Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Bra (My Support)

A friend has offered an assignment to me. He asks: "What inspires you, supports you, helps you to advance?"

A number of things come to mind. My family provides a great support system for me, and has seen me through some tough times, as I've chronicled recently. Not so much the support they provided, but the tough times. They've been there for me during my bouts with depression and my struggles with medication and psychosis. And they're inspiring, too-- my mom and my sister are two of my fans, and they comment on my blog regularly (or as regularly as I write, anyway...)

I'm inspired by their passion for life. My sister and my mom recently went to the Stampin' Up convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. They came back pumped up to be creative, and have even tempted me to join them. So next week I'll be going to visit and scrapbook.

Creativity is an inspiration to me as well. It helps me to advance. I like to find new and different ways of thinking about things. This comes through in my writing. Usually. Most of the time.

Humor is another thing that has sustained me, and helped me to advance. My dad has taught me a lot about taking life less seriously and being able to laugh at oneself. Never underestimate the power of laughter.

So I'm blogging to you today "on location" at Panera Bread in Sunnyvale, CA. I'm here for the Meetup "Shut Up and Blog" that meets almost every Wednesday. This is my second time here, and I've yet to talk to anyone. First time I was a couple hours late (overslept) and then was too shy to walk up and introduce myself. Today I went for the setup-- location, location, location-- and am in the corner with a wall outlet so the laptop battery doesn't prematurely end my productivity. Not sure if there are any other bloggers here today, but then I haven't poked around at all-- I've been writing to you! On assignment, too. So back to the bra and then some.

I'm inspired by music and humor and creativity. Art. Volunteerism. Philanthropy. Dreams. And politicians. All of them.

Again, humor.

Actually, some of the politicians inspire me some of the time. It does happen. I'm inspired by Al Franken. Not when he's doing his bits that I've heard a hundred times. But when he draws the map of the United States from memory, I'm always impressed.

So I'm sustained and inspired by family and friends. I am inspired by Jennifer Mattern, a great writer and fellow bipolar individual. Jenn's blog Breed 'em and Weep is a wealth of entertainment and wisdom and highly recommended. It's also got a whole lot bigger following than I do at the present moment. That's something to aspire to, something to help me advance...

I was inspired by the movie "I Am" and look forward to seeing it again, when it comes out on DVD. I'm inspired by cooperation. I like the fact that it's coded into our DNA and is a force of nature.

I'm inspired by nature. I'm in awe of it all. I love watching the sunset and the moon rise. The waves of the ocean at the beach. Trees and flowers and grass. Fire. Soil. Water. Love.

I'm inspired by others who create. The folks at the Van Gough Complex. Artists everywhere. Musicians. Parents. Teachers.

The project to make a movie out of the book "The Fifth Sacred Thing" inspires me. Check it out at Kickstarter.

And I'm inspired by the concept of infinity. It makes it all possible.

I kinda like that.

I was inspired by the speakers at the American Cancer Society Volunteer Appreciation Dinner the other night. Inspired to learn that we are making progress and learning new ways to treat and combat this nasty disease. That there are mechanisms already present in our bodies to deal with the abnormal cancer cells, and we're learning how to turn them on and direct them more efficiently so they beat cancer. There was a room full of inspiring people, all looking to work toward the same goal of curing cancer and saving lives. I was inspired by Patricia Brown and others who talked about the California Cancer Research Act, which, if passed, would inject over half a billion dollars into cancer research, effectively tripling the research budget.

Now that's inspiring. And only a dollar tax per pack of cigarettes will do it. Pass it now.

I know how I'm voting next June.

Another thing that promotes me is my marriage. My wife is affectionate, inspiring, nurturing, humorous, and uplifting. She deserves much credit in my recovery and stability (as do I, I should say...) and has been a tireless supporter of me throughout my illness. Marrying her has been my greatest investment. Love you, Suz.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm inspired by nature to use the restroom right now. So I'll end it here. Thanks for your time; I hope you find me inspiring, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


There's something that I've yet to really explore here. And that's my relationship with alcoholic beverages.

I started drinking when I was still in high school. It was easy enough-- there were a lot of us doing it together. I started because I thought it was cool. Not because I wanted to be cool-- I had already "arrived" on the social scene, found my confidence and made a lot of friends. But I always thought that drinking was somehow cool, as somehow something that I wanted to do.

It wasn't so much the rush of doing something that was illegal, although I suppose there was some of that-- doing something that you saw adults do for fun, made it even more fun and uplifting. It was growing up without waiting for the actual aging.

