Saturday, November 28, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have one more serious, non-fiber related post for the week, and then I am off to NYC for the weekend to see my dear friend S.'s new musical. Back to sewing and knitting next week, I hope!
A few days ago, I learned that a former coworker of mine committed suicide. This was not someone I was particularly close to, but I always thought well of him. I was on the east coast and he was on the west coast, but we spoke regularly on the phone for a couple of years and saw each other at meetings on either coast from time to time. This was a handsome, driven man, committed to making a difference in the world, full of passion and energy and drive. The thought of him taking his own life is an incomprehensible tragedy to me.
Mostly what I want to say is, I am grateful that his friends and family are being honest about the cause of death, and his long struggle with bipolar disorder (which I never knew about until now). Even in a world where (it seems) every 5 seconds an antidepressant commercial airs on television, there is still much shame surrounding mental health issues. And conversely, I think there can often be a cavalier attitude about mental health as well – “here, take a pill, you’ll feel better”. In serious cases medication can help, but sometimes it stops working and a person has to endure weeks or months of finding another medication – or combination of medications – to regain some sense of normalcy in his life. Sometimes the medication can work too well, in that it can convince someone with chronic mental health issues that they are now cured and no longer need the medication…but a few months later they are back to struggling for their very existence.
I don’t know what the situation was with my coworker. What I do know is that over 200 people joined a Facebook page in his memory, and dozens of people have written about what an impact he had on their lives. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to read about the things he accomplished, and yet he found himself filled with such pain and despair. This makes me wonder if it’s really accurate to refer to suicide as a “choice”…I think that once a person has gone far enough down a darkened path death can seem like a foregone conclusion, rather than an option. But choice or not, I'm sad that despite being surrounded by people who loved him and did everything humanly possible to help, that this was the end result.
Jackopierce was a favorite band of his, and they sing a song based on this old Irish blessing that seems like a completely appropriate send-off...
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
As a native Mainer, I was vastly disappointed by the referendum vote repealing Maine’s gay marriage law. As a hopelessly straight woman who has had every relationship dissolve into an ugly, slimy pile of goo, I often don’t understand why anyone wants to get married. But, as a former pre-law student who loved constitutional law, I believe that we have constructed marriage in such a way that it confers certain legal rights and privileges, and that it is unconstitutional to deprive a certain class of people of those legal rights and privileges.
But the argument apparently didn’t work in Maine. The influx of out-of-state money and propaganda aside, what I really think hurt the state on this issue is, frankly, what’s been hurting the state and will continue to hurt the state for years to come: Maine is the “oldest” state in the nation, with fully 15% of its population over the age of 65 (US Census). Simply from a generational context, the older demographic is less likely to embrace major social change, particularly an issue such as gay marriage because they grew up in a time where homosexuality was not at all embraced. They are also statistically the demographic most likely to vote. The problem is, it’s a catch-22: if they keep making decisions like this, Maine will continue to lose younger people who are more likely to choose to live in places that are tolerant and accepting of alternative lifestyles. This has enormous implications for the state’s economy and workforce -- Maine already is at a competitive disadvantage with its aging and under-educated workforce. Giving younger people additional reasons to leave the state, or to not come back, is the last thing the state needs. What the “No on 1” campaign should have done is run ads that said, “Uphold gay marriage so there are people to work at your nursing home in 10 years" -- because our generation has and will continue to vote with our feet.
Sort of ironically, before I left Maine (for the second time, I should mention…) I served on the Realize!Maine steering committee, which is an initiative committed to retaining and attracting people under 40. I felt like a traitor for leaving, especially for NYC and then Boston…and I still have days when I think about moving back. In fact, the proliferation of “I’m glad I don’t live in Maine anymore” proclamations onFacebook and in newspaper comments today makes me wonder if maybe us not living there anymore is actually part of the problem. We weren’t there to vote no. But we also won't be there to support the state's economy, either -- and that's not something the state of Maine can afford to lose.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Like many people, I find Monday’s really hard to slog through. Chances are I’ve spent the weekend doing all of the things I love – sewing, knitting, visiting with friends, reading, writing, playing guitar – and it makes me incredibly grumpy to arbitrarily put the brakes on because it’s Monday morning and I have to go to work. [Unless I don’t – Monday is the day that I am most likely to take off, either scheduled (a holiday or a vacation day), or unscheduled (90% of the time when I get sick, it’s over a weekend and lingers into Monday...which irritates me to no end, because who wants to spend their weekends sick!?).]
But most of the time, Monday is a work day that dumps me out of my imagination and into reality. It’s a difficult transition, and I often feel like my brain spends most of Monday rearranging itself for the work ahead, going from a right-brained artistic focus to a left-brained language and linear thinking focus. And it’s REALLY bad on those weekends where I hole up by myself to sew and don’t see or talk to people (ie, really shut my left brain off); I’ll get into work and be barely able to speak a whole sentence.
The one thing that I look forward to at the end of my Monday workday is stopping by the news stand at South Station to buy the new edition of The New Yorker. This is my “I made it through Monday” treat, and I read it on the train ride home. Sometimes I finish the entire thing, other times there are a few pieces left that I save for the Tuesday morning train into work. Like any periodical, I find some issues better than others – for me, a David Sedaris essay trumps a long article about the economy any day. Still, no matter what, it sucks me in almost completely, so much so that I have to be careful that I don’ t miss my train stop. The New Yorker seems to have the right balance of intellectual reporting and slap-dash humor; you’ll find hysterically funny stories (or cartoons) right next to superbly researched and written stories about really serious topics. I also like the reviews of art, theater, movies & books – even when I have no interest in the subject matter, the writing always makes it worth reading.
It occurs to me from time to time that it would be infinitely cheaper for me to subscribe to the magazine, rather than paying the newsstand price (or for that matter, read it online) but then I’d have to find something else to get through Monday. Happiness is not always practical.
As it happens, happiness is also not always on schedule. Tonight, wouldn't you know, the news stand didn't have the new copy yet! And today was a particularly bad Monday, too. So I, um....well, I had Little Lad's popcorn for dinner again. Yum!