“One of the first people I interviewed described depression as a slower way of being dead, and that was a good thing for me to hear early on because it reminded me that that slow way of being dead can lead to actual deadness, that this is a serious business. It’s the leading disability worldwide, and people die of it every day.” ~ Andrew Solomon, from Ted Talk (October 2013)

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Hymn III 1906 tempera and oil on paper

“Hymn III” (1906, tempera and oil on paper)
by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis

 


Andrew Solomon Ted Talk: “Depression, the secret we share” (October 2013)

I’d like to share a wonderful video a ran across recently on tumblr. In light of recent events, I find that Solomon’s talk discusses the realities of depression in a clear, compassionate manner. In particular, I like Solomon’s discussion on alternative treatments.

“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories. (Filmed at TEDxMet.)

 

(Click here for transcript)

Music by Soledad Bravo, “Violin De Becho”

 

 

Note: I began writing this post on Monday. Then in the middle of it, I learned that Robin Williams had killed himself, and then nothing made sense any more…….

“Perhaps—I want the old days back again and they’ll never come back, and I am haunted by the memory of them and of the world falling about my ears.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, from Gone With the Wind

Monday afternoon. Cloudy and probably rain, 84 degrees.

Last night’s super moon was spectacular. I’m so glad that the clouds didn’t overshadow it. When I got up to let the dogs out, the entire backyard was awash in moonlight. So incredibly perfect.

The other day, I saw something I’ve never seen before: a buzzard was hanging out in someone’s front yard, munching on something . . . well, dead. Brett and I drove by, and he said, “Hey, that’s a buzzard!”

Of course I had missed it, so I drove around the block and then slowed as we neared the yard in which Brett had seen the bird. I saw it, and it was huge. Unfortunately, it heard the car and took flight. My, those wings, so massive. It was really something to see; we couldn’t have been more than twelve feet from it. I mean, I’ve seen them in the air, but never this close, and this still.

The other cool thing that happened is that Brett and I went thrifting, and I found a set of glass fish snack plates. I only have one fish plate left, and I’ve never had the snack size (about 5 inches wide), so I grabbed them. A while back I had looked on E-bay, and a set of two of the large fish plates was going for $30. Too pricey. I got eight of the small ones for $20. Such a deal.

Of course, to balance the two good things are two horrendous dreams: In both dreams, I see fire burst through a wall, and I immediately wake up—same image for both dreams, same reaction for both dreams. It has me more than a little paranoid, checking cords and connections, making sure nothing is frayed or a hazard. This particular scenario really has me unnerved.

“Later I’ll sweep away the nest—empty,
again, of everything but a blind
belief in the possible.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “Another Spring”

In spite of the fire dreams, I’m feeling pretty good, and I suppose I have good reason: Social Security has finally, finally approved my disability claim. As a brief refresher, I was first forced out on disability in October 2007. I’ve been fighting with social security ever since.

I know that I am fortunate that I was covered for long-term disability through George Washington’s policy, but the endless fight with Social Security has taken a toll on me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve filled out the same forms, answered the same questions, had the same interviews. So even though they wanted to date it retroactive to November 15, 2012, I decided to accept.

When I asked the lawyer why that particular date, she said that they noticed from my therapy notes that I had taken a real downturn at that time . . .

No kidding. Really? How incredibly astute of them, she said, with more than a trace of bitter sarcasm . . .

What this means is that I don’t quality for Medicare until May of next year (for some reason, dates, times, confusing). And the backdated benefits that I’ll receive all have to be paid to my long-term disability carrier anyway (it’s part of the agreement), so the date doesn’t affect me that much. The irony is that the effective date would have meant so much a few years back when Corey was unemployed, and we were struggling, really struggling to keep my health insurance and a roof over our heads.

Oh well. Whatever.

“The sun does not forget a village just because it is small.” ~ African proverb

“A mile away in the night I had heard the bombs
Sing and then burst themselves between cramped houses
With bright soft flashes and sounds like banging doors;” ~ Roy Fisher, from “The Entertainment of War”

Making beauty out of the blasphemous (reblobbed from an article by Damien Gayle in The Daily Mail):

A Palestinian woman waters dozens of plants near her desert home, each growing from used tear gas canisters collected in years of clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Her curious garden, photographed today, is in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the State of Palestine.

