I hate the word #BiPolar. It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word.‬ #I’mAWhatever

I couldn’t resist responding to the lovely Carol Adriana Estrella‘s post on Facebook this morning.

“Doing a small survey:
What are your first thoughts when you hear the word “bipolar”. Being that is an illness, I see it used around A LOT as an adjective or a subject.”

Visit the very hip and informative blog Is Ok Not To Be Ok to view some of the varied responses (including my abridged one).

Carol explains, “I did a very informal survey today asking people what were the first thoughts that came to their mind when they heard the word: bipolar. I got an incredibly array of answers from the usual (and often not funny) jokes, to what a harsh reality is to live as a bipolar individual.”

Thank you, Carol Adriana Estrella for starting the conversation today.

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I hate the word, “bipolar.” It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word. Call me whatever. I’m a ‪#‎Whatever‬ if you must. Jackie works too.

The forward from GEORGIA PINE explains how strongly I feel about the word(s), “BiPolar Disorder.”

“Perspective

I wrote The Vast Landscape, the prequel to Georgia Pine at a dark, scary time in my life. Harrison, the brash heroine, was someone tangible I could cling to. She gave me reason to get up, to go on, to fight, a much-needed respite from what was happening in my real, everyday life. I made the conscious decision not to write about manic depression, the disease that has disrupted every neuron firing through my beautiful, chaotic mind. Bipolar Disorder, the label I detest, is en Vogue. It appears in trendy bestsellers, Oscar winning films and sensationalized television. It’s glamorized, modernized, made to look cool. Trust me, it is not. Mental Illness is the train wreck, the ugly, cruel, exhaustive, intangible, and solitary battle. It does not discriminate among rich, poor, smart, stupid; it brings grown men to their knees, ripping whole families apart. Writing The Vast Landscape freed me to live my dreams on the page. Harrison is I, I am she, mixed together so deeply the lines disappear. The outlines blur, intentionally. Was The Vast Landscape reality or fantasy? That is for the reader to decide. We are all disabled, broken parts, lost individuals, trying to find our way. Truth is what you know, here and happening now. There is only love and love is the bravest character of all. Harrison is the voice in our heads, asking the important questions. Where do I fit? Why am I here? Will I love, be loved? We are born with a fixed expiration date, yet we carry on, walking this earth the best we can until we’re pixie dust. Cherished, kept alive in memory and yellow parchment, we become precarious, aged photographs in a cardboard box. Lives touch, intersect in the most unpredictable yet meaningful ways. The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
The story continues in… Georgia Pine.”

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Cioffa. “Georgia Pine.” iBooks.

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"I live for the mess, and it's all in the middle." Jacqueline Cioffa

This is my story.

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Boots and a bag, sherbet sunrise, an extended furlough at the beach, the Cove, side-trip to the bayou and the self-confinement of four walls inside a nowhere home (a whole lot of love, shock and awe, bizarre happens, heartbreak, joy, birth, rebirth, gritty life stuff). Dual realities co-existing in parallel space and time.

Bam we’re back to the boots and full throttle.

The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine are continuums; sagas and gatekeepers.

One cannot be without the other.

I know precisely how EVERGREEN starts and where the heroine/ narrator ends.

Everything else is a dust storm of blood, tears and sunshine.

Time to kick up the dirt, get chaotic and trust the ride.

I love the messy middle.

I live for the mess, and it’s all in the middle.

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“It’s a roll, rock and a break. Let her ride.” – Jacqueline Cioffa

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Roots and Wings

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Roots and Wings

God isn’t looking for me

That’s okay

He’s busy

Lots of heartache going on

Too much trouble all around

People don’t see people can’t see people don’t wanna see people

My god have you seen the news?

I can’t believe what’s going on

Ain’t new ain’t nothing but old news

Still it’s an awful lot of hurt to swallow and go down

I’m no better

Than you and you and him and her and us

God can’t keep up with what’s happening

Best mind my business and do some digging

Get to the bottom of this

I’m going to lay down roots earth angels will do the rest

Carry the wings

When your troubles feel too heavy never you mind

He gave us roots and wings

Work your garden pull turn the soil wipe the sweat from your brow

God isn’t looking for me

But I’m looking for him

Feels good

To know something beautiful grows

Deep

Where you can’t see it

You know it’s there you feel

Something grows

Beautiful

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That's the thing about boundaries

“I’m sorry.”

This may be the most overrated, overused phrase in my catch-all, go to, spit it out library. Most times I don’t really mean it, “I’m sorry” is the quickest way around, under, over and out of an uncomfortable situation.

