If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

This week’s headline:

“Five years down the road, Harry might have become a fornicating, drug-addicted Evolutionist!” ~ Grace Anne fanfiction of Harry Potter

Friday afternoon. Sunny and lovely, 77 degrees.

I had an absolutely dreadful night, and at some point I had a horrible dream about a friend from whom I have been estranged for many years, but I dreamt that his two-year-old daughter had died in a horrible accident, and no one had told me . . . and then I was awakened this morning by some very loud yard machine that sounded as if it needed a new muffler. Egads.

I tend to have an allergic reaction to one of my pain medications: I start to itch all over, even into my scalp, so I try to avoid this particular medication unless I absolutely have to have it. Benadryl helps, sometimes. I bought some of that ointment that I had seen advertised—Tricalm, but I don’t see that it helps any better than plain old hydrocortisone cream. That’s seven bucks wasted. Anyway, I awoke several times during the night and morning because of the uncontrollable itching, do once the noise started, I just gave up and got out of bed.

I consoled myself for the lack of sleep by working my way through a small book: Drowned, by Swedish author Therese Bohman. I’ve been wanting to read more Swedish authors ever since I finished Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. The story was good, even though the writing was a bit uneven, but I really did not like the ending.

Oh well.

“The couple’s problems might be sexy and Aquarian, but the solution was the same as it ever was: Allie had to ‘hold her tongue’ and ‘mend her ways’ to avoid ‘bossing and manipulating’ Kip.” ~ From a December 1970 “Can This Marriage be Saved?” column

I seem to be on quite a tangent lately, which is, unfortunately, compelled by too many recent news stories concerning domestic abuse, college rapes, and other vile things.

The warped world of 1950s marriage counseling:

Ladies Home Journal Illustration by Coby Whitmore 1959

Ladies Home Journal Illustration by Coby Whitmore (1959)

Do you remember the “Can This Marriage be Saved?” column in Ladies Home Journal? Well a recent article shed light on a patently one-sided vein to the early columns in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. For example, in the case of Sue and her physically abusive husband Joe

But it was Sue who had the most work to do. She showed a lack of insight – she didn’t understand her husband. By refusing to have sex with him after he hit her, ‘she… touched off another almost inevitable explosion. Many husbands endeavour to make up for their misdeeds by such ardour, a fact of life that wise and loving wives accept.’

W-ORD Channel 7 News With John Oliver & Cookie Monster

Ah yes. The Scholastic Book Fair—nothing better. I used to send Alexis in with a blank check and a maximum budget. The librarians loved that. Good times.

Actress Nina Millin’s Beyoncelogues: “Best Thing I Never Had”

Classic Art Meets Magazine Covers:

Barbara Walters- Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (Whistler's Mother)

Barbara Walters + “Whistler’s Mother”

Kate Upton- The Priestess

Kate Upton + “The Priestess”

From beauty to blegh: Is this not one of the creepiest things you have ever seen?

Say what?

Photo: We'll have more steak in just a momentaneousment.

Brett and I were just discussing the failures of public schools, and then I saw this:

georgetakei:</p><br /><br /> <p>I’m going to need a lot of patience just to not hit my forehead so hard with my palm.<br /><br /><br /> Source: That’s Messed Up - http://po.st/1df5Hk

You put what in my candy?

Photo: The other OTHER white meat.

Definite face palm Tiger face palmmoment . . .

wtfpopo

Your weekly public service informational announcement:

This is so cool: Pendulum wave demonstration

I would love to own a pair of these jeans:

 

“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

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” ~ Annie Dillard, from The Living

book chart the atlantic

“Unsurprisingly, several children’s books appear in the top 20 on the list; as Adamic and Patel point out, we tend to read these books at a very impressionable age. Favorite books from those early years are likely to lodge themselves deeply in our memories.” ~ Claire Fallon, from “‘Harry Potter’ Tops Facebook’s ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme And No One Is Surprised” (Huffington Post)

Thursday afternoon. Sunny with climbing temperatures, 87 degrees.

My goal is to clean today . . . but first . . . not.

Ah, to meme or not to meme . . .

The above graphic (click for larger) is taken from an article in The Atlantic based on a recent meme making the rounds on Facebook in which people have been asked to “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way . . . Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

Another article (have forgotten writer, sorry), glibly stated that the addition of Harry Potter to so many lists proves that adults don’t really read books. Um, what? I read all of the Harry Potter books as a bona fide adult. At first, I had wanted to see what all of the commotion was about, the naysayers saying that it was demonic, and the supporters saying that it was a wonderful series. Of course, I agreed with the latter. Reading the series with my kids became a family rite of passage that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and truthfully, I miss the anticipation of the next release date, getting in the car with Brett early on a Saturday morning, hitting Krispy Kreme for hot donuts, and then making our way to the almost pristine cube of books placed immediately in the entrance. Good, good times.

“Indeed, if there is a backlash, I imagine it will be fuelled by accusations of elitism. Weirdly, reading is seen as a middle-class practice . . . This is one meme that has nothing to do with showing off. It’s a place to be honest about what brings you personal delight” ~ Daisy Buchanan, from “Facebook’s ‘Share 10 books’ meme shows that social media doesn’t have to be vicious or bullying” (The Telegraph)

I’ve been reading snarky comments from different people about how people are padding their lists, how most people haven’t read the things they claim to have read. Well . . . maybe. Who knows, but more importantly, who cares?

