Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Scary shrinks from the bowels of hell!!!

Originally uploaded by Elvira Black.
This is "Psychiatrist," a painting by BG that represents the archetypal all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful shrink.

Some shrinks are great. Some are so bad that I would venture to call them not only incompetent and uncaring, but downright evil. BG has a great one now--so do I--but he, in particular, has had his share of those super-scary, even dangerous ones.

I'm in the middle of finishing off another War-and-Peace length "epic," so I just put this up for a little immediate gratification in the meantime.

Anyone care to share their experiences with shrinks--or, for that matter, therapists, groups, meds, breakdowns, hospitalizations, and other lurid tales of madness and despair? Post your comments--they can be as long or short as you wish. If no one takes the bait, I'll just come back here at a later point and post a real entry.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ezra Pound, psychotic genius poster boy

Old Ezra
Originally uploaded by Elvira Black.
Here is BG's portrait of the old Ezra Pound (1885-1972), "grandfather of modern poetry" and certified nut case. BG did another painting of the young Ezra, which will soon be added here.

Ezra was a true poster boy for raving lunacy and the absolute epitome of the classic "mad genius." As an American expatriate in Italy, he adored Mussolini and other assorted fascist phenom. He wound up being tried for treason in the US, found insane, and sentenced to an asylum for ca. 12 years, where he continued to produce his brilliant verse. He also had a menage a trois going for many years between his wife and some other artsy babe. He was pals with, and influenced, countless fellow writers and artists. In short, he wasn't very p.c., but he was one heck of an uber-demento guy.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Schizophrenic's illustrations coming soon!

Originally uploaded by Elvira Black.
My psychotic boyfriend Bowleg Guy, aka BG, will soon be adding his demented illustrations to this site. Although he is quite publicity shy, thanks in part to his latest exhibition experience chronicled here under "Alternative" Gallery Hell, I have also almost convinced him to start his own blog, featuring his Expressionist portraits in acrylic and oil. Here's his latest one. Expressionist means, in this case, that all of his portraits feature people--both famous and obscure--who look pissed off, deeply depressed, or psychotic--or sometimes all of the above.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cheap thrills

Ok, Henry, this one's for you. You may be one of the only bipolars in existence who does not go on wild spending sprees while in a manic/hypommanic state of mind, due to your inborn, hard-wired frugality...

Today is Friday; by far the very best day of the week. Why, you ask? Is it because the weekend is here? Well, no, not exactly. My boyfriend BG and I have an entirely different reason to say TGIF.

You see, Friday is when the new sales flyers come out at BG's local Associated/Morton Williams supermarket. As we enter the automatic doors of the store, our hearts flutter in anticipation. Our breathing is rapid and shallow. Silently, as I fetch a cart, BG solemnly removes two new flyers from the pile above the ATM machine. I take a long, deep breath, trying to maintain my composure for a moment. But the two of us are instantly transported by the thrilling novelty of it all, maniacally scanning the hot-off-the-presses flyer for sales, sales, sales! while careening crazily down each aisle with our cart.

Generic instant coffee, 8 ounce jar, $1.99--normally 5.99! OK, grab about 10 of those babies. If anyone comes near you when you're plundering the aisle, just shove them out of the way.

Name brand toilet paper, normally 69 cents a roll, now five for 2 dollars--or 40 cents each! Yes, we're on a roll now, too, baby...

Brand name ice cream of the week, typically 6 bucks regular price, now 2.99 a half gallon. Tuna fish--generic for the cat, two for a dollar. Name brand for us: 99 cents each. Stock up, boys...

Let's see, we need some soda or something. How about the 2-liter Pepsi, on sale this week for 99 cents? (Coke and Pepsi usually take turns each week being the sale item). Nah, f#uck that noise--look here! This brand-name canister of ice tea mix makes 28 quarts and is on sale for four dollars off the regular price! That's gotta be the coup of the week!

Exhausted and sated, we shlep our treasures home. But we are still hungry for more bargains; fresh, undiscovered sales. So for another hit of immediate bargain-hunting gratification, the next day it's off to the local 99 cent store.

The Bronx has more 99 cent stores and cell-phone storefronts than probably anywhere else in the known universe. Problem is, some of those 99 cent stores are deceptive--they're 99 cents AND UP. At our fave, though, almost everything is 99 cents or less--excluding milk and frozen goods, which are usually $1.19. And the selection! For a mere twenty bucks, we can come out of there with enough food and provisions to amply prepare ourselves for nuclear Armageddon.

At this wondrous store, you can find everyday items for 99 cents that you would pay way more for on the "outside"--and some things you can't even find anywhere else. Every week or so, the stock guys are busily unloading floor to ceiling cartons of new goodies--and you're never sure what's going to be on the shelves next. Delicious pies, pound packages of bologia, Brie, cookies, bags of hard candy, beans in sauce, salsa, pickles, Dijon mustard. (No tofu or fresh veggies, but after all, this ain't no health food store). Plus for a dollar, you can get a perfectly wonderful birthday card, a can opener, a set of steak knives, paint rollers and brushes, food containers, night lights, brand name soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, and oh so much more.

Shortly after BG and I met, we went grocery shopping together for the first time. I noted how carefully he scanned the sale sheet and only bought sale items. Meanwhile I heedlessly went for the stuff I wanted, regardless of price. "Don't buy it just because it's on sale," I reprimanded him. Oh, what a naieve, untutored fool I was.

The Bronx definitely doesn't have the cachet of Manhattan, and does have its hazards (see, for example, "The Crackhead Next Door," ) but the cost of living is a heck of a lot lower. The stores don't have to pay those fancy-schmancy Manhattan rents, and they pass the savings on to you. Plus, the demographics of this working class 'hood don't lend themselves to Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles, Bloomies, or Piaget. There are, however, many many jewelry stores, cell phone distributors, cheap clothing outlets, dirt cheap fruit and vegetable stands, and weird appliance places. The closest thing to a department store is a place called El Mundo (The World) which has rock-bottom clothing, furniture, appliances, and home furnishings.

BG comes from a proud line of frugal folk. He grew up poor, and his parents made him get a paper route when he was about 7, to help with the bills. He worked as a bag boy or clerk in high school so he could buy his own clothes. The usual dinner fare was hot dogs or peanut butter sandwiches--even those cheapo TV dinners were only for "rich people." The favorite phrases in the BG household were "wasteful" and "perfectly good" (as in "two dollar sneakers in a day glo color? Perfectly good." ) At nineteen, he became the youngest manager of a fast food chicken chain ever. He always held down a job which involved hard work and modest pay. And though for many years, he didn't even have a bank account due in large part to his drug habit, he never considered stealing or borrowing large sums of money or anything else underhanded. He told one therapist who asked him how much he stole to support his heroin use, "Doc, let me put it to you this way. Some people work for nice clothes. Some work for a big house, or to send their kids to college, or for a big fancy car, or to join the local country club. I worked for drugs. When I ran out of money, I didn't do the drugs. End of story." The therapist looked at him as if he had two heads.

My spending habits, on the other hand, were more up and down. When my father died, his savings and life insurance policy left me with about 50 or sixty grand. When I graduated college, I had access to all that dough. When my ex-boyfriend and I moved in together to a modest one-bedroom walkup on the Upper East Side, we did the town right. Restaurants, clubs, cabs, coke (including freebase), clothing, a trip to London. After years of this, my savings were tapped out, and we moved on to credit cards to sustain us in the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed.

Before we knew it, we had run up about 60 grand of debt between us. We had multiple credit cards, including joint accounts. We had credit cards that included a checking account line where you could pay other bills. Before the end came, we were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul: sending a check from one credit card line to pay the minimum on another credit card. Finally, just before we could no longer sustain this juggling act, we came to our senses and went to a budget/credit counseling service.

For fifty bucks a month, the service did up a budget for us, and determined how much of our paychecks we would give to them each month to distribute to each of our creditors. They negotiated with them to eliminate or lower the crippling interest rates.

Once our monthly payment was made, we had the very bare minimum to live on. In order to survive, I cooked constantly--making us dinners and leftovers to bring in for lunch. Instead of soda, we bought packets of Kool Aid at 10 for a dollar and made up gallons of the stuff. No money for movies, clubs, or restaurants. It took us about 5 years to pay it all off, and unlike bankruptcy, our credit was not completely ruined for seven years.

Before we got into that mess, I also went through some hypomanic periods where I spent quite recklessly. I laid down a 3 grand deposit towards a lavish wedding reception in a fancy Union Square restaurant (the wedding was off as soon as I descended into a severe depression). I made my would-be bridesmaids buy hundred-buck gowns that they later couldn't get reimbursed for. More recently, I almost purchased a second coop I couldn't really afford.

After this last credit card fiasco, I learned my lesson. I had secretly come to enjoy the weekend schleps to several supermarkets, cooking a 99 cent bag of beans by soaking them overnight, sorting out the rocks, and making huge pots of red beans and rice which could last for days. I chopped fresh carrots and potatoes, and got the Purdue Oven Stuffers when they were on sale, or cheap chicken legs. For the first time in my life, I really got the inkling of what the value of a dollar was.

Not long after the debt was cancelled, I met BG. Thanks to his cheapster ways, my bank account and wallet soon plumped up quite nicely.

