I may be moving the URL of this blog at some point, as GoDaddy has raised their rates.  In order to keep my spam settings at the level I want them, I have to “upgrade”!  Keep checking here and I’ll keep you posted.  If you come here and I’m not here, check at, which I am keeping, and follow the link to my blog!  Don’t worry, the move won’t happen immediately.

I had to delete the entry with the link to the Breath and Shadow article, as it was getting spam comments by the bucketful.  Here’s the link again: <a href=”


Have a nice day.  I’m trying.

Where I’ve been all this time

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been….

I’ve been revising my creative thesis.  I’ve been working at a terrific pace.  I get up at 4:45am and go to bed at 8:30pm.  I start writing at 8:20am and don’t stop until around 7:30pm.

I do get the housework done.

I haven’t exactly been remembering to eat.  But I am getting better at it.

Of course I take excellent care of Puzzle.  Or, rather, she takes excellent care of me.  She reminds me to take my meds.  Without her, I would surely forget.

I do keep my appointments.  I get enough sleep.  I am not manic.

For some reason, I seem to be able to keep up this pace.  Why?  Someone pinch me–this couldn’t be real!


I worry about what will happen after school ends.  I worry that I’ll lose the drive, the motivation, to keep going.  I worry that I won’t have the support I need.  I am really, really scared that I will go downhill.  I worry that my mother will push me into getting a “job,” something for which I am not mentally equipped.  The structure of a “job” is a lot different from sitting and writing all day.  She has already said, “Julie, I hope that after you graduate, you will be accepted into a ‘position,'” meaning, a teaching position.  Horrors!  I can’t do that kind of teaching!  What I am thinking about is possibly getting a scholarship to go to one of those writers’ retreats or artists’ colonies for a couple of weeks at some point.  I have asked my advisor what she thinks about this idea.


I am so afraid of getting lost in the world. But for now, everything is okay.  I have goals.  I have a project I am working on.  I have started a new book to work on after school ends.  That plus I’ll still be revising my current project.  If all else fails, I have a sweater for Puzzle that I’m making….

Something I was thinking about in the shower today

As I may or may not have mentioned, I discovered the reason I’d been losing so much hair in the shower: Pantene conditioner, specifically Pantene “Always Smooth.”  My hair was reacting to some ingredient in the stuff and falling out as soon as I applied it!  This was quite apparent to me when I tried a different conditioner and noticed a big difference: almost no hair came out when I applied either Paul Mitchell “Detangler” or Nexus “Humectress.”  Apparently these do not have whatever is in the Pantene that I reacted to.

It occurred to me today, as I was washing my hair, that when I found out the cause of the problem, I was able to remedy it easily.  Had I gone to some hair expert, I would have had to spend zillions of dollars, and the expert would probably have come up with some “treatment,” made tons of money off of me, and not gotten to the cause of the problem!

If we look toward the cause of problems, rather than trying to patch them up, we will solve them more efficiently and effectively.  In the past, patients were locked up, and sometimes put in chains because society wanted us put away.  Now, there are medications that correct the imbalances that cause the problem in the first place.  These medications are not perfect.  Many people encounter problems with medications and have to try one after another.  The medications have side effects–some serious.  But meds are the best treatment we have so far–they have helped millions of patients to lead productive lives (me too!).

I am in my last semester of graduate school.  These days, I am able to work up to seven hours a day on my creative thesis and still enjoy myself.  I will graduate on July 12, 2009.

Hotels near the airport in Seattle

Of the two hotels I stayed at near the airport in Seattle, I much prefer the Skyway over the Best Value Airport Inn, otherwise known as America’s Best Value Airport Inn.  The room temperature at the latter was far too cold.  Both have free wireless internet access.  You can print out your boarding pass at the skyway at their computer, where they have a printer that usually works.

As a general rule, though, you should not recommend those hotels to your mother.


As many of you recall, I gave Michael Mathes my doctor’s note stating that I required more heat in my apartment.  I told Michael that I would be away the following week.  Indeed, my plan was to attend the Goddard College residency in Port Townsend, Washington, from February 8th until the 16th.  In fact, I left town the 7th, and flew back from Seattle on the 17th.

