Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Rewind


I brought home a book: How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi. He makes some good points. A petite woman had great style in the book. He had the women use a tool-an inspiration board-as the springboard for discovering their winning looks. He suggested women could have a style party.

Alas: I did some retail therapy tonight while on the phone with a friend: I ordered the Xanthe women's Western belt in tan from I hope it fits because I ordered a size 30 waist. That is not large by any stretch of the imagination yet the last time I ordered from this website I had to exchange a small belt for a larger one.

The wild thing is I don't care how much I weigh even though I weigh a couple pounds more. Key word in that sentence: a couple. I was miserable when I tipped the scales at 138 lbs in the halfway house. Hearing the diagnosis of schizophrenia so upset me that every weekend I'd run down to Luke's Deli and buy a tub of Hagen Dazs vanilla almond bark. I had a spoon with my name on it in the flatware drawer. All the residents ever cooked for dinner was sausage patties and hamburgers and noodles with cream sauce and cauliflower and white rice.


I would not buy a pair of jeans until I lost weight yet I had no problem wearing mini skirts.

That era: I wore the shortest mini skirts. You can't do that once you turn 30. Sorry. One day in a sad mood I shipped them all off to the Salvation Army. I would not be 29 again.

Though I don't think skirts should be hemmed at the knee or just below if you have good legs. I would rather wear a skirt with a hem one inch above the knee. It looks modern not dull or dowdy.

I'm no longer that young tiny thing who coveted being weird as a point of pride-who wore hooker boots and a mini skirt the size of a bandage, and a lipstick red tee shirt and Enzo Angiolini flats she loved and wore a hole in because she wouldn't take them off.

We are more than the sum total of our wardrobe.

Later I'm going to order the jacket militaire because I found out I'm getting a raise on Friday. I decided on the crimson as opposed to the charcoal because though the dark gray would be professional for work I felt the red would be good for dressing up a casual outfit. I could also wear it when I give talks. Very Agyness Deyn.

For now I chill out in here.

I've been writing the spring 2010 column for SZ magazine. It talks about Michael Jackson: the King of Pop. A friend read it and said he likes it so I send it over to the editor at the end of December.

I've begun work on my second book which could turn out to be finished in five months. I have the bones: I just need to get it all down on paper. I will work on it during my week off in December. Wish me good luck.

OK: I will go sign off now.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The book Verdure arrived in the mail in near-perfect condition even though Powell's described it as "very good" on I could see nothing shabby about it. I will try to make one of the recipes on Sunday night.

Tomorrow I will go to the bookstore to see if I can find a good appointment book for 2010. The one I wanted at the Cooper Hewitt was $39 so I will hold off getting it if I can find a cheaper version that I like. The expensive one had a two-day view with color swatches on top of the date areas so it would've pleased the decorator in me.

The Sundance catalog arrived in the mail too and I found a military jacket that I might buy for the holidays. Today I wore the new green jacket and the Banana Republic necklace that everyone commented on because it was unusual. It is the most unique item of jewelry I own.

The Woodstock tee shirt is calling my name. I could get that to replace a tee shirt that doesn't do anything for me. It was a freebie that someone gave me when she returned from a convention. I could donate it to Sal's because it is in good condition-though it has an odd corporate slogan on it.

As with life as with your wardrobe change is the order of the day: to discard the old and replenish with new items is a way to stay mentally fresh. I have beaten this drum in here before so feel free to clunk me on the head with a pocketbook: there she goes again!

You feel better when you dress better. I've decided to reserve the boyfriend jeans for the weekend and after-hours. The faded jeans I haven't worn in what seems like a year. I stopped wearing them to work a long time ago. I would like to get a neat pair I saw in the Esprit store if they are still there when next I see Dr. Altman.

Sometimes: if it weren't for my love of fashion I wonder if I would be motivated to dress well. Slowly I've begun to dress sharp at work more often. That is what I expect of myself now. Though I can't erase the memories of how I dressed in the past I can move forward committed to change.

Change is the order of the day. Business as usual has not ever held sway with me.

I would urge you to find something you can be passionate about that distracts you from your worries. That is the one true way to rebel the role of a person with schizophrenia. As an activist it is not ever far from my mind that people struggle. Yet it is easier to live your life if you have something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning.

Planning outfits is something I eagerly await. I will keep the days I wear jeans to a minimum. Fluff-you think this is fluff-and wonder how one woman could obsess about this. Well: I have more to do while I'm here. I would love to convince everyone to do the things she loves every day without fail.


Oh: on my way to an appointment I stopped in a truly low-rent discount store that was beyond belief. I eyed the pocketbooks scrupulously and examined them for defects. The one I liked was in pristine condition so I bought it along with a whisk to use when I bake things.

Yes: I have caved in and bought a whisk.

The store was so low-rent it wasn't funny. So you had to laugh.

It has become a mantra: dress well, dress well. The military jacket has a pocket on the left sleeve and that impresses me greatly-a real detail. I could wear it with the black turtleneck and dark jeans to dress up a casual outfit. I would get the jacket in crimson because it looks elegant punk in that color. The gray was an option I nixed although it would look more professional in the gray.

You see: this is how I am: obsessed with looking good. A friend told me all women are like this and that it's a natural tendency for women. I wondered if that was a stereotype or it were true. Do you think it is?

I take a radical stance on the topic: that reinvention could be a coping skill.

Please forgive me if I put too fine a point on this topic.

I've decided only to post here when I have something significant to write about.

