creative nonfiction & memoir

Every Day, for Three Years

My hands tremble again as I try to open a prescription. More Valium.
It’s the same as it always happens—the complete fear, the loose-jointed-hanging by a thread over a large hole. And then the sweat, the racing heart, the distorted perception of my peripheral, and I can no longer feel. Self-mutilating is often the cure for this, but I’m becoming too heavy in the drugs. I shake more as suicide creeps into the back of my mind again. My psychiatrist calls this dissociating. I call it Thursday.
Another day in these rooms, pacing (lots of pacing). I spend most of my time alone. I say it’s because of this and that, and this, but the truth is I’m afraid—afraid I’ll bump into someone who once knew me and they’ll wonder what the fuck happened, and the rumors are or are not out there anyway. I may be paranoid, but I’ve seen their faces. Really, I didn’t want to see myself mirrored in their eyes—the same look of uncomfortable politeness, pity maybe, because maybe they’d already heard—and beneath that layer, the look of loss. As if seeing someone that never really came back.
So here I shake in my shelter I’ve patched together and I make tea. I pace more and more, waiting for something to end, because I can’t accept quite yet that madness happens on a continuum. I debate going to the hospital again, but really what else can they do for me. What else can they possibly do except tie down my wrists so I don’t do it (metaphorically), secure the over-the-counters and scripts, keep me away from glass and others. But I have a shred left in me that will allow me to do this myself—this tiny fucking thread that is my bridge

raceytay @ etsy

raceytay @ etsy

between despair and hope. And ‘hope’ isn’t that pretty-looking either. Hope is believing you won’t lose control and take that little pink razor. Hope is knowing you’re not quite that insane yet, so you have to stay at home alone, and pray to the god of Time to make haste and speed you along through the dark–through the carnival tunnel of the stuff nightmares are made on. Hope knows no faith, it is merely the least dark of the shadowed corners where the voices in your head are coming from. It’s like being in Limbo, where heaven is the speed getting turned down a notch so you can rest your spinning head, knowing you just made it another day. Hell is the cracking inside your skull, the matter of the brain no longer signaling right from wrong, pain and comfort. There is no God, there is nothing that can comfort you, and you have to give up, essentially, and hand over your own keys to yourself because you can no longer protect that self. Love yourself? Shit, that’s a delicacy.
And so it goes, like this, every day, for three years. I lived like that for three years. With a young child to bear witness. And I’ll forever wonder how I damaged her.
I make it up to her every day, I try, when I’m not slipping across the moods Continue Reading

Bipolar Disorder

A Beginning (Memoir)

Cold January cracks through the diamond patterned lines on the security glass. The winter sun blinds my puffy eyes, stretches across my white blanket, my white sheets. Everything is white. I look for it in my gut—the comfort of warm familiar glows and dawn, but there is none. And the empty nothingness overwhelms me to a sit-up position. Fear. Fearing fear. This fear that had started spreading through me, and now continued as soon as I wake, like a black ink filling my veins. It has a mouth and a long, wide throat and there’s sharp teeth to catch me. There certainly aren’t people because people don’t exist in your head. And I cry because no one can help me out of this. That’s why I am here. I feel the nausea rise and the taste of rubber in my mouth. I cry because there is no God. I try to whisper Hail Mary again like last night. It’s not working. Focus. Panic. Focus. Feel the textures, feel the temperatures. Be present you will not die. I’m dying. Alone in my room, wearing their navy blue scrubs. It’s that starving cry again and I’m no longer embarrassed here to try to muffle it. I also know it doesn’t help worth a damn, but I’m that little girl, aren’t I? That little five year old getting her head kicked in and her underwear pulled. Wasn’t the time I put into this madness enough? It may never end, and I prayed to Mary to let it be over. I hear the little girl’s voice again, sobbing gently in my head. I want to reach inside myself and cut her. Because I know she is where I must begin–this is only the bottom of the well. It’s unexplored down here and only a shred of January streaks through above me, in that small opening to the world. Miles away. And I have to know this well like the back of my hand if I intend on not only surviving but never coming back. Memories, speak. Memories I’m down I’m down, I can’t fight anymore. And there is nothing left but terror—and even more terror awaits but I must break into this and start eating it alive—I must figure this out. I must feel. I must remember. Or I won’t make it.

The drive in the old red Chevy is a quiet one, nothing but white headlights through the haze of cigarette smoke—Dan, my stepfather, chain-smoking Dorals, watching the road and my thigh. None of us speak—we hardly ever did in those years. I stare through the glass, watching the mental ward set back against the tall bones of the birch trees draw near.
The sky is the only thing I want to see. The only thing I don’t have to think about. I don’t want to think of my mother, or the speed of change. Up in the stars you don’t have to be a good girl in all that black space. It all means nothing. Even then, I knew it was okay to be lost when you’re reminded how small you are, how little your voice is. I don’t think I would have found it surprising then that sixteen years later, I, too, would be a patient in this hospital.
The engine guns into the entrance and the halogen parking lights cross my lap over and over. He parks and my two sisters and I walk toward the picnic tables on a cement slab. It occurs to me—did she call us here? Why were we here at night?
My sisters and I stood apart from each other in the silence, each of us already learning the abandon of grief. I looked down at my shoes, my thighs, and then up into the stars when I heard Dan’s cowboy boots scuffing the pavement, escorting my robed and crying mother. I didn’t recognize her—terrified and helplessly stunned when she saw us. She kept looking to Dan, not looking at us again. We said hi and kept our distance from her and each other, and once I was sure it was forgotten I was there, I turned toward the field that lead to the trees, and looked up into the night sky. I thought about God, about how the earth was really just this round ball he kept in a box and for night time Continue Reading

mental illnesses

A Trauma Theory

il_570xN.630136198_54aqIt was my third year in college when I first heard the term string theory.
I remember moving forward slightly, anxious for what
he’d say next, and as the professor strolled over
quantum physics and how this theory could explain
all the forces of nature—what it could reveal, the dark mysteries
it could possess—
I know that I felt the spindles in my irises unraveling
like a sketched star in reverse, and that
it connected to words in my brain, and then
to the angles in my fingers, the shoots in my nervous system

bodies in cubic space and time, specks in the ether, strung
together, moving each other,
causing and effecting
And all of this happened not out of belief
no, but from the simplicity of proofs.
I know that I felt the chemistry in my brain spark,
and that these strings moved around, refracting
and bending the way I did against my
faulty wiring. My amygdala had a pulse
and my usual emotional responses went static—perhaps
it was my first touch with existentialism.
Or perhaps it was my first touch with faith.
But I lost the comfort of a small ignorance and I was exposed,
and all at once, in the back of the room
at my desk, I pictured, in the span of a thread,

my mother
repelling me, twisting and corrupt and
in sync with my own–out of alignment, changing rhythm,
her defections streamlining down to
me like a shared, infected vein Continue Reading