My point is (and yes, I have one) this: Does it really matter which books have stayed with people? Does it matter if they’ve padded their lists? Does it matter if childrens’ books and YA books appear frequently on peoples’ lists? No. These lists are proof of several key things:

  1. People read. People of all ages read all kinds of things. How can that be perceived in any negative light?
  2. Even if they haven’t read what’s on the list, they are thinking about things they want to read or things they think they should read. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  1. The fact that childrens’ book show up on these lists is wonderful. Study after study show that children who are introduced to reading from very young ages will continue to read on their own. A groundbreaking study found that “having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit” (from The National Literacy Trust).
  2. The people who participated in this meme are proud of their reading, and they should be. So who cares what they read? Bear in mind that unfortunately, access to books, or the lack thereof, directly ties to a person’s success. According to The National Commission on Reading, “The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.”

I could go on and on as I am wont to do, but you get the point. All of those naysayers out there who are making fun of the lists need to shut it. Instead of criticizing, donate some books to a school, or donate some money to First Book, a wonderful organization that helps to connect books with children who don’t have any.

And my final point is this: In this society that places people on pedestals simply for being famous or for having a pretty face or for dunking a basketball or whatever, this meme is a refreshing change. Instead of reading about bullying on Facebook, or hearing about a group of teens who posted directions on how to kill someone (yes, this is true), we are being treated to something real in people’s lives, something that matters, something that adds to the world in which we live: Reading.

“But passionate readers believe books are for all people. Many of us have grown up feeling obscure and alone. Books were our friends when we had no human ones . . . the best literature educates by stealth. Books are there to make us more empathetic and kinder—and in times of emotional turmoil, they can comfort.” ~ Daisy Buchanan, from “Facebook’s ‘Share 10 books’ meme shows that social media doesn’t have to be vicious or bullying” (The Telegraph)

Listen, books saved me—not just once but time and again. Being an only child is lonely. I found friends among the pages. And when I hit my teens and began to suffer from clinical depression, books helped me to understand what was wrong, and they helped to comfort me. And when I lost my beautiful baby girl, books (not self-help books) helped me to escape from the pain.

I can go several weeks without reading a book, and then I can read six books in four days. It doesn’t matter. My to read stack has tripled in size this year, and I know that is mostly as a result of Corey’s new schedule.

Hey, I don’t need to go to bars or hang out with people who aren’t really my friends. I have my one true love, my kids, my dogs, and my books. It may not work for some people, but it works for me.

So even though I don’t do Facebook, I do do bookish memes, so here’s mine, off the top of my head, without any second thoughts, and I know that my list is longer than proposed, and I know that I have two lists, but whatever. So in no particular order, here are the books that have stayed with me, and by that I mean the books I have read over and over, the books from which I can quote, even the books that just thinking about make me pause and smile:

  • The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling (I’m cheating in counting these as one, so sue me)
  • Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien (same here)
  • The Little Prince, byAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
  • Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
  • Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
  • Rich in Love, by Josephine Humphries
  • The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Things they Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  • Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
  • Sherlock Holmes (all the collected works), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
  • The Alchemist, by Paul Coehlo
  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  • Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Richard III/Henry V, by William Shakespeare
  • Hunt is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
  • The Shining, by Stephen King
  • The Weight of Water, by Anita Shreve
  • Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
  • Shogun, by James Clavell
  • The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak
  • Children of Men, P. D. James

” . . . reading novels as a child — implying literary engagement with life’s social, cultural and psychological complexities — can have a positive impact on personality development and social skills. A study published last year in Science found that reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or nonfiction, results in keener social perception and increased empathy” ~ Bret Stetka, from “Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter” (Scientific American)

Here are my runners up. I will admit that I cheated for this list; I went to my Goodreads list of books and did a quick scan and was surprised by the titles I had forgotten. So again, in no particular order:

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye, by Carson McCullers
  • Cover her Face, by P. D. James
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
  • The Bone Collector, by Jeffrey Deaver
  • Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
  • Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
  • Dune, by Frank Herbert

  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  • Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
  • The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin
  • Murder Must Advertise (Lord Peter Wimsey), by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Mystic River, by Dennis LeHane
  • A Child Called It, by Dave Peltzer
  • Darkness Visible, by William Styron
  • The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
  • Heart of Darkness, by James Conrad
  • Dubliners, by James Joyce
  • The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
  • The Velvet Room, ZK Snyder (has stayed with me since 7th grade)
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway
  • In the Woods, Tana French
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell (has stayed with me since 6th grade)
  • Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger (wish I could find my copy of this)

And yes, I have read all of these, even James Joyce.

More later. Peace.

Music by Zedd, featuring Foxes, “Clarity”

                   

The Pleasures of Reading

On his deathbed my father is reading
The memoirs of Casanova.
I’m watching the night fall,
A few windows being lit across the street.
In one of them a young woman is reading
Close to the glass.
She hasn’t looked up in a long while,
Even with the darkness coming.

While there’s still a bit of light,
I want her to lift her head,
So I can see her face
Which I have already imagined,
But her book must be full of suspense.
And besides, it’s so quiet,
Every time she turns a page,
I can hear my father turn one too,
As if they are reading the same book.

~ Charles Simic

“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