think that the only available makeup colors in the 1980s were not flattering to women. Though I remember an eyeshadow palette called Seacoast which looked good on me. I would place the lighter dark colors of the Almay trios inside my lid and brow bone near the inside of the eye and sweep the darkest color up from my outer lid to over the brow bone.

It was the look borrowed from Siouxsie Sioux by young women displaced from the world who were making their way in the underground. The Importance of Siouxsie to Girls cannot be understated. If you marched to a different drummer when you were young you marched to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

She now has a solo career. Her song "Into a Swan" talks about bursting out and being transformed. Oh: I wish I had pictures to show you of my younger self dolled up for a night at CBGB. Instead I have only the one photo taken on the Fourth of July just three months before I had my breakdown.

Something sticks in my mind. How the goal is to navigate the world. How you must be able to call up the dentist to schedule an appointment go to the office sit in the chair be taken care of pay the bill and leave. That is the true hallmark of recovery: if you can do these things.

I dream now of traveling to Spain.

That is what you can do when you are able to get your cavity filled at the dentist: the next step is to dream of Spain.

It always comes back to this:

I was a young woman in love with music who dared become a disc jockey because she wanted to make a difference in other people's lives. I also had a job at the radio station apart from my late night radio show. I had to call up to people to get fill-ins when other disc jockeys couldn't do their shows. I also alphabetized the record albums in the music library.

It was even then some kind of ambition I had unlike the other young women who were studying to be nurses or teachers and were content to bang away at the cash register at the supermarket. I wanted more. I was not going to be a nurse or a teacher. Admirable professions that I'm glad men are pursuing now too. Yet that wasn't for me: I wasn't cut out to follow a traditional path and even now though I'm out in the mainstream in some significant ways I go against the grain.

A friend on the phone this morning told me she understood I gravitate to people who live their lives left of the dial. I would much rather attend a poetry reading than a cocktail party even though I have a number of little black dresses in my closet. One dress I bought because it was gorgeous and I knew its value and that it would serve me well.

Well: this has become a rather long blog entry.

Interesting that there are so many different ways of saying essentially the same thing.

I was lucky I was able to make my way in the world before I got sick.

So that is most likely why I often return to that time which I hold in my mind like a badge of pride.

I will wind down right now and go get ready for tomorrow.

Press on brave souls.

Press on.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Ho! Ho! Ho! It's still snowing.

Up at six am I decided to wrap my Christmas gifts only I did so in a lopsided way. Even when I try to be neat I don't get up to speed and so today I just wrapped them as best I could which was not too good. A friend protests that my gifts most likely look beautifully wrapped and I let her believe that. Folks: I just don't care how they look as long as I get them wrapped in under a half hour. People spend five seconds tearing the paper off so it doesn't really matter if I'm not Martha Stewart in the Christmas wrapping department. I've tried, oh I've tried to make my gifts things of beauty, it just isn't happening.

I've begun writing Chapter Two of my second book and will continue tomorrow night.

I tell you the food at Bella Napoli is so good I want to go back on Wednesday with Oliver just so I can try the vongole with linguini. I'd get a salad beforehand to make the meal healthful.

Well: I tried on the short skirts and they fit even though they're a skimpy size. I really am a shrimp. A friend said I can get away with wearing skirts two inches above my knees exactly because I'm short. Tactic #1: short skirts.

OK: We go to Yaffa Cafe instead.

It's late and I couldn't sleep so I tootled around the Esprit website and bought a pair of black stretch jeans. Wish I could sleep. It's 3:04 am and another day has begun. Must go to sleep.


Oh: dearie my long black winter coat has a hole near the right side pocket and that just wouldn't do so while I was up I bought a green Calvin Klein coat to replace it. Feel the expense is justified because I don't want to wear out the other long coat that remains: the crimson AK Anne Klein one that my mother bought me seven years ago. Plus on top of that a short "pink punch" Jones New York coat to trade off with the teal Calvin Klein short coat.

I have become obsessed. With not wearing black or drab or muted colors.

Luckily I had some money coming in to pay for the coats.

I'm not going to walk around in clothes with stains or tears or holes. And anyway the long black coat I've had for five years already. It's also because the cold weather is here that I want to make sure to dress warm.

Pink Punch! I wondered if that would be too much yet why not stand out in a good way instead of blending in with all black or brown or charcoal?

This is where I'm at now: pink punch.

In just over one week the New Year begins and I have such hope for the coming year.

How do I know it's going to be a good one? I can only hope it will be.

For me it's a 3 Personal Year so I have the urge to reinvent myself or burst into bloom.

Right now as I type in here I'm envisioning flowers in a garden with their promise of beauty to the world in spring.

What do I know? You reach out. As best you can you reach out instead of going within all the time.

I'm reading a book by Terry Tempest Williams titled Finding Beauty in a Broken World. She has no faith in the cruel God that allowed Rwanda to happen whereas I don't hold God accountable. We are responsible for what happened: only humans. Jesus gave us the blueprint over a thousand years ago and we failed to heed his message.

John Mabry in his book The Way of Thomas believes that we are God and there's nothing separating us from our divine union with Christ. God entrusted us with the earth. I find it interesting that people expect God to save us from ourselves. We were created in God's image so it is up to us to live up to his expectations. Saying that God is responsible for cleaning up after our messes is a co-dependent way of looking at things.

I'm almost done with Finding Beauty and I recommend you read the book because that is what all of us are tasked with doing: making beauty out of ugly things. That is what I want to do with the schizophrenia: I hope to transform my pain into a thing of beauty for other people.

New coats, Rwanda, God: the stuff of this blog entry.

Certainly healing is the ultimate goal.

The world is broken. I ask myself now: What are you going to do to make things whole? For surely I can do my part. We can all do our part.

I cannot go there right now because it is too painful.

I trust none of our elected officials to do the right thing.

Some people say Copenhagen sparked no real cure for the climate crisis either.

I walk a fine line between pleased as punch and feeling we've been punched in the face.

Either way I will do just fine however I wonder about other people.

People who are homeless and need winter coats.

Those of us spending Christmas in a psych ward.

As if to curb my happiness I remember the bleakness.

We sit on the bleachers watching those in power pull the strings on us like marionettes.

The more I see how it is unvarnished and real I eagerly await the new coats to take warmth in during the coming cold months.

A frozen Statue of Liberty with no robe and a cold torch if memory serves adorned an advertisement for a winter coat drive.

I'm cold just thinking of this and it is getting late now so I'm going to wind down.

I hope it is warm where you are and that there is heat where you are.

Peace on Earth we need it now.

Peace to you tonight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Playing for Change

The Cartier store facade is wrapped in holiday vines with white lights at Christmas. One of the expressions of cheer waving from their flags is Buon Natale or Merry Christmas in Italian. It is a thing of joy to look at that store. Alas the classic Cartier tank watch remains out of reach for most people.

The Esprit store had a 40 percent off sale and I have to return tomorrow because the jeans I bought today do not fit. 40 percent off is a decent savings.

Were I a young woman now I would shop in Esprit. I used to buy Esprit clothes from Macy's in the late 1980s. I had a Christmas red cotton sweater and mini skirts and a blue PVC oversize tote I would carry record albums in.

I tango with the memories and then exit the dance floor.

Today beautiful memories can be had for a song.

Dr. Altman told me I would know what to do and I wonder about that. I wore boots with two-inch heels on Wednesday night.

I'm reminded of the song that Grace Slick sang about how we all need and want somebody to love. I would dare say as human beings our greatest wish is to be loved back.

The Playing for Change CD had a great cover version of "All You Need is Love."

Dr. Altman told me not to be coy.

Last night I dashed off the spring 2010 Living Life column whose focus is about friendships. I would tell anyone who wants to make a connection with another person whether romantically or as a friend to just smile as appropriate and be yourself. It does no good to be false and put on an act. Yes it hurts to be rejected however that is life and you need to cry those tears and pick yourself up and try again.

That is the beauty of life: feeling what you feel and doing your best to rise above the pain and make something beautiful of your struggle.

I want to write that I was so taken by Pamela's blog entry on her fascination with the snow and the keys on her keyboard. The whole of success lies in seeing what's really there and not ascribing hidden meaning to things.

So as I type my own blog entries I understand that finding beauty in ordinary objects as if you're seeing them for the first time is a way to be young and treasure your life. No matter how hard it gets life is always worth living.

You take a risk to give up the delusions and not give the paranoia weight. I wrote about this in my first Living Life column in the winter of 2008: I wondered what it would be like when I didn't have the worry to fall back on.

Always take that risk and do so again and again because taking the risk is the sure-fire way to own your recovery. Now I've come on strong again and I know some people reading this blog entry or reading this blog for the first time will pound me with a pocketbook: "What if someone is unable to take a risk? How can Chris say it's simple?"

Listen: did I ever tell you it would be easy? Exactly. You simply take action and the more you take action the easier it will be. Susan Jeffers wrote the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway [an expression she copyrighted] in which she said that millions of people fear things like public speaking or doing other things yet they keep doing those things and it gets easier.

So there. Do not clunk me over the head with a pocketbook unless hundred-dollar bills are going to fall out of it. I rest my case: you see why I come on strong.

Not everyone is going to see it the way I do and that's OK. Each person has the right to select her perception of the world. [That's an Anais Nin quote I borrowed.]

So be it.


Alas the Esprit store did not have the jeans in my size so I bought a camisole instead and a black belt that cost less money total. It started snowing in New York City today. A cold wind blows.

Elizabeth Gilbert is quoted in O magazine: "There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves." This from her new book Committed.

Her fiance made the analogy to a parcel of gemstones he would buy because of one or two flawless stones when the others were a bag of junk. He would ask, "Can I work with these? Can I make something out of this? Otherwise, you've just spent a whole lot of money on one or two gorgeous aquamarines buried inside a big heap of worthless crap."

We project our ideal self to another person in this dance. It's so easy to overlook the flaws of someone else when their selling points are like those flawless aquamarines. "Powder and paint make a woman what she ain't" goes the saying. Dare I say after three martinis you'll think a guy is a gemstone when he's deeply flawed?

It's the dance of life: meeting someone you're interested in and seeing where it goes. I have placed a hold on the Elizabeth Gilbert book.

We ate in Bella Napoli last night: four women. The waiter knows me because I dine there once a month and I have met Oliver there and now I brought the women. Good food and you can choose the vegetables instead of pasta with your entree for a healthful meal. For $15 you can get filet of sole and for $17 you can get shrimp and these selections are good. The next time I'm there I would like to try the vongole with linguini in white clam sauce. The clams are arranged on the plate in their shells.

The restaurant was crowded and cleared out at about the time we left. It was snowing outside in the evening and cold.

The tree was lit up in Rockefeller Center too.

It was a beautiful evening though I don't like the cold nor do I like the snow.

I have taken to wearing a gray knit cap to sleep at night. In my old apartment it was sometimes so cold I had to wear gloves to bed.

Just remembering the weather I'm going to wind down this blog entry so I can go find the wrap to wear in the apartment.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Radio On

Good morning.

After re-reading the blog entries I wonder if I've been too sunny-side up in here. I had ended one entry with "What a beautiful life it is" instead of "What a beautiful life it can be." You might not think the world is so joyous so I will respect your viewpoint.

Yesterday in the housewares store the song "Summer of '69" was on the sound system as I waited to buy the new set of hangers and a champagne-color tablecloth. Hearing the music moved me.

Oliver Sacks wrote a book Musicophilia about the effect of music on the human brain.

When I was a young woman I could feel feelings when I listened to the radio. I related to the Modern Lovers song about the FM radio. Those bittersweet memories cloud my mind like cream in coffee. I felt like I was misunderstood.

At the radio station the other disc jockeys accepted me and it was the first time I did not feel different or like a freak. I worked in a supermarket with other young women who wore Guess jeans and had boyfriends and were studying to be teachers or nurses. Even then I was pulled to live in the City and have a different kind of life.

My life lately has revolved around one dilemma: the battle of the dueling tables. I would post before-and-after photos and have you guess which table decor made the final cut.
Only the before picture would make me cringe.

The finale: I bought a champagne-color tablecloth for $10 and a new set of crystal candlesticks and the other day in the card shop I bought for $15 a Marquis Waterford crystal garden vase. So everything looks much better in my eyes.

A person I know remarked that he liked to shop or was always shopping it seemed. Sometimes I wonder if you think I'm a spendthrift. However getting the decor just right turns an ordinary meal into a glorious event. So there is some kind of emotional nurturing you give yourself in a beautiful environment.

Beauty is not a luxury it is a necessity to feel good. I'm now at peace with the dining table. This is not something strange though it sounds like it is.

I will most likely give the old candlesticks to Mom if she wants them or donate them to the Salvation Army. Even should they be worth money I would just donate them rather than eBay them. A person who browses the thrift shop would be thrilled to find the candlesticks so that alone is worth discarding them instead of selling them.

Most likely I have an eye for these kinds of things and the new decor is in keeping with my Classic nature: it is contemporary not dated. Sometimes too it is time to let go of reminders of the past: the old candlesticks I inherited from my grandmother after my mother and aunts cleared out her house to sell it after she died. Those crystal candlesticks were easily from the 1960s.

It brings back memories of Christmas Eve and the Harry and David gift baskets we were given from a wealthy patron of my great uncle who was a priest. He ministered to the poor in Honduras and would come up to visit every Thanksgiving.

We have been feasting on lobster on Christmas Eve-the Night of the Seven Fishes-ever since I was a kid. Calamari shrimp clams mussels and seafood salad round out the meal with angel hair pasta and lobster sauce.

You see: this must be the hidden reason I was so fixated on the table: it is the end of the year and the end of that era in my life.

The candlesticks were the last straw. Do you understand?

What remains: only today. This moment to live in and to take possession of. We own each moment in our lives.

We can embrace the struggle at the same time we keep our eye on the prize: the goal we set that can be achieved. It might take longer to get there or we might have to come at it in a different way yet always a goal can be achieved when it is modest and realistic. A good tactic is to start out by setting a goal you know you can achieve before you set goals that are slightly beyond your reach.

This week I gave a talk at an IPRT for clients who have set the goal of going to work or to school or who want to do other things. It went well. One older guy told me I was the only speaker who could last for the full hour. I spoke for only fifteen minutes and spent the rest of the hour answering questions. As I waited for the bus going home a woman who was in the audience arrived at the bus stop and told me I was motivational. "You're beautiful baby," she said before boarding the other bus.

Since I arrived early I ducked into a 99-cent store. Everyone kept bumping into each other and saying "Sorry" because the aisles were narrow. I did my eco good deed and bought cheap forks with pink plastic handles and cheap knives to make an 18-piece set each for when I entertain. This way I do not have to keep buying disposable plastic ones. Next up on my eco list is to buy a set of Confetti plates to use instead of the disposable plastic dishes. I will do this in late January when Mercury turns direct as I don't want to have anything shipped in the weeks after Christmas. Mercury is retrograde on December 26 as I already told you and turns direct on January 16 so I will buy things again on January 20.

It nears eight pm and I have been up since eight am. So I ordered in a fish dinner to be delivered. I will eat dinner and then go rest. Later I will post here a photo of the dining table decor that made the cut. These things are not frivolous.

I feel I did good when I gave the speech.

It takes me awhile to decompress afterward also because it is a two-hour commute each way to and from the IPRT.

So now it is another night and I find myself still quite drained.

