The Science of Fear

Somewhere along the line, I lost track of the world.


I remember the Tsunami of December 26th, 2004. I remember that nearly a quarter of a million people died.


Jani was two.


I remember Hurricane Katrina.


Jani was three.


And then, around 2007, I started to slip away.


I remember night we conceived Bodhi, something I cannot say about Jani. Jani was conceived November 19th, 2001, but I don’t remember anything about that night. I remember September 11th. I remember for three days the world came to a halt. I remember going to a church service. I don’t think Susan was with me. I don’t know where she was. Maybe she was at work. I went with our neighbor at the time, Anne. I remember holding a small American flag in my hand during the service, feeling totally inadequate. I remember thinking, in those three days that the world stopped, that things had to change. This had to be it. This had to be one of those defining moments where the history of the human race shifts forever.


And the President encouraged us to get back to our lives, because if we didn’t, “the terrorists win.” We were told to shop.


I remember being in a daze as the world restarted again.


And nothing really changed.


For my students now, September 11th is a distant memory of their early childhood. Time doesn’t stop, fading as Little Boy and Fat Man must have faded for the small children of Japan who did not see the “Unforgettable Fire” over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


This was driven home to me when we bought a Wiggles CD for Jani when she was a small, It’s a Wiggly, Wiggly World. The album features vocal collaborations between then Wiggles frontman Greg Page (the yellow Wiggle) and various artists. Mostly Australian, except for the final track, where Greg sings along with Atsuko Arai to the Japanese folk song “Haru Ga Kita” (which roughly translates into “Spring has Come”- I have included a link to the song. It is a beautiful song). Atusko Aria is from the city of Nara, Japan, but before the song there is an introduction featuring Anthony Field (the blue Wiggle). He introduces “our friend Miyoko is here from Japan.” He asks Miyoko where in Japan she comes from. She answers “Hiroshima.” “Ah, Hiroshima,” Anthony answers in a tone as if it is land of milk and Honey. “Can you tell me something about Hiroshima?” he asks. Miyoko answers his question in a long string of Japanese. When she done, Anthony responds, “Hey, hey, hey! That sounds wonderful!” He begins translating as if he perfectly understood what she said. “Seven rivers run through Hiroshima, with beautiful water which provides tasty oysters to eat. Yum, I love oysters! Well, I’m, I’m (he actually stammers here on the CD-I wonder if he really would eat an oyster out of a river in Hiroshima) off to Hiroshima….”







“’I love oysters!?’”


Oysters from the same seven rivers that the people of Hiroshima jumped into because they were burning the morning of August 6th, 1945 when the world’s first atomic weapon used in combat was detonated a thousand feet over the city center?


I realize this is a kid’s record and not the place to discuss the realities of atomic weapons use. That wasn’t the point. The point for me was that August 6th, 1945 had no meaning anymore. Hiroshima had become just another city in a far off land called Japan, with its biggest claim to fame being its oysters (apparently they have recovered from the radiation).


It’s not that I want Hiroshima only remembered for being one of only two targets of atomic weapons in history (so far). But I don’t want us to forget, either.


Anne committed suicide three months before Jani was born. She was single. Her career had gone south. She was depressed and I knew it, but she was excited for us. I think I naively thought that Jani might save Anne, that she could be an “aunt,” that she would be a part of Jani’s life.


Five years later, in 2007, I was hoping Bodhi would do the same thing, that he would re-ignite the fire in Jani that disappeared between age two and age three, as the “imaginary friends” took over her life and she withdrew from the real flesh and blood friends she had.


I failed again, but I had no time to reflect on that. Jani was sinking further into moments of terrible violence that would come and go in a matter of minutes, lasting no longer than the time it took for Little Boy’s shockwave to race across Hiroshima. And then it was gone, leaving only the destruction. Interestingly enough, the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotions Hall (now known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial), survived structurally intact, despite the fact that it was the building most directly under the detonation of Little Boy. That was us. Still standing, but with all our windows and doors blown out and with the “ghosts,” as the Japanese call them, on our steps, the shadows that all that is left of the people who were standing on them when Little Boy disintegrated them into atoms.


All I remember of the first part of 2008 is Jani and Bodhi and Susan. I don’t remember the world.


I remember the election. I remember Sarah Palin appearing on “Saturday Night Live,” looking like she didn’t think this was all that funny.


I don’t remember what happened in the world in 2009, other than the death of Michael Jackson. I remember that only because he and Jani happened to wind up in the same place on that day, UCLA. What I remember from 2009 was the constant fear that Jani was slipping away into her world. Our world didn’t matter. I was determined to follow Jani down the rabbit hole as far as I could until she went entirely inside her mind.


I think the earthquake in Haiti happened that year. Let me look it up. Oh, I was wrong. It happened in 2010. I remember hearing about it but if the world stopped I didn’t notice this time. I was in a fight, a fight for Jani’s mind, house to house, building to building, like Truman believed we would have to do if we were forced to invade Japan. Slowly, slowly, we halted the advance of the Army of Calalini and slowly, slowly, with clozapine, lithium, thorazine, and constant stimulation, constant distraction, the elimination of the stress of living with Bodhi thanks to the two apartments, we fought it back, back, back, back. We didn’t drive the enemy from her mind completely. They all still live on the outskirts, waiting for the day when the meds stop working or something else happens which allows them to surge back into the center of her mind.


Today, Jani exists in a Cold War between “them” and us. I say “Cold War” because, at least for the time being, the main war is over. We watch each other over the demilitarized zone that is Jani’s mind. There is occasional potshot, small arms fire, from the hallucinations but not major advance.


I wait for them, my finger always on the trigger. I suppose I will wait like this until I die.


I expected them to come back. If ever there was a time for them to make an advance again it has been these last three months.


I expected them to come back during the winter break, because they have the past three years. They didn’t.


I expected them to come back in January. Jani actually made it through Winter Break of 2009/2010 without going back to the hospital, but finally the stress of being out of her routine got to her in January of 2010 and she went back.


But they didn’t come. A few pot shots across the demilitarized zone but it never came to anything.


And then February came.


Wars are expensive. Even cold ones. In a way, they are more expensive because you are spending to prevent an attack that may never come.


In order to pay the rent on two apartments, I would have to teach five classes per semester, which is the standard full time teaching load for a college lecturer. Even then that would only cover rent and utilities, leaving nothing left over to actually live on.  I reached my peak teaching load in the fall of 2008: four classes and the CSUN Writing Center (which pays the equivalent of a 3 unit course).


