Okay, this might be the ickiest thing I’ve ever seen on Craigslist, which I realize is saying a great deal:
Under Missed Connections. I was looking there because I was joking with a friend about it for entirely different reasons. No really; nothing creepy, just wondering if this service could actually be used for non-romantic things. I have since realized I have been using the word ‘romantic’ all wrong:

“Looking for grandma with grandchild at mapleview – m4w – 61

age : 61 body : average height : 6’4″ (193cm) status : married
I had. Brief conversation with you while you were feeding your grandson at mapleview food court Sunday. While we talked I could not help looking up your short skirt and saw a wonderful piercing. Your daughter came back and sadly you were gone. If you want to show me more please reply to this. I enjoyed the view and would like to see more.”

Sooo much information in so few lines.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Nobody wants to end their life: they want to end the pain

Since telling you five years ago that I live with bipolar disorder, I’ve said little else about it. I’m noisy and public, but Motherlode is about my life and being bipolar is merely one facet of it.

In the days following the suicide of Robin Williams, I started receiving notes. People were asking me if I was OK, if I was I going to write about it, would I please write about it.

“But he had everything to live for,” some say. No, he had everything we’re told you should live for, if fame and family and fortune were truly everybody’s goal. He was reportedly facing other major health issues, but by 63, most of us are. I made the mistake of believing he had outrun something I know in my heart can’t be outrun; it merely sits in the shadows waiting to re-emerge.

Robin Williams was open about his struggles with depression and addiction. His standup comedy used his damage as material, and laughing at him — and with him — made it possible to laugh at my own demons. His loss has not just saddened me, it has scared me. There was vindication in hearing your thoughts and fears coming from another.

Loving someone whose broken mind leads them down dark paths wears you the hell out. You can exhaust yourself looking for reasons, answers and ways to help. The sad truth is you can’t prevent someone from taking their own life using guilt, fear, anger or love. Knowing those things becomes not a reason to stay alive, but yet another burden. It’s a desperate, reflexive answer — if you kill yourself, you will break my heart — yet when you can’t bear your own despair, being responsible for someone else’s is crushing, and ultimately impossible.

Robin Williams’ death has rocked a lot of people already perched on an emotional ledge. It felt personal because he seemed like such a decent human being, as a friend of mine put it. His dark side was his literal dark side, which he shared in his humour as well as his more reflective roles. He exposed his own melancholy, a word both beautiful and barren. He gave us pieces of himself we used to light our own way while he disappeared into the dark.

I rage against the language that swirls around mental health, around suicide. It is not weakness, nor cowardice, nor selfishness. It is a desperate bid to not be those very things. It is being a foot soldier in a war so overwhelming, those trained to fight it can barely define it.

With the tragic passing of Robin Williams we’ll say, again, that now is the time to talk about it. And we’ll let it slide back to the shadows, because we’ll go on pretending we don’t need to find answers if we can keep believing those we lose are weak, are cowards. I’ll never be cured of my disorder; I manage it with good days and bad, but I will challenge anyone who says I don’t live it with all the strength and dignity I possibly can.

So, here is my proposal to you. Look inside your own heart and your own family. Recognize that depression and other mental-health issues thread their tendrils deep into family trees. Shake out the family secrets; shed the cloak of things we just don’t talk about. Grandparents, turn a light backwards through the decades, and reveal histories that could help your children and grandchildren be safe. Imagine the power of a teenager being told a grandparent understands. Have mental-health discussions openly and often; make avenues of help available even if they preclude confiding in you; prioritize reaching out for help over keeping secrets.

We need early, correct diagnosis. We need a medical community dedicated to working in tandem to supply treatment, and we need patients and families who commit to working that treatment. We need workplaces openly supporting their employees. Don’t let this conversation slip away, and let the loss of my favourite sad clown remind us to be vigilant, to be kind and to be open.

Ultimately, I can’t stop anyone from killing themselves. But I can let them know that many of us are often holding on for morning. You aren’t alone.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sorry. Been busy. And boring.

These cracked me up. Show ‘em to all your real estate friends…

Though I do know more than one person who would consider the first pic with the horse a good thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Robin Williams

Damn you, Robin Williams.
How dare you let me down? How dare you not just be there so I can take you for granted as most of us have all these years? How dare you spend a lifetime making movies that sometimes were awesome and sometimes weren’t but that we still had as a way to judge you? How dare you live on only in Youtube videos that now will jack to the top of the ratings instead of two days ago because we’ve always taken for granted that there would be more?
How dare you stop getting older? I fucking needed you to keep holding the light so I could always think to myself, “well, hell, if someone like Robin Williams can stay ahead of his demons and keep being so funny and aware and so genius, that gives me hope on the days when I think my demons may eat me alive.” How dare you make me face my demons on my own? What if mine eat me alive like yours did?
Broken makes funny. We know why. Comedy, the kind that makes you weak with laughter when you hear it, is not about being outrageous. It’s about telling the truth. We are drawn to great comedians to face our fears, not escape them. You dove deep into the well of depression yet still managed to holler that you’d be right back.
It must be hard to know the cost. No, that’s wrong. We know the cost. You just paid it.
Damn you. You won’t be right back. I’ll miss you.

