My next book, planning stages

Right now, it’s hard to get myself engaged in a large project of any sort given that I am easily fatigued.  It takes more careful planning than it did before, and I have to take into consideration that I need more daily rest than I did in the past, due to reduced kidney function.

I need to explain here.  When the kidneys are working at a lower rate, the blood isn’t as good quality.  Anemia is a given and red blood cells are generally inferior quality.  They don’t work as well as healthy cells.  At under 30% kidney functioning, there’s only so much you can do with diet to change this.  What I’ve found is that I do just fine simply knowing that I need more rest.

More rest isn’t the same as more sleep.  More rest isn’t the same as sitting around on my butt watching TV all day.  Hardly.

I honestly believe that if I’d spent the past 20 years spending three or four hours a day in front of the TV, like the average American, I’d probably not have lived this long.  Think about it.  How many hours a day do YOU watch TV?  How many hours a day is YOUR TV on?  I think TV shortens lives, but that’s just my extremely biased opinion.

I was discussing city living vs country living with a city-dwelling friend of mine recently. Which is healthier?  We agreed that living in the city without a car is far healthier despite those country-dwellers’ claims that the air is cleaner in the country.  The average country dwellers’ exercise consists of walking from their front door to the car and back.  City dwellers walk many blocks every day just to get by. Add a dog or kids to the mix and you’ve got an active person, even without joining a gym or taking up yoga or jogging.

So what do I mean by “rest”?  I mean I have “down time.”  Relaxing time with Puzzle.  I used to be on the go all the time, and now, I’m not.  I’m often tired.  I conk out.  I forgive myself when this happens.  I need to be loving toward myself and realize that conking out is okay.  Sometimes, I ignore the fatigue and carry on, but other times, I take off my clothes and shoes, lie down, invite Puzzle to lie with me, and the two of us veg out together in a darkened room, often for hours.  It feels good, too.  Then I get up again.

Sometimes, while we are lying together, I think up fantastic writing ideas.  I have a voice recorder within reach by my bed for those moments, so I can quickly take note of my ideas.  I also have pencils and a notebook available and a flashlight to see by so I don’t have to reach as far as the light switch.  If I fall asleep, fine.  I’m sure I needed it.

At any rate, I’m gathering steam for my next large project.  I’m wondering how I can get this accomplished.  Most likely I’ll have to do it in smaller chunks.  I plan to work from an outline because I feel that I work well this way.

I like some of the ideas I’ve used in previous unpublished works from the past few years.  I haven’t gotten into too much detail about all of these ideas and theories just yet.  I want to think about which of my ideas are unique to me and which ideas are simply reiterations of what others are saying.  There are many books out there that are only repetitions of what has already been said. They may be well articulated, but they don’t contain original ideas.  These books receive heavy criticism for that reason.  I certainly don’t want that!

There are some books that contain quite a bit of reiteration, but also contain a few original ideas or reword some ideas in new ways enough to certainly make the book a worthwhile read.  In fact, most of the  so-called self-help genre is repetition of what’s already been said.  It’s reworded and maybe people find the new versions more accessible, more humorous, or more easy understand, or sadly, written at a lower reading educational level, with shorter chapters, assuming we all cannot concentrate and are easily bored.  Or the books talk down to us like we’re in kindergarten.  Maybe you know some books like that?  I think we all do.

I like the idea of using memoir as a take-off point, which is how I write anyway.  I want to talk about awakening.  I feel that for me, the ONLY way that I’ve been able to rid myself of this so-called “eating disorder” is by recognizing my drastic dependency on the System (the mental health system, that is).  I realized that I never should have set foot into it in the first place.  It was only through complete reversal of the dependency that I was able to rid myself of my eating disorder.

Anyone trapped within the System ends up dependent.  It’s a given.  When you leave, it’s as tough as any divorce.  You hurt just like you hurt from any divorce.  It’s a nasty divorce just like any divorce is bound to be, and trust me, there are aftereffects.

