Breathing

I had a whole other blog post half-written, but when I came back to it, none of the bipolar drama mattered any more.

There was a theme of WANTING this summer, but we all know wanting comes from believing there is a hole in our soul that needs filling.  The cure for wanting isn’t changing our bodies or our location, it isn’t filling that hole with stuff or people.  The cure for wanting is to sit with it, cup it gently in our own two hands, breathe it in and out.  Then, we remember we are whole where and when we are.

I’ve been thinking about turning 60 in a couple of months.  I don’t usually pay attention to birthdays, but this is kind of a milestone for me.  See, I never expected to live to see 60.  In the back of my mind, far from consciousness, I think I was marking time until I made a decision to exit this world.  Turning 60 means I’ve made a different kind of decision.

At first I didn’t think I’d created much of a life—it certainly didn’t look like the life I imagined for myself when I was a girl.  But when one of my mental health gurus said, “I’ve always thought you were good at living,” I reconsidered.

My sister’s husband died three weeks ago after a long illness.  She had been preparing for that eventuality—buying a home in Oklahoma where her son and his family live, clearing out sheds and closets—but the last six months of constant caregiving along with Hospice drained her life energy.

I supported her the best I could.  When the time came, I stood beside her as her husband died and when some of his family members got ugly.  I stood at the graveside with one arm around my tall, cowboy nephew, and the other around his little son, and I felt alive with love for my family. Last week, my sis and I packed our vehicles with the last of her things and caravanned to her new permanent home.

Yesterday I returned to my home of geriatric (and complaining) cats, art projects in progress, the last week of water walking at the Aquatic Center before it closes for the season, watching the addictive drama of Big Brother with my friends, coffee and movies and lunches with other friends, meeting the interim minister at church and volunteering to lead a SoulMatters group.

I think it’s time to give up my hair shirt.  It’s time to embrace the good life I’ve created and allow forgiveness to become part of it.  Today, all I want is to be content, to be grateful.

Breathing in, I choose the Adventure.

♥ ♥ ♥

P.S. Happy Birthday, Richard.

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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.

 

Pretend Boyfriends

Richard BondIt’s Richard Armitage’s birthday.

This is the guy who inspired me to go to London by myself last year.

From the London production of “The Crucible.” I about swallowed my tongue when THIS happened.

He’s 44 today, so, yeah, I’d be a cougar if there was a sow’s ear’s chance in a deep-fat fryer for THAT to ever happen.  At least I’m not old enough to be his mother.  I take great comfort in that small mercy.

Pretend boyfriend

Someone else’s rendering of my “relationship” with Richard. Note the Cougar dress.

He’s currently acting the creepy shit out of the role of Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy, in NBC’s Hannibal (Saturdays, 10/9c).

Tooth Fairy

I wonder if his Mum baked him a cake today?  Wait.  No Mum-talk.  That’s even creepier than Hannibal.

There’s Mum when “The Hobbit” cast met Wills. Definitely older than me.

Aren’t pretend boyfriends great?  I don’t have to know if he leaves his stinky socks laying around, or nag him to take out the trash, or get pissy when he gets all—you know—actorly.  I just get to enjoy his craft.  And his face.  And that voice.

 

So, Cheers, Richard—my make-believe darling.  It may be pretend, this little affair of ours, but damn, it’s good.

drinking

3:00AM

Kitty-Filled Life

It’s a little after 3:00AM now.  I’ve been up since 1:30 after four hours of sleep—despite my never-fail sleep cocktail of Xanax and Benadryl.  It’s February.

The one good thing about nights like this, when rapid cycling and mixed states turn my days and nights inside out, is that I don’t have to worry about getting up to go to work.  I remember, years ago, trying to talk myself back to sleep. Before any diagnosis told me this might be part of my “normal,” before doctors, and my work ethic, and the State agreed that I was no longer employable, I fretted over my sleeplessness and dreaded the morning.  I know most of us have had nights where we finally drop off at 5:00 in the morning only to have the alarm go off at 6:00.  It’s a horrible, rock-in-the-gut feeling.

Now I just get up.  Open the windows to let the cold, fresh air wash the stale taste of insomnia out of the apartment, stick my favorite mug in the microwave and sip chai while I putter on the computer.  In a few minutes, I’ll close the windows and pull out my plush throw, rearrange the cats on my chair, and read for a while.  When I get sleepy, I’ll go back to bed.  It doesn’t matter anymore when that happens.

That freedom is exquisite.  The absence of that particular stress is like a Christmas present, an emotional gift card that keeps on giving.  It makes the discomfort of this spell easier to bear.

I’m trying to be more conscious of how winter torques my bipolar disorder.  Fellow blogger-friend, Kitt O’Malley (and what a foin Irish name, that is) just posted a clinical piece about the relationship between BP and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  It was the first thing I read when I sat down with my chai.  (Synchronicity is alive and well in my spinny corner of the world.)  It’s always nice to know I’m not alone in my otherness, that there are folks who go through the same kinds of extra grief this time of year, that a committee somewhere labeled it.

It’s the little things that help me keep going when I really don’t want to, little comforts, little efforts.  I give my light box one more try and sit down to make a card—like the one at the top of this post.  I haul my ass to the laundromat, normally a place I love, but now just one more chore I can’t quite accomplish.  But I do it, and the gentle rhythm of the dryers, the warm scent of clean, comforts me.  I let Richard Armitage read to me in the car, his facile voice assuming dozens of characters in a novelization of Hamlet, and it comforts me.

Now the chai and the soothing motion of fingers on a keyboard, the wandering off to read a bit of Rumi, the quiet trust of my sleeping cats all conspire with the space I’ve made for acceptance.  I feel sleep sliding up behind me.  It’s 5AM, and I don’t own an alarm clock anymore.

There is always something to be grateful for.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Me

If you’ve never tried Audibles, they give you a free 30 day trial period with the first purchase free.  So, I got Richard whispering Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 in my ear for free (something I would have paid good money for).  That almost makes up for seeing 50 Shades of Grey yesterday.  As they say, that which has been seen cannot be unseen, but I will drown it out with poetry.

Signs

Seems to be a MysticThe UU service in Des Moines this morning sounded interesting—a teen talking about trans-gender issues.  I’d missed the last couple of Sundays, so my intent last night was to shake off the bipolar ennui enough to get there today.  I was a little late, so grabbed a frappuccino out of the cooler at the gas station instead of standing in line at Starbucks.  But it was snowing, and slushy, and the roads hadn’t been cleared well.  On the road, I debated whether to keep going or turn back and watch the rest of Season One of Hannibal instead (I’m preparing for next season when Richard Armitage joins the cast—yaay!).

As I pondered, I shook my frappuccino.  The lid flew off, and sugared coffee doused me, my windshield, and everything else with me (purse, dash, floor).  Dumbstruck, then laughing, I grabbed at Kleenex and mopped my face.

“Okay, okay, I’ll turn around!”

After scrubbing out the car (sticky, but what a yummy smell!), washing my coat, purse, book bag in the tub, and sticking my head under the faucet to get the coffee-sugar out of my hair, I watched the snow plows rumble by.  That’s okay.  Sometimes I do have to get hit over the head to get the message.  Or, at least, splashed in the face.

Are you ready, Dr. Lecter?

spilled coffee

I Knew What Was Coming

I bought my ticket in advance.  I put on lipstick.  But I knew what was coming.

Thorin BoFAThe Hobbit has been one of my favorite books since I was in junior high.  I wrote my Senior Thesis on Tolkien.  I’m in love with Richard Armitage.  But I knew what was coming.

Everyday for the last few weeks, I’ve whipped from depression to hysteria.  I wondered, since I knew what was coming, if going to the movie now was wise.

But, I went to the premiere last night and sat in a full house of other Tolkien geeks who cheered and wailed along with me. Because we knew what was coming.  And it was glorious.

And as an additional kick to the emotional gonads, Billy Boyd (Pippin from The Lord of the Rings) sings the theme song.  In this YouTube piece, his song overlays all six of the movies Peter Jackson crafted from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings along with behind the scenes moments.  Those are mostly of the cast and crew saying their own farewells.  Excuse me while I go get another box of Kleenex.

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.

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.”

Flames Over the Atlantic

In a few hours, I’ll be winging my way across The Pond for my first British Adventure.

I can’t wait to meet my darling blog-friend, Evelyn, who has so graciously offered her hospitality and companionship.  Her eclectic knowledge and far-flung interests never cease to astound.  One look at her blog will tell you that.  We speak a wonderful language that I’m sure no one else can understand.  Part poetry, part trans-continental colloquialisms, part bipolar-brain, we delight in each other’s weirdness.  She was the first person to buy a card from my Etsy sight.  I feel like I’ve known Evelyn all my life.  Here she is with Fred (who seems to speak the same Irritated Cat language as my Henry).

Evelyn & Fred

Then, there’s that other piece of business I’ll be tending to while in London.  A bit of theater.  In the front row.  Agog.

For Hobbit fans, this soliloquy might ring a few bells.  Alas, poor Richard seems to be destined for the torch.  Is it any wonder I’m smoldering?

Evelyn has instructions to box up my ashes and ship me home.  I’ll send up a smoke signal when I get back.

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