I’m Still Here


I’m Still Here…………

http://youtu.be/BbhEo-4_ETc

Mable Elizabeth Palmer
Mable Elizabeth Palmer

Today I am 55 years old.  It is a Blessing to be this age.  I have depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I’m also a domestic violence and sexual abuse survivor.  I’m the person sitting next to you on the bus, subway, at work and in church. No I don’t want pity just acceptance. Recently I had a conversation on my Facebook page regarding mental illness. It was good sharing with my FB buddy who works in the mental illness field about the obstacles and hurdles faced not only by the mentally ill but their families.  The government just seems to put more roadblocks in our way so we wind up taking many detours towards a place called Wellness.   My mother Mable Elizabeth Palmer lived most of adult life as a functioning schizophrenic. There is a serious lack of support services for the mentally ill thus we read of all these horror stories in the newspapers but for the most part many mentally ill folks carry on with their daily lives.  Despite all that I’ve been through as a child and again as an adult I’m happy to be alive.

Sometimes when I tell my story people who have these “happy lives” meaning a satisfying long term marriage, house in New Burbia, kids, grand-kids, successful careers feel sorry for me, pity or think I’m a walking tragedy living a substandard life. Not true!  I live in full life in spite of my numerous desert and valley experiences.  Perhaps an even fuller more substantive life than those who eat from silver platters.  Mine is not a half-life of only the sunny side of the street but a full life that includes the alleys, back-roads, ghettos, and dimly lit streets populated with voices yearning to be head.  I like it that way.

Nothing to be sorry about. Despite all the things my parents went through, especially my Mom’s battles with her demons, she was also an alcoholic, overall I had a good childhood. We have a choice to dwell on the sad past or the fond happy times of the past. I think about the good things.  The fun stuff our family did when I was growing up. Of course now being an adult I have a different perspective. I was not so accepting myself when I was younger but age, maturity, experience and time changed my viewpoints.

It’s the government and people’s approach to mental illness that needs to be healed. It should not be a stigma. I readily admit to my struggles with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. That’s my life. It is not a tragedy.The tragedy is other peoples reactions and perceptions of mental illness. My Mom was a good wife and mother. I served my country in the Army, earned my BA in English, held down jobs all my life, went to church, now a full participant in Shinnyo-en Buddhism etc… It would be good if people with mental illness were more accepted. If there was more help for those of us suffering. If people would stop trying to impose their expectations on me of what happiness means. Everybody has a past. Everyone has a story. Life goes on. I’m just happy to be alive.  Pitiful prayers, slapping oil on my head, telling me the latest New Age positive thinking strategy 12 Steps to Happiness, and sad sack face looks going tsk, tsk, tsk are an insult to my intelligence as a human being.  It is what it is. Raw, exposed and uncut.

I have health insurance so I do have the option of returning to those mind-numbing anti-depressant drugs I took after my mother’s death but I choose not too.  I choose the full gamut and range of my emotions and feelings as opposed to being a drug induced zombie.  During the high points in life I love my odd slightly off center sense of humor. The times when I’m at my lowest are the times when I’m most creative.  I’m a better writer, a better photographer because I know what it is like to live life in the margins, the outskirts of society, to be a misfit and an outcast.  I’m drawn to people living alternative lives.  That’s why I love Street Photography.  I don’t want what’s staged, posed or set-up. I want real. The nitty gritty. The down and dirty. The quirky and unusual.  If life was meant to be perfect happiness or total sadness the books of Job and the Song of Solomon would not be in the Holy Bible.

What would the world look like if gave a helping hand to the Mentally Ill by supporting organizations like NAMI, prosecuting men who abuse their wives and girlfriends and pulling the collars off ministers who are rapists.  What if we weren’t treated like modern day lepers?  Instead of further victimizing people living with mental illness write to your Congresspersons and Senators to create laws that will enable us to receive the treatment and support systems we so desperately need.

No I don’t need to be “healed” but our society does.

