Month: September 2015

Crossroads

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(don’t forget to scroll down at the end of today’s post for my latest poem)

Well, I don’t really know what to talk about today.  I went for an interview at a local radio station today (CJSR FM 88.5, show to air September 16, 5:00pm) and it went well, aside from a few thousand ‘umms’ which I am assured will be edited out.  I have been getting a few new ideas but still have in mind a project where I would like to write a sort of recovery manual for people with mental illnesses, something to speak to the family and the person suffering, hopefully also to the people that work in the field.  I spent so much time in my life extremely ashamed about my mental illness.  It seemed that at least once a year I would go into the hospital for a month and spend the rest of that year either recovering from the effects of the medications I was put on or getting over the pain of bad memories.  I really like this one book I am reading that I bought at Coles Books, it has in it a four-step plan to recover from Bipolar that seems really good.  I want to write this book but I also want to have some experience dealing with people in mental health situations.  Soon I will be taking something called a WRAP facilitator’s course which seems pretty cool and that might give me the experience I seek.  Also, I have my name in to be notified if a position opens up with Alberta Health Services, (our government health care provider) for a position as a peer support worker.  I think either of these could be really beneficial, but I am at a bit of a crossroads in my writing career because I am getting better at writing poetry and short stories, I have now put out two young adult novels and things seem to be progressing, it is almost though that I have to decide between being an advocate for the mentally ill and writing about that or being a creative, fiction writer and focus on that.  It almost makes me feel like I am back in high school and I am wondering what courses to take to define my career goals.  Anyhow, here is a bit of press on me that my home town newspaper was kind enough to run.  Many thanks to Scott Hayes, a good friend.

http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20150912/SAG0801/309129993/-1/sag

 

Inappropriate

 

It was some years ago I first met you

I couldn’t take my eyes off of you

Perhaps it had to do with that glow

 

I always seem to glow, on those hard days

Those long hard days

Late at night working so hard and so fast

Trying to get everything done

So we could all go home

 

I had worked so hard, lifted so much

I didn’t eat nearly enough

So there was the weakness, the glow

And somehow when I looked at you,

And somehow it was like I was able to see

You were an angel

 

In a way it was funny, you were a tough girl

You had packed on some muscle with that job

I told my brother about you, your features, your arms

And he said you were most likely a man

 

But you were so sweet and kind and I knew

That I was in love with you

 

Time passed and I looked for reasons to be near

It meant so much just to talk with you, have you as a friend

I missed or ignored all the signs

That you just weren’t into me

 

All those times I brought you books

All those emails and calls

 

I couldn’t see you were happy

Happy with the man you had

I just thought you were glad

That beautiful people never got sad

 

I think now it was your happiness I wanted most of all

My sadness was all I had, the only thing that made me feel

Real

 

I wanted to squeeze you like an orange

Consume what was in your,

Swallow up the joyful happiness as my own

I didn’t know that just isn’t love

 

I tried so hard to seem smart and thoughtful

But all the while I played the fool

 

You were so fun, so cool to be around

Always joking, but always able to give that special

Uniqueness you had to everything you did

 

And then I started to see a sadness,

A lost look in your eyes, close to a tear

And I thought

 

I can take that from her, I can cure it, help her to heal

Now I know someone has hurt her

Though I couldn’t even help my own moods

 

And then the worst thing happened

I found out what that look, that sad look was

 

It was you looking at me

Afraid of what I might do

If you told me the truth

 

You wanted to say

I’m not into you

And will never be

And that was the end

Of that thing called you and me

 

I want you to be free

I want you to be happy

And if the only way is if we

Never see

Each other again

 

Forgive me if I take up my pen

And try the same damn fool things once more

With some other woman I have come to adore

 

 

Leif Gregersen

So Where Were You Fourteen Years Ago Today?

