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Peer Ink
A magazine for peers by peers
Editor's Note
Dear fellow Peers,

Thank you for taking the time to read our very first issue of Peer Ink. It has
been many trials and tribulations to get this magazine become a reality. We
have done the newsletters before, but we wanted to try something new.
Something fresh. Something that you don’t see out there in the “peer world”.
This project has come from a dream. The beginning of the January, the
Board of HUG ME Ink had discussed the possibility of doing a newsletter. We
had a newsletter in the early years of our formation, but it was something
that we’ve had in our minds; “it’s been already done”. Too many other mental
health organizations we knew had newsletters. For the start of a new year,
we knew someone new needed to be added to the peer movement. After
throwing ideas around, Peer Ink was formed.
We wanted to premiere the magazine at the beginning of May and knew we
couldn’t wait. We had to begin planning now. Throughout the rest of January
and into February and March, layout, design, and content were being
created. Little by little this magazine was be-coming real. The Staff of HUG
ME Ink and Peer Ink have worked numerous hours, days, and months on
getting this new work out.

Peer Ink, the voice of Peers by Peers, we hope will be a new format to
outreach to fellow peers throughout the United States and beyond. As we
begin planning for future issues, we are anticipating at least 3 issues each
year (May, August, and October/November). De-pending on how everything
goes for the remaining 2016 will determine if we increase issues in 2017. We
are always looking for more peers to get involved with submitting materials
to be included in upcoming issues. In the following page, we have included
our Submission Guidelines.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read this first issue of Peer Ink and we
hope you will consider subscribing to our magazine or even submit material.
It’s time for there to be a literary work that is also a voice for Peers by Peers.

Nicholas Holstein
Peer Ink, Advisor and HUG ME Ink, Executive Director
HUG ME Ink, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate and educate on mental
health awareness through the arts will be publishing, PEER INK: A Magazine for Peers by
Peers. We're looking for original poems, stories, articles or art work for upcoming issues.
Everyone is welcome to submit!

Deadlines for upcoming

Cover Art By
Name: Samantha Durgin
Age: 18

Caption: An abstract sunny mountain May 2021 Issue - Celebrating National

landscape that is intended to provide its Mental Health Awareness Month:
viewer a lively, yet relaxing, sensation. APRIL 2, 2021
October 2021 Issue - Celebrating National
Bio: Sam attended Madison High where she
Bullying Prevention Month and Mental
continued to develop her artistic abilities.
Her passion lies within the arts. From a Health Week:
paintbrush, to a pen, and from a pen, to a SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
script, Sam loves to create and perform. December 2021 Holiday Issue:
OCTOBER 29, 2021

Submission Guidelines
If you are interested in submitting, please adhere to the following guidelines:

ARTICLES & STORIES: Send as a Word doc and on any topic you feel would benefit peers to
include wellness, health, peer specialist movement, etc.
ARTWORK: Send artwork (photography, drawing, etc.) as JPEG or PNG file.
POEMS: Send as a Word doc on any topic.
With all submissions, please include a short bio and photo (optional), please send to

Advertising Rates (Per issue) DISTRIBUTION

3/4 Page: $150
Half Page: $100 Would you like copies of PEER INK to be displayed
at your organization? For 2020-2021, we'll be
1/4 Page: $50
having 4 issues. Please let us know when you email
Business Card: $30 us which issue(s) you'd be interested in receiving.

Thank you,
HUG ME Ink Staff and Board
Table of Contents
Wellness begins with WE ....................................................................................................................... 5-7
Mental Health and You............................................................................................................................. 8-9
Why and How I Like to Get Out of My Comfort
Zone....................................................................................................................................................................... 10-11
The Power of Language: How Mental Health Professionals Talk with
Patients Can Affect Recovery Outcome................................................................................ 12-13
Until the Dragon Comes...................................................................................................................... 14-17
What Art Therapy Means To Me......................................................................................................... 18
Creative Corner.......................................................................................................................................... 18-23

Nicholas B. Holstein
Contributing Contributing
Writers Artists
Editor Pam Bates Anonymous
Jhordan Casillas
Jack Carr Anna Barfuss
Co-Editors Catherine Cohen Alyssa Bowman
Lesley Hooper Elizabeth Israelsen
Sam Durgin
Tracy Kremer Amelia Talbot
Bernadette Mullins Jim Martin
Lydia Martinez
Publisher Lorre Leon Mendelson
Shweiki Media
Daniel J. Oppenheimer
Photographer Fernando Rover Jr.
Heather Templeton Heather Templeton

All articles, poems, photographs, stories and con-tent are all property of HUG ME Ink and Peer Ink as well as each
writer’s personal ownership. If you wish to use a photograph, article or any of the work in this magazine, please
request in writing to HUG ME Ink at your permission request or contact the author
personally. No part of this magazine may be re-printed without written consent from HUG ME Ink.
Wellness begins with WE
Jim Martin

When someone is in trouble, I think the first thing they want to hear is “I’ll
take You.” The word “hospitality” begins with “hospital” and ends in “ity.” ITY
= I’ll Take You. It is reassuring to know that the hospital will take you in
when things in your life go wrong and you are stressed out by life without
rest or relief. Sometimes people end up in the emergency room mainly
due to having no place to go during a crisis.

From my perspective as an advocate for the poor and providing direct

services to the severely mentally ill and the prior substance abusers of our
communities in Sussex County, I see some of our most vulnerable down-
state Delawareans falling through the cracks of our social support system.

