10/15/14

a day in the life of depression.

You feel like a fat piece of shit I guess. When it’s really bad for me it makes my limbs feel heavy and it hurts to move. Dog walking is a good job for the sullen. The dogs are nice to me; I let them drag me down the sidewalk.

Drugs and alcohol help so long as you have no interest in getting down to the root of the problem. The drugs bide the time between how you feel now and how you hope to feel in the future. If you can stand it, though, it’s better to feel the feelings and grieve. Otherwise you just grieve the same things over and over, stuff them down again and nothing ever changes.

Feeling blue all the time is a moral failing, I think, because it takes so much energy to be kind when you feel like human garbage. And always, always, you’ve got to try your hardest to be kind. For example, one bad thing about walking dogs is that animals bring out the best in others. Strangers smile at me and want to talk. It takes everything I have to smile back, and look, I was saving that smile for myself. That was mine and you took it and now I feel deflated and resentful. A person all out of fucks to give is dangerous. They snap. So that’s what I mean when I say that figuring out how to be happy is a moral imperative and to not try is derelict. Think of your parents, what they wanted you to be, and now look at how you’re acting.

Some days it really seems like the dogs can tell and they care. They look at me with concern without asking what’s wrong. Depressed people always answer this question roughly the same. Something like, “Oh, nothing in particular,” or “It’s everything and nothing,” but I’ve actually never found that to be true. You say there’s nothing specifically wrong because to go on about what’s really bothering you is impolite and embarrassing. But I can tell you exactly what’s wrong: I want to be a teacher and instead I’m a dog walker. I should be writing more. I’m broke. I miss my old friends. I’m trapped in a body I hate. I’m in love with the guy I’m dating, and to quote Jerry Maguire: “He sure does like me a lot.” That’s what’s wrong. Make even half of those things right and I won’t be depressed. That’s just a fact, like melting ice burgs are facts. On the days you’re depressed those problems are circled red and underlined and that’s the only difference.

Who ever said life was supposed to feel good anyway? Ask the Buddha, she’ll tell you that life is made out of suffering. You can’t concentrate on the book you’re reading so you think you have ADD? All God ever promised anyone is one good skull; the brain inside doesn’t come wound up right. Brains are born wild and usually they die that way.

I don’t take anti-depressants, do you? I’m not judging, exactly. Some people really need them. But most people I know on meds are self-medicators to begin with. They take their Effexor and pile the booze and drugs and shitty food on top of that. A pill is a short cut and there are no short cuts. The very best thing to do is eat real food, exercise, meditate and get enough sleep. It’s hard to find the will to do that, I know. I don’t mean to lecture, all I’m saying is try. You gotta try that good stuff first. I’m talking to both of us right now. All of us. You know what the fuck I mean.

Anyway. I’m fine. See, I wrote something today. I’m feeling better already.

In other news: It took over a year but I think I’m all caught up on my outstanding free letters. I’ve got my typewriter plugged into the wall and my lips are feeling real loose. Send me your address, let me sink your battleship.

06/6/13

you haven’t met yourself yet.

Work

Nobody didn’t see this one coming: I put in my two weeks at the retirement home. I knew for sure I was on my way out when they told me I had to go to a meeting designed to hone our team building skills, and much like Camus and the Myth of Sisyphus, my first thought was, “Should I go to the meeting, or should I kill myself?”

You don’t understand. The lady made us answer ice breaker questions. When she asked me what my two favorite foods were, I said, “Ramen and tofu,” because that’s actually what I eat the most of, and aren’t you supposed to love the one you’re with? I really let the team down with that answer; you could feel the energy in the room deflating down to nothing. You’d have thought I squashed a sparrow under my boot in front of everyone and laughed about it.

Really though, this country fetishizes food and the food industry exploits animals, I’m not in the mood, I hate when people ask me what my favorite food is. The team should consider itself lucky I didn’t elaborate. [In high school, my friend Kevin used to do an impression of me wherein he put on my glasses, waved his hands in the air and said, "I'm Molly. I'm anti-everything!" It's still true! I still wear glasses!]

