July 08, 2006

End of tour - NAMI in DC

A bit late, here are a few notes from our trip to DC and the National NAMI conference:

Friday, June 30, 2006

End of the tour: We took the Acela high-speed train from Stamford to Washington this morning and arrived at the Hilton around 2:30 p.m. only to find that our rooms were not ready and that it wasn’t even check in time. Waited until one room was ready then trekked upstairs to the Executive Towers (no less!) only to find out the A/C was broken and we had to switch rooms, and these were not yet ready either...

Long story short: we eventually got rooms a distance away from one another and quickly got ready to go out to meet Sara D for supper. Lynnie and Sal really seemed to enjoy Sara, and she them, so they had a good time, though I felt a little left out, as I often do in groups of any size...But then, I haven’t lived any sort of life that can be talked about or compared with others’ the way people do. You know, “Oh, yes, we did that! Did you enjoy such and such? or meet so and so?” No one knows what to talk about with me, at least not in a group and not when it is “social.” Not to mention the fact that I can’t add much to those sorts of conversations and so have nothing to say, don’t have the faintest idea what they are talking about most of the time.

I have wasted enough time surfing the internet and answering posts at The website I visit, and thinking of things to say on my blog, and I’m unable to stay awake another second, so I better stop here and go to sleep. TTFN.

Saturday July 1, 2006

Around noon:
Got up later than I wanted to but there was no reason not to, and had a leisurely cup of coffee in room waiting for Sal and Lynnie to get up and call me. We had breakfast in the Executive Lounge for free, then eventually, after mucho hassle, got printed and copied 100X of my 4-poem sheets for the book-signing. That took place around lunchtime, but was not well attended, though apparently a fair number of books had been sold the day before. That’s what counted, though we were a bit disappointed. Probably we should have done a presentation, but we didn’t want to when asked because not only were they not paying us to take off Friday through Sunday, but wanted us to pay for transportation plus a room at the Hilton, 2 of them, plus the banquet on Saturday night. All for the privilege of speaking to maybe 30-70 people? Sorry, we said, but no way! The only reason we said yes finally was because they told us we were getting an award, and thus they would pay for the trip, and by then they didn’t expect us to speak, though we’d have been okay with it at that point. The thing is, they don’t realize we have no extra money, that Lynnie has to earn a living and that I have only 600.00 a month from SSD and SSI together, while both the book and speaking tour have brought us in a net nothing!

Sunday July 2, in the morning:

Spent Saturday afternoon doing what? Hmmm, can’t remember now. Resting I think, then dressing quickly because I forgot what time the reception started. I wore my new orange and pink-red skirt and pink-red silk blouse with heels and felt spiffy, though not good, I rarely feel good in my clothes. But I figured I looked okay according to others, since Lynnie and Sal didn’t tell me otherwise...and I followed Lynnie into the Presidents Room where the reception hour was being held for about 40 or so invited people (2500 or so came to the conference overall).

There I froze. Didn’t know what to do -- with my hands, my eyes, my voice, my feet, with me...All the noise, all the motion and color, all the confusion...though for all that it hadn’t gotten very crowded at the time, I could tell that simply by looking up and counting...But it was so hard even to look up without feeling assaulted and to look anyone in the eye would have cost me more than I could bear to lose. I know that S, who used to be the director of NAMI-CT came up and introduced herself and tried to get me to talk, but she didn’t succeed and eventually found an excuse to move away. No wonder! And I just couldn’t take it anyway. Finally, Lynnie gave me an excuse to get out and I took it, after swallowing the Haldol and the Ativan that I hadn’t taken before then going back to the room. We agreed that I wouldn’t go to the banquet but would order room service and wait for her to come get me when the awards were being given out.

All afternoon, I’d worked on a Thank You speech to give that night, to be as our publicist said, “academy award length” i.e. very short, but I had refused to show it or read it to Lynnie. She had been miffed...But I held out and never did give in. She couldn’t figure out why. Well, when we were called to come up to the stage for the award, Lynnie gave her speech first, then I whispered to her not to go anywhere as I needed her near me. She agreed, thinking I was afraid or something. Then I read, well, the speech that I posted on July 3 or so. She was shocked, and pleased, I think, though it made her weep in public (she isn't ashamed to do that, any more than I am to sleep in public!). At that point I think the audience started clapping and rose to their feet, but I could barely tell, what with the lights and the roaring in my ears...

Posted by pamwagg at July 8, 2006 12:03 AM


Hello Pam,

You writing is beautiful!

I attended the NAMI 2006 Convention in Washington, D.C.

The speech you gave for the Literature Award was moving.

And yes, your outfit was jazzy!

As a writer, I'm also aware that most books don't "earn back their advance." Keep up a positive shine! I've read "Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey through Schizophrenia," and it is a book that needed to be written.

You are articulate and inspiring, and these are traits I believe you had since you were born. You did not succeed "in spite of" or "despite" having an illness. You are a true winner!

Your blog I read with great interest. I am shopping my own memoir to literary agents, so I am glad your book was published. It gives me hope that there is a market for my book, and for others in the field.

Keep cool,

Posted by: Christina B. at August 4, 2006 04:17 PM

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