But my ex never learned his lesson, which is why as I write this he has blown a 30 grand inheritance from his parents he got a few years back, and has accrued an additional 30 grand in debt. He lost his job awhile back, his unemployment has expired,he has not found a new job yet, and is totally broke. The coop is piled floor to ceiling with DVD's which he compulsively orders from E-bay but never watches, in large part because trying to pull one of them out from the middle of the stack would set off an avalanche. He already injured an eye when a pile of DVD's "attacked" him one night. I am currently paying the entire coop maintenance each month, as well as giving him some money for food, his phone/cable/internet, and other "necessities."

When I met BG, I still loved going to different restaurants--Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, you name it, I ate it. But BG, who worked as a saute cook in restaruants for many years, refused to go to these places in part because his tastes were simple and also because he knew what went on behind the scenes in those kitchens. So the only acceptable places to "dine out" were the two of the uber-fast food emporiums--Mickey D's or Wendy's--and occasionally a diner, but only for special occasions. Considering the huge amount of money I've saved as a result of all this, I am grateful, although I sometimes still long, , as someone on Roseanne said, to be occasionally taken out to a restaurant that doesn't have napkin dispensers.

Now that I spend a lot of time in the Bronx, life is indeed more simple. Everyone dresses in the same two-dollar El Mundo's sweats and T-shirts. You probably couldn't find caviar, filet mignon, or even a no foam Vanilla double latte even if you wanted to.

One source of anxiety, however, is the dreaded overcharge. This is the kind of thing that makes BG wake from a sound sleep screaming from a horrible nightmare about being shortchanged at the store. Our ritual at Associated is as follows: he hands me the sales sheet and has me get in front of him while he unloads the cart, silently adding up the prices in his head. Although the electronic scanners are usually accurate, occasionally a sales item will ring up wrong, and trouble ensues. He also maniacally double checks the receipt after we leave the store, and frets if he can't figure out where that extra 30 cents went. I guess that's just the price you have to pay for nabbing the sales price.

Well, now it's time to put on my shopping shoes and see what's in store for us at the supermarket this week. Attention, Associated shoppers--clear a wide path for this insane pair of supermarket-sweep cheapos!

Invasion of the psychotics

Thanks to the brand new blogs created by my two fave fellow bipolars, we now have a wacky three-ring psycho circus of assorted nuts!

And heeere they are...

Henry, the wondrous techno-wiz who posts comments here early and often, and who has just made it (finally!!!) possible for me to hyperlink (you rule! you are a cyber-god!), has just started a little thing he likes to call Babblings. Henry is a native New Yorker, but moved to sunny California before it was too late. He's just been diagnosed with bipolar II--welcome to the club, Henry! Always room for one more. Only one major mental illness so far, but my man Henry really works it. What burns Henry's ass most? Brain-dead judges and Michael Moore.

Ice, my fellow sufferer in the hellacious BP support group for psychotic psychopaths (see Support Group? Feh!), whose wise words have also graced this site, not only has bipolar but also Borderline Personality Disorder and some sex 'n' gender issues. He sees himself more as a woman, is attracted to men, but has virtually no sex drive whatsoever! Do check him out...

As for yours truly, my doc has me down for a number of different wacko gigs. I'm such a changeling: when I "get those blues way deep down in my shoes," I just love to take those little rest cures, get my noggin zapped with a zillion volts, and fry those brain cells as crispy as well-done bacon. That's when I have major depression with psychotic features. Then there's times like these, when my fingers are a-flyin' and I can't unglue them from the keyboard. That's bipolar II coming at you. And finally, just to keep things interesting, there's a little obsessive compulsive disorder thrown into the mix. This means that I waste a lot of precious time before leaving the house in a vain and pointless search for nonexistent smouldering cigarette butts. I also like to check the stove a dozen times in case I have somehow inadvertently turned the burners back on in some sort of spastic fugue state. And then there's the sinks, the sinks....check 'em for drips, and check 'em good, because BG would be pretty darn pissed if he came home to see the apt. floating away, post-tsunami style . I'm also a New Yorker, which means I'm already pre-approved for insanity.

And just for an extra added attraction, we have a computer-phobic psycho by proxy: none other than my boyfriend BG. BG is many things to many shrinks.Thanks to his many, many hospitalizations, his diagnoses have ranged from simple schizophrenia to undifferentiated schizophrenia to paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and Ice's fave rave, borderline personality disorder. Though the lot of us are definitely not playing with a full deck, BG undoubtedly holds all the wild cards. Does a full house beat a straight flush?

We three newbie psycho-bloggers already have an incestuous, uber-pomo scene going on, and we're now insanely busy posting comments to each other's comments on previous comments.

So I invite one and all--crazies and "normies" alike--to check us all out before we get checked in.

Invasion of the psychotics: now playing at a blogspot near you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And remember: in cyberspace, no one can hear you scream...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Best of shithouse oldies (under construction)

Dysfunctional family reunion
Arsenic and old meatloaf

Here's looking at Jew, kid

Help! I'm turning into a pack of Marlboro Lights 100's!!!
AA: Threat or Menace?
My reefer madness
The day the bottle dropped
What's with the tattoos?!?

Pomo for Dummies (from a Psycho)

Scary shrinks from the bowels of hell!!!
Support Group? Feh!
"This Bipolar Life

Some things that really BURN MY ASS!!
These new army ads are BROILING my BUTT!
Let's talk about drugs

The Crackhead Next Door
The end of the world as we know it?

Scary shrinks from the bowels of hell!!!
Ezra Pound, psychotic genius poster boy
Young Ezra Pound, Shithouse rat mascot
Schizophrenic's illustrations coming soon!
AA saints Bob and Bill
AA anniversary party-o-rama
"AA: Threat or menace?" special anniversary edition
Publish or perish, part 2
Arsenic and old meatloaf
Sid out to lunch
The day the bottle dropped
Here's looking at Jew, kid
And now, a word about my (non) sponsor

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pomo for dummies (from a psycho)

What the devil is postmodernism (or pomo?)** And why should you care, anyway? Isn't it one of those pretentious terms, like existentialism, that people bandy about a lot but don't really understand? If someone put a gun to your head and said define pomo right now or you'll be shot in 10 seconds, wouldn't you be, like, dead?

You may not be able to define pomo, but it defines you. And me. And the rest of Western civ and culture (in my humble wacko opinion).

Examples? OK, here's a few.

You know when you see all these gorgeous girls who actually spend big bucks on those ugly fifties-style retro wing-tip glasses--the kind that were once considered so ugly people would rather walk into walls than wear them in public? Back then, that's the only style they had. Now, you can choose any style you like. Some choose the ugly retro look. That's pomo.

You know when you turn on Nick at Nite (aka TV Land) and they have reruns of all the shows you loved as a kid (or maybe ones from before you were born, even?) Wow, look at Father Knows Best. How corny can you get? And who knew then that Robert Young, the quintessential TV family man, was really a stone cold alkie? (OK, I think he was--if I'm wrong, let me know. I'm too lazy and impatient to check out a Robert Young website right now. It sure sounds good, though). That's pomo.

You know when a car commercial takes an old rock song that you thought was so groundbreaking and original when you were passing around the bong pipe back in the day, and manages in 30 seconds to morph a classic icon of boho rebellion into a feeding frenzy for capitalistic, bourgeois greed? That's pomo.

Remember Dylan's Mr. Tamborine Man? Very simple arrangements, humble, unadorned. Then the Byrds did their version of the same song, but it sounded totally different. All those cool harmonies, swirly, psychedelic guitar chords they made up, all the different beats and counterpoints. Wow! Totally derivative, but in a completely original way! And then for good measure, old William Shatner, Captian Kirk from Star Trek (and erstwhile whore, along with Spock/Leonard Nimoy), got a piece of the action when he came out with a version of T-Man where he just, like, recited the song in the same halting yet dramatically authoritative way he addressed the Klingons or seduced one of those hot extraterrestrial green chicks. That's pomo.

There is simply no such thing as modernism any more. Sure, you can say something's modern as in up to date, but I'm talking Western culture and civ here. Modernism was a big, mostly 20th century thing, when there was a lot of rad stuff out there being invented that no one had ever seen the likes of before. TV. Electricity. Movies. Women's right to vote. Civil rights. The A bomb. World War I (aka The War to End all Wars). Impressionism, cubism , abstract expressionism. The automobile. The airplane. Men on the moon. Little things like that--nothing special.

Sure, there were original inventions before this, like the wheel and figuring out how to start fires and declaring that the world was round on penalty of death and all that cool stuff. But in the 20th century, you were nobody unless you came up with the next big, totally new thing. You think Rembrandt is the bomb? Well here's impressionism for you. Take that, you philistines! Oh, how shocking! How ugly! How deviant! How...hey wait a minute, this stuff isn't so bad...

OK, enough of that impressionism nonsense. Here's surrealism and dada. Wowie zowie! How outrageous! Are you shocked yet? OK, That's old hat now? How about a little cubism? Hell, that doesn't look like anything real at all! What's the deal with that? Well, come to think of it, they could have something there. ...Then along comes Pollack, dripping his paints all over huge canvases like a kindergarten kid on speed. Hey, is that art? Looks like I could do that, and better too. Wait, I think I see what the old boy was getting at...

OK, Pollack getting too last-decade for you? How about a little thing called pop art? Oh, man...don't get me started, ok? Brillo boxes? Oh, come on now! Gee, how much talent does it take for Warhol to silkscreen the same huge image endlessly in different colors and then go off to Studio 54? But hey, it is kinda fun looking....

Alright, now Warhol is a household word. Here's another one for you... minimalism. Take that! Jesus, this painting is just a huge canvas done in one color! And this one over here--it's, like totally blank! But hey, wait a sec, that is kinda clever. Willing to accept that as art, now? Well, here's another good one...conceptual art! You don't even have to have an art object for that!

OK, so what does this all mean? It means that when the 20th century "originality fetish" hubbub wound down and the smoke finally cleared, we were left with nothing much new going on. Except, maybe, the personal computer and the internet--but Hey, no biggie there. (Not!)

In the old-guard modern art universe, you had to have the high priests of the critical world pronounce from on high in very pretentious rhetoric what was new and important. Now, no one listens to these guys. What the hell is new out there anyway? Derivative, derivative, derivative! Let';s do some head games on those Dead White Guys and have ourselves a little fun! What do you say? And screw the critics. You and I--the almighty Consumers--are the real critics now. Now we talk with our wallets and our websites, and the world--including big business--listens.

We pomo people are jaded and media saturated. There are a hundred cable stations out there. A zillion magazines. More books coming out daily than we could ever read in twelve lifetimes. The world is at our doorstep, and you can't fool us anymore. Cynicism and Irony drips from our every pore.

Now that we're online, all the information of the world is there at the click of a button. Those with the most toys, and the most info crammed into their brains and their hard drives, win. Info is the ultimate commodity of the pomo-world. And we can all open our big fat mouths and be part of the world wide dialogue.

Before e-mail, Letter writing had devolved into a quaint, dead art. So time consuming. But now, ah. No laborious writing in longhand, no waiting by the mailbox with bated breath for a reply. Can you spell instant gratification? We can instant message in real time to people halfway across the world we never even met and never will. We can log in and e-rant on websites to our heart's content.

You want to be an instant expert and tell all those old gurus to shove it? Just pick a topic and surf the web. A few years ago, my boyfriend BG was having medical issues. He has HIV, and His viral load was starting to rise a bit. His T-cells were high, and he was basically doing very well, but they just couldn't get his viral load undetectable. One day his doctor just decided he should start taking Sustiva. I'd read about it on the web, and knew that it could cause psychosis. Well, he already had plenty of that. I started researching the web in earnest --poring over all the major medical and research sites. By then, I knew the ins and outs of T-cells, viral loads, drug interactions and side effects, and the most up to date research breakthroughs without ever taking more than a high school bio course.

We set up a powow with his medical team--his doctor, the head of the clinic, his nurses, his pharmacologist. And I talked to them like I'd been born knowing all about this disease. By the end, we'd agreed not to put him on that nasty Sustiva, but change the way he took his current meds--this one without food, this one after meals, and so on. By the next visit, his T-cells were sky high. I'd one-e-upped the docs!

OK, OK, all very interesting (maybe). But tell me again, what in the world does this have to do with this pomo thing?

In the pomo world, nothing and noone is invulnerable. All the info we need is out there, and we know too much to be fooled any more by experts, or politicians, or anyone. There are no sacred cows anymore. We approach everything with a jaded eye and a knowing, cynical wink. Any Joe Schmo with a computer can start a website that decimates the powers that be--picking apart the media, the president, the medical industry, etc . And no one and nothing can stop him. The genie can't be put back in the bottle. There are no new, modern movements. There's just us folks picking apart old icons and authority figures and commenting and lambasting anything and everything from Bill Clinton to Michael Jackson to Tom Cruise (is he gay or not?And what's with the Scientology thing? ) And anything or anyone else you can think of. Name your poison and get after it.
Folks in the forties didn't know that FDR had polio and was in a wheelchair. The media always showed him from the waist up. They didn't know anything about the dalliannces of presidents (or sometimes their wives). But now we know all, thanks to the ever-vigilant media--both the offficial media and you and I. There is nothing new or sacred left--it's all info overload and cynical commentary.

We know things about modern inventions that the inventors of the time could never have imagined. For instance, In the fifties--before color TV, before cable, before cell phones, before personal computers--people had a choice of a handful of channels in black and white. Everyone loved to watch Leave it to Beaver or I Love Lucy, partly because there was nothing else on anyway. But watching the "Beav" or Lucy back then was a totally different experience than watching it now on TV Land/Nick at Night. Today, we watch these quaint shows through jaded, 21st century, postmodern eyes. We are no longer innocent--we know things now that the viewer of the 50s did not. They didn't know then that Desi Arnaz's marriage to that loveable wacky redhead Lucille Ball would disintegrate in 1960 due to his substance abuse and womanizing. They hadn't a clue when they saw Rock Hudson romancing Doris Day that he was gay (what's gay?) and would eventually succumb to a horrible disease that didn't yet exist. We think it's way retro-cute when Wally from "The Beav" meets up with a "fast" girl who tries to make him hang out at some juke joint, give her a dime to play some scary-ass jazz, smoke a cig, have a brewsky, and go make out in his car afterwards (he resists all temptation). Viewing this now, after the advent of crack, HIV, rampant teen pregnancy, Ecstasy rave parties and death/thrash metal, is beyond bizarre, not to mention loads of pomo fun.

Today, in pomo America, originality is very...unoriginal. Instead, we like to recycle old, but still cherished cultural detritus and put a new, ironic spin on it.

In the brave new pomo world, there's no turning back the clock. We just can't see Elvis movies or the Beatles at Shea Stadium on TV and ever recreate that transcendent, once in a lifetime, virgin experience people had back then. Some of us were not even born when it happened, but we now know more than those who were there. We know that Elvis died bloated and drug-addled. We know that the Beatles stopped touring and broke up and that John Lennon was assasinated and George Harrison died of cancer and Paul McCartney started that wimpy group Wings and then his wife Linda died and his new wife has an artificial leg and he's almost 64 and on and on....we have lost our innocence about the modern era and its shocking and once-thrilling innovations forever. That's pomo.

So blog on and e-mail on and become an expert on a zillion different topics. Explore the dirty little secrets of past presidents, religious icons, and uber-celebs. It's all out there-an endless smorgasbourd for our pomo consumption. Tuck in and enjoy.

Modernism is dead! Long live pomo!

**NOTE: The term "pomo" is not something I invented. I first saw it used in New York Press. I thought, at the time, that everyone in New York was hip to the term, so I submitted one of my music reviews describing someone's style as pomo. Unfortunately, the editors apparently hadn't run across this nickname, and printed the word as "porno," which totally ruined my analogy and made me look like a perv to boot. Drats!

Incidentally, check out New York Press's super-cool columnist Jim Knipfel, aka Slackjaw. One of my heroes!


Just one more brief note about my list 'n' link obsession:

I just figured out that the best way to view the older posts is to click on the last (bottom) "Previous Posts" link list on this page. This will open a new page with all the links to the older posts. Perfect it's not--but it's the Blogger's way and I have to respect its idiosyncrancies for the time being.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Anal retentive post du jour

As if I don't have enough maladies, I'm also obsessive compuslive.

Before I dare set foot out of the apartment, I:

a. Check the stove several times. (BG also checks the pilot light, to ensure there will be no gas explosions from his living room, killing five and injuring fifty, on that night's local news.)

b. Check under the couch, to make sure that I didn't accidentally kick a smouldering cigarette butt under there.

c. Check each sink a number of times, to make sure there are no leaks or drips, lest we come back to find the apartment under ten feet of water.

I also like lists.

I like lists, especially mine, to be complete.

So whether anyone cares or not, I feel compelled to repeat the following caveat I posted yesterday:

Only some of my posts are listed on the links to the right.

The first three posts I wrote can be found by pressing the April 2005 link.

But when you get there, the link column doesn't tell you about the three earlier posts; just about the ones you already saw on page one. Or maybe it does list the first three links now; I can't keep track; it just keeps changing.

So, for any frustrated artists contemplating sneaking your art into a major New York gallery and surreptiously hanging it there, as one wacky guy recently did, click on April 2005 to read "Alternative Gallery Hell."

For others who also like lists, or want to see what other ideas psychotic people obsess about, click on the link that might or might not be there, or else scroll down from the galleries piece til you reach "Sleazy 'n' Cheesy Topics."

And for AA's and non-AA's alike who have Issues, click or scroll down even further for "AA: Threat or Menace?"

And for anyone who knows about how to fix this little link problem, I first addressed this issue in "Attention, All you COOL and SEXY Techno-Geeks!. But that post has now disappeared into thin cyberspacee.

So Henry, do e-mail me asap. and you will immediately be my new best friend in the whole world.

That's assuming that Henry or anyone anyone else can access this site today--it's Friday the 13th, and loading up or updating this morning has been as slow as the dickens.

And as they say in the fellowship, if you find anything that interests you on this site--or even if you don't--just keep coming back.

I just realized that you can also enjoy or be revolted by all the posts here if you just click to the top archive link on the right when you're done with the last. It will take you through all the posts logically and anti-chronologically (i.e. latest to oldest).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My reefer madness

Hi. My name is Elvira and I am a craven pothead.(Hi, Elvira!)

No, I haven't toked in awhile--I've been weed free for about two months now. But that two-year-old brat that is my primitive brain still wants its THC-laden lollipop--NOW, if not sooner.

I hadn't smoked much 'til I entered college, though there was one memorable pot party I threw when I was about 16. I lived then with my aunt and uncle, and when they went on vacation, I (naturally enough) immediately invited all my pals over from my old Queens 'hood-- where I'd lived before my parents died--for a little party.

Once all had arrived, someone pulled out a joint. I'd copped a few fervent hits in the past, but this was the first time I really felt something, and I ran with it.

