Category Archives: Mental Health

Earth Day / Science / Judy

Earth Day.  The Science March (which I sadly can’t attend until Science gets around to curing my damn Crohn’s Disease).  My late sister Judy’s birthday.  So I’m reposting this.  Hey – Jude believed firmly in recycling!

***

She’s been gone now for 17 years, Jude.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 65th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  Hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

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Two Mints in One

Remember those Certs’ Ads from the 60s?  {Shut up if you don’t, please.  I’m not talking to you, you whippersnapper.]

Well this morning I had a “two in one” moment, and I nearly drove off the road because the story I heard on the radio hit my two* hot buttons.

Did you hear this one?

Louie Gohmert, (Braintrust-TX (of course) announced that he wasn’t going to do any in-person Town Hall meetings with his constituents because, and I quote:

The House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed — just as happened there.

Now to clarify in case you’ve been self treating your PESD heavily and are starting to look like Steve Bannon, this really pisses me off.

Because Louie, Louie has an A rating from the NRA, and just two weeks ago on February 2, Louie, Louie voted to allow mentally ill folks to get guns, and he believes that MORE guns will prevent mass shootings.

Talk about the personification of the politician who thinks it’s OK for US to get shot wherever we go, but makes sure that his place of employment is a veritable Fort Knox of security.

Later today, Gabby Giffords, who has been working since her shooting for sensible gun laws, called Louie, Louie out on his hypocrisy:

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning, my offices were open to the public,” Giffords said. “Ron Barber ― at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead ― held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.”

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage,” Giffords said. “Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”

Gohmert, put on some kevlar and get your ass in front of the public.

My own member of congress, Barbara Comstock, you too.  Telephonic Town Halls don’t cut the mustard.  I want you to look into my eyes before you rip away my healthcare/medicare/civil rights.

Oh, and in 2018, can we please get rid of these GOP members of Congress who are too stupid to even know how stupid they are?

* OK, so I have more than two** hot buttons.

** OK, so I have more than two hundred hot buttons.

*** Did I forget a footnote?

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There’s a Name For That!

Feeling down in the mouth?  Discouraged?  Hopeless?

You’re not alone.

When I’m suffering with something-or-other, it really helps to know that I’m not alone.  Since November 9, 2016, there’s been a veritable epidemic of misery sweeping the nation.  Relax, though.  Because your misery now has a name, an actual diagnosis:

‘Post-Election Stress Disorder’

We’re all suffering from PESD.  Although frankly, I don’t know why they needed a new diagnosis.  Because if the election of Donald Trump doesn’t represent a traumatic event, I don’t know what does.

The only treatment is action.

 

 

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How Be a Friend

It’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And so, of course, Putin’s President, with the irony born of someone without a soul or a keen eye for history, chose today of all days to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Naturally, that means anybody who “looks” Muslim will become even more of a target than they have been since Trump took us all down the gold escalator into hell.  It is now open season on “others” here in our nation of immigrants.

So what can we do about it?

I will admit that the safety pin movement left me feeling decidedly unhelpful.  It’s a nice thought, but it never made me feel like I was actually standing up for anyone.  Or like I was doing something to help people being targeted.

But a while back I saw this article that offered some practical suggestions that have some meat on the bones.  Really!  Click on the link.  Cause I’m not going to tell you everything it says.

Anyway, I like to think that I would be the kind of person who would stand up in any situation to protect those in need.  But frankly,  I’m overweight, slow moving, and cowardly.  They don’t make superheroes who look or act like me.  So the odds are NOT in my favor.  Besides, when something happens around me, I never have a clue what’s happening.  I generally stand there, looking around, confused.  Immobile.  Saying “WTF” with my mouth hanging open.  Quick witted I may be with words, but actions?  Not so much.

But the Vox article showed me a way to help when someone is being verbally assaulted, in situations where I am most likely to see it happen.  It’s brilliant.  And relatively safe.  Win-win.

