And then this ‘blog’ is like a spendthrift sigh, that hurts by easing.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again—this time the last Thursday in May of 2022—and so, of course, you know the drill.  Obviously*.

I’m back to writing on my laptop again.  Not carrying it around with me did absolutely nothing to relieve or improve my back pain; in fact, last week was, if anything, above average in terms of round-the-clock, low-grade** agony.  Given that, it seemed pointless to restrict myself to the phone, since it’s simply much easier to type using the laptop, and it doesn’t make my thumbs sore.  Also, it lets me write a bit faster.  Whether I write better or not is a question to which I have difficulty finding an answer.

It’s been an interesting week, with interesting not quite being used in the sense of the supposed Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” but not entirely separate from it as well.  On Tuesday evening, for instance, some disaster struck the signaling and dispatching system of the Tri-rail and other parts of the commuter rail and Amtrack system in south Florida, and all the signals and comms went down at once, apparently.  Anyway, there was no train to get home on Tuesday evening, the bus would’ve taken at least two hours, and I’m far too socially awkward to want to use Uber or the like.  Also, there’s really nothing at “home” that gives it an advantage over work, so I slept at the office.

It’s a strange moment when you realize that your existence is so empty that the only reason you would bother going to the house you live in to sleep is because it has a shower and a change of clothes.  I don’t even sleep on a bed at home because of my back—I sleep on a yoga mat now, which is much better for my back than any mattress (except the ones they use in jail/prison, ironically).  But the carpet at work is just as good.  It’s all kind of pathetic.

I was also a bit discombobulated on Tuesday morning—Tuesday was a heck of a day—because I was having real trouble with pain, even for me.  I forgot to post the latest section of Outlaw’s Mind until a bit later in the day than usual.  It was a loooong section, one that started well enough, but that ended in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the story.  At least, it was heart-wrenching to write.  I have no idea what it was like for anyone to read, or if anyone actually has read it or ever will.  Anyway, it’s a moment where Timothy finds himself trapped between his mother’s fears for him and his own fear of himself.  For him, at least—and for me, writing it, since it was not entirely a fictional thing—it was a dreadful, dreadful event.

Of course, I’ve been writing steadily on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, which is coming along nicely.  Sometimes it’s good to do something that’s rather non-serious for a change, especially since I’ve written so much horror in recent times.  I even cranked out a decent amount yesterday morning—almost two thousand words—after I’d slept in the office.  Of course, I used my laptop then, since there would be no reason to use the phone unless I thought I wrote better with it, which I now suspect isn’t the case.

And if you’re wondering if there’s anything else going on in my life—there isn’t.  You’ve now read about pretty much everything of note that’s happened to me since my last blog post, and it’s debatable how noteworthy it is.  I haven’t done any new videos of me doing any music, for which I’m sure you’re all quite thankful.  I haven’t watched any new shows or movies, and I haven’t really read any new books that are worth talking about, though I do read something pretty much every day.  There’s really nothing in my life worth talking about, let alone living.

As Morpheus said, “Welcome to the desert of the real.”  Too bad one couldn’t be welcomed to the dessert of the real, right?  But desserts aren’t really very good for one, anyway, and are best kept in significant moderation or else they will become more detrimental than beneficial—a bad habit rather than a treat or a reward.

I hope all of you are doing at least a little better, or have lives at least a little more interesting—in the good sense, not the “Chinese curse” sense—than I.  Please take care of yourselves and of those around you, if you are fortunate enough to have people you love around you.  Try to be optimistic if you can, and please accept my apologies for making it that much more difficult by being such a downer all the time.  Hopefully, something will kill me soon, and you all won’t have to deal with me anymore.  I know it’ll be a relief to me.


rocky desert

*i.e., it’s time for my weekly blog post.

**But high quality, if that could be the correct term.  It’s good at what it does, anyway, though what it does well is certainly not very nice.

Trust not my reading, nor my observations, which with experimental seal do warrant the tenor of my blog.

Hello.  Good morning.  Today is Thursday, and so of course it’s time for the most recent edition of my weekly blog post.

I’m writing this post on my phone, using the Google Docs app, because unfortunately, even my petite, eleven-inch-hypotenuse laptop seems to be too much to carry around in my backpack, given how badly my back and hips and ankle have been behaving.  I don’t think it’s so much the weight of the thing that’s the issue as where it tends to rest‒right up against my lumbar spine.  It may not truly be triggering any problems, because my back and hips and my right knee and ankle are in pretty severe pain no matter what, even though I’ve lost two belt notches worth of weight recently.  However, reducing the load in that area seems to decrease my pain, or at least to cause less of an exacerbation, so for now I’m writing on my phone, so to speak.

I keep trying to find things to do that decrease my pain, but all my attempts have so far been quite unsatisfying.  Perhaps the Dread Pirate Roberts was right after all, and life is pain.  Or was that the Buddha?  Anyway, one or more of those great philosophers said something about life and pain being inextricable.

I’ve been writing The Dark Fairy and the Desperado on my phone this week as well.  The two main characters have finally met!  Of course, the Dark Fairy immediately tried to kill the Desperado, but that’s to be expected.  It’s slightly slower writing on the phone than it is with the laptop, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but as I’ve also mentioned, that may be good for keeping my writing more concise.  On the other hand, my verbosity may not be something any device known to humanity can curtail.

I posted the most recent section of Outlaw’s Mind here this week.  There’s still quite a bit to go before we reach the point where I’ve stopped writing it, and I hope those of you who read it are enjoying the story.

In other news, yesterday I recorded, overdubbed, edited, and posted a video of me playing and singing the Beatles song And I Love Her, and I’ll embed it here.  I’ve been half-heartedly working on getting it into playable shape for a while, and I decided I needed to have a rhythm track (which I had to create the new-fashioned way, beat by beat, on Audacity, since I have no drums), and that it also would be much better with the little accompanying arpeggios* during the second, third, and last verses in the background.  I wanted to be able to do those at speed when I played them.  To pat myself on the back (which doesn’t help my back pain), I only got the basic chords from a guitar book, but did the (admittedly simple) key changing and worked out the solo and stuff for myself.  I’m reasonably pleased with the results, though it’s far from perfect.  I’ve gotten pretty good at throwing these videos together at least, including sound editing and backing tracks and the like; I did these things literally in my spare time yesterday morning.

There’s no need to feel obligated to watch the video of me playing, though; I certainly take no joy in looking at myself and it’s hard to imagine anyone else would.  It’s basically there to prove that, yes, except for backup/overdubs, I really did play and sing it all at once, myself…and because the milling masses mostly only seem to respond to video** anymore‒but here it is in case you want to listen:

I’m not sure what else there is to talk about today.  Of course, there are always subjects that could be raised, but I’ve not really done any discussion or commentary, either here or on Iterations of Zero, for quite a while.  The whole process seems utterly pointless (not least because of the aforementioned predilection of the populace for video***); my energy level is steadily deteriorating, and my motivation is doing so even more.  I’m not convinced that anything I write or say or do will make any difference, even for me.  I continue this blog mainly out of stubbornness.

I did do a slightly curious thing this week.  There’s a horror novel that I used to read and reread a lot back when I was a teenager:  Floating Dragon, by Peter Straub.  The events of the story begin on May 17, 1980.  Indeed, there’s a line in the book that goes, “On May 17th, 1980, the Dragon came to Patchin County.”  That line is always bouncing around my head at this time of year, so on Tuesday (which was the 17th) I decided to buy the Kindle version of the book, though I haven’t started reading it yet.  I miss my old, battered paperback copy, lost now with all my other possessions from before 2013.  It had the amusing characteristic that the way the title and author were written on the spine, if one read them in ordinary left-to-right fashion, seemed to say, “Floating Peter/Dragon Straub”.  I wonder if the publishers realized that after the fact and were duly embarrassed.  Anyway, it was a good, albeit very weird horror story, and I still can recite parts of it from memory, such as:

“You were dreaming for a long time, and then you were not.  You were asleep in a place you did not know, and when you awakened you were someone else.  You had a drink in your hand, and a woman was looking at you, and Dragon, the world was yours again.”

With that, I’ll call things to a close today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this atypically written blog post, and that you’re all as well as you can possibly be.



*Is it supposed to be “arpeggi”?  That’s how Radiohead spelled it in the title of their song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, and they’re Cambridge-educated, albeit probably not in linguistics.  Then again, I studied English at Cornell.  Not that such a thing matters much anyway, since the word in question is Italian…but it’s not being used as Italian, but rather as a term of musical jargon.  I should probably just look it up, but where’s the fun in that?

**Angels and ministers of grace defend us from anyone who might think to ask most people to read.

***Perhaps we should retire the term vox populi and replace it with visus populi.

For grief is proud, and makes his blogger stoop.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the second Thursday in May of 2022, and it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Tomorrow will be Friday the 13th! Unlike many people, I like Friday the 13th both because I like being a bit contrary and because I like prime numbers.  I used to always put thirteen gallons of gas in my car when I filled it up, just because I like prime numbers, and I particularly like thirteen because so many people dislike it.  Maybe I thought it deserved to get some positive attention for a change.

I haven’t been quite as productive this week as last week, but I did write a good five thousand words on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  I’ve been a little worn out because my recent travails have exacerbated my chronic back and leg pain, and yet I’m walking about two and half miles a day as part of my commute.  So, my concentration—nay, even my very will to live*—has been detrimentally affected.  Nevertheless, I have continued to write; being on the train is nice for doing that, at the very least.

I posted the next section of Outlaw’s Mind this Tuesday, but it was a short one.  I didn’t want to add the subsequent section to beef it up any, because that section is already rather long, and adding them together would have made it too much, I think.  I don’t know if anyone is actually reading the story—I don’t know if anyone is actually reading this, for that matter—and if they are, I don’t know whether they like it.  I suppose it’s possible that some masochist might hate the whole thing but read it for that very reason.  That seems unlikely, though.

I mentioned last week, with my tongue in my cheek, that I tend to play guitar and sing as a way to punish the world.  Well, I’ve done a bit of such punishing recently; I’ve embedded below two videos of me amateurishly playing guitar and singing, for anyone who feels the need to scold themselves, perhaps for falling off a diet, or not getting enough exercise, or committing adultery…stuff like that.  In all seriousness, however, I like both of these songs a lot, and so I did my amateurish best to play and sing them.

The first is If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot, a song I’ve known and liked since I was a little boy.  I’ve always loved the melody, and Gordon Lightfoot was a very good singer.

The second is No Surprises, by Radiohead, which I only came to be aware of perhaps fifteen years ago, but which very quickly became one of my favorite songs (and bands).  It’s harder to play than IYCRMM, as you can probably tell, but I really love it.  In many ways, it is the song of my soul, if there is such a thing.

As for anything else…well, there really isn’t much else.  There was a death in my family late last week, about which I’m quite sad.  This was my uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while, but who had been, along with his son—my cousin—one of the only people in my family to attend my wedding.  That’s part of a long and dreary story that I won’t go into, but it is a shame that I hadn’t seen him in so long, and now I won’t be able to do so.  Such is the story of life, unfortunately.  I wish I could have told him how much that meant at the time, and even though that marriage has since failed, that gesture still means a great deal to me.  At least I can hereby tell my cousin the same for his part!

I fear quite honestly that I am on the verge of a real and serious mental (and physical) breakdown, and I don’t know what to do about it.  I also fear that, even if I did know what to do about it, I would not have the will to do it.  I wish I did.  I would like to be optimistic and upbeat; I have been so in the past.  No one who suffers from chronic depression and/or other, related difficulties would wish to suffer from it/them. They might well believe, however, that they richly deserve their own suffering for being the awful, evil, rotten person that they see, that they “know”, themselves to be.  I don’t know how to escape that trap.  I have tried, many times and in many ways, but I don’t think I have the strength or the resources to do it on my own.  And on my own is what I am.

I hope, nevertheless, that all of you reading are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can, and that you are with those you love, or at least in communication with them, and that you find a great deal of joy in that.  Please take care of yourselves, and of each other.



*It’s an interesting notion, this concept of “will to live”.  It’s misguided and misleading, because it’s not as though one can simply stop having some “will to live” and consequently just die.  Trust me, I know.  The body and brain have been shaped by millions upon millions of years of evolution to try to stay alive, and one’s will, at the human level, has almost nothing to do with it.  Ditto with eating and drinking and breathing.  Just try not doing those things.  The machine keeps cranking along until it falls apart, or until something breaks it.  Believe me, if not having the “will to live” mattered at all, there are many times—several in any given week, I’d say—in which I would already have died.  Alas, it’s the will to die that’s more a real kind of will, and it is set against gargantuan, Lovecraftian powers of nature that force living beings to stay alive whether they really want to or not.  I’m working on it, though.

Be not disturbed with my infirmity.  If you be pleased, retire into my blog.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, April 7th of 2022, the first Thursday in April this year unless I’m terribly confused and mistaken, and—of course—it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I haven’t been feeling well this last week, or at least for the past several days.  I’m not sure why.  I don’t have any obvious signs or symptoms of any acute respiratory or otherwise localized infection, but my body aches quite a lot.  That generalized soreness, as well as fatigue, is consistent with the experience of fighting some illness or other.  I described it to a coworker yesterday as feeling as if I’d spent the previous day playing tackle football with some of my friends from high school…but they were still high school aged, while I was my present self.

I stayed home from work Tuesday, which is why I didn’t post the next portion of Outlaw’s Mind until yesterday.  I just didn’t feel up to doing much.  I didn’t feel much better yesterday, nor do I today, but I know that staying away from work makes everything all that much more stressful when I come back to the office, since there is so much catching up to do after even one day.  When I have Saturday off—which is every other Saturday—I come in the following Monday and find that there is an inordinate amount of catching up to do.  It’s frustrating.

I’ve likewise done very little guitar playing; whole braces of days at a time have passed in which I didn’t so much as touch or pluck or pick a string.  That’s a fair indicator of how “low-energy” I’ve been.

Given that I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve gotten almost no new writing done, neither on Outlaw’s Mind nor on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  Hopefully none of you find that too disappointing.  In any case, this physical process shouldn’t last too much longer—either I’m going to feel better rather soon, or it will kill me, presumably.  I’m pretty much fine with either outcome, when it comes right down to it.  What I definitely don’t want is to continue to feel so rotten.

My walking and other exercise has suffered nearly as much as has my writing.  This may be useful for consolidating the healing of my old blisters, but I don’t want to lose the calluses that may have formed, because then I’ll just blister again when I go back to walking.

I was going to say “Sisyphus, eat your heart out,” after that last thought, but I realize that would be a gross and melodramatic exaggeration of my current situation.  It’s also more appropriate to say “Prometheus, eat your heart out…or your liver, anyway.”  That, unfortunately, would be an even greater hyperbole* regarding my current challenges, and rather pathetic, though at least the imagery is good.

That last little thought makes me stop to wonder, and to wonder what you all might think, about who had it worse in mythology, Sisyphus or Prometheus.  The former, of course, had to do a lot more work, always only to find that his work led to nothing, so he always had to start over rolling his boulder, supposedly forever.  Prometheus didn’t have to take active part in his punishment, but his was surely more painful, at least in the acute moments when he was being fed upon by Zeus’s eagle.

I’ve occasionally wondered why Sisyphus bothered with his task.  There must have been some force or drive operating that led him to need to push his boulder up the hill, lest he face some pain or stress or anxiety worse than the boulder-pushing itself.  If his body just moved on its own, then it could hardly be considered his effort, and then his punishment would be “just” the muscle aches and pains and the knowledge of the endlessness of his task.  Which would make it similar to Prometheus’s punishment.

All of this is pointless mental meandering, but I would be interested to know if any of you have thoughts about which fate you might prefer, remembering that Prometheus at least would have a form of respite, and of course, he was eventually freed.  Not that either figure actually existed, but you know what I mean, I think.

That’s pretty much all I have to say for today.  I don’t really have the energy to write much more for the moment.  I hope you’re all doing well, and hopefully next week I’ll have more productivity to report to you.  If you have any requests or suggestions for topics of my random, walk-in writing, please feel free to share them.  I can’t promise that I would follow any possible suggestion, but I well certainly read and consider any serious thoughts, and it would be pleasant to hear from…well, someone in the world.

I hope you’re all as well as it’s possible for you to be**, and that you are treating yourselves and your families and your friends and any other loved ones as well as you can possibly treat them***.



*I’ve long found it at least mildly interesting that the word “hyperbolic” can mean “of or relating to hyperbole(s)” or “of or relating to hyperbolas”.

**That’s not as straightforward a notion as it might seem at first glance.

***Again, not in some simple-minded fashion like giving them all your money or something stupid like that.  Short-term and long-term outcomes and inputs must be weighed and continuously reassessed.  That’s life.  I can’t unreservedly recommend it.

What a wounded blog, things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!

HELlo and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 24th of February, and so it’s time for my weekly blog Post.  This will be the last post for the Month of February in 2022.  At lEaSt, it will be the last Of My usual, wEekly February 2022 blOg posts.  I suppose it’s possible that I might write somethiNg Else and post It or post some more of outlAw’s Mind if anyone’s interested.  But otherwise, probably not.

There’s not really much more to report than there was last week.  I’ve continueD to write on a near-dailY basIs, haviNG completed just a little over five-thousand words again this week.  I don’t have any new vIdeos of me singing to inflict upon you, so that’s probably a good thing.  Sorry about doing all that self-indulgent nonsense.  In fact, yesterday, I came very close just to giving away the guitar I have at the office because its presence was galling, and I felt franKly avErsE to the notion of even trying to make anything Pleasant, let alone beautiful.

Speaking of beauty, or its opposite, or WhAtever, I’ve reached a poiNT IN Outlaw’s Mind where some quite bad thinGs are happening for our main characTer, TimOthy Outlaw.  People in my universes don’t get a very good shaKe from me, It seems, but then, neither do people in my reaL, actuaL life, so that’s not too contradictory.

I’ve continued to have great difficulty finding books that I want to read.  I’ve tried to locate new fiction that looks interesting, but even coMics and manga are hard to concentrate on…or, rather, are things on which I find it hard to concentrate, if I want to trY to avoid ending SEntences with prepositions.  I know, it’s probabLy silly to bother with anything like that—almost nobody does anymore, even writers for Formerly prestigious newspApers, magazines, and jourNals.  I finD It frustrating anD even galling, but I recOgNize—when I’m able To be objective—THat at least some of the rules of grammar are arbItrary, though some are also borN of inherent logic, and the violation of these rules can lead to unclear communication and, I thinK, promote unclear thought.  My emotions mIght be as erratiC ANd troublesome as predicting the motion of a doubLe-pendulum, but my thoughts At leaST seeM coherent.  Maybe that’s why CBT* has never really worked very well for me.  Maybe my neUrology is just fuCked.  For all I know, maybe my tHoughts aren’t actuaLly cOhereNt, and everythinG I writE comes across as gibbeRish to everyone else.  Goodness knows, much of what most everyone else says and does feels lIke gibberish to me.

Of course, even non-fiction—even books about physics or neuroscience or rationality or biology or cosmology, whether I’ve loveD them in the past Or they’re new oNes by authors known or unknown To me—has been providing rapidly diminishing returns of latE.  And it’s not as though I do much of anything else for enjoyment.  eVEN the YouTube algorithm is letting me down, but of course, there was never any reason to thinK that it would do otherwise.

I doN’t think I have that much mOre to say today on this blog or ever at all, for that matter.  I don’t think I’ll be sharing any more of OutlaW’s MInd, but I guess I could change my mind at some point in the Future.  I can’t change It in the paSt, after all, alas.  And, of course, even if I could, we would be subject to the seeming paradoxes of time travel fiction in which a person cHanges things abOUt the past that change the fact that they wouLD change someThing in the past, and so on.  Of couRse, Everettian quantum mechanics allows for waYs around thIs—possibly, though it’s probAbly MAinly irrelevanT to reALity—and even the MCU glimpsed at least a bit Of that in AvengerS: Endgame, when the Hulk pointS out that, if your travel into tHE past, that past now becomes your “future”, and you cannot change your reaL Past by changing your future.

Anyway, that’s just stuff and fluff.  I can’t find even a Modicum of intErest in any of the ongoing MCU Projects, nor any of the Star Wars shows or anything eLsE, reAlly.  I’m juSt wandEring farther and farther into the wasteland now.  I doubt that there is a far side to it.


tennant hamlet

*Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  I don’t have the energy to describe or explain it, but feel free to Google it or look on Wikipedia, or whatever.



Imagine a story about someone who is trapped in some infernal prison.  It’s not a prison with walls, necessarily, but is instead a prison of the mind, perhaps, and that person is trying to get messages out, calling—begging—for help to get free.  But the messages are “coded”.  The person is allowed to communicate with the outside world, but the jailer is watching and reading all outgoing correspondence and doesn’t want the person to receive any help, even if there is anyone out there who might help him—which is not at all clear.