I put this on FB the other day. This one has hit me hard. It’s hit a lot of us hard. Not just the nutters – everyone. That doesn’t make me weak or weird or dramatic. It makes me human. I looked back over the past ten years or so, and realized while some deaths of famous people have made me sad – like James Garner, man I loved that guy, and the rather spectacular Molly Ivins – there have been a handful that have stopped me cold. Phil Hartman; John Ritter; Heath Ledger; Philip Seymour Hoffman, and now Robin Williams. It’s not the cause of their deaths, it’s the fact of them. Just, sadness. For most, the water closes over us after we’ve left for all but those closest to us. As it should. I’m not gonna hold up a lion cub and start singing, but it’s the way it should be. But Robin Williams has been hard. Keep an eye on each other.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Batter up

Baseball, not pancakes. Awesome piece from my new love affair, Roger Angell.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Ola, Raine

The ‘a’ should have a little doohickey over it.

That salutation just landed in my email, and it made me smile. It’s a spam from some hotel chain, and I can’t read it because it’s in Spanish, but even I know what ‘Ola, Raine’ means and I wish I were somewhere right now that I could be hearing ‘ola’ all around me. I think I need a vacation, so in a way, my spam gave me a minibreak, as the British call it.

Just had a long, excellent meeting on a project I’m working on, so my brain is full of interesting wonderful things but not interesting wonderful things that could lead me to say, get some work done on anything else. Last weekend I had a brutal migraine and lost 4 workdays; it’s the worst one I’ve had in years, and 4 days in a row is like carpet bombing my thinker. Not good.

If you’ve never seen this clip before with Henri the Cat, please go watch. I love it. Roger Ebert called it the best cat video. I miss Roger Ebert.

Speaking of cats, mine are sorting out a new pecking order, sort of. We have a chipmunk that lives under the front step, and Pea spends her entire day waiting for it to surface. She sits in the door with one paw on the edge of the window, and just waits. Problem is, JoJo figured out the game, so there were some skirmishes taking place. They’ve now sorted it out: if the chipmunk is actually on the step, Pea and JoJo are both allowed to sit and watch. If it is just Chipmunk Watch, they have to take turns. It’s hilarious.

Okay. Three brats are making wanting-dinner noises. And so are the cats.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Critters big and small

Have you seen this great white shark footage yet? Of the beasts attacking an underwater dive cam? Oh, my. It’s only a few minutes, and it’s terrifying. Put the sound on. There’s barely anything to hear, but it’ll make you go all Jaws-theme again in your head.

I love Jaws. The movie. I usually watch it up north each summer. I also overuse some of the taglines, from “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” to “that’s some bad hat, Harry.” Even though pre-CGI days the shark was a prop named Bruce, and it shows, it was scary. Can you imagine if they remade that movie today? People would wet themselves.

I was walking the yard yesterday, and found a big, perfect tomato. Half eaten. Damn critters.

Speaking of critters, Pea’s chipmunk is a fat little sucker these days, and he came right up on Ari’s hand. I think he’s working the street like a 3 dollar chipmunk hooker.

*typo corrected for David Taylor
*another typo corrected for David Taylor. Who says he’s been told today already, but I’m telling him again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Pizza and chipmunks. And Florida

pizza bite

I get up before everyone else, and I plunked on the kettle and pulled some leftovers out of the fridge. Both boys had been out late, which meant leftovers would actually be a thing. If they’re home, no way. Especially pizza. That’s what I found. Nice.

Pip is still besotted with the chipmunk under the step. She sits in the front door for hours, posed just like this, one paw up, waiting. Yes, that’s a wooden spoon propping open the window. It’s like Iron Chef meets MaGyver around here. She is adorable, and sometimes JoJo comes up and pushes her aside so she can have a turn. I call it Waiting for Chipmunk. Like Godot, but with a chipmunk.

pipster 3I snagged a bunch of library books to take to the cottage, and I’ve been plowing through them. I still prefer books. I read everything else, it seems, on line, and I haven’t got a daily paper since I stopped writing for the Star years ago. I do know what I miss, however: bus plunge stories. I’ve mentioned them before. When you’re laying out a paper, you have these little 2 inch gaps sometimes, and you hunt around for short pieces. A bus plunging off a cliff in some country nobody has ever heard of fits these spaces nicely. You will get a country, a bus, and side of a mountain. It’s like nobody needs any more info, maybe a body count, but that is all. The thing is, if you’re not reading a hard copy of a paper you miss all the little stuff.

