Unless something snags my blog attention, this writing effort will finish out my Light Fixtures’ blogs for 2012.

These last two months are holiday-heavy, as two distinct celebrations appear on the calendar: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving is centered on gratitude and is often more community-minded, when those without family nearby may be invited to sit down at their friends’ dining tables for the special dinner (we’ll be doing just that, joining friends at their home for supper); Christmas, however, is usually more family and religious oriented.

In a way, these two holidays might even be considered to be bipolar, e.g. Thanksgiving, even with football on the TV (yeah!), is often felt to be more “laid back” and less activity-targeted. The Christmas season, however, is definitely a more hustling and bustling time, complete with holiday Noels, demanding shopping lists and, on the big day, gift unwrapping, kids playing with toys, and family togetherness.

The only snag with comparing Thanksgiving and Christmas is that within both, there can emerge up’s and down’s.
And that leads us to the connection with Light Fixtures’ protagonist Aurora. As a young teen in 1963 who’s discovering the onset of teen bipolar, Aurora is slowly beginning to grasp that her manic depressive moods reflect an imbalance, even as she spends time at her beloved grandparents’ NW Louisiana home and enjoys the family event of making homemade vanilla ice cream.

But maybe that’s the best place to be when one is facing a challenge of ascending and descending moods: (especially as they often surface during the holidays) a place that offers no expected protocol behaviors, just peace, understanding, and hopefully, thankfulness and joy.

Today, I’m sending Light to all those who dealt with Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricanes are not strangers to those who live in Louisiana, even those who live in the northwestern part of the state, as does Aurora and her family in the novel Light Fixtures. It’s well known that when a hurricane strikes in south Louisiana, the power of the weather leaves its force far and wide.

A hurricane at its fullest is analogous to mania in manic depression (bipolar disorder) — it moves fast and is full of energy. Though unaware of her unbalance, that’s what Aurora is experiencing within as the book opens. But she eventually learns about herself and teen bipolar disorder via the guidance of two special friends: Mr. Hematite and Mr. Dragonfly.

Here’s hoping those affected by Sandy are surrounded by those who care. I would bet on it, as, Mr. Hematite reminds Aurora at the novel’s end: we are all light fixtures, with the potential to shine with brilliance.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been three weeks since I’ve blogged here on my book’s website! Busy is no excuse, but that’s what I have to offer. There’s something about this time of the year that seems to be filled with so many goings-on. Perhaps it’s that paradigm that’s centered on school’s starting again and getting back into a more demanding routine — though I haven’t been in school for a long time.

Yet, when I say that I realize that we never really get out of school no matter what our ages. Life IS a school, daily lessons that sometimes are smile-worthy, sometimes not so much.

For Aurora in Light Fixtures, set in northwest Louisiana, where autumn is about the weather cooling down as football becomes center stage (more on football season with an upcoming blog), her summer is ending, but what she’s learned during the season will prove to be invaluable. After all, slowly grasping that one has teen bipolar disorder is a big life lesson indeed. Her schooling about manic-depression is just beginning, but I feel she’ll do just fine as she starts her freshman year in high school. But that’s the story for another book!

Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year. I guess you could say I tend to fall for fall (pun intended)! Yet, it’s also an ambivalent time for me. With its rich colors of orange, red, and yellow foliage that hangs precariously, then carpets the ground, autumn is a joy to see; however, there’s also a sadness that invades this space-time, too, as the brightness of summer is shaded and the season is put to bed.

Of course, this up-and-down feeling for autumn reminds me of Aurora and her behaviors in Light Fixtures, as the onset of teen bipolar disorder rears its head in the 14-year-old. With her guide-friends though, she learns to eventually face her high-flying, seemingly fun mania and then the pursuant deep depression.

Which takes me back to the bipolarity of fall. Just as Aurora must learn to deal wisely with teen manic-depression, so too must we learn to deal with those changes that make life a high and an occasional low. So, autumn, welcome back!

This will be a succinct blog today. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a lovely, sunny, 83-degree day and I’m headed outside to pick some ripe tomatoes from the vine – the last of the summer – and walk my property with my two felines – well, one is upstairs asleep on my bed. Guess he won’t make it.

But before I enjoy this September sunshine, I wanted to give you a heads-up on a film that’s getting “the talk” at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Silver Linings Playbook” is touted as being a smart and original comedy-drama. It stars Bradley Cooper as a young man with bipolar who’s learning to handle the ups and downs – that’s bipolar for sure – of life.

Wonder what Aurora who’s dealing with the onset of teen bipolar disorder in Light Fixtures and her guide Mr. Hematite would think about it? I’ll let you know what my impressions of the film are once it comes to the downtown cinema.

Catch you next week!

Every four years, the two main political parties gather in large arenas to nominate their presidential candidates. We’re in the middle of the Democratic Convention now. (BTW: I’m a registered Independent.) Watching the scenes on TV, I’ve been thinking about the estimated 35,000 people attending and the huge space that must accommodate them all. Both can be demanding on someone with bipolar mood disorder – especially when he or she is in the mania stage.

Teen bipolar sufferers know about that. One young woman said she gets irritable and feels like she’s suffocating when she goes to a big concert; consequently, she often encourages her boyfriend to go without her.

