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Aug 122014
 

Photo credit: MA1216 Nightmare on SangamonUnlike most standup comedians starting out in my generation, Robin Williams wasn’t my comedic hero growing up. He certainly was an influence on me, that’s for sure. For me though, I was always aware that his brilliant comedic style and performances on stage was merely a stepping stone for his true calling.

Instead, the body of work I came to love and respect was his comedic and dramatic acting roles. For that, I consider Williams one of my all-time top favorite actors on the big screen.

Now, in light of his tragic and shocking death, I can say he has become one of my heroes and has forever changed any previous opinion I had of him.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a court hearing for my 14 year old boy, Braedon. I will attend another hearing next Monday.

There is a good chance you have read earlier posts of mine on Facebook in regards to this last year. While these posts were vague, they were all about my extraordinarily painful year with my son and our family.

The posts were vague because It was simply too difficult to come to terms with my struggles. (Which I am still healing from.) Outwardly processing them in an update was just easier. Especially since I saw so many others going through difficult times as well.

My personal pain stems from the fact my oldest son suffers from mental illness. Like every challenge in my life, it must become dialog, then material, and finally comedy I can embrace on stage. It is my personal comedic process, but it is also my healing and coping process. A process I can say with great confidence, most comedians use, including Robin Williams.

I was planning on writing this some time ago and put it off. I wanted to be in a place of strength to write it. Ironically, timing is everything; so there is no better time to address the last year than after hearing the sad news of Robin William’s death. More importantly, the news that he sadly took his own life.

Since my son first attended school and began interacting socially, he has been battling the demon of depression and mental illness. His mother and I, along with the people closest to me have dealt with his special needs throughout his young adult life.

As I look back, I honestly thought he was just socially awkward. We all did. As time went on, it became clear, this wasn’t the case. Braedon became more and more depressed and for a short period of time, even suicidal.

He has always struggled with school, authority, and anger. I thought it was a lack of discipline and structure. Last year as he became a teenager, it got to a point where it was too much for his mother to handle.

At the time, I was in a relationship with a wonderful and loving woman. We were in a position where we could help. Both of us made the decision together to have Braedon come live with us. We saw it as an opportunity to change his life. He could finally get the structure and discipline he needed. While it was the most challenging role I’ve ever taken on as a father, Rachel and I were making a difference. He was placed in a great school with an amazing I.E.P. team, he was receiving regular therapy and making great strides. Like I said though, we felt he just was troubled.

The biggest problem with mental illness, it is an invisible disability. It doesn’t present itself every minute of the day and it cannot be clearly detected. It isn’t like me, you see me pushing around my three-wheeled man purse walker and know right away, I have physical limitations.

With mental instability, it comes and goes. Some days it is apparent an episode is occurring. Yet at other times, it isn’t a factor at all. Most often, however, it hides somewhere in the middle. As a parent, I have to ask myself, is this my son’s illness or is he just being a typical teenage boy? I have to somehow miraculously make the right call and sometimes in the middle of a heated confrontation. Making the wrong call, it can easily escalate into a point of no return.

Diagnoses will also change over the years too. He’s been labeled with O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Those are just the expert opinions. The list of unofficial labels has been never ending. All of which were wrong, by the way. It takes sometimes years for a correct diagnoses. You must constantly reevaluate the one suffering and even the teams that closely work with them. Now throw into the mix, the extra complicated layer of puberty, and my son’s raging hormones and I can assure you, even the experts can get it wrong.

The other major problem with mental illness is the ignorance and lack of awareness and education on the subject. Family members often are in denial or worse, so ashamed they keep it a dirty family secret. No one wants to admit a member of their family has mental illness. I didn’t. I was in denial for a very long time. Actually, it wasn’t until it was too late and our family life fell to pieces that I became educated and came to terms with it.

Our community, our own family members, our spouses and partners all fall victim to the confusion and blurry lines of this illness. Relationships of all types are destroyed by a lack of understanding.

It is often disregarded as bad parenting, or an out of controlled kid, or even neglect. “Nothing a good ass kicking can’t solve, right?”

