Sunday, August 24, 2014


Like so many, I was shocked and saddened upon hearing the news that Robin Williams took his own life. It was almost as if with that knowledge, came a tarnish that washed over everything and made it less vibrant. I learned about it at work when a coworker came to my desk and asked me if I'd heard. First thing I did, like everyone else near a computer, was check to see if it was a hoax. It wasn't. Robin Williams had died alone by his own hand believing the lie that depression was telling him--that death was the only way out.

As news feeds or texts reached phones, iPads and computers, or coworkers reached each other's desks spreading the sad news, a hush gradually sank over the office like an encroaching fog bank. I work for a major entertainment company, one where Robin Williams had created iconic, beloved characters. Some of my coworkers were even lucky enough to have worked with him at a point in their careers. But, I knew the hush wasn't just because we were an entertainment company with thousands of tendrils that reached deep, far and wide into the entertainment industry. That hush that came over us was happening in other offices, coffee shops, homes, stores, schools and anywhere else where the news was becoming known. The reason, was that Robin Williams wasn't just entertainment. He was a part of us. He was our friend, psychologist, teacher, parent, schoolmate, and class clown who was always good for a laugh when we needed it. He was joy, surprise, understanding and for all of us who felt like we walk outside the fray, comfort in his fearless expression. It was as if he was able to reach inside all of us who felt we had things that made us "weird" and make it not just funny, but acceptable and likable. That is something that goes beyond talent.

What especially hit hard for me was how he died. That he had chosen it. That the weight of depression had finally become too heavy for him to lift and make funny. I couldn't help thinking, that if a genius like Robin Williams couldn't push past it, could anyone? What kind of world was this if Robin Williams didn't want to live in it anymore? I know intellectually that his reasons as well as illness go much deeper than that, but emotionally that's where it hit.

On my drive home from work, I was stopped at a long light and turned up the radio. I had it tuned to 106.7 where the song "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was playing. Even though I'd heard it hundreds of times before, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I sat and wondered how many people were like me, sitting in their car at a red light, hands slackening on the steering wheel as their eyes relaxed into a haze, taking in every word of the lyrics and trying to comprehend their sadness.

"It's hard to believe
That there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe
That I'm all alone...


I don't ever want to feel
Like I did that day
Take me to the place I love
Take me all that way..."


When the song was over, the DJ came on and answered my question. Through a barely composed voice, she said, "Amazing how a song can feel so different depending on what's going on in the world, and even though I've heard it so many times, hearing it now feels so different with today's sad news."

So no, I wasn't alone in my reflection during Anthony Kiedis's lament. The light changed, we all drove forward to wherever we were going. When I got home, I avoided the television and radio as much as I could, and stuck to checking the web every now and then. Mostly Facebook, reading my friends reactions and reflections. This one was hitting everyone hard.

That night, I watched "Under the Dome," and at the end of the episode, a melancholy, beautiful song played over a montage that perfectly captured the pallor of the day, and what I was personally feeling. I opened the Shazam app and held up my phone, the icon pulsed as it listened and revealed that the song was Coldplay's "Midnight." I downloaded the song at once, and later that night when I was in bed, illuminated only by the light of my phone, I played it. I listened to the lyrics as I looked at the song's cover art displayed on my phone. Two loosely drawn angel wings, so poignant.

"In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of the storm
When I'm rolling with the punches, and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on...

 
Millions of miles from home
In the swirling, swimming on
When I'm rolling with the thunder but bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on..." 


And, that is when my tears came for Robin Williams, and for the sadness that he couldn't keep at bay. For my understanding of that sadness, having had nasty bouts of depression myself. For the shocked rest of us when someone we know decides to take matters into their own hands rather than trust us enough to help them through their darkest hour. For the phone call that makes our knee caps go numb and weakness ricochet in our legs. For the hair-trigger emotional echoes that surface years later.

However, as I've reflected more on Robin Williams' suicide, I've decided to honor him by remembering the years that he did win the battle over his sadness and not let his suicide overshadow how much that man made us laugh. And oh my God, did he make us laugh.

 So Robin, by remembering you with laughter and not sadness, we leave a light on.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Happy birthday to me.

Oliver decided to celebrate my birthday by well, being Oliver. I came home to see him happily lying across my desk, as well as what I was working on.


I start this year with a choice being presented to me, one that I will be acting on this week. It's been hard, because as a friend told me, it is a "problem of plenty." Meaning, I'm making this choice not because I have to, but because I have to choose which is the better one for me in the long run. I can't be more specific than that. I can say, however, that I feel positive about year ahead. More so than I have in a long time.

I'm still making jewelry, but at a slow pace. I created a bunch of heart pieces. Upon posting this picture on my Heard and Seen Facebook page, I sold five immediately, before even putting them on Etsy. I can't say that didn't make me feel good. As you can see, I hadn't even put the hardware on them yet. The big blue one in the middle was my first attempt at shaping wood to make a pendant. And yes, it was one of the ones that sold. The rest of the pendants are scrabble tiles.

As far as putting the rest on Etsy, I'm trying to find the most efficient, yet eye-pleasing way to photograph them. I've been slow at that too. It's a laborious process, and I have a less than ideal work space to create everything, and even less so to photograph it.

I have a plan for that too, in that I'm going to be ridding myself of a lot of stuff in my apartment and making it more functional. I need a place to work when I want to create, and a little desk isn't conducive.

Even so, I'm not sure that I want jewelry to be my main creation on the page. The pieces I make are labor intensive, and while I love them, I want to work bigger. Speaking of that, I've been commissioned to do an art piece.

I went to my dad and stepmom's lake house over the Fourth of July. Had a wonderful time, and this time the weather was gorgeous. Gone was the biblical weather of last year, and in its place was a gorgeous week of sunshine and puffy clouds. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew were here this time as well, and all of us had a great time eating way too much, having wonderful wine, boating, eating fabulous bbq and playing games. On the night of the Fourth, we took the boat out, and among dozens of boats, floated on the lake to watch the country club fireworks. The reflections of colors dancing with the ripples on the lake, and echoes of booms pin-balling off the smokey mountains.

I went out with my 17-year-old nephew on "Big Mable," which is a floating two-seater designed for being pulled behind a boat and holding on for dear life. My brother-in-law was at the wheel of the boat, and once we were seated, went with throttle up. We both screamed and cracked up, and when it came to me, you can add cursed, invoked the name of the Lord and shouted incoherent updates about the direction in which my person was flying in opposition to Big Mable, as my brother-in-law zig-zagged us across the lake and crossed wakes, sending us airborne and bouncing over the water.  My nephew was more specific in his proclamations, shouting, "I've got a giant wedgie!" To which I shouted back, "So do I!" But, Big Mable failed to throw us, and even with wedgies firmly inserted, we tamed that ornery hoss.