Saturday, November 22, 2014

"More Decaf Please" is finally published - A Night at the Fresh Ground Coffee House

Read it here.

It's such a relief when my stories finally get published. Like sending your kindergartner out by himself to the bus and you see him safely step aboard.

At the Willow Grove Bible Church "Fresh Ground Coffee" event tonite, I had an in-depth discussion with Burt, a physician and a missionary. Told him about getting the story published and how I deal with rejection.

I have a ritual. Two huge documents are on my upstairs computer. "Submissions Many" contains dozens upon dozens of lit mags where I've submitted stories and poetry. Bc "Decaf" was just accepted, I type it into the Mad Swirl category - that's the name of the publication, after a Jack Kerouac quote - and note that I submitted it June 26 and it was accepted November 21. Long wait.

Then I go to "All Short Stories" and look up More Decaf. It's been rejected - quickly - by Haunted Waters Press (which published my Mail Order Couch poem) and Caketrain.

I told Burt that this lessens the sting of the rejection. He is a great listener.

Was talking about my recent trip to NOLA and I said I blogged about it. "I had to," I said. "There's no way I couldn't have written about it," I said.

"You were compelled to write," he added.

"Yes, that's a good way to express it." And asked if he were compelled to do something.

"Pray," he said. "I've been praying all my life."

He told me some fascinating spiritual stories, one about his getting anointed by God. These people are believers. Many, like Pastor Ken, came to God and Jesus after rejecting them.

They are ultra-radical on the right. The Bible is the word of God. Every word is the truth. The world did not evolve. The Lord created it.

Fresh Ground Round created a new tradition..... a Prayer Room where you enter and Pastor Ken and one of the women will pray with you, if you wish.

I must try it, I thought and was happy to see that Joni, Burt's wife was the woman.

Pastor Ken has a beautiful speaking voice. Powerfully male, with a gentle quality and a musical quality. And a firm handshake.
Joni is an incredibly warm woman with intense listening powers like her husband Burt.

I asked Pastor Ken his view on homosexuals. Bc of the sound of his voice, I was certain he would accept them.

I was wrong.

Homosexuality is a sin, he stated confidently. My heart was crushed, but I did not let on, nor did I say a mumbling word. Just nodded. And could not wait to get out of there into the fresh cold air of freedom.

Will work on my short story, unnamed as yet, that begins, "You'll laugh when you see where I live."

Click here and you'll see where she lives.

"Copy image" is not available to bring it to you.

I'm fading fast, despite four cups of delicious hot decaf at the church. I'll give myself till 1 am and then fall into bed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ingrid Waldron's talk on communication at Warminster Hospital, Warminster, PA - Poem: The Night of Your 302

Ingrid Waldron, PhD, is a research biologist who teaches at University of Pennsylvania. She's also president of NAMI Main Line and gives talks on how to communicate with a mentally ill loved one.

I'm also a researcher and just figured out why I left my red notebook in the kitchen instead of bringing it out into the living room to use for this blog post.

It's called 'the law of two.' I went into the kitchen to retrieve my red notebook

and also to fill a bowl with almonds.

Apparently, at my age, late sixties, I can't remember two things at a time. Sadly, true.

Ingrid is also a lay counselor. Here's a website that shows her publications.

I was happy to see Raighne there. He's on the board of NAMI Bucks County, which hosted the event.

I can't show my photo of director Debbie Moritz - the greatest! - bc she's chatting with one of the 25 or more attendees.

Reighne is an assistant teacher - English and Special Ed - at an excellent high school in Bucks County. Can't remember the name - Central Bucks perhaps.

When he saw me, he said, "Too cold to go to Lake Galena."

Told Reighne - and this is the first time I'm spelling his name correctly - that I sent in a photo of myself to a lit journal, while paddle-boating with his mom on that great glassy man-made lake.

This book - third edition - is the bible of communicating with a mentally ill loved one. Ingrid noted that it can be used to communicate with anyone.

