Life Is More Than A Bumper Sticker ~ Late Afternoon Thoughts

On a site I follow daily, they posted about depression as living in the past. There’s a tremendous truth to that…However, those of us living with depression for any length of time also know “the mind is a dangerous place to wander in, unaccompanied – especially at night.” And that depression is more than a bumper sticker.

Over these last few years – you’re welcome to read about it in other posts – I’ve also discovered there’s a huge difference between the “dark night of the soul” and a “dark night”. Tuesday was one of those “nights”.

Duane Townsend (.com)

Duane Townsend (.com)


It’s a feeling of things not being quite right, of emotions that want to come to the forefront for no apparent reason. It’s a soft feeling of dread. A feeling of loneliness that may or may not have roots in reality.

It’s a terrible feeling when you that in your mind there’s no one to call … which is vastly different from the feeling there’s no one who cares

Sometimes, I set the timer and just “let it all hang out”,~ however,  sometimes – such as tonight – it’s more important to do a version of what AA calls fearless moral inventory. I do what I call a version of that because when I’m doing this inventory, I must sit quietly and track back where this is all coming from.


You see for those of us with severe depression, there is no “It will suddenly get better”, “snap out of it, quit being selfish”, “fake it ’till you make it” or “Pray and all will go away as if it had never been”. If such things had worked for me, there wouldn’t be the gash scar on my forehead or the long scar on my neck from the exploratory surgery to see if I’d damaged something after I’d tried to commit suicide.

And I've actually had a couple of these tossed my way ...

And I’ve actually had a couple of these tossed my way …

For those of us with severe depression, it’s a life-long job. And 99% of the time, it’s a job that’s actually quite easy…it’s that 1% which gets really, really difficult and makes even doing the simplest tasks a major undertaking.

And here’s the other “rub” … sometimes when we are going through these “dark night(s)” … it’s highly possible no one will know. We’re awfully good at hiding. There are those we can’t hide from – ourselves and our [don’t judge my term here – there’s a reason for it] higher power, and eventually, one of the two (if not both) will get our attention …

When I was at CRU, they gave us a tool called F.L.A.S.H to instantly check our feelings (which as you know, feelings are neither right NOR wrong – they just are.). F-fearful, L-lethargic, A- angry, S- sad. (not just “down” but sad) and last H-happy. Of course, being the sane adults we all were, we laughed quietly at such a childish idea. Childish until you realize that given the letter – you then must try to identify why. Not necessarily solve it, but identify it ….. Ah, not so childish or easy now, is it ….
So, after – OK, the truth – two days of F,S,S,F,A (FSSFA sounds like a bill from a drunk congressional committee) I can say I’m firmly in the H camp.

This isn’t a call for pats on the back … but rather part of my ongoing attempt to be honest and transparent with others …

We will now resume your regularly scheduled broadcast. 

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night ~

My absolute favorite contest has just announced their 2012 winners!!!

That’s right, this years crop of entries to The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (Where “WWW” means “Wretched Writers Welcome” ) have been judged and found appropriately wanting.

For those who may not know, Bulwer-Lytton produced the lines:

“it was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness” as well as the infamous “unwashed masses”.

To say that his novels were turgid and overwritten would be an understatement.

Every year authors submit their worst possible (possibly) opening paragraphs – and winners in various categories are chosen.

Here are two of my favorites from this years crop:

“Professor Lemieux had anticipated that his latest paper would be received with skepticism within the small, fractious circle of professional cosmologists, few of whom were prepared to accept his hypothesis that our universe had been created in a marijuana-induced industrial accident by insectoid aliens; nevertheless, he was stung when Hawking airily dismissed it as the Bug Bong Theory. — Alan Follett, Hercules, CA”

Closely followed by:
“They still talk about that fateful afternoon in Abilene, when Dancing Dan DuPre moonwalked through the doors of Fat Suzy’s saloon, made a passable reverse-turn, pirouetted twice followed by a double box-step, somersaulted onto the bar, drew his twin silver-plated Colt-45s and put twelve bullets through the eyes of the McLuskey sextuplets, on account of them varmints burning down his ranch and lynching his prize steer. — Ted Downes, Cardiff, U.K.”
To read all the winners past and present (and perhaps enter yourself) – here’s the link

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night (2) ~ Early Evening Thoughts

As I mentioned that last time I posted about Bulwer-Lytton, it wasn’t that he was a bad writer, he just wasn’t very good at it. I think one of the expressions used to described his style might be purple prose (probably because it’s been beaten into submission!).

“It was a dark and stormy night; </STRONGthe rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
–Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

It’s not that Bulwer-Lytton wasn’t a thinker, as he was very good at observations about life and people: “The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.”for example.

It’s just that as a novelist he, as many of the writers of the time, wasn’t very good. And to compound matters, Bulwer-Lytton kept inflicting his novels on the public: The Last Days of Pompeii, Eugene Aram, Rienzi, The Caxtons, The Coming Race, and–not least–Paul Clifford.

He also entered some great quotes into our daily use: “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,(my personal favorite)” and “the almighty dollar.”

In 1982 The English Department at San Jose State University started sponsoring the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

Over the years the contest has grown and the entries more fun. I understand that some people spend up to a year working on their sentences. I know that the year I entered I spent quite a bit of time on my entry ~ which obviously wasn’t quite enough.

Here are some of this year’s winners:
(this grand prize winner takes a little more concentration than most!)

Gerald began–but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them “permanently” meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash–to pee.
—Jim Gleeson Madison, WI ~ the 25th

The Barents sea heaved and churned like a tortured animal in pain, the howling wind tearing packets of icy green water from the shuddering crests of the waves, atomizing it into mist that was again laid flat by the growing fury of the storm as Kevin Tucker switched off the bedside light in his Tuba City, Arizona, single-wide trailer and by the time the phone woke him at 7:38, had pretty much blown itself out with no damage.
—Scott Palmer, Klamath Falls, OR

This one would have made Bulwer-Lytton exceptionally proud:
Grand Panjandrum’s Award

LaVerne was undeniably underdressed for this frigid weather; her black, rain-soaked tank top offered no protection and seemed to cling to her torso out of sheer rage, while her tie-dyed boa scarf hung lifeless around her neck like a giant, exhausted, pipe cleaner recently discarded after near-criminal overuse by an obviously sadistic (and rather flamboyant) plumber.
—Andrew Cavallari, Northfield, IL

Winner: Children’s Literature

Danny, the little Grizzly cub, frolicked in the tall grass on this sunny Spring morning, his mother keeping a watchful eye as she chewed on a piece of a hiker they had encountered the day before.
—Dave McKenzie, Federal Way, WA

Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was Polartec 200 (thanks to gene splicing, a diet of force-fed petrochemical supplements, and regular dips in an advanced surface fusion polymer), which had the fortunate side effect of rendering it inedible, unlike that other Mary’s organic lamb which misbehaved at school and wound up in a lovely Moroccan stew with dried apricots and couscous.
—Julie Jensen, Lodi, CA

Dishonorable Mention
Out of a hole in the ground popped a bunny rabbit which had a long thick orange carrot between its teeth and a big splotch of mud on its back that had dried into a dirt clump the size of a tumor.
—Veronica Perez. Palm Springs, FL

Winner: Detective Stories

I’d been tailing this guy for over an hour while he tried every trick in the book to lose me: going down side streets, doubling back, suddenly veering into shop doorways, jumping out again, crossing the street, looking for somewhere to make the drop, and I was going to be there when he did it because his disguise as a postman didn’t have me fooled for a minute.
—Bob Millar, Hässelby, Sweden

She’d been strangled with a rosary-not a run-of-the-mill rosary like you might get at a Catholic bookstore where Hail Marys are two for a quarter and indulgences are included on the back flap of the May issue of “Nuns and Roses” magazine, but a fancy heirloom rosary with pearls, rubies, and a solid gold cross, a rosary with attitude, the kind of rosary that said, “Get your Jehovah’s Witness butt off my front porch.”
—Mark Schweizer, Hopkinsville, KY

Dishonorable Mention
What shocked Juliette as she entered the room was not that there was
an escaped convict under her coverlet snuggling with her best teddy bear, but that there was a knife through his back, “And who,” she wondered out loud, steadying herself against the faux-taffeta wallpaper, “would stab a teddy bear?”
—Katie Alender, Studio City, CA

Hopefully, you will enjoy one more ~ my personal favorite of ALL time. This is the 1983 Grand Prize Winner:

The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails–not for the first time since the journey began–pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.
–Gail Cain, San Francisco, California

All entries from
Complete rules for entering are at the site as well.

