My fundraiser

Please check out my fundraiser here:

I want to ask reader opinion of the fundraising page. I plan to start a companion fundraising information website or page where further information can be accessed.

Feel free to share, etc.

If half of life is showing up, the other is PR

The TV next door continues to blast away. Today I had a break of about an hour and then, it turned back on again even louder. It’s so loud that even Puzzle is bothered by it now.

Meanwhile, yesterday I spoke with the landlord. I didn’t even mention that my roof still leaks, nor did I mention the noise problem. I figured the most important issue takes precedence: my electric bill.

The wattage count has been insanely high now two months in a row. I know in my other house I managed to keep the bill down to just over 50 (watts or kilowatts or whatever they are) per month. This didn’t involve going nuts unplugging everything nor did it involve shutting off the main switch when I wasn’t home or at night. I don’t own any major appliances, and when I stopped using the water heater (which wasn’t working properly anyway) I saved a lot. I began cooking with a single gas burner instead of the electric hotplate, further lowering the bill.

My first month here in my new place was only a fraction of July. I ended up paying the entire month of July, which covered electricity used while the house was vacant (go figure). Then, for August, the bill was 173 for a single month. That seems so high to me, almost as if my meter is measuring usage for the other two occupied residences here in addition to my own, or partly so. One residence is unoccupied, yet for whatever reason they’ve got the outside light turned on. I assume this is on my landlord’s bill, or should be, but now, I really wonder…..

After seeing that first bill, which I paid in full, I got obsessive about turning stuff off, unplugging everything, even switching the electricity off entirely every chance I could get.

The next bill, which I found online, read 103 as usage for the month.  Clearly, my obsessive unplugging made a difference. However, why is it still so darned high?

My landlord agrees, something isn’t right here. So he is checking on it. I can’t let this go on. It should become apparent that I’m not crying wolf nor hogging electricity. Then, maybe my argument about the noise will seem more credible. I know I should only complain a little, not too much, since I don’t want to be seen as “complainer.”

Hmmm…so regarding that TV, who is paying the electric bill for all that wasteful noise?

I had another creative idea today. Tell my neighbor that TV is very bad for fetuses. If Puzzle is bothered by it, I would assume as soon as the fetus can hear (or feel the vibrations), it’ll be affected.

What news, or sports, could be that important? Well, yeah, fútbol. But mostly, she watches talk shows.  Are there any professional thieves out there? Please, steal their TV! I’ll pay you! You can watch fútbol to your hearts’ content…elsewhere.



Party time!

I got hired.

Difficult people and situations

We all know these annoying situations.  When a person who is too demanding. Or always rude. Or frequently embarrasses us in public. Or is hot and cold, loving us one minute, hating us another. Or the jealous lover or friend who won’t let us be friends with anyone else. Or a person’s personal habits infringe on the rights of others.  When a person is always angry or shouts too much.  A person who won’t let you get a word in. Or one who gives the “silent treatment” as a way of communicating. A co-worker who doesn’t pull his weight but takes all the credit. Gossip.

I’ve certainly seen plenty of these situations. I’m not always so great at handling them, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes.  But here’s my advice, for what it’s worth:

  1. Stop thinking in terms of difficult people. There are no difficult people. There are only difficult situations involving people.
  2. Don’t be a shrink. Don’t diagnose. As soon as you assign a psych diagnosis to a person, you close your mind.
  3. “Psychopath” or “sociopath” are just as harmful forms of psych diagnosis as any other. There are no psychopaths.
  4. There are people we see in a bad light, people we expect will act badly. These expectations lock a person into bad behavior.
  5. Stop thinking of other people as “toxic” or having “negative energy.” This is like saying these folks have a permanent character disorder, or psych diagnosis. A person might be rude today, but just fine tomorrow. Ask why.

Do you need to end the situation or relationship, or can you work to see it change?  Consider this:

If you cannot change your expectations, and insist on seeing a person as “disordered,” you are doing the person a disservice. The problem, then, isn’t that you need to get away from that person, but that person needs to get away from YOU.

