Monday, March 30, 2009


Got a little obsessive last night. Said some mean things to my husband about his daughter. Have to ask myself the question, why do care so much? She is his daughter, not mine. She is grown. She doesn't live with us. We don't have an abundance of contact, I'm a mature woman, she can't hurt me. And if she should be damaged goods, shouldn't this inspire compassion from me?

I arrived home yesterday after spending several days with my sister and her baby at my mothers home in Connecticut. My sister flew in from California. While I was there my husband had a phone conversation with his daughter where she repeated her happiness with all the money she is earning, working as a bartender. My husband said to me, "I bet that she is lying to us and really stripping." I was aghast. But what he said made a lot of sense. There is a lie somewhere. It is hard to believe that she is earning as much as she says bar tending. The only way to know what is going on is to go and visit the bar where she is working. So next Friday night we are going to walk down the street, take a right, walk a little way, take another right, and then we are there. To visit Jennifer on her job and to order a beer and a diet soda.

But my husband has planted a nasty suspicion in my mind and it eats away at me. I told him last night that nobody who grows up and becomes a stripper, especially when they have so many other options, is right in the head. That if she is a stripper this is proof that he was a crappy parent. He insists that all he did was give her unconditional love. I said I tried that with my dog and it didn't work. Unconditional love, without discipline and guidance, won't give you a civilized adult. And lying shows weakness of character.

I said that if Jennifer is stripping, then everything that she said, which I passed off as immature, may have a more sinister meaning. Over time I've let things that the girl said roll off my back. Now I wonder, does the girl have sociopathic tendencies?

There was what she wanted to do for her brother. He is mentally ill and for a while kept trying to kill himself. He was in and out of institutions. She said that she wished she had a gun to give to him and to say, "Here, now's your chance. Either do it, kill yourself, or shut up and stop talking about it."

Young and frustrated over being worried every time she hears there's been another suicide attempt, I said to myself.

Then there was the time when an adult friend of Mike and I interviewed Jennifer in our living room to determine whether to take her on as a roommate. Jennifer had no place to stay, she was sleeping on our sofa but we knew our landlord would not tolerate the arrangement for very long. We were feeling pressure trying to find her a place to stay. Our friend was very subtle, she wanted to find out what kind of a person Jennifer was. It seemed that she put Jennifer at ease. But what then came out of Jennifer's mouth shocked both Mike and I. "I don't like rules. I like to do whatever I want. I don't like having a boss." Everything she was saying made it sound like she would be a horrible roommate, where cooperation and respect between partners is very important. We listened to the interview and it was clear to everyone in the room except for Jennifer that she was completely turning off our friend.

Actually after this incident I worried a little about Jennifer's future fitting into society. But there are people who start their own companies wanting to be their own boss. And again, not liking rules is a theme song for youth. Rebellion is in itself something many people go through as a phase. Or they stick with it their entire lives - but not liking rules doesn't automatically result in criminal behavior.

More recently there is the the suspicion that Jennifer is driving her car despite it not being fit for the road. There are some mechanical problems with it, but what gets the police's notice is the fact that the rear braking lights don't work. Currently a boyfriend hooked up the electrical system so that the rear braking lights are on all the time. But like the lights not working at all, this other anomaly will eventually get the police's notice and she will get a ticket. The car has also failed to pass Vermont inspections. She had been pulled over and given a ticket for the rear lights before. She didn't pay the ticket, so, she says, Vermont suspended her license until the ticket was paid. For a long time she didn't have a license because she didn't fix the car, figuring if she can't drive, why bother with having a license? In bars she used her passport as identification. At the time I said to myself, she is young, she doesn't have experience about the need to pay bills on time, and in Brattleboro, there are many people who don't have cars and walk everywhere and get rides from their friends. Jennifer has a roommate who has a car. But now look back and I think, is it a symptom of sociopathy that you live a disorganized lifestyle and flaunt the law? And how stupid is it, having once lost your license over an unfixed car, to continue driving this car unfixed. Money is not an issue. Jennifer has bragged that every month after bills are paid she has about $1,000 left over. Or, I wonder now, is that a lie and exaggeration?

There was the time, when she was pregnant, where she tried to argue in front of me with my husband, that her life was more important than mine. She wanted to have the baby while on our insurance instead of taking State insurance or the father's insurance. She said, "I go to school full time, I work, and Karen stays at home and does nothing. I think I deserve to be on your insurance more than Karen does. A father should put his natural born daughter above his wife. The daughter is his flesh and blood. The wife isn't." Again, I thought youth, they think the world revolves around them and their needs. She was pregnant and desperate, the slur on my character was done in a moment of excitement.

