Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rip Van Winkle

Not being depressed I find myself whining about inconsequential matters. That I should experience fear, anger, or sadness apart from their obsidian amalgam in my illness I suddenly take for granted.

Today, for instance: after I had to buy seven more Abilify for $107.00 yesterday because my meds hadn’t come from Canada—yes, you guessed it, the damn meds arrived. And of course they were late because when I sent the Rx in, I hadn’t noted the order # on the Rx. I did make an order online, but they filed the original Rx away and never connected the dots. Fine print. Policy and procedure. Don’t you hate it?

Kathleen has taught me to read instructions on many things I didn’t use to; still, I somehow manage to miss the important parts. If for every new purchase you read every instruction and legal disclaimer, would you even have time to eat? Imagine grocery shopping and reading every nutritional box. Or the complete instructions, twenty pages in badly translated Chinese, of how to operate your new television. Laugh, you can laugh, but eventually your dereliction will bite you in the ass. I suppose the answer is to read the fine print for anything important, like life and health insurance and mortgages and new cars. But what about refrigerators? Where do you draw the line?

My theme was how forgetful the human animal is. I must remember gratefulness; after being underwater for 18 mos. and having my head above for one, do I really need to complain about spending an unnecessary $100.00 for my life-saving medication? Or is that just normal living? “Dear, that man cut me off! Get his license number! Why did they deliver the paper so late? I can’t believe the price of gas! Can you believe how all the aging rock stars are trying to revive their careers by doing duets with other aging rock stars?” And so on. These are the normal and trivial emotions of the human tribe, and perhaps I should be grateful that I can again experience them.

It’s like sports; there’s something so innocently human about rooting for your favorite team. I’m rooting for Boston now, though a Dodgers fan, though neither compares to my devotion to the Lakers. But isn’t it charming? The arbitrary loyalty to a team of millionaires who do something with a ball? I think it’s charming. So normal. I feel sorry for those who choose their allegiances by merit. Home teams are like family; you love them mindlessly. They belong to you.

My new euthymic attitude extends to so many things. It’s like waking up from a long nightmare. I look at my bookcase and exclaim, “I have so many wonderful books! I look at my CD collection and remark, “I can’t believe how much good music I have!” I look in my closet and think, “I’ve never had so many clothes!

Is that my beautiful wife?

1 Kilobunny.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Cruelty to Plants; New Cat; Banned from My Writing Class

I saw a pick-up truck today with tropical plants in the bed traveling at 50 mph along the bracing coast. I thought of reporting it to the SPCP, “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants.” Then I realized there was no such organization and that it was up to me to found it. Ah, one more small responsibility for Dr. Yours Truly. (You’d think people would have wised up by now and simply elected me supreme potentate, since I know what’s best for everyone. Who else worries about the damn plants, hmm?)

Did you know that plants grow better to Mozart and that carrots, according to electric sensors, emit the equivalent of a scream when uprooted? Just because we believe plants don’t have sentience doesn’t mean they can’t experience pain just as animals do. Yes, Cain’s vegetable offering was rejected and Abel’s received, and we grieve about the fratricide, but what about the poor vegetables and the emotional wound of their rejection by the very God who created them? We’re talking years of therapy with manure and fish emulsion.

Today we picked out our new pet, a cat almost one-year-old. Her name is Jo Jo, but we haven’t decided to keep the name yet. She is gray with white paws and all kinds of crazy stripes, her eyes yellow. Right now she’s hiding in the open coat closet behind the vacuum cleaner, from where she makes sorties up and down the stairs, but never too far—she’s brave but still cautious. The cubicle at the pound was big but not so overwhelming as our rental to her. I’ve seen cats go through this adjustment period before and am confident that she will soon rule the roost. LKD knows that already.

It may take a while for me to provide a picture since Kathleen lost the digital camera (that we couldn’t afford) I bought her for Christmas. If she reads this it is only to make her feel guilty. I’m so mean! Then why should Kathleen read my blog? She lives it with me. It should bore her to hell, one of the lesser known means of entrance to that region.

