Chris Cornell

Before I begin, please, if you’re feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 in the US.  Here is a list of crisis lines by country.  Or fucking send me a message, my sleep is garbage anyway.

I wanted to take a break from my usual and talk about Chris Cornell, and I’m writing this so that maybe I’ll stop thinking about him.  I’m not writing this to debate or speculate if he intended to commit suicide or if his prescription medication altered his state of mind.  The ultimate fact is that he is gone painfully too soon.

I would never say I was his biggest fan by far, but I enjoyed his work and loved how talented and versatile he was.  His voice resonated with me from my youth to my current old bitterness.  And his passing pains me more than I ever thought it would.  I don’t know if it’s the shock and the suddenness.  I’m being quite selfish here, because the tragedy of a stranger is making me talk about myself, but so be it.  As a person that has fought with depression and suicide there are days where I feel like I’m barely hanging on.  And I’m angry about that because my life is good right now.  So good I want to freeze time.  I want to seal this moment forever because I’m terrified of the future.  I am under a doctor’s care, I take medication, I am not suicidal.  Right now.  That’s the terrifying part–once you’ve been there, you never really leave, at least not for me.

You remember these slides, right?  This is how I feel like my life is.  Maybe I started at the top like everyone else.  In the sun, happy.  But I found myself sliding down into the dark and I try to stop.  You have to use both hands, both feet.  And you get so fucking tired.  So you try to climb back up to the top, where everyone else is, where the sunshine and air is.  If you have people at the top, maybe they can lend a hand.  Maybe medicine will make you strong and you can climb back up.  But over time, you get so tired, and you feel things pulling at you, weighing you down.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back up there.  I’m not sliding down, but I feel like I’m very consciously holding on.   And some days even with all the help you just get so damn tired and you know it would be so easy to let go and just slide down.  It would be a relief.  Even if the slide had no end or even a horrible end at least you wouldn’t be struggling so hard or hanging on to other people so heavily.  That’s how I feel with depression.  It feels like it’s always looming and it makes me a fraud.  Because I can function and talk and make jokes and take care of my kids and my family and enjoy things and all the while I’m screaming inside because maybe it’s all fake and I’m lying to myself.  Maybe I’ve learned how to put on a pretty good show.

To be clear, I feel firmly held right now, but I’m always aware and always afraid.  Maybe it’s just how my life is and will have to be.

So when I hear about Chris Cornell, who by all accounts should be happy, like I should be happy…how could he slide down?  How the hell can I hold on while someone who outwardly has everything cannot hold himself up or have the strength to hang on to someone else’s hand.  What hope is there for me, when someone like him has lost all?  I used to think that suicide was so selfish and it made me angry.  It is selfish, but the weight that some people have, the demons that pull them down, are just too much.  I feel robbed, as the whole world does, as his family and friends do.  But I’m also selfishly afraid.

That’s really all.  I just wanted to vent.  Here are some videos.

“One” lyrics by Metallica, music by U2  Note:  The lyrics have been slightly altered to fit with the music, so the lyrics below are not exact.  You can hear “One” by Metallica here and “One” by U2 (original music video) here.  Both amazing and haunting songs on their own.  The video for Metallica’s video comes from the book and subsequent movie “Johnny Got His Gun” which is a whole other level of surreal.

I can’t remember anything
Can’t tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops me

Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up, I cannot see
That there’s not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Back in the womb it’s much too real
In pumps life that I must feel
But can’t look forward to reveal
Look to the time when I’ll live

Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Now the world is gone, I’m just one
Oh God, help me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, help me

Darkness
Imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Landmine
Has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell

“One” lyrics by U2, for reference.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say…

One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s…

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One…

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One…life

One

Stuff that Happened – I met a hero!

Okay, so I didn’t meet-meet him, but I did make an awesome discovery that I hope will bring as much joy to someone else as it did for me.  The person I “met” was Dr. Modestino Criscitiello.  He told me his story from World War II that I just had to share with the world.  My adventure started out in a used bookstore called Books by the Pound.  Why yes, they do sell books by the literal weight.  There were scales throughout the store, much like in the produce section of the grocery store.  It has an antiquarian section with some incredibly old books; some from the early 1900’s. I wanted to buy all of them.  BUY ALL THE BOOKS!  But, old books tend to be heavy and hence, more expensive when buying by the pound.  What I ended up finding was a very simple, albeit large, nondescript book.

It was the only book I HAD to have.

