Saturday, July 15, 2006

Roethke Rocks

Yeah, I know I haven't posted in nearly two months. I'm still living out of a hotel room, albeit a much nicer one than the one we were in a few weeks ago. (The one we now refer to as The Black Hole of Calcutta because it was bare-bones and Indian-run. The only place for me to sleep was on a separate cot directly between the television set and my father's feet. Plus, he snores like a motherfucker, so I slept not at all. It's a wonder I didn't have a manic episode). This place is a big extended-stay apartment suite. We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen with a full refrigerator and a stove.

Anyway, since I haven't had much privacy to compose blog entries lately (the 'puter is still in the public TV/living area here), I figured I'd reprint a message board post I wrote about a kick-ass poet. Of course, it deals with the poem as well as Roethke's mental illness. :

In A Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill.
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

I love this poem because it’s about Roethke’s personal experience with mental illness. I’m bipolar and I’ve certainly been dark places.

I live between the heron and the wren,

I’m not 100% sure, but I think a heron is a bird of prey and a wren is a small, helpless creature. I like the idea of being trapped, and also the implication that the speaker’s mental states switch between ferocity and vulnerability.

That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or a winding path?

This is a similar idea and metaphor.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?

There’s a component of being crazy that makes one question which mood state or personality is the real one; being sane feels authentic when one is sane, and being in the throes of an episode also feels equally “natural” at the time. And there’s the whole question of whether or not what one feels and how one behaves is true insanity or sane behavior in an insane world.

The day's on fire!

That’s a damn fine description of what mania feels like, plus how seductive it can be. How can one manage to go back to sanity when insanity charges the whole world with energy and enthusiasm?

A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

I like this, too. Often, we have to go through some deep, dark places, have our egos crushed and see what used to be our self-perception almost mocking us.

My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill

This is just a really fucking great simile. It gets right at the feverish intensity of the emotion expressed.

Which I is I?

The “I” that is sane, or the “I” that is insane? Or both?

A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

I can’t possibly paraphrase this in a way that does it justice. A great depiction of integration of the various selves, and the way God has a role, and the mind has a role, and both “ones” come together and create emotional freedom.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Now they tell me

Everyone should take the time to find their main water shut off valve. If a pipe bursts, an extra two minute delay can result in 30 or more gallons of spilled water. That is roughly the equivalent of a bathtub full of water. That much water, inside your home can cause a lot of damage. Being able to find the shut off valve and a wrench quickly can save you thousands of dollars of damage.

Just so it doesn't happen to you.

Water, Water Everywhere

How big of an asshole am I for writing that profanity-laced rant about my parents a few days ago? I cringe. I cringe.

I love my parents. Really. I do.

That sentiment smacked me upside the head on Wednesday, which was when I thought my Daddy was dying and our house got trashed.

My Mommy and I were at the Laundromat, doing even more of our massive mountain o’ wash, and she received a phone call from my Daddy. In it, she only heard the words, “fell” and “having a heart attack.”

So we left our laundry in the machines and hauled ass outta there. On the way out, I said, “Do you want me to call 911?” and initially my Mommy said that we should check out what was going on at the house, but then I said, “PLEASE let me call 911,” so I did.

Man, calling 911 is a bitch. It’s hard to remain really calm, and first you get an operator person who asks you what’s up, and that takes reserves of placidity I don’t possess on a good day, and then she transfers you to another dispatcher person, and he asks the same questions she asked, plus things like, “Is that address a house or an apartment building?” and “How old is he?” all of which, trust me, are extremely difficult to answer when you’re freaking out.

So I told them we were on our way there and they said they’d send an ambulance right out. We drove up onto our street, and my mother noticed my Daddy’s car wasn’t there where he parked it and then she said, “Jesus, did he drive himself to the emergency room?” And we went into the house.

Holy SHIT! There was water absolutely pouring out of the light fixture over the television, down the stairs, saturating the carpet, swelling and making soggy the books, seeping into the closet and through not only the first-floor ceiling but through the second floor down to the basement as well.