Spring is always leaner. For those of us who are “part-time” lecturers, we call it “feast and famine.” Fall semester is the “feast” because of the massive influx of first time freshmen. For the past four years, CSUN has averaged over four thousand incoming freshman. And they all need either freshman composition or (increasingly) remedial composition, classes that are pretty much exclusively taught by lecturers like me. At CSUN, we have only one semester of freshman composition so half the classes disappear in the spring. All that is left is the remedial students. So the number of available classes gets cut in half and those of us who are at the bottom of seniority pile get whatever is left over once those at the top have received their entitlements. So in Spring I am lucky if I get two classes, the minimum necessary to keep my health insurance benefits. My department chair has gone out of his way to get me at least those two classes every spring.


When we rented the two one bedroom apartments, one each for Bodhi and Jani, in May of 2009, I was “carrying” nine units: two classes and the writing center. I could say that I expected to get back to five classes in the fall but that would be a lie, only because to be honest I wasn’t thinking about it at all. All I was thinking about was this was a way to keep Jani in our family. Cost be damned.


Jani was still in an out of the hospital through the summer of 2009 and we started clozapine. It became clear I could not go back to work. Jani could not function an entire day in school and we couldn’t afford a full day of preschool for Bodhi. But mainly it was that I felt that going back to work that fall would be abandoning my family. So I took Family Medical Leave, which would require CSUN to keep paying me for my “appointments” (classes I was supposed to teach) without me actually having to go in to teach. I told the three different departments I worked for in August of 2009. Two, English and what we at CSUN call “Academic First Year Experience,” which is a course on how to be a college student, maintained my appointments, even though they legally could have pulled them because I hadn’t received an “appointment letter” yet, which is basically my contract to teach that semester. The Writing Center, however, pulled my appointment and replaced me. As I said, they had the legal right to do this but I never forgave them for that. I simply stopped talking to my boss in that department and never responded to her emails in late 2009 asking if I was coming back. This was childish on my part because I couldn’t have come back anyway. Teaching is different. All I have to do to is teach the class and hold an office hour and then I can go home. The Writing Center had a set time commitment, spread out throughout the week. I never could have gone back anyway because I couldn’t be gone from Jani and Bodhi and Susan long enough to do it. That part of my life, where I had worked as a tutor for five years, was over. I just used the excuse that they screwed me over, denying me pay I felt I was entitled to during the fall of 2009.


I never spoke to my boss again, a woman I shared everything with, a woman who knew what I was going through. I sent my anger back through proxies, my colleagues who still worked there and followed my life on Facebook.


I regret that.


Ilene, if you are out there, I am sorry. I owed you better than that.


I returned to the English Department in Spring of 2010, getting my second class and keeping my benefits only because a colleague went out sick (Academic First Year Experience is only a Fall semester course because that is the only time CSUN admits freshmen).


My supervisor at AFYE asked me in Spring of 2010 if I wanted to reapply. I told her no. I loved the class but the last time I taught it, in the fall of 2008, I barely got through it. I felt I shorted those students. I didn’t have it left in me to give them what they deserved. So I withdrew from the “pool” (group of eligible faculty).


In the fall of 2010, I taught three classes, all in the English Department. The Writing Center and AFYE were gone by my own hand. All three classes, developmental reading, were “live” classes. I went to campus three days a week. Jani never did well on those days. Those days were always worse.


I explain why.


Just because I am in a cold war with Jani’s schizophrenia, with Calalini, with her hallucinations, does not mean I don’t interact with them.


Peace requires diplomacy.


Nixon went to China.


I go to Calalini. When Jani talks about her hallucinations and what they are doing, I talk back. We converse about them. I communicate with them through her. It isn’t hostile. I don’t send death threats “Watch it, 400, or I will nuke you with Thorazine.” We discuss what 400 or 80 or any of them are doing. I ask her if she needs my help, if she needs extra medication. If she does, she will ask for it. Every day she tells me abruptly, out of the blue while I am droning on about something else, that “a five got run over” or a “nine was eaten by a seven.”


So I treat them.


With Jani, I take the vital signs of the imaginary five. I send it to radiology for a CT scan or X-ray. I reset the leg. I go in arthroscopically and remove the nine that the seven aspirated into its lungs. I do all of this with complete seriousness while Jani watches with a look on her face like she is really worried that the invisible number is going to die.


Everyday I work as a field medic for Jani’s hallucinations.


Just because they are the enemy does not mean they aren’t entitled to medical care.


By the way, this particular attribute of Jani’s psychosis is what makes her schizophrenia rather unique. Most people with schizophrenia are terrified by their hallucinations. Jani is not. This is what makes Jani’s manifestation of her schizophrenia so rare. Not better. Not worse. Just different. I wouldn’t want her terrified. I have seen that in other children and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.


I have seen it in Bodhi, who will scream “I don’t want it!” and flail around why we cry at him, “Bodhi! What is it?”


So far, he doesn’t do this very often. But we are watching. So far, he seems more autistic than schizophrenic, although he does not yet have that diagnosis either. But both the school district and his psychiatrist (who is also Jani’s psychiatrist) “can make a case for autism.” Bodhi appears to zone out on our world, but he hyperfocuses on things that exist in our world. Like cars. He is obsessed with toy cars. But today, after we dropped Jani off for her two hours of school, he picked up “Babbles,” a talking “Baby Alive” doll Jani has, and was holding it and wrapping it up and taking care of it. There was a sweetness there that we rarely saw in Jani. Jani puts her stuffed animals to bed, wrapping them up, but it is different. There is no love in it. It is more like a routine, something she feels compelled to do like a OCD person washing hands.


Anyway, diplomatic channels are open to Calalini and unfortunately it seems I am the secretary of state for our world. Jani doesn’t do well when I am not around. It is like she has lost her “translator.”


This semester I got lucky again. I have two classes and they are both online so I never go to campus anymore. I still care deeply about my friends and colleagues there and I know they still care deeply about me. But it still feels like I am losing touch with CSUN, with the life I used to have. People who don’t know me will periodically say, “Well, I am sure you’ll be able to go back.”


What they mean is back to work full-time. Maybe. I don’t know. But that isn’t the issue. What they don’t understand is I can go back physically but I can never go back emotionally. I can’t reverse time. Everytime I go now, I carry with me everything that has happened over the past four years. I can’t erase that.


