A few words on suicide, and other taboo things.

555957_124589441016089_22963464_nNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK

“I have a lump in my breast.”

With these words, Edith Bunker informed a generation, despite the stigma, that these things need to be talked about.

It’s hard to imagine in these “pink” days a time when it was not OK to discuss breast cancer, to encourage each other to get checked, to wear pink ribbons in honor and in memory of our loved ones. People my age remember where they were when they heard Edith Bunker say those words-her lump became our lump. We were all in this thing together.

I started thinking about 70’s comedy while reflecting on the passing of Robin Williams, and the comedy he brought to our lives. I couldn’t help but remember Mrs. Doubtfire, since boobies were on my mind. Boobies on fire, and other trying aspects of womanhood, brought to you by one of the world’s hairiest men. My my personal favorite of his was the use of the water bottles in his HBO special. Lets just say you wouldn’t want to be sitting in the front row.

While the world is still raw with the news of his passing, some “blaming the victim” articles are beginning to emerge.  The chats are lighting up with a common theme: selfishness.

You will not find “the selfishness of suicide” comments here.

Like the breast cancer of Archie Bunker’s day, suicide needs to be OK’d for discussion. Likely get a boost in the news for a month or two following Williams death, we can begin to help by keeping the conversation going. Eventually, it will likely go back in its neat little closet, because it produces a type of grief that leaves us helpless as we become victims of the sadness, too.

If you had a lump in your breast, you’d get it checked out. If you have a lump in your psyche, please get it checked out. Tell somebody. The national suicide hotline has resources to get you to immediate help. You can also use this number to make a donation to help others, and you can do it in Robin Williams’ name.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK)


image credit: http://www.facebook/suicideisnntstupid.org

The Adoption Cube

Note: This article was originally published here, where my friend Luanne (dontwelookalike.wordpress.com) added her beautiful background –re-posting …

The Adoption Cube

Luanne Castle’s Kin Types

When is a poem not a poem? When it’s a kin type, Kin (literally, one’s family or relations) type (a category of people or things having common characteristics). The reader doesn’t quite know what to expect when diving into Luanne Castle’s second poetry collection, Kin Types because it is immediate evident that this is not fiction, not poetry, not history nor prose. Kin Types is all of these things spun into a genre-bending volume of poems that demand to be read over and over again, for their plot and lyricism, and for their contribution to the preservation of times past for both one family and all families.

As a fan of Castles first award-winning book, Doll God, I was expecting more of the types of poems that cause one to pause, and reminisce; these poems provoke memory you didn’t even know you had. The kin in Kin Types are a bit grittier, by sheer nature of their age, more mature; these poems may be full of vignettes your gramma couldn’t bear to tell you.

From Advice From Our Forebears, which reads like a foreward at the book’s opening:

We can’t talk about it, but here’s your great-grandma’s Eastern Star ring so you will have a signal.

Coming from my own Masonic roots, the meaning and the secrecy were not lost on me.

Everybody was always dying it seems, but the text isn’t sad. It is practical. Like a detective out of Dragnet, Castle aims to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth. Seemingly without embellishment but by no means stark, many of the poems spell out plainly the hardships of life without modern conveniences. The Ill-Timed Elopement tells us plainly what happened to the couple, but underlying the facts, there is a shred of hope that, pardon the cliché, springs eternal, as it does in many of the poems.

Once and Now speaks of a hate ripped right out of current events:

“Given their immigrant circumstances, the career

 had seemed wise until now, with Huns like red

Devils leering down from propaganda posters

Jeering them with their German names,

a town friend’s Dachshund ripped from her arms,

his brains smashed on the pavement, onto

her shoes. Shoes she showed Clara, pointing,

See, see how dangerous they are in their hate!

This is a great gift book for your friend that likes history but doesn’t yet know if she likes poetry. Good for the reader dipping her toe in the area where history and creativity collide. The cover makes for a fine conversation starter, especially with the addendum found on the author’s website LuanneCastle.com. This volume will proudly sit atop your coffee table collection, and the poems will spark conversation as well as memories, depending on the reader’s age and inclinations.

This book will also likely appear on the shelves of the 23andMe and the Ancestory dot-comers, as well it should: these are not just lines about Castles family, they are bits of wisdom from generations past and passed down.

Suggested classroom reading for multiple themes, scholarly research and something-for-everyone contents: 5 stars.


Oh, I voted.

In fact, I voted for her.

In my people-pleasing “don’t rock the boat” manner I wheeled my rolling walker behind the heavy curtain in our old-fashioned voting booths and quietly pulled the lever. (If I had to do it in a big open space like I saw the First Couple have to do it, I would have had some panic issues.)

I didn’t even think of it as “the lesser of two evils,” I thought of it as the only rational choice.

I even clicked on the voting machine switches extra lightly, as if people could hear me vote. I felt a sense of relief as I left the polls. Still, I told no one, as I I didn’t want to disappoint a loved one, and I didn’t want to become embroiled in debate.

Since my brain surgery 10 years ago doctors keep congratulating me. It is as if surviving a tumor that strikes primarily young men was something I deserved some sort of credit for-one Doc shook my hand like I won an Olympic gold. I never felt that way. But I felt that way about voting Tuesday. That I deserved some sort of medal for overcoming obstacles  physically, and mentally, emotionally and literally to get out and vote.

Not having my old confidence to debate (due to aphasia and the inability to hold on to a thought for more than a few seconds (think ADD on steroids), I avoid ‘talking  politics.’ On a certain level I started to feel less entitled to my opinions and that I should just leave it up to quicker, more articulate tongues.

I used to feel that everyone around me could do or say what they want but in the end, they, same as me, would go behind the heavy curtain and get one single vote. Naïve, and again, I am sorry.

I apologize to every person that will be marginalized by the incoming administration.

I am not deluded that speaking my mind would have changed the outcome of the election, but it is embarrassing that so many didn’t have a chance to know where I stand due to my conflict-avoidance behavior patterns.

Next time I will be more vocal, clearer and more transparent. The same things I expect from our government elected officials.

Next week: “Taking a knee.”

100 Words About Jell-O

Words that make no sense to a child. “If you don’t take those ear-muffs off, you’ll be freezing when you go out.”

I took the profanity  out, but if you do my little Nana, you already heard it in your head. Why the holidays always make me think of the Jell-O stories, don’t know. 

My Nana had this yellow enamel pan with a black line around the top edge. She made the Jell-O in it. She made that jello just for me. Oh, she made a couple of other things in that pan, like baked beans, but the jello was mine, and it was always there. I understood that my parents and my mom’s parents would always be there for me, just the way the jello was always there.
It may not sound like such a big deal, but these are the things that separate us from the animals.
100 words about Jello. There.