But now I wonder, if she is stripping, how egocentric and in love with herself she may be. I thought that her bragging to us about how beautiful she is, and thin, and a hottie - anytime she gets a compliment she repeats it to us, was a sign of low self esteem. She doesn't really believe these things, she is saying them in an attempt to convince herself. But what if there is nothing wrong with her self esteem. What if stripping is all about being on a glorious power trip? The ultimate trip of worship me.

I say and think all these things and I know it is wrong and bad because it is premature. Mike and I haven't visited the bar where she tells us that she is bar tending. We don't know yet what is really going on.

About a month ago Mike and Jennifer took a day trip to NYC to visit a comic book convention. Jennifer's cell phone battery was dying, and since it looked hopeless to communicate by cell phone, they agreed when they split up that they would meet in a certain spot at a certain time. He waited at their rendezvous and Jennifer never showed up. My husband panicked. The convention center was large and filled with people. He searched for her and couldn't find her. Hours passed. I was on the phone with him and suggested that he talk to a policeman. And then, as the booths had closed and the building was emptying out of people somehow, they found each other. Jennifer had wanted her comic books signed but in order to do this she had to sit through a lecture and then wait in line - all the while knowing that her father was waiting for her. She showed complete disregard for his feelings. She apologized. But Mike said that it was the sort of apology where she knew exactly what she was doing and hoped to smooth things over afterwards. He swore that he would never travel with her again to any convention.

Jennifer proved to her father and me how really selfish she can be.

And then we get to the reason why it bothers me so much who or what Jennifer may be. I have cared deeply about her. And I don't want to care for someone who is incapable of caring for me. I want to protect myself. I don't want to put out my heart for someone who can tear it up. I'm paranoid. I don't trust easily.

Here is an example of a situation that can be read either two ways. Jennifer lives several houses down the road from us. Jennifer cut her finger. She came to my house with the cut covered in paper towels and electrical tape. I looked at the cut. It was deep, she needed stitches. I drove her to the nearby hospital's emergency room. I told her that she did not need to walk home, I would keep my cell phone by my side and pick her up when she was ready. I told her she was being very brave, not a tear, not a trace of worry about the cut, and she admitted that it did hurt. When Mike came home he said, "Jennifer came to you when she needed help. This shows that she trusts you. It's a big deal what you did for her." Now I wonder, with paranoia, if I was not merely convenient. I was honestly happy to help Jennifer, to be asked by her for help.

I have no daughter. My one shot at knowing what it feels like to have a daughter is Jennifer. I have fantasized about having a will, and one day being old and alone, leaving all my possessions to Jennifer. I told Mike, who says that I am going off on a tree branch, far away from the stable reality of the solid tree trunk, that I am merely acting like a hysterical mother. But I think too there is the ghost of schizophrenia, where bonds between people are not as strong because of the disease, or at least, distorted by the disease. If Jennifer is stripping this means that I don't know her, I don't understand her. This is an empty vacuum of knowledge. And into that vacuum my greatest fears will flow.

I told Mike last night that I would not have a stripper for a friend but upon reflection, this is not entirely untrue. I am curious. If I knew a stripper, and had their attention, I might ask them questions about what they do, digging for stories. I was young once, and a little wild. I like a good adventure story. But how close a friend can you be to a stripper? Someone who turns ideas and formulas of intimacy inside-out? I believe that what you do is an indicator of who you are. You leave clues as to who you are by what you do. Stripping makes you ask questions about character. Everyone keeps telling me that they knew a girl who grew up and became a stripper, and she was "a very sweet girl". Well Jennifer is a very sweet girl. She makes an impression on you of being very likable. But now I wonder if that sweetness has served a purpose. Doesn't a venus fly trap smell very sweet to the fly? Have I been sucked in and bewitched by my step-daughter? Is she something far more sinister than her appearances?

Mike said that last summer when he visited his parents he went there with the purpose of letting them know that he was not a Christian. He wanted them to know the truth, and his worst fear was that when they knew the truth they would reject him. They would cut off communication. But he said that he thinks they know, and they have shown since, that they still love him. There have been phone calls and Christmas gifts. They may know, and don't want to talk about it, but they certainly don't act any different.