Besides the four new publications announced in my last blog, I just got news that Oysters and Chocolate, an online magazine of erotica, will pay me for a poem entitled “Her Steaming Love Tunnel.” I’ll give you the link when it appears, but I don’t feel comfortable posting the poem--my Junior Craig Club members’ parents might sue me and then who would pay my freight? Ever since I exposed Big Bird as the extraterrestrial queer that he is, many parents have directed their children here. Why did I write this sexy piece (though long ago, before my break from writing poetry)? Because to write for money means experimenting with every paying genre. If porno poems sell better than love poems I’ll just go there. Wait—not porno--The poem has socially redeeming value, if only to affirm the joy of intromission, ejaculation and afterglow in pursuit of the “golden fleece” of the simultaneous orgasm. Near the end the narrator yells, “I’m a horse not a man!” I like that and so would Catherine the Great.

Kathleen is reading my novel’s second draft and finds it more absorbing than the Dick Francis novel she’s trying to read, which is good news for me, as she is certainly my harshest critic. If I can hold her attention, there is hope for a third draft.

BTW, if anyone would like an e-mail attachment of any of the works below, simply mail me and ask. You’ll have to bear the costs of printing.


Sine Wave
Love Poems
Simply Said


The Abomination

Short Stories:

The Eric Chronicles
Five Stories and a Play


T. S. Eliot: The Major Poems (an undergraduate primer)


Collected Columns

Max asked me to detail how I got booted from a creative writing class. First, I joined it during my depression as a discipline for continuing social involvement that I demand of myself when depressed. I also hoped to meet a circle of writers in my new stomping grounds. And the teacher came highly recommended from my neighbor who claims to be a writer but will always lack the chops.

At the last class I attended a woman read a treacly, maudlin poem that made my hair stand on end. Since everyone else chimed in, I added my two cents that it sounded like “A Blue Mountain Arts” card. The teacher interrupted me to say “that’s over the line, let’s stop there.” I assure you there was no malice in my comment and that the “poem” was abominable.

After class the teacher asked to speak with me. She told me she tried to provide a nurturing environment for writers, and that this class had been together a long time. I asked her if feeling good was more important than writing well, and she dodged the question, indicating both were important, but one shouldn’t call another’s work “Hallmark,” to which I vociferously objected:

“I didn’t call it ‘Hallmark,’ I called it ‘Blue Mountain Arts,’ and there’s a world of difference in that distinction. I choose my comments carefully, unlike what you think.” That was over her head. I then asked her, “How many people have complained about me?”

She said, “four.” That amazed me. “And they don’t have the balls to speak to me but have to hide under the teacher’s skirt?” She didn’t like that one at all.
“So, do you really want me to come back?” I said.

“Oh yes,” she said, “You’re a very good writer.” (How would she know if she’s more concerned with feelings?)

I asked her again if she really wanted me to return. “By all means,” she said, “just try to be more nurturing and less critical.”

I said, “If four people complained about you in a writing class, would you feel like coming back?”

“I can’t say,” she said, “and it’s not like that.”

“Like what?” I said.

She demurred. Depressed or not I wasn’t going to return to a class of wannabes who couldn’t stand constructive, yes, constructive criticism. The story of my life: unable to judge the social acceptability of my utterance of the truth as I perceive it. My tongue believes in “Leap before thou lookest.”

I cried yesterday morning when Kathleen mentioned that she had been grieving for Kenyon and Rachel. While weeping separately together, I said, “Good morning to you, too!” Later I graciously thanked her for ruining my day. But Jo Jo the wonder cat made me happy again. Soon she will be purring in my lap beside my laptop. I love a purring cat!

All for today.

1 Kilobunny,


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. Depresso!

Famous People born on October 17th:

1920 Montgomery Clift (actor)
1938 Evel Knievel (motorcycle stunt rider)
1948 Margot Kidder (actress)
1954 C. E. Chaffin (journeyman poet and critic, family doctor)
1962 Mike Judge (cartoonist, animator, writer, actor)
1968 Ziggy Marley (singer)
1972 Eminem (rapper)

Margot is bipolar. The creator of Beevis and Butthead? Definitely up my line. Daredevil? Oh yes. Singer/poet? Yes, but never much into Reggae. Rapper? Only in so far as poetry qualifies. Clift is one of my favorite actors but was very effed up, probably a male Borderline Personality Disorder, heavy into polysubstance abuse, alcoholism, and libertine bisexuality.

It is also Black Poetry Day in the U.S., the date Einstein moved to the U.S., U.N. International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Feast of St. Ignatius and the day on which Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion.

It would be nice if I were listed and people were happy to share my birthday. Don't look for it in my lifetime. For now these lists are a bunch of meaningless "granfalloons," or unimportant coincidences, to use Vonnegut's term.

Happy birthday now to me!
Strong and smart at 53!
A face of great utility
and hands licensed for surgery.

Instead of simply googling myself on my birthday as Homer Simpson does all day, I thought I would call my information center to demonstrate how hard it is to get anything done over the phone anymore. And when you get done registering, a computer is really no faster. I contend that with human operators information was disseminated more quickly than today.
Here goes:

You have reached the center for Craig Chaffin. Por Espanol por favor marque el numero dos. Please listen to the following menu:

For psychiatric history, please press or say, ‘1.’
For literary history, please press or say, ‘2.’

For vital statistics, please press or say, ‘3.’

For sexual history please press or say ‘4.’

For a biography, please press or say ‘5.’

For an exaggerated biography featuring Craig as the savior of the universe, please press or say ‘6.’To register a complaint against Craig, please press or say ‘7.’


What would you like to know? You can say, for instance, “The size of his Peter.”

”I’m not interested in that. I’m lucky to see it in the shower.”

I’m sorry, I did not understand your entry. You can say something like, “Where was he born?”

“How many psychedelic drugs did he consume in his youth?”

I’m sorry, I did not understand your entry. Please try again.

“Shoe size.”

Did you say, “Shoe size?”


OK. Now let me connect you to that department. You may meanwhile hear, under terrible audio conditions, a Muzak version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” by the Rolling Stones.


Your conversation may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.

(The band plays “da-da-da-da-- dat dat ta da da” for three minutes.)

Hello, my name is Dale, how may I help you?

“Your phone menu directed me here. I asked for Craig’s shoe size.”

Would that be European or American?


Let me connect you to another department.

(ring, ring, beep)

Hello, this is Jack Gilley. I’m sorry but I’m not at my desk right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


For any dying to know the answer, I usually say: “Same as mouth.” But for those who must know, I wear 13 in American and 46 in European sizes, which means my feet are average for a man my size (and you know what they say about feet—which answers the first impertinent question I asked the phone menu).

On my birthdays I usually wax melancholy and look back at my life with a certain disappointed wistfulness, thinking it may never be better than it was, thinking that perhaps my life has been wasted, hoping to turn over a new leaf or accomplish something at last. But today I feel fine. Isn’t that a bitch? Because my blog is more popular when I’m struggling with grief or depression, as I’m told that my descriptions of these experiences are helpful to others. If I post poems and speak of literary matters my readership contracts.

Truthfully I don’t blog for an audience, or at least I didn’t used to. Now that a fair number of readers have attached themselves to me, I am more likely to try to please them. Every good artist must be sensitive to his audience while cognizant of the fact that an audience always changes art.

I finished my umpteenth re-write of my book of essays, T. S. Eliot: The Major Poems: An Undergraduate Primer at 12:15 AM last night, a great thing to have accomplished on my birthday. I felt satisfied and justified as I went to bed; I felt I had done my best to make Eliot understandable to this generation. Even if no academic press takes the book, I am proud of the work. Here’s an excerpt:

“‘Prufrock,’ in my view, is quite simply one of the greatest poems in the history of the language, as well as the first truly modern poem. Its appearance cannot be predicted by any antecedents in English literature. Although Eliot was a student of literary history in a number of languages, especially French (in which he published four poems in his second collection), the voice, technique and substance of “Prufrock” are undeniably something new: an original synthesis of all that had gone before while claiming vast new territories for the future. The cardinal difference between ‘Prufrock’ and previous poetry is the fact that ‘Prufrock,’ though a drama, occurs almost entirely inside the head of the narrator. What external human interaction the poem contains is comprised of only six lines.”

