Get on the bus(par)!

It shouldn’t be a shock that the new medication doesn’t seem to be working. The doctor started me on the smallest dosage because that’s what good doctors do. However, I will be paying him a visit today because, after a brief respite, the downward spiral continues. Last night was the worst, culminating in an all night panic attack. Any of you out there who have experienced them know they are no fun at all. I’ve been having mild ones almost every night as of late, but last night I legitimately thought my heart was going to explode, which is, of course, ridiculous. Needless to say, I have an appointment with the doctor today.

Yesterday was a lovely day here, though, and the sun shined bright and warm. The wife and I went out for two separate walks and it felt incredible to feel that fat old sun on my face. I was hoping that it would give me a bit of a recharge, but mental illness is very unpredictable with that; it doesn’t always listen to Mother Nature. I’m not giving up hope, however, that I can become a modern day John Adams with my walks. I don’t think I will ever adopt his love of manure, though; that is a deal breaker for me.

This is one of those boring, mental health posts, and I do apologize. I’m having a rough time of it as of late, and just getting these words out were laborious. Hopefully with the spring will come some relief.

The porch

When we moved to our new house in August, I became quickly enamored with our front porch. There is a tremendous delight in being able to sit outside in the cooling last nights of summer, listening to the cacophony of competing cicadas, their calls bouncing from tree to tree back and forth through the neighborhood. I was never afforded that luxury where we lived prior; living in a larger city before this, we did have a side porch, but the view was a dirty alley and some dilapidated garages. My new view was rows of green trees, and cute little houses up and down the main road.

The porch itself is small, but there is enough room for our blue, round plastic table. You can choose to sit on three plastic chairs the colors of green, red, or yellow, all custom painted by my wife, who would not let them remain their original color of white. No, we need color! Atop the table usually sits a rather large citronella candle that never really keeps the mosquitoes away but when the sun goes down gives off a pleasant, yellow-amber glow. Fire can be dangerous, of course, but a candle has always been soothing to me.

To my left is a brick wall that reaches up my waist when standing, but when sitting is the perfect height for giving your beer glass a rest. What better refreshment than a cold glass of beer? Hemingway got something right, at least. To my right, I can see the neighbor’s porch, and I could step right off the porch into the dirt (not much grass) if I so desired; there is no wall, just a small jump down into the soil. Terracotta flower pots are buried up to their rims around the edge of the porch, stopping when reaching the sloping cement walkway that leads either to the sidewalk, or back up to our summer hangout. Depending on the season, there could be mums in those pots; gold, maroon, purple, they add some more color to offset the dullness of the cement foundation.

Of course, there is a porch light if we ever wanted to use it, but we prefer to sit by candlelight, or moonlight, if it’s bright enough. The purpose of a porch is to watch, not be watched. It’s a place to relax, share moments of your day with family and friends, discuss current events, or just sit and listen to the language of the cicadas, under a lush green umbrella of trees. Once fall, and especially winter arrive, the umbrella turns to bony fingers; the trees have been stripped of all their foliage, the cicadas have gone away, and it is much too cold to sit out there. So we sit inside our living room, counting down the days until summer, when we can return to our little front porch.

Chocolate Malaise

It’s been a challenging 10 days. Between a major colitis flareup as well as a heavy depressive episode, there have been brighter moments in my life. I don’t feel like complaining, because I am aware that millions of other people are suffering through various ailments of their own. I will admit to being tired, physically and emotionally. Sleep isn’t coming easy, and the fatigue seeps through my skin and invades my brain, smashing my neurons to bits. Writing is almost impossible; I can barely read more than a few paragraphs before I want to close my eyes. I know I am painting what appears to be a bleak picture here, but I am aware of a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

I’m going to try meditation. Enlightenment is not what I seek; I seek only clear-minded thinking. Thoughts are racing constantly, and that adds to the malaise I feel during the day, and I’m sure are the direct cause of my panic attacks. It’s not normal to lie in bed at night and obsess over your death. What’s normal is to roll over and hold your wife (in my case) tighter. I should entertain the thought of taking walks again, it’s just so cold and mucky outside at the moment.

Well, there it is. I apologize for the clunky nature of this update. I have several ideas floating around in my head at the moment; I just need to crack the coconut.

