I think November is a blue month. I’m not sure why though. Even though I thought this one started out pretty well with the election I mean. I even live in a “Blue” state and I voted that way and I was happy how things turned out. I imagine like so many that I had been looking forward to those events for months and now that it’s over, well now what?
Herman Melville wrote; “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”
The guy knew what he was talking about. I feel it. But I live in a desert. I have no boat and I’m a bit chained to a business for my income. I’ll look forward the Thanksgiving but not Christmas. What was his reference to “pistol and ball”?
I walked last night or I guess evening is more exact. I left the house around 5:30 to do my usual four miles and catch a bit of the sunset. I barely made it. The sun was down just 5 minutes after I crested the top of the hill to where I could see it. It surprised me that it happened so soon and I realized that if I did my whole circuit it would be quite dark before I made it home and I had no flashlight. But, there was the moon, a quarter or a crescent. It would be enough to keep me from stepping in a hole.
Maybe I’m trying to manufacture a metaphor here. You know the changing of seasons, a change in ones life and a light to guide one home. I guess it falls somewhere short of profound this morning, but to me it sure felt good last night.
Where did I go? Or rather, where did I go wrong? If you look at my previous post, I was lamenting the current state of our mental healthcare. But in examining myself or perhaps my “condition” I decided it was time in my life address some things that have plagued me all my life which until now I believed were not able to be changed. They are basically bad work habits, procrastination, and avoidance of problems. It turns out there may be an element of ADD in there as well. But for me never having been exposed to mental health services really, at least not on the business end, it seems that my perspectives needed some initial adjusting. What I’m saying is that a procrastinators approach will be to assign the responsibility initially to the therapist or to the medication, which is what I think I did. (This is the explanation for my absence here) But one soon finds that there is much progress when you work that way. So you are back where you started. Well sort of. You are confronted with the truth that you started down this path to fix some things about yourself that had kept you from liking yourself very much. But the thing that will be the most effective in making that change is the effort you yourself put into it.
“Mental Health Day” – not the kind where one takes off time from their usual routine, but instead what if it were like Flag Day or Memorial Day, or Labor Day, a holiday set aside for us to consider mental health, ours and the people in our lives. If you’re like me you don’t have to look too far to find a friend or relative that has dealt with mental health issues and perhaps you’ve had to deal with them yourself. From 1996 to 2005 the use of antidepressants in the U.S. was up 75% from 5.8% to 10.1%. Most of the prescriptions are being written by GP’s and the people receiving them are not being seen by a therapist or other mental health professional. A recent 60 minutes segment showed that for most people antidepressants have no significant effect over a placebo. I find something disturbing about this. This has elements of witchcraft and the ’Emperors New Clothes’. Is this the best we can do?
I’ve been single just over three years now after being married for almost thirty and it hasn’t turned out like I expected. At the time of our split I visited someone who was both a family counselor and a longtime friend as just a sort of sanity check that I wasn’t making a fateful decision without weighing all of the consequences. She did say something to me that at the time didn’t seem very important and probably wouldn’t have made a difference. She cautioned me about the possibility that once I was single that finding someone else may not happen easily or may not happen at all. I am finding out that those words meant a lot more than what I thought at the time.
Now, I am on 3 different dating sites and have been for a while and I think I am making a reasonable effort. I plan to write an essay of my experiences with the whole online dating scene, but for now despite all the hopeful anticipation I had when I started doing it, it has taking on a lot of the qualities of work.
Something made the goats happy this morning. They were running around for no reason and butting heads with each other. This morning I wish I could tap into whatever it is that they’ve got going, because I’m feeling a bit surly. A couple of months ago I re-positioned my desk in front one the bedroom windows that has one of the better views in the house. This morning I’ve been seeing baby bunnies and baby squirrels and about an hour ago there was a family of quail with a dozen little babies right in front of my window. So when you add in the goats it’s a pretty happy pastoral scene. Somethings put me off though. It must have been that woman who was supposed to come over yesterday and canceled. I’d gone into town to pick up some chardonnay to have with our dinner. I ended up drinking it alone.
Happy Fathers Day
It sort of sounds like a store special like half off Tuesdays or something, but this morning I have to function. I have repairs to make as a result of vandalism. I make my living by providing high speed internet to some communities in the mountains of Southern California and this is the first time in over eight years of being in this business that I’ve suffered any real malicious damage. It appears to be the work of kids. They took the almost worthless stuff and left the expensive stuff behind. They cut wires they could have just unplugged. I’m surprised I’m not more angry than I am. Maybe it was just my turn. I’m more disappointed that it’s disrupting my routine than anything else. I didn’t get to bed until almost 12 and now I’m up at 4. Other than that it should be a light day. Maybe there’s a nap in my future.
The series “Mad about You” has been off the air for more than a decade now, but it was great for it’s substantial themes and excellent writing. My favorite episode or episodes were in season 4 starting with “The Award” and the three part “Finale”. The events that precipitate the conflict in these episodes are; One, that Jamie kisses a coworker, Doug Berkus and two, Paul takes a walk with a woman he meets at an awards event and almost goes home with her. As Paul and Jamie confess or discover these incidents with each other it escalates into a crisis in their relationship. Each sees the others actions as a more severe violation of their trust and yet they trivialize their own behavior.
Sure, men and women tend to have different perspectives when it comes to some things like this, but it also illustrates that this may not just be perspective or cultural, but instead it is sourced somewhere deeper in our makeup. In fact this behavior may be hard wired in our brains and perhaps has been there for millions of years. Men tend to be more possessive and jealous. Sexual exclusivity in their partners means there’s a better chance that the children that they support and protect are their own. Women on the other hand see emotional fidelity as being critical. She needs the man to stay with her to support and protect her and her children, regardless of who the father of those children might be. Both behaviors tend to promote the passage of an individuals genetic material to the next generation.
But there’s nothing new there that you probably can’t find in a textbook on anthropology or behavioral science. So why write about it? It’s because as a man in my late 50′s I’d like to think that logic and experience would have more control of me and my thoughts and actions than would genetics and hormones, however incidents in my life in the recent weeks and months show I’m still as hard wired as I was 40 years ago. Well almost. What’s more disconcerting or humbling is that while we may see our actions or reactions as being rational and logical it may only be because that what we tend to do, which is rationalize them. We may be so often unaware of them being determined by some 2 million year old series of genetic code in our brains that either got turned off or on by some hormone while we were going through puberty.
The phrase “inner hairy man” came from an episode of Cheers where Frasier, Norm, Cliff, and Sam go on a road trip to supposedly discover that primal beast that supposedly lurks in all males. I may have found mine. I’m just not sure I like him that much.
I got tired of hearing them under the house and probably in the duct work too. I’d been a procrastinating homeowner when it came to some basic maintenance as some of the vermin had pulled the covers off the foundation vents and had taken up residency under my house. The vermin in question are cotton tailed rabbits. A couple of weekends ago I did the responsible thing and repaired the damaged vents with new mesh secured in place with construction adhesive. I had hope to catch the bunnies out feeding but I was aware of the risk of them being home. It’s my home not theirs.
That evening I heard them banging around under the house again knowing that they had no way out. ”Serves them right” I said. Over the next 4 or 5 days the banging gradually subsided. “Success!” or so I thought. Over the past couple of days a strange odor has begun to permeate my house, gradually getting stronger. It’s power seems to be proportional to the temperature outside and the lack of a breeze. Today it appears will be hot without much wind. I suspect a crescendo of smell. I’ll go out for dinner.
It’s a little after four in the morning and is the habit of men my age, at least in my family we tend to be very early risers. But this morning I woke with an itch, a burr under my saddle, a wart on my fanny. It’s sort of like the feeling you get at a second cousins wedding, after ceremony when you’re at the reception and there’s a bunch of people you don’t know and the ones you do know you don’t like very much and some of those you’d rather not see again. The punch isn’t spiked and the chairs are hard. I look around the room for just the right sized lout whose both a little short on both brains and temper. He will serve my purpose. I’ll tell an off color story about his sister or even step on his foot and ask him to apologize. If I’m lucky he’ll take a swing at me. I won’t duck mostly because those types of reflexes have always been slow in me, but I have another reason. The back of my head hits the floor and there’s the taste of blood in my mouth. I get up on my elbows as my tongue explores the wound. The damage is just right. I’m happy.