Survival is not Enough – Throwback

.survival
This throwback was originally posted on December 9, 2013

Survival is not Enough

Maurice and I drove home from a funeral on Friday when the old Gloria Gaynor classic came on, “I Will Survive.” For those who don’t know, this song is considered to be a gay national anthem and one of my personal favorites. It beckons to those of us who have successfully survived deep personal hardship, which would be just about everyone at one time or another. For the first time the song bothered me. It put me on edge, actually. It wasn’t enough. Survive? I will survive? I don’t want to survive, because I want more than that. It’s just not good enough. I want to live.

Born To Be Alive

I remembered the Patrick Hernandez 1979 hit “Born to be Alive.” I’ve done a couple of posts before about how special that song is to me and why. To retell the story, Maurice and I were dancing at our favorite nightclub not long after I got sober. Obviously, it was a difficult time and my depression was kicking my ass on a regular basis. We were dancing and smiling and I found myself filled with complete joy. When “Born to be Alive” came on I realized what was happening. I realized why I was feeling so good…finally, I was feeling alive and that’s what I was placed on this earth to do. I had tears rolling down my face.


 
I’ve been in a good place lately – balanced. I just came out of a long bought of depression, so it would be easy for me to stay stuck in that rut. Survival may seem impossible, but the depression passes. I survive, yet it’s comfortable staying home with the blinds shut, watching TV and eating my way through the day. Doing this can easily catch me off guard and extend my depressive period by going from chronic to situational. Deep depression is not an option, it’s a part of my life that I accept. When it passes I can be thankful that I survived, but it can’t stop there…I need to embrace these moments and remind myself to live. I need to remind myself that I was born to be alive. It’s much easier said than done, but I’m grateful to know it can be an option

Blogs, I Need New Blogs!

blogs

Awhile back I asked for suggestions for humor blogs, but didn’t get much of a response. I’m hoping to get better feedback this time around because I’m open to blogs that have a broader appeal.

What Types of Blogs am I Looking For?

What kind am I looking for?
Mental health, bipolar specific, humor, funny, social commentary, writer’s, mystery writer, movie, and blogs that are pretty much about anything.

What I’m not interested in are:
Travel, cooking, promoting a product or other shit like that. political (unless they are part of a general social commentary blog – and especially if they’re funny.)

I use to go to Blog Catalog to check unchartered waters, but too many are outdated. We all know that most blogs have a very short lifespan, so any listing or directory really needs to check regularly. While we’re on the subject, I am looking for good, consistently updated blog directories.

Why Am I Looking For More?

I do love reading blogs about bipolar disorder and I’d love to see some recommendations, but I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m concerned I’ve created a perception that being bipolar is all that I am. I think for awhile I believed this myself.

I currently am following over 150 bloggers, which may sound ridiculously huge for some, but most bloggers don’t post every day. In addition, I also have them categorized. Some I try to get to every day and some I try to get to once a week. Also, since I mostly follow bipolar blogs, many of the regular bloggers I follow, need to take a break now and again.

I hope some of you can help me out. You can list one blog you like or you can list a dozen or more. I hope I can get everyone to suggest something. Surely, there’s at least one blog you can recommend.

My Hero

my hero

Damn, I Was a Mess

It was the early part of 2003 and one of the most miserable times in my life. Yes, I’ve referred to many times in my life as being the most miserable. I’ve had a lot of them, okay? That era is a blur, so it can take a while before I can fill in the missing pieces. I do remember my hero, though.

I don’t remember where I was living at the time. I believe partially I was hopscotching around to different men’s beds to get a roof over my head. I was also sleeping on friend’s couches, though I didn’t have many friend left. They’d let me stay until they’d discover I’d been getting drunk all day, rather than looking for jobs. Their generosity would go from 3 – 5 days and then it was out the door I went. I quickly ran out of friends.