In lighter news, in case you missed the fact that I am a NATIONAL HERO:

Sorry, Cadbury.
Sorry, Cadbury.

A new year is upon me

2014 is behind me, thankfully. While every year has its ups and downs, last year perhaps had a few more downs in it than I would prefer to have. The downs were mostly health related issues, and in reality some of them are within my sphere of influence, so if I buckle down I can surely alleviate some of my problems going forward.

2015 will indeed be a year of change for me. I have enrolled in the local community college and as of next week will begin to pursue a degree in Social Sciences. Whether I stop at two years, or transfer to a four-year college I cannot say at this moment, but it feels good to just take that first step, which I have been terrified of doing for twenty years now. I am looking forward with anticipation on starting these classes, but of course the fear of failure is weighing on me like an ape on my back.

It’s good to keep moving forward; once you stop, you might never start up again. I am lucky to have someone in my life who acts as a catalyst for me, constantly challenging me to improve my life. I realize that a lot of people don’t have that, and I’d be committing a moral crime by not listening to her and accepting the challenge, finally.

When I was a teenager I had dreams of becoming a journalist. I am hoping that at the very least my writing will improve this year, and give me the confidence to possibly pursue a career outside of my circumscribed comfort zone.

Dots and dashes with peppermint lashes

I was finally able to convince myself to leave the house today and actually go somewhere to be around people. I don’t normally do this due to my extreme fear of people in general. Of course, my travels took me to the local big box bookstore. After purchasing the requisite coffee, I wandered around the aisles for a good 30 minutes, looking at nothing in particular, before leaving empty-handed because I was unwilling to spend over $10 on books that are upwards of 75 years old. I went in feeling very well; after all, I got myself out of the house, which is a rarity. I left feeling somewhat downtrodden. Being so close to Thanksgiving, they were playing the obligatory Christmas music, and hearing it just sucked all the joy out of me, which I think is the opposite effect of what it is intended to do. It’s like this every year for me. Christmas time rolls around and I become even more of an insufferable oaf than I already am. Logically, I don’t feel I really have a good reason to hate the season; I have a wife who loves me very much, as well as a step-son who I care for very much. Yet, this time of year just leaves me feeling despondent, and very much alone. I will leave it for the psychiatrists out there to analyze.

13 is getting restless. He doesn’t want to date this girl anymore, but he also doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of breaking up with her, going so far as to use us as an excuse to get out of hanging out with her this weekend. Obviously, the end is nigh. He’s interested in at least two other girls, one being his girlfriend’s best friend. I told him if he wants to completely ruin his social life forever, by all means pursue this girl. This shows to his naivete towards dating, that he didn’t understand how doing that could virtually ruin his life for the foreseeable future. He is not quite there yet in terms of emotional maturity, and I am totally fine with that. I am hoping that if and when he (or she) breaks it off, he just goes back to being a kid for awhile. Dating is hard work.

I love the winter as long as I am inside. I can appreciate the cold air as an invigorating tonic, but only in doses of a few minutes. I really sympathize for those of you whom are out there working in this cold every day.

I was never much good at paying attention to details

So, I have resorted to buying my clothes on Amazon, because that is what one does when you have a Prime membership. Why talk to people when I can just have them ship me my sweatpants. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I now wear sweatpants almost exclusively. I barely leave the house anyway, so who cares, right? Right? Since my arm is already screaming at me to stop typing (I really should get this checked out by a doctor) I will cut to the chase here. I ordered one pair in what I assumed was the large size, because when they arrived I was swimming in them. I could literally wear the bottom of the pants as slippers, they were that big. I washed them and they shrunk a little bit, but they were still a bit too long. So, I hopped on my trusty Amazon and ordered another pair, this time in medium. They came today and I excitedly slipped the too big ones off and put these on instead. Once again, I was up to my nipples in sweatpants. Took them off, checked the size: Medium; picked up the first pair and checked that tag: Medium. What this has taught me is that there is a reason that my wife usually buys my clothes for me. It has also taught me that I am either not as fat as I think I am, or much shorter than I thought. Perhaps both.

I just had to have one in every color!
I just had to have one in every color!

13 and dating; parents around the world have heart attacks

13 is back in the saddle, so to speak. He took exactly one day to grieve the loss of his relationship with that trollop, and he has moved on towards greater things. He is already chatting up another girl, much to the dismay of his ex. I believe that this jerk-off never intended to break up with him; she expected him to be down on his knees, begging her to come back, that he could change, that he would love to go to the mall! Luckily, he did not, mostly due to my radical and frothing-at-the-mouth coaching over the extended weekend. My wife helped a bit, too, of course, if only to prevent me from ripping the phone out of his hands to type a vitriolic manifesto-like response to her juvenile attempts at goading him. The first day back at school she was playing the sympathy card to people; kids were asking him why he broke up with her. She totally twisted it around. Then, in an about-face yesterday she attempted to repair the relationship and rekindle the friendship. 13 agreed, because in his world there is no reason why you can’t be friends with someone again after you’ve dated (poor thing.) That brings us up to last night, when she texted him out of the blue to ask him to “stop telling everyone we made out.” He claims that he didn’t tell anyone, but you know how it was in high school. For each person you tell a secret to, you can count on at least twenty other people finding out. Oh, how I would love to shake this girl about until her senses were rearranged.

I tend to be a sensitive soul. If you are in pain, I feel it with you. I suppose we call that empathy. High school was a grind; I would never want to go back to that again. We forget how hard it was growing up. It’s exhausting! You are constantly learning new things, how to act, your body and mind are constantly changing, etc; it’s a wonder we ever make it to our twenties!

The next time you lose your temper at your teenager for slagging you off, take a step back for a moment and remember how much shit was going on inside your brain at that age. I am not advocating here that we let our kids get away with murder; I am just advocating for more slack on the rope.

Horror movies (and maybe some cleavage)

I enjoy horror movies. I would say that they make up at least 75% of the movies I watch. I saw “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th V” in the theaters before I turned 11. I was born in 1976, and I came of age at the dawning of a new era in film; the abundance of direct to VHS horror movies was at an all-time high during my early teens. I had parents who didn’t really see a problem with me watching horror, in fact, my stepfather was a key contributor in pointing out some gory classics to check out. Otherwise, I might never have known the glory of this, or this. Of course, once I started to get a bit older, my tastes started to veer toward stuff like this, instead:

Not quite horror, but you see where I am going with this, right? Shannon, if you are reading this...call me!
Not quite horror, but you see where I am going with this, right? Shannon, if you are reading this…call me!

I had to be careful, of course. Back in the day, video stores would sometimes keep the videos behind the counter and you would have to take the box up to rent the movie. That could get embarrassing. Luckily, most of the time you would just take the tape up, but you knew the clerk was on to you. You knew that he knew you were a sick fuck. In reality, I was 15 and full of raging hormones, and the guy behind the counter probably couldn’t give 2 shits that I was renting “Hello, Mary Lou: Prom Night II”

Mary Lou could be trusted to do two things, and one was to kill you.
Mary Lou could be trusted to do two things, and one was to kill you.

Horror is fun, to me, anyway. It took me awhile until I was ready to explore the worlds of Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, and George Romero, to name a few, but watching mostly garbage for ten years really helped me appreciate greater works as I got older. Nowadays, I really don’t care for nudity and sex in my horror, and I accept them begrudgingly when it comes to the likes of Friday the 13th and company (Incidentally, just put Jason back at Camp Crystal Lake again and let him kill all the stoners and randy campers again. No need for reboots and remakes. It was a pretty simple formula and it worked.)

It’s a bit of a cliche anymore to talk about horror in October, but for me, horror is 365 days a year. With each passing year we are seeing less and less works of good, quality horror and the genre is becoming so stagnant that I’m not sure if it is going to recover this time. 13 year old me would be very bummed.

Next year will see the final installment with the original cast of my beloved Phantasm series. You can watch the trailer for Phantasm V: Ravager here, and if you’ve never seen any of this series, you are really missing out. Phantasm is one of those series where the sequels make sense because they are a continuation of the story, and not just a money-grab (except for Part 2.) You care about the characters, and while you might not root for the bad guy, you walk away in awe. With this movie, I feel as if the final chapter is coming to a close on the horror I truly enjoy. Fulci has been dead for awhile, Argento makes terrible movies anymore, as does Romero. There are some directors out there right now who I enjoy (Wan, Wingard) but their movies do not have nearly as much of an impact as their predecessors. Is this just me showing my age? What do you say? What are your favorite moments, or favorite era?

The man who chose coffee over eggs…

Remember that time where I said I was going to give up coffee? No? Me, either! Let’s pretend that I never said it. There is a nice coffeehouse a few miles from my home which myself and my wife have just started frequenting. My first visit there I played it safe and ordered a flavored decaf coffee, nothing fancy. It was really good, much better than the normal chain store coffee I was used to. Previously we were purchasing ground coffee beans from a stand at our local farmer’s market but we weren’t very happy with the quality. It always tasted a bit stale. This place, however, uses a higher quality bean which I didn’t even really know was a thing until I tasted it.

This is how I usually enjoy my coffee at home, don't you?
This is how I usually enjoy my coffee at home, don’t you?

To make a long story (and pointless entry) short, I am now addicted to their coffee. Not just regular coffee, though: I am addicted to their lattes. They have a rotating menu of different flavored lattes and I am on a mission to sample them all (yes, even Pumpkin Spice.) Although today I skipped the sugar and sampled their regular latte. Delicioso! We went to a diner for breakfast this morning, and I only ordered slices of bacon so I could fit the latte into my budget for the day. Truthfully, it was out of laziness. I had $25 in my pocket and my wallet was at home. So, it was either eat a big breakfast and drive home to get the wallet and go back out for coffee (probably not going to happen, once I am in, I usually stay put) or budget my expenditures. So, really, it was like a Buddhist exercise on restraint or something. Right? Right.

I started seeing a therapist again. I’ve only had one visit so far, but I am going to continue the sessions. She is very nice, and calm, and doesn’t make me do homework, which is a plus. One thing we talked about (well, me) was cutting back on my caffeine and my sugar intake to see if that would help with my mood. We also talked a bit about brain conditioning, and making a conscious effort to steer my mind away from my usual trappings of gloom. It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen her, and I won’t be back until next week (the first appointments are always the hardest to schedule) but I am already seeing an improvement. My mood has improved; I am not nearly as depressed as I was before I saw her. Therapy alone (without meds) can be beneficial if you are willing to put the work into it. It takes a lot of time and effort to work on self-improvement, and when you have hit rock bottom like I have, what other choice do you have? Live or die, really. I feel like I still have something to give.

I really do need to improve my diet, but this does give me hope. If I am already seeing an improvement, then perhaps I don’t need to be as draconian as I thought. Perhaps just some minor modifications is all I need!

Teenage Love

Well…it’s over.

stock-photo-art-broken-heart-70098184

13 has been dumped because he had the audacity to not want to go to the mall. I wish I were kidding. I will break it down very simply for you, and then you will remember why being 13 sucked. He asked her on Saturday night if she wanted to go to the movies today (Monday.) She said maybe, that she would have to check and get back to him. Sunday afternoon she texted him to let him know that she couldn’t make the 1:30 showing because she was going to be shopping at a mall with her mother. OK, he said, how about 4:30? Suddenly, she realized that she was going to be at the mall all day and if he wanted to see her he would have to come with. Incidentally, this mall is over 90 minutes away and in another state. Um, no. His exact words at this moment, and I also believe were the death knell, was “Shopping is not my forte.” Within 10 minutes of that statement, the relationship was over. According to her, he should have spent his entire day at the mall with her, because you should do things you don’t like in order to spend time with your partner. Now, she’s not entirely wrong here; yes, some times in a relationship you make sacrifices for the other partner in order to spend some time together, but this goes beyond that. You are asking a 13 year-old boy to spend an entire day in a mall with you and your mother while you both go shopping. Are you insane? Don’t answer that.

Everyone knows how I feel about this harlot. I am secretly glad that she broke it off. I am relieved to not have to answer questions like “She’s asking me if I had a boner. What’s that?” I am happy to no longer read texts where she is asking him to take a shower with her (that last text was from Saturday night, and when I read it, my wife had to talk me out of banning him from seeing her again, as well as possibly contacting her parents.) I also think that, deep down, 13 is a bit relieved to be free of the shackles of having a girlfriend. The dude just wants to play League of Legends and watch Netflix. In fact, he is going to make that a requirement for the next girl that wants to date him. If you want to play video games, watch movies, and eat junk food, I am your man. We can kiss if you want to, I guess.