Making Cracks in the Block

I never thought that I was subject to seasonal affective disorder.  Quite the opposite; as a child, I loved winter and couldn’t wait for the first snowfall.  I had a tolerance for cold that amazed many of the kids I knew.

I’m not sure if it was the winter solstice, or all of the events and the upcoming transitions in my life, but I am coming off of what I now see is a bout of major depression.  The return (hopefully to last awhile) of the warm weather, and the fact that it actually feels like spring here in Columbus, have perked up my mood quite a bit.  I am not euphoric–far from it–but in the last few days I’ve found myself wanting to do more than just crawl into bed once Susie’s asleep.

(With the advent of my single parenthood this summer, I have come to realize that slacking off on therapy, and being lackadaisical about medication, are luxuries that I can no longer indulge.  I have a lithium prescription in my wallet at this very moment, and as soon as my current supply runs low, my next stop is the Kroger pharmacy.  When I wasn’t much younger than Susie is now, I watched my mother cycling back and forth–often in very short intervals–from one pole to the other.  Her extremes were more frightening to watch than mine, but I want Susie to see as little of it as possible.)

After I was done sulking at the inaccessibility of the OSU card catalog to us common folk, I rooted around in the over-the-shoulder bag, the portable office, that I always have with me.  I was surprised to find that I had a blank spiral notebook with me.  (I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I’m more likely to leave the house minus my keys than minus a notebook–of any size–or a pen.  My fascination with notebooks is public record, after all.)  I sat down, took out my pen, and began jotting down ideas for a “sort of memoir.”  (That phrase is the subtitle of Stewart Alsop’s Stay of Execution, a book about his leukemia diagnosis.)

I’ve filled four or five single-spaced pages thus far.  I added more yesterday when Susie and I were at Travonna, a 24-hour coffee house on N. High St. just south of W. 5th Ave.  The working title of this project is My Night Life, using my nocturnal habits, activities, and escapades as a backdrop to an exposé of my parents’ (especially my father’s) non-existent parenting skills.  (For example, when I was 11, he would frequently disappear after dinner to the apartment of the woman who would become my stepmother, without a phone number or a way to reach him.  My mother was in the psychiatric hospital in Worthington at the time, so was of no help.  Dad thought nothing of the fact that he would come home at 10:30 or 11 and find me wide awake, school night or not.)  Other passages, which exist only in my head at present, will deal with my fascination with late-night television, especially movies.  I think the faithful readers of this blog figured that out long ago, with my repeated references to Nite Owl Theater and the All Night Theater in this blog and the earlier incarnation on LiveJournal.  (When I was 14 or so, I totally understood Howard Hughes’ turning Las Vegas TV station KLAS into his personal VCR.  Hughes, living reclusively in the penthouse of the Desert Inn, wanted the station to show movies all night.  Once the station played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and signed off for the night, there was no buffer between him and his many inner demons.  Hughes kept badgering KLAS’ owner to show all-night movies, and the owner said that if he wanted that, why didn’t he just buy the station?  Hughes did.  In recounting this anecdote, I’m wondering if I was watching TV late into the night for similar reasons.)

I am just glad to be writing again, even if it’s only a few pages here and there.  I have maintained the blog, and I’m thankful I never made any public (or private) commitment to post something here every day.  And I am managing to write in the holographic diary.  I’m now about halfway through the current 200-page composition book I use.  But these have been major projects.  While looking for a batch of CDs I had misplaced, I found the fat 1983 New Yorker diary that I used to plot the outline of a larger fiction project, and actually put off the search for the disks to jot down some new ideas.  It’s a start; best not to make any commitments about when I’m going to get back to work on the fiction itself.

Last week, I streamed an interview from WGBH-FM in Boston, from the Website for the movie Hypergraphia, the upcoming biopic about Arthur Crew Inman, the reclusive wealthy poet whose only talents were his 155-volume diary and wringing his hands about all his imaginary ailments.  One of the guests on The Callie Crossley Show was Alice Flaherty, a neurologist who has written a book about hypergraphia.  Frankly, I wish I had this condition (although some people have suggested I have a mild form of it).  I recently watched a DVD of a documentary, In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger, about a Chicago artist who died in 1973.  He escaped an orphange while a teenager, and earned a living at janitorial and unskilled labor jobs at various Catholic hospitals in Chicago.  When his landlords cleaned out his room after he died, they found literally millions of drawings and paintings, as well as a complete novel, over 14 thousand single-spaced typewritten pages.

Barely a tip of the iceberg of Henry Darger’s manuscripts.

I found the story fascinating, and went to see if the library had the book Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal.  They did, but only a reference copy that could not leave the library.  I was in for another shock: The cheapest used copy I could find online was $600!
Maybe I’m hoping his hypergraphia will rub off on me.