Boundaries, now there’s a swash and spit mouthful. A word worthy of top shelf book space. I don’t pull it out often enough. Managing the days with a serious mental illness (it’s high-tide time I accept it) boundaries should have an entire section in Webster’s. Not really but damn it well should.

There are the managements, physical ick-awful pain, aches, nauseous, brain burning exhaustion. The clenched jaw, neck so tight you’re unaware until you grab a stick of gum to quash the anxiety and each chew hurts. It’s worse than the worst flu delirium and yet there I go again, apologizing. “I’m sorry for not taking the laundry down, I’m sorry for needing a minute, an hour, whatever to wait out the hot flashes, chills, blurry eyes that are clouding my fucking vision. I’m sorry I cannot think straight with the incessant ringing in my ears, head spinning from the constant whir. I’m sorry I can’t remember what I was thinking two seconds ago, or which of the million thoughts swirling around I’m going to shut out, or which I’m going try and  focus on.

I’m sorry this is my fucking, miserable reality. It’s not exactly what I’d hoped either.

I’m sorry you think I don’t care, or am not listening. I’m sorry you think I don’t care, or am not listening.

For that, I am truly sorry. I am listening behind the white noise and I do care about what you’re saying. I care about what you said two days ago, that I am just now processing.

See, how that goes. I’m sorry. I am the first to understand empathy is the wasted, throw away emotion. There are better, far healthier choices, words to choose.

So I’m going to try hard, as if I don’t try every single solitary second so you get my exhaustive, over-exaggerated, moot point.

Boundaries. I’m going to incorporate that word into my repertoire, get used to hearing the way it sounds.

No. I can’t.10246632_10202265395809057_1936156732_n

I’ll let you know when I am able.

Polite, and to the point.

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Seashore Dwellings and Frayed Twine

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We are all like it or not, intertwined.

The way the stories breeze through my mind, much like the people I have loved and let go.

As I watch helpless, I cringe at the chaos that surrounds. These are dangerous times we live in. To love, dream, practice uncomfortable kindness. To choose hope.

I leave this place with tales spun from grass and held together by frayed twine.

Living is scary. Not living is well nothing, nothing at all. Moments scribbled on forgotten parchment, moving images I recall.

Will it matter, probably not. But, it matters now. Right here. Right now.

It was real for a moment, in my head and my heart.

It was so nice to dream.

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excerpt Georgia Pine by Jacqueline Cioffa      

“There is something about a seashore dwelling, how the wind blows steady, sweeping and swooshing problems away. They magically evaporate out to sea. Harry couldn’t know how blessed time and living inside that house would be. The home was evergreen, oversized planks, cool to the touch but so very warm inside. The picnic bench carved with etched markings, familiar names, some recent, others worn. Barely legible grooves recorded a family.”

Carmine Street, NY '96

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wait for it

“Harrison’s experience of her new milieu is full of sensory observation. An early chapter refers to the city in tantalizing terms: New York tasted better than chocolate, was wilder than anything Harrison had imagined, and smelled like opportunity. The streets vibrated under her boots.” -Carrie Chantler

The Vast Landscape

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“All great change is preceded by chaos.”

-Deepak Chopra

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Jenny Holzer

Happy, The Gyre Current Illusion

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The Red Bench

It’s funny how life thrusts you forward, ready or not. Every single thing has changed, and yet I feel very much the same.

You do the work, plan your days, look ahead with the hope you might find happy waiting. Happy is the illusion like gyre currents in perpetual movement.

I wrote The Red Bench half a decade ago churning in my brain trying to comprehend the mystery of living. The story evolved into The Vast Landscape, Georgia Pine and now I begin again, with EverGreen. Curious, all the titles have to do with nature, double entendres. Maybe the quiet, self-mandated daily walk, clean air, gravel crunching underfoot, allows the mind silence, and oxygen from constricted, over crowded spaces. The walkabout leaves a lasting effect. Tales of a familial girl in perpetual spin-cycle. An ordinary, average girl trying to comprehend the mysteries that are human emotion, loss, love and family. Strength and resilience are there too, squashed by fear and hidden below the dirt. Uncovering sparkling, dazzling quartz minerals right beneath the surface. We are the mistake happening by chance, moving along as best we can. Silly it seems, plans change, variables, decisions made, much like the secure future once envisioned.

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I return to the red bench to find my footing, the New Year’s mantra 365 days long.

The Red Bench by Jacqueline Cioffa

-excerpts

“It all comes back to a red metal bench in the woods, on a small hill by a nothing special pond. The air is sweet and wet and fall is here for now. Ducks sleep near the brisk, damp water waiting to take flight to sunnier places, offering no solution. I shiver and squirm in my own discomfort, clenching the bench, determined to will myself better. I’ll sit there god damn it, you fucking God cocksucker, I’m as stubborn as you, until there is something to look forward to. I’m not pretending rosy and cheery just maybe a hint of curiosity.

