Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chin Chin

The lyrics to the Hole song, "Doll Parts," run through my head: "Someday I hope you ache like I ache." You live in each moment, and that is all you have, and it's a truism that everyone repeats because it's true. The idea that someone could know my pain is a strong motivator to educate people so that they understand what it's like to live with SZ.

In pockets of time, I live. The blog immortalizes those moments. Like tonight. 10 people came over to celebrate New Year's Eve. It was K's birthday, so I bought a chocolate mousse cake in the bakery. Jackson Browne was on the radio with "Running on Empty" as I waited in line. The music cheered me. I marveled that I could be able to buy a cake in a patisserie with my hard-earned money. I gave K a card with a Starbucks gift card in it.

Right now I listen to Sophie with great mixes by a live DJ as I wait for the champagne flutes to dry so I can take them out of the drainboard and wash the other items. I went to a 99-cent store and bought four new flutes because originally I was supposed to have 12 people here. The new flutes I like a lot, they are classic, elegant.

Tomorrow a friend has her traditional New Year's Day dinner party so I buy salad fixings and make a salad I can carry there in the Vera Wang silver bowl I bought three years ago with the Macy's gift card Charlie gave me. You gotta love those gift cards. Last year I bought formal dinnerware to make service for eight. One year I bought martini glasses. Another year, overnight luggage.

The ball that dropped from Times Square this year was techno-beautiful, I loved the flashing colors. "Besos, besos," Eddie went around to everyone at 12:01 a.m. The last guests left at one o'clock. I'm glad everyone left early.

Pieces drifted in: "She has a good soul." "She's always composed." "She looks beautiful."

K said she liked my makeup. It was the lilac and beige, the lilac so light as to be almost gray, and the espresso eye liner, mascara, blush and the latest lipstick: a color called L'Amore that's a pinkish brown without being too brown, so it works for me.

I wore a black cotton knit skirt, patent loafers, black stretch turtleneck, unbuttoned white Oxford shirt over the turtleneck, and the light blue lace agate necklace, and the amazonite pinky ring.

Do I wish someone would ache like I ache? Ah, here's the rub: I don't much like to dwell on the pain, which comes and goes, mostly when I remember I have SZ and I suffered a lot in the last three years. It has gotten better. It will only get better.

In the mornings before work, I'm going to start writing the book proposal for my second book, which I'm keeping under wraps for now. The world needs my second book as much as it needs my memoir, Left of the Dial.

Just the memories are enough for me to free fall. It happened, OK? I lived to tell. In keeping with a blog entry elsewhere, I'm going to riff on scenes from New Year's Eve nights in my history.

1. "The Year-End, Rear-End Review of 1986 Record Picks."

The countdown of the most popular indie records played on WSIA that year, as reflected in CMJ's playlists.

2. The last night of 1991.

Amped up in a leather skirt, aubergine tee shirt, fishnets and ballet flats. Drove out to Queens with M. to spend New Year's Eve with her friend, who lived in a jewel box of an apartment. Drove home and stopped in a diner for a 3:00 a.m. breakfast, where I changed into a sweatshirt in the restroom because the temperature dropped.

3. The holiday after I came out of the hospital the first time.

In retrospect, I understand that I hoped against hope that my college buddies would remain my friends. So I invited a crowd to a New Year's Eve party in the basement of my parents' house, where I lived for the next year before moving into the halfway house. I wore black tights, a black cotton long sleeve tee shirt, and the metal concentric circles necklace. We drank Harp's and listened to echoes of the year on the radio. The happiest time of my life faded out along with 1987.


The disc jockey on Sophie has created such great mixes that you could dance to if you wanted to. I listen, I love it.

As the ball dropped and "2009!" flashed on TV, I felt glad that 2008 had ended and the New Year had begun. I truly expect 2009 to be a good one.

Life goes on. I remember going to Red Blazer, a lounge in Manhattan, one year when I worked at the law firm. I arrived solo and was self-conscious, so left after a half hour. Tonight was a good night.

