The Mystery of Suicide and L’Wren Scott

Why would fashion designer L’Wren Scott, a beautiful, highly accomplished woman, kill herself? Although it has been reported that her label was financially troubled, her practical and elegant designs were on the verge of becoming accessible to many via Banana Republic.

Suicide has nothing to do with character and everything to do with brain function. Distorted thoughts make suicide seemed like the reasonable solution to the intense pain those thoughts create. We can see the career and personal options Ms. Scott had, but she could not.

In an August 2014 presentation at the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) California conference, film producer, author, health activist, and actress Mariel Hemingway shared her insight into the mindset of someone who commits suicide, “They believe that leaving is the solution to everyone else’s problem…. they come from such self loathing, such a dark place.” (The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will air her documentary Running From Crazy that examines the factors leading to the seven suicides that her family experienced.)

Within the novel The Bell Jar, author Sylvia Plath insightfully described this progression of distorted thoughts. As her protagonist Esther becomes more and more depressed, her perceptions become darker and darker, and she further and further isolates herself. As the mental anguish Esther experiences becomes acute, it becomes painful to turn the page as Esther effectively builds a case for herself that suicide makes sense.

What is fashion, but wearable art? Highly creative individuals with enough drive and daring to make a living out of art and realize their creative vision sometimes have brains that tend towards depression. Highly analytical and highly creativity brains crave intense stimulation. That perfectionistic drive to create can isolate one and sometimes enable one to not know what is most important in one’s personal life.

Why anyone would end his or her own life began to fascinate me in high school. I fell in love with a couple of Ernest Hemingway’s novels and his short stories before learning that he had ended his own life. Then I fell in love with the dark humor in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and became aware that she had killed herself.

And then, one of the most honest, powerful, compelling rock-n-roll singers who ever lived, Kurt Cobain, killed himself in 1994. Reading between the lines of Charles R. Cross’s sensitive and insightful biography of Cobain, Heavier than Heaven, I could see the chaos resulting from the untreated depression that most likely fueled his drug addiction.

The Stigma Factor in Seeking Treatment
In some professions, being treated for a mental illness such as depression can be detrimental to say the least. Because of the stigma, those experiencing depression also often lose out on the outlet of discussing their struggle with friends and associates.

Treating depression is not an exact science. Mental health is a complex equation and many doctors do not take an integrative approach that examines nutrition, lifestyle, spiritual conflicts, family systems, hormonal fluctuations, and many other variables. At 49, Ms. Scott could have been experiencing perimenopause, which could exacerbate tendencies toward depression.

Ironically, in some ways those who have struggled with addiction and mental illness and adopt an all-encompassing spiritual approach towards reconstructing their lives have an advantage over those who have not struggled with addiction along with mental illness.

With Hope
I met a mom who lost her beautiful, high-achieving 14-year-old daughter Amber to suicide, “As a freshman she played varsity soccer and still had time for her family, her boyfriend and her friends. She was silly. She was bold. She was encouraging. She was determined.

“We now know, Amber was also profoundly sad and didn’t believe that anyone else had felt the way that she did.  She didn’t reach out for the help that was available. She masked her pain in the midst of all her talents and accomplishments. She hid her pain from a community of people who truly loved her.” (From With Hope‘s website.)

Amber’s suicide seemingly came out of nowhere. Her courageous mom started With Hope, a foundation dedicated to preventing suicide through outreach including educating high school students about depression, what could be the subtle clues of someone contemplating suicide, and what to do if one suspects a friend might be suicidal.

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Filed under Mental Health and Addiction

Damon Dunn, Vision and Then Some for Mayor of Long Beach

“I am impressed with Damon’s knowledge of the issues facing Long Beach and his ability to articulate them,” said O’Neill. “Damon’s strength and commitment will help to lead us into a promising future,” Beverly O’Neill endorsing Damon Dunn as reported in May 5, Long Beach Press Telegram.

“I believe that Damon Dunn will bring transparency to City Hall so that residents are given the information on how and why decisions are made that impact this city,” Schipske said in a statement.

Schipske also credited Dunn for his pledge to bring a new ethics code when in office, and for running a “good, truthful, positive campaign” in the primary, Gerrie Schipske endorsing Damon Dunn as reported in April 30, Long Beach Press Telegram.

Damon Dunn epitomizes the power of positive living. Although Damon Dunn was blessed with athletic and academic prowess, it is his approachability, his effectiveness, and his lifelong affinity for serving the community that earns my vote.

Long Beach is poised to become as desired a destination as San Francisco or Seattle.  Dunn has the passion for all the possibilities Long Beach offers and the imagination and drive to make Long Beach truly come into its own.

And since my children refuse to move to Los Angeles and they happen to be minors, I want Long Beach to be even better than it already is.

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How to Teach Your Children Apathy

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May 3, 2014 · 1:07 am

Performing Stand Up

“You do stand up? That must be so hard.”

Trying to get a publishing deal is hard.  Trying to get your television show made is hard.  Getting on stage and making your audience laugh is not hard.  All you have to do is lose your ego.

It is fun to laugh.  And laughter makes you relax.

I became a stand-up comedian, because I was so frustrated by the writing game.  I didn’t have the time to promote my fiction or shop my treatments, but I could perform stand up comedy 10 minutes from home.  When I was just beginning I could bring my two children to many of the open mics and shows. 

For several years all I did was write stand up material and perform.  Now I am back to writing on borrowed time and only do the occasional show.  I no longer have time to routinely do open mics, but there’s always one funny mom on every youth sports team.  I practice on her or during retail transactions. And if I still need to rehearse, there are always my two hostages a.k.a. children.

For my first three years, I would write different material every time I performed.  Eventually I learned that the best way to “write” stand up is to jot down your concept and then work it out talking.  

This spring finds me at Malarkey’s on Thursday nights performing with Comedy Machine who use the room to warm up for the road.  Gina Manning’s performances always make me laugh.

Want to study funny?




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Budget for Lunch

This is a spec humor column I wrote … Not enough pain though to make it funny enough for Funny Times…

Budget for Lunch

“Is that all you’re having for lunch?” my friend Sylvie said as I sat down with my latte at the Grove’s outdoor picnic-style table.

“Of course not,” I responded as I extracted from my purse a peach, a packet of almonds, and a protein bar–some marketing genius’ name for a candy bar with protein powder and brown rice syrup that lets you convince yourself you’re eating healthy.

She still looked skeptical so I took a deep breath and said, “I’m on a budget.” I immediately wished I would have lied and said what is more than socially acceptable and always elicits sympathy, “I’m on a diet.”

“I would have bought you lunch,” she and our other day-tripper said in stereo.

“I know, but I’m enjoying some of my favorite things. This latte is a huge treat for me. For five bucks, I even got to tip the barista.”

Sylvie had already provided the transportation from Long Beach and the free entertainment—tickets to watch Bill Maher run through his monologue and other comedy bits before taping his show.

Maher’s conviction and delivery made me laugh so hard that I forgot all about my budget for the rest of the day. And although I am really good at it, it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when the government shutdown had closed the doors on Head Start, stranded soldiers killed in the line of duty overseas, and unemployed hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens.

Trying to shed expense is like trying to shed pounds. Unlike the government, you have to examine all of your consumption and all of your habits and be willing to change.

Two days later I met up with my friend Emily at my office, which others insist on calling McDonald’s. Emily the dynamo, a former sales manager for a national company that formerly had budget for provocative prime-time commercials, has run the Marina Pacifica Job Club for the last four years while juggling several part-time jobs.

Participating in her job club helped me land my current job. Twice a month her job club hosts speakers, conducts workshops, facilitates networking, offers mock interviewing, and provides plenty of protein bars.

Emily scrutinized her tray and said, “How did I get to seven dollars? I thought I was buying a snack.“ She lifted her burrito as if to weigh it and added, “My eyes must have wandered from the Extra Value menu.”

I sipped my one-dollar iced tea as she continued, “Leslie and I are bringing our own coffee to Starbuck’s and sneaking onto the patio to job hunt online. Isn’t there something wrong with that?

“And forget service. I don’t dare step foot into a restaurant with service. I haven’t had a professional job in five years. I can’t afford service anymore.”

“Neither can I. The only way I get service is when I bribe my kids with extra media time.”




Filed under Humor/Stand Up Comedy, Nutrition and Health

Aspartame Doomed my Love Affair with Diet Coke

Diet Coke, that perfect combination of carbonation, sugar, caffeine and cola flavor has been in my life longer than any relationship.  Sweetened by Aspartame, it does not cost me any calories, but does Aspartame:

  • Make me hungrier and eat more
  • Tax my liver thereby making my metabolism less efficient and burn fewer calories
  • Provide hits to my neurological system and threaten my health

I don’t doubt that Aspartame and other food additives could wreak havoc with a certain percentage of the population’s health, but how big a percentage? I can easily conclude that Aspartame does nothing beneficial for me, but is it really toxic?

Decide for yourself – these websites provide opposing viewpoints:

“Excitotoxins are substances believed to cause brain damage and damage to the central nervous system. 
Excitotoxins tend to affect the hypothalamus portion of the brain, which controls important bodily functions such as growth, sleep patterns, puberty and even appetite.”

So I go back and forth with my aluminum knight in silver and red, Diet Coke.  I can go several months without one, but start craving it when my projects collide at work.

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Wash and Wear Hair Saves Time

Shower, towel dry, comb, and I’m out the door. Thirty minutes of-doing-whatever-I–need-to-instead-of-blow-drying-my-hair-later, my hair is dry, my hair looks fabulous, and I bless my hair stylist Anne Sibthorpe who was an artistic director at Vidal Sassoon before moving on to the Jim Wayne Salon in Beverly Hills. Sassoon pioneered fashionable, low-maintenance hairstyles.  Anne’s hair wisdom:

Haircut Tips
A good stylist takes into account what your hair naturally does and your:

• Hair’s growth pattern, which varies across your scalp
• Hair’s texture
• Facial structure
• Overall body symmetry
• Lifestyle

Curly Hair
You don’t need to straighten curly hair.  Anne developed her expertise taming her own curly hair and recommends:

• No heat (including no blow drying)
• Good cut
• Leaving in conditioner to define curls and cut out frizz

Haircare Products
Haircare products are so much better than decades past, you don’t necessarily need a lot of product once you find the right one(s) for your hair.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion On the Run