Oct 28

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Life’s a bitch, and then …

Well, you already know the rest of that proverb. This has been the worst relapse I’ve had in a couple of years. I guess I’m coming out of it now, though. I’m getting my sense of humor back, so I must be getting better.

It’s amazing to me how many people just don’t get it. Maybe you just can’t understand if you haven’t been there. The depression that I have is not just a “bad day”, “down in the dumps” or the “blues”. This is a serious clinical disorder known as Major Depressive Disorder with diagnostic criteria defined in DSM-IV-TR (page 369, if you’re interested). I can’t just “get over it” or “cheer up”. If I could do that just by force of will, I wouldn’t have spent the last 6 weeks just putting one foot in front of the other and just trying to get through the day. Trust me, that is not fun at all.

I know they mean well, but it doesn’t help. When I’m having a Major Depressive Episode, my brain does not work right. It’s not a matter of just being sad or feeling bad. My mind looks over my life’s balance sheet, and all it can see is red ink. The only reason I don’t give up and give in to the voice that tells me it’s just worth the pain is that I don’t trust my brain anymore. It has tried to kill me too many times.

Oh well, enough with the bitching and moaning for now. Yesterday, I was looking at some back issues of Vision for inspiration and noticed that one issue was missing. I e-mailed Zette to let her know so she could fix the link.

Well! Little did I know that my e-mail set off fire alarms and air raid sirens around the Gifford household. It turns out the site was fundamentally screwed in strange and terrible ways. It’s feeling much better now, though. Sorry, Zette! I know you really didn’t need that.

I’ve been concentrating on therapeutic writing lately, trying to sort out some of this mental sewage overflow. I’m trying to sneak up on my novel. Maybe this weekend things won’t be so crazy …

I went to my 30th high school reunion this past Saturday. 30 years! Damn, I’m old! The really disgusting thing is that one of the girls in my class was there, and she doesn’t look a day over 25. Some people got it and some people don’t, I guess. Apparently, I don’t.

That’s enough for one day. We’ll see what tomorrow brings …

Oct 16

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Well, this has certainly been the week from Hell!

Last Sunday was my mother’s 75th birthday. She’s not doing well at all. She can barely sit up anymore and is alert opnly infrequently. In the last 10 years, she has had a sextuple cardiac bypass, an arterial graft to repair an aortal aneurysm, and 3 strokes that we know of. There may have some other minor ones that we just didn’t notice. She now has the limited use of one arm. She’s no longer eating solid food. She is functionally blind and partially deaf. This is what diabetes does to you. This is me in 30 years. I only hope that the first heart attack or stroke kills me immediately, so I don’t have to just hang on like this. It’s a nightmare for her and a nightmare for us.

Then things got worse.

Sunday night, my mother-in-law died. She was 88 and had Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t know of anything worse than that. We have watched her die a small piece at a time for almost 20 years. For the last 5 years or so, she has been completely irrational and delusional. She didn’t know anybody and was completely uncooperative. Alzheimer’s is a total horror for all concerned. Please make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association when you can.

It’s a relief that she’s finally at rest, but it’s still hard on her children. I learned a lot about how different people react to death and grief, and the insanity that often follows. It has not been fun.

That was all bad enough, but it still wasn’t over.

We had Beebie’s funeral on Wednesday, after the requisite pushing and shoving and name-calling, etc., among her children. Just before we left for the funeral home, we got word that my wife’s Aunt Mary, Beebie’s brother’s wife, had had a massive stroke and was not expected to live. She died later that day.

I feel like I have undergone the bastinado, body and soul.

Hoping for better days ahead.

Oct 07

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Do I dare disturb the Universe?

The eternal question. The question every writer must face and answer at some point. The question that confronts me every time I sit down to write. Do I dare? Do I dare to eat a peach? Or should I “wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach”? Should I listen to the mermaids singing and know that they will never sing for me? That thought is a sadness beyond my ability to fathom or to cope.

And yet the question remains. Who am I to hope or dream that my words will have any impact on the larger world? Should I even try? After all, those who stick their necks out have a bad track record of getting their heads chopped off. Do I dare?

Fear of failure is not an issue. I am familiar with failure. We have become intimate over the years. I don’t like it. Not at all. But failure is familiar territory. No, not failure. What I fear most is success.

“Fear success? Good God, boy! Are yoiu crazy?”

Well the crazy part is another story for another time, but the fear of success is real. I know I can succeed as a writer. I am a good writer and getting better all the time. I have the skill, I have the talent, I know that the stories I have to tell are meaningful. All I have to do to succeed is to keep plugging away. I will eventually be noticed, “discovered”, if you will. And that scares the Hell out of me.

There are other forces at work. Dark and powerful forces. My therapist has finally led me to understand that I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That, again, is a long story for another timne. Let’s just say that I have been in the grip of PTSD since I was 4 years old. 43 years.

One of the major effects of PTSD, and one of the diagnostic symptoms, is the compulsion to withdraw from thge world. Keep your head down. Stay under cover. The monsters are real, and if they see you, they’ll get you. That’s me. I have known for several years about my self-sabotaging behavior. Now I know why. The middle-aged me knows what’s going on and wants to change it, but way down deep inside there is this 4-year-old me that is in pain, bleeding to death (not really, but to a four-year-old…), and shrieking his fear to an apparently uncaring world. That’s awful hard to fight.

Do I dare disturb the Universe? Yes, I dare. Can I overcome my fear and actually do it? That story does not yet have an ending.

My dose of the bizarre for the day:

A telemarketer left an automated message on my answering machine wanting me to buy a casket and burial plot. My mind, being of a bizarre bent itself, immediately started What-iffing on this development. The one I like best so far is “What if a burial plot salesperson found out that all the people who bought a plot wound up inhabiting it within a month? It’s probably been done before, so I’ll have to put a wild twist on it somehow.

Today’s rejection:

Georgia Review shot down “Real Monsters”. I did get a very nicely impersonal yellow slip of paper for my efforts. That gewts me up to 6 points in the Great Rejection Slip Contest over at Forward Motion (4 rejections at 1 point each, 1 acceptance at 2 points). My goal is to hit double digits by year end. Since I still have 5 stories in circulation, I should make that easily either way.

Oct 06

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Will Peterson go Scott free?

That has to be the most feeble attempt at a prosecution I have ever seen. They managed to prove that he is a liar, an adulterer, and an all-around scum-bag. Unfotunately, they presented no evidence at all that he actually killed his wife, which is the crime he’s on trial for.

Lying is a criminal offense under some circumstances, and he did lie to the police. That should be worth a whack on the knuckles. Adultery is considered a crime in some parts of the country. Here in the enlightened State of Georgia, the bastion of common sense, reason, and justice for all who can pay, adultery is only considered a misdemeanor (see O.C.G.A. 16-6-19 for details). I suspect it’s a non-issue in California. Finally, being a scum-bag is most unfortunately not a crime at all, though I think it should be a capital offense (think of it as evolution in action).

However, in the American system of justice, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that the accused did actuall commit the crime that he is charged with. Did Scott Peterson murder his wife Laci? I think he did. Can he be convicted on the evidence presented? I could not convict him if I were on the jury. Even if this jury convicts him, I expect to see it thrown out on appeal. Bottom line: he gets away with murder. Damn shame.