If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Tuesday, August 12

Adieu, Mr. Williams

Robin Williams is dead. 

The earth won't stop turning, my daily life won't be directly affected. In fact, the truth is most of us will forget within a few months. And then it will hit us again. 

It seems crazy to be so sad over someone you didn't even know in person. 

But right now, I'm ridiculously mournful about the fact that we'll never again get to enjoy his riotous, manic, sometimes strange but always engaging stand-up performances. I'm heartbroken that we'll never get to see his unbelievable dramatic performances like in Dead Poet's Society or The Fisher King. It's unfair that he'll never make a feel good comedy like Mrs. Doubtfire again.

I grew up with Robin Williams being a household name. I was maybe 10 or 11 when Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves. 

As a child growing up in a very conservative, non-artistic home, it was the craziest, weirdest, most out-there thing I had ever seen. And I loved it. My parents indulged me by letting me watch it every week. A lot of the humor was beyond me, but I knew I liked him and he made me laugh. 

He made all of us laugh. 

Maybe we did know him, after all. Through all of those performances, television shows, and movies. Through all we knew and all he told us about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, failed marriages and inner demons. 

It made him more relatable to me. Little did I know, even at the age of 22 when I watched him in Dead Poet's Society, that we would have so much in common. 

I suffer from depression, too. Sometimes it's overwhelming; sometimes it's unnoticeable. Always, it's a mystery; always, it's there. It just depends. On life, on medication, on a lot of things. 

I was in my late 30's before I was diagnosed, although I'm sure it was there much earlier. As early as 2004 I began having this feeling that something wasn't right. I just didn't feel like myself in a way that was inexplicable. 

I felt .... vacated.... empty....void. I was rarely happy, but neither was I sad. 

I would cry in the car on the way home every day and I didn't know why. I just felt not right, even when every doctor I talked to told me I was fine. 

By the end of 2007 I was 12 hours from my life, my friends and my family in Nashville and I was in such a deep depression that I would make my 30 minute drive to school each day and think, “I could just get on that interstate and drive away and never come back.” Everything made me blow a gasket. I just wanted out of my life. I never thought or considered myself suicidal. 

For me, it manifested in a “If I could leave my life and start something all new it would be better for everyone” kind of thing. Finally, in spring 2008 I found an amazing therapist and an amazing psychiatrist who worked to pull me out of the mire through a combination of counseling and medication. 

The amount of time it took and the problems I had to endure to be diagnosed, well, that's another story in itself.  I was very highly functional, to be sure. I got up, dressed, and went to school or work every day. I smiled at people because that's what you're supposed to do. I wore clean clothes and cooked dinner because that was the routine, and I knew if I stopped I'd never get back up. 

But one day, I literally had a therapist tell me I looked too good and was too put together to be depressed. He said that all I needed was a girls shopping weekend. I just lost it and walked out in the middle of the appointment, unable to say a word because I was so mad and my southern manners wouldn't allow it, which only made things worse.

People, we need to take depression seriously in this country. I resisted getting help for so long because I was raised to think that if you're in therapy you're “crazy” or “broken” or destined for the mental hospital. It's just not so. 

There are some of us who feel so much. We feel everything from injustice to discontent to sadness from everything that is happening around us. We're empathetic. We have chemical imbalances that keep us from dealing with those feelings in a reasonable manner. Some of us medicate with alcohol and drugs, like Robin Williams. Some medicate with food like me. Some with sex or danger or adrenaline. There are a million ways to get enough of a high to feel better, even for a moment.

One day I was driving home from Nashville and this sky was the view out the front windshield of my car. When I saw it I had to stop and take a picture of it because it kind of felt like how I see life. 

This friends is how it feels to have depression. If you don't know why, you are fortunate. Every single day can feel like you know something else is out there. See that little patch of blue near the bottom? Through that tiny hole is where other people live their lives. You know the blue skies and sunshine are there. You're aware that other people can see it. But all you see are dark clouds ahead of you. 

