Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stephen Fry on Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed about a year ago with bipolar disorder, type 2, which means I cycle into depression rather than experience hypomanic episodes.  I do feel that I have been on the edge of hypomania when engaging in too much "goal-seeking" behavior that is excessive (as when I entertained, up to last week, a desire not to retire from San Jose State, but to pile on myself more work, along with raising a five-year-old and writing a difficult book).  I am not in any way suffering with bipolar anymore, but must always be vigilant about managing it.  Being responsible and careful helps to preserve my creativity and happiness.

I would say that Nanowrimo is the worst goal seeking behavior for me in the world, also: writing a 50,000 word novel in a month would put a normal person into bipolar disorder (I mean, just kidding, but it was one of the worst things for my mind I could have possibly done, though I got two good manuscripts out of it).  I have a creative pace that works for me; I find it just fine to be in the nanowrimo community as a presence and enjoy the people in it.

Anyways, after a year on Lamictal, which I will likely take lifelong, I must say that my mind is restored to myself--that is really how I must describe it.  Lamictal (an anti-seizure drug) strengthens the cell walls in the brain so that the electrical activity works correctly (bipolar is considered a physical illness of the brain--in fact, many disorders are just this, though some are harder to treat than others).  I don't feel like a zombie and my creativity is very much alive and happy, as is the rest of my life (my prime concern about any form of meds is the effect on my creative life, which is central to my ability to be happy in the world).

I wanted to share a video from the actor Stephen Fry about his bipolar disorder, which is similar to mine in that he cycles into depression (though his is a much more profound manifestation than mine).

I just want to say that, if you have a disorder you must struggle with, no human being has the right to judge you in any way, including for seeking hospitalization--most Behavioral Health units are set up to be therapeutic and get someone back on track; it is not a mark of shame to have sought help there.  Fry is very up-front about his hospitalizations and nobody runs around mocking him for it (if they do, they are just making a huge display of their own ignorance, a shameful ignorance in this modern age, at that.  Taking a compassionate stance, these people very likely have disorders themselves which, for whatever reason, they have not addressed. In short, it is about THEM, not you).

Be at peace with where you are right now and never stop trying to seek help and to bloom, even if the struggle is great.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Night of Song

I went to the song circle headed by Debbie, the teacher for the now-gone Thursday night African dance class--there were many of the Voice Weavers there, as well as my singing teacher Ronda, and so many people from the African dance class I had felt so afraid to attend because I feared someone.  I realize now that only my fear kept me from this place, that his reaction might have been entirely different.  Think about it: I saw him in an unlit, somewhat isolated place the other night when we crossed paths, and I was absolutely not afraid, felt safe, and felt only kindness towards him.  I kept myself away from the class because I was too timid to ask him again after some time had passed if we could negotiate a schedule of some kind--and in fact, he had offered it in the first place, but I was too angry to do that.

Anyways, it was a truly magical night, with many of the old songs from class and a couple of Voice Weavers songs.  And I got my wish, the one I had been praying for all year:  I danced with all my friends from the class!  Nobody was in their seats after the first song; we all danced and sang...and then my friend Laurie from Voice Weavers, who is a talented doumbek drummer, came over and drummed for me as I did a bellydance solo!!  Debbie the teacher came up and gave me a huge hug after, and many other people; not one person said, "Hey, I hear you are a mental case."  That was really, really special for me, to know I am still loved and respected, and could have a wonderful, wonderful time.


Just a reminder: caring about someone does not imply lack of moral courage or staying silent in the face of another's wrongdoing. Staying on the straight and narrow is a good thing for everyone.

A Chance Meeting

m. and I had a chance meeting last night at the place where I take American Tribal Style bellydance.  I did so well in class; my teacher said I was really mastering the moves.  It had been a mystical night in all ways; I saw a silver fox crossing the road as I drove towards class, a brief flash of amethyst light out of nowhere, and a pale, silent owl, perhaps a barn owl, flying across the road as the rain began to fall.  It pounded down during class; we could hear it drumming on the roof and the drumming matched the movements of our hips.