Except if you're President Obama trying to talk to contrary Republicans. While we were at Warminster Hospital, he was addressing the nation with his immigration reform plan.

Can't wait to read about it.

NY Times photo. I spose I'll listen to the pundits on Charlie Rose at midnight.

COMMUNICATION, said Ingrid, is a two-way process. Listening is crucial. You must really listen to your mentally ill loved one and pick up clues about what matters to them.

Doing so will contribute to greater compliance with treatment. Do 'reflective listening' with curiosity.

"I hear that you're very upset about...."

Perhaps the individual believes that the CIA are tapping the phones.

"That must be really scary," you say, empathizing with them.

If an individual is delusional, you can't argue with them. There's no way they can respond to logic. Ingrid said it reminds her of her 4-yo granddaughter who is so stubborn she won't change her mind.

Hmmm, that sounds like my 4-yo Grace Catherine, PhD of Stubbornness. 

We all want to refute untrue ideas from our loved ones. Allow their criticism of us to flow over us. Pretend you're in a movie and don't react. I did hear on the Charlie Rose Show, that Obama is supremely confident and doesn't care about the opinions of others. That's because, he said, Obama is not a politician in the traditional sense. 

   Sadly, the director, Mike Nichols, died yesterday of a heart attack in his Manhattan apartment. Diane Sawyer was his wife.

Ingrid said that when your loved one talks to you, you must be relatively calm. You must take care of yourself b/c this will be a lifetime challenge.

Change or transition is exceedingly difficult for people with mental illness. Our group consisted of parents or siblings of folks with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. At group's end I mentioned our upcoming program on DBT this Saturday at the Giant. Nothing worse than an empty room.

To take c/o yourself Ingrid suggested people attend NAMI groups or call someone on the phone to vent. Vent b/c of all the things you could not tell your loved one b/c it would loosen the bonds of trust. So tell someone who knows what's it like.

You must find out what works for YOU. Every situation is different.

To communicate, use I sentences and choose your battles.

"I need you to take out the trash."

People in the audience shared their concerns. One woman said she had to watch her ill son "give up his dreams."

This was a tough one: The elderly mother died. The ill son had lived with her his entire life.

He will not hear of moving elsewhere. Does not respond to conversation.

Ingrid said it will take a while before he's ready to hear about it. Keep planting the seed.

SET LIMITS. I'm just not open for business at all hours, said Ingrid. There's too much distress she listens to.

Find a time when you're calm and can talk to your loved one.

Speak in brief, concise sentences. Be specific.

"Please finish loading the dishwasher."

Don't use expressions like 'always' or 'never.' The loved one will take them literally.

When speaking, stick with one thing. Be willing to negotiate.

"Change" is a long process, whether it's smoking cessation, getting more exercise, or eating almonds every night before bed.

In the book, Xavier Amador, who was born in Cuba, and has a brother with schizophrenia, advocates for the LEAP system. Amador doesn't have a Wiki page, but you can read this interesting piece about him. I sure will after I finish this post.

LISTEN. Reflect back
AGREE, finding areas of agreement. Maybe the two of us like the NY Yankees.
PARTNERING - we can achieve goals, little by little.

Below is one of a dozen poems I've written about mental illness.

3 0 2

The following poem was written when I worked as a psychotherapist at Bristol-Bensalem Human Services in Bristol, PA. “302” is a nickname meaning “involuntary hospitalization.”

I watched
through the glass doors
of our mental health clinic
for the person to be 302d,
he would walk through
the outer doors,
a man who’d lost the
finer workings of his mind,
and would be delivered up
for safekeeping by the cops,
escorted into a tiny room that locked
and was filled with windows
that can’t be broken.

They were wild sometimes,
crying out in broken words,
fighting to escape their captors,
believing until the end
deliverance was at hand.

From my perch at the door
the doctor joins me.
She is eating an apple and
talking about going out for
Chinese food after.
302-ing makes you hungry.