Sometimes you get just a glimpse but the opening isn't enough to jump through to get to the other side. Sometimes your friends reach and pull you through. Sometimes you wriggle through or talk until the opening is bigger. Other times, when the medication is going well, it's mostly sunny and few clouds. 

This morning, I watched a video of Robin Williams doing stand-up about the invention of golf and laughed until I cried. Then, I just cried.

Robin Williams is dead. And yes, I'm sad. Cheers, Robin, and thank you. I hope you find a patch full of sunshine.

A link to the Bloggess where she writes much more frequently than I about how DepressionLies. If you know of someone who needs help, please don't ignore it or think that it will "get better."

Saturday, July 26

New thoughts, new art, new life

Original thought. For me, it is a requirement. A natural state of being. As a liberal, crazy, flighty artist-type, “What if?” is a phrase that flies through my head 20 times a day.

But for others, life exists inside the framework of what came before. The ideas are there, but sometimes that person lacks the ability, courage or voice to bring them out into the world. 

Staying the same is safe. Letting things continue as they always have. Not speaking up. Overlooking injustice and unfairness. Smiling at someone when they make a sexist comment rather than correcting them. Ignoring someone when they make a racist statement rather than pointing it out. 

All of these are ways in which we deny our own original thought, and conform to the way things have always been. Not rocking the boat breeds more of the same. 

Original thoughts, ideas and talents are things each of us possess that are solely our own. They belong to us, but they don't have to stop with us.

Making it a point to share them with others, to create the opportunity for discussion, to use those thoughts and ideas to make life better, this is the stuff of which life is made. In my opinion, at least.

This month, the local gallery in my small Kentucky town opened a new show that epitomized original thought. From the concept to the artists to the art itself, this show was a first for the gallery, and a first for the town. 

For a small town Gallery that normally showcases beautifully crafted watercolors and oil paintings, it was a risk to put a show on the walls that spoke to those of us in the "under 50" generation. 

As a part of GenX, we grew up with comic books, skateboards and street art long before artists like Banksy made it a real part of the fabric of our society. Without his original thinking, his courage, his attitude and his voice, street art would never have hung on gallery walls anywhere. 

And now, in a small gallery in a small southern town, standing in contrast to the bucolic landscapes and beautifully crafted wood pieces, comic book art, skateboard art, screenprinting and street art gave a pop to the exhibit wall at Gallery on the Square. 

For Gallery Director Barb Markell-Thomas, the show's opening day was the culmination of a year's worth of planning. One local citizen was the sponsor of the show, Janice Keith, an artist and outspoken freethinker in her own right.

Rather than a stuffy reception for opening night, Markell-Thomas held a Saturday event in which attendees could watch the art being created. These panels allowed the public to have a voice and create their own art.

Loyd Gant

 Franklin native Loyd Gant, who is a published comic book author and artist, drew cartoons for people and showcased his comics. 

Coty DiMichele
 Thomas Kennedy and Coty DiMichele of Pyramid Prints showed off their artistic prowess and demonstrated screenprinting by printing a shirt for each attendee at the show.


Derek Williamson, a Nashville, Tn. artist, was on hand to help with an actual outside display of street art in which attendees of the opening could make their own social, political and personal statement on the giant panels. His custom painted skateboard art hangs as the centerpiece of the newest exhibit, featuring everything from Nashville themes to movies to social statements.

I am writing this today because I want to show that free thought, original thought, new and different thought, all of these things can exist anywhere. Even people from the smallest, most conservative towns can support it when they have the courage to give a voice to these freethinkers. 

Thank you, ladies, for having courage to give these artists a voice in our community.

Sunday, January 26


Last week I had the opportunity to travel to a convention with my new boss. My new boss, the editor at the paper where I work, is much younger.....MUCH younger. Like half my age younger. Never before have I felt so old but so young at the same time as when I hang out with him. 

He's a lot of fun to work with, talk to and hang out with. Generally he makes me feel young because his mindset about everything is so much more laid back than mine, and I feel he is a good influence on me that way.

