Category Archives: Depression

A Night at the Symphony

Last night my wife took us to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied (The Song of Lamentation).  So, you can bet we were in for a happy night just based on the title of the piece.  As you might’ve detected from the post title’s similarity to the Marx Brother’s movie A Night at the Opera, I took along my wacky mental versions of the Marx Brothers… whom I call the Snarcks Brothers.  They are Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcks. Think Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, and then my mental fartgas won’t prevent you from understanding quite as easily.

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Jaap Van Zweden, conductor of the DSO, and aspiring impersonator of Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs

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Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcs… so to speak…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love classical music and I like Mahler okay.  But his music tends to be depressing and sad.  I don’t mean merely depressing and sad, but deep down at the bottom of the canyon with hill giants tossing boulders at your head in the midst of a thunderstorm symphonic sort of depressing and sad.  It could really bum me out, so I was prepared to have Scarpigo lean over the balcony rail numerous times to shout “Booga-booga!” at the concert goers.  And the Blues lost to the Sharks in the Stanley Cup playoffs already this past week.

Fortunately the DSO often adopts the old movie theater tactic of cartoon shorts before the feature film… the same way Pixar does for Disney now.  They chose Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto as the cartoon short.  Now this is also supposed to be sad music, a single clarinet, a single harp, and a single piano… surrounded by violins, the gushing tears of every symphony orchestra.  But it is Copland, my fourth favorite composer of all time, behind only DeBussy, Motzart, and Beethoven.  As a synesthete, I can tell you that Copland’s music is always no bluer than silver, and tends to be more vermilion, rosy pink, yellow-orange and carmine red… more happy and passionate than depressing.  Then too, Cinco Snarcks whispered in my ear that since I have this Van Zweden/ Grumpy thing going on already in my head, I should look carefully at the clarinet soloist.  Yep, bald head, white hair and slight white beard and glasses… Doc!  And the pianist, bald head and big ears… Dopey!  The night would be Gustav Mahler and the Seven Dwarfs.  Zero Snarcks was thinking about squeezing off a toot or three from his little horn and maybe using light cords hanging from the ceiling for an impromptu trapeze act, but he took one look at the elegant, swan-like harpist  and fell too much in love to interrupt.

The main show, however, was everything I thought it was going to be, and worse.  They had a translator screen hung from the cords Zero wanted to go for a swing on, that took all the incomprehensible choir-crooned lyrics and translated them from German into English.  The story of Das Klagende Lied is taken from the Grimm Fairy Tale, The Bone Flute.  It tells the tale of two knightly brothers, one good and one evil, who set out to win the hand of a very self-centered but beautiful queen.  She can only be won by the finding of a special red flower that grows under a willow tree.  The knights agree to split up and search the enchanted forest for the flower.  Naturally, the good knight finds it and plucks it, putting it in the band of his hat.  And just as naturally, the good knight flops down stupidly under the willow tree to take a nap.  The evil brother finds his brother sleeping and sees the flower in his hat.  So, like any evil knight would, he kills his brother and takes the flower.

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Scarpigo’s comment on this particular story.

The evil brother then rushes off to the queen’s castle.  A minstrel wanders past the willow tree, finds a gleaming leg bone, and immediately thinks, “I have to make that into a flute!”  And when he does, the only song the flute will play is the lament about how the evil brother made meat pie out of his good brother and stole the flower.  Then, naturally enough, the flute forces the minstrel to go play at the wedding.

I’m sure you know how it goes from there.  The queen hears the bone flute’s enchanted song and flops down dead, apparently a heart-attack from shock.  And if the queen dies, then the castle has to magically fall down on the new king, the minstrel. and all the wedding guests.  A gruesome, terrible time is had by all.

So, I had a good time after all.  Scarpigo leans over to whisper to me, “That was more fun than a barrel of monkeys smoking crack, wasn’t it?”  Yes, purple, blue, blue-violet, and indigo music, and I am left depressed as hell. But when my wife asked how I liked it, I put on a happy face and said, “That’s the silliest thing I ever heard!”

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Filed under commentary, Depression, flowers, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, music, review of music

Dreariness

Today the day is seeming drear…

The dreariness is coming near…

But the time is not to fear, my dear…

It’s merely dreariness almost here.

So dry those eyes and shed no tear…

The sun comes back real soon, I hear…

And it comes no sooner with lots of beer…

For only time cures looming drear.

But as we try to spy and peer…

And see through gloomy dark so drear…

Hoping we will hear the cheer…

For darkness ending, the dark lords sneer.

And sunlight fades beneath the fear…

That now there’s only darkness near…

And gloomy faces frown and leer…

For now the dreariness is truly here.

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Filed under Depression, feeling sorry for myself, Paffooney, poem, poetry

He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 5

Debussy – Clair de Lune
 
As a senior in high school, there were a few things that Valerie had to endure that were not such a terrible thing for the other girls.  You see, the Belle City School District PTA put on a father/daughter dinner for all the senior girls every year, a tradition that went back eleven years.  In it, the girls and their fathers would be given the royal treatment in the school cafeteria with a full meal courtesy of the PTA who did the majority of the cooking, aided by the senior mothers who did the serving and the every-thing-elsing.  There would be some boring and semi-torturous entertainment from the music department, and then the dinner would culminate with the father/daughter dance.

But Valerie had no father.

Instead, she was stuck with Uncle Dash.  Yes, the eldest of Grandpa Larry’s three kids, with Aunt Jen the middle child, and Daddy Kyle the youngest.  That Uncle Dash.  The farmer in the dell.  Father to Brent and Stacy Clarke.  But he had missed Stacy’s father/daughter dinner, and Stacy had ended up running away from home, possibly away from the whole State of Iowa.  So, who would Mom ask to fill in for Daddy Kyle?  Was there ever any doubt?  The same monster who drove beloved cousin Stacy away forever because he couldn’t stand the Toad.

So, there she sat in the school cafeteria wearing the baby-blue evening dress that Mom and Aunt Jen had crafted for her with their semi-legendary sewing skills.  Uncle Dash, dressed in his best Sunday suit and tie sat next to her.

“Val, can you pass me that pepper shaker?” Uncle Dash asked, pointing at the pepper beside Charlotte Robbins’s plate.  It was ironically appropriate that the PTA wanted her to sit next to her worst enemy and the little fat man who was Charlotte’s father.

“Char?  Can I have the pepper please?”

“Oh, Val, surely you know that, on a night like tonight, everything belongs to you.”

Charlotte plunked the shaker down in front of Valerie so hard that a cloud of pepper poofed up almost in Valerie’s face.  If this were a cartoon show, Val would then be seized by a sneezing fit as the villainess laughed eerily.  But this wasn’t a cartoon show, and thankfully Val was apparently immune to cartoonish sneezing fits brought on by malevolent clouds of pepper.

“Here you go, Uncle Dash,” Val said, gingerly sitting the pepper down in front of her uncle.

“Thank you, sweetheart.  Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?”

“Only once at our house, three times in the pickup, and seven times since we’ve been here… not counting this one.”

“Oh, well… you know… you are beautiful.  Kyle would be proud.”

She briefly turned her glare on him.  But the tears in his eyes stifled that instantly.  After all, Uncle Dash had loved his little brother in that stand-offish way Iowa farmers have of doing things and feeling things that farmers are not allowed to feel and do for some stupid reason.

And she knew that Uncle Dash blamed himself for Daddy when he…  Damn!  She didn’t want Charlotte Robbins seeing any tears.  Especially not Valerie’s own tears.  Then the little witch would pity her, and the last thing she wanted from old Baldy Greenskin was actual pity.  Not from the enemy!

“Uncle Dash, I’m not feeling so well.  I have a headache.”

“Oh, honey, the dance is about to start.  I promised your mother and your Aunt Betty that I would dance at least one dance with you.  Can’t you hang on just a little longer?”

She glanced at Charlotte who was making sheep’s eyes at David McLaughin who was sitting across the table from her with his older sister Carolyn, since his father was that workaholic that owned half of McLaughin Brothers Chevrolet.

“I can try.  But it’s only going to get worse.”

He looked at her anxiously.  It obviously meant more to him than it did to her that he had that one dance.  He could probably never understand what it meant to her to be there without…

She tried to concentrate on the meal.  She nibbled a little bit more of the chicken breast in yellow gravy.  But food tasted no better than she felt on the inside.  She ended up asking Alice Pedersen’s mom to take her plate away with most of the food still on it.

And then the dance music began.  The first one… the one she had promised to Uncle Dash… was Bryan Adams’ song “All I Want is You.”  Oh, gawd.  Why did the DJ have to pick that one?  It wasn’t a dance tune that Uncle Dash could really dance to.  And the words cut into her like a knife.  After all… who was the only one she wanted on this particular night?

She dutifully let Uncle Dash drag her out onto the dance floor, the clear rectangle of space left in the middle of all the rectangular tables in the school cafeteria.  He immediately tried to get her to dance a wooden-legged waltz, the only dance he knew.  She let herself be pulled around in a slow circle.  It was like dancing with Pinocchio… if the puppet’s joints had an excessive amount of Elmer’s Glue jamming them up.

Charlotte, that witch, stood there on the dance floor staring and laughing.  At least, she did until her own manic-midget father began doing a cross between the Chicken Dance and something the Monkees probably did on stage back in the 60’s.

“Uncle Dash!  I have to go home.  My head hurts.”

“Darling, we have almost finished the song.  And I gave my word…”

“You don’t understand.  I can’t do this anymore!”

“But Princess…”

That was it.  The name her father had always called her when he was still…

Valerie fell to her knees in the middle of the dance floor.

She began to shout just as the song was ending so that everyone’s attention would be riveted on what Val was saying.

“You are not my father!  My Daddy’s dead.  I can’t take it anymore!  Take me home now!”

“Please, Valerie… don’t… not here.”

“Home, now!”

Everyone was dead silent and staring.  Even smug Charlotte now looked stunned and horrified.

“I know you blame me for not being there when… but I…”  Uncle Dash was more distressed than he had even been that night when…

“No!  I don’t blame you!  I blame me!  I didn’t see it coming!  I didn’t do anything to stop him!  And when I found him, the gun was laying right there next to his hand.  It’s my fault.”

She raised her face to the ceiling.

Tears fell everywhere.  They were all silent, watching.

Her face was the moon.

And it was a blue moon.

But hopefully there would never be another blue moon.

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Filed under Depression, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

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 2

Chopin – Etude Op. 10 No. 1 (Waterfall)

It was an evil plan, a wickedness the boys would never see coming.  But Valerie knew it was a necessary plan.  She made them go by foot.  You could reach the skinny-dipping pond by foot if you followed the tracks out south of town, past Uncle Dash’s farm and past the Sumpter Park Woods where the city of Norwall maintained a shelter house with picnic tables and a manicured lawn that led to trails into the woods and eventually to the old Sumpter log cabin, what was left of it.

There was an old ox-bow pond that once had been connected to the Iowa River, but now was a separate body of water coming out of an artesian spring that brought fresh water from the shared river water table.

“Really?  We’re going to the old Pirates’ skinny-dipping place?” Ricky Porter asked skeptically.

“It’s too late in the year for swimming, Val,” Billy Martin reminded her.  “October is too cold in Iowa.”

“You really think I would make you come this far just for a chance to see you guys naked?  Again?”

“When did you ever see me naked?” asked Billy.  At eighteen he was a rather bony and skinny youth.  And he was so painfully shy that Val had not even seen him in swimming trunks.

“Okay, well… I wasn’t referring to you.”

“I only go in if you do,” Ricky said to her.  He had dared her like that once before, though she had seen his golden-brown, muscled form and then successfully backed out of going in herself.

“We didn’t come here for that,” she answered with a frown.  “I needed to talk to you both.  I had another one of those dreams again last night.  I spent the whole night crying.”

“The angel dreams again?” Billy asked, wide-eyed.

“Michel Volant, yes.”

“You know we’re here for you, Val.  We’re your friends and fellow Pirates,” Ricky said.

“But you also know how much it hurts to talk about Francois,” Billy said, tears already forming in his eyes.

Valerie looked him squarely in the eyes.  She knew he would see exactly what she meant.

“Oh, gawd, Val, you haven’t been hurting yourself already have you?” Billy asked, his voice quavering slightly.

“Not this time.  But you know those dreams usually mean another black depression is coming on.  And you know what we have to do about it.”

“Yeah.  We promised to always tell each other if we ever had those kinds of thoughts again.”  Ricky’s eyes were tearing up again too.  Val was aware he had cut himself on the ankles more than any of them had ever done themselves self-harm.  He was the one who had spent a week in the hospital two years ago.

“Have you been thinking about hurting yourself, Val?” Billy asked.

“Maybe.  That’s why we had to talk today and not wait any longer.”

“Is it… is it Francois again?”

“Billy, we can talk about Tommy this time.  I just need to hear it again.  I just know if we don’t do something about the ones we lost…”

“…To keep them alive in our hearts, yeah,” said Ricky.

“You know I can’t tell you anything about Tommy.  I never met him.  I spent the whole blizzard down in the cellar next to the furnace while it burned propane.”  Billy looked sadly across the wind-rippled water.

“What do you want to know about Tommy?  I don’t know everything, but I knew him a few years longer than you did.”  Ricky’s eyes were glistening.

“You haven’t heard from him since the blizzard, have you?” She asked.

“You know I would tell you if I had.  Besides, he didn’t take anybody’s phone number with him.”

“He could’ve looked us up.  He knows you were taken in by Cliff Baily and his new wife.  He knows I live in town with my mother.”

“Yeah, but that’s not Tommy’s style.  He survived on the road because he always lived in the moment.  He was focused on where he was and the people he was with… in the NOW.”

“Yeah.  I remember him that way too.”

“What more do you really want to know about him, Val?”

“Why did you boys follow him all the way to Norwall?”

“Well… um, I… Yeah…”

“You can tell me.  No matter how hard it may seem, Ricky.  We’re Pirates, you and I.  You can tell me anything.”

“Are we still Norwall Pirates?” Billy asked.  “We haven’t had a club meeting in two years.  And you made your little cousin, Tim Kellogg, the new Pirate leader.”

“You did?  You didn’t tell me?”

“Oh, Ricky.  You left the Pirates before Billy and I did.  They are all younger kids now.  We’re old.  Almost adults.”

“Yeah, but… Once a Pirate, always a Pirate.”

“We’ll always be a part of it.  The club was started by my cousin Brent Clarke, and he says he’s still a Pirate.  It’s just that the Pirates belong in the control of the Norwall kids, so they learn to rely on each other, and form the team that helps us all survive the perils of the unknown.”

Ricky and Billy both smiled and laughed a little at that.  They knew it was true just as surely as Valerie did.

“We’re off topic now, Rick,” Billy said.  “You promised her to tell her why you followed Tommy here to Norwall.”

“Yeah… um… You know that most kids in the foster care system get abused one way or another…”

“Yeah, Tommy told me that too… during the blizzard.”

“We didn’t form the Fantastic Foursome just by getting on that Trailways bus together.  Terry and I met in the group home.  He had nobody to talk to him in his previous foster homes… because nobody spoke sign language.”

“Did you know sign when you met him?” Billy asked.

“Terry taught me.  He needed someone to talk to desperately.   And I learned fast.”

“Faster than you taught it to me?”

“Well, yeah…  You’re kinda a slow learner, Billy.”

“Okay, but that don’t mean I ain’t smart.”

“Of course, not,” Valerie said.

“Well, you can see what Terry’s real father did to him if you look at his burned ears.  His father was the reason he was deaf.”

“And what about Tommy and Dennis?” Val asked.

“Well, you remember Denny had those crutches.  He got that way from malnourishment.  His first fosters only had him to get the money the State paid.  They practically starved him to death.  The mom of that family went to jail for it.  Denny probably would’ve died if Brikkleputti… I mean, Mom, hadn’t followed us all the way to Norwall with the medicine Denny and I both needed.”

“Is Denny still alive, you think?”

“Sure, Val.  If Tommy’s alive, and I know he is, he wouldn’t have let anything happen to Denny.  He loved him like a little brother.”

“He loved all three of you like that.”

“Yeah, he did.  That’s why he left us here when he left for Dallas.  He took Denny with him, but he left me with Cliff and Mom to be a family like I never had before.  And the Dawes family wanted to adopt Terry too.  He left us behind for our own good.”

“But why was Tommy running away to begin with?”

“Well… the last foster family he lived with, they… beat him.  And when he finally got strong enough to fight back, the cops came and took Tommy and locked him up… not that crazy old man who beat him.”

“Yeah, Tommy told me about that too.”

“And what about you, Ricky?”  Billy asked.

“Well, I… uh… maybe I ain’t ready to talk about that just yet.”

“The Teddy Bear Killer?” Val asked.

“Yeah, don’t even say his name, please.”

“I know what you mean.  I… um… I can’t talk about Daddy Kyle, either.”

“But, Val, what did we even come here for, then?” Billy asked.

“We gotta talk about the hard things.  All three of us,” said Ricky.  “We all are hurting inside almost all of the time.”

“Yeah, and that’s why we’re here instead of trying to meet in Zoomboogadoo.  This pond is touched by magic, just like the gazebo in Zoomboogadoo.”

“No, that’s not a real place.  We didn’t actually meet Francois and his sister in dreams.  That was all just us imagining it.  And Ricky wasn’t even able to meet us in the Dreamlands… not even once.”  Billy was visibly upset.

“You are never going to convince me that Zoomboogadoo wasn’t real.  I remember it too vividly.”

“But dreams can be vivid sometimes, and still not real,” reminded Ricky.

“All right.   But this place is magic too.  I have come here more than once to talk to Clovis.  You just have to be in the right state of mind.”

“Val, there is no Clovis.  He’s just a story they tell in the Pirates’ meetings to explain the disappearance of Conrad Doble.  You said yourself, it was old Mrs. Haire that scared him away for good.  He didn’t turn into no naked kid with horns and a tail.”  It was Ricky’s turn to look visibly upset.

“Yeah, well… we need to stay ahead of the depression and the suicidal thinking.  We are not any of us ever going to hurt ourselves again.  That doesn’t cure the problems that are causing us pain.”

“You’re right, Val,” said Billy.

“Yeah, we gotta talk it all out,” said Ricky.

“Yeah.  And we’re gonna do it here, by the skinny-dipping pond.  And we’re gonna do it naked.  That’s the evil plan.”

“What?”  Both boys were upset.

“You remember how it was in Zoomboogadoo,” said Valerie, looking straight into the eyes of Billy.  “We all showed up there in our dreams with no clothes on.  Like we were born into it.  Innocent as babes.”

“That was just a dream,” Billy insisted.

“Yeah, and it wasn’t cold fall weather either, I bet,” said Ricky.

“That’s true.  But that’s what will keep us from being seen and watched by the other Pirates.  They only come here during skinny-dipping season.”

“What if we can’t do it?  Get naked here… I mean,” said Billy with a stutter.

“And what if we don’t want to do it?” Ricky added.

“Well, we’ll take it slow.  It is not because of sex or wanting to see each other naked.  It’s about being completely honest and open.  No barriers.  If we don’t help each other when the darkness returns to our brains, someone else will die.  And I can’t lose anybody else in my life.  I need to add people, not lose them.” All three of them saw the dark clouds coming on the horizon in the mind’s eye.  At least, Val was almost positive they did.  And the one advantage the Pirates had over other people who get darkly depressed and suicidal was that they had each other.  These three friends, at least, actually knew each other better than most friends ever do.  And soon they would be inside each other’s heads in ways that Valerie simply knew would help. 

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Filed under Depression, empathy, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Monster Mashing

20180321_090759

One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

20180214_091711

And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, cardinals, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, nudes, Paffooney, photos, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Monster Mashing

20180321_090759

One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

20180214_091711

And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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Murky Deepends

My mother is dying.

My sister called last night to tell me that this time, when she went into the hospital for her chronic heart problem, she would not be coming out again.

She is 87 years old, just half a year younger than when we lost her mother at 88. And at almost 65 it is not unreasonable to believe that I have to expect to lose my mother sooner rather than later. But I am still not ready to lose my mother.

See this ugly little hairy mushroom-guy? This is Murky Deepends. I started drawing him as a teenager. I needed to see him face to face… because I was a survivor of a sexual assault. I started drawing him after the phone call that kept me from killing myself.

And this picture of him that I drew today is the only picture of him that I still have. I may have drawn hundreds over the years. I drew him to tear up the picture, or burn the picture, or soak it in water and flush it down the toilet.

Murky is my depression.

And before I could use him as an illustration for this piece, I had to make sure I put a black box around him. No way can I ever let him escape again to grow and take over my life one more time. I cannot let him win.

I know he looks kind of sad and pitiful. But don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a stone cold killer. And if you look at him carefully enough, you may detect a smile on his face.

I am sad now about my mother. But it is okay to be sad. I lost my father less than a year ago. During the pandemic lockdown. I did not get to see him before he died. I did not get to attend his funeral.

My fear is that the same thing will happen now with Mom. I have no way to safely get to Iowa again. The pandemic is raging again in both Texas and Iowa with the Delta variant. My sister is the only one who can get into see her and be with her according to hospital Covid rules. (Mom does not have Covid. Only a weak and failing heart.)

And it is okay to feel sad. I have earned the right to be sad through 63 and three quarters years of love and devotion.

And Murky has no place in my sadness. Murky is depression. Not a feeling like sadness, but an absence of feeling, a numbness and incapacitation. So, I will keep him in a box or destroy him completely. I will get through this with the rest of my family, and Murky will not have any power over me.

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Filed under battling depression, Depression, Uncategorized

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

The Man with One White Eye

I might be going blind. With a year and a half to go to finish paying off my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I don’t have the money to pay off the eye specialist the ophthalmologist referred me to in order to get my glaucoma treated.

Odin traded one eye to gain wisdom.

What do you suppose I can get for two?

If you look someone in the eye, you can see revealed the light and the darkness that person carries within. You can tell if someone is thoughtful and intelligent or reckless and stupid by gauging it in their eyes.

Look at these eyes above. What do you see?

One has warm, brown eyes, looking directly at me… evaluating, pondering, imagining me.

The other has chilly blue eyes, looking past me… probably seeing only what’s in his head… not actually me.

If I go blind, I will no longer be able to see that, appreciate that, or even draw that anymore.

Of course, the power of that depends more upon the mind doing the looking then the eyes that take in the light and the details.

I have a chance to be okay on that second score, the mind behind the eyes. I have a good one that has had a lot of practice interpreting the world I see. And I have learned more than a few things that I can still teach and pass on to those I leave behind me.

Thirty-one years as a public school teacher means I have already taught a lot of things to a lot of people.

And I now have 19 books published, with two more I may be able to finish and publish before May of 2021 is through.

Those represent things that I can do to continue to teach the world even after my eyes are no longer working… or even if my light has entirely left the world in the near future. Of course, a lot depends on people reading what I wrote. Still, I feel good about that. I got a five-star review on Amazon from my book The Baby Werewolf just today. And the comments prove the reader actually read the book and liked it for its good qualities.

Wisdom, of course, has little value if it is never passed on. How much have you benefitted from the wisdom of Soren Kierkegaard? Do you even know who he is? Notice too, the students of Chiron in the picture, do not seem to be paying any attention at all to the lecture from the scroll of ancient wisdom. Heracles is practicing with his bow. Theseus is grinning to himself about wrestling. And Jason and Achilles are telling each other jokes about guys that have a horse’s butt instead of a man’s. ( Teaching, of course, is always like that.)

But the man with one white eye, one blinded eye, Odin, has earned his wisdom. And he gives it freely as a gift.

So, just think what wonderful gifts I might be able to provide by next Christmas if I lose both eyes. (Of course, I am not suggesting I am secretly Santa Claus… And if you can prove that I am, well… that puts you on the Naughty List.)

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Filed under commentary, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, wisdom