I tell her that once
I had ridden
in the back of a police car.
My senses gone,
radiating to the
staccato points of night
and the babble of the police radio,
I leaned forward in my backseat nest
like caged Hansel in the gingerbread forest
and stuck my little finger
through the iron grates that contained me.
It was all I had of freedom.

“Were you scared?” the doctor asked.
“Why, not at all,” I said.
“I thought they were taking me to a live
performance of the Nutcracker Suite.”

Thinking I was kidding
she crumpled up with merriment.

We watched as a police car
pulled in sideways.
Black letters like ribbons scrolled
across the door.

I watched as
a man stepped from the car,
steady, unafraid,
handsome as a game show host
striding on stage
to marvelous applause.
his hair uncombed with
great prodigal waves falling upon
his brow,
his face had a pulled-down look
I hadn’t expected to see.
He’d played his chips and lost.

Chin up, I whispered.
This is your hour,
for now --
for all time.
Use it well.
Don’t get hurt,
run a comb through your hair,
And, for God’s sakes, pay attention
with whatever’s left inside you,
for this is the night of your 302.

Lookit my purty new purple nails - if you like purty, how about these postage stamps? Poem: November

      Internet photo of what I did for an hour this morning.

Now, I ask you, Dear Reader. The Upper Moreland vacuum cleaner will be around whenever it chooses. Dyou think it's cheating that I put non-leaf items in my piles?

Chopped down my 8-foot sunflower and stuck it in de middle of the leaf pile, so they wouldn't see it - OMG you cheater you - they see everything - they look down - and I also stuck in some unsightly dead vines with berries on em on a different pile.

Got my nails polished after I raked. I had - and don't feel bad for me - closed my door and chopped off the top of right thumb nail and it kept snagging on everything, collecting lint.

Don't mind me if I keep looking at the clock. Going to a mental health talk at Warminster Hospital at 7 pm and figured out where it is. Without my two cataract operations, I wouldn't be able to see to get there.

We have a new floridly psychotic guy in our group so I was helping his mom find out how to get him in the hospital. Well, I guess he's gotta take his meds. I suggested he get 'depot injections.' Meaning shots.

People think b/c my manic-depression went away, they can do w/o their meds. Believe me, I make it clear to stay on your meds.

These are my meds I will never go off. Antirejection and diabetes pen. Ouch! I actually stick the needle in my flesh and if it hurts, remove it and stick it somewhere else.

Take your pick: belly, upper outer arms, and both left and right tush.

Went to the Hatboro PO and got all my stamps for the season. I do not enjoy standing in line.

What in tarnation?

For my 10-day bus trip to NOLA, I bought Dr Scholl's gel-pad sneakers which felt great at Walmart and dans le living.

When Scott and I walked in the Pennypack, they nicely hugged my feet and I thought, What a good shoe chooser you are, Ruthie.

I rarely remove my sox b/c it's so cold, but when I did, I noticed a teeny tiny lil cut on my right foot. The culprit, of course, was the Dr Scholl's.

While wearing them, I did think to myself, they remind me of my mom's orthopedic shoes, so I decided to paint them.

They're upstairs in Sarah's old room, awaiting the disguise.

I wrote the poem November many years ago. It's one of my favorites. At the time I worked at the now-defunct Bristol-Bensalem Human Services, where I made my own schedule. I didn't arrive until 10 in the morning, providing me with writing time in the morning.


The electric fan sits idle
in these darkening days
balancing the cup of coffee
that warms my hands
against the morning chill.

The leaves on my sturdy maples
then drop,
one by one,
sucked by those great
immovable forces
that hold and bind us all,
the birth of babies ... the toss of waves
the hurricane's deadly whine
the lullabye of the soprano

The crisp breeze
sweeps more leaves
to their grassy descent
allowing the sky to open

to be revealed
rippling with clouds
barrelsful! coming in at
high strut

like circus figures
on parade
clowns... acrobats... elephants
the jolly tamer of lions!
tumbling and rolling into view

then, as if, on signal
fragmenting and
bowing out. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wrap-up of 10-day Trip from Essington PA to NOLA

Here's the website for Senior Tours.