Most of that time I believe was spent sleeping in the streets. I won’t go into much detail about that, there’s been plenty of posts you can find in the archives. Let’s just say I had nearly given up on life and couldn’t wait to curl up and die. At least that’s what it felt like, but there must have been some kind of spunk left in me because I got enough energy to go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

The Center

The center here in LA is outstanding. Their main building is located in Hollywood, and they have five annexes’ as well. I can’t go into all that they provide, because it’s too extensive, but some of their services include Primary Care physicians, HIV care, transgender care, employment aid, a pharmacy, legal aid, crystal meth addiction support, senior services, art galleries, a theater, a charter school, and much, much more. It’s something that I think other cities only dream of. LGBT Center

I Meet my Hero

Before giving up entirely, I got my ass to the Center to ask about therapy. When I got to their counseling services I was greeted by one of the therapists, whose name was Peter. He asked questions and I mostly talked about the emotional and physical abuse I received from my previous partner. Peter told me that the LA Center was the only one in the country that provided domestic violence counseling. Same sex domestic abuse is statistically equal to heterosexual relationships, but no one talks about it. After our screening was done he told me I certified for the program and told me he would be my therapist. I was ecstatic. He became my hero.

After meeting with Peter, I went to their finance office which works on a sliding scale. Because I was homeless, my fee for each session was $1.00. I was thrilled to be getting therapy for only a buck, but was embarrassed many times when I didn’t even have a dollar to give. They allowed me to go to my session anyway.

Tough Love

I immediately loved Peter. He was an excellent therapist, but he really pissed me off on my third session. Instead of talking with me, he told a story about himself. He told me of the many years that he was addicted. He shared some of the crazy antics in his life, many of which I’m surprised he survived. He kept on and on and I was getting angry. Granted, I was only paying a dollar, but it was my dollar.

Peter talked through my entire session, only to end by telling me how great his life had become, he had a loving partner, a great job and a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills. Then I was shocked by how stern he became. “That’s where my life is today,” he said, “why are you where you are today?” I didn’t give him an answer. He turned to his desk, got out some booklets and a bus guide. When he turned back to me he said, “This is the third session we’ve had and it’s the third session you’ve been drunk. I can’t help you if you’re stoned. Here’s a directory of all the AA meetings in Los Angeles (there are over 2000 a week) Here’s a bus map on how to get to a nearby meeting at 5:30. If you run out to Hollywood Blvd you’ll catch it. Now get the fuck out of my office and get to a meeting.”

Getting Sober

I was furious. How dare he have the nerve to talk to me like that, but next thing I knew I was on the bus and I walked into my first AA meeting. It wasn’t a meeting where individuals speak. Instead it was a meeting, where one person speaks and tells their story. The woman was Latina with a thick accent, so I couldn’t understand a damn thing she said. However, there was a feel in the room that was overwhelming. They asked if there were newcomers who would like to stand and introduce themselves. Me and several others jumped up and I said, without hesitation, “My name is Bradley, and I’m an alcoholic.” I then sat down and cried until the meeting ended.

Following the meeting, several men gave me their cards and told me to call them anytime. They were sincere. I couldn’t remember the last time someone had given me their number and weren’t trying to get laid. I must admit I wasn’t successful immediately. I had a couple of drinks before finally getting sober 9 months later. That was 12 years ago.

Peter stressed we were there to talk about me and not my ex. He said, “There’s nothing we can do or say to change him. What we have to do is find out what made you stay with him.” Two years later he told me we were done. He actually got teary eyed and said it was a relief to have someone complete the program. “Many give up and many die,” he said.

Today, because of my horrible memory, I can’t remember Peters last name. He left the center and the folks there won’t give me any further information. I would love to tell him I’m still okay and thank him a thousand times for saving my life – he sincerely did, but there’s no way to do so. I hope somehow, someday, I have that opportunity to thank my hero.

Thank you Peter.