I've been listening to WKCR-the Columbia University radio station that plays jazz music. You can listen to them on iTunes via the College Radio banner. I love to hear the modern jazz that sounds scratchy or chewy. This afternoon I listened to a piano music program that also was quite good.

This is all. I can give you. Today.

Warm holiday wishes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lady With a Spinning Head

A new day.

Last night I nixed buying the skirts I wanted and anyway one of them wasn't available in my size. I threw out a $20 off coupon not expecting to use it and alas I could have used it.

The skirts I wanted to buy to wear to impress a guy. One of the skirts is in my size so I'll see if today I return to the website and buy only that one.

I've scanned this blog to scrutinize its contents and so far I feel it's been OK what I wrote. You see I wouldn't ever sell myself short. I would also let other people shine. The astrologer told me, "You have something useful to give others in a world where despair is the order of the day."

I tell you I spent two hours editing Friday's blog entry. Originally I covered no new ground. I felt there was only one way I could spin something I had written so I deleted it. Will begin again now to tell you in a different way: The shop owner of the housewares store knows me by name. I bought an over-the-door hook to place in the bedroom closet to hang things from. This freed up space on the rod so I could hang on the rod the skirts I want to buy. This little feminist wants to impress a guy by wearing the short skirts. I meet him again on Wednesday night. So this is a new spin on the old topic of my love of organizing. Otherwise on Friday I had tread the same dirt road.

Well: I splurged on a shorter skirt as well as the flannel black skirt I wanted which was 19 inches. The shorter one is 17 1/2 inches. I go back to the housewares store tomorrow to buy a set of hangers to use for these items.

Am I fastidious? I would like to think I'm not. There's a difference between being well-organized and micromanaging the details of your wardrobe. I have talked in here of my fascination with women I call living museums because they are perfectly coiffed and groomed and wear good clothes and carry the expensive pocketbooks when I see them on the streets of the City.

fastidious: very attentive to and concerned about accuracy and detail. very concerned about cleanliness.

So in this regard I'm not fastidious though I'm aware of the details of outfits that make them stand out. To be honest I'm not obsessed with cleanliness. I seem to remember reading the words of a writer who wrote about a woman with "fastidious assemblages of clothing" or some such thing which is why I always thought this word had something to do with demeanor.

So we will throw out this word in here and replace it with something else: devotion to dress. Kind of like a faith in how you present yourself to the world.

Have I been too strict in this interpretation in the blog? Talking about taking risks as something a person must do. Please forgive me. I've skimmed the past two months of blog entries and I realize I have come on strong at times. Especially with the bit about not watching Gilligan's Island re-runs. I wasn't the first person to make this analogy though: someone I interviewed for a magazine made this analogy four years ago.

The one thing I stand by is reaching upward even if you can't reach all the way for the sky. Bill MacPhee-the founder and publisher of SZ magazine-is quoted: "The point is not to set the bar high but to set it." So choosing modest and realistic goals to accomplish is the best way to approach making changes in your life.

My goals for 2010 are simple: get a literary agent and see where it goes with the new guy. I cannot realistically hurtle towards another galaxy right now. I can do only what I can do as even this morning when I leave you here I have to work at one of my other jobs. The shoes I wear are tight and hard to walk in at times. I very much take each day as it comes. Years ago I abandoned the idea that I would go to FIT to get a diploma in image consulting though I toyed with doing that. It could be something for when I retire.

Too much: this is too much. I do all this because it is preferable to being alone with my thoughts. Do you understand how this could be that I prance around this way? I do not want to give you the impression that this all comes easy to me. I made the hard choice to do all this work as a defense against the symptoms of the schizophrenia. That is always the battle: to fight this cruel illness and be the last one standing.

So you see really I have no option but to charge on. And the new skirts and the hope and this blog and this life are ways of charging on in the face of devastation. Down the road I go skipping this beat and extending my hand to bring up others because there is no shame and you don't have to feel guilty about having a diagnosis.

Yesterday a friend called who told me some peers are treated poorly by their own families after getting sick. I could not imagine that however it is too often true. So I couldn't turn someone away who wanted to get better and had no support otherwise. The concept of adopting a "family of choice" holds true for those of us whose real families abandon us.

The holiday season is supposed to be one of cheer and that too for a lot of people is a sad season instead. It is why now and always I seek to offer you and others and everyone hope because hope is the ultimate coping skill.

I've skirted things in here again it seems even though I was trying to explain to you why I do all this. Somebody has to do this. I'm sitting at the computer moving 90 miles an hour in my brain. At noon I will go do the work that I let slide over the weekend. There is always work to do. I take on this work as I said as a defense against the schizophrenia.

So I have decided I will travel on vacation in the spring and travel abroad for New Year's 2011. I cannot lie on that couch. The couch is not an option and I have gotten flak for this stance and I know I will continue to get flak for it.

Please find it in your heart to forgive me if I have come on too strong. Trust me I feel it is presumptuous to assume everyone needs fixing or needs to change. I'm one person like a spinning top dynamo yet I always want to learn about what makes other people tick or spin too. I wouldn't dare expect that I know what is best for you or anyone else. How you execute the terms of your recovery is an individual matter. I would love to hear from other people what kinds of coping skills they use.

This is about all I can give you now as I have perhaps painted myself into a corner.

The bell rang and it was the UPS guy and he delivered the Barbie doll and accessories set that is my niece's Christmas gift.

I'm going to wind down here and see what else I can do.

Feel free to swat me with a figurative pocketbook when I go down a certain road.

I am Napolitan and Calabrese and Sicilian so not only am I a teste dura from every angle I'm a super hard head when it comes to thinking I know what works.

Also feel free to chime in with your own stories by posting comments to this blog.

Now I will go leave you as I have no energy to continue.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bel Canto

Beautiful songs:


In January I buy the table top easel and begin a painting hobby. I have the brushes paints and other supplies ready to go. Everything is stored in the Art Students League tote that I bought when I attended the League four years ago. I would leave at seven on a Sunday morning to go to 57th Street in Manhattan where the building was. I took a painting course that featured a live model. Alas I did her face and it wasn't very good. I hope to get better with practice so that I can consider myself an artist as well as a writer. I'd like to paint a self-portrait. Right now I will start with some ideas I have for a series called Optimism. I also have an idea for a still life with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

When I was young I used to draw and paint. I'm not Picasso however I do have some natural artistic talent that is better than most people's and if I develop it I'm sure I could be a good artist again.

Will order the easel from the Pearl Paint website and have it delivered. The one I want will cost about $225 after tax and shipping. It folds for easy storage and looks sturdy when open.

Wish me well with this hobby.


The women come over tonight because I host the writing workshop. I bought parmesan garlic pita chips and olives and globe grapes and winey goat cheese and Monterey jack and Jarlsberg to serve during our session. There's the silver pitcher of water and some bottles of the Just a Tad Sweet peach iced tea. No wine though.

I clicked "new post" at 6:52 am after rising early again and now it's seven pm and I'm waiting for the women to arrive. I present in the workshop the introduction to the second book and the first half of the first chapter of the book.

OK: the buzzer is ringing so I have to buzz everyone in.

Will return to this blog entry later.


I am a madwoman typing at midnight drunk on her passion for life.

This night has come as close to perfect as it could be. The food was devoured; the pitcher emptied and the iced tea bottles drained. I will continue. I'm determined to succeed in the face of any opposition to my hopeful message.

I'm willing to stand alone in championing my vision that people can recover from schizophrenia. I tell you now I'm not the exception to the rule: I've met other people with schizophrenia who have jobs and Masters degrees. This is not unusual though you won't hear about us because nobody discloses so it's hard to believe someone can do these things.

The women told me how I should continue with the book. It was a brilliant solution and I will make the revisions before we meet again on January 10.