Here’s an example.  Say you’re in Target, passing by the children’s section, when you hear a man harassing a woman in a hijab.  He’s big and burly, and you want to help. You also don’t want him to target you.  Still, you can’t just walk away, turn a blind eye.  You’re a good person!  You wouldn’t be able to look yourself in the mirror if you didn’t help.  But how?

Why, act like an idiot, of course.  Me, I’m a natural!  At acting the idiot, that is.  Not being one.  That’s the role of the racist.

You interrupt the jerk.  Wander in between him and his victim as if you’re looking for something, and can’t quite find it.  Request his help.  Be totally oblivious.  Give the poor target the opportunity to get away.  Think Roseann Rosanna Dana.

roseann-roseanna-dana

Gilda Radner as Roseann Rosanna Dana.

Or, in an equally ditzy way, pretend to be the friend/shopping buddy of the woman being mistreated, and in an oblivious way whisk that woman out of the children’s department and into the table linens.

“Sylvia!” said in the most nasal tone imaginable, “THERE you are.  You were supposed to meet me in the shoe department … you come with me right now before they’re out of the size 7s…”

Read the article.  Learn steps you can take to help folks who may really need your help.  Because it’s a Brave New World out there.  And it helps to be prepared.

Today of all days, it’s important to recall these words, from the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words. The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.

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Don’s Johns

Sometimes a metaphor actually plops into your lap.  Or your hands.  Or into someplace you hope you don’t drop your cell phone.

That happened to me today, when I read an article in the Huffington Post about one of the, ahem, priorities, of the folks setting up Friday’s Inauguration of Donald J. Trump.  And really, it is a metaphor for what is to come.

You see, whenever there is a big event here in the DC area, there’s a lot of shit going on.  Literally.  Lots of people = lots of pee and poop!  So port-a-potties line the Mall, surround the Monuments; and ring the Capitol itself.  And in the DC area, one company has the scoop on poop.

dons-johns

Photo Caption  Don’s John’s.com

But, according to the Huffington Post,

Someone’s Covering The ‘Don’s Johns’ Logo On Port-a-Potties For Trump’s Inauguration

When I saw that headline, my first thought was, “Of course they are.  They’re covering up all kinds of shit.”  But this time they’re not covering up the shit, but the name.

dons-johns-2

Photo Credit:  Michael Showalter for the NY Post

Of course folks are covering up Don’s shit.  But it’s up to us to pull off the tape and show the world Don’s Johns.  That will be our job for the duration of Trump’s presidency — whether that is for 2 weeks or 4 years.  To pull off the tape on Don’s Johns.  To expose every breach of law, each unethical behavior, all threats to the rule of law.

THAT is how we will survive Trump.  Because you can’t paper over the truth for long.

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Keeping Our Heads for Four Years

If you were a news junkie during the George W. Bush era, you’re already experiencing deja vu.  That sinking feeling already makes your eyes roll automatically when Putin’s President appears.  It settled into the back of your neck from the whiplash as you shake your head and shout “no, no, no, no, no, no, no!” over the latest outrage or tweet.  And it’s there in the pit of your stomach, when you try not to vomit whenever you see the color orange.

Yup, it’s started.  The Deluge.  The Flood.  The Trump shit storm.

trump-and-putin

During the Bush years, I would just be ready to pounce on one issue, when another hit the fan and took the wind out of my sails. Resistance is hard if there is just so much to resist.

How, I worried in the days since November 8, will I survive Trump.  I feared a heart attack.  A stroke.  Getting so scared I’d shit in my pants.   Of course I worry about the last one sometimes during a scary movie.

Anyway, I’ve come up with a strategy for a hybrid Resister/Surviving Human.  I’m going to become a political centaur!

centaur-female

Google Image.  No shit will be given by this filly.

 

I’m going to take my mother’s marital and parental advice and apply it to my activism.  She said:

Choose Your Battles!

Me, I’m going to try to focus on issues I know about and/or that are closest to my heart.  The ones I write about here on FiftyFourAndAHalf.

But that won’t be all I do.  I will look for and follow the lead of others who are knowledgeable about other issues, and I will try to help to the extent I can.  It’s not hard, really, to make calls to Congress and the White House.  Really, it just takes a minute.  You or I can even just cut and paste and hit “send.”