In that sense, there is no going back. I am separated from that life in way that I will never be able to close. I can go back into the building. But I can’t go back. The only reason I can still teach is because when I teach I separate my self from myself. I play a role.


Back to February.


Usually, my paycheck only gives me enough to pay one apartment.


The money for the other one comes from you.


We had so many bills that hadn’t been paid for months I used my regular paycheck to try and get caught up. I knew this would make us late on BOTH apartments but I expected a large check, my payment for teaching a winter session class online (winter and summer classes are paid in one large payment).


Except my paperwork to get paid was three days late getting to Payroll.


CSUN pays everything only once per month. If the deadline is missed, the payment gets rolled over to the next month. So instead of getting paid on February 15th, now I wouldn’t be paid until March 15th.


I had nothing to pay the rent. Normally I need 1200. Now I needed 2600, plus late fees and legal fees because we got sued for eviction. In total, I needed about four grand.


That was more than what my readers could do, although they tried.


I panicked. I lashed out. I got childish again and cut off communication. Apparently I made some reference to stopping this blog, which I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember was feeling trapped. While so many people were trying to raise the money for us, I focused on a tiny handful of critics, the ones who have been leaving me comments telling me to send Jani to residential ever since my blogs became more and more about how much we needed money. That was never my intention. I never intended this blog to be a handout. It was supposed to be illuminating. It was supposed to be educating. It was supposed to give hope to those who live this life and understanding to those who don’t. But over the last several months it progressively devolved into my begging for money from the only source I had.




I lashed out because by God I felt like I was winning this war. With the two apartments and the medications, I had pushed Calalini back. I, You, had given Jani a life, a good life, with her family. And it was working. Jani was walking up to other children at parks and asking them their names and how old they were. She wasn’t holding out her hand to show them an invisible rat. She was actually talking to them about what they were doing. She was showing interest in our world.


And I felt all of that was suddenly threatened because, as some of my critics like to say, I “can ‘t support my family.”


I actually do. Just not in a way they can understand.


Yes, part of my job is to keep the roofs over the heads of my children.


But they need more than that, unfortunately.


They need me physically.


And I can’t be in two places at once.


Somebody in a comment pointed out that I was “starting to act like a victim,” like I was purely at the mercy of circumstance, when I chose this living arrangement.


I think my reply was pretty hostile at the time but actually, they were right.


I was starting to act like a victim.


And I did choose this. I didn’t choose for Jani to have schizophrenia but I did indeed make the choice to keep my family together by renting two apartments I could not afford and always really knew I couldn’t had I had time to think about it. Not that it would have changed my decision. My decision was to rent two apartments or send Jani to residential in either Texas or Florida. Those were the only residential options presented to us by the Department of Mental Health because they were the only two facilities (both Deveroux) willing to take her. Every residential in California that could take a girl her age rejected her “packet” because she was too “staff-intensive,” a euphemism for “too psychotic.”


They rejected her again as late as October of 2010 when we went through another evaluation and another recommendation for residential even though I thought Jani was functioning pretty well.


Once again it was either Texas or Florida. I didn’t think she needed residential at all at this point and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let my eight year old daughter be sent across the fucking country.


So, yes, I chose this living arrangement. I can use the excuse that the only offers were from Texas or Florida but I’ll be honest. I wasn’t going to send her away. I wasn’t going to send her away in the beginning and I wasn’t going to send her away now.


Ah, but it is easy to spit in the face of defeat when you know reinforcements are coming, isn’t it?


And reinforcements did come. An old college friend from grad school who I actually only ever took one class from messaged me and offered his bonus. Four grand.


One day I will repay the money, just like I will repay all the money that has been donated to us. At least that is my hope.


But things like that I can never repay. Not the money. The kindness. I try but it will take me the rest of my life.


But that was just February rents.


What about March?


What about April?


What about God knows how long into the future?


I now know what it must have felt like in that hot room deep under the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on the night of August 14th, 1945, when the ministers passed around a single piece of paper. The only thing on this paper was their names, in Japanese script. The last one to receive the paper was Minister of the Army, General Korechika Anami. None of the other ministers were sure if he would sign.


He stared at the paper, then picked up a pen, dipped it in ink, and signed.


The unconditional surrender of Japan to the Allies.


I had reached that point. The surrender document was in front of me. Like Anami, I could fight on to the death. But the war was lost. Anami made his decision based on what was best for Japan, not what was best for the Army. Japan could not fight on any longer, not without terrible loss of life.


I could not fight on any longer, not without the destruction of the very thing I had started this war to protect: My family.


My surrender document was a “30 Day Intent to Vacate” Notice for the two apartments.


They were right. This situation had become untenable. I cannot fight this war without the resources to do it.


So I surrendered on February 21st, 2011.


Not unconditionally, however.




Did you think you were going to read that I sent Jani to residential in Texas or Florida?


Not a chance.


There was a two bedroom apartment available in our complex, at a good price, one thousand dollars less than what we pay for the two one bedrooms.


If I believed that Bodhi was still in danger, I would not have surrendered. But I thought that maybe Jani was ready. He’s been in her apartment and she’s been fine with it. She is getting better all the time. Maybe I had been dragging this out too long. Maybe this was the push we needed to reunify the family.


It was a nice apartment. I looked around but I decided to stay in the same complex, primarily because Jani has been here since she was three. I wanted to minimize the impact to her as much as possible. Moving in the same complex would be almost like not moving at all.


The bedrooms were at opposite ends of the apartment. Jani didn’t want to move but when I told her it was going to be in the same complex so wasn’t really like a move and we were moving to building 12 and “Building 12 smells!” as a joke, she seemed to get excited about it.


Notice I said two bedrooms, not three. Susan and I would continue to be “staff,” alternating nights in each bedroom with each child. Except now instead of crossing a parking lot, we would just have to cross the living room.


We were all set.


But there was a catch. Even though we have lived in this complex for five years and rented a total of four apartments, we still had to fill out another credit application. This is standard procedure. We have had to do this before the move from the one bedroom to the two bedroom while Jani was in the hospital the first time and then again when we wanted to rent the two one bedrooms.


Our application was denied based on our credit.



I couldn’t understand why. I have less debt now that I did two years ago. I ordered our credit reports and learned why we were rejected. You see, in the last two years I have settled all my credit card debts for less than what I owed. What I didn’t know is that paying a balance for less than you owe is still sent to the credit reporting agencies as an “adverse report.”


So my credit will be clear again some time in 2017.


