The Last Supper

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This picture is the last one of have of my oldest daughter (far right) before she was hospital-bound. She looks sweet, right? Well she is, most of the time. When I visited her tonight she chatted happily about her math tutor, her roommate, and her dear friend Ekatrina [not her real name] who has seizures so unexpectedly she recently tumbled down a full flight of stairs. She pulled back what remains of her hair to display the bald patches she’s picked clean. She complained about her psychiatrist, and the social worker who spills his own problems to her. The party atmosphere of the adolescent ward persists, one of the aides strumming guitar while staring at his iphone, the other kids huddled around computers, video games, the constant stream of pirated music.

Left of that daughter is my incredible overachiever, and oh did she overachieve. Despite having a clear victory over her main competition, she brutalized herself final quarter to pull off a phenomenally perfect report card: and her teachers are tough. She started drinking coffee, stayed awake 24 hours at a stretch, studied 6 hour sessions for measly quizzes, composed-then-memorized essays for tests, all the while with me telling her to cut it out, relax, stop worrying about her grades and TAKE IT EASY PLEASE (imagine me saying this to her, bleary eyed, at 3AM, night after night, while she stares at me incredulous, telling me You don’t understand how the world works (which is what her father says to me all the time)). Here she is with her math teacher who is a ball breaker, if I may speak colloquially.

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Her graduation day was surreal. Since kindergarten she has explained to me she’ll be valedictorian, and here she was, valedictorian. An entire row was reserved for us, her family, at the front of the church. All thirteen of us were there (8 kids, me, my husband, my parents, my aunt). The service was long and meandering; there were long speeches, awards handed out (my daughter received more than I could count), and finally she stood for her valedictorian address.

At first the crowd was fidgety as this pipsqueak of a girl (I am 5’9 but none of my girls have broken 5’3″… how?) soliloquized in a quiet, halting voice. Yet when she reached this passage of her speech, a hush fell over the church, and even the priest leaned forward and stared at her in seeming amazement:

A timeless moral Law of nature has been written upon our hearts, and it has followed humanity’s duration. It is emphasized every time we attend Mass, offer the blessing of peace, and when we share in Christ’s blood. It is depreciated when we allow our own laws and labels to pressure us into ignoring our faith. We must make it our mission not to be the men and women who undo God’s Word in a world already teeming with corruption. An obsession with becoming branded has uprooted God’s call to reconcile our common humanity. We must, instead, recognize the harmonies we share in God’s image and dignity.

You could have heard a pin drop! In fact, the only sound in the church beyond her voice was my baby, who was tumbling around the back pews and babbling despite my best mother-silencing efforts.

And then it was over. They marched out. They threw their hats in the air. I dragged the baby and the younger kids home, and later my parents took my oldest five to dinner, which is the image you see above.

The overachiever has since informed me she’s no longer interested in being a valedictorian, and instead intends to become a trauma surgeon– the more brutal the path, the better. It’s nice to think she may one day save lives, and knowing her, it will come to fruition posthaste.

Do You Want Something to Eat

Everyone has their own opinion on the homeless. You either walk past them, or throw a little money at them.

One of the nicer aspects of Staten Island is you are typically spared this choice… until the recent inception of the heroin epidemic. These days you see all kinds of beggars, mostly young white kids in areas they would not typically spawn. This morning I ran to the grocery store for a few things and there was a kid, about my oldest son’s age, holding a sign stating his dilemma.

I AM HOMELESS TRYING TO GET OFF THE STREETS.

I dug through my purse as I harnessed my shopping cart, handing him money as I walked past. Then I knelt down, looked him in the eye, and asked (because this has been the purpose of my life for the past 19 years): do you want something to eat?

He looked stunned.

I’m not used to junkies, but there was a nervous, exhausted, desperate look on his face.

“Yeah…” he replied.

“What would you like?” (This is the “mommy monster” inside of me. Because seriously, I’ve been doing nothing but feeding and placating whiny children for 20 years.)

