Mental Health Issues? Check Your Rights Here

“And then they came for me.”

In my kindergarten, all girls came to school dressed up like JonBenet Ramsey. Curled hair, starched stiff dresses, crinoline underskirts. And then there was me in corduroys, Ernie shirt, pigtails. I sat at a table for six with two other kids: a shy girl, and a boy also rocking an Ernie shirt. Every day teacher would pick the best behaved table. Fancy doll girls again! And they got the fancy lollipops from The Happy Hippo!

One day my table was the best behaved. I was so excited! Fancy lollipop time! Teacher came over to the table and handed each of us…a sticker? What was this injustice! I went straight to the principal.

The young, bearded principal sat across his desk intently listening to my argument. It should be lollipops for all, or for none. One table out of ten consistently get fancy Happy Hippo lollipops, while my table receives stickers. The man showed respect for my speech for lollipop equity. And when I was finished, he told the teacher, lollipops for all or none. Victory!

I went on to become a pain the ass to teachers who wanted to teach Creationism or enforce prayer in school. To skinheads in Oxbloods and red laces.

My parents called me Ralph Nader, but they spoke politics at the table, and we all discussed the news, what we were learning in school, science, social issues. And my big mouth and soap box speeches were held up for discussion and debate with them.

I was raised a vocal, secular Democrat the way other people are raised Catholic. Obviously, my ideas, philosophy, sense of morality, ethics, and my political views have evolved. But I still am what my parents raised me to be. An intelligent woman with a mind of her own, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. I’m proud of that.

And then November of 2016 came. The pussy grabber! Really? Electoral College steals the Presidency for the GOP again? I knew enough about Trump by the time I saw Home Alone 2 to cringe when he shows up. I learned “nouveau riche” because of him. And apparently he destroyed Atlantic City. He wasn’t popular in New Jersey, or in my house, ever. And he certainly was not welcome in my White House.

Yeah, mine, I’m part of the third person plural “we” as in The People, who supposedly run this joint. I was just shattered. Shocked. Terrified. Triggered. And positive this guy was an amoral, conman because that’s all he had ever been.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling that somehow we had fallen through a wormhole into The Twilight Zone. And the sheer rage I felt and feel, I know I share with millions of women. I’ve been in therapy for a long while for Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and PTSD. So, I turned to my therapist for help. And for the first time in my life, I heard “well, there’s nothing you can do to change it, so just ignore it.” Or some variation of that sentiment. Color, practice Mindfullness, but don’t you worry your widdle brain about it. I have mood disorders, there’s nothing wrong with my intellect. Talked to the shrink. Heard it again. This time it sounded like “Ma’am, I’m going to need you to calm down.”

I’ve switched therapists and psychiatrists since. I honestly feel that I need to talk about some of this stuff in therapy because I don’t want to be ranting about it all the time to random people. I don’t want to know who voted for who. I don’t want to know how often you give Confession or take Communion. I certainly don’t want to hear about the MAGA rally you went to over the weekend.

This isn’t Jersey, or Philly or even Lancaster. And as things got uglier, I became more afraid. I have family that still lives in the town named for my family and the university they endowed just across the bridge. But I guess I still smell of Jersey and Philly. And apparently being part Italian and raised in New Jersey is frickin hilarious to some.

So I bring these things up with my therapist. Heather Heyer’s murder. The Tiki-Torch mafia. Morons who hang a Confederate flag at the same height as the American, or who display it at all. But really, you do know that . . . nevermind. I’m hanging a Japanese Battle Flag. The MAGA bomber and MAGA shooters. Atatiana Jefferson’s murder in her own home! I mean forget all the illegal, corrupt gangsterism of this regime. There are kids sleeping on cage floors and drinking out of the toilet. Concentration camps.

Where is America? Where is the country that Hamilton glorified? That was blessed with prosperity and hope for a better, freer America under Obama? That glass ceiling not only didn’t break, it became opaque. With metal slats.

And then two weeks ago, I go in to see my therapist. It’s a Monday. My ride share bus is late. I’m waiting in pouring rain. But I get in on time, and take out my journal where I’d jotted down what I had wanted to speak about that session. And instead I spent an hour being brow-beaten by my therapist for not learning to be accepting of people who display that stupid flag of hate and treason. And suggesting that my belief in human rights and the basic freedoms and rights of every individual, Bill of Rights, women’s rights, etc is at odds with my taking of government money and services?!

I was thinking about the Social Contract, and Safety Net, and other basic FDR, LBJ type stuff, but I blurted out, “I’m a Democrat.” And this woman, my therapist, laughed at me. Laughed. Right in my face. And then added, “No kidding!”

My session was over then, and I mumbled something on my way out. Then I went and stood in the rain for an hour waiting for the shared ride service, and then in traffic for another 45 minutes. I did not know what to think or feel. I wanted to cry, and yet I was severely pissed. And I got screwed out of what I had hoped would be a session to help myself and Stan keep up on our own personal bits, our together bits, goals, short term and long. Stan and I had spent the summer working our butts off to restore sanity to our finances, and then begin to look at more improvements outside and inside the house.

And instead I got laughed at for being a Democrat, and encouraged to go hug a NAZI. To understand where they’re coming from. Because NAZIs spend so much time trying to understand others? She even drew a false equivalency between my horror at all of it, basically. And how Republicans were unhappy under Obama. Well, I don’t think Trump is from Kenya. And he certainly isn’t a secret anything because he’d have either Tweeted it, or had Rudy Giuliani go on TV and admit it. Heck, bring in Lester Holt and Trump will cop to it. That is not the same thing as Birtherism or accusing Hillary Clinton of running a child sex ring from a pizza shop.

And yet, there she was. My therapist. Telling me it is the same thing. That I shouldn’t worry because “I can’t control” the situation. Look, I have mental health issues, but my thinky bits are perfectly clear, and I have just as much right to reject this anathema to my soul that this Administration represents to all I care about as the whitest, WASP-iest, straightest, Christian male ever. I felt truly belittled. For my mood disorders. For my opinions and thoughts. For who I am in an essential, sine qua non, way. And the thing about being understanding of NAZIs. Yeah, no.

I have no idea what meeting with her next week will be like. And I’m still upset, depressed, angry. A friend suggested I look for a therapist at a Women’s Shelter. What will she do? Go tell me to track down my ex in the hopes that he’ll sock me one and steal my debit card? This must be the Twilight Zone.

Anyway, I’m a Democrat, by the way. My father was Italian and Greek, my Mom’s half Hungarian, and a bunch of German, English, Irish, Scots-Irish stuff. I grew up in New Jersey. Went to high school in Lancaster. College in Philly. Lived in Costa Rica for three years. I suffer from Anxiety, Depression, Panic Attacks, and PTSD, and last night I voted. See, I have control. I’m one of the people running this joint. I get to care, and I get a say. I get the fancy lollipop, because if folks like myself are denied their rights and dignity, then make no mistake. One day they’ll come for yours.

