Monday, May 9, 2011

Flood of the Century, A Followup on Suicide and Depression, Fergalicious and Facebook Hijack.

I've put off writing the blog for much longer than I should have.  I've been in sensory overload. Literally. So I'll start from a week ago, and bring you up to speed. For your navigational pleasure, I will list the following topics in advance.. so you may jump ahead to the part that interests you most.

  • Flood of the Century - Sandbagging with Monkey
  • Fergalicious - Karaoke, American Idol and Windjammer
  • A Mother's Day Gift and Water for Elephants
  • Intoxication - The story of a man taking advantage of an idle iPhone
  • A followup to the Suicide and Depression Blog
Flood of the Century

Thanks to all of you who have helped spread the word about flooding in Tunica and Memphis. I am forever grateful to you.  Until we were in catastrophic conditions.. national media really hadn't shown any coverage.

This flood, needless to say, has been a big deal.  Tens of thousands of evacuations. Homes and businesses are experiencing total losses. All 9 casinos in Tunica are indefinitely closed (though some are expected to open again as early as June 1st).  I'm going to include here some pictures of the Memphis and Tunica flooding.  The cleanup and rehabilitation is going to require just as much awareness.  I invite you all down to play and stay at the Tunica casinos once we reopen. We're dependent on tourism to keep the county afloat, and if you're planning a vacation to a gambling destination.. let us take care of you in Tunica.

A rather appropriate statue in Downtown Memphis.

The door to Harrah's Casino

The parking garage at Goldstrike.. Now with boat parking!

The parking lot of Harrah's Tunica

Last week, Harrah's sent out an email asking for volunteers to come build a temporary sandbag wall around the casino properties not yet surrounded by water.  My mother was among the first to offer up her time, and we spent last Tuesday getting sunburned and sandbagging with other volunteers.

Sandbaggin' in my Bustout Gear

My mom. rockin' the forklift while sandbaggin'

Another friend, Poker Monkey, who saw my post on Facebook, packed up the 4Runner to make the 7 hour trek to Tunica to help out. Click his linked name to read his fantastic blog, which will no doubt include parallel details to this blog. A lot of you know Monkey. He's a pretty notorious character.  You either love him, or hate him. Like many people, I found him to be contemptuous at the poker table when I first met him. Over the last year though, I've come to count him among my closest confidants. He's a good man, with a big heart.. and I'm of the firm belief that anyone who believes otherwise is a victim of propaganda. On Day 2 of volunteering, Monk and I sandbagged.. built walls.. and spent time with the awesome facilities crew of Horseshoe, Tunica.  After that we spent a couple hours at the Humane Society of Tunica, cleaning cages and exercising dogs who were also suffering during the flood.

The Monkey.. Sandbaggin'

Humans aren't the only ones that suffer during disaster.

At one point, Monk and I stood back and looked at the wall we'd helped build at Horseshoe.  He said.. "It feels good, doesn't it?" And it did. Getting involved in your community, and the communities of our neighbors is vital. Not only for the help it provides, but the personal reward of giving back. It's what we're supposed to do.

The wall we helped build. Well, part of it at least.

So Fergalicious. Karaoke and other things.

Needing a little celebration, Monk and I met up with Scotty and Mark Drewes at Buffalo Wild Wings for trivia.  Where we failed miserably. The questions were ridiculous. Things like "What do Icelandic Salmon eat on Tuesdays for breakfast during August?" seemed easy in comparison. We did not win.

Next was Karaoke at Windjammer in Memphis, TN. My favorite hole-in-the-wall bar.  Scott, Monk and I are all very similar in our sense of humor. So it's no surprise that we ended up front row, voting the singers either through to "Hollywood" or with a unanimous "No". Our American Idol tribute was a bit rigged though when I noticed the men had a habit of voting through any woman willing to appropriately shake her anatomy while singing.

One particular singer, a man who appeared to be a mortgage broker or Enterprise Rental Car Rep (You know the look), won our hearts with his rousing rendition of Fergalicious. There were many times I looked over to see Monkey staring in shock and awe at the train wrecks we were witnessing. I will include a video here for you to witness Mr. Fergalicious yourself. I apologize for how dark it is. Windjammer isn't known for it's luminary genius.

Back at the hotel, before I left an exhausted Monk to retire for the evening and prepare for the next stop on his humanitarian tour (Tuscaloosa, AL), he decided he wanted room service. When the lady on the phone was less than compliant, he painted a vivid image of housekeeping cleaning up his rotting, stinking corpse if he were to expire from starvation.  Unmoved, he began pleading.  Then negotiating. She never did give into his wiles, and though I departed with him still certain that death was imminent, I'm happy to report that he made it out of Tunica just fine.

A Mother's Day Present and Water for Elephants

The next day, I went out to the farm to spend the weekend. Enjoyed time with Mom, knocked out my column for the month and went to see "Water for Elephants" with Scotty.  This movie sucked so unbelievably bad that I don't even care to get into the details. It was long. Boring. The dialogue was predictable. It made for a fairly disastrous evening. Enough so that I didn't even talk to Scott the following day, which is fairly abnormal because usually SOMETHING in a 24 hour period comes up that I feel the next to text him about. Much to his dismay. I bet the longer he knows me, the more he's wishing he'd gotten the unlimited texting plan.

Nothing says "I love you, Mom" like a rabid beast. She really wanted a Honey Badger. This was the next best thing.
Mother's Day, a close family friend Teri came over and brought food.. we hung out awhile, before they left to release the swell Mother's Day Gift I'd live trapped for Mom.  This is how we do it in the South. True story.

Guard your iPhone, Ladies and Gents

Last night I received a pretty bizarre text from Scotty inviting me over to consume adult beverages and hang out for awhile.  I say bizarre because his house is something like Fort Knox. Very few people get in, and a good percentage of them (He noted as he indicated the dense woods behind his property), never leave. I couldn't say No, though because .. let's face it. I'm a sucker for a bottle of wine, and I've always been a fan of true crime. So I figured I'd check it out. The drive, which would normally take about 20 minutes, ended up being an adventure as the main routes were flooded out.  I was even pulled over (probably on suspicion of drunk driving.. though this was prior to any beverage consumption), as I tried to turn where there was a road sign.. but no road. This is the sort of neighborhood this man lives in. Fortunately, the police officer was easily charmed and I left with his card and cell phone number instead of a ticket. I win life.

This journey required no less than 11 left turns down dark and twisty roads.  Half way through I felt like I should have brought a pistol. Not because I was fearful of car jacking .. quite the opposite, it's a very lovely area.. but because I'm certain that whatever wildlife existed in those woods could have easily commandeered my Jeep, chopped it up and sold it for parts.

I'm sure this was taken in his neighborhood.

I realize now that this was all a ploy, though. Luring me out there.

I should have seen it coming.

He really just wanted to get me drunk.. and put his grubby paws all over my iPhone.

I apologize to the few of you who witnessed the assault on my Facebook last night. I assure you, though it may have appeared otherwise, that it is not typical of me to write witty phrases like "Scott rocks my world" and "he is the most amazing, wonderfullest man."  I won't delve into the more salacious comments.. as I'm still hoping some of you (namely my mother), didn't see the posts before I deleted them this morning.

On the Mend

Today, I am on the mend from a long week of sandbagging, sunburn, bad cinema and a liver that is threatening to secede from the union. I will know more details this week about when the casinos will be reopening. I'm hoping to go to Florida next week to visit my sister, and if he's willing to come with, throw Scott into shark infested water. Don't worry, I plan on tying squid to him first so they're interested. Then after that, if I've still got an abundance of time on my hands, I may go see my girl Christina in Vegas for a few days. Which reminds me.. I don't think I could have gotten through the last week without Christina. She is absolutely the most wonderful gal I know. Thanks for all your chats, texts and witty commentary. <3

A Followup to the Blog about Suicide and Depression

Last week I made a blog post about suicide and depression.  I'll link it here for those that may have missed it. The blog spread like wildfire, getting thousands of hits in almost no time. I want to thank those of you who posted and reposted it.

I didn't realize how important the subject matter was.  I honestly figured the blog would be ignored in favor of my more poker-related pieces.

A crazy thing happened after the blog went up.  The family of the young man started writing me. Not just one or two of them, but many many family members. The first letter I opened with trepidation.. I had no idea how my blog was going to be perceived.  What I read, astounded me.  This man, Dylan, who killed himself at Goldstrike in Tunica, just a week ago, was loved. He was tremendously loved. His family is the most amazing, compassionate group of people you could imagine.  Absolutely every one of them embraced me and what I'd written with love and appreciation.

I spent many nights reading the emails and crying, in awe of the entire experience. I will quote a few excerpts from the emails I received:

"Dylan was the nephew of a dear friend and many in his family were HS friends of mine. What a tragedy that might have been prevented or at least delayed if signs had been recognized. Your story was telling it like it is; I lost a family member myself from death by suicide. I think you said it well."

"-My name is XXXXXXX -Dylan XXXXX is my cousin-and I wanted to thank you for writting such a beautiful blog. I printed it off to keep-and I'm glad I did so before you deleted his picture. It truly touched me!!"

"I read your blog and was deeply touched by your empathy and concern for the "broken". I think we all have our fractures and many of us ,myself included are broken from this drama we call life. Dylan was my best friends nephew and yes he was very broken having to deal with his own personal fractures and devastations . They were far too much for such a young and gentle man. I am so exhausted with society and the perception of depression and mental illness being a sign of weakness. My definition is, "Depression IS NOT a sign of weakness, IT IS a sign that we have had to be strong for too long". Thank you again for taking your time and writing such a touching and definitive personal eulogy about Dylan. Your words were written with love. Keep praying for all of God's children..thier weaknesses,fractures and fears....God bless you and yours."

One of his family members wrote and told me about Dylan's struggle with depression, addiction and personal loss.  She painted a picture of a young man who was gorgeous and loving, but lost despite being surrounded by people.  I think, in a way, none of this was a surprise to his family.  They recognized his pain and suffering and were powerless to help anymore than they already had.

Then perhaps, in the weirdest twist of fate, his girlfriend.. the young lady who was with him the entire day and night prior to his suicide, contacted me.  She reached out and asked me to call her.  I didn't, right away, because really.. I had nothing to say.  The extent of my involvement was limited to a blog post. No more, no less.  Then after she reached out again, it occurred to me that I was thrust into this scenario for some reason, whatever that reason may be.  Emilie is this amazing, vibrant and beautiful young woman.  She didn't want anything from me, she just wanted to talk. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes talking to a complete stranger about the most personal things can be freeing. So we talked. For a long time. We talked about depression, and surviving.  Loving people who are depressed and helping ourselves when we get overwhelmed. We bonded over similarities and shared personal stories. I got off the phone feeling a little healthier and more whole than I did before. She echoed the sentiments.

I'm not sure what the beauty in Dylan's death is supposed to be.  But I know that the aftermath has been an increase in awareness about depression. Life is hard.  It is almost impossible to make it through without leaning on one another from time to time.  The young man has been laid to rest, but I hope the reality of what happened continues to benefit others by example.  I feel comfortable posting this picture on Emilie's behalf. This is from her facebook photo album entitled "Rest in Peace Dylan" and is publicly available online. More than a half dozen of the people who read the blog have added me. Their facebooks continue to be a testament to one truth.. though you're never, ever the same after a profound loss, life does go on. I will keep you all in my prayers. <3

Such a beautiful couple. Thanks for sharing your story with me. <3

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff usual. I'm glad you didn't forget after I gave you that $20 that you were supposed to post comments praising me. Most people forget. Rooting hard for all of you up in Memphis/Tunica to make a quick recovery from the floods. It was a pleasure stopping by for a little visit. Talk to you soon!