Monday, March 23, 2015

About Me: Part Two

As I sit here at my computer, I’m conditionally writing this as a blog post.  I say conditionally, even to myself, since I’m unsure about whether or not it will even make it onto my blog.  Do you really want to hear what I have to say?  It isn’t pretty or kind or all puppies-and-kittens. 

Truth is, my life isn’t like that.  I suspect most lives aren’t, but I refuse to hide that fact.  More than once, I’ve received looks and comments—dealt behind closed doors when they thought I wasn’t listening— about my refusal to bury my feelings behind fake smiles and platitudes.  And more often than not, it brings me into conflict with others.  Those who don’t get “it.” Those who only want the superficial, despite what they say.  I’ve known countless fair-weather friends who don’t really want to know the reason you’ve withdrawn into yourself, no matter what they say. 

I won’t point fingers.  They’re scattered through all points of my life.  The fact still exists, however, no matter how much we’d love our problems to be covered up or ignored.  It’s especially hard on K and me.  We’ve met untold people who are positive, upbeat, and wonderful people who just don’t understand that we’re just not that way.  It worries me when I meet truly great people—kind, caring people who are just a simple joy to know—and we hit it off.  They want to spend time talking and getting to know each other.  Then, we slowly seem to turn them off ’cause we’re not like that.   

It’s lonely.

Recently, my wife asked me why it seems like she has no friends.  I ignored the question and changed the topic.  Why?  Because it was neither the time nor place to discuss it.  Truth is, it isn’t just her.  Both of us have issues keeping people close to us.  They see us having problems and withdrawing into ourselves—for sanity’s sake—and they assume that we’re angry at them.  Of course, they don’t consider asking us what’s wrong.  They only say, “Well, you could always come and talk to us.”  We don’t always want to talk.  We want our problems to go away.  If we’re doing this, then they obviously aren’t normal problems.  They are all–consuming, and we’re holding on by our fingernails. 

It’s the rare person who goes out of their way to ask.  But even then, nine times out of ten, I’ll still lie and say everything is all right.  It isn’t, but what good does it do?  I’m unsure about that point.  I’m pretty sure I suffer from textbook depression. It’s unconfirmed, but also hereditary in my family.  How can I explain to you that while the birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the world looks beautiful, I am miserable?  Most people can’t comprehend that.

But you want a sure way to piss off someone like me?  Just tell us to change our mood.  Tell us it’s all in our head, and, if we really wanted to, we could change the way we feel.  Act like it’s just a switch we have to flip and then—presto!—everything will be wonderful.


There is no switch, no magic button.  You think we haven’t tried?  You think we love being miserable?  Anyone who says they do—guess what? They’re lying.  We’ve just lived with the depression and the sadness and all those issues so long that we forget at times what it feels like to be happy, what having a smile on your face looks and feels like.  Happiness can seem almost mythical at times, like unicorns or dragons or some Disney fairytale character.  And the worst thing about saying that is, it reinforces the idea that we have the ability to fix it ourselves, to believe whatever we want to believe.  If we only tried hard enough, it would go away on its own; we should be able to handle our own problems with ease.  That misnomer has probably killed more people than it saves.  I struggle with that idea daily—that I should always be in control; I should be able to fix it myself . . .  if I only wished and focused hard enough.

Tell that to cancer.

A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is fantastic in many ways:  beloved children’s book, fan-favorite Disney show.  But it’s also a fantastic character study.  You can label everyone you know by the characters in that book.  Your spouse is an Owl; your mother a Pooh.  That annoying guy at work?  Tigger.  Definitely a Tigger.  I am an Eeyore.  But here is the second part of the lesson.  Read the book, watch the show—whichever you prefer.   Here’s the thing.  Each character is unique, including Eeyore.  But never—NOT ONCE—do the others try to change who he is.  They still invite him along on their adventures, accepting their friend for who he is.  That’s a lesson for all of us.

Depression is an illness.  It isn’t a disease that can be cured with chemo or radiation.  It’ll always return.  We are stuck with this monkey for the rest of our lives.  It’s torture, plain and simple.  But we still try to move forward.  We just want you to be aware, to help us lift that burden on occasion.  Take us out for a beer, invite us over for lunch. 

Just. Say. Hello.

So when you talk to me and I don’t answer or only grunt, I’m not mad at you. Trust me, I’ll tell you when that happens.  Depression is like carrying several tons around with you daily.  You grow tired.  Sometimes we need to put the burden down for a bit.  Care when that happens.  Be worried when we have trouble lifting it again, because each time we have to, it gets harder.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of being strong for too long. 

Trust me, I know.

Friday, March 20, 2015


This time as he rode the train home,  the sun still lit the sky.  There was no hiding from the outside world as much as he wished to. Trees, roads, farmhouses flew by a the same emotions filled him as before. In a room full of people, he still felt alone. In a room of friends, he still felt single. He knew where he was going but still felt lost. Had his whole life. That only made the loneliness worse. What he'd give for a whiskey or a cup of tea. To soothe his soul or drown it. The trip was bittersweet. Home was ahead but his future behind. People left behind as he grew waited to greet him, and he them with open arms and a full heart, but he also wanted his home, his bed, and a place to contemplate his problems at unhealthy levels. That's where his mind was. Behind and still ahead. Heart still hopeful and yet hopelessly lost. Worry consumed the rest.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sorry I've been away.

It feels like forever since I wrote anything substantive here.  There’s plenty of reasons for that, but none worth going into.  Though I will say that a damaged finger doesn’t help matters any.  It’s doing better, though I will have a scar.  Most definitely a scar. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have 1500 words of wit or wisdom to pass on today.  Life’s been too heavy for that lately.  Instead, I give you my second miscellaneous blog post (the first one being my second or third post).  It’s just the odds and ends going through my mind right now.  And to start it all off, I give you—


Yes, the infamous denomination which makes the world turn.  It’s been getting to me lately.  To be more exact, though, it’s the lack thereof which is getting to me.  Not like I can’t deal with my current level of income.  I can.  But it wasn’t until recently that I understood what lenders meant when they called my debt-to-income ratio too high.  Oh God, is it!  Maybe this isn’t the place to be discussing it, but it’s on my mind, so it shows up here.  The good news is that I have a plan.

Many of you have probably heard of Dave Ramsey.  If you haven’t, look him up.  Your life will be better for it.  If you have, you should know where I am going with this.  Mr. Ramsey has a foolproof method for getting out of debt.  Or maybe not.  I’ve screwed it up once before, but that was on me, not him.  It is sound financial advice, which I suggest you consider.  The gist of it is this: work hard, apply your money to your debts smartly, and build financial wealth.  Oh, and don’t accrue more debt.  I fell short in a couple places.

But I’m back on it now.  It’s hard, but I’m more motivated than ever before.  So I’ve started selling my stuff on eBay.  I’ve got lots of it, so it can go.  Things are things, but peace of mind is more important to me right now.  Besides, I can always re-buy all of it later if I truly miss it.  I doubt I will.  

The Red Dress:

Well, despite my finger being injured, I’ve finished it.  My first novel, The Red Dress, is done.  Don’t be jealous.  Okay, you probably aren’t.  But I finished it last week.  Or it’s done until and unless I want to get a copy edit done on it.  I’m not sure I can do that—from both an impatience aspect and a financial one (see above).  Either way, it’s a great relief, to say the least.  I am done (for now) with Stephanie Hawthorne.

But this raises the next question:  what to do with it.  As my wife sees it, there are two options.  I can publish it or get smothered in my sleep for wasting all the time and money involved with the process.  I also see two options, but they are a tad bit different.   I could try to publish the novel through traditional means.  That would mean query letters, publishing companies, agents, more editors, and, I’m sure, more headaches before seeing it in print for the first time years from now.  The other option is to self-publish, which as anyone can tell you, has its own set of difficulties. 

I’m just not sure which one I’d prefer to crack my skull over.  It’s going to be a hard decision with a lot of work behind it, regardless of my choices.  The worst part about all of it is, I just want it done and out there and in your hot little hands.  

I’ll post an excerpt or two soon.

So with the end of The Red Dress, I find myself free—free from that novel but with the desire to write something new.  All of us creative types know the joy that feeling brings.  And I’ve been planning on something for a while now.  Been world-building and planning out every little detail for the setting (I never plan out the plot.) for probably two or more years now.  Think of it as a cross between Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and the movie Ocean’s Eleven.  Last week, I even started writing it. 

Then there was last night.  Actually, it was two nights ago.  And two nights ago from when I wrote these lines, not when you’re reading this.  What happened?  I’m glad you asked.  Stephanie FUCKING Hawthorne is what happened.  You want to know?  Let me tell you.

FYI, I feel like a late-night infomercial right now.  Heh.

So I go to bed.  It’s late.  I’m tired and asleep almost before my head hits the pillow.  But I did have two thoughts before I drifted off to La-La Land.  The first was a single line which I shall not mention here.  The other, mere milliseconds before I fell asleep, was: “That would make a great opening line for a Stephanie Hawthorne novel.”

Fast-forward to the next morning, when I wake up with the first chapter plotted out in my head. 

As of right now, I am pretty solid on the first paragraph—as in, it’s scripted out in my head without me putting a single line on the page.  I mean, that’s good, right?  It is, but knowing me, by the end of the week, it’ll shove everything else aside.  Honestly, it’ll probably be tomorrow.

My Silence:

This one I can’t be as glib about.  As some of you who keep track know, I’ve kinda disappeared for a bit from the web, from this blog, and from Twitter.  Things have been hard for me professionally, personally, and in all matters of my life for the past month.  There are plenty of reasons for that.  For part of it, look above at the whole get-out-of-debt thing.  That gets to me a lot.  So do . . . other things.

I’ll try to be online more, but those other aspects of my life do take precedence.  My wife, my job—those win over everything else, including the writing I love so much.  Actually, truth be told, I’m getting the writing done at work during my lunch periods.

Yay for hour-long lunches!

But I promise to try.  Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner this week.  I’m looking for the end of the rainbow, that yellow brick road. 

Okay, some nights I’m just looking for a glass of wine.