Category Archives: battling depression

The Universe Gets Wider

This is an amazing new picture from the James Webb Space Telescope.

We are learning more and more about the universe every single day. There is a space probe orbiting Jupiter right now that is learning things with its magnetometer about the Jovian magnetosphere that we never even suspected could be true. We may have found an earthlike planet with intelligent life circling the secondary star in the Alpha Centauri binary system, our closest neighbor among the stars. The Chinese have a robot on the moon that has successfully planted and grown a seed on the surface of the moon (inside an artificial environment, of course.) And the Democrats may be about to pass the biggest climate-change-combatting bill that has ever yet been passed, making it possible that the corporation-corrupted Republican Party won’t kill us all for short-term profits after all.

I have been finding dancing children and singing children and ventriloquists and artists and face-painters and cartoonists on Tik Tok that fascinate me and keep me from my writing by entertaining me until my batteries are almost dead.

My tongue hangs out to the floor at the shere beauty of the creativity of ordinary people on an art-intensive social media site.

I have definitely been searching for reasons not to be depressed and give up on life as it gets too incredibly hot and politically entirely too wrong-headed and crazy to allow us to individually thrive.

But life finds a way. We are not alone. And we are not without our own inner resources.

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Why Nudists are Necessary

I don’t expect you to accept my thesis whole-souled and become a nudist if you are a lifelong textile enthusiast. I understand the problem. The post-Victorian-era Christians, especially the fundamentalist extremists who think Adam and Eve’s nakedness is a sin after the fall from grace, work hard to put the fear of nakedness in everyone… from childhood onward.

But I have definitely learned in my older age that being nakedly open to new ideas is actually a good idea, not a sin. Human beings do not have to wear clothing to be mentally and physically healthy. And often, it is the very repressive nature of religion that causes the perversions and health problems that fire-and-brimstone preachers warn against.

The main stumbling block to a world where nudism and naturism are accepted as not only natural, but essential to a happy life, is the association nakedness automatically has with sexual activity. Pictures of naked people, especially naked and attractive people, are almost automatically considered porn. The average viewer of naturist and nudist materials assumes that the purpose of such material is to reach a sexual, and therefore evil, outcome. How nudist materials can actually affect the sex-lives of any but religiously repressed teenaged boys, I cannot effectively explain.

You may have noticed from being both a parent of your own children and a keen-eyed observer of other people’s children (only to prove you are a better parent than they are, of course) that it is harder to keep clothes on young children than it is to get them to take their clothing off. Kids enjoy swimming, playing, and running around in giggly circles completely naked. That urge to do such things that are inherently offensive to elderly church ladies has to be carefully trained out of them.

Being naked, though routinely trained out of us as a furless species, has provable health benefits. Vitamin D, acquired by spending time exposed to sunlight, is crucial to emotional health, and low quantities of vitamin D in the body result in a susceptability to severe and life-threatening depression. People are also attracted to other people with a healthy tan (not eaten up by skin cancer or constantly peeling from sunburn, but a healthy tan.) And I can testify from experience with nudism, if you are comfortable enough with the people around you to take off all your clothes in their presence, (family, doctors, other health professionals, and fellow nudists you both know and that show a reciprocal comfort with being nude in your presence,) there is a culture of trust, respect, and love around you.

And this portrait, recently done by me, of my young friend Naomi, demonstrates that there is no privacy issue from participating in nudism. This portrait of a young girl is not porn. She is not engaged in any sexual act. Her most private parts, though exposed, are not the focus of the portrait. She was using the pool when she saw me sketching things and offered to pose for me. I had her permission. I had her mother’s permission. And they both approved of the result, though Naomi thought I did not get the breasts right. I was given permission to share this picture, as long as I didn’t tell you the girl’s real name. It does not look enough like her so that her school friends will know that it is her if she doesn’t tell them. She is happy to now own the original, and there is really no way for you to track her down or accuse her of being an exhibitionist. There are many far more concerning pictures of girls her age on the internet and social media. It ends up simply being a work of art.