At that point, I was totally into the Moody Blues, especially their smash hit 'Knights in White Satin," from their "Days of Future Past" LP. For those not familiar with it, it's a very schmaltzy little number with a full orchestral accompaniment--quite a daring mixing of the genres back then. In essence, the singer spends a lot of time kvetching about how alone and alienated he feels. After an insipid pop pablum refrain ("And I love you/yes I love you/oh how I love you") he launches into a solemnly dramatic, melancholy intonation that I can still recall in part. Something along the lines of:

"Breathe deep the gathering gloom/watch lights fade from every room.....(blah de blah blah)....impassioned lovers wrestle as one/lonely man cries for love and has none/new mother picks up and suckles her son/senior citizens wish they were young/

"Cold-hearted orb that rules the night/Removes the colors from our sight/Red is grey and yellow white/But we decide which is right/and which IS an illusion"

Enter full swell of strings coming to a final crashing and unbelieveably dramatic orchestral crescendo.

Yuck! Yeah, ok, give me a break. As a shy, confused little 16 year old, this stuff really "spoke" to me. But it absolutely transported me to another solar system now that I was under the influence of the herb. My normally introverted demeanor was abandoned as I alternately harmonized and recited along, lying in my bedroom in a blissful haze while the rest of the gang partied in the living room. Though I didn't actually stand up on a podium and inflict a formal reading on my friends, the thought of my immodest behavior back then still make me cringe.

Not surprisingly, other major wildness was in the offing that night. Could it have been the evil ganga that led my best friend Alva to lose her virginity with my weird Lower East Side sometimes-makeout friend Chip--on my aunt Eppie and uncle Miltie's bed, no less? Believe me, they would have plotzed--especially since they were Orthodox Jews. Not the kind with the long beards and sidelocks and black coats and wigs (for the gals), but the kind with Yarlmukes who had timers to turn the lights on and off on the Sabbath because turning on electricity on the day of rest (along with pressing the elevator button and other sundry things) was considered labor (something to do with not igniting any flame or fire--Jewish law is very complex).

Ironically enough, I ran into Chip a few years later on Delancey Street, a few blocks from Eppie and Miltie's apartment. The former pillager of my best friend's innocence--the one whose favorite expression was "let's go down to Eldridge Street and get some good shit"-- was now sporting a long beard, sidelocks, and black coat. Oy vey!

I, however, went on to more secular pursuits in college. You would think that my first-semester encounter with black hash that brought on a full-blown panic attack, complete with the fear that I was having a stroke after briefly losing all sensation on my left side, might have deterred me. Instead, I fell hopelessly in love with the Big Pothead on Campus. He was a creep, but he always had excellent Thai stick.

Soon enough, I was smoking every day, and occasionally walking into walls in the large lecture hall where I (very occasionally) attended my Psych 101 class. But I did take my studies seriously--usually reading the entire Psych textbook the night before finals. And even today, I swell up with pride at the memory of how, unlike the slackers who lit up in my packed to the gills "Rock Music" class, I remained clean and sober, paid rapt attention to the prof's solemn commentary after playing a riff from "Kashmir" on the phonograph--and thus bagged an A.

By the time I left college, the classic druggie boomerang effect was setting in, and the side price of daily smoking was starting to bite me in the ass. I couldn't get nearly as high anymore when I smoked, and had sundry gnarly encounters with the paranoia that began to rear its ugly little head. So for a decade or two, I gave up the bong and got into the booze, intermittently but not too excessively.

Then, about 7 years ago, I was going through a rough patch. My 20-year-long relationship with my now-ex boyfriend was officially in its death throes, and I craved some action. I became a regular at a cool basement bar down the block from my office, where the young, sexy bartenders always knew to set me up with my usual before I even slung down my pocketbook: a pint of Bass and a Stoli on the rocks with a splash (no silly lime twist, no pussy-ass fruit juice, no cutesy umbrellas)--and keep them coming, boys. It was kind of a combo dive/college bar, and I met a lot of weird interesting people there. A few weeks before my current boyfriend BG wandered down the stairs one Halloween night and swept me off my feet, I'd asked my favorite bartender Jim if he knew where I could get a joint. He instantly reached into his pocket, pulled out a doobie, and adroitly inserted it into my pack of Marlboro lights.

I went home that night and eagerly lit up--and after a few tokes I felt something beyond deja vu. Not only was it so good that I felt like a pot virgin, but in the intervening years since I'd indulged in the typical stuff--now mostly domestic--it had become ten times stronger than before. In a haze of pure bliss, I marveled at the wondrous cross-breeding breakthroughs and horticultural technologies that had led to this supreme moment of unparalleled paradise. Darwin himself would have been pleased.

So when I met BG at the bar about a fortnight later, I had already reclaimed full-fledged membership status in the daily light-up league, with all the privileges and responsibilities thereof. One of the first things I asked him, after I found out he was an artistic Halloween Scorpio, was: "Do you smoke pot?"

"Sure," he replied. "I have a few joints on me...would you like one to take home with you?"

"No thanks, " I demurred. I've got some back at the apartment.."

BG later told me that this was one of the myriad reasons he instantly decided I was THE ONE--I didn't greedily glom his pot supply. I was an independent, self-reliant substance abuser who rolled her own.

For the next seven years, we partied with great gusto and alarming freqency. The only trouble was, BG periodically got disgusted with being "sick and tired" and vowed to stop. This usually lasted three or four days, after which I would return from a hard day's work with the smell of beer and incense (used to disguise the pot smell from the famiily-oriented neighbors) wafting into my delighted nostrils.

Pot and booze didn't do the number on me that it did on BG. He was on methadone when I met him, and gradually the higher and higher doses still weren't "holding" him. Of course, his goal had never been to just feel normal. On Fridays the VA dosed him and gave him two bottles to take home til Monday. Every Friday, he'd do an extra half bottle, and on Saturday he finished off the remaining one and a half. I soon learned that the reason his rugs all had multiple cigarette burns in them was due to his tendency to nod out. The bottle-less Sunday, of course, was the worst day of the week.

The combo of pot, alcohol, and methadone often made him go beyond the pale. The party would typically go for at least seven hours--long past the point where I just wanted to eat and crash. At its height, BG would try to go pee and I'd often hear thuds. When I went in, I'd find him in a stupor, attempting to improbably climb the wall in front of the toilet bowl.

BG eventually detoxed, but we continued to drink and smoke. My office was mostly composed of straight women, but I always befriended the bad girls who smoked and knew where to get the good stuff. One of my contacts had a boyfriend who could get half-ounces and ounces with no muss or fuss--and they were great, with massive buds and an aroma so strong that I feared I'd be tackled on the subway by a police dog who could smell the odor emenating from my purse. Like other paranoid potheads, we also had our private nicknamename for the substance--in this case bowleg (hence my boyfriend's pet name, Bowleg Guy.) This was of course in case the phones were tapped, bugs were installed in the ceiling, and the FBI was on our tail (all perfectly reasonable assumptions for a schizophrenic with paranoid tendencies, as BG was).

BG did nothing halfway, so when he indulged he drank way too much and paid for it with hellish hangovers and the occasional late night trip to the loony bin for good measure. So on a few extreme occasions, he impulsively did the morning-after/never again ritual of flushing any remaining booze and joints down the toilet. Of course, a few days later he'd be kicking himself for throwing away perfectly good shit. One time, in fact, we'd been buying so much weed from my work pal that we had amassed an impressive collection of roaches--many of them Mach II (roaches made from roaches) and even Mach III (roaches made from the roaches of the roaches). During one of his repentant intervals, I wound up giving my friend a few leftover buds and the entire bag of uber-roaches. I felt like a schmuck on wheels a few days later.

Then, about a year and a half ago, we embraced AA. We stayed clean about 14 months, and then went out again for about 2 months. Although I'd initially begged BG not to throw away all that clean time, as soon as he brought home the goodies I was hooked. So when, a few months later, he realized that being bedridden for days after a party was a rather unpleasant price to pay, he stopped buying from his skanky connection that I didn't know. So when he stopped, I had to. My old supplies had dried out long ago, and he was the only pusher man I knew.

it was very rough for me the first week or two. Pot didn't make me drink to excess as it did BG. The only nasty side effect I expeienced was a raving case of the munchies, and for that reason alone I should have never touched the stuff. But every time we went into Manhattan and passed near the hot spot, I imagined that BG was about to give in and get some more. One day, when we walked within a block of the place, and I realized as we continued walking that he wasn't going to stop and buy, I actually broke down in tears. He almost relented for my sake but I said, "No, BG, don't let me manipulate you like that." How very brave and noble I was!

The problem was, if BG copped for me he would not be able to resist indulging too. When he smoked, he would drink. He would drink and smoke some more, and more still. He would wake up sick as a dog and remain bedridden for days. So if he didn't use, I didn't use. Simple as that.

When in AA, I didn't pray in the traditional sense, but if something good happened, I'd often pause and thank the Higher Power. Since the hot spot didn't always deliver, I had sometimes considered asking the higher power to give BG a successful run. Now, as I sobbed on the street, I considered begging the Higher Power to make BG relent. It was then that I realized my addiction had all the markings of a true Panic in Needle Park-style selfishness.

Released in 1971, The Panic in Needle Park is a harrowing story about how drugs can turn true love into a twisted road of degradation and self-centered betrayal. The movie signalled the young Al Pacino's first breakthrough performance, which helped him subsequently land the legendary role of Michael Corleone in the Godfather.

