Tuesday, November 26, 2019

For my twin in November

I wanted to thank you
for our sister’s dinner the other night
this week.
It is late in the year
and as the sun disappears early
the darkness brings demons into my mind.
Our simple chatter
about ordinary things
and unconscious tendencies
toward similar mannerisms—
impulsive distracted thoughts,
wearing resemblant shirts of the same color,
persistent dedication to attending family events—
bring me a quiet settling,
even in the midst of personal turmoil
and remind me
there is a place
where even this misfit

Julie "Soaring Eagle" Paschold
November 22, 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Death of a Salesman, Round Two

Today (Wednesday, October 16, 2019), my daughter performs as Linda, the mom and wife in a One Act rendition of Death of a Salesman at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  

I am unable to attend, but remember way back in high school when I read this play.  I created a found poem from the text of the play, and post that today in honor of her performance.  Without further ado, here is:

“Tell them that you’re tired”
A found poem from “The Death of a Salesman”

Music is heard
“You’d never come home”
                        “Don’t leave again, will you?”
                        “Yeah but you just said—“
“I guess we didn’t settle anything, heh?”
            “Haven’t the time”

Willy, the last to leave…

“Pull yourself together”
            “You mustn’t overemphasize a thing like this”
            “Just try to relax dear.  You make mountains out of molehills”
                        “This is no time for false pride”
“I let you down”
            “Why didn’t you answer?”
            “Shut it off!  Shut it off!”

Willy, the last to leave…

“I won’t fight with him anymore”
            “Boy, you must really be making a hit”
                        “How long has he been doing this?”
“Well that’s nothing”
            “You got a greatness in you”
“Something’s—happening to him.  He—talks to himself”

            “He tried”

“…you’re not settled, that you’re still kind of up in the air”
            “There’s other things depressing him, Happy”
“What do you mean?”
            “Never mind.  Just don’t lay it all on me”

“Are you content, Hap?  You’re a success, aren’t you?  Are you content?”
            “Hell no”
“No man only needs a little salary”

            “Just rest”

“You’re my foundation and my support, Linda”
            “He’ll find his way”
                        Biff remains motionless, tears falling
            “Be careful!”
“I can feel it changing”

He starts to go…

“Enough to be happy right here, right now”
            “…because it’s not what you do….it’s contacts!”
            “But where are all the people he knew?”
“Maybe they blame him”
            “He’s liked, but he’s not well liked”
“Why didn’t anybody come?”
“There’s no stranger you’d do that to”

Willy, the last to go…

“He died the death of a salesman”
            “You fake!  You phony little fake!”
                        “Yeah but you just said—“
“All of a sudden, everything falls to pieces”
…whirling about as if to quiet her…
            …uttering a gasp of fear…
…frenzy of sound…

            “Just rest”
The music has developed into a dead march
                        All stare down at the grave
            “Better get some rest, heh?”
            “It’s getting dark, Linda”
                        “Nobody dast blame this man”
“…the man didn’t know who he was…”
                                    “…did not die in vain.”
“I can’t cry”

            “I’ll be with you in a minute”

“He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him”
“I never had a chance to say good-bye”
                        “We’re free…We’re free”
“Today, dear”
            “He tried”

            “Tire you out a little”
            “Close your eyes.  I’ll be right up.”
The music has died away. 

Julie SE Paschold

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wishing and Hoping

During a past conversation with my husband, my father shared a saying often used by my grandpa.  Perhaps you’ve heard it. 

“Wish in one hand, poop in the other.  See which one fills up sooner.”

Recently, I heard my husband trying to re-use the phrase.  Only he inserted the word “hope” instead of “wish”.  Feeling helpful, I tried explaining that there is a difference between wishing and hoping.  Either due to my tendency towards over-zealous explanations or because my husband detests being corrected, my commentary was met with irritability.  Okay, that’s too nice.  He has a habit of shutting down whenever I talk; he responded with overt hostility. 

This got me wondering, though:
How many of us truly understand the difference between wishing and hoping? 

In my dictionary from Brown University,
·         “wish” means
o   (vb) 1: to have a desire for (as something unattainable),
o   2: to give expression to as a wish: BID
o   3 a: to give form to (a wish), b: to express a wish for, c: to request in the form of a wish: ORDER, d: to desire (a person or thing) to be as specified
o   4: to confer (something unwanted) on someone: FOIST
o   (vi) 1: to have a desire: WANT
o   2: to make a wish, syn DESIRE
o   (n) 1 a: an act or instance of wishing or desire: WANT, b: an object of desire: GOAL
o   2 a: an expressed will or desire: MANDATE, b: a request or command couched as a wish
o   3: an invocation of good or evil fortune on someone
o   Synonyms: desire, longing, yearning, hankering, urge, hunger, whim, aspire, crave, prefer, want, covet, fancy (found on synonym dot com).
·         “hope” means
o   (vb) (vi) 1: to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment
o   2: TRUST
o   (vt) 1: to long for with expectation of obtainment
o   2: to expect with desire: TRUST syn EXPECT
o   (n) 1: TRUST, RELIANCE
o   2 a: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment: expectation of fulfillment of success, b: someone or something on which hopes are centered, c: something hoped for
o   Synonyms: dream, ambition, anticipation, aspiration, belief, expectation, faith, goal, optimism, promise, prospect, buoyancy, endurance, reliance, reward, security, cherish, count on, hold, await, trust, be sure of, depend on (found on synonym dot com).

Not long after Pentecost, one of the readings at church was Romans 5:1-5, explaining that “….we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us….”

I had been trying to explain to my husband that he had been misusing the expression.  My grandpa used it to encourage hard work; to imply that a person should do more than just wish for or desire something.  Standing around wanting something doesn’t produce it.  You have to earn it.  My husband was using the phrase as if it isn’t worth dreaming or hoping for anything. 

But true hope is more than desire.  There is a deeper, underlying energy that the person uses to forge ahead and endure until a goal is reached. 

Look at the active words in the definitions of the two words.  When you wish, it is a goal you want someone else to reach—an order, a bid, a mandate, a command, a request.  When you hope, there is trust, reliance, expectation—something to build on, something more personal, more motivating, activating, something that comes from within. 

Wishing is air.  Wishing is waiting.  Wishing is passive.  Wishing is shallow.

Hope is active.  Hope has spark.  Hope empowers.  Hope trusts.


Julie S. Paschold
July 11, 2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Yeah, Me Too

I wasn’t going to do this.
Sometimes, there are things you just don’t share.  There’s only so much people should know about you.  If I downplay or ignore the memories, maybe I can pretend the events never happened.

When Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Kavanaugh, people saw her as a victim.  Someone to pity.  Even if it was years ago, she was still frozen, still hampered by it in the present tense.  I don’t want that.  I’m strong, immovable.  I’m past all of it.  I don’t want to walk down that road.  I don’t want to relive it.  I don’t want to be restricted or immobilized by fear anymore.  I don’t want people to look at me with pity.  It won’t thwart my future. 

So when I was scanning my work email account and I thought I saw his face flash at me on one of the educational messages, I made a decision.  I was going to let go.  But trying to ignore that it ever happened hadn’t been effective.  The fact that he and I have similar professions means that someday I may run into him.  And the fact that something else happened with another person I’m forced to interact with regularly compels me into exhaustion just to nullify the truth.  If I have to connect with the world—and them—on a routine basis without overlooking chunks of reality, how long will I last? 

I chastised the #metoo movement.  Why were all of these people sharing events that were private?  Especially when nothing legally could be accomplished?  Why did I want to know so many malicious events took place around the earth, even practically in my backyard? 

Listening to the accused, I began to question my own reality.  I mean, did all of those #metoo’s really happen?  Is it truly just how you interpret or view the events? 
There were times when my memory is hazy; could I be wrong?  My mental illness created distorted thinking in my mind and progressed to some atypical behavior on my part.  Though I had some unacceptable or in appropriate conduct at times, were my truths any less than others? 

If I share my story, will I be seen as a victim?  Will it release me from my fear?  Will I become a statistic?  Will I be criticized or my experience renounced as something I brought on myself?  Will it bring up painful memories that rip open old wounds, or heal the undercurrent of unseen pain hemorrhaging within me?   

