A Sad Day

This is one of my favorite stories, found on Reddit a few months back:

Q: What celebrity surprised you with their kindness?

“Robin Williams…very friendly and funny. More so then I expected honestly. I went to a dinner with my father and a couple of his co-workers at a fancy Italian restaurant when I was about 18 and about halfway through the meal a few of the co-workers got drunk and started to scream at the waiter in Italian. In response, the waiter, and eventually a few other workers, joined in and were screaming back at the co-workers and then in between all of them came Robin Williams gesticulating wildly and screaming mock Italian at both sides until they calmed the hell down and started to laugh at Robin Williams and his antics instead. When everyone went back to their seats I walked up to Robin Williams, thanked him for defusing the situation, and did the usual “I love your work, It’s amazing to meet you” spiel and then he began to ask ME questions about my life, how I am, my age, what I wanted to do, and was very friendly and caring. When I was walking away back to my dad he stopped me and said words I try to live by:

‘Kid, take a good look at those suits. Don’t try to end up like them. If you need booze or drugs to enjoy your life to the fullest then you’re doing it wrong.'”

A great, great man died today.  Effortlessly funny, extremely kind, a uniter of the young and old.  Depression is a fickle creature and it spares no one, famous or not.  I can’t help thinking he kept others laughing to hide his own sadness, or maybe to help others out of their own dark hole.  We’ll never know.

I watched Mrs. Doubtfire over and over again when I was little.  Dead Poet’s Society quickly rose the top of my favorite movie list – I swear it helped inspire me to be a writer, and one day, a professor myself.  Good Will Hunting only appeared on my radar a few years back, but Robin Williams’ performance was a damn home run.

I leave you shocked, a little frozen, and very saddened.  Brilliance like his only comes around once in a generation.

Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) has put it best:  “A thought is helping me get through the day: Richard Pryor & George Burns greeting Robin Williams at the pearly gates.”

Goodbye, Mr. Williams.  I hope you’ve found the peace that you so deserve.

From Dead Poets Society

From Dead Poets Society

 

Struggling with depression and thinking suicide is the only way out?  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.  There is always hope.

Ring Like Crazy, Ring Like Hell

What is it about song lyrics that dig down deep into your heart and stay there, intermittently tugging on the strings?

Pandora, along with a quiet workplace, is a recipe ripe for new musical discoveries.  However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to stop work and write down a song name so I could go look it up later and add it to my library of ever-expanding goodness.

I used to want, more than anything, to be one of those rock n’ roll chicks, with a band behind her, crashing drums, dirty electric guitars, numerous amps, etc etc.  I thought that was the epitome, the ultimate, the place to be.

I became incredibly annoyed with myself when I couldn’t produce songs like that.  I couldn’t write a rock song to save my life.

Things now, however, have changed.

Someone once told me it’s easy to be in a rock band.  You’re essentially hiding behind the reverb, the effects, the volume of the instruments.  It sounds badass, and is super fun to play/listen to, but it’s not real.

I see the value in their words now.  I believe them.

There’s something raw and emotional about a microphone, a piano, and a voice.  You’re naked, exposed, having to carry the melody, the lyrics, the entire song, yourself.  People can hear those lyrics, and they better be good.  They better mean something.

Take Gregory Alan Isakov’s Stable Song:

remember when our songs where just like prayers,
like gospel hymns that you called in the air.
come down come down sweet reverence,
unto my simple house and ring…
and ring.

ring like silver, ring like gold
ring out those ghosts on the ohio
ring like clear day wedding bells
were we the belly of the beast or the sword that fell…we’ll never tell.

now i’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
now i’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
well and sang and drank, and passed in the stable.

that tall grass grows high and brown,
well i dragged you straight in the muddy ground
and you sent me back to where i roam
well i cursed and i cried, but now i know…now i know

and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang..its ringing

ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal

(I was just going to post a few lines, but how do you pick a few lines from this brilliance?)

It’s simple.  It’s heartfelt.  It’s perfect.  Easily one of my top 10 favorite songs, and I never say that.  You can trace his journey through the lyrics, and no matter what your experiences, you can relate.  You can feel it.  It’s as close to a perfect song as you can get.

Words are words, but it takes some real talent to arrange them into something that makes people feel.  Readers, what songs have touched you?

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Fly By

I woke up this morning, 8:00am, late July, Atlanta.  I made coffee, pulled on my shorts, buckled Walden’s leash and unlocked the door.

An early autumn breeze hit me full in the face.  I stood still a moment, letting the wind swish my hair.  Walden sniffed the air, altogether unused to such cool temperatures.

