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The More I Write, the More I Get to See

I love writing these short books. My fingers clanging away at the keys, I get to see things about myself written out clearly before me….things I hadn’t noticed before. Wow. That moment where you discover through your writing the things hidden behind your head. The hands, the process revealing your truth, truths that you’re not like wanting to read for yourself.

The more I think of the roots of my agoraphobia, the more I hearken to a time when I was a social gadfly. Best buddy in hand, she and I ruled this town. We were asked to attend every party, every gallery opening, every art show, every theater fundraiser, private get together “who haws” because of our hilarity. We were unabashed, gorgeous rock stars in our social circle. Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde. Viciously cynical. We made people laugh just by being ourselves, our own language, our own ability to cackle at something that hadn’t been said, because we already knew what the other one was going to say anyway. Glances took us to places of laughter.

So, how did I go from that to this?

Something happened between us. I can’t tell all without it being a spoiler, but just at the moment we had become illusions of ourselves, living in a bubble of fun and guffaws, real life came in to correct us.

The more I write, the more I get to see just where this madness kicked in. And not only through my blog, but also through fiction. In some charade of a way, I get to assume a character and ‘say’ or write things I’m not fully prepared to do as a human. But, through the voice of a character, I can do so without self repercussion. Hearing them speak on the page allows me to listen to what my soul has been begging me to hear for years.

Mr. Brown in “TENANTS” and his agoraphobia, his manic desire to go round and round knitting socks so he doesn’t have to think about anything.

And now, Eric…. “Bow to what you know is true, my friend. She ain’t coming back. She’s dead. And from what I can see, so are you. I’m willing to put money on the idea that she’s not happy about that….”

The stories in this little book are all true. Believe it or not, they all happened exactly as I penned them. All funny and strange, all true. This is a tale of loving life with your soul mate….and how loving life isn’t so easy when they die.

To buy a copy of “Cheap Red and Nearly Dead,” before it hits Amazon in a few days, click here.

I’m dying to know what you think.

My best,

Gregory Patrick ( alias: Eric 😉 )

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!

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Crazy, Mon!

Well, well, well! Look at what Phillip has been up to in his free time! He’s been working on a new “Strange Friend!” He hasn’t done of these little beauties in a LOOOOOOONG time! It took him a while because he only works on them in his fragile free time, but it sure is nice to see him finish a new one. We’re calling him, “Crazy Mon,” because of his crazy blue dreadlocks. Now, Phillip’s “Strange Friends” have become collectors items because he NEVER makes them in any way similar, they’re all so wild and completely different. And he’ll ship it with one of his crazy little notes! So, if you’d like to adopt this wacky little dude, click here! 

The Irony of My Agoraphobia

Having done so well with my outing to the Dragon Parade, I decided I would wait until later in the day to go to Publix, to mix it up. I can do this. I was around a swarm of people two days ago, I can do this. I can conquer this madness that has kept me from the world for so long. So, off to Publix we go.

Picture it. Middle of the day. Designated “lunch time.” Tons of people in cars. Phillip came with me. And just there, at the corner of Colonial and Shine, my agoraphobia kicked in. I saw anarchy, people driving wildly, pedestrians nearly hit as they tried to cross the street, people on phones who don’t care anything at all about anyone other than themselves, etc, etc, etc.

I grabbed my husband’s hand and said, “Oh, I don’t think I can do this.”

“Ok,” he said, “well, we’re out of coffee and we’re nearly there, so we’ll hurry up, get in, and get you back home.”

And it was a mad dash through Publix. Phillip noticed my anxiety pushing ahead and winning. You can see it on my face, you can see it in my walk. He just put his hand on my back as we stood in line… and people are taking forever to pay for their things, that damned chip card is slowing everything down, they’re not ready to pay because they’re on their phones, this woman behind me is coughing and spreading germs, I have GOT TO GET HOME…etc, etc, etc.

My turn to pay. Now, this is a cashier I have known for nearly a decade. She’s discussing something scandalous with the bagger, something tawdry and despicable. She sees me and says, “Hey, you! How you doin’ today? I see you brought your husband! I only ever see you with your mother or your husband. They don’t make people like that anymore.”

“What’s going on?” Referring to the deliciously bit of conversation I over heard.

