Portland resides in a temperate rainforest zone. All winter long, it’s been raining. It gets cold for three, maybe four months out of the year, rarely dropping below freezing. Moss creeps on the sidewalk and the sides of red brick apartment buildings, and ferns spring from the crotches of the big trees overhanging the sidewalks. The drizzle feeds everything decaying.

We don’t see the sun except maybe once every two to three weeks if we’re lucky, and the streets remain slick and lit up with neon signs, streetlights, people in their cars splashing on towards their destination here in Drowntown. The days are shorter, and so it’s like a constant twilight that, every once in a while, gives way to a mildewy, sunny day in the 40s or low 50s.

A lot of folks here need full spectrum lamps and Vitamin D to get through the long winter months. Without the snow storms so common to Minnesota, it just stays damp and dismal and cold.

The sun came out these last two weeks, and it hit the 80s over the weekend.

Last night, it started raining again. The mulch and grass outside, grown and healthy over the weekend, smelled sweet, and nothing like mold. Soft drops hit the sidewalk, hit cars, stirred the warm dirt.

At sunset, the sun came out for a moment, golden and bright over the West Hills.

This morning, everything is blooming.

Yesterday was a long, not very productive day. Last year I received an orchid for Mother's Day. I gave it to my own mother when I thought we were going to move. She offered it back to me, but I can't think of a good place to put it right now so I asked if she could keep it for a while. It's really funny, in the past I've thought, if only my house was cleaner and more organized, or, if only I could lose weight. There was always a qualification tied to being in a better mood. Now I can honestly say that my house has some dirt and disorder, but it's typical and less frightening than the disturbing layers I've cleared away. I'm bored at home and I think that this is a very good thing for me right now. I bought a bookcase that I thought would go in an area that has a heating vent. No big deal, I can put it somewhere else. But I'm mad at myself for not realizing the vent was there.

Last night I started reading my Break The Bipolar Cycle workbook. I found this at the thrift store along with my Surviving Schizophrenia book. Both are good in their own way, but I would advise against reading the book on schizophrenia if you are susceptible to seeing yourself in other illnesses. The part I found most interesting so far is the section where the author describes how few of these people watch TV since having visual and auditory stimuli is too much for these people to process. They described a Yankees fan as being unable to watch the game and stated that a lot of schizophrenics who do watch TV find cartoons and travel pieces preferable, presumably because they are simpler and won't overwhelm an already busy mind.

My mind is very easily overwhelmed. I don't really think that I have schizophrenia, the book says you can have few of the symptoms and still have it, or a preponderance of them and not, but the piece on TV hit home. I prefer to watch things with subtitles even though I speak and comprehend English. This is a flight of fancy so indulge me for a minute, but I've always had a great deal of trouble figuring out what is going on in TV shows and movies. It seems very clear to everyone else around me and they seem to have no trouble with these things that I'm struggling with. I think this is why baseball with the sound off works for me. It's very predictable in a sense, the batter is up, the pitcher pitches, and I'm focusing in on footwear since trying to take in the whole game at once is too much for me.

Another part of the book talked about the schizophrenics who notice everything and how they can acquire an interest in things that haven't appealed to them previously. As I drve home from the store, I felt as if every leaf on each tree was noteworthy. When I was younger I would play a game with myself. The police were going to come and ask me about a place I had seen where a crime had been committed and it was up to me to give them that seemingly unimportant piece of data that others staring at the same scene had overlooked. I still feel like this is going to happen. I know it won't, but I can't stop trying to remember details like what kind of flowers were planted in front of number 624.

I picked up a book called For Women Only and read it even though I didn't really care for it due to the insights it was providing. I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't a Christian or you have problems with stereotypical gender roles. What it did for me was help me understand the phrase Men are visual. According to this book, a man can see a woman or women, and adds them to what the author calls a sensual Rolodex. He may conjure up other women he knows, picture this woman naked, or recall an event from his childhood such as looking at porn when he was fifteen. The man doesn't necessarily want these images in his head, he can have them and choose not to do anything about them, or he can go the other way and make an overture or think about her when he has some private time.

The things I don't know astound me. I've never really understood the phrase that men are visual until I read what I did last night. I think one of the reasons I needed the explanation is because I am also visual, but I didn't ever recognize that about myself until I read what these men go through. It kind of bothers me at times that I will meet or see a man and picture what he might look like without clothes. I'm not going to do anything to these men, but the images are there. I don't know what triggers or it or why it happens with some men and not others. Baseball is a great example of this. There are players that I find attractive that I don't wonder about. Then I'll be watching a game and all of a sudden I'm curious about the man behind the pants.

When I read, the author's voice in my head is very important. Last night the schizophrenia book and my bipolar workbook were written by people that I felt understood me. They have obviously never met me, it's not always about the quality of writing although these books are light years ahead of For Women Only. I can often hear voices when I read, it doesn't feel like reading when that happens so I'm hesitant to say that I've read books that have this conversational feel to them, as if I'm close to the author and can ask him or her a question, and have to let them know that I'll be back after I get something to drink because they are in the room with me in a certain sense. I don't talk to these people or anything like that, it's just a feeling I have when I come across certain authors and it usually gives me great pleasure to find these people as they seem like friends.  

I had a choice to make yesterday. I think I told you about the character who was driving his car too fast. He's on a stretch of highway that is short. It terminates in a T intersection, beyond that there is a small forest. I've driven too fast down that road and I want to understand more about the day that I did that. A girlfriend of mine was married to a guy that I clicked with immediately. I didn't even really like him, but we were on the same wavelength, and that made conversation less necessary. We were at a children's party. He was smoking, and I watched him stub out his cigarette before tossing the butt in the designated receptacle. I remember his glasses. His skin is fair, he's of Irish descent and someone once made a joke about the two of us running off and being discovered in Mexico with jail time and buckets of sunscreen waiting for us when the authorities tracked us down.

Crashing a car doesn't really scare me as much as the idea of abusing that kind of power does. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but he let me drive and pretty soon I was doing more than twice the legal speed limit. I knew the T intersection was coming, I don't think he did. Slamming on the brakes does not stop the car faster than gentle pressure. Everything was faster and slower at the same time. My heart pounded and I was joyful yet apprehensive. People in my family are not addicted to speed. I avoid it because it scares me, but not in the same way that it bothers my mom. She fears going too fast. I'm afraid that I won't want to slow down...

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