Our self-help (peer helping peer) center is set up to welcome the stranger
who feels isolated with nowhere else to turn when in need for support.
The A.C.E. CENTER provides an immediate place at the table for people
who fall through the cracks of our healthcare system. We look into their
eyes at our front door and say, “we see you.” We are open 8 am to 4 pm
Monday to Friday and there is no appointment necessary and there are no

There is immediate engagement and a searching for an answer to the

crisis at hand. Are you thirsty? Do you need a hot shower? Are you hungry?
Do you have a doctor? Do you need to fill a prescription? Do you need
transportation? A drink of cool water? A hug? A bus pass? Do you need to
take a nap? Someone is the hallway at the ACE Center serves as the
person’s “fixer-er” who navigates the person in need toward some
immediate answers to change the crisis into a solve-able problem that we
can all work on together. We do all the non-medical tasks and then refer
the medical tasks to our community health center, La Red. If items are
needed some of us jump on social media to re-source the community.
We discuss shared living and ride sharing ideas. We gather the needed
provisions for immediate survival. We reach out to our network of caring
community members and the needy stranger we just met gets plugged in
with our known networks of love and kindness.
Life is messy but we learn the most by sitting with the person in need. I
think we need to create more welcoming places with no appointment
necessary staffed with volunteers with lived experience. We need a place
that is always open and ready to serve anyone in need immediately. We
have lots of potential loving “hallway monitor” folks who will meet the
“patient” right at the door and sit next to them in the “comfort room” to
quietly talk about the crisis. We may need to provide care to folks who are
having a “bad thinking day” or maybe it turns out to be just a bad hair day.

These welcoming places should be universal and general in scope and

placed in every community. A close example of this kind of place was
executed this past winter in communities across Delaware. We call them
“code purple sanctuary” locations which opened to keep people from
freezing to death. But our healthy welcome centers would be open all year
long, not just in the freezing weather. It would be a “welcome center to a
better life.” A population self-management health and wellness coaching
center where you could learn proper nutrition, take your blood sugar, or
monitor your blood pressure or do a host of other wellness and health
related tasks. We could work together to reduce sugar consumption and
to learn how to quit smoking cigarettes or to learn a sober way of life.

Remember the “candy-strippers” of the past in the hospitals who were the
“hospitality” providers doing whatever it took to fill in the gaps between
treatments and doctor’s orders? They worked as part of a hospital team to
make a person feel welcome and cared for.

We need to re-invent the candy-strippers and bring back kindness and

compassion at the front door of a new kind of welcoming “I’ll take you”
place. I also think that a patient-centered approach needs to start with
love and kindness and stay with a loving approach all the way through the
healthcare delivery process.
UBER is an example of placing the power back in the hands of the
In healthcare, the customer is the patient. In a UBERIZED healthcare
system, where can I go where I will feel welcome and cared for?
Where can I go for a shoulder to cry on?
Where can I go to use the bathroom, cook up a nice meal and check my
blood sugar? Where can I go for a free WIFI connection… a cool drink… a
safe place … a place to search for a new job or a new place to live?
Where can I go to take a nap… to take a hot shower… to find a band-aid or
soft clean bandage for this open wound?
Where can I go to learn about how to make a healthy meal, to quit
smoking, to exercise with others and to have fun?
Where can I go to meet new friends?
Where can I go to find kindness, compassion, and love?
Where can I go to feel accepted? Where can I go to self-manage my own
chronic health conditions and find the re-sources I need?
Wellness begins with “we.”

My Bio: 7 years ago I was homeless and hurting in

Delaware going from shelter to shelter. Struggling with
depression, anxieties, poverty, loneliness, addiction and
isolation, I was at a pointless state of mind but was
seeking a better life through employment and housing
without much success. I was 49. I eventually found a job
and bed in a sober group house in Lewes, De and the
rent was affordable. I climbed my way back to a hopeful
life. I still live at a sober group house in Georgetown, DE
and during the last 7 years of being clean and stable, I
have maintained wellness and I have thrived. I am now
the Director of a peer run drop in center called the A.C.E.
Peer Resource Center in Seaford, DE.
Mental Health and You
Lorre Leon Mendelson
The peer mental health movement is afoot! We are many: survivors of misdiagnosis,
mistreatment, wrong medicines and misfortune. Those of us with OCD cringe at words like
bizarre, weird, crazy, dangerous, nuts, sufferers and are accused of creating our own
disorder or faking it. These are not terms we have selected to describe ourselves. They are
used by uneducated scientists, family members, talk show hosts, educators doctors and
sometimes therapists who don’t know any differently. People who say “I am so OCD” are
unintentionally offensive. We are not “OCD” any more than someone who has cancer is
cancerous. We all need education and I am the woman for the job!

Thank goodness many of the OCD providers are in “the deep end of the pool” with us, know
how to treat our symptoms and help us learn how to change our thinking. Without getting
too scientific, we are missing some chemicals in our brains people without OCD have. We
have intrusive thoughts we are unable to stop. Some of my symptoms may include checking
(could be door locks, lights, electric plugs, the stove and checking with someone to make sure
I haven’t hurt their feelings). These are obsessions. The rituals, or compulsions would be
going around the house “checking” to make sure the house is safe before I leave and asking
the person I thought I may have hurt their feelings, did I hurt you by what I said? BUT often
we don’t check once, it is on-going as untreated, we do not have a release for the thoughts.

The pandemic of 2020 has certainly played havoc with treatment and put a kink in my
recovery stride! Since I was first diagnosed with OCD in 1996 through March 2020, I had not
used Purell (I had to live with the possibility of getting and or giving germs), had to use a
napkin or silverware that fell on the floor, not look for reassurance from others, and basically,
be “willing to live a life of uncertainty” in the words of Jon Grayson. Now, I am quarantined
and all good health experts let me know I need to keep everything disinfected, clean my
hands when I go out. I’m thinking I should probably invest in Purell. I even purchased the
right ingredients to make my own disinfectant if I need to.

I have had a fear of germs- getting and giving them. So, before treatment, if I touched
something and didn’t wash my hands, I would warn people or apologize. For the past 20+
years, I have been so fortunate to participate in support groups, group therapy and individual
therapy, read great books, connect with such awesome people to treat this and have the
commitment and support of my dear husband.

