a diatribe against suicide

Sometimes, I wonder who’s actually reading this silly blog. I’m frequently amused by my blog’s search engine results. I’ve had at least a hundred unique hits from people searching out info about monkeys riding on pigs. Even more have stumbled across my self-absorbed gibberish while looking for racy pictures of Alison Kosik.

There’s an ever-so-remote possibility that she’ll notice me if I keep waxing ecstatic about her in this blog. Of course, the only attention she’d probably bestow is a restraining order. Alas.

But it’s not all nonsense. My posts about my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s got me a fair number of readers. I hope I helped someone who was in a similar predicament, or at least made them laugh at some of the absurdity that came with the illness.

So I’m aware that there a fair number of random folks who were tooling around on Google. Somehow a bizarre search term led them to this silly place. Or maybe you’re violently depressed and you just typed in “how to commit suicide” or “suicide methods.” I put those words in quotes in hopes that an exact word match sent you here. Because I really don’t want you to hurt yourself.

Why am I on this soapbox? Well, I just returned from my cousin’s wake. He committed suicide in front of his wife and his son. They will be traumatized for the rest of their lives.  Watching my aunt and my cousins when the body was first presented was truly gut-wrenching, because I noticed three distinct realizations sweep through the room in a matter of seconds. The first one was “yeah, he’s really gone.” The second one was “oh my god, that doesn’t even look like him.” And the third one was “there’s no solace or comfort that we can derive from this. None.”  After the family made their initial viewing, no one objected to a closed casket. And I have no idea what type of religious service will be offered tomorrow. I’ve met both of the pastors before, and I really like both of them. But they’ve been playing a game of theological hot potato. Good luck trying to suss this one out, fellas.

Those are some of the things you need to think about if you’re contemplating suicide. Maybe you don’t intend such a dramatic or violent end, but someone will discover your remains. And chances are good that it will be someone who loves you. And that loved one is going to be heartbroken and disturbed for a very long time. So think about that. Do you really want your parent/spouse/sibling/child to endure that? That’s pretty selfish, isn’t it?

So don’t do it. Talk to someone. Anyone. Maybe you have a chemical imbalance and you need medication and/or therapy. That’s not shameful. That’s just your physical makeup. Or maybe you need to talk to a relationship or financial counselor, if those concerns are applicable. Or seek out a family member, friend, teacher, or clergyman. Or what the heck, if you’re really paranoid about confidentiality, find one of those maniacs shuffling around lower Florida St. in Baton Rouge or a gutter punk in the French Quarter. You can vent about anything to those derelicts. Who’s going to believe what comes out of their mouths anyway? One guy outside the bus station tried to tell me that his string of bad luck all stemmed from a backgammon game against Spiro T. Agnew that went horribly awry. He also told me that the best gumbo file came from crumbled moss and ground Xanax. So they’re a mixed bag at best. But if you need a carbon-based lifeform to hear you out, they’ll work in a pinch. Then again, you could always get a cat. Or try some new hobbies. Even backgammon.

But whatever you do, don’t hurt yourself. Not only will you devastate your family and friends, but you’ll never again enjoy the great pleasures that are out there, like family, friends, football, ice cream, Alison Kosik, and monkeys riding on pigs. Because isn’t that what life’s all about?


Black cloud fading

Yesterday I felt lower than I have in a long time. One of my oldest friends must have sensed it, and he reached out to me. I hung out with him and his family last night. As always, our conversation ricocheted between weighty and inane topics. We compared our respective ordeals with dying family members. We had a lengthy debate about God and scriptural interpretation. He took potshots at my pathetic love life, all of them richly deserved. His wife tore apart my manuscript (again, an ordeal that was richly deserved). I made fun of his recent hand injury, which resulted from errant swordplay. Then we argued about the artistic merits of the newest Iron Maiden album, Christopher Moore’s Lamb, and Garth Ennis’s revision of The Punisher. I drove home with a lighter heart.

Today was a bit better. I destroyed myself in the gym this morning. That’s always a great stress relief. This afternoon, I sat outside and basked in this glorious spring weather. I listened to Lucinda Williams, went through my daily readings in the Bible, and read a chunk of Confederacy of Dunces. I’m almost feeling normal again.

Praying definitely helped. I rarely pray for myself, but I made an exception today. I just asked for some understanding and patience amidst the chaos and sadness that’s hanging over my family right now. Then I made sure to give my mom and grandmother crushing bear hugs and tell them that I loved them, because I don’t do that nearly as often as I should. And I’ll probably do that to all of my friends and family going forward, so don’t be alarmed. While I get angry and disillusioned with a lot of people and situations on a daily basis, there’s one thing about every single stinkin’ one of you that I love – you’re alive. I love all of your lives. We only get one, and no one knows when it could be taken away.  I know that’s probably just some vacuous truism, but my year in Iraq and the past two weeks really brought that point home.

And there you have it. Today was pretty good. Hopefully tomorrow is a little better. And so on.

So what now?

After several days of projectile vomiting and vertigo, I was healthy enough to visit my grandfather yesterday.  He’s in terrible shape. The doctors give him a 25% chance to make it through the year, but I don’t think he’ll make it past the summer. I just can’t get over how swiftly he declined. He still had his wits about him (for the most part) when I came home in February. He’s an invalid and barely verbal at this point. It looks like he’s in agony when he’s awake, and he can’t put much into words. He’ll scream for me, but there’s no recognition when I tell him that I’m there. That’s the hardest part to take.

Nevertheless, I’m going to keep making regular visits. That weds me to central Louisiana for the time being, because I need to be close to his nursing home in Winnfield. So I’m putting most of my life on hold until he’s gone. The old man isn’t long for this world. That much is indisputable. I want to be there for him for what little time is left, or for however long I can bear it.

But what then?

What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I knew I would eventually have to ask myself that question once I left Iraq. The initial buzz from my homecoming passed right around the same time that I finished my manuscript and started dropping it into people’s laps. Funny how that coincided.

Then my grandfather got sick, which in turn jumpstarted some old lingering family drama.  Then I got jerked around royally by someone who’s not even worth expending another keystroke. Then I got sick. Then I had a couple of utterly miserable trips up to the Rapides Parish School Board Office. At the behest of a couple of my old teachers, I went up there to inquire about a teaching job. The people there were rude and looked at me like a creep, so I just turned around and walked out. No sense in going down the rabbit hole with some petty bureaucrat.

All of that junk + a terrible uncertainty about my future = a head-on collision with a major depressive episode unless I shake myself out of this rut, like yesterday.

So what now?

I guess the one silver lining in the midst of this funk is my realization that I’m done with Baton Rouge. I still care deeply for my friends who live there. I’ll enjoy visiting them, as well as the occasional trek for LSU sporting events. But I can’t live there anymore.  The traffic is absolutely ungodly. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, and it doesn’t matter the locale – you are almost guaranteed bumper to bumper traffic once you hit the road. Interstates, state highways, surface streets, residential neighborhoods – it’s uniformly terrible. I think local ne’er-do’ wells are holding flash mobs with the express purpose of ensnaring the rest of us. I just know that I multiply any normal travel time by a minimum of three when I’m there. I make sure to bring a fully charged iPod, cell phone, a few MREs, a case of water, a full complement of road flares (cavemen are enthralled with fire, after all), my Gerber multipurpose tool, a Rambo knife (because it has a magnesium lighter, for more fire!), a cup full of loose change to whip at homicidal motorists, canned goods to chunk at kamikaze motorcyclists and bicyclists, and a single shot pistol for myself when I’m finally sick of it all. And that’s just to run around the corner for milk and eggs.

