Monday, March 30, 2009

How do you get that lonely?

For Musical Monday, I have added Karen Carpenter's version of "Solitaire" to my juke box, in memory of my brother-in-law, Corey.

Five years ago tomorrow, March 31, Corey committed suicide. There were many things that led up to and played a part in it. Depression. Alcoholism. Love lost. Delinquent taxes. Low self-esteem. But why, why take that final, solitary step as an end to all his problems?

He was a complicated person, often made even more complicated by his personal quirks and his alcoholism. But as long as I knew him - for 30 years - he was a person severly lacking in self esteem, and he was always looking for something better, for something missing, for something to help him fit in, for something something something.

On one occasion when he was visiting us here in Georgia, I happened upon him in the middle of the night as I was on my way to the bathroom. He was sitting in the living room, drinking, and drew me into conversation. When he was drinking, he would talk on and on and on, and this night was no different. But what it all boiled down to, on this night, was that he was jealous of what we had (married, home, etc.), that he couldn't figure out why , despite his best efforts, he couldn't find what he was looking for, that something that would make him happy or make him stop drinking or make him complete. He complained that if his mother hadn't had a nervous breakdown when he was a baby (which he actually thought that he had 'caused'), if he hadn't gotten burned on his arm and upper torso as a kid, if his parents hadn't divorced, if he hadn't had a fire in the hole when he was in the Navy on a sub, he wouldn't be the way he was now, so screwed up and so lost.

On the plus side, he was a very sweet person. He would do anything in the world for you if you asked, and sometimes when you didn't! He was active in Habitat for Humanity. He loved the great outdoors, and went camping or traveling every chance he got. He would build the most beautiful wood pieces, a talent inherited from his dad. He was a step-dad who really stepped up to the plate to help raise a boy who came with a lot of baggage himself. And most importantly, he was a proud dad to a son found late in life, a son he didn't know was his until the boy was a teenager, but who he embraced with all his heart and who brought him great joy. Why were these things not enough to silence his demons? And why did he think he couldn't find the help and comfort he needed from a family that loved him dearly, quirks and problems and all?

Well, as is the case with most suicides, our questions will never be answered. His pain was obviously more than he could bear on this earth, and his family and friends were left to deal with their pain over not knowing that he was so desperate that he would leave the house early one morning with a gun, sit on a log by a beautiful lake, and shoot himself in the head. We've come to accept it and to some extent understand it, but still ...

As a side note or p.s. to our story, the fact is that we are friends with a family that has had two suicides. Ben was the older brother in a lovely family of five siblings, and children of his own, and though he had his problems (a wife that was killed in an auto accident, drug/alcohol/money problems), to all outside appearances he seemed a happy person. He even came to Corey's funeral and said the usual "Who'd have thought?", "Don't know how someone could do that." So why did he shoot himself just a year or two after Corey - and also having a family to turn to for help? And then, to add to this sad family saga, this last year a nephew of Ben's, his sister's son Brian, committed suicide, and he, too, had alcohol/money problems.

It just boggles the mind and breaks the heart. Of course, most all suicides have a foundation of some type of mental illness - depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, post traumatic stress. It's the why of the final act that is so hard to put a finger on for each individual. What was the final straw that led to their decision?

A couple of years ago, Blaine Larsen co-penned and sang a song about a teen suicide, and the refrain that just kept grabbing my brain and heart was this: "How do you get that lonely? How do you hurt that bad? To make you make the call that havin' no life at all is better than the life that you had? How do you feel so empty, you want to let it all go? How do you get that lonely... and nobody knows?"

If you would like to watch a youtube version of "How do you get so lonely", click on the link below ... and shed a tear or two for the many families that have been left behind with sadness and forever unanswered questions, for those lost souls who chose to leave us, and for the thousands of people who have yet to encounter the despair that will lead them to this ultimate act of escape.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musical Monday-"Feeling Good"

(imagine, for no particular reason, that a bunny is hopping across the yard on springs, and the sound it makes is boing, boing, boing)

In honor of Spring (get it? spring ... boing boing? ok, so it's a very feeble attempt at humor), and because it's Musical Monday, I have chosen Michael Buble's "Feeling Good". It captures the mood of the day, and how could anyone not feel good on a day when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the air is warm, and the tulips are blooming! Despite the fact that I can barely move because I spring cleaned Melody's house this weekend while they were out of town, plus shampooed her carpet and mine, I can still enjoy the day. Hope you are enjoying it as well!