Yes, I’m still suffering from PTS___ from psychiatric abuse.  I won’t call it “disorder,” because as I’ve stated, PTS___ is a natural fear reaction. It’s specifically from psychiatric abuse. But it’s fading now.  I don’t flinch as much like a scared animal, and I’m not as fearful and I’m not so panicked that I’m going to get randomly “sectioned.”  I’m not so scared anymore of someone threatening me or of people with stethoscopes like I used to be.

I do have nightmares of being taken away, or of people showing up at my apartment and trying to rope me into “programs” and various unwanted and invariably abusive situations that are disguised as “help.” I wake up from these nightmares but I feel good, not bad.  I like having nightmares.  I never slept so well before, so I celebrate having ANY dreams as victory over past insomnia.  I’m glad I didn’t fall for taking any sort of addicting benzos or psychiatric drugs to get to sleep.  I’m glad I didn’t fall for the argument that I was manic, cuz I was anything but!  I wasn’t “mixed,” either.  Such baloney! If you have bad kidneys you are bound to have a lot of trouble sleeping, and the last thing you should put into your mouth are psych meds!

Was I paranoid?  That was a flimsy argument.  Whenever I complained about bad care, my doc would pull the “paranoia” card.  So considering my doc’s track record, readers, judge for yourself.

In my next book, I want to talk about how it’s easy to fall for the System, and how it’s easy to be convinced that you have a psychiatric diagnosis “for life.” Patients are easily tricked using the “diabetes comparison,” when mental illness (if it exists at all) can’t be measured scientifically.  It’s all opinion, passed on from the time you are diagnosed till you die.

But these are not original ideas.  I want to talk about what ‘s original to me.  I think I have enough original ideas to fill an entire book.  Just watch.

Nano and blogging for me this year, 2013

I dropped out of Nano, but now, I’m beginning to wonder.  I’ve done so much blogging that I wonder what the word count total is between my nano project and all the blogging I did afterward, all total!  Does it come close to 50,000, or am I way off base? That plus the stray comments here and there that I’ve left on various miscellaneous sites here and there, my all-self-important opinion cuz I am the Center of the Universe, which I can’t say too loudly cuz I’ll be accused of PARANOIA, but that doesn’t add up to that much more in terms of word count anyway.

Oh, I am so, so important. I only say that because I hate being ignored.

I’m too lazy to count up my words right now.  Only curious.  What the heck.

How to write while exhausted (these instructions especially applicable for those of you with MFA in Creative Writing degrees, and anyone else that dares to write)

In case you were wondering how I got so funny lately, it’s cuz I write while half asleep.  There are those writers who have mastered writing late at night or writing in the early hours, but me, I’m tired all the time, any ole time of day no matter when it is. However, I deal with it.

That’s part of life.  It’s part of having kidneys that don’t work too well.  It’s more or less a given that if your kidneys don’t do their proper job, your blood isn’t going to be good quality.  There’s not much that can be done about that except to get used to it.

Trust me, the anemia thing and being tired all the time is the least of my worries and I cope fine with it.  If YOU have a problem coping with it, go to hell.  I dealt with far worse while doped up on very bad drugs during much of my life.  I’m thinking of my late 20’s.  I could barely write a sentence.  I couldn’t walk properly.  My hands and gait were unsteady.  I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning due to dopiness on the drugs, and I was too sluggish to walk the dog.

Think about it: in my late 20’s, all I wanted to do was to smoke cigarettes and watch TV.  Now, I am motivated to help others and to change the world.  I have big dreams.  I am determined to get out of the hellhole I’m in.  I’m functioning far better now than I was then.  Sure I bitch and moan, but I’m so darned persistent.

So here are a few tips:

1) If you are exhausted, write while lying down.  Didn’t we do this as children?  Sure we did.  It was considered a girly thing, to write in our diaries every night by the light of a night light.  My parents gave up begging me not to use the night light to see by.  They’d tried to convince me that I’d go blind if I kept doing that. I’m not blind yet.  So at least those of us sneaky ones that did this as kids far past bedtime already have the Writing While Lying Down skill.

Nowadays, we are blessed with terrific Writing While Lying Down technology to assist us writers.  We have Dictaphones, text-to-speech software, word complete, various detachable keyboards you can use (instead of having your laptop turn you into a furnace), and all sorts of pens and pencils that will write even while upside-down.  You can put on a headset and speak into it.  There are various tablets and all kinds of tables you can put on your bed or sofa.

2) Now that you are nice and cozy in bed, have your dog curl up right on top of you while you write.  This will surely enhance your writing, depending on the size of your dog and whether or not little Fido starts to snore. If he does, kick him off.  Time to start a new chapter.  Or maybe tell him, “Aw, baby, I didn’t mean it, let’s cuddle and take a snooze.”

3) Don’t sit for long periods.  If I do that, my legs start to swell up.  So from now on, everything you write is going to be in these short, sweet little packages that deliver a punch.

4) As you start to fall asleep while writing, lose track of what you are writing about and change the subject, totally confusing your readers, then leave them hanging and don’t wrap up what you were saying.  Call it quits and go to bed.  End with some stupid joke that only insiders get.  Make excuses for your behavior.  After all, you’re tired.  Everyone should understand.

Regarding my blog and my secrets

A lot of people stop by here now, for many random reasons.  They google something, then they find something quirky about my writing and end up sticking around.

As you know (or maybe you don’t), writing is like this giant force in my life.  It’s hard for me to fathom that my next-door neighbor, or the lady upstairs or the guy down the hall or I’ll bet just about everyone who works in the Housing Authority office spends less than 1% of their time writing.  It’s hard for me to grasp their lives are like.

I mean, put their lives on a pie graph, and you see a different picture than if you put my life on a pie graph.

As I figure it, based on what I can hear through the walls, my next door neighbor’s pie graph consists of about 30% to 50% of her pie, or possibly far more, maybe 2/3, filled with “TV.”  I assume a certain amount is “sleep,” probably the time that that TV isn’t on.

I’d say that for the people who work in the Housing Authority office, you figure they work 4o hours a week, so would that be maybe 30% of the pie spent commuting to and from, filling out forms, answering phones, data entry, and of course correcting the various errors that were already put in.  I suspect the administration does about the same thing as the clerical workers do, with a bit more PR and vetoing power.  Do they ever actually write?  Naw.  Just brief memos. And that’s one of those pains in the butt.

Of course, I have no clue if anyone here in this building or that I see around me actually keeps a journal or blog or is writing a creative endeavor of any type.

What my point is, really, is how much of an elephant is your writing in YOUR life?

As I said, my writing has been a driving force, I’d say, since 1998.  This is what makes me a writer.  Of course, before that, I did quite a bit of writing, too.

I’d say, though, it went from “serious hobby” to “driving force” around 1998 and that hasn’t changed.

I don’t think I chose this path necessarily.  I found myself on this not-so-well-traveled, rocky road after blindly stumbling around in the dark.  I dusted myself off and made the decision to keep at it.

Musicians do music.  Actors get on stage and momentarily become someone else.  I’m not at all sorry I’m here. In fact, I’m delighted.

I’d say blogging has changed me.  I’d say writing changes me and makes me a person who is always changing and I am a person open to change, because I am always writing.  I learn by writing.

I titled this entry “My blog and my secrets.”  You may be wondering what the “secret” part is.  There’s a bit of a misconception about me going around that I heard a while back (this quite a bit ago, in fact) that I “tell all” or “reveal everything” or that “Julie Greene’s life is an open book.”   Folks think that all they have to do is to click on “Julie Greene’s blog” to find out what’s going on with me.

I doubt that’s true of any blogger.  It’s physically impossible.  Think about it.  Nor can you “tell all” to any therapist or to your spouse.  And I certainly wouldn’t encourage you to do so.  If any therapist demands that you tell them EVERYTHING, please, go elsewhere.

We humans have a need for privacy.  That’s one of the many reasons why we wear clothes.  That’s one of the many reasons why we stand or sit a certain distance away from each other when we speak to each other, instead of smack against each other like sardines, if we have a choice.  That’s why we go to the bathroom within enclosure and have sex in privacy, too.

Ever notice that you go to a drugstore and something called a “diary” has a lock on it?  A real physical lock, even now, in 2013?  Anne Frank died a long, long time ago, and yet, diary-writing remains conceptually the same.  It’s private.  There’s all kinds of journaling software you can buy and if you read the ads for it, there’s talk of “password protection” and the ability to keep our words to ourselves.

Do you think I’m any different just because I blog? That I bear all, and all my life is viewable to public scrutiny and not only that, googlable?

“Going public,” for anyone, is a brave move.  However, as I said, it’s physically impossible to turn your whole life over and make it viewable. There’s always going to be that dark, unseen side.  The part the sun nor the moon get a chance to shine on.

I cherish that dark side of me.  I’m glad it’s there.  This morning I woke up and told myself how much I love my secrets.  I told myself I was okay.   I told myself I felt truly secure and cozy right where I am.  No one has to know where that is, which is fine by me.

 

Hey, how lovely: word count 1,218 and the day ain’t over yet

Just thought I’d let you dudes know I am indeed writing this book.  Didn’t start Day One until late.  I had to get organized.  I think I like what I have, and it’s gonna be a killer, bitches.

I haven’t yet joined the Nano site.  I may.  I may not.  I figure 1,667 words per day will get me a 50,000 word book in 30 days whether I join or not.

So someone (not a therapist or doctor, never mind who it was) said I should be in day treatment?  Oh, blather on.  What kind of nonsense is that?  I think the person forgot I’m a writer.  In fact, the person who made that statement doesn’t know me too well.

I’m having a blast over here.

Go on with it, and be brave, Julie

Yes, my blog has become central in my life.  I didn’t even realize it.  People are telling me to keep on writing and doing what I am doing.  Yes, it is the reason I have lost friends.  Yes, my big mouth (well, they call it “liability”) is the reason I am being refused care at the big hospital over there in Boston, never mind that I am telling the truth, I am not paranoid, I am doing nothing illegal, and folks all around me are doing nothing but cheering me on.

If I do pursue a legal case against the hospital, it will be lengthy…maybe over a year of digging into all kinds of paperwork and records and maybe a lot of people that were involved don’t even work there anymore.  What’s keeping this powerful hospital from fudging their records?  Who holds onto them?  After I concluded my inpatient stay in 2011, the nurses or one of the doctors could have “edited” a page or two about my “care.”

I mean, sending security guards up to “contain” an emaciated patient who has asked to bring an 8-oz bottle of water with her to sustain herself while she rides the bus home following discharge…the trip will be will be over 45 minutes…claiming this patient is not allowed to bring the water home, claiming carrying a bottle of water home is “stealing from the hospital.”

Of course, my fellow patients were laughing their asses off while I handed the very small bottle of water to the security guard.  Honestly, I didn’t know what to think.  I just shrugged, figuring I’d have to buy something very soon to drink after I left, because the water bottle I’d been carrying when I’d been admitted had probably gotten moldy sitting in my knapsack.

Well, life goes on.  I still don’t know what to think.

They told me while I was there, “We’re afraid of your writing.  We’re afraid you will expose the hospital.”  Oh yes, those exact words, no kidding.

I have 50 subscribers as of today.

Folks tell me to go on with it no matter what anyone says, and be brave.

 

July…Nano project title…

Well, who knew it.  As I’ve said, I’ve been thinking of doing a July Nano.   I was just about to go to bed. Presto….my title came to me.  Never mind what it is.  I’m rather excited about it.  Weird how these things happen.

Funny, though…now I kinda know what the book is gonna be about….Hmm…Like a sneak preview, sorta.  I suppose that’s the way the end of June is.  You’re doomed, Julie.

Incredible revelation while showering: Why I got kicked out of nursing schoool approx 30 years ago…I was way, way too smart for those ladies that gave me the ax

So this came up while I was showering.  Washing my hair, actually.  It felt damn good to be thinking this.  I said to myself, “Julie, you are not crazy.  You are just too damn smart.  And you gotta talk on people’s level.  Those women who ran the nursing school were nurses, not writers.  You forgot, you idiot.  That’s what got you kicked out.”

Not that nurses aren’t smart.  But they took blood pressure and taught young girls to extract numbers from machines.  We spent hours at this task.  Lots and lots of number-type stuff.   We learned to obtain statistics from people’s bodies, and take measurements, all sorts of measurements, and to correct what was wrong in a patient’s surroundings.

So if a patient was crooked in a bed, we learned to make a patient straight.  That was a huge part of LPN school.

And so, I, Julie Greene, got kicked out of of LPN school because they “found out” I had a history of mental illness.  These nursie boss people decided rather arbitrarily (I do know, as fact, that what they did was illegal) that I was on “too much medication” and “too doped up” to be in their school.

Is four 300 mg pills a day of Lithium too much Lithium? I think my last Lithium level that was drawn was 1.0, back in the summer.  This was what was considered ideal back then, ladies, not overmedicating.   Is 100 mgs a day of Thorazine overmedicating?  Back then, they were giving 1800 to folks with mania, and often maintained people on much higher doses than 100 of the drug.  Clearly, this boss lady (never mind her name) at the nursing school thought 100 was  a high-sounding number, so any “100” of anything was “a high dose.”

So, I was in this room arguing with these ladies, and I guess I made a huge fatal mistake.  I, Julie Greene, not realizing that I was a future memoirist MFA, made some metaphor.  Yes, some abstract meaning about mental illness being like…and I was off on this thing that they, who could only speak and understand and see the world in terms of the concrete, blasted off the face of the planet.  Oh yes, they said Julie Greene was talking crazy.

I wish I could recall the brilliant metaphor I came up with, but folks, we’re talking 1984 before half of you were born and my memory isn’t remembering it right now.  The boss ladies at the nursing school, well, if they remember now, they probably still don’t “get” the meaning of the metaphor, though, heck, all I was doing was doing what I do best, thinking up yet another brilliant writing idea.  Problem was, I said it out loud in front of the wrong people.  People who nabbed me.

It was yet to be written down.

Future writers, don’t say your brilliant writing ideas in front of people who don’t “get” metaphor.  Don’t say them in emergency rooms or you will end up with a security guard slapped in the doorway.  Don’t say them to your shrink or you might be called psychotic.  Don’t tell your nutritionist, who probably only “gets” food and portions.

When you get a writing idea, like I just did in just now in the shower, write the damn thing down.  Keep writing.  Don’t stop till you’re done.

I don’t mean to knock LPN’s because I have known brilliant LPN’s.  The LPN degree has evolved since I was in school and in some states has been swallowed up by the associates degree…but then again, I’m not really sure.  Some use the LPN degree as a stepping stone, some go on to alternative medicine, many go on to specialties, many quit.  Many work tirelessly all their lives.  Many earn a very good paycheck.  Many don’t.  Some can’t find a job.  I guess a lot depends on where you live.

And yes, many are extremely intelligent.  Many do indeed save lives every day.  As a whole, they are far more intelligent than the nurses that kicked me out that day, the ladies that did not understand that 26-year-old future writer.

Well, I stand here before you, after my shower, not exactly dressed properly for going out yet.   I say “stand” because I have written this entire entry not seated in a chair, that is, while standing up bent over, thinking I wasn’t going to spend as long as I did with you this morning.

It goes to show you something about writing and memory and meaning and having life really be okay.  Julie Greene, you are not crazy.  You are just too damn smart.