People need to see other people naked more. It gives you confidence that your naked body is no uglier than anybody else’s. It makes you feel like those naked people you are seeing are holding nothing back and are far more open and honest than the average politician. especially Senator Ted Cruz. (Special note to the world: I personally feel that Senator Ted Cruz is the one person on this Earth that you do NOT want to see naked. Not every nude body is a good thing.)

I myself regret that I waited so long to embrace nudism. I had chances as far back as age 28. But I had a traumatic experience, a childhood sexual assault, to overcome before I could ever have a positive body image. And now that I have come to a place of peace and self-acceptance, I can finally recapture some of that naked joy we all had once as a young child. Adam and Eve were supposed to be perfect in the eyes of God when they were comfortably naked in front of Him. It was only after the fall when they were wearing clothes that they were sinful.

So, now that I have not convinced you that you should become a nudist, I hope I have at least given you something to think about. And think about seriously. If you don’t believe the naked human form is a work of art, then I should warn you… don’t go into art museums and galleries.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, commentary, humor, nudes, Paffooney, philosophy

Re-bubbling the Old Enthusiasm

It is getting harder and harder to climb the new day’s hill to get to the summit where I can reasonably get a good look at the road ahead. At almost-64, I can see the road ahead is far shorter and much darker than the highway stretching out behind me. It is not so much a matter of how much time I have spent on the road as it is a matter of the wear and tear the mileage has caused.

This weekend I had another depressing free-book promotion where, in five days, I only moved five books, one purchase, and four free books. I have made $0.45 as an author for the month of June.

I was recently given another bit of good advice from a successful author. He said that I shouldn’t be in such a rush to publish. He suggested taking more time with my writing. Hold on to it longer. Polish it and love it more. And now that I have reached sixteen books published on my author’s page, I have basically beaten the grim reaper in the question of whether or not he was ever going to silence me and my author’s voice. I can afford to live with the next one longer.

But the last one, A Field Guide to Fauns, practically wrote itself. It went fast from inspiration to publication simply because the writer in me was on fire and full of love and life and laughter that had to boil over into hot print exactly as quickly as it did. The additional writing time afforded me by the pandemic and quarantine didn’t hurt either. Once in print, my nudist friends loved it.

This next one has the potential to boil and brew and pop out of me in the same accelerated way as that last one did. Of course, it has been percolating inside my brain basically since the Summer of 1974. So, this is no rushed job. The Wizard in his Keep is a story of a man who tries to take the children of the sister of his childhood best friend to a place of safety when their parents are killed in a car wreck. But the only safe place he has to offer is in the world of his imagination. A world he has bizarrely made real. And that best friend comes searching for the children. And so does a predator who seeks to do them all grievous harm.

In many ways, it is a story already written.

So, I am rekindling the flame that keeps the story-pot boiling. And more of it is already cooking. And I am recovering from the cool winds of disappointment, as well as the dark storm clouds of the nearing future.

This is now actually a two-year-old post. Both of the books mentioned here are published and available from Amazon. As far as holding on to the books longer, there is no problem with that on Amazon. Editing, improving, and re-publishing a book is actually easier than publishing it the first time. Nothing about this old post has been made untrue by the passage of time. I am still probably the best author of books like these whose published books almost never get read.

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The Darkest of the Coming Darkness


Egghead  might be slightly batty.

I do not claim to be prescient.  But like any overly smart and perceptive person, I often see what’s going to happen before it happens.  Sometimes it is almost as eerie as a Vincent Price movie.  Sometimes eerier.  After all, on the 60’s Batman TV show, Price played the ridiculous villain Egghead, and was completely creepy while doing it, but still, you know… Egghead.

One thing that I have to predict about the coming darkness is about politics.  I mean, the current Republican administration, where it is decisions by all Republicans all the time, has become nothing more than a monster movie.  Not merely a bad monster movie, but a super-creepy-bad monster movie with a gigantic orange rubber rooster as the main monster.


This is what the great orange rooster looks like in black and white.

The reason it is bad is because, basically, to become a member of the Republican Party’s elected elite, you basically have to have your heart removed.  Heartless, soulless monsters have a tendency to do things like take away Meals on Wheels for invalid seniors, health-care services from Planned Parenthood, and any hope of ever having affordable health insurance that actually pays for health care.


                                                                          Senator Ted Cruz grinning about taking away Obamacare

And now, the monsters who have taken control of the theater are pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement because… well, apparently clean air isn’t good for decaying, desiccated monster skin and shriveled monster lungs that don’t breathe air anyway.

So here are my predictions for the coming darkness.

What people like me will look like in the future.  That’s me in the middle.

I won’t live to see it.  My body is breaking down at age 60. My lungs are compromised by years of bronchitis and flu.  I am diabetic, so my very body chemistry is betraying me.  There is a family history of heart disease.  And I have already gone broke once on health care bills that the health insurance people really don’t pay for.  (They are in the business of collecting premiums, after all, not making people well.)


What a lovely oxygen-free environment we will have!

As the climate changes take away large parts of our food production and resources, and the sea rises to take away land and major cities, people will be at war increasingly over diminishing resources vital to a population of seven billion souls.  Graveyards and unburied bodies will become a part of every monster-movie scene.


Kiss me, Baby!

Love will become more complicated, because people who are selfless and put others before even their own life will die out first.  The heartless, selfish, and often stupid ones will have the best chance for survival because they put themselves ahead of everyone else, and so have an unfair advantage over those who are not content with mere survival and exhibit self-sacrificing love.


You’ve never had a friend like me.  And I can always eat you later if need be.


So, if you find my black-and-white monster movie post upsetting with the darknesses I am sincerely predicting, please remember, this is a satire post in a humor blog.  The way it is supposed to work is that you wake up to the factors that make it upsetting and decide to do something for yourself to change them.  Everybody doing a lot of the same little thing to make the world better can move mountains and fly to the moon.  Big things don’t happen without everybody taking a hand.  Maybe we can dream dreams once again and make some good things come true.



Filed under angry rant, battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, horror movie, humor, monsters

He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 10

Adagio in G-Minor (Albinoni)

Weeping violins were playing on Mom’s kitchen radio as she had it playing something from the classical music station in Des Moines. The announcer said something about the music being composed by a Venetian master, Tomaso Albinoni, in the 18th Century, and now being known as being synonymous with sorrow and sadness. As Valerie placed the spoons and the forks, she felt like it was the perfect background music for her entire life.

“So, Rance, be honest with me,” Mom said. “Did Val apologize to Dash for the misery she caused him at the dance?”

“Well, she made a promise to him about what she would never do again.”

“That’s not the whole truth,” said Valerie.

“Oh? Why don’t you explain your version of the conversation then,” said Uncle Rance with a smile that seemed somehow sad.

“Uncle Dash was afraid I was being like Stacey, that I was going to run away and never come back.”

“And what did you tell him about that?” Mom asked point blank.

Tim and Aunt Jen sat silently at their places at the table. They were both looking at her with unsmiling lips tightly pressed together… as if they feared the answer.

“You know what a cardinal is, right?”

“The little red song bird?”

“Yes, the bright red bird we often see in the snow around Christmastime. The one that doesn’t fly away when the winter comes? Never migrates? Never flies away from the cold, and the wind, and hard times?”

“What does that mean? That you promise not to run away from your problems?”

“Well, if a little red songbird can do it…”

Mom put her hand over her eyes. Was she crying? Had she said the wrong thing?

”Do you have any idea how much what you did probably hurt your Uncle Dash? You know he loved your Daddy very much. And he’s tried so hard to be like a father to you since…” A sob caught in Mom’s throat.

“She told Dash that she didn’t blame him. She blamed herself.” Uncle Rance had no right to say that part out loud. But… she couldn’t say it herself. Not after shouting it in front of Charlotte and the whole world. Why didn’t they just talk about it all behind her back like normal parents do?

“Did you know that Tim kissed Dilsey on his date? Did he tell you that?” She knew that one wasn’t hers to tell. But she needed to change the topic. Needed it desperately. She could always apologize to the king of brats later.

Tim was grinning at that.

“Is it true?” Aunt Jen asked, smiling for the first time in a while.

“How did you know that, Val?” Tim asked.