He looked even more stunned here. “Uhh…” he said, confused…. “Anything?”

Now it as my turn to be stunned. My kids are all picky eaters. I mean really, really picky, as in two or three foods, for years, picky. Was this guy really willing to eat anything? This was a novel concept for me… to put it mildly.

“And maybe something to drink,” he added weakly.

“What do you want to drink?” (there’s a liquor store right by the Stop and Shop)

He stared at me incredulous… “Water?” he asked, again, so weakly.

“Just water?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay honey.”

And I walked into the grocery store. What exactly do you buy a homeless drug addict? I felt, in a surreal way, like a mom packing lunch for her kids at camp: it had to be nonperishable, palatable, and high calorie. I settled on a big bottle of Fiji water, a box of granola bars, and doritos. Along with the other items I came there to purchase.

I handed the bag to him as I embarked to my car, knowing I had accomplished no good, but no bad either. “Take care of yourself honey…” but I knew he wouldn’t.

Let’s Play a Real Game

beach partay 2.0
Once again we embarked on our strange family outing- dropping my husband off at the psych unit (he was such a pill during the ride I seriously considered just leaving him there) then soldiering onward to Midland Beach with the girls, this time a different set of girls as my mother swapped the 8 & 10 year olds for the 12 & 14 year olds. The beach was unusually crowded- there was some kind of event going on- but the beach itself wasn’t too sardinesque. We laid out our beach blankets, I harshly warned the girls not to kick or throw sand (I do this EVERY time, why I don’t know) and they padded down to the water’s edge.

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I didn’t feel like going in today, despite the inviting gray waves rolling over each other like puppies.

But then I got my ankles in, then my calves, then my knees, and before I knew it I was diving underwater like last time. The water was warmer than then but choppier, thick waves rolling up and over. I guess like people, the ocean is changeable. Indeed each wave rushed upon me with a personality of its own and seemed to invite: let’s play a real game. So I began swimming out as far as I dared- past the fat russians, far enough to make the lifeguards whistle- then let my body go limp as the current pushed me back to the girls. Sometimes the waves were gentle, other times they welled up like a bullying brother. It dawned on me this was life to a degree; you forge into an unknown only to be met by a tide of fate, and it either carries you gently, or flirts with drowning you.

hogging the hedge
Best.t-shirt.ever.

hedgehog

This makes me think of Rodney King’s plea to just get along. But no, the hedgehog simply cannot. I bet he’s voting for Trump.

life in the psych ward
After many visits to my daughter I now know a lot of what goes on in adolescent psych units. First, the kids are majorly doped up. Her meds have been ramped up at least threefold from the short term unit. She’s on so many pills she’s lost her sense of time. She stopped calling home because, apparently, she’s not aware she hasn’t been here. The kids sleep… a lot. Her current roommate was curled up in a comatose little lump during my last few visits. And my own daughter spends an awful lot of time sleeping or semi-asleep.

They pirate music- even handing out mp3 players to the patients (there is unfiltered internet access, but the aides watch the screens). My rule-oriented daughter was alarmed by the piration and approached one of the aides, who covered up one eye, gave the thumbs up, and said, “arrghhh, matey!”

“School” consists of three rooms. In one room, you can use the internet. For anything. My daughter writes online screeds about animal rights and draws crazy ponies. [Note to reader: have I mentioned crazy ponies before? If not I will elucidate.] Room 2 is the current events room. You write essays about current events, but the teacher prefers the essays not be more than one sentence. Again, my daughter writes rambling screeds about animal rights. Room 3 consists of an eternal art project of a paper roller coaster. Marbles roll down it.

crazy ponies
When my daughter began having issues she embarked on the same drawing, over and over again, rarely finished. It was of a My Little Pony, the Friendship is Magic variety. She used to draw adorable and highly accurate ponies from the show as fan art– you know, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, etc.. My kids are all bronies and pegasisters (hoof salute!). But as she deteriorated, the ponies grew ever weirder, creepier, and she never finished them. I have thousands upon thousands of these half finished sketches all over the house which she eventually termed, affectionately, her crazy ponies. Case in point:

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Occasionally we get a crazy alligator:

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… or a crazy bird(?):

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… and lots and lots of eyeballs.

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Barbie Heaven

Yesterday we had the incongruous family outing of heading to the beach– the psychiatric facility is right by the one I take the girls to. So I dropped off my husband at the psych unit, then continued to the water with three girls in tow: the 14, 12, and 4 year olds.

“If there’s no garbage in the water,” I announced [you know you live in NYC when you have to preface statements with if there’s no garbage…] “I’m going swimming.”

The older ones took bets on how far I would go (to those unfamiliar with the beaches around here, the water can be chilly). “I bet she’ll go up to her knees,” said Dea, the 12 year old.

“Waist at the most,” quipped the overachiever.

Well there was no garbage in the water so I took off my sunhat and waded in. It was chilly but not unbearable, I dove underwater to the accolades of my girls still on the sand. I swam back and forth, dove under again, did a backstroke. It dawned on me I couldn’t remember the last time I went swimming.

“Hey mom!” shouted the overachiever. “I didn’t know you could swim!”

I wanted to tell her– I had forgotten I could too, but I dove back under, surfaced like a seal and floated in the gray waters of the Atlantic. There was the Verrazano; there was a passenger jet heading to JFK; there was the gaggle of fat russian men, lounging in lapping water (I don’t know if it’s a Staten Island thing, but it’s mainly men who go in the water at the beaches). They chatted to and fro in Russian while I dove under again. Salty water streamed down my face when I resurfaced; I wiped droplets from my eyes and pushed back my soggy hair. This was paradise!

My 14 year old got the 4 year old on her back, piggy back, and waded in to her waist. I shouted Mommy shark! went under, and grabbed at their ankles to the 4 year old’s sheer delight. Dea darted in and out of the ocean, looking like a starved, wet rat.

I don’t wear bathing suits. My reasoning is, I wouldn’t walk around in public in my underwear, so why would I walk around in public in a bathing suit that probably shows more than my underwear? No thanks! So I wore leggings, a skirt to my knees, a tank top and a long sleeved shirt for good measure. I figure if nothing else it will protect me from UV rays. I may have gotten a few curious stares but didn’t care.

The girls either followed suit or were too lazy to find their own bathing suits. So there the four of us were, fully clothed, horsing around in the water.

Later we went to the playground where the 4 year old misplaced her Barbie. Back in the car, noting Barbie’s absence, Dea gibed She went to Barbie heaven. This satisfied the 4 year old who spared us a torrent of tears, and she fell sound, sound asleep on the way home, her cheeks flushed bright red from sun.

 

Vikings

[spoiler free]

Years ago when I read of History Channel’s concept for a dramatized series about vikings I thought: lame. And didn’t give it another thought until a few months ago, when my 14 year old, in between marathon study sessions, binge watched it on amazon prime. She raved over the addictive plot, and the amazing bromance between Ragnar and Athelstan. Intrigued, and because there was a huge hole in my life since finishing The Sopranos, I hid downstairs to watch episode 1.

Still lame! The pacing was choppy, dialogue stilted, and former underwear model Travis Fimmel (Ragnar) obviously didn’t go to Julliard. At times he seemed to struggle to remember his lines. I tossed the remote aside and went back to life.

The next day my daughter cornered me in the kitchen. So what did I think? Isn’t Athelstan cute? Had I caught Viking fever?

“Uh… it was ok.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Did you at least watch episode 2 where they invade the monastery at Northumbria?”