Weekly Wrap-Up June 27, 2016

weekly wrap-up

Mood

Another great week without mania or depression. That’s three in a row! Woo Hoo! (knock on wood) I did have some anxiety that made it hard to concentrate and on Friday I and had to cancel a lunch date with a friend because of it. If that’s as bad as it gets, though – I’ll take it!

Weight and Fitness

Weight on June 4 – 263.6
Weight on June 18 – 264.6
Total gain 1 lbs

Last week I made a commitment that I would never see 263 lbs again. Sadly that’s not true and, yeah, I’m down about it. I did exercise a few times last week, but it didn’t make up for the overeating that I did.

Saturday, Maurice and I, took a 7.5 mile walk along the beach. Hopefully that will help with a Brad snd Mauriceweight loss when I get weighed next Saturday.

My therapist and I had an excellent session last week and primarily talked about my weight issues. Together we came up with what we both thought was a brilliant plan.

Currently I write Monday – Friday from about 12 noon – 5pm. The two places where I write are at home or at Starbucks. At home the refrigerator is just a room away. At Starbucks there is a case of delicious sweets.

Our plan is for me to go to the library to write. The library is 5 miles away. If I leave home at 8 am and walk, I will easily be there before it opens at 10am. The additional bonus is that there is not a (good) place to eat in the area around the library. All I’ll have to eat is what I take with me. The only hurdle is that I find libraries too sterile and quiet. I generally do my best work in a busy area, such at Starbucks. My goal this week is to try this at least 3 times. Hopefully I can get to the beach once or twice too. I’m excited to try this out and hope it will be successful.

Writing

I didn’t get as much written this week as I would have liked. The anxiety didn’t help. Hopefully the new plan to write at the library will get me committed to get more done. I did read much of a chapter for my writer’s critique group and it was well received. There were comments about how much my writing has improved since I joined the group. I agree completely and feel very good about it.

Synopsis

My mood was good, but I did have to deal with anxiety. My eating and exercise habits were not so good, and my writing got pushed to the back shelf. The previous week I said it had been mediocre overall. I’ll give it the same score this past week as well. This week will definitely be OUTSTANDING!

Van Gogh – Throwback Thursday

Van Gogh

If you are a new reader of mine. I must give you fair warning that I am obsessed with Vincent van Gogh and post about him often. This week’s Throwback Thursday comes from May 5, 2014.

Most of my readers know my love for Vincent van Gogh. It’s been six months since I’ve written an article about him, so I decided it was time to dedicate another post. There’s a wonderful Youtube video at the end, but I’ve chosen to give a brief biography as well. It’s not a full biography, I focused on his most troubling times. Most of which I can relate to.

Manic depression (bipolar disorder) couldn’t be medically diagnosed at that time, however, most historians believe he suffered from bipolar disorder. Because of my strong attachment to him, I believe this as well. When I read Lust for Life, which is an excellent biography based on the letters between van Gogh and his brother. I cried many times. The incredible Getty Center museum, located here in Los Angeles, has Vincent’s painting “Irise,”s as well as some sketches. It is impossible for me to see them and not have tears well up in my eyes.

Early Life

Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853, in the Netherlands. At age 15, van Gogh’s family was struggling financially, and he was forced to leave school and go to work. He got a job at his Uncle’s’ art dealership, Goupil & Cie, a firm of art dealers in The Hague

June of 1873, van Gogh was transferred to the Groupil Gallery in London where he fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, Eugenie Loyer. When she rejected his marriage proposal, van Gogh suffered a breakdown. He threw away all his books except for the Bible, and devoted his life to God. He became angry with people at work, telling customers not to buy the “worthless art,” and was eventually fired.

In 1878, van Gogh volunteered to move to an impoverished coal mining town in the south of Belgium. He preached and ministered to the sick, and also drew pictures of the miners and their families. The evangelical committees disagreed with van Gogh’s lifestyle. He had given many of possessions away, including his bed. He slept on a bed of straw. The church felt he was acting in a manner unbecoming of a minister. van Gogh was forced to find another occupation.