So, the prisoner is forced to send out these coded messages, without a code key, in hopes that people will recognize them as what they are—as attempts to beg for help.  But every response the resident gets simply makes clear that the others outside don’t get it.  They just see the messages as stories, as hypotheticals, as songs…whatever.  They’re not getting the message.  He’s had to be too subtle, and the message is not getting across because he’s had to be too subtle.

Now, take a step back—or perhaps take a step forward, or a step inward—and we realize this story is not actually a story of a person imprisoned by someone else, but that the person who imprisons him is himself.  He hates himself too much to think that he deserves help, and he hates the prospect of openly asking for help, feeling that he has no right to help from anyone—and so it is he himself who is keeping himself in prison—he himself who is forcing himself to send out only coded messages in a subtle way, and he himself who is responsible for just how much people don’t get the point of his requests for help.  Or perhaps they simply agree that he does not deserve to receive help, the prisoner and the one who imprisons him, both of whom are the same person.

People grow more and more resigned—or gleeful or whatever—knowing that the prisoner will never escape, that no one will ever come to help, that there is only one way out, and in the long run, that will be the way he must take, to the horror or perhaps to the glee of those in the outside world.

Now, imagine that this isn’t the story at all, but is something happening in the real world, at this time, in the present moment, as we speak, as we write, as we read.  Is such a thing possible?

Will the prisoner ever receive the help that he needs to escape?  Because it is not possible for him to escape on his own.

And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill, and simple blog miscalled simplicity

Hey, everybody.  I’m really feeling tired and worn out today, so I’m not going to say very much in this post.  This time, I think I really mean it.  There’s not much to report, anyway.  I’m not sure there ever is.

I’ve written about 3000 words on Outlaw’s Mind this week so far, but I had to go back to the computer to do it; the longhand project was encountering some problems.  I’m afraid my handwriting has degenerated beyond even its former, maddeningly messy form, hard though that may be to believe for those who have seen my curse-ive before.  Also, it’s become more difficult and slower for me to do.  Some of this may just be due to lack of recent practice, but it was very frustrating, and so I abandoned that noble idea.

I did some recording (on video) of myself playing some songs on guitar, and singing along, for practice and self-evaluation purposes, and one of them—the Beatles song Help—turned out reasonably well, so I decided to share it on YouTube.  I’ve embedded it here:

I also am taking a break from my antidepressant.  It doesn’t seem to be doing much good, and it’s been having some irritating side-effects.  I know it’s not usually a good idea to change one’s medical regimen without consulting one’s doctor, but since I am the one who “prescribed” it, and since I am the only doctor I’m seeing anymore, I guess that criterion is met.  We’ll see how it goes.

Other than that, there’s not much to say.  Life, as John Mellencamp said*, goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

I hope you’re all doing much better than I am, and that you’re staying warm, staying safe, and staying healthy.  Maybe next week I’ll write more.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.


empty man

*I’ve probably even quoted the line many times before, but I don’t feel like checking.

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the blog

Hello.  Good morning.  Thursday.  Blog post.  You know the drill.  Or at least, you get the idea.

I don’t really have much to say or report.  I did a quick, off-the-cuff post on Tuesday about a subject that has been frustrating me more and more (the relief for which I am less and less suspicious will ever arrive, for me at least), but I don’t know that I have anything to add to it.  If anything occurs to me, and I have the energy to try to convey it, then that’s what I’ll try to do.

I’ve stalled out on reading the last 14 pages of Outlaw’s Mind so far, after having read up to that point by Monday or Tuesday.  This is after having optimistically* taken paper and a clipboard home over the weekend hoping** I’d make short work of finishing the reread and then getting on with writing.  I like the story, and I know where I want it to go and, as they say, the rest is just scratching and scribbling.  Instead, I did essentially nothing at all this weekend—apart from throwing away a bunch of the things I own because I can’t see any point in having them and they were just annoying; and preparing some other things to bring in to give “to the office” so to speak.

I wish I could say that the weekend of doing nothing was at least restful, but if anything, I felt more tired after it than I did at the beginning, not that I expect I would have felt less tired if I’d worked all weekend or anything in between.  The last time I remember waking up feeling rested was sometime in the mid-nineties (which, I just realized, is half of my life ago).  If anything, I tend to feel worse early in the day, but I wake up very early whether I feel rested or not***, so it’s quite frustrating.

Basically, I’m just tired, and getting more so (or so it seems to me) as the future becomes the present and then the past.  And I’m alone.  It’s hard to see this becoming gradually more so as time passes quite in the same way tiredness does, but I feel more alone all the time—ever more like an alien or a changeling who really doesn’t belong here, nor has any purpose here, and who has no realm or planet to which to return.  No respite appears available, and more and more, the only viable escape seems like oblivion—which would not be a relief, obviously, since relief is a state of mind and oblivion is the lack of any states of mind, but it would at least mean cessation.

There’s a moving episode in the 5th season of modern Doctor Who called “Vincent and the Doctor” in which the Doctor meets Vincent Van Gogh, and after they defeat an alien together (of course), the Doctor brings poor Vincent to a future museum so he can see and learn that he would eventually become a beloved, respected, nearly worshipped artist, one of the greatest of all time.  It may sound silly, and in a sense, it is, but it’s actually very moving—well-written, superbly acted, beautifully filmed and directed, and if your eyes are dry after the scene with Vincent in the museum, I don’t know what to think of you.

But of course, the saddest part is that, on returning him home, and then coming back to the “present”, the Doctor (and Amy Pond) discover, not to the Doctor’s surprise, that Vincent still killed himself, only a few weeks or months after their meeting, just as always.  The Doctor makes a lovely, and I think insightful, little “speech” about how the good things in life can’t necessarily correct or eliminate the bad things, but that the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things.  Vincent was still ill with whatever mood disorder and possible “neuro-divergence****” he’d always had in his own time; that hadn’t changed.

Still, it would be nice to imagine Van Gogh having been shown just how revered and admired his work would one day be, albeit not within his lifetime.  In the real world, he never had so much as a hint or probably even much of a fantasy that such a thing might happen.  It would be nice for any artist, or anyone, really, to learn that his (or her) work and life deeds had been important, and to see some of the ways in which it was so.  But it wouldn’t change much in the here and now…and it’s always now.

And sometimes “now” seems to go on forever and it can be so, so very exhausting.

I wish I could rest until I felt rested, and if that’s impossible, then just keep resting.  Making one’s quietus with a bare bodkin is an intimidating prospect with a comparatively high wall of activation energy.  But the wall is not constant, and at certain times, in certain states, in certain circumstances, the barrier becomes lower, and it may then be surmounted.


to sleep

*I know, what the hell was going on in my head that I would be optimistic about such things?

**Hope is always foolish.

***Which I guess should go without saying, since I just said I haven’t felt rested after a night’s sleep, or anything else, since the mid-nineties.  Duh.

****He only too clearly didn’t see and experience the world quite the same way anyone else did or does.

I can’t think of a good title for this post, but look at the picture and use your imagination

It’s Friday of my first week in a very long time without working at all on my fiction writing.  I guess I’ll round the week out with one more non-fiction bit of blogging, not that I have much new to say.  But we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll say something that’s useful.  Probably not.

Those who don’t live inside my head* won’t know this very clearly, but the fact that I haven’t written any fiction this week is a truly grave fact.  It’s been many years since I’ve gone this long without writing fiction.  Even when I was in prison, I wrote every weekday, right after lights on (which happened at about 3 to 3:30 in the morning), about three to four handwritten pages every day.  And after prison I continued that.  When I didn’t have a portable laptop to use on my then three-bus trip to work in the morning, I actually wrote quite a bit on my tiny little, fifty-dollar smartphone.  That’s how a goodly chunk of Son of Man was written.  I’ve continued some version of that (writing or editing, anyway) basically every weekday when I wasn’t frankly, physically ill since then…up until this week.

I took my miniature laptop home last night thinking maybe I would take the train in to work today and use that time and that setting to try to recapture some feel and the impetus to write on the way, but I couldn’t be bothered to take the train in the end, and if I had, I don’t think I would have written any fiction.

This is not about writer’s block.  I have story ideas and plans and all that; I know where the stories are to go, I know the characters, I know the universes, it’s all up there but for the scratching and scribbling, scribbling and scratching.  This is about “living block” if you will**.

As anyone who follows (and actually reads) my blog regularly, here and/or on Iterations of Zero, knows, I am troubled with chronic depression/dysthymia, and I have been for basically my entire post-pubescent life, though it’s become more common and more persistent over time.  It gets worse at this time of year, even all other things being equal, partly because the days are getting “shorter”***.

Then one can add in the fact that it’s holiday time (Hanukkah is already over, Christmas and New Years are imminent).  I haven’t seen my kids for over eight years, and I don’t expect that I’m ever going to see them again.  And I’m down here in the distal portion of America’s Dong****, like one bacterium in a syphilis chancre…though Treponema pallidum are more community spirited and possibly more intelligent than many Floridians, particularly the government and the courts and the law enforcement community.  They’re certainly better organisms than I am.

And I don’t remember how to make or maintain friendships.  I’m not sure I ever knew.  I think friendships just happened when I was in school and university because I was just there with other people who were also there, and they were good people, and they were okay with my weirdnesses, and we got along well and so they became my friends, because that’s the kind of people they were.  Are.  They were and are all far better than I have ever deserved, certainly.

I’m many hundreds of miles away from my siblings, and from everyone I was ever really able to connect with and be close with, with the exception of my ex-wife and my kids, but again, they are doing their own things, and I don’t ever see them.  My son won’t communicate with me at all, not in any way.  I can’t blame him; I’ve been a very disappointing father.  I do some texting with my daughter, and she’s great, she’s the greatest, but she’s in college now and I have no interest in burdening her in any way.

I can’t practice medicine anymore.

I’m in chronic pain for about the last nineteen years or so, literally every day, every waking minute.  I’ve had tinnitus in my right ear for the last fifteen plus years, roughly.  That’s mainly just annoying, but it means I can’t really take advantage of stereo production stuff for music, because I can only really hear on one side, so anything I record and mix basically sounds mono.

My brain really doesn’t work quite “right”.  I don’t think it ever has, probably, it turns out.