Wait what? Monastery invasion? My ears perked up, as years ago I read a beautiful book featuring precisely that- Beorn the Proud, about a young viking boy who befriends an Irish girl taken captive. (In fact, I believe the book’s Beorn is based on Ragnar’s son (spelled Bjorn in the television series.)) It’s a beautifully written book that I still reflect upon often.

At soonest opportunity I was hiding downstairs again, this time for episode 2, and sure enough I caught viking fever. The scene where Ragnar’s group of warriors invades the monastery is one of the most amazing scenes I’ve ever witnessed on screen. And somehow Fimmel’s not-so-great acting begins to work for the gruff yet thoughtful Ragnar- kind of like Keanu Reeves’ golden retriever stare worked in The Matrix. The cinematography is outstanding, the writing by and large excellent, the music hauntingly beautiful. While it’s obvious most of the vikings are played by actors better at stunts than soliloquizing, it manages to dovetail into a mesmerizing blend of history and theater. And even for the squeamish, such as myself, it gets addictive watching the vikings kick everyone’s ass.

Of course, the real question for any woman watching this show is: ROLLO OR RAGNAR? Choices, choices. Rollo is a brute force kind of guy, while Ragnar tends to scheme quietly before launching into shock and awe.

rollo
Rollo: I like fast women and violating slave girls

ragnar
Ragnar: I like conquering the world and impregnating women

Of course, for those who prefer white collar guys, there’s always Athelstan. He looks cute in viking clothes.

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speak latin to me

Here I’ll have to plead the fifth.

As an important blogger, I did exhaustive research into the historicity of the show, and it turns out it’s surprisingly true to history, though some historical figures are swapped, and timelines tweaked, for the sake of the plot. You’ll also learn a great deal of Norse theology in watching this show; any pregnant women out there might want to start praying to Freya.

So it’s a must watch! The first three seasons are available on Amazon Prime.

Dog Days of Summer

quiet
Summer vacation is now tallying three weeks. The house is eerily quiet with my oldest daughter “elsewhere.” I never realized how much noise the constant pacing, chattering, and random giggles produced. She also loves to blast youtube while pacing (Pink, according to her, is musical genius). So that’s not happening. And it’s quiet.

over the river
My parents took two girls to New England where they wile away the days in the pool, eating donuts, ice cream, and visiting my sister.

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And they got to see fireworks twice- once at a private party and another time at the local park.

diurnal living
Us here, it’s down to my oldest, the overachiever (who did overachieve, she was valedictorian at her middle school- more impressive than it sounds), Dea (the artist, see chalk drawing below)…

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…and the two youngest. It sounds like a lot of people but the house feels empty three men down. Every morning is the same- I change the baby, barricade the kitchen, and let him loose while he wreaks havoc. The following picture is not an unfamiliar scene.

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Shortly after I took that picture (and retrieved him from the table) he walked into a corner cabinet… three times. He reminds me of a blind cat in that regard. He’s always walking into stuff, falling, and whacking his head. He even busted up his eye a few days ago (but it’s better now).

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The overachiever often quips he’s either stupid or fearless; perhaps that’s a Venn diagram.

beach partay
With so few children to take care of, an outing to the beach is less daunting. This is precisely what we did over the weekend. As you can see, the Staten Island beaches were mobbed.

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The overachiever and Adie got to “work on their tans” while I collected seashells.

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visiting hours
Most evenings are punctuated with visiting my daughter in the psych ward. It’s a strange adventure each time: getting past the ill-tempered safety officers is like facing the cyclops, wandering the grounds is navigating a labyrinth, the random adult patients are passing minotaurs, and in the center of it all my daughter, a disheveled Phaedra, reigns over the adolescent unit.

The adolescent ward has a constant, mild party atmosphere. There’s a lot of video games, music, movies, jocular chit chat, and food. In fact food seems to be a perpetual pursuit amongst some of the girls: rifling through the freezer, concocting dishes in the microwave, idly stirring that evening’s dinner in its styrofoam container, clandestinely slipping packets of graham crackers hand to hand like a drug deal.

weight loss
A couple months ago I read an article about type 2 diabetics put on a very low calorie diet. According to the study, diabetes was reversed in all patients. However as is common with discussion of diabetes, it’s unclear if “reversed” means “eliminated” or “managed.” So I decided to try it myself, and got down to a little under 116 lbs. At my height this is approximately BMI 17.

Mission accomplished, I pulled out the glucose monitor, drank a glass of grape juice… drumroll please… and my blood sugar promptly shot up past 200 within an hour. So much for that theory. I hate to be pessimistic but if reducing myself to an underweight BMI has no impact on diabetic reactions, how is telling a morbidly obese person to lose 50 pounds going to help anything? But I’m not a doctor.

strange dreams
I continue to have strange dreams and nightmares most nights, which is nothing new, but the pace has picked up. Perhaps it’s spillover stress from my daughter’s situation. Last night I dreamed I returned to high school, but the facilities had been redone to look like The Hermitage. The teachers and other students kept referring to me as “princess” which I found odd but didn’t question. I saw two of the Romanov daughters running through the hallway (redolent of the scene from Russian Ark). I climbed up to the third floor of one building and the stairway began to collapse; so I instead walked down to the basement where a demon, locked in a prison cell, whispered through the walls to help him escape.

The Pelican People

After her first psychiatric stint my daughter stabilized somewhat on a cocktail of anti-psychotics. She continued to pace, talk to herself, but was far less paranoid and accusatory. She stopped picking out her gorgeous hair and it grew back in short, pretty tufts.

A few months ago I noticed a decline. As did her grouchy psychiatrist, who prescribed an array of new anti-psychotics to no avail. My daughter reverted to constant pacing, constant chattering, and picking out the new version of her hair. The grouchy shrink eventually gave up. Perhaps she should go back to the psych unit.

So off we ventured one bright saturday morning. By this point I was accustomed to the double locking doors (the second locked door doesn’t unlock, until the first door slams shut) and even remembered the names of most of the nurses and doctors. My daughter was bright eyed and chipper throughout. I’ve gradually learned she has two modes: happy crazy, and paranoid crazy. Today she was happy crazy.

“I am not a goose to swim in murky waters!” she announced gaily to the empty waiting room. “I fly with seagulls in salty skies, I sing with the pelican people!” She pronounced those last words, pelican people, with great flourish. We sat together in the waiting room, endless episodes of Sponge Bob on television, her eyes darting to and fro like a cat watching bugs. She laughed, frowned, cocked her head to the side with serious expression as though listening to god’s secrets. She nodded her head, smiled warmly, and relaxed into her plastic seat.

They brought her in. They brought me in. I went through the whole spiel yet again. She was normal and happy until age 14. She grew withdrawn. She started pacing incessantly. She stopped sleeping. She began talking to invisible people. She picked out her gorgeous hair until nearly bald. She accused us of conspiring against her, accused us of poisoning her food. Whatever hair grew back she refused to wash or comb, and she hadn’t showered in months. Her hair was tangled in thick mats. Like you see on homeless people.

She looks like a homeless person,” I said flatly. Because this was it: defeat. Game over. Your turn.

They admitted her to the psych unit which housed just one other patient, a surly african american kid who kept sticking his hands in his pants, even in front of me. She was oblivious, cheerily playing Uno and watching movies with him until his discharge. Then it was down to just her on the unit, the lone adolescent patient.

She chattered incoherently to the nurses at their station. She read aloud classified ads in case they might need a new job (waitressing! that might be fun!). She explained to me, during visiting hours, that we are the construct of a mathematician in a simulated reality. She penned rambling letters to her psychiatrist and social worker. In one she ended succinctly: Finding myself here I realize I am easily confused and have great difficulty with basic functioning. I hold no ill will against you.

She decorated it with hearts and curlicues.

The unit psychiatrist, an almost handsome man with glittering eyes, likewise surrendered. She was on an elephant’s dose of seroquel with no effect. They lacked the resources to help her, he said, and perhaps she should transfer to the long term facility.

And that’s precisely where she went, carried by two young EMTs glued to their cell phones. My daughter smiled and chattered as the ambulance tumbled. She would meet turkeys! (The wild turkeys of Staten Island originated at this psychiatric facility.) She would receive turkey hugs! Nothing like genuine turkey hugs! And we saw them- the wild turkeys- as the ambulance barreled over locked grounds. Males with feathers outstretched, brown mothers, fluffy chicks scampering.

“Turkeys!” she cried in elation, “They waited for me!”

Yet another intake interview. Yet again the same spiel. Though this time I recalled a few details. “She says she has Jesus powers,” I explained matter of factly, as though the notion weren’t ridiculous.

The psychiatrist and social worked nodded, scribbling in notebooks.

“When Jesus died on the cross, he granted a select few special powers, she is one of the select few.”

They continued to scribble.

The unit coordinator took me on a tour of the facility; in the distance I could hear my daughter chattering happily with her fellow inmates. Then they ushered me out; the facility is located near the beach and the salty breeze washed over me, bright perennials nodding in the wind. Crows soared overhead like watchmen; I was reminded of the Norse mythology I learned from Vikings (an excellent series, highly recommended) where ravens operate as the envoys of Odin.

 

The Crazy Study

We are in the unique position of being reasonably well off, but having lousy health insurance. My husband’s company does not offer family coverage, so, post obamacare, we were forced to purchase coverage on the exchange. As even the NYtimes admits, these plans are second tier compared to employer provided plans, and as far as I can surmise offer medicaid’s pool of providers at a premium price tag. So I went from getting prenatal care at a lovely office with amazingly caring doctors, to having my youngest son at a dilapidated clinic alongside pregnant teens and babydaddies. Whatever… I learned to live with it.

When it became clear- around this time last year- that my oldest daughter was in dire need of psychiatric intervention, we asked her pediatrician (an excellent doctor who on principle accepts all plans) for a list of recommended doctors. From that list, only three accepted our insurance. Of those three only one returned our numerous calls, and her earliest appointment was months away. So we saved the slot while my daughter paced incessantly, chattered to her invisible coterie, and picked out half her beautiful hair in neat, decisive plucks. My vacuum cleaner died, motor burned out from clogs of discarded strands of long, dark hair.

Then one morning it came to a head. What little functionality she retained went the way of her hair. After watching her frantically pace, chatter, pick, and shriek at us, we hauled her off to the emergency room.

That’s when I realized: the ER is the only venue for poor people to get urgent psychiatric care. We aren’t poor, but for the last two years have been rubbing shoulders with them in any healthcare setting we enter into. You either survive until the months away appointment, or you get dragged to the psych unit.

From that point on I got a firsthand view of the poor and mentally ill; the psych unit that was little better than jail, the miserable outpatient clinic where the broken and indigent shuffle in like zombies; well meaning but ill-equipped social workers foisted into the therapeutic position psychiatrists once held; grouchy psychiatrists who treat you like scolded children rather than patients. All in 30 minute sessions. My daughter improved with medication, but still remains far from her former self.

I’ve watched enough episodes of Intervention to know that even the swankiest facility cannot rectify troubled souls, and chances are my daughter would be faring as she is now even if granted Taj Mahal accommodations. But it was an awfully bitter pill to swallow, watching someone so desperate treated in such a grim environment.

During one appointment her harried psychiatrist had a lightbulb moment. There was an ongoing study of child brain development, she said, and if enrolled we would be offered a full neuropsych workup, including an MRI and EEG. I paused and stared at the doctor, not sure what to think. If this saga has taught me nothing else, it’s to have low expectations. “Are you… recruiting?” I asked, as tactfully as I could. The already bristly doctor bristled, and said no.