Bobby (Al Pacino) meets Helen (Kitty Winn; the nanny of Exorcist fame) and she soon moves in with him and enters into his gritty network of skanky Upper West Side heroin junkies. Though both are, underneath it all, very loving and giving, they soon betray each other in appaling ways due to the savage dictates of their addiction. At first Helen just observes all the shooting up, but eventually sneaks a taste and is hooked. Bobby initiates the descent into the slippery slope of selfish immorality when he sends her out to cop with insufficient money, knowing that she will have to turn a trick to get the goods. After she gets hooked, she sells herself out to anyone who has the money to finance another high--including Bobby's slimy burglar brother Hank. The junkies all know that a "panic"-- a drought in the heroin supply--is due to hit, which renders everyone more desperately craven. Meanwhile, a narc has been also been tailing Helen, trying to warn her that all junkies will rat each other out in the end. Sure enough, Helen eventually betrays Bobby, who has entered into a brief career as a medium-end dealer, and he lands in jail. After he is released, all is forgiven and the couple reunite, but the viewer knows the never-ending tragedy of perpetually tainted junkie-love is just beginning.

One day, while pacing on a nearby corner waiting for BG to hopefully cop from his friend, I realized that my love of pot had driven me to the same sort of self-centered obsession as Bobby and Helen. When BG finally refused to get any more bowleg, I was inconsolable. I knew full well that the stuff was poison to him, and I sincerely wanted to see him stay clean. But my craving also made the selfishly addicted side of me long for him to give in again. My love had been compromised by my solipsistic wish to get a buzz on at all costs.

Many people do desperate things for their substance: hooking, stealing, mugging, even murdering. In AA, I heard horror stories about how people had completely ruined their lives in pursuit of alcohol--becoming homeless, friendless, jobless, penniless. But even when he was using heroin, BG never for a moment contemplated ripping anyone off for a fix--he maintained a stressful job, and merely used his paychecks to fuel the partying until his funds ran out. But I realized that for me, althouh the only serious side effect of pot use was the tendency to up like a baloon from indulging in the munchies, my deep-down eagerness to see BG's resolve go by the wayside gave me serious pause.

So now, having given up the spliffs for two months, the craving has mostly gone away. Anyway, I've got a new drug to abuse now -- namely the internet, which I've taken to like a crack addict takes to the old pipe. Is there such a thing as cyber-geeks anonymous? Since I bought Herman, my beloved Apple Powerbook, back in February, I know my relationship with BG has just not been the same. If he didn't pry my fevered fingers from Herman's keyboard and drag me kicking and screaming from the apartment for a long walk, I would probably be an unshowered vegetable sporting a filthy T-shirt who never saw daylight and ordered up Chinese every night.

AA's like to call it switching chairs on the Titanic. But Herman helps out BG too--when he wants to print a cool picture of Sid Vicious or Ezra Pound for his next portrait, or has a hankering to know about the life cycle and mating habits of tapeworms. But he eschews actually touching Herman's keyboard, for I think he fears entering into the nightmarish realm of computer addiction. So for now, at least, I''m getting off alone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Maddening blog snafus

I've just posted a brand new story, "Always Wear your Party Hat." It's listed under the "Previous Posts" on the right, but somehow got inserted under an earlier date (May 6). I dare not try to move it, for fear that my blog will vanish into the thin air of cyberspace altogether.

Three older posts, "Alternative Gallery Hell," "Sleazy 'n Cheesy Topics" and "AA: Threat or Menace" are now archived on April posts (see link on right). For a few minutes, I thought they'd disappeared altogether. Oh, the thrills and chills of blogging!

It should be painfully obvious that I'm a techno-newbie. My biggest prob right now is figuring out how to insert hyperlinks and other codes into my template--and recovering vanished posts. If anyone has a clue and can advise me, I'd appreciate it.

One more note of note: I plan to add my emerging artist boyfriend BG's illustrations to all or some of my pieces--I'm also working on persuading another fine artist to add his work too. Hopefully I won't goof up importing the images. Oy vey.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The crackhead next door

I've lived in New York City all of my life, and for a great many years I lived in Manhattan. There are many diverse Manhattan neighborhoods--all with their own unique character, personality, and charm--and the two I resided in were as different from each other as apples and bananas.

I moved to Manhattan's Lower East Side from Queens when I was fifteen, after my parents died. My aunt and uncle took me in and I stayed there til I went off to college. After graduation, I came back and got an apartment with my (now) ex-boyfriend on the Upper East Side.

At the time, the real estate boom hadn't become so ridiculous that you had to be a zillionaire to live anywhere in the borough. So my ex and I found a small Upper East Side one-bedroom that was a perfectly decent-sized place by Manhattan standards (in other words, a broom closet anywhere else in the country.) It was an old walkup; no great panoramic views or anything, but perfectly fine for a couple just starting out.

Though the apartment was a little iffy, the neighborhood was terrific. At the time, there were a lot of recent college grads and singles who also moved to the area straight out of college. It was way on the EAST East Side, near the river. When you went a few blocks west, you got into the much more ritzy areas of Fifth, Park, and Madison Avenues featuring luxurious high rises and gorgeous old townhouses, all a stone's throw away from Central Park and major museums.

My ex and I were in our early twenties and really got into the city restaurant and nightlife scene. We sampled every ethnic cuisine to be had--Chinese (including all the regional varieties thereof), Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, health food, continental, etc.--as well as the usual diners and greasy spoons. When we didn't want to go out, we had plenty of places to choose from that delivered. Our waistlines soon betrayed the end result of our indulgences for all of Manhattan to see.

In addition, each weekend we frequented all the cool Manhattan hot spots. Saw lots of up and coming bands. Went to comedy clubs, plays, movies, dive bars. Explored all the great sections and sites of the city: the South Street Seaport, Chinatown, the East and West Village, Lincoln Center, the Staten Island Ferry and Circle Line, and on and on.

About twelve years went by. By that time we had accumulated a lot of stuff, and the apartment was getting rather cramped. We were also wearying of climbing the four long lights of steps with our groceries and schlepping fifty pounds of laundry to the wash and dry across the street.

My aunt had been pushing for me to apply to live in her Lower East Side coop complex where I had stayed with her through high school. I was hesitant, partly because at the time the Lower East Side was not the tragically hip mecca it is today. For centuries, the LES had been the first stop for poor new immigrants just off the boat. Typically, their American-born children flourished and soon moved out of the ghetto to greener pastures.

So at first I mightily resisted moving into an area that had virtually no bars, nightspots, or cool restaurants. But when we did take the plunge, we got an unbelieveable deal. The coops were still set up for lower-middle class folk, and we were able to buy the place for eight grand outright, with no mortgage, and a maintenance fee that was roughly the same as our old rent and included gas and electricity.

I'd seen signs of some gentrification creeping closer and closer to my aunt's 'hood for the past several years. But when I moved in, the area was still primarily a cultural wasteland, and nearby blocks still featured numerous and sundry drug hot spots.

But we moved, and soon grew to love it there. We had a cool downtown partial-river view, a beautiful eat-in kitchen, plenty of space and closets for all our stuff, an elevator, a great laundy in the building, and two supermarkets a few blocks away. And as time went by, the neighborhood starting getting quite an influx of young people looking for affordable digs. Eventually, the blocks nearby which had once been yarn factories and crackhouse headquarters were rapidly filled up with young artists, musicians, recent college grads, and other assorted cool folk. Then the area really exploded into ultimate cool-osity, and soon the nightlife scene was arguably the hippest in the city. And inevitably, the rents began to skyrocket until only the yuppies could afford to move in--unless the cool kids doubled or tripled up on a two-or three-bedroom place.

After about ten years, I broke up with my ex. By this point our coop had gone private, and if we sold the place would have fetched something in the neighborhood of a cool half mill. Although I maintained my Manhattan address, I started to spend a good deal of time with my current boyfriend BG at his digs in the Bronx.

The Bronx conjures up a lot of scary images for most people. The area became very dangerous indeed, starting in about the 60s or 70s. But just after World War II, the Northwest Bronx area where BG now lives was a very fancy place indeed. People who had endured cramped Manhattan quarters soon flocked to the area, where spacious Art Deco buildings were readily available. Though many others moved to the 'burbs as soon as they could afford to leave the city, other folks settled in the north Bronx or the already-tony section of Riverdale or affluent Westchester County, both located slightly further to the north. But as time went on, the Bronx fell on hard times, and those who could afford it soon moved elsewhere.

Today, BG's neighborhood is similar to what the Lower East Side was like when I first lived there--lots of new immigrants and struggling working class people. Though the neigborhood is still drug riddled, BG's building had always seemed safe and perfectly hospitable. (The south Bronx is doubtless still sketchier, but there are the beginnings of a slow influx of artists, museums, galleries, cafes featuring poetry readings, and other cultural developments.) BG's neighbors were unflaggingly courteous and friendly, and we experienced virtually no hostility or discomfort of any kind. The cost of living--not just rent but groceries, appliances and toiletries--was a lot cheaper too, since the local shops didn't have to pay the horrifyingly high commercial rents that Manhattan stores are forced to. Plus the area encompassed several universities, a major shopping area, the New York Botanical Gardens, and the Bronx Zoo--and was an easy commute into Manhattan (about 40 minutes to midtown by subway).

BG had been in the Bronx going on seven years. Although he'd occasionally hear a fracas on the street late at night, or see some drug paraphernalia in the back hallways, things were mostly mellow. When I stayed there, I was quickly lulled into complacency by the apparent safety of it all.

