Inside Looking Out

Ever since I was a wee lad, I have felt out of place. I never had more than a handful of friends and still don’t. And I’ve come to terms with not fitting in. I know that I’m weird. I say awkward things and trip over my tongue. I embarrass myself and anyone I’m with. My voice is funny. I have nervous tics. I understand why people don’t want to be around me.

But I feel like I’m staring out the window, watching the world and wanting to be a part of it. There’s so much going on, but always out of my reach. My face is pressed up against that window, watching the other kids play. What was once literal is now a metaphor.

There’s a great big world out there. If only I could get out the door.

doge in space card redux

My Gramma

Today my gramma turns 100. While that’s amazing and rightful deserves a party, my gramma isn’t the woman that I remember. Ever since my mother died a few years ago, she’s gone downhill, like she lost the will to live. And yet her body refuses to let her. She has been in constant pain for years from diabetic neuropathy. Over the last year, a series of blood infections have done a serious number on her brain. My gramma was also a kind person, very involved in local charities and organizations. Now she does none. And she’s no longer kind. My aunt gives her nurses weekly tips because she is such a handful.

We’re having a party, and I am very worried about this. My gramma lives in a Bronx apartment. Small and awkward. And the entire family is coming in. I expect about 30 people and decades of family feuds.

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Man or Turtleman?

If you follow my blog, you already know that I have a deep affection for turtles. My pet turtle, Shelvin, just turned 34 last month, and he’s still going strong. Yes, he has scars from a bad case of shell rot (He stayed at my brother’s place while I was homeless, and he didn’t know that you’re not supposed to keep a turtle in an area without light).

Turtles might not develop as unique and complex a personality as cats or dogs, but they still show individuality. Shelvin is different from other pet turtles. He has charisma. He watches me all the time and gets so excited when I walk by his tank that he pecks the tank to get my attention. She stares at my giant Godzilla toy. He doesn’t like to be touched or picked up by anyone but me. And he’s sneaky, trying to take advantage of my bad memory by begging for food.

Shelvin rainbow

(Shelvin with light from a prism shining on him)

What can I say? I like turtles.

But there’s more to it. I think that I like turtles because I secretly wish that I was one. A turtle can hide in his shell, and no one questions that. A turtle doesn’t need to deal with bullshit. A turtle is protected by armor, and even when vulnerable, he still has that shell to save him. A turtle doesn’t give a damn about your opinion.

I wish that I had that. I wish that I didn’t bounce between depression, anxiety, and mania. I wish I had a shell to hide in. I wish I had a tank to keep my suffering to myself.

All I want is to go through life without hurting anyone. A shell around me would do that.

Now if only it came with a mind eraser to forget all of my regrets. And there are many.

doge in space card redux

Speaking for the Silent

I am a lucky person.

I have bipolar syndrome, and while it impairs my ability to hold a steady job (it’s why I freelance) I am still able to be a productive member of society. I’m proud of this. There are so many of us with disabilities that can’t, and part of that is because they can’t get treatment.

I consider myself an advocate for them…for us. There’s such a stigma around mental illness, and there shouldn’t be. It keeps people from getting the help that they need, and they suffer in silence. No one should have to suffer when there is treatment, and not because they’re afraid of what the world will think of them.

How many people suffer from PTSD and don’t get help? How about Depression? Anxiety? Drug and Alcohol Addiction? Borderline Personality Disorder? Rage Tendencies? We can help them if we allow them to speak up.

I was once homeless, sleeping in my car and on friends’ couches, staying up at night writing at diners. If it wasn’t for the Mental Health Association of Rockland County, I don’t know where i’d be. Thankfully they exist. I was lucky, but there isn’t enough help out there for everyone that needs it.

We need help. From you. From the government. From somebody! Think about how society would change if we treated all the mentally ill. Less homelessness, less addiction, more productive members of society. A better society.

More happiness.

That’s all anyone wants. Happiness. It’s elusive, slippery, but for some, completely unattainable. We can change that.

Speak up. Be heard. Don’t let the stigma keep you from getting treatment. And if you are perpetuating the stigma, realize that you are hurting–potentially killing–others, maybe even people you know.

If you need help:

Mental Health America

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHA)

MHA of Rockland

guinea pig card

Book Signing Anxiety

I’m doing my first book signing a week from today, and I’m starting to get really anxious about it. Getting really anxious is pretty much part of my MO, so it’s not a surprise. It’s still a pain in the ass.

The Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble has a Local Authors Day twice a year, and this time I was lucky enough to get in. That’s great, wonderful, but I have no idea what to do. How long should my reading be? Do I make a poster with book pricing? I have extra copies of one of the anthologies I’m in. Do I give those away with a sale? Do I bring candy?

As far as pricing goes, I’m thinking 15$ for Song of Simon, 10$ for The Collected Works of Valerie Z. Lewis. Selling Val’s book is more important than selling mine, in my opinion.

So I’m going to brave ahead, and hope that I don’t fall on my face. If I do…there’s an IHOP nearby. I can drown my sorrows in maple syrup.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, 2014, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

“Watchmage” Novel Update

I was planning for a May release of the novelized version of The Watchmage of Old New York. That isn’t going to happen. My editor is working very diligently on it, as is my cover artist. Neither will be ready for a while.

I’m ok with that. I’d rather put out something late, but of higher quality, than something rushed and faulty.

In the mean time, I’m working on the sequels, and some short stories for an anthology.

The short stories are affecting me. I have professional level stories going back fifteen years, and many have been published in magazines or journals. That’s great, but to me they are examples of how far I’ve come since those first trembling words. They take me back to a place I once was, but will never be again. Once I was full of hope. I thought that by now I’d have a major publishing deal and would be a true success. Instead, I let my madness overwhelm me. Writing has become less a dream and more a necessity. Writing keeps me alive, and it’s the closest I get to “happy.”

I am miserable by nature, and that is not going to change. I’ve found that I can’t even talk about my past anymore without triggering depression and/or anxiety. My anxiety is getting worse. I’m not a success. I’m a writer trying not to die.

Yeah, I know that I’m bitching and moaning. I also know that if you don’t have bipolar syndrome, any comment you make about “sucking it up” is ignorant and presumptuous. Live in these shoes. See how they fit. Take my meds and suffer the side effects. Suffer the twitches and ticks. Suffer the failing endocrine system. Enjoy living on a disability check, not because you don’t work, but because without Medicare, you are dead. I dare you.

Yet I still manage to work part-time. I still manage to scape out a living. People say that if you’re on disability, you’re lazy and sponge off the government and honest tax payers. Be thankful that you don’t have to.

By the way, I receive 800 dollars a month from disability, and 150 dollars from food stamps. Can you live on 950 a month? In one of the richest counties in the world (my rent for a studio apt is 1150? And be trapped here because you are so entrenched in the system? Try it. I dare you.

Or shut up. They both work.

This post took an ugly turn. Here’s a meme to make you happy.

cosmic-cat tripping balls postcard

Turning Over an Old Leaf

First, a reminder: I’m having a Goodreads Giveaway for 2 signed copies of Song of Simon. You can enter here

Now then…
For the past month, my productivity has been way down. What happened is that I finished the first draft of the second Watchmage novel, and I’m in revision mode. That means that I’m not writing, and when I don’t write, I start to come apart. I’ve been watching too much Netflix and playing too many video games. Worse, my anxiety has been through the roof, which I attribute to the lack of writing.

ba8b3-dog-meme-no-idea

I started writing a short story the other day, and I suddenly suck. This is what happens when you don’t write on a schedule. It’s also what happens when you play video games and watch tv (even good tv) instead of read.

I’m trying to develop better coping methods for anxiety, and I think I need to read more. Getting lost in a book is the second best way for me to forget my troubles (writing is the best). Also, if I want to write better, I have to read more. If I fill my head with garbage, garbage comes out. Fill it with literary fruits and vegetables, and I produce something better, like a parfait or Edible Arrangement.

So I’m going to get back to my old school self and dive into books. It saved my sanity as a teen, maybe it’ll save it again.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February 2014, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!