I’m looking at a photo of me, age 6, and two childhood friends. In the picture, I am lying on the floor, watching television, head hanging from the far left edge of a pillow. That’s because I’m sharing the pillow with my two friends, Mokey and Coco.
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I recently engaged a reader’s question about the on-and-off controversy over the NFL name Redskins. P.T., a friend of both the reader (A.K.) and myself, responded. His letter, greatly edited for space, follows in bold face, with my rejoinders …
In the eerie glow of my laptop, sitting in a cheap hotel in Green Bay, Wis., I pull up the file containing my last will and testament. It’s addressed to my beloved and to my children, whose duty shall be to execute it, should I encounter the Proverbial Bus.
I’m 21 years old and came across (your column) ( http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/intense-personality-may-simply... ) about someone describing themselves as intense and overwhelming to other people. He was eternally disappointed that people felt he was too demanding, too hard to deal with, taking too much energy away from others. I’m writing you because I feel I have the exact problem this man had described to you. I’ve never read any advice targeting this so well. It felt very validating that someone out there, too, feels the same way.
I have a lawyer friend. A friend, that is, who just happens to be a lawyer. And she invites me to spend the morning at criminal court, observing. And I say “yes,” the same way I agree to a lot of things in life. At age 56, it’s not much different from when I was 6, and a boyhood friend said, “Wanna poke this stick into that ant pile?” Why, sure! I’ll have a go! Let’s see what happens!
I found myself reading another article today on the Internet about how the (National Football League franchise) Washington Redskins have a racial slur as a name. I have been watching this story for a while now, and I honestly thought it would die out by now. I’m am curious as to why, as the years go by, I see more and more special interest groups making huge fusses about small issues. I mean, come on, I have been watching football since I was a very young boy. I was always aware of the term “redskin” as a derogatory term used toward Native Americans in the past but never once thought to myself that the Washington Redskins football team had any motive to name their team the Redskins in order to put down or taunt the Native Americans of the United States. I honestly feel that with each generation passing, the skin of our children gets thinner and thinner. Pretty soon you won’t be able to do anything without offending some small special interest group.
My first season with the Nevada Youth Football League is coming to a close this week. Not mine, actually; rather, Joseph’s first season. Age 11. I’m just the dad standing on the sideline. But it’s been a wonderful ride for me, too. To quote my little sister, herself a mother of two boys, “The only thing better than scratching something off your bucket list is watching your children scratch something off their bucket list.”
Many wives are mean to their husbands. And I’m not talking about lazy, abusive or selfish husbands. I’m talking about men who are devoted to their wives, who work honorable jobs to support their families, who go out of their way to try to please, often conceding their own wishes to keep the peace, and who are good fathers and good citizens. But instead of appreciating this kind of husband, they make undercutting remarks, often in front of peers. They demand more help around the house, then criticize or belittle the manner in which tasks are completed. They want them to be involved fathers but they attack their methods of playing with or caring for the children. They freeze their husbands out of their beds because they feel if their husbands wanting to have sex with them means they’re just depraved pigs who only want their selfish “needs” met. These are the same women who, likely during their courtship, went to great lengths to procure a proposal and a ring from just such a man. To what end? To ultimately create an atmosphere of resentment in the home she was bent on creating with him?
They arrive at my office in conflict. He has taken serious umbrage. She is terrified of his umbrage. Wounded and made sick by it. “I am sick of not being trusted,” he says. He is deeply offended.
Last Sunday’s column ( “To ‘affair proof’ marriage, stay connected,” Oct. 21, Las Vegas Review-Journal) was inspired by a website touting extramarital affairs as an alternative to divorce. I noted the irony of “preserving” the institution of marriage by diluting its meaning.
For every email I receive from an inquiring, appreciative, or unhappy reader, I get 30, 40, sometimes 50 unsolicited solicitations from public relations or media marketing firms using language like “I was wondering if you were working on a story …”
Recently, you recommended finding a good grief counselor to one of your readers. How do we find someone like you and not someone like I saw? Two weeks after my husband’s death, I was sent by my primary care doctor to see the grief counselor at my HMO. When I tried to choke out words to tell her how scared and sad I was feeling, she jumped up, went over to her tote bag and pulled out a CD, saying, “This is what you need. It will help you with all your sadness and fears. Just turn it on by your bed as you are going to sleep.” Did she really think I was going to listen to a CD in my sleep without knowing what’s on it? She said, “At first you’ll hear celestial music, followed by a lovely celestial voice.” She would introduce herself as my Fairy Godmother and tell me she was there to take away all my fears and replace them with peace and happiness. I swear on a stack of C notes that is exactly what she said.
As I often do before a speaking gig, I call my contact once, twice, three times to ask the same question: “How long do I have to speak?”
When is a person ready to leave counseling? What do they need to learn or achieve or grow toward? What about someone who is in counseling for an extended period, longer than what should be needed for whatever issue they have?
When the American colonialists united to say a decisive “No!” to British rule, they flew several flags under and around Old Glory. Anchors. Eagles. Minutemen standing over the banner “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
When is a person ready to leave counseling? What do they need to learn or achieve or grow toward? — T.F., Detroit, Michigan
I nurture the idea that advertising in America is a “tell.” That is, if you pay attention to advertising, you can discern a measure of who we are as a tribe. Our values – what we really cherish. Our relative competence in the noble discipline of critical thinking. Our depth.
I’ve got a T-shirt hanging in my closet, given to me one Christmas morning by my mother. It depicts a man alone in a room, hunched over a stack of papers, writing. Outside his window a crescent moon suggests a late night. Or perhaps even the wee hours of the morning. The caption reads, “Artists and writers, alone in their chairs, changing the world one line at a time.”
The other day, I was honing and polishing my death instructions. Death instructions, of course, are a collection of my wishes, preferences and expectations regarding the subject of death. In this case, my death.
What would you say about a common-law wife that after 22 years together and two kids, decided that life with the partner was enough and within a few weeks met up with an old acquaintance and started a relationship, but still demanded to remain in the residence with the former partner. Once the common-law husband found out about this relationship, he demanded that she leave. This action has extremely hurt the partner of 22 years, and he is in fear of losing his two children because of the anger by this man and his action demanding that she leave. — W.D., San Diego, Calif.
I love my daughter. She is 40 years old, and I am 69. She was born 8 years after my first three children, who were born within 18 months of each other. I have always found our relationship difficult as she was growing up. I always felt incompetent, separate from her. At one point, I went to a psychologist who said to have fun with her. When she was 16, the psychologist said she wanted to be the parent and worked to convince her to be the daughter and me to be the mother. She was 2 when I divorced her father. I truly want a good relationship with her, but she has stated that she does not want me in her life. She states that I cross her boundaries and has asked me not to connect with her. From relatives, I’ve learned that she believes I was never “there” for her, that all I care about is earning money. This has been true in the past. As a child, I was extremely poor, and when I divorced, I went back to school, acquired degrees and learned I could earn money. I worked more than I needed and became focused on money. Maybe this had to do with poverty and maybe not. Sometimes I think working was a strategy to not have to lead a full life. I understand that is where I was at the time and cannot change that. I also understand that she is where she is, and I believe she is making a choice that is not good for either of us or her daughter, my granddaughter. I finally have understood that she really does not want me to contact her, so I am respecting her boundary. It hurts unbelievably. I want her in my life. I finally have love to offer her and my granddaughter. I know that is not a decision I can make alone. However, I do not want to look back in the future and wish I had known something that I don’t know now. Something that may have encouraged a possibility of a relationship. Have you any words of wisdom for me? — J.D., Las Vegas
I can’t save him. I don’t think anyone can. He’s crazy with pain. He has fried his own brain with passion. He can’t discern action from emotion. He has set the mother ship of his psyche for self-destruct. The only person who can terminate the countdown is … him.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the Syrian government killed 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus. He says the dead include 426 children. He calls it “an inconceivable horror.”
I’m disappointed that your column today seems to advocate long term use of anti-depressants. I am of the opinion that the multibillion dollar drug industry is chemically lobotomizing people. Ten years ago, I decided I must have depression and went to a psychiatrist who I ended up considering a glorified pill pusher. Over the course of a year and a half, I tried four or five of the leading anti-depressants. I hated them. They flattened out my emotional response to a point where I didn’t feel depressed or anxious — in fact, I felt nothing very deeply at all. I was not drinking or smoking, by the way. While I had short periods of “lift” from these drugs, I hate the feeling of being “not me.” While severely suicidal depressed individuals may benefit from short-term use of these chemicals, I was taken aback by your comparison of depression to diabetes and your call for people to accept it as a life sentence requiring drugs. Big Pharma is not our friend, Steven.
The numbers are unprecedented. Our ancestors had good days and bad days, I’m sure. But no way did they suffer from clinical depression as often as we moderns do.