I soon learned that I could drink a lot and not get really sick. In fact, it wasn't long before I had my first black out. I may have a predisposition for such things, because my experiences with drinking were different from those of my friends. I could get drunk to where I didn't remember what happened the next day. But I could still function to some extent while I was that drunk. Well, sometimes, anyway.

About the time that I finished high school and went away to college, I became sexually active. My first time was with a woman that I worked with, and we sneaked off after our shift and parked on a dark country road. There was no alcohol involved, but I was transformed. I wasn't scared anymore; I felt I finally knew what to do.

The combination of alcohol and sexual drive was a dangerous combination. Alcohol lifted my confidence even more, to where I thought any woman that I was attracted to would surely return my sentiment. I pushed the boundaries, coming on to women hard, especially after a few drinks. This often led to one-night stands that exacerbated the hangover in the morning. I even had a couple bouts with venereal disease. I wasn't careful, and I was lucky that I didn't contract something more severe, or end up getting somebody pregnant. Alcohol made all of this possible.

Drinking became my main social activity in college. Almost all my friends drank, and to excess. I had countless times where I drank too much, didn't remember the events from the evening the following day, and vowed to myself never to let that happen again. But it did, and often got worse.

After a few times where I really pissed off my friends, or I just got myself into situations that I felt horrible about the next day, I started to try and change my drinking. Over many years, I ended up focusing my drinking, limiting my intake of wine and cocktails and concentrating mainly on beer.

But beer was still a formidable force. I developed the habit of drinking by myself after work, when I was working swing shift. I'd get some beer after the end of my shift at 1:30am and drink sometimes well into the morning hours before crashing into bed.

There were a lot of incidents where my drinking got me into some trouble. The first run-in with the law was six days before my 21st birthday, I tried to buy some beer at a mini-mart gas station. I was successful without being carded, so me and two friends took a twelve pack of Coors Light and parked on a city street near a park, shut off the engine and popped the tops. We'd barely had a sip when a bright pair of headlights swooped up behind us and started an investigation. We all ended up with tickets and had to pour all the beer out. Dejected, we proceeded to drive to a very small town nearby, roll down the windows, and scream expletives at the top of our lungs while my friend drove screeching around the couple blocks or so of the neighborhood. Since it was about midnight, this was not met with much amusement, I'm assuming, by the townspeople. But it felt good. Which is always of the utmost importance when you're about that age.

I ended up doing a trial-by-mail and getting "acquitted" of the illegal possession charge. Seems my writing abilities have served me well. But there were other times that I got into sticky situations and just somehow lucked out of them. I don't know how I got away without any DUI's or DWI's but I did. There are times that I don't remember driving home, even though it was several miles of dark two-lane country roads. I'm lucky to be alive, lucky I didn't kill anybody.

So. I finally quit drinking for a couple years, as I was trying to equalize and stabilize between my moods and meds, as treatment for my bipolar disorder. I recently started having beer with meals again, but still, there's a desire to drink to excess; to drink to the point where perfection is an emotion that I feel with endless abandon. Euphoria in a buzz, and magical peace in universal loving collaboration. All doubt takes a nap. And the mind is at ease, with all possibility at hand.

I'm not sure I'm doing the "right" thing by drinking at all. But not drinking at all didn't cure me, either.

All of those blackouts have forever Swiss-cheesed my confidence, my recollection. My confidence is undermined because I don't remember; Anything could have happened and I might have done something I will forever regret. In fact, the whole idea that I don't remember is grounds for psychological doubt-- am I not remembering something for a distinct reason? Am I actually suppressing the memory? I don't know how I can ever be sure.

And my drinking is entwined in my bipolar disorder. Some of the drinking is self-medication, and it works. But it doesn't treat the disorder; it treats the immediate symptoms and creates deeper concerns. So there's a pull to take part in drinking because it feels right, and it's socially acceptable. More acceptable to drink than be depressed or exhibit symptoms of mental illness. That's how society's organized it to date.

So just like when my mood disorder is in full swing, and I sneak into a manic episode, there's the motivation to lap up every last drop of "feel-good" and try to live there, in euphoria, like it's eternally sustainable. But it's not. We are like waves at the beach. Our moods and emotions come and go. Drinking is a crude way of managing this disorder. And ultimately, it doesn't work. But that doesn't make it any easier when you're facing shitty options to give it a try again.

So I still wish that I could drink to excess. I still wish that I was in my twenties. The truth about my life is that I'm not going to go back there; I can't be twenty-one again any more than I can drink eight beers in one night. But I will always want to. Always.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Writer Writes of Whiter White

Hey. I know how to do this.

It's like riding a bike. Once you got it down and do it right, you don't forget, even if you don't ride for a few years.

Bet you never heard that one before.

I'm trying to win my own attention. I'm trying to build up my confidence in myself and my abilities. I'm trying to get back to being happy with who I am.

Wanna pump?

Ride along with me on this odyssey of life, a bipolar one to boot. Great flux of emotion, ebbing and flowing like the tides.

Don't worry, I know what I'm doing. Just hang on; You'll be fine.

I was noticing the other day how brightly certain buildings shone in my vision, as if freshly painted. Upon further investigation, I concluded that the paint jobs were not new. My guess is that what changed was my perspective. Or my vision. Or my brain chemistry.

One of the above, anyway.

Could changes in medication actually produce such a phenomenon? That's my guess. When you feel good, things look better, smell better. That's kind of what happened, I think. My outlook was more bright, and so I saw some colors more brightly.

I'm waking up to a new phase in my life. I'm becoming the special perfection that I seek. I'm becoming into being. I'm balancing on two wheels, and ringing the bell.

There's so much to consider these days-- nutrition, exercise, charity, work, relationships, politics... And yet, I tend to consider myself the most, and I judge with a stern finger.

Tama Kieves is a motivational speaker/writer that has helped me to fine tune my perception in recent years. She speaks of the inner light that shines in everyone, and how liberating that personal energy is the stuff of magic. Finding your path is a matter of allowing yourself the love and understanding to do what it is that you are meant to do. Getting out of your own way. Loving the moment. I tell ya, I'm gonna read her book or something one of these days. I loaned it to my sister and she enjoyed it, but I have yet to get the book back from her... Meanwhile, I follow Tama on Facebook. Her first book is called "This Time I Dance." She has a new one coming out soon-- next year, I think?

I'm trying to get to my most inspirational self. My strongest, most confident self. It's a process of doing these sort of exercises, where I type out what's on my mind and grapple with issues that are swimming around in there. I try to get at the core issues and have some fun. Fun is good, y'know.

I tend to want perfection when I write-- so that every phrase I turn elicits severe emotion and rapture. I need to loosen it up a bit. Whop bop a loo bop. A whop bam boom.

I'm trying to be creative, wrap up new presents to be gifted to my reader. Trying to remember what I've learned from the past, all the writing trade secrets and so forth.

I'm trying.

I want to inspire. I want to make friends. I want to dig out the splinters and salve the wound.

There is a way for me to get where I'm trying to go. And you know what? I'm on the path. You may even know better than I do that I'm on the right path. All will be well, just trust your self love, and love yourself, and you'll find your way. Through darkness and twists and turns and mud. Ooo, squishy.

I will continue to build my trust in myself. I may even find it interesting. Perhaps you will too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Name Your Poison

Triazyldazzle and Jim Beam. Morphine and Coke. Coffee and Irish creme. Xanax and toast.

There are many a cocktail in this world. Some of them we're born with, others we inherit. There's nature and nurture in our story of existence, and many tales to be told whether we realize it or not.

I'm trying to realize what my chemical equilibrium is. What substances can I invite into my being? And which do I need to commit to? Are there things, like apples and oranges, that I need to work into my daily intake? And is there a choice? Do I need fruits and vegetables daily just to survive on an even keel?

Probably. Just like I need to take my medications as prescribed. But one must measure for perfectionism, too. Not all advice can or should be followed.

Okay, so I believe I'm piggybacking on a friend. (Golly, I hope she don't mind. Tee hee.) If you want more of the skinny on bipolar survival and the medicine dancing we do, check out Ms. Mattern's latest effort atBreed 'em and Weep. She's got the goods on what's working for her, and what she faces with this disorder, and she does a great job writing about it. But that's come to be expected, seeing as how she's established herself as a defining voice in the blogosphere. Much praise, Jennifer. Keep up the good fight.

Me, I'm just fighting to get something down on cyberpaper. I wish I could write extensively about a single subject, with flair and abundance. But I am currently siphoning off of a collective brain, and I am only at seventeen percent efficiency with my creativity auger. Whatever that means. Suffice it to say, I'm experiencing a learning curve, as well as just feeling a bit, well, creatively constipated.

I want to tell you, dear reader, more about my recollections and experiences, but I seem to be wearing a lead jacket with woolen lining. I'm bogged down in details and editing instead of writing out the bones, starting with the structure and adding the meat and potatoes later.

Whatever that means.

New rule. Never write prior to eating dinner. Too much food imagery and digestive distraction.

Anyway. I needed to get a new blog entry. Done. Now on to getting more something or other in hopes of getting closer to the goal of writing this Greece work of art. I must write it, cuz I can't very well paint it.

New page, please.