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Fifteen Pieces of Flair: How I learned to prefer not to care & feel OK

“I don’t need 32 pieces of flair to express myself!” declares Jennifer Aniston’s character in Office Space (1999, Mike Judge, dir.). As she proceeds to flip off her TGI-Fridays-ish manager who questions the lack of buttons, “flair,” her job requires her wear on her apron.

Her character is wearing the minimum amount of flair — fifteen — but not enough to express the enthusiasm her boss expects her to show for her shitty waitressing job. How much enthusiasm should you expect from this young woman with dreams and hopes, hopefully a personal life, and enough to trouble her without worrying about buying flair for work? One middle finger’s worth.

And that is what brings me to my Declaration of Independence from giving a flying flair for *gestures broadly*. There are obviously people and things I care about. But I needed a shorter list. Today I tell the tale of how I arrived at the momentous decision to go with minimum flair and prefer not to care.

I have not been able to publish any of the 12 plus blog posts I’ve written in recent months. I hadn’t been taking care of my physical or mental health. I was AND felt threatened not to write about recent experiences. So threatened that writing was giving me panic attacks. Now threats are off the 15 pieces list: Threaten away. I prefer not to care.

The end of August/beginning of September found me with pneumonia. I had it for two weeks before I finally asked for a ride to urgent care. I shut down entirely, sleeping 20 out of 24 hours for at least a week. Waking to pee and sip veggie broth. And, lying there in bed, listening to my wheezing/rattling breathing rearranged my perspective on what truly matters, and boy howdy.

After setting some legal bits right, such as who will make health choices for me if I were to become too ill do so. I simply laid out a few simple goals. The pieces of flair I need to foster my physical and mental health that in turn allow me to be more than a raw, quivering bundle of diagnoses and prescriptions.

1) Get up/dressed by a certain time. I’d been sleeping so much. I needed to get back to a normal schedule. And to prepare for the day earlier. Nix the 24/7 jammies look. Fixing my hair, a bit of eye makeup, and donning my Docs all make me feel good. I feel ready to face the day. Go outside. Accomplish something. Speak face to face with someone. I’ve always believed in the power of good hair, good shoes, and black eyeliner to make me feel more confident. And it works!

2) Eat during the day, smoothies count. I’m not a big day eater. But if I go without, I break down. Getting some vitamins, carbohydrates, and protein in me, while making something I enjoy builds on my health, and builds up my self image. And cooking more keeps Stan and I fed, happy and healthy. No surprise then I have more energy. My mind is clearer. I have been fixing more meals. Using our own and local vegetables to do some lovely fall dishes. I even canned sauce from tomatoes off our own vines.

3) Practice yoga for 15 minutes a day. I do practice everyday, but I needed to step it up. Besides, if I do more than standing poses, as usual, it forces me to clean the floors! And you know how it is once you make a clean spot. Might as well do the room. So Fall cleaning is getting done before the final button down for winter. It’s just great to be able to feel well enough to enjoy this time of year.

It’s a sine qua non deal. If I don’t take care of this basic human flair, how can address the more esoteric pieces up Maslow’s hierarchy? The relationships? The emotional fulfillment? My creative outlets?

I need that basic foundation first. And I’d neglected it. And I couldn’t build on the swamp I was sinking in.

I had instigated my spiral into illness, and the conditions that would force me to reckon with myself. I wasn’t enforcing boundaries. I was caring about too much. I cared what people thought. I cared what they thought of what I did. How I behaved. What I read. The music I listened to. My hair color and ‘do. How I was dressed. How I lead my life, and how I spent my time. How I expressed myself creatively. What folks were saying behind my back, or under their breath.

Any success I’ve had in life stems from not giving a damn about any of that nonsense. But suddenly I found myself kowtowing like an NBA coach to Chairmen Xi. Maybe because there are certain folks I desperately care about. And I felt that acquiescing to expectations, and biting my tongue to keep the peace, mattered more than my health. For most of summer, I felt as though I were walking around with a gaslight over my head, and everyone I encountered seemed to have access to the valve.

And then I made a friend. Let’s call them Jay Zed. Jay has unique but similar experiences to mine. And while we are each very much our own person, Jay possesses the qualities I value in friends. Wit, intelligence, creativity, a love of silly fun, a social conscience, and an appreciation for the art, drama, and romance of the quotidian, the everyday, overlooked and cast off, the old, the abused, the forgotten, the useless. And while Jay creates worlds of beauty from the cast-off remnants of rust-belt PA, they face many of the same battles as myself. Jay had some insights for me. But mainly, it was just that Jay was there, non judging, with their own everyday struggle, as I dealt with mine.

Between my amazing family, BB cousins & co, Jay and my therapist, who I saw less of than needed, I realized it was fine for me to be like, “Oh yes he did call me that word. I wasn’t ‘dreaming.'” “I remember every darn sec of last night, and I did not [insert moronic dude stuff here].” And, what on earth is wrong with my reading habits? The music I enjoy? Zero. I’m fine, you’re the one who sounds like Lindsey Graham on his fainting couch asking “why did it take you so long to tell anyone?” “Why didn’t you call the police?” “Why does your story seem muddled?” You’re the Steinbeck and Dickens fan who enjoys reminding me that “life’s tough,” and, of course, “you should be grateful for what you have.” It was the old “at least you have all your limbs” nonsense that I suppose relegated me to the “undeserving poor.”

Once the other ones realized that I was calling bullshit on the official narrative, they became so desperate as to question that which I can prove with documentation: I was a bad student!? Here are my school transcripts, and would you like to see my awards, grants, scholarships? Oh, and remember how I managed all that, and still graduated college even though my Father had just lost a nine year battle with cancer?

I remember how pissed off you looked when we went to Samosa after I walked for graduation. I know the sequence: exhaled huff through nose, tongue click, “Well, you know….” I had just pulled off a superhuman feat. I watched my Dad die, got into and out of opiates and heroin, and created a senior thesis film that won Best Senior Film Thesis and Best Senior Thesis. In less than a year. I was proud of me.

Do you remember how I invited you as my plus one to brunch with The Academy at the Beverly Hills Hotel? Or how you cried out when I thanked the Academy, and dedicated my award to Dad?

Once I was able to summon the courage to say, “No, that is not true in my memory or experience.” Once I did that, hey presto! Change! On one hand, he got real about what was bothering him. We began talking constantly, and got on the same chapter if not verse.

On the other hand, I lost any financial support and transportation I had. And that was what sent me into the tizz-nit that had me nearly kicked out of my mental health program for poor attendance, and ended in the pneumonia. Now that I have the basics of healthy living and vitamin pills and self-respect back in place, I need to speak my last piece of flair I’m willing to give on the subject.

