Saturday, October 20, 2012

Depression for the Optimist

I think of so many things and remember so few. 

This morning I lay in bed taking an extremely detailed mental and emotional tour of Dorothy and Pud Frazee’s house.  They were the two sisters who lived next door when I grew up.  Then, without opening my eyes, I tried to remember if the house I live in now has an upstairs.  It does not.

It may be some medication I’m taking or early onset Alzheimer’s, but more than likely it’s this damned chronic depression I live with.  Are you tired of hearing about it?  Gee, I’m sorry.

I learned somewhere in school that the trademarks of depression are hopelessness, haplessness, helplessness.  I think I’ll write my own book about depression and call it Depression for Optimists. 

Depression, I’ve found is much more than being sad.  But it’s one of those diseases that everyone and his uncle has The Ultimate Cure for.  That is, if everyone and his uncle believe it even exists.  Lots of people and their uncles still believe it is laziness or sin or a character fault or all of the above.  If they do acknowledge that depression exists, they really want you to just get over it.  Pull yourself up, think happy thoughts, get a different job, pray more or differently, blah, blah, blah.  When in reality, these same people would probably not tell the same thing to a diabetic.

Oh, I’ll talk to you and probably make you laugh.   Lots of days I’ll put one foot in front of the other.  I’ll think very happy thoughts with you.  And when you leave, I’ll go to bed and cry.  Not about anything, except maybe what a total fraud I am and the fact that I have no idea what I did yesterday or what day of the week it is now. 

People tell me I’m not depressed.  That’s always fun.  I really want to believe them.  They say, “When Uncle Theo was depressed, he yelled at everyone.  You don’t yell at everyone.”  Or “I read a book about depression and it said that depressed people don’t talk much or write or smile at all.”   I read that book, too and I treated your Uncle Theo in therapy for a year and a half. 

People ask, “Why are you depressed,” and I answer because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain.  I’m not grieving for something or someone, though it feels like that a bit.  I have absolutely no reasons to be depressed that come from the outside.  I have enough of everything.  I’m blessed beyond any human comprehension.  And so I smile.

I didn’t used to be such a fraud.  But I learned to be because I really don’t want people I love to hurt, and when I’m depressed, people I love hurt. 

So what would help?  I really don’t know.  If I knew I’d surely do it.  I reckon there are lots of people with this disease who aren’t as optimistic as I am.  They probably don’t write blogs about it.   You see, I’m an expert.  I know I’ll still have periods of life when I feel good.   People with depression who aren’t as expert at it as I am, don’t know necessarily know this.  If you love someone like that, remind them often.  A little part of them might believe you.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fay of the Stardust Clan

My roommate (OK, so we haven't lived together since college and that was a year or two ago, but I still consider her, My Roommate) is very into genealogy.  And she looked into my family tree for me.  I had some questions about my heritage.  It's just amazing the stuff I'm finding out.  So far, my ancestors seem to share an affinity for marrying the hired help and growing great beards.  You should see Great Aunt Hazel!

My mind continues to be blown regarding this genealogy stuff, not because it's strange, but because it's news to me.  So many family secrets. It's hard to imagine a time (although I understand it) when people felt as if they had to lose their "Jewishness" on the boat over here, or hide the fact that their father was "no good Irish." I'm trying to get my mind around feeling a part of any tribe of human beings. 
I was going to say I'm proud of my heritage and it's not untrue, however, I would be just as proud if my heritage reveals Inuit or African or Chinese or. . . . Gourd help me, Australian roots. The bottom line is we are all mammals on planet Earth, as far as I know. That's about the smallest tribe to which I'll identify. 
In fact, I feel more at ease with trees and other animals than I do with most human beings. Maybe my tribe is "living" beings on Planet Earth. Well, you know, I've always had a strong attraction to many rocks - geodes, mica, those smooth black river stones - and the rivers.  The Mississippi River and I are in love.  Maybe my tribe is Things on Planet Earth. Or maybe it's just Planet Earth.
Come to think of it, we are all of us born of stardust. We are all of us the Universe.
Hello, I'm happy to meet you.  I am Fay of the Stardust Clan.
Now what was my question about heritage, again?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Recession TV

I'll be so happy when this economy is straightened out.  And it's not just the housing and inventing crisis that are bothering me today.  Oh, no, I'm concerned about something that touches every American where it hurts - Recession TV. I long for the good ol' days when television producers actually made entertaining shows with that stuff they used to use - talent.

Now we can choose among any reality show one can imagine as long as ones imagination is the size of a pea.  If one show gets a good share of viewers, there is no need to come up with a new idea, just beat that dead horse until it reincarnates as an ice road crab fisherman.  And not only are the show concepts enough to send a Sophomore to the library, they often spotlight the worst of humanity.

