On Monday my therapist told me that I am a high-functioning depressive. My response was, “Jesus Christ, what isn’t wrong with me.” This diagnosis came after I explained to her all the happy things that were happening in my life, and my inability to fully enjoy them. I feel like I’ve just entered a grand hall with the most delicious buffet of every delicacy placed before my eyes (cue up images of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s table) and I’ve burnt my motherfucking tongue. Or I’m looking at the most stunning works of art, and I’ve gone colorblind. All the wonderful things are there, I’m just unable to appreciate them fully. I tried texting Jackie daily with something that I was grateful for, but I kept forgetting. Failure, but not for lack of gratitude. I am so grateful for all the goodness in my life. I truly mean that. Not in the bullshit I-read-it-on-a-tea-bag-sleeve sort of way, but in a very contemplative way. I think this recent struggle is exacerbated by the bookends of Mother’s Day and my father’s birthday. I’m trying to get myself out of this fog. Let’s focus on some of the good things.
Photo by Marcianne Marks
Our son is a happy, healthy, brilliant child who is at a somewhat challenging, but also very inquisitive age. I am able to explain the world to him. It has re-awakened my own sense of curiosity and my appreciation for the mundane (journal entry – today Wilder learned about road rage…j/k).Wilder’s other parents are amazing. In fact, Lee has been the champion of potty training and without his help and encouragement, I have no doubt that Wilder would still be in diapers. While we are all busy, we have managed to consistently honor each other’s schedules. Our unique family was even the focus of a recent article, which was an honor to be a part of. https://talesofthecocktail.com/culture/motherhood-bartender-how-industry-becomes-your-village
I finally had a one-act on stage as part of Southern Rep’s 6×6 program. I have been courting them for nearly a year with over a half-dozen submissions, so needless to say I was ecstatic when I received the email that my play was chosen. I wrote and edited the piece Room 512 in less than two hours the night that it was due. I had told Andy that evening after getting home from work, “I’m so tired but I won’t be able to sleep well if I don’t at least try to submit something.” It helped that I didn’t need to add much stage direction as 6×6 is more of an enhanced staged reading than a full on production. People will ask me “How do you do it?” Simple. I don’t do fun things like fuck my partner at every chance, or have drinks on most of my nights without Wilder, or watch anything on television in real time because I write. Alone and usually with too many snacks at my disposal, I sit at my desk and focus. It’s not always fun but it makes me feel more alive than most other things do. And sometimes it pays off. It was replenishing to see my work on a stage again. Also one of my favorite local actresses Dorian Rush was cast in my play, and she along with the other two actors, were phenomenal. The audience gasped and laughed in all the right places and I felt accomplished and proud to be a part of something that entertained. Quite a few of my friends came to support me and they all complimented the work, which I was grateful for. The biggest compliment though was when I was told someone heard a stranger say, “Who is Lori Tipton, her play was my favorite.” I look forward to the day when I am a known playwright. I believe it is a possibility.
Photo by Gabrielle Geiselman
I’ve been working a lot lately at my new(ish) job at Ace Hotel. Just like Southern Rep, my courtship with the hotel was also a long one. I was originally introduced to the company through a friend last summer. I sent off my resume in August of 2015 and started my first day of training in February of 2016. For the first time in my life, I honestly can’t say enough good things about my job. Part of me has been reluctant to talk much about it because there are times when things feel too good to be true. A company in New Orleans that treats service industry workers with respect and compassion? Blasphemy! Co-workers who are diverse in every way yet come together as a team? Insanity! A job where I actually look forward to returning to work after my days off? Impossible! But yet, I’m living it. It feels like it’s been a long time coming.
Andy is my best friend and the funniest person I know. He’s also brutally honest with me. The other day when I was lying in bed listening to the new Radiohead album and feeling morose he came up to my room. I told him that I was frustrated with my emotional struggles and he told me that I was living life “filled with fear.” At first I was angered by his assessment (surprise!). How dare he say that to me? Especially with the personal violence I have lived through, not to mention the violence that is so rampant in our city. I did my best to not react, and to realize that he wasn’t saying this as a judgement, but more as a plea. I know I will struggle with PTSD for the rest of my life, but it’s disheartening to go from being described as “unstoppably brave” to “filled with fear.” As much as it makes me uncomfortable I need him to be that mirror though, so that I can be the best parent and partner possible. I value his honesty more than nearly all other aspect of our relationship.