When I opened it, it was filled with original photographs and documents.  I didn’t look at it closely, but I really had to have it.  Here is a weird little fact about me:  I’ve always been strangely interested in WWII.  As a young child, I read everything that I could get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction.  I think that as a general rule, 7 year old little girls aren’t super into WWII.  Or at least I never met one.  Regardless of the reason, while I’m terrible at history and dates and such, I am a bit obsessed with it.  So no matter what was in this book, I HAD to have it.

My initial thought was that it was maybe a variety of communication or just a gathered type scrapbook.  When I finally got it home and sat down with it, I was amazed to find that it was the personal account of Dr. Criscitiello’s years of service during the war.  Dr. Modestino Criscitiello was a surgeon that practiced in Pittsfield, MA.  He had what most would consider a comfortable life with his wife and children when World War II erupted.

Page One

I detest war and I abhor violence in any form.  The decision to volunteer my services during World War II came about only after long and agonizing consideration of the following factors:

Contrary For
1. Leaving a comfortable home at the age of 49 and exposure to rugged army life with possibility of loss of life or limb. 1. As a member of Draft Board 123 and later as medical examiner of board I was involved in decisions as to who was to be drafted and sent to war, while I remained home in comfort and safety.
2. Acceptance of army regimentation with loss of personal freedom. 2. Sense of duty to country as a United States citizen.
3. Loss of income from medical practice at peak of my earning capacity. 3. Set up adequate insurance program so that in any event family could live comfortably and without jeopardizing children’s education.
4. Obligation to various community medical and non-medical organizations.
Obligation to my wife, children, and old mother.
4. Paying the United States a debt of gratitude for having afforded my family the opportunity to develop our potential and enjoy a better life.

Looking back, the decision to volunteer was justified.  OUr entire family became an active part of the war effort and thus came face to face with the disruption of home life.  We were all made more aware of the anxieties of war.  Personally, during my three year term of service, I was fortunate to have had an active part.  Among other duties, my assignment as Chief of the Surgical Service of the 117th General Hospital, situated near Bristol, England, brought me to the European theatre of war.  This was a large, 1000  bed hospital usually filled beyond capacity with war casualties presenting cases with severe, multiple injuries.  Though the work was strenuous physically and emotionally the results were gratifying.  Among other accomplishments, the neurosurgical section of our staff made important contributions of the care of nerve injuries and the plastic surgery department made advances in the technic of pedicle grafts.  We also did some pioneer work in angiography and electroencephalography.  Above all, we provided mental and physical comfort to the American soldiers entrusted to our care.  I like to feel that we saved a few lives and helped heal many wounds.  Mission accomplished!  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to serve my adopted country when in need.

The good Doctor.

Okay, how inspiring is this!?  Dr. Criscitiello was (I believe) an Italian immigrant and is listed in U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 along with his wife, Assunta.  Maybe as a child of immigrants, I’ve always had the sense of how important your adopted country is.  This is my home country, but that’s not the point.  Both of my parents worked with the government before they came to the US; my brother served in the National Guard for years.

I…pay my taxes.  I vote.  I know all the words to the songs and pledges and was even a Girl Scout for one year.  I thought about joining but I am not made for the military.  I’m a patriot by not enlisting. Trust me on this one.

All original documents.

Dr. Cristiciello entered into the Army as a Captain and was subsequently promoted twice: to Major and then Lieutenant Colonel.  It’s easy to romanticize war stories because that’s a lot of what movies and TV do.  I want to see it that way, as well, in a sort of M*A*S*H colored glasses way.  I then try to think about the situation in a more realistic and empathetic way–how would I feel if The Mr. (who is now in his 40’s) voluntarily put himself into an ongoing conflict/war?  Leaving me and our children alone?  For three years?  The thought seriously upsets me.  I would be completely against it.  The Mr. is totally against this imaginary scenario, too.

The caption for this was “Home – Minus Dad”

There were So. Many. Pictures.  I wanted to include them all, but no.  Here are some of my favorites:

Front row, center

Second row from front, first person on the left

So many originals with “Restricted” stamped on them. I felt like I was in on some sort of big secret :D

Fau Tau Players Oath
I solemnly swear that I will not bitch, gripe, curse at, or bring false accusation against my fellow players.

If anyone knows if this says Fau Tau or what it means, please let me know.  Tau is Greek, so maybe a fraternity or club of some kind?  No clue.  Still neat.

Original newspaper clippings.

So his son was a doctor that studied at Harvard, his daughter was a nurse that studied at Yale and they were both in the military as well.  The interesting thing is, when researching I found so many instances of “Doctor”.  So many family members, even today!

Click for link!