I left class happy, and as I was walking out, the place nearly deserted, I suddenly saw m. in my mind's eye, like an apparition, a perfect image.  As I walked down the sidewalk, m. himself emerged, quite literally, almost as if he materialized out of the gray mist, the way the silver fox had done a couple of hours before on the dark road. His eyes, truly the most clear and beautiful ones I have ever seen, looked enormous, owl eyes, their blue nearly visible in the half-light.  The brief greetings we passed to each other were cordial and not angry.  I had been afraid of him for nearly an entire griefstricken year.  Last night I realized my fear was my own, stupid and baseless, the phantom of my imaginings, the way most fears seem to be.  I told him I was doing great but hope he didn't think I was doing great without him:  I walked forward this year with a sword of loss stuck in my heart.  I am alive and my mind is restored, and my granddaughter is safe in my life: that is the "great."  But there is always the loss of my dearest friend, something that never leaves, though I have found a way to carry it gracefully, as best I can.

When I die, I have asked Spirit for a particular heaven: to give me the life I wanted with him: I want my afterlife to be this above all else: a life where we meet as young people, marry, bear children, and grow old together, that this heaven will include the freedom from every sad thing that ever happened to us.  I am sure his particular heaven will be something quite different from mine, but I do think Spirit gives us scenarios and such in the afterlife that are made from our consciousness and our deepest wishes.

I never want to express another angry thought or word towards this man for the rest of my life.  He is, at heart, the most tender, gentle, kind soul I have ever met, who has suffered in ways I could never imagine in a thousand lifetimes.  That I added to this suffering is something I will regret and feel pain for, for the rest of my life.  I will not allow this pain to rule my life, but I wear it always, the way people tattoo a branch of blossoms over an indelible scar.

Why must we sometimes hurt the people we love the very most, without meaning to?  And how is it that, again and again, the same people, more often than not, come to forgive one another? How is it that acting with kindness instead of hatred is such a small step, after all? I think it is because people have infinite capacities for good, for being larger than the sum of their mistakes and smallnesses, that all it sometimes takes is the tiniest measure of resolve to make an ocean of kindness appear.

 This, I think, is one of many things that makes life miraculous.

Friday, November 21, 2014

First Solo Bellydance: Taxeem to Malio Sadio

I am happy and a tad nervous to announce that I am performing my very first solo belly dance tomorrow at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz!  It is a big step for me. I am dancing the slow moves called taxeem, to Habib Koite's Mali Sadio.

Another wonderful thing is that I am going to a song circle I have too long strayed from, at the same place as I sing with the Voice Weavers, the Center for Healing in Felton.  I hope to see many old friends there.

Here is a recording of Mali Sadio:

I need a breather of music and dance as I work on this book, and then will dive back into the shadows and light again.


I am again going through files at the criminal division of the Santa Cruz County courthouse, this time for the killer's DUI and his rape trial.  The rape trial evidence saddened me beyond belief. There were several women who reported that this man harrassed or outright assaulted them.  It reminds me of the evidence mounting against Bill Cosby.

One thing that boggles my mind: why was McClish, so clearly dangerous, so predatory to women at his workplace, allowed to remain at the market?  Giving him zero consequences only boosted his sense that he could just act with impunity....of this I am absolutely sure.  Many people in town kept talking about "little Mike, so cute when he was growing up"...with absolute blinders on their eyes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Article


Here is another article on intimate partner violence/domestic violence.

I would encourage anyone going through this to talk to a mental health professional, doctor, social worker, etc.  No one deserves to be hurt.

Very Sad Fact

Some of this posting deals with domestic violence, up to murder, of pregnant women.  Please do not read further if such things bother you--this is part of my research and process of writing this book.

I searched online today for statistics of homicide of pregnant women when the husband or boyfriend does not pay child support.  The search returned a mind-boggling amount of stories, of all these men--sorry to say, it's all men--who annihilate women carrying their child (or, in Asha's case, the child they think MIGHT be theirs) in extremely prolonged ways, amounting to torture.  Men also kill children already born so as to keep "the almighty dollar" in their pockets.  Do these people not think ahead to what awaits them when they are caught and sent to prison for life, or in Scott Peterson's case, await execution?  Some of the men boasted that they had committed a "perfect crime."  In all of the news stories I read, not one man had a shred of remorse, even in prison.

One reason I never told the father of Angel Devi Rose, the baby I miscarried in December 2009, is not because I feared physical violence--I have never been afraid of that from him--but I did fear emotional turmoil. In retrospect, the first time I had a pregnancy scare, it was emotional struggle, but there was a great deal of support and responsibility taken as well.  I just had a fear the second time, when the pregnancy was definitely not a scare.  Whether it was merely a feae and not based in reality, at least I knew enough to protect myself and the baby.  I don't know would have happened if the pregnancy had "taken"--but I know I would have taken care of the baby, even if I had to do it myself.