Mother’s Day went really well this year. I didn’t find myself dwelling on the absence of my own mother because my family and friends made the day very special for me. Earlier in the week Andy had stopped by Ace Hotel with a beautiful flower arrangement for me. He also made a card with Wilder, which was adorable. Lee made a card with Wilder as well (complete with a volcano and proclaiming “I Lava You”) and he also presented me with one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. He had a painting done of Brando, my first “baby”. Wilder was watching me open my gift with anticipation and he was confused when I immediately burst into tears upon unwrapping it. I had to explain to him that I was indeed alright, even if I was a weeping mess. I worked at the Voodoo that evening and many of my co-workers came in to see me, which I deeply appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed their company. Andy dropped by a little after 10 pm with Wilder and I asked him to finish my shift so that I could put Wilder to bed. Hugging our son and reading to him are two of my favorite things in the world. No bullshit, its pure bliss.
So this is where things get a little weird. On Tuesday I went to a medium. You know, so I could communicate with my dead family. Let me start by saying that overall it was a positive experience. Do I believe that the woman I spoke with was absolutely communicating with each of my relatives ? No. Did she know some freaky stuff that she shouldn’t have known? Absolutely. I didn’t go to her looking for closure, to be honest. I didn’t want to yell at my ghost mom and ask my ghost father for a hug. I was very curious. I wondered if any of my relatives would bitch at me for choosing to cremate them and keeping all their ashes in my closet (in my defense, it’s a beautiful walk-in closet). The medium whom I will call M claimed to communicate with my father, my brother, my mother and her partner Julie. The person I am most inclined to believe she truly communicated with was my brother, Davin. She said that he was very angry because everyone believed that he had killed himself but he hadn’t. He claims (or his ghost claims) that he was sold some bad drugs that ended up taking him out but that he didn’t intend to die. It had been debated amongst my family whether or not he had committed suicide, as he was the first to die. The general consensus was that he had taken his own life, but now I feel I must believe otherwise. He (his ghost) also interjected when my ghost father was saying that my son is a good kid that I will probably “fuck him up.” Which I had to laugh at, because it is something that non-ghost Davin, alive Davin, would have said to me for sure. While I would have loved to believe that she had truly communicated with my father – it didn’t feel as genuine. For one, he didn’t use the word “motherfucker” and that is completely unlike him. Our saying always was, “If they took the word ‘motherfucker’ out of the dictionary, we wouldn’t have anything to say to one another.” I did cry though when M told me that of all things my father was most proud that I was his daughter. I’m sure that’s a generalization for most families, but something that felt good. She did know however that I had moved my father to New Orleans at the end of his life, and stated that he was very grateful I had done that. I think if she had thrown in one simple “motherfucker” I would have been able to believe. M claimed that my mother’s energy was all over the place. She gave me some disturbing details about the murder-suicide that I don’t see how she could have known. Ghost Julie had a lot to say to me, and while I am grateful for it, I don’t feel it is appropriate to write about on this blog. My ghost mother did apologize for her actions, but I felt like that was something to be expected. I honestly think most people seeking a medium are also seeking an apology of some sort. M kept asking me if I had any questions or messages but honestly I hadn’t really prepared for that. I just wanted to see what they had to say, which apparently was a lot. I recorded the session and want to see how much I told M when I listen to it. All in all I was impressed. I feel that mediums are kin to therapists and I think there can be therapeutic benefits for some. Would I recommend this to a friend? Absolutely.
I must admit that my ghost relatives all seemed to be doing the same shit dead, as they did alive. Being angry, being crazy, feeling guilty. This has bummed me the fuck out. I figured that death would be a freeing experience and that once you left this body , some state of enlightenment would be attained. It’s terrifying to think that when we die we just hang around dwelling on shit that didn’t go our way. If I died tonight, would ghost Lori be worried about her cellulite and inability to correctly pronounce French words forever? Would I be stuck in my current emotional state (high-functioning depressive – thank you very much) for eternity? Sheesh. How does reincarnation factor into this situation? My brother died in 1999, so his ghost has been fucking pissed for over 15 years! How long is a human year to a ghost? God only knows.
Needless to say, the experience has left me with a lot to ponder. The last two nights I have awoken at exactly 3 am. Coincidence? Probably. I suppose that the fear of spending eternity focused on my mistakes is motivation enough to focus on the positive. I’m going to make a gratitude list for Jackie very soon. Thank you for reading this. I’ll add that to the list.