I give you Say Yes to the Dress. This is an ongoing program about spoiled suburban brats demanding that Daddy spends $12,000 on wedding gowns while Nana and 17 bridesmaids huff and puff and a fa-laming designer nearly pulls out his perfect hair in frustration.  Riveting.

How about Storage Wars, a heart wrenching look at the same stereotyped characters bidding on unseen contents of storage buildings?  Wow!    Or the show about cake decorating in which real people put their lives on the line for their profession.  Speaking of careers, you can watch shows about beauty parlors, hotels, tattoo parlors or restaurants which are run by morons and saved by bloodless experts who come in and make everyone cry.  Come one, who doesn't want to watch that!

Do you like programs about the supernatural?  Oh, good, because you can watch Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters, International, My Ghost Story Caught on Tape, Celebrity Ghost Stories, Haunted History, America's Most Haunted, The Haunting and I understand new next season, Ghost Storage Wars.

Or maybe you prefer programs about UFOs.  Well, if you do, you are in luck, Baby.  UFO Hunters, Ancient Aliens, UFO Files, UFOs Caught on Tape are some of your choices, not that you're going to be able which one you're watching.  There really are only a hand full of experts on the subject and they are all on each show.

I have my own idea for a completely new show and I think it's going to be a huge success.  I'm going to call it,  My Big Fat Cajun Swamp Alien Wedding Cake Storage Wars.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Star Is Born - Goodbye Charlie Callahan

My friend Charlie recently died after an extended illness.  That's a polite way of saying that he struggled for every breath he took for a long, long time. 

I got to know Charlie through his blog and we became friends.  I was always amazed that he wanted to be my friend.  I was always astounded and very, very proud when he took the time to comment on my writing because Charlie was one heck of a wordsmith. The best.

He had a razor-sharp wit with which he attempted to cover a heart of glowing gold-white light.  He didn't fool me.  He lived a lot harder than a lot of people.  He took full responsibility for harming his body with his nasty habits.  That's a polite way of saying addictions.  He was in recovery from the drugs, but unfortunately they had already done their dirty work. I'm not telling secrets out of school, by the way.  Charlie became an educator about alcoholism.  An educator that knew his time was precious and he wasted none of it judging people.

He did, however, judge books.  He critiqued them.  A wise, well-read, spark-shooting, honest, intelligent (oh, I can hear him now telling me to cut the crap) man who understood the value of adding four legged folks to ones family.

As you might imagine, Charlie had a large following, including lots of women of all ages who regularly professed their love and emailed their hugs to him.  Alas, Charlie had Martha,  to whom he often referred.  I only know her through Charlie's writings, but I reckon she must be a sort of ever-patient angel who wasn't afraid to use a cattle prod when necessary.  The perfect woman for him.

I so wanted to write a perfect column for him.   Maybe a breath-taking poem (Oh, sorry about that pun, Charlie!).  And maybe I'll be able to do that one day soon.  But right now, I'm crying too hard to think about meter and rhythm and rhyme and I'll be damned if I'll write a half-assed poem for Charlie.  

I like the idea that the Universe continues to expand because every good person's death becomes a new star.  The Heavens will be lit quite well now.

To say I'll miss him is such an understatement that it misses the point.  So I'll just say, Thanks, Charlie.  I'll catch you later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What ever gets you through the night

As we settle into the election process for the most powerful person in the world (maybe) I just can't get myself to feel much except embarrassment.  Really?  This is the best we can do?  A bunch of used tissues that know how to put down the competition and do it readily with lots of money that comes from. . . .where do you reckon? 

But the headline says Actress stuns in plunging lace gown!

You don't really still believe in a democracy sort of thing where one person gets one vote and those elected actually care about individuals?  I mean, you actually know that whole idea is a unicorn, right?  Pay no attention to those corporations behind the curtain.  It's so much easier that way.

Who will continue on American Idol?

My spring flowers are blooming.  It's January.  I'm so relieved to remember that global warming is just a bit of liberal propaganda!  Whew!  And really, as far as I know there is no such thing as a Polar Bear anyway. And even if they do exist, what have they done for me lately?

New evidence proves Big Foot is in charge of Area 51!

The sheriff of a neighboring county has publicly encouraged women to get concealed weapons permits and stay armed.  A customer in a waffle house saw a young man demanding cash from the cashier.  The customer pulled his weapon and shot the young man dead.  No charges were filed, but the customer got his breakfast for free.

Photograph shows Dalai Lama eating cheese burger!

In the past year there was legislation proposed in at least one state to outlaw fast food restaurants from giving toys away in kids' meals because it encouraged childhood obesity.  No one seemed to realize that children seldom drive themselves to the drive thru.  More importantly, what we teach in school cafeterias is vastly different from what we teach in nutrition and health classes.  But dang, vegetables are expensive, aren't they?  I mean, I heard they were. 

The one cosmetic surgery you can't afford to go without!

The free clinic isn't taking new patients.  They are over-burdened and certainly underfunded.   But the emergency room down the street is taking the overflow. Oh, sure, it's the most expensive health care in the Universe, but so what?   Wait. . . . who ends up paying for that in the end? We don't have a broken health care system, but those without insurance have no health care system at all.

Eight herbs that can help you live to 100!

How much do you reckon we spend on law enforcement to make sure no one smokes cannabis, a plant that's been considered medicinal for millennia?  Can't be that much, right?  Besides, I heard it leads to hard drug use.  Why can't those people just have a martini like normal people?

It's a miracle! Picture of Jesus found in stain on mental hospital floor

I don't pretend that supporting a big fancy building that sits empty most of the week makes me a better person or that it helps the community one iota.  But it might help me keep my job.  Let's just come out with it, it's got more to do with Benjamin than Jesus.

But hey, if you want to pretend that money doesn't buy elections, that anyone with a will to succeed in America can do so, that Jesus will save you from obesity, or that the tooth fairie is going to make your next mortgage payment; you just go right ahead.   It's all right.  It's all right.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Frosty Roads

It was in the seventh grade that I first read The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.  At first read it was the image of being in leafy woods, alone with Nature, that drew me closer.  I could smell the leaves, yellow and brown and I drew a still closer.  The air was crisp and once I reached down to feel the softness of the grass I couldn't help myself .  I tumbled headlong into that poem and have never really left it.        

A bit older than when I first fell into the poem, but certainly not wise, I truly believed there was one best road for me and if I looked carefully enough I would see which one it was.  They all looked good to me then.  And although I couldn't see what lay beyond the bend in the road, there was no reason to believe that it would be anything less perfect than what I could see from that painless vantage. 

And so we, my friends and I, like woodland faeries scattered with the breeze.  Some landed well. They found destinations. But I wasn't ready for a destination, and I thought that I could always find my way back to where the roads split and make a different choice.  It couldn't be that serious.  It was only beautiful, timeless, carefree routes through a lovely wood. I thought to know all the roads.  My plan was to do it all.  Simple.  Spring, summer, autumn days stretched out endlessly with not a sign of winter.

And down the road I went and found so many turns.  A tree fallen across the path.  A bridge washed out, but never mind.  I trekked to the nearest, clearest turn, sometimes cross-country.  Sometimes through moss, sometimes though briers.  I began to understand that way leads on to way and I doubted that I would ever go back.
II found a fellow traveler, and tired of choosing by myself, followed him for a while.   Sometimes the road was rocky and the grass overgrazed and brown and I longed for those first two roads, both beautiful and inviting.  Only two. So easy.  I thought about the title.  It is not The Road Less Travelled.  It is The Road Not Taken.  

And so I tell my story with a sigh.  Did the poem mean a sign of regret?  Of joy?  Of frustration? If we quickly turn to see where we've been the setting sun temporarily blinds us and we see only that - the setting sun.

I chose.  We all chose.  We chose our roads without seriousness or guilt, but with every consequence.  And I continue to choose, refusing the illusion of a destination. And every time I choose it makes all the difference.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
For it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Though knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood , and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Even if the World Continues

I wish you all a happy Wear Brown Shoes Day, Civil Aviation Day, Bathtub Party Day, Eat Red Apple Day, Roof Over Your Head Day, Maple Syrup Day, Ice Cream Day, Chocolate Covered Anything Day, Cotton Candy Day, St. Nicholas' Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lemon Cupcake Day, Bake Cookies Day, Chocolate Day, Eggnog Day, Fruitcake Day, Boxing Day, Date Nut Bread Day, Chanukah, Pumpkin Pie Day and Bicarbonate of Soda Day.  I poo you not, these are all holidays in December.  No wonder I'm voluptuous and confused.

And I hope you all have a happy new year.  I reckon that even before the world ends less than a year from now, 2012 will be an interesting year.  I have broken my resolution to never make an other resolution and have resolved the following:

1)  I resolve to not waste what isn't mine and remember it's all borrowed.
2)  I resolve to be conscious of the times I am not kind and try to minimize them.
3)  I resolve to not miss an opportunity to dance - even if I'm relatively sure I'll fall down.
4)  I resolve to turn my consciousness to here and now when I catch myself thinking of when and then.
5)  I resolve to look at the sky and be grateful daily.
6)  I resolve to waste less, and drink more, water.
7)  I resolve to waste less time on negative emotion and laugh more.
8)  I resolve to remember always that life is short and try to widen it.
9)  I resolve to celebrate more and mourn less.
10) I resolve to be in awe daily.

Ten is a lot of resolutions for someone who hasn't made one in a few decades.  If you see me behaving as if these were not my resolutions, please knock me up side the head, or remind me in some gentler way.  And in case the world doesn't end next December, remind me to resolve these again next year.

Oh, and have a happy Festivus!