“Oh, we were just talking about the latest episode of ‘General Hospital.’ I’m all caught up now.” She then proceeded to tell me all of the dirt that was happening with the Quartermaines.

Out of nowhere I asked, “Well, what about Luke and Laura?”

“Girl, don’t get me started. Luke is going back to his REAL wife.”

“SCANDALOUS!”

“I KNOW!!!! Here you go, baby. I’ll see you next time. Have a good day. And be sure to bring back this handsome man of yours whenever you can!”

As we leave the store, I catch Phillip laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“You.”

“Why, what did I do?”

“Your agoraphobia went into total remission the moment you connected with her. You had your hands on your hips, your eyes were bright and alive, your posture was perfect. That’s it, I think. That’s the secret to this. You need to CONNECT with people rather than fear them. Because when you connect, you are full of light.”

And he is so right. But, I need support, you know? I need to get in touch, learn from others who have dealt with this, figure out their methods for moving on, getting out.

So I joined an agoraphobic support group.

Disastrous…..

No one there wanted help. No one there was ENCOURAGING anyone to get help. They’d all applaud each other for being victims of a mental health problem. There was no DISCUSSION. Just sharing of fear. And applause for being so brave to speak about it.

I couldn’t take it. You know, I WANT to get to the root of this problem, I WANT to move on with my life. It has been nearly 5 years of my locked away in an apartment with only 20 minutes a day of sunlight. I WANT to be free. Did you hear me? Clearly? DID you? I….WANT…..to…..be….free!

My turn. “I went to the Dragon Parade on Sunday. It was a big step. But, nothing bad happened. And I have to say I enjoyed myself enough that I want to venture out more.”

NO reaction. It was like I had made a cardinal sin. “Thou shalt not BETTER thyself.”

I left. This was no support group. Ok, I retract that. IT IS a support group. They support each other for being victims, because if you’re not a victim, then there isn’t anything interesting or special about you.

I want to be interesting or special for the things I’ve accomplished, not for the things I’m afflicted with.

I was looking through the pictures I took from the Dragon Parade. I really LOVED that little spot, that little house with all of it’s great energy. The Community Center. And it dawned on me that we’re drawn to places like that because they promote (in their own unique ways) bettering yourself with peace. Don’t be so hard on yourself. And there, in the photo, I noticed something on the sign I had not seen before. “LOVE YOURSELF.” It was faded, and only hinted at the bottom of the sign, but I saw it.

Oh, God yes.

I can be so hard on myself. Why aren’t you doing better? Why aren’t you selling more? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, GREGORY???? Why aren’t you the most famous male knitter on the planet? Why aren’t your books best sellers??? Why aren’t you at Honeychurch??? All pie in the sky, you fool. You’re cash poor and flat ass broke, you won’t amount to anything, because you’re a LOSER!

etc, etc, etc….

You know, maybe there is a really delightful paradox here. In order for me to venture out more, I’m going to need to go deeper inside to figure out why I don’t love myself as much as I should.

Maybe THAT is the funny irony about my agoraphobia. I won’t be able to go out until I go “inside” to find out where the pain is coming from.

Why don’t you love yourself, Gregory? What happened???? How did this all start???

The Universe loves to shove obvious things in your face all the time, but somehow we don’t see them. Brilliant clues to your own self discovery and bliss don’t come in the form of burning bushes. They come from quiet little signs on the side of the road, etched and faded, hinted in the corner.

LOVE YOURSELF!

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!

A Beastly Multitude of Flowers

When Phillip and are dreaming of Honeychurch, we get a little whimsical. What else do you do with dreams? You detail them in your imagination as best you can. And for us? We always seem to see wildflowers everywhere in different colors, paving a big patch of meadow, dragon flies and bumble bees swirling around their petals. I have a fondness for flowers growing wildly. Sure you can buy any old flower in the store, but it just isn’t the same. For instance, one of my favorite flowers is that dainty little purple clover. And cosmos! I love a parade of cosmos in different colors. So tiny and so readily found in someone’s yard at the first touch of spring. You don’t buy them in stores. You just wait for them to appear….then sadly get taken down by a lawn mower. Little flowers here and there are often misunderstood, taken for granted, forgotten. But, I see them. And once we have Honeychurch, we’ll have acres and acres of similar little gifts that last for a brief, but beautiful moment.

I have a ton of this peachy yarn that I found, as well as scores of skeins that were sent to me by a wonderful someone who wanted to see what I could do with it. I hope with the last two afghans and this new little bear, I’m doing her proud. (hey, girl!)

I wanted this little bear to be a reminder of that classic concept of dreaming, a symbol of our one simple dream of a home of our own beset with a beastly multitude of simple flowers. From every window can be seen a shimmering of the sun painting a color filled landscape that crawls on until dawn.

And that dream started with a little teddy bear that gave me hope, gave me something to look forward to. How appropriate he would be holding a simple flower to give my dream some sense of reality, some sort of homecoming. A variation of the bear I did Sunday, he takes it one step further. Petal and stem in hand, he’s reminding me of why all of this matters so much to me. If you’d like to have him and help me get one step closer to a scene where I ruffle daffodils with my clunky boots as I step through the grass, where my tossed hat sends birds to flutter as I lay on my back to bask in the spring sun, click here. One bear closer to a dream. All these words I scramble out on the keys, all these bears that are born from skeins….they’re all part of a bigger dream.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!

 

Dragons Vs Demons (Part Two)

Well, I have to pat myself on the back. I did really well with my trip to the Dragon Parade. There were a few moments that were a little “glitchy” at first, but I stood firm and said, “I made a stink about doing this, and dammit, I’m going to do it.” There were little things, like I had forgot my phone at home. Now, see the old me would have been, “Well, I’ll just head back home real quick and get it.” And once home, I’d find a way to stick around a few minutes longer, finding something that simply NEEDED to be tended to. But, at the parade? I told myself, “No phone? No big deal.”

Phillip and I found a place to sit on the curb. After a few minutes I realized that just wasn’t going to work. I was antsy, anxious and needed to walk around. We found a nice spot in front of this adorable little business that I had never seen before (well, duh). A charming little house that was open as a meditation, yoga, tai chi, retail space. You know the sort of store. There were statues of Buddha out in the yard. Dreamcatchers on the wall. Angel magick. Crystals. And that beautifully familiar aroma of Nag Champa wafting through the doors. I felt that was the PERFECT space for me to stand freely, pace a little if I needed, and feel at peace.

I had to take a picture of the sign because they didn’t have a website or anything, but they did have this cute little “menu” out front with some outrageously wonderful prices. $10 tai chi sessions. THAT is cheap. So, I’m going to call them up, ask when the sessions are, maybe make that a routine outing to help me get more and more out of this situation of imprisonment.

The parade itself was delightful, truly enjoyable. The weather itself couldn’t been better. 75 degrees, a light spring breeze and not a cloud in the sky. And there were Sso many people, so many wonderful dragons and costumes. But, after nearly 2 hours, I felt it was time to go. The crowd was getting thicker, it was getting harder to move. I was starting to feel anxious. But, two hours was a splendid first time journey out into the world. And yes, I have to say I smiled the whole while. I really did.

It was such a pleasant day, that once we got home, I spent the evening working on a teddy bear that would commemorate the day. Something springy and bright, something to hold that grand spring day for just one second longer. I call him, “Some Bears are Just Peachy.” I love his little face. And that interesting bow. Adorable. If you’d like to have him, click here. I’m hoping he sells real soon today. REAL soon. So he is priced to sell!

Ok. I’m off to call the little shop and see if I can get a little more info about their Tai Chi sessions. 🙂

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!

 

Dragons Vs. Demons (Part One)

Tomorrow is a pretty big day for me. And I promise I won’t chicken out. I did that last year, but not this year. Not for a minute. In an effort to move on from my agoraphobia and wrestle with my own fears about the outside world, I’m heading to the Dragon Parade tomorrow in celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Phillip and I live in the predominately Asian neighborhood of Orlando (Little Saigon) and I have always loved when the festivities for the Lunar New Year begin. If you look carefully, you’ll find that one lovely Buddhist monk walking around blessing all of the shops early in the morning. Now, in this neighborhood the aroma of Pho is always in the air, but this time of year the scent of burning incense breathes through the breeze. I can crack my front door and smell the blessings floating through the neighborhood. I guess that’s why I’ve been knitting so many panda bears lately. It must be a subconscious homage to my neighborhood.

