Just Write – The Room I Need / El Espacio que Necesito

Thanks to Heather Webster King, author of Extraordinary-Ordinary, for the opportunity to link to Just Write – Tuesdays, an exercise on freewritiing. I am fortunate to be able to share my writing with you today.

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I hear Saul playing the French horn in his room. He is probably sitting at the edge of his bed, tapping softly with his right foot, keeping tempo. I am sitting in my studio, in front of a painting by Francisco Itriago, a Venezuelan artist. It is a garden in tropical colors, strong powerful strokes, and the illusion that through that painting I can visit my country of birth and its landscape. But I am not going there today. I’m here in my present life, grounded by the tangy flavor of candied ginger I used as a snack after gym today.

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Mental Illness and Starting New

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The city enchants us with its never ending offer of good shows and open festivals, baseball games, movies, and beaches. It feels like a constant vacation, minus the fact that I am looking for a job. Frustration and disorientation set in. So I start another cycle of not knowing my direction, unable to focus the search, because I am not really sure of what I am looking for.

It feels lonely at times. I am trying to meet people while hiking trails and or shopping in supermarkets. “These strawberries are a bargain, and so sweet, don’t you think so?” It will take a while, as it always does, some three years to start making friends. Will we ever stop? An average of six years is the norm for these relos that have left me drained of long-term friends.

I am writing as if my life depends on it. My blog could benefit from more visitors, so if you feel like sharing it with people, please do so. I appreciate that. I don’t have links, and don’t speak eloquently about mental illness, because I didn’t learn this thing in a book. I live through it; I own it, this emptiness, my lost sense of Self. Instead, I use the words that I feel in my chest: hollow, disoriented, detached, broken, not the ones I have learned at the doctor’s office, so many years sitting on that chair now: depressed, delusional, manic.

I am also currently writing my book on mental illness and female friendship. This is where I write about my friend Zoe and how she guided me from a distance. I honor my friend in that book, my friend, departed, five long years gone now.

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At the beach, I sit on the sand and let the waves break on my feet. The breeze cuts through my center and sings its sad tune. “What do I do next?” I ask the sea. The cold water of the Pacific brings me back to the beauty around me. After what seems a long time, I stand up and dust the sand from my back. I wade through the warm sand on my way back to the promenade. On the concrete ground, I stamp my feet and continue with a firm stride. It’s a new beginning. I should give it time.

English version follows

Spanish version follows

La ciudad nos enamora con su oferta sin fin de buenos shows, festivales abiertos, juegos de beisbol, cines, y playas. Se siente como unas vacaciones constantes, excepto por el hecho que estoy buscando trabajo. La frustración y la desorientación se hacen presentes. Así empiezo otro ciclo de no conocer mi dirección, incapaz de enfocar la búsqueda, porque no estoy muy segura de lo que busco.

Me siento sola a veces. Trato de conocer gente cuando voy a dar un paseo en las colinas o cuando estoy de compras en el supermercado. “¿Estas fresas están baratas, y son dulcitas, no cree?” Llevará tiempo, como siempre sucede, unos tres años en comenzar a entablar amistades. Pararemos algún día. Un promedio de seis años es la norma para estas trasferencias que me han drenado de mis viejas amistades.

Escribo como si me estuviera jugando la vida. A mi blog le hacen falta más visitantes, así que si te gustaría compartirlo con otras personas, por favor hazlo. Lo apreciaría. No tengo enlaces, y no hablo elocuentemente sobre enfermedades mentales, porque yo no aprendí sobre esto en un libro. Lo vivo; me pertenece, este vacío, mi pérdida del sentido del YO. En cambio, uso las palabras que siento en mi pecho: vacía, desorientada, desconectada, rota, no las palabras que he aprendido en la consulta del médico, tantos años sentada en esa silla: deprimida, delirante, maniática.

Actualmente estoy escribiendo mi libro sobre cómo es vivir con una enfermedad mental y sobre la amistad entre mujeres. Allí es donde escribo sobre mi amiga Zoë y cómo ella me guió en la distancia. Honro a mi amiga en este libro, mi amiga, la que se fue hace ya cinco largos años.

En la playa y me siento en la arena y dejo que las olas rompan en mis pies. La brisa corta a través de mi centro y canta su canción triste. “¿Qué hago ahora?” le pregunto al mar. El agua fría del Pacífico me trae de vuelta a la belleza a mi alrededor. Después de lo que parece un largo rato, me levanto y me sacudo la arena de la espalda. Camino con dificultad en la arena tibia de vuelta a la paseo. Ya en la acera de concreto, sacudo mis pies y continuo con paso firme. Es un nuevo comienzo. Debo darle tiempo.

Rules of the Game / Reglas del Juego

Across the wrap of the brand new day of the second part of my life, I write the new of Rules of the Game.
1. Handle with Care.
2. Mistreatment of any kind may result in your taking a hike permanently.

I begin my new life in the West Coast celebrating my fiftieth birthday and snapping pictures of sunsets to send back to the places I’ve called home: Venezuela, Canada, and Oklahoma, all the places where I have planted trees during this seventeen-year journey since we started this series of relocations.

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Surveillance and the World Cup / Vigilancia y el Mundial de Fútbol

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My baby son toddled around moving boxes, picked small objects and ran to flash them down the toilet. He thought I was playing with him, whenever I tried to stop him. My older son rode around in his bicycle and chatted with other future 8th graders in the neighborhood. It was a new beginning, but instead of unpacking at leisure and enjoying the brief Canadian summer around the pool or in the neighborhood park, I frantically opened boxes trying to organize our chaotic life. I forgot my birthday.

In my mind, TV cameras hidden in the fireplace and the kitchen captured the images of the chaos in my small ground-floor apartment and projected them to millions of spectators in the giant screens in the European stadiums where teams from around the world competed for the 1998 World Cup.

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The Tree of Gratitude / El Árbol de Gratitud

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Although talking to a psychiatrist feels like sharing with an intimate friend, I hardly know anything about the doctor on the other side of the desk. He knows all my fears, passions, triggers, doubts, secrets, intimate details of my life, and yet, I don’t know his birthday, the name of his children, what he does when he is not in the office, what scares him or what moves him. Now that I am moving across the country, I would like to give him a token of appreciation. What to give this man to express my gratitude? How do I say goodbye to my psychiatrist? Continue reading

Commencement / Ceremonia de Graduación

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The 650 students marched the processional with their burgundy gowns and their geometrical caps before the school authorities took turns in congratulating the graduates and wishing them a successful life. As we sat there waiting for our son’s turn to get his high school diploma, we held hands and looked into each other’s tearful eyes feeling proud and relieved. Our youngest son just finished high school. With that, a stage of my lives ends and the future opens up as an adventure. Continue reading

Cut the Drama / Deja el Drama

I have a short announcement. My short essay “Cut the Drama” was published today in the NAMI Oklahoma Newsletter in the section Consumer Corner. Click here to read the article.

Thanks for your support.

English version follows

Spanish version follows

Tengo un pequeño anuncio. Mi ensayo corto “Deja el Drama” fue publicado hoy en la revista NAMI Oklahoma en la sección “Consumer Corner.” Este es el enlace para leer el artículo.

Gracias por su apoyo.