Category Archives: self pity

So, What’s Wrong With Mickey Now?

I know you read the title and immediately thought, “Oh no! Not another self-reflection post where maudlin Mickey complains about what he thinks is wrong with himself and is usually eerily right on the money, although it is strange and bizarre and will probably never be corrected.”

But it is what successful authors do. I have seen Stephen King reflecting on his own career and writing process. I have seen Seinfield complain endlessly about every little thing that happens around or to him. And so, I plan to do it too. Though I probably will do it wrong and be terrible at it, so it will work the same way as my terrible poetry, making great poets better by comparison.

That which is pretty bad about me now includes the fact that my productivity has really fallen off. In the last decade, from 2012 to 2022, I have written and published 21 books. I have written this daily blog almost every day, and I have drawn, colored, or painted more pictures of various kinds than I could possibly ever keep track of.

But my storytelling has slowed in a molasses of forgetfulness, confusion, and lost thoughts. My drawing has slowed by arthritis pains in my fingers and hands. And if I can claim that less output is made up for by distilled and concentrated power, maybe I can pull out of the triple-bummer tailspin I’m in. But I am also pressed to prove that the concentrated stuff is actually better.

My following on WordPress is dropping as more and more I reveal the real me in these goofy little essays. I am being followed more and more by nudists. But the more nudists follow me, the more normal people who wrongly believe nudists aren’t normal people will unfollow me and swear off following any more Mickey-like nudists. And the irony is that less and less, because of health conditions, can I be actually naked. But more and more I am being emotionally, spiritually, and candidly naked. Naked in my beliefs. Naked in my soul. More and more leads to less and less which become more and more again. Maybe my followers on WordPress will do that too. I am linked to and followed by the AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) and https://histonudismo.wordpress.com/. I seem to be making more sales of my nudist stories thanks to Twitter nudists who gleefully share everything they like about nudism.

And I have been really having a time about being the unluckiest human being that somehow managed to survive every dark turn in 66 years of life on earth.

The car that I was hoping would be the last one that I would ever need was destroyed by a Dallas pothole. Its replacement is giving me a hefty car payment I was hoping to never have to pay again. My wife’s bedroom ceiling collapsed on her bed. The plumbing in our house is seriously malfunctioning and beyond my pocketbook to repair. As is the bedroom ceiling. So, the luck part of my personal mojo is up to its lifelong bad old tricks.

But the baseball Cardinals have won their division this year. And Aaron Judge hit 62 homers in the American League this season. It ain’t all bad.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait

Tricks With Lazy Goals in Mind

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As a writer, my goal is to create wisdom and new ideas and stuff that makes a reader feel happy, or sad, or angry, or even slightly insane.  But thinking is hard when your head hurts and your body aches and your sixty-sixth birthday is just around the corner.  (Yes, this Mickey is nearly 66, but can you believe that that other Mickey is going to be 94 on the day after I turn 66?)  Sometimes you just want to say, “Never mind that I wanted to post every single day for the past two years.  Just curl up in a ball and go to sleep.”  But there are ways to get something done even if your mind is full of the Sandman’s leavings and old, rotted dreams.

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You can always get by with posting somebody else’s wisdom… somebody else’s thinking.  You don’t have to work too hard to paste things together.  After all, why else did you have to look at so many cut-and-paste essays over the years in middle school and high school?

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And you can rely on the work you have already done collecting computer files full of colorful crap and stuff you like enough to steal to complete your cut-and-paste scrapbook post.  You don’t have to feel like you erred and are about to have your head cut off by an angry Groo.

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And you know you can get a lot of cheap likes on Facebook with some of the stuff you have available to put in this post.  You have been working at the “Be funny!” thing for a long time and have gotten almost good enough at it to be funny on the fly.  And when you’ve gotten more than halfway to the goal, you can rest a bit.  Take a nap.  Regenerate the crazy things in your head so you can do this all again another day.