My flight was uneventful, but my excursion to the hotel was not.  Fog surrounded the entire airport, giving the entire night an eerie feel.  I immediately came upon a serious accident involving two hotel courtesy vehicles in which a driver was hit.  He was lying on the ground and some ambulance guys were attending to him as I drove past in my courtesy vehicle.  “Rough night,” the driver said to me, “rough night.  There was a motorcycle crash right outside our place.”

“Shoot,” I said.  “Was the guy okay?”  Stupid question.

The guy let me into my hotel room and showed me the heat control.  “You just turn this knob,” he said, “for heat.  Turn it this way.”  He showed me.

Fine.  I turned it all the way.

Three, four hours later, it was only 63 degrees in the room.  I know.  I had my alarm clock with me.  Remember that alarm clock, the one with the thermometer on it?  Yeah, that one.   Sixty-three degrees.  Finally, I showered (don’t know how I managed that one), put on long underwear, two shirts, three jackets, a hat, a scarf, and mittens, and took an hour and a half nap before venturing out to the bus for Port Townsend.

You have to understand West Coast mentality, in particular, Northwest Coast mentality, to know that people out there aren’t normal.  They wear t-shirts in the summer when it’s 50 degrees out, and don’t heat their homes.  But they do heat their homes in the winter, when it’s 48.

Fort Worden, where I was staying, was heated–sort of.  The room I had was warm enough most of the time.  The kitchen was freezing, very drafty.  I couldn’t stand being in there for more than a couple of minutes.  The thermostat–tee hee hee–was right outside my room.  I manipulated it at will, much to the consternation of my roommates, particularly Dani, who is a local.  Needless to say, she spent Saturday night at a hotel.

The dining hall at Fort Worden was the pits.  Not only was the food–well, never mind the food–we’re talking about temperature here….There was this draft in the dining hall.  If you put a napkin on the edge of your tray, the napkin would fly around like a set of wind chimes.  That’s how bad the draft was.  So you can picture what I looked like, wrapped in a stocking cap and scarf every meal, trying to keep my head, ears, and neck safe from the evil draft.  Finally, I complained to a worker, who I noticed was wearing a winter jacket.

“I’m just wearing this ‘cuz I was in the freezer,” she said.  Excuses, excuses.

While waiting for the bus ride home (Dungeness Bus Lines, formerly Olympic Bus Lines, runs a route from Port Townsend to Seattle) I waited at the Port Townsend Safeway.  It was freezing in there, I mean, it must have been close to 60.  I wore three jackets and my usual hat, scarf, and gloves.  I was shivering.  I felt like bursting into tears.  I even asked an employee if there were any warmer places to sit.  There were none.  Eventually, my classmate, Cody, arrived.

“You would absolutely not like Japan,” he said.

“And why is that?”

“I lived and taught there for a year.  They don’t heat their homes.  Not even in winter.”

“Not at all?”

“Not at all.  They have air conditioning, though.”

“Gee, that’s comforting.”  I made a mental note to cross Japan off my travel list.

I spent the night in Seattle not at the cold hotel, but at the Skyway Inn, which, although seedy, was plenty warm enough, and I find I rather like the Skyway despite its oddities.

I flew home.  The plane was warm enough.  The food was warm enough.  I didn’t have a stomach ache.  They fed me enough.  They gave me enough to drink.  My luggage was safe and undamaged.  I hopped in the cab.  We didn’t get lost.  I generously tipped the driver.

Slowly, I pulled my luggage down the hall, which seemed too bright and too dark all at once.  I fumbled for my key, and, finding it, turned it in the lock.

Something seemed different.  What was it?

Heat.  I had heat.

Was this for real?  I set down my luggage.

The thermostat read 78.  I checked again.  Seventy-eight.  I closed the apartment door behind me, and gave a whoop.  Seventy-eight!  I checked the bedroom.  Seventy-eight.  At last.  With the “two degree offset” the actual temperature in my apartment was 76, but I knew it would be higher in some areas.  My worries were over.  Heat.  At last.

No longer would I have to huddle under the heating panels, wondering how I would stay warm.  No longer would I have to wrap myself in a blanket for hours every morning.  No longer would I have to wear a scarf and hat indoors, and a jacket and gloves.  And even the bathroom temperature has improved.