(Though I could break that vow and the term is subjective. I could think something is significant and you could think it's quotidian. You might even think what I write is over-the-top. I grant you that.)

I will go leave you now and get ready for work.


Monday, October 26, 2009

An Aquarian Exposition: 2009

A lovely quote by Thomas Merton now graces this blog so please read it embedded in the comment posted on the last entry. We can choose a life of peace and love and thus are made in the image of our humanity. It is something that is a conscious choice for some of us whereas others don't have the frame of mind to understand their hate only poisons themselves as much as it does society.

Originally I wrote in the notebook: I feel ravaged. That is not the way to start a blog though today I have taken off because the thought of getting out of bed exhausted me and anyhow I had no energy to get out of bed to go to work on time. Dr. Krall is having me take a multivitamin with iron because my iron was so low when she tested me on Thursday. I have been exhausted for the past three weeks and undoubtedly this was because of the low iron.

Yesterday out in the City I was fatigued on and off. Friday I fell asleep at work. Tomorrow I return to the gym for a treadmill session. Today I walk the seven blocks up to Gristede's for groceries. I'm going to try a new recipe for dinner where you slenderize a green beans and fried onions dish. I found it in an issue of Real Simple.

This is not how I wanted to begin the blog entry though it will do: the quotidian realities of a life in recovery.


Now: the real deal.

After watching Taking Back Woodstock at the Rose Cinema I wanted to read a book about the making of Woodstock. Friday I was able to check out of the library The Road to Woodstock by Michael Lang-"the man behind the legendary event"-and Holly George Warren. A way to live vicariously through words on the page.

The book details the events leading up to the festival and an hour-by-hour account of the "three days of peace and music." It was such a gripping read that I finished the book in five hours. Any self-respecting music fan would do well to read this firsthand account.

Why am I so unnerved by the book? I couldn't be free like those sixties children who dropped acid and surfed on a let-it-all-be vibe. I'm aghast that a person could lose control that way yet I'm sucked into the energy of the event. Why couldn't I be born and come of age in that era? It's a case of guilt-by-design: if you weren't there, you missed out.

I think of my parents' conventional lives: an antidote to the rebellion. I was born in 1965 and was only four at the time of Woodstock. I would not be a "little girl in a polka-dot pinafore" skipping about Yasgur's Farm. I feel sad about this. Sad that I will never experience that kind of freedom. Yet I must remember my own youth: nights spent at CBGB or Maxwell's, listening to the bands that were my life-Sonic Youth, the Chills and the Ramones come to mind now.

That is what sticks on me like a decal: I have not ever done drugs. I loved the underground life and camped out on the outskirts because of the music. Three years later I can admit the astrologer I met had a point: that was who I was and what my life was about: imitating Siouxsie Sioux, after a fashion. I had always attached greater significance to my persona: linked the theater makeup to a manifestation of the schizophrenia. Now I see that it was no more and no less than what it was: an expression of the times.

Do you think it is unusual for a person not to even have smoked marijuana at least once? I always had a life ethic and I wasn't curious about drugs. I also never lit up a cigarette. It is how it is: I cannot undo what has been done. Life or God gives you something. It is your challenge alone. Yet like a dove resting peacefully on the neck of a guitar you can connect and make music with others in a concert of hope.

I'm not sure I keep this blog for myself. I do so to give others a hand in their recovery. It is-words like poetry I aspire to-lyrics in a minor chord that hopefully resonate in a universal way.

Blarney-I've decided to buy the Woodstock tee shirt if it is still available in two weeks on Amazon. I do not have the money now. I want to go Sunday again to the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and buy the desk calendar if it is still available in their gift shop.

Mourning Woodstock-that unknown era-the regret is ingrained. I was born with a genetic risk for schizophrenia-it runs on my maternal grandmother's side of the family. I could no more run off to a monster rock concert than be a magazine editor-the dream of my youth.

I cannot go on. Time does not always heal memory. I will always remember what happened. To remember is to understand.

To have a Woodstock frame of mind even today I wonder if that is possible. What can I do circa 2009 to have my own Aquarian Exposition? I remember the suggestion from The Way of Thomas: we are one with others in the world. Nothing separates us from each other. Such is the life exposition-an ethic where you carry forward peace and love. I would like to buy and watch the original Woodstock concert video.

You do what you can.

Time does heal memory sometimes in gentle moments. You cannot go back and you cannot change things you can only move forward. I was Chris-a young woman-smitten with the personalities of two other women. They dressed trendy; they were in control. Possibly I hoped their bravada would rub off on me. I was a sponge. Yet I never really knew them on the inside. I didn't realize the clothes and the jewelry were all just on the outside. It doesn't make a woman who she is, though her clothes can make her or break her in the world. I get at this irony in my memoir when I spend my time on the ward reading fashion magazines.

Do you understand?

I have circled this in here before. I was young; other things were important to me. I wrote about this in an article I published about turning 30-"Generation Next"-that talked about how things had changed since that milestone birthday.

My Woodstock moment was taking to the turntables at WSIA. I consider this the defining moment of my life.

This year the Wall Street Journal referred to Obama's inauguration as "Washington's Woodstock." Jimi Hendrix had closed out the three days of peace and love at Yasgur's Farm with a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Forty years later President Obama is our front man.

I am hopeful.

I will do what I do because I must: be a mental health activist.

That is how I direct my efforts in my time on this earth:
To be a messenger of hope.

Most of all there is always hope.