Tag Archives: mental illness

Falling in Love

After almost six years of marriage, and nearly nine years into my relationship, I can say that I miss the feeling of the random, razor butterflies that rip me up inside every time that I happen to fall again in love. It hasn’t happened for quite some time, obviously, but the memory is something which I will keep with me forever. It used to be that I could fall in love as easily as the wind might shift, and yet still love each new person just as deeply as all the other loves which came before. But being with someone for the better part of a decade is an entirely different kind of monster. It’s easy to get discouraged when that heady rush of endorphins peters out, but the key to love’s survival is to turn your eyes toward the long game, and stop focusing on the addictive narcotic of infatuation. I love my wife more each and every day, which, to be honest, because we are both imperfect beings, is a little impressive at times. We have our own drives and desires and are constantly forced to balance them against what we need to stay together. My love for Flor is not a rush of illicit substance hitting my veins and causing me to gasp. She is, instead, the warmth of sharing a mint condition copy of Detective Comics #27 with someone whom you trust until the end of days. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that she increases in value with every moment that passes, and I live in constant fear that she will soon realize that she can do much better.

On our first date (excluding that time where people were trying to get us to hook up at a friend’s wedding), I sat her down and warned her of all my character flaws. She thought that I was joking. In a way, I think that there is no more beautiful way to describe who we are and what it is, exactly, that we have. I am serious and brooding, aware of my failings, and obsessed with a certain sense of honor. My wife thinks that I am full of it, and is always looking for the punchline. Obviously, I’m simplifying things just a little bit, but it’s nice to know that even in my darkest hours, there is someone who will speak truth to power and tell me when I’m acting like an ass. That doesn’t mean that I always listen, or even that, in that moment, I appreciate it all that much, but it comforts me to know that I have someone on my side. Someone who is genuinely looking out for my best interests. It’s easy to forget, when we’re in the middle of an argument, that my instincts are not always to be trusted, as I have this nasty tendency to seek out my own destruction. Whereas my life before I met my wife was a whirlwind of impulsive and ultimately disturbingly atrocious choices, that all came to an end (I cough and nudge some errors back beneath the rug) when we decided to take a chance on one another.

I realized that I had been drawn, much like a moth, to women who would only immolate me. There is something soothing in the passions of insanity, and reassurance in the knowledge that the only surprises will not be what, but how. But that kind of love, if one-sided passion built upon a foundation of co-dependence can be acknowledged as such, tears a person down, undercuts his sense of self, and leaves him deep in debt with nowhere to call home. I knew that the time had come for me to make a change. I would be lying if I said I knew that we would be together for this long. When we started dating, it was just something we did to pass the time in which we’d normally just be lonely. And when we moved in together, it wasn’t because we were so madly in love that we couldn’t be apart, but rather, we both had to move out of the places we were living, and decided that splitting the rent and bills in half was a better way to do it. Even through her pregnancy, we fought like cats and dogs, with my Beautiful Flower doing everything she could to make me feel inferior.

It wasn’t done by insults, or even ill intent, but rather, she outclassed me with every step along the way. Whereas I had been to hell and back, fighting the demons which danced within my mind, she exuded a certain quiet fortitude that put all my travails to shame. Here she was, nearly 1,900 miles from everything and everyone she’d ever known, nearly 2,000 miles away from her teenage daughter and elderly parents, and she was comforting me in the face of impending fatherhood. I cannot imagine the amount of courage that sort of selflessness requires. She put her life on pause to sort out someone else’s problems, and then, instead of focusing on her own, turned her attention toward fixing what was wrong with me. Years later, I think that she may have grown a little weary of her game of Whack-A-Mole, but that she could begin to play at all is what continually amazes me. She is the most amazing person whom I have ever had the pleasure of having known, and though I tell her that I love her at least several times throughout the day, I feel like I could find a way to somehow tell her more.

There is a strength is in her that rivals the very fundamental forces inherent in Mother Nature. There is a love in her that crushes all opposition, grinding it down beneath her boot like a discarded cigarette. There is a beauty in her that hides until she finds the time to smile, and then spills out in radiance upon the world like an overturned barrel full of sunshine. And I feel grateful every day that she is on my side, and grateful to just be near her, to know her, to take in everything about her, and have the opportunity to love her for as long as she will have me.

Feliz sexto aniversario, mi amor. Te quiero hasta el fin del mundo, y un poco más. Todavía tú eres la luz de mi vida, y espero que yo merezco tu paciencia conmigo. No tengo nada para ofrecerte, aparte de mi amor, pues, entonces, te doy mi alma misma.


I love you
Happy sixth anniversary, my love.
I love you
I love you until the end of the world, and a little more.
A million times, I love you
Still, you are the light of my life, and I hope I deserve your patience with me.
Until the end of days
I have nothing to offer, other than my love,
And ever after
well then, I give you my soul.

After Dark: A Blast From The Past, Part Four

When I last left you, I had just become a father. Let’s look in and see how that was working out for me:

Updates from the Fatherland

August 23rd, 2007

3:23 a.m.

So, he’s 8 weeks old today, but will be two months old on monday.

Stop and think about that: WTF? I think we need a new system of time measurement. Says the guy who thinks the metric system will destroy the universe.

Sorry I haven’t written anything for, like, 2 months, but, well, I’ve been kinda busy. Turns out that babies don’t much care if you’re working 10+ hour days, and would like to try to sleep a little before doing it again. But his mother has been more than fantastic, and honestly, I haven’t had to wake up more than a few times. Also, I’ve only changed half a diaper. I got it started, and was replaced by a professional before I could screw it all up.

