Tag Archives: four letter words

Mother, Wife, Demon-slayer

6df30ac8a387944ff5579c32f2641adb[1]“Life is filled with big questions – Fate or Destiny? Heaven or Hell? Love or Attraction? Reason or Impulse? Beatles or Rolling Stones?” – Stephen King, Bazaar of Bad Dreams

“To be, or not to be –that is the question” William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III sc 1.

I LOVE Shakespeare. Love him. As in a total, squealy fangirl crush (and not just because he was played by Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love) I’ve seen pictures. He was…mmmm. What’s the word I’m looking for? Less than attractive (Yes, I know, that’s three  words). Hey, we’ve all seen the pictures of the old dude with the big balding head in the weird old lady collar.

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I took Shakespeare courses in college, tutored other students and read his works “just for fun”. Yeah. I was THAT kid.  My friends and I spent hours pouring over every play, interpreting and debating the meaning of every scene and  soliloquy – but none more so than the infamous passage from Hamlet, Act III Scene 1.

So why am I bringing this up today? Well, first of all, Heath Ledger would have turned 38 this week, and (ICYMI) Spike released a trailer for the new I am Heath Ledger biography.

Secondly, a friend decided “not to be” earlier this week, and it got me thinking (always a dangerous thing to do). I’ve spoken before about my battles with the EIC and depression, but I will continue to talk about it until the stigma surrounding mental illness is a thing of the past.

Robert, like Heath Ledger, was a brightly shining star – a beautiful-from-the-inside-out incredibly talented creative soul who seemed to move effortlessly amongst us mere mortals. I was in awe of his talent and imagination, his quick wit and genuine warmth. He was not only a talented artist and inventor, he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He appeared to be comfortable in his own skin, and I assumed that he was free of the destructive voices and demons that torment most artists.

Shows how little I know. What do they say? “Appearances are deceiving”? “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”? (or, as Steve Martin puts it “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”)

They say that stars who burn the brightest burn the fastest. No, I do not know who “they” are, or why this appears to be true. I assume it has something to do with the limited amount of fuel and the speed at which it is burned, but I’m not a science guy (TBH I’m not a guy at all, although I could be. I met a bartender who spelled his name T-R-A-C-E-Y on St. Patrick’s day, but that’s neither here nor there).

I’m not a science guy, I’m a creative.

Creative brains are weird.

Greater minds than mine have debated whether the stereotype of the “tortured artist” is legitimate. It might be a cliché, but, judging by the Facebook comments from his friends and fellow performers (“I’ve battled depression for years” and “depression has been my constant companion” to quote a few), it’s legitimate. I know that all the artists I’ve met have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I believe it is because we are encouraged, as artists and performers, to break down our walls and express our truest self. Shedding our protective layers leaves us open, raw and more vulnerable to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Please note – I am not a trained professional, nor do I play one on TV.  I have, however, been battling inner demons for decades. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt (and a shot of tequila):

First – Depression is an evil, scum-sucking mother F-r. He travels with his BFFs Hopelessness and Despair. This terrible trio will cheat, lie and steal. They will tell you that nobody cares about you and that nobody wants to listen to you whine. They will take turns sitting in the middle of your chest whispering horrible lies into your ear until you’re nothing but a quivering, weepy mass of snot.

Knowing that Depression is a liar doesn’t fix things. Trust me when I say that knowing something intellectually doesn’t stop me from sliding all the way to the bottom of the pit of despair.

Every single time I find myself at the bottom of the pit, I think “What the hell am I doing here/I’ll never get out.”*  I have, however, recently learned to recognize the symptoms of the spiral before depression gains traction. I wish I could tell you what they are, but they’re different for everyone. Hopefully it won’t take you forty-something years to identify yours.

Secondly (or maybe this should be first) fighting the demons only makes them stronger, and is incredibly exhausting. Strangely enough, giving them a chance to voice their opinions renders them powerless. When the voices start whispering, I take pen to paper and write down everything they say (in cursive, so the words can flow). I write without rebuttal until they stop speaking. Believe me when I say that a person (or inner demon) who is allowed to vent without interruption will eventually run out of steam. What you do next depends on what works for you – you can respond to them, verbally or on paper, you can shred the papers, burn them, or use them to line a birdcage. Eventually you might find the strength to do the one thing that banishes them – laugh at them. Demons are like the boggarts in Harry Potter – hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of our mind, filling us with mind numbing fear, and disappearing with the first giggle.

Most importantly, if you (or a loved one) is struggling with depression or have run out of cope, ask for help. Yes, help is a four letter word, but it’s not a foul one. Don’t wait until you’re stuck at the bottom of a cold dark pit. Call a friend, call a family member, call a stranger. You can dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you don’t want to call, you can even send a text.

I was going to end with the inspirational “Don’t You Quit” poem, but it’s a little pithy for me today. I’ll leave you with Dylan Thomas instead.

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* Well, that’s not exactly true. My first thought is “Wow, it’s dark and cold down here. Next time I should bring a space heater and a booklight”.

The Foulest Four Letter Word I Know

thFOZVIT6EWednesday’s post quieted my muse, albeit briefly.

You should write.

I wrote Wednesday

Doesn’t count – you wrote about nothing.

Seinfeld was a show about nothing

You are not Jerry Seinfeld

I’m not an old Jewish man? Good to know. You are my muse. You’re supposed to give me ideas.

I do. You don’t listen.

…..

Write!Write!Writewritewrite!

O

M

G

Please shut up. I would write, if I could think of anything to write about, and if I could find the time.

Ah. There’s the rub. And the topic.

Time.

It’s a four letter word, and out of all of them, it’s the nastiest. It stretches and bends, twists and turns, slows down and speeds up at random.  It slows when you want it to move quickly (during the last hour of work on a Friday, the 5 minutes before the school bell rings, and any amount of time at any mandatory meeting) and flies by in the blink of an eye.

The speed of life gave me whiplash last week, when my baby girl had another birthday. Her birthdays affect me more than my own do. I am able to ignore the grey hairs and the “life lines” in the face in the mirror (mostly because I don’t look), but I can’t deny the fact that my girl is no longer a baby – or a toddler.

My life changed when I became an accidental mother. I had just started a career in the entertainment industry (no, not THAT one) when the girl came into our lives. I told my manager that I would take “maybe a year off” to spend time with the baby.

That was 16 years ago.

It doesn’t’ seem possible. The past 14 years have been a blur. It could be because I’ve been juggling work/school/household chores, because I’m sleep deprived*, or because I’m a character in a movie montage – but I’m pretty sure it’s because Momtime is different than real time. Mom years are inversed dog years. 1 mom year = 7 real years.

Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been wasting Time. I should have listened to the Mad Hatter when he warned Alice about the perils of pissing him off.

“Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ `If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’ `I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice. `Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’ `Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’ `Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”Lewis Carroll

My daughter’s birthday wasn’t my first reminder that time is fleeting. I have lost too many people in the past few years. Their deaths reminded me that we need to spend less time doing the “Have Tos” and more time doing the “Want Tos”. We need to spend less time making money and spend more time doing what we love. We need to waste less time visiting with acquaintances on social media, and make more time to see those we love “IRL.”

Life is short – eat dessert first.

And whatever you do, don’t blink (and not just because there are Weeping Angels)

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So – if you could spend the day doing whatever you’d like with whomever you want, how would you spend it?

*Despite what friends/family/doctors tell you, parenthood induced sleep deprivation does not disappear once your baby sleeps through the night. The sound of my daughter’s  cough, gasp, or moan of a nightmare rouses me from the deepest sleep

 

 

Help me help you

10310622_10202638688706120_4691273213818244861_n[1]One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write 2-3 times/week. As with most of my resolutions (diet, exercise regularly,  call my mother*), I have failed. I started out fairly strongly, but I’ve managed to get derailed by grief and writer’s block. Today’s daily prompt from The Daily Post “Help” didn’t knock the block down, but it tried.

When I saw today’s prompt, I thought “I can’t write, but at least I can re-blog one of my older posts. I know I just wrote about the importance of asking for and accepting help.”

“Cheater!” screamed the EIC (He’s gotten louder now that I’m not writing).

“STFU.” (He may be getting louder, but I’ve learned not to listen).

I was surprised  to find that the post I had in mind was written in 2015. I know that time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly..timey wimey stuff**, but I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I wrote about hitting rock bottom and learning to ask for help.

I think the post is still relevant. We are taught that help is a four letter word. We think that we should be able to do it all, and do it all well, and that we should be able to get it all done yesterday, if not sooner. We need to learn that not all four letter words are dirty, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

More importantly, we need to learn to offer to help before anyone asks. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean you should try to “help” when you think someone is doing something “wrong.”

“You’re folding the socks wrong, let me help” isn’t helpful in the least, and it usually results in nobody ever folding the socks again (and the socks get mad, and run away, usually in different directions. One of them ends up in the dryer and the other one in the bottom of the toy box). I’m saying that, when we see others struggling, we should offer to help – and not the way WE want to help. We need to be willing to give them the help they want.

Which is a really longwinded way of saying that telling someone “I’m here if you need anything” is the best way to offer help. Sometimes knowing that help is close is all that we need.

* In my defense, my mom died in 1995, so I can’t just pick up the phone and dial

** For the Doctor Who fans in the audience:

 

 

 

The Game of Life

unnamed[1]My 15 year old played The Game of Life the other day*

“It’s really fun – we should get it.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Life is nothing like life. Life is a lot of things, but (mostly) life is a four letter word.

 

Those who know me know that I swear like a sailor, like a shipload of sailors, like a fleet of sailors. For those of you who don’t know me, welcome to my world! I’m Tracey, and I’ll be your guide. I grew up in Camarillo, home to the old and insane.** Being neither, I moved away to seek my fame and fortune in the wilds of Los Angeles (I didn’t find fame or fortune, but I did find a big bear who followed home).  Being both, I returned to Camarillo. I live with two kids (the one I birthed and the one I married) and no cats, because they make me sneeze and wheeze. Plus, they’re cats.

Where was I? Ah yes, swearing. I’ve been a fan of four letter words since I was young and thought I knew it all. Now that I’m not and I don’t, I have learned some brand news ones, which I would love to share with you.

Today’s word is life

From Miriam-Webster

Life noun \ˈlīf\

  • : the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks
  • : the period of time when a person is alive
  • : the experience of being alive

That’s the dictionary’s definition.

Life is so much more. Like most four letter words, it’s messy and foul, and I often find myself using other four letter words when it doesn’t go the way I want it to. It’s also amazingly beautiful, if you know where to look.

I think I’ve discovered the secret to life – she’s a BITCH (Beautiful, Interesting, Terrifying, Childlike and Hard) who wants us to grow and change. She’s a fierce teacher, who will knock you down if you’re not paying attention. She’s also an amazing companion who can take you for a wild ride, if you let her.

I made the mistake of letting Fear scare me away from living last year. This year, I’m getting in the car, taking the top down, and letting her drive.

I think Vivian Greene put it best:

viviangreene

So, tell me. What life lessons have you learned? Did you choose to learn them the easy way or the hard way?

 

*Ok, it was last month. Time is a wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey thing

** Camarillo used to be home to Camarillo State Hospital (now CSUCI) and Leisure Village (Leisure Village is still there. I live down the street)

 

 

Luck and other four letter words

Four_Leaf_Clover_03[1]In my year-end review of my blog, I noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time writing about four lettered words. It’s only fair, seeing that I USE a lot of four letter words. Well, not A LOT, but, well….yeah, a lot. A lot more than my mom ever used, at least. That’s only because she COULDN’T swear (trust me, she tried. It always made us laugh).

I’ve written about Hope, Help, Life and other four letter words, but there’s another word that’s been on my mind lately. It’s a four letter word ending in  uck (no, not that one, even though I used it yesterday when I kicked the couch and almost broke my toe). The word I’m thinking about is Luck.

Even though the past few years have been….eventful, I consider myself very lucky. My BFF said “Yes, you have had a ton of luck – all of it bad.” I had to disagree. If not for angels working overtime and an amazing amount of good luck (and support from friends and family) I would not be here. Well, I’d be here, but, seeing that I have only a slim grasp on my sanity, it would be bad. Fortunately, I live in Camarillo. Unfortunately, the State Hospital is now a university, and they look at you strangely when you show up on campus looking for drugs medication.

ANYWAY. Back to luck. There is good luck, and bad luck, beginners luck and the luck that comes from the rabbit’s foot in your pocket (which wasn’t very lucky for the rabbit, and he had four). We’ve had mixed luck, so I was hoping for ways to get lucky. FYI,  people also look at you strangely when you tell them that you’re looking to get lucky and that you’re willing to pay for it (special thanks to officer Mike, for the ride home).

Lo and behold, this morning as I was listening to Valentine and his crew, they took calls from people who had superstitions traditions to ensure a lucky year.

My BFF tried to break my cycle of misdirected luck by forcing me to eat pickled herring. She made me eat two helpings – one for me and one on my husband’s behalf (the lucky man stepped outside when she opened the jar). My girlfriend assured me that the bigger the piece, the luckier I would get, but it certainly didn’t work when I got home ;-O

The callers had a whole slew of traditions. Colombians believe that running around the block with an empty suitcase will ensure travel.

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I ruled that out right away. With my bad knee, the only place I’d be going is to the hospital. I ruled out jumping off a chair at midnight (literally “leaping” into the new year) or climbing a ladder after drinking all night. Drinking and running/leaping/climbing seems risky.

Food seemed to be a safer bet. People in the south believe that eating greens and black eyes peas guarantee a good year. Personally, I find black eyed peas only slightly more appetizing than pickled herring. Another choice is to eat a dozen grapes at midnight, (one with each “bong” of the clock) to ensure 12 lucky months. There are several problems with that idea – who has a clock that chimes any more? What if the grapes are too big, or have seeds? Food is risky.

I was able to find a couple of Colombian traditions I’d like to try, but they will have to wait until 12/31/2016 at midnight.

The Brits have a tradition I can try next month. According to the caller a person should say/repeat the word “rabbit” “rabbits” or “white rabbits”, or some combination thereof (including, according to the caller, “rabbit bunny bunny”) out loud upon waking on the first day of the month, because doing so will ensure good luck for the duration of that month.

I’m going to give it a shot, but it might kill my husband. The last time I mentioned rabbits, it died.

images[7]So tell me, what are some of your favorite traditions? What brings you luck?

Life and other four letter words

thCAIX8RTOWhen I first started blogging, I had every intention of writing on a regular basis. Of course, we all know where good intentions lead us. I anticipated struggling for stories, but I did not think that my biggest roadblock would be….life.

The past three months have been hard (to be completely honest, the past 3 years haven’t been a lot of fun). In the past few months, I’ve lost several friends to cancer, and I am on the verge of losing another. Last month I almost lost my daughter. I know that loss is part of life – and that they are both four letter words. I also know that if this cycle of loss continues, I may never write again. The loss eats at me, tearing little pieces of my soul away. I’m trying to maintain my sense of humor, but it’s become work (which is yet another four letter word). I have a potty mouth, but life, loss and work are my least favorite four letter words. I’m tired of all three.

My question is – how do you write when just signing on to the computer is a huge effort? How do you write when all you want to do is climb under the covers and watch telenovas (which is weird, since I don’t speak Spanish)? How do you write when you’ve lost your funny, and where do you go to find it? imagesCALL7SS5