Meltdown, Part 1

I am going to try to describe what is going on.

My thinking isn’t clear at the moment so it’s difficult to write in a way that others can comprehend.  I’ll do my best.

It would be accurate to say that I have had some kind of meltdown.

One of my wonderful WeightWatchers friends said perhaps I’m exhausted from working so hard at school stuff.

Updates are ready for my computer.  They’re being installed.

My thoughts, that is, the thoughts in my head, are very distorted.  I can’t sort them.  They come as they please.  They are borrowed thoughts from someone else’s head, not mine.  Many heads, superhuman and subhuman.

The vastness and pettiness of humanity.

Puzzle, meanwhile, spends an awful lot of time chasing her tail.

I must restart.  I’ll send this off, restart, and then continue. 

Bye for now.

A link

Here’s something I discovered in my travels:

I couldn’t get the video sound to work.

Anyway, I found this article while looking around for information about the invention of Thorazine.  I’ve got a few leads!

Happy pill time!  I’ll remember mine tonight.  I promise.


Hi readers,

I wrote this as part of my thesis today.  It’s a part of a huge section on the life of QB.  It’s written in diary form.  Here’s the ending:

May 5, 2007

I am at the tail end of another spending spree, this time it’s digital photography stuff I can’t afford. All to take photos of Puzzle.

Everyone loves Puzzle.

Puzzle is cute.

Puzzle, my Schnoodle, is “normal,” not “crazy.”

QB’s been on my mind lately. I look back on those last days with him, and shudder. I see it all as a chapter of my life, a chapter that now I am both relieved and sad to have finished.

With every photo I take of Puzzle, I find myself wishing I’d taken more photos of QB. More and more.

I miss you, Joe. I miss hanging out in your van together, sipping iced coffee, with Tiger in the back seat. Sometimes, we forgot she was there; she was so quiet.

We’d turn around and look back at her. She wouldn’t move her head; just her eyes would turn.

I’ve been crying tonight. Every neuron that fires inside my brain, with the thrill of having spent another dollar (or many dollars), counteracts the neurons that fire sadness, guilt, and devastation.

Imagine boiling down our feelings to neurons.

Bus story

I saw a man on the bus who I believed was in trouble.  He wasn’t your average passenger sleeping on the bus.  This guy was trying to stay awake and couldn’t.  He was more tired than I ever have been with my all-nighters.  He was trying to solve a crossword puzzle but couldn’t get beyond the first letter without falling asleep, his head in his lap, pencil falling to his feet.  He attempted to sip some Pepsi but fell asleep doing that, too, nearly spilling his drink onto his lap.  At one point he fell asleep leaning well into the aisle of the bus, and nearly fell.

He was a Harvard student, a kid, really.  He wore a Harvard hat, a Harvard sweatshirt, carried a Harvard Bookstore bag filled with books, pens, and stuff Harvard kids would carry.

I asked myself: Who is this man?  He obviously hadn’t showered or shaved for several days.  At what stop was he planning to get off?  Was someone picking him up?  If he had to walk to his destination, would he be safe in traffic?  Did he in fact have a destination?

Then I asked myself:  Should I ask this kid if he needs help?  Should I offer to call an ambulance, if he needs one?  Should I alert the bus driver?  First of all, I told myself, I am not a doctor, nurse, or social worker, and so I am not qualified to determine whether this kid needs an ambulance or not.  Secondly, my cell phone is broken.

I left the bus and came home.

Several hours later, I realized something.  Would I have cared so much about the kid if he hadn’t been a Harvard student?  Did the combination of his condition and his social status seem incongruous to me?  Did it seem so unlikely that I felt I had to act on it?