—more on the date tomorrow

Complex Tales Or Flip The Switch Henry! ~ Early Evening Thoughts

The finals of the “it was a dark and stormy night” for this year have been announced and will be posted tomorrow night probably… (thanks EB for the heads-up)…Today was my own “dark and stormy”, or so I thought. Along with the usual phones, people, a boss wanting to micro-manage, demands on time and energy – I had my personal SWAT team here today (again with the vice-grip handshake!).

They really worked very hard to get a lot of things accomplished. There was much noise of maintenance happening ~ a lovely sound I haven’t been able to hear for awhile! I also went with them (at their invitation since I was the one with petty cash!) to purchase some of the needed materials.

While on the way back from the trip/expedition I got a phone call from a restricted number. When I answered it, a woman simply started the conversation with: “This IS the ________ apartments, right?” I answered in the affirmative. “And you DO have an apartment XXX, right?” Again, I answered in the affirmative. “And you ARE at __________________, right?” Once more (with little feeling) I answered in the affirmative. “We’ll be out,” was her response as she hung up.

I have to admit there was a sinking feeling of my heart heading for my shoes, and my stomach heading out my back. In all honesty, I inherited a complex (as I’ve indicated) that has suffered from severe managerial neglect (for lack of a better or more politically correct term) ~ and by taking on this inheritance, I also have inherited the possibility of some consequences from the city. I now made the assumption that the call was from one of the city departments (correct assumption) about to do an inspection (wrong assumption).

By the time we arrived back at the complex, I had developed a somewhat plausible plan of action. However, when I sat down at my desk, the phone rang again. This time it was a person who nicely identified themselves as someone from CPS (child protective services) who wanted to know if I had received a call from a parole officer about one of my apartments. Now, I know the person who lives in the apartment in question ~ which is directly above mine. The thought that they might be on parole was indeed laughable. Then ~ as Paul Harvey would say: “The rest of the story…”

It seems this “lady” with six (yes, six!!!) children had given her parole officer my complex and one of my apartment numbers as her address. This “lady” was on the “run” and they were trying to find her. At the end of what I would call a good bridge building conversation, the person made the statement: “Aren’t you glad we called rather than just showing up with police and all?” To which I had to agree. What I didn’t tell them was the image that ran through my mind at that moment, was a montage from several silent movies … that was best left unsaid.

The day carried on from there ~ and made me think my mind was beginning to turn to mush by about 4pm. And it was around that time I heard someone else’s mind beginning to turn to mush ~ or close to it. My vice-grip handshake friend was having real difficulty with something that should have been simple…even for me. (No snickering or sniggering behind your hands, please!!) The light fixture in the laundry room needed to be changed out. A new, improved one had just been purchased and was being installed.

I was watching the miracle of electricity being installed when I was interrupted by a tenant who took literally five minutes to tell me someone needed to clean up in parking slot 5. (Clean up in aisle four!) I kid you not — FIVE minutes. I had to interrupt watching to go on poop detail in front of the complex. All I will say, that was one healthy dog!

I thought when I got back, I would see the wonder of light in the laundry room ~ which had been absent for awhile. Unfortunately, there was no power to the light or the light switch. Everything else in the room was working as it should. My vice-grip handshake friend was reduced to vague mutters about ~ well, I’m not sure what they were about, but I have a feeling various people’s (possibly mine) ancestries were being called into question.

The two of us went through various scenarios, ideas and thoughts. We both prodded, poked and twisted various things to see if they would work. At one point, vice-grip handshake went and purchased a new circle fluorescent bulb to see if that was the problem.

Finally, about the third time we were tearing apart the light switch, it hit me. The breakers. Off to the electrical box ~ some choice words on my part now and definitely an ancestry called into question. I had posted about the maintenance man who is no longer here due to getting in between two people who were arguing – and both people turned on him. He had the key to the locks on those boxes.

Fortunately, vice-grip handshake and those accompanying him have great experience in drilling locks – and in moments we were into the box and checking the breakers. There it was, the one switch on the top. A slight flick of the switch, and there was now power in the laundry room, joy in my heart and vice-grip handshake realized that I might be mature – but I’m NOT dead!!

All in all, a satisfying day.

As I was posting this tonight, I was reminded of a Lewis Carroll poem I once earned three dollars from my parents for memorizing at a very young age…

I’ll leave you with that poem tonight:

You Are Old, Father William

“You are old, father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head–
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door–
Pray what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment – one shilling a box–
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak–
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose–
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs.

—more tomorrow
should be able to post pictures this weekend!!!