That Which I Left Behind

If you come here looking for more of the novel today, nope, won’t find it.  There was some, but not a lot.  Why?

Sickness.  For the most part.

I did as I am want to do; blog in the morning and head for work, though sometimes those lines get blurred just a little.  But if you’ve been following me for the last few days you’ll know I’ve not been feeling one hundred percent, or even close to seventy or eighty.  It’s been like a low-level “blah” that had taken over, and it was messing me up something bad.  A few headaches, some dizziness, and a bit of nausea.

It was the last that really hit me yesterday morning, and I was unable to work through it as I have over the last couple of days.  So it was a quick walk to the bathroom to, um, purge, you might say, and then back to my desk.  I repeated that about ten minutes later, and once back at my desk I was about to pen an email to my manager telling him I was leaving for the day when he strolled in and I told him in person.

"I have to leave for the day; I don't feel well.  PS:  sorry about the bathroom."

“I have to leave for the day; I don’t feel well. PS: sorry about the bathroom.”

After a slow walk home I crashed and slept for about an hour, hour and a half.  I think it was more than an hour, but I’m not really certain because my head was kinda spinning a little by the time I made it through the door.

The thing is upon waking up I felt fine.  My head wasn’t spinning, my stomach had settled down, and I could actually wear my glasses without feeling like my head was spinning out of control.  In short, I seemed much better, and told my friends this amazing fact.  With this I changed my clothing and went out to pick up a few groceries, then decided much later to do an early dinner, with my computer, and get in some writing.

See?  Pretty much better.

See? Much better because I’m doing what I always do.

The writing wasn’t there, however.  I knew what I wanted to write, but I couldn’t get my head around it.  I’d written twelve hundred words the night before, and a lot of times when I do that I can’t find the focus to do the wording.  I manged just a little over four hundred, but when I realized more wasn’t coming without some teeth pulling, I shut it down, just as William Gibson suggested.

I realize today that I will be incredibly busy over the next week.  I have a novel for my book club to finish, a letter or two to write, and a few other things planed.  Next Friday I do my shot in the morning because I have labs in the afternoon, and the next shot after that I’m going to do a little video for.  I’m also planing on doing another video reading, probably within the next couple of weeks.

And the novel; don’t forget the novel.

This is all going somewhere.  I just wish I knew where.


The Running of the Thoughts

To everyone who sent me well wishes yesterday, thank you!  It’s not often I hear, “Get well soon!”, and it’s always good to get cheered up when you feeling bad.  I spent the day resting and sweating out the cold, and didn’t think about opening up my story because I couldn’t sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time.  Writing would have been a wasted endeavor, and it’s better to try and play catch up this week than to have tried to make a go at writing when I was half out of my mind with the flu.

"This is the part where she's speaking to a teacher--why do I have a dragon attacking Boston?"

“This is where she’s speaking to a teacher–why do I have a dragon attacking Boston?”

Everything is just about back to normal, other than the fact that I feel like I’ve run a race, and there is a constant ringing in my right ear, probably from all the coughing yesterday.  But the strangest part is still with me:

My half-awake dreams.

Whenever I get the flu and it finally starts to break, it’s as if I have no off button on my stream of conciseness.  When I was dozing in my chair in front of the television I’d catch myself mumbling things.  I have no idea what, but I know I was in a state of semi-sleep, and I was sort of talking.  Then once I’m in bed, it’s all about my thoughts running at high speed, like they all have to be somewhere in a big hurry.

I’ve always wondered why this happens, and why I get hooked up on some rather unusual thoughts.  The time I remember the most was waking up, sweating and shivering like crazy, and more or less hallucinating that I was going through the landing checklist for a C-130 cargo plane prior to setting it down on a beach.  Sometimes I’ve had phrases or songs get caught in a loop, and hear that spoken over and over for what seemed like hours.  I was told a couple of times that I didn’t just mumble in fever dreams, but that I’d hold conversations with people.

Last night was pretty much the same.  I was off on mind trips of things happening with color wheels, and discussing fictional characters as if they were people sitting in the room with me.  For a while I was working on a check list for something–never figured it out, however.  It was just a checklist and nothing more.  And I had a conversation with someone I knew, but haven’t seen in a while, about kids and weather and books.

All of that happened in the three hours between the time I went to bed, and when I got up to check the time.  It’s felt like most of the night was behind me–wrong.  It hadn’t even started.

When you’re delirious, the mind doesn’t know how to stop, and the fences that normally keep things in are nowhere to be seen, so thoughts come at you like snow falling from the sky.  You can’t stop them:  all you can do is let them fall and wonder how wet you’ll get.

If it wasn’t for the fact you feel so miserable before this happens, I’d suggest it happen more often.

Flu Bound and Down

The last twenty-four hours have been my own special hell.  By the time I rolled out of Panera yesterday I was feeling sorta okay, but after paying a bill and having lunch, I knew I was sinking fast.  I figured it was a cold, so yesterday afternoon I bundled up, took some medication, and relaxed.

By six PM I knew the truth:  I had the flu.

I was tired; I couldn’t concentrate that well; I hurt all over, particularly in my joints.  I wasn’t running a fever–or if I was, I didn’t realize it–but I was coughing a lot.  Sometimes it was a dry cough, sometimes a lot of stuff from my chest would come up.

It has been hard to do anything, but I’m doing it.  I was out already this morning to pick up some food, things I could eat that would make me feel better.  I had oatmeal with blueberries and honey, with a little yogurt on the side.  Later I’ll have tea and more yogurt.  Light, healthy things that will help get my flu out of my system by helping my immune system.

Oh, and I’m doing laundry, because I have nothing clean, and the sooner I get this done, then I can get back into my pajamas and relax.

I’m trying to write, but it’s slow going.  I can only work about fifty to hundred words at a time, then I have to go sit or lay down for about thirty, forty minutes, because it hurts to look at the screen, it hurts to sit on this little writing chair, and whenever I start coughing my head hurts.

This sucks very hard.

I wrote last night, but over the course of four hours I only managed five hundred and sixty words.  I know:  stupid.  I should have just relaxed.  At the same time my mind was working, and I couldn’t shut it down, so I had to get up and write.  I consider it a victory, because I did create something that was actually worthwhile.  Had to do it, just like I’m blogging today.  I should be resting, but I’m crazy.

And then I didn’t sleep that well, but when I did, I was dreaming of running from zombies and figuring out how to make maps showing infestation locations using Photoshop.  Yeah, it wasn’t fun, and I blame Zombie Lori, because I want to see her come back and eat Rick’s face, and it’s probably not going to happen . . .

"Carl isn't in the house--have you see him?  Shit, I mean--arrrhuggreehug!"

“Have you seen Carl?  He isn’t in the house!  Shit, I mean–arrrhuggreehug!”

Today I rest.  I’ll probably get well enough tomorrow to be able to head into work.  That’s always the suck, because your weekend is completely in the toilet and there is nothing you can do, but come Monday you have your energy back, just enough that you can make it through the day in a semi-coherent mode.  That’ll be me:  semi-coherent, making a show of the situation.  But I probably will feel better tomorrow.

Then I can get back into my life.

At Home With the Insane

Lets get this out of the way right now:  I have mental illness.

I was in therapy at ten because I was lonely, frightened, depressed, and didn’t like the company of others.  Well, there were a few reasons leading to that, but part of my problem is that I was bi-polar.  My therapist then was starting to get to the root of things, then my parents pulled me out of there because, one, they didn’t see improvements, and two, they thought the woman who was working with me was putting “strange ideas” in my head.

Let me tell you, she didn’t have to:  there were plenty of strange ideas there already.

I had friends when I was in school, but not a lot.  I started smoking pot in 1972, and drinking a couple of years later.  These days the behavior is called “self medication”; back then it was just getting high.  And I did it quite a lot.  Mostly because it felt good, mostly because it kept whatever demons were chasing my ass away.  I had my books and I had my music, but I also had my “medication”.

There were some incidences of bullying in school, but nothing really physical.  It was all mental, all designed to wear you down and break you.  At the end of the day, when I walked home from school–because after a while I was afraid to take the bus, and I didn’t want to be with other kids–I’d sometimes find a moment, while alone in the woods, to cry a bit.  I did that often, and it bothered my parents when they saw it happen, so I only allowed myself the chance to do this when I was by myself, and there was no chance of being discovered.

There was a place where we used to get our drugs, and sometimes even our booze.  The home was owned by a husband and wife, with the husband’s brother living with them as well, and they seemed to be able to get their hands on just about any kind of drug you wanted.  For the most part I was interested in pot, but they let it be known that they could get their hands on just about anything . . .

And not just drugs, either.

There was one time when a friend and I stopped over to see them, to buy a bag, and the brother wanted to show me the latest acquisition–which were not drugs.  I didn’t get a full tally of what they had, but I do remember four M-16’s, a couple of boxes of grenades, and . . .

See, the story they were giving us was they’d knocked over a National Guard armory a few nights before, which may or may not have been true.   This was 1973, Vietnam was winding down, and who the hell knew what was being kept in some of these places?  In all likelihood they’d traded a lot of kilos of drugs for weapons, but since I knew these guys were a bit crazy themselves, it was just as likely they’d knocked over an armory.

But lets get to the payoff, the item hinted upon.  The brother opened up as case and said, “Hey, I got twenty kilos of C-4.  I’ll let you have it for $250:  I’ll even throw in the detonators and det cord.”

So lets review:  a guy I knew was offering to sell me about forty-five pounds of high explosives, along with the means to use it, all for $250.  Which I happened to have.

I said no, because . . . well, what was I going to do with twenty kilos of C-4?

Let me also state this:  I was very smart and very imaginative back then.  I was also pissed off and scared and upset a lot as well, and for a few weeks after that incident my fevered little mind thought up all sorts of shit that I could have done with that sort of stash.  The only reason I didn’t?  Stephen King put into words many years later:  “If you take yourself out, you’re a hero.  If you take out others when you take yourself out, you’re chickenshit.”  I hated myself, and a few other people, and if I really wanted to get back at those I hated, I’d get after them, and that would be that.  Anyone else who’d get caught in your madness would just notch you a little higher on the Chickenshit of the Year list.

I won’t say the thoughts of revenge and getting evenness vanished after that time.  Oh, no.  They aren’t there as much any more, but they still show up from time to time.  These days I chalk up thoughts like that as “Research”, because you never know when you’ll need to know, like I did in 1991, how to bring down a very tall office building–say, 125 to 150 stories–with everyone inside.  I spent a few days looking over the office building I worked in at the time, and understood that, if you have the right tools, it’s not that hard.

I did that because I needed a scene for a game I was running.

I don’t act upon any of these ideas–which are research, remember, because I do write; you should see the really bad ones–because I’m not that crazy.  I’m bi-polar, but I can tell the difference between right and wrong, and as ignorant as I have believed most of my co-workers to be from time to time, I’d never do something that would eventually see me labeled as a “disgruntled worker”.  (Does this mean there’s a grunted worker?)  As an atheist I long ago created my moral compass, and have worked at doing the right things because they are right.

Taking out others just because you’re nuts and pissed off at the world is the wrong thing to do.

Probably is, a lot of people don’t have the same moral clarity as I.

If you are mentally ill, getting help is damn near impossible in the U.S..  You are stigmatized because you have a “problem” that you can’t “handle”, and if you just “sucked it up”, you’ll work through it.  That was what I was taught as a kid; it was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now.  It is easier to get access to treatment these days, particularly if you work for a large company, but that’s only come about after more than a few large companies have had their offices shot up by disgruntled workers, and they’d had to go through the hassle of hiring new people.

That was how I got treatment.  The company I was working for had a program, and I basically had to tell my manager I was loosing my shit, and bad things were going to happen if I didn’t get help.  They told me to call the help line to set something up, and then let me go home for the day.  Let me repeat that:  I professed to suicidal behavior, and they had me call a help line, and then sent me home.  Now, I did get in to see a counselor a few days later, and while she was a great person, she couldn’t get me medication.  The only person who could do that was a psychiatrist, but it might be weeks before I could get in and see one of those.  She told me the easiest thing to do was go to the local ER, tell them I was suicidal, then have myself checked into a facility for forty-eight hours–at which point I could get on meds.  Oh, and lets point out:  she couldn’t commit, even with my permission.  I had to do it myself.

That was how I was able to get on medication to help me with my bi-polar disorder, and all it really took was . . . maybe two weeks of speaking to, or seeing, different people.

Good thing I wasn’t having any serious problems.

You wanna have a discussion?  Lets talk about why we have the worst system for mental health this side of the old Soviet Union.  Lets talk about why if you need help, it’s a culture of “Go see them; I can’t do anymore for you”.  Lets talk about why people are vilified and made to think they are even worse than they are if they profess to being sad, or depressed, or if they feel like they have no choice but to hurt themselves.  Lets talk about why we have so many people with mental health issues in the first place, brought about by stress, by over-work, by being made to feel that if they are LBGT they are scum and should probably die anyway.

Lets talk about why it is every time someone who is mentally unbalanced, who isn’t getting help, flips the hell right out and does something horrific, we act so surprised that something like that can happen here.  Lets talk about the idiots who, upon hearing about said horrific thing carried out by the mentally unbalanced, believe the one thing that will fix this problem is arming everyone . . .

Those of you who think that last is the end-all solution to everything, there’s this thing called “Cause and Effect”.  You fix the cause, the effect becomes diminished.  It does work.  Reaction to the effect does little good, because you didn’t prevent the effect from occurring.  That is what the kids these days call Epic Fail.

There needs to be dialog.  There needs to be discussion.  Without discussion there are no solutions.

Without solutions there is no future.