Andrea Hurley Photo
creative nonfiction & memoir

What’s In a Name

I did this exercise for the Gotham Writing Workshop and I wanted to share this draft because it was fun.  Here goes:

andreahurley2Amy. Such a short name–a simple name. A name reserved for a sun-bleached blond girl who fishes with the boys and wants to hook the worms, curious about the guts of dirt. Amy, the small one at home, easy to miss. No one would notice the bruises.
Amy, simply put, who jumps trains at age eleven, with the Forrest Gump soundtrack playing out of speakers that are wrapped around her bike’s handlebars, Walkman in the fanny pack. “Rebel Rouser”, “San Francisco”, “Volunteers”, “California Dreamin.’”
“…Be sure to wear flowers in your hair…”

Amy—in a simple white dress at a small coffee shop, hair in braids, where a Vietnam Vet takes her to the piano and plays and sings to her “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The July sun streaming through the open French doors, shadows dancing across the wood floor planks as the local hippies sip their soymilk teas.
“But she smiled at me so sadly
That my anger straightway died
If music be the food of love
Then laughter is its queen
And likewise if behind is in front
Then dirt in truth is clean…”

Two syllables, quickly said in anger by a sick mother, calling her longer names as she blossoms into the girl of her stepfather’s dreams, blossoms into the illnesses of her mother. She hides in her room with weapons at the ready, playing “Free Bird” and no longer able to cry. Simple labels—bipolar, depressed, anxious, piss-ant, bitch. Amy means many things.

On the chart, nurses read “Amy” and make their comments, as she sits in her scrubs avoiding group therapy, counting the paper ornaments on the tree. “Time for her antipsychotics.”
She doesn’t cry—doesn’t want to be noticed. Fade into the background and no one will see.

Amy, simply complicated, who can never name herself, seeing herself in nouns.


images by Andrea Hurley @ Etsy



photo: Heather Jacobson
Confessional/Survival Poetry

The Elements of Loss

I don’t hear you say my name
as you ask why it is
I let no one love me.
I feel something stir
and I laugh.
This is my way.
There’s no room for clumsy.
Take me or leave me, I
say I’ll give you one chance
when I know I won’t
give you any.
Best to shield before
they want to leave.
But deep in the
infection of my gut
I’m saying
love me, love me.

After my father’s funeral
my mother gave me back
all the things I’d made her
as a child.
I sit at home and look at
the finger paintings,
the sequence snowman,
the pictures of the
little girl of me.
I wonder how she
survived that long.
I wonder how she
faced every day
with bravery and
a kind heart with so
many secrets. Secrets
that weren’t hers.
I wonder what happened
in her little body
that made her fight.
In the hospital,
in my secure room,
all I told my sisters
on visiting day
was “She’s gone, she’s gone
she’s dead! She’s dead!”
and now I know what I meant.
To lose someone you hate
makes you love them.
I shake as I write this.

it’s always looking up waiting
for the sky to lift
I’m somewhere in between–way down
and up on my toes
aren’t we all pushing forward–
shouldn’t the earth shift beneath our force–
buds reaching always reaching.
Some of us, we’re always watching,
waiting for our half-remembered dreams
knowing we are not magnificent.



A Sarcastic Ass and a Poet

Well I am on a spree of sleepless nights (I wasn’t on my adhd med for a week and then took it late the other night–I’m all fucked up) so I thought I’d write to you about a few things: ADHD, a little on the moods in bipolar, a little Ptsd, destructive behavior, and sex.  Sound alright?

Well first, ADHD.  I’m in this group–it’s a totally limitless free-for-all for people with ADHD, and that is where I met the writer/blogger Tom Nardone (here’s his site, here’s his blog).  He has a hilarious view on ADHD (and it just so happens my ADHD is my only disorder I find quite funny).  If you get a chance, go read his stuff, and listen to his podcasts–total entertainment and eye-opening thoughts–he really gets you to look at yourself and think for yourself.



But he got me thinking about how ADHD effects my life past and present.  When I was younger it wasn’t so prevalent–except I couldn’t read books/textbooks–had no clue what was going on in English and History).  It has to/had to be very stimulating to capture my attention (and what I find stimulating are things on emotional/sexual levels).  It wasn’t until my twenties that I began to chase after things I could never catch (comorbid with the PTSD), I was abusing drugs and very sexually active (way too active–even though the PtSD blocked all orgasming).  Later in my mid to late twenties I couldn’t focus or sit  still.  I was (always have been) EXTREMELY impulsive–with words, with reactions, with money, with drug, with people.  The PTSD came into effect full force in 2009 and my brain was a scramble.  I had Continue Reading


For Mike, a poem

How many nights have we spent
with our faces to the stars

your words are often poetry
and I, the writer, lean
back and listen, or
both of us so eager to talk
just like when
we were kids.
I have a history
with you like
no one else–
of dreaming and defining
and seeking and climbing,
and in the lateness of the night
when parts of us are dying, to each other,
on the phone,
taking turns
on each side of the river
of clarity and insanity.
I meet you there
more often than not;
sometimes the world
is too much for us
and we either break
or we are awakened–
holding hands and
contemplating the
tears in music.
Sometimes the world
is so big and stunning
that we can only
look up to the stars,
seeing our smallness
and smiling.


