helter skelter

Helter Skelter Give Me Shelter

I’m very helter skelter today. I’m foggy around the edges, it’s after 10:00 and I haven’t even read my email yet. I’m pushing myself to finish this post by noon for God’s sake! I had a job interview yesterday, and I’m not at all sure it went well.

How do you present yourself when you’re 61 and feeling a bit like a jaded, would be intellectual, citizen of the world who is hard to “get” at best?

How do you continue to pursue dreams that really are just privileged white girl goals and not the simple needs of most other people, everywhere? Give me shelter…



Kate Spade committed suicide Tuesday, at the age of 55, and I feel surprisingly sad about it. I say surprisingly because I didn’t know her, I didn’t really know that much about her, and I didn’t even particularly like her bags.

But she was a pioneer in the fashion business, and she always looked awfully kind to me.

I’m sad because she suffered from an illness that has plagued me and many members of my family and my extended family, my friends, for as long as I can remember.

Then I read that her sister said Kate’s suicide was, “not unexpected.” While I would never fault anyone

for not being able to “save” a person with a mental illness, I know it can’t be done, the words struck me.

I feel like we need to do more, always do more when it comes to mental illness.

Both as a society and individually, we tend to shake our heads, clutch our pearls, and grow silent around the issue of mental illness. There are many reasons for this, and most of us can easily list them. Still, we need to do more.

We would never not do more about a loved one with an infection on their leg, or a diagnoses of diabetes or cancer. We just wouldn’t allow them to self medicate themselves while continuing to shake our heads and clutch our pearls. 

I would also never fault anyone for making that heart wrenching, last decision that leads to suicide.

While the very nature of mental illness makes it extremely difficult to intervene, I am going to try to do more the next time I’m around that family member or friend that I know is, as we euphemistically say, “not doing well.” 

Cultural Appropriation

My fascination with cultural appropriation and people’s attitudes toward it continues.

Six months ago I joined a new gym, and one of the first days I was there, I saw this arm, with these tattoos on them. I immediately knew what they were and where the symbols came from, that’s how specific they are. 

I looked at the young man and personal trainer wearing the symbols and knew he was not Latvian. 

A few weeks went by before I could approach Jason and ask him about the symbols. I wanted to see where he had found them, how much research he had done. He had, he knew they were ancient, Latvian symbols! And this is why I love cultural appropriation.

There are some 3 million Latvians on the face of the earth, and I’m going high with that estimate.

Most people have never heard of Latvia, most never will, especially in the United States. If someone stumbles on us, no matter how that happens, it’s a good thing. It’s a chance to share something about a really old and interesting culture. 

This is a ring with some more Latvian symbols, it’s very traditional and most young Latvian girls wore one at some time in their youth. It’s called a “bride’s ring” or seven-day ring. Lovely no? Appropriation and appreciation.

PSA: That little red dot above the first symbol, on Jason’s arm, is not a pimple, it’s the site where he had a little biopsy for cancer. Get your skin checked, wear sunscreen. And thanks Jason, nice triceps!


Lorette: a French courtesan especially of the Second Empire period

“The painter Eugène Delacroix moved into a vast atelier on my street, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and the first object to strike his virtuous eyes was a “magnificent” lorette dressed in black satin and velvet. As she got out of a carriage, he wrote in a letter to the writer George Sand, she “let me see her leg up to her belly with the nonchalance of a goddess.”

This quote is from a really marvelous book: “The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs,” by Elaine Sciolino. She is the former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times. Lovely, Summer vacation reading.



1 Comment

  • I too was saddened by Kate Spade’s death…and today, Anthony Bordain. I cried, not just because he was someone I’d never met but liked very much, but because nobody should feel that things are so bad they can’t go on. My cousin committed suicide last year. Sometimes I feel at a loss for what to say or do and I too wonder when we’ll start treating mental illness like we would any other. Hugs and please keep us updated on the interview. Esther xx

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