“Doesn’t it make you shiver? | There’s a fearlessness I envy | In the simple soft wavering dark.” ~ Alicia Ostriker, from “Ohio Evening”

Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer FCC

Johnny Appleseed Statue, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer (FCC)


 

These things float around in my head
Like a boat that cuts its motor
In the middle of a lake,
Where under a full moon and no wind
The singing of the crickets far away
Goes up and up like a curtain of beads.” ~ Alicia Ostriker, from “Ohio Evening”

Monday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, 73 degrees.

Cooler temperatures have me longing for fall—red and orange foliage, mountain trails, the smell of loam and cold spring water, crisp apples straight from the orchard, wildflower honey. Ah me. I don’t know if I’ll make it through a real post today, so I’ll just start musing and see where it takes me, okay?

So Corey heard from the landowner, and it doesn’t look promising. The owner wants to sell outright, no lease to buy, and that’s perfectly understandable; also,  the other family that is very interested in the property told him that they can have the financing by March of next year. So if we want this property, we need to sell one of these houses so that, we hope, we can secure a new mortgage for the property before March 2015.

Did you get all of that?

Tofukuji Temple, Japan by Ari Helminen FCC

Tofukuji Temple, Japan by Ari Helminen FCC
Even though this image has a copyright symbol on it, it was listed on the photographer’s site as being creative commons

In essence, unless we sell something, we’re not going to get my dream property. And the bummer is that we just cannot put our house on the market without doing some work on it. I refuse to take a loss on this house, which might seem stubborn, but it would seem too much like a failure.

Here’s what we need to do to put it on the market:

  • Rip up the old carpet and make the floors look presentable
  • Install a new back door
  • Replace all of the windows
  • Gut the kitchen and install new cabinetry and tile
  • Paint everything
  • Replace a couple of interior doors
  • Have central ac installed
  • Replace three ceiling fans and install new lighting in the kitchen
  • Finish the bathroom

“And you are left in the end with all that pain cannot take from you.” ~ Carole Maso, from Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo

It actually isn’t a whole lot, and we can do everything except for the AC, and if we do the work, I think that we can get everything done for between 20 and 30K.

I mean, the boys and I can work on the painting while Corey is out. If we’re not staying here, then we don’t need to install the expensive door that I had picked out, and we can save on the kitchen cabinetry as well. Doing a kitchen is not nearly as hard as doing a bathroom; I know this because I’ve done the kitchen in this house before (my ex and I). Installing cabinetry takes a level and two people to handle the cabinets.

Oregan Trail in Autumn by Ian Sane FCC

Oregon Trail in Autumn by Ian Sane (FCC)

Corey has said that he never wants to take on another renovation project himself, having been almost defeated by the bathroom gut and reno; he says that he would rather hire someone to do it, but I think if it means the difference between getting and not getting this property while we wait for funds to do the work, he may see it my way. At least I’m hoping he will. This is one of those situations in which it would be nice if his brothers lived closer so that they could chip in a day or two of help, especially his brother Chad, who is incredibly handy and seems to just know how to do anything.

Anyway, if we start on this work next month, I honestly think that we could be finished by December, and then we could put the house on the market.

Am I not being realistic? Maybe. But this means too much to me to just sit back and accept that we cannot do it.

“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.
From time to time my heart is like some oak
whose blood runs golden where a branch is torn.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, from “Evening Prayer,” trans. Wyatt Mason

As far as putting the house on the market, I have no idea what the market is like in this area at the moment. I haven’t been in touch with any of my realty contacts in years, so I don’t know if the market is a buyer’s or a seller’s or no one’s. I know that the market has rebounded since the crash of 2007, and I know that it isn’t inflated like it was in 2004-05. Other than that, I have no idea if we can even sell this stupid house.

GE Eastman House, NY by Lisa Cook fcc

GE Eastman House, NY by Lisa Cook (FCC)

I really don’t want to think about it any more at the moment. Let’s see, in other news . . .

I’ve been eating everything in sight for the past few days. No idea where that’s coming from unless it’s stress. It’s stress . . . it’s always stress . . . I throw up . . . it’s stress . . . I eat too much . . . it’s stress . . . I can’t sleep . . . it’s stress . . . I sleep too much . . . it’s stress.

