Timing Was Everything

Since I last posted in here, I am the proud owner of a new Schwinn Meridian, identical to the stolen cherry red one–except that it’s blue.  A friend in Beechwold put it together Saturday, and I christened it with a ride back to Olde North/Baja Clintonville on Sunday afternoon.  So, I can say I’m back in business and back on three wheels.

The Beach Boys say that “good good timing (ah ah) you need good timing.”  This is true, especially in the matter of the stolen bike.  If it had to happen, this was the best time.  The bike vanished Thursday night-Friday morning, and I faced a busy week, beginning with Pride Weekend.  I would also be working at the Columbus State bookstore from Saturday morning until the following Saturday.  Had it happened any other weekend, I think I would have plunged into a rather deep depression, which would have affected my ability to do any type of work, take care of myself, or do anything proactive as far as trying to retrieve the bike or put the word out to friends and bike stores.

“Work is the best antidote to sorrow,” Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”  Between Pride and the bookstore job, I was able to keep myself busy and not have time to ruminate on the loss of the trike.

I am not sure how much of a correlation there is between my bipolar disorder and the problems I am having with sleep.  My psychiatrist/sleep doctor increased my lithium intake to 950 mg per day.  (He had wanted to increase it even more, but I was worried about the dyskinesia coming back.)  The first night with the CPAP was so bad that I was not physically or mentally up to working at the bookstore on Saturday morning, and I slept without it.  (This was not a smart thing to do, since my sleep doctor has told me that I’m running the risk of having a stroke in my sleep if I continue to sleep without the CPAP.)  I didn’t get to bed until nearly dawn, but I was up by 2 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening at Goodale Park and the Pride Festival.

FedEx Ground delivered my new trike in the middle of the week.  I had them send it to a friend’s house, because if my thief happens to live in this neighborhood, I didn’t want to put him in what the Catholics call “an occasion of sin” if he were to see the box on my front porch.  Between bookstore work and ComFest, I did not expect to be riding the bike for several days.  Again, there were pleasant distractions to keep me from dwelling on the fact that I still did not have three wheels beneath me.

I hate to speak ill of the departed, but the blue trike (Trike 2.0 is its temporary name) handles a bit better than the red one.  I noticed this when I took it on its maiden voyage from Beechwold back home (just under four miles).  I noticed that it was much easier to go up inclines than on the red one.  Hills still aren’t fun, they just aren’t as much of a chore.  I still would add gears or a motor to this trike were I to ride it in Cincinnati or San Francisco.  I have had Trike 2.0 for less than a week, but now I realize that the red one handled like a tank.  I have already established a familiarity with it.  There was an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series when Scotty stopped what he was doing and had a very strange look on his face.  He told Spock, “Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong.”  Spock totally does not understand this.  Scotty says, “All instrumentation reads correctly, but the feel is wrong.”  Mr. Scott, of course, is proven right.

When I came home from Beechwold Sunday afternoon, I just had to buzz my neighbors down the block and show off the new cycle.  One of my neighbors, who had hosted the backyard movie the night of the harvest moon, said, “Just look at that smile!”  Despite being kept busy by the bookstore and the State job, I had been badly depressed by the loss of the red trike, so I think it was a relief for my neighbors to see that I had perked up and was plugging myself back into life again.  I am sure I was not very pleasant company during the trike-less week.

I have not abandoned the search for the red trike–if/when it turns up, I’m giving it to Susie.  One person I know will make a conscientious search for it.  He’s a young guy (early 20s) who also rides a trike.  He doesn’t ride a Schwinn Meridian, but a model which he converted to five speeds.  (I was at a downtown bus stop one night earlier this month, and he was riding by.  He and I talked about trikes and compared notes about them.)  Since he’s a trike rider, he will have a sixth sense for them.  It’s like if you own a Karmann Ghia or a Mustang.  It doesn’t take long before you’re instantly able to spot every model like it that’s on the road.  And Schwinn Meridian trikes aren’t exactly in demand.

My major ComFest purchase this year was a new (old) manual typewriter, a Royal Skylark.  I bought it from One Man’s Treasure, a business in Millersport.  The owner always has a booth at ComFest, and I’ve jealously eyed his wares every ComFest.  This year, I plunked down $35 and bought this portable typewriter on Saturday.  On Friday night, he had a Remington Travel Riter for sale, and I almost bought that, except for the fact that the ribbon was just about shot.  I proudly took the Skylark home on the bus, put it in my study, and then headed back to ComFest, where I stayed until it closed for the night at 10 p.m.

The Royal Skylark in its new moorings.  One way to solve the erratic Wi-Fi availability in my study.

Steph and Susie are in New York this weekend.  They took Amtrak from Florida to Newark, and will be there until early next week.  Susie was determined to go to BronyCon, a convention for devotees of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It’s taking place in Secaucus, N.J., but New York is still quite accessible by commuter train.  Steph is chaperoning her and spending the weekend with all these apprentice furries.  I publicly declare here that she has atoned a thousandfold for any sins of omission or commission, by what she has done and things left undone.

There is nothing on my “to do” list this weekend except for Nite Owl Theater at Studio 35 on Saturday night.  As a way of christening the typewriter, I have been mentally composing (and making a few stray notes here and there in pen and paper) a poem about apnea.  It’s partially inspired by James Dickey’s poem “Diabetes,” which appears in his collection Drowning with Others.  Diabetic friends of mine say it describes the condition and the symptoms very accurately.  This is fascinating, especially since I learned later on that James Dickey never had diabetes.

The temperature today made it to 101 degrees F.  At the moment, it’s 10:42 p.m., and the temperature stands at 94 degrees.  (I almost wish I had one of those old blue Mail Pouch thermometers.)  The house has central heating, but no central air.  Currently, I’m sitting on the front porch with the laptop on my porch rail, my shirt unbuttoned, typing away.

I am tempted to sleep out here tonight, but I don’t feel like going out to Giant Eagle to buy the OFF! or citronella oil necessary to keep the many insects from having a banquet.

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Here I Come to Save the Day!

When the start-of-quarter rush ended at Columbus State Community College, I left the bookstore thinking I would not be back again until December.  I was grateful for the extra money, and usually the job is fun, but at the same time I felt bad about leaving Susie home alone.

Yesterday, I came back from lunch and read a panicked email from my supervisor at the Discovery Exchange. The night manager was unable to come in on Wednesday, Thursday, or Monday.  I know it’s last-minute, but could you possibly…?

It didn’t take long for me to hit Reply and say “yes,” I would be there.  I left Susie a voice-mail message, and typed an email to her, telling her I’d be home late, and to leave me some food in the Crock-Pot, and be sure her homework was finished.  And when 5 p.m. came, I did not head north to Baja Clintonville, but walked the 0.8 miles to the bookstore.

Once I stepped through the front door, it felt like I had only left the day before, not two weeks.  Cashiers who worked with me before said hi, the coordinator handed me my old apron (a black apron with my round name tag and my Buy Local! pin), and I had been upstairs less than a minute before I was pushing a book cart and shelving buybacks and returns.

No class at Columbus State uses this textbook, but the title is just too good not to share!

The temporary bookstore gig has also been helpful to my mood.  After the initial euphoria and adrenalin about the move, and the splendor of our new place, wore off, I began to sense the red flags that signal a depressive episode.  We often tell children, “Listen to your body” when we toilet-train them, so they don’t have accidents in their pants, but too often we don’t “listen” to the symptoms that indicate a depressive (or manic) episode is just around the corner.

The lack of energy, the urge to sleep all the time, no motivation (despite having a crap ton of work to do to get this place ready for visitors and to look like we live here–as opposed to crashing here), all of it was starting to worry me.  I made it a point to refill my lithium prescription at CVS on Tuesday, since this would not be the time to run out of it.

So, armed as I was with a 30-day supply of lithium carbonate, the email from my supervisor was an added bonus.  I felt honored that he turned to me in this semi-crisis.  It would be unrealistic for me to write or believe that I am unneeded–as a single parent, and as a full-time civil servant, it would be the epitome of self-pity, and completely unjustified at that.  Nevertheless, it improved my mood and my overall mental level of functioning when I received this email.  Feeling needed in a crisis is a positive supplement to the extra money I will earn as a result of this.

I’m glad to be inside.  The rain is falling outside.  No thunder or lightning, but there is a steady rainfall just outside my window, an interesting counterpoint to the crickets.  It’s 61 degrees outside–I walked from the bus stop to my house with my shirtsleeves up.  We had spaghetti ready to go in the Crock-Pot when I arrived home, but I had to run an errand to the little market around the corner to buy some vegetable oil and Parmesan cheese.  It was misting at that time, but the sky was cloudy.  Now the rain has begun to fall.  And it’s having a tranquilizing effect on me, which is a good thing.  (I was virtuous and drank Diet Rite this evening, which is caffeine-free and taste-free.)

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.

Entry C

This is the 100th entry in this blog since I jumped ship from LiveJournal.  (The C in the title is the Roman numeral for 100.)  It’s a momentous occasion, much like when I was a kid, watching the odometer roll over at 10 thousand miles and seeing all those zeros appear.  I’ve been at a loss as to how I can mark this event.

I would have posted this centennial entry sooner, except for the fact that my mood’s stability has not been reliable from one moment to the next.  I suspect that my desperate overuse of ibuprofen last week has wreaked havoc on my lithium balance, so my body is not properly processing the 600 mg I take daily.  I haven’t been in a constant state of depression (I always picture that as being like Joe Btfsplk, the Li’l Abner character who constantly dressed in black and had a dark rain cloud above him at all times), but when I’m in a good mood about something, I fall from it twice as far as usual.  (It’s analogous to using sugar as a stimulant.  Yes, it will make you feel more awake, but once it wears off, you feel twice as wiped out as you did previously.)

Over the weekend, my mood was all over the map, but some of the reasons were legitimate.  On Saturday afternoon, Susie and I went to the Northside library.  She left before I did so she could play at the Weinland Park playground, and we agreed to meet at “the dollar store” at 3:15, so she could buy Christmas wrapping paper and some presents for her friends.

Cutting right to the chase, our scheduled meeting didn’t happen.  I left the library on time, and hurried to Family Dollar, a few blocks south.  I waited around for a decent interval, and bought a Diet Coke, so it wouldn’t look like I’d been loitering, and made it a point to sprint home via Weinland Park.  No one was there, so I headed home, getting worried.

Susie came in about 15 minutes after I arrived.  The thought, “Thank God she’s all right, I’m gonna kill her!” passed through my mind, but I didn’t have time to worry about it.  Steve was on his way by soon to pick me up so we could go to the Qabalah Christmas celebration, something I was afraid I was going to cancel if Susie was still at large.  (As it turned out, Susie and I got our wires crossed because she was at Dollar Tree, just across the street from the library, and I was at Family Dollar, a short walk away.  We forgot there was more than one “dollar store” near the library.)

The celebration was a blessed way to wind down from the worry and frustration regarding my miscommunication with Susie.  It was a ceremony that quite lent itself to turning inward, centering, and decompressing, and I needed it at that moment.  I know very little about mysticism, and it’s nothing that can be explained while standing on one foot.  The service was a Builders of the Adytum ceremony (adytum is Latin for “holy of holies”).  (Before I reveal my lack of knowledge any further, I’ll refer you to the Wikipedia entry on Hermetic Qabalah.  If nothing else, remember this spelling during those Scrabble games when you have a lone Q sitting on your tray and there’s no open U anywhere on the board.)

Monday night, I was saddened, not depressed.  I came home from a meeting and opened my Facebook page, and there was a note from a classmate.  “Paul, you need to check Dan’s page.”  I did this, and found out that my friend Dan Bush, with whom I reconnected (thanks to Facebook) a year ago, died this week in Tennessee.  His sister posted this news on his page.

I have heard no further details since that time, and several scenarios and possibilities are going through my mind.  Dan and I re-established contact in 2009, and he called me several times in the week that I was recuperating from my gallbladder surgery in February.  Additionally, we had communicated by email, Skype, and IM, and he was a frequent follower of this blog.

Dan and I were both active in the Audio-Visual Club at Marietta High School.  I joined because of a fascination with magnetic tape recording, and I knew A-V was the place for me when I sneaked a look at Playboy and found myself mooning over the stereo equipment advertised more than the centerfolds.  We were front and center doing lights for school assemblies and plays, and in our sophomore year, Dan and I were immortalized as we were setting the lights (I was setting lights before I was setting type!) for a community theater production of Man of La Mancha.  This picture appeared in the yearbook, I suspect, because the idea of me on a scaffold was appealing to quite a few people when I was in high school.  The picture appeared in the 1979 edition of the Orion, MHS’ yearbook, and, in Dan’s honor, I’ll post it here.  The picture is flipped, because I never have worn my watch on my right wrist, as it is in this picture.  (Yes, that beardless beanpole in the checked shirt is me!)

Many thanks to Robin Lynn Pyatt
Bellamy (Class of ’80) for scanning this
photo from the yearbook and emailing
it to me.
Four days off from work are coming, for the next two consecutive weeks.  I’ve ranted about the 10 mandatory days off (“cost-saving days”) demanded by our current union contract; December 23 and 30 are two of them.  The Agency will also be closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, since Christmas and New Year’s Day are both on Saturday this year.  We’ll open presents on Christmas morning, and that night Steve is taking us to the third episode of Nite Owl Theater‘s return, where Fritz will be showing (what else?) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.  (I remember when I was a teen my private way of celebrating Christmas, as I braced myself to pretend I could tolerate being with my family, was to watch the Pope’s midnight Mass from St. Peter’s in Rome.)
It’s just after 11 p.m., and I am making a trip to Kroger, since I’ve just realized we’re out of milk and eggs.  The walk isn’t a long one, and the temperature (per the Weather Channel icon at the bottom of my screen) is 30 degrees, so I won’t have to worry about getting too cold on the short trip.