Robin Williams R.I.P. – A Great Talent: My Musings Having Lost Someone Great to Suicide…

Robin WilliamsWhen I heard that Robin Williams passed away yesterday, I was struck like I had heard my own family member pass. My husband, in-turn had the same reaction when I told him the news. “What?!”… “Robin Williams died?!?”… With a pause to process the shock…

Robin was so rare and unique in his approach to his art. He stood out amongst all others with his, let’s put it all out there, no holds barred delivery whether it was on the stage, in a comedy club, on the camera filming in-front of a studio audience, or on the screen in a small therapist’s office. He was absolute genius in his funny, intelligent, emotional, fast-thinking, physical approach to his art. Yet, it was in the midst of all the hurry, scurry that he was able to stop midstride and exhibit great depth of feeling for others, things, ideas, dreams. This abrupt pause had the ability to leave the audience with a deeper sense of life, suffering, humanity, healing…

I had often thought that in Robin Williams, “There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.” ~Aristotle   As, many highly intelligent people can be viewed in the same context. Thank God for these out of the box thinkers! They surprise us into seeing the world in new and unique ways. They shock us into thinking that “yes, things can be done differently” even when they are ridiculed in their search for discovery for things like fire, light, flight…

I do know one thing for sure, his family shouldn’t blame themselves… They loved him deeply and did all they could for him, I’m most certain…

I speak from experience having lost a dear sister 8 years ago to suicide, that when suicide happens it is like a tidal wave has appeared without notice and all you knew that existed is washed away leaving nothing but raw emotion and pain in its midst as one numbly searches for any remnants of what was…

I’m not saying any of the following happened to the Williams family members, but this tidal wave can come on especially strong if your recent contact with your loved one was really  positive and hopeful.   I know, because just a couple of days before Tamra’s plan, she came to visit me and acted as her life was going great. Thanked me for all my help in getting her settled and on a new path and direction, even wrote me a thank you card and gave me a huge bear hug. You just never know… All the while she was telling me good-bye…

Like Robin, Tamra was highly intelligent and witty.  She battled demons and had gotten professional help, but it has become my understanding that when a person makes up their mind to take this action, it’s not unlike a person having a brain stroke… Tamra took 2 weeks and actually planned her way out of the hurt, even in the midst of seeing our family and laughing away with us during Easter… seeing her psychiatrist the following week… She got drunk the night she took her own life, but it wasn’t the drinking that caused it, it was the drinking that helped her pull the trigger.

For his loved ones, for the healing that take place takes the one thing that is needed the most is — TIME.  Time to grieve, feel, rest and process in whatever way you need to process.  I had the help of a fantastic therapist to help me navigate my way back to a “new normal” and clergy that assured me that God loves her before, during and after…  I could only move forward thinking that maybe God spared her in some way from long-term suffering, to a life that wasn’t going to improve not matter how much she, we all tried?  I don’t know… I still would much rather she be here suffering with the rest of us…

I leave on this. The world has lost a great talent in Robin Williams and I’m so thankful we all got to share him for a few decades there…

And onto a PSA: Mental Illness is not something that is talked about enough in society. There is nothing wrong with seeking or asking for help. It is akin to going to the doctor of high blood pressure or diabetes. If you think you or a loved one are depressed, here is a list of things to look for – I found the following on Webmd.com:

Warning Signs of Severe Depression

Depression is a common but serious disease that ranges widely in severity. If you have a milder case, you may struggle with symptoms that include sadness, irritability, anger, and fatigue that last for weeks or longer. Such depression interferes with your daily life and relationships.

But some cases of depression are more severe, with intense symptoms that may include significant appetite and weight loss, sleep problems, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide. Such depression can be paralyzing. You may isolate yourself and have trouble getting out of bed or leaving the house.

Symptoms of Severe Depression

What are the symptoms of severe depression?

Alcohol or drug abuse

Insomnia or excessive sleeping

Irritability

Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable

Hopelessness

Persistent thoughts of something bad happening

Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts

In very severe cases, psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations or delusions)

Although you might feel that there’s no hope, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Even severe depression symptoms can be treated.

Risk Factors for Suicide

Not all people with risk factors will be suicidal. In addition to depression or other mental illness, risk factors for suicide include:

Past history of substance abuse

Past history of suicide attempt

Family history of suicide

Family history of mental illness or substance abuse

Firearms in the home

Incarceration

Feelings of hopelessness

Suicidal Thoughts: An Emergency (We took Tamra by ambulance to the ER g months before her suicide)

For people who are severely depressed, suicide is a real threat. Each year, about 30,000 people in the U.S. take their own lives, although the true number may be higher. Some suicides go unrecognized because they’re classified as accidents, drug overdoses, or shootings. Among people whose depression remains untreated, up to 15% will kill themselves.

What are the warning signs of suicide? According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, they include:

Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill yourself

Looking for a way to kill yourself, such as searching online for methods or buying a gun

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing use of alcohol or drugs

Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawing or feeling isolated

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Displaying extreme mood swings

Getting Help

Be aware that often, suicidal behavior is impulsive. Remove any weapons, medications, or other means that you might use to harm yourself. Ask a trusted person to keep your gun away from you and to lock up your knives. Flush stockpiled pills down the toilet. By getting such items out of your surroundings, you may buy time — enough valuable time for you overcome a suicidal impulse and to consider other ways to cope with your pain.

Avoid using alcohol or illegal drugs, or seek treatment to break dependence on these substances. They can worsen your depression and lead to thoughts of suicide. Some studies have found that among people who have completed suicide, 33%-69% have had alcohol detected in their blood.

If you are severely depressed or have suicidal thoughts, tell your primary care doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at (800) 273-TALK.

If you feel that you can’t control the urge to harm yourself, or if you’ve already taken steps to harm yourself, call 911 or go to the emergency room without delay. You may need to be hospitalized for supervised treatment to reduce the risk of suicide.

 

 

Book Review: “The Mysterious Painting”

A Book Review: “The Mysterious Painting” by both Author and Illustrator Molly X

I was recently honored by a young neighbor to read/review a book (or three) for her.    I put the books aside in a very special place to read when I was truly ready to give them the important and meaningful attention they deserved.  So, now with all the Holiday hoop-lah over, I’m better able to enjoy them and give my thorough review and recommendation.  *In the interest of child safety, I will not divulge her real name here in such a public forum.

Diamond

“The Mysterious Painting” is a first attempt at serious writing for our very young author.  It is in my opinion, an early example of a great American Literary Talent in the making.   With much insight and an apt ability to tell a story beyond her years, the author is shown to be a driven, good communicator and quite intelligent in her attempt.   The plot twists and emotional roller coaster ride taken by our heroine, Lilly kept me on the edge of my seat.  As Lilly suddenly finds herself thrown into having to navigate her way through a heist from an important art gallery, its most important piece of art and it’s surprise connection back to her – It is a story told in a masterfully woven plot that will leave the reader wanting more.

The “Note From Author” in itself, is inciteful and a very good thing for us all to reflect on as we enter the New Year.  So, I will end my review by giving it to you in its entirety:

“As a beginning writer I feel like I’m not   as talented as I could be when I’m older and I know more things.  I bet that who ever is reading this note will become a great author if they want to be.  I feel like anything or anybody in the world could be amazing at what there good at!  If It’s either Tennis, Football, Soccer, Cheerleading, Gymnastics, Basketball, Skiing, Baseball, Running, Biking, Swimming, or Golf you are still very talented!  No matter what you’re sport is don’t let anybody or anything push you away from it ever!”

Courtroom Hair: The #1 Reason Not to Commit a Crime Ladies!

I was reading the Dallas Morning News today and came across a story about a plea deal reached by Shannon Richardson.  She was a bit part actress tuRicin Letters-Texasrned lunatic.  She sent ricin laced letters to the President and others in an attempt to get back at her estranged husband for filing for divorce.   A case that shows that in-fact it is true — “Health hath no fury like a woman scorned (especially someone who is a bubble off)”…

Now, I’ve heard that capital punishment IS used to deter crime.  But, I have to say that what really caught my moral attention was not the crime and punishment but Richardson’s courtroom hair!  My knee-jerk reaction at seeing her current courtroom picture explaining was: “Oh my GOSH, now that is a good reason for me to not go to jail in its self!  Thank you very much.  And, if I did find myself in such a situation, I’d make a quick plea deal too do get out of the public eye ASAP!”

Before Ricin "Incident"Richardson’s beautiful red tresses at the beginning of the case had grown out maybe about 6 inches.  Apparently, they don’t allow you to color your hair in jail.  I mean, why would they?  But, this is just not a good look for me or anyone.  It got me to thinking about other cases I’ve read about in the past.  A big case that immediately came to mind was the Darla Routier case.  Darlie's Courtroom HAIR, I mean trial...No amount of argument could get me past the root issue going on there.  I’m sure I couldn’t even serve on the jury:

“Your honor.  I have to be completely honest with you.  I just can’t serve on this jury.  I’m sort of into hair.  I’m a girl like that.  I think that seeing the defendant’s roots day in and day out would be too big of a distraction for me to truly be able to listen to either side of the story in this case.  I hope you understand.” 