But about a month ago, things suddenly took an alarming turn for the worse.

In order to fully explain the situation, I have to talk a little bit about BG's next door neighbor--I'll call her Shirley. She's youngish (probably mid-30s), single, and fairly attractive. When BG moved in, she made it a point to introduce herself, and sometimes accepted packages and such for BG when he was out, and vice versa. So far, so good.

But strange and disturbing happenings were soon in the offing (insert Twilight Zone theme here). One night several years ago we heard a late-night commotion in the hallway, followed by a woman yelling: "Get out of here, you crackhead," followed by the sound of shattering glass. We found out later that Shirley's boyfriend had been abusive to her and had broken the hall windows for extra emphasis.

About a year later, Shirley introduced us to her new boyfriend named Dave. We only saw him once. But around the same time, Shirley started to have a 12ish year old child--let's call him Jeff-- staying with her. Sometimes she referred to him as her son; sometimes as her godson.

So one day we returned home to find a letter slid underneath BG's door. It was meant for Shirley but was hand delivered to the wrong apartment by someone from Child Welfare. Before we realized it wasn't for us, we opened it. By the looks of the paperwork enclosed, it appeared that there was some sort of ongoing investigation regarding alleged child abuse by Dave and Shirley against Jeff. We quickly slipped the envelope under Shirley's door.

I never saw the kid getting beaten up, but there were hints that the home environment could have been better. One day the door opened to Shirley's apartment and Jeff came out with a shopping cart. Shirley sharply admonished him to hurry up and pick up the laundry and bring back milk too. The youngster look so dejected that BG said something like: "Rough day today, huh?" Jeff seemed like a nice enough kid though: always said hi to BG; seemed like he'd grow up to be a good sort if given half a chance.

Another time BG was in the local deli and witnessed Jeff asked Shirley if she would get him a package of hot dogs. With Heineken in hand, she refused to buy the franks for the kid because they were too pricey. Sure, deli prices are outrageous, but one could quite easily purchase a pound of cheap hot dogs and buns from the supermarket right down the street, bring them upstairs, boil them for 10 minutes, and eat until your bloated stomach burst.

Another time Jeff knocked on BG's door and timidly said his "mother" wanted to know if BG would sign for the cable man who'd come to install their box. BG said sorry, he couldn't do it, natch. I mean, can you imagine? BG's income is at the poverty level as it is, and the last thing he needed was the cable company harassing him for nonpayment of Shirley's bills. At any rate, the poor youngster soon disappeared from the scene as suddenly and mysteriously as he had arrived. Shortly thereafter, we came home and saw that there was a notice posted on Shirley's door for non-payment of rent. But apparently the matter got straightened out, and we still ran into her now and then.

Aside from all this, Shirley was always a tad nosy and nervy. She used to get pretty familiar with BG and would sometimes ask: "What happened to your girlfriend? She still around?" BG suspected that maybe she wanted to put the moves on him. Just let her try to put her nasty little talons into my man--I'll slap her upside the head forwards, backwards, sideways, and every other old which way!

Another time after BG had gained a few she actually poked him in the belly and said "You're getting fat!" Six months ago she saw us in the elevator and asked where we were coming from. We had just come from an AA meeting but didn't want to reveal that (none of her darn business anyway), so we said we'd just come from church. After all, we knew she took her "son" to church every Sunday, even if he maybe didn't get fed so good.

She replied: "Dressed like THAT?!"

So now that I've relayed the sordid "backstory," this is the latest development.

We'd been noticing that over the last month or two there'd been a lot of strange people and iffy activity on BG's floor. Lots of sleazy looking people wandering around in a daze, coming in and out of various apartments, "exchanging" items with each other. Lots of loud fights out in the hallway in the wee hours, banging, slamming, and screaming. Shirley seemed to have disappeared altogether and left the apartment to two guys who seemed, from their demeanor and behavior, to be running a crack cartel from the apartment. But we had nothing substantial to go on. We did note, however, that whenever BG would leave the apartment and push the elevator button, one of the guys in Shirley's crib would open the door, peer out suspiciously, and close the door again.

So one night about two weeks ago, BG went to take out the garbage at around 4 am because we sometimes keep weird hours. Sometimes I stay up late and then he gets up and paints and I go back to bed and so on.

So he goes to the door to take the trash out and I warn him to be careful because I'd heard a ruckus going on out in the hall a few minutes before. He started to open the door, but closed it again quickly because he saw someone lurking in the hallway.

About half a minute later, there was a loud banging on the door. BG said:

"Who is it?"
"Hey, man. I want to talk to you."
"Who is it?"
"Come on out here. I want to talk to you face to face."
"Who is it?"
"Your neighbor."
"Yeah, what do you want?"
"I want you to stay out of my business."
"But I was just going to take out the garba---"
"Stay out of my BUSINESS. I heard you open and close your door." (This was, mind you, after the continual opening and closing of this guy's door and assorted mayhem going on in the hallway all night).
"Just stay out of my damn business. Punk motherf#cker."

I urged BG to call the cops right away. He thought about it and decided against it because it somehow seemed unwise to tangle with a crazed crackhead with a bad attitude and a vengeful nature--especially at 4 in the morning.

Two days later the bell rang. It was the police and they asked BG if he knew anything about the incident "last night" with the guy next door. BG said he hadn't heard anything last night, but told them about his brief encounter from the night before last.

They then said: "Know anything about HER?"

CB said that she was his neighbor, hadn't seen her in a dog's age. From the way things were shaping up, apparently it turned out that she'd given her apartment over to her abusive, window breaking ex-boyfriend for safekeeping.

Then the cops said (get this): "Well, if you see the guy, tell him we were looking for him."

Yeah, RIGHT. "Hey guy, the cops are after you. No, I swear, I'm not the dirty rat that told them about you...wait..don't throw me out the window, you'll break the glass again...c'mon guy...AARRRRRRRRRHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"

The very next day, we went to the locksmith and purchased a brand new $50 chain for the door--the kind you use if you have to open your door at 4 am when someone says it's the police but it's really a drug lord intending to kick your door in and evicerate you.

I'd never thought about carrying around anything much for protection except my keys which I guess I could try to use to poke a perpetrator's eye out, but I asked the locksmith if they had anything available for self-protection. I didn't want to go so far as a Saturday Night Special in my garter belt, but I thought maybe a can of mace might be in order.

He told me mace was now illegal, but sold me a whistle on a chain.

A whistle? With my loud mouth, I could probably yell and scream so loud I'd break my attacker's eardrums. But I tried it out, and it was pretty piercing. So now I've got the latest must-have urban fashion accessory to hang around my neck every day.

We asked our super for the scoop, and he said that our new neighbor was indeed the ex-boyfriend who had previously assaulted Shirley. However, we haven't seen hide nor hair of him since the police showed up, though there's still a lot of unsavory people wandering around the floor, apparently headed toward another popular hot spot around the corner.

What was prettty amazing was that I'd been so clueless to the drug activity in the neighborhood at large. I started reading the local community paper and realized how insidious the problem really was. Dealers a block or two away did their business as blatantly as a sausage vendor at a street fair or a bauble hawker at an open-air bazaar. There had been efforts in the past to employ beat cops who would get to know the neighborhood, as well as undercover teams, but dealers would just move down to the next block and threaten and intimidate any residents they thought had ratted on them, just for good measure. The city's police force has now been diverted in part to anti-terrorism squads on the heels of 9/11, and from what I gather they are cutting police funds for new cops in general.

So the only thing left to do is have eyes in the back of my head, wear my whistle and carry a baseball bat when I take out the garbage, and wait for the cool artists to start moving in and make the neighborhood unaffordable for BG and everyone else who resides here. That's city living for you.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

World Wide A##holes

Sadly, the world has always been cram packed to bursting with a##holes. Thanks to the internet, there's now a novel sub-breed of human malignancy--the cyber-a##hole. You've got your flamers, your spammers, your hackers, your hucksters, your identity thieves, and much more.

One day, my man BG received a peculiar letter with no return address. It hailed from Spain and contained marvelous news. Seems BG had won a "lottery" which offered a prize of exactly $624,532.49. All he had to do was supply a few teensy tidbits of info on his next of kin and what bank to deposit his prize to. His benefactors requested a mere 20 percent cut, which would be duly deducted from his winnings after his account was credited.

Aside from being full of obvious typographical and grammatical gaffes, the letter also served as a shining example of international mail fraud. We took it to the post office post haste, and it was forwarded to the postmaster for further perusal.

Not surprisingly, this same scam is also flourishing in cyberspace. When I was promoting BG's art, one organization apparently sold their artist's mailing lists to various spammers. Several of these fraudulent organizations, always from overseas, periodically sent along offers of a kind almost identical to the snail mail example above. They were always full of egregious typos, and, amazingly enough, always seemed to offer the same unbelieveable opportunity for the recipient. Seems that an incredibly wealthy man had died without a will and his estate was being distributed to complete strangers on the internet. The only requirement, of course, was that the lucky winner supply a few insignificant details, like name of next of kin, bank to send the jackpot to....

BG's mother has some very...unconventional religious ideas. I love her dearly, but she is rather obsessed with the fire and brimstone stuff. She sends us letters brimming with chapter and verse Bible passages, plus some downright fascinating little pamphlets. The latest one warned of an evil worldwide conspiracy. Apparently, it all revolved around the phenomena of "smart cards" and other postmodern conveniences which, they believed, would eventually lead to a totally cashless society. The final step would be to implant every human being with a device under their right hand which would track their every move. This was apparently all foretold in Revelations (where else?)---something about the Mark of the Beast being on everyone's right hand, damnation and hellfire, repent now, etc. etc.