Van Gogh, The Artist

Failing as an art dealer and a minister, van Gogh decided to become an artist in 1880. He moved to The Hague and fell in love with Sien, an alcoholic prostitute. She already had one child and was pregnant with another. She became his companion, mistress and model. Van Gogh became attached to her children yet was unable to support Sien and her family. When Sien went back to prostitution, van Gogh became depressed. At his brothers urging, van Gogh left her in 1883, ending the only domestic relationship he was ever to have.

In Paris, van Gogh first saw impressionist art, and he was inspired by the color and light. He began studying with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro and others. Van Gogh was passionate, and he argued with other painters about their works, alienating those who became tired of his bickering.

Arles

In 1888, van Gogh moved to Arles in southern France to begin his dream of starting an artist colony. He Yellow Housemoved into the “little yellow house” and spent his money on paint rather than food. He lived on coffee, bread and absinthe, and found himself feeling sick. Before long, it became apparent that in addition to suffering from physical illness, his psychological health was declining. He is known to have sipped on turpentine and eaten paint.

Vincent’s brother Theo, an art dealer was representing Paul Gauguin. Vincent respected Gauguin and thought him the perfect painter to join him in Arles. With some convincing from Theo, including financial backing, Gauguin agreed to live with van Gogh.

Gauguin had a calming effect on Vincent. The painters got along well for weeks. They ate together, they drank together, and they painted together. In the small house they were together almost all of the time. Things didn’t stay happy for long. Eventually Gauguin was finding it hard to live with Vincent. This situation was becoming stressful to both men. At times Vincent still showed affection to Gauguin, but at others he detested him.

When I was younger I was told that van Gogh cut off his ear to show his love to a woman. The true story is that Vincent asked Gauguin if he was planning to leave. When Gauguin said yes, Vincent was devastated. After supper Gauguin left the house to go for a walk. Barely out of the yellow house, he heard the footsteps of Vincent approaching. When he turned to look, he saw Vincent stalking him with a razor in his hand. Vincent stopped and returned home. Gaugin spent the night in a hotel.

Later that night, Vincent took a razor, but did not cut off his ear. He cut off a portion of his ear lobe. Vincent took the piece, wrapped it in newspaper. And went to a brothel close to the house. There he asked for a girl named Rachel who he gave the ear to saying “Guard this object carefully.”

The doctors at the hospital assured Theo that his brother would live and would be taken good care of. Theo and Gaugin left Arles together and Vincent never saw Gaugin again

Final Days

Wheatfield with crowsAfter the people of Arles signed a petition saying that van Gogh was dangerous, he moved to the Saint-Paul-de Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. In November 1889, he was invited to exhibit his paintings in Brussels. He sent six paintings, including “Irises.” None of them sold. In 1890 Theo sold Red Vineyard at Arles. It was the first and only painting sold while Vincent was alive.

In July of 1890, van Gogh went out to paint in the morning as usual, but he carried a loaded pistol. He shot himself in the chest, but the bullet did not kill him. He was taken to a nearby hospital and his doctors sent for Theo. Theo and Vincent spent the next couple of days talking together. On July 29, 1890, Vincent van Gogh died in the arms of his brother. He was 37 years old.

My favorite van Gogh painting is “Wheat Field With Crows.” While it was not Vincent’s final painting, it was painted during the last month of his life. The painting shows the black crows flying away which I interpret that he knew he was nearing the end of his life. I’ve never read any theories that this was the case, it’s just how I view it in my mind.

I have barely scratched the surface regarding Vincent’s life. To learn more I’d highly recommend the book “Lust for Life.” At the very least check out the 1956 movie of the same name starring Kirk Douglas. I suggest the book, though, it’s hard to tell the story of a persons life in 122 minutes.

“Vincent Willem van Gogh.” 2014. The Biography.com website. May 02 2014

The Suicide Attempt

suicide attempt

* I usually don’t post trigger warnings, but this post involves a suicide attempt, I felt it necessary*

Our Neighbors

Last week, Dave made a suicide attempt.

