Tag Archives: suicide

The Oscars, or Why I wanted Bradley Cooper to win

23 Feb

It has been a wild week, with the loss of the Marietta house, the possible sale of our intown house, and the feeling of being a little free-floating. The days culminated in a very creative-minded weekend.

Watching Walter learn things is so very cool. Much more fun re-learning with him, than it was learning all this stuff the first time around. I swear, the boy has gone from delayed speech to teaching himself how to read at 2 1/2 years old.

At dinner, we spoke of muses, and how to pull a poem out of you before it flows away. I also made my best pot of Killer Shrimp yet.

When I walk around with my phone in my back pocket, an album playing, it makes me feel like I have my own theme music.

I happened upon a spiritual healer, whom I plan on contacting. I am very interested to see what happens, what it is like to get a private reading or energy cleansing. I always love talking to people like that, card readers and other mystics.

I absolutely adored the Oscars this year. In years past, if I turn on the Oscars, I usually get hooked just because I am interested in which movies are nominated, as I normally don’t even have a chance to find out what movies are being released. This year, I felt like I had a stake in the game. I am a big fan of American Sniper and Chris Kyle. I find the story enlightening and heartbreaking, knowing that Kyle was murdered and his wife and children are currently undergoing their dad’s murder trial. I am reading his memoir right now and am basically learning all about Dave’s time in Iraq, as they were both in the Second Battle of Fallujah. Chris Kyle’s voice is unique, so much so that I am more compelled by him than almost any other book I’ve read, except maybe Margaret Mitchell in Gone with the Wind. And Sniper‘s story itself… there is such fodder in discussing a man who gets killed by the very weapon he so adores (and a deranged man, of course), after surviving four tours in Iraq. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper brought the story to Hollywood superbly and with undeniable mastery of their craft.

I am also a big fan of Neil Patrick Harris. Dave and I both think that How I Met Your Mother is one of the most comedic and high quality sitcoms ever. I was amazed and delighted from the moment the Oscars started. Neil’s opening act was perfect. What a performance! The visuals were clever and stunning and nostalgic. And then he spent the rest of the show intelligently poking at the audience and the world, opening up even more intimate details of Hollywood. The speeches were wonderful to listen to. Political but not offensive. They hit all the high notes, such as gender equality and suicide, two subjects I’m passionate about. My favorite was the man who won Best Supporting Actor. I’ve seen him in a million movies but don’t know his name, even now. But he was the every-man, reminding us of family, and how we are an extension of the people who came before us. It was beautiful.

The show-stopping moment came when Lady Gaga performed a medley from Sound of Music, one of my top favorite movies of all time. I have never been a fan of hers, because I could never see past her gimmicks to the art. Sure, I heard a few songs on the radio, which might be catchy, but other than that I was not impressed. Gaga blew me away, however, with her simple yet glorious dress, makeup, and hair, on a beautiful stage, with the most exquisite and powerful voice. Thank you for that, my dear! I look forward to future such soul-awakened moments of pure art.

All in all it was an evening well spent. Onward and upward!



The Annual MamaJohnston Christmas Card

6 Jan


Every year I love sending out a Christmas card. I love picking out the photos to use (and the taking of the photos!), designing the card, hand addressing and stamping over 200 cards during a time of year when everything is hectic anyway — and joyful of course! And I really love how I spend all year reading books so I can create an annual recommended reading list, and I hear back from a lot of people about that idea!

This year, however, is a bit bittersweet for me after last year. In 2013 I sent out our cards and one of my friends sent back a very cute card about The 12 Southern Days of Christmas with a note inside and I thought, “Oh gosh I really should invite him over for dinner since we haven’t seen him since Walter was born and that’s way too long” but I didn’t get around to it for three weeks and then I got a call from a mutual friend saying that our professor had killed himself. And now he will never know how much I regret not turning around instantaneously to send him a quick email saying “Yes, I want to see you!”

At his funeral I heard another friend say that she had gotten a surprise Christmas card from him as well, and I can’t help thinking that he was saying goodbye or maybe even reaching out one last time and all of us failed him.

So I will continue sending out the yearly Johnston holiday card, because I love snail mail and take every opportunity to share a bit of paper now and again with friends, but I will always think of the professor when I do so. I hope he sees all my 2014 and beyond cards from that peaceful afterlife we call heaven.

Do you really know me?

24 Aug

Earlier this year, a friend of mine committed suicide. During the aftermath, as his friends and family struggled to understand why, the biggest factor seemed to be his career. He was denied tenure at two different universities, and as he struggled to redefine his life, he dropped all his masks and ended his life. He removed any hope of ever doing anything else in his life. He was loved, and respected, yet he could not move past his [temporary] failures.

This meant something to me, because I have always felt adrift in terms of “career”. When I was a growing up I never had an answer for “What do you want to be when you grow up?” … And now I’m a grown up, and I still don’t know. I like being a mother (though it’s easy to feel like a failure in that), I like to read, and I like to keep house. Eventually I’d like to homeschool my children. But my mother worries that I am not challenged enough with what I do. That I’m bored. Even though I don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done on my to-do list. Sure, I’d love to be a powerful woman running some awesome company, but I have no idea how I would get there or if I’d even want it when I got it.

I knew my friend as a professor and my lab instructor at GSU. He asked me once, after I had graduated undergrad, was between jobs, pregnant, and had quit graduate school, what I was doing with my life besides watching the paint dry as our mutual friend painted my house. I don’t think I came up with an adequate answer. Besides the fact that I’m never good at delivery for interview questions (and that felt like one), most of the time I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

In retrospect, that seemed like a teaching moment. If only I had known what he would do in a few years, I could have said that having a job, or even a direction, isn’t the most important thing in life. That I would figure it out no matter how many bumps in the road there would be. Or that even if I didn’t figure it out, I would enjoy the ride. Or that being loved and loving someone else is the most important thing in the world. If you have that, you will survive all of life’s disappointments.

And then there are public figures like Robin Williams, pretty much beloved by all, who had the family, the money, and the career we all hope for, and somehow the dark recesses of his brain still won. We are all doomed to die, most of us fear that moment, of what will become of us, and some of us even seek it out, much to the chagrin of those left behind. Is it everlasting bliss of nothingness? No questions, doubts, or unhappiness? Or do we carry on somehow, unable to reach back to this world and share what we have learned on the other side? If given another chance, would Robin Williams say, “Wait, my career isn’t everything. My Parkinson’s diagnosis won’t change everything. Let’s keep going another day.”? Would my friend have reached out to more people for help if he really, deep down, knew that his career wasn’t what defined him? Is this a male dominance thing that we promote in American society? And women have become ensnared too where we have to have it all — the spouse, the career, the children, the perfect house, body, vacation life, etc.? Has the interconnectedness of social media ruined our chances of living a peaceful life? Or is it easier to connect with other people similar to us so we know we’re not alone, bullied by the image of perfection?

There are those — not me — who live their lives by the fullness of their convictions, whether it is following Jesus, or their career, or whatever eternal, internal fixture that drives them forward. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside watching all of these people (in life, on social media, in the news) be so sure, and I’m just waiting for that sureness to happen to me. I am 30 years old, I have created another life, and yet I’m almost convinced that I will never be 100% convinced of anything. Am I a hippie flower child or a ruthless Ayn Rand fan? A bit of both and a mixture of a whole lot more?

I know that there are different parts of me that I keep hidden from everyone. I’m not sure there is anyone out there who sees the whole picture. But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. I just think the world isn’t ready for me yet.