In Light Fixtures, Aurora is happiest when she’s alone, moving fast in the pastures or woods, though she’s comfortable having her elder friend Mr. Hematite and his assistant Mr. Dragonfly around. Of course, during this fast-moving time she’s dealing with mania, and the onset of teen bipolar mood disorder, so she’s not staying long anywhere or interested in going to where a lot of folks are. Feeling intensely everything around her at once, she’s often overwhelmed with all the stimuli.

And there’s certainly plenty of stimuli at a convention hall; therefore, I don’t think Aurora would have done well at such a large gathering. But that makes me wonder if any of those faces we see at the convention, as they go about the serious and noteworthy business of nominating a candidate, could too be dealing unknowingly with the same mood disorder. Certainly with the arena, the sounds and the people-movement, that could be understandable.

No matter what your philosophical, cultural, or religious background, you probably have an opinion about mystical beings. Last night, I came upon a TV show featuring a paranormal experience: a family had moved into a house that apparently already had residents, i.e., ghosts, and they weren’t sure how to deal with these non-physical residents. The show kept my interest for its duration (BTW: my favorite TV program of this type is SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters”, though I’m still sad about the departure of Grant).

Once I clicked the TV off, I begin thinking about beings of other dimensions, from spirits that hang around a place, to those that hang around us in a more protective way, often described as spirit guides or even angels. Certainly Aurora in Light Fixtures was blessed with such positive relationships via her friendship with the mystical guide Mr. Hematite and his assistant Mr. Dragonfly. Without them, she would not have learned in a caring way about her having the onset of teen bipolar disorder.

Of course, that was their mission and they fulfilled it well. But isn’t that the purpose of a valuable guide, mystical or not: to help another to move forward, whether that person has or has not bipolar disorder? Unlike teen bipolar disorder, it’s not an up-and-down thing with a guide; it’s just a true focus that’s determined and genuine. And everyone could use that kind of guide.

In The New Yorker July 20, 2012, article on Bruce Springsteen “We Are Alive: Springsteen at 62″ by Sarah Payne Stuart, it was noted that the rock musician was deeply struck by his father’s apparent bipolar mood disorder, expressed by fluccuating moods: all-enveloping depressions and then conversely wild rages. In fact, Springsteen was worried that he himself wouldn’t be spared the mental instability that ran in his family.

In Light Fixtures, Aurora eventually comes to consider that genetic strand, but not until she must first look at the idea that she may have the onset of teen bipolar. With the help of her friend, the wise Mr. Hematite, the old, silver-haired robed guide in the woods, she learns that manic depression is part of who she is and it’s critical that she acknowlege that singular piece of her.

Just as Bruce Springsteen has obviously done, as noted by his wife Patti’s quote in the article, “He was able to look at himself and battle it out.” Aurora must begin to do the same in the novel. The only difference is: Aurora is a young teenager and is just beginning the journey and that can sometimes be more challenging. Does she make it through? Check out “Light Fixtures.”

Many people are talking about or are already going back to school. And it’s only early August, for goodness sake! I say that because, as a lover of the season, I’ll hang on to summer as long as this former Southerner can. Living now in a very green, often wet Northwest, where summer is a sweet 90 days of 80 degree heat with cool nights from July, August and September, I welcome a season where you can sit in the backyard. But the real joy at this time comes from having cookouts with friends and family over, including those who live in California and new transplants from Louisiana.

In Light Fixtures Aurora feels the same way about summer and family. One passage from the book details a Sunday afternoon at her grandparents and the joy of her grandmother’s homemade vanilla ice cream. Though it’s her granddaddy who makes sure everyone has a job so that grandmother’s beloved ice cream could end up just right. Aurora and her younger brother and sister’s mission was to either turn the crank or replace one another who, to give it stability, sat on top of the 1950’s ice cream maker.

But summer is also the time Aurora, feeling increased manic energy and elation, must soon face who she is chemically: one with the onset of teen bipolar. Full of unveilings and great adventure, it’s a story of becoming aware that goes beyond just the deight of summer. Do check it out!

Meanwhile, enjoy the summer days — and nights!

Yesterday it was confirmed: one of my family’s felines, following a coyote attack, was no longer with us. Stargazer, a gray tabby whom we adopted from the county animal shelter five years ago, was a special cat. She could be counted on to be my office assistant as she slept soundly behind my laptop; she could also be found sitting atop the sofa, looking out the large, living room window. We’ll miss her.

Losing an animal companion is not easy. In “Light Fixtures”, Aurora must deal with the passing of a trusted guide and friend; though Mr. Dragonfly was a tiny one, she loved the mosquito hawk (as her grandmother called dragonflies). He taught her so much. Of course, suddenly having a close being stripped from your life can be challenging for anyone, but for one with bipolar disorder, it can be a mood trigger. That was the case with Aurora. As Aurora slowly discovers that fateful summer, she has the onset of teen bipolar disorder and the mania she was experiencing early on suddenly subsides to depression once she learns Mr. Dragonfly has died.

Of course, it’s normal to grieve the loss of an animal companion, but for Aurora Mr. Dragonfly’s passing plunged her into “the hole” as she called, a place so dark and deep that no light or hope lived in her heart. And it would take much time before things changed.

But meanwhile, she would have to learn to get along without Mr. Dragonfly, as we’ll have to move on without our beloved Stargazer. Both animal friends are to be remembered with honor and great joy.

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