For awhile, I was pretty sure he hated me. He always seemed to cry whenever I got near him. I came to realize this was less because he hated me, and more because I have inactive mammary glands. But now as he gets older, I am able to amuse him. He still cries on whim, but I’m trying to help him learn to communicate. To date he has actually spoken these words: “Okay”, “Hi”, “Chin”, and “Fuck You”. I may have to begin editing what I say while at home. Some people have said that he’s too young to actually be able to speak, but I would like to point out that he was in the womb for an extended stay, and nothing speeds up development like unlimited resources. I just wrote a sentence explaining that he was incapable of real usage, and he was only repeating recent sounds, which in and of itself is still fairly remarkable, but then I realized that he is making those  “noises” in context. Whether or not he understands what they mean is beyond the scope of my experience. But the fact that he has identified these sounds, and is trying to make them as seems appropriate, is something I do find fascinating.

He also makes an assortment of guttural sounds, indicative of some kind of attempt at speech. Unfortunately, his mouth is still to unsuitable to most forms of speech. At this stage, his cute giganto-cheeks are huge muscles used, in conjunction with his tongue and gum stubs to extract sustenance. My point being that his tongue gets in the way.

He also drools a lot. Both his mother and my mother say it’s indicative of pre-teething. God, he’s not even a season old, and he’s trying to grow teeth. I haven’t taken a tape measure to him yet, but he’s gotta be over 2 feet now. And we weighed him a week ago, and he was already at 21 lbs.

To be fair, I am still fascinated by the things he does, but they are usually not “Stop the presses! I have to tell the world!” interesting anymore. It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of babies, but by the time they’re doing all the things you couldn’t wait for them to be able to start doing, you’re more concerned with getting them to actually do them on a semi-regular basis. Not really the accolades that they were expecting, just a higher standard to live up to.

Nothing prepares you

August 26th, 2007

2:44 a.m.

So, I was fairly nervous about being a dad before David was actually born. There had been two women before in my life with whom I’d wanted to have children: The first was already a mother, and didn’t want to have another baby, and the other was a psychotic Panamanian whose great aspiration was to become a stripper. She actually was pregnant, but terminated the pregnancy right after she’d convinced me that being a father wouldn’t be so terrible. Of course, I’ve always said that if I had a son, his name would be David, whereas she’d always dreamt of calling him Amir. Somewhere on a Playstation 2 memory card, I have a create-a-character in MVP 2004 called Amir Baxter. Of course, I no longer have either a Playstation 2 or MVP 2004, so I haven’t had much of a chance to resist that.

I haven’t really mentioned it, but the loss of my son kinda messed me up. I’d had another close call, where an ex had told me she thought she might be pregnant, and flippantly, I quoted “The Doors” and gave my support for her single motherhood or choice to abort. I sort of go back and forth on it. Or, at least, I did. It’s a little late now.

I mean, I suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, and there is a chance that it can be passed on. I’m not sure I know how to be a dad. I never knew mine, and, I’m sort a creature of self-interest. So when she told me she was pregnant, I naturally freaked the hell out. I wasn’t even sure I really liked this chick. I mean, she was totally into me, but in a scary way, and, really, aside from the convenience, I wasn’t terribly motivated to stay with her. A short while later, her “visitor” arrived, and I began to seriously think about cashing in while I was still ahead. But her love of me was too overwhelming, and I began to fall a little for her.

And then the night came when I did. Drunkenly, and without caution, I pollinated the Flower, and promptly passed the hell out. A short while afterwards, she informed me that this time it was not a drill. I don’t believe that I have ever uttered the words, “Are you sure?” so many times in so short a time.

Suddenly seeing my life coming to an ignoble close, I proffered the thought that perhaps we might just take care of this small medical issue, remove the parasite, and call it a do-over. For a month I tried everything to persuade her to come around to my way of thinking. I’d stressed the dangers of my bi-polar and perhaps exaggerated the probability of its hereditary transference. I beat out her Latina Catholic arguments.I won every argument on a rational level. Have you seen the pictures of my son?

I learned a valuable lesson that month: Nothing can withstand the beating of the biological clock. It was like a Poe story, only more frightening. I was seriously thinking about cutting and running, hoping that, if her arguments for love were true, she would solve my problem if I just left. But then I realized it would leave me with a child in Mexico that I would never get to know (For anyone thinking, “Wait! If you wanted to find him enough, you’d have been able.”: You don’t actually know me very well, do you? Or my Superhuman powers of apathy.). And I thought of the father that I have never known. I took a deep breath, cursed God for his amazingly similar sense of humor, and plunged wholeheartedly into the world of denial.

I managed to avoid most of her prenatal checkups, one of the few benefits of slowly working yourself to death. I also tried to keep her family at bay. I already hate meeting new people in general, and more than them, I hate new people to whom I must be nice and about whom I must pretend I give a shit.

Shortly after the beginning of the new year, we discovered that, according to something on the ultrasounds, he was at risk for Down Syndrome. Here was my way out! I argued that knowingly bringing into this world a child with such a disadvantage is not only irresponsible, but morally reprehensible, a sadistic act. I was told that he would be loved no matter what, and I agreed, but asked if it was fair to knowingly subject someone, especially someone we supposedly were to love to the taunts and mockery and general humiliation he would undoubtedly receive. There was a surefire way to know: an amniocentesis. But this was a somewhat risky procedure, and as we would not be hitting the reset button on her womb, moderately irrelevant.

