Thursday, September 23, 2010


I work in a psychiatric facility with the truly insane, the temporarily insane, and the wannabe insane.

The truly insane are the most interesting: the psychotics, the catatonics. Once I spoke with an actively hallucinating guy who told me the voices said I was a nice lady. Last night I dealt with someone wanting to eat her sock. Like I said, very interesting

The temporarily insane function well until a blip happens like too much stress. Like the guy caring for his wife in hospice. Or the person in the military, in foreclosure and out of luck with his wife. These folks have a shot at normalcy again.

The wannabes dance with insanity. They shoot heroin or meth (sometimes while driving), they cut on themselves. They enjoy being hospitalized and avoid discharge. They could function but they seem to choose not to. These might be the sickest of all since they are the drama junkies, the kings and queens of chaos. These are the personality disordered: the borderlines, the antisocial personalities, the malingerers. They are the most difficult to deal with.

So, where does my recent depression fit in this continuum? I like to think the second catagory, but perhaps a touch of the third. I have in the past loved the drama, but no longer I hope. I hope that Dominica was the last big drama.

leavingdominica: drama free at last

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm Back

Here is the truth. I suffered a severe depression after returning to the US. The good news is that I am now back to "better than normal" and I am ready to resume my exile blog.

Dominica has now faded into a painful memory. But my pain is not unique. I know few people who have not suffered in Dominica. Most run screaming as we did. A few survive. These most tenacious folks are much tougher than Mr. Wizard and I.

Of course, there are things I miss: the smells and sights of the island will always be with me, just as the lingering emotional pain haunts me. I won't forget the parrots in flight, the masses of tropical flowers, the rich scents of the island. And the intensily alive feelings (as well as the terrible pain)that is Dominica to me.

So here I am in the great compromise of America. It is so damned easy to be unconscious here, I have to smack myself and yell wake up! I am forever ambivalent.

livingdominicainexile: time to get ready for work

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Ok, my offer on the posh house in Pleasantville was very low, but I was surprised at the builders very high counter offer. But I am not taking it personally, this rejection. I will lift my chin and continue

So, I am still homeless, unemployed and perpetually looking.

Friday, March 14, 2008

That Old Familiar Feeling...

I am referring, of course, to buyer's remorse. For me, buying property is always filled with anxiety before the contract is written, and remorse as soon as I sign the document. I wrote a contract on a house in Pleasantville yesterday, so today I am sitting beneath a familiar pile of steaming buyer's remorse. But this is certainly not as bad as the remorse I felt after I saw the Wit's End landslide. (For those of you arriving late to remorse-fest, I own a major landslide on the fair isle of Dominica which has rendered nearly 5 acres of land unbuildable)

Mr. Wizard is still down in Dominica, and has not seen the property I have chosen, so any failure in this purchase is squarely upon my shoulders. That means I cannot blame the Wiz if I don't like it. hmmm...

Now, the reason I am here buying property and he is still on Dominica doing the packing is that I do not trust him to buy a home for me. We value very different things in a home. Yet, he is able to turn me loose with the checkbook to buy a property sight unseen to him. I suppose that is a sign that he is a person of character. Hell, I have not even sent him digital pictures! Obviously, he is a more trusting soul than I am. But he also does not have to bear the full weight of the decision.

I will hear today if my low offer is accepted, and I am very mixed about it. I know my remorse will be worse either way: I will be sad if I do not get the property and I will dwell on it's good points, and I will be full of fault finding if they accept the contract.

leavingdominica: aren't you glad you do not live in my head?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Did you see the movie Pleasantville about an idyllic 1950's American town? The town in this film is like the set of Ozzie and Harriet, or Leave it to Beaver. Cute, quaint, homelike. Well, I stumbled across a development in my hometown that I am calling Pleasantville, and Mr. Wizard and I may be buying a home there.

Apparently, there are these developments across the country, and they are called Traditional Neighborhood Developments, or TNDs. They are walking communities with amenities designed so that you can walk to the market, the pub or church. Pleasantville, the TND that is beckoning to me, also has lagoons and lakes and an organic farm. A little slice of Americana. The 1940s style cafe even serves Fried Bologna Sandwiches. (If you have not eaten one of those, you obviously did not grow up in 1950s America.)