You write, “You can’t tell me that…” Well, I can. I just did. OK? When I hear you criticize me for reading, READING. READING! And I call you out. Then hear that “I get too into things.” Yep, that is how I roll. I spend months down rabbit holes of history or literature or philosophy or language or a movie or herbalism or Jackson Pollock and fractals. I have been this way my entire life. What the hell is wrong with knowing that Julius Caesar needed to be Dictator for Life to avoid prosecution under the Roman Republic’s Constitution, which he then broke? What is wrong with knowing more about Dr. Goebbels and his tactics?

At any point in history, when is it a bad thing to know history? Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor/Philosopher, mid 2nd Century) speaks of looking back on Empires that had risen and fell, and attempting to learn their lessons, so as to peer into the future. Who the heck are you? And why should I care about your two lousy cents that you’ll write down next to my name on my running tab anyway? “Jessie, you now owe me 5,321 dollars, and two cents.”

So, I simply prefer not to care anymore. I still love you all. But, it’s enough that I can be well enough mentally and physically to meet life’s daily challenges. To suffer out this attack on all things American by a rogue and treasonous President and his criminal cabal. To attempt to have a loving and complete life, in a home I can call mine. To maybe someday go see Morrissey in concert, and on my own dime. To replace my worn out jeans before winter. To take precautions against getting a cold every time I have to take Paratransit to my mental health clinic. And to read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as many times as I please.

And finally, I prefer not to heed your dire warnings about airing my griefs on my own damn blog. Lauren Snyder, my former therapist from PCS York who broke my trust and set my work in therapy back, warned me about honest posting regarding my therapy, noting “I mean I understand it’s free speech and all that…but, you know, other people read it.” Yes, that is the point. It’s the difference between kneeling for that racist doggerel, and kneeling by your bed. One does something. And it’s not the latter.

The First Amendment “and all that.” I’ve tried to write this blog a million times, until I was having severe panic attacks just opening my computer. But I prefer Freedom of Speech. I have a right to it. The same as I have a right to other basic forms of human decency and treatment. I prefer to express my creativity as I please on my little space of the interwebz. Shining a light onto abuse, trauma, mental illness, and what it’s like to live with that every day, no matter the consequences.

In short, I gave my 15 pieces of flair at the office. I prefer not to care what you think. I want your love, but not on the previous terms. I cannot be battered any longer for choices I made at 19 through 23. I can’t apologize myself out of existence anymore. I came too close to death too many times, and this pneumonia is the end. I offered therapy too many times, only to hear that I wanted it on “my terms,” meaning convenient for me because I don’t have any way to get around besides the short bus! So stuff it.

You too, youngling, the only peeps I hear from you are through the conduit of the Accountant of Blame and Shame, and monies spent on me. And, Medical Assistance does not pay for private therapy through video apps. That you said that shows how little you know or care about my experience and life. It ain’t pretty. And hey look, I didn’t ask for that which was given, it was offered. And I never once abused my privileges, except by ticking you all off.

This is me writing. This is me preferring to care more about my own precarious state of affairs, than how many pieces of flair you want to see me wearing for your satisfaction . This is me, preferring not to care for “Mean Girl,” high school games.

You are the one holding an innocent hostage to hurt me. And, while it kills me, I prefer not to negotiate with terrorists. I prefer to live, love and express myself freely. I prefer my dreams for me to your unending punishments. I prefer silence to your calls. I prefer to speak to someone who doesn’t hang up the phone as I say “Love you Mom,” as you shove me off your phone’s “family plan.” I prefer to speak about the books I read for no good reason, because, sister, I’m a poet. Oh, and if you want me to take part in dead carcass on the table days, I prefer to go see Star Wars and eat Chinese.

So that’s my fifteen pieces of flair:

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

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You Need to Calm Down: Dear all of US,

It looks awesome. You just need to calm down.

I’ve become a huge T. Swift fan. That’s a lie, obviously. She isn’t from England and/or Ireland. But the fact is that I was on my way to therapy, concerned that the driver was a bit late. When this song came on. It topped the hour of the driver’s station. Suddenly, and to my continued surprise, I found myself listening to the song on the radio. I had an idea that it was Taylor Swift only from reading about her lyrics, and sure ’nuff.

If you live under a rock like me, then enjoy the song and video here.

OK. So obviously this is about a certain Individual, we’ll call him Individual #1. The video added a colorful depiction of all sorts of folks doing their thing and just being happy. And the end has a pro-LGBTQ rights message. It was fun. I hadn’t seen the video before. But I’d seen headlines, the pictures of the dress and knew that there was some controversy over the entire thing.

So. Then my brain shattered as I had a terrific brainstorm in the back of the Uber. Everybody. You need to calm down. I need to calm down. So do you. And your mother. And your cousin Frank. (No offense, Frank. You’re calm.) Even the song and the dress became a big deal between pro and anti-gay and LGBTQ rights groups, and some simply criticized her for cashing in on Pride Month.

Let me tell you something. You need to calm down. It’s a damn pop song. And artists want to make money, LGBTQ or not. I couldn’t rock that dress, but she can. It’s cool. So you need to calm down. But so do I. I just gave several minutes of my life to typing the above sentences.

Enter the need to make more of an effort at being calm and doing your thing, despite the haters. Yes, The Hater in Chief, but also all of them. And quit hating on others and yourself. Just, calm down.

It may seem silly, but I found it cathartic to hear this woman slice into Individual #1 without apologies. And if that upsets you, then you need to calm down.

Wistfully pining for the death of Prime Minister Thatcher in Margaret on the Guillotine, by Morrissey happened. Biggie wrote a song in which he brags about robbing “pregnant bitches.” Um, John Lennon posed naked with his wife in bed. You realize that’s how they get attention right? Courting controversy. Famous people like attention.

Anyhow, this tune is dead basic pop. But its spirit and message is the response to the world and life that I have been searching for. I did anger, and depression, and I’m just over who said what on social media today. Blah, blah, blah. Life has become The Walking Dead, and someone needs to stab it in the brain. It just became too awful, too convoluted, too unbelievable, and just too painful to sit through any longer. It needs to stop.

Or I need to change the channel. I need to calm down. I’m just going to stay chill and focused on me, while you do your thing, and we’ll see how this turns out. It’s like feeding Tribbles. The more you feed a relationship tribble, the worse you’ll look and feel when all that tribble drama comes tumbling down on your head. When I am thinking about the Picard trailer, the more likely I’ll compare relationships to tribbles. See?

We all know the rainbow, glitter, star-studded video — or the rainbow dress — reflects nothing in reality. No one’s experience of life is that simple. If I could just calm down, I wouldn’t still require therapy or medication to help me work through and/on myself. But there is a nifty, gestalt, zen, Bob Newhart about “You need to calm down.”

We’re all like the guy in the joke who beats his head against a wall because it feels so good when he stops. We need to calm down. And, it is a wise-assed swipe at people who don’t help. Because, on top of the horrifying absurdity of life, do we need unhelpful people? They need to calm down or be out of my life.

The magnificent American, Carl Sandburg declared in his epic poem The People, Yes. “Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.” I don’t know if that day will ever arrive, but these days, everyone is enraged and looking for a Casus Belli. And when you look for trouble, or violence, or war you usually find it.

Why go looking in the first place? Do you wear orange to a bar named Tir Na Nog on St. Patrick’s Day? And yet we have actual citizens calling for the deaths of — or actually have killed — other citizens. Over what? You need to calm down. Now. Nobody should die or be hurt or commit suicide because you can’t control yourself. Because you need that much attention. I don’t have it for you anymore.

There are those who will misread everything I wrote above as an attack. Like tile yields in a strategy game, they see the world through lenses of interest. I can’t help that. But I can stop seeing the world through their eyes. Let me show you the world through my eyes! I could worry about what my abusive ex is up to. I could communicate with him. But I’m not gonna. I don’t care. So, you know what? I got 99 problems, but that guy ain’t one. I need to calm down, and he wouldn’t help.

So, yeah, that’s the tale of my Taylor Swift related revelation in the back of an Uber. ” You need to calm down.” We all need to calm down. Down the line. Et al. Every single one of US. Because if we are all miserable in our private or personal lives, we’ll continue to cross new Rubicons on the social front. And the public strife works to make us terrible/miserable human beings. We cannot sustain relationships in this way, nor can we reestablish our nearly broken public trust in government and laws and morals. I promise to calm down if you do. You know, give peace a chance. 😉

✌💚🖖

-J.Lakis

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

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For Hate’s Sake I Spit at Thee: Moby Dick

The name Moby Dick is a byword itself. So why am I offering up my experience after reading it five times in a row since winter? It has been rough. A rough time. And I’ve been breaking my mind to come up with a response. But I have none. Except that I feel as though if I don’t find a way to express this growing surge in my chest, well there will be some trouble, is all.

This will be the fourth blog post I’ve written or rewritten since I last posted. I haven’t been able to publish one.

So, I am just going to write through this writer’s block by writing about my recent experiences with Moby Dick.  It reminds me of when I read Homer and think: ooooo! This thing everyone has thought was so awesome that it has lasted 3,000 years is really great! Bravo me? I just caught up to basically literate in 800 B effn C and E. There really need be no award for that. You’re simply punished if you don’t. I dunno. Maybe it’s some kink of Greek thing.

First off, there’s Ishmael. Now this guy is easy to like. For one thing, he is a depressed school teacher, who refers to whaling as “his shot and ball.” So basically, “I don’t want to shoot myself, so I’ll go do this crazy thing that’s sure to kill me!” But then his gentlemanly acceptance of Queequeg as his sleeping companion, stating that it’s better to sleep “with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” makes him seem amiable, worldly and thoughtful. And so he proves.

Then, Ahab. He is great and terrible. This wounded genius and twisted greatness. He uses his skill at leading men to convince a cross-section of the races and religions of the world to madly rush towards death for him. And gentle Starbuck. With neither just enough courage to kill Ahab nor just enough capacity to convince him to stop through love. And, yes, I love Stubb. Who doesn’t love the guy who sees the world coming to an end, and his first thought is to strip buck naked? Ishmael says Stubb would face death as just another order from above his rank to be followed. So, Stubb just follows orders.

Ah. And the way Ishmael explains everything! It’s beautiful. Trying to show off. But I love his meditations from the look outs. I love to follow his mind out ranging over the azure below to where it meets the azure above. It reminds me of being lulled to sleep by the song Breathe before every clock in the world wakes you up for Time. On Dark Side? You get relaxed into a lack of care, before suddenly reality rushes back on you.

Oh, and duh, Jess. But there really are two Ishmaels. One is the younger man in the story, and the narrator says this happened “nevermind how many” years ago. So, finally I realized, Oh! so this is why I can hear Ahab speaking to Starbuck in his quarters.

My other big bangs from my recent reading of Moby Dick are more pop culture. Well, for one, Gregory Peck is Ahab. He just is. I know that’s not a faithful rendition, but it’s John Ford? Houston? I don’t know. Ahab is Ahab is Gregory Peck. In the big stove pipe hat.

And my second pop big bang is Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I realized that there is a coffin at the end of each. In Moby Dick, it’s QueeQueg’s coffin refitted as the life buoy that saves Ishmael. And in Khan it’s a photon torpedo outfitted as a coffin for Spock shot at the Genesis Planet where life renewed. Apart from Khan quoting Moby Dick the entire film, and having a copy in his bunker.

Oh yeah, and Jaws! Jaws is Moby Dick if Starbuck had lived or won. And the three day chase, the three whale boats, the three barrels. And both are a sequel for one character, so this time it’s personal. I love that movie. It has traumatized me for life though.

Not only am I glad that Ishmael gives us as much whaling information as we need to follow the action, but his  anatomical descriptions, particularly o fthe head. Because the head of this animal is like a monolith. Like THE Monolith from 2001. Unseeing, unfeeling, unstoppable, unknowable, with a jaw full of teeth attached to this monolithic front. It’s terrifying. And it’s white. The whiteness of the whale made a chapter name, why do you think the whale’s head is white?

Ha. I guess sometimes it’s just relaxing and easy to talk about a book because I could go on and on. What have you all been reading?

Comment and Like below! Trim topsails! Up anchor! Ten degrees to leeward laddies! Did I mention this book is both extensively brutal, with homosexual themes?

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate

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It Doesn’t Matter What You Do: The Importance of Farting Around

My man Kilgore.

Depression paralyzes. We all know the story of the Prince of Denmark whose grief did passeth shew, but not enough for him to really do anything about it. Everyone dies in the end. It’s a mess. I don’t want to be like that guy or his dippy girlfriend. Except that I am. I’m wearing a long black cardigan over a Darth Vader shirt and listening to The Smiths. I am drinking tea I made from herbs I grow. But at least I’m doing something.

Putzing around, farting around, puttering, tinkering; I’ve done them all. I have big projects, one involving terracing out a garden on a hill. There is my guitar of course. I’ve been serenading the neighbors as much as weather permits. Breaking in my new Doc Martens. I’ve become quite a hand at making granola bars and veggie burgers on an industrial scale. Watching the tomato and other starts, start. Making and using my own potting soil, thank you.

I suffer from some hypo Depressions. So, I’ve adopted a “just do stuff” code. I mean, some of what I’ve been up to has been intense. I was on steroids for two weeks after I cleared out this one overgrown area behind the house. I had poison oak on my arms. It wasn’t that bad. The steroids helped. But yeah, I don’t care what I do, so long as I do something. Sure, I cleared that area, but I also worked out a lot of aggression!

I can’t sustain whatever overcomes me (sudafed) when I Hulk out on a hill or garden or whatever project. But I can sustain a good putz. Sometimes I do a small thing. Like clean and oil my fisker’s and lose them immediately. Sometimes I make a mental Scarlett O’Hara note: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” But you know what? Aside from just getting me up an about and not languishing in the depths of despair, I do feel like I get things done. It may not always be a super lot, but doing stuff at any pace is good for me. I get to think “Hey! Look! I did this stuff!” And people are like “Nice stuff doing, Jess!” And I’m like “thanks.”

Putzing around has more benefits now than ever. I mean, did you notice the Constitutional Crisis and other troubling developments in the news? I did. So I just keep doing stuff. Breathing and doing stuff.

The more meaningless the better, really. Butterfly gardens. Blogging. Playing guitar. And now I finally have an idea for a bigger writing project I have in mind. We can talk about that later. But I have been out of writing form for about two years. It’s painful now. So I have to write. In this sense, the putzing lead to further putzing with the world, and now I have a new writing project.

Something else to do. Something to wrest my mind back from the anxiety and depression. And from yeah, That Thing. The Thing that won’t just frakkin go the frak away.

Writing is just a way to fart around, and give my brain a good long, meaningless problem to work out. It’s exactly what I need. Hopefully by the time I’m finished, the weird scary shit will have gone away. Especially the big scary man. ugh.

Nothing seems to matter anymore. And there’s not much we can do but look through our fingers for a time. So why not fart around!? I’m going for more brain activity, and some small rewards to help check my Depression and Anxiety. But I firmly believe we should all fart around. I mean, what else is there to do? Wait for Barr to be stabbed behind the curtain? Just go fart around. That’s an order.

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate.

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My Rock God Delusion Therapy

May kill fascists?

Oh you all are missing out! I’m telling you. If you were my neighbors you could enjoy the joyous noise of my totally sweet guitar stylings every evening. And, if you were super lucky, the dulcid tones of my voice echoing up through the valley. It’s so sad. I’m so sorry.

I haven’t had any official complaints yet, but it’s THERAPY. OK? So go ride your ATV around and let the dogs chase you, noisy. You’re missing out. Anyhow. It’s true. I live in a sort of natural amphitheater back here in a hill at the bottom of a big open valley. And I have a kitchen porch that is one floor up. And that is my stage. And on it I am a rock god, and all my neighbors, my adoring fans.

I can’t help it. I’ve experienced difficulties lately. This is how I’m adapting to my new reality since I moved here and, you know, when we fell into the Twilight Zone in November twenty billion years ago in 2016? There were two main offshoots of that. First was that I had no idea what to do. I felt overwhelmed and PISSED. I’m in a new house. Totally inundated. My dog had just died. I did not know what to take care of first. The second became an inability to be articulate. To speak, yes, but mainly to write! And that’s me. My thing. La cosa mia. Writing.

So much flew out of my control, and my world was turned around. I felt powerless. That spiraled into rage, constant anxiety, and abject depression. So, I tried a lot of things. Coloring, gardening, playing Star Wars Battlefront II, vegetarian and vegan cooking, making gardens with a pick axe, but I was also led back to the arts. I painted again. And then I picked up my Dad’s old guitar. And that was it.

I practice guitar whenever I have a moment. I always want to play my guitar. I always want to bring it with me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because music can express what other art forms cannot. A sort of soul-longing. And in general I play The Pogues, Woody Guthrie, other traditional music, and The Smiths. I have the same music as a Spotify playlist that I call Pissed Poor.

This music reflects struggle with a world that doesn’t really like the fact that you exist. Okies, Irishmen, Morrissey. And hard times and a bad place: The Dustbowl, the history of the Irish, Thatcherite England in a post-industrial town. Playing this music helps me engage with feelings that are similar to my own. It’s a way to sympathize and not be alone. Be connected by the feeling in the music.

Music became a new tool to experience and process more complicated emotions and difficulties than I could in words or pictures. Partly this is because it is instant. It appears, exists, then disappears. Like magic. But I credit the emotionally honest state that I achieve when playing with my complete lack of musical knowledge. It is by far my worst “art.” Medium. Whatever. What sort of medium is music anyway? It’s mathematical vibrations in the air.

I don’t get music. But I think that’s why it works for me. I know how to draw. I know how to write. I understand the concepts and practices of those art forms or media. So I can contrive to achieve a feel, but music for me is just raw, how it comes out. Like Shane MacGowan spitting out a song while wrestling with gravity.

It’s not important what I do anymore, so much as that I am doing something besides freak out with rage, depression, or anxiety. And music helps me achieve that. I have a system for my daily routine, but it’s wide about edges. I just need extra time. That’s all. I usually use the rule of three. Whatever you think it’s going to be in time, or money, or whatever, multiply that by three.

Music comes in because I want to squeeze every second of time for practicing. It gives me joy. So I look forward to when I can play. Of course, sometimes I cheat. But I can’t just drop a song I just picked up at prime time like that. Jeez. I have to have time to practice the song before I debut it. But I do that when no one can hear.

So this late Spring season we’ve added some Guthrie and Pogues, but my current musical therapy session is focused on learning “I Know it’s Over” by The Smiths. So my neighbors are no doubt happy about that. Lucky them. I don’t normally play six and a half minute songs. So my fingers get tired. But don’t you worry. I’m getting close to it. You’ll all hear the full performance, sobbing and all, someday, live, on my porch, in my rock god delusion therapy session. Lucky.

Check it out: I’m writing again, about music. Nice trick, huh?

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate.

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below. I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap the star LIKE button below, & LIKE and Share on Facebook. Follow and share on Twitter.

 


Paths without Glory: PTSD and The Neverending Now

Now you cannot escape.

You are trapped Now. Now you have no past. Nothing exists before Now. All your life is the inescapable hell of Now. You cannot remember when Now began. Now is with you when you wake. Now continues when you sleep. Now you cannot remember ice cream. Now you cannot remember the ocean. There is no vacation from Now. Now you cannot remember a smile. Now you cannot remember kindness. Now you cannot remember peace. Now you cannot remember love. Now you have no friend. Now is the inescapable foe. Now you cannot recognize the dead from the living. Now you forget which you are. Now you howl to no one. Now there is no one to hear. Now you are forgotten. Now you are utterly alone. Now is deaf. Now is dumb. Now is The Nothing stretching before you. That holds you fixed in its gaping stare. Now is The Nothing behind that pins you pitilessly Here in Now. Now is The Nothing of repeated repetition. Now is The Nothing that seeps into your soul, your being, the marrow of your bones. Now has no meaning. Now you are Nothing. Now has no past. Now has no future. Now never ends.