So basically I surrendered and they handed back the surrender document. Thankfully, we were allowed to revoke our “30 Day Intent to Vacate” notices.


So we are still in the two apartments and will remain so for as far into the future as I can see. The struggle to pay for both of them will go on.


On the day I told Jani, I asked her if she would rather stay in the two apartments or move to building 12.


“Move to building 12,” she answered quickly.


“Are you sure?” I asked, knowing this was now impossible. I needed to know. I needed to alleviate my guilt. I needed to know I made the right decision to continue to live as we do. “Let me ask you this. If you could choose to stay in the two apartments, because we can, or move to building twelve, which would you take?”


“Stay in the two apartments,” Jani answered this time, again without delay.


When I told her we would be, she said the move had been “stressing her out.”


Sure, you can argue I got the answer I wanted. Maybe I did.


But what I do know is two weeks ago we went for Jani’s biweekly blood test to check her white blood cell count (required for anyone on clozapine because it can cause agranulocytosis, or destruction of the white blood cells). Despite being on clozapine, Jani’s WBC generally runs a little on the high side, around 7 or 8.  I got a call from the agency that arranges Jani’s lab work. “Is Jani sick?” I was asked. “Not that I am aware of. Why?”


Jani’s WBC had more than doubled to 18.


Jani’s psychiatrist immediately ordered us to get it checked again.


You see, Jani complains of pains all time, which always turn out to be psychosomatic (she feels tactile hallucinations). Yet once when she was running a 103 degree fever we had no idea. She complains she is hot when it is freezing outside and cold when it is hot. This is not unusual for people with schizophrenia. There can be some detachment or “disassociation” from the body. Now I know why I used to see a homeless man walking down the street in the middle of summer in LA wearing at least three or four heavy jackets. “Doesn’t he feel the heat?” I would ask myself.




So Jani might be a little sick, we told her psychiatrist, and we wouldn’t know.


But her psychiatrist seemed a bit more concerned. She is usually unflappable.


And then I remembered what a high white blood cell count can mean.


Yes, it can indicate infection.


It can also indicate cancer.


Coupled with the fact that Jani’s bowel movements had been chalky white, I became terrified that Jani had cancer of the bile duct (bile is what makes our feces brown). And then I wondered if I caused this. I smoke. Jani comes out with me when I smoke. I don’t want her to but she insists. She needs to be around me.


Oh my God. Did I do this? I will live and she will die? Cancer of bile duct is fatal unless it can be completely removed by surgery.


That isn’t right. I should be the one to die.


I tried to talk myself out of it being cancer while we waited for the results of the second blood draw.


Her WBC came back down to 10, below her previous highs.


Right now we are awaiting the results of a chem panel to check metabolic function and kidney function.


Just to be sure.


I learned there is one more thing that can cause your white blood cell count to spike temporarily.


Stress. Stress causes your body to produce more white blood cells.


Jani has continued to say that the idea of moving was stressing her out.


I don’t know.


I don’t know.


All I know is the Cold War goes on.



PS: There are a lot of Japanese references in my blog, for obvious reasons. I am very much aware of the world outside again. This month, I would very much appreciate it if you would donate anything you can to relief agencies working in Japan. I will provide a link to a Paypal page were you can make donations to such agencies as the American Red Cross and Save the Children, among others. Donations to Japan so far are only about 90 million, far short of what had been donated to Haiti by this time.






Update 3/18/11-Jani’s test chem panel came back and her organs are fine. White blood cell count remains normal.


We also got lease renewal notices for the two apartments today. Our rent will be going up by $38 a month. Could be worse. I am surprised at the increase only because I didn’t think the rental market in Southern California had recovered enough to support rent increases. We only have until the 28th to accept the deal so we will be taking it. Sorry to those who wanted us to move back into together. I  wanted it too but I think Jani needs at least least one more year.


33 comments on “The Science of Fear

  1. Where to go from here…
    Oh, Michael. Back to square one, eh? Honestly I’m sure the complex would have come up with some other reason to deny you the transfer even if your credit had passed. The business aspect of this is is their concern. They’ve seen your pattern.

    So what I want to do is talk progress with you. I live in Colorado, which is like a whole different world… but even when I was almost $50,000 in debt from money I don’t even remember spending during various intense dissociative stretches, I was able to find a decent complex that didn’t deny anyone based on credit. What they did was charge a max deposit to the people with the lowest scores. I ended up scratching together $3,000 for the deposit and even though that was hard and I had to borrow money from people, it was a one time thing, and got me set up in a safe place I could afford on my monthly salary for the most part. And I got the money back in a year of good payments and paid everyone back who helped me.

    Will you please try this? Let’s say even in the exact same area you are living now — I concede to you we don’t want to change Jani’s school and we want to maintain the “sameness” feeling as much a possible. Please don’t sit on your laurels knowing she was stressed by the idea of moving. Of course she was and of course she will be. I think she answered “building 12” the first time because she is beginning to understand this needs to happen if the family is going to stay together.

    Let’s start small. Grab a map, draw in the boundaries of Jani’s school district. Call every single apartment complex in those boundaries. Possibly consider a few small home rentals as well if you can find something reasonable. Don’t go all Michael on them. 🙂 Ask them anonymous and general questions about their credit policies, and if the receptionist doesn’t know, hold for someone else. Based on their responses, make a list of complexes to apply to. Do it. Don’t say a word to Jani until you find the place and it’s confirmed.

    Michael, I think you are going to find a LOT more people (and even with the meager savings I have, I’ll be one of them) who will be willing to go big on one final push to get your family set up in the right place, knowing afterwards you’ll be able to manage it yourself. Please don’t wait. And Michael, also please get yourself in to see some kind of psychologist/psychiatrist. You are displaying a lot of post-traumatic stress symptoms and if it’s getting to the point you don’t even remember penning the content of your own blog posts, you need to do something now. We don’t want another incident like that overdose that year.

    From now on every time we talk I am going to trying to try to urge you down this path. Michael, even though I don’t you personally, I know who you are and I know what you’re struggling with. I love you. I want to help you get to your next stronghold.

    Note from Michael: I do see a psychiatrist. I have to to monitor my own medications but I actually enjoy seeing her when I can. She is really great… spends the time to talk to me like a psychologist.

    As for everything else you suggested, well, we’ll see. I am not saying yes and I am not saying no. It’s more than I can do right now. There was no conspiracy theory in why we got denied. To my immense shock and surprise, they are offering to renew our lease. So it doesn’t seem like they want us out. I take the credit rejection at face value.