Sheesh. Whatever.

Later this afternoon I’m picking up Olivia, and she’ll stay with me until tomorrow. At least I have that to look forward to. A few hours with le bébé, and almost always it puts me right as rain, even though it leaves me exhausted . . . it’s stress . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Luke Sital, “Nearly Morning”

                   

So Much of the World

So much of the world exists
without us

the mountain in its own steepness

the deer sliding
into the trees becoming
a darkness
in the woods’ darkness.

So much of an open field
lies somewhere between the grass
and the dragonfly’s drive and thrum

the seed and seedling,
the earth within.

But so much of it lies in someone
standing alone at the edge of a field
with a life apart

feeling for a moment
the plover’s cry
on the tongue

the curve and plumb
of the apple bough
in limb and bone.

So much of it between
one thing and another,

days of invitation,
then of release and return.

~ Gregory Djanikian

“We forget we’re mostly water till the rain falls and every atom in our body starts to go home.” ~ Albert Huffstickler, from We Forget

Along Toutle Trail by Connie A Wandering Soul

Along Toutle Trail by Connie A Wandering Soul


“Dreams, like memories, are shores we row toward to escape the ever same tomorrow and their cruel futility. Days which cannot express themselves are grey and cold. Mute days whose untidy gestures tear us apart.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions Volumes 2 and 3: The Book of Yukel Return to the Book, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop

Wednesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and warmer, 80 degrees.

Corey left yesterday late afternoon. I didn’t sleep last night, so of course I had to be up by 7 this morning. I came back home and crashed and slept another five hours, much longer than I had intended, but obviously I needed it.

Of course, right before Corey left, my phone died, and when Corey took it to T-Mobile, he found out that the warranty expired on August 23. Of course it did. How could it possibly be any other way? So for the next seven or so days, no phone, which actually doesn’t bother me except that I cannot text Corey. So we’ve alerted everyone who might need to know that they should e-mail me if they need me. Of course, I could dig around and find one of those old-fashioned plug-in things . . . how quaint . . .

Light through the Fog by Donnie Nunley FCC

Light through the Fog by Donnie Nunley (FCC)

Last night I had intense dreams, dreams that went on and on. For example, in the last one I can remember, I am driving down this road that is icy, and I pass a truck, but when I pass the truck, somehow it puts me on another road, far from where I’m trying to be. I can no longer find the destination I knew was just ahead. Cut to my washroom, and I’m messing with a new washer and dryer, and nothing is working. I go in the kitchen, where we have company, and without thinking, I disrobe to put my clothes in the laundry basket. Then I realize that I’ve taken all of my clothes off in front of a relative stranger. I run to the garage. Then I’m in an arcade with Brett, Alexis, and a couple of other people. One of the exhibits is a polar bear. I can’t figure out how to get my phone to work to make a call, so I go outside to get a signal. They close the arcade, and half of us are locked outside, and the other half are inside, and I just know that Brett is going to panic.

These dreams exhaust me, but I know they’re from stress, and I’m so weary that I almost typed there from stress, one of my cardinal grammar sins……….

“Distant
the river flows along drunkenly, singing and weeping
prehistories of water, olden times.” ~ Cesar Vallejo, from “Autochthonous Tercet”

So this time last week Corey and I were doing something wonderful, and I’ve been hesitant to write about it just because of that whole jinx thing, but then I decided that it will either happen, or it won’t.

Adney Gap, Blue Ridge Mountains by Donnie Nunley FCC

Adney Gap, Blue Ridge Mountains by Donnie Nunley (FCC)

We drove to the western part of the state, past Roanoke and Christiansburg, to just outside Floyd to look at some property. It’s 66 acres in the mountains with a natural stream and a pond. There is an old house there, but if we were fortunate enough to get it, we would want to build on it and keep the old house. It’s everything I have ever dreamed of: land, mountains, sky, a running stream, so many possibilities. There is a barn with three stalls, an old milking shed that could be turned into a paddock for goats, fruit and nut trees galore. Butterflies abound in the meadows of thistle and wildflowers. There’s even an old spring house where the original owners kept their milk cold using mountain spring water.

We fell in love with it even though we tried not to. I know that my kids would love it and so would Corey’s family. His brothers could come and hunt, which I’m still trying to reconcile myself with; I mean, I could do with wild turkey and grouse, but deer, not so much. And I know that his mother would adore it. It could be my haven, the place I’ve always dreamed of being. And dare I say it, I’ve even been looking at plans for log cabins.

“The blood pumping of the heart, the severed valves, hurt, love. Your blood flows up into the distant mountains and down into the sea, chasm, the red delta, red river, fluid, brutal poetry of blood and broken.: ~ Carole Maso, from Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo

The man is selling it because he just lives too far away for weekend visits. It’s been in his family for over 100 years. He says that his family is heartbroken that he’s selling it, and I can certainly understand that.

Stony Man Mountain, Virginia m01229 FCC

Stony Man Mountain, Virginia m01229 (FCC_

The problem is that in order to buy it we need to sell both houses, and even then we’d still need to take out a mortgage to build the house. It’s definitely doable, especially as my mom’s house is paid for, but not immediately doable, and he wants to sell now. The other thing is that home values still have not completely rebounded, and I’m uncertain as to how much we would get from mom’s house. We proposed several options but have no idea if he’ll go for any of them.

Part of me wishes that we had never gone, because then if we don’t get it, I won’t be heartbroken. But part of me is proud that we went because it means that we’re finally taking steps to make a major change in our lives. My kids all have lives of their own, and if they wanted to move with us, there’s plenty of room to do so. I have no problem in selling this house, but it needs work, and that’s hard with Corey’s schedule.

Ideally, we need a home equity loan to do the work needed here, and the small work needed in Mom’s house, but we’re not positioned for that at the moment.

“And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.” ~ William Butler Yeats, from “Adam’s Curse”

We’ve been working on repairing our credit after those fateful three years of want and need, but it’s hard. It’s especially hard in retrospect because before the big crash nationally and on the home front, we were making real progress financially. But I cannot keep dwelling on that; if I do, it really sends me spiraling.

Coming home from the trip we were so full of possibilities, but we kept telling each other not to get ahead of ourselves. It’s hard, though. That land is everything I have ever dreamed of. It’s not so far that making trips back here would be arduous, and it puts Corey much closer to his family.

Shenandoah Appalachian Trail by wanderingYew2 fcc

Shenandoah Appalachian Trail by wanderingYew2 (FCC)

The seller took us on a nice hike up some trails, but not all the way to the top of the ridge, which is the furthermost point of the land. There is so much variety in the trees on the land, and the stream runs down from the top of the mountain, providing the property with this crystal clear stream water. There is fish in the pond with so much room to make the pond larger and deeper. And yes, there are bears, but you know, that didn’t bother me in the least. I mean, that’s part of living in a place like that. And just think of the possibilities: I could get a few more dogs, some goats, maybe a couple of horses. The neighbor’s cattle graze on part of the land because of a deal he has with the owner, and that would be fine if we could get milk.

I’m running away with myself. Writing about it now makes me so melancholy, partially because I want it to happen now, and partially because it may not happen at all, and of course, there is other land for sale, but this? This is perfect, this is my dream come true, this is my heaven on earth.

“Between memory and reality there are awkward discrepancies, producing a solemn but subtle agitation, an intense but as yet indefinable struggle.” ~ Eileen Chang, from Written on Water

 Want to know something outlandish? Neither Corey nor I took any pictures. We were so enthralled with seeing everything, we never even thought about capturing what we were seeing. Luckily, I only have to close my eyes, and I can still see everything clearly. The song that I’ve chosen for this post could have been filmed on that property, seriously.

Star Trails on Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 188 by krishna_kumar_1 FCC

Star Trails on Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 188 by krishna_kumar_1 (FCC)

One of the reasons I chose yesterday’s images was because they reminded me of where we were a week ago (but the house is not at all dilapidated). Still, I wish that we had thought to take pictures so that we would have those at least if everything falls through.

I hope that I have not set myself up for heartbreak with all of this, something I am prone to do. But if this happens? It would be more than amazing. We would both have what we want. I would have the mountain home with the running stream that I have always, always dreamed of, since I was a young teen, thinking about what I wanted in life. Perhaps even that log cabin. Corey would have a beautiful location while still being close enough to Olivia and even closer to his family. We wouldn’t have to move across the country or abroad. Perfection. Too perfect?

