The Next and (Probably) Last

Richard ArmitageI’ve posted the fourth and fifth chapters of Technical Consultant, my little story about bipolar author Carrie Severide and her fling as a technical consultant for actor Robert Bierce (a thinly disguised Richard Armitage).

I knew actually going to London and meeting Richard Armitage in the flesh would either kick new life into this story or kick it to the curb.  And I’m afraid it’s the latter.  My plan is to go back to an earlier idea about a bipolar heroine that is rooted firmly in reality—less fan-girl fantasy come true, more grit and hardship.  While I still love Technical Consultant for its Heaving Bosom potential, I want to do something else now.

Thanks to everyone who nagged me to keep writing this story.  I’m forever grateful for your interest and enthusiasm.  I hope these last two offerings are satisfactory.

To read Chapter 4: Out of the Frying Pan, click here.

To read Chapter 5: A Curious Roundtable, click here.

Or to start at the beginning with Chapter 1: An Unexpected Journey, click here.

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Dream-Lag

England Proof

£ £ £

1:30 AM.  I hobble out of bed and drop a couple of Airborne tablets into a glass of water. My back aches, my feet ache, and there’s a tell-tale scratchiness to my throat.  End-of-Summer cold, I grumble, gulping the fizzy water.  Crap.

Or is it from Airplane Air?

What?  I look at Henry who seems to be unusually clingy, sitting with his tale on my toes.  As my eyes focus, I see sacks on my kitchen counter.  A big, white plastic bag covered over by the Union Jack shouts “GLORIOUS BRITAIN—Gifts and Souvenirs.”  A midnight blue bag is quieter.  “Highclere Castle,” it tells me.

I look down at Henry, who is purring now.  Emmett is swirling around my ankles.  He never does that.

“Wait,” I tell them.  “I dreamed I was in England.”

They blink at me.

Reality slides.  Could it be true?

In the dream, Richard Armitage stands in rags and make-up to make him haggard and bloody, his face lifted up in profile to the stark spotlight as the audience applauds.  Then, he opens his arm to stage right and looks at me.  Because I’m only six feet away.  And I’m noisy.

In the dream, I sit on a trash bin in the fog of early morning, listening to the ticket-takers at the train station gate joke and tease each other.  Their thick country-British accents flow over me like music.  I sip my good latte from Costa, London’s equivalent to Starbuck’s, and watch the commuters zip into the car park.  Beemers, Volvos, even an elegant Chevy or two.  And they dash (all the Brits I’ve seen know one speed—dash) with satchels and iPhones, through the gate to the train.  I turn back to the little notebook I’m writing in and make a note.

In the dream, Evelyn and I sit on a wooden bench behind the manor house made famous by Downton Abbey.  We watch other tourists cross the square framed by the gift shoppe, offices, a cafe—buildings that used to be stables and workshops.  As Evelyn points out the current Lord Carnarvon and the Countess, indistinguishable from the tourists, we drop back into the stories of our lives.  We go deep, because we share the intimacy of bipolar disorder.  We’re like sisters who own the same family history, a language and context unique to us.  With the sun bright on the cask of purple and pink petunias beside us, we reinforce a gentle bond that started years ago on this blog.

In the dream, I follow Edward, Evelyn’s friend, out the back door to his garden.  Down a stone path past the drained pond (there are ridiculous laws about water safety everywhere), through the velvet Lamb’s Ear, to his herbs.  Sage, Thyme, Mint, more.  I reach and stroke them, bringing my hands to my face to smell.  I breathe in his County Cork accent as well, the sound of my own Irish heritage, and can feel my DNA perking up its ears.

In the dream, I sit stretched across two seats in an airplane, sun from the window cutting sharp across my lap.  My little notebook is open.  What happens now?  I write.  I think things will change.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know how.  This is a marker.

I look down at Henry as he yawns.  I’m holding clippings of sage, thyme and mint that are still green.  “Yeah,” I smile, “Let’s go back to bed.”

Clearly

Supersexy

You know how you can go along for weeks at night with just scrambly dream fragments, or nightmare clippets, or just nothing at all?  Or you get those weird anxiety dreams where you’re pooping in public, or being chased by clowns, or try to run away and seem to be on a treadmill?  I hate that.  I want a dream I can sink my teeth into (so to speak).  I want some Action.

Luckily, I’ve been getting some the last few nights.  Thank you, Morpheus.  Keep up the fine work, my new Deity of Choice.  Your conjurings have been stunning.

Going Off-line

Richard ArmitageCarrie Severide and Robert Bierce’s story is at a cross-roads.  Or a divided highway.  Or maybe just a squeezy hedgehog trail in the bramble.  It’s time for me to follow all the false starts to see where these two want to go.  Time to write the rest of this shitty first draft off-line.

I thought this might happen, and I apologize for teasing some of you with the first three chapters then leaving you stranded.  My intention is to finish this draft quickly, in the most shitty manner possible, then tackle the second draft directly.  Like Michelangelo said when asked how he carved David, “It’s easy.  You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.”

Not that I’m Michelangelo.  

Not that this story is a masterpiece.  

But the principle is the same.  I’ve got some chiseling to do.

And not that I want to tease anyone else who might be wandering by, but there are three chapters here to read.  Sorry.  I can’t help myself.

Do not fall down the rabbit hole by reading the first chapter of Technical Consultant—An Unexpected Journey. 

Don’t.  Really.

The Next Chapter

Richard ArmitageI’ve posted the third chapter of Technical Consultant.  Carrie Severide’s on her way to England and, of course, all is not well.