Me in 1961
1961- A Very Good Year

I’ll Cry Tomorrow


The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)
The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man
George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man

George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)

We all face this struggle of good and evil within ourselves whether we acknowledge it or not. Refusal does not mean it ceases to exist rather it hides like a caged angry animal ready to leap out and cause destruction at the least provocation.  The dual natures is an ever present battleground existing within our various selves.  We are in one body a mixture of the sacred and the profane. We seek sanctuary from the island of lost souls populated but shades, ghosts of formerly flesh, blood and bone humans.  We bear the stigmata and battle scars of imploding internal battlefields.  Redemption and refuge will only be found by acknowledging our weakest points, applying salve and seeking greener pathways. Lest we fall into the rabbit hole. Drowning in quicksands of pride and stubbornness.  Our decisions. Our choices.  Help is available if we clasp the outstretched hand.

As the Apostle Paul states in “Romans 7:15-20

New International Version (NIV)

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

 

I’ll Cry Tomorrow

 

Self-Trust, Inner Guide, the Knowing Voice Within, Strong Internal Core, Ignoring the Experts; These appear to be the latest Buzzwords in the ever present Self-Help craze that has been going on since the 1970s.

Well I beg to differ.  I know I’m about to stir up a Hornet’s Nest but that’s what writers do, create controversy, ignite debate and hopefully make readers think.  Much to the consternation of the New Age Gurus yes there are wrong choices and bad decisions.

I’ve learned to run major  decisions by  trusted friends and professionals.  Got tired of making bad decisions which  backfired on me.  You need a few good friends as sounding boards because most of us cannot be objective regarding our problems, thus wrong choices.  You need someone or several somebodies to hold you accountable, slap you upside the head and say, “Get with the Program before you Kill Yourself!!”

Friends, ministers, pastors, some co-workers and close family can give objective advice.  Sometimes we are way too caught up in our emotions to make correct  or wise choices.  That guy may be so in love with yet who is violent and abusive is the wrong man.  Time to  take off the Romantic Blinders and see him as others view him. A violent, abusive, evil tempered jerk.  Poor financial choices.  Buying a home, car or some other big ticket item could be a very bad choice if you don’t have enough income to cover the outgo.

People have lost homes, jobs, their families and even their lives behind bad choices.  The lesson is learned too late for correction.  It’s like being a little bit pregnant.  No such thing.  As humans we are influenced by our fickle emotions, family backgrounds, how we were raised, and society’s expectations.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.

For years I was a prescription drug addict.  Though the doctors who liberally dispersed the pills are somewhat to blame the lion’s share of the blame is on me because I made the choice  to  keep taking them nearly to the point of death.  Now that I’m in my mid-50s  and living a cleaner life, yes my “Internal Core” has improved but it is still not as strong as it should be.  Also I still must live with the consequences of  previous dumb stupid decisions.   Yes I’ve lived through being evicted from my apartment in Queens, been in and out of various   hospital emergency  rooms, I have a terrible credit rating, plus certain health issues that I’ll be battling the rest of my life.  My Inner Guide was a damn fool and an idiot.  No I should have gotten professional help.  I put my trust in people who I thought loved me and who I assumed would help me.  I made choices out of fear and poor health and an addled mind.  Finally after seven years of struggle I’m beginning to see daylight.  I know my limitations.

I also know that at any point I could backslide but I believe I’ve finally reached the point where I no longer want to live in the Valley.  I want a Mountaintop experience.   Trust me when I say this wisdom  and insight I now possess has only come with fighting depression, fear, panic attacks, and anxieties.  Once you hit bottom and you’re tired of living there you’ll find a way to go up.  I learned to stop make excuses for my bad behavior, stand up for my rights as a middle-aged Black Woman living in a racist, sexist, ageist society, stopped dating men who don’t respect me, my dreams or goals and who really mean me no good, junked all the pills except for my high blood pressure medication, eat right, exercise and renew my faith.  I’m now an active member of the New York Shinnyo-en Buddhist community.  Through Buddhism I’ve become a stronger Christian.  Truly I’ve begun to understand what it means to work out your Soul’s Salvation.  The means of escape you seek is only a delusion. Life is meant to be faced head on.  This life is only yours to live.  No one can live it for you.  Now I’m on a better pathway because I have a clearer more focused mind.  I still have some setbacks but my life has improved 95% in the last two years.   

