25 October 2017

I Conduct a Second Interview With My Depression and it Goes Well



I got a homework assignment from my psychiatrist. I know, seems presumptuous to me to but then again he is trying to prevent my descent into total madness and I am an obliging fellow so….The assignment is not terribly daunting, I’m to conduct a second interview with my depression. The first, which is here linked, led to some discussion betwixt doctor and I and more such discussion may help stop depression from running rough shod over me as it is want to do. Worth a shot.

Me: Thanks for sitting down with me, again.
D: Not a problem, I’m always around.
Me: I’m going to start with the big question, what do you want out of me?
D: I want you to acknowledge my power. I want you to know and to feel….
Me: For the first time your voice seems to be quavering, as if —
D: It is the magnitude of what I’m saying that —
Me: I don’t think so. You’re bluffing. You don’t know what you want or maybe even what you are.
D: I’m you! I’m in you and I am pervasive!
Me: I've struck a nerve. You’re actually quite vulnerable because you have no purpose, no soul. You’ve got no more intellect than a shark.
D: Do you really think this can work? Do you honestly believe that by putting me down you can weaken me in any way? You’re just throwing words and nonsense at me.
Me: But you’re clearly shaken.
D: That is merely your perception —
Me: Horseshit! You’re scared, your beatable. You’re not the mighty monolithic beast I’ve made you out to be.
D: Tell me something then. Are you feeling any less depressed right now?
Me: Yeah okay I’m still a little depressed, but I also feel hope. You’ve clearly been rattled and I believe you can be taken down.
D: Here’s another question: aren’t you a little bit nervous about what would replace me were you somehow able to banish me?
Me: Happiness or at least contentment….
D: You don’t seem so sure of that.
Me: I’m really just confused by the question. Why should anything replace you, you’ll just be gone.
D: Can I ever really leave?
Me: Now you’re clearly just trying to mess with me, you’ve cleverly changed the tenor of this discussion, besides, I'm supposed to be interviewing you.
D: I’m a formidable opponent.
Me: Let’s get back to the fact that you can’t answer the question regarding your purpose. I think because you’re hollow at the core, you have no self.
D: Nonsense.
Me: No, I don’t think it is. You’re a big bully who goes about trying to intimidate. There’s really nothing to you.
D: Oh there’s something to me, there’s all your pain, all those memories of your mother screaming at you, every mistake you’ve ever made lurks within me. All your dashed hopes, all the roads not taken. I’ve got plenty.
Me: That’s all true but you serve no purpose, you have no end game. There’s nothing for you, nothing for you to gain. You’ve got no destination. No meaning. Yeah, that's it, that's what you lack, meaning.
D: Oh and you do have meaning?
Me: Yes, I’ve got a family, friends, work, writing and many more experiences yet to come. You can make me suffer but you can’t have any of those things. You’re envious, you’ve got nothing.
D: You forget, my dear boy, I’ve got you.
Me: We’ll see for how much longer. I can beat you, I can rid myself of you. I don’t have to put up with you forever. You’re not as powerful as I’d thought because ultimately you have no soul.
D: Tell yourself what you want, but I aim to be here for quite some time and all your bold words can’t change that.
Me: No, but I can change that.
D: I don't think you can.
Me: I certainly aim to try and I've got a powerful new weapon to use against you're emptiness. You're going down. I'm sure of it.

15 October 2017

You've Got to Know Your Limitations -- A Story of Murder and Betrayal



There was this little place on the corner where I used to like to go for coffee in the morning. Freezing cold, clear and sunny, didn’t matter, the cafe was a nice home away from home. It was small but did a brisk business, a lot of to-go orders but I always sat at the counter.

I liked to go there and read the New York Times or a novel. Sandra owned the place and she’d always be there. I mean always. Maybe sometimes she’d be in the back but only for a second. Sandra was in her mid 40s (she told me) but looked closer to 30. I don’t know how she got such a deep tan given all the time she spent in the damn cafe. It was called Sandra’s, by the way. She had several pretty young women working for her and one skinny, pale gay fella. They were all real nice and would chat with you or leave you alone as you wished. I always exchanged a few pleasantries before I started reading and before I left. I was like that.