We see this in classrooms all the time. Teachers who are rigid with their expectations lock the “bad student” into bad behavior, the “shy one” into remaining shy, the “lazy” student into continuing to not do any work. Concerned parents often find that taking a kid out of a school where negative expectations have developed, and bringing a student into a new environment free of negative expectations or amateur (or “professional”) psych diagnoses will solve most behavior problems. Sadly, school districts make it difficult for parents to do this, especially those that are economically disadvantaged.

In my childhood, I saw all too often teachers who wouldn’t let go of negative expectations. I saw this in the way they taught their classes.

A couple of times, my parents considered taking me out of my school and putting me in private school just to get me away from negative expectations. My sixth grade teacher couldn’t get certain notions out of her head about various students. My parents knew that keeping me there wasn’t productive. My parents wanted me to have a quality education free of this harmful situation that was stacked against me. I remember they took me to various private schools for interviews, but it got no further than that. I remember my teacher gave me a hard time about considering private school, like I was doing something horrible by leaving her class. I was also very afraid to change schools. The idea of readjusting seemed like too much. However, elementary school would end at sixth grade. So we all knew next year, at a new school, would be entirely different.

Parents should know that the first day of school is crucial for a child. This is when first impressions are made. Kids are well aware of this, too, fretting over clothes, hair, and facial complexion.

My seventh grade started off the day after our family dog died. She was only a puppy and we didn’t really know what happened or why she died. My first day of school, I was shattered over the events of the night before. I guess the other kids in my class, most of whom I had never met before, saw a sad kid and that sealed it for the entire year.

I got teased for most of that year. I found it hard to make friends. The kids were starting to form cliques and I was excluded from all of them. I felt left out in every way. Even some of the teachers treated me very badly. At the end of the year I found another girl whom I didn’t think had friends either, and we found to our delight that we enjoyed each other’s company. Lonely no more.

That summer, I spent a month at summer camp. I learned many things and found the experience uplifting and empowering. I came back to school realizing that I was an okay person after all. I knew no child should be teased. I learned that the teasing hadn’t happened because of something wrong with my attitude, but the attitudes of my classmates and a few teachers.  Even though I didn’t want summer to end, I didn’t mind going back to school, either.

My first day of eighth grade was smooth and uneventful. That year, I didn’t have any of the problems I had in seventh grade at all. I was teased far less and the teachers helped empower me further. In fact, some of the teachers I had were exceptionally good and I felt blessed. I improved academically and even did extra school work because now I knew I loved learning.

There are no difficult kids, nor adults. We need to stop our negative expectations and we need to stop labeling people, which locks them into negative behaviors. We should know that our labeling only perpetuates the situation or makes it far worse. We are the problem. We have created and are perpetuating a bad situation.  If we cannot stop our labeling, we need to do the labeled person a favor and help her get herself to a situation where she is wanted, cherished, and loved.

When I lived at 100 Warren Street in Watertown, a two-tower, five-story complex, there was a couple that lived there named the Burkhardts. Everyone hated them and was rude to them. Even the cab drivers hated them. One day, I went to do a few favors for them and found them incredibly demanding, so I backed off. The neighbors said to me, “So you found out about them, did you?” I believe the Burkhardts had now set up negative expectations among the neighbors and in the town. I was saddened by the continued rudeness and hostility toward them.

One day, the Burkhardts moved very far away, to Arkansas. I didn’t blame them one bit. Their parents helped them, most likely realizing the situation. Among the neighbors, I heard whispers of “Good riddance.” I was saddened by this. I hope anyone reading this realizes that the Burkhardts had no choice. They were literally bullied out.


Clarification about my writing

Writing happens to be my career. I write memoir, so the material that I use comes from my own memory (primarily).  I rarely find writing painful. It is always a joy. If writing was painful, I’d have stopped long ago. I am not “hurt” by writing about past events, nor “upset” nor “tortured,” nor “falling apart.” If you think I am, you are misguided.

I think people assume I’m in tremendous pain only due to their own pain. They project it on me. If my writing upset you, then you need to ask why you are upset.

