Episode 1: Tell That to Peter Fonda

Welcome to the Borderline, Ohio podcast! This episode introduces the podcast and plunges you right into the raw audio that forms the basis for the series.

This site is, for now, anonymous. I am a writer and teacher living in the American Midwest. 

This is a story of mental illness, but it is not a story of redemption and resolution. It is a story that will be relatable and therefore cathartic to those in similar circumstances.

During the worst years of my mother’s verbal abuse and psychological control of me and my family we felt helpless, lost. We searched in vain for books, articles, or websites that might capture and make sense of our circumstances. When I would no longer put my wife on the phone, as my mother demanded, she told me to write down what she was saying and then, when she doubted I was doing this, to record her so my wife could listen. I did.

These are some of those tapes, from 2008-2010. They are raw, authentic, undoctored, painful, short samples from lectures, conversations, tirades that lasted anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. Her words were like radiation, lasting long after my initial exposure and if any of them seem absurd or darkly comical, they were not at the time. They hurt, and they still hurt.
There are several overlapping and interlocking themes that emerge here: the disintegration of what had been a close-knit family as a result of untreated mental illness; how sweet memories of the past were weaponized and turned into counter-narratives; and the killing effect of my mother’s words on my own writing. But this is also a story of the American midwest and a particular zone called Ohio.

This is a year-long project with new episodes, images and commentary posted here each Tuesday and Friday by 5:00pm EST.

"I'm sorry for you that you have a wife that is not stepping up to the plate. Last Sunday we had fun, if we stayed within the perimeter of conversation that was allowed. Tell that to Mick Jagger. Tell that to . . . Janis Joplin. Tell that to . . . I mean I'm trying to . . . Hopper. Dennis Hopper. Tell it to Peter Fonda. Tell it to Jane Fonda. Tell it to anybody that represents our generation and we're gonna laugh at you, Nicky, because we never stayed within a box."