While we were in Lexington, Ky for the convention, we braved the single digit temperatures to go to dinner together. He was meeting friends after dinner, and was kind enough to take the “old lady” out to a nice restaurant.

We had a great dinner with great conversations, the restaurant he picked was very modern and chic and the food was delicious. When our checks came to the table, they were on small pieces of wood, held down by a band stretched across the wooden plank. 

I commented on them, I like unusual touches, and he agreed. “It's the little things,” he said. 

I told him about a restaurant in Atlanta, the West Egg Cafe, where my husband and I had eaten this summer. How the d├ęcor was library and literary oriented, with old books and library tables and other cool touches. This “exchange” followed. 

Me: When they brought the check, it came in a card catalog drawer. It was really cool. 

*blank stare*

Me: You know what I mean? A card catalog. Like in libraries?

*blank stare*

Me: Before the internet, every book in the library had its information written on an index card. 

*blank stare* 

(I'm pretty sure I lost him at "before the internet." after all, he was born in 1991 I have mouse pads older than him)

Me: They were in a drawer in this card catalog. You pulled out the drawer and went through them until you found the one you wanted? *gesturing with my hands how you'd file through them*

Him: Oh, yeah. Ok. 

I'm pretty sure he said it just to make me feel better. Or to get me to shut up. 

I've never felt so old as I do right now....honestly.....

Sunday, January 5

In my tribe

Opinions and events depicted in this post are solely those of Tinfoil Magnolia and Ms. Marsha and do not reflect those of her employer, husband, parents or anyone else in her life. These opinions stand as of this day and this moment and are subject to change on a whim. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty, so if you leave a comment we'll all know who you are. Complaints can be sealed in an envelope and burned. Thanks.

In 2013 I saw a side to people that I hadn't seen before. And I didn't like it.

Despite my tendency to be a realist about life in general, I usually give the benefit of the doubt to people who are my friends. People I call friends, and assume call me the same, well, I assume they are genuinely good people underneath everything.

Regardless of political, social or religious views I have always tried to keep friends who I really like and believe are good people. Sometimes friends come from work, or clubs, or common interests that you have. However this year, I've had to reevaluate the meaning of the word friend.

Merriam-Webster defines the word friend as:
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)
1 a :  one attached to another by affection or esteem
b :  acquaintance
2 a :  one that is not hostile
b :  one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3 :  one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4 :  a favored companion

Freedictionary online defines it as:
1. a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate
2. an acquaintance or associate
3. an ally in a fight or cause; supporter
4. a fellow member of a party, society, etc
5. a patron or supporter: a friend of the opera.

But what is a friend, really?

I've had a tendency in my life to call most of my acquaintances friends. If I know them, have had discussions with them or spent time with them outside the normal, “hey, how are you,” then I call people a friend. Which does fit one of those definitions, to be sure.

But I think when you call someone friend, people assume a certain level of attachment, loyalty or whatever that you might have with this person. They assume an underlying relationship that isn't always there just because I use the “f” word.

The difference for me was made apparent during the course of 2013. I had an awful year. Awful. And please, don't tell me how yours was worse, how mine couldn't have been THAT bad, how I'm exaggerating, how at least I'm alive and I don't have cancer or flesh eating bacteria so it couldn't have been so awful.

It. Was. Awful. It was a horrible, scary, invasive, mind fucking year that left me sifting through the rubble to find the lesson to take away. And I know people had worse things happen to them and likely I'm being dramatic, but you didn't have to live through the year I had so my point is, don't judge.

My stress level at work was through the roof because I was literally doing the job of 2 people after my editor left in early March. Literally. 100% of the job I already had been doing, and probably at least 75% of his. I can't say I did 100% of his because there were some people who helped out from time to time. But it was rough.

It was a lot of responsibility that was dumped on me with no warning. A job that I felt utterly unqualified and unprepared to do. Every Sunday night for the first month or so I sobbed uncontrollably knowing the stress that was ahead to meet my Tuesday deadine.

I couldn't do the parts of my job that I loved. I didn't have time to write and tell people's stories. I didn't have time to take pictures like I wanted. I had to cut corners, I had to use my time more wisely, I had to spend way more time at the computer and way less in the community.

As a result, I had to listen to complaints. I had to hear what a horrible job I was doing and how I wasn't honoring the community/people's kids/churches/businesses/schools- fill in the blank here- it doesn't matter really. Everyone has their “pet” project that they want to see front and center whether it's actually news or not.

I was blamed for not doing things that hadn't been done in years, it was just an excuse. I was expected to just listen and take it and take responsibility for things that were mostly out of my control. But hearing these complaints week after week, when I was sacrificing my personal life, my well being, my time off, weekends, sleep and sanity for my job. Well, it was hard. And it took a toll. Quickly.

I became snappy and irrational. I stopped listening and began defending, something that I don't really normally do in my life. I didn't have time to chat with people or be friendly or open with anyone. It's not right but that's how it was.

What I did, how I reacted, the way I treated people at times–I know it wasn't right. I know it wasn't the way to gracefully handle things, and for that I am sorry. But I did a job for 8 months that I shouldn't have been asked to do for more than a week or two. I was under a lot of pressure, a lot of stress and a lot of crazy.

The way friends reacted to me...well, that was nothing less than eye opening. Life changing. People who I thought were my friends, who I had been friends with for years, stopped talking to me. I was excluded from activities and get togethers. They didn't text to see if I was doing ok. They didn't ask how they could help, ask if I needed someone to listen, try to make me feel better, or exhibit any forgiveness whatsoever for my “transgressions” i.e. being in a bad mood. Sometimes they snapped back. Sometimes they stopped talking to me completely. Mostly they just stayed away.

I can't say that I blame them. It's fine. But what was eye opening for me was the reaction of three or four “new” friends–people I didn't even know or know well at all before 2013 began. These ladies, along with my husband, kept me holding on to my one thread of sanity. I couldn't have made it without them.

Even when I was mean, even when I was grumpy, even when I was crying and frightened and completely freaked out or dramatic, these women made me smile, laugh, and feel like I had people who were ok with me being crazy because, well, they were crazy and dramatic and freaky too.

They showed up at my house with nothing more in mind than, “let's get drunk.” They listened to my crazy conspiracy theories. (which later turned out to be truth) They let me smoke their cigarettes and drink liquor and cry, yell, rant and rave. 

They told me when they thought I was wrong, and why. They gave me solicited and unsolicited advice. They called and texted me at just the right times, and left me alone when they knew they should. They shared their problems with me, despite what I had going on, which took my focus off my own stresses all the time.

These are girls, with the exception of one, who I hadn't known for much more than a few months. Who I really don't have much more in common with other than geography, a level of crazy that doesn't fit in this town and a love of sarcasm.

I'm not trying to attack my old group, but neither am I going to defend them. It happens. Perhaps they would be better friends to others among the group than they were to me. Maybe it's just because I'm so different from the rest of them, or just some personal dynamics and loyalties that I won't get into. Regardless, it has taught me a very valuable lesson on friendship and the definition of that.

Because of things that happened in 2013, I have changed the way I look at most everything in my life. I know and accept that there is only one person who will always be behind me, that I can count on 100%. Husband always has my back. Everyone else is a bonus.

I have reduced and deleted and blocked people on Facebook who can't seem to handle seeing my personal information. I have made time in my life only for people who I am comfortable showing the real me and I have reduced my circle to people I know can handle me. People who “get” me.

I still use the term friend to refer to someone that I'm friendly with on a personal level, but I will admit I've totally reevaluated how I refer to my “inner circle” because, by definition, they are more than friends.

They are my girls. My people. My tribe. I know that even when I move on, or they move on, I will still have a tribe. A crazy, liberal, smoking and drinking, sarcastic and completely inappropriate-for-being-out-in-real-society kind of tribe.

I love these women. And my husband. And that's all a girl could ask for....honestly.