November 04, 2010

Writer's Workshop - 11/04/10 - Breaking Point

The prompts provided my Mama Kat today were hard to choose from. Here are the two I chose to write about:

If you had made a career out of whatever you were passionate about when you were ten…what would you be doing?

Describe a moment when you saw someone hit their breaking point.

Following My Passion
When I was ten, I wanted to be a mommy and a writer. And I've done both for a long time. The mommy gig didn't pay well, BTW. The writing gig did.

But the economy bit me on the ass, and I no longer have a job where I write for cash...UNLESS YOU COUNT THE $10 CHECK I RECEIVED YESTERDAY FOR MY SUBMISSION IN THE ANTHOLOGY 'A Shaker of Margaritas Hot Flash Mommas'! I AM A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! WHOOHOO! You can purchase the ebook here.

Note: Other than my $10 in earnings, I will receive no further compensation from sales of the ebook. I was NOT coerced, urged or bullied into promoting the book. In fact, by mentioning it here, I lose my anonymity with every purchase.

Just in case you had doubts - JUNE FREAKING CLEAVER IS NOT MY REAL NAME.

There, I've said it. What a weight lifted off my's been hard living a lie.

Ok, not really. I totally lied about that last part.

Anyway, I'd really like to work again as a writer...and receive regular, and generous, compensation.

Breaking Point

Valerie's building
I lived in a colorful Pittsburgh neighborhood. By colorful, I mean that it was filled by the oddest assortment of humans I'd ever come across.

The Boy and I felt at home there. I haven't had that feeling since then.

The neighbors upstairs thought I was either a therapist or a narc. I attribute that to my calm, soothing voice, and my apparently suspicious nature.

Oh, maybe they thought I was a narc when I knocked on the neighbor's door while they were smoking illegal herbal cigarettes. I never heard someone say "Who is it?" in that paranoid, full octave higher than usual range before. 

I have never tried the stuff. I rarely drank. I was an enigma to them.

We became fast friends, despite our differences.

Valerie, my next door neighbor, was a character. Loud. Abrasive. Flamboyant in dress and demeanor. 

She was taking care of her dad who had Alzheimer's. I'd be called into service to help - like when he fell out of bed, and she couldn't lift him. Or she couldn't get him out of the tub.

I saw more of his naked body than I had a need to.

Valerie often said that I was her angel, since I was available to talk to her and help her.

I think my Halloween costume helped put her over the edge.

As a joke, I was an angel at her party. By Halloween, she was starting to lose her grip on things. She'd spend money foolishly. She'd argue with neighbors, with police, with anyone. Taking care of her dad, dealing with tenants in her building (she was the owner/landlord), and the shenanigans of her dysfunctional family, were taking their toll.

The knock on my door at 3 AM was unexpected. It was Valerie, clad in some mismatched outfit, totally inappropriate for the weather. She was wearing her Breathe Right nose strip, as usual - she wore it day and night.

She NEEDED to talk to me. She wanted me to tell her the truth.

What truth?

That I was truly an angel, sent by God. Sent to help her.

Her proof?

There were no framed pictures of me on my walls. There were pictures of my kids, but I wasn't in them.

I was definitely an angel, and she was ready to hear the truth.

I took her into my bedroom, and opened a desk drawer. I pulled out pictures...of me. Showed her that I was not an angel, that I was just a friend, and neighbor. 

I don't think I convinced her, but I was able to walk with her next door, and get her to settle down at home.

The police pounded on my door at 9 AM (I left Valerie just four hours earlier).

She was in crisis - the police thought she should go to the hospital for a psych evaluation.

She refused to go in an ambulance...or a police car.

She wanted me to drive her there.

I watched as she packed the oddest assortment of items for the hospital. Instead of her hairbrush, she packed a long handled back brush. A hand mirror. Pebbles from her tabletop fountain. 

I was unsure I could get her to the hospital safely, her behavior was so erratic. The police said I should dial 911 if there was trouble en route. Big help if she decided to grab the steering wheel and cause an accident.

Using my best therapist voice, I buckled her seat belt. I bribed her with cigarettes - she could have one if she sat quietly and kept her hands to herself. And she could have another when we arrived at the hospital - but only if she promised to go in.

She forgot to wear shoes.

I got her safely into the ER. After an initial evaluation, the psychiatric nurse came to talk to me. Talked of a possible bipolar diagnosis. Went into great detail.

Why was she divulging all this info? I wasn't a family member.

Valerie told them that I worked at a local outpatient therapy clinic. In truth, I worked in that BUILDING.

It seemed that the calm, soothing voice even fooled the experts.

Oh, and there must have been something in the water on Bipolar Broadway Avenue. Three houses in a row, three people with bipolar diagnoses.


  1. Bless her heart that she had no one to help her. Bless you for being the calming force in what was for her a raging sea. As a mother to a bipolar son I get her. I totally get her, including the strange clothing. My son can bounce from t shrits with button down shirts over them to the rattiest thigns you can find you would swear he was homeless.

  2. Wow. No wonder she thought you were an angel. It takes a very special person to come to the aid of another like that.
    Good writing. You really pull in the reader. The calm voice you talk about comes through - you have a calm writing voice. Well done!

  3. You are SO much better than me.
    My neighbor is an alcoholic whose husband is in jail right now... and she's REALLY lonely.
    I bring her food, I am super cool with her kids, but I DRAW THE LINE with her crying on my front stoop at 2am, drunk as a skunk.
    So I guess I'm cool with helping people, as long as it is contained between the hours of 9-5.
    I suck.

  4. It must have taken a lot of courage (and love) to do what you did. How is she now? Better I hope. Go works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?

    On another note, thanks for commenting on my Jackie Chan post. I didn't know he did anything in Mulan until I saw it in his website. You should check it out ( and go do Discography. I'd love to go to Karaoke with him. I think it would be a blast!

  5. Woo hoo!! Congrats Ms. Famous Anonymous Published Author! Don't blow it all in one place!

    And wow ... poor Valerie. She really did lose it. I could see that in her fragile state, you would seem like an angel.

  6. That was a great post. You gave yourself great Karma in helping your neighbor like that. Kudos on being a published author! That is my goal to achieve that status, only I think I would like at least $20.00. I don't come cheap ya know!! Have a great day-

  7. That was really great! Valerie was lucky to have you!

    And aren't really June Freaking Cleaver? DANG!!!

  8. Ahhh, I've been away too long! It was great to get a dose of Angelic June F'ing Cleaver tonight! And congrats, again, on the publication!! I had forgotten that was the book your story is in! I just saw one of them yesterday and flipped through it a bit, but since I didn't remember about your story,,,I didn't see it. (Donna V. had one with her. She has a story in it, too!) Yay for You-June-or-whatever-your-name-is!! :D


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!