I freaked the fuck out. I thought, “I know I’m going to have to see my Daddy die someday, but I’m not ready for it to be today.” I was preparing for a rush to an ER if we were lucky. I thought about having to plan a funeral. I knew that my neat freak father would never, ever let such a huge torrent of water spray and seep all over the place if he were at all conscious. I ran around screaming, “DAD!??? DAD???!!! DADDY!!!”

You know shit’s serious when I upgrade from “Dad” to “Daddy.” My Daddy and I have had some rifts, and usually I think of him as “my father” and sometimes as “Dad” and rarely as “Daddy.” (Although for some reason, when I refer to him in the third person to my mother, I say “Daddy.”)

I charged upstairs, fully expecting but not at all prepared to find him dead or dying on the bathroom floor. Instead, I saw a fire hose-force spray of water erupting from under the bathroom sink. It blasted everything under the sink across the floor and into the hall, slamming the doors off their hinges and sluicing everything in the bathroom and out into the hall with water. It smelled oddly metallic and filthy.

My Daddy wasn’t there, nor in his bedroom, or mine, or what used to be my brother’s. I ran back down the sodden stairs, through the living and dining rooms and kitchen and down the stairs to the basement. I called, “DADDY!” and thought, again, that I would find him dead on the floor. I thought he might have gone down there to shut off the water valve and then collapsed. I freaked out again, because the part of the cellar with the water shutoff valve was nearly blocked with storage bins and completely dark and I couldn’t get over there because some of the storage shit had fallen over.

Then I ran back upstairs and told my Mommy I couldn’t find my Daddy and that she HAD to find the shutoff valve because I couldn’t. So she went down there (I panicked again because the wooden stairs were soaked, sodden, and slippery, and there’s no railing and my Mommy has bad, bad arthritis and can’t really negotiate steps too well under ideal conditions). She got down there and bumbled around.

Meanwhile, I ran back upstairs, where I heard the ambulance sirens approaching precisely as my Daddy walked in the front door looking like he was not, in fact, having a heart attack.

The ambulance guys ended up finding the valve and shutting it off. We tried to hint to my Daddy that he should let the EMTs take his blood pressure or something so we wouldn’t be hit with a huge bill for the ambulance/false alarm, but he didn’t do that.

So anyway, the damage is massive and we’ve been living in a motel since then. It sucks shit, but it would suck worse if I had to plan a funeral or visit my Daddy in an intensive care unit, so I’m trying to deal.

E Words 1 & 2

Effexor – It’s the antidepressant that’s supposed to work for those who’ve tried everything else to no avail. At a low dose it works on serotonin, at higher doses the norepinephrine thing kicks in. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, you’re on something like 400mg, way higher than most people, high enough to get more of the bad side effects. It does jack shit for your depression. Every day, you choke on your food. Your throat closes, you gag, and your esophagus twitches and pulses shut at the precise moment your Frosted Bite Sized Shredded Wheat reaches the back of your throat. Your tongue gets into it too, the back of it rising up to meet the roof of your mouth to push the cereal forward and out the way it came in.

But you don’t know that at first. You think it’s just one more medical problem you’ve developed this year, along with the psoriasis, the psychosis, the agoraphobia. Your dad had a similar swallowing problem, and he went to a gastroenterologist who forced open his esophagus with metal rods, all the better to swallow with. You look up the procedure on the internet. Googled “difficulty swallowing” and had anatomical drawings and everything of this procedure, the very description and diagrams of which make you gag even harder than you do at every breakfast.

But of course you don’t have insurance, so this rigamarole is out of the question. Finally you Google the drug itself, and way down in the “very rare” side effects section is, lo and behold, “Difficulty Swallowing.” (It’s not capitalized, but that’s how it feels when you see it). You go back to your psychiatrist, half relieved that you don’t have to guinea pig yourself to a gastro, but more than half crushed that yet another med doesn’t work right.