Wrong. I can assure you as a father going through it firsthand. When faced with the choice of harsh disciplinary action over compassion and understanding; handling it negatively leaves you with indescribable guilt. You can’t approach it as if they are purposely acting out. No one consciously chooses to act out in a way that will potentially harm themselves or others.

I became filled with rage and thoughts of pure hatred for my own child. It is truly the most heartbreaking and traumatic thing one can feel for their own flesh and blood. The pain I put on myself, my family and loved ones is something that changes everyone forever. Then to be seen by people on the outside as a bad parent when you already feel more guilt than anyone else can ever put on you. Well, that alone can cause a mental break.

I got high blood pressure. (Which I never have had issues with before) I lost patches of my hair. Not balding or thinning either, but actual patches of hair fell out because of the extreme stress, and the deepest sadness and remorse I ever felt in my life.

Oh, and yes, I gave up. I gave up because I couldn’t handle it any longer. I have no excuse here. I gave up because I was no longer making sound fatherly choices. All of my choices were reactionary and destructive to my two boys, my partner and our home life.

Our home was no longer a home of love and compassion, it was no longer a place where anyone felt safe. It was no longer filled with laughter and great memories. It was just filled with sadness.

I sent him back to his mother’s so I could heal. A decision that was not popular with my partner, and one I made on my own without ever considering the grief it might cause the ones I love most in my life. I decided this without realizing there were others who were going through this with me and who also deserved to have a voice in the decision.

I ultimately feel I was looking out what was best for my son and his wellbeing but to this day I still feel the guilt of the choice and still have no idea whether I made the right one.

All I knew was that I needed to heal so I could love him again, be compassionate and try to get him the help he truly needs. Sometimes a parent makes choices that look horrible to those on the outside looking in and unfortunately only time will tell if what I did was right.

My son has finally been correctly diagnosed and will be getting residential treatment along with the correct therapy and skills needed to have a future. This program is a long intensive two year program with no guarantee of success.  The type of therapy he is going to get does have great results with those who have his condition. However, either way, it is the only real opportunity for success he has.

These types of resources are simply not available to people with mental illness over the age of eighteen. That is a sobering fact. When you become an adult, you either have the money to get professional help, become homeless from the lack of skills to survive on your own or you get locked up. One and four people in the United States have some form of mental illness, too. It is an epidemic without any long term strategic plan to deal with it.

So why is Robin Williams now all of a sudden a hero and an inspiration to me? I’ll be glad to explain. Robin William’s suicide will shine a much needed spotlight onto mental illness and depression.  Unfortunately it takes events like this to bring it to the national stage.

Like everything, it will only last for a short time before people forget and go back to their lives, but I’m striking while the iron is hot. There needs to be a real honest discussion, education and reform.

It is a sad day to have lost such a brilliant and genius mind. Thank you Mr. Williams for bringing so much laughter into our lives.

As a comedian of 23 years, and one who has devoted my life to the same craft, I must thank you most of all as a father. Your last act, while tragic, will help more families find the courage they need to seek help. There are people in real pain who need a helping hand out of the darkness. I am one of those people, and so is my son.

If someone as profound and brilliant as Robin Williams who from our perspective, had everything he could possibly want out of life couldn’t climb out of the darkness; than it should be a wakeup call to us all. It takes more than just money, strength and humor to cure this illness, and Robin Williams just proved that. For that, he deserves a final standing ovation.

LB

Fore more information and resources I recommend looking up your local chapter of  N.A.M.I. (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at: http://www.nami.org/

 

 

Apr 232014
 

NoRisk_poster_4_26This Sat is an important performance for me. Last summer I sat down in my back yard with my good friend and amazingly talented comedian Chris Smith and had a conversation about the industry. Through this conversation we developed a tour concept based purely on the idea comedy isn’t sold as an art form, comedians are products.

Unknown comedians like ourselves who aren’t household names never get to perform our full shows in the top comedy clubs in America or in big theaters because people buy tickets to see comedians they have heard of. They don’t want to pay for something that may or may not be funny.

There are lots of talented comedians and Chris and me are no different. For the first time we are launching a tour that is guaranteeing audiences will be entertained by this show or we will refund 100% of an audience member’s admission price. No strings attached.

It is for real, we are that confident .  We are also filming this first show to develop a commercial demo to use to get dates secured for the summer. I  need the support of my fans to make the journey up to Ridgefield, WA and be a part of something I know will finally get me the recognition so many have said I deserve. Welcome to the NO RISK COMEDY TOUR debut performance.

SAT APRIL 26th
$15 adv. $20 day of show
Tickets by phone at 360 887-7260
Doors open at 6:15 PM Showtime 7:00 PM showtime.

Old Liberty Theater: 115 N Main Ridgefield, WA

 

The No Risk Comedy Tour

 NEWS  Comments Off
Apr 092014
 

Please watch this. It’s only 4 min of your life but what has been a life long journey for me. Then share this with everyone you know that spent their life chasing something because they loved it.

Follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/NoRiskComedy and @NoRiskComedy

The Debute first show:
Sat April 26th at The Old Liberty Theater in Ridgefield, WA.
Doors open at 6:15 PM Show starts at 7:00 PM
$15 advance and $20 at the door
PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS AT 360-887-7260
115 N. MAIN • RIDGEFIELD, WA

Mar 172014
 

If you are listening to episode 70 because you want to laugh historically all the through it, you might want to skip this one. Is it funny in parts, yes. It is my nature to see the funny side of life. It is also in my nature to be very serious at times, analyzing everything happening to me. Anyone who knows me, understands this to be true. I am a passionate and sometimes deeply emotional man. I where them on my sleeve, but it is what keeps me connected to these experience which eventually end up on stage. If you truly want to witness my process in the raw, this is the episode for you. If not, load up a different podcast until I’m not in this introspective mood.

 

 

In this episode: Ep 70: Introspective moods.

  • The Walkabout update
  • STOP! This is a slow zone.
  • Getting filthy dirty in the moment
  • Comedy is what I do

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald

Feb 282014
 

After a very long hiatus, From The Nook has returned. I’ll be completely honest when I say, things finally became so bad, I just wasn’t in a space to be creative. I know a lot of regular listeners were disappointing I dropped the project. I’m sure it hurt my listening base,at least it looks like that by the stats. I promise I will rebuild it with your help. Share this episode with everyone because as bad as it has been over the last six to eight months, this episode will go down as my favorite to date.

In this episode: Ep 69: Lonnie's Walkabouy

  • Its episode 69 NOT episode 69
  • Wake up, you need to wake up
  • What is your problem?
  • Going on a Walk about

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald

Dec 182013
 

I am freaking out even horses, I make babies cry and for whatever reason I cannot stop bawling over everything. I am unraveling at the seams. What the hell is wrong with me?

In this episode: Ep68: Get it together

  • Here’s a tissue baby
  • Hey, What the hell is wrong with you
  • What I want for Christmas is a therapy horse.

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald

Nov 202013
 

After an amazing preliminary week two (where I took top spot for the week) in the Seattle International Comedy Contest. I’ve returned to Seattle, WA to compete with the top 10 from both weeks and again I’m off to a slow start. I took 7th (third from last) in the first performance at the famous Seattle Comedy Underground.

Here is the interesting part.  I drew the basic same position in the lineup as I did last week. In the first round and on the first night, I went up 9th. This was right after the secret piss break intermission for the judges. In last night’s show I drew 6th but we only have ten comedians now. I was again going up right after the piss break for the judges. Not that it matters and I don’t feel it was why I placed in the position where I did.  I don’t think it had anything to do with in fact. Coincidentally, I also placed in the same spot as last week’s first show. In my first round, I took 13th, three from the last spot. As long as I have time to break down the coincidences; I tripped going up on stage last week which became a bit of a scene. I safely made it to the stage last night but after my show I had an incident with a woman who followed me back to our private green room, and it is this particular incident I wish to discuss in today’s post.

The woman who followed me back, she tried to find the right words and with watery eyes. Now I’m thinking maybe she was about to tell me I was an inspiration. This was not the case. She explained she works with children who have special needs—ah fuck! Here we go. I was informed that because she works with special needs children, she felt passionate about advocating for them.  To make it easier on me, for the rest of this blog entry, I’ll refer to this woman as, “God’s special helper.” Anyway, G.S.H tells me she enjoyed the bulk of my material but she felt obligated to let me know we don’t use the word retard any longer and I should remove it from act forever. Mind you, this was in the green room with four other comedians sitting in the back with me and watching this slow moving train wreck heading right towards me.

You may be asking yourselves right now, how I would react to such an awkward confrontation? Well I calmly let her speak. I did not interrupt, and in fact as she complained to me about how this is a word which has been abolished from the English language, I took a sip of my beer.

After what seemed like five long and painful minutes. After paying her respect by listening to her struggle for the right words just to explain her position and her disdain for the word used in my act, it was my time to speak.

Calmly I explained, I understood why she might be offended and I respected her for making such a difficult career choice but that I have a right to dictate how I tell my story because I am disabled and I am the one who lives with my challenges. I continued to argue my position.  “While you may be upset, you also do not have a right to speak on any of your client’s behalf  because you are not disabled.” I told her, she simply couldn’t tell me what offended them and only they had the right to speak with me about it. “You have the right to be offended but NOT offended for them.”

GSH then got more worked up. “I have been working as a care taker for 40 years and I do have a right to be upset for them.”

My rebuttal, “I am actually disabled and have been for 42 years of my life. I do not get paid for my struggles in life and neither do any of your patients. They live it, I live it. It is offensive to me you would speak on their behalf and then try to tell me what I should and shouldn’t say and we are obviously not going to agree on this issue. So if you feel this passionate, you could complain to management.”

The moment ended with agreeing with this option and then she left.  The comedians seemed stunned and I just kept thinking, I hope she isn’t a judge.

Here what bothers me: It is inevitability ALWAYS someone who works with the disabled or a family member of the disabled that get offended. It is ALWAYS something they must declare too. It isn’t the work of the lord if you have to tell us what you do. Sacrificing comes without bragging rights.   So you clean their asses,  and feed them. Now all of a sudden you think you should speak for them and think for them. THEY’RE NOT FUCKING RETARDS! Isn’t this your argument?

These labels are NOT abolished from our language. Neither is nigger or fagot. So as long as I am alive and have an opportunity to tell my side of the story, I’ll remind you all that you were the ones that first came up with these words. In fact, it was the medical industry who started using this offensive term. I didn’t come up with the word retard, I didn’t come up with the word crippled but I sure in the fuck have a right to use them to make my point. Did you know lady, when I was a child and being helped by one of your colleague GSH’s, it was at a hospital called, “Crippled Children’s Hospital”? Yes. It was on the top of the fucking building in big brass lettering.

People just can’t wrap their mind around the fact that just 33 years ago, the medical community was extremely misinformed about the disabled. They were frightfully ignorant and these were dark times. My parents were told I would always be sickly and I might die. I was put in a hospital bed as a small 5 year old child in lightless hallway. I was left alone, covered in wires and strobes and left to cry and scream at the top of my fucking lungs while they observed me behind a glass window to see if stress would induce seizures. That’s RETARDED!  And to this day, I vividly remember the mid-evil practice.

Oh, and the bit I do, I mention “retard strength” in an argument with a bully. Why, because that is how children actually talk.

I think the most disgusting fact in this entire ordeal I went through is that she had to point out how offended she was with the word retard but completely ignored at one point in my last bit,  I also used the word “Fagot”. I guess the word fagot is fine though because fagots aren’t, “One of God’s specially chosen children.”  Just in case you are still confused, I was often described as “special”. If we are going to discuss offensive and derogatory terms, I’ll start with that word and will continue using the words crippled and retard until all you retards are dead.

LB

Nov 172013
 

Seattle has it all. Huge Hills, cobblestone alleys with famous gum walls, dangerous phone thieves and all I have to worry about is placing in the Seattle International Comedy Contest.  Welcome to my world.

In this episode: 

  • A broken Shoestring will give anyone perspective.
  • I thought the hills were tough, but try losing a battle with a garage door
  • A steep cobblestone alley next to a gum wall, someone should start filming
  • Perspective on the industry, comedy competitions, and a crushing blow to my critics

 

As always share my podcast with friends, enemies, and please help donate to my habits.
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=SSF42VCACA62J

Lonald