This is my experience of PTSD. And while the untouched have always struggled or refused to understand what has been called “The Soldiers’ Disease,” “Shellshock,” “Nam Flashbacks,” “Battered Wife Syndrome,” and just as often plain cowardice or an inability to “get over it,” I know this thing exists. I have seen it in films like “The Hurt Locker.” I have read stories of the Roman soldiers attempting to literally bury their heads to escape the slaughter at Cannae. I’ve read of the morphine addiction rampant among veterans of the Civil War. The alcoholic nihilism of Post-WWII Film Noir is rife with it. I have seen the homeless veterans of the countless savageries of war from Vietnam to Afghanistan living on the careless streets of the country they gave their youth for. Heroin, opiates, and alcohol have claimed more soldiers’ lives than any “enemy.” I have watched my Father carry a fly-swatter with him at all times. And when I asked him why bother over a fly, I heard his endless refrain. “Have you ever seen what flies can do to a dead man’s body?” I have heard my Mother tell of how her uncle, who cleared the tunnels at Iwo Jima, and her brother, who was wounded in Vietnam, break into tears at the mention of tunnels and pits and caves. The humor of the TV show M*A*S*H is the humor of the trenches. In Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five,” as the Germans and prisoners emerge from hiding into the rubble of Dresden, a bird challenges the meaning of human suffering with the call “Poo-tee-weet?” And Ahab chased the blind, dumb creature that took his leg and humanity around this circling world, a danger and a warning to all who witnessed his pain and rage. And, of course, there is Tolkien’s Frodo, closest to my heart. The author’s elaborate creation begun in the trenches, and so painful he constructed new languages just to speak of it.

I have never been to war. But I watched my Father wither from a robust, vibrant, keen and caring man into a skeletal mockery from cancer. I endured his final opiate-hazed days when he returned in his mind to Korea, and issued orders to my Mother, my sister, and myself. I remember how we pretended to obey his commands, lifting imaginary boxes of medical supplies that were desperately needed on some godless hill in the Frozen Chosin. That was how he earned his Bronze Star as a logistics Sergeant. Saving men no one remembers from slaughter in a war no one mentions on hill known by a forgotten number.

And I watched my Father die. And I had moments when I looked in the mirror and did not recognize my own image. I stole his drugs to kill my own pain. And when those were gone, ten dollars would buy a bag of mainlined oblivion for a day.

And then there was Him. Dark haired and dark eyed, tragically lost to the romance of the poppy, yet full of artistic promise. I thought I could save Him. But when he exchanged the needle for the bottle, well I wished he were back on dope. He never threw me down the concrete stairs in front of our apartment in the snow, half clothed, front left tooth broken by the gum line. Me with never a cavity. Those beautiful teeth. He never did that when he was on dope. He never pulled me from my bed by ankles and the long hair I will never wear again. Repeatedly pulling me from bed, slamming my face into doorways and tile bathroom floors. Right front tooth shattering with the tile beneath my face as he threw my head again and again and again against the cold surface. He never did that on heroin. I learned not to lock myself in the bathroom.

He’d have a beer or six and a drop of alcohol. And I would see his eyes lose focus. And rage rage RAGE at the world that he felt rejected his genius, and all fell on me. Sometimes I would hide outside. And he would scream and look for me. Sometimes he’d find me. Sometimes I’d sneak back into the apartment when it got quiet. Sometimes he’d wake up and again I’d be torn from bed or the closet or kitchen cabinet under the sink, which was spacious for a girl whose driver’s license says 5′ 1”. Again the beating, the sleeplessness, the bruises. Begging my landlord not to call the cops again. Lying to the police in Spanish somewhere in Central America that by all outward signs was a paradise. The safest, most stable and enduring democracy in Latin America. Full of Pura Vida and 90 year olds who loved to dance. Dinosaurs lived there. And monkeys! Real monkeys in the wild, swinging from tree to tree like one imagines monkeys would do. That I lived in Paradise at this time is probably the reason I am still alive.

But Paradise had a lot of cheap, pure cocaine, and cheaper alcohol. I don’t mind thinking of heroin, or seeing it on TV or in movies or in the news. It has no hold on me. But cocaine. No. When you carefully open tampons and roll your rent money up and hide it in the applicator tubes, then carefully hide the broken seal on the wrapping, and he bangs and berates you until you give it up. When your debit card and credit card are stolen enough that no bank wants your money. When you keep calling out of work. When the makeup can’t hide the bruises from your students, colleagues, or bosses. When you are just tired, and curl in bed with your dog and hordes of benedryl that you keep hidden but ultimately he finds and flushes anyway. When you’ve tried cutting with the razor but cannot. When you stop going to work. When you are unable to move. When you sit with your father-in-law and his “girlfriend” at a Christmas/birthday dinner you have prepared to please the in-laws, as it were, and he, Him, keeps leaving for an hour, two, more. And you sit ashamed before a white-haired, white-toothed, twinkling, blue-eyed Irishman wanted by the FBI and his expensive, young female companion whose tits he paid for. I say, when you sit at that well-prepared table in that company and feel shame burn and twist inside of you: you will feel the same about that “party” drug.

And when you’ve mastered playing ‘possum on the floor while a man with 12 inches and a hundred pounds on you spits venom in your face: worthless, useless, talentless, unfunny, stupid, fat, ugly, friendless, unloved, unloveable, a shame to your father’s memory, and “just like your mother.” It doesn’t matter how untrue those words are, or how tortured your mother has been, when all you are left with is the churning emptiness between your heart and gut. When you hold and rock yourself like a child, and howl like a street dog with a broken leg to no one. To silence. To nothing. When your only recourse is to beg money from your mother, your little sister, again, this time for a plane ticket home. To January in the Northeast. Freezing outside of PHL airport waiting for your mother who brought you a winter a coat. When you have to leave your dog. Your dog! With a man who’s sold your rings and necklaces and has bashed out your teeth. When you’ve been cheated on more times than you care to know. And yet you’ve stayed loyal in word and deed. When you leave him, and run from not your home to not your home. When you are drugged and sodomized by a “gay” couple renting out a room. And even still he chases you. Corners you outside of a drug store and tries to steal your prescription anti-anxiety medication. Hounds you when finally find someone new and good, and have a new apartment, and a job. When he waits where he knows you walk that same dog which you finally rescued, and greets you by saying “I see you’ve chubbed up.” When he uses your social security number to buy six iPhones, and you spend a year trying to fix your credit. I say, when that happens to you, you have experienced war, and it becomes your Now. And it will remain your Now forever. It may ease. It may improve. You may learn to adapt. But you are marked. Touched. Changed forever. As much as Ahab was broken and torn by Moby Dick. As much as Frodo lost his finger, himself, and received his wound that never healed. Your Now becomes and remains that moment you broke. The moment that meaningless, blind, begging, scraping, pitiful, lonely, raging suffering and violence that took the last of what you were. That becomes your Now, and as with Frodo or Ahab, your End.