My soul absolutely aches at the moment, both in joy and pain. What if . . . if only . . .

More later. Peace.

The image by Connie – A Wandering Soul looks almost exactly like parts of the stream on the property.

Music by Midlake, “Rulers Ruling all Things”

                   

 August

Just when you’d begun to feel
You could rely on the summer,
That each morning would deliver
The same mourning dove singing
From his station on the phone pole,
The same smell of bacon frying
Somewhere in the neighborhood,
The same sun burning off
The coastal fog by noon,
When you could reward yourself
For a good morning’s work
With lunch at the same little seaside cafe
With its shaded deck and iced tea,
The day’s routine finally down
Like an old song with minor variations,
There comes that morning when the light
Tilts ever so slightly on its track,
A cool gust out of nowhere
Whirlwinds a litter of dead grass
Across the sidewalk, the swimsuits
Are piled on the sale table,
And the back of your hand,
Which you thought you knew,
Has begun to look like an old leaf.
Or the back of someone else’s hand.

~ George Bilgere

                   

How to Regain Your Soul

Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer afternoon
that one place where the valley floor opens out. You will see
the white butterflies. Because of the way shadows
come off those vertical rocks in the west, there are
shafts of sunlight hitting the river and a deep
long purple gorge straight ahead. Put down your pack.

Above, air sighs the pines. It was this way
when Rome was clanging, when Troy was being built,
when campfires lighted caves. The white butterflies dance
by the thousands in the still sunshine. Suddenly, anything
could happen to you. Your soul pulls toward the canyon
and then shines back through the white wings to be you
again.

~ William Stafford

“And now the haunted uprisen wailing call, | And again, and now the beautiful sane laughter.” ~ David Wagoner, from “Loons Mating”

In the Mount Saint Helen National VOlcanic Monument from Connie a Wandering Soul

In the Mount Saint Helen National Volcanic Monument from Connie a Wandering Soul


Two for Tuesday: Remembrance

Tuesday early morning. More storms on the horizon, a bit warmer, 77 degrees.

Hello again. I apologize for the length of yesterday’s post, but I had so much to say and so much that I wanted to share that the whole thing just got away from me, but really, I’m not sorry, because the message was important, the information needed. Much like ALS finally receiving some notable publicity via the ice bucket challenges, perhaps more attention will be paid to suicide as a result of Robin Williams’s suicide.

Perhaps, but I doubt it. Suicide remains shameful, something not to be talked about, which, I suppose, is why I chose to talk about it so much.

Anyway, the Balgach poem below was originally going with yesterday’s post, but I felt that two poems was overkill, as it were, so here it is, along with another one I just found by Noel Coward, and I must admit that for some reason, I never equated Coward with poetry, only plays. Just goes to show how much you don’t know when you think you know everything.

Enjoy.

                    

Barbwire from Connie A Wandering Soul

Barbwire from Connie A Wandering Soul

What Holds Us

This morning I listened to the first birds of spring.
Even those birds bear the weight of time on their shoulders.
I have come from the ends of the universe to tell you this. Right now
I am so present that my breaths feel like knives
and these recollections are as loud
as a stranger’s footsteps on a quiet street.
Yesterday I recited the names of every dead person I know
because each day their names are spoken less. Everyone gets forgotten.
We each forget something about ourselves,
every day. It doesn’t matter. In the afternoon,
even on cold afternoons, birds sing their truths like birds
and I long to be as original as a first kiss.
I don’t know why I am trying to tell your heart
to hear its own tick. Tomorrow is going to come like lightning.
I’ll be breathing down some stranger’s neck,
pacing old footsteps over the same sidewalk I walked yesterday,
wondering what to eat for supper.
Such tired tunes make all of us go round
like ponies at the fair. Nobody deserves anything
but we want so much. Only nothing holds us forever.

~ Martin Balgach

                   

Abandoned from Connie A Wandering Soul

Abandoned from Connie A Wandering Soul

Nothing is Lost

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

~ Noel Coward

                    

Music by The Soundtrack of Our Lives, “Second Life Replay”

Images are taken from Connie – A Wandering Soul tumblr.

