— for my twin sister —

Do you remember when

we thought you were allergic

to the crab apple trees

at the top of the hill

at our grade school?

I was so mad at those trees

for being so beautiful.

Those delicate petals

falling so dramatically yet

so serenely to the grass below,

the flowers hugging their

branches tightly in hues

of magenta, burgundy, and lilac

between creased pointed oval leaves

and smelling so sweetly.

I did not want the desire to

walk up that hill and

take each future fruit into my hands,

to talk to it gently,

I have manic depression. There are times when I start seeing those red flags that show me I’m starting down the road to depression and I know I’ve got to do something. Maybe I sleep in both days on the weekend. Maybe not enough things on my to do list are getting crossed off. Maybe the alarm has to wake me up too many days in a row and each time I have that feeling of “oh no, Lord, not today”. …

When it comes to understanding truths about myself, I’m a slow learner. It took until I was 30 before I was properly diagnosed with my mental illness and 40 before I knew how to deal with it. I didn’t get sober until I was 37. So now that I’m 44, I finally know how to label my gender. It has taken a painfully long time to learn each of my personal lessons.

Growing up, I didn’t quite fit in anywhere, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on why that was until just recently.

I did write a…

The CD is placed in the player

volume adjusted up or down

the arrow button pushed

and whether I am laying

in a darkened bedroom

to escape the throes of a migraine

or in front of a bright light

for therapy instructed by my doctor

or writing a poem or a blog

to share later with others

the piano music soars floats

surrounds elevates me

beyond my pain

beyond the storm

beyond the dark

beyond the light


I am the rain dripping

on leaves in a vine covered forest

I am a feather floating

through an azure sky


This is a letter I wrote to my district judge after my ex-husband, who I have a protection order, was stalking me. He would drive around the neighborhood where I lived, and stop me while I was walking.

Dear Sir:

In April of this year, you signed a protection order for me and my two children guarding against my ex-husband. You upheld this protection order in court at a hearing in which he tried to have the protection order dropped. …

Why do I sometimes resist being labeled, or “put in a bucket”?

My difficulty with labels — in permanent ink, at least

I have a problem.

Okay, yes, I have many problems, and have had quite a few therapists who didn’t know what to do with me, but that may have been because I didn’t know what to do with myself and where to start in explaining myself to them. I digress.

It was brought to my attention in a gentle manner that perhaps I am averse to being labeled in any way. I don’t like being placed in a mental illness bucket. I don’t know what you’d call my sexuality type…

First, I’m going to observe that in writing or saying anything resembling an opinion, one is bound to upset, piss off, or offend someone. This is not my intention. Nor is it my intention to start a big heated debate. Writing is my way of thinking, and if my pondering and figuring things out can help someone else figure something out in their life or make them feel a little less lonely, a little less misunderstood, or a little less sad — then that’s why I share. So that’s my disclaimer. …

The full harvest moon, peeking through clouds

in a pale blue morning sky

watched me drive to my new job today.

You said you want the old me

and his letter searches for the girl

who could paint fairy tales and pretend

the world revolved solely around

my endless energy and the innate ability

to fatally romance every man I chose.

You remember someone grasping at

every moment to be with you,

dressing up to please you, giggling.

I do not know the last time I laughed.

Each morning I wake, cling to a job

that I still do not…

I have not been accused

of being an outwardly adventurous

nor gregarious child

but I enjoyed the outdoors

so the first time my Girl Scout troop

went camping in platform tents

the one thing I remember isn’t

the creeking in old shoes down the riverbank or

the songs around the campfire or

the hikes to discover the forest or

the friends’ hands held fast but

that first night

finally drifting off to sleep in my cot

being awoken with the startling realization

that I could no longer breathe,

my sleeping bag twisted tight around me,

I having fallen off my…

Original sketch for sale at Ravenwood Art Gallery in Norfolk, NE

Julie S. Paschold

From Nebraska, two degrees in Agronomy/Soil Science, poet and artist, gender fluid queer, mother, twin, manic depressive, sensory sensitivity, PTSD, resilient.

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