New York City Aubade

New York City has been overtaken by multi-million dollar high-rise apartments dotting once downtrodden areas like the Lower East Side.

You have to be rich to live here today. Like Patti Smith–one of my favorite artists–told newbies: Forget coming here.

I’m proud that I wasn’t ever guilty of gentrifying a neighborhood by moving into it. Mostly because the neighborhoods I’ve moved into no one else wanted to live in.

What’s the appeal then of living here? Listen to the song “New York Cares” to understand why those of us who fell in love with Manhattan when we were young are committed to staying.

For a mere $10 dollar cover you can attend a poetry reading.

The host of one event told me: “You look good. You have a tan.”

Actually, I wore Lancome Teint Idole foundation in 260 Bisque N. I have ghost skin and don’t understand the appeal of getting a tan. I have ivory skin with a pink undertone. It’s the foundation I bought after getting the latest Sephora makeover.

You have a 5-minute time limit during the open reading. The clapping is thunderous before and after you read.

The featured readers at the poetry events always want you to buy their books.

I showed up in one of my mod skate park outfits: a cotton black-and-white stripe tee shirt dress, black leggings, and hot pink Converse. I wore a pink bandanna as a head wrap.

As I walked down the street before the event a guy who was a stranger who saw me coming said: “I like your head wrap.”

“Thanks.” I smiled at him and walked on by.

This time of year in New York City is magical and unforgettable. Street vendors sell their wares at tables in the West Village. With a little time before ducking in to read I struck up a conversation with a guy selling jewelry.

“Sterling silver. Not nickel. Don’t take it off when you wash your hands.” He referred to a ring I tried on.

That was good to know as I’ve lost too many rings taking them off in public restrooms and forgetting them. Keep your ring on your finger when you’re washing up. Simply avoid the area where the ring is if it’s a stone like turquoise.

Life is too precious and material things are just temporary joys. They won’t last forever, so wash up with your ring on your finger and be okay with this.

“Are you Italian?” The vendor asked after I paid him.

“Si.” I nodded “Have a great weekend.”

After the event I exited into the cool night. My Levi jacket draped across my shoulders as I hailed a cab.

The chapter titles of my memoir Left of the Dial are actually song titles from the early era in my life when the city was a wonderland.

One chapter “Cotton Crown” was misspelled because the actually song title I believe is “Kotton Krown.” The song is by Sonic Youth and it’s the 1980s anthem to New York City.

The song lyrics talk about mystery and chemistry. As a person who takes medication I was always entranced with the idea of taking control of the chemistry.

New York City will forever hold an allure for us rebels, beautiful dreamers, and creative folk drawn to the undiluted pockets of energy on side streets teeming with cafes and restaurants.

Here and there you can still find vestiges of the Vanished New York. They’re harder to find as For Rent signs dot the landscape where mom-and-pop stores used to be.

Yet walking down the street and being cheered on for wearing a head wrap reminds me that it’s true:

Your dreams aren’t ever too crazy here, they’re beautiful and so are you.

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God is Ariana Grande

ariana grande

I shot this photo on my dining room table with an overhead light fixture. Thus the hologram effect on the singer’s face.

Reading Elle is my secret joy. I quote from the magazine to encourage women blog readers to go out and buy the magazine. You can get it in Rite Aid.

The August 2018 issue of Elle  features Ariana Grande on the cover with this manifesto below her coveted mane: God is a Woman. I beg to differ: God is Ariana Grande.

In the interview with this pop singer superstar it was revealed that Grande is Italian: part Abruzzo; part Sicilian. Though I’m Sicilian too I’m as white-faced as Casper the 1970s TV show ghost.

“You’re a real white girl,” the guy who shot the first photo for my original website told me. “Are you sure you’re Sicilian?”

It makes me proud that Grande is Italian too. Italians are not all dum-dums, racists, and mafioso. With no other group of people is it okay to slander them like is commonly done with Italians. It seems like it’s open season on people with a lot of vowels in their last name.

Ariana Grande has a tattoo that reads in fine print bellissima, or most beautiful. She’s copped to having anxiety. At her concert in Manchester a bomb exploded and her fans were sent running away. Ever the trooper, she returned to Manchester for a benefit concert.

Why I ultimately like Grande is that she doesn’t care about her reputation. I’ll quote this snippet from the Elle interview: “She is loud and proud in her anti-Trumpism and has aligned herself with gun reform and Black Lives Matter.”

You don’t say? She does: “There’s a lot of noise when you say anything about anything. But if I’m not going to say it, what’s the fucking point of being here? Not everyone is going to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and sing my songs. I’m also going to be a human being who cares about other human beings; to be an ally and use my privilege to help educate people.”

As per the interview too: Ariana Grande has been in therapy for more than 10 years.

Did I say Ariana Grande is Italian?

Write Your Story to Heal Your Self

Today I presented a memoir writing workshop at the 12th Annual Peer Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center. The title of the session was Write Your Story to Heal Your Self.

I firmly believe everyone can be creative. The premise of my workshop was that you can heal the self-stigma by writing your story.

Michael Jackson sang in “Man in the Mirror” that if you want to change the world you first have to change yourself.

Healing yourself is the start of healing the planet.

I told attendees that I healed via self-expression using art forms. My love of music, writing, books, and fashion helped me heal.

Here I’d like to reprint the questions listed on page 2 of the handout I gave attendees.

