What I Did for Like

In this social media-saturated (and media-about-media-saturated) era, in which both of my parents, one of them an octogenarian, have active Facebook accounts, and in which people who have told me to my face that they do not understand Twitter themselves have a couple thousand followers apiece on that service, drawing attention to one’s writing or art or craft or charitable work without purchasing advertising time on the radio to scream for 30 continuous seconds can seem difficult. For me, a naturally quiet sort, sharing the publication of a new piece feels unnatural, like actually recording that 30-second Janovian advertisement. Screaming is so unseemly.

(Perhaps I will go ahead and record that.)

In the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore film, “Bedazzled,” poor Stanley Moon (Moore) wants the affection of Margaret (Eleanor Bron). The Devil, George Spigott (Peter Cook), offers him seven wishes to win her. In one, Stanley is a gold-lamé-costumed rock star whose new hit song “Love Me!” drives all the young women, including Margaret, wild. The lyrics, and Moore’s performance, are little more than him yelling, “Love Me!”

The very next act, Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations, wins the entire screaming audience over to the Devil, George, as he speak-sings his dripping contempt for their affections. “I’m self-contained. Leave me alone,” goes the new hit, and his dry loathing for them makes the women in the audience desire him all the more. Stanley gets run over by the crowd that once briefly adored him as it rushes to the Devil at the end of his song. (The video clip that follows below the fold here both takes up too much space and is set too loud. Brace your ears.)
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So Darn Humble

The word “humblebrag” has been around long enough that even I have heard of it. (Is that a humblebrag?) A collection of examples has been collected in a book that I have not yet read, entitled, “Humblebrag.” The word is common enough that it is even in the Oxford Dictionary, at least in the online edition.

For some reason, I only recently learned the term and, egomaniac that I am, I thought that I had come up with the concept years ago. I certainly had not.
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Unalive, but Alive

“The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men. As far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”—G.K. Chesterton, “The Flag of the World.”

The suicide is committing, from his or her terrible and terrifying and terrified point of view, genocide. Humanity-cide.

In the United States, September is National Suicide Prevention Month. For someone out there, perhaps publishing this phone number today—1-800-273-TALK (8255)—is the only reason for this website’s existence. There are similar services available around the world; in the United Kingdom, for example, the phone number is (0) 8457 90 90 90. There are people on the other end of the call who are volunteering their time to speak with anyone who is living with the sensation of being unalive but alive and wanting to end themselves.

September 10 is the annual World Suicide Prevention Day, created by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization. This year’s theme is, “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.” You can help, today and any day.

And who am I? I’m a suicide attempt survivor.
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Generation Map

“You’d really hate an adult to understand you,” one girl named Susan is quoted as saying. “That’s the only thing you’ve got over them—the fact that you can mystify and worry them.”

Others are quoted as saying things like, “Marriage is the only thing that really scares me,” and, “Religion is for old people who have given up living,” or, “I’d prefer to do something for the good of humanity,” and, “You want to hit back at all the old geezers who tell us what to do.”

Man, those millennial kids today have so much anger! Except each one of these quotes comes from a book published in 1964 in the United Kingdom called “Generation X.”
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Details, Details

I am a very private person, plus I am pretty committed to being co-dependent with the planet, so I probably waste more psychic energy and time trying to give other people their privacy than I spend on maintaining my own. Especially in those moments when it seems that people around me are oblivious to their horrible and immediate need to simply keep things to themselves. Or to warn me of imminent over-sharing.

I could blame cell phones, blame Facebook and Instagram, think some thoughts about the effect of self-help groups and therapy on the culture at large, but after thinking all those deep thoughts, I do not care about your details, unless you are my dearest, most intimate friend(s). No. Not even then. Even then, there are things I do not really need to know. The details.
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Sleep, Perchance to Zzzzzzzzz

We measure the quality of our day by the number of achievements we have. Number of documents published versus quality of work, or the number of times this week we beat personal commuting records to and from the office, or numbers of reps at the gym, or, worse, for those dieting, number of days without “cheating,” which represents even more harsh ways to harshly self-judge.
 
We live in a culture of Other Peoples’ Success and thus exist in a competition with others for more successes than them and yet better ones. This is because, as Brené Brown, a famous sociologist, points out, we live in a “culture of scarcity. We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ And we hit the pillow saying, ‘I didn’t get enough done.’ We’re never thin enough, extraordinary enough or good enough—until we decide that we are. The opposite of ‘scarcity’ is not ‘abundance.’ It’s ‘enough.’ I’m enough.”
 
I’m enough. Not “I’m good enough.” I’m enough. How hard that is to say, and to mean it to be about me, myself, and not you. It is even harder to embrace.— “Get Some Sleep Already,” October 24, 2014

I only remember my nightmares. Which means that either I do not have pleasant dreams at all (not the case) or that I have them all the time but they are unremarkable to me because I live my life under the self-centered guiding philosophy that the only life worth experiencing always feels like a victorious night at an awards ceremony, so I spend my waking life continuously happy and flinging thumbs-up signs at the world (not the case, either).
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The Bad I Do …

“I was standing there, minding my mind like it was no one’s business but mine to mind.”“Another Song I Haven’t Written,” by Me.

Doctor’s office, circa a few years ago. Sober for over a year, my life was still far from the “unicorns spitting Skittles everywhere on golden pathways to love” that some people would have one believe life is for them. I had asked to see a therapist, and bureaucracy provided me with a pretty good one.

(The office, part of my county’s Mental Health Department, has since been de-funded and the service sold to private business by the county. Public mental health services privatized. Everyone in Ulster County, New York, was suddenly declared to be balanced inside and completely well. My therapist and I spent our hours twice a week for a couple months sharing stories of the bureaucratic heck we were experiencing; he with not knowing whether or when he needed to start looking for work, and me with not knowing how to apply for Social Security. I know that he helped me at least.)
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Trains, Trains, and Buses

Angry, barking angry. “Ass-hat angry,” neither of my grandfathers would have called it, because neither of my grandfathers ever said “ass-hat.” So angry that both of my departed grandfathers in the hereafter would have been forced to come up with pretend back-country colloquialisms to describe their grandson, also known as me. That frustrated and angry.

The story has a happy ending, of course. And the anger departed the moment it was expressed at the anonymous Newark-ian who knocked me over Thursday night.
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