“How do we forgive ourselves for all of the things we did not become?” ~ David ‘Doc’ Luben, from “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes”

/Portals/14/EasyDNNRotator/61184/2vmm2jv5.jpg

September 8-14 is Suicide Prevention Week

“You were said to have died of suffering. […] You died because you searched for happiness at the risk of finding the void.” ~ Édouard Levé, from Suicide

  stigma_2

Monday afternoon. Stormy and cool, 74 degrees.

I’ve been holding on to the center of this post in anticipation of this week. You see, this post began as a reflection on Robin Williams, but after doing some pondering, I decided that the subject matter was so much bigger than one person. To that end, I have included lots of links that I hope may be useful to anyone just wishing to learn more, anyone looking to help a friend or family member, or anyone feeling a bit lost.

If the information I have gathered here helps even one person, then the entire reason for this blog and some of what I try to do here will have been validated.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week, and September is Suicide Prevention Month for the military. You might be surprised at the statistics related to suicide. Follow this link for a detailed list of suicide facts. Go here to learn more about military suicides, or call the Veterans’ Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, option 1.

Suicide Oncoming2

If you think someone you know may be suicidal, here are some key warning signs from AAS (American Association of Suicidology):

How do you remember the Warning Signs of Suicide?
Here’s an easy-to-remember mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

 I  Ideation
Substance Abuse

Purposelessness
Anxiety
Trapped
Hopelessness

Withdrawal
Anger
Recklessness
Mood Changes

A person in acute risk for suicidal behavior most often will show:

Warning Signs of Acute Risk:
Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

These might be remembered as expressed or communicated ideation.  If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.

Additional Warning Signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes

If you are looking for a crisis center near you, click on this link.

Suicide StickFigures5

Here are a few key facts to ponder:

  • According to the New York Times, suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade, prompting concern that a generation of baby boomers who have faced years of economic worry and easy access to prescription painkillers may be particularly vulnerable to self-inflicted harm.
  • The Center for Disease Control reports that U.S. suicide deaths now outnumber deaths by automobile accident, the rate has jumped almost 20 percent in the last decade The suicide rate among Americans 45 to 64 has jumped more than 30 percent in the last decade.
  • One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds around the world, the World Health Organization says in a new report that finds few countries have specific policies focused on preventing suicide.
  • According to SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices in Education), there are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but there are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (AAS)
  • Each year, 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide.(SAVE)
  • Last year, 185 active-duty Army soldiers died by suicide, surpassing the 176 soldiers killed in battle in Afghanistan that year. The Army’s annual death toll from suicide has more than tripled since 2001, when 52 active-duty soldiers took their own lives. (Huffington Post)
fenway

“And the whole landscape seems littered
with fallen dreams.” ~ Richard Jackson, from “Possibility”

A few weeks ago, I encountered an emotional body slam the likes of which I had not experienced in quite a while when I heard of Robin Williams’s suicide, and while it may seem a bit strange that I was so affected by the suicide of someone I had never met, you have to understand that I grew up with Robin Williams, first as the alien Mork, and then later with all of his various movie incarnations and one-man shows.

To me, the comic/actor’s frenetic energy belied his incredible wit and intellect. Williams could improvise instantly on any given topic thrown at him by the audience. In the Disney movie Aladdin, Williams first improvised his lines, and then his character was animated. His performance in Bird Cage with Nathan Lane makes it one of the few comedies that I will rewatch. Williams was a throwback to the very physical comedians of the 40’s and 50’s.

Robin Williams in Las Vegas

Robin Williams in Las Vegas (Reuters)

Of course, like any actor, Williams had his hits and his misses, but even in his misses there were moments of pure genius.  It’s as if no one project could contain him, his persona always bigger than the vehicle. But I loved his turns in dramas as much as I loved his comedies. It was his face, his ability to move his face in improbable ways, and his deeply sad blue eyes. Like many people, if I had not already read of his depressive episodes, I never would have associated the man with suicide.

Yet as we now know, on August 14, the funny man chose a final exit, one from which he would never return. And that isn’t funny at all.

Of course there was the morbid reporting, the details of the death, the rampant speculation, including some bizarre claim about the Illuminati. Nothing can hold the vultures at bay. Yet within all of this were a few nuggets worth notice: Williams was talking about future projects. His family was unaware of his suicidal thoughts.