While the trip was one of endurance, I am actually interested in going on another one, this time 14 days to Yellowstone National Park via Mount Rushmore. Read about it here.  

I had all but given up going to Yellowstone and then I read about it. FYI, Yosemite National Park is in CA.

Discussed it with Doug Chute, our escort. "It's my favorite trip," he said.

Doug was a great escort, very knowledgeable.

Did I tell you I switched my seat so I was in the very back? That's bc my ankles swelled up every nite and I was afraid of getting a blood clot.

Here comes a whole rift of pix. I'll be reading "A Year with Hemingway" by Arnold Samuelson, while the photos are loading.

 We're at the Chattanooga, Tennesse, Choo-Choo. What's that? Read all about it!

Art on buses. Reminiscent of Keith Haring.
Dreary part of town. Note phone no. on right if you wanna get a divorce.

You'd go into these huge food pavilions and choose your least favorite restaurant. The food was all unhealthy, fatty, salty, sugary. Surprisingly, Starbucks was the most popular in the pavilion shown below.
Nancy and Lenny Alpern heading for the bus. I got their email address. Bc Lenny likes jazz, I invited him to our New Directions Musical Fundraiser. He's never heard of The Bad Plus. TBP are London today playing at a jazz festival.
Window views.

There were some tumbledown shacks in the South, but I couldn't get them on the swiftly moving bus.

There are two kinds of rest stops. One are the commercial ones where you buy junk food, thothers are lovely rest stops, with restrooms and vending machines for your food. How about some Diet Coke, CocaCola, Mug Root Beer, and Dasani Water, made by CocaCola. I bought a bottle for $1.50 and kept it in my pocketbook from eating all the salty food.

In this rest stop, possibly outside of Lexington, VA, a display case showed hard hats worn by miners. That was a real education to me.

I have some cousins, some now deceased, who worked in Weirton, West Virginia, and were doctors to the coal miners. One was a judge. These men all die early - at about 50 - bc of heart disease. Find them here. Don't worry, heart disease isn't contagious, unless you're a family member.

 On Senior Tours, booze is served. I had a couple glasses of white one. And on the way home, I'd stood up and smelled all the booze above. I loved the way the Scotch smelled and had Doug bring me a Scotch and Soda.

It tasted dreadful. I can taste it right now.
 Hard to see, but this trucker had a lovely emblem of a swan with outstretched arms. Truckers were often eating as we passed by. One guy ate an apple. Another guy was sipping coffee.
 Excellent meal. Bourbon-soaked salmon. There's my Novolog at the ready. Alta and Dolores, who were in their 80s, asked when I inject.

When I know I've eaten enough to raise my blood sugar I said.

Alta is taking c/o her 60-yo son who moved in with her after he suffered a severe stroke seven years ago.

Great Breakfast from Commerce Restaurant in NOLA. I mixed the Cheese Grits in with the egg, as taught to me by my black boyfriend Curtis Branch when we lived together on California Street in San Francisco.
 Before the bus left every morning I would go for a brief stroll. So did Donna Russo.
 Really dug this little lady on a lamp post.
Public art.

Read more about the headlined article here, in this African-American and minorities newspaper.  Quite an indictment.
Interesting array of construction warnings, including odd-shaped, tall orange hazard cones.
Reminded me of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks." Painted in 1942, the restaurant, at night fall, was supposedly in Greenwich Village. 

Aboard the bus, we played Bingo. Very clever how you slide the red markers over when your number is called. I did not expect to win and didn't.

 Now we're at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Above are gifts you can buy. I got a couple of cute postcards from Rosie the Riveter. This is when women worked outside their homes for the war effort.

