Sunday, March 11, 2007

Depression and the Dog; Literary Nonsense Sonnet

There will be more about Kenyon below, but the blog mechanics put his picture at the top of today's post. This is Kenyon at Big River Beach among the driftwood.


I woke up this morning feeling a little shaky. When my computer would not connect to the net I became even more so. Having finally solved the connection problem, the anxiety increased, now mixed with sadness.

Since I felt a little better yesterday, I was hoping I would wake today without depressive symptoms, but here they are. Generally depression is diurnal, that is, worse in the morning and better at night. Thus I was fairly insensible of my mood disorder late last night watching the Sopranos, yet wake to this churning in my stomach today.

I began to unload the dishwasher then interrupted the process to return to my now connected computer. The indecision between completing the one task and beginning the other is typical of the depressed state; whether I unload the dishwasher or blog, I instinctively know I'm doing the wrong thing and am wasting my time. I feel I ought to get up and finish the dishwasher unloading now, but then I would lose my train of thought, or whatever these confessions amount to. Actually I'm trying to describe what this feels like--the pressure behind your eyes, the tightening in your cheeks, the gulp in your throat, as if you're about to cry; the acid apprehension in your stomach, the tingling in your sternum, the fear of what's to happen next, though nothing unexpected will, since you are alone, typing, and listening to the Beatles: "Nothing's gonna change my world" (the last thing a depressive wants to hear).

I think I've made it clear how much I wish I weren't manic-depressive. Now I'm starting to cry. I hear Kathleen coughing upstairs; perhaps she's awake. She is the first person in my life I've ever been almost comfortable with observing my tears. If she comes down the stairs and sees them, that's OK, but by the time she made it down, miserable and coughing, my tears had stopped.

The only sad thing that happened yesterday, and last night again, and this was really sad, was to see Kenyon collapse. After fetching his bottle from the ocean, he walked up the sand and his hips gave out and he fell. This happened again with another fetch, despite his strong swimming. My first reaction was, "Shit!" But after he came up the stairs last night and promptly fell at the foot of our bed I was greatly saddened. Perhaps yesterday's villanelle was prophetic; I hope not. I meant to say in that poem that we're all "waiting for our dog to die," that even in a universal apocalypse the personal remains more important to us than the cosmic--you know, Nero fiddling while Rome burns, Captain Queeg wondering who stole his strawberries.

With Kathleen and Kenyon downstairs it's time for Kenyon's morning constitutional with me. He often stops and looks lost. He tries to smell his way around, but I don't even think he remembers the pattern of the property's scents. To get his attention I have to yell. I guide him across the highway to where he prefers to attend to his business; I guide him back. As he crosses from the asphalt to the gravel of the driveway he falls, gets up on his own. I wonder, "Should I tell Kathleen?" She will know anyway.

Before Kathleen I never knew what it meant to love and care for an animal deeply. And what she said yesterday, at the beach, I'm sure all animal lovers agree with: "It's such a shame they don't live longer." How much better would be an animal for life! And contrary to non-animal lovers' instincts, the last thing you want to say to someone who has just lost a beloved pet is, "Get another one." As if! As if the former could be replaced!

There being no threat of real poetry today, I penned this silly sonnet:

Literary Nonsense

And Flannery O’Connor came to stay,
And Herman Melville, and Kafka, too,
And Kipling sang “The Road to Mandalay,”
And Tennyson’s “Ulysses” made us blue.
Along came Eliot in his narrow tie
And Oscar Wilde in his yellow coat;
Walt Whitman raised his beard to prophesy,
Which made young Ginsberg randy as a goat.
One asked, “Whose hands are smaller than the rain?”
One answered: “The world in a grain of sand.”
One said, “Come take the ‘Observation Train;’"
One answered, “One if by sea, two if by land.”
Shakespeare grabbed his goatee and remarked:
“I think that all these scribblers should be arked.”

Two Kilorats and Holding,



  1. "Walt Whitman raised his beard to prophesy,
    Which made young Ginsberg randy as a goat."

    Well, it was hard not to laugh at that line!
    I know the sonnet is silly but it did make me smile.

  2. Ah, gee, CE. There is nothing sadder than an old dog.

    Does Kenyon's vet know about these falls?

    I'm greatly concerned for your dog. How is his quality life? Is he still relatively happy despite his age and condition?

    Have you and Kathleen and your vet talked about when to say when?

    One of the saddest sounds I've ever endured is the sound of my family dog, Tootsie, crying at the bottom of the stairs because she could no longer climb them to go to bed with the rest of the family.
    Like Kenyon, her hips were just awful near the end. She tried to climb the stairs a few times and fell.

    Oh, CE. I'm going to cry.

    Tootsie finally got to the point where just stepping off the one step of the front porch or stepping back up was nearly impossible for her and that's when my parents decided it was time.

    I hope you and Kathleen are brave enough and love your dog enough to know when it's time.

    Ah, gee, I AM going to cry.

    There are very few beings in this life that will love you as completely and joyfully and unconditionally as a dog.

  3. Good, Rob, a smile is worth a thousand publications.

    LKD, Kathleen is writing you privately. Believe it or not, on an earlier post, or in a private communcation, you told me Tootsie's story. The deepest stories are the ones we have to keep on telling, as I'm sure we'll tell about Kenyon. For now he still gets up the stairs and into the car on his own, but it takes some encouragement on occasion. Thank you for your compassion. You are a true animal lover.

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