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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My Too Crazy Dream

Seriously. I watched the Nike ad. There’s nothing controversial or offensive about it. You can view it on YouTube.

How could people want to boycott Nike after watching the video?

Why are people who haven’t gone to a gym and haven’t exercised a day in their lives up in arms about the positive empowering message voiced in the video?

Now I can no longer hold the delusion that so-called normal people in America are actually sane.

Why are people affronted that Colin Kaepernick is using his voice to make a difference?

As usual, it’s the people whose faces are a whiter shade of pale that are in opposition anytime a courageous individual advocates for social justice.

Sales of Nike products rose 31 percent after the Kaepernick video was aired. I too intend to buy a second new pair of Nike training shoes.

Yes, I know of what I speak because I lift weights at the gym every week.

The Nike video is incredibly inspiring and uplifting to me of course because it reminds me of the time when I was told my dream wasn’t possible to achieve.

In 1988, I was told the best I could expect was to collect a government disability check for the rest of my life and live in public housing forever.

I didn’t buy that snow job for myself then. I don’t buy what people are still selling today about recovery being an impossible dream for others.

The Nike ad tells viewers not to want to be the greatest athlete on your team or the greatest in America.

You should be The Greatest Athlete Ever.

In this regard the goal for those of us living in recovery isn’t to have succeeded despite having schizophrenia.

My goal is to be The Greatest Christina Bruni Ever.

Your goal should be to be The Greatest ___________________(fill in your name) Ever.

The schizophrenia, whatever your illness is, has nothing to do with this.

To end this blog entry I’m going to quote Colin Kaepernick from the Nike video:

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

 

Meeting Your Match

Years ago I had the dubious distinction of logging onto Match to see what that online dating website was all about.

The featured Profile on the Match homepage–the first thing you saw–was that of a guy who wrote: “I won’t date fat women.”

Really, buddy? How fat is too fat for you, I wanted to ask. What if you married me and I gained 5 or 10 pounds? Would you divorce me because I was no longer skinny?

It turned me off from joining Match after reading this guy’s profile.

Chris’s Adventures in Dating Wonderland aren’t that funny even today.

I have a distaste for revealing personal information on a dating website.

In recent years I’ve met people who have met their girlfriend or boyfriend via dating websites. Now they’re husband and wife.

This hasn’t been my experience. I’ve simply been “ghosted” by all the guys I’ve sent messages to. There’s so much competition online that it’s hard to compete.

A pretty good book about online dating is Love at First Click by Laurie Davis.

I’ve read a number of matchmaker books. This book is the best by far. Reading it you can edit and revise your Profile.

The fact is you might not click with a person and it can have nothing to do with your mental health issue.

You might reject them or they might reject you for another reason entirely.

It takes a sense of humor to make the dating scene.

I say: do stand-up comedy about your experiences looking for love.

We all have outrageous tales of romantic partners found and lost on this ultimate road trip.

I’ll end here with this:

You’re not ever alone when you enjoy your own company.

Take a vacation to Italy without a love interest. Remodel your kitchen. Paint your bedroom walls pink.

It can be easy to fall into a funk.

Yet we ladies must hold our heads high and be proud of ourselves with or without a partner.

Talking About Mental Health With Others

I don’t like to talk about what happened. On an ordinary day I choose not to tell people. Only in my blogs, books, and public speaking engagements will I be open.

I’m trying to meet a love interest like a lot of women in America are. Even in this arena I don’t want to reveal too much information about anything, even about non-mental health things.

To empower readers I would like to talk about this:

When is the right time to tell your romantic partner about your mental health history?

I say: it’s after you’ve gotten them to swallow your bait and you’ve reeled them in on your fishing line.

The bait you should be dangling is who you are apart from your illness.

The first date or even only the fifth date is not the time to talk about any liability if you ask me.

If you agonize and obsess over whatever your mental health diagnosis is, constantly thinking about possible stigma and expecting stigma wherever you go, this might just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s going to influence how you interact with other people.

My memoir Left of the Dial exposed the early mindset I had that I didn’t want to be viewed as “crazy.”

Yet discontinue your medication and get sick, and you’ll be farther away from attracting a romantic partner.

The reality is–to quote a shrink–“A guy will be impressed that you take medication because it shows you want to be healthy in the relationship.”

In my early fifties I decided I wanted to try for love. The diagnosis is off the table as a conversation starter.

First I might slip it in little-by-little by talking about how Kanye West has told people he has bipolar.  Then by talking about a real person in my life who has a mental health issue.

Send out the information like a canary in a coalmine. See if it kills the canary.

The point is people who lack compassion, who are going to get spooked because you have an MH thing, are really messed up themselves. They’re not so great candidates for living in love with.

When you do talk about what happened it’s OK to keep embarrassing details to yourself. Keep private of course the things you don’t want to tell others.

You can tell others the bare-bones if you’d like and only that. It’s your right to tell others only what you’re comfortable revealing.

My signature poem “What She Said” talks about how I’ll only give others parts of the story. It’s worth buying Left of the Dial to have on hand this poem that starts off the book.

Like it or not (it’s a fact), revealing your diagnosis is going to color and influence what another person thinks of you from that moment on.

It’s far better if you ask me that you tell your love interest when you’ve established a connection with them linked to who you are apart from the illness..