“Dilsey told me.”

“Was she bragging… or complaining?”

“What do you think, Lothario?”

“More like Romeo, I think.”

“I hope you didn’t do something you didn’t have her permission to do,” said Uncle Rance.

“You know, Val, I wasn’t done with the other topic yet,” said Mom.

“What topic would that be?”

“You are not the only one who was devastated by what your father did.”

“I know that, Mom. I was here when we lived through all of that… more than once, I think.”

She hadn’t taken the hand away from her eyes since she first put it there.

“I love you, Val. You know that, right?”

“I love you too, Mom.”

“And you know I worry about the fact that suicide might run in families… I’ve thought about it. And I am afraid you have too. Can you…?”

“Promise you?”


“I can’t. But I am like the cardinal, Mom. And suicide is a form of running away.”

At that point, nobody had dry eyes but Valerie.

“I… I want you to write the thing about cardinals down for me, Val. I need that in writing.”

All Val could do was nod, or she would be bawling too.

“Well, now that we have all ruined our appetites, maybe we should think about actually eating something,” said Uncle Rance with a soft chuckle and tears still in his eyes.

The dinner changed into a rather quiet discussion about more normal family things, and Dilsey and Tim’s first kiss. And, sporadically, some roast beef and mashed potatoes was eaten too.

Later, as the Kelloggs were leaving, Tim stood in front of Valerie at the door. Tears glistened in his eyes again.

“You know, Val, I really liked the cardinal thing too. Blueberry is in the hospital. One of my Pirates is very ill.”

“Dilsey told me about that too.”

“Did she tell you we need to visit her? There are hard winter times coming our way there too.”

“We’ll be there for her, I promise.”

She wrapped him in a hug then. The first time in a very long time. He didn’t resist. If anything, he was hugging her back.

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He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 9

Chopin – Nocturne in E Flat Major (Op. 9 No. 2)

Dilsey Murphy made her way back to Val’s usual seat on the bus the first thing in the morning.  Usually Valerie rode to school of a morning with Ricky in his hand-me-down Ford Fiesta, but he had football practice after school on Mondays through Thursdays.  So, Val was available to sit with Dilsey on a cold Tuesday morning in October.

“Hello, Dils.  Something the matter?”

“It’s Blueberry.  She’s sick this morning.  Not going to school like usual.”

“How’s Mike taking it?  Worried?”

Mike Murphy was Dilsey’s younger brother.  Blueberry Bates was his eighth-grade lady love.  They were always together like salt and pepper shakers on a restaurant table.

“He’s devastated.  The Bates sisters took Blue to the emergency room last night.  She’s in the hospital now.”

“Oh, that’s terrible!  We’ll have to go visit her as soon as possible.”

“She’s not conscious.  Maybe a coma…”

Dilsey sat down next to Valerie and the first thing Val did was put an arm around her and pull her in close.  Dilsey laid her head on Val’s shoulder.  Tears followed.

It’s funny how things work in real life.  Not so long ago it was Val in tears, laying her head on Mary Philips’ shoulder.  Then Mary had been the actual leader of the Norwall Pirates, the infamous liars’ club.  But when Mary was going away to college, she didn’t turn to any of the boys to lead the club.  She asked Valerie to do it.  And then Val shouldered the responsibility until she finally handed the leadership of the infamous werewolf chasers and undead wizard whackers off to her cousin, the Terrible Timothy.

“Is it enough just to hold you like this?  Or is there something you wanna talk about?”

“Holding me helps.  Did I tell you I kissed him?”

“On your date?”

“Yeah.  After the movie.”

“That’s sweet.  But don’t let him take advantage of you.”

“I know… he’s a boy.  And he tells a lot of lies.”

“Big ones… black in color… with hair on them… and sometimes spider legs.”

Through the tears, Dilsey chuckled at “spider legs.” 

“But he has a good heart.”

“He does.  You know he was pretty awful to Blueberry about the whole transgender thing, though.”

“Yeah.  Blue has never really been a boy.  But it was hard for him to accept that when he found out she was born with a penis.”

“Empathy for others was never something he was good at.”