58,000 words of that. My greatest satisfaction was in explicating Four Quartets, which took up half the book. I have never read a lucid explication of Eliot’s masterwork (then my ignorance is vas and I would have wanted to do it myself in any event).

Birthday plans? Kathleen was going to fix me a special dinner but since I’ll be playing music with friends around 7 PM, we’ll likely skip that. Maybe she’ll bring some Dungeness crab home. They're back in season.

I planned to devote today to getting Kathleen’s new wireless voice transcriber to work, but the engineer has failed to call me back (although he has, inexplicably, been text messaging Kathleen while she is driving around trying to do her job of coaching the developmentally disabled in employment situations).

I have seven books ready for publication: three collections of poetry, a novel, a book of short stories about growing up in LA, a book with five short stories and a play, and my tome on Eliot, a collection of essays--and a theological tome as well, but it is only half re-written. To date I have published but one book, Elementary, in 1997, my first collection of poems. I need to get cracking on these other properties. I need to stop my life and promote my writing instead of taking on new projects. So I intend to do in this, my 54th year. And if after a year I meet with no success, I will certainly consider self-publishing with publishing on demand convenience. I mean, there must be someone who wants to read one of these books! Or?

My 53rd has been a terrible year, in that I lost my oldest daughter, not to mention being clinically depressed nearly the whole time. On the other hand, my youngest, Sarah, graduated from high school; I've reconciled with my estranged stepson; I constructed a website for my works despite being depressed; I was kicked out of a local creative writing class for being too critical; I have stopped and started drinking several times; and I did get a ton of writing done by sheer will, also because work is the only respite for a mind dominated by depression.

The book on Eliot is the toughest thing I’ve ever written, and it took me four years altogether to polish it to my satisfaction. I think it’s lucid now.

Oh, and there's this blog--another aid in preserving my sanity, and a source of much encouragement. I'm glad I continued it in my 18-month depression.

Freud defined mental health as the ability to love and to work. Life is sweet when you’re loved, employed and in good health. I even know 14 souls who strive to love me unconditionally. How lucky can a man be?

My hope for this year is that I learn how to successfully market my writing. Self-promotion has always been distasteful to me, why I have a backlog of seven finished books. I am ready to go on the attack, which means a hell of a lot of envelope and stamp-licking and typing e-mails into the ether. I also want to re-decorate the small space we live in so that I feel better about my environment, and follow through on a landscaping plan I have for my garden.

Happy birthday, all!

3 Kilobunnies,

Craig Erick

Friday, October 12, 2007

Enjoying My Euthymia; Poem, "Salad Burial"

No crises, no depths, no chemical aberrations to report. No doubt my readers will quickly become bored with my newfound wellness, though I am delighted with it. To --not be depressed-- is the greatest blessing I can receive in this life. Sure, I love my wife and daughters and friends. But when depressed I can feel none of that love, neither for me nor for them. I feel like an insignificant fly speck or worse, a tiny curse in the world, or so my chemicals would convince me (until whipped into shape by modern psychopharmacology).

My poem, “When I Am an Old Man” in Chimaera was a take-off on “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” It’s worth a peek for a laugh, though I do wax a little surrealistic at the end--which reminds me of some paintings I saw yesterday, categorized as “hyperrealistic surrealism.” And damn, it fit!

Today I attended my mushroom identification course, per usual, except my memory for recalling Famoptosis cajanderi and countless other strange monikers is much improved with the depression at bay. It is amazing how much my mind improves when free from a depression, just amazing. I can think of many delightful, forgotten grudges from the past, not to mention all the new slights I look forward to.

Next week we’ll begin our field work with fungi, thank goodness, as I am so tired of the classroom experience. The rains have come so the mushrooms will follow. I can’t wait to be foraging for fungi in the forest. That line reminds me of another poem that no one has deigned to publish, a poem in a light-hearted vein. I labor to be reader friendly. I try to write for readers, not poets. But this is not a new poem. I am holding to my vow to eschew poetry.

Salad Burial

I made it on a Saturday
with romaine and green leaf lettuce,
stems crisp and firm,
fresh-boiled eggs in slices,
the rose-white flesh of radishes,
mushrooms cut kidney-style,
spinach with that suede feel
and chicken strips
grilled in garlic oil.

If it had been eaten at the party
or I hadn’t dressed it for convenience
I wouldn't be standing here, a week later
afraid to open the blue ironware pot
where Hansel and Gretel are lost
in the furry forest of the fungal underworld,
where spice of meat and greens are married
to the ghoulish sponge of Miss Havisham’s
spider-riddled wedding cake.

Holding my nose I look away
and blindly bag the mutant gallimaufry,
dropping it in the trash, but as I do
I wonder what alien stews must be
composting in my neighbors’ cans—
See how the imagination festers?

Did you like the phrase, “mutant gallimaufry?” I was proud of that.


So what does the immediate future look like for me if I stay euthymic?

My main goals are to wrap up all my art from the past, to record all the songs I’ve ever written, to revise or complete all the prose and poetry else toss all I've written, and to improve my website so that my music can be downloaded. I also aim to complete the workbook, A Graceful Farewell, so that in the event of my own death things will go smoothly. So many die unprepared! I don’t want my brothers fighting over my Stratocaster and my Martin guitars, for instance. As for a literary executor, it is not clear at this point whether one will be needed unless my writings obtain a higher visibility. Right now this blog is the best thing I got going, because more people read it than all my poetry buried in all those publications for the semi-elite. Strange, isn’t it? Journaling gets me more readers than composition.

Other goals? I want to paint our living room and purchase better furniture and use our space more elegantly. Our unit has two rooms, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs holds the bedroom, TV and closets; downstairs Kathleen and I each have our own office in opposite corners from which we sometimes e-mail each other in lieu of talking. Our dual schmegg zones eat up all the available space. We can't even have guests over for dinner, having no table to speak of.

The rain is here. So is my birthday, October 17, for which Kathleen has purchased me a guided abalone dive. I can’t wait! That’s what I asked for when she asked me what I wanted. Can you imagine me just two-and-half weeks ago asking for anything at all? Nope. Neither can I. What a different when the light is turned on.

Like that old film star, the only presents I now accept are those I can eat, read, wear, listen to, or spend. No knick-knacks.

For those with budget constraints a simple genuflection to my blog photo will do. I do also kinda want a cat. (Hear that, Laurel?) We are not ready for a new dog yet.

2 Kilobunnies,


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tears for Rachel; Paying for Knowledge

Today marks two weeks since I was started on the "magic bullet," Abilify. Since I flipped into euthymia Thursday, September 27, I have daily been grateful for a huge negative: NOT TO BE DEPRESSED. Those who have suffered clinical depression know whereof I speak. It brings up the old question, is the avoidance of pain superior to the enjoyment of pleasure? As a manic-depressive I say, yes indeed!

Today is the second day I've experienced a little morning anxiety and suffered some of the recurring thoughts about my future and my past, not to suggest they are of such a level as to be depressive obsessions. Still, it scares me; it's as if the ground beneath me has become a net rather than solid earth, that I see the open squares to the abyss and must tread carefully.

Sometimes I need to cry but am afraid to; this morning apparently not, as the tears have begun and I think, "poor Rachel!" My darling baby. My sweet freckled redheaded sunshine. That's what I called her as a small child, my "Sunshine." Because she could distract me from my melancholy in an instant; she was filled with so much wonder for life, her smile could illuminate my heart, he constant activity distract me; she could rescue me from the vision of the net beneath my feet. She was a tonic; she was my sunshine.

Oh, it's true as a teenager and adult she was often a huge pain in the ass, but I think what parents most remember is the unadulterated nature of a child, their essential goodness from birth--before it is spoiled by this world, by competition and the special cruelty of other children. (Children are often emotionallly brutal but at least they tend to be more honest than adults.)

So I grieve today; perhaps this was the source of my anxiety, that I still need to cry. Yes, I fear weeping may lead me back to depression, but I pray not. I'm seeing my shrink tomorrow so I can run these concerns by him.

Yesterday Kathleen scared me by asking, "You're not going to relapse, are you?" I said no, of course. But that she would pick up on a diminution of my cheerfulness is also anxiety-provoking. It wasn't like I was crying or bemoaning my state or anything.

I'm sure if warning signs continue, my doctor will bump up the Abilify. I am on the lowest dose, which, incidentally, is the most expensive--5 mg. How those drug companies know how to stick it to you! (To be fair, likely fewer are on such a small dose, why it costs more, supply and demand, etc.) Still a months supply of 5 mg.Abilify, even from Canada, is $418.

Ah Rachel. Your absence makes me weep. I know you exist, but I miss you in this world. And I wonder what effect this will have on Jacob, losing his mother at 5. But we can't take on the sadness of the world like a saddle for a pack horse. We can only adjudicate our own sorrows slowly. I don't know where people get the energy to grieve for Darfur or Burma; I have enough on my plate. Then many idealists have thrown themselves into good works because of trouble inside and at home. As has been well said, and it sounds like it should have been Shaw, "I love humanity in general but can't stand it in particular."

Today I shall return to my assault upon my revision of my tome on Four Quartets. Sometimes, in reading past prose, I get the distinct feeling I must have been smarter in the past. But I am wiser now and better able to corral my leaping thoughts into a readable order. In some further research on the Quartets, for the first time on the web I paid $14 for two-week access to "F. H. Bradley's Doctrine of Experience in T. S. Eiot's The Waste Land and Four Quartets" by Jewel Spears Brooker. Unfortunately it concentrated mainly on TWL when I bought it for 4Q, about which it had little to say, at least not much more than I knew.

Presumably there is a research library somewhere where the issue of this philology journal is available for free to an academic. But it's so much easier to just buy it; think of the transportation alone! The free access of scholarly information is not free on the Internet, a shame for any university, though they have us by the short hairs when it comes to convenience.

I have stopped crying. God bless you, Rachel, God bless you Jacob.


Craig Erick

p.s. I have some two poems and a story out in in a new journal, sister to Shit Creek Review, called Chimeara . It's good to see some friends and acquaintances in there such as Janet Kenny, Rob Mackenzie, former nemesis Leo Yankevich, Kate Benedict, Jeffrey Calhoun, Salli Shepard and Rick Mullin.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Ash Wednesday" and the Cost of Medications in America

"(Why should the ag/ed eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?"

I love Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" and consider it the easiest introduction to Eliot's work, as it is essentially Eliot "light" mixed with a religious sensibility. It's easy to understand. I felt like quoting the passage above since I finished revising my chapter on AW and am now into Four Quartets, which makes up half my book. It makes sense that if I spend 7,000 words on "Ash Wednesday," each of the Quartets deserves as much.

Here's a sample from the essay:

"For those who haven’t walked in Eliot’s shoes, whether raised in the faith, agnostic, atheist, or unconcerned, the difficult negotiation of a commitment to Christianity which AW belabors may seem anchorite overkill, artistic and spiritual self-flagellation. But if we think of the person behind the persona, the "politic, cautious and meticulous" Eliot of "Prufrock," and compare him to the pilgrim of AW, I am tempted to cliché ("You’ve come a long way, baby”).

In AW Eliot achieves a Christian commitment painfully, incrementally, achieving initial communication without spiritual union or the joy of deliverance. One unexpected benefit of his experience is a greater degree of acceptance of the flesh in his verse, and one presumes, his life. In AW the speaker realizes it is possible to live the spiritual life in this world despite our animal defects (not an easy admission for a perfectionistic aesthete). Looking back at "Prufrock," one might predict that Eliot would sooner have embraced monasticism than the life of the Church. The very ordinariness of his adoption of Anglicanism is the most surprising thing about his conversion. The tentative solution AW proffers is, of course, more fully treated in 4Q. "

BTW, the initial essays in Melic are no longer representative of my work and I hope soon at my website to substitute the revised versions for the earlier drafts.

My mood is holding, but I think the American public should know how much the medications that achieved that miracle cost per month at the most reasonable retailer, Costco, Each drug is priced for a month's supply.

Lamictal: $400
Abilify: $430
Prozac: $50
Wellbutrin: $200
Celebrex for two: $200
A narcotic for chronic pain: $120
Blood pressure medicine: $35

The arithmetic yields a total of $1435, mainly because three of the medications have yet to lose their exclusive patents.

After the first Rx here I order my meds from Canada for one third the price. Kathleen is working full-time just to get us insurance. Coincidentally she loves her job and likes to work! (though it's hard on her back). The insurance increases her earnings by at least 60% in terms of value.

Having her work full-time makes me the househusband/writer, cooking nightly, making her lunches, doing the dishes and wash and helping with the shopping and cleaning. I don't mind; anything for Kathleen!. In fact cooking is a good adventure. Tonight I bought a pork shoulder roast for $1/lb. and it has turned out deliciously, with the sage/pepper/olive oil/lemon/crushed garlic baste and the honey glaze.

Mmmmm... the sage is from my spice garden.

spice... the spice....

Any Dune fans out there?

I still think that David Lynch, who later disowned the movie, made a visual tour de force but he must have given up some autonomy to Dino De Laurentis in the dialogue and pacing, particularly portraying the inward thoughts of statues. In spite of this, Baron Harkonnen is one of the great characters in the history of cinema, even better than Nicholson as "The Joker" in its way.

Happy to be alive!

3 kilobunnies!


p.s. Despite the prices I am grateful to the pharmaceutical companies who took risks to create medications that saved my life--again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Alcoholic?

Is there such a thing? As for giving up poetry, I plead innocent; this is "light verse," which means it should not be taken seriously by anyone but myself.


I drink too much. It’s sad. It’s so plebeian.
Whiskey straight and ice, though sometimes wine.
I drink until my faults—well, I don’t see ‘um.
I think that’s why most drink. “It is divine

To forgive,” so the caveat goes.
But caveats don’t comfort—they’re abstractions.
They will not numb my head down to my toes.
I’m want to lose, not gain any more traction!

The rabble-rousing voices in my head
Rarely shut off when I am being still.
A little booze, the radio goes dead;
A little booze, I step off the treadmill.

Although my doctor says my habit’s risky
Considering all the medicines I take
There are worse ways to cope than a lot of whiskey—
I mean a lot. I’ve got a thirst to slake!

Oh happy alcoholic! Or so I think.
My mind’s at ease, I’m never in denial
Until the morning and the morning’s trial
When weaving towards the bath I swear off drink.

2 Kilobunnies,


Posting Problem, Medications and Rachel

The chief purpose of this post is to discover whether posting through Internet Explorer will eliminate the irritating text comment interruptions.

I was quite productive today but don't have the patience to tell you all I did. I did feel an obligation to reveal the medication cocktail that freed me from longstanding clinical depression:

Lamictal: 150 mg. BID (twice a day)
Wellbrutrin: 300 mg AM, 150 mg PM.
Prozac, 80 mg AM.
Abilify, 5 mg AM.

I think the addition of this new antipsychotic (Abilify), that affects the Dopamine 2 receptors more selectively, proved the difference in my treatment. I think it worked adjunctively to enhance all the other medications. Given the failure of two antipsychotics attuned to a more traditional dopamine receptor prior to it, I wonder whether the D2 receptor might be more important for my treatment-resistant depression (since bipolars suffer the most serious suicidal depressions, and the hardest to treat).

Norm, you there? Was I too mean to you about your poem at Alsop? I have no gauge anymore; the truth is in such short supply, and I like to speak my truth. Those who know me know that I never seek to diminish another poet, only to react honestly according to my lights.

Alright. Done with that. I need not be paranoid toward you or I am ruined as a literary correspondent entirely.

I still don't understand the dearth of comments about the spooky photographs of Rachel and I a little over a month before her demise.





3 Kilobunnies!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spooky Photo; Men's Retreat; 2 poems

Besides noticing how Rachel seems somehow apart from me in the family photo to the left, I changed the caption so that everyone's expendable.

How horrible but how true.

But here's another picture from the last pictures I ever took with Rachel:

It makes light of my choking her, doesn't it? And that's how she died, poor dear.

Curioser and curioser.....


I just finished my second Mendocino Circle of Men's retreat last weekend. If you care to compare it to my former experience, this link should deliver you to the general area where I blogged about my fear in being swallowed up by New Age nonsense a year ago at the same retreat.

Fortunately this time I was not depressed and participated fully in all the rituals and encounters. I must say it was life-changing. Rather than employ prose, though I know I swore off poetry, I'm offering two poems that describe one very important aspect of our spiritual exercises.

The theme of the retreat was a fourth Jungian archetype for the masculine personality: The King.

A key exercise over the weekend was to stare deeply in the eyes of another man. I found that extremely powerful.

I know I gave up poetry, but it is such a habit of mind to reduce experiences to shorthand that I could not prevent myself. I needed to make sense of the weekend. So here:

Close Encounter

The difficulty, I think, is with the eyes.
Hold eye contact too long, the other blinks.
Christ called this portal “the window to the soul.”
We treat it casually while contact shrinks.

It’s hard for me to follow both your eyes;
My eyes go back and forth to follow one.
If I look at your nose in compromise
You think I see both pupils but I don’t.

After the Retreat

The angels swirl in orange sparks to heaven
In gyres and gyres and all the gyres agree
The redwoods set the naked dancers free
And all is judged and all likewise forgiven.
It is the age of seconds and degrees.
Life passes faster that we can absorb.
Here! There! Then! Now! Toward
the center? Is it there? Axle of peace?
What is a man that we should even care?
A bit of clay, some spit—yet brother to Christ!
I had forgotten the scent of regal spice
Until I dared to brave my brother’s stare
And scales fell from our suspicious eyes:
We saw the King in Full without disguise.

I posted one of these poems at the Alsop Gazebo Metric Poetry thread. I haven't posted to a workshop in a coon's age, but the indefatigable Pat Jones has finally pushed me into contact again. My chief objection to most online workshops is that they don't help you to be a better poet; they are more pools of self-justifying piranhas who scrutinize, with their razor teeth, any work whose disassembly confirms that their commentary is actually important. Per usual the critics are more interested in their own voice than the voice of the poet who throws his soul on ice.

Love to everyone!

3 Kilobunnies,

Your formerly melancholic guide,

C. E Chaffin M.D. (MD) FAAFP

Monday, October 01, 2007

Free, free, free at last!!! ...?.....

It is a week since I started on the expensive $14 tablet/day that my wife insisted we buy, contrary to my best depressive judgment. I can honestly say before God and Man and the Devil that I haven't been depressed in a week. I've cried in grief, but have had no depression. It's a fucking miracle! .

As my elder brother Chris always says, "Good to have you back!!"

Good to be back!!!!!

I can't tell you how grateful I am to science, luck, my doctor, the Demiurge who gave us reason and my darling wife, who insisted on more snake oil at a scandalous price, as well as the support I've received here. Know that your encouragements were never wasted, however dark it seemed to me.

At 3 Kilobunnies,


I don't know how I fucked up this underlining feature, but not being depressed, I can live with imperfection. Hoo Haw!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
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