After many travails, my second column at Inveterate Media Junkies is now finally online:
Severe heartbreak. Deaths of old friends. A resurgence of depression. My son outta town for a couple weeks.
And now…drumroll please…cancer scare!
What the fuck, is it sweeps week?
[UPDATE: After the tests, it turned out I was okay.]
Turns out, my digestive trauma/internal bleeding back around the turn of the year, maybe significant. Turns out, dropping twenty pounds in a month and a half and not being able to regain any of it, maybe significant. Turns out, a few warts and an odd bump in my skin, maybe significant. Turns out, uncharacteristically major spikes of stress caused by minor upsets, maybe significant.
So today was day 1 of tests. Friday’s day 2, with a specialist, and this morning the doc pointed me to another specialist who I’ll likely see next week. Today was all about blood. Friday is likely to be a biopsy. And day 3 will probably entail a full-on colonoscopy.
For some reason, I’m tense. And sad. Well…I was already sad. But now, really tense too. It’s hard to focus on anything. I hope to get my writing done today, at least 500 words, but will at least make sure to get my pushup regimen done.
When fighting demons, you gotta stay in shape.
A toast to Kate…I loved her because she was magic. May she be healthy and happy and live in a world of continuous delight.
We all know his words of wisdom, right?
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
That’s all well and good if you’re a super-monk toad-midget with a glowy sword, living in an imaginary swamp, created by a man who’s getting closer by the minute to exhausting every good idea he’ll ever have. But in real life, sometimes trying is all we’ve got.
No one is perfect. Not all actions, no matter how resolutely performed, will be successful. The nature of the scientific method is all about trying, trying this and trying that, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t. And life is pretty much the same.
You want to “Do or do not, there is no try?” Then only act on simple things, don’t aspire. Stay in your safety zone.
Trying is good. Trying is noble. If you try and fail, learn from it and keep going. That is wisdom.
My status on Facebook as I wrote this:
is trying, in both senses of the word, but trying not to be trying, so it can be just the one sense from now on.
Thanks, New York! Time to oil up the ol’ rubber ducky for the honeymoon!!!
This week has been full of pain.
After weeks of successfully managing my time and energy on my “On Track” plan, my energy and motivation started a downward slide and my old demon depression reached for me from the darkness below. This was inevitable. I knew I wouldn’t maintain a perfect run for the rest of my life, and it was only a matter of time before I failed. Even my confidence that the electroshock therapy I underwent gave me a solid edge against the demon didn’t make me think it was gone for good.
But I was determined to get through any darkness, absorb whatever failures and accept them, stay on track as much as I could and get all the way back on as soon as able. I was changing my habits, my life, my world, and I wasn’t going back to the cycles of depressive failure and despair I went through for many years.
The darkness washed over me, but I held to hope. Saturday I still managed the most important goals on my list, my writing and exercise. Sunday is my day off, but I got in a good swim with my son. But by Monday, the depression had me firmly in its grip, and it wasn’t helped by the news of death I was hearing.
Clarence Clemmons died. Now, I didn’t know Clarence, but as part of the E. Street Band he was a bright star in the firmament of my musical dreamscape since I was about sixteen. Part of music itself died when he went, and it made me sad.
Later in the week, Gene Colan, one of the great comic book artists, died. I grew up on his work. Batman, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, and countless other books over the years were graced with his very distinctive and beautiful style. (And Howard the Duck was a shitty movie, but a witty and really sophisticated comic, just so you know).
A short while ago today, I got up from a nap and saw that Peter Falk died. And yeah, didn’t know him, but loved his work my whole life.
The most painful death, though, was that of Linda Dubler. Linda was the curator of film at the High Museum of Atlanta, and she died of bone marrow cancer. She was also a friend, who I enjoyed many films with over the years before I got married and fell out of touch (with her and most of the world). But Linda wasn’t just good people, she was wonderful people, and hearing about her death really got to me. I’m tearing up even now as I type this.
All this death this week. By Monday I knew about Clarence and Linda, and the knowledge was an extra claw for depression to rake me with. I managed to do my pushup regimen and stretching that day, but that was it. Tuesday, I went for a swim with the kid.
Also, in my state of depression and grief, I lost control of my emotions long enough to get belligerent with Kate, who was having a bad day herself, and I seem to have ruined our chances for any sort of future. This isn’t really an overreaction on her part, because she’s forgiven several similar (and worse) eruptions as I’ve adjusted to the neurological changes brought on by the electroshock, and I was sort of on probation.
We were getting along. We were getting close again. She was coming to see me next month for a few days.
Now it was all over. And my heart ripped.
This of course hasn’t helped. The axe fell yesterday morning, via email, and I collapsed. I felt I’d destroyed one of the two or three things in my life that really matter, and to be honest I still feel that way. A good friend came over to make sure I didn’t drown myself or anything, and I talked with him a few hours. I also had never gotten around to my pushups on Wednesday, but had promised my son I’d do them, so I did those in the late afternoon. By the time my friend left, I had my equilibrium back and felt some hope about my life again…
I’m not back on track, but I will be soon. I’ll do the next day of pushups tomorrow, and be back on M/W/F next week, and maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but certainly by Monday I’ll be writing again. And I’ll be posting my On Track updates. And I’ll be me again, I hope, at least in the sense that I don’t spontaneously start tearing up at the drop of a fucking hat.
My heart is a wound. I miss Kate. I love her. I want her. But I know I don’t need her, and I’ll endure, even if I may not be as happy.
The worst of it is I hurt her. I let her down. One of the saddest moments I experienced yesterday came when my friend was talking about how good a person his boyfriend is, and how his boyfriend had done nothing but make his life better in every way. And I was sitting there about to crumble into myself, thinking how very much I wish I had been that for Kate. Through that realization, and other tiny epiphanies during the day, I came to see matters between Kate and me with new eyes. Just in time to be too late.