I am much more relaxed.  I worry less.  I no longer get these intrusive thoughts about something bad happening to Puzzle.  It is because I don’t feel the persistent stress of constant discomfort of cold.  I am warm now.  I am comfortable.  I am truly blessed.

Another residency writing

Who knows when it will end.

You filled your mouth with sorrow.

You did not think of it when you swallowed it.

Then, today, you were swallowing anger, which was harder on
the digestive tract.

Who knows when it will end.

This was your first meal, this was your last.

You did not think of it when you swallowed it.

Under the pancakes, more grief.

Envy goes down particularly quickly, along with wondrous

Who knows when it will end.

You did not think of it when you swallowed it.

A writing I did at the Goddard Residency

I spent 11 days out west at the Goddard residency.  I came home on Tuesday.  Here’s something I wrote while out there.  I’m not sure what this writing was in response to, but here it is:

Residency writing

Communication, moving from Point A to Point B

completion of a thought

exploration of form and content

transportation, transfiguration

the throwing together and cooking of ideas

bits and pieces simmering together in a big pot

an alphabet of hope

a dream on the edge of sleep and waking

that grabs and shakes you until you

cannot forget that you yelled aloud:

I am falling I am falling

Did you hit ground?

Cold apartment – the next installment

On January 14, I called Michael Mathes regarding my heating allowance, and he said it would be advantageous if I were to obtain a doctor’s note stating that I required a higher heat.  I told him that I would be seeing my doctor (Dr. P, my psychiatrist, that is) on January 30, and would get a note then.

And so, I have the note.  On official stationary.  The letterhead does read “Psychiatry,” which is fine with me.  The letter reads:

To: Watertown Housing Authority
Date: January 30, 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing regarding my patient Julie Greene, DOB 1/8/58.  Due to her medical condition, she would benefit from the heat in her apartment being raised.  Thank you for your cooperation.


I will present the note on Monday.

On the bright side, it has indeed been a bit warmer in here.  Either that or I am adjusting to the cold.  I am over the horrible depression I went through due to the cold temperatures and Puzzle’s illness (Puzzle was sick following her ingestion of chicken bones over New Year’s).  I have been working on my creative thesis a little, added a chapter, and did some revisions.  I’m getting ready for the next residency.  I leave in less than a week.  After that, my final semester begins.

Cold apartment – update

I wrote Michael Mathes a note New Year’s Day explaining that the temperature in my bathroom was 47.5 degrees and that I could not tolerate the low temperatures in my apartment.  He received the note when he came to work on Friday, January 2nd.  I received a call from him that day, and he came down to the apartment and saw for himself that the bathroom was indeed cold, that the temperature in the apartment seemed cold, and told me that something needed to be done.  He then said–and my heart sank–that he would forward my note on to maintenance.  Maintenance, I knew, would do nothing.  They had determined that the heat worked.  I figured they would go no further, though I had suggested heat lamps.

On Tuesday, January 6, I determined that there was some kind of leak in or around my bathtub.  It was not from my shower curtain. So I called maintenance.  I knew that if I showered any longer than a couple of minutes, water would be all over the bathroom.  It took them until Friday to fix this problem–a leaking pipe in the garage downstairs.

By Friday, though, depression had set in.  I am sick of living in the cold.  I am sick of wearing a hat indoors.  I am sick of wondering from day to day how I am going to stay warm, whether I will huddle under the heating panels or stick it out at the computer with a blanket over me.  I am sick of living in a place that needs constant repair, with maintenance men barging in neary every day, with or withut warning.  I am sick of the noise in the hall, of hearing my next door neighbor sneeze and cough all day long.  I don’t know how I will make it through the winter.  Friday night I even thought of suicide as a way out.  Just as quickly, though, I forced the thought out of my head.

I just got off the phone with Debbie from maintenance, who says that the heating allowance cannot be raised, that it’s the same for everyone (75, with a “two degree offset, so it’s actually 73) unless I get permission from Michael.  So I will call him.  The ball will be back in his court, so to speak.

The saga continues….