I finished a novel over the weekend. It was one of those novels that you have to write before you die because anything short of finishing it would leave your whole life incomplete.
So, now that it is finished, I can go ahead and die, right?
Well, of course, it is not as simple as that. I created a cover for it. But it is not proofread and formatted and I have to give it time to cool down, being fresh out of the oven, before I read it over again, make adjustments, and publish it. And I have two other novel drafts that haven’t yet reached the published state of being. So, I better put off dying for just a bit. Any clown can tell you that giving birth to a novel that you have been composing for 4o years and writing down for six months takes a lot out of you. And you have to stop and take a breath. At least one. Before you forge ahead with the next one. I do have Recipes for Gingerbread Children already formatted and I am working through the final edit. I am still in poor health yet and could drop dead at any moment. My computer is all funky from some sort of virus, hopefully not computer flu… or computer black death. So, I am still in a mad rush to beat an unknown deadline beyond which I am really dead.
I don’t have the luxury of dying yet.
I have to deal with the death of another beloved character, I can’t seem to write a comedy adventure novel without killing somebody at the end of it. Shakespearian comedies all end in marriages, and it is the tragedies that end in mass deaths. But like any clown, I have most things backward in my life. You learn that as a teacher in public schools, you really are just another form of professional fool pursuing your profession foolishly. That is kinda what life is for. And it doesn’t change when you retire and try to become a foolish writer of foolish novels to leave behind as a foolish legacy to a whole foolish world.
But, as for the question of whether there is life after writing… I really don’t know, and I am still not ready to find out.
I am still collecting sunrises. Chest pains and numbness on the left side of my neck have me fearing the worst again. I need rest. But I am still alive. And life is still worth living. And I may not be able to write much today, but I am still living and will do better when I am able. I am working on publishing The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, re-writing page 240 out of about 330. I have to last a little longer for that book. And longer still for the next one.
Please ignore the spelling mistake. You can be a genius without being able to spell it correctly.
I have been very limited for over a week in the amount of time I have to spend on writing and blog posting. The start of a new novel has been delayed. My posts have been short… and hopefully also sweet. I have relied some on re-blogging old posts. Depression is a demanding illness. It requires the sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of energy, and even the sacrifice of self. It can go so far as to demand the sacrifice of a human life. And it can require you to offer up those things even when you are not the one depressed yourself. Though I must admit, my health and mood have suffered through hospital visits, business arrangements made without money to spend, only mortifying promises of doing whatever you can. And then doing those things. And at the same time I have earned zero dollars from Uber.
Ghosts from the past, long dead emotions, and ancient regrets all arise from crypts you have been keeping them in to remind you that you are mortal after all and subject to the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to. And you must become a ghost-buster. How do you do it? How do you defeat the phantoms of past deeds and devilments?
Dr. Pinkenstein and Pinkenstein’s Monster Mickenstein
Of course, Science can help. You need professional help from a real psychiatrist, especially if you can find a good one. The doctor we found is one who saved our family from darkness once before. This time a mood drug called Lexipro and vitamin D supplements helped. Before it was too much cortisol, the stress chemical, and lack of serotonin that threw things out of balance. Better life through proper medication is actually a thing.
And a sense of humor doesn’t hurt. Dr. Pinkenstein was not our psychiatrist. But if he makes us laugh about things… well, laughter really is good medicine.
And I have sailed these waters and fought these devils before. My little boat was easier to navigate this time because I had a map through the labyrinth that I drew for myself before. Experience and the wisdom to learn from it is seriously a super power.
Up, up, and away, me! We have come out of the darkness again, and it is time to get our lives back on track.
I am desperately trying to recover financially after being sued by Bank of America, forced into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and being hospitalized in November with heart troubles. This Spring has found us repeatedly beset by illness as a family. I mean, I have known for some time that the Grim Reaper has my address penned into his address book. He knows where everybody lives. At least those of us who are alive.
But the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse, the one with the scales, who decides who deserves what and how much we get and how much we forfeit, has also taken notice and recommended that the Fourth Horseman sow a little pestilence in our garden. I am ill again, for three days now, and my daughter is working on day two, the third illness since being diagnosed with the flu in January.
No one here is asking to live forever, but you would think horsemen could be a little more sympathetic and not layer on quite so thick a layer of never-ending disease. And yet, I am reminded that I do plan to look at the benefits of the worst things that happen to me in life, and what good things they lead to. I have been ill enough in my life to become quite good at it. Arthritis has slowed me, but not stopped me. I still get around quite speedily, even though I often require a cane to do it. I am still not on insulin for my diabetes because of my diet and exercise efforts. I have learned how to cope with illness and keep going in spite of it.
Now I hope to transfer some of my illness-battling skills to my daughter so we might have at least some hope of her graduating high school in two more years.
I am in the middle of a family health meltdown. In this time when the yearly flu epidemic is turning deadly, my two kids living at home and still in high school are both home sick. And I am finding it difficult to pay for illnesses. My recent trip to the hospital for a faux heart attack has left me staring down an incoming tidal wave of doctor and hospital bills. I have been paying more for health insurance than ever before. The lovely caring government has been mucking about with health care issues to the point that, even though I am paying thousands of dollars more per year for health insurance than I did ten years ago, I have huge medical bills that, due to higher deductables, leave more for me to pay as my portion than ever before. I am paying twice as much for a three day stay in the hospital than I did five years ago when I had pneumonia, and was hospitalized for five days. The Princess’s doctor visit yesterday cost me $77 dollars. Number two son goes to the doctor this afternoon, and I have to hope it won’t cost more than that, because I am running out of Uber money for the month.
Gone are the days when I could afford to be sick. Now, bankrupt and with no credit left to my name, I am going further into the dark lake of debt, hoping for the mercy of lawyers and credit collection agencies. They may as well grind my bones to make their bread. I have little else to give them.
If this sounds like a complaint rather than the humor I usually shoot for, well, that’s because that’s what it is. I am sick and tired of always being sick and tired. But I have to do my part to help the American economy. It is really booming right now. Probably because people like me are investing so much in health care, right before we die because we can’t afford to pay for the medicine the doctor prescribes.
My thanks go out to the ghost of Norman Rockwell for providing the illustrations for this post. The pictures make me long for the good old days when doctors actually cared, and weren’t just making lots of money. Of course, it isn’t the doctors who are making most of the money off piratical health-insurance schemes. Whoever those people are, we never actually see their faces, and the voices we argue with over the insurance help lines are just their employees. Anyway, I am not myself sick yet. That probably comes later. So I will hunker down and burrow my way through a potentially terrible week.