What did your mom or grandmom do?

My mother worked in Cleveland at the Navy Yard. Must ask her what she did.
 Bombers hung from the ceilings. You could see them on all five levels.
 Jackets worn by famous combatants you'd never heard of.
Plane is named "Our Gal Sal."

It's a Boeing B-17 E.

Ready to enlist to fight the Axis Powers? Hop aboard this train which will take you right to boot camp.
The simulated ride takes about five minutes. Fake scenery on the left and right. 

My dad joined the US Marines.

Dad was a Staff Sergeant and a paymaster b/c he was a fast typist. Above are pay checks. He told us he read 17 books per week. Mom and he got married on a furlough to Camp Lejeune, NC, where Baby Ruthie was born.

These were games the servicemen/women played, all with war themes.

 Some of the energizing candy for the servicemen. M and Ms did not readily melt in the heat.
 Large computers.
 The great general Eisenhower.

Harley Davidson motorcycle

From their website, scoll down - Among other motorcycles made for the Army, H-D produces the unique XA 750, a motorcycle with horizontally opposed cylinders and shaft drive, designed for desert use. The contract is cancelled early due to war combat moving out of North Africa. Only 1,011 XA's are built.

 This was a cute guy named Roger.
 Now I'm back at The Breakfast Club - the Commerce. Here's Edwin who brought me the best bread pudding ever.

 We ate at Landry's, a chain restaurant in NOLA. The salad was delicious. Thousand Island dressing.
As I feared, the steak was a bit tough, but the taters n onions were delicious.

Here's Captain Jason on the swamp boat tour. He was gonna go to school to become a nurse, I believe, but got a PT job as a sea captain. The pay was so good he never left.

Very knowledgeable, I just gave him the highest rating. 

Not everyone liked the trip. Read the other comments.

Met these lovely newlyweds on the swamp boat.

They met in Seattle. Her family is from Japan, so she moved with Ian (?) to Vancouver, where the immigration policy is far better than the States.

They photographed me holding the baby gator with taped mouth.

How do we know, I asked Captain Jason, that he likes to be held?

He'd wiggle around if he didn't like it, said Captain Aheb.

I really dug the scenery.

A bayou, said Captain Queeg of the Caine Mutiny, as played by Bogart, is a naturally occuring waterway, while a canal is manmade like the Erie Canal or the mule-barge canal in Lambertville, NJ.

 Easy to spot gator. I was always the last to find them.
 Above is the Alpha Male.
This, I believe, is a downed Cypress Tree, one of the oldest trees in the world.

See the vultures roosting in a tree?

They eat carrion... raccoons and other critters in the forests beyond. Should a person die there, the vultures smack their lips.

Atavistic photo of Shrimp Po-Boy at Commerce across the street from LaQuinta Hotel, not my fave hotel, terrible Internet connection, and a continental breakfast that included undercooked hard-boiled eggs, where you peeled off half the g'dam egg.

Unlike my departure, I was immediately met in Essington, PA, by Mr. Ed Baki, orig from Lebanon. He moved to - of all places - Liberia - which he said was once a great country, until a coup took it over. He owned a huge store and had two pharmacists - one from India - work for him.

His late wife's name was Ruth. She died many years ago while on vacation. She got a blood clot in her lung and by the time she got to the hospital, the vultures were waiting.

Ed is a freelance driver. His two sons also emigrated to the US from Liberia. One was expecting him shortly and he wanted to leave me.

Ed, I said, please wait until my boyfriend picks me up.

Finally, I saw Scott's White Honda. He'd gone in the restaurant, and I went in and got him.


Ah, the work I did today. Unpacked everything. Washed all the clothes I took with me.

Went to the Giant for some food, but frankly my dear, I didn't feel so hot. I ordered Chicken Corn Chowder

sat in the Coffeeshop and ate it, then after that I drank

Chocolate soy milk. Yum!