Friday, January 30, 2009

Run Updike Run!

What a meeting we had last nite! Tons of people on a freezing cold evening with the stars shining brightly and a delicious crescent moon, the kind that looks like a child's smile, and a few patches of ice as I drove down the backstreets to our church.

People were already inside as I backed into the unused handicap zone. God punished me for parking there by making the healing of my back bad very very slow. Did you know I refuse to take pain medicine for fear of becoming manic again?

When in doubt, blog! Or read the online NY Times. I wanted to share this superb pictorial essay with you, Dear Reader. Esp. with Nancy Wolen who's submitted some awesome paintings to the Compass.

The woman sitting next to me in our Small Group last nite had beautiful curly hair and was happily married. Her travails are second to no one's. That woman has probably had every single bad thing that can happen to a woman happen to her. She is not doing well. I asked her, Have you ever used artwork or writing to help yourself? No, she said. Well, there you go. There is always ONE MORE THING you can try to help yourself. I just mailed her the above link.

"New Directions Speaks" is the title of a new blog one of our family members created IMMEDIATELY after the meeting last nite. Very few people follow up as quickly as Debbie did. I am impressed! NDS will be a confidential site for our members to post How they're doing and to Ask other members questions.

A new member "Connie" age 22 was surprised to hear about "late onset bipolar disorder" such as I had and also Patty in our group had. At 22, newly diagnosed Connie thought she knew just about everything about bipolar disorder. Honey, there is a lot to learn. Connie is on lithium, the only drug that works for her. One of our table-mates began to bad-mouth lithium. This is something you never do so other members needed to get in there to shut her up & assure Connie it was fine to be on lithium.

Connie's doctor, however, didn't tell her about the possibility of renal dysfunction, which is why I went off the naturally occurring salt. I assured Connie that it only occurs after many years of use and is relatively rare. Kay Jamison still takes her lithium.

Connie and others wanted to know why I'm cured. I didn't wanna waste valuable time telling them as there were so many more important concerns in the group so I said wait till the end. Fortunately there was no time to tell my story. I hate talking about myself in front of the group. I LOVE listening to others.

In the large group I announced that our Iris has taken many of our people under her wing and talks for hours to them on the phone. I hope she has headsets like I do so she doesn't get a sore neck. If it's your nature to speak to people, it's incredibly healing.

A flotilla of cars went to the IHOP afterward. I politely declined and blithely drove out the one-way driveway - going the wrong way of course - to drive home on the backroads. Wow, I thought to myself, that was some fantastic meeting. I wasn't expecting it. I thought no one would be there. Murray suggested we do an Authentic Happiness Group a la Martin Seligman to keep people in the group who are doing better.

I'm all for that! I'll try anything to serve our people. After all, you're not gonna have Ruth Deming to kick around like a ragdoll some day. I can't stand people who write LOL to show they're joking. I never ever do that! I just let the reader sink or swim on their own.

First thing I did when I got home was remove my clodhopper shoes or as Scott says, my sexy hiking boots. That man is always up for a good piece of ..... nevermind.... LOL

I was exhausted! Do you get hungry like I do when I'm tired? The body is desperately trying to energize itself. What? I shouldn't help myself in the well-stocked refrigerator? I shouldn't finish off my salad with 7 vegetables that was stood up thother nite when my guests failed to show? My, it was good at 11 at nite.

Rules for falling asleep: Pitch dark, no TV, read till the words swim before your eyes.

I kept the TV on. LOL.

John Updike was being remembered on Charlie Rose. They had a panel of literati who knew everything in the world about Updike. Most novelists, they said, stop writing all forms of literature at some point in their lives except for the novel. Not so Updike. He continued writing short stories, poems, essays, book reviews. An editor at the New Yorker told him that a young writer had submitted a nice short story. Four days later, Updike faxed over a new short story he had written. Competitive up to the end.

I was lying in bed watching sans my contact lenses & couldn't make out any names of the pundits. There was an older woman with a gray pageboy hairdo named Judith Jones possibly. I was squinting and turning my head trying to read her name. She was very good. Had a deep man's voice. Reminded me of my high school English teacher Mrs. Harcourt.

Mrs. Harcourt was quite old. She wore skirts and stockings as was the fashion of the day. Our assignment was to write a term paper, a research paper. I persuaded her to let me write a short story instead. I typed it up the day before it was due. I called it The Madman and it took place down at the Cleveland Museum of Art near the huge pond with the swans in it.

The story appeared in the high school literary magazine Semanteme. I was so ashamed and so embarrassed for having written it, I could barely drag myself to school that day. Publication of that story absolutely mortified me. A Jewish girl named Leslie who had more muscular calves than I did told me she liked it. So did a few other people. I wrote some more stories when I went to Goddard College. And I wrote some poems. No one would publish them. I was aghast!

I've always had a fondness for my work.

After I woke up this morning I began singing in the kitchen. "I Get Misty Just Holding Your Hand." I pretended I was one of those Guantanemo detainees in solitary confinement who was trying to keep their sanity, so I was singing. Twenty-two hours without stimulation, according to a recent Frontline show. They begin hearing voices and cracking up.

Some people - and I am not one of them - believe you can help people by thinking good thoughts about them. Charles Williams wrote a book about this long ago which I read in high school. In high school, books were my dates, my boyfriends. I read just about every good book in the Bertram Woods Library. I'd stack em up and walk home with the books in my arms like newborn babies waiting to be born with my reading eyes.

Okay, novel-writing time!