But I will try my very best to keep my blood pressure — and my outrage to livable levels.

George W. Bush kept us all off balance because there were so many things to be outraged about, that we couldn’t keep it up.  Different bad presidents need different tactics.

And Trump will make the Dubya years look like a walk in the park.  And that park is in Baghdad.

 

 

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My Old Friend Ray Died

My old friend Ray died this past Monday.  Suicide.  She leapt to her death from a parking garage.  I don’t know any more than that as yet.  But Ray has been troubled for many years.  There will be a memorial service next month.

***

Ray and I laughed and cried together since 7th grade, when serendipity moved me from one seat in Homeroom to one across the table from her.  To be honest, I was terrified of her.  You see, Ray was cool, she was popular, she was fun and funny.  Everybody wanted to be her friend in 7th grade.  But she wanted to be my friend.  I’ve always felt that she changed my life with that action; she raised my social status in school.  I was no longer a non-desirable.  I was a “Friend of Ray’s.”  And that was something special.

For the last 18 hours since I got home after learning the news, I’ve tried to write my feelings, my memories, my heartbreak.  But I’m failing.  How do you put a life — anyone’s life, but especially such a complex life into a few words?

Each relationship is a jar full of fragments of memories and laughter and tears.  With Ray, the edges of them were sometimes jagged, and it was never clear when you’d reach into that jar and slice into something painful for her.

Because Ray’s life was full of disappointment and pain.  But it was also full of laughter and memories that she held onto and didn’t let go.  She was smart and funny.  A talented actress in high school.  A beautiful writer who wanted us all to write and once had a party where she gave us blue notebooks and we all spent the entire night writing.

Mostly, she wanted love.  Craved it.  Begged for it.

Still, she frequently acted to push love away.  She alienated family and friends alike, especially by middle of the night phone calls – that continued in spite of constant requests, tears, anger, etc. Often, she just wanted to chat about old times.  She didn’t show up when she was supposed to meetings with friends.  Couldn’t stand to be in groups.  Made many poor choices in life.  She frankly pissed everybody off a lot.  It made her a hard person to put up with.  I along with everybody who cared about her became exasperated and felt helpless.  We went in and out of her life. After the last time she called me in the middle of the night, I blocked her from my home phone; she had only my cell.

Friends and family tried to help, but helping is sometimes easier said than done.  Certainly than done successfully.

For the last 12 years until about a year ago, Ray worked customer service in a Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I learned of the difficulties of retail workers through her – how schedules were never firmed up, so workers who couldn’t survive on those low retail wages could get a second job.

She told the most wonderful stories she told of the people who came to her counter for returns.  She could tell the stories so that the incredibly foolish mistakes of customers were endearing.  As if each silly error were a personal gift to Ray.  I’d been trying to talk her into writing a book.

One story stands out, though.

A man placed an oscillating fan on the counter, its head bent down at the hinge, facing the floor.  Looking awkward.

“It doesn’t work,” he said (Ray imitating his voice).  “It’s broken.  Its neck is broken.”

The man had clearly never lifted the head of the fan from its packing position.  So when he plugged it in and turned it on, it turned in a jerky motion like a Rocke ‘em, Sock ‘em Robot.

Ray straightened the neck, plugged it in, and showed him that it worked just fine.  She sent the customer away, happily with his fan, somehow without making him feel foolish.

Since yesterday, I have been thinking that Ray herself was a lot like that fan.  Her head was always bent incorrectly, awkwardly.  In her case, it was towards the past – towards her (our) wonderful childhood.  Sadly, there was no friendly customer service representative of life to help straighten her towards a life built more on the present and the future.

Good bye, Ray.  I love you.  I miss you.  I will always hold you dear to my heart.

May you rest in the peace that always alluded you in life.  But may your heart be ever full of love and laughter as it always was.

***

Many of us have thought about or attempted suicide, or know someone who is in crisis.  There is help.

December is a particularly sad time for many.

Get help if you need it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • 1-800-273-8255 (24/7) (Press 1 for Veterans line)

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