As for the #metoo movement, could it be that others sharing their stories wasn’t about pointing fingers or justification for their fear?  Maybe it wasn’t for sympathy or a “poor me” mentality.  Could they have shared for closure, for feeling less isolated?  Did letting go of the victim mentality allow room for forgiveness—not for benefit of the offender, but to lessen the emotional “rocks” in the backpacks of their own minds?  Perhaps the focus wasn’t on pointing fingers or attracting attention, but gathering sorrow in a form that can be diluted or alleviated somehow. 

Julie S. Paschold
May 30, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019


On March 13, 2019, a bomb cyclone hit the Midwestern United States.  As a Nebraskan, my home was included in those affected by this "perfect storm".  My house was in an area of Norfolk, NE that was evacuated in fear of the levee failing.  

This was written as I was waiting for the evacuation notice to be lifted.  I was in a small apartment temporarily housing 9 adults, 3 children under the age of 5, and 4 dogs.  We returned to our house the next day.  Three weeks later, most of the items from our basement are upstairs.  My library/office/studio/retreat is filled with totes and inaccessible.  I still feel displaced, waiting for work to be done to our house both outside and in the basement.  4-4-2019

I am at work on a Wednesday morning,
having braved the dense fog
and to bring the computer home
because tomorrow is predicted to be icy
and I will most likely not make it
into work.
It is raining
and, for the first time in weeks,
above freezing.
Something makes me look at the radar and
seeing more deep green & yellow approaching
I pack up and drive towards home.
Westbound on 275,
water is already flowing across the highway.
I come home to help vacuum water
from our basement,
the walls, wood, and floor soggy.
Ill and exhausted, mentally drained,
I sleep without my pill.

The next morning I am awakened
with a shout and the light.
It does not register in my mind
until my sister calls—
“How are you and where are you going?”
Only a few blocks from each other,
our houses are close to the levee
holding its own for now
but we are being evacuated
just in case.
The mountains of snow are melting
and with the frozen soil
and rain
liquid has nowhere to go
but race
along the surface,
following itself.
This will be known
as the flood of ’19.
My friend calls—
the police haven’t been to our house
but they will.
We need to leave.
My husband insists we go to his brother’s.
So I pack—
the essentials,
the computer,
and the books
signed by my dead mentor
of course. [“Is that silly?”
I ask my sister]
I follow my husband
in circles
until we find the apartment.
I feel meek
not unwelcome
but alien
a transient
an outsider
So I sit
wanting to curl into a corner
and read
Not realizing how overwhelmed
the small children will fill my brain
my husband pushing
to leave
before evacuation has lifted.
I am close to not being okay
I am close to collapsing or exploding
stoic on the outside
I want to scream and cry and walk
my legs falling asleep where I sit
trying to be social
but telling myself
hold on
just for now, like the levee,
hold on
just one more day. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Depressive Episode in Winter

            It is days like these that, while I sometimes can feel them coming, still surprise me with their weight, their power, their insistence on my immobilization.  Days like these when I can’t question there being something different, something “wrong” with me.  My to-do list overflows, my plans await.  Even if I could feel something the day or two before, I’ve shaken it off because preparing for it doesn’t make sense—there is no preparing.  No predicting.  It’s like planning for a car accident you know is coming but you don’t know when it will come.  Sometimes I’ll get up in the morning early to go to the bathroom—at 3 AM, say, or 4 AM, and not have an inkling it’ll be here in a couple of hours, knocking at the door. 

When it’s not here and I have energy I can’t imagine it any other way.  I can’t imagine being immobile, tired, drained, heavy.  And when it’s here I can’t imagine it any other way.  It feels as if it’s here to stay forever, always has been, always will be.  Moving is something so difficult.  No, difficult isn’t the word.  So beyond the possible that I can’t imagine doing anything.  That I just am I wonder why takes so much energy that I don’t even want to be.  Reading or sleeping seems to take me away from it, the thoughts, the impossibility of moving, the regret and guilt and shame.  The self-stigma and mental beating. 