I just realized this week that some of the techniques I have found most effective can
not be located in books and while I don’t recall where I first learned these, I’m giving
you some insider tools that may help. If you read this and know who taught me this,
please feel free to contact me.
We have learned humor is a wonderful way to treat our OCD. Thank you Jim B. for reminding
me humor is a great therapeutic strategy largely because it is a powerful form of “cognitive

Even some of the scariest obsessions. Telling a person in a new relationship you have anxiety
is scary as hell. My friend at the time, Ross, (later becoming my husband), has a wonderful
sense of humor. The day I rallied up the courage to tell him I have a problem with germs, he
replied to me in a German accent. We both cracked up laughing. Another time I told him I
have triggers and his response was to neigh (so any of you remember Roy Rogers horse,
Trigger)? One thought / symptom some of us have is when we hit a bump in the road and
think we have hit a person- we call ourselves “car killers”. Some people may stop to check and
of course… keep on checking, check bushes, call hospitals, check the road, drive around and
check again to make sure they did not hit anyone. I avoid using language that is self
deprecating and prefer to discuss my symptoms as medical.

Another way to deal with anxiety is creating outrageous headlines. This has been a Godsend
for me. Outrageous headlines must be created and used by the person with OCD. We can
have help in creating the headlines but it is very important they not be used to make fun of
us. So for instance, I would become anxious when I touched my mouth without washing my
hand. My inclination prior to treatment was to wash my mouth and hand first OR warn Ross
before I kissed him. So Ross helped me come up with an outrageous headline- “Woman
kisses beloved husband and poisons him”. That is so outrageous it is funny. This helps
monkey wrench the obsession and the ritual. This works for me: each of us needs to come
up with our own headline that is most effective.

Sometimes when I get intrusive thoughts, and ask Ross questions requesting reassurance.
He refers to them as popcorn, which we have agreed its so funny. So If I ask him something
reflecting an OCD related thought, he will sniff around and tell me, “I smell popcorn” and we
enjoy a good laugh together. We did not get to this place overnight. Couples counseling,
books, conferences and loving intentions made the difference.

People with OCD are courageous, fun, brave, loving as are people with all kinds of other
disabilities. Many years ago we were ridiculed and often felt hopeless, trapped. Today, with
the advent of great therapies, support groups, educated families and friends, the inclusion of
people with other people with OCD helping each other, the future for us is freedom. I am not
a sufferer. I am a survivor!

Bio: After living in Colorado, Northern CA and TN, Lorre and her husband
Ross recently moved to the desert of Southern New Mexico. She is a
published author, poet and human rights activist. She recently wrote and
published a manual to help people learn more about service animals, pets
and preserving the environment for wild animals: ANIMAL MANUAL, Good
Living for your Pets and Animals. Lorre identifies as a person with
disabilities including OCD, PTSD, Depression and PNES (Psychogenic Non-
Epileptic Seizures). She is also in recovery for substance use. Humor, clarity
and openness are the tools Lorre uses to heal and celebrate her life.
Why and How I Like to Get Out
of My Comfort Zone
Lydia Martinez, MHPS

When I turned 50, I decided I wanted to make an intentional practice of saying "YES" to life. I
wanted to take deliberate risks and make opportunities for myself to step out of my comfort
zone. I did that successfully in 2019 and am continuing to take steps in that.

What is a "comfort zone?" It is a behavioral emotional psychological space where activities,

behaviors and actions fit a routine and pattern that minimizes risk. It is avoiding doing new
things. It is doing what feels safe, familiar, and secure and only that. It is a life that one tries to
manage and control to stay comfortable. In other words--it is static. There is no growth in a
comfort zone.

In 2019, I said yes to two major year-long commitments. One was being on a committee to
create a state conference Peer Fest for people who have experienced mental health
challenges. ( an educational and celebratory event April 27th to 29th in
Galveston.) Another was applying for and accepting admission into Peer Voice---a leadership
program through Via Hope ( for people who have lived experience with
mental health recovery. They both had four out of town meetings. Peer Voice has eight online
learning modules and the experience of building a community project. Understand I have no
car and no personal computer, so meeting the requirements took some ingenuity. They have
both been very challenging and rewarding experiences that took me out of my comfort zone.

There are many benefits to getting out of a comfort zone. To take risks, regardless of their
outcome, is very much a growth experience. In challenging oneself one's creativity is
triggered, untapped knowledge and inner resources are discovered and expanded. Life is all
about change--we all will get curveballs thrown at us sooner or later. When we practice
leaving our comfort zone we become better able to deal with life's challenges and even to
welcome them. Ultimately not stepping out and not taking risks is to settle for mediocrity and
not living life to the fullest.

There are different ways to practice stepping out of a comfort zone. One is starting with
making small changes--this builds on itself. Getting out of the familiar and habitual, trying new
activities, going new places are other steps that can be taken. Just being open to new ideas
and opportunities helps in stepping out of a comfort zone.
We can start with being aware of what our comfort zone is and what's outside it. Knowing
what we are uncomfortable with and being willing to challenge ourselves is an important
step. Challenging ourselves with specific discomforting activities--seeking them out--moves us
toward becoming "comfortable" with discomfort.

We can continue this process by hanging around "risk-takers" or "challengers." Being around
people who do what we want to do--who we see have in them what we want to become--
rubs off. Not making excuses and being honest with ourselves makes a difference. It is good
to identify how "stepping out" benefits us. Results from our risk-taking can be amazing. We all
have the ability to rise to the occasion, overcome obstacles, and succeed in challenging
ourselves. So have a vision (or visions) of how you would like to grow, who you would like to
become, what you would like your life to be like, and move towards your dreams!

Lydia Martinez: I am a certified Mental Health Peer Specialist living in Denton, Tx. I have a
BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Cultural Studies. I am passionate about all
manner of service- weather it be supporting someone in their wellness or volunteering with
non-profits. I am a devoted friend, sister and aunt as well as loving mom to my lil furbaby Ray-
The Power of Language: How Mental
Health Professionals Talk with Patients
Can Affect Recovery Outcome
Lesley Hooper

My name is Jordan Smelley, and I am a Peer Recovery Support Specialist with Young Peer Mentor
Endorsement here in Texas. Ages 18 to 26 were the darkest parts of my life. I was constantly in and
out of in-patient and/or intensive outpatient psychiatric treatment because of the lack of support I
needed due to physical and mental health/learning issues as well as
from trauma caused by the way I was treated by mental health professionals. During this time period I
had one psychiatrist through MHMR who flat out told me they were only seeing me because I just got
out of inpatient treatment and wouldn’t listen to me on how often I felt I needed to see them because
I have a history of attempted suicide by overdose and one of my medications is a controlled
substance. So of course, just being out of inpatient treatment this psychiatrist treatment of me
pushed me back over the edge.

Thankfully though my case worker intervened and got my case arranged to where I could see a
private psychiatrist but still see a case worker and my Peer Support Specialist through MHMR. Then
there was the time another psychiatrist put me on a new medication while in a IOP setting. This
medication caused my thoughts to change in a bad way and I told the group therapist about this and I
was kicked out of the program because the group therapist met with the psychiatrist to explain what I
was experiencing and the psychiatrist said impossible for the medication they prescribed to cause the
issue I was having even though I never had this particular issue before being prescribed this particular
medication and the group therapist didn’t even try to stick up for me or raise the possibility that
reported side effects aren’t the only side effects that can happen with a medication.

Now that I have spent a few minutes talking about the negative treatment I’ve received from mental
health professionals that caused trauma I want to speak for the remainder of my
time on the things Mental Health Professionals have done that either helped me deal with trauma
and/or helped me feel listened to and empowered. My current therapist is the one I went to once I
was kicked out of the IOP I was in because she had special certifications. She took the time to listen
to me with an open mind unlike the psychiatrist who prescribe me the
medication my body wasn’t agreeing with. I actually felt listened to and understood about how scared
and concerned I was with what I was experiencing while on this medication and was open to the idea
that what I was experiencing is a side effect so I stopped taking the medication after telling my new
psychiatrist about the issues I was having with the medicine I was prescribed and got her ok. After
being off this particular medication for about a week I finally stopped having the bad thoughts and
haven't had any since. Another thing that my current therapist does that helps me feel supported and
empowered is I have input on how often she sees me. I know that if I’m doing pretty good, I can tell
her I’d like to go 2 weeks and if she doesn’t have any concerns that’s what we do.
However, if I’m struggling, I know I can ask to switch to seeing her once a week and she will do that if
her schedule allows. I also know that if I am scheduled for 2 weeks out but something happens and I
need to see my therapist sooner she will make that happen if her schedule allows and not make me
feel judged about having to see her sooner. I have a very similar patient/provider relationship with my
current psychiatrist. I always feel listened to and if I feel I need to see her sooner than what she
recommends at the end of our visit she listens, and we discuss. I also know that if I schedule for 2-3
months out cause I’m comfortable going that long without seeing my psychiatrist now that if I need to
be seen sooner my psychiatrist will also make that happen and while she asks me what’s going on
when she sees I’m coming in sooner than what we said she does it in a caring way and I know I can be
open with her about what’s going on and why she’s seeing me sooner and be listened to in a non-
judgmental way with an open mind.

In conclusion how you as mental health providers treat us patients does have a direct impact on our
mental health and our recovery. We as patients are more likely to thrive and be successful in recovery
whether from mental health or substance abuse especially if we have a history of trauma induced by
mental health professionals if you would keep these 4 simple things in mind:

1. There are situations where either an extremely rare or non-reported side effect happen. Saying
something along the lines of I understand your concern that what you're going through may be a
side effect and/or an interaction between different medications. Although I am not sure that is the
situation let's talk about what you have experienced since starting the medication or medications
that you feel have caused your issue and see what we can figure out to help you without causing
what you have been experiencing. This would help us patients feel like we are being listened to
and that our concern of what's been happening is validated.
2. When someone requests to come in sooner than scheduled, validating this need, and reassuring
them during the sooner appointment helps create a stronger sense of safety and trust.
3. Let us have input in our treatment and how often we see you. Doing this will go a long way to
building a positive patient/provider relationship as well as building trust to the point we know we
can be openly honest about what's going on and know we will have input in what is done to help
us overcome whatever challenges we are currently facing.
4. When someone is released from an inpatient facility they may be feeling somewhat more stable
however they can still be extremely fragile especially if they don't feel they are being listened to in
regards to what they feel they need in order to keep improving. Your words matter. Remember to
reinforce that your client is accepted, heard, and supported following an inpatient stay.

