Today is the first day of the rest of your life
A dorm-room poster that never inspired
But the nation is sick, trouble’s in the land
And every day now is somebody’s last Continue reading
Today is the first day of the rest of your life
Mother was there today. I lie face down on a table, under a bright light. My back exposed and wrapped in white paper with a big hole where the needle goes. Continue reading →
Mother, dead eight years, was there today. I lie face down on a table, under a bright light. My back exposed and wrapped in white paper with a big hole where the needle goes. Continue reading →
(Reposted/ April 12, 20…)
April 12, (year intentionally left blank) Today on my 61st birthday, I choose to be alone.
I retreat to a cabin, deep in the North Georgia mountains wilderness. To contemplate the meaning of life. To contemplate the deluxe spa treatment, hot tub and gourmet dinner to follow.
This is wilderness on my terms.
The Beatles at Atlanta Stadium – August 18, 1965
I was a pre-teen Beatle-maniac on a magical night. Fifty-plus years later, I relive it all.
Who knows how long I’ve loved you? You know I love you still.
Somehow, my best friend, Suzanne Stroud, and I convinced both our fathers to take us to see The Beatles, along with her cousin, brother and sister.
I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before. Some are dead and some are living…
Nobody was dying that night, not at Atlanta Stadium. Brand new, space age – The Braves had yet to play there. The air shimmered, hot and electric.
Outside the gates, I saw Paul McCartney laughing. I almost fainted. Then I saw Ringo. Ditto. Then I realized these were “decoys” – that’s what people called them – lookalikes to distract hysterical fans. Inside, incredibly, there were empty seats. Back then, Atlanta was virginal, undiscovered. Hot ‘Lanta and The ATL yet unborn.
The official program had a photo of Jean Shrimpton, a supermodel before the term existed, in a full-page ad for Yardley’s “The London Look.” Pigtails. Glosssy lipstick. Smokey eyes. Oh! I would’ve happily lived a two-dimensional life as the beauty in that photo. The full-page black and white shots of each Beatle, each so swoon inducing.
John with a life-size teddy bear.
George, with a cowboy hat, pensive as James Dean.
Ringo, clouded in cigarette smoke in his be-ringed hand.
Paul. Oh, Paul…I vowed to marry you. Do you think there’s still a chance?
Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.
After the opening band, “Cannibal and the Headhunters,” the Beatles ran onto the stage, on second base. They played for 45 minutes that warped the time/space continuum into an eternal event horizon. We screamed without ceasing. Dad claimed he had to restrain me from jumping onto the fields, but I wasn’t that brave, even in that altered state of mass hallucination. Shockingly, John Lennon forgot a lyric that I knew like my own heartbeat. Weren’t they as obsessed with themselves and their music as I was?
Eight days a week, I lu-uh-uh-uh-uv you. Eight days a week is not enough to show I care.
Afterward, in the traffic jammed parking lot, kids pressed programs to windows – turned to the full-page photo of their favorite Beatle, like today’s car flags for UGA, et. al. Paul, Paul, Paul – oh Paul! I pressed his image through the window, to the world.
At home, my mom, who would never have gone, said she smelled me before she saw me, the sweat-soaked wool. Crying, laughing and reportedly storming the field in August, works up a lather.
“I’m not taking them off,” I said, retreating to the stereo console in the living room. With a pencil, I circled every song The Beatles had played on back of my album covers. I love to look at those circles. I played my six (as of then) albums repeatedly, when my mother spoiled my party, well after midnight, directing me to bed.
“No!” I’ve just started “Beatles ’65 – second side.”
She left, returning with a glass of water and two yellow pills – “mothers’ little helpers.” She actually gave Valium to a minor, and she was right to do it. I may have had a seizure, exploded into space.
Can that actually be 54 years ago? I remember thinking Sgt. Pepper’s “20 years ago today,” was a lifetime the first time I heard that line.
The Beatles were a bridge between my parents and girlfriends and the boyfriends to come. Non-threatening. Boyish. Sweet. Funny. Irreverent. Innocent.
Today, all 16 American albums are framed in order, on an 18-foot wall in the main room of my house. The wall is painted the exact orange color of George’s tie on Hey Jude.
When I find myself in times of trouble…
I listen to each of them, in order, even “Yellow Submarine.” After years as a “White Album” supremacist (meaning my favorite) I had a recent epiphany. “Revolver” is ineffable, unbearable, overwhelming.
Turn off your mind relax and float downstream. Listen to the color of your dreams. Play the game existence till the end…of the beginning…of the beginning…of the beginning…of the beginning…
The Beatles are a constant. Not to offend anyone, if I haven’t already, but they are a Higher Power. They remind me that I could, and can, love with passionate, innocent intensity. That perfect moments can and do happen.
Come on now, my fellow aging, dying, dead baby boomers out there – get a grip. Rise above it. Treat yourself to “Meet the Beatles.”
With a love like that, you know you should….BE GLAD
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. Yeah Yeah, Yeah YEEAAAHHHH!!
P.S. I Love You
This gallery contains 4 photos.
THIS MONTH I’VE BEEN SCOURING THE VILLAGE FOR GREAT HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS – THE NEIGHBORS ARE RESTLESS (AND CREATIVE – VOTE YOUR FAVORITE (disclaimer: frog below discovered in photographer’s house)
By Georgia Lee ( From “A Father’s Legacy – Your life story in your own words”) Dad’s journal.
Journal Prompt: Tell me about your wedding day. What Happened? How did you feel? Were you nervous, scared, Happy?
GOOD LORD! Again, you ask such personal questions. Ok – Wartime, remember? Continue reading →
Writing books is easy!
By Georgia Lee, from the diary of Emmett Lee
When my father, Emmett Lloyd Lee, turned 80, I gave him a guided journal
“A Father’s Legacy – Your Life’s Story in Your Own Words.” Dad is a
natural, conversational writer, full of depth yet lacking pretension. Reluctantly
accepting my gift, he then became obsessed with writing every day, filling every page
By Georgia Lee (updated post)
April 2014 – I’m crying as I write this.
Yesterday, Easter Sunday–visiting hours at Peachford Hospital. My son is in complete lockdown. Maximum security unit for the most severely disturbed mental patients.
Sean (not his real name) is 26. Scraggly beard (no razors allowed) wrapped in a sheet over baggy gym shorts and flip-flops (no shoe strings or drawstrings allowed) Suicide risks.
Alone at an orange table, he stabs a plastic “spork” into a tangerine. Not to eat it. He’s searching for poison, examining strings. He doesn’t look up at me.
I brought an Easter basket. The front desk searched and transferred contents into a brown paper bag. They “wanded” me through metal detectors, kept my possessions and sent me to my car, where cell phones must be locked.
“Easter Bunny came,” I set the bag on the table. Inside are jokey gifts. Super-Hero socks. Origami paper. A journal with an ancient map of the new world.
He’ll either lose or throw it all away, but I wanted him to have something. He smiles a little at the Batman socks, examines the journal’s uncharted territories.
Talk to him, I say, knowing it will be harder, MUCH harder than communicating with a two-year-old.
I’ve phoned the ward each night, always answered by a different attendant. Not one has heard of him. “I.D. Number?” before I get out his full name. I recite a memorized “&^*^x4.”
“Oh, he’s fine, just fine,” they say. If they don’t know his name, how do they know? Isn’t “he’s fine” a HIPPA violation?
Below, read how “just fine” he is:
HIM: I’ve calculated the numbers of our birthdays into a formula for our exact dates of death. Mine is next Tuesday. I’m working on yours. It’s genius. Are you ever going to explain why you’re on ADULT FRIEND FINDER? (sex site) Dad’s running a “girlfriend experience” site. His girlfriend is on it, and my ex-girlfriend’s mother is too.
ME: I don’t even know…I begin and stop. (He won’t hear me)
HIM: I saw your picture. I’ll never trust you again. And Gracie? (our 10-year-old-cat) She’s pure evil, bad juju. You put her down. When you get home, kill her.
He covers the suspicious tangerine poison, without touching, inside a brown napkin.
HIM: The government is a prostitution ring. Aliens control the ecology of religion. Vladmir Putin controls aliens. Michelle Obama wears the God Helmet. My ex-girlfriend’s father is pimping her out.
He stops, softens and breaks into a toddler’s world. Head hangs, bottom lip trembles, baby tears spill.
HIM: My granddaddy used to take me to the park in the truck. We’d listen to…Hamlet. But when I fell off the go-around on the playground I got…scared!
His granddaddy, my father, recently died. Sean is convinced he killed him but breaks down when he speaks of it. He jumps up, runs to the refrigerator, returns with a chocolate milk and leans back in his chair. Grandfather forgotten.
HIM: I want to stay here, not out in the world that’s killing everybody. But I see those cameras over there. (I don’t) I can’t stay here, so I want to be homeless. No. I just want to die.
ME: I understand. But I think you’ rather get well and feel better. Too many people love you. How would your sister and I feel without you? What would your grandmother (who died two years ago) think?
HIM: She’ll be glad to see me. I want to go to my heavenly home. (a phrase he’s never used)
ME: Can I hold your hand, please?
Suspicious, he flattens his hand on the table. I cover my hand over his cold fingers.
ME: I’ll always be here. You’re going to get better. Just take the medicine the doctor prescribed. It’ll help.”
HIM: What doctor? I haven’t seen any doctor around here. I’m not taking any poison from anybody.
ME: Everybody wants to help you.
He jerks his hand away, reaches to slap my face but misses.
HIM: “GET OUT OF HERE, GET OUT, NOW – NOW!!!”
He yells and bats his hands at me like shooing flies.
HIM: Your face is black oil underground. You’re melting into him, the devil. Evil.
“VISITING HOURS ARE OVER, MAM” Across the room, a 300-pound woman yells.
Leaving here rips my soul. Puke yellow doors clang behind me solid as the prison that this is. I press my face into the cold metal.
I hear screaming inside. “Help me! Oh God, please, somebody help me. I’m dying. Help Me.”
It’s him. My baby. Crying, yelling, alone. Nobody helps. I’m helpless, locked out. Now I can’t breathe. Heart. Bursting. I run through winding halls, no way out and no way in.
Through empty halls, I stop the first “badged” person in sight.
“Please, can you help me?”
“Well, I’m late and in the middle of something,” she says, matter-of-fact.
“But I can’t drive home. I might be having a heart attack. I can’t breathe.”
“I’ll find somebody. Just wait there.”
She goes into a room, shuts the door.
I wait 45 minutes, an hour? The wall is lined with 12 paintings, one for each of the 12 Steps. I study them, one by one. I could recite all these steps and a dozen books on them. My son can beat that. He’s memorized the entire Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Which step gets us out of here?
I slide down the wall, head on my arms. Not one person notices me. I’m invisible. There is no help.
I push up to my feet. Through the maze, I spot a red exit sign. I hope the alarm does goes off. That might get someone’s attention. The door opens, no problem.
Outside, in luminous sun on tulips, pansies, and azaleas, I rip off my VISITOR sticky badge and throw it in the garden. I don’t remember driving home.
I’ve suffered severe depressive episodes for decades. If I thought Peachford, or anywhere, would help me, I’d check right in. If I had the insurance or money to pay for it.
But they wouldn’t take me. Not suicidal, homicidal or violent, I won’t qualify for even an overnight stay. The E.R. would put me in a room with a cot on the floor and a urinal for at least eight hours, then release me with instructions to exercise and eliminate stress. See a psychiatrist. Good luck finding one that takes insurance. The latest Trump care repeal/replace of the ACA proposes to eliminate mental health care coverage and/or allow insurance to charge higher premiums for that pre-existing condition.
That summer of 2014, Sean was hospitalized eight times, for 7 days each, the precise time prescribed by insurance. Hospitals “stabilize” patients, through groups (patients treating patients) then dump them on the sidewalk with a “homeless packet” of charity shelters with red tape and waiting lists. Imagine a psychotic patient with no family/support, transportation or money navigating that list. They don’t call it a “homeless packet’ for nothing. Look around parks, intersections, under overpasses. Homeless in America.
Private treatment is outrageously expensive. (My family spent well over $250,000 on six residential treatments for short-term benefits and afterward, relapses.
For-profit treatment is a racket, with groups (again, patients curing patients) like AA meetings, free on every corner. Still, rich people get rehab, poor or middle-income get jail. Insurance won’t consider this illness worth paying for. The U.S.A. – richest country in the world. No mental health care, but hey, you sure can get Viagra or Cialis.
UPDATE: 18 months after staying at The Extension, a (free) residential program that helps men stay off drugs, find jobs, contributing 30 percent of income for room and board, Sean is healthy, sober, working and in school. He’s sees a psychiatrist on a sliding scale. Before stumbling on The Extension, I’d spent hours searching for residential treatment, averaging $1,000 PER DAY.
My only son, firstborn child could have been homeless, imprisoned or dead, as several of his friends are. I’m not naïve, religious and don’t believe in miracles. Yet I rely on an amorphous Amazing Grace that I don’t understand. The serenity of the words comfort me.
Yet our health care/insurance/government industrial complex shows little grace, compassion or common decency. If you find this appalling, visit www.nami.org. Resist the repeal of the ACA. Contact your congressmen relentlessly. Vote.
Vote for you favorite footwear! At the recent Southeastern Writers Conference, Saint Simons, Ga., your intrepid former fashion reporter did an impromptu survey of summer comfort and fashion shoes. Check out these lovely ladies and (one man) pedicures and all.
TOP: Jan Babcock in Donald Pliner; BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT: Pam Bolyn Hunter in Impo; Jeanie Loiacono in Chocos with fitness monitor; Heather Trim in riding boots; Pam Mather in Converse; Georgia Lee in Munro; Stu Blandford in Bjorns; Mary Stripling in (unsure) Dana Ridenour in Sanuks;