I've switched to WFNX, which is edgier in the wee hours. I can imagine, and I remember, going to night clubs to hear alternative bands in the 1980s. Right now it's a band with the lyrics, "Hey man, nice shot" and the sound of the song brings back memories of that other era in my life.

I want to tell you: your forties are the best decade. My first psychiatrist told me, when I was 23 and had just started out in recovery, "Your thirties will be prime time." He was right, but life doesn't end at 39. I was glad to turn 40. I have six years until the big Five-Oh [I can hear the Hawaii Five-O soundtrack in my head]. So I have to make these years the best.

First up, I publish the memoir. Then I publish the second book. I have some time freeing up in the mornings, and so I will dedicate that time to my books. I have a double-wide file folder with all the notes and print-outs of the things I want to include in the second book.

Life will tell you, if only you stop to listen.

I've learned that all you need is two friends, pizza and a really great sound system.

My world view was shaped by my earliest experiences. I would be a different person today had the SZ not happened to me, and yet I'm the person I always was, even after the diagnosis.

Right now it's David Bowie with "Rebel, Rebel" on WFNX, his best song. "Rebel, rebel you've torn your dress/Rebel, rebel your face is a mess/Hot tramp, I love you so."

In looking back, I love myself. I wrote in an earlier hardbound journal: "The long arm of my memory/Reaches for you dear girl/To pull you out of the trash heap of suburban fright/And plant you on firm soil."

An astrologer who gave me a reading said, "You must have had to dye your hair blue to get your mother to notice you." I told her I dressed in theater makeup and had a breakdown. She believed we choose our natal charts. I have no doubt I knew I had to arrive in the world at 8:02 a.m. Even then I had somewhere to be and something to do, a purpose for being born, and I had to get there at that moment.

It is all what it was, and I won't dwell on it or regret a minute lived. To embrace the struggle, and cherish what life has to teach us, is the ultimate goal. I'm not sure why I'm so optimistic, or cheerful, and not resentful. Though I know I would be this way regardless of whether I had a much harder time of it.

I'm convinced that to be resilient is the number-one trait that bodes well for us in recovery. On the right, I refer to a favorite book, Don Greene's Fight Your Fear and Win. He talks about the seven skills for success: courage, poise, focus, determination, resilience, energy and perspective. All of us can develop and strengthen these traits with practice and via the techniques he describes in his book.

Yes, I trust the New Year will be OK, and that my finances will hold on, and I'll be able to accomplish what I set out to. This morning when I woke up the lyrics to Counting Crows "Daylight Fading" ran through my head. Something about wasting another year. Life has conspired to keep me in this apartment. So in July I'm going to paint the living room some kind of color. First the landlord has to repair the ceiling, because the paint is peeling from the roof leaking.

Oh, well, here's the rub: I find I have no energy to hate myself, or beat on myself. In the last two years I've come to embrace those things that make me, me. The idea of accepting our imperfections, even celebrating our flaws, and honestly, I don't like the word "flaw" because the word itself is flawed in describing those traits that we tend to resist in ourselves and others. Because what is really a flaw?

I'm not a big fan of endless self-improvement as the holy grail of happiness. To live real, as an authentic person, we need to let go of perfection projects.

So this year's resolution, for me, is to manage finances as best I can, and let the rest of my life take care of itself.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed unless it is faced," to quote James Baldwin who unintentionally describes recovery from SZ.

Right now it's Radiohead with "Reckoner," a beautiful, ethereal song. I saw them live at Roseland Ballroom in 1993 when they opened for Belly. Interesting, Belly has come and gone and Radiohead are the darlings of modern rock and have been for years.


The chocolate cake was enjoyed by everyone. Everyone lifted and clinked together the champagne flutes I poured with the Brut Fre, a dry kind of sparkling drink with only one percent alcohol, or some tiny amount. I have two bottles left over because the woman in the wine shop recommended I buy three or four, and that was when 12 or more people were supposed to come to my party.

I toasted K and told her her forties would be the best years.

The song on the radio talks about "waiting till the shine wears off." I doubt the shine will wear off any time soon at the end of this first night.

Here now I'll raise a glass to cheer you.

Chin Chin.

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