Jordan Smelley is a certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist with Young Peer
Mentor Endorsement here in Texas. Jordan uses his lived experience with
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with Co-Occurring Mental Health
Diagnosis(es) due to Chung-Jansen Syndrome to support and provide resources to
others in hopes of others not having to go through as much trauma as Jordan did
in order to get the supports and resources needed to become a contributing
member of the community at large. Jordan also serves on the Texas Health and
Human Services Commission Behavioral Health Advisory Committee as a
representative for Youth/Young Adult, as well as is the current Co-chair for the
Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, and also chairs the Peer and Family Partner
Services Subcommittee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. In his free time Jordan enjoys hanging with
friends, playing Volleyball, officiating Volleyball for Special Olympics Texas, and
playing piano.
Until the Dragon Comes
Daniel J. Oppenheimer
I met Terry Pratchett in a gray and white conference room in the basement of the Hynes Convention
Center in Bos-ton, where he was appearing as a Guest of Honor at the 62nd World Science Fiction
Convention, or “WorldCon,” held in 2004. WorldCon orbits the globe like a mothership; the attendees
at each year’s convention vote on where it’ll touch down three years later. The first Boston-based
WorldCon, spanning the Labor Day weekend of 1971, was called Noreascon. The sixty-second
WorldCon was Boston’s fourth, so it was known, as it had to be, as Noreascon 4.
I was there as a reporter, but I was also there on a secret quest. Pratchett is one of the most prolific
satirists in the English-speaking world. He’s the Garrison Keillor of science fiction and fantasy
literature, and his Lake Wobegon—his allegorical laboratory—is DiscWorld, an absurd, magical, flat
planet that “travels through space on the backs of four elephants that stand on the back of a giant
On the floors above Pratchett’s official press conference, thousands of fans were gathered to
celebrate a mutual love of science fiction and fantasy. Down below, seven of us were at a small table
with him, waiting for some-one else to ask a question. I’ve now read six of his novels, but at the time I
hadn’t yet read any of them, and I’d shown up because I assumed there would be better journalists
there who’d done enough research to ask smart questions. Instead, with the exception of a writer for
Wired who seemed to have read only Pratchett’s children’s books, the re-porters were amateurs: two
fan zine writers, a zine photographer, a married couple from Atlanta who’d done a bit of freelance
work for a suburban daily, and a balding man with a white beard who never spoke and was
identifiable as press only by the brown ribbon dangling from his convention ID badge.

It became clear that they were able to obtain press credentials because the convention organizers
needed bodies to fill up the press conferences, and also because in fandom—the general term for
the science fiction and fantasy community—fans are accorded almost as much honor as the authors.
We sat for an uncomfortable minute or two before Pratchett, pitying us, said, “I expect that you’re
wondering why I called you here today.”
The rest of the hour-long press conference went similarly, with Pratchett rescuing us from silence and
graciously ignoring how ill-prepared we were. I was embarrassed. Pratchett deserved better, not only
because he didn’t have to be there—his books have made him a millionaire—but because he seemed
to be a decent person. It’s hard not to like someone who wears a floppy leather hat and a T-shirt that
The adoring fans were there, of course, and over the long weekend of the convention, hundreds of
them lined up for Pratchett’s book signings and crammed into the panels in which he participated.
The New England Science Fiction Association, the sponsor of the convention, published Once More
(with footnotes), a new collection of his stories and essays. At the masquerade costume competition
on Sunday night, perhaps a third of the costumes were homages to Pratchett. And the acceptance
speeches at the Hugo Awards—science fiction’s highest honors—were a litany of affectionate
references to him. Pratchett was celebrated, but also exploited and sometimes ignored, which is
typical of the covenant that has nourished and stunted the genre of science fiction since its
beginnings in the nineteen-twenties: writers, editors, agents, publishers, and fans coexist in one
fascinating, frothy, uneasy community whose foundational myth is of a seamless continuum between
writer and reader. Every WorldCon now has two professional guests of honor and two fan guests of
honor, and Hugos are given to both professionals and fans. The short memoirs in the glossy, 240-
page Noreascon 4 program are all, in a sense, devotions to the compact between readers and writers.
In it, for instance, Neil Gaiman tells of his first meeting with Terry Pratchett:
So, it’s February of 1985, and it’s a Chinese restaurant in London, and it’s the author’s first interview. His
publicist had been pleasantly surprised that anyone would want to talk to him (the author has just written a
funny fantasy book called The Colour of Magic), but she’s set up this lunch with a young journalist anyway.…
And the author is Terry Pratchett, and the journalist is me.

In his own memoir, Terry Pratchett writes of being a fan, of first discovering, as a boy, a small stock of
science fiction magazines in a soft-core porn shop in England:
I’d found these stories about Space.… Then, in one of the UK mags, there was a mention of the British
Science Fiction Association. Contact. And that led to the cons, and to that general encouragement to write
that is part of the atmosphere.… The 1965 Worldcon was my last convention for twenty-one years. I’d been
formally in fandom for a mere three years, not counting the apprenticeship in the little shop, and didn’t find
my way back until I’d written four novels. It’s nice to be home.
The arc is important, from readers to fans to journalists to published novelists to bestselling novelists
who are guests of honor, or Hugo Award winners, at WorldCon but who remain, in their geeky hearts,
fans. In Gaiman’s case, the respect he pays is particularly validating. His Sandman graphic novels have
earned him enough literary credibility that he could, if he chose, leave the fans behind. He could
betray them, as Kurt Vonnegut famously did when he re-fused to allow publishers to label or shelve
his novels as science fiction. Instead, Gaiman continues to write fantasy; he appears at a few
conventions a year; and, in proper fan zine fashion, he reports back on the cons on his blog.
Chester Cohen was about my age, and although he was neurotic and jumpy, a nail-picker (not enough
left to bite), he was able to freeze on command and hold a pose indefinitely.
Not all fans became writers. Some remained fans. They ran the conventions or populated the
conventions. They published and exchanged amateur fan zines talking about what happened at the
latest convention or reviewing the latest story or novel from their favorite writer. Their convention
fees, book purchases, and devotions helped to lubricate the market and buck up literary egos in a
genre that remained, for most of its history, a small and embarrassing thing, a ghetto, to use a term
that clings to the community to this day. There were never enough hard-core fans to open a movie or
get a novel on the bestseller list, but the fans were the generator that kept the genre going when it
was young and interest from the mainstream flagged; they were repositories of its history and an
important element in the complex dynamic that shapes a genre and solidifies its literary and cultural

After Noreascon 4, for instance, there was this: Tuesday, September 07, 2004

a jumble of con memories

posted by Neil Gaiman 9/7/2004 08:46:54 AM

Let’s see. I did lots of cool things in the last few days. I’ll forget some of them, I’m sure. But in
no order, things that I really enjoyed included:
… Briefing Phil Klass—William Tenn—before the Hugos on what he’d be doing. He’s slightly
deaf, and cheerfully curmudgeonly, and when I told him he would read the nominees for best
novel, open the envelope and announce the winner, he said “Denounce the winner? Why
would I do that?” and then he said, “I will if you want me to, though.” And I suspected that he
might have done. He wrote some astonishing stories, of which the one that feels more and
more relevant these days is one called The Liberation of Earth. (I just googled it but found
only a Mumpsimus essay on it by Matthew Cheney, who I met at a hot, sweaty room-party
and who was, unsurprisingly given his blog, both smart and nice.)