So I called the number on the slip of paper and before long a series of polite screeners were ringing my phone. We showed up on the allotted date to a sparkling office- ironically in the same building as my former OB- and a gracious research assistant walked us through the 12 page consent form. The study, which my daughter endearingly termed “the crazy study,” is trying to identify genetic markers for mental illness. After a battery of tests they would take “biological samples” to be stored for future research. Back in the waiting room, a flat screen flashed sideshows of the institute’s events, including pictures of Trump, Hillary, and the Olsen Twins. I was asked at least three times if I wanted coffee or tea.

They took my daughter into the back to start testing, and a psychologist ushered me in for an interview. To my amazement he was polite, attentive, and obviously very bright and well versed. He typed and took notes furiously while a social worker looked on silently. At this point I began to wonder exactly how and by whom this institute was funded; having seen up close how the less fortunate receive psychiatric care, there was no way this was a purely charitable endeavor. They even have their own MRI machine.

Once home I poked around the internet, yet it’s still unclear to me where all the money is coming from. The foundation was established as a non-profit by a Manhattan psychiatrist known for his advocacy of psychotropic treatment for children (read: medicating boys for ADHD), but supposedly no pharmaceutical funds are utilized by the institute. So either the pharmaceutical money is somehow being funneled in, and/ or it’s some kind of genetic data mining operation. However, I’m not going to ask too many questions; in the vein of beggars not being choosers, neither can crazy people.

 

 

Famous Blue Raincoat

Don’t worry, it’s not Leonard Cohen’s leathery voice. He wrote some beautiful songs, but oh… his voice is god awful.

Years ago I stumbled across this gorgeous cover of “Famous Blue Raincoat.” I bookmarked it on my old laptop and listened to it many a time over. Then the laptop died… and I tried to find the version again, but couldn’t, for the life of me, remember her name though I remembered she was Norwegian.

Then it popped into my head this evening. Kari Something! And she’d done another song called “Birds.” “music kari song birds” brought me to her, thank you google; we are reunited.

1970s Music

I get to drive my husband’s car on Thursdays and Fridays. This means I get to listen to XM radio on those days. Which means I get to listen to THE SEVENTIES STATION (#7 if you’re interested.)

There is so much good music I’ve never heard before. Even if we’d been allowed to listen to mainstream music, I’m not sure I would remember anything from the 70s. I can identify a few songs from the 80s, which I heard in stores or other public establishments; we were forbidden from “that kind” of music even then.

I grew up with classical, and south american folklore. We lived and breathed it. But somewhere in my 30s I cracked. I don’t think there is any recorded classical music I haven’t heard multiple times. I got sick of it. So I ventured to the dark side.

Supertramp! The Eagles! Led Zeppelin! Where was this stuff all my life? Furthermore I discovered lesser known music, particularly from the 1970s- that was extraordinary- like the “hippie” christian music of Keith Green or All Saved Freaks Band.

Which is all to say, I keep finding excuses to jump in my husband’s car to “buy something.” A gallon of milk, chicken thighs, baby diapers. And I tune to the XM 70s station, and 75% of the time I love what is played.

Having been absent from the musicality of the first three decades of my life, I can say this: there is something special about 70s music. 1980s music sucks. 1990s is tolerable.

So what exactly is so striking about 70s music?

Here’s my classically trained answer: they were actually talented. They had real voices, real instrumentality, true pitch. By the time you get to the 80s it’s all about marketing and “packaging.” Take Madonna for instance: her voice is average at best, yet she managed to market herself to a phenomena, though a talentless one. Yeah, she was slutty. Yeah, she was pretty. So what?

Here you have a recent find from my peregrinations. Sonny and Cher- you have to love the 70s set and hair. I adore Cher’s dress! If I could still sew, which I could once do as well as a Bangladeshi kid, I’d create an exact replica. I’d peg her at BMI 17 in this video, but still beautiful.