I would like to point out that when pregnant, apparently most woman can become insatiably horny, and if you are unconcerned about disease, this provides an opportunity to dispense with the raincoat. Of course, from the moment she began showing, even slightly, I became unable to think of her as a sexual creature, and even though she has a daughter in Mexico, she was now somebody’s mother.

I slowly came around to the notion of parenthood and began trying to interact with David. By the time I could feel him moving, he was kicking fairly strongly, and seemingly enjoyed heavy metal by headphones. I spoke to him from time to time. He began kicking and punching me in the face, and although every one of the “experts” said he was just trying to interact with the point of contact he kind of remembered, I knew what the deal was.

So finally, after months of trying, she quit working. It amazed me how much faster my money was disappearing. I’d kind of been hoping that she’d given birth at work so that we could have gotten more money up until the end. Also it would have been an almost 100% chance that I could attend the birth.

42 weeks. He took after his daddy in that fashion. It got to the point where, on Tuesday the 26th, we’d set up an appointment to induce labor on the 28th, pretty much ensuring that he’d be born on June 29th. It seemed that God was trying to be funny again. But, despite my best efforts to do him in, it turns out that my son loved me. Wednesday morning, about 10:30am, her contractions began. It was a couple of hours later when they were serious enough to merit the mad dash to the hospital. Her water broke at 2:00pm, during the 1st examination to determine how far dilated she was. Mixed in with the amniotic fluid was his meconium (think baby’s 1st poo). Apparently when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, even if you haven’t started breathing yet.

And then it happened. At 8:03pm, Wednesday, June 27th, 2007, I witnessed the scariest thing I have ever seen: My son’s squished head being forced out of an area that, at least the last time I had seen it, was really far to small to accommodate it. I realize I will take some flak for this, but I found the entire process profoundly unsettling, extremely disturbing, and not in the least bit natural. It was finished at 8:10.

Everyone kept saying how big he was, but, well, he was still significantly smaller than me, so I was not impressed. 11 lbs, 14 oz., 22 inches long. They had him under the heat lamps, and were having difficulty getting him to breathe on his own, as he had most likely over-developed himself while procrastinating in utero, and begun trying to breathe. I watched his head slowly begin to reflate as I accompanied the nurse up to the NICU.

He seemed so weak, So helpless. I tried my best to stay out of the way and ask intelligent questions, but then they needed to do something which they thought might freak me out (intubate him, I believe), and suggested I go back down and take care of Mom. And so began the night of the gigantic pace.

It was a couple of days before I got the chance to hold him. I was debilitatingly nervous. I felt that if I was going to drop him or something, I’d rather that it not be in a hospital where they could see how terrible of a father I’d turned out to be.

A few days later, we got to take him home.

He cries a lot now, and generally, pretty much his current M.O. was described in the previous blog.

But I have made a real connection with my son. I’ve been able to sing him to sleep. I mean, most of the time, he prefers Mom over Dad, but I’m okay with that. When we’re playing the “chin” game, or I’m reading him chapters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he’s hanging off my every word…

I have begun to live my life again, finally breaking free of the continuous holding pattern I’ve been in for a decade. I still think God’s got a juvenile sense of humor, but as it’s mine as well, I cannot fault Him for it, merely feel disappointed that the Creator thinks this is all funny.

For true and for real, though, I have never felt more alive, as when I am gazing into his eyes, and he into mine, and it’s like we’ve known each other all his life, and neither of us can remember a life that was before him.

Wow. Sorry that went on for so long, but it was nice, at least for me, to take that stroll down amnesia lane. I’ve just got one more reflection on fatherhood that I’d like to leave you with this evening:

B.P.D.- Bi-Polar Disorder or Battle Point Drive?

September 4th, 2007

2:57 a.m.

This is not a new revelation. It is, however, I believe, worth mentioning.

When I was 15, I’d planned on coming to California the summer after my freshman year. Life came up, and I put off my plans. Events coalesced, I met people, did favors, and set myself up for the summer of ’97. I met someone, fell in love, dropped out of school, and started working for myself. I had a, for lack of a better term, wife, and children (though not my own, I was actually received, as I’d still had fears of passing on my madness). It was the happiest time of my life. And then the Drug came in. Call it my penance, my learning curve, my pre-paid purgatory or damnation, it really doesn’t matter. It all amounted to the same. My life took a marked detour, and I began learning… something else.

There came a time, amidst the hell, when, faced with utter failure, I decided it was now the time to go to California. I’d written a poem just a short while before when I’d thought that both my “brothers” were leaving to different parts of the world beyond. One to Central Washington, and the other to California. One went, one did not. I got to Central, with all that I could carry, and planned to hitchhike down to Cali. But I was struck down with a fevered illness, and forced to return, to face the ruins of what I’d tried to leave behind. And events played out. And the fairy-tale gone horribly awry ended.

I took a few preparatory steps toward my new life, but was still held back by chains of pain I’d tried to leave behind. New loves came and went, people that I loved passed away. And then I got a phone call from the other brother. He was finally moving down to California, and thought I should come along. Whether he was uncertain of this new life, and wanted some token of “home”, or guided by my fates is unimportant. I finally came to Cali.

I met a girl, under certain circumstances, some familiar (at work), some new (residential status), and tried to get my life back to the family ideal. I’d like to think that we were in love, but it’s easier to think she was just using me for something I was born with. She got pregnant. I lost my son. Events played out that I had seen during the darker days. My world collapsed and I reverted.

I began again, following the friend asylum pattern, established after the nightmare. Got a job at the same company (more or less) as before, and fell in love again, and again, and once more, and then a few more times for good measure. Nothing worked out how I’d planned it, and it felt like High School once again. It’s like my life was rewinding, queuing up events to the moment where they’d once diverged.

I met someone who was madly in love with me. We didn’t even speak the same language (I had been prepared for this by a month-long practice course at the beginning of my job). It was like my life was mixing and matching people and events to hurriedly reposition me. Within 9 months of starting my new job, I was back to the position I had held at the last. Hmm… okay that part is a new revelation.

Then, 2 months shy of 9 years from the DAY, I began dating her. We dated for a while, and then, due to a rather bizarre set of events leaving me without a home, we began cohabitating. All the while I was fighting it. And then she became pregnant. I was still devastated at the loss of my son the year before, and did all I could to hold back destiny. But one should never underestimate the curmudgeonocity of God. The child was born two days shy of 10 years from the DAY.

I am now where I left off 9 long years ago. I have completed the journey I’d known that I must undertake since I was 15 years old. I have a wife, a son. And my life is hiccoughing out the last of the repetitions. I suppose it will be down to: A) Dealing with my BPD to avoid destroying everything positive I have built, and/or B) Beginning to write the story that I was, apparently put through Hell to as preparation for. Like the Divine Comedy only not nearly as rad.

And you want to know something? None of this really matters any more. When he grabs my finger and squeezes, smiles at me with all his face, and speaks to me in his unique mixture of language and monkey-grunts, I am lost within the moment, living in the present, and realize that, as far my day-to-day OCD goes, there’s never been anything else so perfect.

Thanks for sharing in these memories with me. I know these were a little philosophical, so if you’d like something to cleanse your palate, and inspire a chuckle or two, why don’t you check out these bonus Blasts From The Past: I hate Comcast!, If you are not where I say you are, and Superman: Doomsday: WTF?!!.

Have a wonderful evening!

A Big Light Blur

I think my lungs have finally given notice. It looks like they are tired of the pressures that come with looking thirty percent cooler, and would like a shot at easy mode for at least a little while. This year may actually be the year in which Tex Batmart gives up cigarettes, but let’s wait and see how I feel once I am feeling better. I no longer feel edgy or cool when I am smoking, just isolated, mostly, as I can’t smoke indoors, and hardly anybody that I know still smokes anymore. I mean, the last bastion of companionship I had, my son-in-law, just bought himself one of those ridiculous $100 vaporizers and a little bottle of nicotine solution, and now no longer feels the need to keep me company as I brave the elements to bow to my addiction. It seems a little unfair. I remember when a pack of smokes cost less than $4, and almost everybody who I knew was at least a social smoker. But now I remain alone, outside, sucking toxins into my lungs, and I cannot for the life of me remember what it was like to have a nicotine buzz.

At least I gave up drinking before I could discover what level of inebriation would bring me back to “normal.” And on the rare occasions when I do imbibe these days, I have to remind myself that I am no longer in my twenties, pounding back a fifth a day, and that maybe just a drink or two might suffice for the entire evening. When I was beginning to completely let go of booze, I found out that I had a little warning whisper in the back of my brain who advised me when I absolutely had to stop if I wanted to make it through the evening without a tribute to the Porcelain God. And one time, I actually listened. Sure, I felt delicate the following morning, but I didn’t owe a single person a sincere, hungover apology. It’s helped me with this vice, that my tastes have run towards the ridiculously expensive, and that the whisky I prefer costs $200 per bottle. That means that I’ve only ever bought two bottles in my life, and that they lasted me a little over a month each time. Hey, if I’m going to wash away the day, a sip or two fine Scotch Whisky is the way I’m going to do it.

I was certain that I wasn’t going to outlive my twenties, so I never really gave a crap about any sort of long-term planning. What’s the point in routine maintenance if you’re just going to chuck the whole thing in the bin next week? I am now eight years older than I ever hoped to live, and, not surprisingly, my son will celebrate his eighth birthday at the end of June. As a rational human being (on occasion), I know that there is very little deeper meaning to the coincidence that someone suffering from Manic Depression didn’t buy the farm exactly when he wanted to. But as a writer who enjoys assigning narratives to seemingly mundane events to try and weave them into something larger and attempt to find some moral meaning from the random whirl of happenstance, I prefer to believe that somehow my Highlander-esque inability to expire is somehow tied to my only son, and that I’m supposed to stick around long enough to, I don’t know, teach him something, like how to not become a serial killer. Either that, or I’m not allowed to bite it until I’ve written what I’m supposed to.

That last thought amuses me. Here I am (Rock You Like A Hurricane), allowing the notion of nonexistence to wash backwards through potentiality to sooth away the pain of being, looking forward to the day in which I am no more, and yet I cannot find the words within me which would release me from my suffering and transmute the frailty of a man into the eccentricities of Legend. Could it be that I have some secret, dark desire to keep on living? For shame, Sad Batmart! Could it be that I have simply found something that I feel is finally worth living for? Have all the decades of neglect now put that secret dream just slightly out of reach? I always wanted to leave a legacy, some sort of lasting impression of who I was, stamped into the very fabric of reality. Before my son was born, I always knew that legacy would have to be my words (or, at the very least, a revival in the popularity of Ranger Bob), but now I wonder if might not be my son. I think I have a better shot of being more warmly recollected as a wordsmith.

It’s not that I am a poor father. I mean, I wouldn’t give myself a passing grade, but that isn’t quite the point. I never had a dad myself, though I was spoiled for good and decent substitutes. But that meant that while I witnessed the grand gestures, the public moments, I never got to see the more intimate father-son relationship that built the decent men that I now call my friends. I have no idea what I’m doing with David William. He and I are so far apart, and it’s impossibly easy to ignore the fact that he’s still just a little boy. I haven’t felt that young in practically forever, and therefore we share almost no common frame of reference. He’s all about playing, and jumping, and learning through doing, whereas I prefer to sit and read, or recline and simply observe while I’m figuring out just how to do something. And yes, he’s far more extroverted than I will ever be, but it’s like he’s his own little person, and not just some diluted copy of how I used to be.

I used to live my life in a big dark blur, but now the blur is made of blinding light. With so much to see, and the clock ticking steadily down toward its final moments, I’m finally starting worry that instead of too much time left for me to have to endure, that there might not actually be enough left for me to actually enjoy. I’d like to say that I’ll start living better, take care of myself and eat right, but the reality is that I’m far too lost in stubborn habit to even begin considering that fundamental of a change. But maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I was to stick around just a little while longer, see my son grow up into the man that he will eventually become. Maybe get to know my grandson and impending granddaughter just a wee bit more, give them some memories of me that don’t involve a graveyard. I don’t know. Some days are easier than others, and I always get a little introspective when I’m not feeling well. Hell, this time next week, I’ll probably be back to smoking a pack a day and going on (at length) about politics and religion. I’d like to think that maybe I can make a change, but I know myself too well for that.


Cute, manipulative, baby! Who knew that love could get you through your darkest days?



Happiness is…

… an ice-cold 20 ounce can of Red Bull as I’m sitting down to write my blog. If they made it in a 40, I’d be even happier. 378 mg of caffeine in a single sitting? Where do I sign up? Personally, I think they should make a really fancy Red Bull and have it in a champagne bottle. I’d pop the cork, and pour a glass, and sip it like the rich folk do. Of course, the rich folk have no need of mortal remedies such as Red Bull, when it would be much easier to send their manservants out to procure some cocaine. I don’t think that I’d want to get myself dependent on that upper, but I’d sure as hell love to have a manservant, so that I could call him Warner. And now I have admitted my familiarity with a certain film, and shall drop the subject entirely.

I was worried when I sat down and powered on the laptop that I wouldn’t have anything to write about, due to my general feeling of contentedness. This consciousness runs on piss and vinegar, and a happy outlook can ruin all of that. My back feels ridiculously better after having spent the night sleeping on the floor, and I suppose that I am not awake enough to notice the weariness of my legs. My wife is at work, so I am left all of this time to actually miss her, as opposed to when we are together, and feel obligated to find something we can fight about. I’ve told her that if she would simply accept that I am right instead of waiting six months and then trying to convince me of my own idea, we would probably get along fantastically. I am aware that I can either be right, or I can be happy, but it’s not my fault reality so often agrees with me, and I have to say that there is a certain joy in being right. That being said, it is a fleeting victory.

And occasionally, my wife will gain the upper hand, and I will back the losing horse. In those rare instances, I try to do my best to offer up my concession, and then wash the feeling of my error away with another subject. I hate it when she’s right, because it gives her ammunition toward her argument that I am not always so. And then the next six months are agony as I await the opportunity to fight back the temptation to say that I told her so. I figure myself the brains of our operation, not because I am smarter than her (though I have devoted far more time to ridiculous thought experiments than she), but because she is, in fact, far superior in almost every other way. I honestly have no idea how she does it. Sometimes, as I lay awake at night and ponder stupid things, I wonder if I should try and sneak a sample of her blood from her to try to develop some sort of super soldier serum. I’m not saying that she’s Captain America (which would be hilarious), but that she is the standard to which Cap holds himself (you know, if comic book characters were aware of non-celebrities living in the real world).

Years ago, I found out where my limitations were, and put up hazard lights so that I’d know when I was approaching them. I’m not as young as I once was, and working an 80 hour week is simply out of the question for me. I sacrificed my body years ago, both in work and play, and now I must be mindful of stresses throughout the day. That’s one of the reasons why I got into management (the other is because I absolutely cannot stand working for people who are in almost every way, my inferior (and to clarify: I mean in terms of dedication, problem-solving, intuition, etc…)): I know how much my body can tolerate, and I need to make enough with a single full-time job to make ends meet. When I’m at work, I’m not the type to lock himself in the office and do whatever it is that pompous bosses do; I stay on the floor and in the flow until my body cannot take it any longer, and then I wait until the rush has died, and then I go to smoke.

My wife has no limits. At least, that’s what she’s told me on several occasions as she’s hobbling around the apartment, taking care of things that could probably wait another day (instead of resting, which is for weaklings). There is a sort of justified arrogance that comes from naturally birthing a twelve pound baby. I mean, she had an epidural, but there was no surgery involved. I have spent no small amount of time trying to imagine the sheer scale of pain involved in bringing my son into this world (which is probably less than keeping him in this world, but as that is spread out over a lifetime, it doesn’t hit you all at once), and even taking into account the pain numbing drugs injected into one’s spine, I don’t believe that I would stand a chance. My mental illness has prepared me to face down imaginary demons, and I keep in practice by frequently belittling myself while I watch the world spin by (and then berate myself for that), but when it comes to pain on that sheer scale, I can’t even pretend that I am in the same league as my wife. She could get shot, and she wouldn’t even acknowledge it until she had nothing else to do. It seems that I have married Teddy Roosevelt.