Maybe if I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, writing would hurt. Until then, my own words do no harm to me. If you think I’m a tortured soul, ask why you are so tortured yourself over my words.

Are you not willing to believe these things are possible? Or is it painful or scary to learn that these things can happen to you, too, or to your family members? Is it painful to know that staying with psych is only harming you? Do you not want to admit this?

At very least, shrinkage holds people back. Whenever I hear someone “got better” from seeing a psychiatrist, I ask myself what “better” means. The response I get is typical:

“I am hard to treat, so I am on seven meds. I am well informed and this is my choice. I often have to go into a hospital for a “tune up” if the side effects are bad or the pills don’t work. So I can’t really work a job. But I am well, because my therapist says I am making great progress in treatment.”

So I tell myself that might have been me some 20 years ago, even ten. I tell myself undoubtedly the person will think differently in 20 years if they’re still alive.

I write because I care about other people and I don’t want to see any more fall prey to psych diagnosis.

Free Wendy Greene

Another journalist, Wendy Greene, who advocates for parent rights and writes for WhiteOut Press, is being held as a political prisoner by a corrupt judge in Riverside, California.  Another man in an unrelated case, is also reportedly being held there by the same judge, for the content of political speech.  Here is an email I just received today about these two  California political prisoners:

9/26/15 – From Kim Dortch – Riverside, CA

Hi, My name is Kim Dortch and I wrote to you before looking for Wendy Greene’s info since we both live in Riverside County and are fighting the corrupt system here. My husband too is being held in the same jail in the men’s facility right now. In fact an inmate in my husband’s pod was in the court room the day Wendy was arrested on the spot for saying many of the same type of things that have gotten my husband unlawfully jailed also with no bail. I am just sick that I didn’t realize that it was Wendy Green that this fellow inmate was talking about, as my husband told me about this via a phone call on September 10 right after it happened. Maybe we can pool resources to expose what is going on over here and the fact that this court is holding multiple people for expression of free political speech. I surely consider my husband a political prisoner and Wendy too. Wendy and I emailed several times and I had alerted her to the fact that my husband was
unlawfully arrested on September 1, 2015.  And here she gets arrested in the courtroom on September 9. – (Visit Kim and her husband’s website for more information on how to help them at the same time we’re helping Wendy.)

9/29/15 – From Mark Wachtler –

I added a new section to the Free Wendy Greene website. It’s called ‘Articles’ and includes every article Wendy ever wrote, at least for us at Whiteout Press. As you might imagine, they all pertain to the corrupt DCFS-CPS system. I went ahead and put a list of all the rest of the DCFS-CPS articles I wrote for Whiteout Press as well. May as well educated a few people while we’re fighting for Wendy’s release. I know she wouldn’t have it any other way. Check it out at

9/29/15 – From Danny Sundquist – Riverside, CA

This is Wendy’s friend who has been going to see her. I went again last night with Walter Davis. She is hanging in there best she can. I been talking to Jill and giving her all the information and what she is in need of in money for her books to get the things she needs. They have changed the phone system so all the accounts set up know are useless. Please touch base with Jill she has all the updated info for Wendy with those who want to help her like that.

PS: Wendy and I are not related.

Pastor Caleb Copper and his church harassed by cops, FBI

In addition to the fact that 2 FBI agents came in person to harass Caleb Copper,, wanting to know all about his church AND the radio station, which we have nothing to hide, Caleb’s church has also been targeted by local “law enforcement”, which stands outside his church attempting to intimidate by their presence. They stand outside on the sidewalk and listen refuse to come in, or they listen in their cruisers.  Then they follow Caleb and his wife home from church. We will begin documenting names, badge numbers, and license plate numbers today.  In the last week or ten days, Caleb has been pulled over in his vehicle TWICE for nonsense stuff (supposedly burned out tail light).  He had previously not been pulled over for 10 years

Do You (or I) believe all therapists are abusive?

I don’t. There are all kinds of “therapists” out there and not all are abusive. But let me explain further.

There is a book out there called the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual, also called DSM. This is a book of psychiatric “disorders.” It also includes other, real conditions such as epilepsy or brain injuries that are measurable and visible. These are not psych disorders but they are included so that psychiatry can profit from them. They are also included since it makes psychiatry look legitimate. It isn’t.

As some activists point out, it’s more than profit these institutions are after. They also aim for power and control. Psychiatry is the right arm of all this, law enforcement another, Big Pharma another, the media another, all terrific weapons the elite are now using to contain the “people.”

Therapy based on the DSM isn’t humane. It can’t possibly be.  Therapy based on “fixing” things that are not diseases, to me, is a hate crime. Are there good racists? I’m sure Hitler had great intentions, too. Purify the human race. Kill off a bunch so us good normal folks have more for ourselves. In fact, I hear Hitler was so wildly popular because of his charismatic personality. That doesn’t make what he did good or right.

Some people do like receiving a label. I did! After a few months of therapy, I even wanted a label. Inside those ghetto-like communities, it’s trendy to have as many labels as possible. How often we’ve heard people list them off, as if they were listing off their college degrees and credentials. That’s how it is on the wards. If you are defective, you get more from the institutions. If it’s called a disease, then there’s a cure. Sadly, patients are brainwashed into thinking that all they’re going to get is institutional pats on the back. For the rest of their lives. This mentality is drilled into patients’ heads. By therapists who think they’re actually doing some good.

There are therapists who flat out refuse to use such hateful principles in their practices. There are some who really do listen and care. But if they follow the DSM, then no amount of listening or caring for people whom they view as mentally inferior is truly humane.

Let’s put it this way: If you are a therapist, then tell me what “patient education” means.

An inhumane therapist will say, “I will educate the patient about his/her mental disability. I will teach the patient that he/she has a lifelong condition and that could mean frequent hospitalizations. I will teach the patient that he/she needs to live in a sheltered community. I will teach the patient the names of his/her pills and that he/she will need to tolerate side effects of these pills, and take them without question. I will teach the patient that the most important thing is to attend appointments, and never stop treatment. I will tell the family that the patient has a disease and to give up hope that the patient’s life will ever return to normal. I will teach the patient to never do anything without consulting the ‘team’ first.” And so on.

A therapist who is actually not abusive will answer: “Patient education means finishing high school, learning job skills, gaining confidence and maturity, expanding spiritual horizons, meeting new people, having the opportunity to voice opinion, learning new ways to love and relate to others, raising a family or having confidence that they are somehow passing wonderful gifts onto the next generation. Being educated means you know you matter. It means you know you are fully human, and fine just the way you are.”

Humane therapy might tell a patient he/she is okay to be him/herself, that there’s nothing wrong with him/her.

A good education doesn’t squelch a student nor imposes. A good education helps each student achieve his/her self-determined goals. A good education doesn’t stop students from being creative and innovative, but encourages it.

Good therapy, like good education, honors the individual. It doesn’t seek to correct what was never wrong in the first place. It does wish to alleviate suffering, but it doesn’t impose standards or limits on the patient.

Therapy based on psychiatric diagnoses that have no scientific basis is not a humane practice. To declare a person mentally incapable for life is a hate crime. To declare a person “toxic” is a hate crime due to the implication of permanently disordered character. You may notice I rarely call people toxic here in this blog. In fact, I don’t really use that word except to speak of toxic substances occasionally, such as bleach or maybe something poisonous to dogs such as chocolate or onions.

Do you notice I don’t often speak of “detoxing” or “cleansing”? I don’t believe in toxic people, so what’s to detox from in relationships. How can a human being be so evil that they are actually toxic? I’ve never met one. I’ve met people who had certain infections or various contagious diseases that had to stay away from public places for a while until they weren’t contagious anymore. Is that toxicity? I don’t see that people who are mean sometimes have any more germs in them than anyone else.

There are no toxic people. There is a fair amount of wrong information out there. There is racism, which is a practice based on completely wrong information. No one is born racist. People who become racist should be educated. We can only hope they learn, and we know many don’t, sadly. People who classify others as mentally ill should also to be educated, because such classification is no more humane than racism, and is a hate crime.

In fact, that’s what the Patients’ Liberation Movement is all about. It’s all about helping the public learn that those labeled mentally ill aren’t any different from anyone else. It’s about human rights.  The difference between the labeled and the non-labeled is the label itself, and nothing else. The label is an arbitrary declaration of economic power over increasing numbers of people, including children. Thankfully, enough folks are taking action right now to reverse this harmful trend. All I can hope is that we win this battle, and stop the genocide.

Another Newton-Wellesley story: The Cutter

This happened in 1997. I had never been to Newton-Wellesley inpatient before, so this was my first time. I was taken there from McLean, where they’d been threatening to put me in a state hospital. Actually, the real reason was that they were ashamed that they had damaged me with electroshock, but they didn’t want to admit this.

I was still rather confused from the shock. I lucked out, in a way. I didn’t even know just how lucky I was. The timing was perfect. I had no clue of what the consequences of my actions would be, but wow, it couldn’t have ended better.

When I wrote This Hunger Is Secret, I was scared to spell out what actually occurred when they rushed me out of McLean suddenly one evening in September 1997. I might have told the story in other places, but I kept it all vague in THIS.

I remember thinking, “If the rest of my life is going to be like this, it won’t be worth it.” Shoved aside, not listened to, misinterpreted, and no real answers. I had an awful lot of doctors around, but not one admitted the shock had messed me up. None had known me before. The ones that did had already left.

I had been working, commuting over an hour to get to my job. I had friends and I was busy. Joe and I saw each other all the time. I was even starting to do music again. I was thinking of going back to college. Then what?

I was stupid enough to let myself get hospitalized. They did shock in 1995 and then again a whole bunch in 1996. That made me into a non-functional, dependent and needy “patient” for a year and a half. Why? Because the confusion was so bad it was very hard to do ordinary tasks. The other night, another shock survivor described on Talk with Tenney how the confusion would hit her in “waves.” Yeah, that was the same for me. Like it would “come over me.” Some days, I was okay, but usually not. All that dragged out and out forever.

One day, I took a bunch of pills. This was gonna be it. I was stupid enough to decide to say goodbye to my therapist. Ooops. She was very nice about it all, and didn’t realize I’d already taken some pills to get a head start. She said I had to go to a hospital. But not McLean, since I had no insurance left.

That, right there, was my lucky break. I can tell you that I really needed a fresh pair of eyes. The folks at Newton-Wellesley were pretty okay that time. Except this one nurse, whose name I forget. She came in regularly and gave me a lecture. The threatening and accusing type. I can picture her but can’t recall her first name. Something like Maria but not that. She was short, had thick dark hair and an accent. And a mole on her face, though that might have been only a makeup trick.

I got friendly with another patient. I can’t give out specifics, but she and I used to walk the halls a lot. I found out they were putting her in a state hospital.  I don’t know how hard she fought this one since the whole issue was rather loaded, with her family and doctor etc putting the pressure on.

We got to talking. The scene became clear to me, and all too familiar. She kept talking about this doctor she had. She had therapy with an MD and had been seeing him forever. She spoke a lot of that relationship. I knew. Yep, I knew.

She was a cutter, or so folks thought of her. I doubt anyone even asked her why. But I knew. They were more concerned with locking her up than anything else. I walked with her a lot and we kept talking. I knew her doctor was abusing her. That’s why she was cutting. She was taking all the blame on herself not only for his abuse, but for his total ineptness as a shrink. The more needy he got, the more she cut in response.

One day, I got up the guts to ask, “Do you think the problem is that doctor you are seeing? What if you stopped seeing him?”

She told me, “I know that’s a big part of the problem, but there’s nothing I can do. I suppose I just have to go where they are putting me.”

I can’t recall now if they took her first, or if I left first. I wrote her snail mail addressed to the state hospital where I thought they’d sent her. I never heard back.

Oh, the secrets we know! All she had to do was fire him, and her cutting would have stopped. I highly doubt the family wanted to have no more reason to scapegoat her, though. She knew she was trapped by expectation. I knew her situation would be rather dire if she didn’t take action and walk away from him.

There were so many times when a person’s answer was sitting right there, visibly, and I knew exactly how to fix certain situations. But I could say nothing. Who was I? Only a lowly patient. I didn’t have a zillion degrees on my wall, but I did see the actual goings-on in those places. So I knew. A flash of intuition I suppose. Or just seeing what was obvious.

Diagnosis clouded people’s ability to see this woman for the person she was. She wasn’t a “cutter.” She was human. A real person with real feelings, not a monster. Yet there was so much she didn’t say. Instead, she was cornered into cutting. Trapped.

What happened to her? Did she get out of State? Or did she die there? I was so scared for her, and I suppose I’ll never find out.

Fantasy neighbors

The best neighbors are the stars, wind, moon, and sun. But if I had to dream up what the ideal neighbors would be, this would be it:

On one side, Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ll bet Witnesses aren’t allowed to watch TV all day. One day a week, they come by. I’ll be not home or use the ole standby:

No hablo español.

Only if I really wanted to scare them off, I’l pronounce it totally wrong. I’d add the Yo in the beginning to sound ameteurish, and I’d say “Yo” instead of how it’s really said here, “Jo.” So they’d probably leave one of those “We don’t speak your language but please join our church anyway” pamphlets. Living next to them, I’d probably have a whole bunch of those nicely stacked somewhere.

On the other side, I’d have a Buddhist nunnery. Except hearing “OM” real loud would be awful. Even worse, those chanters, that can get extremely loud.

So probably Muslims are wicked quiet. I hear Muslims pray four times a day. That’s four times a day I don’t hear a pin drop over there. Maybe I could tell them that God will love them more if they pray eight times a day. Silently.

Let me tell you a secret about us Jews. You know, late at night, when the old folks are convinced the kids are asleep, they start talking Yiddish. They know we can’t understand. God knows what they discuss.

Someone’s having a baby. Someone else is getting married. Shhh. Who is dating whom?  Probably harmless discussion like that.

Once, I overheard the relatives talking about me. I was wicked young, like under ten. They said, “She’s too young to know any better.” They were talking about some aspect of being Jewish. But I knew they were talking about me. Yes, it was true, I was wicked naive as a kid. I think someone complained that I wasn’t being perfectly Jewish, whatever.

I’ll tell you another secret about being Jewish. Ever wonder why little Jewish boys wear kippahs on their heads? They’re only kids, why should they wear kippahs?

It’s because the Jewish boys have empty spots on their heads. The parents don’t really want to admit it, so they cover up the spots.

Now, if you look inside, you’ll see. Pick up the kippah (when the parents aren’t around) and peek underneath. You’ll see there’s a hole there. Back in the day, Tzvi or David or Ari or Shalom or Jakov would get older, and that’s where they stash naked photos of their girlfriends. The new modern kippahs have to have more coverage, since nowadays, boys store their cell phones there instead.

Needless to say, even though I’m Jewish I don’t think I’d want a Jewish family next to me. After all, mythology says that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas. Even though it’s not, I sure don’t want eight nights of chimney break-ins by Santa next door. Nor do I want eight nights of firecrackers.

Oh my god, the TV’s off next door. Jeepers, finally. Now they’re discussing whatever. I don’t mind, it’s better than the Boob Tube.  In a couple of hours they’ll be asleep. Oops, no, it’s Saturday. In five hours they’ll be asleep. I’ll be here waiting.

Short section from my upcoming book

The clients at Options were all on break, relaxing and smoking between groups. I usually sat with the others, but today, something didn’t feel right. I stayed outside of the dining room where most folks sat, standing at the doorway observing. Then, I walked into the front area and slumped down on a couch.

I knew I didn’t belong at Options. But now, I was trapped. Not only had this Options venture been an investment of time and energy, but I was also caught up in the petty goings-on between clients. Ron had called this “the milieu,” hadn’t he? I remembered he had to explain to me what the term meant. I had hardly noticed the shift. I had become overly involved in the lives of other clients, simply because I wanted to help them. If there were no answers for my eating problems, not at Options, then at least I could assist other people along the journey. Was that what I was there for? It was all mixed up now.

I didn’t want to get too comfortable on that couch. I had seen so many clients, completely overtaken by medication-induced drowsiness, lie down on those couches and even snore. I didn’t take any medications, though I wished I could try some just to see if they helped my eating disorder. I didn’t dare ask, even though I’d heard that some pills might help with binge eating. Other patients were called “medication seeking,” “self-medicating,” or even “addicts” just for asking for a dosage raise. I didn’t want to be called those things, nor to be admonished by “staff.” I knew I was in a terrible trap, between my family, the other clients, the staff, and myself. Was there anything I could do? Or was there no way out? I was afraid to mention how I really felt. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. What would happen if I quit?

I couldn’t imagine that, either. The therapists has spoken so much of the value of “structure” in our lives. They claimed most of our problems came from not having enough to do during the day. I didn’t want to say anything, but I knew that before, when I was in college, I had plenty to do, and had a clear sense of purpose. Now, I wasn’t sure at all. I tried to picture my college in my mind, picturing first the fine arts center I had known so well.

Bennington College. This place was like home to me once. I remembered the grassland outside of the fine arts building. Looking over that grassland, up on the hill, I could see the music building where most of the faculty had offices. Downstairs in the basement, and on the second floor, were tiny practice rooms where we students could play music to our hearts’ content.

I sat on the couch at Options and tried to remember the sound of my own trumpet playing. Had I forgotten that glorious sound? Yet there it was, in my memory, astonishing me. Vivaldi. Haydn. Where was I in all this? Where had I gone?

Now, I was trapped in a place where I never should have been. It was my choice to attend Options, but now, I was stuck in thick of it. Sometimes, I felt that Options was tearing me apart.

I stood up, looked around, then slipped past the men who slept on the couch, careful not to disturb them. I wanted to join the others in the dining room, but I couldn’t bring myself to join the petty conversations. I watched the others from afar as they puffed on their cigarettes. Several, unable to sit still, paced back and forth. Others marched in place. Some sat and stared into the smoky air. Why were they like that? What happened to them? Most clients suffered from acne and overweight. I noticed that most also had hand tremors. Was that this “anxiety” that kept popping into conversations? None of them had been born like that, had they?

I had no answers. Part of me wanted desperately to belong, now that I’d been displaced from the life I once knew. How could I belong here? Did I even have a place in this new environment?

I knew that in my childhood, I had been a rebel. I didn’t want to be just like everyone else. My parents weren’t people who wanted to be just like all the other families. They had valued originality while the entire culture around us valued sameness. I had learned to value innovation and individuality. But what about now? The Options staff spoke of the value of “community” and “support.” The concepts were vague and often, contained unanswerable contradictions.

A thought crossed my mind: Leave. Just go outside and be alone for a while. I turned and started to step away. My jacket was still hanging in the closet where I’d put it that morning. I began to take it off the hanger, but then, put it back and smoothed it in with the remainder of the jackets.

I’d always been a small person, almost always the shortest kid in my class. Being short meant my clothes had to be taken in. I had taught myself to hem my own jeans and patch them by hand. I couldn’t reach the top shelf at the library, but rather than ask for help, I always knew where the libraries kept their step stools. When I became a fully grown, yet short adult, people never saw me as short anymore. I had the impression that this was because at some point, I had made it quite clear that my height didn’t handicap me nor did I want special treatment nor singling out.

Being short and small also meant I could fit into small spaces, and if necessary, hide. I could duck under things while others climbed over. Countless times, I had hidden in my family’s attic, or in the basement, or under a bush or tree.

I could duck right under all those coats, couldn’t I? Sure I could. What was in the back of the closet? Was it all dusty and gross in there, or was there some history inside, some deep secret that had been buried and hidden here at Options? Or just darkness?

Crouched in the dark corner behind many coats on hangers, I tried to be still and think of absolutely nothing. I peeked out through a narrow opening in the coats into the hallway, but no one even knew I was there. I curled up until I was compact, taking up as little space as possible. What I found was mesmerizing and as tempting as a powerful addictive drug. To disappear entirely.


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