Mike's message to me was that if Jennifer should be stripping, don't reject her because of what she does. Have unconditional love, and love family even when you make different life decisions and have different world views.

When Mike and Jennifer were in the car, driving to their comic book convention, Jennifer said to Mike that she believed I hated her. "That was Jennifer trying to manipulate her father" my sister said to me, "it is clear that you don't hate her."

But I think Jennifer was being honest. She really fears that I don't like her. All that I have done to try to be nice to her and still she does not trust. She is damaged. In the past she has experienced harm at the hands of several mother figures. She has an extremely narcissistic mother and a had a stepmother who was a horrid alcoholic. And I, likewise, at some level, do not trust that she is a good person. I may be damaged. Or I may be insightful. Isn't that a funny dillema? Either your emotions are diseased and telling you lies or your emotions are intelligent and sensitive, feeding you the secrets of the universe.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Went for a walk yesterday and on the sidewalk met up with my step-daughter walking her dog. I think we dreaded hearing that she had started stripping. Instead we were told, briefly, because she was short on time, that she had a new job at Staples and that she had been bar tending. The Staples job has a management title equivalent to her current job and she told us that she would be earning equal pay. The bartender job is at a local place, several blocks away, that has an atmosphere of sadness and desperation about it. I don't particularly like bars so perhaps I exaggerate the negative atmosphere. It is a place where men go to be with men, not a gay bar, a good old boy's bar. She said that in one night she earned $500 tips. This I do not believe. I have noticed her caught in small and large lies in the past and her credibility is gone with me. I don't doubt that she earned an impressive amount of money but nobody that visits that bar is wealthy. I hope that she is getting the admiration of men that perhaps she hoped she would be getting as a stripper, or making what she perceives as easy money. I wonder how long she will be comfortable working two jobs. She may discover that she is not getting enough sleep or free time to herself. We have our monthly dinner with her next week, I'm certain that I will learn more.

It takes very little mischief to get oneself labeled a liar. Jennifer has not been living with us for perhaps two to three years, yet we sometimes still get her mail. Some of it is serious official mail, from the police, state, or the hospital. About a year ago I questioned her why we were getting the mail and she said she did not know, that she had made a mail change. So I told my husband that I was going to go down to the post office to find out if they were at error. My husband called his daughter to warn her that I was going to do this and then his daughter confessed that no, she had not made the mail change because it would necessitate getting the address changed on her license as well, some Vermont rule. Either this would cost money or it would be a nuisance. She had her reasons. When she confessed the lie she promised to make right with the post office. But it was a pretty big lie she was caught in.

More recently we were talking about the popular series of young adult books about vampires, the Twilight series. I mentioned that I had bought and read the first but was discouraged from reading more because half the series was only available in hardcover. London said that she had read the series. I said, "Did you buy them?" and she said no, she read them from the library. Then several weeks ago she blithely bragged that she bought the Twilight books and read them all in a very short time. Her roommate told her she was a "hottie with brains". I remembered my earlier conversation, and guessed that for some reason she felt compelled to not admit ignorance. Why lie over reading a book? It is such a small thing. But I do know that her father, as a young man, was a horrific liar. It is a personality trait that has undergone a massive transformation with time. Mike said that he lied to make himself look better, that it had its root in low self esteem and the vulnerability that the immature experience. Mike said that as a young girl she witnessed him lying freely, and I suppose, she picked up this bad habit. I think that if I catch her in a lie again I will say something, because it is so damaging to have others doubt the truth of what you say. Liars simply are not given as much respect nor taken as seriously.

My depression continues. Today I saw my therapist and she made me promise to make an appointment with my medication nurse next week to up my anti-depressant. I think that she is alarmed at the continuing trend of me talking about suicide. I do think about killing myself. I don't know how strong the impulse is. I haven't been painting. I just don't care. I feel worthless. Nobody will buy my paintings anyway. I can't do anything just for the love of doing it. That is, I believe, a character flaw. I want to see results from the effort I expend. Better if I were simple and foolish, making things for their own sake and beauty, content in the process of creation.

I read a lot and I really admire the intelligence and craft of the authors I read. One problem with painting is that it requires a lot of "dumb" time, where you aren't making intellectual or even creative decisions about the painting. Things can be repetitive, things can be simplistic. I suppose this is the fault of my style. It is so slow and laborious to obtain the results I seek. I do glazing, many thin layers of sometimes transparent paint. I know artists can do different, I see my classmates in art school painting very differently. Nobody, in art school, paints like me. I am, compared to them, the queen of careful.