Life isn’t always rosy

I read a book for school that I didn’t like, John D’Agata’s Halls of Fame. I was tempted to skim the book or even skip chapters; the latter I didn’t do, but I admit to skimming a few pages here and there.  I was rewarded when I reached the final chapter; the last essay was a good read.  Then I wrote my paper about the book.  I found myself writing about what I didn’t like about the book, and when it came time to write about what I took away from the book, what I learned and could apply to my own writing, I came up with negatives, what I learned NOT to do.  I learned NOT to invite the reader to skim–ever.  I learned NOT to write commentary, notes, or excuses about my essays after the fact, and let’s see, what else….I learned to put enough of myself into my essays to let the “I” shine through instead of being a passive witness or receptacle for information.  Then I woke up this morning.

Then I woke up this morning and said to myself, “Gee, I actually liked that book.”  I had a whole new perspective on it.  I don’t know if I should rewrite the paper or let it stand–I think I’ll leave it be, because part of my liking the book has to do with writing the paper and without the paper I don’t think I’d like the book so much!

However, I’m slightly embarrassed because I LOVED all the other books I’ve read so far this semester.  D’Agata’s stands out like–sorry–a sore thumb.

I suppose more than occasionally, it rains.

Joshua, I hope you feel better soon.

Here’s proof

If there are any doubts as to whether I have lost weight, here’s proof:

My highest weight: 197

Here’s me at 164:

fat face crop

My current weight: 144.  Here I am:

me at 144

No camera tricks!  Yes, the lighting’s different.  That can’t be helped.  I took today’s photo myself.  What is most noticable is that I am wearing the same pair of glasses in both pictures.  Plus I look a helluva lot happier now than I did 20 pounds ago.

~~~~Waving hello to my sisters at WeightWatchers!!!  I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!~~~~~ loves me

Whoever invented 1-CLICK ORDERING must have great insight into the bipolar mind.

I don’t have bipolar disorder, but it seems I’ve been doing a lot of spending lately.  I’ve been spending money I don’t have.  I mean, I really, really, really don’t have this kind of money.  I get about $750 a month.  I have no money for “extras.”

As many of you recall, I went on a wild spending spree trying to cope with QB’s death.  It was horrible.  I went into credit card debt like I’ve never seen before.  I was just about caught up, into three digits of debt instead of four finally; I was so proud of myself, and now this. 

Looking over my records, it all started on the 14th of this month.  That’s less than two weeks ago.  It’s the freaking 25th.  I was pulling an all-nighter then, too.

Gimme a sec, I’ll look over the e-mail receipts and tell y’all what I bought………

I have made sooooooooooooooooo rich……

Expensive photo paper, 8-1/2 by 11, two boxes of it
A new photo printer $85 great value for the price
Photo paper 4×6
Headphones I don’t need
Ink and yet more paper
A new digital camera.  I’m moving up in the world and I don’t need to and can’t afford to.
Kenny’s book (this I’m entitled to.  He’s my advisor, after all)
A case for my new digital camera (now I need polish for the case, right?

Something’s not right with me.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

Shoes, Darwin, and Kenny Fries

Hi everyone–Yes, I’m pulling another all-nighter!  I want to share with you some information about a book I just purchased.  It is called The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory by Kenny Fries.  I happen to know some inside information about this book!  I know that the original title didn’t include Darwin’s theory.  So the title went through an evolution of its own.  I heard Kenny read from his book long before it was published.  The excerpt was about rock climbing and (please forgive me here) it was indeed a cliff-hanger as the piece described Kenny and his friend attempt a very difficult section of rock–and their circumstances are unusual–you’ll just have to read the book….

I was honored to have Kenny as my advisor for two semesters when I was at Goddard originally.  It was 2004 and it seems like eons ago.  I will never forget those Advising Group meetings with Kenny; I even remember the room where the meetings were held; supposedly the laundry room was in the same building.  There was a woman named Jane in the group.  He called her Juana, which she hated (this she confided to me before lunch one day).  I could never figure out why she was writing a thesis about the Son of Gilgamesh, but “whatever floats one’s boat,” as they say….There were three people with last names that began with Z in the group.  Then there was me.  He called me Gail by accident, and from then on, he referred to me as “Not Gail.”  I’ve never liked the name Gail.  We got off to a great start.

But really, advising group was great.  We looked at both poetry and prose, and we also workshopped people’s pieces.  I know, I know, “workshopped” isn’t a word–that is, it isn’t a word unless you’re in an MFA program.  It means you sit around in sort of a circle and discuss someone’s work, while that person remains silent.  Hopefully you all say nice things about it at first, constructive stuff, ways to improve it, problem areas, all tactfully of course, never criticizing the person, always talking about the work itself.  So that’s what we did.  We also talked about published works.  We all got very passionate about writing; the whole week was like that, a bunch of nutty people in the freezing Vermont countryside getting revved and ready to sustain that enthusiasm, writing like a bunch of enthusiastic scholarly nuts for five months, only to return to Vermont, this time in the blazing heat, to get recharged and obsessed yet another time.  We’re all bonkers.  And Kenny, along with the other faculty, was wonderful enough to be responsible for allowing all this to happen.

Yes, I know exactly what Kenny is going to tell his advising group when he meets with them this summer: “Don’t base your character on your mother.  Just don’t.”  Because that’s what I did with my former thesis.  Readers, you know my relationship with my mother is strained enough.  Basing my character, Irma, on my mother, Erna, turned out to be–well, you guessed it.  Not a good thing.  Don’t base your character on your mother.  Just don’t.

I think the reason for this problem is because a character is a being (being with a lower case b)–that is, a person you can attach a personality to, and an appearance, etc.  But the main characteristic of my mother, to me, is not her presence, but her absence.  It isn’t so much what she did for me or to me that hurt me.  It’s what she didn’t do.  She didn’t pick me up from Hebrew School on time.  She didn’t love me.  She wasn’t close to me.  She didn’t listen–she never, never listened.  So in writing about a character, I was writing in the wrong direction.  I needed to write about a void.  Irma had a dead husband.  Maybe it was Irma who should have been the one who was dead.

At any rate, here are excerpts from the reviews of The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, by Kenny Fries.  And here’s the link to the book on Amazon:

“An amazing book–beautiful and unique.  Kenny Fries makes dazzling connections between the most intimate details and the most sweeping panoramas, and left me changed by his insights.”  — Joan Silber, author, Ideas of Heaven

In The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory Kenny Fries tells two stories: the development of the theory of “survival of the fittest,” as articulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace; and the history of his ever-changing, made-to-order, orthopedic shoes. The famously important first story, as told by Kenny Fries, is a condensed and colorful account of the race between Darwin and Wallace to formulate their groundbreaking theories. At the same time, Fries tells a deeply personal story of the evolving consciousness of his own “adaptations,” represented by his shoes.

Although only the “fittest” may survive, Fries learns that adaptation and variation are critical to survival. What is deemed normal, or even perfect, are passing phases of the ever-changing embodiment of nature in our world. In the end, Darwin and Wallace’s discoveries resonate with Fries’ own story, inextricably leading us into a new world where variety and difference are not only “normal,” but the ingenious origins of survival itself.

“In this quietly revolutionary book, Fries gives us his own story, side-by-side with that of Darwin’s. The juxtaposition is startling, revelatory, and ultimately redemptive. Big-hearted, generous, deeply human, this is the next wave in identity politics, and you’re going to love it.”– Alison Smith, author,
Name All the Animals

“Kenny Fries explores both ‘able-bodiedness’ and the legacies of Darwin’s theory while literally traveling the world. There is no book quite like this and no one who reads these pages will ever forget them. This is a history of our bodies and a travelogue through landscapes and cultural signs that everyone should read  in our post-colonial millennium” –Stephen Kuusisto, author, Planet of the Blind

Kenny Fries
is the author of Body, RememberA Memoir and editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out.  He has been a Creative Arts Fellow of the Japan-US Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Fulbright Scholar to Japan.  He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College.  Visit him online at

The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory
By Kenny Fries
Carroll & Graf | May 2007 | Trade Paper
0-7867-2007-7 | 224 pages | $14.95

My baby is growing up!

Here are the latest photos of Puzzle:

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