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September 11, 2001.  I was standing watching the TV in the smoking room of ward 10-2 in Alberta Hospital, not really believing what was happening.  I had just finished up nearly 6 months of being in a locked ward, not able to leave for any more than half an hour.  I was drugged, I was way out of shape, and I was about to go through a very long period of adjusting again to life on the outside of an institution.  Before I had got to the TV room, one plane had already hit a tower and it was smoking.  Then, right in front of my eyes the second plane hit and the announcer had a fit, he couldn’t believe what was happening.  There were reports of another plane hitting the Pentagon and somehow I think I knew it wouldn’t escalate more than that.  One guy, a very distasteful young man actually laughed and cheered as the towers fell after watching people jumping to their deaths rather than be burned by the fire that was climbing the tower.  When the towers collapsed, he said it was good for whoever had done the thing.  I told him to shut up or something and went on watching in silence.  Everything was a bit surreal, we were very protected in that place.  The next night some people that wanted to were allowed to join in a candlelight vigil on the front steps of the hospital.  I didn’t know what to feel, what to say but I joined them.

One of the things that was really odd for me was that for a long time, please forgive my youthful ignorance, I didn’t like America.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like Americans, the people in the Country, I often disliked the foreign and domestic policies of the US government.  Add this to the fact that I was in a mental hospital and you have one very confused psychiatric patient.  Some years ago I had traveled through the South-Western US, mostly California, Oregon and Washington, and for a time I was homeless, for a time I was a victim of a con artist who took every last cent I had and even left me in debt from helping him and nearly died in the middle of the Mojave Desert, alone and far from home.  Still, I found that there were Americans who were incredible to me.  There was one man, Dennis Boucher in Cerritos, California who met me in a truck stop, talked to me for half an hour then drove me to his home and let me sleep on his couch, he washed my clothes, and he even said he would lend me the money to get home.  I declined the money because I was already $2,000.00 in debt on my credit card that only had a $500 limit and I knew my parents couldn’t cover either the debt or the bus ticket he was offering me.  I almost wanted to stay there, California was in many ways beautiful, and in many more ways Dennis was an incredibly kind person.  He ended up driving me to a busier truck stop than the one he had met me at and I was left permanently changed as to my opinion of people in the US.  Everywhere I went though, kind people would give me rides, give me $5 for something to eat, even at one point I was sleeping in a ditch with some Mexican immigrants who literally had nothing, and they gave me a half a pack of cigarettes before someone gave me a ride.

That was a long and difficult trip, and I didn’t have 100% mental health on my side.  Now, 24 years later I have seen more and done more, but just about all of my learning was based on that trip.  I don’t really know what to think of 9/11, to be honest I am still a little confused as to why planes piloted by what I heard were Saudis caused the US to start a war in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to kill Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Husein.  Now with this whole ISIS/ISIL situation I am even more confused.  It hurts in some ways that I can’t offer anything to help or make changes, I am too old for the military and too mentally ill to be a war reporter.  The world keeps turning and the only thing that regularly seems to get turned in me is my stomach.  It all seems like such a huge and difficult problem to me.  When I think of the Vietnam War years I think about a lot of poor kids, a large percentage of black kids who were mostly high school dropouts being sent off to fight a war they didn’t understand while those who were able to go to College had lives of drink and debauchery.  I guess a lot of the people that went to Vietnam were into drink and debauchery as well, I just have a thing in me that kind of hates the elitism that dominated America in those years and most likely still does.  I find myself to be very lucky, especially right at this time in my life.  So much good has been happening.  I have been having job offers, writing opportunities, book sales opportunities and a closeness with my extended family that for a long time I thought I would never have again.  And by some miracle I have been able to break my chain of bad habits.  No gambling, no drinking, no use of drugs or cigarettes.  And that is gaining me a lot of trust and respect from a lot of people.  I don’t know what the key to the whole thing is, but I suppose a good deal of it had to do with a decision I made a long time ago to break the cycle of alcoholism that had dominated the lives of men in my family for possibly dozens of generations.

I guess I don’t really know much more of what to say.  I hope and I pray that someone can read this and see some of the things I have done, going from a mental patient 14 years ago to someone with three jobs, a great deal of respect in his community, a bit of notoriety in newspapers, radio and television with regards to being an advocate of mental health awareness and see something in themselves.  See a part of them that has long been forgotten, a ‘kindness muscle’ that may have atrophied, but is still there to be exercised and brought back to full strength.  As usual, anyone who reads this blog is free to contact me, my personal email is viking3082000@yahoo.com

I apologize that I don’t have the presence of mind to write a poem today.  If anyone would like a free look at my poetry, just about everything I have written is archived at my Facebook page, Valhalla Books.  All the best to you Dear readers!

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