I know it's always tempting to skip actually listening to a song on someone's post if you're in a hurry, but do yourself a favor and take a couple of minutes to listen to this great mood-lifting song. You may actually experience a little boost in your seratonin levels, or lower the cortisol levels, or whatever it is that happens when you feel good!

I mean, you know?

In the 70s and 80s, we had certain language quirks (my term) that I'm sure drove older people crazy, among them "cool" and "you know". But I don't think anything we said rivals some of today's language quirks that drive me crazy. Namely the habit of saying "I mean" and "no/yes". And begin a sentence with them, before anything else has been said, and it drives me crazy and up a wall. Example: "Linda, how do you feel about today's language quirks?"; "Well, I mean, you know, no/yes, it drives me crazy". No, I don't know what you mean, because you haven't said anything yet! And what does no/yes mean - no it doesn't drive you crazy, or yes it does drive you crazy, or you're undecided?

The reason I mention this is, because, you know, I mean, no/yes, I just saw a person on tv say all those things in the very first sentence she spoke. Just my opinion, but it's not, you know, like, cool.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I tried putting music into this post in honor of the day, and to kick off what I hope will be my weekly Musical Monday (I know, not very original!). Unfortunately, I still can't get it to work, so I guess it'll be on the side bar. I could have picked a pretty celtic tune, but have chosen The Unicorn Song because it's so fun to sing. At least Conner and I had fun singing it! Give it a try - the louder the better! You'll be surprised at how many words you remember and how much you'll smile.

Three of my great-grandparents sailed from Cork County, Ireland to the Galveston/New Orleans area. With the surnames of Grimes, Moran, and Crawley, you just can't get much more Irish than that! The closest I come to exhibiting any Irish traits is my temper. .. and liking the Irish Tenors and Lord of the Dance.

Have a fun-filled St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

blog, blog, blog...

(imagine, for no particular reason, that I'm saying that in the voice of a chicken)

I have read about 100 blogs this week. I'm just about blogged out. There are so many incredibly talented people out there! Talented with crafts, humor, insight into the human condition. Cynics. Poets. Novelists. Prayer blogs. So many appealing recipes! All thinking they have something to say and hoping that someone will listen and enjoy, challenge and share.

Some go above and beyond to be funny or irreverant about something. Some are outlets for bitching about a former spouse or the economy or politics, or life in general. Many are married with four children and looking for a place to talk adult speak. Home schooling is very popular, and for some reason there are lots and lots of teachers (especially kindergarten). There are extreme environmentalists, and just homeowners wanting to live a greener life. And sports - oh my gosh, entry after entry about a favorite soccer or basketball team! Entertainers. Politicians. You name a topic, and there are hundreds of blogs about it. Who knew there were so many things to read and write about, and how many different takes there are on any given topic?

Here are a few things I noticed on my blog adventure this week:

(1) No matter how long a blog posting is, no matter how much time the blogger spent on research or soul searching, the comments received are only one word or two sentences long. "Funny!", "Enjoyed the read!". There might be 61 comments to a post, but most don't give the feedback that one would expect for the effort the poster put into sharing their thoughts/feelings/intellect/recipe/advice/book review/etc. I would find that to be incredibly frustrating and unsatisfying, but I do understand that with so many blogs to visit one doesn't have time to write a comment equivalent to a dissertation; plus, most people reading a post do have a life off the internet, and probably are just passing time until the washer is done or the kids get home from school or until they're sleepy/bored enough to be able to sleep. And just someone leaving a message that they did read your post is a plus!

(2) Many of the posts gave me a headache. Literally. Some of that was because I came in the middle of the game - they'd been posting for two years and I was just reading the most recent five, so I was often confused about what was going on. Some had so many "gadgets" or "widgets" or whatever they're called (I'm still working on figuring out the lingo) that I literally got a headache trying to track the usually three column wide page. Advertisements, special interest logos, contests, archives. So much to read! And let's not forget the list of followers and favorite blogs, with the most imaginative or puzzling titles, all of which you want to check out for yourself (which is how I ended up on my marathon blog journey).

