Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Out of the Darkness Overnight 2016

On June 4, I will walk 18 miles overnight through New York City, to raise funds for the American Society for Suicide Prevention.

It's a terrific organization, with a great mission and wonderful resources.

This is my third walk since I learned about the event four years ago (and remember when I got to go the the White House?). I couldn't do it last year because of the timing. But my hope is to walk every year.

When I walked the second year, a friend asked me why I was doing it again. The only answer I had was that I needed to.

And as time goes on, I have more reasons to walk. I wish this were not the case.

I am so much more familiar with suicide than I would like to be. Perhaps you are as well.

Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. On average, there are 117 suicides per day.

So here is my ask: I would ask that you please look at my Out of the Darkness Overnight donation page, and consider supporting my walk, if you are so inclined and have the means.

And to all, I would ask that you do me this favor. Help me end the stigma of mental illness and suicide. Talk about them like you talk about high blood pressure or diabetes or diarrhea. (OK, maybe you don't talk about diarrhea.)

But you know what I'm saying.

Help me make these a normal topic of conversation, so that those who suffer in silence no longer do so.

I drop the fact that I take antidepressants into conversation regularly. And more often than not, whoever I am talking to says, "Me, too."

I want people to feel good about seeking help, confiding in a friend, talking to their doctor. Mental illness is so common, and so many people think they are the only one. I don't want anyone to live in fear, in shame, in darkness.

Please help me bring the light.

Thank you and big hugs.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh, ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road...

Nick and I have been watching Outlander.

We don't watch a lot of TV--although I must admit that I would happily watch more if I had more time. Nick and I agree on a series and then we watch together.

(He's on his own with Archer.)

I wanted to start Outlander ages ago, but I took the wrong approach. I was all, Outlander! Romance! Love! Hot men in kilts! Claire + Jamie 4EVR!

Nick was not intrigued.

And then finally I realized and was like, "Shall we try Outlander? It's historical, but mostly about SEX and SCOTLAND."

Nick was all, "Well, you know I have Scottish ancestry." (Oh? Tell me more...)

Yah. So we've been watching, and they have these delicious accents and I found myself wondering why it was that I never ever even kissed a Scottish guy? In fact, in my traveling youth, why didn't I head to Scotland and have a torrid affair with kilt-wearing, Gaelic-speaking Scotsman?

Seriously. Why? Why? I do not know.

It's one more thing on my list of things I will now never do, like cocaine or a threesome.

I'm not saying I should have done all those things...more like, they're choices I never made, and are now long gone.

But. Perhaps I should talk Nick into buying a kilt?

(Maybe one that matches his gold jacket?)

They may take our lives...

Happy Friday, all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What are you reading?

My title reminded me that I like to call Nick and say, "What are you wearing?" and hope that he doesn't have me on speakerphone, although at this point in our lives I believe he knows better.

Recently Australian Builder was walking up the stairs after our HVAC guy, who was carrying a big roll of bubble wrap, and before I could stop myself I was all, "So, Mike's not planning to wrap you in bubble wrap and do kinky stuff, is he?"

This, before I remembered that I don't actually know Mike, the HVAC guy.

I mean, I do now.

Soo, yah.

Here is the actual story. This weekend my mom and I are flying to Los Angeles. I got the flights late, and so we don't have assigned seats.

Know what that means?

I mean, beyond that fact that we might each be squozen in middle seats? Because of course that's true and unfortunate.

But what it also means is that I will have hours and hours where nobody is asking me to do anything for them. Or anyway, nobody I'm obligated to respond to. I mean, unless I'm in the emergency row, and the plane loses and engine or something.

Which is of course always a possibility and the reason I'll have cake for breakfast at the crack of dawn and then probably a Cinnabon or five at the airport.

But beyond that. No Mama Mama Mama! Nobody fighting. Nobody asking for snacks. Nobody spilling juice on their clothing and their backup clothing and then me having to work to keep their gagina covered for the rest of the flight (and yes, I know it's her vulva).

Here's what it means assuming all goes well.

It means I'll have hour after uninterrupted hour to read! Airport time to read! Plane time! Maybe even evening time in the hotel!

My friend Ingalisa just recommended and then so kindly sent me Birds of America, which, although I am not typically a short story person, sounds right up my alley. But I'd like to have an abundance lined up so that I don't find myself stuck in the middle seat without reading material.

I should tell you that we are going to LA for a memorial service, about which I am terribly sad. And I have of late been reading self-help-ish books, and would like a diversion.

What I mean is, I want no death or tragedy or self-improvement. 

I would ideally like something that is going to suck me out of my seat and straight into the book, much as that may make me sound like Thursday Next (and who doesn't love Jasper Fford?).

Anyway, you are all smart, interesting people. And so I turn to you.

Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table

This weekend comes every year.

I mean, as they do.

Although I suppose technically they don't, in that the dates are not fixed to days, and the 15th has shifted to Sunday, when seven years ago it was on a Friday. But it is still mid-May, and it is still that particular weekend.

I feel it and I start to dread.

On Friday, seven years ago, I answered the phone at my office. It was my parents' number, and I started to cry even before I said, "Hello."

Because I knew. I knew.

I answered the phone, and my mom said, "Dad is gone." And I knew that we would never see him alive again.

But even though I knew, I held out some minuscule hope. Because this had happened so many times. It had happened a month prior. And they'd found him. Barely alive, but alive.

And do you know how many hours I sat holding his cold hand, willing those monitors, coaxing the numbers up and up and up. And, when they dipped and the alarms screamed and the nurses came running, do you know the bargains I made with God? How fervently I begged and pleaded, all the while acknowledging that I'd really not been that into Catholicism or really done any of the formal religious things, which of course God would know, because God...

So when I say I knew, it is with the caveat that a tiny piece of me was still praying, still begging. Please, God, please. I need my dad. I need him to know my kid. Please, God, let him be alive, and I will do anything. Please, please please.

He lived last time, even though they didn't think he would. He lived the time before that, even though he was, in truth, mostly dead. Please, God, please.

I was six months pregnant.

I'd believed, naively, that my dad's enthusiasm for my baby would keep him alive. That he would stay with us long enough to meet my baby, and he would love him so much that he would never, ever leave.

And then, then he left us. He never met my boy, born three months later. He never met my girl. We never saw him again, even in death.

Seven years have passed, and I now understand that I couldn't keep him alive, no matter how hard I tried. And I didn't somehow fail to save him that one last time.

I am better and healthier and no longer weighed down by guilt.

But if you have ever lost someone you loved dearly, you know the day. You will know it forever.

And it is this weekend. Every year.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day reminder

My mama somewhere in the 1960s.
Dear Lisa:

This is your annual reminder to be kind to yourself. You say this to other people, and yet you are so self-critical.

You tend to believe everyone else has it all figured out. That they all feed their children balanced, nutritious meals. That they always speak gently. That they stick to their routine and their kids go to bed on time. That they are organized and calm.

You are grateful when others admit that they, too, struggle. Not because you wish struggle on anyone, but because it is so nice not to be alone.

Before you had a child, you were a stellar parent. Your kids were going to eat organic fruits and vegetables and baked chicken and homemade lasagne. Certainly not chicken nuggets and fish sticks and buttered pasta with butter and nothing but butter because my god tomato sauce just ruins it.

Your kids eat chicken nuggets and fish sticks and endless buttered pasta. Oh, and pizza. This is what they eat. Your son likes fried eggs, but only the yolk, because the white part is gross. Your daughter eats scrambled eggs if it's Tuesday and the moon is waning and the jasmine is in bloom. Otherwise she hates them.

They like fruit. Sometimes they like broccoli. Please remember these are a win.

Before you were a mom, you were never going to be the parent who lost her temper. You can only remember one time when your mom lost her temper. Genuinely. Once.

And you know, you know that if you can remember to breathe while your kids are losing their little minds, you can remember to say things like, "You're so angry." Or, "You're very frustrated."

This stuff works. But only if you remember to do it.

When you don't remember to breathe then you lose your little mind and melt down as well and then it all goes to hell. And you feel absolutely terrible about yourself.

You apologize. You ask them to forgive you. They always do.

You're doing a better job of remembering, though. You didn't grow up with this. You grew up with spanking and being grounded and waiting in terror for your dad to get home for you to get into trouble.

You are reading about it and learning and doing your best.

You feel guilty when you let them watch TV because you just don't have the energy to interact. You should be doing projects. Why haven't you made that Calder-style fish mobile yet? You've been talking about it forever.

But honestly, your kids are bright and curious and interesting people. They use words like "lollygagging" and "malingering" -- probably because this is something we seem to do a lot of.

They're both very articulate, and Jordan loves math, which is something you do not share, but you are glad he does.

Speaking of glad, India says, "It's glad" rather than "I'm glad" and it is one of the cutest things you've ever heard. Like, "It's glad that it's sunny today so we can go outside."

They both use "may" like "would" and this you love as well. "May you pour me some milk, please?"

These are things you will never, ever correct. They will eventually go away, although hopefully not soon.

You sometimes wonder if your kids would be better off with a mother who is normal, and not someone who barely approaches an even keel on her best days. Your love is exuberant and boundless, but your lows are low.

The first thing you saw this morning was your daughter's sweet face, because she likes to sleep not further than two inches from you, although preferably partly on top of you.

This keeps you tired on a daily basis but you also love the snuggles. And you figure she won't be doing this forever.

You smiled at her, and touched her cheek, and she did the same to you. This is the kind of gift you could never have imagined.

You love your kids more than your own life. Your kids drive you up the wall. You would give them anything. You would give anything for more time to yourself.

These are contradictory and yet all simultaneously true. And more importantly, totally OK.

It's very glad that you're a mama. You love your kids. They love you.

You are doing your best. We are all balancing on an elephant's trunk while wearing a pencil skirt. None of it is easy.

Be kind to yourself.

Love,

Lisa