… Reading the first chapter of Anansi Boys to about 500 people, who all laughed in the right
places (i.e. pretty much anywhere) and who seemed to enjoy it. I learned a lot about the text
by reading it aloud to a roomful of people (I learned enough that I plan to read a whole lot
more of Anansi Boys aloud at the Fiddler’s Green convention in November.)

The blogs are a twenty-first-century medium, but the impulse is the same one that has animated
fandom for eighty years. Something important happened when, in 1926, Hugo Gernsback, founder
and editor of Amazing Stories, decided to publish the addresses of the men who wrote in to the
magazine’s letters column week after week to quibble over the science in a story from the last issue,
or to argue with another letter writer, or to rant about politics and religion. With the addresses, the
fans contacted each other directly and formed clubs. Then the clubs took trips to visit each other, and
those trips evolved into conventions. Many fans started to write. New magazines were published to
capitalize on Gernsback’s success, and they needed more writers, and as their standards weren’t high,
more fans found it possible to publish. Others became agents, editors, artists, and anthologists, and
they brought more of their funny-looking friends along as clients.

“The Futurians…were an odd-looking group,” writes SF novelist and critic Damon Knight of his first
impressions of the legendary New York–based club:

Wollheim was the oldest and least beautiful (Kornbluth once introduced him as “this gargoyle on my
right”).… Lowndes was ungainly and flatfooted; he had buck teeth which made him lisp and sputter,
and a hectic glare like a cockatoo’s. Michel was slender and looked so much more normal than the
rest that he seemed handsome by contrast, although he was pockmarked and balding. He had a high
voice and stammered painfully. Cyril Kornbluth … was plump, pale, and sullen. He had narrow Tartar
eyes and spoke in a rumbling monotone; he looked ten years older than he was. Chester Cohen was
about my age, and although he was neurotic and jumpy, a nail-picker (not enough left to bite), he was
able to freeze on command and hold a pose indefinitely.

Not all fans became writers. Some remained fans. They ran the conventions or populated the
conventions. They published and exchanged amateur fan zines talking about what happened at the
latest convention or reviewing the latest story or novel from their favorite writer. Their convention
fees, book purchases, and devotions helped to lubricate the market and buck up literary egos in a
genre that remained, for most of its history, a small and embarrassing thing, a ghetto, to use a term
that clings to the community to this day. There were never enough hard-core fans to open a movie or
get a novel on the bestseller list, but the fans were the generator that kept the genre going when it
was young and interest from the mainstream flagged; they were repositories of its history and an
important element in the complex dynamic that shapes a genre and solidifies its literary and cultural
Now that science fiction and fantasy have become mass phenomena, inescapable constituents of the
language and imagery through which Americans understand and delude themselves, the fans are
revealed to us as our dream weavers. What cultural influence they’ve had! What awesome majesties
and piles of pop-cultural dung these geeks have midwifed into being: Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings,
Spider Man, Superman, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, vast swaths of the multi-billion dollar video game
industry, anime, 2001, X-Files, Magic: The Gathering, Blade Runner, Men in Black, Star Trek,
anthropomorphic robots, sentient computers, the Terminator. We’re no closer to faster-than-light
travel, aliens, or androids because of science fiction, but we imagine we know what hyperspace,
aliens, and androids look like because of it. We’re saturated by the images. Sixteen of the twenty
highest-grossing movies in cinematic history—eight of the top ten—have science fiction and fantasy
themes. Game of Thrones rules cable television. Star Wars is back and as big as ever.

Meanwhile, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books continue to sell hundreds of thousands of copies
every year. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are the publishing phenomenon of the last 20 years. At
the same time that a novelist like Jonathan Lethem is smuggling science fiction from the genre ghetto
into the walled city-state of literary fiction, a giant like Philip Roth is smuggling literary fiction out,
heading into the hinterlands of speculative fiction (if Roth’s The Plot Against America were written by a
science fiction writer, it would be dubbed “alternate history” and shelved with science fiction and
fantasy at the bookstores). The world of pop music has yet to show a pervasive science fictional
influence, but it’s beginning to bubble up in the apocalyptic imagery of the Wu-Tang Clan, in some of
the videos of Lady Gaga, and in the general flavor of innovators like Beck, Moby, Björk, Radiohead and
Sigur Rós. Heavy metal, itself a mass genre that’s misunderstood by the mainstream, is suffused with
science fiction and fantasy symbolism and aesthetics.

Whatever exactly science fiction is, it’s not what its detractors have always said, and its advocates have
always feared, it is: irrelevant. It’s a bastard child of the twentieth century, and of America: neurotic,
utopian, Manichean, scientific, technological, conditioned by pulp and its fantasies of immortality but
also infused with sublimated religiosity and its end-time visions and anxieties of impotence. For better
and worse, it’s one of the dominant modes of contemporary American culture. We’re already dealing
with it, and living in it, whether we realize it or not.

Daniel Oppenheimer is Director of Communications for the Hogg

Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin.
He's also a freelance writer whose articles and videos have been
featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post,
Tablet Magazine, and His first book, Exit Right: The People
Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century, was
published in February 2016 by Simon & Schuster. Oppenheimer lives
in Austin, Texas, with his wife and children.
What Art Therapy Means To Me
Heather Templeton
I remember my first art class class. We were having a casual discussion when my teacher
suddenly lifted a painting of a tree and flipped it upside down. "What do you see?" he asked. I
had become so used to thinking on the spot, but there was no quick answer here. I took a
step back and stared deep into the painting. As my eyes traced through the fine lines and
followed the individual brush strokes of the tree, my perspective shifted and I found my-self
discovering countless new patterns. In this moment, I was a like child again, experiencing
something for the first time. This feeling allowed me to view new things that I hadn't seen
before. I never knew that I could feel such a rush from such a simple question and such a
beautiful painting.

What I enjoy about the concept of art therapy, is that it can be beneficial for people of all
ages. Whether you're a teenager or whether you're 90 years old, art therapy is useful for self-
reflection and self-discovery. As an adult, doing art has allowed me to peel back the layers of
the judgmental adult persona that has existed inside of me and let my inner-child come out.
The images I create become a weaving narrative that brings my personal vision to a vibrant
Art therapy can help us improve our self awareness. It can help with coping skills and act as a
powerful way to safely externalize how we’re feeling. To this day, I have continued to utilize
the benefits of Art Therapy to main-tain my own wellness. I would never hesitate to
recommend it to anyone and everyone!

Artwork by: Alyssa Bowman

Age: 17
Caption: "We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails" -Thomas S. Monson -
Even though the situation we may be facing may not be ideal, it's the subtle
adjustments we make through our attitude that can make a difference.”

Original Submission to MOVE Art Show 2015; permission to share for Hug Me Ink magazine.
Artwork by: Amelia Talbot
Age: 16
Caption: “Positive words can make anyone's day
better. "Don't be afraid, your eyes hold the
universe." "Mistakes are human, doing one bad
thing doesn't make you bad."

Original Submission to MOVE Art Show 2015;

permission to share for Hug Me Ink magazine.

Artwork by: Anonymous

Age: 17
Caption: “I live with bipolar disorder. I want people
to know that taking psych meds is not as simple
as it sounds. Most of the time the Doctor doesn't
even know what will happen to you when you
take new meds until the next month when you
pay them again to write another "guinea pig"
script. Don't judge people who choose not to live
that hell.”

Original Submission to MOVE Art Show 2015;

permission to share for Hug Me Ink magazine.

Artwork by: Anna Barfuss

Age: 16
Caption: "Acceptance" Like the silver wolf in my
painting, you too can be accepted while being
different. It is okay to be different, even if in
mental illness; because we're all different in our
own way. However, acceptance is only brought
about when we learn to openly listen and speak
one with another; as the pack communicates

Original Submission to MOVE Art Show 2015;

permission to share for Hug Me Ink magazine.
Artwork by: Elizabeth Israelsen
Age: 16
Caption: “Perspective is every-thing. From far
away things look perfect. Take a closer look at
things around.

Original Submission to MOVE Art Show 2015;

permission to share for Hug Me Ink magazine.

The Day the Rain Came Unexpectedly

(In My Doctor’s Office Ten Years after our First
Robin Meeting)
Catherine Cohen
Pam Bates
One day she was here, This poem is about my relationship with my doc-
The next day she was gone. tor ten years later when significant healing had
taken place.
I remember her beautiful blonde hair and her beautiful skin so
I remember the day
Going through LIFE without a care.
The rain came unexpectedly,
I had started to remember things from our past. We we’re
Suddenly flooding the wide panes of glass
supposed to work on remembering together at last.
That look out of the high-rise office building downtown.
Bring it all out into the light
You in your gray suit, sitting across from me,
For her to join me in the fight.
To Know. To Remember.
Small in your great leather chair,

The police say she committed suicide. While the water rushed down falling
But, me and my family know different. -suspended-
The Coroner says “ ah, ah No Way I’m not gonna say.
No way she committed suicide that way, that day.” Half-concealing the city outside
I won’t bring myself to go to the Cemetery. I just can’t do it. Behind a thick, wet, opaque curtain
There’s too much pain there and I won’t push my-self to go Hushing the sound of the street
through it. With its quiet, heavy resonance.
You see, I have another sister there by someone else’s hand.
And my brother. As we listened in silence to the rain
I can’t even Imagine being my Mother. I had the sense we were floating,
I’m glad I’m able to write about them and express to you ALL High aloft, near some summit,
that I just wasn’t meant to FALL. And my spirit was so light I imagined
You see when it happened. I wanted to be with her. I wanted to
I could stretch out my hands to you
be a ghost.
And rinse them clean
And I don’t mean to boast But, If it wasn’t for my husband Tim.
In the cool, intimate mist
I would be a Butterfly in the wind.
That seemed to rise from your presence
I know for certain I will always miss her the rest of my days.
Like a pure, baptismal fount
But, at least now after all these years . I’m coming out of the
The day the rain came
Thank You for Listening.
Hope of Resurrection
(Introduction to my Doctor)
Catherine Cohen Fernando Rover Jr.

This is the first poem about meeting my doctor for Lost in a sea of bad dreams.
the first time and believing she could help me heal. Kaleidoscopic colors fading at the seams.
Diving to find
She came in and sat down a way to leave behind
As quietly as a stranger at a wake, the truth.
The only sound the whispering of her long skirt
Spaces strobing and buoying across
I was laid out before her, with folded arms,
the sky.
Rigid and cold inside
Swimming in search of the meaning of ‘why’.
As a body in a burnished box.
Colors formed by a prism of
lucid confusion and elusive intrusion.
We sat opposite each other on the hard, plastic chairs
In the small, white, windowless room Save me from myself.
Not speaking, until she said, Reach for me.
Softely, simply “How do you feel?” Hold me close and don’t let me go.
I averted my eyes and spoke brusquely,
Make yourself at home in my comfort zone.
“I have nothing to say.”
Guide me with my heart.
For when we are apart.
So I studied her some more Swallow me in your ocean eyes.
Her open face and steady eyes met mine honestly while Help me make it to the other side.
Patient and composed
She waited for me to begin
Then slowly I started to see
That she was not like the rest,
And words came to me,
Haltingly at first, in bursts
Then gusting out profusely,
Until I had told her more than I ever intended
More than I had ever told anyone about my inner life of pain.

By the time the short interview ended I felt the stirrings in my soul
Of a hope of healing and of faith in another life
Fernando Rover Jr is an author and poet born and raised
And I knew this was the answer to the past prayer of the dead.
in San Antonio, Texas. He earned a dual BA in English and
history from Texas Lutheran University and is currently
earning a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Prescott

His writing interests range from millennial interests,

mental health, popular culture, Black male experiences,
feminism, LGBTQ, and spoken word poetry. His work has
appeared in Odyssey, Caged Bird, Buddies!,
BlackPressUSA, and San Antonio Observer. In 2019, he
released a poetry anthology, ‘Labyrinth’, available on
Amazon. 'Labyrinth' was selected as the 2019 Best Indie
Book Award for Poetry and awarded a 2020 Literary Titan
Clinical Depression TINKER
(Age 23-28) Pam Bates
Catherine Cohen
She would come and go.
Clinical; Sometimes fast, Sometimes Slow.
A frighteningly sterile environment When she’d come.
A cold operating theater She’d bring really good candy.
A tray of glinting instruments And she would be dressed up all fancy.
An icy steel table With her Jewelry and her bling.
And pale rubber fingers, cool She never had the chance to really know all the joy she
And unfeeling as a corpse’s would bring.
Depression; We missed her when she was away.
A dirt ditch But, she came to realize in her life she couldn’t stay.
A trench
An open pit Her and my Dad didn’t get along but, I still felt when she
A hole in the ground went, it was wrong.
A grave My Mom loved her dearly as she did all her children.
A valley of the shadow of death Tinker thought she had things figured out when she made
Clinical Depression; the little things really count.
A faceless fear behind a white mask But, Little did she know her time was running out.
A sharp incision in the soul’s soft center I’m not sure what else to say but, I really wish there was a
A mutilation around the heart way, to have made her stay --that night.
A dark, inward part throbbing torment If Only she could have stayed in, I still might be seeing her
An acutely impersonal, deeply private pain with her BIG grin.
And life like living death But, because her life didn’t work that way.
She didn’t stay. She didn’t stay.
She went -away.
A Sonnet for the Mental Ward HEARTFUL PLEA
Jack Carr Tracy Kremer

I left you with all of your demons and fears Once again, I have been deployed,
over into enemy lines.
like Jesus in the desert, alone. I prayed for you
My mind is overwhelmed,
with all my broken heart’s cuts and tears there are just too many signs.
that ached the deep pains only sorrow knows;
I am in enemy territory,
I remembered going through those doors too. trying to win this battle once again.
Fighting off all these urges,
I’m sorry, my son, that you take after me. keeping myself from sin.
Run for your life; don’t look back to see
When is enough too much?
the carnage and pillars of salt that stand When is it time to retreat?
testament to those who have looked back and I feel it is time to surrender.
wept for what they left behind. I must come to my own defeat.
I fought long and hard,
One trip to Hell is one trip too many, I have the scars to prove it.
and my mind has sent me there more than any Please do not think I am a coward,
amount of times I would have ever dreamed it’s just I do not fit.

about sending you. It never seemed I judge myself just like the others,
to me that you would find your own Hell. convincing myself I have no worth.
Somedays I just sit and cry,
I watched you walk through those wondering, hurting, questioning my birth.
doors and I signed the papers whose If this was the life meant to be,
signature locked them from behind and you fought then why did I just not die?
Why was I even born?
with your demons until you ought
I think I would be better off up in the sky.
to have quit but broke through
and came back home and now Is there such a place as Heaven?
Does God truly exist?
you act like you.
If so, why does he inflict such pain?
Why wouldn’t he accept me if I cut my wrist?
I want to reunite with the ones that loved me,
but upon my arrival the gates would be closed.
My name is Jack Carr. I am a Mental Health I would be exiled to hell below,
Peer Support Specialist and have a Master what good is that I would be right back at another low.
of Fine Arts in poetry. I have been published
as a poet and short story writer. I live in San So, each tours a battle,
Antonio, TX and wok for Peer Hopes of this long-fought war.
( I was a professor at San However, with the right help,
Antonio College, and the University of hopefully, I can achieve, rise above and soar.
Science and Arts of Oklahoma where I
taught writing and poetry courses.
My Name is Tracy Kremer. I was born in 1974 in a
small town in PA. I been battling mental illness since I
was a child but never realized the depth of it until I
became an adult. I love dabbling in art and poetry to
help me
in my trying times. I have two Associate Degrees, but I
feel my true calling will be to work with other peers
who battle mental illness.
HUG ME (Helping to Unite by Generating Mental Empowerment) Ink is a peer-led nonprofit
organization increasing mental health awareness & recovery sustainability through the arts. We
primarily focus on the performance arts such as drama and film as our avenue to promote mental
health awareness.

Founded in 2012, HUG ME Ink has come a long way since then. After over-coming challenges, HUG
ME Ink became an official 501c3 organization in 2013 and as of February 2015, we became a part of
the Peer Run Organization Project hosted by ViaHope.

We are the ONLY non-profit organization in the state of Texas that ONLY uses the performing arts
and film to advocate and educate the community on mental health awareness. We produce films
and stage productions as a way to reach out to our community on mental illness, recovery, stigma
and empowerment. We conduct workshops and host open mic nights to in-crease self-expression.
One of our most popular outreach is focused YOUTH! We use the arts to create prevention tools
when it comes to stop-ping bullying!

Classes Offered Groups

Dance Art and crafts
Dance via Zoom Peer to Peer Mental Health Support
Encore Performing Arts Academy Business Boutique
HMI Headliners Peer to Peer Woman's Trauma
Life Coaching

Events: Back to School Bash, HalloFest, Santa's Workshop and More!

For more information on HUG ME Ink: please visit

or email us at