I may be right about almost everything, but she very well might be right about the bigger picture. I need her far more than I can believe that she might possibly need me (and not just because she’s the sole breadwinner at the moment). And yet she stays by my side and endures. I am not an easy man to live with. I wouldn’t have checked myself into a facility a fortnight of years ago if I was all kittens and rainbows. I am a pain in the ass, and usually right, and a far poorer victor than vanquished. And yet my wife has stood by my side for all of these years (and not just for the paperwork, because I think that an expired snail would have made things happen sooner than me), at times looking like she wanted nothing so much as to just slap the smirk from my face, and yet she remained. I guess it could be that she doesn’t believe that our son stands a chance if she leaves us, but I honestly think that she’s just better than me, and that notion perplexes and confounds me. Not her superiority, which I have grudgingly accepted, but the thought that she knows something that I do not.

I could tell you all the reasons why I stay (and it would be a manageable list, as over the past three months I seem to have mentioned quite a few already), but I have no idea why it is that she remains. I’m not the prettiest, nor the nicest, nor someone tolerable on most occasions, but my wife is with me all the same. It makes me a little nervous, to be honest. Like I’m not seeing something obvious, something right in front of me. Happiness, perhaps?


And come back this evening for part three of A Blast From The Past: Memories of MySpace. Part One is here, and Part Two can be read here.

Everything’s Coming Up Wrenches

So, our friends over at lappingthecouch.uk have done us one better in the quest to make mental illness more understandable to everyone. I’d say how irritated that made me, but the author is a friend of mine whom I’ve not seen in roughly a decade and a half, and also, her post was amazingly well written. I just hate it when anyone is more articulate than me. I’m including the link to her post “Sunday was not a fun day” so that you guys can go and check it out. It’s worth the time. Go. Do it. I’ll wait here. Back? Cool.

I’m not going to write a counterpoint, going in-depth about Bi-Polar, as that would take away some of your attention from what she had to say. Also, a while ago, I posted “The Midnight Hour”, which, despite being eighteen years old, is still a fairly accurate, if metaphorical, take on my illness. Some day I may have to sit down and dole out some examples, but I’ll tell you right now that I probably won’t do justice to the swings of mania, as to me, they just seem like I’ve finally gotten back to normal. But, again, that’s not why I’m plugging Tiffany’s blog. Maybe someday in the future when we’re both writer-types with massive egos we can totally start an international feud (Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun, and a great way to spend the summer!), but for now I will just say that I think the writing is excellent, and I’m enjoying reading what she’s got to say.

But the thing about her blog, is that it actually serves a purpose. She wants to not only have a record of her goals, a written self-proclamation of all which she might hope to (reasonably) accomplish, but wants to offer up a human face to problems that others may also have come to endure. That is one of the most important things to remember, not just if you’re suffering from a mental malady, but as a human being in general: You are not alone. As we grow more interconnected with the world through the use of information technology, we substitute digital interactions for face to face time with actual people. More and more gets taken out of context as the nuance of language is rapidly being lost, and people are letting basic social niceties fall into disuse, as the implied anonymity of the internet divests the user of any sense of repercussion, and encourages less filtering of one’s behavior. This leads to more truth, I believe, hidden among the teenaged bravado, as even in one’s fantasies do his prejudices shine. But it also robs of us of our evolved ability to actually function in the real world.

I use Facebook, and before that, I was rocking MySpace. I don’t know that I’ve made more than a couple of friends on social media, but the point for me was to stay in touch with people I had once known, and allow myself moments of nostalgia. But now if I want to see how someone is doing, I just scan through their posts to make sure they’re still around. I can’t actually remember the last time when I called someone up just to shoot the breeze, outside of my family or Bad Leon. As for meeting up with folks and doing the whole hanging out in person thing? I think it was the wedding which my wife and I attended in mid-November. I’m not going to be too tough on myself for that one, though, as making friends is hard, and I’m separated from both of my best friends by hundreds of miles and a couple states. And even if I do make a friend, it’s not like I’ll really make the time for them. I mean, sure, at the beginning of the friendship, I’ll stop doing something else, and this new buddy and I will be practically inseparable. But then I will come to notice that I’ve been letting other things go to pasture, and soon enough this new friend will join the pile of old friends whom I have discarded in a pile over in the corner. Note: I do not actually have a pile of people in the corner. This was a metaphor.

Okay, I might not be the poster boy for social interaction. Still, I must admit that when I’ve spent some time in the company of people whom I don’t entirely despise, I come back feeling better for the effort. The echoes bouncing around this head of mine hit a little softer when there’s someone there to cushion the blow.

Looking back at everything I’ve written today, I realize that I allowed myself to drift off the topic I had originally planned to tackle: Making goals. I am horrible at laying out a plan as I have most likely shared with you too many times too count. I like to be prepared for every eventuality, but only in a general sense. I think the one thing that Tiffany is doing which I could never do (besides being a good spouse to her significant other), is letting other people in on my secret hopes and dreams. I can lay out a grand plan with broad strokes and hype it up with obfuscation and bravado, but I’m terrified to share the simple steps I’m too paralyzed by fear to take. You may have noticed I use humor, or indignation, or humorous indignation, to get at what I’m trying to say. I developed this writing for a reason. Inside my head, I’m a drastically different person than the meatbag which is typing.

In here, I’m all confidence and swagger, the master of my domain. But put me in a room with anybody else, and all I can think of is, “What if I’m wrong? What if I sound stupid? What if they laugh at me?” It’s easier to handle a sudden chortle if that was your intention. To lay yourself out bare before the world and receive back only ridicule? Hence the snarky outrage.

“What if they laugh at me?” Since I was old enough to shave (you know, like 12-13), I’ve been professing to the world that I don’t care what other people think, all the while checking their reactions to see if they think my outburst somehow made me cooler. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I can honestly say that I’m less concerned with what other people believe about me, and more worried with what they believe about almost anything else. I’m bald. I’m fat. I’m not entirely sure why anyone has ever bedded me, but they’ve all said it was because I’ve made them laugh (which causes me to worry that they’re all using the same euphemism to belittle my- well, you get the idea). I’ve almost accepted who I am. At least, I’ve realized that I’m too stubborn to really change. And yet… And yet the notion that someone might single me out for ridicule chills my very blood. I’m going to share something ridiculous with all of you:

I cannot make phone calls to people I don’t know. Just can’t. No cold calls for Tex Batmart. My brain just freaks out any time I have to speak to someone that I haven’t met. I used to think this only applied to when I used to call up girls in high school (let me reiterate that I was also in high school when I was calling high school girls), and the fear seemed justified, as not only could they reject me, but they could mock me to their friends, ensuring that no one would ever want to be my girlfriend. Even worse, her father could pick up the phone, and demand to know who I was and where I lived and what my intentions with his daughter were. Fear just seemed like the most appropriate response. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the fortune to be liberated from the need to speak my girlfriends’ fathers, but now the terror encompasses every other telephonic interaction. Thank god for online ordering, or I’d never get a pizza delivered. And online bill payment? The best thing since Betty White. I seriously have to work myself up into a lather (of anger- it’s not like I’m phoning from the shower) just to call up Comcast and ask them why I can’t watch BBC America. I apologize to the Customer Service reps at Amazon on the rare occasions that I’ve had to call them! And don’t make me tell you what happens when my wife passes me the phone when she’s chatting with her mother.

I know that there is literally nothing that the people on the other end of the line can do to me. I mean, they can hang up, or if they become abusive, I can. All they can say is “no.” So why am I terrified every time the phone rings from a number that I don’t know? No, seriously tell me. I let every number with which I am unfamiliar go to voice mail. And half the time I hold the phone away from my ear like I’m afraid of the recording! It may seem like I am making light of the suffering of others, using a ridiculous example to garner laughs. And that is why I don’t share my inner feelings with other people. Look how much rambling on it took to get to the root of it. Seriously, scroll up! And this is why I’m drawing attention to my friend, Tiffany’s blog, Transformation in Progress: from caterpillar to butterfly… I hope. With a courage that I cannot hope to emulate, she just jumped right in and laid it on the table. No filler. No hedging. No dissembling. She wrote about what she felt she needed to in the hopes that writing it would lessen its hold on her, and maybe help someone else who didn’t know where to turn.

Thank you, Tiffany. You’ve reminded me of all that I have yet to do. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and I hope that I might borrow a little of your courage, from time to time.


Also,  in case you are wondering about the title, it comes from an experience in high school. I was directing a play for Drama class, and at a rehearsal, Fed had to sit in and read for one of my actors. One of the lines was about using roses for inspiration, but Fed decided to substitute wrenches. I could have told this story better, but I might want to save it for a later post.

Conversations in Time

I sometimes wonder how my younger self might judge me if he could meet the man that I’ve become, usually envisioning a heated discussion between my teenage and current selves. It had never occurred to me to travel further back in time to have a conversation with the boy who fell in love with writing and set his future out before him, until a game my son and I were playing earlier this evening. He was imagining that he was himself, now, in possession of a time machine, and that he’d come back along my timeline to meet me when I was his age. I, of course, played the role of my seven year old self as best I could, substituting obstructionism when my memories could not be accessed. It was a lot of fun, and I have to admit that I might have been on to something with the whole “undivided attention” thing I figured out yesterday.

But having a blast playacting a prior version of myself, and interacting with my time-travelling progeny forced me to come to terms with just how many of my previous temporal incarnations just might take issue with the choices I have made. Explaining to the boy my son met this evening that it would take 28 years until I actually did anything with the ability he’d just discovered and to which he’d already dedicated his life would be a disappointment. At that age, people in their twenties seem so grown up, and anyone over 30 is positively ancient! To tell him that he’d have to live 400% more just to get a shot might have discouraged me from even trying. Or it might have motivated me to get an earlier start. Honestly, it’s really hard to extrapolate my headspace from nearly three decades past. And this is only the first of many highlights as we travel along Tex Batmart through the ages.


Tex Batmart

Through The Ages

Age 8

A year later, I would have been crushed to discover that the first girl I ever kissed would not go on to be my wife, and even worse: within a year, she’d be moving out of my life forever! My utopia was coming to an end. No more escorting her to the bus stop in the mornings on the way to school, no more races along the street with her slightly younger brother. No more running off into the woods and teaching one another how to kiss like the grown-ups do. In terms of romance, this would mark the beginning of a particularly long period of loneliness in my life which would go on for another half-dozen years.

