Thursday, September 27, 2007

Only Lunatics Need Apply

My weeping spells continue most of the day.

There has long been a debate in psychology about which comes first, the affect or the thought. Obviously in the death of a loved one the thought precedes the affect. But clinically, as in my case, the affect overcomes me and afterwards I may append thoughts, but the thoughts are not valid. When sad you seek something sad in your mind to explain it. So I can fasten on Rachel’s death, or my own infinite shortcomings to fill the necessary object for the sadness. But in truth there is no object; the labels are falsely appended afterwards. I cry because I cry.

When I cry I keep hearing in my inner mind: “God helps those who help themselves.”

It’s true, you know. I’m not saying I have to make the burden worse by “trying harder,” just that I should make the effort to cope and seek help as best I can. I am doing that. In fact, the doctor started me on a new medicine yesterday, only $14 a tablet—which we can’t afford—nevertheless Kathleen insisted that we buy it now that she has a job. I would not have spent the money but she would do anything to make me well. This depression has now matched my longest depression of 1982-83, also 16 mos. and sent packing with ECT.

I’ve thought of starting a fund drive: “Dr. Chaffin needs ECT. He has no insurance and no way of getting the proper treatment. It will cost around 50 K. Please send your donation to Dr. Craig Chaffin, PO Box 2436, Ft. Bragg, CA, 95437.

Who knows? Maybe a millionaire will read this and send me the money. I promise to use it only for treatment, and if the medications start working consistently, I will naturally send the money back.

I said I was done with poetry but the other day I reverted to the familiar form to exorcise some dark feelings:

Kentucky-Fried Christ

I wear the Elephant Man’s mask
like a Jewskin lampshade.
Do you see the glow of hell through it?
Come, warm yourself,
take my gold fillings,
my bones for your Camellias

Living is for men in sunglasses
who can filter the not me from the me.
Suicide is for sissies
in little nautical suits with big bow ties.
Don’t worry about me.
If my blood has been desiccated
and ground to red pepper,
remember me on your pizza.

I am the Jesus of the broken cell phone,
the Savior of ceramic kitsch.
I’ll glue that broken cat
with the clock in its belly
back together with my spittle.
Of my healing there shall be no end.

I think that’s pretty dark. The title, incidentally, was furnished by my old friend with whom I have recently reconciled, Eric. He seems in a very good space, content with his lot in life, grateful to serve in a church where he is a deacon. It was my illness that drove him away in the first place.

Funny, for the last two nights I saw TV ads for “bipolar treatment.” Although they never came out and named a drug, you know some big pharmaceutical company is behind them. And in Emily Martin’s book, Bipolar Expeditions, she points out that the hypomanic/manic side of the illness is considered valuable in business. So bipolar disease has become fashionable nowadays, it seems, and is being greatly overdiagnosed in children.

I for one resent the lowering of the bar for diagnosis. The word “lunatic” is derived from early observations of manic-depressives, whose cycling was thought to be associated with the phases of the moon. As a true lunatic I don’t want some penny ante bipolar II or cyclothymic wannabe sharing my hard won moniker in this matter.

BTW, I should say, that although I don’t pick up the phone, I am always happy when someone calls me, as a friend did today. Though I teared up several times on the phone, my voice cracking, listening to him was a great comfort. So don’t be afraid to call me, I’m happy to hear from you. Write me if you need my phone number. My only caveat is that I already know you; I don’t want to encounter new people, I am in no position to make new friends right now, the strain of the introduction would be too much.

Thine in lunacy,


Monday, September 24, 2007

Cry me a river

I wish I had better news. I wish I could say, “I’m well! I’m well! Thank God Almighty I’m well!”

But I’m not. I’m sick. I’m very sick.

Since Friday, soon after I wake up I burst into tears and sobs and they last all day until my tear ducts are just burned out by nighttime. Even yesterday, when I hiked with Kathleen along the beautiful cliffs of the coastline, I couldn’t stop the tears running down my cheeks beneath my Ray-Bans. I called my doctor but we did not connect. I don’t know how to stop crying. I don’t know what I’m crying about. It’s as if someone left the alarm clock on and it won’t shut off.

I am overcome with grief. Yes, I miss Rachel; yes, I can’t believe she’s dead. Yes, that thought makes me weep. But my grief, my physical expression of grief, triggers self-denigrating thoughts as well: How incompetent and incapable I am. What a failure I am. I couldn't get a job at McDonald's. I would never learn to flip the hamburgers properly. My back hurts always, yes, and my mind seems like a tattered kite hanging from the telephone wire, but I feel as if I deserve to be thrown out on the streets and given a shopping cart. Or perhaps I could join a freak circus. “The Saddest Man Alive,” the marquee would read. The curtain would open and there I would sit, watering the tulips.

I want to look “well” for Kathleen. But I can’t dissimulate in front of her. I tell her of my little triumphs, how I put shelves in the coat closet, how I cleaned out the entire refrigerator. During these tasks I continued to weep. Obviously I can function in this state, though it feels as if I can't.

What am I crying about? I don’t know. It’s like a record skipping. I should have had ECT a year ago, but who knows whether my daughter’s death might have sent me off the deep end again anyway? I took an antipsychotic this morning hoping it will calm me some. I called my doctor again. I try to be responsible about my illness.

Netflix sent me “The Elephant Man,” which I apparently ordered long ago. Terrific movie. I understand John Merrick, as I think most of us do. Not that I have actually suffered as a sideshow freak and been beaten by a drunken handler. It’s just the feeling of being so very different when I know I am not, just as he yells at his pursuers, “I am a human being!” And because he is befriended and loved, he receives more happiness than any of us can imagine—who can imagine being lifted from such a wretched state to become a favorite of London society, and that not because he was a freak, but because he was human despite his unfortunate appearance.

I have a friend who suffers from the same disease, neurofibromatosis or “Von Recklinghausen’s disease.” Like most cases, his is much less severe, though the fibrous tumors have necessitated multiple surgeries on his foot. I’ve never heard him complain about it.

I recently read an article in the New Yorker about those rare individuals afflicted with Lesch-Nyan syndrome. Because of one random mutation in their X chromosome, they chew their lips and fingers off and react oppositely in their emotions—that is, if they like someone they may cuss at him or punch him. If they dislike someone they may say something polite. Their hands must be covered with mitts because their fingers frighten them, as they feel suddenly compelled to bite them. Most have no lips, having long since chewed them off. Often they ask their caretakers to restrain them when they feel the self-destructive compulsions coming on. To think that one base pair askew in the DNA chain could result in such specific behaviors is frightening and raises serious questions about free will.

Kathleen tells me, “It’s not your fault. It’s your genes.”

But I don’t know any other me. Just because some genetic abnormality makes me cry for days on end doesn’t mean that that crying feels any less like me. And I don't dwell on suicide, a thought that more hounds me when depressed.

Nevertheless, if genetics is destiny, can I make myself stop crying? Can I will myself into sanity? Of course not. I can’t control it any more than an epileptic can control a seizure. This is not a failure of courage or anything else; it is not a failure at all. It is a biological sentence that differs from grief.

I don't feel sorry for myself; if I grieve, I grieve for the whole world, because I feel as if the object of my grief has become diffused and fills the universe.

If you asked me why I weep, I could only say, “For nothing. For everything.” My sadness has no limit except this body. Still, my state is not like a pure biological depression. It is something new. I have never cried this much when depressed; in that state there is too much of the bitter, metallic despair in me to do so.

I don’t feel inhuman. I feel too human, even if the capacity for sadness is only one aspect of being human.

In writing this I have temporarily stopped crying.

I feel like an emotional astronaut. I try to report the journey and it doesn’t have to make sense.



Monday, September 17, 2007

Second draft of "airport" novel finished....

Yesterday I finished the second draft of my “airport” novel and e-mailed it to my sister. What I want to know from her is whether an average reader would be interested in finishing the book or prefer to leave it on a bench.

My novel is no great work of art, neither is it purely plot-driven; character does come in at places, and is probably too long-winded when it appears. The book is an experiment as to whether presumed elements of popularity will overcome marginal writing. The book is baldly designed to be popular, as I made a list of things to be in the novel, with the overall idea of Michael Crichton meets Dan Brown (except for their research). Here are some of the elements I put in the book:

Four murders, three questionable because the victims were clones.
Dangerous fundamentalists.
Secretive Jesuits.
A ten-year project of the Jesuits ruined.
A manic-depressive doctor/coroner/investigator, overlarge, who doesn’t know his own strength, and adjusts his own psychiatric medications frequently throughout the book to improve his performance.
His playful but deadly Irish Wolfhound, Grendel.
His sidekick and chauffeur of vintage automobiles, (retired) detective Ray.
His mother, computer hacker extraordinaire, who still nags her fifty-year-old son.
A love triangle between the doctor, detective and the doctor’s beautiful deaf secretary.
Beautiful horses (a dog wasn’t enough for animal lovers, I thought).
Crash-bang ending where Grendel is seriously wounded, Ray is injured, and the doctor exposes the evil leadership of the sect.
All is reported back to the Vatican.

There’s an old joke about bestsellers. If people love to read about Lincoln, doctors and dogs, why not “Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.” That’s what I’m trying to do here. Really.

Fiction is hard for me because of the donkeywork. So much connecting of the dots, the tearing out of details and connections readers don’t need, the question of how much description is necessary or merely boring? How much do people want character? Will anyone identify with the characters?

All this chatter, blecch. How about a brief excerpt from my novel? This is taken near the end of the book, when the doctor’s mood is heightened before his he invades the sect's chapel.


In the brief interlude before their advance, Gunderson could hear Isaiah’s preaching in the stillness. The man’s voice seemed painfully loud. He could hear the congregation shifting in their seats, the slide of cotton on polished oak, the squeak of small shoes on the floorboards.

His mood was already heightened by the hunt and his encounter on the ridge, pushed into the kind of manic rebound that Zyprexa often yielded short-term. Time had slowed. His mind wasn’t racing; that would be “out of phase” hypomania. Instead he was enjoying his illness, a state of hyperawareness combined with the confidence of a god and the caution of a deer. He felt as if he had eyes in the back of his head, eyes all around like the fabled seraphim of Ezekiel. He could hear the proverbial pin drop.

“OK, Ray,” he said.

As they made it to the cabin next to the chapel, Gunderson automatically categorized the three intensities of light, from faint moonlight to the harsher, Edisonian light in the lamps in the eaves. He could see every crack in every knot of pine while the grain bespoke years, each laid down for the next—moment wedded to moment, limb to limb. The third intensity of light was a limited glow near the entrance. Looking back at Grendel, Gunderson could see every wire in his coat: rust, gray, brown, every curled point, noting that each whisker fanned out from his cheeks at its own peculiar angle.

Unlike Plath’s bell jar, he felt in this moment of stalking as if the world was a bell jar and he was looking in, intent on helping those trapped inside. Glancing up at the eaves again he saw each wing beat of a pale moth and the brown dots near the bottom of each wing beneath the slightly irregular slats of the eaves themselves, already warping from a brutal summer and a thirsty winter. As Ray hugged the chapel wall to his left, Gunderson meditated upon the pattern of tarnish in the six brass hinges of the chapel doors while noting the doors did not quite hang true. Better than a level. The world was glass and he moved through it like a diamond.


I paused the action here to describe the doctor’s mental state, but such excursions may impair the book’s “pageturnability,” as the agent who recently rejected the first ten pages wrote me. What do I care? I finished the thing, however grotesque the result. Now it’s time to get feedback as to whether the book deserves a third draft or would be better donated to an abortion clinic.

Now I’ll return to working on my Eliot book, which last scrambled my brain as I re-wrote my take on “The Waste Land” for the fourth or fifth time. That is a very different form of mental exercise.

I teared up over Rachel briefly this morning, though no crying jag. I’m working, that’s the important thing.

I do not think I’m depressed but euthymic and still grieving.

I am anxious today for good reason, because Kathleen starts work full-time and I don’t know if her back condition will permit it. She is my hero to try! I will miss her every hour she’s gone; she grounds me. Sharing her with the world costs me in comfort but I wouldn’t stand in her way. Her job entails coaching the disabled to obtain and retain menial jobs and to make sure they are not disrespected in the workplace, to be their “job coach.” She loves the work and her lip-reading skills have made her deafness a non-issue; in fact, politically, it is a feather in the cap of the organization that hired her: “The disabled helping the disabled.”

At Rachel’s memorial I was reconciled to a friend I had not seen in eleven years. He’s called me once since. I think I may screw up my courage and call him back today. We were tight for 27 years before an unfortunate incident, fueled by the manic side of my illness, separated us.

If anyone is interested in publishing my novel, please write. I have no agent and expect, if others deem it worthy, I'll have to eventually self-publish, like 85% of the books in America.

Kiloneutral but still grieving,


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fulfilling an Assignment

Rachel is slowly becoming a groove in my sedimentary geology. The fossil fills with calcium; the calcium is mine.

My daughter lives through me and all who loved her. She was a joy and a gift. I did not cry over her today, which means nothing except an aberration in my limbic patterns.

Meanwhile, in filling up my dance card, my creative writing teacher gave us this week's prompt: to write a non-rhyming poem of 15 lines with the words "sour, pepper and seven."

I have given up poetry but could not fail my assignment:

Beginning with the Pleiades

Like white pepper thrown against the night
there are six, not seven sisters—
and Orion’s dog looks nothing like a dog.

Not to sour on the Greeks,
but if they had not connected the dots
into standard constellations

Would our imagination benefit?
Or must the memory of a superior culture
inhibit what we envision?

Pigeon shit scattered on Churchill’s statue;
winter may hide it but for now
the present outranks the past.

The Greeks kidnapped the stars,
but what artist among us could top
a terrifying darkness woven with bright gods?

More importantly, I received a two-page single-spaced letter from a major poet yesterday about my work. To my astonishment she told me that I was on my own; that the level I had attained would likely not be helped by workshops or mentors or other aids. She also mentioned that her success had nothing to do with connections but with the faithful licking of envelopes.

Perserverance. Again and again. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Never give up. The reason to write is because you are a writer and you must.

Kathleen and I had breakfast with Pat Jones this morning (art maven for Shit Creek Review), and we reminisced about the early LitNet and characters like Don Taylor, Jaimes Alsop and the the late Ron Jones. She keeps pushing me to post at the Gazebo again. Maybe I will.

Small world, huh?

2 Kilobunnies,


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Musings on America's Obsession with Pro Football

For literary rejectees like myself, my brother Clay sent me this wonderful article on manuscripts Knopf has rejected over the years: No thanks, Mr. Nabokov.


It’s Sunday and America’s obsession with pro football has begun. I think it fitting that our culture would prefer our brand of football over any other sport because of its technological complexity. No other team sport employs so many trainers, specialization, special teams, pads, helmets, gloves, wristbands—not to mention an awkward projectile of a ball. Then there are the team rosters that approach 50, many of whose players are paid a million a more a year, and some paid well for just one function, like a punter or a holder and long-hiker.

The most popular game in the world is soccer, called “football” everywhere but here. It can be played anywhere there is an open field and something resembling a ball. American football, by contrast, is a Rube Goldberg concoction—more bells and whistles than one could ever want or need. Baseball doesn’t compare, not even polo. Maybe mountain climbing would, except that the sport has no crowd appeal. “Piton advanced by two feet, look at that, wow!”

The Soviet MIGs were much cheaper to build than our Phantom jets. They were more maneuverable, not “technically” superior in speed or firepower. MIGs had inferior arms and guidance systems, but our jets were burdened with everything a group of engineers could come up with while locked in a room with those venerable monkeys pounding on typewriters. I’ve seen ravens easily fight off red-tailed hawks on the same principle. The most advanced is not necessarily the best.

At a time when Detroit was introducing the Edsel, with its pushbutton transmission, and T-Birds with automatic trunk openers and cruise control, a little car called a Volkswagen began to make inroads into American car sales. Not only were these imports cheaper, they were simpler; any teenager with an interest could do his own brakes and even re-build the engine. And the cars didn’t use as much gas. This was soon followed by the Japanese invasion and Detroit didn’t get it. It was simply expected that the standard rising middle class American would want the car with the most gizmos, the most futuristic styling, the ultimate in current technology.

Americans love football because it is technical, so technical that we need a million analysts to explain it to us. It’s more strategic than a war and more violent than boxing. Best of all it plays well on television. In my experience at actual games I couldn’t see what the hell was going on from the fifty-yard line. Three yards and a cloud of dust. Moreover, football is a sport of interrupted action, a sport ruled by minute calls of inches, video replays, picayune details that can decide the fate of a season. Our Puritan heritage loves rules and no sport has so many as football, I’d wager. Americans also love to argue and disagree with authorities, because, as we all know, the Declaration of Independence has morphed into a national sentiment that not only were men created equal in rights, they were created equal in ability and intelligence. Stanley Kowalski deserves to go to Harvard as much as the next guy.

I watch the Super Bowl every year just as I put out candy for Halloween, as an American tradition. The grand event is usually a disappointment, even when Justin Timberlake exposes one surgically enhanced breast of Janet Jackson in the halftime show. Last year was laughable, with the Strolling Bones going through the motions (have you ever seen musicians more bored than Keith Richards and Ron Wood?), while a sixty-year old man danced around in leather pants and thick make-up trying to preserve his sex symbol status while ultimately appearing ridiculous. What’s funnier is that the image-conscious NFL turned to the Rolling Stones for more wholesome entertainment than Janet and Justin, or perhaps their marketing division thought them advantageous as demographic baby boom fodder.

I digress. Americans are in love with technology. My middle daughter complained about my youngest daughter texting 500 messages last month on their joint account. It adds up. People stood in line overnight for I-Phones, now a bit angry that the price has fallen. But they wanted the latest technology and were quite willing to pay for it.

Think of how often in B-movies from the 50s, especially Sci-Fi movies, humanity is saved by technology, and it doesn’t stop there. There’s “Independence Day” and “The Andromeda Strain” and those two terrible movies about meteors where astronauts sacrifice themselves to avert the world’s destruction, and countless others. And I find it interesting how often, instead of a standard hero, Americans demand a technologically enhanced hero, like Batman. Is it any coincidence that all the Marvel comics are being made into movies today? Not only because of a failure of imagination in Hollywood, but because we want to believe in technology as the answer, as our ally and friend. Right now, with the greenhouse gas threat, technology is looking more like the question. But the genie’s out of the bottle and no one no one can tell a developing country like China that their rising standard of living isn’t worth the pollution it’s creating. (China has surpassed the U.S. as the greatest greenhouse gas contributor.)

I don’t even like an analog phone. I’m a bit of a Luddite. Right now we have only a dial-up Internet connection, which is painfully slow. Cell phones don’t even work where I live. My car’s a beat-up ’99 Plymouth Voyager. Though a beater, it has cruise control, a rear windshield wiper, A/C and electric windows and seat adjustment. It took me a while to learn all the options it featured after I bought it. I really did have to read the owner’s manual. I shudder to think what the dashboard of a 2007 Lincoln Town Car might look like. If only I had the money to hire a chauffeur!

Football. Emblematic of a nation obsessed with winning, the danger of violence, the endless chess board of play-calling, the specialists and the special teams, and most of all, the privilege of second-guessing the coach, general manager and owner (a joy shared throughout the world by all fans of professional sports).

Speaking of violence, did you know the average career of a pro football player is three years?

Again, why is America’s sport really football, while baseball is only its “national pastime?” Because it’s the most complicated, technological, violent competition known to man.

How many of you will watch it today? If you do, don’t be ashamed if you are an American. For any foreign readers I hope my remarks transmit some understanding of our obsession. And, given that we have more firearms in private hands than the rest of the world combined, football may assuage some of our need for violent confrontation. It’s not that Americans condone violence, more that we are accustomed to it, I fear, and football codifies it nicely, though I much prefer a good boxing match.

For those interested in my ongoing transition as a manic-depressive father in grief over the loss of his daughter, I thought it would be healthy to take break today. When I first posted about it I said I didn’t want to turn this into a “grief journal.” Besides, I hear Joan Didion did a much better job in her Year of Magical Thinking.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Don't go dyin' on me...

It’s been over a month since Rachel died. Each day I wake up, take my medicines and come downstairs. Before I can pour myself a cup of coffee I start to weep.

Sometimes I wonder if the neighbors can hear me through the open windows but they never say anything. Everyone has their own sorrow to bear. It’s awkward to try to enter another’s; much safer to ignore it. There are rare persons who have a gift for sharing sorrow, who seem able to make your grief equally their own, entering silently, seamlessly, just to be present. I think Kathleen is one of these. And so what if my neighbors hear me crying? They know of my loss.

I saw my psychiatrist yesterday. I told him about my morning anxiety, the fist in my stomach, and the tears that inevitably followed as I got up. He asked me how I’d been when Sarah was visiting; I was, of course, much better, busy taking her around, showing her the wonders of the coast, visiting thrift shops, taking her to restaurants and spoiling her in general. (I pride myself on spoiling all my daughters.) My doctor pointed out how much sadder I’d become since Sarah had left, and that if her presence could affect me so much it was not likely that I was suffering depression, since an external influence could so affect my mood.

Words failed as I tried to tell him what Sarah’s visit meant to me: “Just to watch her, to touch her." And now she’s gone back to her life in Long Beach, and it’s unlikely we’ll talk much since she is a teenager and I’m an old man. She was a great comfort to me as I hope I was to her.

For now I am in uncharted waters. It encourages me for my doctor to tell me I am more in grief than depressed. And my symptoms tend to support that. I can laugh with Kathleen at night after she returns from work. And after my morning tears I find myself able to function. I paid the bills, for instance, on Labor Day, and was not beset by my usual longstanding fears when I paid them.


I’ve stopped crying now for this morning, I think. My shrink told me to “fill up my dance card,” to busy myself with whatever work was interested me. I told him how much I craved a job where I could punch the clock and put widgets and whatchamacallits together all day. The freedom I have to choose my work is frightening; I would much rather have it assigned.

Writing is my main form of work, followed by house husbandry, gardening and two college courses. It's time to take up my writing projects again.

Back when Kathleen had thought to promote me, she bought a number of books to help. Last night I paged through The Wealthy Writer, written by an Australian bloke who was willing to write anything. In doing so he made contact with the corporate world and found himself writing press releases, helping with ad campaigns and the like. He said “corporate clients paid best.” Most of his book was about business, how to establish a business of writing. He did not concern himself with what he had to write, only that he could get paid for writing. His approach didn’t appeal to me; it sounded as if he’d created a copywriting arm of an advertising agency on the cheap. I guess my fantasy of being a writer will always have me in a cabin with a typewriter, where my agent has to don snowshoes to reach me. My great genius should not be troubled by the business side of things.

My desire to make money as a writer, something new, is borne of an ambition to fulfill my Protestant work ethic and prove I can do without disability. If I could accept myself as I am, a man declared “disabled” by numerous specialists, a man who enjoys a modicum of success as a poet and essayist, I would, of course, be much happier.

Self-acceptance is easy for sociopaths—it never crosses their minds. For the neurotic it seems nearly unattainable. Even for the manic-depressive it is more than a question of neurochemistry.

What if I was loved as I am? Perish the thought! I can never be loved as I am, I must do something more to deserve it, and that, as well, will never be enough to appease my inner god, so it is all pointless. Still, when I hold Kathleen I can feel her healing love flow through me and I know she loves me just as I am (though she excepts my feet). Despite her help I have immense difficulty in imagining myself being loved as I am, which is the bedrock principle of Christianity: God loves sinners, period, just as they are, and there is nothing we can do to merit such love. I believe in this philosophy, why I call myself a Christian, but as for the inner experience of the good news, I am insensible.

When it comes to loving myself, the self-esteem movement never held any attraction for me because it had no traction. How can you love yourself unless you are loved? We need some external being to love us so that we can internalize it. This needs to come early in one's life, very early. Even then the psyche may reject it.

Though I believe my parents did their best, how could they have known that I felt unwanted, excluded, a burden to them from my earliest memories?--which resulted in my having to prove my worth over and over again in the hopes of being loved.

When it comes to such questions my friends like to remind me that my dad was an intimidating monster, that they didn’t feel welcome in my house with him around, rather intimidated; our house was the maze and Dad was the Minotaur. That was the cloud I lived under.

Do these ramblings sound like depression?

When I cry in the morning, what do I think of? I don’t think; I simply feel this emptiness open up inside me, an emptiness where Rachel isn’t, although she should be there. It’s a sadness that does not beg for her return so much as mourn the fact that she could ever leave, that she had for so long occupied such a large part of my heart. When I weep I weep not only for Rachel but for the human capacity to experience loss and for all who have suffered loss.

Marrying mortality to self-consciousness is a troublesome match. The latter gives the lie to the former because self-consciousness cannot conceive of its own end, thus has a terrible time accepting the evidence that this is indeed the case. We are mortal; the fiction of life we create, our own narrative, is written with disappearing ink; we can’t believe in our own deaths or we would abandon our narratives and follow Bartelby the Scrivener into a catatonic refusal to credit life at all.

That I weep for Rachel proves that I believe in life, but at the same time reminds me how much of a fiction I must create to live my own life. I can’t, for instance, do anything if I am constantly worrying about losing Kathleen or one of my other daughters.

In trying to sum up what I felt towards Sarah before she left, the best I could come up with was, “Don’t go dying on me.”



Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
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