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December 4, 2019 | The Clarion
Toxic families and
By Julie Carter
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone,
we are faced with the holiday everyone
starts propping for in July: Christmas. I love
Christmas. It is my favorite holiday. However,
each year 1 tend to grow a bit more resentful
of one thing that tends to come with it: toxic
If I could have a Hallmark Christmas movie
holiday, I would give anything. However, I am
not slated to live a life where I can ice skate my
cares away on a white Christmas. C’est la vie.
Instead, I find myself slated with the same
questions year after year. How is school?
History and Political Science, what are you
gonna do with that degree? How is your love
life? Why aren’t you married yet? Have you
started thinking about kids yet? You do know
your younger sister is engaged, right?
It is enough to make me want to rip my hair
out by day two. I know I could have it so much
worse. I have a family, people who feed and
clothe me, and a place to sleep. Tm thankful.
However, if these situations deteriorate my
mental health. I’m not going to stand for them.
To the endless barrage of questions, I say this:
I am an adult, and I’m doing exactly what I need
to do to make myself happy.
These situations tend to make me feel like
I’m a complicated, inadequate mess. Sure, some
people may say it is not a big deal. To me, it is.
I don’t need to feel nitpicked for everything I
have done in my life up until this point. I’m a
2I-year-old woman. I’ve got this. Leave me be.
No one should have to worry about whether
or not they appease their relative who only cares
or talks to them on a holiday that is supposed
to make you feel good. As I have grown to be
a better watchdog over my own mental health
in the past year, I have realized something. I do
not have to engage with people who don’t make
me feel good. If I don’t have to deal with the
toxicity. I’m not going to.
My relatives can sit down with their anti
college, need-to-start-making-babies selves.
The more and more I discuss this concept I
have come to realize that so many people feel
like this. I understand the struggle. I get you.
Just know a few things: you are worth so much
more than your family’s expectations of who you
“should” be, and Christmas is as complicated as
you make it.
In the season of giving, remember to take a bit
back for yourself
Thoughts on David Berman's 'Purple
Mountains' and 'The Portable February'
By Scott Urquhart
The words of the late David Berman hang
over me like the pressing despondency of
another failed attempt at making amends. His
final album, “Purple Mountains,” published
under the name of the same title, is nothing
short of jubilant melancholy. It’s a shield
that most of us know and are comfortable
with expressing in times of desperation and
during the attempts of our fruitless efforts of
When the days are bleak with darkness, when
you can’t seem to tie your shoelaces correctly,
when you’re feeling excluded and uninvited
while simultaneously holding yourself up in
your room or not finding the strength to cook or
do laundry because of the looming animosity
separated by walls, “All my Happiness is
Gone,” or “Maybe I’m the Only One for Me,”
will set the mood and ease those feelings of
being unsettled while making you feel welcome,
which gives you another mask to show people
The words of the poet bring a sense of hope
for disparity throughout the album, not by telling
you everything is going to be ok, but rather
in a misery breeds company sort of way that
illuminates the path to another darker tunnel.
Any light is fine at times, as long as it allows
you to not bump into the clatter that the world
has to offer.
In 1984, Berman was hospitalized for
approaching perfection, as told in “Random
Rules” from one of his previous band’s (Silver
Jews) records, “American Water.” The master
poet and music smith frequently made attempts
at his own life, and ultimately succeeded
following the release of his final album.
Fortunately, he left quite the legacy behind,
including seven studio albums and two books,
one of poetry and the other of timeless doodles.
In, “The Portable February,” the one which
contains the cartoons, is a humorous work
of Americana, zingers, witty simplicity, and
magical thinking from “Floridas and Italys”
to “Irrational 15th Century Battle Scenes” and
“Oklahoma + The Sky Over Oklahoma.” The
book is meant to be read in one sitting, a kind of
meditation of light-heartedness that is palatable
for nearly all at any time when feeling anthing.
If his music hits your gut, if it makes your
heart drop into your feet, find out who David
Berman was. Know you’ve got another
friend waiting for you on the other side who
understands that you’re doing the best you can
in the toxicity of your environment.