Reading books has got me thinking about writing books. I did a writing exercise yesterday. It was the beginning of an essay about religion. Not any current religion. A fictitious religion which would play a central role in a fantasy novel. I was doing prep work for a new novel that I am thinking about writing. This would be my forth attempt at writing a book. Don't have a whole lot of ideas what the book would be about, I'm brainstorming. Got a name for my main character today. Couldn't find a last name, only the first name. I told my therapist that I'm very cautious about writing this book. I definitely want to finish all paintings that are being worked on and be an active participant in my art class until the class is finished. I've got two paintings under construction and a loose plan for a third that will probably be more firmly developed in class. Class lasts into late May.

But my caution isn't over leaving projects undone. My caution involves foreseeing that this novel may be a failure. I have a good amount of faith that this time the book will get finished, this is something that is under my control. Before I start writing I will have developed a beginning, middle and end and outlined chapters, I expect my preparation work to be extensive. Preparation work was what was lacking in the three previous novels I have attempted, in all of them I was in such a frenzy to start writing. But now I call myself experienced and wiser. I can hold myself back until my vision is as close to complete as I can make it. I don't think I will fail in this try in completing the book but I may fail in ever getting it published. An unpublished book is a nightmare that I have to confront before even starting the project. Because I know myself. If I am too disappointed I will want to kill myself.

I can't get my hopes up too high. When I dream I have to hold myself in restraint. Because for some reason I am so fragile that rejection makes me think about death. Last week went to visit family in Connecticut. Showed a painting to my sister and mother. They both expressed interest in buying the painting. I named a fair price. They debated over whether they could afford it. They both decided that maybe a year from now, if the economy improved, they would be in a position to spend money more freely. And so both said that right now they could not afford the painting. I got, for several minutes an intense feeling of failure and rejection. I wanted to die. It was bitterness and black despair. I had to retreat to an empty room and lie down. I didn't dare let my family know how I felt. To all appearances it must seem that buying my art or not buying my art was no big thing.

So if I write a book, which may take several years work, I have to go into it with no expectations about the outcome. I have to consider defeat before I start, and accept defeat as a possible consequence. The promise I make is that if the book is a failure I will survive. I won't allow all my hopes and dreams and opinions of myself to be attached to a work of literature. Yes, I desperately want to sell something I make and earn money. Yes I believe that I can be a good writer. Yes I believe that with the right approach I can actually finish a book that I start. I will allow the project to consume me creatively and put my all into it. But I have to view the entire project as a foolish thing thing. It will be a pair of earrings. It will be a silk scarf. It will be a tube of lipstick. Writing a book will not be essential to my existence. I will try to have fun with it. I will labor because I like to work. But I must preserve myself and barricade my soul with defenses against this book ever being too important to me. Because I know myself. I get addicted to having a purpose for living. I am desperate to have my existence vindicated. I put all my eggs in one basket. I like to work until I am sick with my illness, my head a thick swamp of dysfunction, because I know once I have reached this point it is proof that I gave everything I had to give. I can't give this book everything I have to give. I have to live beside it and independent from it.

Never has a book started with such inauspicious doubts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I got up at 6am today. An electrician was scheduled to come to my apartment at 7am and install a special type of smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Many months ago the fire department came and inspected our apartment. The landlord was told of small fixes she had to do to make her property comply to code.

Yesterday my husband and I spent some time cleaning the apartment. When we had the flu none of the chores got done and the place was a mess. Dirty dishes heaped at the sink, clean laundry dumped on the sofa, food stains on the white kitchen tablecloth, mail all over the counters, dog hair all over the carpets, and even, in one place, dried cat vomit. But now I'm proud. We did the work and everything looks pretty and civilized.

I'll try not to be a drama queen, but I must confess it was a little traumatic to have strangers spend time with me in my apartment. Two electricians showed up to do the job. They were young and very nice. I offered them coffee, they declined. We toured my apartment and the one above it and discussed where they would install the electronics. There is so much art and books in my apartment that it took some negotiation to find an empty wall spot. I put the dog in the kennel so she wouldn't get in their way and I retreated to the art room to paint. The electricians worked in my bedroom and the library. I was listening to classical music and my CD ended. I put put on a rock 'n roll CD and started to turn down the volume but one of the electricians called out that they like to listen to loud music, anything but country he said, so I turned the volume up instead. Nothing abnormal happened, I did my work, they did their work, but oh, the stress!