I’ve been wanting to tackle my agoraphobia for a while now, mainly because I’m no longer feeling “safe” in my space. I’m starting to feel imprisoned. I completely missed the beauties of spring last year and don’t plan to let that happen again. I’m wanting to get out more, so that I can tour, meet all of you, hug you, laugh in person with you. So, I thought the Dragon Parade would be a great way for me to temper myself, dip my feet in the water. Now, if this were a challenge that I had to undertake a mile down the road, it wouldn’t happen. But, since the parade is one block (YES, ONE BLOCK) over, I felt this was perfect. Furthermore, if it were not planned out, I probably wouldn’t go either. You see, I’ve been needing to prepare myself, work through the fears, center and calm myself. I’ve given myself a good two weeks to let the demons tell me everything that go wrong, just so I could stare them daringly in the face and say, “that won’t happen.”

A lot of people get the wrong idea about agoraphobia. It is NOT a simple fear of open spaces or the outside world in general. It is a fear of people, of situations, of paranoias and anxieties that riddle you with “what if’s.” I’m safe in this apartment. But, if I go out THERE I’m subject to the madness that something might happen. My brain tricks me sometimes. I fear if I’m gone too long someone will come into my apartment, or even more recently, a dark fear that it may catch fire while I’m gone. I do an insane ritual every morning where, just before I leave for Publix, I check the stove top over and over again to make sure it isn’t still on. These are the real issues agoraphobics deal with: not just a general fear of the outside, but of any nonsensical situation of doom and dread that can happen when you’re out of your zone.

I famously do my Publix run the moment they open at 7am and back at home with my groceries for the day 20 minutes later. I know where everything in the store is. There is no one else there. I speed through the check out and dash back home. If it weren’t for that, I’d be in serious trouble. It is my only time I am out of this apartment, the only moment of the day I battle my fears. That is the only 20 minutes I’m out of this cell.

But, I’m hoping that all changes tomorrow. Now, the parade is only a few minutes long, maybe half an hour at best. But, the festivities that go on after that can last quite a few hours. I’m hoping to stay well past the end of the parade, and if I can afford it, sample food from the vendors, real authentic Asian food, and maybe buy myself a little something simple, something I can keep in my pocket to remind me that I did it, I went out into the world for a few hours and nothing happened and everything was ok, and I can hold onto that little tchochke to remind me that I can do it again, that I can go further, I can go out longer. That the only REAL dangerous place is the fictional one I’ve built up in my head.

And I’ll have Phillip with me just so I can clench his hand if I begin to feel “glitchy,” as I call it. There is no way that man would ever let ANYTHING happen to me. He is my big protective wall that shields me should, God forbid, I have to leave the house past 7:30 am to do something. But, I can’t rely on him like that. I love my husband to bits and pieces and nothing would ever change that. But, this is something I have to do. I have to be comfortable not only going out into the world, but going out by myself. Baby steps, though. We’ll start with going out. I’ll worry about going out alone later.

This is a big step for me. I’m looking forward to it. Taking my little camera so I can take pictures to share.

Wish me luck!

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So Ugly It’s Pretty….

And that’s just the point. It is so VERY the kind of afghan the Madam would make. Loud and garish, made with scraps, no concept of softness, but bright and wildly in your face. Just like the Madam herself.

I had great fun with this afghan. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, working on this afghan was a great way to get inside the head of the Madam, think about her character, work deeper into her psyche. And boy was that a trip. Mixed with purples and greens, blues and pinks and the occasional “what the???” the afghan is perfect for that room just stuffed with teddy bears and canopies. It measures about 5 feet squared and is shipped with a signed copy  of “TENANTS.” Now….on to Mr. Brown’s socks!!!!

If you’d like the afghan click here. Or to read “TENANTS” click here to buy it on Amazon for Kindle or paperback, or here to get a PDF copy from me.

Selling this afghan will afford me a great opportunity to take a smack at my agoraphobia. I plan to go the Dragon Parade to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Maybe sample some of the vendors, maybe buy myself a little memento to remind me of the occasion. More about that in my next blog.

Enjoy snuggling under the afghan and reading the book!

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!