  2. Hmm…
    “Please don’t sit on your laurels….”

    Wow – I doubt you or Susan have had any real rest since you realized Jani had an issue. I think you give every ounce of your time/energy into keeping your daughter out of a hospital ward.

    I think people have good intentions. They want to offer advice/help to fix the situation. I’m type A, I get that. I also get that you have all been through hell and finding the strength to be proactive is not always a choice. Some days it’s enough to get out of bed and go through the motions. You have to make progress when you have the pockets of strength/energy.

    I don’t think you are in the 2 apartment situation by choice. It’s what works best for Jani and your family and what your able to do right now. I will continue to send unconditional support and money until your book is finished.

    Keep breathing – Keri

    Note from Michael: Thanks, Keri. I finished the first draft of the book at the beginning of the month and sent it off to New York. Now I am just waiting for what I am sure will be many, many, many editorial notes, followed by extensive rewriting.

    And Zell’s a good person. I don’t always agree with her but she’s a good person. Her heart is in the right place. And sometimes I need to hear what she has to say.

  3. How much do you spend each month on cigarettes?

    Note from Michael: Six thousand dollars! Some months as much as twenty thousand! 🙂

  4. .

    I have come to realize that “encouragement” is sometimes empty words-hopefull but empty. I know you are probably one of the few people who understands the concept of literally physically feeling another persons pain inside your own body, no physical symptoms, but you feel the pain down to the inside of your bones. It could be part of the human condition, I think it’s the definition of the word “empathy.” Although I do not know you in flesh and blood “real life” I am feeling your pain down to my core. Of course the usual “fuck everyone else, live for you and your family. Fuck they nay-sayers” still applies and always will, but I want you to know that some of us are willing to shoulder the pain with you. Not by conscious choice, but by pure, unadulterated empathy. I’m not a “God” person, but everynight before I finally find sleep, I think of you and your family and hope that someday, maybe the constant onslaught of relentless attacks and adnvancing generals will come to a stop.
    Until then, I know there are others like me, we will keeep shouldering some of your pain. We will keep giving any monetary gifts we can. We will continue the fight with you. I assure you than I will never sign the surrender letter like Anami, instead we will all fight until we don’t need to anymore. If death comes before that, than so be it.

    Talking Bird-By Death Cab For Cutie

  5. retraction
    I’m sorry if I sounded critical of Zell, not my intent. I’m a die hard supporter of keeping things where they are. I think the routine you’ve created, as hard as it is, has helped. I would love for Jani to maintain the hard won progress. Apparently I’m as opinionated as every body else :).

  6. I hope this helps
    Hi Michael,
    I’ve been following your blog for a long time–I first heard about Jani from a psychiatrist I worked with right out of graduate school who had an interest in early-onset schizophrenia and had heard a story on the news or something similar. Anyway, I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but there are some very detailed instructions for ways to write “goodwill” letters to your creditors to possibly have some of those negative items removed from your report. I’ve personally had some success following the templates others have posted there, and though it is time-intensive to write the letters and keep an eye on the process, it might be worth it to save you some money and stress in the future.

    Anyway, I can’t offer any other advice except to say that I’m impressed at your level of sacrifice for your child. Hang in there.

    Note from Michael: When I have a chance, I will look into that. Thank you.

  7. The Whispering Child
    I have this theory that the idea of sending our kids away is grounded in this being a throw away society. Your cell phone isn’t the latest and greatest, your laptop runs a bit slower than the new model, well, hell toss it out, give it away and upgrade. If your kid isn’t all they “should” be, send them away, improve your own life. But perhaps I am just rambling tonight.
    Rambling tonight because today Pickles went from acute psych hospital care to a residential. And from the time I spent writing her name in her clothes last night, to this very second writing this has been the worst 36 hours I can ever recall. I fought this for so long, and I never thought I would be sitting here alone and not knowing when my baby girl will be home. I want to call all those rat bastards who have been on the RTC kick with me for a while now and tell them off. But I know that I did what I had to do, not so I can progress or do anything for myself, but because I could not…plain and simple…I could not bring Pickles home and keep her safe from herself. It’s just she and I, and over the last several months her days of being afraid and in terror have grown to be the majority over the days she isn’t terrified. I could no longer keep the monsters away. So tonight she will fall asleep in an RTC and I will stay awake and hate myself for the feeling that I have some how abandoned her. Her RTC is only 10, maybe 15 minutes away. Closer even than the acute hospital she’s been at for the last, almost 3 weeks. But yet…but yet…
    But yet I can say, without hesitation that were that RTC not only minutes away, I wouldn’t have made this same choice. If it meant sending Pickles across country, or even just across the state, I would endure more broken wrists, bruises, and my own pain. I would not send her to a place where I couldn’t get in the car and to her in less than a couple songs on the radio.

    I’d like to toss out there to those who read this blog and think that sending Jani to an RTC would be the end to, or at least take some of the financial issues away…I’d like to just share this: Pickles has private insurance. A policy held by her adoptive dad. About the only support he has ever shown, financial or emotional. Even with her insurance, Pickles RTC is going to cost me $294 a week. A week. And that doesn’t include the cost of her medications or her necessary labs, or her Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy. So to all those who think it would just make it easier on you, Susan, Bodhi to send Jani off to RTC. Think again my friends, think again. These are our children. We love them, we adore them. Their pain is doubled when it enters our hearts. We can’t just send them away, and as I so love to hear, “get our lives together”. Our lives are our children. We aren’t together, when they aren’t together, when we are not together as a family. And cost wise, it only adds to the bills.
    I know I may sound contradictory in what I am writing while Pickles is in an RTC. It was my last, utmost last resort. Pickles hallucinations used to not scare her either. That has changed. Now, while she still has Edward and Izzy and her puppies, she also has the man with the glowing red eyes among others. And they send her into terror spells where she tries to slam her head through bathroom mirrors trying to escape them. I couldn’t keep her safe from them anymore, and I can’t begin to share how that terror in her has defeated me and broken my own soul. You have the ability to be there in a way for Jani that I can’t for Pickles. Which is exactly…exactly why Jani needs to be with you and Susan. Jani is doing better, you’re family is doing better and while sure the Thorazine, and other meds and the therapy has contributed to that, you’re being there for her, and for each other has just as much, if not more to do with her improvement. There isn’t a doubt in my mind about that.
    Sending a child to RTC is not like sending a child to summer camp or boarding school.

    and before I finally shut up… 🙂 I LOVED the line you wrote: “Just because they are the enemy does not mean they aren’t entitled to medical care.”