Feel free to Write Your Story to Heal Yourself using these Qs as a guide:

You’re a true original.

How do you define yourself?

Language is power. Written and verbal communication are a playing field.

Whoever controls their self-definition has the power to create their future.

A fortune cookie message tells us:

The sure way to predict the future is to invent it.

Here are some questions to get you thinking.

Jot down whatever comes to mind after reading them.

What is your diagnosis? How old were you when you received it?

How did your life change after the diagnosis?

What is it you don’t like about having a mental health issue?

In what way has good come of living in recovery?

What’s better about your life now?

Write about something you have that the illness didn’t take away.

Write about an event that was one of the happiest times in your life.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why?

What do you like about yourself?

What makes you a true original?

What’s your favorite color and why?

What are you the proudest of in your life?

To sum up write a six-word memoir. Use only six words to talk about yourself and your life.

99 Red Balloons

red balloons

I’m reminded of the song “99 Red Balloons” from the 1980s.

The lyrics talked about how this is it and this is war. The leader singer then let 99 red balloons loose to fly up in the sky.

It was a song about promoting peace on earth.

A lot of twisted individuals with sick minds are ruling countries in the world.

America is undoubtedly going to be forced into another near-endless war. A war whose funding will come by diverting the landmark mental health funding into the war chest.

This is it. This is war.

Won’t you join me in speaking about against any kind of war and warfare?

Optimal mental health is all too uncommon in the leaders pulling the triggers and authorizing chemical and nuclear attacks.

What’s next?

 

Rebel Rebel

bowie-cover

I’ve installed David Bowie’s song “Rebel Rebel” on my iPod and set the alarm clock to wake me to this song.

Ordinary people in the world aren’t kind to those of us who rebel.

Early on in my life I rebelled the role of “mental patient.”

Thirty years later I tell you readers that living a counterfeit life is a mistake.

It comes down to being okay with not conforming to what has been designated as the norm in society.

Yet why do people think they have the right to brand others as–at worst “crazy”–and at best not normal? This intrigues me that most people fall in line to wanting to be normal or have a normal life–and expect others to follow suit.

I ask you: Is normal what it’s cracked up to be? I think not.

If you ask me there’s no safety in numbers–you’re just numbing your individuality to please people who won’t accept your true self.

I have thought often about the futility of seeking other people’s approval for who you are and how you live your life.

Way back in the 1970s David Bowie sung about how the girl’s mother didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl.

The lyrics about the torn dress; the face a mess–and how the young girl was there when the dues were counted out– it all reminds me of the story I told in Left of the Dial.

If you ask me “Rebel Rebel” is the perfect anthem for self-expression of bold stripes and of any stripe.

My high school art teacher told us that successful composition requires “unity with diversity.” That’s a great credo for the world right now.

God made us individuals. He thinks we’re divine just the way we are. We aren’t  supposed to be mirror images of each other.

“Rebel Rebel” was prophetic in its message:

That you can only be a success if you dare to be yourself.

Life Begins at the Hop

In the immortal words of the XTC song title: “Life Begins at the Hop.” Not at conception.

The guy who wrote this HuffingtonPost article is actually a Pastor who flambe’d the pro-life contingent in an astute fashion in his essay.

As for “ripping babies out of the womb at nine months”–that isn’t happening Mr. Toupee. No woman wants to have an abortion. We’re forced to choose. We’re getting abortions as soon as possible without delay.

Just remember that the next president will choose Supreme Court justices.

Running the country isn’t a Monopoly Game where you’re buying and selling real estate with fake money and everyone wants to live on Park Place.

For a lot of us we’ve historically had no say in how the government enacts laws that dictate what we can and can’t do as U.S. citizens.

We’ve had no control over our destiny. We’ve been forced to choose to collect SSI for the rest of our lives because for too long recovery was a distant dream. Not now.

Today we have the choice as to how we want to live our lives–even with any limitations we might still have. Today more than ever we’re able to have a full and robust life. Today we can not only dream we can do the things we want to do.

For the last week the words “Life Begins at the Hop” have been running through my head so I had to Google this. The song was popular on alternative radio in the 1980s.

For the contingent flambe’d in the HuffingtonPost article life begins and ENDs at conception more likely. I risk losing followers or alienating religious readers of this blog by linking to the Pastor’s essay.

Yet now more than ever it’s time to flambe stigma of any kind: sexism, racism, narrow-mindedness, intolerant religion, hatred that leads to violence and killing throughout the world and in America too, and any other kind of fervent ghastly mentality.

I live in a world where everyone I see is beautiful. I live in a world where everyone has the right to recover. I live in a world where difference is to be celebrated.

Where human beings have more in common than not. Where judging people benefits no one–most of all not the person doing the judging.

It’s time to see and love human beings living on earth for what we are: a rainbow not a container of marshmallows.

Whoever wins the presidential election I’m not sure real positive change will happen any time soon.

Change will happen because as Michael Jackson sang in the song “Man in the Mirror” if you want to change the world you first have to change yourself.

All-American Social Club

July 9, 2016

All-American Social Club

This was my America inside the club:

A dreadlocked Adonis in Nike trainers chatted up a chica.

An Asian woman in Breton striped danced with a lightning-haired guy.

An African American woman in a purple shirt danced magnificent with a white woman to the cover band.

This is the America I know: free souls at the social club choosing to buck the system that divides us.

We keep on rockin’ in the real world.