Norwegian Day Is Not My Favorite Day

**My personal opinion only, and I live and let live*** Today is Norwegian Day, or something like that, and here in Ballard we have some big Norwegian Day parade that has been in existence as far back as I remember (1970s).  I am half Norwegian, so you’d think I’d like this day, but in all honesty I don’t.  When I think of Italians, I think of shouting and hugging and good food and family, when I think of Irish I think pubs and stories and green, but when I think of Norway I remember all the depressed, cranky, sarcastic Norwegians in my childhood and the cranky Norwegians I encountered on my one day trip to Oslo.  Maybe it was the neighborhood, or maybe it was just the Norwegians I knew, but the Norwegian Day Parade does not conjure fond memories for me — I am much more proud of my Scottish and Irish blood (albiet it is a very small percentage of my heritage). 

Norwegian Day Is Not My Favorite Day

It is so hard to have a depressed family member

Our oldest is going through some serious emtional (depression) issues for the past six months, and especially the past two months.  Will go days without getting out of bed, and has resisted therapy (except hormonal therapy prescribed by her dubious “doctor”)  but now is open to seeing someone.  I will start on this.  I’m not looking forward to it, since I battle chronic fatigue and it’s all I can do every day to seem “normal” (I wish I had a nickel for every time a close friend tells me they forget that I have a chronic disease).  

It is really hard to have a child going through this, the not getting out of bed for days, which strikes too close to home for me (my mom’s family is prone to this).  Although I myself have battled depression at times, no one would suspect it and I make an extreme effort to keep fighting through those days best I can and in my entire life had only had maybe 1 day where I could not get out of bed (after staying out with friends till 7 AM, I slept and watched sports all the next day πŸ™‚ ).  Even after my lung surgery, I spent my days walking the hospital (with my IV and oxygen tank in tow πŸ™‚ ) rather than laying in bed.  

I’m not upset with my child, I just want to be able to help her.  I don’t have the time or energy for this, but will have to carve out time/energy.  πŸ˜¦

It is so hard to have a depressed family member

I love depressing movies with hope

I continue to think on how much I disliked the movie Lion and the character in it.  Why?  Because I like people who perservere, and don’t like being around mopey people.  

Take Casablanca.  Here we have a heartbroken character who continues to suffer, but he suffers in silence while still running a bar. Elsa also is heartbroken, but tries her best to move forward.  The prince, held in a prison camp before escaping and loses his home (and realizes his wife shacked up with another dude when she thought he was dead) but continues to press on.  Resilience!

Or in Manchester by the Sea.  A brother is given 5-10 years to live and is a single dad, but continues on.  Lee suffers a horrible tragedy, but still presses on.  Everyone presses on the best they can.

But in Lion, the main character wallows. He quits his job, and drops his girlfriend and spends his days wallowing in a dark room clicking at a laptop.  Depressing!  I hate that.

I also have found that I don’t like watching the character Jesse in Breaking Bad.  I like that he is nonviolent and actually a pretty good kid, but there are many scenes where he just sits and wallows.  Again, I hate that.  I find myself fast forwarding through his scenes when I rewatch an episode.

So I am realizing I love grim movies where people press on.  I think that comes from my childhood, where I had a mom whose family suffered from debilitating depression, which was difficult to see, but also a dad who refuses to ever look at the dark side, which was a powerful example for me.  I don’t blame depressed people for being depressed or even suffering so much they can’t function – depression is an awful disease that can’t be helped.  But that doesn’t mean I want to watch it on the big screen. 

I love depressing movies with hope

The Miracle of a box fan in my office

Silence in the work place is depressing to me.  I think it goes back to growing up with some moodiness around me (friends, family, etc.) so I often associate silence in group settings as judgement and heaviness.  But conversation is distracting and I don’t like being in a loud bullpen environment when I need to work (which basically every minute of the day I am at the office).  By chance, I now have a fan in my office, and the white noise is wonderful – it prevents complete silence without the distraction of conversatoin.  Who’da thunk??