It’s important here to add that Sandra and I had sexual relationship, I used to drop back by around closing time and that led to a lot of conversations and eventually to dinner then to the bedroom. She was divorced with no kids and I’m widowed with two who are grown. There were no strings attached, neither of us was looking for anything more than the comfort and closeness that sex provides. I supposed it could turn into something else someday but I doubted it. We were both too jealous of our privacy. I slept with one of Sandra’s employees once but Sandra found out and got mad. Not because she claimed any ownership over me but because the woman in question was damn near 35 years my junior. I’m 57 but like Sandra I look a lot younger. That’s what people tell me anyway.

I’m retired. I was a professor (English literature) at Colombia for 25 years but three years ago gave it up when I got a sizable inheritance. My wife Edna had died a year earlier from cancer and my heart wasn’t in teaching anymore and with money no longer a concern I just  decided to take it easy for once in my life. I’d worked myself pretty hard, not only teaching but writing. I’ve had a lot of book reviews published as well as scholarly papers on various writers and such. People ask me why I haven’t written a novel but the truth is I just don’t have it in me. You’ve got to know your limitations.

Mostly in those day I just liked to go to the gym, the theater, movies, museums and sip coffee at Sandra’s.

Anyway all of this so far has been preamble to my main story which is about how I killed a guy.  The murder took place about three months ago and the police have no leads so it’s highly likely I’ll ever be suspected let alone indicted.

It’s really a simple story. Logan Ellsworth was Sandra’s lover back when she lived upstate before moving to New York city and opening her cafe. This is all after her divorce. The fling with Logan was one of those rebound relationships for both of them him, Logan having just broken up with his long time girlfriend. As Sandra tells it they were pretty hot and heavy for a couple of months but Sandra cooled off  because other than sex they had zero in common and he seemed to be falling for her. The break up was amicable enough at the time and all seemed forgotten when Sandra took her divorce settlement and moved to the big city.

It was years later that Ellsworth called her out of the blue and said he’d moved to New York and suggested they get together for all times’s sake. Sandra figured why not and invited him to her cafe. According to Sandra they had a nice chat about their few mutual friends and the berg they’d lived in but when it was time for good-bye-nice-catching-up-with-ya, Ellsworth asked if she’d like to go to dinner and the theater some night. Sandra told him point blank that she wasn’t interested. “I enjoyed our time together but it’s pretty clear we’re not meant to be together,” she told him. Logan looked crestfallen, she said, but he said he understood, gave her a peck on the cheek and left. That seemed that.

A couple of days later  Ellsworth called and asked if she’d changed her mind. Sandra thought this odd, not to mention annoying, and told him that no she hadn’t and was busy and hung up. He called again two days later and asked Sandra if she’s checked her mail. No and what the hell was he asking for? Just take a look at the envelope from me and call me at the number on the slip of paper. Sandra hung up thinking Logan Ellsworth had gone off his rocker. A few hours later the mail comes and she ripped into this big manilla envelope that just had Logan Ellsworth for the return address. Inside there was the slip of paper with a phone number on it and several pictures of Sandra in the nude.

Sandra was beside herself, for one thing she didn’t ever remember the pictures being taken nor any pictures of her naked ever being taken. After calming down she called Logan and angrily asked him where the photos came from and what he wanted. Logan reminded her of a time they had been drinking margaritas and they woke up the next morning with hellacious hangovers and little memory of the night before. Well, he told her, “I wasn’t nearly as smashed as you were and I decided a photo session was in order. There’s also video of me having my way with you.”

“So what do you want?” Sandra asked.

“The question is,” he replied, “what do you want? Do you want to start up with me again like we were before or do you want me to send the photos and videos around or do you want to give me $5,000? Three choices, not bad.”

Sandra was stunned. She was living an idyllic life and it had been shattered by this bastard who had taken advantage of her. One night of excessive drinking was all it had taken. All of Ellsworth’s choices were unacceptable. The very idea of so much as touching him made her nauseous. Friends and family seeing the type of pictures he had was beyond humiliating. The $5,000 was doable but it would hurt her bank account a little and her pride a lot. Plus what guarantee did she have he wouldn’t come back later for more money?

“I need to think about this for a bit, Logan,” Sandra finally said.

“Understandable. I’ll check back with you in 48 hours but I’ll want an answer then. And if you don’t mind I’d like to suggest that rekindling our affair is your best option.”

“Thanks for the tip, Logan,” Sandra answered sarcastically and then hung up.

That night I was alone in the cafe with Sandra at closing time helping her clean up when she dropped a bowl. It crashed on the floor and shattered and Sandra broke into tears.

“Goodness me, Sandra, it’s just a bowl,” I said light heartedly. But Sandra continued weeping. I sat her down and she told me the about Logan. She was being blackmailed so I suggested contacting the police. “I can’t do that. Logan promised that if got so much as a whiff of the cops, let alone was arrested his brother would sent out the pictures and video.

That night I tossed and turned for a good two hours, too angry at the scumbag to sleep. Eventually I did doze off and slept deeply for six hours. When I woke up I decided that the only course of action was to kill Logan Ellsworth.

It was easy enough to justify. This was a horrible man who was ruining the life of a sweet, loving woman. It was entirely probable that he was similarly ruining other lives, or would if given the chance. The world would be improved just a bit by his death and would be the worse for his continued existence. Besides, I realized I was falling in love with Sandra. I doubted anything would come from it but I’d do anything for her. Mind you, I'd killed once before, in Vietnam but had never imagined a scenario, other than self defense, that would prompt me to do it again. Love is a pretty powerful drug. With drugs you've got to know your limitations, I knew mine.

Over breakfast I concocted a plan. I had a gun that my brother gave me years ago. I’d taken it reluctantly and it had been in the back of a closet ever since. Now it was going to be put to use. I’d break into his apartment, shoot the bastard and make it look like like a robbery. I wouldn’t be a suspect because there was no connection between us. All I’d need was for Sandra to get his address which of course meant that she’d have to agree to the plan. I wasn’t sure if she would.

To my mild surprise Sandra was enthusiastic about me killing Ellsworth. “It’ll be easy, I’ll tell Logan that I’ve decided that I'll have sex with him again. Then I’ll suggest we rendezvous at his place and he’ll give me his address. Simple.”

I said that she’d have to make the first “date” a few days off so I could, as they say in the movies, “case the joint.”  I wanted to do the deed before Sandra was forced to follow through on her promise.

“Are you sure you can go through with this? You don’t exactly strike me as the criminal type.”

“No I guess I’m not but the way I feel about this jerk will help me overcome any second thoughts. I’d do anything for you, Sandra. I've killed before, albeit in war time, but I can do it again -- for you.”

“Goodness, you’re not falling in love with me, are you?”

I couldn’t tell if she was teasing, or concerned, or hopeful.

To be safe I replied, “I love you Sandra, as I do many others, falling in love is a purely romantic notion and I…” Here my voice trailed off and I could only look at Sandra helplessly.

“You don’t have to say anything more. You didn’t have to say anything in the first place. We’re in a good enough place together without putting labels on it.”

I was never so nervous in my life as I was the night I killed a man in cold blood. The plan was simple. Around the time Sandra was to pay Logan his first visit I’d knock on his apartment door. When he answered I’d stick the gun in his face and tell him to back into the apartment. Once he was in I’d shoot him in the chest. The noise would have been a problem but the apartments were new and Ellsworth was the first tenant on his floor. After doing the deed I’d ransack the place to make it look like it had been a robbery.

Everything went as planned. Ellsworth opened, I pointed the gun, he walked backwards into the apartment and I got ready to pull the trigger. “What the hell man, there’s no need to shoot me, take whatever you want!” The poor guy was in tears and shaking like a leaf on a windy day. “This is for what you’re trying to do to Sandra!” I said loudly and theatrically. There was a second before I pulled the trigger and Ellsworth had a quizzical look on his face. “My why —” he managed to get out before I shot him. Then I gave the place a good going over.

I was exhilarated. I’d taken a man’s life but it had been a bad man and I’d killed him for a good reason. Love for Sandra surged through my body. I did wonder what he was starting to say. “My” for sure, then either “why” or the beginning of a word like “white” or “wine” or “wife.” None of them made sense. I struggled with not caring what he was going to say and being oddly curious. What did it matter what the bastard was going to say? But I couldn’t help but wonder….

I was finishing up when I decided that to make it look good I should take any money in his wallet. He had a big thick wallet with a fair amount of cash, I grabbed all of it. Then I looked at his identification and credit cards. Much to my shock they all had the same name: Peter Lescher.
Lescher was Sandra’s last name.

All the adrenaline that had been coursing through me stopped cold. I felt devoid of blood, of life, of meaning. I felt like an empty vessel with sorrow and despair flowing through.

“My wife…” was clearly what the man — who was no longer Ellsworth, if there was ever such a person — was starting to say when I took his life.

Maybe Peter Lescher was the worst human being on the planet, a man who deserved death. But maybe he was a perfectly innocent victim, a man who’d never harmed a fly.  I’d been used.

Gradually the shock was joined by anger and that anger was directed squarely at Sandra. She’d set me up to kill. But why? I aimed to find out.

I walked the ten blocks to Sandra’s apartment. I pounded on the door and when there was no answer shouted her name. Then I went down to the cafe to see if she was hanging our there but it was closed up tight.

I never saw Sandra again.

The next month was a nightmare. I was in a constant state of depression. A depression that throbbed like a migraine. I ate little, showered rarely, went nowhere and saw no one. There had been a story in the papers about the murder. The victim was Peter Lescher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who’d been in town on business. He was subletting the apartment for a month. Lescher was survived by his wife Sandra and their three children. Three children! The story mentioned that he was separated from his wife but said nothing of divorce and certainly nothing about her being in New York and not a word about her setting up some poor sap to kill her husband.  I did a google search and found that Lescher was an upstanding citizen involved in various civic enterprises and that in addition to his work as a financial consultant he invested in real estate. Lescher was also his sons’ little league coach and active  in the PTA. This is the man I shot in the chest.

Suicide seemed a reasonable out. I’d lost a lover and she’d turned out to be as far removed from the person I knew as is imaginable. I’d killed a man. A good man. It’s true that Sandra had set me up, but I’d pulled the trigger. Even if he had been Logan Ellsworth and done everything Sandra described I had no right to be his executioner. What the hell was I thinking? I could never again sleep soundly, I could never go a day without thinking about Peter Lescher. I could never not think of myself as a murderer.

I could have turned myself in and a certain justice would be done but I was miserable enough as a “free man” I didn’t need prison bars when I was imprisoned in my own hell.

The depression has never left but it did finally ease up enough that my anger toward Sandra came bubbling to the surface. I became obsessed with her real story and so hired the best private investigator I could find, a man by the name of Seth Dervish. I told him the whole story, omitting my part in the murder, suggesting that she’d done the deed or perhaps had a confederate.

A months later Dervish reported back to me. Sandra Lescher (nee Hopkins) had been married to Peter for 15 seemingly happy years when she suddenly skipped town a few years ago. Sandra had done some work for her husband and before leaving pilfered about $200,000 in investor money. She also raided their savings account. Sandra came to New York and opened her cafe. It took awhile before Peter tracked her down and when he did he offered to take her back with no repercussions for her thievery.  When her husband was killed, Sandra went back to Milwaukee and stayed with her family long enough to collect on Peter’s life insurance policy. Then she cleaned out more of the family money and — without the slightest regard for her three children — took off again. Dervish tracked her to San Francisco but believed that once there she bought a new identity.

Today I'm packing a bag and catching a flight for San Francisco. Once there I aim to track down Sarah. When I do I'll kill again but this time I'll know for a fact that the person whose life I'm taking deserves to die.  Yes, I feel like I'm in a 1940s film noir and I probably won't get away with this murder and I'll probably spend  the rest of my days behind bars, but the only way I can square killing Peter Lescher is by taking out the real cause of his death. You've got to know your limitations and I'm just getting acquainted with mine.

11 October 2017

Virgil in the Rain With a Gun



Virgil stood on the corner of Virginia and Grove streets in the pouring rain with a gun dangling from his right hand. His head was bowed, his shoulders slumped, but his legs were firm and spread the perfect distance to assure maximum balance.

I had just gotten out of Nicky Johnson’s VW Beetle having recognized Virgil as we drove by. I was no more than ten feet from him. I opened my umbrella before doing anything else then took a step toward him and said, “hey there Virgil, what’s going on?”

He turned slowly and looked at me as if I just interrupted something important. His frown held firm and his eyes squinted but he said nothing.

“Whatchya doin’ and what’s with the gun? Need a ride?” The rain was coming down harder. Virgil wiped some from his forehead. He was soaking wet. The gun just dangled. Cold, dark and wet.

Still he said nothing.

It was the part of dusk when it's getting darker every second.

“You okay, buddy? What’s up?”

I’d known Virgil since we were in the first grade together. He’d always been the sweetest, gentlest guy in the world. Everyone liked him and he seemed to have it all. He came from a successful, loving, tight-knit family of seven. Virgil was the middle of the five children and his siblings were just as nice as Virgil and as smart too. Virgil was always a straight A student and a good athlete and popular with the girls. One other thing about Virgil was that he was loquacious and could and would talk about any topic under the sun but without dominating conversations. All this is to say that what I was witnessing was not only bizarre behavior but totally out of character for Virgil.

Eventually he broke into a half smile and said softly, “hi Graham.” Virgil looked like he was actively, physically looking for the words to say next but couldn’t find them. Finally, he just shrugged his shoulders. Then looked toward the VW where Nicky, who’d been driving, was getting out on the driver’s side. Nicky put on a hooded, yellow raincoat that was too small for him. Approaching us he asked, “so Virgil, dude, what’s going on, man?” That was Nicky, littering his speech with dude and man, and other words that made him sound more hippie than the boy genius that he was. Nicky had been accepted to Harvard as a sophomore but decided he didn’t want to deprive himself of the full high school experience. We were all seniors at Berkeley High.

Virgil didn’t respond to Nicky so I tried. “What’s happening, Virgil?”

Virgil looked straight down, his shoulders hunched forward, he emitted a great sigh. Then his head snapped up and he said, “isn’t it weird how you two are trying to act all normal and not saying anything about the fact that I have a gun or that I’m standing out in the pouring rain? I mean, let’s be honest. I’m sure you’re curious.”

“Okay dude,” Nicky said the lightness gone from his voice, “what’s with the gun?”

Virgil took the gun in both hands and, standing perfectly erect, pointed it at the space between where Nicky and I were standing as if he were aiming at a target. “Pow, pow,” he said still holding the gun.

I don’t know why but I wasn’t scared. As strange as Virgil was acting I knew him well enough to believe with all my heart that he wasn’t going to do Nicky or I any harm. He just pointed the gun into the distance occasionally saying “pow, pow” in a soft voice.

“Dude, maybe,” Nicky finally suggested, “you should put the gun away. Someone might see you pointing it and call the cops, or for that matter a cop might come along.”

Virgil looked at Nicky and smiled obligingly, lowering the gun to his side, but then quickly raised it again and put the barrel in his mouth.

“What the fuck, Virg?” I said a little too excitedly. Nicky, meanwhile, remained calm and said, “cut the shit, man, what are you trying to prove?”

Again Virgil put the gun to his side. The wind picked up and neither umbrellas nor raincoats was going to keep any of his dry. Didn’t matter to Virgil, he was soaked to the bone. We just stared at him and he stared straight into the distance.

“Graham, man, I’m getting wet and cold, let’s get the hell out of here and leave Virgil to his fate, whatever the hell that is.” I could tell Nicky didn’t really want to split, he was trying to get a rise out of Virgil, but I could also tell that Virgil was not about to fall for any mind games. The proof followed when Virgil said, “yeah, what about I see you guys later, no use you hanging around here getting wet. Plus its a goddamned school night.”

That was the first time I’d ever heard Virgil swear, it was damn near as shocking as seeing him with the gun.

“Dude, Virgil Morton cussing, I never thought I’d live to see the day, man. This really is a special occasion. Come on, Virgil let’s go to Oscar’s and get a burger and fries and talk things out.”

“No dice, Nicky. Anyway, I’m not hungry,” Virgil replied.

I’d been growing increasingly irritated with the whole scene. I had a raging alcoholic mother at home, an emotionally absent father and a brother fighting in Vietnam so emotionally I was always pretty strung out and ready to snap. I’d held it together because it was Virgil and he was a stable influence in my life. He was one of the last people on earth I needed to see whig out so I wanted to believe this would all be over soon with a simple and logical explanation. But it kept stretching out and I couldn’t take it.

“Enough!” I yelled. “This bullshit has gone on long enough. For crying out loud Virgil, tell us what the hell you’re doing with that gun and come in out of the rain. This is just too fucked up and it’s not right and it's not you.”

Virgil turned to me and he pointed the gun at his temple and pulled the trigger. There was a loud click. “The first chamber is empty the rest have bullets in them,” he said calmly. “I’m thinking of putting one of the bullets through my head so that I’ll be dead. Clear enough?” I couldn’t believe how calm he was and how matter of factly he spoke. He was staring straight at me, eyes locked to mine as if to demonstrate how serious he was.

“But why?” I asked meekly.

“You’ve no idea what goes on in my brain. That’s all I’ve gotta say to you or to Nicky or anyone else. I really appreciate your concern but you can’t be any part of this anymore. I need to sort this out myself.”

“But you can’t kill yourself,” I pleaded.

“The hell I can’t. If that’s what I decide to do — ”

Virgil was so focused on me that he hadn’t noticed Nicky who’d snuck behind him, the wind and rain being perfect covers for his stealth. Nicky grabbed the pistol and with the element of surprise easily wrested it away from Virgil. He ran up the street half a block and tossed the gun on the roof of a house.

Virgil stood helplessly and started to sob. It had all happened so fast. Situation diffused but now Virgil was crying his eyes out.

Nicky led him by the arm to the VW and I followed. Nicky forced Virgil into the passenger seat and I got in the back. Virgil was steadily sobbing. “I’ll take you home dude, if you wanna talk a little bit first you can.”

“You're not going to tell my parents about this, are you?”

“It’s none of our business to say anything to anybody, but listen dude, you’re going to need to talk to somebody about this.”

Nicky started to drive, it was only a few blocks to Virgil’s house. We took a right turn on Hearst when out of nowhere a station wagon came fishtailing toward us. Nicky tried to swerve his VW stalled. The station wagon slammed right into the front of the VW. Nicky was killed instantly and Virgil died in the hospital that night, never having regained consciousness after the crash. I came away with a broken collarbone and a fractured wrist.

Yeah.

We were seniors in high school seniors four months from graduation. Nicky was finally going to go to Harvard and Virgil had been accepted at Cal on a football scholarship. I was headed for a state college.

I’ve lived with the remembrance of that night for 47 years. Sure I’ve got a lot of wonderful memories of growing up with Virgil but I’m haunted by that night and the unbelievability of him thinking of offing himself and of his being tortured by demons. There’d never been a clue. After, I didn’t discuss with it his family. It never seemed my place. Whether they knew about the gun and whatever was torturing him I’ll never know. What’s the point talking about it?

I remember Nicky too and how cooly he handled the situation, disarming Virgil so neatly. Of course I think of the lost potential of Nicky who everyone agreed was headed for great things. How could he not be with a brain that mastered calculus as a high school freshman and had understood basic economics in junior high.

The mystery of Virgil’s behavior and the accident added to the misery I lived with at home and made escape to college even more welcome. Of course I couldn’t bury those feelings with distance so I took quite quickly to the drinking scene at college and later delved into drugs. I managed to graduate and get a job but it was years before I was able to straighten myself out through 12 step programs and psychotherapy.

Certain pains never go away. I think of Virgil spending his last moments, crying uncontrollably over a torment known only to him. I think of Nicky doing a good deed and dying in the process. I think of how weird and unfair and cruel and capricious life is. I think about Virgil and Nicky and never make sense of it.  Maybe I'm not supposed to.

08 October 2017

A Remote Control Mysteriously Falls and Ghosts are Considered Culpable

I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits or poltergeists. But I also don’t understand how the remote control suddenly fell from the credenza and landed so far away and so loudly.

I’ve spent much of the past few hours alone at home doing nothing. Being depressed does not count as doing anything. At the time the remote fell I was lying on the sofa listing in my head the NFL teams I hate the most. I don’t even watch the NFL anymore.  I was deep in a malaise. The falling remote snapped me out of it as it was likely meant to do. I write that assuming something caused the remote to fall, other than it being too close to the edge. And if it was too close to the edge, what made it finally fall? There was no earthquake or strong wind. All was still.

I still don’t believe in ghosts but I don’t know how that damn remote fell. I reiterate it’s falling did succeed in snapping me out of my doldrums, at least long enough to write this and whatever follows.

I’ve been surprisingly free of depression this past week. My rash has finally cleared up, so that could be a contributing factor. I had foot surgery on Thursday. There was a bone in my right foot near the little toe that was pushing against the side of my foot causing painful callouses. I could have gone on making periodic visits to the podiatrist to have them removed but I opted for surgery to get it over and done with. I was told that I’d be kept from running for ten days. A long time but worth it.

The surgery took 15 minutes and thanks to modern medicine, it was pain free. I’ve been living with a large bandage on my foot and have had to severely reduce walking. I’ve also had to keep said foot elevated as often as possible. Vicodin has been provided for pain relief but thankfully I’ve not had to avail myself.

So the remote fell for no apparent reason. I still don’t know why.

Yesterday I went to see a film called Lucky starring the late Harry Dean Stanton in his final role. I liked it. I then came home and watched three episodes of House of Cards thus completing season four. Later the missus and I watched the original Blade Runner film in preparation for today seeing the sequel. That was simply way too much time looking at screens. I’ve been doing too much of that lately between House of Cards, the Vietnam documentary and two short run HBO shows, The Deuce and Vice Principals. It’s going to eat up my October and I don’t like it. No new shows after I finish these. Today other than the new Blade Runner film, all I’m watching is the new Simpsons episode. By the way, neither the missus nor I particularly cared for Blade Runner 2049. It was bloated. The original clocked in at under two hours and told a better story with much better developed characters. This always seems to happen with 21st century remakes and sequels, they wallow in excess and the story gets lost.

The wife has come home. I told her about the remote. She doesn’t believe in ghosts either but shares my bafflement about what took place. Seeing her beautiful face has cheered me considerably, though not enough to totally shake the angry clench of depression.

It could be that the spirit of dead ancestor (dad?) or friend (Paul?) or literary hero (Kerouac) knocked the remote over to shake me up — well, it worked — knowing I needed to write, or at least do something. Giving in to depression is all to easy as it is a powerful force. Right now it’s taking all my wits and strength to write these meager words.

Maybe the remote falling was a portend of things to come as Halloween approaches. Perhaps Frankenstein’s monster himself will make an appearance in the coming days or Count Dracula will come by for a drink. Maybe a Werewolf will come calling or an angry mummy.

As a child I loved Halloween. It was colorful, it was different, there were stories, there were movies and cartoons and ultimately there was lots of candy. Now Halloween is a harbinger of the real holiday season with Thanksgiving following in three or so weeks and Christmas within a month of that.

Why on Earth did that remote fall? There’s no way it was sitting so precariously on the edge (if on the edge it even was) that the merest molecule passing by would cause its tumble.

I can’t figure it out but I am grateful because in consequence I got off my ass and wrote a little bit. In fact, maybe next I’ll peck away at the novel of mine….

02 October 2017

Reflections During Sunday Afternoon Melancholia, The a Bit More on Monday

Beefsteak tomatoes, like in the sandwich the missus made.


I can write a little bit. I think I need to now. It’s the overlap between late afternoon and early evening on a Sunday. That time when the weekend feels over. The work week looms, the worst of it being the Monday morning alarm. It doesn’t help the I’m already depressed. I wasn’t yesterday but yesterday I ran eight miles. I can’t run eight miles everyday.

The morning started nicely enough with watching The Arsenal on the telly. They defeated Brighton, 2-0. Then it was a nap. The late morning nap on weekends is not unusual for me. The wife and I then went grocery shopping. She dropped me at home to do some more shopping. Feeling ambitious I cleaned the toilet, took out the recycling  and cleaned the bin that we put our tin, bottle and plastic recyclables. I then washed two loads of clothes.

Completing these chores made me feel better though not enough to relieve the depression. A movie seemed in order so I looked over my extensive DVD collections (about 250 titles) and finally selected Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson. It’s harder for me to watch foreign language films when depressed and it’s better for me to watch something relatively light. MK was the perfect choice because its a brilliant film that gets better with each subsequent viewing.

During the film the wife brought me a delicious snack — a fried egg with a slice of beefsteak tomato on toast. My darling bride of 30 years also informed me that she’d at last gotten around to reading my blog posts from our Europe trip of a couple of months ago. She really enjoyed them and made a point to tell me that I’m a really good writer. Her praise means more to me than anyone else’s because she is a tough critic. I love her.

Finished with the film I went back to chores by emptying and re-loading the dishwasher and filling my pill organizer for the week. I take enough meds that I require one. Pill for sleep, pill for panic, pill for depression and one for acid reflux. All but the pill for depression do the job. The psychiatrist and I are working on that. I actually hate taking pills and balk whenever one is prescribed. But I also believe in following doctor’s orders and the results speak for themselves. I appreciate the fact that I’m no longer kept awake by acid making its way up my esophagus or by insomnia. I also have been free of panic attacks for nearly a year with just a handful of anxiety attacks.

Next up was the Sunday New York Times. I no longer read it cover-to-cover. I do miss the days when I read two or three newspapers a day but I appreciate the convenience of getting my news on the internet. Progress.

Finally I started writing this. I’ll finish in a bit and then do my second set of stretches for the day. It’s important for me to stretch on non-running days. Then I’ll crack open a book and read for a bit. Later I’ll dive into season four of House of Cards. I started watching the series from the beginning after we got back from Europe getting through an episode a day on average. However the Vietnam War documentary series on PBS (which I wrote about in my previous post) kept me away from it for nearly two weeks.

Eventually it’ll be bedtime as this melancholy Sunday winds down. I’ll struggle out of bed in the morning (I assume here that I wont die in my sleep) and it’ll be off to work. I’ve no idea how I’ll feel. Of course, I’m depressed on some days and on others I’m “up” and there are even some days when I feel quite average and my mood leaves itself open to events of the day.

It seems I’m drawing to a close in this writing. I rather hate to stop because its distracted me from my depression. When I do stop I might try to find something to do. That may be impossible. I could be too low to manage a thing. It might be just a matter of sitting and staring at a spot on the floor. The wife is running errands so I don’t have her to help prod me.

Well I’ve got to stop now regardless and the last thing I write is that I hope for the best for the rest of this day and try to remind myself I have a rich and wonderful life.

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I resume this writing on Monday. I’m between classes. I slept well. In one dream I was a member of the Seinfeld crew. I was the lone witness to George fighting of a group of teenaged assailants. Maybe I’ve watched too many Seinfeld re-runs.

My morning commute was relatively uneventful. I had the best of Simon and Garfunkel on my head phones and read some Thomas Wolfe short stories. At one point the word sparrow appeared in a song just moments after I read it in the book. Who says there’s no such thing as a coincidence?

Of course I woke up this morning to news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The saddest thing is how unsurprising these horrific events have become. The impotence of the outrage is also frustrating. Nothing seems to get done, nothing changes. My students — who come from all over the world  — are baffled by the ease with which an American can buy a gun and the failure of our legislative bodies to provide reasonable gun control laws. Even coming from other continents they are aware of the NRA, that heinous organization that enables gun slaughter in this country.

My morning class went very well. They are a wonderful group of people. Most every class I’ve had here has been comprised of sweetie pies. I categorize my classes as follows: good, very good, excellent and oh-my-god-I-want-to-take-them-home-with-me. I get a lot in the latter category and very few that are merely good.

I’m about to go eat lunch. I’ll finish this writing and maybe even post it on the blog. If you’re reading this it means I did. If you’re not reading this than how do you know what I’m saying?

After my afternoon class — another group of darlings — I’ll hightail it out of here and head for the gym. Following a brief weeknight workout I’ll return home and make a smoothie and watch Last Week Tonight starring John Oliver (my favorite show on TV) with the missus.

Hearts out to the people of Vegas. Hope against hope that there’s a change a comin’.