Moving Forward.

Please check out the link for a Bio on the actress Susan Hayward star of the movie I’ll Cry Tomorrow.  Susan Hayward a BadAss Brooklyn Beauty who even with her cracks, fissures and faults didn’t take shit from anybody.  Susan Hayward’s story resonates with me.  We are both Fiery, Hotheaded Strong Willed Redheads.   Hers was natural.  Mine is from a bottle.  I Love actresses from the 30s, 40s, and 50s because they overcame so much and were some of the best actresses ever to grace the stage and films.  Exotic Beauty, Fame and fortune do not always bring happiness, sometimes just a new set of demons to conquer.  Ms. Hayward’s pain made her a better actress because she approached each role from her gut.  My pain has made me a better writer.  Like her there were times when I did not want to live.  I wanted to leave this earth because the pain was too great to bear, yet God sent someone my way to save me and make me realize the foolishness of my actions.

I suffer no fools and I pull no punches.  Shipwrecked. Lost.  Perhaps. But learning to rely on G.P.S. ~ God’s Positioning System. Shattered Portraits, we picked up the shards, put them in the kiln  to create an entire new piece of pottery changed but not consumed by fire.

Like her I struggled with substance abuse.  Mine was prescription meds, hers alcohol.  Like her I’ve had many failed romances.  But through it all we Strong No Nonsense Women prevail, persevere and triumph over defeat.    As the title of Susan Hayward’s movie states, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”

Ready for my Second Act.

 

  http://youtu.be/jh_Q9BOVUyo

 

Fort Tipii


Fort Tipii

Tepee-Hut
Tepee-Hut

I couldn’t build a proper tree house.  Too high up and anyway I’m afraid of heights, so instead I built this little fort of sorts as a place to gather my thoughts after a hectic day.  Made my best efforts with whatever materials the forest floor offered up as building materials.  There were enough twigs and branches to construct more ground level tree houses or make my current enclosure larger but I chose to save some for kindling for warmth against the chill night air and the rest I kept stacked as a type of cord-wood in a womb like nook Mother Nature had carved into a tree that had been struck by lightening. Eventually I decided to construct another Tipii twig abode to store my few belongings I had gradually began to sneak away from The Family Residence.

These Tree/Tepee/Tipii/Twig aka T3 structures became my holy sanctuaries and safe havens I return to again and again to re-connect with Mother Earth and nature. Too small to stand upright clicking my heels together three times was not an option so I was forced to remain seated. With some degree of discomfort I could lay down in a fetal position while I imagined myself re-entering an alternate womb to be reborn into better circumstances. Mine were a tepee shelters without the buffalo skin covering all exposed bones and framework.

Tipii Stick Hut
Tipii-Hut

Sometimes I’d hug my knees and rhythmically rock back and forth while repeating what I thought were calming mantras, occasionally wishing that the earth would open up and swallow me whole transporting me some place free from pain, misery and cruelty. Like a shaman I chanted using my homemade rituals attempting to silence the drumbeat of voices incessantly chattering inside my head versus the declarations of the Family.  They created a dissonance tear in the time frame continuum of my thoughts.

You see our house, The Family Home if you could call it that is a ramshackle structure; a hodgepodge mixture of stone, wood and stucco additions and afterthoughts as different parts of the building were constructed at different times upon the whims the directors and caretakers.

I was forced to share this mishmash cottage with twelve other inmates, bordered on this expanse of woods providing me a refuge from leaky roofs, busted walls, peeling wallpaper, lukewarm baths, moldy musty scented showers, not to mention all the yelling, screaming, arguments, fights, thefts of food and personal belongings and constant disagreements of a house too small to accommodate the number of people residing within its creaky ramparts.  The Family nicknamed it the Hotel California. You know the place where you check in but never check out. The nails across chalkboard voices of The Family were constant knife thrusts to my brain making daily life a constant battle that did not end even has the diurnal gave up residence to the nocturnal for they all snored, wheezed and gasped through the night abyss.  The utter desolation of the place crept into your bones and took root nourished by hopelessness.

The Family’s house sits on an oddly place piece of land, our house gives way to forest which in turn after several miles gives way to craggy, rocky shores of a steep cliff, where if one sits perfectly still you can hear the violent waves crashing against rough jagged rock formations that looked as though they were designed by the devil himself. It is said that in olden times there used to be many shipwrecks where sailors were either impaled on the razor sharp Stalagmites. Sometimes you can even hear the shrieks, moans, cries and groans of the unfortunate wretches mixed in with the howling winds. The few who weren’t dashed to pieces by the razor sharp jagged rock formations tried to climb up to safety but were thwarted by the steep incline.

Forest Hiding Place
Forest Hiding Place

So I periodically retreated to my exoskeleton asylums as a sentry medium between earth and sky. I can never turn my mind off completely but within my secret hiding place the voices were kept to a low roar and bid to change direction and pace.

The last straw that broke the camels back came when my moronic addled brained cell-mate Pearl kept throwing her nasty, dirty towels, underwear and flip-flops over to my side of the room. When I returned from the canteen or our common dining area there were moldy wet towels plastered to the floor like throw rugs that accosted the dividing line between our two living areas.  Pearl was known as the filthiest female in our wing tossing food and drink to and fro fully expecting that a squad of personal maids and sweepers were following in her wake. One night after I returned from my many woodland sojourns I decided that I had, had enough and soaked all her grimy towels in gasoline and lighter fluid obtained from an unlocked supply closet near the motor pool.  Pearl had a tendency to drink like sailor on shore leave and sleep just as soundly so she never had an inkling as I piled the towels around her bed, built a kindling fort for good measure and added effect, led a fuse from a doorway to an open window, climbed out and lit said fuse.

The Kindling delivered me from The Family’s vocalizations. I tried to warn them before. I tried to silence the voices through escape, but it was not working so I had to try another plan. The crackles and pops of my campfire seem to be in sync with the screams and cries for rescue from the patients locked inside their rooms but eventually those voices will die out also, and then sleep.  Blessed sleep.

Love,

Cassandra Verity

My Secret Hiding Place


My Secret Hiding Place

The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place

I couldn’t build a tree house.  Too high up and anyway I’m afraid of heights, so instead I built this little fort of sorts as a place to gather my thoughts after a hectic day.  Made my best efforts with whatever materials the forest floor offered up as building materials.  There were enough twigs and branches to construct more ground level tree houses or make my current enclosure larger but I chose to save some for kindling for warmth against the chill night air and the rest I kept stacked as a type of cord-wood not too far away.

It has become my sanctuary and safe haven I return to again and again to re-connect with Mother Earth and nature. Too small to stand upright clicking my heels together three times was not an option so I was forced to remain seated. With some degree of discomfort I could lay down in a fetal position while I imagined myself re-entering an alternate womb to be reborn into better circumstances. Mine was a tepee without the buffalo skin covering all bones and framework.

Sometimes I’d hug my knees and rhythmically rock back and forth while repeating what I thought were calming mantras, occasionally wishing that the earth would open up and swallow me whole transporting me some place free from pain, misery and cruelty. Like a shaman I chanted using my homemade rituals attempting to silence the drumbeat of squatter voices incessantly chattering inside my head versus the declarations of the Family.  They created a dissonance within the time frame continuum of my thoughts.

You see our house, if you could call that ramshackle structure; a hodgepodge mixture of stone, wood and stucco addendum and afterthoughts as different parts of the building were constructed at different times upon the whims the directors and caretakers.

I was forced to share this mishmash cottage with twelve other inmates, bordered on this expanse of woods providing me a refuge from leaky roofs, busted walls, peeling wallpaper, lukewarm baths, moldy musty scented showers, not to mention all the yelling, screaming, arguments, fights and constant disagreements of a house too small to accommodate the number of people residing within its creaky ramparts.  The Family nicknamed it the Hotel California. You know the place where you check in but never check out. The nails across chalkboard voices of The Family were constant knife thrusts to my brain making daily life a constant battle that did not end even has the diurnal gave up residence to the nocturnal for they all snored, wheezed and gasped through the night abyss. The Family’s house sits on an oddly place piece of land, our house gives way to forest which in turn after several miles gives way to craggy, rocky shores of a steep cliff, where if one sits perfectly still you can hear the violent waves crashing against rough jagged rock formations that looked as though they were designed by the devil himself. It is said that in olden times there used to be many shipwrecks where sailors were either impaled on the razor sharp Stalagmites. Sometimes you can even hear the shrieks, moans, cries and groans of the unfortunate wretches mixed in with the howling winds.

So I periodically retreated to my exoskeleton asylum as a sentry medium between earth and sky. I can never turn my mind off completely but within my secret hiding place the voices were kept to a low roar and bid to change direction and pace.

The Kindling delivered me from The Family’s vocalizations. I tried to warn them before. I tried to silence the voices through escape, but it was not working so I had to try another plan. The crackles and pops of my campfire seem to be in sync with the screams and cries for rescue from the patients locked inside their rooms but eventually those voices will die out also, and then sleep.  Blessed sleep.  As I drifted off I thought I heard sounds creeping up on me.  Maybe it could be…. Naw.  How would those deviant mutations get all the way out here.

While pyrotechnics roared and exploded beyond the glen my dream state thoughts went to Calista and Cassandra those Kudzu Chia matronly tumbleweeds who wreck havoc and chaos wherever they spore and spawn and their equally troublesome and problematic one-legged Siamese twin cousins Morton and Milton.

Love,

Cassandra

Being In Total Control of Herself {B.I.T.C.H.}


Bad Ass Bitch Does Overtime ~ B.I.T.C.H. ~ Being in Total Control of Herself

Well those lazy hazy days of Summer have nearly come to an end and full swing overtime is in the house. It’s full speed ahead at the Gotham Art Gallery. Crazy hour’s Double shifts are back. Made it home before 2am despite the fact that the L Train tried to thwart my efforts. Made everyone get off to catch a Shuttle bus to the rest of the L Train line. Oh Joy the normal workings “Chaos of the MTA workings” driving Brooklynites crazy!!

Honey the cheese done slid off your cracker!

 

Asshole Repellent
Asshole Repellent

Kraftwerk – Trans Europe express

http://youtu.be/qBGNlTPgQII

Of course this being Brooklyn the wackos, drunks, hoes, druggies and mental cases were out in force. Brooklyn a borough inhabited by residents escaped from Flip Mode Squad and Insane Clown Posse.

I really thought two big psycho heifers were gonna throw down on the platform or in the Shuttle bus. I swear they take courses in Creative Cursing 101 because they called the MTA and their fellow riders, everything but a child of God. The kids riding the bus with their parents will have an entire new vocabulary in time for the start of school Sept. 9th.

Fully expected Old Skool dwarf rapper Bushwick Bill to make an appearance along with a strange new group called the Flatbush Zombies. I kid you not! Brooklyn, never a dull moment day or night!

MC Dee Righteous bids you a fond Good Night!

Baby Boy

Baby Boy Got $200 sneakers as a reward for cussing the teachers and failing in school. Teacher or principals fault. Grades all F but it ain’t me you fucked up can’t you see! School’s for Fools. Some place I don’t want to be.

Baby Boy he never wrong. They got it all mixed up seeing me strong. Y’all know I’m the King of my crew. God’s Gift to everything.

But in the back of your head all you can see is yo’ no count Daddy, welfare system and crackhead Momma staring back in the mirror saying you gonna be like me.

Hanging out in the upper class nabe with my hoodrat crew. See a few things I wanna take. Wait a minute! What’s that I hear! A siren in back of me. Starting to fear. Next thing I’m on Lock down in Juvie Hall. Where my crew at now when as I’m taking this fall.

 

Baby boy lying in a ditch. Off to Rikers to be somebody’s Bitch.

Baby Boy. You Done. You Done.