Maurice and I don’t know most people in our apartment complex. Partially because many don’t speak English. Partially because many are just not friendly. We do know Dave and his wife, though. They use to be our next door neighbors.

Dave has bipolar disorder and when he’s manic he used to become easily enraged. He and his wife would get in horrible arguments and more than once he’d put his fist through a wall or through a door. We would’ve been happy when they’d calm down except for the fact that their fights always ended in make-up sex. Our walls are thin around here.

The fights reached the point that they were almost evicted so Dave had some med changes that keep his anger down, but he often walks around like a zombie.

Making a Connection

After being their next door neighbors for years we moved across the courtyard from them because the apartment was slightly larger. The fights lessened, but they would echo around the complex so we were not able to ignore them. Thankfully, though, we were no longer victims of hearing their romps in the hay. I never had long conversations with either of them, but one day Dave was talking about medication and I opened up to him that I have bipolar disorder. We never became friends, in fact, I don’t like him much, but we were cordial and, after about a decade living here, we made a connection.

Last week, Dave and his wife were gone. Dave wasn’t taking his daily swims in the pool, and their lights were off in their apartment every night. Occasionally they would go away to stay at his parents so I assumed that’s where they were. Two days ago they were back and Dave admitted to me he took a handful of his meds and drank some liquor. They weren’t on vacation. Dave made a suicide attempt and he was placed in lockdown for ten days.

Fulfilling an Obligation

Dave and I stood outside and talked about it for a while. He explained his attempt and talked about what a horrible experience the psych ward was. I nodded my head and shared my experience. During our conversation I told him that I’m glad he survived and asked if he planned to “stay with us.” He assured me he was okay. I left feeling smug because I spent a moment to listen, to be caring, and knowing I’d been in lock-down for ten days, he seemed relieved knowing he wasn’t alone. But the next day something dawned on me – I didn’t ask him to reach out to me before he makes another suicide attempt.

l restate what I said earlier – I don’t like Dave. He can easily get on your nerves. But I had to do a bit of soul searching on my own. I don’t want him to think we’re friends. I dreaded the thought of him regularly showing up at my door, but searching deeper in my soul I realized what an asshole I was being. I realized I needed to help him regardless if liked him and he liked me.

This morning I fulfilled my obligation. Dave was in the pool and I waited at one end so we could have a discussion. We talked and my mission was accomplished. I got him to promise me that if he ever felt suicidal again, that he would come talk to me first. I assured him it could be anytime, day or night, twenty-four hours a day. He was heavily medicated so he didn’t show any emotion, but I know he understood me.

I don’t know if he’ll really reach out to me, but it helped me as much as it helped him. I reached out to a person I don’t like. I showed love to someone who I found irritating. Why did I do this? Because I realized we’re all in the same boat. There are many people in his life, but I offer one thing the others may not be able to – I understand. It dawned on me that we’re all in this together and we are obligated to help others get through their darkest times. I don’t have to like him, but I must help him the best I can. If not me, then who.

Where to Get Help

If you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope and are considering committing suicide help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Their number is:
1-800-273-8255

If you prefer, you can even chat with someone on line. The web address is http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

There are plenty of people out there who are reaching out. Please give them the opportunity to help you.

Bradley’s Favorite Videos

favorite videos

I’m way behind on my novel writing this week, so I didn’t have time to write a post today. Instead, I’m posting some of my favorite videos. None of these are new here. All have been posted on this blog at one time or another – these are just some of my favorites over the years. All should put a smile on your face. Which one is your favorite?

Key and Peele Give Gay Wedding Advice

Comedian Johann Lippowitz performs the song “Torn”

I was never a fan of Mad TV, but this alternate Ending to Wizard of Oz is outstanding

I get tired of people with no medical degree complaining we’re drugging our kids too much, but who knows, maybe their right. Right or wrong, I love Mad TV’s rendition of School House Rock’s Conjunction Junction

Military rendition of Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”

George Takei replies to Tim Hardaway’s Anti Gay rants

This last one isn’t necessarily one of my favorites, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post something special to my friend Dyane, whose blog is Birth of a New Brain. Enjoy some more of the Brady’s, Dyane.