I loved my most of my time at LSU, but those days are long gone. And it’s a fool’s errand to go back for that PhD at this point. I simply can’t go back to living like a starving grad student for another 4 or 5 years whilst grinding away at some dissertation that will make for a stupefying dull book proffered by a shifty vanity press, making the rounds at the various conferences presenting papers to bored and drunk eggheads, and then begging for a tenure-track job at Bootlick Falls Community College, lest I get mired in adjunct hell. In my twenties, that route was almost romantic. Now that I’m at the tail end of my thirties, it’s asinine.

I just can’t see a future there. There are simply too many painful memories of failed relationships. And for a town that is chockfull of young and supposedly educated women, the dating scene absolutely sucks. I’m sure I’ll eventually do an entire post that’s nothing more than a screeching polemic about the overall shittiness of Baton Rouge women, but I think I can encapsulate it thusly:

“Hold on, hun. I need to see your tax returns and stock portfolio before you even think about asking me out. But lemme wash down my Prozac, TrimSpa, and Clomid first.”

My apologies to my BR female friends. Most of you are lovely, wonderful people.

Most of you, that is.

But what now?

I dunno. Maybe something will pop up between now and when my grandfather passes. Maybe nothing will. If nothing does, I might look into going back to Iraq with a different employer or going to Afghanistan. The money’s pretty good, it felt good helping the troops, and I felt a hell of lot more alive than I do right now. We’ll see.

Depression Jams No. 12 & 35

I had planned to rant about all sorts of groovy stuff, but I’ve spent the past three days thwarting the Bubonic Plague. My Sabbath consisted of half a dozen vomiting sessions, interspersed with incoherent bargaining with God to quit screwing around and kill me already. I am a clean, mean killing machine these days, so the recoil from said puking felt like the kick from my Mossberg 500. That’s what a strict regimen of abdominal work will yield: a gastric revolt akin to high velocity birdshot. It was tremendous.

I kinda wish I had the foresight for video documentation, because it was pretty hysterical in retrospect.  Whenever I start feeling just a bit too self-satisfied, one of y’all could have hyperlinked clips of me puking and crying like a pansy. Then we all could have loffed and loffed and loffed.

The past two post-puke days have been a daze. It’s like a drunken binge in reverse. Last night, I made a wisecrack on facebook that I just needed a beautiful woman to toss a drink in my face in order to complete the effect.  Within seconds, several of my female friends were asking for a) directions, b) my cocktail of choice, and c) “how soon can I do this? This needs to happen like yesterday. I want to douse you with wobbly pop more than I want to breathe.”

The only thing that is falling in proper sequence with an alcoholocaust is the runaway boulder of depression that signals its denouement. I’m desperately trying to evade it, but I’m failing miserably. Nothing can shake me from this current funk. I’d try to exercise my way out of this, but I’m just too weak. Laughing at others’ misfortunes usually works, but it just fell flat today. For example, I watched Kirstie Alley thud to the floor whilst rumbaing on “Dancing With The Stars.” I’m a demented little twerp, so I’d normally laugh at this crap. But today? No dice.

I just got bummed out thinking about how hot she was 25 years ago and the mess that she is now. And while Kirstie certainly was a beauty, I personally found Shelley Long much hotter back in the day. Diane Chambers would have wiped the mat with Rebecca Howe in a battle of wits. And all things being equal, I’d rather lust after a babe who has her nose stuck in a volume of Remembrance of Things Past than some blindly ambitious hussy who chases every millionaire that crosses her radar. I mean, really. I’d much rather deal with a prissy egghead who would tolerate my bumbling dilettantism than a shameless gold digger with no self-restraint.

Come to think of it, I’ve had more than my fair share of prissy eggheads and out of control maniacs already.  And furthermore, I don’t have Sam Malone’s hair or winning smile, so I should probably punch out of this allusion tout de suite. I’m probably destined for a Carla Tortelli anyway.  And who the hell am I kidding? I’m wholly bereft of Sammy’s charm, but I am a repository of utterly useless knowledge. I am doomed to be Cliff Clavin.

But I digress.