Tangental Sounds of a Recovery House

“I’m gonna go play with dese bricks and block.”

“We po’ed all that rubar over in the cut.”

“Gonna get me some ravioli.”

“Not everyone’s bad.”

“She told me I didn’t have to take the test again.”

“All ya gotta do is ask.”

“It’s all donated.”

“This tastes like vitamins.”

“There’s no can opener. There’s no knives in case someone goes crazy and stabs somebody. Nothing but plastic like the pen. Nothing but butter knives and no butter.”

“Laughter heals.”

Gypsy in Chains

“They hang out at the less hoighty toighty ski resorts, the ones with cross-country granola skiers instead of the women in three hundred dollar ski goggles.  The gypsies just grab their chainsaws and carve these bears and sell them for a few hundred dollars and live off the money off season. They had a big fire. I was cold and wet, so I went up to them and said, ‘Won’t be buying a bear today, but would love to talk to you.’ I really wanted their story.”

I remember my bear. Her name was Fitzpatrick. Every day, they would line us up in alphabetical order. Fitzpatrick was always called at least three times. He was either sick, on restriction, or unable to hear his name over the cacaphony in his unquieted mind. So, every day, I stood there looking at a picture of this bear with her (?) cubs on the hallway wall waiting for Fitzpatrick to get his shit together.

I stared at Fitzpatrick, the bear not the man behind me, and wondered about something capable of so much rage and comfort. I wondered if I only noticed this duality, because I like Fitzpatrick, the man behind me not the bear, was grappling with my own in the form of bipolar disorder in a mental institution in Staunton, Virginia.

“I don’t think my parents would ever let me do that!” prattled my  caseworker.

“Buy a bear?”

“Be a gypsy.”

Sigh.

“Yes,  a gypsy life is not for everyone.”

God, how mundane medicated normalcy has become.

Won’t be buying a bear today.

X-ray Vision and Sub-Atomic Dream Particles

“That’s fantastic. That’s magnificent,” he exclaims as he fingers the cobalt blue medicine box she has handed him.

Fantastic? Magnificent?

Has he never seen a double rainbow?

Has he never seen a baby smile for the first time?

Has he never seen a sunrise after a dark night of the soul?

Well, these phenomena are just gas based illusions.

His medicines may make him solid.

I try to remove my look of disdain. It’s down to my left pinky nail as he finishes effusively thanking the box and looks at me.

I wonder if the medicine makes him see or see right through me.

“Gas dreams and x-ray vision… A nurse shouldn’t think such things,” she admonishes herself gently putting the rest of the pill boxes away.

naturel woman

i.

“…her stolen jewelry, unreturned money, breach of contract,” the daytime television droned.

She tapped her nail five times, on the sIixth she looks down, sees her jagged big toe, and tucks it under her bright, floral column dress’ hem and decides to assert herself.

“I don’t know which one I am supposed to be with. Cindy made–”

A chorus responds, “It was most likely Brenda. She’ll be here shortly.”

“Damn Cindy and her endless hankering for chicken and waffle fries!”

“Tanya, you’re sabatoging your customers. Saturday-”

ii.

Apology, saying a short prayer is suggested.

Silence of the judgment of his family of the girl with crooked plaits.

“This is scary. There is no reason-”

Snip, snip.

“Why is your hair like this?”

“Cause I believe the voices that tell me to put myself last and not take care of myself.”

Snip, snip.

“Are these voices in your head?”

Slow nod.

“Are you depressed?”

“Yes.”

Pause, snip, snip.

“Ya gotta go to the places, the groups.”

“Hard to find places where  people are honest about feeling this way.”

iii.

“Look at you! Look at you.”

She looks at her eyes then up to May’s smile in the mirror.

She shyly returns the smile.

“You need to do your feet, stop being lazy, and find the Lord.”

In her smile’s soon absence, all lessons are tattooed onto freshly healed synaptic gaps.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

 

Universal Truths Brought to You By Ford

“A bore is a person who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.” Henry Ford

Mr. Ford, or Hank as I like to call him, shared my lack of regard for self-reflective, epic autobiography. However, some stories must be told and retold sucking out their marrow meanings, stripping them down to our life’s paths.

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” Hank

Summertime in Zephyrhills, Florida gifts you with oppressive heat that bangs on the youth’s shoulders and stops the elderly’s hearts.

In the heat of the season and of my mental break down, death held a cool release. I looked to her for comfort. In her mystery, I found solace compared to the known hell called my everyday life. I thought I did all to the best of my ability, but I was always met with disability and failure. Short relationships, even shorter career paths, even shorter temper.

The only release I found from seeking death was sleeping in my banker blue Ford Mustang in the Walmart parking lot. As I pretended to go to work, church, friends’ homes, I slept in the driver seat sweating out dreams of Home and Garden Television Dream Drives and central air. Then, I would come home to the stifling, thirty year old, single wide with her.

