Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Lately, I've felt adrift.

My 2015 music purchases are down to almost nothing, which might mean nothing to the average bear, but it's a red flag in my world. My blog writing has been practically non-existent, and what's worse is I haven't tried all that hard to write anything. All of my hobbies feel a bit stupid, even though they're not, even though they provide a kind of meaning and distraction for me.

Friend after friend, acquaintance after acquaintance, relative after relative is being diagnosed with one serious illness or another, most of them ending in the letters "-ancer," all of them either terminal or so serious that they don't want to talk about how serious it is, because they're trying to show a sort of love by not wanting to burden you with something you can't fix or bear for them.

My professional life is in an El Nina of uncertainty, as I bobble and roll between the beginning and end of my master's degree, learn to negotiate the waters of a new boss, watch as some boats sail into new distant waters and as I lose radio contact with other colleagues within eyesight. The upside here -- and it ain't a minor one in the 21st Century -- is that none of this chaos indicates that my livelihood is in jeopardy. For all the instability and uncertainty, my job is secure, and that is of immeasurable importance.

But the aforementioned illnesses and diseases hitting many in our midst have left everyone dazed, or maybe skittish. Whatever it is, we all seem off our game even as the place itself continues to thrive, continues to do by all accounts an outstanding job at delivering on what it promises.

At times I've wondered if those moments of professional excitement, where the future seems so full of potential, only serves as a sort of slap in the face. How dare we feel the excitement of possibility? How dare we look forward to the possibilities of a year or two from now when these people we love and know will likely be gone from us, stolen from us by mysteries we don't and won't ever understand?

It's like you're working on the same floor as Debbie Downer, and you don't know exactly when or how you'll run into her, but she's there, and she's gonna drop by, and whatever smile you're wearing or tune you're whistling, they won't survive that encounter.

If anyone were to suggest I sound depressed, I'd probably throat punch them. Not in real life, mind you, but in my head. I'd smile and thank them for their concern, and I'd walk away with the vision of them falling to their knees, gasping for breath, wondering if I snapped their trachea in two. Whatever level of depression I might have -- and I promise you it's very minor if it even exists -- isn't terminal, and it won't involve chemotherapy, or radiation, or compound nouns like "drug cocktail" or "experimental treatment."

Whatever this is, this creeping, lingering melancholy, isn't some revised Book of Job, and it's due to tragedies around me, not to any sort of destruction of my own life. So I think I'll take my own little teaspoon of misery, swallow it down without so much as a wince, and move on, thankyouverymuch.

A few beers now and then help, although even that hobby has seemed less interesting of late. Family, meanwhile, does more than help.

Family is the one anchor I cannot, will not, detach from the vessel of my life. Even in moments of feeling adrift, there's the assurance that the anchor holds, and the chain has simply rolled out further than I thought possible.

I bought my first few 2015 albums in the last couple of weeks, one of which is Sirens by The Weepies. The Weepies are one of my go-to bands for swimming in self-pity and helping me crawl back out of it, a sort of binge and purge of being stuck in emotional tar. Their previous album, Be My Thrill, is their least compelling to me because you can feel too much joy from it. It's too carefree. Not acceptable, Weepies!

This one returns to their native land of melancholy take on a "get busy livin' or get busy dyin', nobody knows the trouble I seen vibe, and listening to it has helped pull me back toward the shore, helped remind me that I am anchored, that the boat is in tact and the waters that trouble are the same ones that carry us from port to port.

I don't need no trouble
but it's plain to see
sometimes trouble needs me

Deb Talan, by the way, has stage 3 breast cancer. She is currently "cancer free" and in remission.

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