Enervation – You’re in a mixed episode, which is when you meet the full criteria for both a manic episode and a depressive episode at the same time. This is not, in fact, a contradiction in terms. People think that “mania” automatically means “euphoric,” but that is only one possibility. It can also mean rage, nervousness, irritability. And you’re part of a research study that requires you to take several thousand times the normal dose of thyroid hormone just to see what happens. A little bit sometimes helps some bipolar people, so the doctor wants to know what happens when you take a lot. What happens is that you go berserk. You hold your parents hostage in their living room, screaming that you don’t even know if they love you, even though they’ve been financially, emotionally, and physically supporting you for the past 5 months and indeed the past 29 years on and off. You barely, just barely, restrain yourself from going down to the basement and smashing their wedding crystal against the hard concrete walls just because you want to destroy something. Preferably if you destroy someone else at the same time. The very small shred of sanity you have left stops you from going after sentimental possessions. You decide to change your mind and smash the plates in the dining room, then reconsider again and decide on the phone, both the cordless handset and the plug-in wall unit itself, the one through which you’ve been hearing voices talking about you. Banging pots and pans is not an option because they wouldn’t break, and you need need need to break something. You need an outlet, a way to say, “I’m broken, horribly broken, and the things around me should be broken too.”

In the end, what you decide to break is yourself. And you don’t go out with a bang, but on a wave of sweet sleep, the likes of which has eluded you for way over a year. You’ve been on over 20 meds alone and in combination, and most of them didn’t work, and for almost all of them, you have at least a few pills left in old prescription bottles. You take all of them at once except for the lithium. You know it’s most likely to be lethal, but also most likely to cause a painful death. You want to float on out, a type of suicide that is both spineless and brave. You don’t, after all, want to feel anything, but you do, in fact have the guts to really do it and three-quarters of you really means it, and that is enough. And that is your last thought before you systematically swallow the pills. “Enough.” It has nothing to do with getting back at people and everything to do with calming your goddamn nerves once and for all.

Once again, I'm writing in the second person. I got the idea, as well as the concept of freewriting on a letter of the alphabet, from a class at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Let me go! Literally!

I went to the support group in Springfield for the first time last night. I ended up making an incoherent, very long ramble about my experiences as a bipolar person and then I started crying. Suave one, I’m not.

Of course, since I don’t know how to drive, my Mommy and father had to drive me out to Springfield. They ate dinner at Friendly’s in Springfield mall. Then my dad made a sarcastic comment about “We should have tee shirts that say, “Friends of the Chauffeur Service,” referring to the t-shirt I’d been given that day at my volunteer job.

That pissed me off, especially since he had come as a passenger in the car for no damn reason except that he literally never leaves the house unless he’s taking out the garbage. I am not embellishing for effect here.

I had to cancel my gpcares volunteer project for tonight because of his bitching and moaning, and my mother’s acting put upon.

Why don’t I have my own damn license? Because I have to prove I live here, and since I don’t own the house (so no lease or mortgage statement) or a W-2 form the only proof I can bring is that of a utility bill with my name on it.

I found a to-do list on my computer from nearly a year ago, and one of the items was “Have Mommy put my name on a bill.”

Is it just me, or does it seem as if on some level, she – or my dad – doesn’t want me to become independent? When they drive me to the gym, the doctor, my job, they invariably end up throwing it in my face.

Well, then let me fucking drive!

And another thing: my father was ludicrously, suffocatingly overprotective when I was a teenager, and he’s back on that tack now. I want to go to see the exhibits and tour at Eastern State Penitentiary and he and my Mommy got all “Nooooo, you don’t want to go up there, you’ll be mugged.” And Mommy said, “Please don’t go up there.”

Well, I posted a question about this on Phillyblog and every respondent said it was pretty nice in that neighborhood. And judging by all the listings for cafes, yoga studios, Whole Foods, etc, it’s sure as hell more gentrified and safe than it is here.

When I woke up, I overheard my father say, “Where the hell is she going to tonight? Can’t she take one day off?”

Well, duh fucktard, MOST people, normal people, go one or two places every day. And, again, it wasn’t even he who did any of the driving to these places.

And then my mother was pissy when she woke up and I said, “Why are you pissy?” And she said, “I just am.”
Yeah, a fucking year/year and a half ago she was bitching about how I never did anything to try to get a job, that I was lazy, blah, blah, blah, she’s not a taxi. So I said to put my name on the gas bill, and has she? NO.

I told her today that the only thing standing between my license was her.

And then today we were in the laundromat. And I started crying, maybe because I was still feeling shaky from crying publicly in group last night, but definitely because I’m tired of people throwing a weakness that THEY control into constant snide comments. I told my mother to talk to my father about his fucking infuriating comments, and she said, “Yeah, I will, OK?” in a tone that I knew meant either “I’ll ‘forget’” or “I won’t actually do it, but I’m just saying it so you’ll shut up.” She HATES it when I cry, and she literally would not look at my face or ask me what was wrong or offer any comfort whatsoever. She just let me sit there upset. Fuck her goddamn cold-ass Scandinavian genes and whatever fucked up responses to distress she got from her mother.

When we got home, my father kept yelling at me for not bringing the big garbage bags of clean clothes back into the house and up the stairs fast enough. The last time I did that, I had an asthma attack, so I had a legitimate excuse to take some little breaks.

The he started in with the “What the fuck is wrong with her?” bullshit, and later I heard him ask the same question of my mother and she said, “I don’t know,” and then something else I couldn’t hear, and then my dad asked “Why?”

Now, that – and this is far fetched – could mean she said that I’d been crying at the laundromat, and then he asked why and she said she didn’t know.

More likely, he just asked what the fuck was up with me and she said she had no idea. (When she really did).

And of course, since I’m bipolar, no one, including my parents, takes any of my emotional reactions seriously. They dismiss it as mood swing bitchiness, even when the bitchiness is a reaction to circumstances I want them to change.

To wit:

2) If you won’t do that, then stop acting like a fucking martyr when I need you to drive me places.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Charting the course

You fill out the mood chart every week just like you are told. First the list of meds: lithium (chalky yellow pills), Depakote (big grey horse pills, caplet shaped), Effexor XR (red and yellow capsules), Zyprexa (round white pills), Klonopin (green pills), Ativan (white pills). A check mark to indicate you took them, followed by the time (morning, afternoon, evening) and the dosage. You take the correct doses of all but the last two, the tranquilizers. Those, you take a lot more of: ten milligrams of Klonopin, six of Ativan, topped off by twelve or so pills of Benedryl (round red pills), which was not prescribed but is your own invention, all because you can’t fucking sleep.

All but one of the meds has drowsiness as a side effect, yet you can’t sleep. Hence all the benzos. All but the benzos have weight gain as a side effect. You’ve gained eighty-three pounds in the past year. You know you should diet, but you figure that since the pills made you fat, they should give you a pill to make you unfat, except no such pills exist. You tried speed (authorized, official, in the form of a prescription, so it doesn’t count as fucked up, right?) but the combination of it and lithium made your hands shake so bad you couldn’t sign your name on the checks you got for serving as a guinea pig, which, because you have no health insurance or job, is the only way you can get treatment.

You can’t drink anymore because of the pills, which in combination are known as a cocktail, which is a joke you don’t find funny. You’re told you “have the option” of staying in the hospital for two to three months to wean off the benzos. You couldn’t stand being in there for five days last time, so you go cold turkey and spend Holy Week, up to and including Easter, sweating and shaking and puking water and bile, the wrenching heaves and weakness so bad that at first you can only shove your head over the edge of the bed and puke on the carpet. You’re too fucked up to get to the toilet to puke like a proper human being. Then you’re too weak to even get over the edge of the bed, so you puke where you’re lying down and don’t bother to clean it up.

Then it’s over, your body doesn’t need the tranquilizers anymore to stop shaking, except you still can’t sleep, and for once you don’t do what you’re told, which is to flush the remaining benzos down the toilet. Instead you keep them, stockpiling them for when a) you’ve hit twenty meds tried, your official give-up point and b) finally have enough pills to be sure you won’t wake up ever again. That should be at about the end of August, and, like the good Catholic girl you are, you keep your word on this point.

But that’s just the pills, and the attempt is later. You’re still filling out the mood charts, dutifully and completely. Hours slept: three hours, four hours, one-and-a-half hours. No, I didn’t shower today, the same as the day before that and the day before that. As of your benzo withdrawal, it was probably more than a month, and you didn’t use soap or even stand up because the water hitting you in a stream felt like being pelted with a strong force made up not of water but of tiny bits of broken glass.

The chart asks you to rate on a scale of one to ten how anxious you are. You pick 9, “I feel like I’m jumping out of my skin.” You endorse, “I’m thinking about dying,” and “I feel as if I’m being punished,” and “I find it hard to concentrate.” And you bring it to your doctor and he praises you for filling it out accurately every single week. His desk drawer is filled with hundreds of files; the first three quarters are either “Noncompliant” or “Partially Compliant.” Yours is in the “Compliant” section and you think, “I’m still getting straight As. How fucked up is that?”

Events depicted happened to me in 2003. I'm just messing around with the second person.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

As I was coming out of the Mutter Museum, I noticed a bunch of people carrying the distinctive tan, red, and green Trader Joe's shopping bags. I asked a nice lady where the market was, and she explained the correct way to enter, which was around the corner of 21st street through a parking lot (plenty of spaces available there at 2-3pm, folks) and not via the front door of an artist's gallery on Market.

I'd been to Trader Joe's in Media numerous times with my Mommy, but never the one in the city. I can't drive (yet), so I'm at the mercy of her whims and driving out to can take a while from here, depending on traffic. I liked being able to go in and get my balela (Middle Eastern chickpea salad), fresh mozzarella, roasted red papers, basil on foccacia bread, and dried apples and then we'd drive home.

But with this one, I had to buy very few, very light things because I had to take the ghetto-ass trolley back home. I simply just couldn't carry a bunch of stuff with me given that a) I was already carrying an enormous tote bag as my purse b) the stuff would be too cumbersome and heavy to carry down the street after I got off the trolley and c) the other passengers would trample, push, and possibly try to steal my purse if I tried to squeeze onto a crowded trolley car.

If you've ever been to TJ's, then you know how torturous limiting yourself to just a few things is. Everything is fresh, often organic, healthy, uniformly high-quality, and much, much cheaper than, say Whold Foods, whose marketing tack is similar and very much less expensive than a regular supermarket. If I lived next to one of these babies, I'd go there for almost all my groceries.

I couldn't carry much of anything home with me; just one bag's worth of not-too heavy and not-too-bulky items. I wanted to buy spiced chunky applesauce (to die for, tastes like apple pie filling but less cloying), vegetarian and chicken chili (all of which were too heavy) and apple granola and cinnamon shredded wheat cereal (too bulky), and a "Middle Eastern Lunch" kit that came with falafel, hummus, pita, baba ganoush and tahini, but I was afraid it'd tip over in my bag.

Anyway, back to my commute-with-groceries issue. I hate that people keep mentioning the "Philadelphia Renaissance" as if the entire city is glittery and flapping its wings above the smoldering flames. What is meant is that relatively wealthy areas are getting more amenities, such as clean, friendly, supermarkets with actual healthy food and low prices (c'mon, folks, don't you think you'd make a fucking killing if you put one of these places in a low-income neighborhood? The prices alone would draw people in like a magnet).

My particular neighborhood is sinking, has been sinking, into an absolute fucking morass since I started high school and possibly before then. I got a fancy-schmancy certificate, a check for $300, and a free membership to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and a handshake and congratulations from Mayor Ed Rendell at an awards ceremony for the top ten ranked students at each public Philly high school. This was, I believe, very shortly after he announced his revitalization plan, although I don't know if the particulars had been ironed out yet. He gave a speech about the "brain drain," how we should remember to contribute to our city, and that changes were coming that would make us *want* to stay here.

I ignored it. I went out of state for college, moved to NYC, stayed there for 8 years or so. I was part of the 600,000 that moved away in the span of ten years. And it literally broke my heart and shattered all my dreams when I had to move back here, to my parents' house, to awful, hellish Philly. I am only just beginning to reknow my hometown, to finally give up and realize I live here.

So what have I noticed? Southwest Philly is going ghetto very very fast. Old City, Rittenhouse Square, Northern Liberties, the Art Museum area, and parts of Fairmount are getting nicer. Center City in general looks nicer. I take it Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy never went downhill.

None of the hip, artsy, healthy, literary, cute cafe anything is headed my way. I think the tourist board and even the people who live in those nice areas don't even see that it ain't nice all around. I wonder what the denizens of Revitalized Center City would feel like if they had to take one of the green line trolleys home every day. Or, even worse, feel truly unsafe walking from the trolley stop to their cramped row house (there are no sunny lofts here) every night. I'd seriously love to get out and do stuff at night, but the fact of the matter is I can't really get home safely after dark.

You know those escort buses they have in University City for the college kids to get around in? They should have them, or something like them - a city-run or subsidized taxi kind of thing to take people from public transportation stops in their neighborhood up to their front doors at night.

Damn Fine List of Depression Resources

Speaking of the College of Physicians, this month's public health theme is depression. This list of regional resources is the most comprehensive one I've ever come across on the net since my diagnosis 5 years ago. If you know how hard it is to find a good doctor, therapist, or support group, you'll probably like these links.

Mutter About Deformed Fetuses Right Here

On Monday, I went to the Mutter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In case you don’t know about it, it houses human specimens, illustrative casts and molds, and medical equipment from the 19th century on. The intent is to show the range of human pathology and the history of medicine and medical education in the United States. But since I am decidedly not a doctor (I failed calculus *twice*), I must sheepishly admit I went mostly because I’d heard it’s a collection of grotesqueries.

I got all that and more, which was cool. I did in fact learn about skin diseases, how the corpse of a fat woman turned into soap after she was buried, the human variation in skulls, and what syphilis can do to your brain and bones and nose (knew about the brain disorder stuff, but not about the skin and bone stuff). I cringed over a case of 19th century obstetrical instruments and pessaries, and all I have to say, ladies, is be glad you weren’t pregnant in 1863. I got an overview of all the various kinds of conjoined twins, the most interesting and disturbing of which is when one twin is full-size but has a much smaller “parasite” twin or part of a twin that drains the blood and organs of the full twin, hence the name.

Speaking of which, none of the tourist materials I’ve read (including the Museums’ own pamphlet) prepared me for the coolest, most grotesque, most fascinating and disturbing section: that of malformed fetuses. Most of them stillbirths, preemies who died shortly after birth, miscarriages, and although only a few were overtly labeled as such, abortions. (I can see the use of these fetuses spun by those on both sides of the abortion divide, which I will not go into here). Anyway, some of the things I saw:

All sorts of conjoined twins, one pair of which had one baby with a cleft palate and one without, which is very unusual for conjoined identicals.

One with a double cleft palate.

A number with oversize brains that caused pressure to build up in the cranium until they died (these days, I think, they use shunts to treat this problem and the kid lives).

Fetuses with spina bifida – spine protruding and slitting the entire length of the back, outside the skin

A fetus with no brain, just a primitive brains stem. Its forehead slumped down in the back and looked like a hollow, emptying balloon. His face looked like it was about to melt off since it was all scrunched back in back and slack in front.

This turned out to be less of a freak show than I expected. The fetuses suspended in their jars of fluid looked almost serene, their rubbery bodies the color of Silly Putty. Almost all of them had their eyes locked closed, seeming to say, I’m fighting to get any peace I can given my twisted body and short, short lifespan. The twins, both conjoined and separate, were all twined together, some with arms and legs wrapped around the other’s body. Their eyes, the floating, the hunched and twisted and self-hugging postures suspended in preservatives, as if they were napping underwater – by the time I’d finished looking at them all, the poignancy of the exhibit seemed clear.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Testing ...

Ignore this post. I'm just trying to figure something out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Opal went to Sweet Valley High and said it was an accident

Being too lazy to write your own book isn't horrible: you simply write a blog instead. Being too lazy to write your own book, and then cribbing someone else's and calling it yours is plagiarism. Being too lazy to write your own book, and then cribbing someone else's and calling it yours, and THEN claiming to have written it while juggling exactly 170 flaming plates atop a unicyle is fucking disgusting.

"Ms. Viswanathan, who said she planned to become an investment banker after college, finished writing "Opal" during her freshman year, in Lamont Library at Harvard, while taking a full course load."

Full course load, huh?

I've been following this whole "Girl gets into Harvard because her $20K independent college counselor found her an agent and a $500K book deal" thing.

Thus far, I've found this article in the Harvard Independent has the clearest description of what a book "packager" is:

Basically, Opal went to Sweet Valley High and said she didn't. Or, rather, she went to Sweet Valley High, knew she did, then pretended it was an accident that she sounded like a Valley Girl.
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