Age 14

I’d met a girl on the way home from school, and asked her parents if she could keep me. Seriously. She was pretty, funny, and she lived down on the beach! For her birthday that year, she invited me to her party at Skateland. I didn’t skate, but was super into her, so went along, and earned some serious Dad Glances from her father on the trip out there. Trying to warn myself any earlier would have been met with boredom and rebellion, so I would need to pull myself aside somewhere near the arcade, strongly urging barely teenage me against accepting the affections of a different girl at the party that night. He would, of course, ask why I cared (not bothering to question the paradox of my appearance, as he would remember from my previous visits six and seven years ago), and proceed to ignore me, as it would be proof he would be kissing a girl again, and even seeing boobs! Never underestimate the power of breasts upon a teenage boy’s mind. He would go on to kiss that girl, and see his first real life boobs since infancy. And then lose that girl, and then another, and then a few more after that. Having seen the uselessness of trying to prevent an adolescent from foolishness in his quest for romantic shenanigans, I would have to wait another couple years until I did something desperately in need of stopping.

Age 16

Skipping over the most impressively rebellious time in my life (January 1995), a time when only Trent Reznor could have soothed my inner turmoil, I would see my next opportunity for self-redemption in the late Spring of ’96. Again, my present self would be easily disregarded should I attempt to prevent him from doing anything short-sighted. There were things that had to happen (the records of which were expunged upon my 21st birthday), knowledge earned, and the groundwork laid for major events which would transpire six months hence. But I would have told myself that what I was going through: the searing clarity of emotional pain, the bursts of insight and inspiration, the nights of writing when I could almost taste an enduring literary legacy, these were symptoms of something called Bi-Polar Disorder. That although knowing that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain didn’t mean that everything I felt was in my head. And to hang on just a little longer, things were coming that would change it all. I’d give myself a hug, and fade forward to the beginning of June 1997.

Age 17

If you could go back and change anything in your life, would you? Are you willing to commit suicide, to erase the very person that you are, that you’ve become? This is the moment in my life in which I would be tempted to interfere. It was the beginning of Summer, 1997. Having almost completed my court-mandated punishment, and won over my Probation Officer, things were degenerating at home once more. I was more determined than ever to get out as soon as possible, and was making plans to leave as soon as I wouldn’t be imprisoned for leaving home. Things came to a head, and, through very little fault of my own, I was suddenly free… two weeks early… and in violation of the terms of my probation. I ran the situation by my P.O., and was granted a reprieve, assuming I could find somewhere new to live.

That summer, I fell in love with a woman just one year older than I am now. What began as simple companionship of Mrs. Robinson developed into my first adult relationship. And for a while I had everything I’d wanted. I was free of the tyranny of my Parental Unit, free of The Law, and living a life of domestic tranquility. I even had the good fortune to meet a boy who would grow into a decent young man, who allowed me to practice being a dad. I can honestly say that I didn’t have a lot of success, but I also didn’t manage to screw him up too terribly. I was happy. I was an equal of adults months early. I should have known better.

I’m not going to get into the particulars here: Eventually I’ll write a book about it, and actually do it justice. I will say that no other point in my life has influenced the creation of the man who I became more than the three years which followed. My innocence fell away, and I was forced to reconsider who I was and what kind of man I could and couldn’t tolerate becoming. To spare myself the pain which would define the era, would I give up everything I have now, including the wisdom earned from moments of overcome despair? I doubt I would have listened, for even if I believed myself, I was doing it for true love.

This thought experiment has taken on a rather melancholy aspect, and that was specifically what I was trying to avoid. I figured I’d have a few laughs at the juxtaposition of myselves, and call it a night. Suffice it to say that I would be forced to leave myself alone to face the world and wounds to come. But we’ve got one more stop to make.

Age 21

It’s now April 2001, and I’ve been out of the mental ward for a couple weeks. My relationship is deteriorating, and even I, Don Quixote, can read the writing on the wall. I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to move out of my apartment and leave the love of my life behind. I’ll only ever see her once more. This is the point where I might actually be able to listen to myself, hear what I would tell myself. More than any other impossible wish, I would sit down with myself over a Big Ass cup of coffee and a cigarette, and tell him this:

“I know you’re hurting right now, and nothing that I tell you will change that. There’s no point in telling you to wait for it to get better. Only time can tell you that with any credibility. But please know that it meant something; that everything you went through was for something. You’ll make plenty of mistakes, and do some things you’d rather not have done, but I can promise you that it does get better. You’re too smart for your own good, and all of your clever attempts at evasion only make the lessons you need to learn come and hit you harder. You will find someone, and barely have the sense to date her. She’ll put up with you for a few years, and then you’ll have to marry her to make her stay. The road ahead is hard, and it will feel like it will never end. But I swear to you, you will be happy! You just haven’t earned it yet. Be true, and step forward into world with your eyes finally open.”

I would watch my future self begin to dissipate, mulling the notion that I’d have to put up with this for who knew how long, when I heard that fat bald bastard say, “Oh, and just watch out for the super-hot Panamanian girl, she’s nothing but trouble!”

And that concludes another trip into The Vaults of Uncle Walt. It was a little darker than I intended, so I’m going to make you all a promise to keep it light tomorrow. Thank you again for joining me on this Great Adventure, and I look forward to seeing you here again!

From all the versions of myself, I wish you a pleasant evening.