The nights before I will perhaps have binged on starch and sugar and fat—sensing the lack of energy.  My mind still can’t define and translate the difference between physical exhaustion and this mental or emotional breakdown.  No calories will prevent this.  Will not bridge me over the abyss, will not energize the depression.  That’s why when I’m depressed or semi-normal and “just” rapid cycling, on the verge of almost fine, I’m overweight or fat.  I can’t keep from overeating or emotional eating or evening eating.  I know conceptually that the food won’t solve anything and sometimes the taste isn’t even pleasing.  But my body tricks me—my mind keeps thinking the food will treat the bad brain days, keep me from walking in pudding. 

When I’m manic and have energy it too seems like it will never end.  I get rid of my fat clothes—I’ll never be fat again!  I pull out the skinny clothes I’ve stashed in totes in basement rooms, catalogued by weight—160 pounds, 140 pounds, 120 pounds—gleefully letting time spin by at the same time it seems to creep.  Everything seems too fast and too slow at the same time.  I don’t sleep or eat.  I live on coffee and energy drinks and cigarettes.  I sit on my front porch at 1 AM, 2 AM, and though I am awake more hours I am unable to get more done.  Where has the time gone?  I have started more projects than I can finish, have more ideas than I can write on my lists.  I may have a day every once in a while in my mania where my body crashes and I sleep 12 or 16 hours and I call it catatonia—but it’s my body exhaling in exhaustion for a bit until I take it all up again the next day—the world spinning faster than electricity. 

But today is the opposite of those days.  Mania is a set of skinny photos taped and framed wishfully from years ago as reminders, pleas, admonitions.  Today I can’t imagine showering or going anywhere or calling anyone.  My body is heavy, my brain slow.  No one can help—why talk about it?  It is here to stay.  I’m letting people down—in the way back of my head, guilt and shame shake their paws at me, pointing to responsibilities unfulfilled and things undone.  If my thoughts spin, it is so far away from my consciousness and ability to care or do anything about it.  I am wasting time, this exhaustion is unwanted, uncontrollable, inevitable.  It is taking over and clouding out everything around me. 

I know I need to eat but I stand staring at the cupboards, the refrigerator, confused at the concept of mixing, serving, planning, cooking, or pouring even the simplest of foods.  I can’t even think of showering because then I’d have to think of dressing—of choosing clothes.  I literally cocoon in layers—heavy socks and pj pants: my bed has two quilts, a blanket, my robe, and a sleeping bag over my sheet and I am tucked inside.  It is too cold and too hot at the same time.  The door is closed and blinds are shut—light is too much.  My skin screams at wrinkles in sheets and scratches of clothes.  I pull at my hair and lay lax for hours.  I read and sleep because that is all I can do. 

My hair when I’m manic and energized is in itself energized—it is curly.  I have a photo of my hair cut short (I am growing it out from a “cancer patient look”, as my daughter called it) on a day we are grilling out in September for my son’s birthday, and my hair is so curly and dyed burnt orange, that I call it the “curly fries” look.  Now, my hair is just as short (and those of you with curly hair will tell you that when hair is shorter, it curls more), but it is oily and straight—only slightly wavy enough to look funny as it dries. 

Curly Fry hair, thin--hypomania

Straight hair, overweight--Depression

Finally, later, I entreat myself to shower—promising simple clothes.  I try little things.  I move out to the living room.  I fight the pudding slowly, at last. 

Julie SE Paschold
January 19, 2019

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Meaning of Consumer

Consumer, to consume:

According to dictionary.com, consumer means the following:

  • ·        to destroy
  • ·        to use up
  • ·        to devour
  • ·        to spend
  • ·        squanderer
  • ·        to absorb
  • ·        to waste away
  • ·        a person that consumes
  • ·        a person that uses a service
  • ·        an organism that feeds on other organisms

 In NAMI, they call us consumers.
Is that what we do?
Do we use up and squander others around us?
Do we feed on other organisms?
Do we spend and destroy?
If I were able, perhaps I could consume my mental illness.
Perhaps I would cause it to waste away,
            to dissolve, to destroy it.
But would that, in turn, change me?
Would I be consuming, in fact,
            an essential part of me?
A part of me that makes me who I am?
What, indeed, are we to consume,
            we consumers?
Can we consume light, hope, energy—
and remit it as well?
Can our consumer waste be helpful,
            be something beautiful?

Julie SE Paschold