I really want to scream and cry for help, honestly…and not just helpful and supportive words or whatever, however kindly and honestly and generously they are meant, but serious help, like medical emergency kind of help.  But I hate myself too much, and I don’t know how to express myself properly, in any case.  (It’s like the lines from the Radiohead song Street Spirit (Fade Out):  “This machine will…will not communicate these thoughts and the strain I am under.”)  I also don’t even know what I would need, what would be helpful, what would be useful, if anything.

I had signed up for online therapy through BetterHelp, or whatever it’s called, but then my therapist had to go on maternity leave.  And I don’t frankly have the will to try to start again with someone else.  I barely had the will to start in the first place, and I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been trying to find out about the possibility that I have undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome*****.  I didn’t get any real help with that, though.  But based on testing of various kinds that I’ve done, my professional opinion is that I do.  But I’m potentially confounded by bias, so who knows?  Maybe I’m just crazy.

My living situation has recently, rather abruptly, changed for the even more isolated…I’m basically now just living alone in a bedroom in a house that’s empty of anyone I know, and literally empty now most of the time.  Even when I’m there, it’s essentially empty, because I only barely exist.  And nothing is really any fun at all anymore.

I’ve long toyed with the idea, off and on, of going up to the Palm Beach County court house, sitting down in front of it, dousing myself in paraffin oil, lighter fluid, and gasoline, and setting myself on fire.  I don’t know, I guess it would be some sort of statement, since that’s where most of what I had was taken from me, or at least where the overt effects took place.  I even bought (and still have) the lighter fluid and paraffin oil.  Gasoline is easy (I have a nicely portable can to put it in).  So are matches and/or lighters.  But I don’t think I have the guts to do that, and honestly, I also don’t really want to inconvenience and traumatize people who just go to work and try to do their jobs there.  Life is hard enough already.

I also bought at least two nonrebreather masks, and three tanks of helium, for possible asphyxiation.  Peaceful, tidy, not too traumatic.  But I had to sort of explain the helium to people, so I donated two of them for parties, one in the office, one for my former housemate’s daughter’s birthday.  I still have a third one, but I don’t think that’s enough, and anyway, I don’t have a good place to use it that wouldn’t be just incredibly rude to a good number of people, which I don’t want to do.  Maybe I’m just making excuses.  Maybe I’m just a coward.  I mean, I know I am a coward, of course, but maybe I’m just a coward and nothing more.

I want to escape.  I want to quantum tunnel into a state of oblivion–or into a better state of existence, if there is such a thing available to someone and something like me, which seems unlikely.

Oh, well.  It doesn’t really matter.  Does it?  I think this will most likely be the last of at least these atypical blog posts.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether I bother to write my usual blog post next week.  Maybe I will.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I don’t know what to do or what to say or how to act or how to continue, or how not to continue.  I am alone and powerless and pointless.

And above all, there’s nothing else in the world I hate as much as I hate myself…and that’s saying something, believe me.

album cover

*Which is everyone but me and my fictional characters.

**Is it redundant to use scare quotes and then say “if you will”?

***Technically, I think the days are literally getting longer because the rotation of the Earth is slowing down ever so slightly over time, but I guess it’s happening very slowly indeed.  I suppose that, the Earth not being quite a perfectly uniform sphere, it throws off at least a tiny bit of energy as gravitational waves, but I suspect that’s a truly negligible drain…it probably wouldn’t make a measurable change by itself over several times the current age of the universe.  I haven’t done any calculations, I’m just guessing, here, so don’t quote me.

****Homer Simpson’s apt description of Florida.

*****They don’t officially call it that anymore, apparently, but I like it better than the newer designation, and I know that all names are comparatively arbitrary.  They’re all just ways to trigger other people to access their mental files of notions and ideas that have shared meaning in other minds, anyway, and I don’t know how much other people and I have in common.  Not much, I suspect.


Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, charm ache with air and agony with blogs

Good morning and hello*.  It’s Thursday morning, and so of course it’s time for my usual weekly blog post.  I’ve written no fewer than two previous, non-routine blog posts this week, one for Iterations of Zero on Tuesday, and then here yesterday, an impromptu post reacting to YouTube’s celebration of…well, shall we say, a dubious milestone, at least in my view.

As I may have noted in either or both of those posts, I haven’t done any new writing on Outlaw’s Mind since Saturday.  I’ve been in terrible pain this week, far more than usual and far more difficult to manage, despite frankly toxic dose combinations of everything I have available.  I’ve also been having an exacerbation of my dysthymia/depression.  The one is not obviously related to the other as far as I can tell, but the former certainly doesn’t help the latter any.

Thankfully, this morning the pain is at least veering slightly more toward its usual baseline levels, which is good, obviously.  It’s not as good as the pain just going away and not coming back, but I don’t expect that to happen until I die.  As for the dysthymia (I think that the Powers that Be are actually now calling it chronic depression, which is accurate, but somehow more depressing), I don’t think I can readily recall a time in the last near-decade when I haven’t been at least somewhat under its influence.  I know there were times in my life when I wasn’t depressed; I know it very well, and they were wonderful and glorious.  But it’s been quite a while.

It doesn’t help that my living situation has just abruptly changed rather drastically, and now I am even more completely alone than I was before.  That’s always fun.  Of course, Shinji’s father from Neon Genesis Evangelion would say that everyone is always and completely alone, every moment of their lives, anyway, and while he is, in a certain sense, correct, he’s definitely a serious downer, almost certainly suffering from chronic depression himself.