    Note from Michael: I am so sorry, Kirsten. But beautifully said. There is no life without them because we ARE our children.

  8. Stop smoking. Just stop. It’s a waste of money, and do you have any idea how much Jani will be crushed if you got sick/cancer/died from it?

    It’s not a slim chance. It’s like a rock, weight over your head.

    And not only will it help you with you and your family’s WELLBEING, it’ll help with your financial crisis.

    My uncle died from smoking. He wasn’t a huge smoker, but he still died.

    Note from Michael: I’m sorry about your uncle, Paul. Financially it really doesn’t make that much of a difference as I am also not a “huge” smoker but I can’t say your comments about the health risks don’t resonate. I am just not sure what is worse. Jani watching me die of lung cancer in forty years or living with me now, as a child, as I go through withdrawal? I don’t know the answer. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Jani and Michael Jackson entered the hospital on the same day? That’s incredibly shocking. Wasn’t it absolute chaos? What was the experience like?

    It’s also a little touching since Michael Jackson cared for ill-children so much. I think he would’ve liked to meet Jani, actually.

    Note from Michael: I have blogged about it before but I am not sure in which one. It might be on the old Honestly, Meghan, I wasn’t really paying attention for obvious reasons. It was different because for the first time I had establish who we were (security was stopping everyone). I was focused on getting my daughter the care she needed. I really didn’t care about Michael Jackson but everybody was interrogated like we might be from TMZ. Once I told them Jani was here for admission, we were escorted in under guard. We get inside and have to wait again while IDs are checked. Suddenly the lobby got very dark. I turn to my right and realized that light from the floor to ceiling window had been blocked out by a wall of people, many standing on each others shoulders, shouting “Michael, Michael.” It was surreal, I guess, would be the best way to describe it.

  10. Yet another blog about money, nice.

    Note from Michael: Yes, Rose, I solicited money to help victims in Japan. How selfish of me. In my prior blog I solicited donations to help a single mother with a schizophrenic son and a newborn keep the heat on in New Jersey rather than have her put on the wood burning stove which her schizophrenic son likes to play with…again, monstrous of me.

    I tell you what, Rose. Why don’t you form a focus group and ask them what they would like to read from me, compile the data, and then issue me the report? That would be extremely helpful in modifying my writing to better suit your needs.

  11. My (hopefully occasional) lack of social skills exposed…
    Here’s the short version of the more erudite comment Firefox just ate:

    Sometimes I am a bit blunt. Like this comment that I just left you earlier. My social skills have been painstakingly forged over the years. They are still not entirely up to snuff. If I had the chance to write it again, I’d wait until at least 7 AM and use softer words. While still attempting to communicate essentially the same message. Ah, language.

    Let the record show — I want your family to succeed, not me to be right. In fact, I would rather be wrong if it works out more so in your favor. I am pleased to hear the complex wants to work with you. I would imagine you’re thinking then of only renewing on one lease… voila. The perfect solution, yes? Imagine all the pro-RTC trolls who will get incredibly bored and leave your blog. For now.

    I enjoyed your cigarette comment so much I insist that for my first donation you enjoy a pack or two on me. The only thing that got me to quit was my orthopedic surgeon insisting my ankle wouldn’t heal unless I did. I still love the thought of it.

    Note from Michael: Zell, you have nothing to apologize for. We have kind of formed a relationship through your comments and my responses. I know you only want the best for us. I have no doubt of that. You can be blunt. I won’t take it personally. Like I said, sometimes I need to hear it. Glad you liked my cigarette joke. I am going to have fun with people like that. Now Paul above makes a more serious point and so he got a serious answer.

  12. Smoking
    I’m not going to lecture you on smoking. You’re an adult. You know the risks. However, don’t kid yourself that it could/will be 40 years. You’re under pressure, I get that. Clearly, I have no idea how much. I also get that too. I would just like to say, though, that working in family practice, I have seen many, many, heavy smokers (which you are not) quit smoking with the help of some great new medications, with few side effects. They also happen to have psychological benefits, such as being anti-depressants. My brother-in-law quit, which we never thought would happen, after my sister died of cancer. He was the lone parent at that point.

    Like any habit/addiction, you have to want to do it. I don’t think there will ever be a “right time” for you. You’re going to have to make it. Or not.

    The cost factor is laughable, but the health factor isn’t. Interestingly, my daughter is in University in a health care field, and they are now talking about “third hand smoke”. Smoker parents of newborns are told not only not to smoke around their babies, but to change their clothes because of chemicals carried on them.

    I wish you all the best, Michael. You know that. I just thought I’d tell you about a few options, since going “cold turkey” and the days of “shaking, angry, withdrawal” are old school. We’ve come a long way, baby 🙂

  13. Don’t know what’s the matter with these naysayers. But don’t let ‘em get you down. Way I see it, you do a pretty good job of keeping Jani’s Cheshire Cats and White Rabbits at bay.
    Rather than warriors, they seem more like 16th Century courtiers, sometimes malevolent and sometimes harmless. All the time trying in some insidious way, to influence the Princess of Calalini. I call her that because while Jani seems to have created the land of Calalini, she can’t control the creatures that live there. Something like Alice in Wonderland.
    In some sense or another they try to rule HER. (Although I have noticed she sometimes attempts to command her visions to do this or not to do that.)
    Your interactions with Jani’s visions and voices are the correct way to deal with them. I know you took some guff from the Stancils over this, but in this case, you are right and the Stancils are wrong. What works for Becca won’t work for Jani and vice versa.
    And don’t worry too much about lashing out at times, God knows with the level of stress you’ve had to endure, you’re entitled to a little lashing out now and then. I’m nearly 70 and I’ve done my share. We all have. And except for military life, I’ve never endured anywhere near the stress you’ve had to endure. And no right-thinking person thinks you view yourself as a victim. Yes, Nature dealt Jani some bad cards, but you’re dealing with them very well. Not like a victim at all.
    And for my part, please don’t even think about repaying any of the money donated. I’m pretty sure most of Jani’s benefactors feel the same way. Jani getting better and spending more time in school and being more social is repayment enough.
    Which is why we all depend on your blogs. We know you’re very busy, and we all know you need a break, but when too much time passes between blogs we all get a little scared.

    Note from Michael: Carl, you are Jani’s patron saint, with emphasis on the saint.