And what this means is that Williams, in death, was much the same as any other person considering suicide: how much is hidden from everyone, how much is faked, how little is actually shared—until it’s too late. Although his unrestrained demeanor was on display for the public, we can never know of the great sadness he kept private.

And that is the very nature of suicide: its two opposing faces.

“Silence. Everything here is now clothed
in strict grief; and this passion,
like bad kerosene, barely burns.” ~ Cesar Vallejo, from “Plaster”

As I’ve said, I loved so many of the man’s projects, but I stayed away from his recent television show simply because the previews seemed a bit forced. I really don’t know what I mean when I say that, only that it just didn’t appeal to me. I loved him as the killer in Insomnia, and the creepy stalker in One Hour Photo, and as contrived as it was, his turn in Jack broke my heart. Unlike many, I loved the fantasy of What Dreams May Come, and he remains my favorite Peter Pan from Hook.

But I won’t hesitate to say that my favorite Robin Williams’ movie was Dead Poets’ Society

Years ago when I was teaching an American literature class, I used the movie Dead Poets’ Society to discuss place as it influences characters. I invited the students to view the movie in a different way, paying attention to the time period in which it was set, the cloistered effect of an all-boys’ elite boarding school, and the different roles of the three main characters (Keating, Neil, and Todd) and what made them outsiders.

As Keating in Dead Poets’ Society

I always thought that casting Robin Williams in this period drama was genius. The fact that he wasn’t completely restrained only added to his characterization as the prodigal student returned in the role of faculty member; his interjections of John Wayne impersonations only cemented the fact that Keating would never really belong at Welton Academy, no matter how much he tried.

And while some of my colleagues criticized the movie for being too simplistic and predictable, I found myself loving it for so many reasons—watching the moment Todd sounds his barbaric yawp, seeing the young Josh Charles as the lovestruck teen. And who can forget the final scene when the boys stand on their desks in an homage to their captain . . .

To this day I cannot watch DPS without weeping at the ending, at the loss of the artistic tortured Neil, at the forever changed idealistic Todd, and at the tempering of the inspirational Mr. Keating for the sake of the status quo. Williams’s Keating was the kind of teacher few of us ever encounter in real life, but the one whose classroom we all wish we had sat in, even if for only an hour or two.

But I would be remiss if I did not address the elephant in the room:  the irony of the plot is not lost on me now as I write this. The character Neil commits suicide rather than be forced into a role he cannot play, and everyone is left to pick up the pieces and go on. It is the coda that we do not see: Mr. Keating walking out the door knowing that a beautiful light has been extinguished forever.

R. I. P. Mr. Williams. We are all poorer for your passing.

If you’d like to find out how you can get in involved in the fight against suicide, please contact AAS’ Central Office at 202-237-2280, email us at info@suicidology.org, or reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter. If interested specifically in making a donation to further suicide prevention, or in the U OK? t-shirt campaign, click here.

Music by Richard Walters, “Infinity Street”


                   

Post Hoc

It happened because he looked a gift horse in the mouth.
It happened because he couldn’t get that monkey off his back.
It happened because she didn’t chew 22 times before swallowing.
What was she thinking, letting him walk home alone from the bus stop?
What was he thinking, standing up in the boat like that?
Once she signed those papers the die was cast.
She should have waited an hour before going in; everyone knows
salami and seawater don’t mix.
He should have checked his parachute a seventh time;
you can never be too careful.
Why didn’t she declare her true feelings?
Why didn’t she play hard to get? She could be out at some
nice restaurant right now instead of in church, praying
for the strength to let him go.
It all started with that tattoo.
It all started with her decision to order the chicken salad.
Why was he so picky?
Why wasn’t she more discriminating?
He should have read the writing on the wall; listened
to the still small voice, had a lick of sense. But how could he when he
was blinded by passion? Deaf to warnings? Really dumb?
Why, why, in God’s name, did he run with scissors?
If only they’d asked Jesus for help.
If only they’d asked their friends for help.
If only they’d ignored the advice of others and held fast
to their own convictions, they might all be here, now,
with us, instead of six feet under; instead of trying to adopt
that foreign baby, instead of warming that barstool
at the Road Not Taken Eatery and Lounge, wondering how it might all
have been different, if only they had done
the right thing.

~ Jennifer Maier