I wonder what the judge’s reply would be… Not to be sexist, but It may actually depend on if the judge were a man or a woman… The judge may find that she may have to recuse herself, as well…  Or him, if he’s dapper at all…

Our Monkeys…

I’d like to formally introduce Lucky and Nicco – my Christmas Monkeys. monkey

After many years of traveling world wide and performing in their popular Christmas Minstrel Show, they retired in Dallas 10 years ago to live with our family via Z Gallerie. They enjoy scaring children that come to our house (mainly our youngest daughter Maddie …)

During the off season when Christmas is over, they live in an undisclosed metropolitan area where they funnel money through their old world cuisine restaurant…

Remember That Time I Made Daddy An AR-15 Assault Rifle?

Mark had been talking about getting an AR-15 for several years.  Hunters use them to stalk feral hogs at their deer leases, farms, ranches, etc.  Turns out, feral hogs are actually domesticated hogs that were just let go in the wild and boy do they multiply like rabbits and wreak havoc on people’s land.  They root up crops and roads and are a serious problem here in Texas.  Well, Mark didn’t want just any AR-15, he wanted his BFF Don to build one for him as Don had started a hobby of making guns.  (BTW: I have a feeling it is against “man law” for guys to refer to each other as BFFs, especially these two which is why I put that in here.)  🙂CTD

As a surprise for Mark, I emailed Don to ask if he would have the time and possibly be interested in building one for me for a Christmas present for Mark.  He quickly replied, “Sure! All you need to do is go to a gun store near you called Cheaper Than Dirt and purchase a ‘stripped lower’ for it.  Ship it to me and I’ll get started.”   I wrote the part name down on my weekly shopping list: Fall Wreath, New Bed Sheets, Black Platform Peep Toe Shoes,  “Don’t forget to get a S-T-R-I-P-P-E-D  L-O-W-E-R” – Check.

There is a reason for this following part, so work with me here:

I usually like to save my serious shopping days for one particular day of the week.  I’m not talking grocery shopping but the kind of shopping you do for Christmas, party planning, special projects, clothes and the like.  I like to get dressed up and “go to town”.   It feels good to do this because being a housewife now, I will actually go days without even putting on shoes much less make-up, so it is a healthy thing for me to do.  On this particular day, I paired fun grey denim leggings, with a sexy off one shoulder ala Flashdance, pale-geometric print shirt.  I completed the outfit with pretty, high-heeled black ankle boots and my black Prada bag.

CTD3I went about my shopping day from Michaels to Bed, Bath and Beyond, to you name it and ended the day, as planned at Cheaper than Dirt.  It’s a much smaller store than say a Cabelas or a Bass Pro Shop.  It is more the size of a small pawn shop.  Now, I’m sure it wasn’t completely like this… but this is actually how I felt — As I walked in, I did not see any hunting gear, etc. as I’m used to seeing when accompanying Mark to gun stores.  What I found was a bunch of men who looked like they were involved in militia/biker groups and one guy who looked like he was employed in personal security and/or maybe the mafia.  Not one of them was wearing cammo.

The surprise must have shown on my face, because the store manager came up to me with a raised eyebrow and in an are sure you’re in the right place type voice said, “Can I help you?”  I said, “Yes.  Give me a sec.” (as I fished through my Prada bag for my shopping notes finding and reading the note to him) “Yes, I’m here to purchase a stripped lower for an AR-15?”  His eyes immediately shot up in surprise and he said “Oh-kay then, follow me.”  We passed a customer looking at what looked like a SWAT team vest, and another seriously contemplating Bowie knives while carrying a gas mask and turned down a random non-descript aisle.   In the center of this aisle, passed all the pre-packaged doomsday survivor food, we came up to a locked glass case.  I seriously did not recognize anything in it.  When Don said I needed to go get this gun part, I thought, I don’t know – I really didn’t think… but I guess I would have thought it looked like a gun that needed finishing – whatever that means.

Anyway, the manager opens the case and gets out the part and says, “This, is it.”  It looked like a random extra part you’d find yourself left with after taking apart stripped loweryour own car engine and putting it back together again.  He does not hand me the part but says, “You know, you will need a background check for this?”  I laughed a silly Ha-ha laugh as if I knew he was surely joking.  He replied without smiling, “I’m being totally serious.”  I couldn’t believe it!  I told him, the guy looking at Bowie knives looked like he’d need a background check sooner than I would for this little random God knows what part for a friend to build my husband a surprise present.  His reply, “Well, you see – this actually is the firing chamber of the gun.”  Okay – learning something new today…

Well, I thought it would be an in-and-out type store purchase and was not planning to spend an hour or so filling out paperwork, so I looked at my over-sized Men’s sparkle watch with the faux diamond ring around it and asked him how long it would take.  He said, “Well it shouldn’t take very long or be a problem (pause) unless – you have a record?” I told him “Of course not!”  He then paused and said “I don’t know how to ask this but do you know if your gun-building-friend has a felony record?  Because, it would be a felony for you, yourself to supply him this part if he does.”

Jail“What?!”  Now, I’ve known Don for 30 years.  He is the salt of the earth, church goin’, God fearing, great guy and I was pretty sure he had no record, but for a minute or so I got to dialoging the following to myself.  “Hm.  Why didn’t Don just get the part himself?  What if h…… Naaaaaw, he’s fine…… Well, he is into building guns now for fun and most certainly part of some government watch lis……. Naaawh, he just likes to hunt big time – Don’t be crazy, D’Ann….…”  So, after this hesitation, I told the guy I’m pretty sure he’s fine, let’s fill out that application.  As he took the signed application from me, he said, “You can just walk around and shop while I call into the State.”  I looked around the store and then at him and said, “What do you seriously think I’d shop for?!” – He laughed at me and told me I could just stand by him – it would be okay.

Well of course, I was cleared and went to grab the part off the desk.  He stopped me short and said he actually had to walk me up to the front to the cashier.  Now, the guy working the cashier’s desk was this HUGE, tall black guy.  I’m not saying huge as in fat, but the don’t mess with me; I’m a bodyguard type guy build.  The manager placed the stripped lower on the counter and said, “This lady would like to buy this, please.”  The cashier looks at the part, looks up at me and without a smile and a raised eyebrows asks, “You? Building a gun today?”  I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Why yes, I am.  I was at Michael’s and I bought a few things to make a Fall wreath for my front door and just thought I’d go ahead and purchase some faux beads, jewels and a hot glue gun.  I want to surprise my husband and not only make, but also bedazzle an AR-15 for him for Christmas.”   He/we all laughed our butts off at this point.   I’m sure when I left that store; all the guys in there were all rolling their eyes and thinking “’em G-Damn yuppie women…”

I could not wait to get in my car and on my cell phone, so I could read Don the riot act for not warning me about any of this and laugh about it… I also couldn’t wait to give Mark the gun, so I could tell him the crazy story of what I had to go through to get this gun made for him.  I might just hot glue a little pink jewel on it someday when he’s not looking just to finish it off and put my own unique mark on it…

The funny thing in hindsight is that I’m now probably on some list as owning an assault rifle and I haven’t shot a gun in years!

AR-15

Skunk Drama Leads to Hiring a Hitman

This last year, we put in lush perennial flower gardens in our backyard and added them to our front yard beds, as well.  They’ve become a haven for hummingbirds, butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies and rabbits.  We have a lot of rabbits here where we live.  I don’t mind them because they seem to only eat our weeds, thankfully.  I like to think of them as our very own full-time gardeners.  Late spring, we noticed a burrow hole under one of the AC units on the west side of our house.  This area has 3 units and is covered by a large hedge to hide the equipment.  We were pretty sure it was the rabbits moving in because we see a lot of them.

One late night a few weeks later, Rylie (our female Yorkie) had to go the bathroom at 3:00 a.m., so I took her out.  (This rarely happens.)  Out of the cPepe Le Pew times 6!orner of my sleepy eye, I saw a faint shadow with a bushy black tail.  I thought I was seeing things, so I dismissed it.   But, a few nights later, Mark had to do the same again with Rylie and sure enough, he did see in his words, a Cute Little Baby Skunk in our backyard.  This worried me, because I didn’t want Rylie to get bitten, but even more so – SPRAYED.  I can’t imagine how to begin to get that smell out of a Yorkie’s lush coif.   I had hoped that the skunk we saw was the lone ranger and just passing through.

A few days later, I trimmed up the front yard flower beds and this included that hedge by the AC units.  I was on a small 2-step ladder with electric trimmers working away on all sides including the back behind the hedge for 2 hours even on my knees raking out leaves from the bottom and so on.  That same evening at dusk, I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor saying that she had just seen a Momma Skunk with at least 5 baby skunks walking out from that AC unit/hedge in single file along the house as if going on a fun field trip to our front yard!   That was too close a call on my part and I freaked out – Getting rabies, etc. from yard work?  Really?!

The country boy in Mark wanted to take care of the situation himself and asked me to go buy a skunk trap at Tractor City.  I was reluctant on so many levels, wondering the following:

  • How’s Mark going to deal with trapping and not getting sprayed himself?  I had visions of him going to a meeting with a Wall Street Stock Analyst at work the next day reeking and there being a big, white, skunk elephant in the room
  • Where is he going to take them once he traps them?  To the country getting caught for trespassing… He would have probably taken them to the girls locker room if he was still in high school as he seriously did this with a possum when he was a teenager.
  • And, if he brings a gun out, will the neighbors alert the local Police SWAT team that a crazy man is waiving a gun around in the neighborhood?…
  • Also, he had back surgery a few weeks before this and was Vicodined up so much that he wasn’t quite his coherent self to do basic things around the house much less Skunk Extraction.

Reluctantly, I went to Tractor City, bought a cage and got on Facebook knowing surely that my Karnes City friends and family must have experience in this area.  🙂  I did get a lot of good advice.  One of Mark’s classmates said that skunks just love bacon grease and that is what “his own mother uses”.  Hm.  I was also told by my Dad to just quietly sneak up behind the cage with a tarp in front of me and completely cover the cage and I wouldn’t have a problem as “he does it all the time”.  Another – Hm.

So, Mark and I cooked up some bacon – put it in some tin foil in the back of the cage, got an old tarp ready in the garage and set the cage outside the AC units on our driveway.  The next morning, Mark got up at dawn and went out just in time to see torn up foil everywhere – an un-sprung trap and a nocturnal skunk going back into the AC area for his daily rest, but not before stopping to look back and aggressively rearing up his tail as if to say: “Get us more bacon damn it!”

I knew we needed to up our game, so I called our County’s Animal Control division.  They said it was too hot in the summer to deal with this type of thing and they gave me the name of a good Animal Extraction Company that they even use: Trutech.  I called and made an appointment.  An adorable young man came out.  He, as with all technicians in this company hold college degrees in Wildlife Management and he had recently graduated from Texas A&M – a plus on our part. Trutech

We talked Skunks.  I asked him how much right off the bat…  Now, if a person doesn’t just come out and tell you the cost, but says “okay, but first let me tell you what this is going to entail” – you know to just hold on because it is probably going to be pricey.

So, the plan was this: We would sign a contract with him to hire him out as our Skunk Hitman.  He said he couldn’t let them live because the State of Texas would not allow for it – turns out that they can’t be vaccinated for rabies…  He would come out for up to 10 to 14 days…  He’d place traps at the entrance to every burrow – which turned out to be a Plush, 3 Bedroom Condo, as they had made beds under every AC unit.  Once they are were all trapped and “discarded”.  I’m guessing in a river with little cement shoes, he would double check to make sure they were all gone… He would then fill up the holes with Sakrete to ensure  that their friends/extended family don’t follow them as if by time-share to the Williams’ house…

The cost?  $600 or $100 per critter!  Mark said any redneck from our area would love to make $600 doing what he would be doing every Saturday night, anyway.  Spotlightin’ creatures, deer no, really creatures for sport and cash… A dream job!  My hair dresser said, “Pay the man!!!”  He once had a lab get sprayed and before he could catch him, he ruined his master bedroom comforter and a number of area rugs, trying to get the smell off himself.  That certainly put the price tag in better perspective for me.

Anyway, everyday, the tech came out and texted me a picture of his catch.  One day he caught 2 for one.  They were so cute, I felt mildly bad – but just mildly.  Skunk

Just so you know, here is what I learned that the experts do:

They place theedging small traps which are wrapped completely in a Black Trash Bag cut up and taped to all sides except the front panel to make them blacked out, for ease of removal and to keep the animals calm and cozy…  They also place little movable everyday used flower bed panels on either side of the cages from the entrance of each burrow to herd them directly into the cage like an airport ramp to an airplane…  He said they don’t really need food, but if he thinks it may help – he uses Cheetos.  I shrieked and asked what their favorite was: “Crunchy or Puffy!?!!!”  As I’m a crunchy Cheetos lover and think puffys are for whimps (Mark likes puffy)… 🙂  The hitman laughed and said it really didn’t matter, however I’ll never think of Cheetos the same way again.

In a week, we were skunk free and I learned the fine art of skunk trapping not that I’d ever do it, but at least I can pass this $600 advice on to you… Let me know how it goes.