Hello, friends. Yes, it’s been a while. Between health issues, the collapse of my marriage, and Internet problems, I haven’t been up to writing.

But I’ve had a lot of time to think. And a lot of that thinking had a lot to do with life, death, and what really matters to me. February marked the first year since my father died, and it struck me, now that both of my parents are dead, that no one here gets out alive.

I first heard that phrase on a Doors album. The album was Waiting for the Sun, and the song was “Five to One.” Little did I understand at the time just how profound that statement is. No one here gets out alive. Or, as Paul Simon put it,

We’re working our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away.

Maybe it’s the times we’re living in, or maybe it’s just my age, but I don’t think we’re focusing on the things that matter. We have our computers, and they’re connected to the Internet. We have instant access to more information than can be found in all of the libraries in the world, and what do we do with it? We post pictures of kittens on Facebook, or take pictures of our breakfast and beam them all around the world.

futuremen

Really? We have the ability to end world hunger, end all wars, eliminate poverty, and all we seem to be interested in is fluff. Bread and circuses, man. That’s what the Roman Empire offered its citizens to distract them from the fact that the Empire was crumbling from within.

And that’s what’s happening to the America Empire. It’s crumbling from within. Well, when you elect a clown, you’ve got to expect a circus.

Leonard Cohen sang, “Democracy is coming to the USA.” He was fortunate to die before the reality set in: Fascism is coming to the USA.

I woke up this morning with the intention of shutting down this blog. I’ve been in a deep, black depression for months, and I’ve felt for some time that I simply don’t have the energy to keep writing.

But then I realized that if I quit, the black dogs, the Dementors, will have won. And so I’m continuing.

Think of it as a reboot. Whenever my computer gets bogged down because of memory management problems inherent in the operating system, I shut it down and restart.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m rebooting my brain. Steve Wozniak, after a near-fatal crash in a small plane, said he had to rewire his brain from 0 to 1. That’s a pretty good description for what I’ve been going through for the past few months.

I’ve rebooted, and am ready to go on with my life and with my writing.

BLOG: (noun)
1. a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

2. a single entry or post on such a website:
She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/blogging

JOURNAL:
The definition of journal is a diary you keep of daily events or of your thoughts or a publication dealing with a specific industry or field.
http://www.yourdictionary.com/journal#Siti5uupUCzDVOrm.99

My standard disclaimer applies: These are my own thoughts about things that work for me. They may or may not apply to you.

Blogging and journaling are two forms of therapy that work for me, with this difference: what I post on my blog are random thoughts and ideas I feel comfortable with sharing with others. My journal, on the other hand, are my deepest thoughts that I keep to myself. They’re not things I’m comfortable sharing with anyone else.

Both methods help me keep centered. From time to time, I may go back to my journal and discover something I am comfortable in sharing, and so I’ll post it on my blog.

For more information about the health benefits of journaling, I’d recommend “A new reason for keeping a diary,” or “Journaling for Mental Health.”

I’ll admit I’m biased in favor of the URMC article, because that’s where I’ve been going for my mental health help for the past 8 years, and because I know one of the reviewers of the article.

Regardless, take a look at both articles and see if they offer any insights for you.

When George Harrison wrote those words, he was writing a love song. I haven’t written any love songs lately; in fact, I haven’t written anything lately. No blogs, no journals, no texts, no emails.

It’s been a rough few months. December started with my mother’s birthday, which was followed a few days later by the anniversary of her death. I spent Christmas and New Year’s alone. Next week marks the first anniversary of my father’s death, and March will have been his birthday.

I spent most of January in the deepest, darkest depression I’ve ever lived through. I didn’t leave the house during the entire month, and I only left my room for meals. I was numb. I felt nothing.

Three days ago, I was finally able to feel something. I cried at the end of a silly movie on Netflix. Last night, I cried again. It felt as if I was finally waking from a nightmare. At last, I felt something.

Today I left the house and went shopping for groceries. I stopped at the bank and withdrew my rent money. I am a functioning human being again.

And finally I can write again. Baby steps for now, but it’s a start.

So What’s The Point?

The point, trivial as it may seem, is that things do get better. It may take time—in my case, three months—but I survived.

This is not to make light of other people’s suffering; on the contrary, each major depressive episode I experience leaves me with greater understanding of and compassion for the suffering of others. All I’m saying is try to hold on, seek professional help, and survive.

NaNoWriMo

Posted: November 2, 2016 in writing
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NaNoWriMo. No, it’s not a voodoo curse, although it might as well be. National Novel Writing Month, which begins on November 1 of each year, is when writers all around the world sit down at their keyboards will a common goal: to write 50,000 words by the end of the month.

The results don’t have to be a polished novel; on the contrary, the idea is to simply complete a first draft, no matter how rough it might be. The editing and polishing come later.

History

NaNoWriMo began in (1999) with 21 authors in the San Francisco Bay area. The latest figures available (2013) show the following:

NaNoWriMo 2013 counted 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. There were 651 Municipal Liaisons in 595 regions, 650 Come Write In libraries and bookstores, and 2,000 YWP classrooms. We also had a darn wonderful Night of Writing Dangerously, with the first non-staff keynote by NaNo-novelist Gennifer Albin.

Here in Rochester, you can hook up with other writers via the Facebook page.

I’m trying something new this year: my depression makes it hard for me to keep focused on my writing for a full month, and so I’ve never been able to complete a novel. So this year I’m going to capitalize on my mental state and incorporate it into the makeup of my protagonist.

I’ve always viewed depression as a challenge rather than an obstacle. I’m pretty sure I could have given in to it years ago and qualified for a Social Security disability pension, but that would be letting the depression win, and that’s something I’m not ready to do yet.

Instead, I’m channeling my depression into The Melancholy Vampire.

I’ll post the link when I’m done.