Tag Archives: my lobotomy

my lobotomy

My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully

howard dully lost a loving mom when he was a little kid. and life was never the same. dad remarried, and the new stepmom clearly had significant issues. one way this played out was in a deep hatred for howard, which she externalized and placed all the blame for at howard’s feet.

by the time howard was 12, his stepmom had so convinced herself that he had uncontrollable rage, was dangerous to the family, and a host of others issues (none of which seemed to be substantiated from any other perspective), and convinced her husband (howard’s birth father), and a doctor, that howard needed a lobotomy. this was the 1960s, and the doctor was walter freeman, creator of the “ice pick lobotomy” (which he performed on 3500 patients).

as you might expect, howard’s non-existent problems were not solved. but the life of a 12 year-old took a decided turn from bad to worse.

“my lobotomy” is howard’s first-person, autobiographical account of his life story (howard is in his 60s now, i think — he’ll comment here and correct me if i’m wrong, i expect!). it’s a seriously painful story to read, especially for youth workers who care about teenagers, and can see the stories of so many teenagers we know (even if they haven’t had lobotomies!) in howard’s story. it’s a story of the paths one ends up walking when love, stability, encouragement, and direction aren’t present.

written in a simple voice that was initially a bit annoying to me, but grew so authentic, i came to deeply appreciate that it wasn’t overly polished by the co-author, my lobotomy has all kinds of implications for youth workers and parents and anyone else who cares about teenagers.

thankfully, it’s also a story of redemption. howard, in the later years of his life, has beautifully come to terms with his story, and shows a level of grace (even toward his now-deceased father and stepmother) that is breathtaking.

this is not a book of answers. but it’s a real life story of hurt and healing.

monday morning update, october 6, 2008

the weekend that was: jeannie was up in pasadena visiting a friend for the weekend, so it was officially “daddy weekend.” that means – in the oestreicher family lexicon – a weekend of normally unapproved debauchery. extra quantities of screens (tv, movies, games, computer), horrible food choices, and stuff like that. so: liesl had lots on, so it was basically me and max. we got mario kart for wii, and played that a lot; we walked up to our town’s oktoberfest (“the largest 3-day oktoberfest west of the mississippi!”) both evenings for dinner; max made chicken nuggets for breakfast saturday, and we went to baskin robbins for lunch (yes, ice cream for lunch). along the way, i watched two sad football games where the only two teams i care about (university of michigan and the san diego chargers) lost, because they played so horribly. and i got a 60-minute massage saturday afternoon (jeannie gave me a 6-pack of one-hour certificates for xmas last year, and i cashed one in this weekend — the masseuse came to our house, and set up in the back house). sunday afternoon was honey-do list stuff, then home church in the evening. then, late last night, i took off on a 40 hour silent retreat.

where i am at the moment: i’m in non-blogging land, actually. this post was set to go live monday morning, because i’m not actually here to post it. i have known, for a few weeks, that i’m living on the edge, physically, emotionally, spiritually. and i started to realize that going into the sacramento nywc in this condition would be a really, really bad choice, and potentially harmful. i was worried about being so over-the-edge that i would either burn out, or — in my weariness — fall back to my default arrogant prick self. about a week ago i looked at my calendar for today, and realized it was totally empty. that’s when i decided to wedge in a short silent retreat. i considered a place i’ve gone in the desert, and a place i’ve gone near the coast, and landed on the coastal place. so, last night i drove up, and started a 40-ish hour time of silence, prayer, reading, thinking, and sleep. i’ll drive back down tuesday late morning, and just go to work. i’m hoping this time will recalibrate, rejuvenate, detoxify, and refresh me.

on my to-do list this week: uh, there’s this little thing called the national youth workers convention. we have three of ’em. the first one, in sacramento, is this week. starts friday (with additional programs beginning thursday). i’m flying up wednesday afternoon, and coming home monday afternoon. jeannie and the kids are coming up friday evening through monday afternoon. to complicate things a bit more, we have a brand new spanish youth workers convention this weekend also! we’ve been doing our convencion internacional lideres jovenes in argentina and guatemala for a number of years. but this year we added a third spanish event, in dallas. it was unfortunate that they ended up on the same weekend. saturday morning, i leave sacramento and fly to dallas. i’ll do a general session there saturday afternoon, and spend the evening there. sunday morning, i fly back to the sacramento nywc. whew!

procrastinating about: at the moment, i’m still procrastinating about my general session talk for the convention.

book i’m in the midst of: finished my lobotomy this weekend (will post about that soon), and am still in the middle of the almost moon. also plan on reading mark riddle’s new book (which comes out in january, or something like that), called inside the mind of youth pastors, today; and i brought along cathleen falsani’s sin boldly, and hope to get to it also.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: not normally a big hip-hop listener, two alt-hop (is that a term, or did i just make it up?) have caught my attention in the last couple weeks:
my friend bob sent me an itunes gift of “dear science” by the band, “tv on the radio.” really creative and complex stuff — unpredictable.
then i’ve also had the MIA album, Kala, on heavy rotation. the song “paper airplanes” has been on constant play on san diego alt rock stations, but the album is really, primarily a mash-up of alt/modern rock and hip-hop. very, very cool stuff.

next trip: i’m in north county san diego for a couple nights as i post this; but my next real trip is wednesday, for the national youth workers convention in sacramento.

how i’m feeling about this week: excited, stressed, hopeful, energized, weary, anticipatory, nervous, and probably 60 other emotions.

monday morning update, sept 29, 2008

oops — i totally spaced on a monday morning update last monday. i was out of town and it didn’t cross my mind until thursday, when i thought about posting one. but i just decided to wait ’til now…

the weekend that was: what a wonderful weekend, after a long and challenging week. really, i had nothing on. we had friends over friday night to watch the debate and eat way-yummy pizza from bronx pizza (the whitestone garlic pizza, with ricotta, spinach, garlic and added artichoke hearts, is the bomb). saturday, i got caught up on heroes, watched a little college football, then did about 4 or 5 hours of honey-do jobs (buying and putting together some storage containers for gardening stuff, hanging a few final pics on the walls, driving max to a birthday party). in the evening, a new neighbor came over and offered us two good tickets for the padres game. i was going to go with max, but jeannie mentioned that she hadn’t gone to a game this summer. so she and max went, and liesl and i got pick up stix carry-out and watched ‘miss pettigrew lives for a day’ on pay-per-view (which was kinda cute). sunday morning was church, then friends came over to watch the chargers game. see? nice and chill weekend.

where i am at the moment: i’m in town, at ys (and home) this entire week! this is the first full week in a while that i’ve been home.

on my to-do list this week: lots to do. i need to make progress on some partnerships we’re considering, and two international opportunities we’re considering. i need to re-write the opening session for the CORE one more time. i need to put together two seminars and one general session for the conventions this fall. and, i’m having breakfast with most of the ys staff in groups of 4 (4 mornings this week) to talk about our stress levels.

procrastinating about: i’m starting to think that i’ll be writing “i’m procrastinating about writing the middle school ministry book” every week this fall, even if i DO start to make progress on it.

book i’m in the midst of: finished up rob bell’s new one (jesus wants to save christians). reading two books right now for fun:
the almost moon, by alice sebold
my lobotomy, by howard dully

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: here’s one most of you haven’t heard of, but need to. when my family was in new zealand last year, our friend tash gave us a handful of kiwi discs to listen to while driving around. much of it was great, but one group became a favorite. then we forgot to bring the discs home. recently, tash replaced most of them for us. and this week, i listened to the amazing band evermore quite a bit. really great stuff, along the lines of oasis or radiohead. seriously, ya gotsta check ’em out (they’re on itunes).

next trip: NYWC in sacramento! boo-ya.

how i’m feeling about this week: good about being home, even if i have a lot to get done.