But, deaths and heartbreak and depression aside, I’m battered and bruised and perhaps kinda gutted, but okay. And I’ll be On Track and moving forward.
Tune in next week, same Byrd time, same Byrd channel…
I’ve made a YouTube playlist of most of the Songs of the Week and other music I’ve shared on this blog (89 videos in the list at this writing), and will add new entries as I feature new tunes in the future. Of course you’ll need to find individual posts themselves to see what comments, embarassing overshares, memories, or funny thoughts I originally shared with the various tunes.
The link (which is also in the blog’s sidebar, under “Special Stuff”), is:
My depression is rearing to tell me it hasn’t been vanquished for good, but I’m not gonna let it take over things anymore. This Owl City song reminds me of a really happy time, and it makes me hopeful. Plus, it just makes me smile and want to dance.
Though no horns adorn my head
My spirit points to the moon’s sky.
Though my legs don’t end in hoofs
I walk a cocksure prance ‘cross sacred Earth.
My body is hairy.
I’m a proud-hung young buck.
Behind sharp eyes my soul stalks wild.
Horny As Hell God–
Reviled by fundamental debasers of flesh sacredness–
You still live
I will drink red wine
I will eat bloody venison meat
And I will dance and sing and fuck and live
So that you may be sacred still.
So that I may be sacred still.
So that life will be sacred still.
Through an unlikely, fortuitous, and no doubt fated alignment of heavenly bodies, I’m soon going to be able to enjoy one of my all-time favorite performers, Michelle Malone, with one of my all-time favorite people, Kate.
Everyone is all abuzz about Go The Fuck To Sleep, which is pretty funny, especially as read by Nick Fury of SHIELD.
But over on his blog, Dennis Detwiller offers up an even better “alternative children’s book,” Spiders Are Wonderful by Toby Vok. As Dennis rightly puts it, “If I had to describe it, I would perhaps call it a children’s book of existential horror. Toby Vok is a twisted, wonderful man.”
You can read it in its entirety by clicking the image below. Toward the bottom of the page, Vok also graciously offers it up for free in both PDF and epub formats.
The gifted and award-winning novelist Nicola Griffith posted an interesting blog entry about a year ago on the topic of how sex is depicted in fiction. It’s very worth reading. Here’s a bit:
A few years ago I was on a panel with two or three other writers and the talk turned to sex in literature. It turned out everyone on the panel (except me) thought all fictional depictions of people having good sex were ridiculous because sex was never, ever super-awesome and mind blowing. No, they said, sex was comical and self-conscious; sex was fumbling and clumsy; sex was embarrassing. Sex, everyone (except me) agreed, never went right the first time, so why did writers insist on writing as though it did?
I didn’t say much on that panel because I was shocked by the notion that so many people thought and felt this way. I’m older now. I’ve heard this supposition many times. I’m tired of it.
In my experience, sex really is super-awesome and mind blowing. It really is astonishing, transporting, and ecstatic. It really is the closest thing on this earth that we’ll come to swimming in a tide of light and magic. If it’s not that way for you, maybe you’re doing it wrong.
I have to say, my experience reflects Nicola’s; the worst sex I ever had was still fantastic. But I understand not everyone is so fortunate, and some just aren’t that interested.
Hop over and check out her piece, and read through the comments. There’s some interesting discussion.
Reading back through old journals, I found this from January 3, 2003:
Nathaniel really moved me this afternoon. He was “predicting” and predicted I’d die when I was 110. I said that sounded just fine to me, that’d be a good long life. He asked how old he’d be when I was 110. I said 78.
He said that’s when he would die, because he didn’t want to live longer than me. I insisted he had to live longer, at least past 100, and that it was natural for a parent to die before his child because the parent is older. He asked when I thought I would die, and I said I had no idea, but I hoped it’d be a long, long time.
He gave me a very close hug.
Planks solid underfoot
storm and waves and
wind bash and batter
that on which I stand.
looking at stars for guidance.
The dark god
is trying to keep me from
I have yearned toward.
My heart is strong.
I swim like a bastard.
River mouth roaring turbulence
and it seems I’m lost
just as I am saved.
I pray the god of this river
O great flowing god
god of life and motion
O great god,
I ask your mercy
I am on my knees
and I see that in your flow
is wisdom gained
and strength born
if only I swim, and look,
Grant me, o god,
calm shores to salve
and spirits to guide me.
And then were the waters
then, the sky grew blue;
then, the bright sun
burned away darkness,
leaving shadow, plain to see,
but woven into the world of light,
And I am alive.
Song speaks for itself. :)
I hear your heartbeat in my heart
Pushing and pulling and warming my blood.
I feel your breath in my lungs
Filling, gasping me with life.
I taste your mouth in my mouth
Teeth nibbling, tongue slippery-ing me to joy.
I feel skin memory of your lips on me
Sucking me deep
Drinking my seed to your belly.
Your sea brine cream taste won’t leave my tongue.
I am cumulative countless nights deep in your center
Throbbing our heartbeat
Breath-gasping our hot shared air
Mouths mouthing, sliding wet wild
Screaming pounding clawing our voice
Runneling our sweat
Spewing sticky salt our sperm
My sperm. Concentrated me.
I never want(ed) to lose our body. Our love.
In honor of the birthday of Les Paul, I want to share this singularly fucking incredible video of Bruce Springsteen with Tom Morello, performing “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Not only is it an awesome song and an incredible performance, but there is some ungodly guitar work in this video, especially by Morello.
You’ll want to watch the whole thing, because OH MY GOD.
Then, a vid of the man himself (at 93!!!)…