…so much younger than today…
Since I referenced this song earlier in my post about depression and suicide, it only makes sense to have it as our Song of the Week. Enjoy.
(And help them.)
“HELP!” by the Beatles
[Wednesday falls on Friday today...it's been that sort of week]
Do you understand suicide?
I do. I don’t want to do it, but I have it on my list of options. Worst case scenario sort of thing. This is because I have chronic, often debilitating depression, and it often makes me doubt I have the ability to maintain my life for its natural duration.
Lose the people I love, not able to take it? Suicide’s an option. Don’t sell enough books and fall into poverty? Suicide’s an option, better than living in a soggy box under a bridge. Fall into a permanent depressive funk in which I can’t even take care of myself day-to-day (which is what started to happen to me last year, which is why I re-entered therapy, got back on the meds, and had electroshock therapy for the second time in three years)? Suicide is always there.
It’s like the cyanide capsule hidden in my molar, ready to be crunched in dire circumstances.
Not a day passes that I don’t think about it, at least in passing. It’s a bloodsoaked thread woven through the fabric of my life, not dominant but always dripping. It’s been this way for years.
Do I think I’ll do it some day? No. Would I be surprised if I did? No.
So yeah, I understand suicide. It is dark and terrible and fucked up, but it can also be practical. Or at least seem so to a mind in pain.
I tell you that so that you know I’m talking to you from the darkness. It can be tough to tell most of the time, because I’m largely a low-key yet upbeat guy, forthright about my problems but not whiny or melancholy or gloomy to be around. But I live in the darkness of this disease, and I speak as something of an expert. And the thing I want to tell you is this:
If you have someone in your life who suffers from depression:
One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. I will go days without doing the dishes, or taking out the trash, or going to get the mail, or showering. I’ll avoid the phone and not answer emails. I am utterly useless during those times, and I am mostly without hope. During times like this, I lose all my faith that I can do the things I want to do with my life. I think of the places I’ll never go, the people I’ll never get to hang out with, the books I will never be able to write, and I despair.
I hate asking for help. So I don’t. But I need it.
So, if you know someone with depression:
I think there are many lives lost that may have been saved had the people who cared about the folks in pain actually found meaningful ways to be there for them. It can be a burden, yes. But if you care for them, you won’t think of it in those terms, or at least won’t let them know you feel that way. Help them get the professional assistance they need. Cook them a meal every week. Help them clean their home (even little things like taking out the damned trash can make a difference). Talk to them, show them you care about them, show them you have faith in them.
You may just save their life.
I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter I. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.
Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. It’s been very well reviewed (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.
For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.
A few weeks ago, Nydia and I were watching a KISS concert on video, and we came to the inevitable part when Paul Stanley (in Pete Townsend’s footsteps) smashes an electric guitar to pieces like a sacrifice to the roaring crowd.
Nyd said, “I hate when bands do that.”
“Me too,” I said. “You know there’s a song about it?”
And indeed there is. This one, by one of our greatest singer/songwriters…
“Perfectly Good Guitar” by John Hiatt
I write to be read. And the more people who read my writing, the happier I am. (And, admittedly, the more solvent I am).
So I’m always looking for ways to make it easier for readers to get their hands on my stuff, and lately I’ve made some changes I hope will do just that.
First, I’ve dropped the price of my all-ages adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom in paperback. This is a very well-reviewed, cliffhanger-packed tale (“Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.” – Kirkus Reviews) in a gorgeous volume full of beautiful illustrations by Aussie comics whiz Gary Chaloner. Its original price was $13.99, for the foreseeable future it’s $11.99. I’ll be making less per copy, but I hope that the change will make it easier for more folks to decide to purchase (especially since vendors sometimes cut the price even further: at the moment, Amazon has it for $10.79).
The ebook drops from $6.99 to $5.99, and contains all the fantastic Chaloner artwork of the paperback.
Also, a while back I entered the book into Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook program. The way this works is, if you buy the print book (or have bought the print book in the past), the author can allow you to get the ebook for a reduced price. I’d initially set the price at $1.99, but I ultimately decided that I wanted to be even nicer to my readers, so I’ve set the price to $0.00. Buy the print book, get the ebook free.
This works even if you bought the original Putnam hardback. If you bought it from Amazon, you can now read the expanded, improved text of the Outlaw Moon edition, and see all the Chaloner artwork, for free.
By the way, you don’t need a Kindle to read the Kindle format. Amazon has Kindle apps for just about any gadget you can read on — smartphones, Macs, PCs, tablets — and you can get them here.
Late at night
When I’m standing in a darkened room
I can feel your eyes on me
Everything that I do
And I know that it’s true…
I know you’re haunting me
I know you’re haunting me
I can’t see you there
But I know you’re with me everywhere
I know you’re haunting me…
Thats all I remember of a (mediocre) song I wrote roughly thirty years ago, which makes me sound a lot older than I feel. It, of course, conflates the natural obsession with a loved one lost with the supernatural presence of things unseen. It doesn’t take a ghost to haunt us, the world is full of people and things and events that can serve that purpose just fine. The things that we carry past their time, the things that obsess us, the things, for good or ill, that mold us, those things are our ghosts, metaphorically speaking.