Without a doubt I appeared to be an ordinary, friendly woman. I don't think those boys would dream that I have a mental illness, especially not a schizophrenic kind. I know how to talk, smile, and say the right thing. But even the simplest of social interactions with a stranger requires real effort. After those boys left I crawled into bed, shut my eyes, and said over and over in my head, "you're safe, you're safe". Then, even though I had had four cups of coffee, I fell asleep.

Just a little while ago my mother called and asked me to come down to Connecticut tomorrow to meet her cousins that are visiting from Germany. My sister and brother will be there. I don't know what to do. Before she called, in my mind I had anticipated painting a horse tomorrow and then working out on the treadmill for the first time since I got sick with the flu. The reason I don't use the treadmill today is kind of strange. I used up all my willpower and energy hosting the electricians. I've got free hours in the afternoon where I've got no plans - but I can't seem to get out of bed. It isn't that I'm tired, it is just that the bed is the absolute safest place I can imagine. Only in bed do I feel whole and normal.

I don't like the picture that is forming here of a fragile invalid, but I swear, it is the schizophrenia that is doing this to me. My relationship to other people is warped. I'm too sensitive and I've got too much fear. This morning I used inner resources to beat back the schizophrenia and to conquer my anxiety. This afternoon I pay for the morning's show of strength.

To give a total confession, then I must acknowledge that a small part of me feels victorious. Oh, I feel guilty for lying in bed and not using the treadmill when I know I could use the exercise. But the fact is that in this apartment and the one above it the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were successfully installed, and as the landlord's representative, it couldn't have been done without me. My mother being the landlord, this is now one small worry that is erased from her mind. And this as well, - I painted today two large and strange red flowers. Positive, productive things happened this morning. I gave 100% of myself and maybe a little extra. I like giving something my all.

Having done my mother one favor today, I don't think that I shall be visiting her tomorrow. I want to be selfish with my tomorrow and spend it exactly as I design. Mom's cousins from Germany are meeting with a large enough representation of the family.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Flu

My husband and I have been sick with the flu. He got it first, the man who shares his office had been sick for several days with the flu. The illness hit with high fever and chills and a cough. One night, before the symptoms manifested in me, I was sleeping lightly, and conscious enough to know that my husband was really struggling. He tried to take a drink of water and choked on it. He tried to breathe and said that he could not catch his breath. He got out of bed and paced the small bedroom, saying he could not breathe. He was panicking, and I, having little knowledge of illness, was very worried too. I don't know who suggested that we go to the emergency room, him or me. I think he said that he would make it through the night and then go to the emergency room the next morning. I said no, that we should go right away, while he was still able to walk.

At the emergency room they took an x-ray of his lungs and they took blood. The blood was analyzed to see if he was fighting an infection. This would be a sign that he had something like pneumonia or bronchitis. Both the x-ray and the blood work came back negative for an infection. It was interesting that as soon as we got in the car to go to the emergency room he was able to breathe again, and he did not have problems breathing after that. In the emergency room they gave him an iv of fluid, he was probably dehydrated, and a shot for loosening up his congestion. The doctor also gave him a prescription for and anti-cough syrup laced with codeine, a relief to me, because I knew that the narcotic would dull the physical misery he was experiencing, misery that was clearly making him panic. I know he felt like he was dying.

We visited the emergency room at 3am and left at 8am. Later that day I walked to the local pharmacy to get his prescription filled for the cough syrup. I noticed I was walking very slow. I was confused, was I showing signs of mental illness or the flu? I had gotten very little sleep the preceding night, perhaps this distressed me emotionally and my mind was losing control over my body. As I have mentioned before, I can't move very well when I am mentally symptomatic, I am frequently restricted, after an emotional time, to lying in bed. Usually I lie in bed after painting. I don't know what manner of stress painting causes, it just uses up brain power, focus and concentration. Lying in bed, for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour restores my willpower and drive so that I can commit myself to another task. On a good day, when I have a clear mind and soothed emotions I can paint, rest, and then work out on the treadmill.