To read Chapter 3—A Warm Welcome, click here.

Or to start at the beginning with Chapter 1—An Unexpected Journey, click here.

For folks here in the States, here’s wishing you tons to be grateful for in the year to come.  And to my overseas friends, I give thanks every day for you.

The Next Chapter

Richard ArmitageI’ve posted the second chapter of Carrie Severide’s story.  Bipolar disorder can make the simplest acts impossible or bridge a chasm no one in their right mind would cross.  Carrie faces both as she’s not seen the last of Robert Bierce.

For fun, I’m using chapter titles from Tolkein’s works.   A wink at The Hobbit connection.

To read Technical Consultant—Many Partings, click here.

To start with Chapter One—An Unexpected Journey, click here.

A New Short Story

Richard ArmitageI firmly believe that if we decide to write, we ought to please ourselves first.  If we don’t write the stories we want to read, what’s the point?

That’s my justification for this piece.

A while ago I dreamed I was on Oprah, promoting my bestselling memoir.  At the time, I felt buried by all the work the project demanded, so this little dream was a lovely respite from all that drudgery.  Better still, Richard Armitage (aka Thorin Oakenshield of The Hobbit) appeared and hired me to be his technical consultant.  He was preparing to play a bipolar character and needed my expertise.

Sometimes the subconscious throws me a bone—a little eye candy, a little romance, a little magic—to take the sting out of real life.  That dream stuck with me.  I’d pull it out when I was feeling low and add to it.

Then, I started taking it seriously.  Once my memoir is finished, I’ve always planned to write a novel with a bipolar heroine.  This story seemed like a good starting point.  At least it could be  good practice.

So, here’s the first installment.  There may be more.  Names have been changed, but I know I’m not fooling anyone.

To read Technical Consultant—An Unexpected Journey, click here.

Strange, New Worlds

Spock, Princess Leia

Thanks to my marketing guru, Robert, I’ve started a Pinterest board.  Since I’m not a social networking-kinda gal, I’m not quite sure what the hub-bub is.  But, Kana has talked about her board, which is amazing, so I took the plunge.

I had a bad day yesterday, bipolar-wise, and putting this site together was a healthy distraction.  Not that I didn’t eat crap, too, or hide in my apartment, but it could have been worse.

It seems like Pinterest is where you can go to dream and throw up those dreams for the Universe to see.  Sort of like affirmations or a Vision Board.  I like that.  The internet certainly gives a person tons more images to choose from than magazines, though I like the process of cutting out the words and pictures and laying them out.

But I’m hip to try this new way of dreaming.

Gosh, someday I may even take another crack at Facebook!

Place Holder

hand-made greeting cards, collage art

This morning I woke up from a lovely dream.  Robert De Niro and I were in an old, empty theater.

How long has it been since you’ve been kissed?”  He was irritated.

“Ten years,” I told him.

Robert De Niro“What is wrong with the men in Iowa?”  He pinned me with that scary De Niro look.  “You should be kissed often.  Everyday.  Get over here.”

“Why?”

“The least I can do is hold their place for them—the stupid fuckers.”

I woke up smiling.  Thanks, Bob.

Whittling

There are days when it seems that everything I do is aimed at shoring up my defenses.  I exercise to regulate my brain chemistry and strengthen my body.  I journal to catch any distorted thinking and plan my day to avoid impulse eating/spending/reacting.  I work on a short story or a longer fictional piece to bleed out the fantasy thinking that collects like rain water in my barrel.  I practice Tai Chi as an exercise in Will, proving to myself that I can do things that are uncomfortable or difficult.

An underlying tension runs through all this doing, a sense of glancing over my shoulder toward the horizon.  Something’s coming.  Then, I shake it off and get back to it.

I’m sure much of this anticipatory dread comes from making so many changes in my lifestyle.  Change shakes everything up—physically, mentally, emotionally.  There’s no part of us that really likes it.  And those parts will fight to return to the status quo.  Dr. Phil calls this instinctual drift—the tendency for all organisms to revert back to their natural or learned tendencies.  It’s why all those “tame” wild animals keep mauling their owners.  It’s why lost weight always finds its way back.  Deeply ingrained patterns are just that—carved deep—and it will take more than a couple of weeks of tap dancing around them to make a difference.

The patterns that grew up around being bipolar kept me alive.  Maladaptive and unhealthy though they were, they became the only way to survive in my world.  Some days it feels like I’m jumping out of my lifeboat into shark infested water.  Ooo, and I hate sharks.

But, I have a precedent.  I have made a huge change before and incorporated it into my life.  I went from never exercising to working out at the Y five days a week.  Every week.  There’s no resistance to it any more.  It is simply part of my life.  So, I know change is possible for me.  It takes vigilance.  It takes making the choice every day, several times a day.  It takes carving out a new pattern one splinter at a time until that is the new learned response.

Every evening that I swim with my friend in her pool instead of watch TV is a splinter.  Every time I notice my thoughts turning to food and close the book I’m reading is a splinter.  Every time I walk uptown instead of getting into my truck is a splinter.  They all feel unnatural and forced.  My body twitches and there are parts of me that feel like I’m dying.  Sharks!

Sometimes I jump back in the boat, return to the comforting and numbing old ways.  But, the sharks are just a dream.  There is no water.  So I climb out of the rotten boat and start again.

I am shoring up my defenses—against my old patterns, coping skills that don’t serve me anymore.  What’s coming over the horizon is just a scared little girl flailing against pain and darkness.

Come here, darling.  Let’s whittle together.

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