Friday, December 12, 2008

When Writers Need Inspiration and Refuge: Go Into Danger

That's Robin in her previous role as foreign correspondent in Iraq.

I'm a journalist by profession and even though most of that time I've been a television journalist I have, along the way, learned to write the English language and thus can also claim to be the author of three books. What do writers do when their lives are full of challenges and they need something to do that doesn't have anything to do with the reality they know? Why, they do that Hemingway thing, and go abroad.

That's my new plan.

My Dad has Alzheimer's disease and spent my most recent visit accusing me of stealing his keys, aimlessly driving his car (though I was doing errands for him), putting regular gas instead of premium in his tank, not changing his oil at regular intervals, stealing his wallet (my mother has done that for safety) and in between telling me he loved me and wished I would move there.

My mother, who doesn't have Alzheimer's, but is a terminal narcissist, accused me of waiting for her death so I can spend up all her money (which at this point we don't even know if she has, since she is clueless about managing money) and in addition accused me of planning to spend all the family fortune (in advance, whenever she actually does die, which does not appear to be imminent) so there would be none left for her great grandchildren (whom she has kept as far away from her as possible) and told me that though my father wants me to move to California to be near him, she doesn't want me anywhere near her. Especially not staying at her house, even while I look for a job. My Mom and I have a challenging relationship to put it mildly and what I did to cause this, other than be born, and have the love of my father, I do not know.

Since I caught the flu on the flight out there (my seventh--trip, not flu--at a total cost to me, including incidentals $15,000 in one year during which they have been in hospitals, nursing homes, had pneumonia, and broken bones) and since I had just given up my lease so I could move out there to a) avoid all the costs of flying there and b) find a better job to support my full time job of making sure they are okay and since c) my mother doesn't want me anywhere near her, I have come home to nurse my flu and revise my plans.

So, my new plans involve putting what my mother calls my "lavish lifestyle" into storage and going to the Middle East to work as a correspondent in what I believe will be the next hot spot. If there is one thing a reporter likes its a hot spot. Can't beat that for fun, and the occasional shot at glory. Course you could die, get blown up, or get your head separated from your body, but from what I can tell, that is much more likely to happen when I'm in close proximity to my mother. Anyway, I have friends in Israel (friends being often kinder to one than one's family) and I think I can get a temporary room with them while I look for a place to live and some freelance bureaus to hook up with. Worst case scenario: I just blog my way through a year and report my experiences here in the blogosphere.

Israel is a fascinating place: kind of a wild west version of America, where everybody is an entrepreneur. And oh, by the way, everybody packs a gun. Can't beat that for a great place to park your computer and dig up a story or two! I love my Dad, and I'll dedicate all my stories to him. He can't help his disease and I think I'm better working at something I enjoy rather than weeping daily as I see the man I adore disappear before my eyes. My mother, as always, will take care of her own dear self. That's her life's work and she is truly expert at it. She spends all of her time looking in the mirror, so she won't even notice I'm gone.


Bob Liddle said...

I am soooo sorry! This is awful. I hope you dont feel all alone. I can only imagine, at best, what you are feeling. If you do follow through with your move to Israel please be careful because you need to also return to Portland and fix our bad news delivery problem. We need your help!!!! I can honestly say Portland would love to have you here again. Please reconsider.

Try to have a good holiday and thanks again for your blog. Love checking it daily!

Robin Chapman said...

oh well, Bob, there is obviously something wrong with my mother, and the sad part of it is that she has never gotten to know me and I'm not perfect but I am a nice person. Anyway, it will save me from seeing my Dad fall apart and that will probably be for the best. thanks for your kindness.

n.yezhov said...

Hi, Robin. Very sad news about things at home, after you tore yourself away from Winter Park out of your love for your father, and were received like that. I second Bob Liddle's comments, and will worry about your travels, but you're right about the home front. No point staying if all you find is rejection, suspicion and intentional infliction of pain (obviously excluding your father; you've written that you recognize his occasional hurts aren't intentional). Your pain is fresh right now. Don't buy your El Al ticket just yet: you're still grieving. Now I'm headed to imdb to see what you mean about being in 'BioHazard'. /I'll look forward to your next post. /Jack in Portland said...

Robin, I remember watching you during your career at KGW-TV in Portland. If it's danger you're looking for, go no farther than Woodburn, OR. Some crackpot delivered a bomb to a local bank and it exploded. Instead of taking the crackpot with it, the explosion took 2 exemplary career law enforcement officers, both were 51 years old; both had families. The police chief is in the hospital in critical condition.
You are a good person. Please don't make decisions from a foundation of pain. Take the time to heal. Take the time.
I wish you could feel the many many comforting hugs coming your way from your readers.
My brother, Jack in Portland, told me about your blog. I had wondered where you had gone after Portland. So glad to see you have done so well since then!
Kathy in Hillsboro

Robin Chapman said...

You, my readers, have helped me get through this difficult time. I guess the truth is I don't yet know what I will do. But the kindness of all of you who have written continues to humble me. And to help.