But are there literal ghosts out there, haunting folks, drifting down cold hallways, moaning like they’re having the saddest possible orgasm, posing for blobular, out-of-focus pictures?
When I was a kid, I had what some folks would deem an encounter with a ghost, though others would reckon it an alien visitation. Lying in my bed one night, curled under my blankets, I saw a strange light outside my window that spooked the hell out of me. Though the light faded, I still felt like there was a presence out there, a presence I wanted nothing to do with. So I rolled over to face the wall, putting my back to the window in an act of sheer denial. Nope. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t feel any sort of presence, that would just be crazy.
A minute or three passed. Then, my sense that something — someone — was there got a lot stronger. I became convinced it was in the room with me. I didn’t want to look, but I had to; denial only goes so far. So I peeked.
Something was at the foot of the bed, standing there. It was indistinct, but it was taller than most adults. And it was glowing in the darkness.
I wanted to scream for my father. But I knew with dread certainty that if I did, the thing would vanish before he got to my room, and he’d be pissed that I woke him. My father pissed off was an ugly thing. I also feared that once he went back to bed, the glowing figure would come back. And having it return seemed even more terrifying than it being there in the first place.
So I squeezed my eyes shut and turned back toward the wall. I would just continue to ignore it until it went away.
Then, somehow, it reached through my covers…and touched my right shin. What I felt seemed to be cold, hard, bone fingers, as if the thing were a skeleton.
I started, my heart pounding, but stayed in position, eyes tightly closed, face toward the wall.
The fingers, if that was what they were, withdrew.
And I lay there for what seemed hours, until I no longer sensed the thing. I looked, and it was gone.
I have no idea what it was, or even if it was just a particularly vivid nightmare. As an avowed skeptic, I try to think it was just that, but it has the weight of true memory and sometimes I acknowledge I believe something did visit me that night. Maybe.
Like I said: skeptic.
Once upon a time, such an encounter might have been seen as a visit from the fae. Now, as I mentioned earlier, there are many similar tales told by folks who think an extraterrestrial came to see them. My maternal grandmother told me it was my mother (who died when I was a baby) coming to see me. But would my mother have seemed so sinister, so terrifying, so horrible?
Had to be a dream.
I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter H. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.
Also, if you’re in the mood for ghostly doings, check out my story “Dead Folks,” available on Amazon for only 99 cents. What would you do if your town was mysteriously inundated with the corpses of historical figures?
For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.
About a month ago, I wrote a post about ten books that had a strong impact on me over the years, and one of them was George Chesbro’s magnificent mash-up of science fiction and horror and the detective novel, The Beasts of Valhalla. This is part of what I said about the book:
It stars one Robert “Mongo the Magnificent” Frederickson, a PI who shares both sharp intellect and deep compassion with Robert Parker’s Spenser, but, as a dwarf, has nowhere near the physical power. Mongo is an ex-circus acrobat, professor of criminology, and black belt in karate, and he’s a wonderful hero starring in a series of books of which this one is by far the best. Beasts of Valhalla starts as a detective novel but winds up somewhere in a dark, science fiction/horror territory, with Mongo acting as the daring hobbit facing dread evil in a modern day Lord of the Rings. This book ROCKS.
Now, it’s being reported that HBO is considering a ten-part adaptation of The Beasts of Valhalla starring Peter Dinklage. Since Dinklage first popped up on my radar years ago, I’ve dreamed of a Mongo movie starring him (and indeed, in 2005 there were rumors of such that ultimately didn’t pan out), and now it looks like we might be getting a ten hour movie with him based on the best book in the series.
Please, HBO. Please. Please please please. Also, please.
As I write this, it is late enough Thursday night that it’s Friday morning. I had a long, dreary fucking day, the depression kicking my plan to be productive right in the crotch, and I napped quite a bit. I’m not getting enough writing done. I’m not exercising enough. I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave.
But, that’s progress. If I’m not getting enough writing done, that implies I’m getting some writing done. If I’m not exercising enough, that must mean I’m exercising at least some. And if I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave, that would mean that I did start cleaning it. And all that is true, though it’s weak tea for a guy who is really trying to pick his life back up after it was stomped flat by the black dog of depression.
Anyway, lots of napping during the day leads inevitably to being wide awake when it’s so late that it’s early. And I’m feeling pretty good. I started playing God of War: Ascension, which got my blood moving, and now I’m listening to great rock ‘n’ roll, dancing like no one’s watching (I’m actually quite good at that), and singing like no one’s listening (not quite as good, though I won a singing contest in a bar in Spain one time, long ago). Mark Twain would be proud.
What better time to write this week’s Song of the Week post, and to bring you into my private party by sharing one of the songs I’m listening to? Rock on.
“Fun and Games” by The Connells