So ends that reign of terror. I got two new jobs, get this, we’re all really pleased about this: 1. Dog walker. 2. Mentor/private tutor.  But let’s not get into it here. Old people don’t really google, but everybody else does and I’d rather not get fired immediately.

Detroit

I made friends with a poet on the internet and I visited him in his basement apartment. It was a neat room with wood paneling on the walls, important books and hundreds of VHS tapes of violent films. The poet told me more than once that if not for poetry he’d be a murderer and if you’ve seen his beard like I have you wouldn’t doubt it. I feel like I find myself alone in rooms with men like this all the time lately and I’m never scared. I saw his bedroom in a dream ten years ago and I told him so. In the dream we sat on the floor on the edge of his bed. The poet didn’t talk much and I don’t know if he thinks I’m a necromancer or a dumb girl who says untrue things or what.

In a diner not unlike the one in all of David Lynch and indeed many films, the poet told me for a second time about a book he liked called The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell. He told me about turning to a random page (57, he thought?) and reading a passage that said something like “You’re looking out a window at rocks on a Tuesday in 2009” and the Poet swore he was doing just that. I had ordered the book from a second hand seller on amazon not long after the first time he told me he liked it. I pulled the book out of my purse and looked for page 57, but pages 53 through 58 had been ripped out. The coincidences just stack on top of each other without meaning anything. They stack and stack like a room full of dirty plates until you can hardly move but still your life doesn’t mean anything. You want to smash the plates but the plates don’t care if they’re smashed or in tact; you can’t win.

LSD

You’re not allowed to talk about drug use in the present tense, so assume this happened a long time ago, to someone else, in a dream, with a wrench, on a boat:

She took LSD with some old friends for old time’s sake. It was terrible, she just crawled inside her heart and saw how black it was, but her friends wanted to have a good time so she pretended like she wasn’t in a private hell. They watched a lot of Eliot Smith and Sparklehorse videos and mourned their suicides all over again. She'd eaten pizza earlier and spent all night puking up the pizza, and then all sorts of items that weren’t pizza; she puked marbles and spare change and keys with no locks. She felt like she didn’t love anyone or care about anything anymore, and that’s wrong. There’s no point in doing LSD, she decided. Taking LSD felt like arriving at a fun party hours after everyone’s already left and the lights are turned off. Then you put your hands on your knees and spit up a wilted balloon, and there's not even anybody around to laugh at you.

New, better jobs. Seattle stays in the picture. I’m so happy. Look at this photo of me. I’m so happy:

 

04/3/13

7 don’t kill yourself tips.

1. There’s no such thing as death.
There’s no shortcuts ever, right? You fall asleep here, you wake up somewhere else. No ghost has ever not regretted that time she hanged herself in the basement. Watch Faust. Read Sartre’s No Exit. Don’t be frightened, but for real, there’s no exit.

2. It hurts a lot.
Every kind of suicide hurts. Lots of pills make your organs shut down, like they’re walking down a flight of stairs and also on fire. A gun, a knife, a rope. You’ve seen a magician floundering in a tank with no key. Did it look like a wet hug? You’ll be so alone; don’t do it.

3. Make girls laugh instead.
Think about it: A giggling girl, and you did that to her. What is better? Start by whispering in her ear some acerbic truth about the situation. If you want to go in for the kill, imply that she’s special and powerful, but in a weird way. They love it. Making girls laugh can be a hobby, like stamp collecting. Bet you never thought of that.

4. Animals.
Anybody can get a dog to love them. You could be a horrible friend to the humans around you, you could murder people in the street or smash flat screen televisions for no reason, and if you walk a dog once a day and give him food, to him you will be the lord of your apartment. Crows: they’re fucking everywhere. Decide to become spellbound with feelings of love and magic every time you see a crow because you love crows so much and suddenly your life is filled with love that can’t be helped.

5. Movies.
Just watch movies all day instead. Watch every Quentin Tarantino movie, every Martin Scorsese movie, every Woody Allen movie, The Godfather trilogy, almost every David Lynch movie, the original Total Recall, Logans Run, Altered States, All the Die Hard movies, Welcome to the Dollhouse, both Bill and Ted movies, half the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, one quarter of the Friday the thirteenth movies, Jurassic Park 1 and 3, all the Alfred Hitchcock movies, Every movie about Christ, Buddha and the devil, all the David Mamet movies, every Charlie Kaufman movie, a lot of documentaries, even the long boring documentaries, just watch all the movies, because even though it’s not the same thing as life, it’s close, and later if you’re up to it you can talk to people on the internet about the movies.

6. Heroin?
Not a good idea. A last resort, definitely. Heroin often causes suicide, sure. But maybe it hasn’t gotten its claws in you yet and you’re standing on a ledge. You want to feel better, right? The point of suicide is to feel better. You’ve already proven you’ve got nothing to lose, so find a man in a dark alley and ask him. Oh no, is it dangerous? You’re not afraid of getting cut. Put the needle in your arm and re-evaluate. Maybe you don’t know the way to do that and you can make a friend out of whoever teaches you how. And if you’re back on the ledge in 6 months, you’ve bought some time. Does time matter? Does it do any good? Nobody knows!

7. Move.
Unhappiness follows you everywhere like a starving animal, sure, but some places are better than others. Waterford, Michigan is bad, but Guantanamo Bay is worse. A prison is bad because everyone is mean and none of your friends are with you, but strapped to a heavy rock at the bottom of the ocean is a thousand times more lonely. If you’re thinking about killing yourself because no one in your town understands you, try another town. The girls around here are snobs; go south, they’re more fun. Go where everybody’s cousin lives. Keep moving at a steady clip until the world decides it’s done with you. That’s the way it is anyway. You can’t change it so don’t try.  And you probably won’t get to hover around and watch everyone mourn. You’ll just upset everybody.

03/5/12

things fall apart.

The writers conference I went to in chicago last week started off on a high note, and then everything began to unravel. Here’s a list/summary of what I learned at AWP.

  1. I went to the conference for two reasons: To read my stories into a microphone and to meet my twitter friends. All told, I hugged around 15 new people, which is beautiful, which is the point of life, which is meaningful and true. More than anything, I discovered that really, I already knew them. I am a very affectionate person and it meant a lot to me to express my inappropriate love for Internet strangers in the physical. To love and be loved, this is the point of life. Duh. Everybody knows that, even if they don’t know that.
  2. As for the readings, one was pretty good and one was sweet but terrible, which averages out to okay. They were just fine.
  3. It’s fun to go to panels and muse on the writing process and everything, but ultimately, for myself, School is Out. At one of the panels I went to, somebody in the audience asked a question about “theme.” What are your themes? How do you stay true to and interweave themes into your novel? I have a masters degree in writing and I don’t know what a theme is. It’s an issue of too much craft and not enough soul.
  4. Sometimes I heard myself trying to casually interject my piddly credentials into conversation (I was published here, I got this fellowship, I know this person, puke) out of a made up need in myself to make it clear that hey, I have a right to be here. Whatever, I’m an asshole just like everybody else, but what I hope to learn from that is, in the future, don’t fucking do that.
  5. I spent the whole last day of the conference walking around on the brink of tears and not knowing why. Emotional exhaustion, probably. You don’t believe in magic, blah blah blah, but whatever; physics agrees with me that thoughts are things and we’re all one. By the end of that debacle, we were swimming in each other’s feelings, which, in a sea of writers, are complicated and many.
  6. Ambition is the worst, and from now on, I’ve decided to abstain. I’ll keep writing fiction and trying to get published, but I’m over worrying about what caliber of journal I can get it into, whether or not I can get paid, who will read it and whether or not I can make some kind of lasting impact on the literary canon before I die. None of that really matters, right?
  7. I always say that a writer is a person who hates writing, which is cute and sometimes it feels true, but it’s not true. I love this shit. I love it so much. I would die without it. When I’m able to express a hard to reach idea through words, and people take it in, and I feel like I’m understood? That’s all that matters. None of the other shit matters. And finally, obviously:
  8. Write from your fucking heart.

Friday night I went out with an old friend from grad school, a writer I met from twitter and a couple of his friends. I’ve been sober for almost 6 months now, maybe you heard, I don’t know. It’s tiresome to always talk about not drinking, but whatever. (To quote Margaret Cho: “If Richard Pryor had a period, he would talk about it.”) What is drinking but a contract of cowardice amongst friends?We’re afraid to get close so we agree to go on a voyage together. Not drinking is like treading water alongside the boat. Or maybe I’m in the boat and everyone else is in the water. Metaphors have their limits, let’s move on.

Over the weekend I thought a lot about how it would have been if I were drinking. I feel like I might have gotten lost or hurt. I feel like it would have been unsafe, and it’s hard to imagine that I used to hurl myself into danger so often.

I worry that people who drink are afraid of me. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to get close to anyone ever again.

Around 2 am, I got on the train and went back to the couch I was surfing in Wicker Park, and the party continued on without me in a hotel room with party drugs and Romanians. What would it have been like if my old self had attended? Here’s what I think: I would have felt closer to them at night, and then farther away in the morning.

Since then, nothing has gone right. I figured I’d mosey on out of the city on Saturday afternoon, but I was too chill about making train reservations and I missed the $35 train out of Chicago at noon, leaving only the 6 PM train for $93. I felt that dumb, heavy regret of knowing I’d lost a lost of money and it was my own fault. It will take me two hours of watching a dreary holocaust film and another hour or two of writing up the review to recoup not even half the difference.

Money is depressing. Wasting it is depressing. Whenever this happens I have a trick where I project myself a month or so into the future, when it doesn’t matter anymore, and it works, sort of. But I always know it’s a trick.

The train broke down somewhere outside of Kalamazoo. The conductor came on to say, “Well, the computer is on the fritz. We’re going to try to shut it down and reboot.” Apple+Q the train computer. That didn’t work. He came back on and said, “Well shoot. You know, this doesn’t happen very often.” They got the rear engine working and we travelled backwards to a rondevu point.

Here’s the best joke I could think of for the occasion, maybe I texted it to you or you read about it on twitter: “How long was it before they all started eating each other in that Mark Twain story?”

Another train came along and we swapped engines? I don’t know, it all seemed insane. The whole thing took about three hours. I spent the time feeling lonely and thinking about friendship. The signal on my phone was bad and for a few minutes, I started to consider that it might be the start of a national or global apocalypse, and I wished I had a man around who was good at building things with his hands, or even just a friend to make jokes with. It was a tragedy of boredom and inconvenience. It’s not like we were on a boat or an airplane. There was basically no chance we would die, which to me, almost made it worse.

A couple hours later in Detroit, the train hit an abandoned car on the tracks. The conductor came on the horn and gave an impromptu speech filled with pathos and insecurity. “You’re probably wondering why we’ve stopped,” he began. I wasn’t, actually. We didn’t feel any impact. He assured us that no one was hurt, and he told us to stay calm and try to be patient. It was the “please stay calm,” part that was really unnerving. We waited another two hours on the tracks for the railroad police to come. All told I spent 12 hours on the Amtrak, but what is time?

Like I said at the beginning of this very long blog post: everything is unraveling and falling apart around me. My sleeping schedule is a little messed up. Sunday night I spent a few hours preparing my class lesson for Monday morning. I went to bed at 3 am, but I forgot to set my alarm. I was having this long, ornate dream where I took acid and engaged in all kinds of debaucherous lesbian sex. I do this all the time in my dreams. I drink or take drugs and I fuck women. What does it mean, Freud?

My Monday afternoon class starts at 1. I woke up at 2:13 PM, and that wave of disbelief followed by overwhelming despair and regret washed over me. I had spent the last 11 hours partying and fucking women in my sleep, which made it doubly wrong.

My students communicated with me through email that they left their papers on the desk, so I had to drive the 40 minutes to campus to retrieve them. My 95 Saturn won’t stop gobbling up oil. The oil isn’t leaking, it’s just burning away. Where does burnt oil go? It has gotten to the point where I have to fill it up around every 30 miles. The 95 Saturn is my ticket out of Purgatory, Michigan, and I find the troubled engine troubling.

I bought three quarts of oil at the gas station, and the attendant said to me, “Have a day.” That about sums it up.