Once I realized what I had in my hands, I began researching to find his family.  I have no idea how his personal scrapbook ended up in a second hand bookstore in Georgia.  If it was my family member, I would definitely want it back.  I finally got a break through Facebook and connected with a Criscitiello in Texas who is indeed related and is a molecular biologist researching immunity and evolution.    I corresponded with him and have sent him the book.  If I had not found anyone I would have found a museum to donate it to.  It is a really incredible collection of information and should be in the family first and shared with the world second.  If you believe in these kinds of things, maybe it was fate that I found that book?  Maybe it wanted to go home?  Either way, this was a wonderful adventure from start to finish.  I’m glad I got to play a small part.

Stuff that happened, Part 2

March through today has been pretty much all about Josh.  Good things and bad things and then good things again.  One thing I’ve decided is that I will be blogging less about him because he’s now at the start of that transition into manhood.  I can’t tell you how much I hate that word, manhood.  Not because of the actual word, but because it means my baby is not a baby anymore.  He hasn’t been a baby for a long time.  I rationally know this but he’s my first born and I’m weepy as fuck.  So let’s get on with it then.

All of these hyper sensitive emotions are because my baby son just turned 10 years old.  Double digits.  One decade.  One year closer to being out of the nest.  This should be a happy thing!  I am happy and blessed to have a perfectly healthy 10 year old son!  I am a total ass for being weepy about this and yet, here we are.

I’m super into Ansatsu Kyōshitsu and just binge read the whole series.

The birthday was fun for him but also fun for me to plan and execute.  He made this year a hard theme for me:  Blizzard Entertainment.  Not just one game, but all the games.

Challenge accepted.

First, the quests:

Time to go on an adventure!

Before we go any further, you can download the “LifeCraft” font right here.  I want to use it for everything, but oh well.  He had 10 quests with a total of 3,650 experience points.  One for each day of his life.  I’m not crying.  Not at all.

Magnus Finnegan Chesterfield also turned 2 years old this year. 15.1 lbs.

Since there are no party supplies actually licensed by Blizzard for any of their games I had to make do with my Macgyver-like skills.  Okay, maybe not Macgyver, but solidly mediocre art skills:

Overwatch and Hearthstone painted wrapping paper. Not pictured: Starcraft, WoW, D3, HotS.

Hearth Stones, Apexis Crystals, various mis-colored potions.

My crowning achievement!

Seriously, though, that fucking cake.  I had to get two 10″ pans which was basically two boxed cake mixes (I’m not a from scratch baker, sue me).  The top is actual icing from a company called Edible Prints on Cake.  It’s literally not literally magic.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.

For posterity, here is my 10 year old baby son opening his presents.  Wearing the pajama pants that he wanted his mom to make him.  Because one day he won’t want handmade things from his mom.  Who won’t want family parties anymore one day.  Who won’t want Magic cards and Attack on Titan swords or Star Wars light sabers.

*sigh*

The next big Josh thing to happen was that he quit his Tae Kwon Do school.  He quit about a week before he was to test from 2nd level brown to red belt.  It was only late summer when he joined the newly formed Black Belt Club and we paid out a ton of money for a new uniform, new gear, and a new higher monthly tuition.  His new instructor left (was practically forced out) and a new-new instructor was somehow amazingly ready to go within two weeks.  How convenient.

This entire year so far has been trying to adjust to the new teacher and his new methods but frankly, it just wasn’t going to happen.  There was absolutely no discipline in the class so the other kids literally –yes, literally– would run around and yell and scream and do whatever the hell they wanted to.  No reprimands from the teacher, nothing.  We went to the coordinator and discussed the situation and she told me “I’ve never seen him teach” so she’d have to look into it.

What.

Who hires someone that you’ve never seen teach?  We even showed her video of the stuff that Josh has to put up with to which she responded ‘unacceptable’.

Well no shit, Sherlock

Now, I don’t want to project my emotions or mental lunacy onto my children, but I can honestly say he was becoming depressed over this whole thing.  The boy who used to practice every day and was always so eager to go to class and learn was gone.  He wouldn’t eat, he was moodier than usual, withdrawn, and most importantly, he didn’t want to go anymore.  A total 180°.  He would gladly not go which used to be the ultimate punishment.  I won’t say much more because we’re still dealing with the whole thing but we made it very clear that he was quitting the school, not the sport.  The day we said “if you want to quit, you can quit”, he made a face akin to hearing that he was going to Disney.

We toured a few other schools but I think we’ve found a place that he will fare better at–it’s literally everything we wanted and it’s completely amazeballs.  The Grandmaster used to train the South Korean military, so there’s that.  It may be a couple of months before he can even start but he actually said he didn’t mind since he knew he was going to a much better school.  Could he be any more wonderful?

MY BABY