Some weeks are better than others

28 February, 2016            Some weeks are better than others

Memoir writing is at times nerve-wracking. When I get very close to a touchy subject it’s begun to cause me more anxiety than I’d anticipated. My accident, as I’ve written here a number of times, was on April 5, 1988. I was inpatient at MCV until mid-June. Then I was a day-patient at Sheltering Arms until mid-October of 1988. I went back to work then. The significant parts of my physical healing were mostly complete. Cognitively I wasn’t quite where I’d been pre-injury, and I wasn’t where I am today. But I could get by. I’ll write a tiny blurb at the end of this post, but it doesn’t really deserve to be called memoir writing. Yet. It’ll evolve.

Few weeks have been worse than this one, at least as far as my photography is concerned. I don’t at all care to put up photographs not from the preceding week, but today I will. Two weeks ago I put up a post called Change your evil ways. You can click on that link and look or you may recall; I got a very nice picture of a Red-shouldered hawk eating a freshly caught frog. I took a lot of pictures that day, something over a hundred. Even after deleting most I was left with several memorable images. Here’s another one I took that day:

Red-shoulder from February 11:

Red-shoulder from February 11:

This blog got a mention last week from a person who goes by the name of, I am not making this up, “The Porridge Lady.” She keeps a blog called, as you may imagine, “The Porridge Lady.” If you click on the blog you’ll learn that “The Porridge Lady” is not in fact her real name, and her job is “an environmental scientist who works as a consultant across the food industry.” But – and this is quoted directly from her blog: “Most of all Anna Louise [a.k.a. “The Porridge Lady”] is a World Champion Porridge Maker and Porridge obsessive.” Just think, you might have gone the rest of your life and never heard a person described as a “Porridge obsessive.” Today’s your lucky day! She recently put up a post on her blog about spurtles, a tool that is used for stirring porridge. Long time readers may recall a year ago when I was at the Highland Maple Festival and a man named Nathan Jenkins custom made a locust spurtle for me. She mentioned my name and put a link to the post in her post about spurtles! Here’s a link to her original post about spurtles: Happy New… Spurtle?

And here’s a link to her spurtle post that mentions me and my blog post!: Spurtles, where to buy yours. My fifteen minutes of fame! Thanks porridge lady!  

It was almost seventy degrees when Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I went hiking at Pony Pasture this morning. The first turtles are already sunbathing – and it’s February!:

Early season sun bather

Early season sun bather

Yuki was clean for most of the hike this morning. But as we passed through the wetlands he decided to take a little dip. He belongs to a friend of ours and I would be dropping him back off on the way home. I sent this video to his owner as a word of caution: Foreigner, 1979, Dirty White Boy:

Dirty White Boy in the making (while Turner supervises):

Dirty White Boy in the making (while Turner looks on approvingly):

There were a few house finches in the dogwood tree out front when we got back from the river earlier. The male was in the top, singing:

Male house finches are showier:

Male house finches are showier:

The female wasn’t quite so visible:

Female house finches are demure and lady like. Some of the time.

Female house finches are demure and lady like. Some of the time.

Back next week with hopefully better pictures, though I said the same thing last week, and these are miserable. But the light is getting better and the spring birds are arriving. We’ll all be rewarded!  

Have a great week,



When I returned to work in late 1988 it was more than I could handle. I plunged into a really deep, really painful depression, and I was hospitalized again in early 1989 – this time with depression. At that time – this was February of 1989 – I was on my second hand-written journal, the evolution of the “memory log” I’d begun keeping while an inpatient at MCV. Before I switched to a fully type written journal in the late 1990’s I’d filled seventeen of these notebooks.

Cover of an early 1989 journal, and a tiny excerpt:

Journal cover from 27 years ago. Wow.

Journal cover from 27 years ago. Wow.

Excerpt from that journal: 

Excerpt from when I was back in the hospital. 1989. I was anxious and angry.

Excerpt from when I was back in the hospital. 1989. I was anxious and angry.

It’s disconcerting (that’s far too mild a word) to write about the 1988 me from the perspective of the 2016 me. When I look through these journals, a lot of emotion bubbles up, as you may imagine. It’s a lot easier to not-feel that stuff than it is to feel it.

The feelings are not all bad – disconcerting is not bad – and I have a great sense of accomplishment about how far I’ve come. But it hurt – a lot – to feel the way I felt in those days, and it hurts to write about it. My life has a great deal of texture now that it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t endured what I’ve endured. And I sleep well at night because I went through it. And while it was difficult, it wasn’t impossible. More to come.


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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7 Responses to Some weeks are better than others

  1. Patti G says:

    Wow, Jay! Have we known each other nearly 30 years?! I can’t wait to read that finished memoir…!

  2. okilloran says:

    Wow, Jay…have we known each other nearly 30 years?! I look forward to reading that memoir of yours when it’s finished! 👍

    • It’s amazing, isn’t it? We met when we were what, eleven years old? Hard to believe! Hopefully my memoir writing will drift into more of a groove. Some days it goes well, other days less well. I’m learning. Have a great day!

  3. David Schmidt says:

    Wow Jay, by the looks of the dates of this journal I think there must be a day in there where you came to work at my shop. Now THAT would depress anybody!!! Glad you are doing so much better now, as I know you have for some time.

    • I remember that, now that you mention it – that was a LONG time ago! Before I lived on Westbury Dr. I was fortunate for the opportunity! That’s amazing it’s been that long ago. Incredible.

  4. Jean Yerian says:

    Jay, you are one of the most remarkable people I know. The fact that you are willing to really think about your life – deep pain as well as soaring joy – with us is a mark of the man you’ve become. It’s a privilege to have been even a small part of your incredible journey. Thank you.

    • I thank YOU! You and VCU101 were quite instrumental in setting me on the positive path to restart my long-stalled education. And that’s helped build the foundation for what’s followed. So thank you again!!

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