Weekly Wrap-Up June 20, 2016

weekly wrap-up\

Mood

Nothing changed from last week and that’s a good thing. I’m thrilled I’d been in good spirits the past couple of weeks. I don’t know how long it will last and I don’t give a damn – I’m savoring every second of it.

Not much more to tell. I think it’s easier to have things to say when times are shitty than when they are going well. If that’s true, I hope I have little to say for a while.

Weight and Fitness

I didn’t get weighed last week because I was out of town, so this week’s weigh in compares to two weeks ago.

Weight on June 4 – 259.9
Weight on June 18 – 263.6
Total gain 3.8 lbs

Last week we went on a long weekend to camp with our church. The meals in the lodge were a bit heavy, however the big problem was the ridiculous amount of fattening snacks that were left out 24 hours a day. Grossly overindulged. Unfortunately, the change in eating behavior continued throughout the week. I mean, the diet was ruined already, so just go ahead and continue to overindulge the rest of the week, right?

For the first time in a while I am not being easy on myself. I’m mad. I’ve made a commitment that this will be the last time I see 263 lbs on my scale ever again. Weight Watchers allows you to eat whatever you want, so most of what you learn is portion control. That’s what I’ll be doing from this point on. I swear it.

No exercise last week either. I miss the beach and have committed myself to go there at least three days this week.

Enjoying what I want, but cutting back on portion size and walking along the beach, which I love to do. This is doable.

Writing

I’ve read many books on how to write by great writers, including Stephen King, Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton. Every book, by one of the greats, says one important thing – write every day. In fact, they say to write every day no matter what. If you sit down the next day and see that what you wrote is gibberish, then throw it away and write some more.

I’ve been following this rule as best I could and I’ve written a lot of gibberish. I’ve especially been struggling with one of the scenes at the end of chapter 9. I’ve written several drafts and just can’t get it right. I’m meeting with my writer’s critique group later today and I hope I have something presentable. We’ll see.

Synopsis

Emotionally it’s been a great week, however because of my overeating and weight gain, and because of my difficulty writing, I’ll say the overall has been mediocre.

Another Depression Breakthrough?

depression breakthrough

If there was a depression breakthrough, and I could be cured, would I take the opportunity? That may sound like a ridiculous question. Of course, you’re probably thinking. Who wouldn’t want to be cured? It may seem easy, but I’m not sure. Yes, the manic stages are maddening and can get me in a lot of trouble. Yes, the depressive stages can make me lethargic, uninterested in the things around me, and possibly make me suicidal. But, they are a part of who I am.

Would I Want a Cure?

Back to my absurd question…why would I have to think before wanting to be cured? The simple answer is that it scares me. I hate depression, but it’s been a part of my life as far back as I remember. It is a large part of who I am. It would be giving away a major part of me. Worst of all, if there is a depression breakthrough, being balanced would require me to be more self-sufficient, a working member of society. I’ve managed people, operated multimillion dollar operations, dealt with budgets, contracts, etc. and the idea of going back to that is overwhelming. I think it scares me because I currently am unable to go back to work in that environment. I’m sure I wouldn’t even be able to be a bagger at a grocery store. At least not for long. My pdoc, my therapist and I all agree that it would be a disaster. It feels like hell in this shell I’m in, but I’m comfortable here too. I function in my dysfunction.

I’ve Been Through This Before – Kinda

When I got sober 12 years ago, I felt the exact same feelings. OMG, I’m not drunk all the time. I need to work on my life, I need to make it better. I need to actually be a productive member of society. It was overwhelming, but I did it. I did it until hell broke loose again. I became manic, I became depressed, I became agoraphobic, I had panic attacks. Just as my life was truly getting better, I was hit in the face with a shovel.

The Study

Why am I bringing this up now? It’s because there has been a depression breakthrough (though small) discovered by the University College London.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that the habenula, a pea-sized region of the brain, functions abnormally in depression. The same team previously showed that the habenula was activated in healthy volunteers when they expected to receive an electric shock. According to the study,

A prominent theory has suggested that a hyperactive habenula drives symptoms in people with depression: we set out to test that hypothesis” says senior author Professor Jonathan Roiser (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience). “Surprisingly, we saw the exact opposite of what we predicted. In people with depression, habenula activity actually decreased when they thought they would get a shock. This shows that in depressed people the habenula reacts in a fundamentally different way. Although we still don’t know how or why this happens, it’s clear that the theory needs a rethink.

Conflicted

The study was small. It involved only 25 people with depression and 25 who were never-depressed, so it needs a lot more research. But who knows? Maybe discovering how the habenula works, scientists will find a depression breakthrough. I’ve posted many times about other possible “cures,” but I’ve never seen any of them pan out, but I can’t stop hoping. What? Didn’t I just say I would not get “cured.” Now I’m saying I hope they find one. I’m conflicted on this, but I hope, someday, something will come out that will significantly help, or even cure depression. I then will have to make that decision. I hope for myself and millions of others that that day will come.

If they found a cure for depression, would you be afraid?

Source: University College London

The Great Chicken Plot – Throwback Thursday

chicken

This weeks Throwback Thursday is from September 2008.

Miss Gunderson was a mean old bitch. She was the most disliked teacher in my high school and for Jim and I the dislike was most intense. She was the French teacher. I took Spanish so I was lucky enough to never have her as a teacher, but I did know her from monitoring and chastising in the hallways. She was very much like the bald Vice Principal in Back To The Future. Jim also took Spanish, but was doomed each year to have her as his homeroom teacher. We both also had to endure her from time to time in detention. I swear the woman must’ve requested to be over detention hall each year.

One day Jim and I devised the best prank ever. We planned to sneak to the school at night and release either a pig or some chickens inside. This plan would be easy because I was in high school before all the new developments were built. My school was in the middle of the country surrounded by cattle pasture, corn fields and forest. We discussed where to release the poor critters and of course we decided Miss Gunderson’s room would be the perfect target.

First we had to make sure our plan would work and that would require additional help. Steve took French during the last period of the day so we had him open the lock on the old bitches window on Thursday. Friday morning the window was still unlocked when Jim checked it. It was still unlocked at the end of the day when Steve checked it. Step one of our nefarious plan was in place.

There was a chicken farm not far from the school so Jim and I decided we would use chickens. A pig would probably be too heavy and chickens in a room for a weekend would make a horrible mess.

Step two required that we determine how often the police patrolled the school. There was a minimum security prison nearby so we were certain they had regular patrols. We planned to clock the police patrol on Friday night and carry out our plan on Saturday night.

It was one of those rare extremely cold nights in North Carolina. There was snow on the ground. Temperatures remained below freezing. Jim and I hiked across the cow pasture so we could lay low in a gully and watch the road. We took a bottle of Whiskey to help keep us warm. We watched and watched for several hours and barely a car went by. Never did we see a police car. We were excited because this was going to be easier than we thought.

We decided to go home and finalize our plot for the next evening when suddenly I slipped and fell into a creek. I broke through the ice and was soaked from head to toe. The water on me immediately began to freeze. We rushed to Jim’s beat up old car his parents gave him. Before we reached the car my teeth began chattering to the point that I’m certain they were heard throughout the entire county.

Jim’s car had no heater so I shook and my teeth chattered the whole way home. Once home, I was able to dry off my frozen purple skin. Jim and I drank some more whiskey and we both fell asleep. Him sleeping on my bedroom floor.

When we woke up the next day we didn’t even speak of our evil plan again

It was the greatest caper that never was.

Insights from a Bipolar Bear: © 2014