With one foot planted on the ground, the other dancing with parasol queens and subway kings, I’m off whenever the mood suits. I’m not sure I can keep up this charade of good health. My mind is winning you see, disappearing each day into the void, gray matter dying piece by piece. I say take it all, so that I no longer remember the unnerving beauty here on earth. They tell me I must fight harder, but I don’t see from where or how. The choice has never been up to me, no matter how heavy I wear the armor.

Instead of despair on these sub-zero days, in parades of endless succession. I hate gray the color, the boring winter blank sky. I hate the cold, the incessant bitter freeze I can’t shake off. They say ECT may be the only way back, my mind resistant to the drugs they shove down my throat. I don’t care, zap my brain, shock it, and bring back hope. Where is this God they talk so highly about? He’s a slacker, watching tsunamis, disease and earthquakes swallow babies and their families whole. How could I think for one second he might take pity on me? When the rest of the blue planet has gone haywire. Killing for nothing, stealing, lying, cheating, concerned for number one. There is no honor and trust amongst new millennium thieves. We are a nation consumed with stuff, ego and greed. Hey, look at me, how fabulous the façade. Maybe by spring, the hatred and contempt will be gone. Some warmth and compassion brought back into these cold-hearted bones. If I can hang on until then, I might have a shot.

I hope the world my predecessor lives in is a kinder place to dwell. I pray the blue people have learned compassion towards the ill, the weak and the mind sick. I hope that time has made her world a softer, more humane place to visit. Shame and fear have been obliterated from her planet, coloring her life with only happy minutes. She will grow up to be a healthy woman, headstrong, a great healer, fearless traveler, and the gypsy traveling the globe on her sacred walkabout. She is me, only better, the direct descendant of all that I was not. She will do everything I hoped to accomplish in life. She will not fall short, cut down by a disease more than complicated than life itself. She will grow up brave and strong, a clearheaded, fine woman. I get to watch, dust particles in heaven floating over her head, living out the perfect life. We have come full circle, my limitations never mattered, disease didn’t win. The spirit guides that went before me showed the easier, less complicated route.

Things always seem brighter, warmer, kinder, and less drastic under the beautiful rays of a golden sun.

My death never mattered one bit, only the courage, grace, and strength of how I lived carries on. In the face of adversity, I hope I was remembered as kind.”

Prose flows.

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The Ethers

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light living under the ethers   colorless, evaporates quickly when exposed to air     you can’t touch it, but you know it’s there            beautiful, bizarre, momentary earth

Comings and Goings

Because it’s raining, and my mother sits in the kitchen with a pencil reading Georgia Pine., first edits. I reflect. Typing in my Zen room, deep in the world of Georgia Pine. I work fast, anxious to see how the story ends, intersects, everything comes to a close. (even I don’t know if they characters will veer left or right). I am melancholy. I will miss Harrison, and her descendants. For me, living in their world is a gift, the best part of the writing process. Then I remember, people go, even imaginary ones. They exist in the mind, muscle, blood and soul, by memory. It’s the comings and goings that count.

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Georgia Pine.

– excerpt

‘Don’t let anyone make fun of you carrot top, freckle face, how you are. Someday, they will see how dazzling and pretty you are. Stand your ground, find something to believe in and go for it. Don’t look back. Don’t apologize. Be nicer to your mother, she was a free spirit once. She plain forgot. Make her laugh when she gets too serious. Protect and cherish your sisters, they’re what you got. At some point, you will be disappointed by them, even hate one or all. They might despise you, too. It won’t matter, your sisters will pick your side every time. I promise, that’s what families do. Your family, our family is bound by deep love and tradition. We are not quitters; we are backwards optimists. Takes a little longer, we get there on our time. I love that shared trait. We believe in our truths, once we’ve ripped them apart and examined the guts with a Lupe. I’m dying baby, I won’t spare you, hide the truth. So you can wonder where the hell I went. I adore you too much to leave you questioning my invisible parts. I love you right now, in this room, on this bed. You’re my big girl, so smart. I will miss bedtime tuck in’s, our secrets. Don’t tell your mama, she won’t understand. You have your grandfather’s eyes, and my cautious curiosity. Close your tired eyes, tomorrow we’ll go to the beach. Hug your grandfather when he gets sad. He’ll need you Georgia Pine, when I go.’

“Georgia looks at Harrison through the puzzled eyes of an eight year old. Hush don’t be afraid, life is about coming and going.”

http://www.amazon.com/THE-VAST-LANDSCAPE-Jacqueline-Cioffa-ebook/dp/B00H3P51LS

 

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