A Raymond Chandler Evening

Today the weather shifted and instead of it being a sweltering August day, it seemed a more like autumn. The wind blew in from the north, bringing with it rain and then hail. Winter is coming, only now I don’t fear the severity of the change in seasons as I once did. I see the beauty in how things change and look forward to what every season will bring. This beautiful thing we get to experience called life. It’s no wonder I have this feeling in spite of my recent stresses, court hearings, and all that go with it. When bad things happen, even if they didn’t happen for a reason, it is up to us to find a reason. Some pearl of wisdom or truth that carries us to the next day.

I woke up this morning at around 8:00am after a few hours of sleep. My mom was selling soap in the park for North Park Days at her stand and I told her I would help her set up. I hadn’t slept much, just a few hours. I received some bad news last night from an old buddy about a mutual friend of ours who had taken their own life.

It was hard to comprehend at first because this person had just posted comments on my Facebook less than a week ago. We even had a decent conversation or two on messenger. They seemed to be doing well! A part of me somehow thought that I could message them and maybe they weren’t so far gone as to reply. It was absurd. Like an impulse to call the number of someone who has been gone for many years and not only will they pick up the phone, but they would be exactly as you remembered them. Because it wouldn’t be calling them today, but calling them twenty years ago.

I knew this friend was gone and it didn’t surprise me how or why. The image of them just sliding away out of reach and into the dark. It was real. For years I watched them struggle with clinical depression. I felt relief for them that they were no longer in pain. What hurt was seeing how a person ends their life in this way they tear a hole in their world and everyone who cared about them are pulled down into it with them. The living recover, to a point, but they have to deal with the aftermath. They are left wondering what if they had just made a little bit more effort, how would things be different?

We really weren’t mad at them. We had seen the struggles they went through and how the meds didn’t work or worked too much, reducing a jovial, gregarious person into a wooden person with slurred speech who fought just to walk across a room. They aren’t in pain anymore, which is the silver lining I have to take from that. My buddy and I caught up for about an hour. We talked about the old days and the people we knew. He said good night. Then for two hours, I just lie in bed thinking.

After helping my mom set up, I was tasked with making her lunch, so I made a quiche. It might be the best quiche I’ve made yet. It felt good to create and even better to cook for someone else. It has been a while. I’ve lost a lot of weight during the past month. When it’s just me at home, I tend to scrounge. I couldn’t put a number on it, but I’m down to the last notch on my belt. The other day, I was able to fit into my kilt, something I haven’t been able to do in years. Funny that dad bods are a trend and I seem to be burning mine off. Maybe I am a contrarian.

I did dishes. Scrolled tiktok as the quiche cooked. Sent videos back and forth to a dear friend whose life has also become complicated. It was nice to share with them while we both had a moment to catch our breath. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s hard to be involved in someone’s life when you are being pulled in a hundred directions. Sometimes it just feels like it’s all gone crazy. The world we live in is upside down and we are all just so rattled by everything these days. I miss the hell out of them, but that does neither of us any good. So I’m trying my damnedest to be supportive without smothering. Sometimes I achieve this goal.

I was writing for a bit until I heard the wind outside picking up. The sound of rain falling on the street and the roof through the screen door. It was such a wonderful sound. Until I remembered my mom was still at the park in her tent selling soap. I hopped in the car and by the time I rounded the corner to the park, I got the solitary text from my mom.

“Help”

By the time I got there it was beginning to hail. We broke down the shop and the tent and had everything ported to our vehicles just in time for the rain to stop and the air to be calm. By then the fair was done, hailed out. Afterwards, I came home and took a nap, catching up on a little bit of the sleep I had lost the night before. With a 4:00 invite to dinner with my folks, I forced myself out of bed at 4:15pm and headed to their house with Penny so she could play in the yard. We ate and visited and sat outside. The wind whipped up and it got cold. The sky was the color of gunmetal.

Back at home, I passed the hours alone. Even Penny went to take a nap. I sat and wrote a letter because an overcast day is the perfect time to do that. As I have written before, letters are a forgotten art. In spite of my bad handwriting I persisted. Then more tiktoks and texting.

Another friend called at ten and we chatted for an hour, shooting the shit, making jokes, and talking about the same things we always talk about when he calls. Sometimes it’s good to just be that voice at the other end of the line for someone, even when it’s the same things you’ve talked about a hundred times.

By the time we were off the phone, I could see that the window of opportunity for continuing other conversations that had begun had been missed with someone with a sweet smile and a contagious laugh. It was late. I was tired. So, I tried to go to sleep. The funny thing is that during the day, I will often hit a wall and I can’t help but close my eyes and sleep. But in the night, I am tired but very much awake. It didn’t help that tonight Penny needed to sleep on my legs and she cooked me right out of bed. So, I patted her on the head and came back to my office, sitting down to write while enjoying an adult beverage.

Two years ago I wrote this:

Here’s your inspiration for a Friday where the sky is grey and you still want to be in bed. It’s the people you let into your life and value you who make every day worth living. It’s the way you treat others and lift them up that counts. It’s the memories you hold onto that make you smile, and letting go of the ones that make you cry that bring you joy.

Clinton Danger Harris

Tomorrow holds many things for me to do. The rollercoaster of court begins again, attempting to balance all I have to do there with writing and working to build my business and make money. To chase a dream no matter how small it might seem right now. To believe that something like this is for me and not just other people.

These blogs I share are not a definitive truth or some life lesson. They are just my thoughts. Not all of them are winners, and almost all of them reflect a moment I am passing through at that precise point in my life. Which are as maleable sometimes as the sands on the beach.

The quote that I pulled tonight from 2019 was written at a high point in my life, but it still feels right. Since then, I’ve lost and gained people. And even some people have always been there, supportive, caring, and pulling for me through the good and the bad. Even when I wasn’t looking right at them. I am blessed. Though sometimes I am very anxious at what the future holds, I don’t fear the future. The challenges I face somehow all have come together to work perfectly in some way, even if they don’t feel right at the time.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on a Raymond Chandler evening. So, I give you this. Be well and be kind to each other. Don’t waste a single moment.

Throw some pills at it

I had a weird conversation with my dad a little while ago.  We were discussing my depression.  Yes, I struggle with it.  But I choose to not see it as a mental illness.  It has been more of a symptom of some highly stressful and extremely depressing situations.  There’s a difference.  It’s the reflective pain of something that has hurt me.  If you hit your thumb with a hammer, that pain it telling you that you have just been through some trauma.

It’s not the trauma itself.  The pain is just an indication there might be broken blood vessels, bone damage, a split nail, etc. When the pain goes away, that is an indication of healing.

Now, if I had a condition where I didn’t hit my thumb with a hammer and it just started hurting for no reason, I think that is more like what mental illness would look like.

I have been to therapy (yes, I have been asked this before).  There were some rough spots over the last several years.  I asked my therapist if I needed to be on any medication.  She basically told me I have situational depression.  It isn’t chemical.  She could prescribe pills, but really, it wouldn’t do much for me.  I had no chemical imbalance to set off my depression.  Things were just really, really shitty for me at times.

For me, taking pills would just be like loading yourself up on painkillers before building a house, that way you never had to feel when you smacked your thumb with a hammer.

The conversation with my dad went this direction, and I can’t begrudge him.  He watches me struggle sometimes, but he basically said I should get some medication for being bi-polar.  As a parent, I get it. You just want your kids to be safe. Happy.

I’m not bi-polar.

Sometimes things just suck, and sometimes I get to feel genuinely happy.  I might be closer to PTSD, since even the moments that don’t suck come with an awareness that this moment of joy is merely temporary.  And time and time again, this notion is proven.

But that is life.  Nothing lasts forever.  And for me, I wouldn’t want to walk around “happy” all the time.  Where would the contrast come from?  Where would you get the appreciation that this moment is truly wonderful when compared with others?  I think taking a pill to remove that would just about kill me.

Everything would be just flat.  No surprises.  It’s a big reason I hate being drunk.  Any joke I hear, any story I am told, is unremarkable.  It’s just numb.  The memories literally get pissed down the drain.

Why bother?

If I’m ever on the rollercoaster, it’s not in my head.  It’s struggling to deal with the ups and downs of life.  And truth be told, I usually handle those challenges like a boss.  I have some friends and family who don’t handle things so well.  Anything from being cut off in traffic to how their food is prepared when they go out to eat.

I am generally chill about that.

This morning, my son woke up and he was in tears.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said he didn’t want to go to summer camp.  He wanted to stay home and spend the day with me.  Man, that pulled at my heart strings, but I have to work, and he needs to be around kids instead of hanging out at home all day.

It still hit me right in my feels though.  Should there be a pill for that?  After all, I had a change in emotion.  If there is, I wouldn’t take it.  Not every morning is one where we wake up and smile at the sunshine and sing in the shower.  Some days are just blah.  Some days are magnificent.

That is just life.

Today, my son woke up with a blah.  I woke up wishing I could have slept another hour.  I hadn’t decided on the day just yet.  It’s nearly 4pm as I write this.  I’m still undecided.  Does that sound like I need to be medicated?  Or maybe just that I am apathetic to my day (other than my kid)?

My job sucks.  My blog is largely ignored and I don’t see how I could ever transition it into a career.  I miss my kids.  I work hard to break even.  But I am grateful to God for every day I get to be here in this amazing world.   Other than being bored and broke sometimes lonely, etc.  I think this life is a gift.  It always has been.  I love every minute of my life.  Even when it gets tough.  I think at those moments, I see what is happening as someone messing up a really great thing we should all get to enjoy.  The majority of my stress is external.  Usually because of assholes–of the not me variety.

For that I am grateful.

Hearing birds sing or seeing a sunset or talking with a friend are all things that give me joy.  Getting a hug from my son.  Hearing about his plans to spend his toothfairy money.  All of these things are a joy.  Even the 43rd hour of a week when he tells me all about Spiderman or Captain America, as though he is telling me about something I know nothing about.  That is a joy too.

Now, if they had a pill that would let you vividly relieve the happiest moments of your life for an hour or two…or maybe just one that lets people appreciate the good times while they are happening. Write me a scrip for that!

In the meantime, I plan on not hitting my thumb with a hammer if I can help it.

The takeaway from this is try not to be an asshole to yourself.  There is a long line of people out there happy to be one to you.  They don’t need your help.