I’ve been in some sort of therapy or counseling, and on psychiatric medications since I was about nineteen. I had some other troubles in my earlier life, and I don’t speak of them because the man involved is physically/mentally unable to understand what he did. And I’ve been mugged so many times I’ve lost count. But I recently appeared before an adjudicating law judge who began to ask me if there weren’t “some way, some therapy…because it’s been so long…” I wanted to scream at him that there are still Vietnam Vets, men in their sixties and seventies, living in VA shelters because their 18th year is still their Now. That to speak of “getting over it” to me is as monstrous as the French who shot men who would not “go over the top,” or Patton striking a soldier who had followed him from Africa through Italy, and then just broke down.

I don’t want what I have. But every time I wake up in a pool of cold sweat, from another dream in which He has taken all my money, spent it on drugs and booze, is with some other girl. And I am alone. Without a home, wandering the streets in the rain, unloved, unliked, unwanted, forgotten, useless, worthless, trying to navigate my way through mazes of bureaucrats and Nurse Ratcheds just to receive something, anything to help me continue to survive. I know my Now has not changed much. I will carry that weight and wound forever, as Frodo did. I may never find peace in the Shire again. And I will bear my eternal, mad, maniacal rage and pain as Ahab. A constant threat to the peace of those around me. A worry. A burden. Broken. A wary animal ruled by instinct. For if my chest were a cannon, surely such unholy madness as mine would burst from it and take all those who tried my patience with me. Save this blog where I told my tale in public first.

I have not written much lately here. I still struggle with accepting my new Now in my bed in my home. I still worry that I will lose everything. I worry about eviction. About losing utilities. About the time He lost the rent money betting on the Eagles. Who bets on the Eagles?! I horde food in bulk. I know what I can substitute for butter or eggs. And I lose sleep over when I only have one box of buillion or forget to plant or buy or dry parsley. I plant food. I pickle and can food. I carry at least one knife on me at all times. I have rebar wrapped in duct tape, and hatchets and machetes and baseball bats stashed around my house should there be an intruder. And I all of these items have names like The DiNero, or Killary. I can’t be in places with one exit. Ikea is my worst nightmare. I get nervous thinking of going to the supermarket, and rarely use ear phones. I have violent fantasies of taking down hostile men with some sort of Kung-Fu I obviously don’t know. But I know this house and the land it is on. And I know just how many doors I can lock behind me and still have an escape route like a roof. I check locks. I keep my house cold to keep the bills down. I spend hours throwing a pick ax to clear room for food gardens. Tear muscles raking. I diverted a stream with a shovel. I carry my weedwhacker like I’m Ripley or Vasquez or T2 Sarah Conner carried their weapons. I pack my backpack with first aid and mylar blankets and granola and fishing tackle, maps, and at least a liter of water. I purposefully overpack it and hike with it to build my endurance should I need to GET OUT. I instinctively note exits, and seat myself in public so as to have a clear view of the entrance, but behind the way the door swings should I need cover. Should I need to run. I can’t leave my house for long because my lack of a car and money leaves me feeling trapped and vulnerable. I have changed my appearance so as to not look inviting to men, and ensure I look and speak as white as I can with my mainly Mediterranean/Hungarian heritage. I live in the Appalachian foothills, and even if you knew my address, you couldn’t find me even with GPS.

But most of all, I hate my teeth. The bonding is old and beginning to crack on the first broken front tooth. And the bonding on the second tooth stains and needs replacing. And every time I see that stain, I want to put my fist through the mirror and his face. But life has punished him. And I have finally proved the medical necessity of crowns to my insurance, which is Medicaid, of course.

This is my Now. This is how I have adapted. But my family and long-time friend and love SP, and my therapist, have encouraged me to write again. My Mother gave me the money to renew this site and my domain. I was unsure what to write. Until this morning when I woke up more grateful to wake than any day I can recall. I woke up screaming and crying in a pool of sweat as I often do . He had spent all the money on drugs and was hanging out with some chick who was shooting up crack(?). I was living in my usual, lovely but changing cottage, by the landscape that is either near the ocean, or an old mill that has a good fishing spot, which he had destroyed. And the cottage was full of junkies and low lifes he’d brought around. And as I was crying and begging and pleading with him to leave me with something, he laughed at me. Laughed at how pitiful and pathetic I was. So I knew what to blog about today. Because I knew what he was laughing at. Now he had me trapped. This is my Now. This is my lonely path without glory. This is the story of my Neverending Now with PTSD.

-JL

While you’re here: Please check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate.

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below. I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap the star LIKE button below, & LIKE and Share on Facebook. Follow and share on Twitter.


A Rainy Night in Soho: Loneliness & Song

I never made a point to go back and speak about the trauma I suffered at the beginning of this summer. It was a deep betrayal of a bond that kept me propped up emotionally. And I collapsed with it.

As I pointed out in an earlier post (In Which I Sing), I did pick up my Dad’s old guitar and have been practicing.

I suppose I enjoy it because my brain is full of words. Words strung together around an idea. Words to songs. Words to stories. I’ve never been short for words, until I was.

I suppose the answer lay the nature of the betrayal I experienced. That relationship was built on words. My words, mainly. And my words were suddenly turned against me, and worse, didn’t matter. I didn’t matter.

I’ve always been a talker. I have opinions on everything that I’ll back up with reams of words. I don’t even have to understand what I’m saying, or why, so long as the words sound good. That they string along well. They’re unusual or surprising, alliterative and witty.

But I can’t say I’ve ever been the popular type. I am exactly what I seem, the former editor of my high school literary magazine.

But I’ve always had friends. Until I was married, really. By the time I came to leave that relationship, I can’t say I had a friend. No one knew me, and I knew no one. My family and old friends had become strangers to me, and I to them.

One of my joys in piecing my life back together was rediscovering friends. Old friends and new. Renewing bonds and learning to understand what had changed during the gap in my life. Some friends took longer to regain, some I never have. I accept that.

Individual therapy has saved me more than once. In therapy, beyond the formal learning, I am able to practice being me. I was no longer sure who “me” was. I had a memory of me. Me healthy. Me full of confidence. Me the pain in the ass who wants to explain evolution to you. But who is “me” now? I knew I was deeply changed. In some ways irrevocably. But therapy gave me a safe space to explore this new “me.”