Everywhere else, including the ‘serious’ papers are grabbing sensationalism and skirting real news all too often. In the old days, the phrase was, “if it bleeds it leads” which was kinda crass and cruel. Nowadays, it’s “if it’s Kardashian, it leads” which is even more crass and certainly reducing the collective IQ rather than adding to it. There are entire sites devoted to the things that happen in Florida. Florida itself is a punchline. I’m not sure if it’s a chicken-and-an-egg thing, or a self-fulfilling prophecy, but Florida produces some strange things. Don’t believe me? Check out this name. Told ya.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

O Brother, where art thou?

This Motherlode is from nearly 3 years ago, but we were talking about it yesterday and it made me nostalgic. So, rerun.

“We really need to eat at the table more often,” I told the boys as we sat down on Sunday evening, together, finally.
“You made us do that every night when we were little,” replied Ari, 17, as if I’d been meting out punishment.
“Yeah, but back then, it was so rushed and crazy. Remember we’d get in at 6, and start running around?”
“Hey, Ari, remember First Base?” asked Christopher, 20.
When Ari was in grade one and Christopher was in grade four, they’d started going to the afterschool program because I was working later. Thousands of working parents do it every day, but the momguilt (yes, that’s one word; I’d trademark it if I could) was overwhelming for me. As a child, I’d walked home from the very same school to the very same house every day. I’d always worked, but the divorce meant a different, less flexible job, and I was now working outside of the house. The kids bore the brunt of the change, as kids always do.
Though day to day the boys were locked in eternal combat with each other, when I wasn’t there Christopher was an excellent big brother. Ari hated being bossed around, but when trouble hit (usually trouble Ari instigated) he had no qualms about letting his brother step in to save him. I’m sure there were more than a few kids waiting for Ari’s big – and bigger – brother to graduate from whatever school they shared so some scores could be settled.
Sitting down to dinner – such as it was – was a chance to regroup each night and dissect the day. We’d stumble into the front hall, a jumble of backpacks and boots and art projects, and I’d stare at the kitchen and wonder what would take half an hour to make. They were typical kids: one would eat cooked veggies; one would eat raw; one would eat fruit; one would eat salad. If I changed things up and served fish or pork, they’d ask why the chicken tasted funny.
Now it’s their work schedules that make us compete for table time. They’ll eat almost anything, they still laugh until milk comes out their noses, and as I found out on Sunday, they’ll finally tell me stories long held back.
“Of course he remembers First Base,” I told Christopher. “You both made me feel I was made of evil for making you go.”
“No, you don’t know what really happened,” he said. I looked at Ari, who grinned.
“The first day we were supposed to go to First Base, Christer told me in the hall not to forget,” started Ari. “He said ‘remember to go to First Base’.”
“Well, that was good of him,” I replied. Christopher is not my remembering kid. Ari is. This was a mild surprise.
“No, Mom, listen,” continued Christopher. “I got to First Base, and he wasn’t there. They were doing attendance, and they asked where he was. I said I didn’t know, and then all of a sudden I did. I went out into the school yard, and there he was.”
“So, he went out like the year before, waiting for me to meet him,” I concluded.
“No. He was sitting on first base. On the baseball diamond.”
My baby waited 20 minutes until his big brother came to get him. They’ve both remembered this for 11 years, and I heard it for the first time 11 years later. And all this time I thought I’d been protecting them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

What I’m Really Thinking

No, not me. It’s the title of a series that runs in The Guardian. It’s gossipy and judgey and occasionally mean, so it works on a grey day like this. People submit short, anonymous essays on what their job or situation is, and tell you what they’re really, well, thinking.

Today’s is from a guy who knocked up the woman he was dating, and is now stuck with her and a kid that he doesn’t want. The headline says ‘reluctant’ dad, but that’s being downright cheerful as well as misleading. Dude is miserable, and has a bag packed by the door – mark my words. No matter; it’s that poor kid who will bear the brunt of these two idiots.

But I shouldn’t say that, I suppose. At least he’s being honest. Nobody says much that’s too honest anymore – too much risk of insulting somebody, somewhere. Every time I hit ‘publish’ or file a column, I’ve read it 6 ways to see who I’ll enrage. A few years back, I was writing dialogue – directly out of the mouths of babes, of course. One of the kids said something was lame. A reader sent me a diatribe (seriously; I bet it was a 2000 worder) demanding that I apologize. Because her son had been in a wheelchair, and was lame, and he’d died, and I now owed her a published column explaining why I would never again use the word lame. I got right on that.

I try to be conscious of situations somebody might be in, then I realize that I don’t get the least offended when someone tosses off crazy jokes, or boob jokes, or anything else. If there is no intention to wound, what’s the point? I find there are two scenarios: somebody can say “Oh man, she was acting crazy, I didn’t know what she was going to do next” and I’m going to shrug. Colloquial usage. Then there is “people need to not hire crazy people because they will come into work and kill everyone.” This is the one I speak up about, because this is the one that could damage. I pick my battles, or else I’d do nothing but battle, all damned day.

And you all know us crazy people need our rest.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments