invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

she is dancing August 28, 2006

Filed under: life,r.i.p. — clementine @ 2:00 pm
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life is short, as the saying goes. and so we do our very best to enjoy it—we live, we breathe, we love and we seek peace. it’s not easy. especially during wartime. or during those moments when you feel you simply cannot go on. or after you lose someone you love. but, we keep trying. we continue living.

most days i attempt to seek the beauty in the ugliest situation. i take pleasure in the small things. i try to look at the big picture. i put myself in someone else’s shoes…i say to myself, this person is doing the best they can, for now. and i take small steps.

on some days, living with a mental illness exhausts me and i only see the ugly. my fears overwhelm me and most people turn away from me. and then, yes, i pick up the pieces and i continue living. seeking the beauty.

the oldest woman in the world died yesterday. her name was maria esther de capovilla, she lived in ecuador and she was 116. maria was born in 1889, the same year as charlie chaplin and adolf hitler. she was 22 when the titanic sank and 79 when astronauts first set foot on the moon. in 1917 she married antonio capovilla, an austrian sailor, he died in 1949. they had five children, three of whom are still alive, and 11 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

maria was said to enjoy painting, embroidery, dancing and walking. her family believes drinking donkey milk as a child might have been the key to her longevity, i believe it was so much more than that.

her likely successor as oldest woman is an american, elizabeth bolden of memphis, tennessee. i would like to meet this woman, i would like to hear her stories. i would like to look into her eyes and see the warmth, the pain, the love and the beauty.

to read more on maria’s life, click here.


i miss eddie August 24, 2006

Filed under: life — clementine @ 7:43 pm
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i did not enjoy living in los angeles, well, beverly hills. i have often thought if i lived in silverlake or santa monica or los feliz…maybe my experience would have been a better one. but probably not…there are approximately 7,876.8 people living per square mile in los angeles. and i don’t like crowds.

i’m a small town girl. i grew up in a town with one stoplight (there are 2 today, i believe.) we had a dairy queen and a stop-n-go convenience store. a bakery. a drugstore. to see a movie i had to drive 10 miles, but back then it felt like 30 or 40. most of my days were spent with friends at my house. swimming in our pool. playing soccer in the yard. skipping school. friday night football games. the town was 100% white until my freshman year in high school when a family adopted an african-american boy. it was a big deal. to this day, some 15 years later, the town is still white and it saddens me. the kids today, i am sure, are doing the same thing i did so many years ago. i want more for all of them. i want them to at least experience living in a city like los angeles or nashville or new york or austin…nothing wrong with raising a family and keeping life simple, just because it’s not for me doesn’t make my life better, but…

i read something a friend posted at her website, it’s the story of eddie.. a homeless man who lived on the rooftop of her office building. the homeless can tell a story with their eyes. i’ve had many conversations with the homeless and many times without a word spoken between the two of us. and usually, they touch me in a way i cannot describe except to say i’m a better person, more enlightened after meeting them. one example would be a man i met while working on a film in memphis. his name, too, was eddie. we were working 12-20 hour days, six days a week. it wasn’t easy but most crew members were making incredible money. we had a warm bed to sleep in. plenty of food and drink to eat. friends and family to call.

eddie slept on the loading deck of the building where we filmed for several days. no bed, only blankets. and no food or drink of his own. no family. but he had friends. so many friends. i put him in the movie and he worked several days- you can actually see him in the film, several times, one scene singing along with the lead actor. i would wake him every morning and he was so excited to start the day. (those moments are moments i will never forget, the look on his face…me, sleepy and wishing i was in bed and he, alive and awake!) i would walk to catering with him and he would eat…and eat. and eat. usually pancakes…. i would always go to catering after lunch and fill several boxes with food for him to share with his friends later that evening. meanwhile he would stand and wait patiently for his turn to walk in front of the camera while the other extras sat and complained…are we finished yet? how much longer until we wrap? what’s taking so long? i need makeup, time for a touch-up! we are running out of bottled water and the coffee isn’t good.