On Saturday I made the revisions and I'll give the new copy of the first chapter to a new friend / hopefully romantic interest.

Today I bought my father a sweater for Christmas. I bought some mixing bowls in the Cellar at Macy's. It is only two weeks until Christmas: heavens the year is ending.

In Starbuck's when I bought my lunch I also took home the Norah Jones CD The Fall and the Product (RED) Playing for Change CD which I like a lot. Norah Jones is my favorite vocalist. I also like Diana Krall's creamy voice and I have her Quiet Nights CD that I bought in Starbuck's too.

The Playing for Change CD is free with a $15 purchase and when the barista rings it up $1.00 is donated to the Product(RED) fund. Years ago I bought the Inspi(Red) tee shirt from the GAP that is also a Product(RED) item. It is of course red and fits me well.

Want to sing a new song in the New Year. Like the U2 lyrics I will sing a new song that is ever hopeful and it will begin when I take paint to canvas.

This is all I can give you tonight: a blog entry about art and music. I have spent the better part of the evening shaping this entry into something that is acceptable to me. Will upload photos of my paintings here when they start to be good. Otherwise I will just practice practice practice.

Before I go I want to wish those of you celebrating the holiday a Happy Chanukah and a life filled with the eternal light of hope.

Now I will leave you to enjoy your evening as I must return to one of my jobs even though it is late.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sinkin' Soon


The mixing bowls were not ordered for me so I will buy my own this weekend so I can bake the brownies again and maybe some kind of holiday cookies. The ones with lemon icing I call biscotti although most people would not. If memory serves Italians use the word biscotti to describe cookies although the direct translation is biscuits of course.

Biscotti=biscuits. Bruni=brown.

We were named Bruni because our ancestors were known for their brown hair. My hair is black almost jet. Mom asked me if I dyed my hair and I told her no which is true. I'll be 45 in April and I still have my natural black hair. I used to feel like a freak of nature because of my black hair and pale skin which is undoubtedly a reason Oliver commented that I look striking: because of the contrast.

Hello: I've made myself wacky over the new tablecloth. Dare I tell you why I'm not convinced the one gracing the table now works? I fear it looks tacky not tasteful and cannot let go of this although it's most likely all in my head.

As you can see I am most peculiar about certain things. It is also why I got into a tussle with a friend over the fact that I don't buy things on sale. A lot of people want things that are a good value. However I believe in paying more for items of good quality which to me justifies the expense. A bargain isn't a value if the item of clothing you buy falls apart after you wear it only three times like the flannel pajama pants I paid $7.99 for. Or like the knife I bought in the 99-cent store whose handle broke the first time I used it. So there you go. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

It is just-there I tell you this-the table decor looks ancient in my eyes: dated. It looks like a tablecloth that isn't inspired to make a statement: it looks ordinary not fancy.

So there you go. On lunch I buy the new cheap tablecloth and see how it looks. Finding your style involves making mistakes even with home decor as well as fashion.

I regret, in the words of Norah Jones in her song of the same name, that this blog entry will be "Sinkin' Soon" if I continue in this vein.

Segue: Friday I host the writing workshop and serve cheese and crackers and olives. The only thing missing will be wine though I can get a bottle of Amarone should I want to complete the hostess effect. Santa Cristiana is a cheap wine that is also good for about $10 a bottle so I could consider that because Amarone is $37 a bottle. Seriously. I once attended a writing workshop years ago in a woman's home where wine was served and that loosened everyone's tongues and the critiques were quite honest.

OK: the new cheap tablecloth looks better because it's not a floral design; it has a swirl print on a block pattern so looks muted. However come spring I replace it with the green cotton tablecloth.

I had a dream where I ordered a Snapple orangeade at a bar that cost $2 with a $1 tip and when I woke up I craved that drink so poured myself a glass of orange juice.

Also feel: health care in America will be "sinkin' soon." I have no faith in our elected officials. I'm also against the troop surge in Afghanistan. I consider myself a pacifist in terms of war though I believe actions taken in self-defense could be justified. In the modern world, U.S. troops should only be used for peacekeeping missions. What about Rwanda? Our great shame. Troops should have been sent in. I'm reading a book by Terry Tempest Williams called Finding Beauty in a Broken World and it is about an art project in Rwanda that was aimed at healing.

I fear Americans have lost all hope in our leaders. I will review the latest health care reform legislation for the Connection and post it in a SharePost on Sunday. A New York Times reporter questioned whether health care should have been on the table at all when strengthening the economy was the number one priority.

The stimulus bill if I recall was signed during Mercury retrograde which accounts for all the loopholes and dilemmas associated with this bill. We face another Mercury retrograde period starting December 26th so it will not be a good idea to buy furniture and have it shipped or buy electronics or sign documents until Mercury turns direct after January 16th.

Segue #2: Is it just me or are the Barbie Dolls anatomical wonders? I'm glad to see there is an African American Barbie Doll as well. I just ordered the Black Label Collector Barbie Doll with the accessory set that includes a pooch on a leash. All the accessory sets feature stiletto hells, well I mean to say heels but they are hell to walk in. So there you go. I bought my niece her Christmas gift. How about a 15-year old lesbian Barbie Doll with tattoos? No I don't think Mattel is going to produce that girl any time soon.

Now my nephew gets Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. He is reading at the third grade level even though he's in the second grade. This warms my heart. He loves to read. I will tell him I read 25 books last year and that I like to read too. I had already bought him two books. I also get him the Wimpy Kid with the blue cover. So he will receive four books for Christmas and will be in heaven.

While I was at it I ordered for myself the sentiment coasters from the Sundance catalog: six glass coasters with the words kind happy strong brave peaceful and thankful to use when I invite people over. That is all I care to spend now or my finances will be sinkin' soon too.

Folks: I've been up since five am as I fell asleep at ten o'clock last night.

So right now I'm going to wind down and rest before I venture outside.


Monday, December 7, 2009



I'm home: where I want to be.

Mom met me at the dentist's office to give me a one-foot Christmas tree that I placed on top of the revolving CD rack. I had a puffy left side of my mouth as the cavity was filled. The needle was painless.

On my way home I bought a striped green gold brown table runner that I use with the new antique ivory tablecloth. I changed the turquoise patina candlesticks to the crystal ones and placed the mini wreaths around the candles. A clear round vase in the middle of the table completes the winter look.

Yes: I tidied up the table and cleared off documents and books to keep it neat and festive.

While in the store I also bought a medium-sized wooden tray with a pattern of lemons on the serving area. I plan to use this if I ever eat dinner at my computer or if I'm sitting in the living room watching TV. The yellow pattern is cheerful and the tray was reduced to under $10.

The line was long waiting in the store. I had originally gone in to buy a pizza cutter and alas they were out of stock on that item. A search of the stockroom was fruitless.

I give Oliver the first chapter of my second book so he can give me feedback. He was interested in reading it and I will risk allowing him to do so. He is a person who is in the market of readers for this book so I will tell him to give me an honest critique.

We met last Wednesday at the Washington Square Coffeehouse.

I told him that when I was in grad school I worked full-time and took two courses a semester and spent 40 hours a semester writing editing reporting for and publishing Keyword, the library science program newsletter. I was also a member of the Student Association and chaired its lecture series. In my last semester I won a $2,000 law librarian scholarship. Alas I did not continue in that field because I was passed over for a promotion at the law library where I worked and so I decided to find another job.

At about the same time [the fall of 1999] I met a woman who worked at the library of a famous American fashion designer and she regaled me with a similar tale of working at a law firm and not being able to get ahead because the female director would not promote her. When I met S. she was wearing an espresso brown suit cut dangerously close to her curves. As it turned out when I graduated school I interviewed at that design house library and did not get the position. Surely wearing a navy blue conservative suit did not make me stand out from the crowd.

Yes: even fashion houses have libraries. As do museums advertising firms brokerage houses and medical schools. They are what is known as special libraries as opposed to public or academic libraries.

I was also lucky because I received a $600 tuition waver each semester because my undergraduate GPA was above a 3.5. You were able to shave $100 per credit off your tuition if your undergraduate GPA was a 3.5 or higher. So as soon as I sat in the chair across from my adviser to register for the new semester I would tell him to get out the form to fill out to enable me to obtain the tuition waiver. My first semester at school I was a graduate assistant in the computer lab so that gave me $1,000 to use towards the tuition.

You would of course not do what I did while I was in grad school: burn the midnight oil doing schoolwork because I had the active calendar I told you about four paragraphs ago. Sometimes when I remember my time at library school I'm amazed I did all that. How could one person in her right mind possibly take on all that activity?

Today is no different only I set limits and turn in to bed earlier so I can get a good night's sleep. Yet always I would not know how to sit still because I'm a fidget and always on the go. What I did in grad school "established the floor" so to speak of what I would be able to do for the rest of my life. I would not have to work at a job that made me miserable just to pay the rent and buy clothes and put food on the table.

Only now I set the bar higher even today when I could rest on my laurels: I have the goal of going back to school for a Masters in Rehab Counseling so I can become a vocational counselor for people with disabilities. I am not sure I will ever quit striving to achieve things. I love a challenge. So I can't guarantee to you that I won't push myself to the limit again.

How does someone diagnosed with schizophrenia manage not to crack up doing all these things? Well: possibly I have a stronger constitution because I'm a Classic and an INTJ so I don't consider myself to be someone who gets stressed out easily. Mere civilians would be satisfied to stay at home watching TV all night. On the other hand when I'm done typing in here I will work at my second job for an hour and only then call it quits.

Please folks: this blog entry should come with the disclaimer: don't try this at home.

I'm fond of telling you I'm a strange girl who leads an unconventional life. I would not be able to entertain any other kind of life than the one I lead now. When I was 23 I was presented with an unimaginable life that I chose not to accept: relying on a $700-a-month government disability check. I saw that future and I bolted from it.

Mom told me once she was glad I didn't settle for less.

I would tell any of you that even if reaching high isn't an option that reaching upward is always a noble goal. Aim for the stars because you can always fall back on the moon. The gutter is not an avenue any of us should consider. We will fail at some things and fail again at other things on our way to finding our niche in the world.

One word describes the day we find our niche:


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome to the Crowd

7:15 St. Mark's Ale House.

We pay the bill and tip the waitress and head over to Yaffa Cafe that is always open.

Leopard print furniture and clouds on the ceiling and boudoir red walls complete the vibe. Dangling lights inside a light fixture that is a cluster of grapes.

I had the szechuan shrimp with quinoa. It came with a salad with carrot ginger dressing.

9:15 Sidewalk.

I had the flourless chocolate cake.

It helps me feel better about the friends I lost along the way.

I lost three friends over the last three years. One person I wasn't as close with as I was to everyone else yet I consider the loss of the friendship to be my own doing. We also went our separate ways. I set the birds free and they didn't come back so to speak and I have no expectations that they will return.

So you take each moment as it comes:

St. Mark's Ale House. Yaffa Cafe. Sidewalk.

You learn over the years to take the good when it arrives and discard the bad. Your past has an expiration date like a milk carton and it is this: yesterday. Today is good only until it ends. Tomorrow is a new glass of milk. Drink up when the glass is half full and then fill it up again. Only sometimes does it benefit you to see the glass as half empty. You can be a realist and an optimist at the same time. It benefits you to consider each option yet to always have hope. Hope rises always. With hope you can deal with the sour milk.

To live in the now is the only way to live and to give of yourself. We need to embrace each moment even the hard ones that are struggle. Without struggle there is no growth. We grow through conflict in life as do characters in a book where the rising conflict leads to a climax and then denouement. We can consider our lives to be full of dramatic action that causes us to make decisions that either move us forward or keep us stuck. This friction and resistance is the stuff of drama and our lives are plenty dramatic throughout the years. You might not think so however even minor conflict sparks growth inside.


A memory: standing outside Sine listening to folk music. An NYU student talking about studying algebra. How can I remember this? I have a photographic memory for details and events in my life. A friend and I used to trawl the East village in our downtown clothes: I wore a black denim motorcycle jacket with leather pocket flaps epaulets and lapels. Years later after she left I donated the jacket to the Salvation Army even though it was in good condition. Sometimes you have to let go. I felt it was a younger look and a couple years later I replaced it with a leather 1969 jacket with zippered sleeves and pouch pockets and a zippered pocket above the left pouch pocket.

I'm celebrating the "oh, hell" birthday in 2010: 45 and so I throw a party and invite people over. It can be a potluck or Mom can cater it. Trawling Avenue A last night brought back memories for one of the friends who lived there in the 1990s before it was gentrified. Exciting lights and bustling activity. A bar or restaurant on every corner. 45: what do I know now that I didn't know at 22? Your life does not end just because you're diagnosed with schizophrenia. It can be a better life than you ever imagined.

Back then I was attracted to people who I otherwise wouldn't have met. I was drifting through life like a bottle with a message at sea: help! I'm lost! I did not know what I wanted to do I only knew I didn't want a job pushing No. 2s. Though I had an English degree I didn't want to teach either. I toyed with getting a double major that included business and settled for a minor in marketing.

Well then: I was always ambitious. The summer of my sophomore year in high school I took an introductory college English 101 course. In college I took a psychology course during the summer. This enabled me to graduate within four years.

Sometimes you do not know your purpose until life gives you a nudge. I was 35 when I discovered that I wanted to be in service to other people. Like anyone with Gemini rising I have two jobs and entertain switching careers when I retire in 12 years.

Life goes on. Wait. Wait patiently through the blues or the low time or the pit stop. Rest and refuel and recharge your batteries and then move on. I call this cocooning. A protective mechanism where you conserve your energy until you need it for your true purpose. I once said in here that there is a difference between activities and achievements. I tend not to take on too much that would stress me. Friendships are not stressful and if they are you need to examine whether you're hanging out with people who nurture you or suck the life out of you.

It all comes down to this: you are in the driver's seat.

I would be a different person had what happened to me not happened. It goes as far back as to when I was 5 or 6 and the girls across the street were cruel to me and when I was 12 and the neighborhood girls and the girls at school teased and taunted me. Those early life experiences informed how I would go on to treat other people.

In the 1970s school staff allowed bullying to go on and they looked the other way. I lived in what I considered a ghetto because everyone was white and mostly trash. We talked of this at Thanksgiving: about the true fighting Irish kids and the Italians in name only who would rather brawl than break bread with you.

I was ten years old walking down the street in my bikini top and shorts. An older neighborhood boy pulled the string on the bikini top and lifted it off.

One of the boys was beaten until his nose was bleeding and when he went to the nearest neighbor's house to ring the bell to get help the other kid's father turned him away.

I'm listening to U2's No Line on the Horizon CD as I type in here. I remember how in the O magazine interview Bono said his role as a humanitarian is no greater than that of a plumber: that everyone has a purpose. This was interesting: that he was humble about the things he was doing to better the world.

It puts the things I do in perspective.

I'm listening to the song "Magnificent" now. Next up I'll listen to the Norah Jones CD Not Too Late. I had the urge to listen to music. I just did three loads of laundry and do not feel like cooking. After I'm done in here I will order in dinner.


It is another day another communique from the strange girl:

I have done nothing at all except begin typing up chapter one of my second book.

The new guy said he would call at eight o'clock on Sunday evening and when the phone rang and it was him I looked at the computer screen and on the lower right it said 8:00 PM. He told me his cable box also read 8:00 PM. It's refreshing that he kept his word whereas other guys would say they're going to call you and not call.

Have been in a brain fog all day because of the writing. I knew by the time I was seven years old that I wanted to be a writer. My creative temperament compels me to pound the keyboard day after day. I don't know why I do it only that I must do it. I need to write like I need to breathe.

So you have entered this blog again and I hope you find comfort and joy here always.

It is late and I must be going to bed soon.

The strange girl will now sign off for the night.

1:16 AM. Brooklyn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


OK: my belt rack is filling up with black and brown and beige belts. The black Xanthe belt arrived yesterday. It replaces the tan one that I bought that was poorly stained in spots. I returned the other belt five weeks ago to get this one. The Xanthe belt has a wide etched silver buckle.

Would like to figure out a way to keep the belt rack visible in the closet. I've decided I might donate a coat to the Salvation Army that I've had for five years. I bought it with the JC Penney gift certificate I was given when I left my old job. Donating the coat would free up room in the coat closet. I will try it on tonight and decide what I want to do because I'm not sure the zipper zips up completely anymore. It seems wasteful to me to get rid of the coat after only five years. The short red coat has a hood and flap pockets.

My wishful thinking has me dreaming of making room in the closets for a guy's clothes. Would that be possible at some point? We shall see. I get the idea that my life will turn on a dime next year so stayed tuned for any news in here to that effect.

The talk went well last night. The co-leader told me, "You were no-nonsense and intelligent. You spoke beautifully." I had felt I was of no help though a woman came up to me afterward and a father shook my hand at the end of the night. You hear stories of such hell and want only to make it better for the mothers and fathers and their loved ones.

The coat I donate to Sal's when I get a chance to bring the donations bag there. I now have easy access to the belt rack. You wonder about this. The details are finishing touches and not an afterthought. They make the difference between so-so and stand out. Was it Vivienne Westwood who suggested in a fashion magazine that a woman should err on the dramatic side? I'm not so keen to appear dramatic and wear theater makeup anymore. I used to covet being dramatic and that was when I didn't realize I did so because the Dramatic woman is the style type immediately after me so I had a secret striving to come across as larger-than-life.

Now I'd rather my clothes take a backseat to my humanitarian actions. This sounds two-faced doesn't it? You can look good while doing good. Yet I would rather not look weird while trying to come across as stable and not shaky. That is how I've reconciled this through the years.

Today I wear the silver-tone ring with my red military jacket and the Sephora Mat10 lipstick. It's a matte red that beautifully replaced the Lancome Vibration shade I bought on sale at a makeup emporium that was going out of business. That was a magnificent red and the Mat10 looks exactly the same on the cheap: $12 before tax.

Well: I counted: I have 16 tubes of lipstick. The temptation when you nix department store lipstick is that you can spend the money easily on drug store offerings. So you're in the hole either way. It just seems virtuous to spend $10 a pop on 10 tubes than to spend $25 each on 4 tubes. Kind of a recession-proof logic.

The names of the shades are interesting:

Rose Lustre
Sensual Rose
Teak Rose
In the Red
Pink Chocolate
Micro Mocha
Micro L'Amore

One tube I bought turned out too Goth for my liking. It was Wine Not-one of the Revlon matte selections. In the 1990s, I wore shades like MAC's Dubonnet and Taupe that were brown or warm. I almost bought two more tubes because there was a sale: "buy one get one half off" and I thought it was buy one get one free until I realized it actually said "half off." That would be ridiculous: to have going on 20 tubes of lipsticks and lip glosses! Even I know when to say when.

Will write for just a little more and then go wind down.

The How to Have Style book is missing in action. shipped it and I've yet to receive it in the mail. Today I would like to go to the hardware store for the two red paint swatches so I can finish covering the inspiration board. I want to buy pink satin cloth to cover the cork. I toyed with using a deep rose tee shirt to cover it however that would look too funky if you ask me. It's a tee shirt I rarely wore though that I bought in San Diego from a vendor cart at the Fashion Valley Mall. I loved that mall. There was a lovely shop called Something Silver where I bought a pendant with wooden-and-silver circles. I wear it with a thin black turtleneck or tee shirts. The tee shirt has the names of towns like La Jolla written in black letters. I would like to take driving lessons and travel to San Diego and drive to La Jolla. I hear it's a beautiful beach area.

Don't get me started on how women flash their lower back routinely. I was waiting on a train tonight and this young woman wore a short jacket that exposed her back because she had on low rise jeans. Do you know what I did? Placed my "modern fit" Ann Taylor jeans in the donation bag because I did not want to keep them. I haven't gotten around to calling 1 (800) DIAL-ANN to suggest it is plain wrong to offer only low rise jeans. It's not worth it when I can buy jeans elsewhere.

I've decided the Ann Taylor pants are another story because they're hopefully not low rise. I have four pairs of Ann Taylor and Loft pants that I wear to work now instead of jeans. Tonight I will pick up the skinny jeans from the tailor and wear them to work on Saturday with a red sweater and the In the Red lipstick.

Tomorrow I can wear the plaid pants and black turtleneck and black Limited jacket that I've had for 10 years. It is still in good condition and I had the tailor replace the lining five years ago.

How to have style? Study other women. See what outfits resonate with you. Try to recreate them to see what works. Read fashion magazines and read Allure and Lucky to discover new possibilities. It will be easier for you I'm sure to make a fashion mistake than it is for me. That is how you learn: by repetition. Keep trying on items and trying on even more items to find the clothes that fit you well. A woman shouldn't have to settle for less than wonderful clothing choices. Poorly constructed or ill-fitting items or ones made from cheap material and strange colors do none of us justice when we want to present ourselves in the world.

I will perhaps link to the Closet Couture website from here.

Right now I'm going to wind down as the day is ending and I'm ready to go outside to the tailor.

I've spun this record around and around for too long in one groove.

Enjoy your day.


La Jolla: I would love to go there sometime.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dinner at Carmine's

It feels as if my life is moving as slow as the model trains my brother and I would set up on the ping pong table at Christmas when I was a kid.

I've begun organizing the documents that contain the information for my second book. Next weekend I buy file folders and place the contents of each chapter into their own folder. I begin writing the first chapter of the new book. The table of contents is all set to go and so is the introduction. I went on and no other title exists that is the same or similar to the title of my second book so I'm quite pleased. I'll keep this under wraps until the publication date nears. Also I have the ideas for two fiction books whose plots came to me in dreams when I first moved into this apartment.

OK now: I bought a new belt today and going home on the train I discovered a way to wear it: I can remove the matching fabric belt from my brown Benetton summer skirt and replace it with the belt that is black leather with silver concho ornamentation around it. You see the gears in my head are always turning and this is the latest fashion flash. A friend said she has not ever seen me wear the same thing twice. Interesting.

Today I wore the turquoise necklace and green wool jacket to dinner at Carmine's. Tuesday I return to the gym and do the treadmill for 50 minutes if I can keep up that long. Tomorrow I give a talk on recovery for NAMI.

The friend said: what I do is not unusual because other people with schizophrenia do their own thing too. This instantly cheered me. It brought things down to earth. I could understand that I resist the stigma because I'm a rebel with a kind heart. I live out loud and speak my mind because I don't seek other people's approval. I have no fear of going it alone. I will do what I feel is the right thing to do and not cave in to other people's expectations.

I'm reminded of the life of the Widow Clicquot: a truly memorable woman who ruled the champagne empire at a time when woman were relegated to being housewives.

So I would rather regal you with tales of life in the real world and my unending obsessions with fashion and music and writing and books. Just now I realize I have another belt I could substitute for the fabric belt on the summer skirt to change up the look. To border on these details is certainly more virtuous if record-skipping than to go down the dead end of a hell-and-OK I won't go there-story.

The porter took out the air conditioner and placed it on the floor under the other window in the bedroom so now there's no cold air escaping into the room. I will see if the air conditioner can fit on the top shelf of one of my closets instead. He also installed a light bulb in the overhead fixture. Sometimes I walk around this apartment with such glee at living here that I shriek at my good fortune. Luckily no one hears me.

I'm going to host a dinner party at the end of December. My mother gave me a turkey breast I can defrost that serves four people and I can make stuffing and broccoli and cranberry sauce. Could I melt cheese on the broccoli? I'll order the organic kind and also buy Martinelli's sparkling cider that also comes in an organic version.

Really nothing is gained from talking about the heartache unless you can brainstorm coping techniques. Wallowing in a pity party serves no purpose and only keeps you stuck. To move forward you need to mourn and let go and embrace your new life. It can be a better life than you imagined.

Besides: talking about the fashions is a coping skill. Dressing well is the ultimate tool for recovery. Here goes the record skipping again though I'm compelled to trace this groove now: I would rather my diagnosis be invisible to the naked eye. Dressing well is the best revenge. You can go far and you can be a star in a pair of killer heels.

Also: to rev up the dopamine by doing new things makes you feel good. So taking one new fashion risk each day could indeed make us feel good. My risk tomorrow will be not wearing the dark jeans to work and choosing instead the black pants and black lycra turtleneck and green wool jacket.

Fashion does it for me. I urge you to find and follow your own bliss. Surely life becomes inspiring when we reach for a new shirt or tube of lipstick that promises hope.

That is all I can give you in Joyful Music: hope.

To do otherwise I would be complicit in spreading misery.

Just remember that like the song tells us when all hope is gone:

Move along.

Life will continue.

What a beautiful life it is.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mid Morning Muse

The porter is coming at three o'clock to take the air conditioner out of the window. It is like an ice box in the bedroom now. I'm dressed and ready to go out in a half hour.

Don't get me started on another rant. I was reading Ashley's blog that I link to on the right and someone told her she was too positive. That person sounds like they were jealous of her success. Quite frankly I don't want to read a hell-and-heartache story. There are enough of them out there so if you fiddle around the dial so to speak you'll find one grim enough for your liking.

I can only imagine if Ashley got grief about her inspirational blog that the person who commented to her would get worked up in a lather about my blog. It is after all titled Joyful Music.

Yes We Can people. Yes We Can.

It is hard-wired in my nature to be an optimist. It is also my duty as a recovered person to help bring other people up in their recovery. That has been my life's goal since I was 35 years old and I turn 45 in April. I've said it in here before that I believe in my vision that people can recover from schizophrenia.

Trust me I can name names when it comes to hell-and-heartache stories and human decency prevents me from doing so. I can only leave you with this: if you don't think enough hell-and-heartache stories exist, create your own blog and blast the airwaves with your misery. See how many people will actually tune in.

Now if you excuse me I'm going to cut myself a piece of cheery pie.



Oh: one last thing: everybody raved about my brownies on Thanksgiving.

Ship Ahoy

Hello again.

Fell asleep at nine o'clock and woke at five in the morning.

I'm debating whether to keep or return a pair of Banana Republic jeans I bought in Grand Central when I was with D. yesterday. We browsed Macy's Herald Square and also the Bryant Park Holiday Fair. I bought from a vendor a silver-tone ring. I'm not sure about the skinny jeans only because of the placement of the pockets on the back. I bought a regular size because the store did not have petites. The website has a different petite version of skinny pants. Their store in Rockefeller Center has a selection of petite clothes however I did not go there.

Oh, the dilemma: I could go to the tailor to have the jeans hemmed and ask him if he thinks the jeans look proportional in the pockets. On the website the jeans are shown cuffed and there is also a black version in addition to denim.

Decisions, decisions. I wondered if the petite version would feature legs too skinny to fit my legs in. A friend riffed on an Ellen Degeneres show where the talk show host is claiming she couldn't fit her arm inside the leg of a pair of skinny jeans.

Also: are skinny jeans supposed to bunch up? Is that the look? I will try them on once more before I leave my house today to see if I feel I can keep them anyway. The jeans I bought were in a dark denim. I would hate to wear them and have people wonder: "What was she thinking?" Of course I wanted to impress a guy and that is the reason I bought the jeans.

You can cuff the jeans however I will most likely get them hemmed unless after I try them on they look OK cuffed. Oh, oh, oh, no. What a pickle I've gotten myself into. I'm sure to most women this kind of detail doesn't matter. You can also scrunch up the hem and wear the jeans with heels for what is called a sexy look. I would still have to hem the jeans to be able to do that because the inseam is just too long on the regular size jeans.

I admit: I was impatient so bought them in a regular size. Though I went on the BR website just now and even the petite version bunches up in the legs so there you go. The kind of skinny jean I bought is not available on the website. Next time I go to the Rockefeller Center store.

You see: I just might keep the jeans. Then the dilemma is: to cuff or not to cuff, that is the question. The fault lies not in the stars but in that I was a woman on a quest to buy a new pair of dark jeans to replace my faded Loft pair which I will now relegate to a drawer in the armoire and use only to clean the house or to paint in.

Chances are I take the new pair to the tailor later and take it from there. I spend a mint at the tailor too.

Okay. I'm going to wind down this obsession and segue into something else. The train has exited the station on this one.

I gave D. a birthday card last night that he really liked. I don't see anything unusual about our friendship. He has the same kind of open-mindedness that I do. Although we are not fans of learned helplessness. We believe people in recovery need to become self-reliant. He is winding down his advocacy career and that is a good thing. He spent the best years of his life doing this. It is time for him to retire to his place in the sun.

Heck: I will not go there. The jeans are still on my mind. Let me try to distract myself by stopping at another station on the train route.

I hear there's a Lucky Brand store on Sixth Avenue near 20th Street so I might go there to see if they have the belt I liked in my size. Today I will bypass all the stores when I go to get my haircut because I have no money left.

The wind is roaring outside again. That is the one drawback to living in this apartment: I can hear the wind screaming outside.

I have the porters take the air conditioner out of the window and place it on the floor below the other window in the bedroom. There's a crack in the partition so cold air blows into the bedroom now.

Right now I sit at my desk typing on the computer wearing a Snuggly and I'm not embarrassed to do so as it actually keeps me warm. My mother bought me it in the summer when I moved here.

My train of thought doesn't seem to have a caboose today: I'm still thinking about the jeans. Also: I just bought a person on my holiday list a gift from the BR website. And mind you I'd like to buy another pair of dark jeans that fit well.


Monday night I give a talk at the NAMI Family-to-Family week 10 session. I'm supposed to talk about what I needed from my parents when I was first starting out in my recovery. Listen: I'm going to make no bones about it: I will tell the mothers and fathers that I succeeded because my parents expected me to succeed. They had the confidence that I would do what I set out to do. And so I achieved this.

There's no waffling. If you want your loved ones to recover you set house rules. Number one: get off the couch and attend a day program or a Clubhouse or do volunteer work. What your loved one does or does not want to do is of no concern. The ultimate goal is for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia or another mental illness to become self-reliant. Any adult has to make hard choices and people with schizophrenia need to do this as well. A loved one will have to do things he or she doesn't want to do if in the long run doing those things will enable them to function.

Trust me: I did not want to attend the second day program long-term. I attended two day programs for a total of two years. I fought to be taken seriously. That is possibly the only difference between me and the other ex-patients: I wouldn't settle for less. I had the goal of living independently and to do that I knew I had to get a full-time job. So I lobbied to be sent to OVR so I could be trained as a word processor.

Even the psychic told me in 1996: "In this lifetime you will be taught to do things on your own." Nobody gave me any of this: I had to take initiative to make it happen or else I'd still be warming a chair in the day program because the counselors didn't think I was capable of much else.

You will ask how I could recommend a person attend a day program when I met a lot of resistance to my goals while I attended the second one. Well: it can be a good tool for working on your recovery if you can't go to school or work at a job and don't do volunteer work. Forget about watching Ginger and Mary Ann parade about in their fashions on TV. You are the Skipper of your own boat and if you don't learn how to steer yourself to recovery you're going to go down at sea. Then you'll have to contend with the Howells.

Need I say more?

I hope you get this pop culture reference.

I have taken flak for this stance. No, it is not OK to let your loved one do whatever he or she wants while they're living at home. You want to halt their disability and one way to help them become self-reliant is to at the very least give them chores to do around the house.

Also: I have a different take on things when a mother says her son or daughter doesn't want to attend a Clubhouse because they don't want to be around other people with mental illnesses. Well: I was 32 and working at a law firm and I attended the Thursday night poetry group at Fountain House. I'd duck into a rest room to change from my suit to black jeans and a navy wool turtleneck.

That is the difference: any parent who acts passive in the face of their loved one's resistance to doing what it takes to recover is actually enabling their son or daughter to remain disabled.

Now you are going to ask: how long should it take for someone to recover? That is an individual matter. Those of us who are resilient will recover more quickly. And that is what enforcing house rules does: allows your loved one to bounce back. The longer you sit back the more likely there will be some kind of loss of functioning.

It took me three years from the time I was diagnosed with schizophrenia to the time I found my first job as an administrative assistant. That might be unusual however it proves my point: I was never far off course. I would love to see more peers speaking out and fighting for their rights the way I did in those early years.

Wow: look how far I've gone down this road. The stat counter must be dropping fast.

The wind is roaring so loud that any minute I expect Gilligan and crew to sail by in their makeshift raft on their way back home.

So I'll go sign off and leave you now to go pour some cereal for breakfast.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bon Jour


I'm quite impressed with the Isaac Mizrahi book How to Have Style. It was panned by reviewers on so I posted my own positive review there. The book should arrive in my mailbox soon.

I toy with writing a fashion guide. One thing I have learned that I can pass on: choose carefully the items you buy and bring home. Ask yourself, "Does this fit into my life? Will wearing that shirt or pair of pants complement my style or detract from it?"

Also ask yourself: "How do I want to look?" I bought the book 10 Steps to Fashion Freedom by Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield years ago. It lists questions to answer to help you focus on the image you want to present. I typed up my answers and placed them in my goals binder to refer to.

This is what I wrote: "I seek to project an image that is calm, down-to-earth and approachable." Style truly is a conscious choice. You cannot have style if you buy things without putting effort into how you look. Ignorance is no defense against dressing fashionable. Today there are tons of books and magazines and there are some TV shows which can guide women.

I have 20 books devoted to fashion alone in my library collection at home.

As Isaac Mizrahi rightly suggested: you need to try on multiple items of clothing, and try on even more others, before settling on the one piece that is perfect for you.

Years ago I had wanted a friend to take pictures of me in various outfits. I will see if I can have someone do this early next year to create what's called a "look book." I have always wanted to create a look book.

The other day round midnight I was bit by a fashion bug and that is when I decided: "Choose carefully the items I bring into my life and home." So I placed in the donations bag an unusual mask pendant I had bought six or seven years ago at a craft fair. It simply isn't the look I want to project.

Thus I've decided to assess whether anything I'm considering buying is too trendy for me. As of today: I've reconciled how I dress now with how I used to dress in my twenties. I couldn't understand this dichotomy until recently. Now I understand that I have always loved fashion, it was just that how I dressed reflected the fashions of the era I lived in. So really there is no mystery what compelled me to dress the way I did.

Our lives and our style are an evolution. I accept that I'm on a life-long quest for continual self-improvement. This is reflected in my clothing choices as well. So it is clear to me that I will never be a fan of the status quo and I will always seek to refine or perfect my vision of how I want to dress, act and live and decorate my home. Right now my apartment is complete.

Last night I realized my mantra is about personal growth. I seek to keep learning about myself and others throughout my life. Life-long learning is a priority of mine because I've listed education as one of my six core values in my goals binder. The other values are confidence, health, self-expression, honesty and career.

Go ahead, chuckle: you think I'm a strange girl. I haven't said I wasn't. Who else would type up her core values and itemize the life choices consistent with her values? Who else would type up a decade-by-decade list of the things she wants to do or achieve in her life? Who else would set yearly goals and include them in her binder too?

Folks: I don't know why I do this. Actually, I do know why I do this and I'm the only one who could tell you why because if someone else used this word to describe me it would not be acceptable. Here it is: I've been there. Once you have gone over the edge you answer to no one and can do pretty much what you please. Frankly I don't care if I don't live up to what others expect me to do or be in society.

Early on I understood that having lost my mind there was nothing else I could ever fear losing. And so I took risks that most people wouldn't take because I had no fear of failure. The idea that I would not achieve what I set out to do didn't occur to me. Yet I did fail, and I failed miserably at some things. A year after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia I returned to school to take a newspaper reporting class because I wanted to get a Masters in Journalism. I bombed out after the first class.

When I wanted to get a full-time job, I took the first job I was offered so that I would get the money to move into my own apartment and live independently. I spent two years as an administrative assistant and after that five years in the insurance field. It seemed like I spent a longer amount of time in that career however it was only five years. I was unconscious; living with blinders on: I tried to make that life work long after I should have realized it wasn't the job for me.

Now I realize that to be truly happy in my work I need to work at a job where I can express myself and be creative in coming up with solutions to help people solve their problems. Thus when the library career is winding down I intend to go back to school for a Masters in Rehab Counseling so that I can become a vocational counselor for people with disabilities.

You see I'm a strange girl. I will never settle for the status quo. Does that make me unusual in a world where most people are content to watch TV for three hours every night? I spend two hours every night on my second job, keeping this blog, reading books and doing my writing. I also do public speaking and I love to perform, whereas most people have a fear of speaking in public.

I tell you that this is strange yet possibly it isn't. Whatever it is I know one thing: I chose the road less traveled and that made all the difference.

Having schizophrenia at the end of the day is liberating because I can opt out of the white picket fence, two kids and husband life in the suburbs. When I was a young girl of only fifteen or sixteen, I dreamed the kind of life I have now: living in the City and doing my own thing. Having kids wasn't something I wanted even before I was diagnosed. So the diagnosis merely reaffirmed my decision.

The Esprit motto sums up my life: "The World Is Our Culture" I can translate into "The World Is My Culture" because when I was 35 I decided I wanted to live my life in service to other people. A friend told me she felt I embrace people's differences. Possibly I'm able to do this because I always felt like an outsider looking in and like I was different from other people. This feeling was reinforced when I was growing up because I was the creative, quirky, sensitive kid in a family of Traditionals whose lives were cut from whole cloth. I experimented with my persona; took risks they wouldn't take.

Even today when the women in my family wear polyester shirts and matching slacks to Thanksgiving dinner, I'm wearing my black wool turtleneck, dark jeans and the multi-color scarf with my oversized pink stone earrings and matching ring. I live to express myself and that is the life path of a person with a 30/3 in her numerology chart.

Heavens: I have gone on and on. Please forgive me. This sounds like I've given you a back story, right? I was compelled to fill in new readers to this blog with a glimpse of what makes me tick.

Really it's no secret and it comes back to this: I live my life left of the dial. It would be OK with me if you thought I was a strange girl. I have no pretensions of needing to be accepted by others in the mainstream. I don't covet other people's approval and that in the end is why I succeeded: I had the confidence to push the envelope in subtle ways throughout my life.

That is why I take a controversial stance: that people diagnosed with schizophrenia must takes risks in order to recover. Sitting on a couch watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island just doesn't cut it.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to pour a bowl of Kashi GoLean cereal, have breakfast and then get ready to meet D. in the City.

Bon Jour!

Buon Giorno.

Good day.