Here is an article from Wikipedia concerning the prevalance of murder when  a woman is pregnant.  Note that it states how women are more likely to be murdered when they are pregnant.  This is a shameful statement on our violent society, and particularly towards women.  Women who are pregnant deserved to be cared for and cherished, not harmed in any way.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sorry to be away...

The festivities surrounding Thistle's adoption have kept me away for a few days.  It has been a lot of work and I felt the need to rest a little. It does feel different, now that she is adopted...more secure, in some way.

In the midst of this, a very sad anniversary is coming up. I am surprised to feel nearly as sad as when it all first happened. His house was one of the few places on earth where I always  felt safe and happy.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I adopted Thistle today on National Adoption Day! We had a lavish ceremony and reception (there were 12 families today, each with their own ceremony). This has been our thousand-mile journey. She is safe and happy, and my heart overflows with boundless gratitude.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Friday, Forever Family

CG and I adopt Thistle on Friday, sealing us as "forever family."  I am deeply grateful for his unselfishness in doing this for her. It has been a long journey here.

Nothing spoke deeper to me today about being a mom again than getting ready for bed and then realizing I was out of fresh fruit and sandwich stuff for Thistle's lunch....so, out to Safeway.  I try to keep the mornings smooth.  We are usually five minutes early every day for school, an astounding feat as I am still very disabled and generally run late in the best of circumstances!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I am doing some deep research tonight on McClish's wife and found some recent photos.  No wonder the Press-Banner editor was enthralled with her and gave her so much "air time"--never once writing about Asha or her life, which seems now quite fascinating even for such a young person.  Nope--we got McClish's wife in designer heels, stating that "all in all, this has been a good thing"--meaning her husband being locked up in the pokey for rape and murder.   I don't look forward to cranking through acres of microfiche back issues of the Press-Banner; I seriously think it likely exists in this form, and will know tomorrow when I contact the library.  The website used to have everything, but many of the back issues are gone now.

I am beginning to wonder if Asha was neglected in the local paper (aside from the fact that the market where she worked was the paper's biggest advertiser, as has been pointed out) because she was an immigrant.  We were getting into a lot of immigration issues in Santa Cruz at the time (not like they have left).  I've been reading a lot of cruel, untrue statements on the old topix and message boards about her "marriage for a green card" when nothing seems further from the truth.  I can tell just reading about her and hearing from other people that she genuinely loved her husband.  I would have liked to have seen the press do a piece on Asha that talked about her music, her education, all the things she was beyond the job she held.   I find myself wondering what her singing voice sounded like, or if she composed music. It is sad that I have come to know her through the court documents.  I hope I find out more about her music.

Tomorrow I am ordering the McClish rape trial documents, which I am not looking forward to reading. Really, why was this guy allowed to continue his shenanigans at the market for so long?  Reading accounts of his behavior, I wonder how he got his regular work done.

Anyways, I am getting up these days at 6:30 am, so I must away to bed.


I made a certain type of sugar cookie today for the first time in nearly a year; the last person I made them for was M.  Most of the recipes I made for M. I have avoided--cooking for him was something I truly loved to do.  In the last six months or so, I got very ill and was not able to cook as much.  On the very last day I saw him, I decided to bake a batch of sugar cookies.  The last cookies I had made, with juice from lemons off his mother's tree (the very last of them, as the family had sold the house) were  not very good, so I wanted to make these perfect.  They baked to a very nice brown and I took them over on my favorite serving plate, a cream-colored one with pink morning glory vines painted around the rim.  I had no idea that I would never get that plate back, nor my flowered dishes I had bought (for which I have matching cups, but no plates--I use white ones from Cost Plus) nor my antique French tablecloth, or anything else.  I realize I said I didn't want them, but I really did. There was so much I said in anger that I wish I had not.  Sometimes people look back on these times and wish they could erase everything they said. I was traumatized and ill, and felt like the one constant, the one person whose hand I could metaphorically hold dropped mine...but the truth is, I let go also, when I should have waited.  Losing such a deep friendship is sad beyond measure.

Today Thistle and I made the cookie recipe again.  She is growing up. On Friday, I will adopt her.  I think you be proud of how well I have done this year, M.  I am well now, though I will never go back to my job again.  You would, I know, be proud of the book I am writing, even though I know you'd have given me a concerned warning about delving into the most shadowed material I have ever worked with.  That I can write this story and not have it derail the healing I have done emotionally, seems a testimony to how far I have come in a year.

One day, when you are not angry at me, whenever that is, however long that takes, I hope perhaps to tell you all these things.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Fallen Queen

First off, Michael McClish seems to have been denied an appeal of his murder conviction, or something of that nature; the following was apparently filed 10/30/2014.

NOTE:  If you are a family member or friend of Asha Veil, or someone upset by reading about her death, please proceed with caution into this document.  It has descriptions of her after she was found (not graphic, but enough), and could be very upsetting.

Also, there is a brief part in this document where Asha is reported to have been drinking and flirting a little with McClish and others, etc,. long before the encounter in the Felton Cemetery.  I firmly believe McClish took advantage of Asha in the Felton Cemetery that night and the encounter was NOT consensual.  That she might have flirted with him, hung out, drank with him occasionally (usually with others from work present) beforehand does NOT mean that she was not raped that night.  It only means that she knew her rapist and socialized with him (and others from the market), a very common scenario in sexual assault.

Here is the text of what I found tonight; it is a .pdf:


Reading this redoubles my effort to make my writing for this book as excellent as I can make it.  I wish with all my heart that I could go back and protect Asha from that evil man, who now and always has the temerity to think he can be acquitted.

Richard, her husband, has a beautiful quote about Asha that I want to use as the title for the section of the book that will describe the trial: "May all armies unite around the fallen queen."  I feel I am, in some way, part of that army as I work on this book and pray McClish never again enters a court of law to appeal this crime or any other.

I wish there were a way I could follow the course of his appeal processes, but seem to be limited to what pops up on the Internet.  I feel vastly ignorant about these things, but suppose I shall get an education about this as I continue to work and write.

It seems feathers are a sign from Asha--at least my heart so wishes to believe it.  Every time I have a difficult day, thinking I am not up to this task, disheartened, feel that the book, even done, won't ever see the light of day, etc, it is becoming invariable that a feather comes into my path, usually immediately (I tend to walk a lot outside when I am feeling insecure like this and, sure, I live in a rural area, but I almost never see feathers around).  One night it happened at my Haitian dance class, where nobody was wearing feathers--it was actually a mourning dove feather, right on the dance floor where it had not been just a few minutes before (I had been stretching near that spot.  I have found four feathers so far, from those moments of doubt and sadness, and have them on my altar along with all my raven feathers (I have a resident raven clan who gifts me with these from time to time).

I don't know if these are touches from the other side, a gentle push to keep going, that she wants me to tell her story, but I believe in these things enough to receive them in gratefulness as a treasure and a blessing.

Yellow Lego House, Complete

Spent Thistle's day off making the Yellow Lego House.  We had great fun.  Here are pictures (yes, I know one piece is missing out of the house frame...it dropped off when I was taking the photographs.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Yellow Lego House

Thistle and I are making this tomorrow, as she has a day off.  It is the only Lego set I have around here.  I am ordering a more simple Lego set for her, but she has already done some of the floor plan.  Someone around here got this used.  Note the YouTube video preceding this, which shows what we are up against tomorrow.  Thistle has done about fifty percent of the floor plan.

I wanted to say that National Novel Writing Month is going well for me, though I have not yet gone to a write in.  I will probably advertise an informal one at the White Raven in a week or two.  Everyone seems pleasant, no one is being inappropriate, people are kind and respectful, as far as I can tell, and the pace does not seem as frentic or fraught as last year.  I am well, have both bipolar and lupus in good control, am relatively happy though I miss M. as much as I did a year ago...and I have 25 pages of my Asha book.

One thing that is very strange: the day before Asha died, another domestic violence killing happened in the Bay area (the Nina Reiser case: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3807336), and M's mother died on the very same day as Asha (though his mom was in her seventies and had lived a very fruitful life)--the very same day or nearly so for all these people.  One has to wonder if there was some dreadful negative energy in the Bay area at the time--it can certainly seem that way.

Thistle is calling for me--Grandma-Mommy has to go.