Much of the territory is disputed. Israel continues to expand settlements in the West Bank which the international community have long ago ruled to be illegal.

Disputed land: A Palestinian woman waters dozens of plants near her desert home, each growing from used tear gas canisters collected in clashes with Israeli soldiers during protests against the West Bank occupation

Disputed land: A Palestinian woman waters dozens of plants near her desert home, each growing from used tear gas canisters collected in clashes with Israeli soldiers during protests against the West Bank occupation

Poignant: The curious garden, photographed today, is in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the State of Palestine

Poignant: The curious garden, photographed today, is in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the State of Palestine

Symbolic: The flowers, with their unusual pots, mark land Palestinians were able to reclaim two years ago after a court battle to re-route Israel's controversial security wall

Symbolic: The flowers, with their unusual pots, mark land Palestinians were able to reclaim two years ago after a court battle to re-route Israel’s controversial security wall

The flowers, with their unusual pots, mark land Palestinians were able to reclaim two years ago after a court battle to re-route Israel’s controversial security wall.

“A mother looks at another—
a sea of small bodies
burnt or decapitated
around them—
and asks,
How do we mourn this?: ~ Nathalie Handal, “Tiny Feet”

Still under construction, the Israeli West Bank barrier is a security wall that will eventually stretch 430 miles around the entire West Bank region.

Israel argues that the barrier is needed to protect its people from Palestinian terrorism, and since construction began the number of suicide bombing attacks have fallen significantly.

But critics of the policy object that the route of the barrier deviates substantially from internationally agreed boundaries into territories occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

They argue that it uses security concerns to mask an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land.

A flower hangs from the barbed wire of Israel's barrier: Still under construction, the Israeli West Bank barrier is a security wall that will eventually stretch 430 miles around the entire West Bank region

A flower hangs from the barbed wire of Israel’s barrier: Still under construction, the Israeli West Bank barrier is a security wall that will eventually stretch 430 miles around the entire West Bank region

Growing amid violence: Israel argues that the barrier is needed to protect its people from Palestinian terrorism, and since construction began the number of suicide bombing attacks have fallen significantly

Beauty in the midst of horror: Israel argues that the barrier is needed to protect its people from Palestinian terrorism, and since construction began the number of suicide bombing attacks have fallen significantly

Surviving in adversity: But critics of the policy object that the route of the barrier deviates substantially from internationally agreed boundaries and uses security concerns to mask an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land

Surviving in adversity: But critics of the policy object that the route of the barrier deviates substantially from internationally agreed boundaries and uses security fears to mask an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land


Music by Mogwai, “I Do Have Weapons”

                   

The Diameter Of The Bomb

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.
~ Yehudi Amichai

 

“My soul, embalmed in ink . . .” ~ Elton Glaser, from “Dirge in the Chalumeau Register”

Jan Sluyters Moon Night

“Moon Night” (before 1911?)
by Jan Sluyters


“One can sometimes
touch, in the distance between two people,
a moment of another person’s endless dream.” ~Yves Bonnefoy, from In the Shadow’s Light

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 90 degrees. Too hot to think clearly.

Jan Sluyters Sunrise oil on canvas 1910

“Sunrise” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Jan Sluyters

Too many thoughts to be cohesive:

  • We wish for something so deeply only to have the reality of it be so disparate from our imaginings.
  • We write songs in our heads about all of the things we lack, but the words never quite fit the melodies.
  • My brain is replete with complex yearnings, yet I am unable to find a way in which to fill these chasms.
  • What we are is so very different from who we are.
  • Need is identified by the individual, leaving little room for insincere attempts to placate and pacify.

“We look up at the same stars, and see such different things.” ~ George R. R. Martin, from A Storm of Swords

Jan Sluyters Morning Glory 1909 oil on canvas

“Morning Glory” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Jan Sluyters

I continually find scraps of paper with snatches of words and phrases, but no context, so I don’t know what they mean, much like life.