(3) Many bloggers seemed to be trying to out-blog someone else (to see who gets the most hits? the most money? be the most outrageous? get the most ego strokes?). I found these to be almost irritating, like they were being written by a type A personality or a manic depressant in the manic stage. But that's just me - I get confused easily and don't handle too much outside stimulus well.

(4) Some bloggers really disturbed me. I honestly worried for their mental health. Writing is a good outlet for stress and, as a mental health counselor once told me, serves as a"regurgitation of the garbage that makes us mentally and physically sick". But some posts or blogs that I read were very much to the dark side of a person's nature.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I've been wondering why I decided to start a blog in the first place, and what do I expect from it, now nine posts into this, beyond hearing myself talk? I don't have any expertise to share on any particular subject, so mostly it will be only talk. Whether that talking will prove relevant to anyone besides myself would be open to debate, so I'm guessing that it will mostly be geared as an update to family and friends about my activities and the state of my mental health. Like an email to ten people at once, rather than ten separate emails. Since I'm probably two years behind on most of my emails, and the more behind I get the more likely it is that I will continue to procrastinate, this would make sense!

That's why, if you are receiving this as an email, I have set my post settings to send it to you as an email for a couple weeks as a mind jogger that I'm doing this. Then I will eliminate it and just let you decide for yourself if I'm worthy of your visit on occasion.

I'd love to hear from you ... what are your favorite kind of blogs, what is a particular favorite blog, what do you dislike about blogs, when do you usually find the time to read blogs (or do you?).

Hope you're having a good weekend! We're rainy and cold here, hence the time for a too long posting!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Camping Fashion Tips

This is one of my all time favorite kid photos - to date. If a picture paints a thousand words, is this not a testament to the imagination of a kid? I didn't remember if he was going for robot or transformer when I first reviewed my photos, but he has informed me that he was going CAMPING (a favorite theme for both boys these days).

Here are your fashion tips if recreating this look for halloween - or an actual camping trip: safety goggles, dog muzzle (on the head), front frame from a dismantled kid's shopping basket, flashlite, and the all important dinasaur pajama top.

But my absolute favorite aspect of this photo is the face. He's so proud of himself, and somehow this whole outfit makes sense to him. This is one of three standard faces he uses in photos (I'm sure I'll be showing all at some point). This particular one is what I call the staged smile. A combination of precious, and, well - goofy! And we love goofy around here!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day of Clarity

Most of my days are spent with me fumbling/stumbling my way thru them, hopefully managing to get a few of the important to do's done, but more often just - well, just being.

It's not like I lead an incredibly stressful life. On the contrary. I'm a stay-at-home housewife, mother to only two dogs now (compared to the five dogs/four cats/3 horses/1 rabbit/3 cockatiels, 1 parakeet, 1 crippled grackle of days of yore). One or both of the boys come over quite often, sometimes just to visit and others to let Melody have some time to get her stuff done.

I'm not a Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray, preparing the perfect meal or crafting and decorating. I hardly shop at all any more except for the basics. I don't do any volunteer work because-well, just because. (Though I am thinking about volunteering at the animal shelter, even though I think ours sucks.) I obsess about my neighbor's pets that are suffering from neglect, but that only takes up a small part of my day. I don't have any friends (I know, poor me), so I'm not out running around doing whatever friends do together. I rarely read because I fall asleep and can't concentrate anyway.

And yet, despite this lack of stress and outside activities, most of my days are, as I said, spent with me fumbling/stumbling my way thru them, more often than not in a fog of confusion and disorganization. It's not depression, in case that's what you're thinking. I'm almost always content and at peace and in touch with reality, and not given to sulking or feeling sorry for myself, and have done the depression thing and medication in the past anyway and it was determined that that wasn't the problem. Some of it is caused by chronic neck and back pain, but who doesn't have some problem or other. And, admittedly, I take some medications that cause those very symptoms. But still.

And then there comes a day like today. A DAY OF CLARITY! I woke up in the same old way, took the same medications, had the same old breakfast, nothing different. And yet, much to my surprise, I was revved up! I made a to-do list. I sat at my desk and did desk stuff that I had been putting off for months. I picked up the house, played with the dogs, ran errands, worked in the yard. And cooked a roast for dinner - with from scratch gravy!