but never a word from eddie. my sweet eddie with a full beard and warm eyes..eyes that said so much. those eyes that would light up when i woke him. he could have slept. he could have walked to the store with enough money to get that bottle in the brown paper bag. he could have avoided the lights and the people and avoided the reality that he didn’t have what we had. but i choose to believe he knew…he knew he had so much more.

as i was typing this, a friend called, she still lives in that small town where i grew up. i was listening to paul simon’s graceland when she called. i remember the day i took her and her son to graceland. and beale street. standing on a rooftop overlooking the mississippi river. and walking the streets populated with so many faces, some haunted, but all with a story to tell. there are no homeless men or woman in my old hometown. most of the kids there will never see memphis. or los angeles. they will never know what it’s like to look into someone’s eyes and see something so very real. and beautiful.


andrea yates and the death penalty August 8, 2006

Filed under: mental illness,news,stigma,suicide — clementine @ 7:48 pm
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the other day i read an article on the death penalty, it kinda went like this:

“the death penalty in the united states may be hitting a roadblock: the hippocratic oath.condemned inmates in three states have successfully challenged lethal injection as cruel and unusual. for the first time, judges have sided with inmates in ruling that lethal injection has the potential to be unconstitutionally cruel – that without doctors present, the procedure could be inhumane.the problem is that few doctors are willing to do it. ultimately, this could put a halt to the use of lethal injections.”

it reminded me of the many mentally ill in prisons, some of whom sit on death row.  in 2004 it was estimated that about 70,000 inmates in u.s. prisons are psychotic. anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 male and female prison inmates suffer from mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. prisons hold three times more people with mental illness than do psychiatric hospitals, and u.s. prisoners have rates of mental illness that are up to four times greater than rates for the general population.

they sit in a cell, wasting away. some will be put to death. and very few care.

the article also reminded me of the andrea yates verdict. not guilty by reason of insanity. her lawyer, george parnham, called the verdict a “watershed for mental illness and the criminal justice system.”  especially in texas. yes, she drowned her five children. i cannot imagine. but this is a woman who previously attempted suicide and on one occassion, put a knife to her neck and begged her husband to let her die. a severely mentally ill woman. several hospital stays and medications, none of which worked, obviously. people forget this is an illness or they choose to believe it’s not an illness. they see a woman who tragically ended the lives of her five  young children. period. most do not look past that fact. it doesn’t matter that she was hallucinating, she thought satan was in her and she was trying to save her children from hell.

this is a woman who was valedictorian of her class, captain of the swim team and an officer in the national honor society. she loved her husband and her children. she attempted to live a “normal” life. at some point, things went terribly wrong. as the days and years passed, her mental illness consumed her. and eventually it destroyed her and everything she knew to be good and true. she still loves her children and i can only imagine how she wishes she could turn back time, she wishes she could hold her children…tell them everything will be ok, mommy is sick. and she needs help. she will live with the pain and guilt for the rest of her life. i wish her peace. and i wish for understanding…of this illness. and i am thankful that at least the jury looked past the deaths and opened their eyes to the simple truth. she did not have cancer. but she had an illness equal to cancer, albeit a complicated illness. the voices in her head won. plain and simple. and what good would it do sitting in a cell, without treatment, wasting away. or the death penalty, like so many wished for her. how fair is that? they should be treated for their illness and not disregarded because we don’t understand the illness.

should she be hospitalized for life? should the many that murder others be hospitalized for life? i don’t have the answer, i lean towards, yes. andrea yates will at least live out her days coming to terms with it all, probably miserable, but nonetheless alive. and cared for. and not dead. or wasting away, ignored.


a joker August 7, 2006

Filed under: entertainment news — clementine @ 2:01 pm
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i really liked batman begins. i liked the look of the film and the script but it was the casting that did it for me. liam neeson, michael caine, gary oldman, morgan freeman, cillian murphy, tom wilkinson, rutger hauer, christian bale, pretty much the entire cast excluding katie holmes, er, kate cruise….and now for the dark knight, director christopher nolan has cast heath ledger as the joker. what do you think?