Lastly, I’ll give readers this counterpoint:

You have to realize that it can be a burden for another person to process what you’ve told them. This has nothing to do with stigma.

They should be told in a way that considers their needs too.

The person you want to get intimate with should be told at some point.

What to do if you’re rejected, if the person stops calling, if they ghost you or disappear?

Think of the good times you had up until then.

Remember the adage:

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Every experience you have in life with another person gives you the skills, abilities, and strength you need to succeed in the future.

 

Using Mental Health to Sell Products

too face

The tag line under Different is: It means I’m not like anyone else.

Below right it lists the woman as: Filmmaker, Mental Health Advocate.

On bottom left it reads: Elyse is fearless like that. See why at Olay.com/FaceAnything.

I’m conflicted about using mental health to sell products.

On the one hand using real people models to sell products is an improvement. The standard airbrushed bearers of beauty like Karlie Kloss could use some competition.

On the other hand is it really progress that we’re viewed as consumers to sell products to?

The one specific trend I hope this advertisement heralds is a new openness to talking about mental health issues. Even if the bottom line is selling a product I think this is okay.

We need people like Elyse Fox the model featured in this advertisement who are making a difference in speaking out about mental health.

A lot of women will be motivated to plunk down their dough on Olay’s whipped cream after seeing this advertisement.

I’m OK with doing what makes you feel good about yourself. If buying a cream is going to make a person feel good, that’s OK for them.

What I don’t like mostly is this:

Beauty companies take women with naturally photogenic faces and use them to make the claim that buying the product will make you look as good as the models do.

Will this really happen? Maybe. Maybe not.

Readers: sometimes I don’t like how my natural face looks.

At 53, I could use a little help with foundation and makeup. As said, I don’t leave the house without wearing lipstick.

Yet I’ve stubbornly refused to plunk down my hard-earned money on miracle wrinkle creams.

I’m one of those genetic anomalies who looks 10 years younger than she is.

The most I can manage is some kind of Body Shop Vitamin C Glow moisturizer. I apply this after washing my face with Neutrogena Hydroboost cleanser.

I haven’t gotten on the K-Beauty bandwagon or resorted to a 5-Step routine with multiple products.

The real deal is: having an openness to talking about mental health should be encouraged.

I salute people like Elyse Fox who are turning their lens on this topic.

Dare to make a difference–I tell you–dare to make a difference.

Nothing will change in society if everyone’s too scared to rebel what passes as normal.

Accepting ill treatment from others isn’t the way to live. Treating others in an ill way isn’t normal.

Yet too many people don’t have the balls or breasts to speak out against this.

The time has come to tell our stories.

In the coming blog entry I’ll start to talk again about mental health.

 

Making the World a Better Place

Post-50, I find myself wanting to rebel what passes for normal.

The hate, the violence, the charade of a government ruled for and by the people, I find myself wanting to protest all of this.

I’ve become a Rebel and Political Protester at mid-life.

There’s so much you’re going through when you’re in your twenties and in your early life. Having a disability or some kind of illness you could first of all be tasked with keeping it all together just to get through the day. Managing your symptoms could be a full-time job.

As I got older and healthier it was imperative to me that I wanted to spend my life in public service. To serve other people not just focus on getting my needs met was my new goal.

For those of us who crossed over and have come back I submit that if you’re doing well that’s the time to think about making a difference.

It’s possible that our hardship will be alleviated when we’re older. The symptoms can attenuate. This gives us the second chance to have a better life.

We should not let this life pass us by. We should enjoy being ourselves and living our lives in our own inimitable style.

Yet most of all the quote is apt: Life is not a dress rehearsal.

The older I’ve gotten I’m aware that my life is getting shorter.

If I don’t speak out today when I have the chance I’ve just wasted another day.

Remaining silent isn’t something I care to do anymore.

When you’ve recovered, when there’s an ed at the end of the word recover, I say that you should think about helping to make the world a better place for other people too.

Creating Yourself at 50 and Beyond

I find myself wanting to talk about fashion more often in here. To talk about topics central to being a woman in today’s world apart from fashion too.

I will recommend again the book Nothing to Wear? A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet. In it Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo walk women through the steps of discovering our style and dressing in a harmonious way.

Julie Morgenstern is quoted in the book after the two consultants gave her a makeover:

“Wearing clothes that nurture and embrace me is a way to love and care for my body.”

I couldn’t have said this better.

I checked this book out of the library and have been reading it over and over for its sage advice. At some point I’m going to buy a copy of the book.

At 53 I reckon with not wanting to wearing stilettos and a cleavage-bearing mini skirt.

In the September issue of Bazaar jeweler Gaia Repossi talks about gender fluidity and fashion choices.

Perhaps you can relate to thinking that you fall down in terms of what is accepted in the mainstream?

Using Nothing to Wear? to find your style and having the courage to flaunt it could be the antidote to feeling sub-par in mid-life.

I say too: having the courage to flout convention in a sartorial or other way shouldn’t be frowned on.

Am I the only woman who has hit mid-life with the sudden desire to remodel her self and her life and her clothes?

I want to talk more about mid-life matters in the coming blog entries.

Cleaning out your closet and restocking it with a few stylish pieces could be the start of feeling better.

This is not frivolous. It’s also not the only worthy goal at mid-life.

Coming up I’ll talk about other things I think might strike a cord in readers.