Unlike her other crackpot theories, this one seemed almost believeable. If we promiscuously offer up our social security number to the world via our computer screen, our personal info will soon be as readily available to cyberpimps as a whore's favors. Guard your social security number, we are warned, as jealously as a virgin guards her chastity--particularly on the insatiable, omnivorous web. Once an identity thief has had their way with your number, raping the very core of your being, your life will soon devolve into a neverending Twilight Zone episode with no commercial breaks.

I have an obsessive attachment to my computer-- BG is forced to compete with Herman, my Powermac, for my devotions. Though not quite as sentient as HAL from 2001, to me Herman is essentially a living thing. Computers can now supply us with sexual gratification, pen pals, plane tickets, and much more info that we ever really needed to know about pinworms and boils and other gross stuff. And like us, computers are vulnerable to nasty viruses that can disrupt their "genetic code" to the very core. And hackers, of course, use their awesome expertise like digital Dr. Moreaus, maniacally pursuing "evil" instead of good.

For a horrifying (I promise!) example of the malignant effects of flaming, consult my last post. It's easier than ever before for angry, sick, disgruntled and malicious individuals with An Agenda to vent with impunity. At the very least, they can definitely ruin your day.

Though I'm glad to be living in a place and time in history where we can play with all these cool new toys, I have no doubt that the a##holes of the world will forever be with us--both on and offline.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Support Group? Feh!

Oh, my. My hands are shaking. My heart is quaking. I am about ready to check myself in for an encore of shock treatments. And why, you might ask?

Because I recently joined a bipolar message board.

I came looking for support and understanding. Instead, I found myself in a weird alternate universe where I was apparently an outcast among outcasts.

I have joined many message boards--for writers, substance abusers, artists, those with mood disorders. All have been completely civilized and well-moderated. A few are absolutely fantastic. But in this particular group, the inmates were (you should pardon the expression) quite literally running the asylum, and they were rabidly hunting for fresh blood.

There was a woman who posted the other day who had just been unceremoniously dumped via e-mail by her boyfriend of several years. I, along with others in the group, wrote to express our sympathy and support. I crafted an e-mail which I thought was thoughtful and sensitive. I said that my heart went out to her; that I had almost cried when I read her post, that I hoped and prayed that she would find a man who would treat her the way she deserved to be treated. But almost as soon as I could hit the "send" button, I was deluged with hate mail from a bipolar lynch mob whose fury knew no bounds.

Apparently, my words of support were not delivered in the "correct" manner. I was condescending, and stereotyping all women as victims. I tried to defend myself, but the more I posted the deeper I got pulled in and the more I felt like taking a double dose of my meds. In exasperation, I finally wrote a post entitled "What a Bunch of Wackos!" Oh boy, I thought I was in trouble before. Apparently this was a grave slur upon my fellow emotionally challenged group members.

So the following day, I took a deep breath and decided to approach the problem with a little levity. When I received a verbal barb, I lobbed one right back in a sarcastically humorous fashion. Huge mistake. That got one baiter so riled up that she ordered me never to respond to any of her posts ever again and to leave her alone. I quickly hit the "reply" button and gleefully wrote: "Gotcha!"

By the end of this escapade, some in the group were worked up into quite a manic lather. Unfortunately for me, the moderator not only apparently allowed flaming on a regular basis, but chose who could post gratuitously vicious messages with relative impunity and who could not. Guess who got chastised?

Oh how I wish she had come to my defense the other day, when I was so cruelly attacked from all sides! But alas, the "cool" members of the group ruled; while those with "saner" viewpoints were (I imagine) too cowed to dare speak a word against it.

After one of my newfound friends mentioned something sarcastic about my "stupid blog" (which I had invited one and all to post a comment on) I informed the group that I now intended to write something about the whole sordid experience here. I had not joined the group with this intention, but the material was so irresistible that as a writer I just couldn't pass it up.

One paranoid person then chimed in imagining that I was the mysterious poster of yore who had warned the group that they had been posting under multiple names in order to gather material for an article.

After all this fracas, I was on the verge of being kicked out of the group by the oh-so-unbiased moderator. So I unsubscribed.

And here I am, trying to calm down.

By the way: this whole fiasco did bring to mind a particular observation I've often made about maligned groups: they are often super sensitive to the point of paranoia about others' supposed bigotry against them, but they are often completely indifferent to slurs against other groups.

For instance, one poster offered a blatantly racist little item about Mexicans. When I had posted the "What a Bunch of Wackos" message the day before, you'd better believe I got taken down a peg or two for engaging in such a horrible slur against the mentally ill. But after this gentleman's post, the only responses (other than mine) were comments like "that's so funny! or "I hear ya, dude!" (I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of it.) Guess there are no bipolar Mexicans out there, so what the hey.

So it just goes to prove that the lesson I've learned so very long ago still holds true:

There are a##holes of all nationalities, races, and creeds--and plenty of 'em.

I'm going to turn off "Herman" (my beloved PowerMac) for awhile and let him take a well-deserved nap. And I think I'll wait til tomorrow to tackle the rest of my e-mail--just in case they haven't gotten around to "unsubscibing" me yet.

Always Wear Your Party Hat

What is it with all these unwanted pregnancies, already?

Tune in to Jerry Springer or Maury. So many women trying to figure out who the father of their child is. So many men denying they had anything to do with it. Cut to the cute, innocent baby who is the unwitting cause of all this sad commotion. Fortunately, DNA testing is a giant leap forward--not only in quickly uncovering the truth of the matter, but in saving some poor innocent souls from death row for good measure.

When I was in college, I had a number of--well--brief encounters. But I always had the foresight to dutifully wear my diaphragm. I never wanted children, never wanted marriage--despite two long-term relationships. The first one lasted twenty years. The second one has seen seven years and counting. Maybe if I'd married these men I would have jinxed it. In any case, I was always a maverick, and hated every cheesy wedding reception I ever attended. So bourgeois, so predictable. And so likely to lead to divorce, along with children who are traumitized by bitter custody battles.

My boyfriend BG has an even more colorful past, including two marriages, various relationships, and countless dalliances. Back in the day, STD's were not as much of an issue as they are now. But BG often neglected to wear his "party hat"--his nickname for condoms--and as a result his parents probably have at least one grandchild out there somewhere they'll never know about.

Granted, BG made every attempt to do the honorable thing. He offered to marry the woman he had apparently impregnated, who already had one child from a previous relationship. But she had no desire for marriage, and indeed intended to abort the baby. However, being the wild party girl she was, after gathering funds from friends to get an abortion in another state, she instead checked herself into a hotel room for several days and got good and drunk. (Very healthy for the baby to be, I might add.)

Aside from the nice normal folk who do it the "proper" way--marriage, children, divorce, second marriage, children, divorce, etc. etc. ad nauseum--thus putting their kids through the stress and pain of a fractured family--there are also the myriad women I see shlepping strollers up and down the subway steps, with no hubby to help them. Many of them are poor, and have to struggle to raise their children all alone, or perhaps with the help of grandma. Many of them who apparently thought that having a child would result in a blissful life of perfect, cute, perpetually smiling and cooing little angels have quickly experienced a rude awakening. But puzzlingly enough, that doesn't seem to give them pause as they produce one illegitimate child after the other after the other. However, many may simply not have had ready access to free birth control and other family planning services-- which leads to my impassioned diatribe, which will follow shortly.

The stress of it all must be unbelieveable. Way too many times, I've witnessed an angry and frustrated mother shrilly bellowing at her cowed child: "Shut your motherf#cking mouth! I'm gonna beat the sh#t out of you!" Not to mention the doubtless millions of kids who are abused not only emotionally, but physically and/or sexually. And then there's the "enlightened" parent who cows before their child's tantrums by performing constant contract negotiations in the toy store: "OK, sweetheart, if you stop screeching I'll get you that astronomically priced gadget that I can't afford. And then, we can go for a nice ice cream cone. How does that sound, precious?"

I don't normally get actively involved in too many political or social causes, but I received a letter from Planned Parenthood the other day that had me hastily whipping out my checkbook. The letter read, in part:

"Planned Parenthood has become the target of religious political extremists simply because we are so important to so many people. By destroying Planned Parenthood, they would win the ultimate battle: defeeat reproductive rights and destroy our right to choose."

The details were chilling.

Although "opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe in reproductive rights and support comprehensive, medically accurate sex education...Those who would put Planned Parenthood out of business include "the politically powerful Christian Coalition and the violently radical Operation Rescue/Operation Save America."

"All of these groups are politically astute, extremely well funded, and have a fanatical--often militant--approach to achieving their goals: Outlaw abortion. Cut public support of family planning. Stop responsible sex education in the schools. Put Planned Parenthood out of business....

"I hope you agree that it is outrageous to attack the one organization that is doing more than any other organization to help so many people prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. Currently in America, half of all pregnancies are unintended, and half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. So you would think, regardless of one's position on abortion, we should all do everything possible to prevent unplanned pregnancies....

"Planned Parenthood affiliates prevent 282,000 abortions each year by preventing unintended pregnancies...But the same anti-choice, anti-woman organizations that rail against abortion want nothing more than to dismantle family planning programs that make abortion less necessary."