  14. Keep my donations
    Dear Michael,
    I agree with Carl – When the time comes where you are financially recovered don’t even consider returning any money to me. It was given with no expectations of return. Jani’s illness is a l-i-f-e-t-i-m-e. And then there’s Bodhi’s needs. You may need money somewhere down the road….(I sincerely hope not but you never know)

    Can’t help but wonder about your complex’s business office? They will let you continue to rent 2 apts that you know you’ve had trouble affording but deny you renting 1 apt that you can afford??? Where’s the common sense factor? Rhetorical question…

    Keep up the good fight, not that I doubted it, but after reading Kirsten’s post & you’re updates it’s clearer than ever that keeping Jani home is crucial to her improvement.

    Continued good luck & positive thoughts coming your way…


  15. Wow Michael. This blog really spoke to me. Your stream of consciousness was so clear…thank you for inviting us to be a part of it. I especially love the importance you put on music. It’s as though The Temper Trap wrote that song for you! Does Jani share your love of music? Does she understand how a song can speak the words we don’t have the courage to say. That may be too abstract. Have you ever played her a song and asked what she thought they were trying to say. I always think of the song “Hurt” (I prefer NIN, but Johnny Cash did a great job too) when I think of Jani…I wonder what her insight would be on that song. She’s absolutely brilliant, Michael.

    “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music”-Aldous Huxley

    Note from Michael: Jani likes music but likes to make up her own songs. The only time she really pays attention to music made by others is if I change the lyrics to fit her world. Example, “Hotel California” becomes “Hotel Calalini;” Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire” becomes “Six on Fire” (which I actually prefer because I don’t even begin to want to explain to her what that song is really about). She is drawn to lyrics, not music. For example, she loves Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days” because, of course, it mentions dogs. She keeps asking me where Florence’s dog is. I tell her I assume home in England with her parents since Florence is currently on tour. My personal favorite of how I changed the lyrics to engage her was the Killers’ “Human:” I changed the chorus to “Are we human, or are we doggies? My sign is vital, my nose is cold. And I’m on my paws looking for the answer….”

  16. I appreciate how intuitive you are. You have unique gifts that I believe come from god so that you can help others be more compassionate. Don’t beat yourself up about the smoking thing. Maybe you should try the Electronic Cigarette. It’s a step down and there’s no smoke to bother other people, like Jani. I know you don’t blow it in her face, but it’s only water vapor just in case the wind blows a certain way. Remember this-god grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The only way to change is to do something different. Fear is a lack of faith, faith in something anything. Oh yeah…I almost favorite “mantra” to live by is you can turn your day around at any time, even in the middle or at the end. I know it sounds bumper sticker-ish, but repitition of them daily will make a huge impact on anxiety. 🙂

  17. thoughts.

    Thank you for the update on Jani. Like another commenter mentioned, I get worried when it’s been a long time between blog entries.

    You are doing the best that you can for your family given the circumstances. You never stop fighting for what is best for your children and you can always be proud that you’ve never given up. Regardless of the setbacks and challenges you have faced, you still keep going and fighting for your children. That is something you accomplish every single day and that in itself is amazing.

    You and your family are in my thoughts. Wishing you well.


    Note from Michael: Thank you, Monika. Part of the long delay between blogs was because I was working on completing the first draft of my book to get me closer to the day when I can’t stop asking people for me, either for us or anyone else.

  18. would like to help via snail mail po box
    Hi, Michael,

    I have great respect for you and your wife’s efforts. I can help in my own small way, but like everyone my finances are screwy at times. do you have a p.o. box or work address to which I could send some occasional money? if so, please email me at (email deleted for security reasons)


    Note from Michael: I appreciate that Barbara. We don’t have a PO Box. You can mail to my work. Michael Schofield
    Department of English, Mail Drop 8248
    California State University, Northridge
    18111 Nordhoff St.
    Northridge, CA 91330

    However, let me know via email at because I am teaching online right now and not on campus very often.

  19. You are doing the best you can with an incredibly difficult situation, and I truly applaud you for that. You and Susan are true heroes. And like they say, in order for us to be able to appreciate happiness, we have to experience the darker side. Without the opposition, happiness would be worthless.

  20. Just keep on keepin’ on
    That’s about all we can do, isn’t it? Having faced the “to RTC or not” decision with our 11 y.o. again recently, I totally get where you’re coming from on all fronts Michael. Our lives since we adopted her 10 years ago is a blur in many respects. Nowadays, memories revolve around the “Oh, that was the summer that she…” or “Oh, remember we didn’t get to go b/c it was just too much for her at that time” or then there’s the “Wow, I wish she could have done that.” Our lives are not what we bargained for when we started the parenting phase and unless you’ve been there, done that or are doing it, it is really hard to grasp. I wish I was able to “verbalize” what I feel the way that you do. Know that the majority of us hold no judgment over you or Susan, and we probably are here because we are in the same boat and so we feel your pain, and the pain you take on yourself FOR your child. So, just keep on keepin’ on and we’re all here for you.

    Note from Michael: And my hope is this blog allows you to feel like you are not alone.

  21. Seconding Maegan’s suggestion to look into electronic cigarettes. They’re much cheaper than the real deal, none of the health problems (firsthand or secondhand), don’t require you to change your habits/routine, and don’t require you to go into nicotine withdrawal. I’m speaking from personal experience here, having had to quit tobacco cold-turkey for medical reasons but not actually wanting to quit smoking – my e-cigarette works wonderfully. Do your own shopping around, but if you’d like a bit of a discount, use the code 71871 for 15% off a starter kit from (the company I use, it’s a good product).

  22. I cannot afford to send any $$, but I can send you a tip.
    One of the reasons why cigs are so expensive, is the tax.
    Currently, cigars are not taxed like cigarettes are.
    That is why they invented little cigars.
    They are the same size as cigarettes. They come 20 to a pack.
    The second-hand smoke smells a little worse-but their are less chemicals in them.
    They are not harsh like cigars.
    They cost one dollar a pack.
    Go to your nearest getto area and ask for little cigars.
    Very very mild detox from the regular cigs. Maybe not even noticeable.
    I’m trying to be nice to you Scofield because I see some improvement.
    You still seem very neurotic to me, but maybe you need to be that way.
    I see a good change in your attitude too, besides the obvious improvements/stabilization with Jani.
    I have to say, (and I’m a big believer in giving children rights), that asking Jani’s opinion about if you should move or not, might not be the right thing to do.
    Are you that afraid that you need her permission or she will loose it? Even if she gave it-it just could make her feel responsible if/when it happened and she was unhappy.
    Better I think to be parental about it, say, “we’re moving, you will adjust, you will be safe, and throw-in a bribe like a new pet”.
    (ha ha and then expect for an adjustment period).
    I agree that one home can work if you have safe areas set-up.
    Have gates/locks however you have to do it so that Jani can be sure that Bodhi won’t get into her things, and where she can go when he bothers her.
    Also-the fact that you don’t have ads running here really is a waste!
    I’m pretty sure that you can put text right alongside ads that says, “I do not endorse any ads-I don’t even know what they are”, or if you get set-up with most ad services, you can choose what you want to endorse. It could be anything-even Mac & Cheese, there has to be something that you could give your Good Housekeeping approval to?