I suppose such a bond as that with a therapist becomes like a friendship. Mainly one-sided, but an open, honest, trust-based relationship. I like to wear my nice clothes and put on makeup to see my therapists. Present myself well. I want to impress, to prove I’m learning.

So, it was what I view as a betrayal of that bond by a woman I’d seen for two years as my therapist that sent me quiet.

I live with someone I love very much, who is good and kind to me, and who needs me too. I have family close by. But I don’t drive, and there is no public transportation here. I can’t say that I’d see many more people if my situation were different. But I would get out more. And a betrayal on such a personal level makes me less likely to seek people out.

The most helpful friends I’ve had lately are those like myself. Old and new. Involuntary hermits. Kindreds in mind and spirit.

As I said, I haven’t been writing as much. But music seems to help me channel some of that shattered pain, and the frail shards of happiness I’ve recollected.

Instead of speaking, I’ve become a prodigious doer of stuff. Good stuff. Extreme stuff. Gardening, fixing this old house, etc. I’m actually tough! But it all would be empty without my music. And if I feel nervous or unhappy, there is my music. I need my music. But what I listen to most is the words.

I’ve found a lot of solace in the music of resourcefulness. The kind that people make when times are hard, on what instruments they have. When work, if you can get it, doesn’t necessarily pay, and music is a chance at release. The music of folks who make a great noise at the passing of a loved one because they’ve earned their rest.

I like music about the confusion. About the search. Music to raise the dead. I’ve been working on this song above for some time. There are layers of meaning in it that speak to me of misspent youths, friendships come and gone, and somehow, purges my own demons. This song tells me “It’s OK.” Music to soothe. Music so I don’t feel alone.

I’ll borrow the words of others, until I regain my own.

While you’re here: Please check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate. 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap the star LIKE button below, & LIKE and Share on Facebook! Follow and share on Twitter.


YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT PAIN IS!: The Buffalo Bill-ing of America

Ted Levine’s portrayal of the serial killer Jame Gumb, AKA Buffalo Bill, in The Silence of the Lambs, remains the most chilling portrait of a socio/psychopath in film history. And while the character from Jonathan Demme’s 1991 classic psychological-thriller has more famous lines — Put the fucking lotion in the basket! — his most chilling comes during his mockery of the pain of the young woman he has trapped in his basement. When she takes his dog hostage in an effort to escape, he shouts at the woman at the bottom of the filthy well “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT PAIN IS!”

Jame Gumb

He can’t understand or feel the pain of another, let alone validate it. And this is exactly where we are as a nation. We have all become so wrapped up in our personal axes to grind, whether they be based on gender, race, religion, class, etc, that we cannot see past our own pain, however valid. I’m not discounting the value of spreading awareness while making the case for change in our culture. Exactly the opposite. Call me crazy, #livingwithmentalillness, but I don’t view compassion, awareness, and political equality as a zero sum game.

If The United States holds out one great Promise, it’s that the constant work of making truer that original promise that we are all equal, and entitled to equal rights will bear fruit. I have no idea where the notion that there is a limit to the number and type of human beings with equal rights under the law came from. But I want to blow it up.

The #MeToo movement is as valid as #BlackLivesMatter as #BlueLives as #SupportOurTroops as #TakeaKnee as #LoveisLove as #CatholicChurchMolestation as #SecondAmendment as #GunControl as #NotOneMore. It’s only when these causes separate into little mutually exclusive cliques that we end up shouting down the well at our fellow human beings.

Is there room in this nation to support Colin Kaepernick and #BlackLivesMatter, be a Quaker who does not stand for nor salute any man-made symbol, live with a former Marine, #SupportOurTroops, and just want to celebrate The Eagles Superbowl win (finally!)?

May I support my #SecondAmendment rights, while still believing in common sense #GunReform? Can I suppot #Legalization as well as #RuleofLaw? Can I be #MeToo without incurring the wrath of males? Can males molested by the #CatholicChurch be #MeToo as well? It would make sense.

#Sexism #SexualAssault #EqualPay #ReproductiveRights and other #Feminist issues affect women of color far more than my (admittedly fine) white ass. And desiring to raise awareness about #PTSD #Depression #Anxiety and #LivingwithMentalIllness doesn’t mean I don’t also care about #PrisonReform. These issues can, and should, coexist.

Now, I absolutely do not want to associate myself with the mealy-mouthed #bothsides are to blame, nor enable the Fascist “I don’t do politics” appeasement movement of #Quislings and #Collaborators. I really don’t know how else to demonstrate my liberal cred than by practicing empathy and compassion.

I believe that this nation is big enough for all comers, and that Freedom and Equality have no limit. In fact, the more freedom, the more democracy, the more democracy, the more equality, and the more equality, the more freedom! On a purely pragmatic level, it keeps the creep of fascism at bay. And it’s also truly American and Patriotic. If America is about Freedom, let’s have it! There is enough to go around in a nation this large and diverse.

All I ask is for the practice of the compassion and empathy it takes to recognize and feel another’s pain and want to help. That’s how we humans survive, right? Working together.

I heard something that the Dalai Lama said once. I cannot remember the exact quote, but the gist of it was: When your fear touches the pain of another, you feel hatred and disgust. But when your love touches the pain of another, you find compassion.

If we don’t all embrace that as a rule to live by in the world’s oldest modern democracy, we’re all just Buffalo Bill shouting down the well in our basement at our fellow human beings. Mocking their pain. Bust down the door to your heart. And, like Clarisse Starling, save that suffering person. You never know when your turn in the well will come.

And if you really want your voice heard: VOTE! I don’t care what Russian propaganda you’ve read to the contrary, it’s the only way to gripe that really matters. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th. Uber is offering free rides to polling places. And it is illegal for your employer to punish you for leaving work to vote.

PS – I know I teased a vlog earlier this week. It’s coming. But, as always seems to be the case anymore, current events outpaced my ability to edit. Especially with my arm still injured.

While you’re here: Please check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate. 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share on Facebook! Follow and share on Twitter.


In Which I Sing: The Pogues

As you may have noticed, I have not been particularly active on this or other written social media. There are good reasons for that, which are for another post. However, I have been finding an outlet in music.

I refurbished my Dad’s old 1964 Guild guitar, and have been reteaching myself to play. I look for songs that say something to me about my life, and just let me work out difficult feelings.

So, I’m taking a bold step in posting a piece of music I’ve been working on for a bit. The name of the song is The Old Main Drag by, The Pogues. So, check out my cover! I can take the criticism — a positive legacy of art school. Singing and the guitar have saved my life this summer. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a hint.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Should I post more music? Lemme know!

While you’re here: Please check out the wonderful work done by the people at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and donate.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of stuff I like and hate. 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share on Facebook! Follow and share on Twitter.


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