  • So many weeks of being alone and lonely and having no idea as to how to ameliorate the sadness only to have the sadness become a permanent attendant.
  • Loneliness is ephemeral, yet incongruously, it can seep into the edges of moments in which we are not alone.
  • We traverse the deserts of our lives, travel these landscapes looking for the familiar, the taste of water on our dry lips.
  • The heart is a self-fulfilling prophet of despair.
  • When talking becomes too tangled, the only victor is silence.

“I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.” ~ Edward Thomas, from “Lights Out”

Jan Sluyters Full Moon on the Water 1912 oil on canvas

“Full Moon on the Water” (1912, oil on canvas)
by Jan Sluyters

I grow weary of the open-ended nature of life, would that it could be seen in advance.

  • How can two people stand side-by-side beneath the same night sky and be unable to share the same brief snatches of beauty?
  • Horizons become limited by our myopic views of life, death, and love.
  • Love is a word heavy with deceit, laden with misinterpretation.
  • I had believed that my viewpoint had merit in your eyes, mistakenly so, it seems.
  • The veins beneath the skin, the heart’s steady beat, a map to what we are—yet so many of the blue lines are false horizons.
  • I do not understand this reality—its labyrinthine truth is too twisted to discern.

“Between one being and another, there is a gulf, a discontinuity.” ~ Georges Bataille, from Erotism: Death and Sensuality

Jan Sluyters Landscape by Moonlight II 1911 oil on canvas

“Landscape by Moonlight II” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Jan Sluyters

I am so tired, weary to the bone, and I do not harbor enough energy to bridge this gulf.

  • The joy of life lies hidden too deeply to be found most days.
  • There is no corner large enough to hide me, even when I am this small.
  • Oh how I long for earnest conversation, the honest camaraderie that once was.
  • We all hide our selves from the light, no matter how much we may deny it, because darkness is so much easier to enfold.
  • True north is impossible to pinpoint when two people come to it from such different points on the compass.

“I do not know whether to be joy-white with my spirit
Or rent-gray with the blown remnants of my mind.” ~ Maxwell Bodenheim, from A Man to a Dead Woman”

Jan Sluyters Forest Trail 1910 oil on canvas

“Forest Trail” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Jan Sluyters

I failed to notice that I and my opinions had become irrelevant, much to my own chagrin.

  • Longing is the most pregnant of two-syllable words, followed only by heartache, so intricate are their definitions.
  • Betrayal is a complicated word, one most people are unable to identify as betrayal is like smoke—dense at first, transparent later.
  • The weight of words drags us down to the silty bottom, yet it is only through words that we will be able to float above the water line once more.
  • The translucent nature of my need offers you a map easy enough to follow to my heart, yet you spit upon my fire.
  • Silence of the heart comes from suffering of the soul, and neither are easily repaired.
  • Apology is a word heavy with incomprehensible implications.

All images are by Dutch artist, Jan Sluyters (1881-1957).

Music by Night Beds, “Even if We Try”


                   

Bioluminescence

  1. Candela

The eggs burn softly
in the earth, and when glow worms
hatch out, ravenous, each one comes with a tiny
bright square of light like the view-hole to a
furnace notched in its belly.
Can you feel their heat? Their hunger for the tender
moonstruck flesh of slugs and snails?

  1. Lambert

Sometimes at night, fire
flies are startled by lightning,
the tympani-drum flutter of thunder rumbling the storm
home, and they all flash at once in surprise—a quick
blinking open of sleepy
green nocturnal eyes, a phosphorescent murmur:
Go back to sleep. It’s just rain

  1. Lumen

How vulnerable
we would all be if longing
shone through our bodies, if our skins were translucent
lanterns flushed with yellow flame leaping in the strange
and unpredictable winds
of our desire, like the neon Morse code fireflies
use to brazenly flick the night.

  1. Luciferin

You are a dusky
angel drawn to the gleaming
beam of my porch light, a brief embered orange blaze
from your cigarette, sizzle of sparks splattering
the asphalt of my sidewalk.
Your touch like sooty moth wings, and I glow, suffused
with your heat, your scent, your light.

~ Lee Ann Roripaugh