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My Alphabetical Autobiography

Based on Amy Krause Rosenthal’s book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
The list will keep growing as I do.


Apps are awesome, especially when they’re free. They help with medical stuff, or quiz me on Geography. Or I make comic books with my photos.

“Brian Wilson,” by Barenaked Ladies

Great song to drive to, late at night, when you don’t know much of anything, except that someone else is singing about the exact same thing.

Bipolar Plot, Movies and Books With a

I hate being surprised by a bipolar plot in a movie or book. I’d like to have been cautioned beforehand, especially if it’s all about how the people around the person with bipolar are coping with it, and they’re struggling so much. It’s not such a big deal when it’s about the person with the illness.
See also: Movies.
Spoiler Alert:
LIST OF MOVIES WITH A BIPOLAR PLOT, OR SOMEONE ELSE’S STORY MENTIONED, a list that I put together a long time ago & am not interested in updating:
–Liberal Arts: a classmate of Zibby’s
–Silver Linings Playbook: main character
–Sunshine Cleaning: mom


Blue is my favorite color, though I rarely wear it. My favorite crayon is Midnight Blue, because it’s one color when drawn up, and a darker blue when pulled down. I love the blue color on a movie/tv screen, when they show the rating. That’s my most favorite blue.

Body Image

My favorite parts: My hair, My hands, My feet, My eyebrows. I try to dress for my weight. When I got really, really thin because of a medication change one summer, and was thinner than I had been in high school, I was more freaked out than when I’m heavy. When I’m heavy, I’m glad I stay curvy.
See also: Photographs, Taken by others.


I like summer because the suntan covers most of my bruises. I try to remember how I got my bruises, but can’t, usually, even when I tell myself: “You just hit your arm against the underside of your desk after throwing out paper. Remember this. You will see the bruise tonight.” I never remember.

Posting pictures about cats is something I used to roll my eyes at, but I find myself taking photos of our cats to show my husband while he is in the same room. There’s something about watching our cats that just makes me unwind and laugh.
See also: Domesticated animals.


My Mom celebrates occasions that may or may not be on the calendar. She has decorations, gifts, and a song for each (they all happen to go to the familiar tune of “Happy Birthday to You”). We celebrate First Day of Spring, Last Day of School, Happy-Half-Birthday. There’s a book she read to me as a kid on “The First Day of Snow” that I pull out of a shelf in my grown-up apartment. Every day there’s something to celebrate. It’s a good way to live.
See also: Happy, Things that Make Me.


Corkulous is a truly amazing app. I have cork boards for bipolar (w/ wormhole cork boards for hypomania, mania, depression, etc. inside) and fun stuff to do in the city, and one for food, and another for creative prompts. My brother’s contact info and picture pop up in the hypomania and mania sections. I post my photos. It’s a survival kit that’s always with me. Cost a few dollars, and so worth it.
See also: Apps. iPad.


Sometimes a good cry is necessary. It may have nothing to do with watching A League of Their Own. Maybe.

Domesticated Animals
I think it’s weird to have animals inside. Dogs should be wolves, outside. Cats should be lions or panthers, in the wild. Having animals in the house is just odd. I think this is common sense. I should add that I have two cats, but only really got used to it after about four years with one of our cats. It took a long time to not be shocked that there are animals by the door when I walk in the apartment.

Fairie Tales

I like fairie tales, especially written like that. I like ones that have been deconstructed and put back together. I love that Robin McKinley wrote the story of Beauty and the Beast twice in 20 years: Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (1979) and Rose Daughter (1997).


I love feet, they are in the top three of my own favorite body parts. Riding in the subway in summer, though, I see a lot of gross feet.
See also: Subway.


Please do not give me a book by, or about, someone who has bipolar. I will not read it. It’s too hard. I will put it on a low shelf in a largely neglected bookcase, spine inside and paper outside. I won’t give it away, because it is a gift.
See also: Bipolar Plot, Movies and Books With a

Happy, Things That Make Me

• Colored candles in glass jars, from the supermarket.
• Wearing something given to me by someone I love.
• Old Friends clips, esp. “Wah-pah!” and Ross playing the bagpipes.
• Actors breaking character and laughing.
• Frommer’s travel guides, which cover all levels of budget.
• Completing a creativity prompt.
• Black macro uni-ball pens.
• British magazines.
• Taking pictures.
• A nice black blazer.
• Running to the Mississippi from my college.
• Graph paper.
• A CD I bought for its cover, that is awesome.
• Buying a book off the street because of another browser’s recommendation.
• Bare feet on moist soil.
• The beach in not-summer.
• Dried Eucalyptus in my office.
• The Barenaked Ladies album Gordon.
• Making lists.
• Playing with the ComicBook app on my commute.
• Bubble tea.
See also: Celebrations.

I’m Yours

That song by Jason Mraz is sweet. I’m happier after hearing it.
See also: Soul Sister. Happy, Things that make me.


My watch gets in the way when I’m at my work keyboard, so I take it off. Now I’m late to meetings.


I watch a lot of movies, and I watch a lot of movies repeatedly. It’s comforting, especially when I’m in an episode (manic –or- depressed). Rom-coms are the best. They’re tied up at the end, and I’m left with the feeling that everything will turn out okay. I hate movies where the mother has bipolar disorder and the kids are coping with it – especially when I don’t know that it will be part of the plot. It’s not cool to watch that without warning.
See also: Bipolar Plot, Movies and Books With a.

Performance Art

Sometimes I wonder if outlandish people on the subway are performance artists, especially when they get in an argument or one person talks and talks to someone they don’t (appear) to know. It would be easy to stage something on a commute.

Photographs, Taken By Others

I don’t like it when other people take my picture. It take so long that my smile gets really big and toothy and not natural, and it’s generally unfavorable. Then the photographer takes it again, because of the toothiness, and I get toothier.

Public Service Announcements

Some PSAs are so clever. I like when the subway conductor gets creative with the safety scripts in the morning, and the time a conductor added that he’ll be thinking of us in the grey sleet of December when he’d be in sunny Jamaica. I don’t like PSAs showing smoker’s teeth.

Soul Sister

By Train, “Soul Sister” is another song that makes me happy, because the people covering it always look like they LOVE singing it, like singing it while busking or on line in a pharmacy when it’s playing overhead has taken off the day’s weight. The You Tube video of an 8-year-old boy performing it with the ukulele makes my heart explode.
See also: I’m Yours. Happy, Things that make me.

Silent Retreat

I want to go on a silent retreat, but the idea of staying still – and silent – terrifies me. I think my body would fall apart. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe something great happens after that.

Staying Still

I’m a multi-tasker. Have to do something with my hands, or eyes. This is partly so I keep part of my brain busy and concentrate better at the task at hand. To stay still, I keep my hands under my thighs when sitting down. It could be because I am part of the MTV Generation. It didn’t start with the bipolar.

Stories, Retelling

When I don’t remember part of a story, I add in something interesting into the gap. Then I believe that that was part of the actual story. My family says I exaggerate, but I do it with such confidence that they believe me. Sometimes.


Commuting by subway, on foot, and the occasional express bus is wonderful for my health. By not driving, I don’t need to worry about getting so distracted. Walking is great, dependable exercise. I get to write or read, check out what people are wearing, and make mixes on my iWhatever. Sometimes there’s entertainment (intentional or not) or music.
See also: Performance Art. Wardrobe. Staying Still. Corkulous. Public Service Announcements.

Voice In My Head

We all have that voice in our heads that advises us for or against. Mine is my Dad’s voice and opinions. It’s usually good, but sometimes makes me too cautious.


Figure out what’s important to you, who’s doing something about it, and go to the polls informed. I have politicians I vote for, yours may be different or the same. But let’s all bring up issues that are important to us and get even more people talking about them.


I have lots of guidelines for buying a wardrobe. When I know that I need certain items no matter what size I am, and that my weight is fluid, guidelines are helpful. Belt loops = Sizing flexibility. Black clothes = Most everything goes together. The guidelines have been created and honed over over two decades of shopping and weight fluctuation. Seems intense at first glance, but people who have to deal with the weight gain and loss get it. I like to look nice, well presented. People look at that first, then maybe I can fit in better when I feel, from the inside, that I’m sticking out all over the place.

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