The Miracle of a box fan in my office

Love that Daughter L’s friend is staying with us

My daughter’s friend was miserable at home.  In recent years she’d run away from home a couple of times.  She has spent some time with our family, and think she likes spending time with us, so a couple of months ago asked my daughter if she could stay with us.  Wife M had to work it out with the parents (who are none too pleased) but L’s friend is unofficially living with us right now.  I love that she feels comfortable at our house, and that wife M has had a conversation or two with her about curfew/friends etc and she has been really respectful of that.  She is a great person, especially considering how unhappy she was, and I’m glad we have a place for her to stay.   I wish her parents were a little less threatened about it, but I also can understand their pain.  We’ve made it very clear that this is not official in any way, that she is just crashing at our house indefinitely – we don’t want anyone to feel that we are imposing our will or trying to take control and want to avoid legal battles (yikes!). We just want everyone to be happy.

PS I love that daughter L has embraced this too.  She has had to share her room and has lost some privacy, since her friend lives in her room.  But that is so important, to learn to share and that when friends are going through tough times we don’t just offer verbal support but share shelter with them.  I wish there were more of that in America — I feel so many AMericans are all alone in our culture that prizes independence to a fault. Plus I think L likes it – the two of them get along very well and seem to have a healthy blend of privacy but companionship, like close siblings.

Love that Daughter L’s friend is staying with us

Finished Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

At 48 years of age, finally read Of Mice and Men on the recommendation of daughter L.  In short, loved it. Like so many of the classics, it made me think, and did it in less than 100 pages.

The book follows giant but simple Lenny and small but cynical George, two drifters who have signed on to work on a farm.  We learn that Lenny is a good person but has a long history of hurting things, and there is foreshadowing by the way he inadvertantly kills mice, how the two men are on the run after Lennie inappropriate touched and scared a woman, and how George tells Lennie where they’ll meet if anything bad happens.  

We gradually meet the work men on the farm, all down-and-out and flawed men (and the new bride) in the early 20th century who are essentially alone and scared in the world, and cautious with each other.  GEorge more or less befriends one of the men, and they plan to buy a farm together, with the three men living and working on the land.  We also get a taste of foreshadowing when a beloved dog who was once a great sheep herder (just like Lennie is a great farm worker) but now too old to be of use is shot in the back of the head.  

Later, Lennie — like he has done before — inadvertently kills the young bride of the boss’s pugnacious son and flees into the hills.  The three men’s dream of owning a farm is now over, and George concludes that Lennie will always be a risk to people of the world.  George finds him in their previously agreed upon hiding spot, and shoots Lennie in the back of the head, like the old dog earlier in the story.

It is a heartbreaking story that seems to capture friendship, pity, loneliness and the life of a poor working class American 100+ years ago.  It is a story worth reading.

Finished Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

If not for the grace of Dad, there goes I

I would be surprised if my cousin G lives more than a year or two, despite being a reasonably young age of 50-something.  He has worsening heart failure, which over a year or two is a killer.  His heart problems make me feel very grateful for my dad…  Why?

Although he turned over a new leaf at 30, G abused the heck out of his body with booze, drugs and greasy food in his teens and 20s.  When his heart problems started in his 40s, he complained to his doctor (“I’ve been taking such good care of myself”), but the doctor said, “You can’t abuse your body the way you did in your youth and not expect to have problems later.”

I myself drank more than I should have for a year in my early 20s, but other than that have always been a light drinker, have never used recreational drugs of any kind and have been pretty good about eating my fruits and vegetables (and get better every passing year).  In my entire life, I’ve never been overweight and always had a flat tummy.

It would be easy for me to blame G for his issues, but the reality is, I have my dad to thank.

You see, G’s mom and my mom are sisters.  And both are emotionally intense people who suffer from anxiety and depression.  But G had a trucker father who was rarely around, and who eventually abandoned the family to marry a friend his wife’s (i.e. G’s mom’s) best friend.  Needless to say, G did not have the most stable of households.

My dad was a banker.  He wore a tie every day to work, never called in sick once, and had a knack for winning promotions.  He coached my teams, treated my mom well and — probably most importantly — was a stable emotional presence for my mom.  It is easy to skip the parties and the booze and the drugs with such an influence — not to mention a better dose of DNA — around.

I have a hard time believing that if I didn’t have a different dad, I might have followed the same path as G.  And might be living with the spectre of death.  

Thank goodness for my dad.

If not for the grace of Dad, there goes I