fifteen years

Here we are, at Tony DiNapoli’s in New York City, my lovely wife and I (and our daughter), enjoying family style fettucine alfredo and baked ziti over a glass of Chianti, because we can.

Because we’ve been married for fifteen lovely years, together for seventeen. I don’t necessarily believe in the reality of monogamy (and I think the insistence causes a lot of unhappiness in the world), but I wouldn’t choose anyone else to share these years with.

I can, without any doubt, say that I am a better man today for her, and for me.

Happy anniversary, darling.

Target: 700 words
Written: 293 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: It Devours!, The Night Vale Guys
Comics: Danger Girl: Trinity 3-4, Danger Girl: The Chase 1-2
Music: Origin Of Symmetry, Muse

all i’m saying

Is when you’re talking about suicide, depression and mental health around others, be aware that there may be sufferers nearby for whom your demonization or minimization of their struggle impacts negatively, reinforcing the very stereotypes about themselves that may be keeping in this state of diminished being.

Your words could spiral someone who was teetering, and you might not even know it.

Leave the place better than you found it. That’s all I’m saying.

And for Pete’s sake, if your only contribution to empathy is a social media post or bluster to friends, just stop pretending you give a shit, so everybody can know what an asshole you are, and not just those attuned to recognize hypocrisy and bullshit.

(Also, who’s Pete? Why are we doing things for Pete’s sake? Is Pete depressed? Should we be worried about Pete?)

Target: 700 words
Written: 41 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales (so.  goddamned.  long.)
Comics: American Vampire Second Cycle 11, American Vampire Anthology 2, American Vampire 1976 1-2
Music: One By One, Foo Fighters (the last great rock band - unless you count Jack White, which I don't after the White Stripes ended)

empathy-less

A guy we don’t know through some people we don’t know through some people we do know killed himself recently.

I’m sure it’s not that uncommon; I suspect many unexpected deaths that they don’t list causes for in the newspaper are suicide-based, more than we care to admit.

What bothers me is the response.

The condemnation of this fellow is unanimous – what an asshole for leaving his wife and children, and in his own home!

This, from people who will advocate for nearly anyone who has a “disorder”, as long as they don’t know them personally. The homeless are just broken. Oh, you can’t hold them responsible for that. They have anxiety, and get this, DEPRESSION.

And yet, the condemnation of this poor fellow is ASSHOLE, LOSER, IDIOT, MONSTER.

I don’t know anything about the situation that led to all this, so I don’t know the man’s motivations or the attitudes and behaviours of those in his life, but I suspect if he was willing to go that far, his thoughts about himself probably ran much the same.

ASSHOLE, LOSER, IDIOT, MONSTER.

And as someone who has lived with depression since I was twelve and thought about snuffing it more times than I can count, I can tell you that someone showing a little empathy, some care and concern, could very well have turned it around.

My go-to is “this too shall pass”, which reminds me when I’m feeling like that just to keep moving and the situation will change. Sometimes, that takes days. Sometimes, it just needs one other person to say something nice, or to engage you in something that takes your mind off of it.

Writing helps. Better out than in.

I don’t know anything, again, and the man or his wife, his kids, his job, whatever. Maybe he just found out he had stage 4 cancer and didn’t want to put his family through that. Maybe he was into some shady shit and his whole world was about to blow apart. His reasons might be entirely different from my own.

I don’t know if she was supportive and he was suffering psychological issues beyond what she could deal with, but from the sound of it, it was fairly unexpected, so who knows?

Either way, I think some empathy is due. He felt enough pain to make the one choice that truly abdicates one’s responsibility toward this life in which we live. That, in itself, should trigger questions as to why, not condemnations. That solves nothing, and for the other people in your life that may suffer in depression, and may be thinking of self-harm, it sends a clear message – what a worthless, idiotic, monstrous asshole you would be for committing such an act, and by extension, even considering it (which we sufferers inevitably do).

I can guarantee, because I had the fucking thought, the reaction there from those who are still suffering, was “they don’t understand the pain”, followed by guilt and a further spiral of anger, because again, the world proves it does not care about you, that it devalues you, that you are a worthless, idiotic, asshole loser and now, yes, a MONSTER.

Of course, these same people show empathy when all it requires is meaningless words to people not involved or a post on social media, but when it comes to supporting or sympathizing with someone in reality?

That’s how you know these people are more interested in status and reputation and not in empathy or helping those who suffer.

So, sorry, guy I didn’t know. You were suffering to the point where you felt leaving this life was the only reasonable choice. You didn’t have (or didn’t know you had) people around you who would support you, who would help you and you made the ultimate choice.

And while we can debate endlessly the nature of the act – cowardice and irresponsibility versus relief and the end of suffering – we can spare a minute to think of the pain of those left behind and the departed.

He made a bad choice, driven by bad feelings, caught in the tunnel vision of despair, in which one sees no options and none are presented.

Perhaps if someone had taken the time to pay attention, and provide an option or a shoulder to cry on, instead of ASSHOLE, LOSER, IDIOT, MONSTER, he might not be gone at all.

Target: 700 words
Written: 63 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales
Comics: American Vampire: Second Cycle 7-10
Music: The One, Foo Fighters

off to see the baby

Well, she’s about three now, so not really a baby, but I’m due for more childish glee and less adult drama.

Hell, nobody really wants drama, unless they’re enjoying fiction or missing something in their lives.

Peace is much more fulfilling.

Highest filling, next to a nice garlic cream sauce.

Target: 600 words
Written: 436 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: American Vampire 5-8
Music: Oil & Gold, Shriekback

about yesterday

I’m sorry about that. The world is getting to me these days. Too many assholes, or people who aren’t necessarily assholes, they’re just lost and don’t know that if they dropped all the bullshit, they’d probably get along much better with others.

At least, we wouldn’t roll our eyes when they talk.

Target: 600 words
Written: 675 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins
Comics: Ares IX - The Darkness 1
Music: Oh, Inverted World, The Shins

welcome back to emotional destitution

I know people don’t care and they sneer at people when they’re suffering, the whole “suck it up, princess” thing and sometimes, that’s a valid requirement for getting out of the shit, but sometimes…

Fuck you. Sanctimonious fucks.

Those same people often rip open their chests to show us their bleeding hearts when the sum total requirement of their action and empathy is a post on social or an off-hand comment about those poor people.

But when it counts?

When it’s people they might actually have to deal with in their lives, rather than just people they can posture around? When the reality comes in?

Suck it up, princess.

Useless.

Eye rolls.

“They just want drama.”

Absolute dismissal.

If your empathy and ability to understand the struggles and needs of those around you ends with a couple of lines on Facebook or an off-hand comment about how hard someone has it to friends to forgive behaviour that doesn’t affect you in the slightest?

You’re not empathetic. You’re not compassionate. You’re not an open-minded person who wants to help people. If you can’t hold that same empathy and understanding for the people actually in your life, whose behaviour influences your world?

Well, then, fuck you. You’re just another self-important prick, more interested in looking good than being good.

Target: 600 words
Written: 369 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: People Of The Deer, Farley Mowat
Comics: Monstress 13-16
Music: Volume 2, CKY

last man

Okay, so it’s not the first time I’ve read Y The Last Man, and it may not be the last.

It was made to be on TV, which is what makes the fact that the first time it’s adapted, it gets cancelled after one season, so damn sad.

I haven’t had the heart to sit down and watch it, but I gather they strayed from the subject matter heavily enough to make their built-in audience tune out. I heard rumblings that the show seemed overly concerned in not offending the trans community and making them a much larger part of the universe (which is fair, in a sense, because transitioning doesn’t remove the Y chromosome, so it would makes sense that trans men would play a large role as the only remaining males).

Indeed, if there’s a fault in the original, it’s that it doesn’t really explore that particular narrative very heavily, and that’s likely a product of the times, as gender reassignment surgery has mainstreamed much more heavily in the decades since its publication.

But still. Forward thinking – in our current era, with as many people transitioning as there are, it would make sense for it to be a much larger part of the world. All the men who’ve transitioned to women would be dead, given the plague’s targeting of a Y chromosome, but the other way around? Being a trans man would make one highly sought after, I would think.

I think the issue is that delving so far into that drew away from the main thrust of the book, which is Yorick and his merry band’s travels around the world. It’s like spending the Matrix movies focused on Dozer’s relationship with his brother Tank, instead of Neo, Morpheus and Trinity. It’s a nice sideline, and it can impact the main storyline, but it’s bumper on the table, not the ball we need to keep from guttering.

Target: 600 words
Written: 530 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Sword Of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Comics: Y The Last Man 57-60 (that moment with Ampersand at the end... literal tears down my face, every time)
Music: Volcano, Jimmy Buffett

you searched for… asparagus

Sometimes, I wonder, why is this my life?

Why am I sitting on a couch, searching French asparagus recipes in a pair of swim trunks and an old St. Patrick’s Day t-shirt?

I should be sunning on the beaches of Ibiza or sauntering around Vienna or Santorini, or sharing drinks with Jimmy Buffett on St. Lucia. I should be enjoying the isolation of Lapland or the bustling, noisy markets of Marrakesh or the flowing drift of the Yangtze.

I should be surrounded by people I love, not people I haven’t let get close enough to really truly be myself with.

But, then… asparagus is pretty good. I’m a big foodie, I have a nice family, I’ve done plenty of travelling, to beaches and rivers and cities and tundra and so forth.

And Jimmy Buffett is dead.

Today is about wanting what you don’t have. Today is about appreciating what you do.

And thinking the world is a worse place without the margarita man. Rest well, Mr. Buffett. I too don’t know where I’m’a gonna go when the volcano blows.

Target: 500 words
Written: 400 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Sword Of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Comics: Y The Last Man 41-44
Music: Vivid, Living Colour

party people

I used to be a party person. I could go until all hours, consume copious amounts of drugs and alcohol and make an unbearably obnoxious fool of myself.

It’s a wonder I ever had any friends at all.

Pity, I assume. I’m not blind. The cool kids all had deep connections; I was just kind of there, filling space and being an idiot.

That said, now, I made it to midnight last night and today, I’m a wreck.

Getting old is the shits, which is different than being the shit.

Much, much different.

Target: 500 words
Written: 873 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Sword Of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Comics: Y The Last Man 37-40
Music: Viva Wisconsin, Violent Femmes (I don't know what it is about these guys, but I connect so completely with literally everything they've ever done, except Vancouver, which sucks)

possible

So, I guess it’s possible to get published after all. Not that I had any doubts of my sister-in-law’s ability to do so, we’ve definitely gone about it in different ways. She’s networked her way to support for her book, and that’s the smart way to do it.

I’ve apparently opted for the struggling artist in silence, waiting for discovery somehow from the confines of my attic.

These two things are not particularly compatible. It is unlikely that I will ever be discovered, sending out screeds from my basement; it is a matter of personal disgust to whore myself out.

I know it’s about making a genuine connection with people, with those that may be into the things you’re creating. I know that.

Humanity hasn’t exactly been showing its best side lately and I wouldn’t even know where to look to find a tribe or like-minded folks without running into the kind of awful people I seek endlessly to avoid. I can’t do anymore myopic right-wingers or self-important snoots. I want genuine; I don’t want people who look down their nose at others, or those who want to drag everyone into the muck.

I can’t do it.

The time and energy commitment, when I have so little of either, is a real bummer; how could I possibly have less and survive?

I don’t know.

I am my own worst enemy.

I am my only protector.

Shit.

Target: 500 words
Written: 194 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
Comics: East Of West 36-39
Music: Vans Presents: The General Strike EP, Anti-Flag, Popcorn, Muse, The Vegas Years, Everclear