And the Human Instrumentality Project** was not a good solution to the conundrum of human isolation.  Why not just force everyone to practice metta meditation, if you’re going to do something that’s going to affect the whole world anyway?  I mean, I like the character Ayanami Rei, but I don’t really want to have my being and identity subsumed into a big, giant, weird simulacrum of her, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

But I digress.  I’ll just say in concluding that digression that Ikari Gendou*** is a really rotten father.

Anyway, the holidays and the approaching Solstice (or, rather, its effects, i.e., the shortening of the time of daylight) also don’t improve the dysthymia thing.  I’m no good at asking for help, even when I really, really could use it****.  That’s partly, or perhaps mostly, because I don’t honestly feel like I deserve it, but it’s also because interacting with other people is often extremely stressful and anxiety-producing even when it’s something I’ve asked for or need, even when it’s someone I like and/or love, and that stress and anxiety make me irritable and grumpy and intolerable—which doesn’t help.  It’s not something I can easily get around—it appears to be neurodevelopmental in nature, though I’ve only learned that recently.  That’s my second personal experience of a syndrome with the acronym ASD.

I tell ya, if I were a product that I had purchased, I’d seriously consider asking for my money back.  I mean, there are a lot of nice optional upgrades in this model, including the ability to write reasonably well, and to understand science and math and have a really good memory and to have musical ability and creativity and imagination and all that stuff.  Parts of my nervous system are really excellent.  But often the flaws make the benefits moot and, ironically, the benefits sometimes exacerbate or highlight the defects.  Imagine, for instance, having a superhuman sense of smell (one that doesn’t ever shut off) and being confined to a landfill or a sewer…or a mass graveyard in the era before embalming.

Still, I’ve certainly never wished that I were anyone else, though I’ve often wanted to be like certain characters in certain ways.  Who hasn’t?

I don’t even know what it could possibly mean for a person to become someone else.  I mean, if I’m not me—if I don’t have continuity of memory and experience with the person I was in the past—then the person I was is dead and gone.  If some other person and I swapped every aspect of our beings, each suddenly becoming identical to the other and in the same place the other was, then absolutely nothing would have changed, and neither of us would notice anything different.  Because the person I am would still be thinking and remembering and experiencing the stuff I am experiencing, and likewise for the other person.  Of this I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt—indeed, beyond nearly any doubt at all, except the doubt that in principle must always remain, the possibility that I could discover that I am incorrect about any or all of my knowledge.  This is possible in principle.  In practice, though, I’m thoroughly satisfied with my provisional conclusions regarding this matter*****.

That’s what’s been going on this week, in rough and disjointed outline.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and thereafter regarding my fiction writing.  I’ve continued to think about events to come in the story, and even more so in Changeling in a Shadow World, which is somewhat related to Outlaw’s Mind, and distantly related to The Chasm and the Collision, and strongly related to my long-lost book, Ends of the Maelstrom.  So, it’s not as though I don’t have any interest in the stories or can’t think what to do with them.  I just don’t have any will to write them.  What’s the point?

Of course, one could say “What’s the point of anything?” and indeed, I often do.  But there has to at least be some local drive or incentive or motivation or whatever you want to call it to make a person do something that requires effort, and right now, I don’t have it.  I don’t really have any particular, engaging interest in anything at all.  If breathing weren’t automatic, I don’t think I would do that.  Ditto for all the motions of day-to-day life; they are all basically automatic, almost vegetative, for me, and I’m apparently built to be good at doing automatic things****** even when in severe pain or thoroughly depressed.  But if I could just stop and go into standby mode, into some sort of suspended or even aborted animation—perhaps indefinitely, perhaps forever—I would do that.  It’s hard to see any reason to do anything else.

I hope you’re all feeling quite a bit better than I am.  I truly hope that everyone reading this is having a very happy holiday season, or whatever you’re doing, and that you spend time with those you love, and who love you.  Remember, just being aware in some vague, academic sense of the fact that you love them doesn’t do anyone any more actual good than you “sending them your hopes and prayers”.  It’s a bit like telling someone thousands of miles away, who doesn’t have a computer or access to one, that you’ve downloaded a game that they would really enjoy—or perhaps some more functional program that would really be useful to them if they had it—and that you had them in mind when you downloaded it.  It’s nice of you to think of them; don’t get me wrong.  It’s certainly better than not giving a shit.  But it has its limits.



end of evangelion

*See how I changed that up a little?

**I think that’s what they called it.

***That’s Shinji’s dad’s name.

****I’ve even gone so far as to try to send “subtle” messages by sharing YouTube “videos” of songs with titles/messages, sometimes several in a row, in an order that, if someone were paying attention, would delineate a slightly coherent message via their titles.  But it’s cryptic and silly, and no one’s paying close enough attention to get the point, even if there were anyone out there who thinks enough like I do to get it.  Anyway, even if anyone got it, I’d probably pretend it was just a joke, or that I didn’t really mean it, and try to act like I didn’t actually want or need anything.  It’s stupid, but I don’t know how to get around it.

*****This reminds me of a quote, attributed to Einstein:  “In principle, principle and practice should be the same, but in practice, they rarely are.”

******This blog is one of them.