Now, I adamantly believe in pro-choice, although personally I would be devastated if I had to have an abortion. My ex and my current boyfriend, BG, are both products of Catholic families who did not practice birth control. What would my world be like if either of them had been aborted? In addition, both families toughed it out, struggling to support their large families, and staying married til death to they part. But that was still their personal choice to make.

I hate extremists, hypocrites, fanatics, and proselytizers of any stripe. I am verily annoyed at the religious folk who continually bang on BG's door hoping to "save" him by convincing him to embrace Jesus. I despise the newfangled "black Jews" (by the way, there are true black Jews out there, as well as Japanese and Indian Jews, so that's not what I mean) who spit their bigoted, hateful vitriol every Saturday on Fordham Road at top amplified volume. But I still believe they have every right to speak--I just wish they weren't so loud. I don't like the Religious Right, whose hypocrisy often knows no bounds (witness those televangelists who were caught cheating while preaching fidelity and chastity). .I resent the fact that the Catholic church has such an appaling record of protecting priests who have taken a vow of chastity, yet secretly molest innocent children. And most of all, I am enraged by those dangerous, megalomaniacal "moralists" who think they can convince the world to "just say no" to extramarital sex--despite sex being a basic and undeniable human function--by seeking to ban contraception and abortion.

In short, I believe everyone has the right to their personal beliefs, and the right to voice them. But I do not believe that Far Right extremists have the right to control other's right to choose, expecting the world to "see the light" and stop copulating out of wedlock.

I urge anyone who feels the way I do visit the Planned Parenthood site and help fight the good fight for freedom of choice.

End of diatribe.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tough Love

"Hurry up, you a##hole!!"

"Shut the f##k up, you crazy moron."

"That's it! Get out now! I don't want you here any more. Go back to FatBoy" (my ex). "Get the hell out or I'm calling the police and telling them you won't leave my apartment."

"Oh, shove it up your skinny white butt, jerkoff."

Does this sound like a relationship on the edge? It's not. It's my relationship--and I've never been happier in my life.

If you've ever seen the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie finally farts in front of Mr. Big and is completely mortified (he laughs it off) you might relate to the fact that there is a crossroads that has to be passed through for any successful, long term relationship to thrive.

On my first date with my boyfriend, I was too nervous and self-conscious to eat in front of him. Now I burp rudely and blissfully continue to eat without reservation even as he tells me to stop "feeding my bloated belly." He backs up into me and vengefully farts in my face when I insult him.

Let's face it, we're all human. Sometimes I go to the bathroom. I get my period. I wake up with nightmare hair.

But I know, as surely as I know anything, that Bowleg Guy loves me dearly, and I worship him. He's seen me at my very worst and it doesn't matter at all to him.

When I was in the hospital, he visited me every day for hours on end. He brought me candy and flowers. When he had to go into the hospital, I was there for him as well. When he detoxed from methadone, I nursed him for a month, never leaving his side. We've been through the "for better or worse" stuff countless times over. And it just keeps getting better.

There was a time where we didn't understand each other as well. I know now that my boyfriend loves to be dramatic. He gets so upset if he thinks the grocery clerk cheated him out of 5 cents that I fear I'm going to have to have him committed. Similarly, a few months ago, he bought an eight dollar chain for the inside of the front door--the kind you can open if you want to talk to someone but not let them in. A few times I forgot the chain was there and gave it a yank. It was a cheap piece of sh#t anyway.

So I'm in the shower today and he bellows: "Someone's been in our apartment! Look, the link on the chain is SAWED OFF!"

I replied, "Look, you crazy paranoid f#ckhead. I pulled the chain and loosened it."

"No! Someone broke in!"

"So why wouldn't they STEAL anything, you moronic a##hole?"

"Shut the f#uck up. I want you out of here now. Go back to Wormboy (another of his nicknames for my ex).

I love it.

Back in the day, he used to go into these "get out" tirades and I was so hurt and puzzled I started to cry. But I eventually realized he was just letting off steam with his little psychodramas. After we cooled down, he would always apologize and tell me that of course he never wanted me to leave--he was just feeling jealous of Mr. Lugub (short for Mr. Lugubrious, yet another knickname for my ex). I realized that when we are too "nice" and polite to each other, we let resentments build up--and an explosion is inevitable. But now we bicker joyfully, constantly, endlessly, like those old married couples you see in the supermarket:

"Herman! Where are you going? I got the tuna fish that was on sale! Put that back!"

"Stop nagging me. Where's the cookies I wanted?:"

"You can't have cookies. You're diabetic!"

We just take it to a higher (or lower) level of psychodrama. We gleefully insult each other all the time and crack each other up. We have truly reached the point where we can vent in a humorous, tongue in cheek way that is a big kick for both of us. He roars, and I screech loudly like the bitchy Jewish harpy that I am.

But we also talk for hours on end about anything and everything. We are essentially inseparable. My only fear is that if something should ever happen to him I'd be so berefit that I'd probably wind up in the rubber room in Manhattan State.

So if you love someone, don't fear the farts.

Monday, May 02, 2005

This bipolar life

Being bipolar (or manic depressive) is a blessing and a curse. First of all, for those who don't know, there are two main types of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar I: You suffer from manic episodes as well as depression

Bipolar II: You have hypomanic episodes (a milder form of mania) alternating with depression.

I am bipolar II, which means that my life is chock full of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Here are the main pros and cons of this illness:

In my case, this is no little old case of the blues. I become psychotic, which means that I enter into a vegetative state. I become suicidal and delusional--and often very paranoid. I am completely in my own little nightmarish world of obsessively negative thoughts, which consist of horrible guilt (I've ruined everyone's life and/or career, as well as my own); suicidal ideation (mulling over my "preferred" method, which is jumping out a window); hopelessness (this will never get better); inability to think, function, speak, or get out of bed (going to the bathroom is the day's major accomplishment). I am all too aware that I have literally "lost my mind." It is sheer hell on earth. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

The only one I can possibly think of is that I have developed a lot more empathy for those with mental illness, as well as others who struggle with life in general.

For instance, there was a Vice President at the university I used to work for. It seemed like she "had it all." After working there for decades, she had achieved a prestigious, respected position, had several children, a great apartment, and a boyfriend who was also a successful VP.

One day this woman, who lived in a university-owned building a block away from our office, went to her balcony and jumped.

When my colleages heard the news, they were naturally shocked and dismayed. But what infuriated me beyond all reason were the responses:

Oh, I'm so mad at her for doing this!

What a selfish thing to do! Think of her children.

Mind you, these were people who were colleagues of the woman: not close friends or relatives. So I said to one of my co-workers, who did not know the woman personally: "When you are in a deep depression, you can become delusional. You may think that your family is better off without you. She must have been in a great deal of pain."

How do I know? Because I've been there. I just never had the "guts" to carry out the jumping off a building part, for which I thank the Lord. But incidentally, in the last year or so there have been a rash of student suicides at the same university. All were jumpers.

For an example of how cruel and ignorant "normal people" can be, check out comments 7, 8, and 9 on "AA: Threat or Menace?"

Since I "suffer" from a milder form of mania than the full blown variety, I can only speak authoritatively about this variation. In a nutshell, people with full blown psychotic mania might think they are superman and jump off a building--but not for the reasons my colleage did.

As far as hypomania, it is kind of like your brain is producing speed tabs, because that's what it feels like. You become euphoric. You have lots of energy. You don't need to sleep a lot. You are bursting with ideas.

Thanks to my hypomania, I did some very foolish and regrettable things. I alienated friends, family, and colleagues by being obnoxious and belligerent. I put down a $3000 deposit toward an elaborate wedding reception even though I had always eschewed marriage as being too bourgeois. (And since I didn't want children, what was the point? I lived with my ex-boyfriend for 20 years--longer than most marriages--without benefit of a piece of paper.) In any case the wedding plan was aborted after I plunged into another major depression. More recently, I almost bought a second coop which would have left me financially strapped.

First of all, it feels good. And you don't want to listen to anyone who tells you you're manic. They can all go fly a kite. (In fact, that's a good idea...)

Your thoughts race a mile a minute. In my case, I start to get a zillion writing ideas faster than I can scribble them down. You have mind-blowing insights (or so you think). You feel invincible, brilliant. Life is a song.

If I had never experienced hypomania, I might never have had the nerve to push hard for a well-deserved, long overdue raise. I might never have pursued writing and getting published in major NYC papers over 90 times in 18 months. I might never have started this blog (is that a good or bad thing?) I might have continued to stay in a 20-year toxic relationship with my ex-boyfriend, instead of getting back into the dating world, meeting new people, and eventually finding my crazy and wonderful Bowleg Guy.

The thing with hypomania is that "sufferers" tends to walk a fine line between normal "high spirts" and creativity and plain old bad judgement. I found that at least as far as my work life was concerned, my hypomania served me well. I have read that many successful people and artists suffer from bipolar disorder, and many celebs are now coming out of the closet about their condition. So my supervisors loved my productivity and great ideas. One of them explained away my volatile temper by making allowances for the fact that I was creative--and everyone knows artists are tempermental. But he also told me I was scaring all my co-workers. And indeed, I was contemptous, insufferable, egotistical. I slammed doors a lot in explosive fits of rage. Some people continued to be wary of me for years after one of my hissy fits.

I may add more to this post later, but here are some links of interest:

A new book by John D. Gartner, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, explores how hypomania leads to significant accomplishments, innovation, and creativity.

See also Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder

I hope some fellow bipolars will contribute some thoughts and share some experiences. But all are welcome to comment.