I returned with the cough syrup and decided that my turn had arrived to be sick with the flu. Sure enough, after it got dark, the chills and fever began. With a high fever it does feel like you are dying, but after seeing my husband go to the emergency room I knew that no matter how bad it got, since I had what he had, I would survive. It became in my mind a sort of competition, that I would survive the flu with less complaint than my husband and that no matter how I felt I would not panic. I would be a little soldier and win the war against the flu.

With the two of us sick our bedroom smelled like sweat and vomit. Nobody had vomited, but the fever driven sweat that came off our bodies must not have been like the healthy kind that comes from exercise. My husband's body stank, his breath stank, the sheets stank, and both of us were as weak as kittens. We had no energy to wash our pajamas, change the sheets, or take showers. Days counted, my husband was sicker longer than I. I can't be certain the reason, but I know I eat a great deal more fruits and vegetables than he, and perhaps my immune system is stronger.

I think that I am strong enough, and in a good enough frame of mind, that I could have painted this morning. The only trouble is that while my husband was sick, and I was painting, the fuse blew in my art room and despite my husband's instructions on how to fix it, and an earnest sojourn into the dark basement with a flash light, I was unable. Without electricity I cannot heat the art room with a little electric heater. However, tomorrow I have high hopes that I will paint. My mood is strange because my body is still weak and I have a cough, but it is not precisely depressed.

The anti-depressant that I started a week ago seems to be working. I am only worried that I have been having trouble sleeping. I know that the energy boost from an anti-depressant can interfere with sleep, I hope this is not true for me. The trouble with sleeping goes back months ago. I believe it is symptomatic of all the time I spend resting in bed. With the confinement of the winter months, and the instance of depression sapping my energy my poor body has been lacking clear signals when it is supposed to be awake and when it is supposed to be asleep. I prescribe for myself more activity, as much as my illness will permit me, and the resolution not to take naps during the days.

Once, while I was fevered, my husband asked me what I was thinking about, and I replied "money". I am wounded that nothing in my art show sold. I have taken most of the paintings back from the gallery, the owner has kept two. I understand that there is an economic depression going on, and I understand that the show was in Brattleboro, not exactly a big art mecca. But I need validation of my talent that a sale would provide. I feel so handicapped by my illness when it comes to making money. I can't work a traditional job. The trip to the emergency room is going to cost us money. Some of it may be covered by insurance, but I know already that there will be hundreds of dollars in extra bills. In the emergency room the doctor was wearing the most beautiful, tasteful, pair of matching silver and gold necklace and bracelet. It made me wish that I could be a doctor and buy myself pretty trinkets. I think that beautiful jewelry is a power statement. I know myself enough to want to wear nice clothes and jewelry to seem beautiful and powerful. This is, I know, a flaw in my character. Whatever happened to the punk girl who lived on the edge, shaved her head, and wore only salvation army clothes? I believe that when I was newly ill, young and forward dreaming, I liked myself more because I had not yet proven myself a failure at most everything I tried. I was strong and happy, and terribly sick, in my twenties. Now that I am in my forties, surving much better with the illness, but I don't have the dream anymore of going to school, getting a job, or making money. I've tried these things and failed. I have a husband I love, who supports me unconditionally, but where oh where am I going with my future? To become an esteemed artist? Hope dwindles.

Sometimes hope does not come upon you like a dream. Flights of fancy produce ephemeral hopes. Sometimes you have to go out and search for it. You have to make it happen. Hope comes to you when you are pounding the pavement. This is my plan. (Hope seems most real when you have a plan). I will work during this economic depression, continue painting, with the intent to double the number of paintings I have on hand. I will work to become better. I will work to have an expanded sample of my style. So the economic depression lasts several years. I will not let up during these several years. As long as the River Gallery Art School offers me a partial scholarship I will attend. I will try my hardest to fall in love with painting all over again. I will strive to paint things that are to my eyes very beautiful. I love garden scenes, I love paintings that have plants and flowers in it. And then, when I have perhaps 20 paintings, I will approach New York City dealers. I will approach dealers who deal in outsider art, because I am self-taught, and I think this shows clearly in my work. So far I have exactly 7 finished paintings and two unfinished paintings to my name. I need more. I need simply to work and produce. Selling myself can wait. I have to gather in my impatience and become slow and steady. And I need to find hope. I am not normally a hopeful person. Sometimes all I can do is live one day at a time, not jump to far into the future. Today I believe in my art. Tomorrow I will have regained my physical health, have a heated art room, and return to work on my painting. I can push my hope one day into the future. It is enough.