Six months since I updated this site? Whatever is wrong with me! So now it’s February 9th, 2020. My weather app shows that at this moment, 3:15 pm, it’s “Cold, dark, overcast, and super lame.” Oh, and 35°. Each day around this time, one of my camera apps sends me an encouraging message that it’s time to go outside and take a picture.
As if I’m going to put on my coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and boots just so I can make some stupid app happy. It’s so much easier to turn off notifications from that pesky bugger.
Our house is heated with steam heat via radiators, and that means it’s very dry inside. I know the old trick of putting bowls full or water on top or the radiators to increase the humidity, but then the windows (1) fog up with condensation and then (20) freeze over at night. Then on top of everything else, my room is the warmest room in the house—so much so that even in the winter I leave my window open a couple of inches so I don’t roast.
Wintertime Blues, SAD, and Chronic Depression
I’m dealing with all three. So far I’m handling it quite well, but there are occasional days when one or more of them get to me. Interestingly, the worst days are the ones that all but force me to my writing desk. They’re the days when writing ceases to be an activity and instead becomes a necessity, and urgency, a need. And so in order to keep my sanity, I obey.
That’s why I’m writing this entry. Well, that and my guilt about not having done sooner. And you know what? It works! I’m smiling, and the fact that we’ve been inundated by a snowstorm doesn’t bother me.
For the first time in days I’ve accomplished something other than doing laundry, shopping for groceries, and cleaning the bathroom.
And I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow, knowing that this mood will hold at least until then, and I know that I’ll be writing here again tomorrow as well—even if its just to prove to myself that I can do it!
Donald Trump, in his eternal ass-licking of the fascist Evangelical Christian movement, seeks to deny my existence. Not content with stripping minorities of their civil rights, he is now attempting to define me out of existence.
What next? Is he going to round us up and put us in ghettoes, as the Nazis did in the 1930s and ‘40s? Or maybe the same detention facilities concentration camps he’s using to house immigrant children?
People have been saying for years that “it can’t happen here.” But it is happening here, and has been, ever since the Great Pumpkin (aka Trumplethinskin) and his cronies stole the election with the help of Russia.
Trump wasn’t elected: he was Putin office.
Who’s next? Atheists? Gays and lesbians? Minority races? And even “minority races” is a joke, since collectively they outnumber the so-called White majority.
I’m so angry right now that I have to save this as a draft and walk away until I can think more clearly.
The news keeps getting worse. With the Rethuglican party firmly in control of the Senate, it’s probably going to sanction these new policies. And since they’ve managed to stack the deck in their favor on the Supreme Court, any legal challenges to these unconstitutional policies will also be denied, even the the Constitution plainly states in Article 14:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I’m pretty sure that denying people their civil rights by executive dictatorial decree does not constitute “due process,” but I could be wrong. After all, I’m no lawyer: my parents preferred that I pursue an honest career instead.
But it Ain’t Over ‘til it’s Over
As a wise man once said. Perhaps this latest indignity will wake up the sleeping masses and fire them with sufficient zeal to overturn this dictatorship.
But I doubt it. Most likely they’ll just go back to Netflix & Chill.
This is going to piss off a lot of readers, but I don’t care. The people it will piss off are the ones who have already pissed me off by their uneducated, ignorant claim in the first place.
The first thing I’m going to say that will piss them off is this:
If you have never been plagued by depression, or never watched a loved one crippled by this disease, kindly shut the fuck up.
I can’t state this enough. You have no business pontificating on a subject about which you know nothing. And by making your statement, all I hear is, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m going to give you my opinion anyway, because I know more about it than you do.”
I hate to burst your bubble, but here’s an uncomfortable truth: People with depression don’t want to die!
People with depression don’t want to die!
Here’s the thing: on both occasions I tried suicide, it wasn’t because I wanted to die; I simply wanted the pain to stop. I was in a place where I could no longer think rationally. After all, do you really think that if I could see any other solution I wouldn’t have chosen it instead?
And that, dear friends and critics, is the difference between my depression and your “sanity:” the inability to think clearly and rationally. Did I really want to die? Did I consider how my death would affect my family? My friends?
Of course I didn’t: I was so overwhelmed by my depression and its pain and agony that I was incapable of any thought at all, much less rational thought.
Was I a coward? Or was I in a state where suicide was my only rational choice?
Do you see the contradiction here? That I was in such pain that I was incapable of clear, rational thought that to me, suicide seemed to be the only rational solution.
Unless you’ve been there, you won’t understand. And being there, you don’t see any other solution. Which is why depression can so often be a fatal disease.
So before you call suicide “Cowardly,” or “The easy way out,” or any other stupid thing, stop and think: what would you do if you saw no other way out of a soul-deadening, horrifying life of agony, with no hope of improvement?
One more thing: there’s a reason J. K. Rowling modeled the Dementors on her own depression.
“I would like to remind
that the drinks are watered
and the hat-check girl
and the band is composed
of former ss monsters.
However since it is
new year’s eve
and i have lip cancer
i will place my
paper hat on my
concussion and dance.”
The title of this entry is a quote from T. S. Eliot, Ol’ Possum himself. For a poet, he seemed to be very much in tune with the principles of Eastern mysticism, or quantum physics, the modern science which seems to be a scientific way of proving its tenets.
“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.”
What I find the most interesting about my own writing is that no matter how much I plan, or how many outlines I create, when I actually sit down and start to write, the writing itself takes over and controls me.
I first noticed this when I took a class entitled “Selected Masterpieces of American Literature at university. Most of us who took the class knew from the previous semester that what we were going to be doing was reading and studying on William Faulkner novel a week. One newcomer, who hadn’t been in on “the secret,” complained to the professor that the course title was rather deceptive. “Well, he replied, “these books are classics of American literature, and I selected them, so I don’t see the problem.”
For our final paper we had a choice: write a scholarly paper related to Faulkner or his works, or write a short story emulating his style.
I chose the former.
But when I finally printed out the results, I realized that once again the mule had taken the lead and wandered down dusty backroads, past corn and cotton fields, and somehow ended up in Faulkner’s backyard in Oxford, Mississippi.
It’s the same with this post: I was going to recap the past year of my life, and maybe compare it with what I hoped the coming year would be like. But there’s this mule, see….
I’d Like To Close the Year With a Ray of Hope
And once again, to do that, I’m going to quote William Faulkner. This time, it is the text of his acceptance speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950:
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.