My Poetry

Sunburst (for Emma)

While I was watching
she didn’t do
a slow dissolve
on the canvas
of what I’ve painted.
I waited for it.
I waited for
the oils to
drip down and blur
the dark strokes,
the blood wine moons
and negative stars
sketched in reverse,
the sharp intakes
of my past slashed,
an untitled piece
I can’t remember making.

And she, my bright
yellow sunburst,
in the center
of my painting,
her edges touching
growing and growing.
She stares back
at me, unashamed.


Sexual Identity

Sexual identity is what’s happening with me in my life right now.  I’ve never felt more free and “normal” about my sexuality and desires.  I’m learning I have a darker side, but it’s not as bad as I had feared it would be.  I don’t recall ever desiring a man this much in my life.  Ever.  I never knew how men were just as complex and beautiful creatures as we women.  Only wonderfully different.  I think my past shut me off from men completely-I know for a fact it did.  And I’ve met some incredible, incredible people that share similar desires and stories and I feel so…human!  I’ve told them EVERYTHING, and I’m accepted, even liked.  It’s the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.  I’m new to these deep attractions I feel, so I worry I come off strong. And I have, but I’m sure it will balance out.  I cannot say enough how relieved I am and how heady I feel half the time just thinking about men.  Ahhhh!  So forgive me for my ramblings and my erotic poem I wrote (that I love).  I wish I would get feedback on it!

to be touched
say it–”touched”–
an intimate kiss
when he says my name, his
voice seeping through me,
pooling into my caverns
and curves
every drop from him
a fine, careful sip–
fingers trailing
across my skin–
the rise of the heat
the pulse thudding
mouth to mouth
lip to lip
thirsty across my tongue
across my breasts
and at last eddying down
to that secret opening;
he intoxicates me, lusting
and loving and licking
between my thighs–
giving and giving
until I see those pink sparks
behind my eyes
and then
it’s dark–slipping into
that void only he
can enter-the
center of my secret
that I don’t know how to tell
–and I’m drunk,
falling into words I can’t
help but say
that come from
the core of my sex
and his
and then, there it is–
the first thrust into
me and I want to fall apart
where we meet,
shaking and squeezing
as that deep deep drink
mixes with mine;
low, uncontrolled vowels
escape from my lips,
as a train of violence
is coming through my body, all
I can do is say “touch–” and
my back
he penetrates the
secret until
I have nothing left.

My Poetry


This body’s breath
caught sharp and held
I hold it and like water
it escapes my fingers and spills
over my toes
when I am thirsty
asking too much from my body
when I am not enough
I give it tea and fruit and poisons
I exhale the fumes of the vices
herbal or smoky and fine
licking at these wet fingers
that let a pen scratch
let a word be plucked
from a curl of steam
this body’s breath
will learn it can’t hold what is borrowed
and maybe then stop
cupping and drinking
hold and take nothing
it’s enough just to breathe
let the vices unthread from the seams
of the spine into origami wings
taking flight in paper vees
and leave me in the water

child abuse

Hamsa–The Hand of Fatima & The Virgin Mary


in high school I had reoccurring dreams of a symbol–a hand with an eye on it.  Dreamed it all the time.  I had no idea what it meant, but it remained with me always.  A few years later I was dreaming I was in this different aboriginal world and we were painting our faces with blue war paint.  A woman, the leader, kept saying something very close to the sound of “Fatima” and I bolted out of bed but I could not write it down for some strange reason–it slipped away too quickly.  More time passed.  I got sick.  Really sick..  I’d sob into

My soon-to-be tattoo

My soon-to-be tattoo

my hospital mattress praying the Hail Mary over and over and over until I fell asleep.  And everything changed.  But I came back to that dream of the hand with the eye on it, and mulled it over while I was healing.

Last month I was at church (a very rare occasion because I try very hard not to cry for some reason when I”m there) and I was walking out with my grandpa and there was a table of pamphlets and audiobooks set up and I stopped dead in my hamsabuddhatracks–there it was; Fatima.  I knew that name but from where?  I kept repeating it in my head.  I knew it.  It was a picture of the Virgin Mary, the vision in Portugal.  I stopped my mother and whispered that I knew this–that I’d dreamed this.  Naturally she shrugged and that was that.   More time passed.

I looked up “hand with eye” and what came up was the Hamsa symbol–the hand of a holy woman (or God’s hand for some) with the eye for protection against evils.   I didn’t read much more because I was floating on the fact that I had dreamed these things and thought maybe–just maybe.  I was so drawn to it, I ordered my hamsa ring after waiting years to get it–I don’t know why I waited.  I stared at it on Etsy every month or so.  But I had to have it.  It was me.

Then I’m at home reading the art of Tantra and books on Sacred Sexuality and there it is again: Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad in Islam, the Virgin Mary in Christianity, The Hand of Miham in Judaism (Moses’ daughter), and it meant pretty much the same thing across faiths/relgions–Hinduism and Buddhism too though they count the hamsajudaism five fingers on the hamsa hand as chakras and they believe hands are for healing.  Also in Shamanism, Jain beliefs, and Anatolia.

I was talking to a new friend last night about PTSD (he has it too) and we were talking about everything–i was crying.  I don’t cry to people.  Ever.  Never.  Never.  Hell, I haven’t been hugged in 13 years.  And that’s alright.  I’ve never been held, but something clicked in my brain and I connected the dots of my dreams and feelings to these ancient symbols–thousands of years old–starting in the Middle East somewhere and into Egyptian culture.

I figured it out–and I still don’t know how to word it.  I’ve been looking for her for so long and just like that, it snapped, and there it was.  Call it what you will, but I think I found my Mother.


and furthermore…here is a poem I wrote a while ago before I knew anything about what Hamsa meant.


The pop and snap of prescription pill bottles,
swallow, light, inhale, scrape of the chair,
cluster of tap-tap-taps on the keys, a silence
beyond this room, beyond this wall
I can almost hear you—the soil
sifting, seeds spreading out, dry in your palm;
folds of light robes around you like
birds wings—your child
asleep on your warm back,
your sky a sea, an earth, a breath
because you’re there I’m less anxious
(as I palm another pill) because I rely
on sedated time I sit in my chair,
lost somewhere before the border,
where I see myself later—aged and wearing away—
walking to you, palms up.

“Here, here I am…” only you aren’t waiting
for me, time is something else to you—
so I see I don’t have to tell you
where I’ve been or why I am here
but that I’ve arrived
out of the cement tomb,
the rise and fall of my chest is all,
seas of breath and I am.
I know the scent of your skin,
the feel of your warm, bent back
beneath my body, I know necessity.
I will arrive
when I am not so afraid of myself.
I will cross into the motherland.
I will go home.
I will leave what I’ve built behind and
I will take my place
among the living.
I can hear you beyond this room.


My Poetry

So I Wrote an Erotic Poem

to be touched
say it–”touched”–
an intimate kiss
when he says my name, his
voice seeping through me,
pooling into my caverns
and curves
every drop from him
a fine, careful sip–
fingers trailing
across my skin–
the rise of the heat
the pulse thudding
mouth to mouth
lip to lip
thirsty across my tongue
across my breasts
and at last eddying down
to that secret opening;
he intoxicates me, lusting
and loving and licking
between my thighs–
giving and giving
until I see those pink sparks
behind my eyes
and then
it’s dark–slipping into
that void only he
can enter-the
center of my secret
that I don’t know how to tell
–and I’m drunk,
falling into words I can’t
help but say
that come from
the core of my sex
and his
and then, there it is–
the first thrust into
me and I want to fall apart
where we meet,
shaking and squeezing
as that deep deep drink
mixes with mine;
low, uncontrolled vowels
escape from my lips,
as a train of violence
is coming through my body, all
I can do is say “touch–” and
my back
he penetrates the
secret until
I have nothing left.


“Darkness Starts” Christian Wiman

Darkness Starts
By Christian Wiman

A shadow in the shape of a house
slides out of a house
and loses its shape on the lawn.

Trees seek each other
as the wind within them dies.

Darkness starts inside of things
but keeps on going when the things are gone.

Barefoot careless in the farthest parts of the yard
children become their cries.


Dear Virginia

I would have met you at the water if I
were then without a daughter; I would have
held your hand–my lost keeper.
I would have decided on the hour–on
instinctual impulse–when the lower
haze of swaying moods sends me down.
I would have called you I bet,
and the moon would’ve been full andsqueekychic
I would’ve ran barefoot in my nightgown
to meet you at the water’s edge.
We would’ve known, I think, not to speak
about blue darkness and moon shafts shifting
across pale dandelions between our toes.
We would’ve sunk so deeply together,
smoothing the stones.
But chemistry comes in capsules now, Virginia,
and it allows you to linger at the surface, just
a breath away from air.
If you were here now would you tell me
my words are not pebbles,
to risk giving them meaning and shape
and to find no shame in their emptiness?
I’m alone, until I think of you–
my shared reflection in the water, you
with so much more grace, but I can
only build you up as a writer
and a fighter
and I  drop a stone to wrinkle you away,
and I see my face, blurry and rippled,
brilliant in the moon.

My Poetry

Love, Your Angry Ballerina

In another language

you tell me I am only dancing

in your room for you,

you tell me I am a stampsqueekychic3

of a woman, elegantly abstract

across your stage of equations,

silly in my shoes.

I watch myself in your iris

and I shrink to pose,

turning for you I

want to say

See?  See

how I slip

behind the





published in Psychic Meatloaf, issue 3

creative nonfiction & memoir

Starry, Starry Night

It was a clear October night.  My sisters and I piled into the old red Chevy with our stepfather Dan, and headed outside of town for the hospital where my mother was in the mental ward.  None of us spoke; we hardly ever spoke in those years.  Dan kept his eyes on the road, chain-smoking Dorals.  I stared through the glass, street lights passing over my hooded eyes.  As we il_570xN.523491293_ei2tneared the outskirt, the sky suddenly opened out into space.  I thought of nothing.  I didn’t think of my mother.  I didn’t think of the speed of change.  I stared up into the stars where I didn’t have to feel anything.  It’s okay to be lost when you’re reminded how small you are, how little your voice is.

We swung into the nearly empty parking lot and walked to a group of picnic tables under Continue Reading


Poem of the Day from Oscar Lush

I found this poem at the blog, Dead Beats.  It’s written by Oscar Lush and I feel it deserves the Poem of the Day. Enjoy.




Out of some human sadness,

pale faces bloom like roses.


The ones you once loved

stumble like children,


from carnivals come Autumn–

the lights that slip between.

The creases

in your fingers

dim in the distance

before they are gone,

over the harbor,

and you are gone, too.


Ships hover in the fog

and they won’t come near

nobody will come near tonight.


And you say to me

that you are sad,

but do not worry,

‘In the morning I’ll be fine.’


But these days I find it hard to listen

for I am lost now,

as the deepest blue stirs

like melted pearls in your eyes

and I swear I heard beyond my shoulder

an unheard mountain cry.


And will you be fine?

Cause I hear sadness is like cancer.

Sometimes you lose them forever.

Sometimes they come back.


But they’re usually not the same.


Some Love Poems


You bought my illusion at first, didn’t you

as if Lady Day had kissed my skin and I sang–

how I sang to you–my idea

of love a passing summer’s day.

You wouldn’t go away–so serious

of the illusion you bought

or so I thought–No, I’d tell you

when you slept

No, I’m too much for you

and time slips

and it turns to

No, I’m not enough for you

while I thought you were dreaming;

but you knew, didn’t you? the inner

cycles in my matter,

you knew before I did

that I loved you

only you were too shy to say so, too shy Continue Reading

Complex PTSD

Powerful Beyond Measure

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

This is where I’m teetering–between believing in my greatness and believing that I’m no good.

Rocky Balboa:

“But somewhere along the line you changed, you stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good, and when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know–the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows–it’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward–how much you can take and keep moving forward–that’s how winning is done. And if you wanna go through all the battling you gotta go through to get to where you wanna get, whose got the right to stop you? Maybe you got something you never finished, something you really wanna do, something you never said to somebody–something! And you’re told no, even after you pay your dues, whose got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody. It’s your right to listen to your gut it ain’t nobody’s right to say no after you earned the right to be what you wanna be and do what you wanna do. Now if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth–but you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody–cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

Damn that part of the movie is incredible. I’m reaching a point where I can’t entirely blame my perpetrators (I hate that word) and I can’t blame myself either. It’s time to step up, and I’m proud to say I have been. I push myself in therapy, I do things that make me happy, I keep up on my meds, the only shitty part is the loneliness. I don’t have that old support team anymore (no matter how much they say they are here for me–cha) the only person I talk to about this shit is my psychologist.
So, after many tears, I’m learning to do it myself along with my therapist. I’ve never been so tested. It’s a battle for your life, and it’s hard yet it feels good–good that I’m fighting by working through it.
I’m half angry because others put me here but moreso I’m angry because I also put myself here. Whether it be my chemistry, behaviors, whatever. I’m angry for letting myself believe from others that I’m no good. I am better than that, and a small kernel inside me knows that, which is why I’m still here, I just gotta learn to hold onto that. This is all like “baptism under fire.” I am becoming and becoming and it’s exciting yet scary–scary because what if I’m a phony? What if I can’t hack it. Eh, fuck that yes I will be able to–I’m not capable now but I will be. Right now I feel all these open wounds–all these mirrors around me and I’m forced to look this time and I’m so sad by what I see. I do know I have the key to my recovery. I do know deep down I am strong.
More later, folks. Thanks for reading.

My Poetry


My Prayer

The pop and snap of prescription pill bottles,
swallow, light, inhale, scrape of the chair,
cluster of tap-tap-taps on the keys, a silence—

beyond this room, beyond this wall
I can almost hear you—the soil
sifting, seeds spreading out, dry in your palm;
folds of light robes around you like
birds’ wings—your child20131216_105019000_iOS
asleep on your warm back,
your sky a sea, an earth, a breath

because you’re there I’m less anxious
(as I palm another pill) because I rely
on sedated time I sit in my chair,
lost somewhere before the border,
where I see myself later—aged and worn away—
walking to you, palms up.
“Here, here I am…” only you aren’t waiting
for me, time is something else to you—
so I see I don’t have to tell you
where I’ve been or why I am here
but that I’ve arrived
out of the cement tomb;
the rise and fall of my chest is all,
seas of breath and I am.

I know the scent of your skin,
the feel of your warm, bent back
beneath my body, I know necessity.
I will arrive
when I am not so afraid of myself.
I will cross into the motherland.
I will go home.
I will leave what I’ve built behind and
I will take my place
among the living.
I can hear you beyond this room.

Confessional/Survival Poetry

The Lonesome Dream by Lisel Mueller

I wanted to share this awesome poem by Lisel Mueller I found in her Pulitzer Prize winning book I bought called Alive Together: New and Selected Poems.  Here goes


In the America of the dream

the first rise of the moon

swings free of the ocean,

and she reigns in her shining flesh

over a good, great valley

of plumed, untrampled grasses

and beasts with solemn eyes,

of lovers infallibly pitched

in their ascendant phase.


In this America, death

is virginal also, roaming

the good, great valley

in his huge boots, his shadow

steady and lean, his pistol

silver, his greeting clear

and courteous as a stranger’s

who looks for another, a mind

to share his peaceable evenings.


Dreaming, we are another

race than the one which wakes

in the cold sweat of fear,

fires wild shots at death,

builds slippery towers of glass

to head him off, waylays him

with alcohol traps, rides him down

in canyons of sex, and hides

in teetering ghost towns.


Dreaming, we are the mad

who swear by the blood of trees

and speak with the tongues of streams

through props of steel and sawdust,

a colony of souls

ravaged by visions, bound

to some wild, secret cove

not yet possessed, a place

still innocent in us.


—Lisel Mueller

creative nonfiction & memoir

Matters of Time (sketch/lyric essay)

Me and Mike on the right

Me and Mike on the right

He is standing at the end of the dock with a cigarette hanging from his dry lips.  When the sun rises soon, it will warm his bare feet on the planks of warped wood–just inches above the soft water.  His spirit belongs to older generations–an ancient part about him that sent him away from cities and busy people, never trying to chase or capture time.  Maybe it was because of the rheumatoid arthritis; he had it since he was seven and now, almost thirty, he’s found where he belongs–taking each day slow and steeped in chamomile, never knowing or planning for the next flare up.

He tinkers with cameras and foods and clay until they make sense in his hands, creating masterpieces in the long afternoons of tea and painkillers.  On summer nights he sat outside his house, smoking in the dark, capturing fireflies with shutter modes, trying at it every time he noticed the camera buried somewhere on the counter.

He embodies that Beat-look–aged blue jeans worn thin at the knees and seat, torn and meticulously patched, fitted and worn white t-shirts, shaggy hair.  He doesn’t give a damn about troubles or answers; he likes to watch the way things move and take their time.  I once sat for two hours watching him creep up on a skunk to catch a shot.  I got lost around him, the way he stole time with a naturally sedated articulation and spread it out like night, talking about politics or to whatever was turning in his hands at the moment.  Taking a drag, taking a sip, and sauntering back and forth with the pace of an old man on Sundays.  I loved him.  I envied him without jealousy.  I loved how he drew me into that world of his–like we were kids again behind that old red fence full of knots and spy holes, waiting for Spaghettio’s and blowing up frogs.

Mike has already had his hips replaced.  It comes and goes; it worsened when he reached his twenties.  His bouts in his youth were shorter and he remained somehow elastic and tireless.  I couldn’t keep up with him.  Now they stretch and tear, and he gets so tired.  When he cried to me I knew there was something so deep in him that I could never understand—all the way to his bones.

I listened to him over the phone and watched him when we were together—amazed at how this wild boy had been defied by his own body.  He was beautiful.  Sometimes it got so bad he’d be in the hospital, worn away to his skeleton, his eyes protruding out of his hollow face.  He was embarrassed when I saw him.  Some days he couldn’t get out of bed, or turn doorknobs and steering wheels.  But some days he could fish with me until the sky turned navy blue, and teach me again how to clean fish.  His streaks of health, we learned, were becoming more and more sparse, but when he rounded back out into a healthy body, he picked up where he left off—as best as he could.

When his wrists are swollen, he fills space with dreams.  He wants a sailboat, and he’s taking me away, out in the ocean.  He tells me this as he sculpts his clay and I play at my old charcoals.  Sonny Boy Williams, Ali Farka, and Billie Holiday take turns breezing out my kitchen windows and down my stairs.  I make him tea and tell him about the cherry blossom trees in Japan.  He talks about oceans and masts and ropes while creating a sculpture with his very own, private signature—a kind of howling like a metaphor in the sinews of his figures.

“Amos (that’s my nickname), we’re gonna do it some day.  Man, just picture it—out on that water, the clearest, blue-green water.  Just watching the sea and breathing in that air.  And we’ll do just this, like we always have.”

I think he started sculpting for two reasons: he was left immobile and looking for things to help the time pass (he has also become a chef, he tailors his own clothes, plants gardens), but I think he also came to a hard conclusion about his situation—optimism is bullshit, you have to take what you get and appreciate it.  He wracks himself blind with depression when his body gets so weak and he is so ready to take on the world.  He can’t work; he’s on disability.  He lost Lindsey, the girl he wanted to marry.  The American Arthritis Foundation did a full spread on him and his sculpting in their magazine.  He wonders if he needs surgery on his wrists and knees.

            With Mike, every moment felt limitless.  I remember the time we raced to my house in a storm.  He had about a block on me.  I ran as fast as my short legs would let me, splashing through growing puddles in my PF Fliers.  The seat of my cut-offs was slimy in mud—we’d gone hurdling down the muddy slopes of Suicide Hill and splashed into Bay City Crick.  It was a jungle down there.  The spray-painted remainders of ancient sewage canals were broken bridges that loomed over the stream and burry themselves into the wall of the ravine.  I imagined hieroglyphics and secret codes whispering to us.  When we crossed them, every step could have been a booby-trap, so we silently made our way, testing each other for nerve.  Then it started to pour.  Rain showered down through the canopy of leaves and thunder cracked.

“Yes!” we screamed, and made our way up the muddy path.  I kept slipping and sliding, grabbing for vines and thorny branches to pull myself up.  Mike was just ahead of me.  When I busted out of the scratching brambles and woods, Mike had spiked it down the street, racing me to my house.

The rain stung my skin.  My wet ponytail slapped me in the face—side to side—as I pounded the sidewalk.  The storm put a yellow shadow on everything, making the grass and lilacs blot in electric color.  I saw his skinny legs leap up to the front porch, and he waited for me, panting and soaked through his white t-shirt.

“This is friggin’ awesome Amos!”  We paced on the porch.

“Should we go back?”  My heart was pounding.

The door opened and my older sister, Nikki, appeared through the gray wires of the screen door.  “You guys are gonna be in trouble.  When dad gets home he’s gonna see you all wet and you’re gonna get it.”  She disappeared.  Inside I heard Cindi Lauper singing the theme from The Goonies.  We went in and lay down on the carpet, reeling with excitement.  Thunder echoed down the avenue.

            We were eleven when we came to a place where we thought the earth stopped.  We dropped the banana seats in the weeds and didn’t say a word.  Ahead of the overgrown field that covered old train tracks, the land ended.  It dropped somehow.  We were sweating.  This was what we were looking for.  The heat permeated with milkweed and dandelion.  Thorns caught on the strings of my cut-offs.  I still remember the wild flutter in my chest.

“Amos…holy shit,” his words carried their way to mine and we stood in silence.  We didn’t hear the highway muffled by the woods behind us—just the sound of water breaking against something, and the snap of twigs beneath our feet.  We started to run at the same time but came to a screeching halt at the end of the world—a concrete slab no wider than a foot and as long as the shore seemed to go; a concrete wall that dropped off and stretched forever in both directions.  Clear water slapped and splashed another ledge four feet below.

“Let’s do it, Amos—count of three.”  He grabbed my hand and we screamed out the number, jumping in on “THREE!” shoes and all.  Over and over we climbed and jumped.  We were too thrilled to speak.  We looked at each other while we were under water, trying to reach the bottom.  Our limbs looked green in the yellow rays of sun that shot through the water.  We decided on a name—The Swim Lot—and we pedaled back to tell my sisters.

This last August our families camped together in Delta, Wisconsin.  Deep in the forest on an inlet of Spirit Lake, all is black in and outside of my cabin at four in the morning.  I woke up and waited for Mike to meet me at the screen door.  I heard a whippoorwill.  Pine and birch and a smoky oak soaked the atmosphere.  It was chilly.  I gathered my fishing pole and gear and waited on the porch in the dark.  I lit a cigarette that glowed the rails and hanging life jackets in a blinking red.  I could smell the pond scum still dripping from the vests.  The lake was barely visible, lit by the moon and stars in hazy electricity behind the black pillars of trees.  In the distance, I heard his steps crunching on the gravel.  I saw a faint red glow bobbing towards me.  I smelled kerosene and coffee.

“Holy shit, Ame, you got up.”  His grin was a casual half-smirk but his eyes were alive—we hadn’t been able to do something like this together in a long time.

“Coffee.”  His gear and thermos clanked together and he picked up some of the bait.

“Where’d you get that?”

He held up an ancient lantern, “Some rummage sale a long time ago.  Works awesome.”

He led the way into the darkness.  I couldn’t remember the last time I was outside when the only light for miles around was from the stars.  We whispered to each other but stay mostly quiet.  I take in the smells and sounds and dark shapes and fresh air as much as I take in Mike, limping ahead of me in a red glow.  It was like we were eleven again without permission.

The surface of Spirit Lake was covered in thick wisps of steam that lent to it’s name.  A fog drifted around the upturned rowboats and shaky dock that had been there since we were kids.  The fog pooled and spread and slipped around us.  We slinked into the rowboat and the warm water bogged and recoiled against the hollow tin.  I watched Mike’s silhouette against the backdrop of scattered diamonds, turning down the lantern, barefoot on the dock.  He handed me the coffee and poles and untied us.  We dipped in and over the water.  The oars screeched and creaked.  We went slow, listening to the oars and to the fish that flopped from the surface.  I told him I’d row.  The night before, at the fire, I saw his wrists and ankles were swollen ends to his skinny limbs.

“Nah, maybe later.”  He breathed in deep.  A loon landed close to our boat and we watched it.  Its call echoed across the black lake.  We sat and fished.

“Amos, when I die, I wanna come back to this, right here.”

creative nonfiction & memoir

mason jars (excerpt)

I wanted part of my soul to shine with that purple gloss of independence like hers did. I’d wait around after relaying my young thoughts or invocations for her eyebrows to arch over her large, grey eyes. I was originally drawn to her indiscrete way of telling everyone what was cool. The looks she shared with her Chopin mother and hippie father extended to her friends. She had balls. I wanted balls. I figured if I stuck around enough, she’d rub some of that purple off on me.
She was charming in a way all her own. She was no sun-kissed bee charmer in white cotton squeekychic88sundresses and dandelions, but close enough that I could catch a trace of the faint scent honeysuckle and soap. She did put daisies in those thick blue mason jars, and she did wear dresses, though they were haned-me-downs of thinning rayon and polyester prints of puce flowers. She’d race ahead of me down the back slope to Bay City Crick. Through her eyes I did see jungle vines thick as pythons, crystal water bubbling and weaving around hundreds of skinny trees, tall as the sky. Rocky nooks and deep, green pools filled her eyes with glitter–we were on a secret, desert island, or deep in a lush forest of oak and elves. I felt the water. It was numbing and dirty. Black plastic bags and Styrofoam and shoes hung from branches or were lodged in the sand beneath the current. The ravine was about three blocks wide, between two overpasses that rained rock and oil and grit over their edges.
I quickly learned the difference between independence and disconnection–still struggling over whether there is such a thing as a balance of the two together. Disconnection was a kind of freedom that coursed through her system in ribbons. We would sit silent on our banana seats, watching a storm roll in over the fields beyond the tracks. We both waited for the cool raindrops to touch our tanned arms before we would race toward town down the tracks. I needed my connections thick as bones–no–I longed for those connections thick and solid. And I didn’t understand how to encompass independence by disassociation–but I would. I longed for her to need me. My bonds had been mere attachments with osteoporosis.

mental illnesses

a thought

squeekychic6666parts of you become numb along the way and they fall asleep in their idea that this kind of living is okay, and you neglect parts of yourself that need you, because you don’t know how to help it—it’s not that you don’t really know any better (though that’s largely the case) but that that particular sight or emotion got tired and gave up,

Bipolar Disorder

“My Why” 2010 & 2014

Comparing answers from 2010 and 2014 “My Why”


So I came across this folded up, wrinkled, worn piece of notebook paper in an old purse of mine that I used before and during my stays in the mental hospital. I recognize my scribbling and style, but I do not have any recollection of writing this nor where the questions came from. So I think it’s pretty neat that way, so I’m sharing it, even if I’m just sharing it with me. That’s what this is for I guess. Kinda.20131217_170932000_iOS

  • What motivates me?

2010: Certain people outside of me (yes thats what it says…creeps me out) ANYWAY like Emma. I want to show her–teach her–that I can and will take care of myself and for myself too–my inner passion and drive motivates me to want to live the hell out of my life. I don’t/can’t live in a world I create within my stories or within my fears and worries. I want to shine again, and believe that I can. All of my mistakes.

2014: wanting to live the hell out of this life; wanting the best for Emma–that’s motivation all in itself.

  • What interests me?

2010: …I don’t know yet…educating myself, learning to be prepared but not too much, learning to accept and live for the now, learn to relax. Get back to my art, photography, writing (get back to the fiction for a break), music. The art of friendship–that interests me.

2014: Writing poetry, essay, and memoir, I like sociology, psychology/abnormal psychology, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity–well I’m curious about all religions/faiths.  I love watching people and slowly taking them in, their judgments and then their changes.  I love the smell of fresh snow in the morning before the world wakes up and the sky is dark.  I love dreaming about the characters in my stories/memoir-to-be.  I love to imagine how it’ll feel when I finish it.  I know I will, unless there’s some freak accident, which of course is likely.  I love watching my little child blossom and grow and become.  I love to give her what she needs and tear myself down when I am not.  MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC.  From Ali Farka Toure w/ Ry Cooder to David Gray to Paolo Nutini to Hootie to Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson to Rachmaninoff.  I love most all types except pop and most country.  Eh.

  • What would I do more if I could?

2010: Socialize. Quit breaking my friendships/connections. Visit. Really talk to grandpa—or just listen. Do something crazy with him. Enter into things–social or physical. Get the HELL OUTA THE HOUSE and find summ2life out there that I want to be a part of! Make myself a part of!

2014: I’d travel and venture out, learn how to snowboard and surf and take my girl rock climbing.  I’m very antisocial and I want to change everything about that.

  • What do I want?

2010: The routine of something that’s important to me. i want curiosity–not fear. I want to master these mental disorders (only one is genetic, so the rest i stand a chance ) and by master I mean know my head inside-out and know my spirit–insdie-out. I want to handle it the way a golfer molds his style to the wind. Why is that my image in my head? I want to feel free and good when I’m doing well, and prepared and proud when I am not. Action. I want to stop crying. I want to be myself. I want to create that self fresh and old. Every day. And know who she is. I want to be able to work without buckling and panicking or avoiding. Face the day. Face the day. Face the day. And then, seize it. Bipolar allows for such great moments only temporarily. But they do come.

2014: I want to be a good, encouraging, freeing mother–I want her to stand on her own two feet because she figured out how to.  I want to write my story.  I want to write my story.  I want to write summ3my story.  And I want a best friend again.

  • What do I care about? or what did I care about before my illness(es)?

2010: Finding out who I was. Am. Believing I’m not this girl that I totally fucked up because of stupid choices (i don’t believe that anymore–). I care about my baby girl–how she sees me but more importantly, how I’m teaching her to see herself. She’s teaching me, not the other way around. How does she see herself? I care about my fiance, I care that I don’t always show my love for him. I have such a hard time showing love to him–him most of all–and yet i’ve allowed for him to know me the most intimately somehow. There are no secrets, he sees right through that crap. And he loves me, loves me so well. How to show it? How to show a lover love when the very nature of your intimacy is unrecognizably scarred. I don’t care it’s true. How to let him in…now that’s a challenge. God Bless Psychotherapy.

2014: Before I got sick I was just learning who I was, and even that was late.  I didn’t care about myself which meant I wasn’t being there for my daughter, teaching her self-love.  Before it all began (in my 20s, before I had my girl) I didn’t care about a single thing except where I was going to find the next high, the next kick, the next race, the next man, the next thrill.  I feel like I missed out on almost a decade of caring so I’m trying to make up for that.  There’s lots of me to care about.

  • Where do I want my life to go?sum

2010: Forward. Not time-wise wither. Forward with intention and openness; awareness; love. Bravely, but no hero, no spokesperson. Just another person in this great big old world, smelling flowers and looking through eyes that don’t judge. Careful and carefree. Through the fuckn’ moon.

2014: I’d be happy with something–anything.  I want to get Emma off into her own life as she grows up, and I want to nourish my own, writing and sharing and going to the poetry readings the next town over.  I’ve had about two dozen publications, and none of it matters to me–each thing I write is one stepping stone to the shore–to where my big story in my heart is.  I have to follow this.  I don’t want to most of the time, but it’s like a pain that follows me around all day and keeps me up at night.

  • What brings me joy?

2010: Emma. Writing. Music. Really really playing with Emma–when we play pretend. And how she opens up to me and we belong together in the magical land of cobblers and bakers and princesses and christmas lights and the talking ladybugs and the forever forest.

My huge family. Wonderful family on all sides. Justin. Family and love. Someone saying “I’m here”, someone reading my blogs and understanding. So wonderful to see them all rooting for me. Proud of me.

2014: That’s easy.  There are two things.  My girl, and writing.  Oh LupenGrainnewowand Mike and my sisters.

  • What are my dreams and hopes?

2010: To learn to live with all this and to really really live. To wake up. To write from my soul. To share my soul. To get it out, like it’s my last demon that has to has to has to go down on the page for good. For once and for all.

To give love and accept it right back. To take care of myself and my loved ones. To keep my focus on MENTAL WELLNESS, not illness.



I want to write that book, that one book, no one’s ever written and it has to be pitiless and brave and about love and strength.  It’s not about being mentally ill or mentally anything.   It’s with the other part of our body that leads us–our spirits.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself.”  –DH Lawrence        But then I think what if mental illness will be another Robin Williams scenario–the truth of it, the hardness of it, is that it’s tough to beat. And that’s the problem right there–we’re under the assumption that it’s something to beat instead of learning to live with.   “Like Hemingway, some artists can’t break free of the pain that made them creators in the first place.”  It’s a matter of the fight in you, and using that fight to feed your soul.



Song of Madness, Francisco Matos Paoli

I’ve had this poem framed on wall forever.   It’s such a BEAUTIFUL poem, I love it.  It’s by squeekychic876Francisco Matos Paoli, translated by Frances R. Aparicio.  It’s from Paoli’s book SONG OF MADNESS which I strongly urge you to find.  It’s incredible, and it as both English and Spanish versions of the poem).   Here it is: (I don’t have a title)

There is a soft nest, a point of contact

between roses and stars:

perhaps it is the gratuitous acts of man,

the fruitful acceleration of the world,

the flesh revived

in bloody farewells.


I know that paleness deceives

and brutality cheats:

a star to wake us up,

a rose for sleeping,

a star for us to sing by

enraptured by unredeemed centuries;

deprived of all roads, a rose for falling Continue Reading


Ode to Louise Gluck


I’m writing an ode to my favorite poet, Louise Gluck.  To join in the fun, come and celebrate the three year anniversary at d-verse poets pub!

I’m writing this poem based on my favorite poem by Gluck–“Mutable Earth.”  I carry that one with me in my wallet.  Rosanna Warren has described Gluck’s writing, for one as–“her–power is to distance the lyric ‘I’ as subject and object of attention” and to “impose a discipline of detachment upon urgently subjective material”  William Logan from the New York Times described her work as “the logical outcome of a certain strain of confessional verse–starved adjectives, thinned to a nervous set of verbs, intense almost past bearing, her poems have been dark, damaged and difficult to avert your gaze from.” (taken from The Poetry Foundation)

In her poem, “Mutable Earth,” there are a series of questions asked of the narrator and she answers in brief, punching stanzas.  I am going to answer the same questions; why not?


“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I tell myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive

the mind.

It’s costing me everything.


“But can you love anyone yet?”

My first four years

had love;

I remember the

feeling well.


“But will you touch anyone?”

I tell myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.


I touch my face

in the mirror

and I feel nothing.


“And your face too?

Your face in the mirror?”

It feels like I am

gloved; I see

a shape of silent centers.

It always felt invisible.


“Were you safe then?”

Hands that can’t feel

reach for danger.


I wouldn’t keep secrets

of my own–my thoughts

were never safe, even

from me.


“So you couldn’t protect yourself?”

I wonder what happened

in my little body

that made me fight–

until I saw her die,

myself; and to lose someone

I hate makes me

love them.


“But do you think you’re free?”

I think I know what I am.


“But do you think you’re free?”

Everything has a price.

Everything has a price.

A small girl fighting and dying

is far more free

then what

she becomes.


















Authors on Writing

Alan Watts on Writing

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
Alan Wilson Watts