So what happened? What was different on this day compared to the 30 before it? Well, the sun was shining, but that happened on some of the other 30 days as well. I didn't eat anything different. (Well, I did have a root beer frosty float from Wendy's, but I felt good before that.) I paid the bills, including a house and truck payment, and still had money left in the bank, so that's always a good thing, but I felt good before even that. I don't even know how to explain this clarity. It was like I had hyper-vision, hyper-hearing, and hyper-energy. And here it is 10:30pm, and my brain is still in high gear. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's wonderful! I just wish it would last, and last, and last.

I didn't have any clarity today about what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, but I did have a day that gave me the clarity of thought and emotion to know that I'm ok, that my life is ok, that I'm incredibly blessed in so many ways, and I had energy to do some of those things in one day that it usually takes me a whole week to do. I'll take that, and hope for more days of clarity in the not too distant future.

Yes, this was a good day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

To Dance With My Father Again

This is just a short, spur of the moment post, but I just want to say that I heard this song twice this week, for the first time in a long time, and both times I cried. Have you ever really listened to the words, and most especially to the emotion behind the lyrics? I did, and was so deeply touched. And that voice! Luther, your talent will be missed.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

word of the day

OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!!!! I had a root canal this morning, and the shots are wearing off, and OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!!!! The pain is fifty times worse than the tooth was in the first place! Even the hydrocodone isn't phasing it! Let me repeat the word for the day: OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!!!!! I know the pain is mostly from the areas where the shots were given, but OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!!!! How is it possible for something to hurt so bad and yet I'm still conscious?

Lest you didn't catch the word of the day, it's: OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To kill a mockingbird ...

not the book - the mockingbird in my front yard! I knew last spring that he was "around", but he hadn't claimed my yard as his. This winter he was around a little more, but was not a nuisance. But NOW, with spring around the corner, he has staked his claim!

Let me back track a little. Since we have bird chasing dogs in the back yard, and since we do most of our viewing out the front window, I designated the front yard as my "bird sanctuary" when we moved here three years ago. I planted butterful bushes, hollies, a dogwood tree, flowers of all sorts, supplied premium bird seed, suet feeders, and purchased a bird bath. Even the neighborhood kids have gotten in on the excitement of so many birds (a 13 year old girl across the street wants me to put a bench in the shade so she can sit and watch), and I've had neighbors stop to gaze in wonder at all the hummingbirds. So far I've been getting mostly sparrrows and dozens of finches, a beautiful pair of doves and the occasional blue bird. Also the occasional grackle or starling, but they hit for a day or two and head on their way. I put a finch feeder in the front window, and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching them all year round, especially as they change colors for the different seasons from mousy brown to bright yellow.

Then, all of a sudden, they all disappeared, even with fresh new food available! Nary a one! I finally saw the problem when a finch sat on the perch of the feeder, and the mockingbird swooped from out of nowhere to chase it away! The scene is replayed over and over throughout the day. And the irritating thing is that the mockingbird doesn't eat any of the food (except the suet), so I've had to move everything out back where we rarely see the birds!

I wouldn't literally kill the mockingbird, as I actually enjoy them for their singing and bug and dust dances. I also have a sentimental connection in that at a former house we had a mockingbird nest that we were keeping an eye on (I can't remember if it had eggs or nestlings), and the mama was killed (maybe by one of my cats, but I'm vague on that memory). The daddy mockingbird cried and cried (well, screeched and screeched would be more like it) for days, I mean to the point where we were in near tears ourselves as he called for his mate to return. Which she didn't do, so he eventually had to abandon the nest. But I respected that he had made such a valient attempt to sing his mate home. (Yes, I know. The more valient thing would have been for him to step up to the plate and actually see the job of parenthood thru to completion, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen in the mockingbird world.)

Be that as it may - I don't want this mockingbird claiming my yard as his own and chasing everyone else off! And before you know it, he will have a mate, and they will have babies, and he will be chasing us when we attempt to travel from car to house! (If you've ever been attacked by a mockingbird, you know what I'm talking about!). I've chased him myself, and pounded on the window, etc. And he just looks at me from his rooftop perch, knowing that he has the upper hand in this situation. (Yes, I know I used a lot of bold words in this paragraph. It just illustrates how irritated I am with the situation.)

And, as I said, here we are going into spring. If you have any ideas or methods you've tried to get rid of a nuisance bird, please share your story with me.