The summer has flown by, folks, and the end of July is a mere 2 days away (I count today only because I haven’t finished my coffee yet).  Labor Day will be here soon, and with that cool nights, lovely leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, and Christmas.  It’s my favorite time of year, these last months, and I intend to savor it.

I know the humidity and swollen temperatures will return soon, but this first glimpse helps me remember that change is just around the corner.

My morning.

My morning.

One Year

July 15, 2013, 5:45pm.  I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, waiting for mom to arrive bearing gifts of Sprite and dinner.  Later, Sarah would arrive with hard cider and coconut pie.  My newly single life had begun.

Everyone says the first day is the hardest.  I disagree.  What sucks are all the subsequent days, when you read something you wish you could tell him or have a bad day and wish there was someone waiting at home to drive down to Majestic Diner with.  You miss the company, the history, the comfort.

I watched all seven seasons of Desperate Housewives in a week and a half.  I took cold medicine nightly, so I wouldn’t lie in bed and think of how sad I was, and wonder where he was at that particular moment.  A lot of wine was consumed.  Lots of cookies.

The sharp newness turned to a dull listlessness – empty, waiting, remembering.  August brought my new apartment but then a sharp goodbye to our old apartment, where he left most of his/our belongings to die a sad, lonely death.  It didn’t seem right.  My hopes were raised in September, then dashed again two months later.  Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas, and the bleakness coupled with a nasty case of bronchitis made the holidays less than holly jolly.  I saw 2014 in with the resolution that by December, I’d be me again.  I’d be whole.  February brought the official news that things were truly over, forever, and I made my way to therapy, once a week, because that feeling wasn’t one that had been covered in any book I’d read.

By May, I was feeling that light at the end of the tunnel that everyone talks about.  I was dating again, I’d come to terms with everything that the relationship between Ry and I wasn’t.  I was moving on, accepting, and I could feel it.

And here we are, July 15, 2014.  It’s funny how time can feel so slow until you forget to count the seconds as they pass.  I am healed.  I am well.  My life is heading towards the place I’ve always wanted it to be.

I still feel sad sometimes.  My therapist says I’ll always be a little sensitive in spots, so it doesn’t bother me too much when something pinches. And I figure if I have to reach back to feel that devastation I felt last year then I’m doing ok.

I have a bucket list of summer and fall things to do, things I never would have done if I was still in a relationship.  I’ve checked off a huge chunk, but I panicked the other day – the summer is passing so fast, and I feel like I’m running out of time.  And then I realized: this isn’t an ending.  There is no deadline.  I have countless summers ahead, with all the time in the world left to start again.  And it may not be the life I had planned for myself for so many years.  But unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game.  You just have to have faith.

I finally do.

What Started it All

When I was taking my first creative writing class at GPC, our professor instructed us to find two samples of creative nonfiction and bring them to class. Below is the second example I found, and the words that inspired me to be a writer. Enjoy.

Mask
by Denice Aldrich Jobe
Brevity

“Danny’s Camaro was primer-gray and had a broken window crank on the passenger side that I cut my leg on when he took a turn too fast. I still have the scar.

It had sun-bleached burgundy seats, and the air inside smelled of too-sweet cherry licorice — a pot of air freshener under the seat to mask the smell of sweat, decay, vulnerability.

He spent too much on a set of rims. Flashy jewelry for a dying thing.

*

We chose a direction and drove, and I hung my head out the window like a dog, eyes closed against the whip of sun-streaked hair. He sped through intersections late late late at night, never bothering to stop, resting his heavy forearm on the window frame, looking at me, instead of the road.

*

We walked the grounds of our high school, leaned against its cool stucco walls, and stared at its doors — closed for the summer — as if to ask, What now?

I liked to step behind him, press my forehead between the blades of his shoulders, wrap my arms around his waist. With every breath his flesh filled my palms.

*

Vagabond, wanderer. Boy of no fixed address. I counted on you to just show up at my door, until one night you didn’t.

I heard you got married. Your friend told me in the 7-Eleven, somewhere between the cat food and the Slurpee machine.

“I thought you knew,” he said.

*

I marvel that the smell of cherry licorice can conjure up that old primer-gray Camaro and its driver, and I wish I could say that fourteen years later I can flip through these scenes as I do old vacation photographs, with mild interest.

But with one whiff I can remember, vividly, how damned hard it was to smile at Danny’s friend in the 7-Eleven and say, ‘I’m so happy for him.'”