Part of the Village

This week I went to my grandnephew’s kindergarten graduation. There’s just all kinds of weird in that sentence alone. Children. Family. Social Event. Inclusion.

The school is K-12, laid out in a campus of what reminded me of Morton buildings—low-slung, metal barns. Here’s the south side of my sister as we make our way to the auditorium building

While I’m not one to follow the endless flow of depressing national news, I am invested in Oklahoma’s educational woes.  A January report in Education Weekly ranked Oklahoma schools 47th in the nation with teachers’ salaries ranked 49th.  Teachers went on strike in April, and while the state passed a bill to raise salaries slightly, it neglected to fund the bill.  It never addressed other issues like the lack of program funding and huge class sizes

Teachers are leaving the state like psychiatrists left Iowa, fed up with a system that cares very little about the end-user or those who provide for them.

Oktah, my grandnephews’ school, is considered better than average and receives a federal grant due to its number of low-income students. The superintendent, who spoke at Zane’s graduation ceremony, asked parents and friends to stay involved. More than ever, it seems, it takes a village.

So, I was verklempt, watching my one out of forty-eight kindergarteners dance, sing and use sign language to proclaim his new status.  So was my sister, the retired teacher.

I don’t know if I can help him or his older brother.  Volunteering has always ended up a bipolar casualty.  But I’m staying open to ways I might be part of that Village, even if it’s just being another grown-up (in closer proximity now) who will listen and answer their questions.

You never know the effect of just showing up. That’s something I can do.

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My National Holiday

IMG_0840Is it really that time of year again?  Seems like I just celebrated my favorite holiday.  Oh, that’s right—I only rearranged my Pretend Boyfriend Gallery after painting my bedroom so that every day can be Richard Armitage Day.

I can be a tad less stalk-y today and just wish him a happy birthday.

Hopefully, the 2016 Armitage Drought is near an end.  No sightings since his creepy portrayal of The Red Dragon in “Hannibal.”  Lots of projects are finished, but either in post-production or on some shelf in Wonderland.

Or, like Urban and the Shed Crew, released everywhere but here.

Shed Crew

florenceIf we pay money to hear Meryl Streep sing badly, wouldn’t American audiences be captivated by a former social worker who takes street kids under his wing?  All that hope and feel-goodness?  Maybe Richard should have sung badly in that one.

Then, there’s Berlin Station, a 10 episode CIA series due this fall on EPIX.  EPIX.  What the flugelhorn is EPIX?  But look at all the great people in this series!  I will be breaking into someone’s house who has cable.  Scouting possibilities now.

fotos Berlin Station

Someday I’ll see him play Chloe Moretz’s dad in Brain on Fire, about a young woman slipping into insanity.  Hmm.  Richard.  Crazy girl.  Sounds familiar.

Brain on Fire

And if there is any mercy or compassion in the Universe, I’ll get to watch him don armor and take off on another noble quest.

Pilgrimage

But until I can sit in the dark with him again, all I can do is wait, surround myself with his former glories, and remember London.

Crucible cast

Richard 2016And I can wish him well — which I do.  It’s the one part of our relationship that’s not pretend.

 

Five Years Old

A Mind Divided is five today.

5th birthday chris

5 • 5 • 5

 

5th birthday nathanTo celebrate, I went through every post (946) to make sure the video links still worked and to find lost pictures.  You know WordPress—stuff gets lost.  And videos that were perfectly fine suddenly become “private” (As if you can stuff that genie back in the bottle).

5th birthday benedictNothing cheeses me off quite so much as faulty technology (or bad grammar, but that’s a different post).  When I come across a link that doesn’t work, or that little blue square ? instead of a picture, I’m sure I’m missing out on something fabulous and now–sadly—lost to me forever.  The mystery of it, the tease, makes my compulsive nature sing a sweary song.

Christian Bale at the Sundance Film Festival, 2000 *** NO TABLOIDS ***

So, in order to be a polite blog host, and to spare any unnecessary Sweary Songs, I tried to fill in any blanks left by You Tube and WordPress (Because everyone will be checking that 2/24/11 Star Trek fan-vid).

And this made me a little cranky, but also amazed at the 946 posts.  In the beginning, I posted a lot.  I think most new bloggers do.  The rush of words going public and the urgency behind telling one’s story dazzles us.  When I didn’t have something personal to share, I posted poetry, my art, anything that felt meaningful or part of me.  That first year I averaged 25.5 posts per month.  This past year, my average was 7.5.

5th birthday hiddlesSome folks burn out.  Some run out of words.  The blog runs its course or loses the meaning it once held.  Some folks just get busy or move on to something that provides more meaning.

I’ve found I don’t need to say anything until I have something to say.  Being a “specialty” blog gives me the freedom to not mess about with the statistics page.  I don’t worry about losing readers or what I need to do to tart up my site to attract more.  I’ve never been Freshly Pressed (it’s called something else now…) and never will be.

5th birthday avengersI get to do what I love here—take my bipolar disorder apart and find any silver linings that hide under the gore.  I get to share my art and my fan fiction.  I get to belong to a loving, funny community that continues to blow my socks off with their comments and kindness.  I get to gush about movies, and books, and pretend boyfriends.  I get to be vulnerable, and freaky, and completely me.

5th birthday RichardI love this blog.  I love its therapeutic power.  I love the friends I’ve made through it.  And I love writing it.  I love that new readers still find their way here and that, once in a while, they stick around.

Frosting on my bloggy birthday cake.

And Also

Solstice2015-1

I love making my annual Winter Solstice cards—no matter what else happens to be going on.

Pass Gently Through the Veil this Night

Pale Simulacra

“Death doesn’t exist. It never did, it never will. But we’ve drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we’ve got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing.”
― Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes

And Then There’s This

Once Rot Begins to Work

It’s my birthday.

yaay.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Goodness, I almost missed it.  If WordPress hadn’t reminded me that I started this thingamajiggy two years ago, my blog’s birthday would have gone uncelebrated.  So… Woo! Hoo!

Callinda Launch Party

Outside, the day was a little gloomy with patchy rain.  Inside, love burned bright.

My cousin, Janet, was the first to arrive as she was on her way to work.  We grew up together, her family’s farm a mile away from mine.  Life happened, and we lost touch.  But, here she is—the same loving, hilarious, take-no-prisoners force of nature she was when we were kids.  Janet is the perfect example of what I’m trying to do with my life now—pull together past and present to open a door for the future, leave nothing behind but hold it all lightly.

The gals in my meditation group encouraged me to do a reading from Callinda at the party.  They were a little surprised I hadn’t planned on it, seeing as how the whole shindig was about finishing the thing and getting it “published” on this blog.  So, I dug out my glasses and tried to find the most hair-raising section—just to tantalize those who hadn’t read it yet.  Look how attentive they were—even the kids listened!  If I hadn’t already felt surrounded by love, I surely did then.

All the party details fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle.  Kris Davison prepared wonderful, tasty food, my sister took over as dish washer/photographer/hostess so I could mingle and visit with all 35 guests, we almost had enough chairs most of the time, and I’d made enough Quote Plaques for everyone.

For me, this party was a way to thank everyone who supported me while I worked on Callinda—and, at the same time, struggled to manage my bipolar disorder.  These folks gave me perspective, laughter, money, coffee, hugs, meals, shelter and cheerleading.  They took care of my Dad, exercised with me, meditated with me, accepted me as I was, invited me into their homes, paid my way, gave me work, introduced me as their friend, took me on dates, cheered when I lost weight, and stayed when others left.

I wanted to thank them, and yet they brought flowers and gifts along with their support and love.

Whenever I would wander into a conversation or plop down next to someone taking a break from grazing the food table, they would say, “What a neat bunch of people.”

Yes, they are.

Echoes of Another Life

I went shopping for my party today.  I don’t remember the last time I stepped into a liquor store or a fancy gift shop.  But, I did remember the feeling—picking up and sniffing pretty candles, recognizing wine labels, touching lush fabric.  It was as if ghost images of my old life bled through today’s snapshot.  But, they were someone else’s memories—a very different me.

And while I enjoyed myself—found pretty napkins and nice Champaign for the punch—I don’t miss that life anymore.  Living 200% below the poverty line has made me much more careful and practical about money.  Even with my propensity for compulsive spending during bipolar episodes, I can usually live within my means now.  I’ve learned there’s very little I must have.

I thought celebrating the finish of Callinda in style meant spending enough money on a party to feel normal (i.e. not poor and not crazy).  I’m grateful to my mom for gifting me with the funds to make that party a reality.  But, I discovered today that part of that drive, that need, was an echo from a life that no longer exists.  I really could have been happy with M&Ms and cheap punch, because that’s who I am now.  I am poor.  And I am crazy.  I don’t need to prove that I’m anything else.  And the party would have been just as joyful.

Somehow, this understanding makes me feel sweeter and expansive about the party coming up on Saturday.  My gratitude seems to spread out like melting ice—a slow seep dampening everything around me.  In this moment, I am perfectly content with my life.  With the poverty, with the challenges and gifts my illness gives me, with the support and love of my family and friends, with my sore fingers from crafting presents for those who want to celebrate with me.  In this moment, I’m most grateful for the fading influence that those ghost images hold over me.  Slowly, slowly, I’m setting myself free.

Party Assemblage

Plans are coming together for my Callinda Celebration Party on April 21.  I’ve reserved the community room in our apartment complex, made and sent the invitations.  Just when I was ready to raid my little savings account (the start of a new car fund) in order to cater the food, Mom offered to pay for everything.  What a wonderful gift!  I fully intended to celebrate in style, not put out a bowl of M&Ms and cheap punch, which is what I can afford.  I wanted to celebrate life now, not wait a decade when I may or may not be able to buy a car.  Get fear out of the way and miracles happen.

Now I’m in the process of making the party favors.  I wanted to create a little piece of art for everyone to take away with them, so I printed out quotes from the book and made a little platform for them.  This involves sewing fabric onto cardboard (yes, I had to learn how to sew again), lots of paint, stamping, embossing, beading, funky fabrics, sequins, fibers and the accompanying glues, tapes and tools.  I’m taking this:

And turning it into this:

I can only do three or four a day (sewing into cardboard, even with a thimble, is a little rough on the fingers), but in the meantime I can attend to other party details.  Like ordering an alien-looking, Zen floral arrangement for the table, and washing up the glass service party trays from my mom’s basement (and a recent find at a local thrift store).

Assemblage is a study in details—one more layer, one more bead, one more texture.  I’m hoping my party will hum with subtext and delight the eye.  The overriding theme is joy, and I can hear the laughter already.

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