I am entranced by this whole concept. There are some old communities here that are similar, but after coughing my way through looking at 5 to 9 properties a day in my post-flu haze, I discovered something. The houses are old. Even if the foundation does not have horizontal cracks, it is sure to need a new sewer stack, electric service panel, and the porch will certainly need to be torn off and rebuilt. Our good friend got to spend last summer repairing the foundation and jacking up his Century home. I showed this friend one of the disasters I was considering for our home and he looked me in the eye and said, "Condo, Jen. Think Condo" I don't think I am ready for Condo, but he is right. We probably don't need a disaster house right now. It would be wrong, wouldn't it, to move back to the US from a tropical island in order to immediately deal with foundation cracks, etc?

Of course, our new foundation may crack, but at least I then have the option of harrassing the builder before I harrass Mr. Wizard.

Everything in these older (but cute and quaint) communities are a lifetime of work. I grew up in Webster Groves, one of the cute and quaint (C and Q) Meccas of St Louis. Mary Engelbreit lives there, the Queen of C and Q. The houses there are waay overpriced for the money pit experience they offer. So, when I saw this brand new C and Q community, which is offering a free night of Blues in it's amphitheater next month, I was amazed to find myself drawn to new construction. It never occurred to me to even look at new homes, since most new construction was sadly lacking the quaint and cute factor when I lived here before.

Could it be? Old house charm with the ease of new construction? Wake me up, I'm dreaming. And to think that I nearly bought an old house with a falling down garage the Wiz would have to tear down or extensively rebuild. (Actually, I would buy him a falling down garage in a heartbeat, it was the kitchen that nixed that deal).

So, progress is being made. I may not be homeless much longer.

leavingdominica: yep, still glad to be here and not there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Just before I left Dominica, we visited a friend who lives at the edge of the rain forest. We stood on the veranda on that day of goodbyes and watched parrots exploring the nearby trees. I have always felt privileged to see the brilliant colors of these birds, but this encounter was also a nostalgic moment, since I knew I would not see the parrots, or my friends, for a while.

Up here, I have been staying at my brother's posh lakefront vacation home. The lake at my door, (actually not my door, since I don't own a door yet) is lovely even though it is showing a wintery face. Yesterday, I was gazing at the mist rising from the lake, when an eagle flew by. The huge wingspan of this bird was breathtaking, but apparently this is not an unusual sight here. The Bro says they hang out near the lake to feed at the dam and spillway on fish stunned as they tumble over.

So the parrots came to say goodbye, and the eagle said hello. There is a nice symmetry to that.

I also heard some geese and watched them in flight as I drove through the rolling rural countryside. I am surprised how beautiful I find my surroundings these days, since previously I could not see much to appreciate in a winter landscape. Perhaps it is the evocative familiarity of it all. Perhaps it is the ease of being back in this culture, speaking this language, where every nuance is familiar. I don't know. But I am so comfortable being here. It feels like coming home after a difficult journey.

And the promise of my own home glimmers just over the horizon. My door. My floor. Bricks and mortar have become so important to me.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wizard is still down island meeting with attorneys, talking to shipping companies, and doing his part to bring closure to this island chapter of our lives.

leavingdominica: on the zero to ten repatriation regret scale, I am still at zero.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here in the Frozen North

Honestly? Today I am very glad to be exactly where I am. The lacy black tree branches against the sky are beautiful to me, even though everything is a bit gray. The bare trees also allow for a beautiful vista of twinkling lights in the valley below the posh house where I am staying. Aren't I lucky to have friends and family with posh houses who are willing to welcome a poor wayfarer?

I had forgotten how dry it is here during the winter when the heated air sucks the moisture out of skin and nose. Funny how we forget things like that. I know the little details of my island life will soon become vague also. I'll probably forget the house geckos, and the natural sounds that permeate a tropical home. I wish I could encase some of my memories under a bell jar to savor, but distance and time will rob me of Dominica, just like a faint scent fading away.

The easy abundance here is astonishing. It is odd to see the sheer variety of products, choices and tempting products again. I ate my first real American hamburger in several years. Soul food... funny how comforting something like the familiar taste of childhood can be.

leavingdominica: So far no regrets...