  23. Thank you Michael for letting us into your lifes,
    I hope you don’t let people who look down upo you ruin your day. I am 19 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age and was put into a institution. I look up to you for doing everything you can to keep Jani with you.

    You and your family, as always, are in my thoughts and prayers.


    Note from Michael: Thank you, Satonia.

  24. NAMI
    got to

    When you get to the website, type in “grants” in the search bar at the top right corner of the page…. I’m not really sure if you qualify.. but hopefully u do!!!… HOPE THIS HELPS!!

    Note from Michael: Thank you but NAMI National only makes grants to local and regional NAMI offices, never to individuals. Our local NAMI has never been able to help us. In their defense, I think it was more because they lacked the funds than because they didn’t want to. NAMI is pretty hard up right now. If you go to the first thing you will see is them begging for money (just like me!)

  25. cigs
    Um, the cigarettes are the *least* of your problems. I used to smoke and quit when I found out I was pregnant so I’m not a current smoke trying to rationalize this response! Are cigarettes bad for us? Yes. Is secondhand smoke bad for us? Yes. Is it so heinous that we have to be terrified that outdoor secondhand smoke is going to cause cancer in our child? No… I really don’t think so. Our society has demonized smoking to the point that it causes fears blown out of proportion to the risks. Please don’t beat yourself up over this!

    Note from Michael: Thanks. I find it amusing that some of my readers seem to be so obsessed with my smoking. As you say, there are much bigger things to worry about.

  26. Yeah, I don’t understand the obsession some people have with you smoking. With all you go through on a daily basis, why would anyone begrudge you a cigarette now and then?

    Note from Michael: I don’t get it either. If that is the worst thing I do I am doing pretty well.

  27. Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki still radioactive?
    The practical answer is, “No.”
    Doses from residual radioactivity in both cities are now far below the annual background dose (0.001-0.003 Sv); hence, there are no detectable effects on human health. Radioactivity was over 90% gone by one week after the bombings and was less than the background level by one year.

    The Oysters are fine to eat.

    Note from Michael: Was that your point? To sell Hiroshima oysters?

  28. In response to Cigs, a close family friend of ours used to smoke outside, his daughter at three year old developed cancer in her tongue from the second hand smoke and died.
    It is a very real danger. Cigarettes effect everyone differently, but most of the damage doesn’t appear until years later. You can still develop health problems and cancer from it years after quitting. I used to have a sweet old lady who lived next door to us for some years, she had quit smoking quite some time back but developed emphysema, it was horrible watching her deterioration. I continued to keep up with her after her son had her moved to a retirement home my mother worked at until she passed away. It’s something I would never wish on another human, slowly suffocating to death over a long period of time, especially having to have your children await your end.

    Note from Michael: Drop the smoking, you and everyone else. I am not going to quit. End of story. Don’t like it? Tough.

  29. Actually Michael I wasn’t pointing out the cigarettes in reference to you or your post; It was directed at “cigs”. It’s your decision what you do.

    Note from Michael: I understood that. I am just sick of the topic and agree with “Cigs” as you refer to her. I have bigger problems to worry about right now. Worrying about what might happen to me in my later years is a luxury I can’t afford. Anybody who actually knew what I go through, any other parent of a mentally ill children or special needs child, would never suggest I quit. Not because smoking isn’t bad. It is. But in our case there are bigger issues. You know I never get a break? Never get a vacation? Never get a moment to myself except at night when I should be sleeping? It is the lack of sleep that will kill me faster than the smokes. Like all parents of mentally ill/special needs kids, I am on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the rest of my life. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get through that life. No disrespect intended. But this is who I am.

  30. I’d think by now you of all people wouldn’t go blundering about simply assuming the people you talk to need to be preached to about how bad you have it. I read your blog, I read your blog because I find it interesting since I have paranoid schizophrenia and I’ve had it since a very early age in a very severe form. I have bigger issues also than smoking, I just found their comment rather insensitive about how the dangers of smoking seems to be blown out of proportion when they’re not.
    I don’t get a break either, I live with it every day and I don’t get the escape of taking care of a different child or getting to wait until they fall asleep. I don’t get a break by having a community of online people to help me pay my rent -this will probably be my last comment for sometime since I just lost my job due to my mental illness and I haven’t been able to pay my rent for some time now. Every now and again I scrounge up $2 to go to an internet cafe to check my email and see if there’s a new blog because I like hearing about Jani because I feel like I have someone out there to relate to.
    You get breaks by waiting until your children fall asleep, you have a wife who helps you get through it, you have someone to love and carry you, and you have a giant community of people around you. I have no family in this entire country, no friends, my only friend -my dog- is back home with everyone else. I’m just going to spend my time eating the last few packets of dried noodles I have left in the pantry and wait to be evicted onto the street.

    Note from Michael: Or perhaps we could help. Go to and share your story. I don’t know how feasible this is but do you have paypal account? I have been able to get that same online community to help others. Perhaps we could do the same for you. Email me your location at

  31. stop begging. enough already.


    The single sentences paragraphed separately for dramatic effect are cheesy.

    If you are an English teacher, you should know better.

  32. I cannot believe that we are discussing smoking and not the ways to help these families in need… Yes, he would save money and arguably health, but the man is dealing with the situation we watch on TV as entertainment, which is not real for us!!! He is thinking about stuff, which many of us take for granted. I went through two wars in my life, we have been refugees twice and I am epileptic. My mom, dad and sister smoke. That was my mom’s only way of coping with our shitty reality!! Michael, if smoking chills you out, and helps you cope, then enjoy it, I say! I am unemployed right now.. But as soon as I get a job, I will send what I can. Oh, and dclay: F$%# OFF!