“The Bates sisters convinced him though.  They showed him the x-rays that showed that Blue also had malformed ovaries.  She was only a boy on the outside part.”

“I didn’t know that.  I always thought she just needed to be a girl that badly.”

“Do you think it’s easier to be a boy than it is to be a girl?”  Dilsey looked up at Val and the tears were gone.

“I suppose it is to be your brother Danny.  He always sees the funny side of everything and life is mostly one big joke to him.”

“Yeah, but my brother Mike is the opposite.  He takes things way too seriously.  He fights with Mom more than any of the rest of us.  And he really loves Blue, even though he tells me how much he struggles to understand her most of time.  Mom couldn’t force him to go to school today because Blue is in the hospital.”

“Mike is a gallant young man.  You’re right.  It must be harder to be him than it is to be either of us.”

“I wouldn’t want to be Tim either.  It has to be hard to be that smart and that imaginative all the time.”

“I suppose you’re right.  More than half of all the weird things the Pirates have done over the years happened because of what was going on in Tim’s evil brain.”

“His brain’s not evil, Val.  He has a good brain.”

“Sure he does.  And it’s a fine thing for you to admire him for it.  I just say things like that ‘cause… you know… cousins.”

“Sure.  It’s just like me saying brothers.”

“You know, Dils, it’s a good thing to be able to talk like this.  Me and two former Pirates have started meeting down at the skinny-dipping pond.  It might be good to have another girl there.”

“Really?  Who are the other two?”

“Ricky Porter and Billy Martin.”

“Oh, uh… I don’t really know them.”

“Well, if you come along with me next time, you’ll get to know them better.  It could be good for all of us.  Some of us have problems with depression and it helps to be able to talk about anything and everything with people who will at least try to understand.”

“Yeah.  That might be good.”

“I will get in touch with you for the next time.”

“Yeah, um… okay.”

The two girls sat together in silence for the last couple of miles to Belle City High School.  It felt good to hold somebody like Dilsey.  She was warm and soft and good to be near.  And when they left the bus together, Valerie felt like now she was the wise older girl, while Dilsey had taken Val’s former place as the apprentice.  She would be happy to pass on all the things she learned from Mary when she was younger.  In fact, it felt like a real important responsibility.

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Sweet Success


I told you I would do it.  And then I basically did.


My daughter and I got it up in the air.


The sun, the wind, and the kite all worked together to help me overcome the blues.





We got it up so high that all the kite string was played out.

But then it finally came down.

And still…  I was happier.


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Filed under battling depression, happiness, Uncategorized

He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 7

Scherzo in C Minor for Bb Clarinet by Paul Koepke

The three of them walked all the way out to the oxbow pond on the Iowa River together, but Billy was really dragging his feet.

“Why so slow, Billy boy?” Ricky asked.

“Well, um… you know she’s gonna make us get naked out at the skinny-dipping pond, right?”

“Val?  You haven’t forgotten about that by now?  It’s damned cold, you know.”  All three of them wore jackets as the October air turned chilly.

“I haven’t forgotten.  We’ll do that eventually.  Naked honesty, like in gazebo at Celephais.  But not yet today.”

“I… I can’t do the naked thing, Valerie,” Billy complained.

“Yes, you can.  You did it with Francois, Giselle, and I before Francoise died.”

“That dream stuff never really happened, you know.  People can’t share dreams.  Not really.  We just remember talking about it with Francois.  We just convinced ourselves we all had the same dreams.”

The three of them climbed through the barbed-wire fence around the pasture bordering the oxbow as Billy complained.

“It was real enough, no matter the actual truth of it.  I remember it so vividly, it’s real now even if it wasn’t real then.”

They moved down to the flattened area of grass by the banks of the pond.  They each selected a spot to sit where they could talk without making actual eye contact.

“Val, we heard about the dance.  Billy, Terry, and me, we all decided we’d figure out some way to bring you out of your great sadness.”

“Yeah,” said Billy.  “We know how dangerous depression is.  And we don’t want you to miss another week of school.”

“Guys, what you’re doing about it here is enough.  A place to talk… a place to say what’s true without any interference…  That’s what I really need.”

 “One thing that’s true is that I don’t want to take my clothes off while talking.”

“Shut up, Billy,” Ricky said.  “When the time comes, I’ll strip you myself if I need to.”

Billy looked huffy and about to get mad, a rare thing for the skinny boy.

Valerie quickly interceded.  “Nobody will make you do anything you don’t really want to do.  Besides, I’ve already seen you naked, so there’s nothing to fret yourself about.”

“No, you haven’t!  Celephais is not real.  That was just in your dream.”

“Then how do I know your cute little thing was completely hairless back in the seventh grade?”

Billy swallowed audibly.  “You’re just guessing.”

“Well, maybe so.  But you don’t know for sure.”

It was quiet between the three of them for several long minutes.

“All I really need is someone to actually listen to me,” Valerie finally said.  “You can both do that for me, can’t you?”

“Yeah,” they both said.

“In fact, I thought of something else that might help all three of us.”  Ricky’s face was totally serious for a change.

“What’s that?” Val asked.

“Marahoochie cigarettes…” Ricky said.


“Marijuana.  You know, the goof sticks.  We three can get high together.  It’ll make us get more creative like John Lennon did.”

“No, you can’t!” Billy said.

“Why not?”

“It’s illegal.  And your adopted dad is a cop.  How will that look when Cliff has to put you in jail?”

“Ah, we don’t have to get caught.  We’re smart enough to get away with it.”

“But it’s a gateway drug.  We’ll end up on heroine, or maybe dead.”

“It’s not like that.  Terry and I tried it.  People don’t die from overdoses of marijuana.  And it’s easy to control.  It’s less addictive than regular cigarettes.”

“It’s my decision, isn’t it?” asked Valerie.  “We’re here because of me, right?”


“But I don’t want to smoke anything.”

“We don’t have to smoke it.  Terry and I can bake it into brownies.”

“Where are you gonna get it?” asked Billy.  “You know any drug dealers around here?”

“Uncle Harker does.”

“Harker Dawes? Terry’s Uncle Harker?”  Val was astounded.


“How does Harker Dawes know a drug dealer?”

“Well… you see… Harker runs Kingman’s Grocery Store now, since he lost the hardware store.  And he has trouble dealing with the usual suppliers.  So, he tried this new guy.  And this new guy sold him some new-fangled health foods, you see.  And the Mexican carrot greens were really marijuana.”

“Harker bought actual marijuana?” Billy asked.

“He did.  But, of course, he didn’t know it was marijuana.  He thought they were actually Mexican carrot greens.”

“You are trying to say Harker Dawes is that dumb?  Or the food supplier?”

“The supply guy was using code for selling the drug.  He thought Harker knew what it really was.  But you know Harker.  He believes whatever he’s told, even if it is a criminal telling him.”

“But he knows it now?” asked Val.

“Well… no.  Terry wanted to tell him, but he doesn’t know any sign for marijuana.  And he only speaks sign language.”

“Why didn’t you tell him?”

“Um, yeah… that’s how I’m gonna hook you up with some good weed.  I already tried to smoke it.  But it really worked best when we got Ma Dawes to bake some brownies with it inside.  We told her Mexican carrot greens make good spice for brownies.  Everybody really loves her brownies now.”

Billy and Valerie both stared in amazement at Ricky’s sneakers.  They knew enough about the Dawes family, the family that adopted Terry during the blizzard, to know the story was absolutely true.  But they were both too stunned to laugh.

“You’ll bring some brownies here, then?” Valerie asked.

“Of course.”

Billy glared at the both of them.  “You don’t expect me to break the law with you like that, do you?”

“Yes.  And naked while you do it,” said Valerie.

“I could just report you both to Cliff and get you arrested.”  

“But you won’t do that.  You are too kind-hearted and too good of a friend,” said Valerie.

“I suppose you are right.  But not naked, though.”

“Right.  Not naked.  For now.”

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Fridays Should Be Funny?

This is a hard video to watch if you have experience with this topic, either your own personal struggles or the struggles of someone you care deeply about. But it speaks to me with electric power that both burns and galvanizes my personal resolve. It is, perhaps, the most beautifully and carefully done thing I have ever found on this particular subject matter.

I have myself battled suicidal thoughts in my lifetime. And even though I have won the battle in the past, I realize that the war is never over, and you fight it every day no matter how long you live.

But coping with suicidal ideation, and knowing how to find the help you need, and eventually being that help for others, is something worth knowing about. And it is critical to get it right when communicating that to others. Because some very good books and movies have touched this landmine of a topic and caused readers, especially teen readers, to actually go through with the act.

So, if I finish writing my book about depression and suicide, and then it causes the very thing I have been fighting, then I have lost the war. That must not happen.

Suicidal thoughts are one of the worst after-effects of surviving a traumatic event. And if you read the actual words in my posts instead of just looking at the pictures, you may remember that I was once a victim of a traumatic event. He not only sexually tortured me, he convinced me that I was going to die if I screamed for help. It led to a long period of traumatic amnesia, hating my naked, helpless self, and self-harm every time I had sexual urges. I was lucky. The Methodist Minister, father of my best friend at the time, taught me the real facts of life and saved me from myself. I was saved again when I reached out in a secret phone call to a friend and got him to admit to me that I was not worthless and beyond redemption… even though I never revealed to him what happened to me, or why he needed to tell me not to kill myself. And it probably even helped that the high school guidance counselor spent an awkward afternoon with me trying to understand how I could be so terrified of something I didn’t even remember and couldn’t tell him about.

My experiences from that traumatic event and tragic time in my life led me to become a school teacher before I tried to become a writer. It led me to want to help others, especially those like me who have been forced to spend time in the existential darkness.

And along the way I did help some kids overcome things that were similar to my own dark woes. But, then too, there were ones I tried to help that didn’t make it.

Ruben joined a gang in San Antonio and died in the crash of a stolen pickup truck.

J.J. got drunk and drove his truck in front of a train at a local railroad crossing.

And I wouldn’t have survived either of those things without help. Sometimes life is more fragile than we realize… or know how to cope with.

But I have also spent hours upon hours sitting with kids in emergency rooms for suicidal ideation on three different occasions. And I have visited kids in two different behavioral hospitals more times than I can keep track of. And the number of times I have actually helped someone dear to me survive a suicidal episode is a number I have no way of accurately counting up. They don’t always tell you what you have done for them after the fact. But, then again, sometimes they do.

And now my work in progress is a book about having the blues so bad… Well, the scene I wrote last night made me weep for twenty minutes. About the same amount of time I cried over this essay. If you read the whole thing, congratulations. You are very brave and a decent human being, and I am sorry for whatever bad feelings I may have caused with my words.

In case you need it, no matter for who…

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, novel writing

He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 3

Beethoven – Sonata No.1 in F Minor, Op.2 No.1 

Getting to school and back by bus every day was tough.  Especially when you are feeling rather down and blue.  Now that she was a senior in high school, she no longer had Danny Murphy to sit with on the bus.  Mary Phillips and Pidney Breslow had graduated four years ago and were in college now, soon to graduate from Iowa State University.  Danny had graduated from high school last year, and had told her during that summer that he and Carla Bates would be getting married in the near future.  Well, maybe not as near as anticipated since they still hadn’t picked a date.  But no more Danny on the bus to tell her jokes or drive her home from Belle City High in that incredibly old 1950s car he inherited from his Grampy.

She sat alone in the far back of the bus now.  Every day.  The bus ride to Norwall seemed endless, even though it was only ten miles as the crow flies… a really slow crow named Joe with half of his tail feathers missing.  But on this day, Dilsey Murphy, Danny’s younger sister, moved to the back as soon as she got on the bus.  She was wearing that old purple Carl Eller jersey, number 81 from the Minnesota Vikings of the 70s.

“Um, Valerie… do you mind if I sit with you on the way home today?”

“I may be kinda grumpy company.  But sure.”

Maybe the younger girl could lighten the mood for her.  But, then again… probably not.

Dilsey had straight black hair which she sometimes wore with a barrette on the right side of her bangs because her mother’s fashion sense reeked of the 1960s.  Otherwise, ignoring the hair and the barrette, Dilsey was dressed like a boy.  Vikings’ jersey, denim pants, and boys’ sneakers.

“Um, Val, I have a favor to ask.”

Oh, boy.  Here it comes.  The real reason.

“Please don’t be mad at me, but…”

“It’s all right.  I promise not to bite… at least, not very hard.”

“Yeah, um… you know Mrs. Patricia Zeffer?”

“Ray’s mom.  Of course, I know her.”

“Well, I normally babysit for her on Saturdays when she needs to go out.  But this week I can’t…”

“Mrs. Zeffer has a kid that needs babysitting services?  She has a kid that young?”

“Well, yes… it’s her grandson, actually.”

“Oh, of course.  But why is little Troy living with her now?”

“Uh, well…  You know that family has a bit of trouble since…”

“Since Ray disappeared six years ago.”

“Yeah.  I’m sorry.  I wouldn’t be asking, but…  I have a date on Saturday.”

“You do?  But you’re only…”

“Almost sixteen, and a sophomore in high school.”

“Sure.  I wasn’t trying to insult you or anything, but your mother…”

“Trusts me more than she ever did Danny.”

“Of course, she does.”

“Aren’t you going to ask who the date is with?”

She didn’t really, exactly… well, care.  But…

“So, who?”


“No!  You have gotta be kidding me!  Tim the Terror?  Dim Tim?  Rim-tin-Tim?  The stinkilicious leader of the Norwall Pirates?”

Dilsey giggled awkwardly.  “I’ll have to remember those names.  They may prove very useful.”

“Why would an otherwise, very pretty girl waste her time with Tiny Terrible Tim?  He’s my cousin, and one of the grossest human beans in all of Iowa.  In fact… all of the Midwest.”

“You know he is a good person at heart.  He’s only an   icky boy on the outside.  Inside he’s…”

“Only icky ninety-nine percent of the time.  I do know my own cousin.”

Dilsey laughed a little more easily this time.  Of course, Val wasn’t entirely sure she was joking.  The brat could really get on your nerves sometimes.

“But… you don’t really think that…”

“That you shouldn’t be dating him?  The girl who once told him that he was the worst, most two-faced person she ever met?”

Dilsey’s face was suddenly crestfallen.  She looked like her whole positive little self was being crushed and was about to crumble into a weepy pile.

“You think it’s a mistake if I think I might be falling in love with him?”

“A boy who is a year younger than you are?  One who is way less mature than you are?  Way meaner too?”

Tears were forming in Dilsey’s dark eyes.  Valerie had gone too far.  Who was the meaner cousin now?

“I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said any of that.  I have been feeling outa sorts and kinda depressed for a while now.  I didn’t mean to take it out on you or Tim either.  Forgive me?”

“You’ll take the babysitting job for me?”

“Of course.  Little Troy Zeffer?  He’s such a little cutie.”

“Do you really think it’s something a normal human being would do to like Tim and go see a movie with him?  He wants to watch Mrs. Doubtfire with me.”

“With Robin Williams in it?”

“Yeah.  The Murphy family wants to see it together too, so, if I go with Tim, I’ll be watching it twice, probably in the same weekend.”

Val chuckled softly.  “That sounds good.  You make sure you tell Tim I am taking this sitting job for you to be able to go with him, so he owes me.  And if he tries to sneak-kiss you, hit him in the nose really hard.”

Dilsey laughed.  Val knew she intimidated the younger girl.  Dilsey had never been a cheerleader.  Never been the leader of the Norwall Pirates.  And never lost a boyfriend before.  And Val envied her those things.

“Valerie?  Do you need to be alone in this back seat every day on the bus ride home?”

“Are you offering to sit with me regularly?”

“Yes.  Especially now that Tim is on the basketball team and has practice every afternoon.”

That was right.  Now that Valerie had given up cheerleading, there was no longer any reason to stay in Belle City after school, and no reason to ride the late bus.

“I had thought I wanted to sit alone this year, without Danny here to entertain me.  But I think sitting with his sister will be just about the perfect thing to take the place of that.”

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Filed under battling depression, humor, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney