20 April 2019


I am currently seeking people to fill the following positions:

Personal Assistant
Girl Friday

Scullery Maid

Please send your resume and a $200 processing fee to Purple Haze Ltd. c/o General Delivery MooseScrotum, Yukon 24 Canada. If your check clears and your resume is deemed suitable you will be asked to write a 2,000 page essay specifying your personal philosophy, qualifications and reason you are especially suited for the position along with another $200 processing fee. Checks should be made payable to Hugo Z. Hackenbush of Hackenbush, Hackenbush, Firefly, Loophole, Spaulding and Wong. Interviews will be held in early May at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France.

Applicants must be willing to re-locate at their own expense.

13 April 2019

The Author is in Much Better Spirits Than When He Last Wrote and Discusses This Fact

Good god that post about contemplating suicide has been sitting here at the top of my blog for over a week now. Some people must have thought I'd taken a swan dive off the Golden Gate Bridge. And if you were among those who thought the worst, where was the concern? You could have checked in on me. Especially you Bethany Q. Cattlepuss of Lincolnshire, Vermont. You, my most faithful reader (that is to say my only reader), surely you were worried sick. Anyway, at the risk of being obvious, I did not do myself in. As I write these words I'm alive and well. I struggled through a few more days of depression and then felt fine AND dandy for a few days, then took a dip in spirits again and now I'm enjoying excellent mental health. For how much longer I do not know. I take it one day at a time.

You may be wondering what I've been up to these past few days. Then again you may not but I'm going to work under the assumption that you're positively obsessed with knowing the latest about little ole me. Funny you should ask. I've spent nearly a third of every day recently sound asleep. I make a point of indulging in an eight hour nap from about 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM everyday. I wake up refreshed and ready for come what may. I recommend a similar course of action to everyone else. While slumbering I get to enjoy dreams. I love dreaming and feel sorry for people who never remember their dreams.

I generally have a great deal of fun in my dreams. Sometimes I'm a young man again. Often I am successfully pursuing a romantic relationship and occasionally "get lucky" in my dreams. I've even dreamt of "being with" my own wife. This is convenient because I can tell her about those dreams. Many others dreams I refrain from mentioning to the better half so as to keep on her good side. Having taught for one 30 years it should come as no surprise that I often have teaching dreams. They come in all variety but typically involve something going terribly awry. In many I have an impossibly large number of students or have to detail with errant behavior (these, of course, are more reflective of my middle school teaching days). Some are comical and some bizarre (what ho! bizarre antics in a dream?) and many emphasize particular kinds of students or indeed a particular student I once had or colleagues I had the pleasure or rotten luck to work with.

Some of my dreams barely involve me or I do not feature in at all. These are like stories that I have created and can be full of action, adventure, mystery, romance or high drama. War is sometimes a feature of my dreams and so too are crimes. I always wish that I had clearer memories of these dreams as many would lend them self to the type of short fiction I like to write -- when time permits.

Time has not permitted much "other" writing at all recently. While I'm stacking up rejections for one novel I'm plugging away at another. I'm not one to quit easily, or for that matter, at all. I see a hand up there in the back. Have you got a question, sir? I see, good one. The gentlemen in the last row with the gamey leg just asked "what is it like to write a novel?" Well, sir, I can, of course, only speak to my own experiences. It is like a lot of things that one works hard at. There are days when everything just flows and other days when everything just sits there staring right back at you. Most days are somewhere in between. But for different days one might have different goals. Some days are more about structuring and deciding where you're going, others are just about putting words down on paper -- or rather on computer screen. Still other days are for revising and some are for editing and cleaning up. When all goes well it is damn exhilarating and well doesn't it can be mighty frustrating. The key is to keep at it which is easy enough in principal but can be bloody difficult if you're in the throes of depression and the idea of answering a simple text message seems daunting. Were I a successful novelist it would be damn good work, especially as I would then no doubt be provided with deadlines by publishers. As it is there's nobody (except you Mrs. McGillicutty of Osborne, Idaho) waiting for what I've written. I have to be self-disciplined and my record in this department is somewhat spotty.

So I'm writing and sleeping, what else? There's eating. Again this is something I do on a daily basis. I find that in retirement it is much easier to eat healthy than while working. The missus and I are eating well, limiting sugars and highlighting greens, nuts and the like. I also try to meditate daily and if not beset by the miseries, manage to. Every other day I go to the gym and am consequently looking Herculean these days. The odd thing is I'm doing slightly less reading in retirement than when I was working. I would read on average 30-40 pages a day on my commute in addition to whatever I read in the evening before beddy bye time. I'm not quite maintaining that pace these days in large part because of all the time I spend watching movies. My film addiction has gotten even worse since last Monday when the Criterion Channel launched. Oldest daughter bought me a subscription to said channel for Christmas. It is a cinephile's dream and with it, Netflix, movies I DVR on TCM and my own extensive DVD collection (which numbers over 240 titles) it's hard to make it through a day without watching a bushel of movies. I'm not one known for restraint.

So I'm a happy lad these days except -- of course -- when depression grips and then I'm a miserable old man. Ya just can't have everything. But you can certainly have some things, some of which I have -- so to speak.

03 April 2019

Suicide on My Mind: What I Experienced Last Night

I was looking at my belt trying to figure out how I could use it to hang myself. I decided it wouldn’t be too difficult. Then I thought about whether I really wanted to do it. If successful I’d be dead. This seemed like a good idea. Being alive was absolutely miserable. The pain was so powerful that it drowned out all the reasons one could possibly have for being alive. The pain rendered any joy I’d ever experienced in my life seem so remote and distant as to surely have been something I read about it a book and not actually experienced. The future had nothing in it that seemed worthwhile. It was all a black void — just like the present. There was no point in going on. I was in the grip of a terrible demon, one that told me to end it.

One thing that kept me from utilizing the belt was that it seemed an enormous undertaking, far beyond anything I could attempt. Thankfully I don’t have a gun, because that would have been easier proposition. I might not have made it through the night if I had one. Thankfully too I was not in agitated state as I’ve been before when contemplating suicide. Agitated depression makes me feel like taking action and the only viable one -- seemingly -- is suicide. Thankfully also my wife and older daughter were in the other room and that gave me a very tiny degree of comfort which is infinitely better than no comfort at all. I don’t know of any statistics but I would assume people are far more likely to kill themselves if they are alone.

Mostly I stared at the floor, consumed by the inky blackness that pervaded my brain. I didn’t question it. I couldn’t question. It was simply the way it was. I’ve been dealing with depression for years now and actually have not been troubled by it very much these past few months. This was of no consolation last night. I know that the depression will eventually pass, but I did not know that last night. I assumed it was a permanent condition. This notion helped make suicide seem a viable option. The depression seemed intractable, like a giant monolith looming over me.

I tried to read. As far as I got in this endeavor was to pick up a book and put it in my lap. I thought about watching something on my laptop but having made the effort to get a book from several feet away the idea of now reaching down to the floor and picking up my computer seemed impossible. I was spent. Finally I managed to take a hold of my cellphone which was within arm’s reach. I spent a long time trying to decide what exactly I could do with it. But there was something comforting about holding it. My phone became like a security blanket. I soon came to the point at which letting go of it would have tipped me over the edge. Into what? I already felt as though I was plummeting through the abyss in slow motion. Never mind, I wasn’t go to let go of my phone.

Time. What was it? How long had I been sitting there? How much of that time had I been holding the phone? It was something I couldn’t conceive. I looked at the belt again and gave more thought to ending it all. Then I remembered I had a fitness assessment at the gym in the morning and I didn’t want to let the instructor down by not showing up. This gave me a tiny surge of belief or hope or desire or something that was enough for me to at last take some positive action. I emailed my psychiatrist and let him now what I was thinking. He called me. We talked. He told me to go be with my family and that if things did not improve to go to the emergency room.

I joined my wife and daughter. Their presence was comforting. We had a delicious dinner. My daughter went out. My wife and I watched an old movie. I brushed my teeth. I was tired from the workout earlier in the day. I went to bed and slept through the night.

Today I am depressed but with no thoughts of suicide. It feels like I might make it. Right now I’ve got to get ready to go meet my fitness assessment.

One step. At a time.

From help guide.org:

No matter how much pain you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone. Some of the finest, most admired, needed, and talented people have been where you are now. Many of us have thought about taking our own lives when we’ve felt overwhelmed by depression and devoid of all hope. But the pain of depression can be treated and hope can be renewed. No matter what your situation, there are people who need you, places where you can make a difference, and experiences that can remind you that life is worth living. It takes real courage to face death and step back from the brink. You can use that courage to face life, to learn coping skills for overcoming depression, and for finding the strength to keep going. Remember:

Your emotions are not fixed – they are constantly changing. How you feel today may not be the same as how you felt yesterday or how you’ll feel tomorrow or next week.
Your absence would create grief and anguish in the lives of friends and loved ones.
There are many things you can still accomplish in your life.
There are sights, sounds, and experiences in life that have the ability to delight and lift you – and that you would miss.
Your ability to experience pleasurable emotions is equal to your ability to experience distressing emotions.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.