Her with all her Diet Coke breath, Virginia Slims cigarette clouds, and Spam. Oh god the Spam!

You didn’t need to have my depressive thinking to realize I had got a raw deal.

“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about.” Hank

I hate you. I hate driving. I hate me. I hate traffic.

I sit and wait for the light to change.

I sit and decide to die or at least hurt myself, so I no longer have to witness my life’s stooping.

I release the brake, and lightly press the accelerator.

I plan to go merrily forward into the car in front of me.

My eyes lock on the bumper.

A voice hisses, “Focus!”

My light changes. My life changes.

I am filled with hope.

My eyes focus on the words directly above the bumper.

Ford Focus.

I slam on the car’s brake, and my life leaps forward.

“As we advance in life we learn the limits of our abilities.” Hank

Miles away and years later.

Charlottesville, Virginia Psychiatric Ward, 5 East, I sit constantly chilled and stare at the multilevel parking garage across the street.

I sit between two empty chairs too heavy to lift in a fit. Before the chair on my left is an abandoned, closed Bible. The old, black man with the raspy voice who likes to read the Psalms aloud is gone now. I am alone.

I notice there is one car on the highest level of the garage. It is red and alone.

A girl comes and sits to my right.

I don’t say hello.

I say, “Looking at that red car reminds me that I want a red Element someday.”

She looks at the car, then looks at me, then looks again at the car.

She says, “You know that’s a Ford Focus.”

I breathe in sharply.

You found me?

Losing interest, she walks away.

I look at the Bible again and hear the shuffling footsteps of its owner approaching.

“God, if he reads something that matters to me. I will learn more about you. I will follow you. I will–”

He sits, bends, and lifts his Bible to his lap. He clears his throat and pours over a few pages tracing the print.

Anticipation makes me hold my breath.

(For the rest of the story, please go to http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Truths-Brought-Ford-ebook/dp/B0070MVB90/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333626025&sr=8-1. :))

Reviews

My mind does somersaults when I ponder the back story of this writer’s experiences. It is obvious that Ms. Fitzhugh has wrestled with her demons and lived to tell the tale. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” Franklin Roosevelt. That said, Ms. Fitzhugh’s story aptly illustrates that humor and spirituality are far more effective remedies for the paralysis of fear caused by ones own psychological prison! This short story reminds me that miracles happen to those who expect them!

teeroy4u, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

“I can heartily relate to Veronica’s insights that caused states of hellish experiences into states of euphoric epiphanies. Fragments of a giant puzzle and fleeting thoughts that make the picture that much more clear . . .. Perhaps this means there is purpose and order in the universe.”

Grace M. Druzba, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

“It can be tricky to find one’s way home even with the best of vehicles and GPS systems available. How then does one struggling with mental illness ever hope to get there? If this poem is any indication, Veronica Fitzhugh is moving in the right direction. The author uses humor and the events of everyday life to show us that we can find our way if we are open to the messages around us. This work is both poignant and funny, and allows the reader to experience a satori of her own.

I was moved and delighted by this piece. High praise for this upcoming young author, who is not afraid to embrace and share it all!”

Joan Cichon, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

“This is craft of the highest order. I have never seen stream of consciousness done in this manner. It has clear narrative and brilliant control of what dialogue there is. You really enter the mind and exchange a fiction for a reality, the balance between the two, finite and sensitive. I was totally captivated by ‘Hank’ his quotes being used as live speech that glided into the mind in a complete naturalistic way. You show the chaos of a trouble mind as it struggles with daily life, again, in a way I have never witnessed before. The clarity of this disordered mind is breath taking and I marvelled at the wordsmith as I digested its structure. I mean all I say. I have never read anything like this before and you should be very proud. Thank you for letting me read it.”

David Alexander McCalden, Newport, South Wales, New Zealand

“I actually got chills when reading this. The depth of the written mind was amazing. Beyond wonderful!”

Pam DuVall, Cushing, Texas, USA

“‘Veronica, your last name brought to my mind Louise Fitzhugh, author of “Harriet the Spy.” How exquisite that you bring to the story a voice of an investigative researcher. Other readers might disagree with me, but just as you are taking on your mental health “projects,” the narrator in this story is investigating a lifetime through the lens of Ford, and through the crystal ball of time, ranging from Henry Ford’s words to the automotive innovations of today. I agree with other readers that it is an amazingly crafted stream of consciousness. Few writers have the capacity to write chaos so deliberately and deliver it with such a disciplined rigor and structure.”

Amy Hillgren Peterson, Fostoria, Iowa, USA

“It reached out and grabbed my heart, and it hasn’t let go yet. Wow! Veronica shares a gift of expressiveness that paints such a vivid and realistic picture in the reader’s heart. Looking forward to reading much more from this beautiful soul. :o)”

Linda “Be Love,” Virginia, USA

 

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