The Year That Changed My Life (Part 3)

•March 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

[This is the third of a multi-part post.]

I just want to get back into the story, like I always do.

So to change things up, I’ll let the journal do the talking first and flip the commentary to the end:

[Saturday, Nov. 18] Yesterday, after I sadly and reluctantly left Tenterden, was the most nightmarish of the days yet. I caught the bus to Hastings via a transfer in Rolvenden. A crazy character with a tumor sticking out of his neck, and smoking one cigarette after another, ranted a bit to me at the bus stop. After arrival in Hastings, I never saw him again. Hastings is a bustling coastal town, all jam-packed up to the sea, much like Brighton. I didn’t really like it. At the coach stop, I bought a ticket to Portsmouth and was told I’d have to wait until 4:30 for the next coach. It was a maddening wait, for I had arrived in Hastings at a quarter past noon. I walked down the street, thinking I’d sit by the sea, but felt anxiety that I’d miss a bus being too far from the departure spot. I wanted to travel that day, not wait around. I ended up stopping into a pub just down the road from the coach, on Queens Avenue. There I wrote postcards and put down pints of bitter. After a while an elderly couple sat down beside me and we chatted. It was a pleasant time and I got a few glances from the locals when they heard my American accent. Well, the couple left after extolling their imagined virtues [of] Disneyland, and I had another hour or two to kill. I alternated between the street and the pub. Finally, after 4:00, when I queried the bus driver, he told me there was no bus from Hastings to Portsmouth; I had to come up to London again and transfer to the Portsmouth bus. Arrgh! I was hungry, tired, and had to pee halfway through the journey. At London Victoria Coach Station I ate, double-checked schedules, and relieved myself. By 7:30, I was on the bus to Portsmouth wondering where I was going to be sleeping for the night.

[Sunday, Nov. 19] I broke down when I reached Portsmouth Harbour, The Hard, and booked the first place I saw, right across the street. I was exhausted from a long, hard day. It’s symbolic that the place I stayed [at] was called The Hard. Anyway, it was 45 pounds for the night—the most expensive to date, and nothing special. But I was able to relax, clean up, watch Monty Python on the telly, and sleep in a very comfortable bed. Unfortunately I was psychically unprepared to completely relax, and had some trouble really sleeping. I left the hotel by 11am and caught the 11:20 ferry to Ryde. It was a lovely day, warm (I’d guess 50-60 degrees F). I took the local bus in Ryde to Newport and transferred in Newport to Freshwater. I trudged up the hill at Bedford Road to Farringford Hotel where I am now in a comfortable room (No. 5) for 18.50 a night with breakfast. I made some phone calls after I settled in here—and Mrs. Wright of Totland Bay (who I’d written to months ago) fixed me up with Cambridge Lodge just down the street for the next two nights at 15.50 per. Well, I’ll save a bit and after all I’ll be closer to Dimbola (right across the road). I walked around this afternoon and photographed Farringford, the Downs, and Dimbola (photo above right). The seagulls squawked overhead, the sky was overcast. I walked down by Dimbola and looked out toward Freshwater Bay. This evening the guests have gone and I’m the only one staying here. I walked upstairs to the Tennyson library, and the young porter showed me Room #1—the poet’s bedroom, with the bathroom a walk down two stairs connected—the one that was quite probably the one in which Mrs. Cameron took the famous photo of Nelly.

[Monday, Nov. 21] This morning I transferred from Farringford to Cambridge Lodge, down the road, at a savings of 3 pounds a night. I had a good day today. I [ate] breakfast at Farringford and chatted with a nice couple in their late 40s or 50s—she German descent and he English. They wished me luck on the rest of my journey. At 10:00 I checked out of the hotel and walked down the back footpath to the entrance of Bedbury Lane. I got set up in my room and then went to Freshwater Town Centre. Everyone I met along the way was nice. I stopped in at a Travel Agent and booked a coach ticket from Southhampton to Bath on Wednesday at 1:00. I looked in the shops and got a new watchband at Reade’s. A lovely young brunette helped me with it. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by BTO played over the speakers. I thought it odd at the time. I stopped into a pub called Buddy’s and had a ham & cheese sandwich and a bitter and listened to a few songs by Buddy Holly there: “Learning the Game” and “Think It Over.” At 1:30 I stopped back [at] the Freshwater Library to meet Dr. Brian Hinton, the librarian. He looked like a British Wallace Shawn, youngish, late 30s, excitable, and we sat in the small library’s gallery where I showed him my draft of “The Wandering Moon”—he seemed pleased. He had just come from a Borough Council meeting about the fate of Dimbola. At Cambridge Lodge, I’m right across from it now. We didn’t chat long and at 4:30-5:00 I phoned Mr. R.J. Hutchings, a Tennyson scholar from Brighstone, at a phone box up the road. He’s picking me up here at 2:30 tomorrow to see my script. I had supper down at the Albion Hotel in Freshwater Bay after walking by the seafront and thinking about Everything.

[Tuesday, Nov. 21] My last night at Cambridge Lodge, across the street from Dimbola. I was up before 8:00 for breakfast at 8:30 sharp. I caught the 9:23 bus into Yarmouth and walked about there—cashed some traveller’s checks, had a coffee, and photographed the pier. I knew I had the appointment with Mr. Hutchings at 2:30, so I struggled to make it back to Freshwater, returning by 11 o’clock at the Freshwater Library the copy of Virginia Woolf’s Freshwater: A Comedy that Dr. Hinton had loaned me. We chatted for a bit while he stamped people’s books. He’s an excitable fellow, a bit scatter-brained, but the local people think he’s brilliant. He’s gung-ho about preserving Cameron House on Freshwater Bay. After speaking to him at the library I walked back to Cambridge Lodge and waited a half hour for Mr. R.J. Hutchings, who showed up in a car with his wife. They are a couple in their 60s and were pleased to show me Watts’ old house in Freshwater, The Briary, as well as Moorlands Manor down the road toward Brighstone. I showed him the script and Mrs. Hutchings made tea. We talked somewhat haltingly about Watts, Tennyson, Freshwater, and the Camerons. He seemed somewhat pleased, but didn’t envy my task in rewriting and trying to sell the screenplay. He seemed to ask me a lot of questions about filmmaking I couldn’t answer. His wife drove me back to Freshwater Bay at around 5:00. I watched telly for a while and later had supper (Beef & Guinness pie, chips and peas) at the Albion Hotel. The college crowd came in [Mike, etc.] and Glaswegian Steve behind the bar was running about. Tomorrow early I leave for Cowes, Southhampton, and Bath before [returning to] London again.

Let me just say “The Hard” never lasts. That’s a cliché, of course, but the takeaway is by enduring difficulty, seeing it through, I got to a better place in the end. There would be more strange things on the road ahead, but after the diversion back to London, and finally reaching Portsmouth, I knew I could soldier on.

The other takeaway is recalling I was completely immersed in a new world, one I never would’ve imagined existed, and would never have had been a part of, had I not laid the groundwork months before (pictured at left in my Hopkins studio apartment work area in 1989).

Just looking at that photo (taken by my maternal grandfather on a visit), confirms what my late father always said to me: “Mike is a pack rat. He makes his nest. He most feels at home when he’s like Thoreau in his Walden cabin.” I can’t confirm this statement (yet), since Dad is gone. But I’m still grateful he told me that. That pack rat nest is where I produced a lot of work, and where I developed my work ethic.

Is it my best self?

Who knows.


The Year That Changed My Life (Part 2)

•February 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

[This is the second of a multi-part post.]

In 1989, I finished the draft of my first screenplay.

Then I went to England to do research toward a rewrite.

I was living two different lives. Primary life: Average corporate drone, 29 years old, living in my first apartment and dreaming of a world beyond how everyone seemed to insist the average corporate drone live: buying things, not doing anything remarkable, and staying on the capitalist treadmill. The second life was that of a real writer, putting in the writing time, staying curious, and going out into the real world to meet people who could maybe help shape my work.

Damn, it was a heady year. That’s why I think it changed my life. And while I’m eager to pull it apart, analyze and explain it, maybe it’s best to just let it speak for itself.

So here’s how the 1989 journal continues the story of the year that changed my life:

Sunday, 19 November. Well, three days later and things went slightly askew. Right now I’m in an overly expensive hotel room, just up from “The Hard” in Portsmouth. Today I’m planning to ferry over to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, then take the local bus to Freshwater. After yesterday, I’m more skittish of timely transportation. I’ll feel more confident after today, when the workday transport is going again and the banks are open.

To recount the previous wonderful two days: [Thursday morning] I caught the coach to Tenterden via Ashford. The last Wednesday night at Holland Park Hotel was nightmarish— I got only about one and a half hours of sleep due to a noisy couple who banged about when they returned after 11pm. I was glad to be out of London Wednesday morning—I called Lindsay at work and told her I’d call her & Bill at home when I returned from the provinces. Thursday afternoon I arrived in Ashford and took the local bus to Tenterden. I found a list of B&Bs in the Visitor’s Center, called a Mrs. MacDonald within walking distance of Town Hall, settled into an upstairs room at their place and went up to town in search of food and drink. The recommended “Wool Pack” pub wasn’t open before 6pm, so I went across the street to the “Eight Bells”—I had a pint of Bitter and eventually, when it was discovered I was American, got into a conversation with the locals. One old guy, Dick, was a WWII POW in the Pacific, with him was his white-haired friend Wynn, a retired general. They were chatty, fairly agreeable folk, but Dick kept going on about us Yanks being “Our Babies” and talking politics, race, and religion. I seemed to surprise him with my general knowledge of world events prior to my birth—my working knowledge. He bought people drinks [and] I eventually had some “pub grub”—sausages, chips and salad—the younger set at the pub were beginning to pity my place beside “a yawning bore like Dick.” Apparently it turned out, after Dick, Wynn, and a younger friend left, that the regulars hadn’t seen him before. I struck up a conversation with Steve, a hospital assistant from Tenterden, 27 years old, who had been one of the folks pitying my lot and amazed at my patience. He told me to stop in at the Eight Bells at 6pm on Friday and meet him and his fiance Gloria for drinks. I agreed and went “home” to bed.

[Friday.] The previous afternoon, upon my arrival in Tenterden, I’d phoned Margaret Weare at the Ellen Terry Museum. We’d made arrangements to meet on Friday morning. The earliest bus to Smallhythe was 8:05am, so I had to be up early. I got there at 15 or 20 minutes past the hour. It was a lovely brisk morning, sun shining, frost on the grass and fallen leaves. Here I was, finally standing in front of Ellen Terry’s front door (photo at left). I half-expected her to come out and cheerfully show me in. I waited until about 8:30am, and walked about taking photos of the cottage from all sides. At 9am, a woman hailed me from an open upstairs window, asking me to come around to the left gate. There I met Mrs. Weare, a lovely woman in her mid-fifties. She show me in, we went upstairs to the library where she turned on a floor heater. We talked all the while, I showed her the script and we looked through five or six large photo albums full of Nelly in costume or various poses. It was marvellous! I looked over the old books I requested the previous afternoon—Godwin’s drawings, Nelly’s notes in the margins of books—one in particular describing a night where she’d played Ophelia opposite Irving’s Hamlet and felt she’d failed, and walked up and down the Thames embankment in despair. She wrote: “Oh the Misery I felt that night!” It spoke clear out of the ages to me.

Mrs. Weare showed me ET’s bedroom, and Forbes-Robertson’s painting of Godwin & Nelly’s house in Harpenden. Lovely! The floors of the cottage were creaky and crooked, and bent about in odd directions. The ceilings were so low I asked Mrs. Weare if Ellen had trouble walking about if she was so tall—“She was only about 5 ft. 7 in.” Mrs. Weare said.

After awhile her husband Tony, a tall, sweet man in his late fifties, showed up, apparently with a bit of a cold, and joined me in the library, reading over my script as I looked through the books. He made a few very good suggestions, but overall seemed pleased with it and said: “It flows very nicely.” I explained to them both some of the more vivid scenes: the King John rehearsal, the Charles Reade realism bit, the scene where Nelly [is] left in Tennyson’s bathroom. They seemed pleased and amused. They showed me Ellen’s costumes as Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Portia—beautiful! In one book I even got to touch a lock of Henry Irving’s hair that Ellen had kept! As I was talking to Tony, we got on the subject of Godwin and he said to me: “You realize you’re sitting in one of his chairs just now?” I nearly leapt up! It was reupholstered, but the wood was the same, with carved lion heads on either side of the top. Chilling! It probably came from the Harpenden days. I was at the museum from 8:15 to just after noon when Mrs. Weare drove me back to Tenterden and we said goodbye. It had been an absolutely magical morning.

[Friday afternoon.] I went back to the B&B, deciding to stay in Tenterden one more night. At around 3:00 I went into the Eight Bells for a drink and to recollect my thoughts when I saw Steve sitting at the bar with his pint of Stella Artois lager. I [joined him] as he unwound from another hectic day in surgery. At around 5:30 or 6 the regulars came in, Steven the barman with blonde hair and blue eyes replaced by Pete, a tall dour type who’s leaving England shortly to live with a Frenchwoman on the continent, Martin who [does] the Street Works, a cheerful guy, came in and got his own half pint mug filled. “Cheers.” Then Gloria arrived after she got off work as a nurse at the same private hospital where Steve works. We all had drinks at the bar and Steve, Gloria, and I planned to have supper at an Indian restaurant down the road. Before we were about to leave, a bearded guy to the right of me overheard me telling Gloria about my Ellen Terry film script and asked if I needed a local reference to write him. “What about my credentials?” I said, perhaps a bit cheekily. “What you’ve said already and the way you’ve said it is credentials enough,” he replied. He wrote down the address. Turns out he’s an English teacher at the local school.

After a cheery supper at the Indian place, we stopped over at Steve and Gloria’s and met their cat. Gloria expressed amazement at my trip and what it involved and said, “I think you’re very brave.” Then Steve and I went up to the Working Man’s Club and watched a mate of his, Nigel, play snooker. I got back to my room around midnight, or a little before, after Steve gave me his address and we said goodbye with a handshake in the street.

When I left Tenterden around 11:00 Saturday morning, I felt very weak and had tears in my eyes.

I think this trip is the most wonderful, and also the most difficult, thing I’ve ever done.

Sabrina Throws a Party

•February 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s unusual for me to repost after posting a new blog, but these are strange times. This post covers a night rich in memory for me about a friend who may be on his deathbed in Minneapolis. I was sorry to hear about this, but happy to (re)share this post. Mark and his family should know I wanted to use the incident (of the case of Miller beer in trunk) in an as-yet unpublished novel (a pivotal scene), so I’ll have to dig through boxes to find that and report back later. Ah, life. Go hug someone you love. Or call them. God bless you, Mark and family.

Completely in the Dark

Awaking late the morning of Jan. 1, 1978, head still buzzing from the night out with Stephanie in the backseat of Harvey’s ’68 Mustang, I had one pressing chore: Pack for the Family Project’s ski trip to Telemark Resort in Wisconsin.

Dad had rented a condo in the town of Cable, on Lake Owen, and we were leaving on New Year’s Day. We’d be gone for nearly a week. I hastily called Steph, the diary reports, “before we left around 7:00 or so. I told her I’d be thinking about her, she said she’d miss me too.” I added, “But when I get back, there will be Sabrina’s party for us to go to.”

The drive was uneventful. But when we reached the place near midnight, it wasn’t yet ready for us. Dad angrily put us up at a little place called “The Alpine Motel,” where we…

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The Year That Changed My Life (Part 1)

•February 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

When I don’t know where my life is going, I always lean back to the past. It just makes me feel better—like I actually came from someplace.

Last time we were here, at Completely in the Dark, it was the mid-1980s.

I’d left University of Iowa for a proofreader gig at a direct mail marketing corporation in Hopkins, Minn., where I’d moved in April 1986. It was my first-ever apartment (photo at left) and I was proud that I had a full-time job. I had benefits, a 401k (another first!), a new girlfriend, and I entertained coworkers with dinner parties and nights on the town.

It was a heady time.

Of course, heady was never enough and I crashed under the weight of it all in 1987. The Cliff’s Notes of the story include recovering in 1988, taking another shot at finishing an undergraduate degree, and changing work from day to night shift.

In 1989, the work change gave me time to write my first screenplay, The Wandering Moon, and still pay the rent. Then I set another goal: I’d return to England that autumn, the first draft in my hot little hand, and complete research on outstanding questions I had about the story—not to mention seeing the locations up close and personal.

Plus, it would be my 30th birthday.

I knew I wanted that milestone to mean more than a passage of years—it had to bring new purpose to my life.

In hindsight, it did. Big time.

It’s important for me to remember all this now because I’m at a similar crossroads.

I’ve just come off probably the hardest decade of my life, beginning in 2006 and finally turning around last year. Over that time I gained two new jobs, back-to-back, a condo home (with a mortgage!), a girlfriend, and was on a strong foundation.

Then 2008 arrived.

Both my parents died. The economy tanked. The following year, the girlfriend and I broke up; just over two years after that, left the full-time job. Everything went south, fast. The losses accumulated year after year from then on—less work, less money, finally losing my home and having to move in 2016. It was horrifying. But friends remarked my inborn Stoicism seemed to bear me through it all. Sometimes, not so much.

Now I’m seeing some exciting possibilities on the horizon, and I’m reminded of the year that changed my life—1989.

That year pushed open the door wider because I hunkered down and did the work. On the way to the office for evening shift, echoing in my head, I heard horses’ hooves clacking on cobblestone streets of 1864 London, after I’d been working on the script all day.

I had a goal for year’s end, and I made it.

I saw it was all possible.

So here’s how the journal begins telling he story of the year that changed my life:

Wednesday, 15 November, 1989. The Return to England.

Huh. What a day. It’s been absolutely dream-like. The plane got going late (7:05) and then we had a 1-1/2 hr. stop-over in Boston where we filled the plane to capacity. I sat next to a young guy from Oxfordshire named Gary and his red-headed little boy. The rest of his family (wife and daughter) were a few rows behind us. He was the first Brit I’ve showed The Wandering Moon to. He was impressed and amused.

Earlier, Hollingsworth had driven me to the airport in his newly bought used pickup truck. Traffic was backed up for miles and a snowstorm had begun. I was feeling jittery and anxious. The flight was tedious. I tried to read the script, then I tried to sleep. I dozed for about an hour, listening to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and dozing off to the hum of activity around me. That was the moment this dream journey began. I sat opposite on the aisle of the plane with a girl, blonde, early twenties, from a town outside Bath, county Avon, who was flying back home after staying with an American family in Wisconsin. She seemed very shy—in a tired way. She was also lovely. We only chatted now and then.

When the plane arrived at Gatwick, we all said goodbye—I hustled through Customs, getting pounds Sterling, then making the train to Victoria, London. It was a dizzying ride—my jet lag was extreme and I was swirling in my head just trying to stay awake. The countryside flicked by more frantically than I’d remembered it had when I took the coach in ’82. At Victoria, I struggled with my baggage as I attempted to relearn the Subway and eventually lugged my way to 6 Ladbroke Terrace. The Israeli/Iranian guy running the place had given up my room with facilities, but he had a cheaper room without, so I took it. I took a hot steaming bath down the hall as the maid made up the bed, and then the phone rang as I prepared to take a nap. It was Dan calling from Gatwick—Sharon had missed her flight out but her luggage was on its way to the US of A sans Sharon. So Dan & Sharon made plans to come up to see me in Kensington, then we’d go out shopping for a day’s worth of clothes for Sharon and, afterwards, supper. I slept for almost an hour, after which I phoned Abi (not at home) and Joy Melville (of the Ellen & Edy biography) and she was hurrying to meet a deadline, but she was interested to see the first draft of my script and we made plans to get together between Nov. 25–27 when I returned to London.

Dan & Sharon arrived at Holland Park Hotel around 6:00 and after a brief tour of my doormouse-sized bedsit, we went shopping. It was a fun evening, chatting happily with friendly London salesclerks. We gawked at all the toys and food items at Harrods. Then we had supper at a little café in Knightsbridge called “The Stock Pot”—chicken, soup, coffee, cake—they treated me to a birthday dinner. I got back to my room at around 9 o’clock & called Abi. Her boyfriend was over and she was doing his laundry. We chatted for a bit—I saying I’d see her on the 25th. London! What a cacophony of noise, sights—beautiful women! Tomorrow EARLY:

1) Get coach ticket to Tenterden

2) See “Choosing” at the Nat’l Portrait Gallery

3) Get back and packed and out of Hotel by 11:00

4) Get on bus to Kent!

The Boxes

•January 12, 2018 • 2 Comments

Unfortunately, still buried in boxes. Returning to new CITD posts in another week, picking back up in 1989 and the second trip I made to England that autumn. Happy New Year, reader friends! MM

Completely in the Dark

I think the ugly buggers are trying to kill me.

It’s like mud-wrestling with your past. Except the mud just piles up, toweringly stupid and spectacular in its sheer mud-ness, always intimidating, sassing back: “You’ll never take me down!”

So I’ve been fighting back. Because now I have the time and resources to torch the Piles of Sorrow accumulating over the past eight years, so I can move on to better things.

And I’ve had two other thoughts on my mind lately: Why March 1989 might’ve been a before-unrecognized personal breakthrough, and how the current death of conversation affects us all.

So, conversation. It’s dead. Now you can text, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, tweet—and that’s all bullshit. I’ll go to social media to catch up, maybe, but rarely converse.

It doesn’t help that small talk exhausts me—making it and hearing it. I want to go for substance every.Single.Time.

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The Last Christmas on Earth

•December 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s a bitch to write about Christmas without seeming like a huge grump.

So, any feelings I have of sadness, regret, or pain, here’s something I’m willing to toss onto that shit pile: a total poverty of my imagination.

“Willing myself” to feel better has never worked, but some things have: getting out and about in the world, seeing what the day has to offer, as if it were a surprise gift waiting for me to unwrap.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been thinking about times in my life when I felt really happy.

Instead I discovered I’m leaning on the same old attitudes.

You see, it took awhile for me to settle into Saint Paul after I moved here in December 1992. I rented a room in a Summit Avenue mansion and threw a “Christmas ceilidh” for my friends. That was fun.

Things went downhill from there (as life does when you’re young) and I ended up moving twice before renting a Merriam Park one bedroom in August 1993, the same year my late parents retired to southwest Florida.

Christmas as I knew it changed forever at that point—even moreso the following year when, on Friday, Dec. 16, 1994, a journal entry reports:

“Dad called from Florida and he sounded strange. I had to sit down as he said Mom was in the hospital for what they thought was a mild cardiac arrest Monday night. They didn’t call us up here when it happened because they wanted to learn more. She hadn’t felt well since after Thanksgiving and had swollen up in her legs and belly so badly that she was taken to the Emergency Room and kept over for observation. I felt like I had to comfort Dad, he thought he almost lost Mom, and as I started to think about it, it bothered me too. Before I left for shopping, I cried and prayed by my bedside, something I can’t recall ever doing before. As of today, Mom is home again and taking medication for her condition. I feel better, but am still worried. I’m not used to the idea of possibly losing my parents yet.”

I’d entirely forgotten that incident. It was the first time I learned about Mom’s congestive heart disease, and how she would need to treat it for the rest of her life.

It was, as the journal reports in January 1995, the “first Christmas not shared with my parents” and I was feeling guilty and wary about the future. Christmas was always a happy time in our family—Mom and Dad married four days before Christmas Day 1957. They joyfully embraced the season and generously gave to others.

But back in 1994, I had a glimpse of a future that would arrive in full force 14 years later, when they both died in 2008. That Christmas was truly the last and since then I’ve been asking myself how I can recreate joys I knew long ago.

I’ve come to a troubling realization—something I seem to keep dismissing.

And if I keep doing that, I think it could cost me my life.


I was first diagnosed with dysthymic disorder in 1987 by a psychiatrist in St. Louis Park, Minn. I met him because I was curious about Mom’s descent into clinical depression after her mother died in 1981, and was concerned about what I was feeling.

Or not.

Like, for a long time.

Medication helped to a degree, but I had a hard time staying in therapy. I couldn’t see an end to it, and I did not like being lumped into a group. Maybe I can change that reluctance with a plan toward “wellness,” since ignoring my condition serves no one, especially me.

After poking around on the Internet, I found there’s been new research into dysthymia. This statement in particular really hits home:

“…the damage dysthymic disorder deals to quality of life and social and occupational functioning appears to outweigh that of major depression, although the latter receives far more research attention. Dysthymic disorder should no longer be considered ‘subsyndromal’ but a major public health problem.”

I notice my condition more over the Christmas holidays because I distinctly feel less cheerful. I hear people laughing and think, “Whoa, I can’t do that.” Or, if I do find something amusing, I’m ridiculously self-conscious about it. When I’m feeling “lighter” I don’t act that way. But “lighter” is more “in-the-rear-view mirror” with each passing year.

That’s what I find really upsetting. It’s bullshit. I want it to stop. I don’t want what happened to Mom back in 1994 to happen to me.

I don’t want to be blindsided by health conditions that dysthymia might exacerbate. I instinctively know that emotions have a direct impact on a person’s overall well-being (and yeah, you can literally die from homesickness).

And I do know that my dysthymia has lowered my quality of life in long-term relationships, jobs and careers, and just plain “having fun.”

Ongoing cognitive behavioral therapy could be one answer.

I don’t know. I never feel like I know my own mind.

But I’m feeling in my gut that treatment must be front and center in the new year.

When Talk Was Cheap

•December 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

All-new post in draft mode and not ready by publish time (today), so this will have to do. Happy holidays and Happy New Year to you all!

Completely in the Dark

Talk1So, I took this class at Lakewood.

Must’ve been fall of 1980, since I can’t find it in the transcripts for fall-winter quarters of 1979–80.

“Interpersonal Communication. 10 a.m.”

We had to keep a journal.

Like, yeah. Hadn’t been here before.

There were ten pages of questions posed by the instructor, whose name I’ve since forgotten. I still have the assignment—I received a B.

First question: What are your three goals in writing this journal?

A: I would say, 1) Fulfill class requirement; 2) Curiosity in seeing how I will answer the questions ahead and 3) Test what I’ve learned from the class.

I found the assignment among the 1980 papers and it gave me pause. I think it was the old love of questioning and being asked questions that lit my fire. It was also interesting as I wrote about the Family Project. Responding in longhand…

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