Listening

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Black is Beautiful

 A playlist to represent a little bit of everything I love:

Ella Fitzgerald – “Blue Skies” – My favorite singer of ALL TIME. The scatting! Look it up and whose photo does it show? ELLA! The queen.

John Coltrane – “Blue Train”

Miles Davis – “Stella by Starlight”

Marvin Gaye – “Inner City Blues”

Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour”

Mos Def – “Umi Says”

Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation”

Erykah Badu – “Love of My Life (an Ode to Hip Hop)”

Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”

James Brown – “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”

Jackson Five – “Never Can Say Goodbye”

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “The Creator”

The Carters – “Apeshit”

Public Enemy – “Rebel Without a Pause”

Erik B. & Rakim – “I Ain’t No Joke”

J Dilla – “Trashy”

Ray Charles – “Georgia”

Aretha Franklin – “Day Dreaming”

Abbey Lincoln – “For All We Know”

Nina Simone – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”

With two famous suicides in the news, I have been thinking, even more than I normally would, about mental illness and suicide. And since I have been plagued by what Winston Churchill called the “black dog” since I first tried to kill myself at age eight, I have a bit more than two cents to offer on it. I’ve got a whole dollar and what I anticipate being a lot of swear words. Because I am pissed.

First off, for nearly every person I have heard comment on how important it is to talk to you about my depression, because you really care. Mean what you say. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this line, then attempted to get my head in a safe space only to be on the receiving end of bullshit like:

  1. How could YOU possibly know about depression? You’re my cheerful friend! Just because I work my ass off to keep it positive absolutely does not mean I have not visited or sometimes resided long-term in the pit of despair.
  2. Here’s what you should do! Yes, I have seen a therapist. Yes, I’ve read books. Yes, I have tried exercising more (an hour every day) and yoga and meditation and eating differently. Yes, I do take note of small miracles and kindnesses (bees! a smile from a stranger! that cloud there, literally floating!), of how TRULY great my husband is, AND how lucky I am. And yet, none is a cure. My brain is still broken.
  3. Oh, well then, maybe drugs are the answer. I tried them, multiple kinds and doses. They only made it worse, physically and mentally, so I quit them.
  4. I’m super uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something else.  If I am feeling brave enough to share my anguish with you, a person who is supposed to care, I am going full narcissist and only want to talk about my shit. Shut up and really listen. It is being heard, admitting openly (sometimes only in a whisper to myself) that I am hurting and my suffering is bordering on self destruction that I am saved.

Finally, should I ever choose suicide, know that it isn’t because I think it will make me happy or that I don’t have a fierce love or genuine concern for the feelings of my family and friends. It will be out of sheer exhaustion and a sincere desire for relief. My body aches with depression. My head, my heart. It makes me vomit while shouldering the crushing weight of mountains. It fills my mind with terrible piercing screams, of the horrible and unspeakable that exists in the world, of my own foibles – all that I am not, all that I cannot do and be and see, of the utterly stupid and trivial. Some of it is true. Much of it is not, but still, it continues, and I along with it, for how long I cannot say.

But, because, miracle of miracles, I remain an optimist, I have hope that it is ages and ages.

Last night Joy Division was on a constant loop, on the hi-fi and my mind’s eye. Positively agog that this music has been a steady part of my being for more than thirty years. What, whaaat? T H I R T Y.

I sat, joyfully awash in the memories elicited.

Of staying up late, hunched over my desk, doing homework, music low. Other times, the joyous solitude of listening for the sake of it, to grasp the meaning, scribbling words and ideas in notebooks, pinning them on walls and doors, of dancing by myself wrapped in the sheer pleasure, of attempting to drown the noise of a loud house and an even louder family.

Of being an outsider, neither a punk nor a waver, neither a stoner nor a jock, neither a nerd nor a cheerleader, but skirting the territories, knowing each as a person and friend, beloved, crafting the finest patchwork quilt of companions, threads of kindness in my wake. Proving some things never change. Be who you are. Love and do as you like, just show me your kindness, your heart, and we can be friends.

Unpredictable me. Clothes preppy and new wave, loafers and buckle shoes, never a sock. Obsessed with skulls and so much black, save around the eyes. Makeup light, bangs high, then the bob I would have for years, sometimes bangs, sometimes not, shoulder to chin and back again. Honor roll student doing donuts in my friend’s Charger, fast, faster, I laughed wildly while he whimpered like the baby I was purported to be. French student of the year who occasionally got high, drank practically never, save to taste. My first cocktail was a Lynchburg Lemonade, further proving some things never change. I do like whiskey best. Designated driver and caretaker, I got people safely home, handed out bowls to vomit in, and practically ran a therapist’s office out of my car.

My car! I worked long hours and saved for years, fast food and bussing tables, finally having enough Christmas break senior year of high school. 1981 Toyota Celica, five speeds and the freedom to do what I please. My music. My Thoughts. My whims. Mostly in darkness, when I reflect, whizzing and crawling along the back roads of Arvada, Boulder, and the mountains beyond. The Sex Lights and searching for possessed goats. Driving to parties, the Westminster Mall. The highway downtown to be among the skateboarders, outsider again, my favorite, wickedly handsome with a foot tall mohawk and bad manners. But, goll-ee, to watch him skate, the grace and lightness of fine articulated limbs.

Later, at night, to wander among the warehouses, under viaducts, places long gone. To smoke – stupidly, for a year – Camels and the fanciest black cloves at Paris on the Platte, sip a Cafe Jacques, or, on more brazen evenings, a Crowbar, plied with enough caffeine to open the eyes of the dead. Other times it was Muddy’s, darker, quiet and moodier, too, whispering among ceiling-high books, nursing a chocolaccino, delicate sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Music was the undercurrent of it all, often misunderstood and mocked by friends, yet what held us together, too. Those dark hours, adding up to days and months, driving and talking, the music never stopped. Joy Division. The Doors. The Cure. U2. New Order. INXS. Lou Reed. The Clash. Eazy-E. The Rolling Stones. The Beastie Boys. The Psychedelic Furs. Echo and the Bunnymen. The Smiths. Modern English. General Public. More I can’t remember. More I choose to forget.

 

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Love is Strange – A bittersweet tale of love and family that follows a gay couple, Ben and George, and the repercussions of their marriage after being together for thirty-nine years. George loses his job and the couple must sell their apartment and look for a less expensive place, all while living apart with friends and relatives. A great look at relationships and personalities, and the different ways in which we cope and love.

It is especially dear to me as I think of my Uncle Chris and his now husband Joe, who got married just this month (huzzah!), after being together for over twenty-two years. I am so grateful that they live in a place where their love and marriage poses no threat to their job or housing security!

Orphan Black – A streetwise mother discovers she is a clone after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks like her. Intrigue! Drama! Suspense! And if none of that sounds even remotely interesting, there’s the fact that Tatiana Maslany pulls off, with great aplomb, playing more than a half dozen completely believable and badass characters, our hands-down favorite being Helena. Hello sestra!

The Discoverers – A father’s road trip with his children gets derailed by death, madness, and being forced to participate in a Lewis and Clark re-enactment trek. This hilarious and sweet tale falls into the Colleen loves quirky category, most definitely.

Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof bought a taped and battered trunk at auction. Hoping for treasure, he found it in spades, with photographs shot by Vivian Maier, a mostly unknown woman with a penchant for capturing the everyday, in thousands upon thousands of photographs. Maloof plays detective and documentarian in a fil-um that asks as many questions as it raises. One thing is quite clear, at least to me, the woman had a phenomenal eye!

Tracks – A moving tale of Robyn Davidson’s 1977 solo journey, save a few camels and her beloved dog, some 1,700 miles across the Australian Outback. Beautifully filmed, this is a send-up to love, for our dreams, our strengths and weaknesses, our fierce and fragile souls, our beloved pets, and the mysteries and wonders of life and humanity.

Oh, and the music is a-mazing. My hat is off to you, Garth Stevenson.

Scrotal Recall – yes, you read that properly. After learning he’s contracted an STD, Dylan must get back in touch with every woman he’s ever slept with. Luckily the list isn’t terribly long, though the six episodes certainly left me itching for the next. A fun, silly, and, at times, quite serious look at love and relationships, including those with our best friends. Fabulous!

Two Lives – The Berlin Wall is crumbling. A woman leads a comfortable life with a loving husband and family in Norway. Her life begins to unravel after being asked to testify against the Norwegian state on behalf of war children, those with Norwegian mothers and Nazi fathers. The story brought rather abominable practices to light (at least for the hubster and me) and asks important questions about truth. A thriller!

Ida – an orphan raised by the church learns she is Jewish just before taking her vows as a nun. A marvelously evocative tale of loss and identity, with stunning cinematography.

Pride – This follows the story of gay and lesbian activists who raised money in support of striking miners in 1984 only to be initially rejected. They decide to deliver the funds in person and a wonderfully unique alliance is created. Ever so sweet and a touch sad, too.

 

 

 

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Smedley, my neighborhood pal

bright brilliant blue

Natural Selection

Vegetables at the height of splendor.

Not usually one to engage in hyperbole, I must say that the meals we’ve enjoyed there have been the best of our lives, down to the last detail.

Spicy Lacquer Fried Chicken and Yeasted Waffle with Ham at Sunshine Tavern


Eagerly awaiting another Wes Anderson gem – opening Friday in Portland!

Wes talks about making the fil-um here.

Radiohead – “Separator”

After the chatter stops, the magic begins.

Six years and 9 0 0 posts!

How crazy is that?

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