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And if you can have a laugh before you are finished, even if no one else in the world gets the joke… well, at least you will feel a little bit better yourself.

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Filed under battling depression, blog posting, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, healing, humor, illness, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

The Diminishing Man

We get smaller as we age. Both physically and mentally and in terms of property…. smaller is what we get.

The car problem was solved by buying a new car (a new used car.) I bought a 2015 Ford Focus that I am quite happy with in spite of the fact that I will have to pay for it for 72 months and may well have to give up driving for medical reasons well before that.

But then the car problem got significantly complicated when the insurance company, instead of totaling the car that hit the pothole and giving me the current value of it less the deductible, decided to okay the repair of the transmission, in spite of the fact that the total cost couldn’t have been more than a few dollars less than the total value of the car. So, I will pay $800 to get back a beat-up car that I no longer want or need.

As a writer, I am also diminishing in my ability to produce output on my laptop keyboard. My mind is still churning out story ideas and daily progressions, but my fingers, arthritic and covered with numerous band-aids, can’t seem to control the typing anymore. Just typing this paragraph forced me to correct letters that seemingly for no reason appear in the wrong space, even in the wrong sentence, paragraph, and wrong page. How does that work? Muscle twitches? Not remembering where the proper letter goes? Or possibly the curser is simply wandering for no reason, highlighting and deleting things at random.

Just as the fairies I have been obsessively telling stories about lately have diminished from human-sized in the Middle Ages to three inches tall today, so too have I become much smaller as a storyteller than I was when I was teaching. I used to have 6 captive audiences 5 days a week. Now I have had 28 pages read on Kindle in the last week, and only made $2.25 in the last month as a writer. Definitely not challenging James Patterson for space on the Walmart bestseller display.

So, I am tiny now. Less well known than I was as a school teacher. Less wealthy than I was two weeks ago. And, if you measured me with a yardstick, probably shorter than I used to be too. Only three inches tall before you know it. And not even any magic to overcome my disadvantages with.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, commentary, humor, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait, writing

Fritterday

If you are old, forgetful, and retired like Mickey, you may have the same problem Mickey does with remembering what day it is. But he has a solution. At the end of the week, he simply has two Fritterdays. They take the “Fri” from Friday, and the “turday” out of Saturday…. But wait just a gol’ danged minute. We have to get the “turd’ out of there because nobody likes those. And we do that by changing the “u” to an “e” which means we also add a “t” to it to change the long “I” sound to a short “I” sound because “fritter” can mean wasting something, especially time, because that’s what you do when you don’t even know what-the-heck day it is. Fritterday! Fun times for the hopelessly forgetful.

And it is fun to be retired and not have anything to do… but put eye drops in each eye three times a day from three different colored-coded bottles so you don’t go blind from glaucoma… and pick up the package for the Princess at the Post Office because the doorbell is broken and nobody hears the package-delivery guy when he knocks… and go to CVS for more bottles of eye drops because they finally filled the prescription three days after the doctor phoned it in… and the Medicare paperwork needs to be filled in at the pharmacy… and you get 4 free Covid 19 test kits just because you are old… and… phooey! It is hard to make a run-on sentence like that fun. And the grammar-check program hates it in a mixture of blue and red squiggly underlines.

But you found things you didn’t even know you had lost, like paper doll clothes that had fallen off the paper dolls because the little white foldable tabs don’t stay folded and need to be given a little dab of glue. And the rubber bands you use for your ponytail because haircuts give you psoriasis sores and you don’t cut your hair anymore because of them, but they are all back in the same sack again because you found them scattered on the floor while you were cleaning in order to find the lost package-claim slip that you mislaid… apparently under the bed… the one you needed to claim the Princess’s package which contained… a white stuffed tiger toy all the way from a game company in Japan… because it matched the stuffed tigers she had as a child and she won it by playing an online game. Boy, howdy! Another sentence or two the grammar checker hates!

Annette Funicello from the cutout paper doll on the back of a 1960’s Cheerios box looks good in the cowboy getup… err… cowgirl getup you found under the corner of the bookcase. You have liked her since you were a boy. You once had a yearning to see a picture of her naked, but that never panned out. She was a Disney star and not allowed to even think bad thoughts, let alone pose for any nude photos. She was in the Mickey Mouse Club, not the Playboy Magazine Bunny Club. Darn it!

But the mind still works, and you’re still not blind, and you enjoy enraging the grammar-check program, and you cleaned your room without meaning to. You even wrote most of this messy blog post in second-person point-of-view without realizing you were doing it.

Hang-dang! A Fritterday! And there’s probably another one coming tomorrow.

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Filed under autobiography, cleaning genii, commentary, doll collecting, humor, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, satire, self pity, self portrait

Something Creative Goes Here

Not Alone

Sometimes the creative brain gets a little too hot and needs time to cool.  That means I need a meaningless filler post to maintain my every-day posting.  So, I give you a picture of Mike Murphy carrying his girlfriend, Blueberry Bates’ books home from the bus stop on a country road in Iowa.  And, of course, they happen to meet an alien named George Jetson, whose father named him after a character on his favorite Earther TV show from the 60’s.  It is a strange thing to have your brain over-heat from too many creative neurons firing at the same time.  But it can lead to notions of intergalactic peace and cultural exchange… or racist comments like, “Tellerons have heads that look like giant boogers!”  But I should be able think more rationally tomorrow.  I hope that turns out to be a good thing.

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Filed under aliens, artwork, blog posting, conspiracy theory, goofiness, Paffooney, self pity

Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

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Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, pen and ink, self pity, teaching, Uncategorized

424 Days in a Row and Counting…

Days like today make me wonder about how long I can keep going. It has been so many years since I last had a day in which I felt no arthritis pain anywhere in my whole body, that I can’t actually remember what that felt like. With my movements and activities curtailed, I spend most of my retired life now sitting on my bed with my laptop, drawing paper, and colored pencils. I have been watching Green Eggs and Ham on Netflix, the Duck Tales reboot on Disney+, and numerous history videos on YouTube. And I have been writing a novel about teen depression and trauma, and, at the same time, a novella about a Fairy named Poppensparkle being taught magic by a master wizard who is a selfish idiot.

My bankruptcy is paid off, and my taxes have been paid for more than a month. I still have to get my second booster shot of Covid vaccine, but there is nothing else on my calendar for this month.

My writing has been increasingly going harder. The Pubby review exchange continues to get worse. The reviewing of others’ works is becoming harder, while the quality of reviews I get in return continues to get worse. Others don’t even read the books, just cobbling together reviews based on the comments in other reviews.

On WordPress I lost my ability to have ads on my site. Too many nude figures. No matter how innocent they might be. That is a loss of only pennies. But I may have gotten labeled an adults-only site even though there is not even remotely a hint of pornography.

And my views have drastically dropped from a year ago when my “Nudist Notions” post blew the number up to the highest I ever got.

Book sales are driven by Pubby reviews, so those have dropped off too.

So, the best thing that I can truly say at this point is that life is good and I enjoy being alive…with the complaints I registered duly noted. And today is about self-reflection, so I followed my overall plan for one day. And I have posted something 424 days in a row.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait

The Storyteller

The doctor looked at me with a pained and worried look on his pasty white face.

“Um, okay, I don’t know how to tell you this, but…”

“Well, if you don’t know how to tell it, then maybe you should look at the notes you made one more time.”
“Yes, okay, tell about your major symptoms one more time.”

“Well, Doc, I don’t seem to be able to explain anything to anybody without using complicated metaphors, similes, or timely literary allusions.”

“That’s why you began, “It was the best of times and the worst of times?” When you visited the first time, I mean.”

“Yes, with somber Dickensian overtures to the grim details of the London streets in summer. I didn’t feel like myself, since I live in Texas.”

I grinned at him and continued in a sad voice.

“And what’s worse, when I go to sleep, I dream dreams where there is a horrifying beginning, a mysterious ramble in the middle, and I can’t wake up until I have achieved a satisfactory conclusion.”

“I see.” the doctor said.

“Yes, first I see, then I take what I saw, and use the saw with hammer and nails to build a setting. And then I stir up some doughy memories and add highly conflicted seasoning, stir vigorously, and then bake it all into a plot.” I grinned as I said that sadly.

“Did you try the medicine I gave you last time?”

“Yes, I did. I read what I already red while I was writing, and the red pills helped me spot where the plot’s crankshaft was wobbling. A minor revision with the blue pills of clarity, and then a huge dose of the green pills of proofreading. After a while the engine of theme and meaning was purring.”

“Do I detect a bit of pun infecting your system?”

“No, I took the read pill while reeding.”

“Okay, I get it. A bit of dyslexia perhaps?”

“Possibly. Or perhaps pernicious practical punnery.”

“Ooh! Let’s hope it’s not that bad. Please continue.”

“It seems I have a lot of voices in my head. They are constantly telling me things about their lives. Sometimes deeply personal things. This one voice is a young girl who reminds me distinctly of a student I had back in 1994 and 1995. She was a very strong-minded young woman who definitely got her head together around the time she was thirteen and fourteen. She may have had a slight crush on me. But she had a hard time with a number of tough hands that life had dealt her in the poker game for all the marbles. It was a sort of extended poker game with the old Devil himself. And she was losing. But with a little bit of advice from me, and a whole lot of life lessons from her to me, she learned how to beat the old Devil himself. And this time the Devil was not just in the details, but also at the poker table of Life. And he cheats. But she beat him anyway. And I found I had so many things and notes and story-parts from that, that I needed to write a book about it. And when I did, it was never enough. I had to write another and another.”

“Yes, I believe I am getting the whole picture now. By the way, that’s Valerie in the picture, isn’t it?”

“It’s supposed to be, yes.”

“I see. …But leave the saw on the table, Mickey.”

“So… so, what is the matter with me, Doc?”

“Well, I hate to break it to you like this, but you want me to be completely honest with you, don’t you?”

“Yes, just give it to me straight, Doc.”

“The bad news is, Mickey, that you are an incurable novelist. You can’t help yourself at this point. You are seriously infected with storytelling.”

“Is it fatal, Doc?”

“Probably. You will definitely have this disorder until the day you die. There is no cure. There is only editing, editors, and the joy of publishing that can help you now. You just have to take it one day at a time, one story after another, from now until the final chapter ends.”

After that, I felt better. There was no cure, but at least I knew the prognosis.

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Filed under humor, irony, metaphor, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait

The World is Gray Today

It is cloudy outside. The sky is a cool, damp gray. No rain. No snow. Just dreary and gray. The world is gray today.

We have now been in a lockdown and wearing masks for an entire year. I have lost a lot of ground. Color-blindness runs in my family on my mother’s side. Great Grandma Hinckley was completely color-blind by the time she was in her 70’s.

I myself have known I had the color-blindness problem since I was in high school and the school nurse gave me a vision test that proved it.

In the dotted circle, I could see the blue-green number 29, but I could also see the red number 5. I was told that I had a slight color-blindness on the red/green scale. Believe me, I had no idea what that meant. Still don’t. I just know I have never seen colors the way other people with normal vision do.

But now, after twelve months of lockdown, I can definitely detect the fact that I have lost some more of my color vision.

Great Grandma saw the world in black and white and gray since she was 70. That, for me, is now less than six years away.

As a cartoonist I use a lot of pen and ink. I also love black-and-white movies. Being partially colorblind, you might think that I would be okay living in a film-noire world. But I am not. It is simply not enough. I have always craved color. I particularly love to create with bright primaries, red, yellow, and blue.

I will sorely miss color when it is gone.

And I have always loved cardinals. Not only because they are bright red songbirds, like the one singing outside in our yard on this gray and slightly blustery day. But because they never fly away when the winter comes. They stay even in the snow and cold. Trouble doesn’t drive them away. I shall not give up when I lose all the colors.

I remember the world being gray when I was a boy back in the 1960’s too. TV was only black-and-white… and gray at our house. I watched the funeral parade for JFK on the black-and-white… and gray TV. And around that time the three astronauts Grissom, Chaffee, and White had a similar funeral parade… also black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.

The Viet Nam conflict on the TV news with Walter Cronkite. The riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968 with the Chicago Seven going on trial. The world was very, very gray.

But then, in the Summer of ’69, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A giant leap for mankind! And I saw that also in black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.

There was a hope of color in my life after that. And we got a color TV in the later 70s after that. And even with my partially color-blind eyes, I saw color everywhere.

And now again is a good time to anticipate color coming back into my life. I am on the waiting list for vaccination. My eldest son has a steady girlfriend living with him now. And we have a better President who actually seems to care if we live or die. Good things are over the next hill.

But still… the world is, for now… gray today.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, coloring, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, insight, Paffooney, poetry, self pity

Musings on Manic Mumbles in My Mind

The voices in my head never stop mumbling. For the past year I have been having trouble with passing out while trying to write or draw or watch TV. And yet, scenes play out vividly in the theater of my mind while I am briefly unconscious. I’ve been to the doctor about it. But there is no cure for the yammerings of an unquiet thought-mill. The word-weavers keep weaving new sentences. The cloth-cutters keep snipping out patterns and themes. And the prose-sewers keep making essays and shirts and jeans. How did my mental-breakdown voices get stuck inside a garment mill?

The mutterings this morning have been about writing success. Do I dare think any of that has my name associated with it?

Well, my blog views have been up this week. And this morning my prayers have been answered for my book Sing Sad Songs. A reviewer defended my book as a legitimate 5-star novel, and refuted the charges that my book is somehow child-pornography. I have been needing some validation that my book, the product of my darkest secrets and the affirmation of my victory over personal pain, is worthy of being seen as a good book.

And, of course, I have been thinking a lot about the talking-dog story, the one about Horatio who smokes an imaginary meerschaum pipe and talks only to Bobby Niland, and solves murders committed on chickens by the evil Dr. Rattiarty, a really evil real rat.

I have been discussing it endlessly with my dog on our walks in the park for her to take care of her pooping in public. We argue endlessly about how to make the tale believable.

She says, “The thing you don’t seem to understand is that, in real life, dogs can’t talk.”

And I say, “Then how is it that we are even arguing at the moment?”

And she answers, “It’s all because you insist on listening continually to the voices in your head.”

And there is a considerable discussion going on in the faculty lounge of my mental monkey house about the fact that for so many years I had numerous opportunities to be a practicing nudist, and I ran away from it as something I should not do… Until I grew old and weak and gave in to the desire to become a naked man amongst socially nude naturists and now I am unable to physically do it in any way but in my imagination.

“You simply lack the resolve, Michael, to take the bull by the horns and tackle it,” said the Dean of Brain Studies.

“Well, of course he can’t do that!” exclaimed the Professor of Inappropriate Thoughts. “Mickey has no Moo-Wrestling muscles to manage the kind of bull fighting you suggest. The kind where he wrestles with bull-puckie.”

“Mike is a man who can make up his own mind,” said the Associate Professor of Metaphor Mixing. “He just has to stop listening to us.”

“Can you all just SHUT UP!!!” said the Teaching Assistant of Pragmatic Prattle. “We are just a Monkey-House faculty incapable of making any sense.”

So, I am taking the Teaching Assistant’s advice now, and I am closing this essay immediately.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, mental health, metaphor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity