“CKR” Diary Post No. 26
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Haven't given y'all an update since June, so thought I'd get off my ass and let you know what's going on...
You might remember this whole journey began with a Kid Rock concert. Well, he's back in South Florida again tonight, this time at the Fillmore (aka Jackie Gleason Theater) in Miami's South Beach. Despite being in Oklahoma at the time, Scott and I bought tickets online the morning they went on sale, back in September. We've been looking forward to it ever since. I'll let you know how the evening went next time.
Where I am in the manuscript is exactly where I was before. But the good news is: The Pens (minus a few members) are back on board. They've reviewed up to Chap 8 and, so far, they're loving it! This time through is MUCH BETTER than the last. Some of the chapters need work, but others will require very little polishing. With the change in the tide, it's easier to be optimistic.
As for the "package" that went out a few months ago, there's nothing new to report there, either. But since his new album's come out, I realize he's been locked up in promotion for a while. (I can relate.)
I've also decided I'm not going to try to contact him again until the manuscript's finished. Your guess is as good as mine when that might be. If the "series of unfortunate events" that our household has dealt with for the past several months is any indication of the future, I'll be satisfied if the damn thing gets finished at all.
So, time marches on while CKR awaits my attention. But I'll get there. In the meantime, pick up a copy of ROCK N ROLL JESUS. You won't be disappointed.
Depression: It’s not just for breakfast anymore
Monday, October 22, 2007
Five years ago (more or less), I invited a couple friends over to the house to follow-up the museum staff's annual "Holiday Breakfast" with more serious celebrating. But after two beers, I passed out. And I didn't wake up 'til the following day.
Curious as to why I would "check out" for 24 hours, I visited the doctor's office. She drew blood and asked me to complete a questionnaire. They'd later "lose" the blood, so I never found out if I'd somehow ingested something I shouldn't have, but the questionnaire prompted my doctor to shake her head with concern and utter the words, "Honey, you need to be on medication."
She went on to explain that I was obviously overwhelmed. As a mom, that wasn't news to me. She said it's okay to be the rock for everyone, but sometimes even the rock needs a little help. So, she prescribed Lexapro. I called them my "Sunshine and Rainbows" pills, because all of life seemed to be sunshine and rainbows as long as I was taking them. But I didn't like not feeling anything; the medication not only blocked the despair, it also took away the joy. After three months, I pitched them, and I've taken nothing like them since.
Still, as far as the medical community is concerned, I have a documented history of depression. (Who doesn't think THAT will bite me in the ass one day?) I can't say I'm proud of it, but I'm not ashamed or afraid of it, either. Life has ups and downs, and sometimes the downs are extraordinarily shitty. We've all been there. And, hopefully, we've all developed ways to cope--granted, they might not all be legal; like Tim McGraw says, everybody inevitably turns to either "drugs or Jesus." Unfortunately, knowing HOW to cope doesn't necessarily make the process of digging out of the hole any easier...
Sometime around Christmas last year, I made a promise to myself (and pretty much everyone around me) that I would put my nose to the grindstone and finish CKR, the novel I've been working on since February '06. My son showed up on New Year's Eve, however, and moved back home after a 2-1/2-year absence. Settling him in, helping him create a budget, and working around his job interviews, doctor visits, and totally unreasonable sleep schedule was a challenge. But I was determined; I defined boundaries, established "office" hours, and held firm. In the end, it didn't make any difference, because every day presented another exception. And, with each exception, it became harder and harder to get my head back into the book.
Then in February, my first book was published. I set aside any hopes of working on CKR for a solid two weeks while I went through editing. My nearly 21-year-old son chose that particular period of time to admit to me that he just wasn't interested in getting a job (aka paying his own way, decreasing his mountain of debt, etc.). And he resented the fact that I couldn't be more supportive of his writing and his desire to create video games, especially considering my own career choice. The only thing that kept me from running for the "Sunshine and Rainbows" pills was the night I pounded on him and cried myself to sleep. Apparently, the outburst relieved enough of the pressure. At the time.
March and April were spent learning about book distribution, scheduling signings and appearances, and promoting the first book online. I was also trying to keep up with the blog and had just accepted an offer from CLOSER magazine to be a regular contributing writer and editor. And I was doing it while Scott was away on business about half the time. My gastroenterologist said he didn't know where I was finding the energy, given that I was still recovering from a nasty colitis episode the previous fall. I didn't bother to tell him I was running on adrenalin.
In May, I was consumed with my launch and a reconnection with a blast from the past, which would ultimately test my marriage at its weakest link. Somewhere near the end of the month, we gave our son 30 days to get his shit together or we were kicking him out on his ass.
In June, our 13-year-old began summer vacation--at home, in the house, because everyone else in the neighborhood was away at camp. I was busy sending invitations and notifying newspapers and bookstores in the Pacific Northwest that I was coming in July. By the end of the month, our children were wearing on our last nerve. Scott and I were exhausted. But we'd managed to get our relationship through another hurdle.
On July 1, our son was turned over to the U.S. Army. On July 2, I found a lump in my breast. On July 3, I got a mammogram and, while in the waiting room, met a woman whose son was in the military. When I told her our son had just enlisted, she started weeping..."for me." On July 4, I had the worst Fourth of July in recent memory. On July 5, after I learned that (a) my son had donned the uniform and had started boot camp and (b) the lump was nothing to worry about, I wrote a blog post that would ultimately end an 8-year friendship. On July 9, the only bookstore on PGA Blvd. cancelled my August booksigning--with no explanation. On July 10, my daughter and I flew to Seattle.
The rest of July was a blur.
We spent the first week of August in the Keys, which could have been relaxing, but wasn't. My girlfriend and her kids spent 8 days with us mid-month, which was nice, but tiring. Scott and I are used to spending a lot of time together, so our relationship was feeling the strain again. After my daughter started back to school, I managed to get a week's worth of work in, though most of it was spent catching up on the blog and the magazine, rather than on CKR. Then, in the first week of September, Scott and I drove to Oklahoma for Chris's Basic Training graduation. We finally worked out our separation anxiety and were just getting back to the routine we'd been away from for nearly a year when the phone rang at 1am on Sunday, September 16. An hour later, we found ourselves the proud owners of an additional 14-year-old daughter.
Daughter 2 adjusted well to her new, temporary home and was making progress in school, but it only took a few weeks for her temper to get the best of her. On Wednesday, October 10, I "went under" for the first time in months, taking the phone off the hook to work. Daughter 1 ran home from school around 4:00, stormed up behind me, breathless, and announced that Daughter 2 had been arrested--she'd tried to call earlier, but I wasn't answering the phone.
I tried to call Scott, but got voice mail. I called our local police, but they had no record of the arrest. While I was on the phone with the school, learning there was a 10-day suspension involved, too, a good friend called my cell to say he was in the hospital. Then Scott called. Then Daughter 2's dad called. Somewhere in the midst of all of the commotion, I broke down and started crying. All I want to do is write--why is that so fuckin' hard?!
I picked her up around midnight, and Scott and I accompanied her to juvenile court the next day (which, in itself, was an experience we'd prefer NOT to repeat). The judge was fortunately lenient, considering it was her first offense. On Friday, Scott went back to work, Daughter 1 went off to school, and Daughter 2 and I settled in to figure out how to co-exist in the house while she was on suspension. My first errand that morning was a trip to the principal's office to beg for a reduction in her punishment. He said I'd have to wait 'til the first of the week for an answer.
On Saturday, I took the girls to get haircuts. Within ten minutes, the stylist reported both girls had head lice. Everyone in the salon stared at them (at each of us) with disgust. The girls were humiliated. I spent about $70 on Lysol, lice shampoo, comb-out gel, furniture/upholstery spray, and new brushes, combs, and hair ties to replace the ones we pitched. Everything in the house had to be washed and/or cleaned and/or disinfected. Round one took all weekend. Lucky for Scott, he flew to California early Sunday morning and got the hell out.
On Monday, I printed invitations for my upcoming lecture/signing at the Society of the Four Arts on November 7. It took longer than anticipated, because my laptop wasn't "speaking" to the printer. And the home computer had recently been re-built after it'd crashed two weeks earlier, while Scott was building a new desk, so it was missing the fonts I needed. But I worked through it, and got everything ready for the next day.
On Tuesday, I learned there would be no reduction in Daughter 2's 10-day suspension. I also ran non-stop all day, re-stocking the empty-thanks-to-the-teenagers kitchen and delivering invitations. While out and about, I ran into an old friend and invited him over after he finished work. He spent two hours on my patio making me feel extremely uncomfortable. I'll spare you the details, but the experience shook me up. I didn't want to bother Scott with it while he was out of town, so I slept very uneasily that night.
On Wednesday, I followed-up with the courts to learn the status of both Daughter 2's case and the case that was pending against her mother. I was relieved to learn we'd been assigned a "Child Court" date the following week, but I was alarmed to discover the charges against Daughter 2's mom had been dropped. I also spent time talking to the girls about what had happened the previous night--they'd noticed something was wrong. We spent the rest of the evening on Round 2 of lice removal (meaning their heads, bedding, and "living environment" had to be treated again). I managed to crawl into bed around midnight, right around the same time Scott learned a cancelled flight wasn't going to let him get any closer to home that night than Atlanta.
On Thursday, Scott was home long enough to change clothes and go to work. He came back at 3:00, though, so we had time to get ready and drive to the Kid Rock concert in Miami Beach. Through the magazine, I'd scored us admission and VIP access to the after-party, so we were psyched. I can't remember the last time I'd looked forward to something that much. The girls stayed at friends' houses (the friends knew about the lice, plus we'd treated them for the second time the previous night), and Scott and I took off for Miami. The concert was great--small venue, good seats--but we were denied access to the after-party because Scott was wearing shorts. Both of us were crushed. Scott felt guilty. I drove home in a fog, wondering when, if ever, we'd catch a break.
On Friday, Daughter 2 went out with friends while Daughter 1 proceeded to forget to come home...or even CALL home. She'd also neglected to tell us she'd moved from one friend's house to another friend's house. Despite requiring Daughter 2 to find a ride home, so we didn't have to drive after 10pm (something I find myself doing more often than not), we still found ourselves faced with having to drive after 10pm to pick up Daughter 1. As I said, that's usually me. But I refused. Scott wasn't happy, but I think he realized I was perched on the brink of "losing it." So he grudgingly played along.
On Saturday, my body gave out. Every muscle and joint ached. Scott "grounded me" to the couch. The first half of the 3rd season of House kept us occupied. But I could feel myself slipping.
On Sunday--yesterday--we did laundry and de-loused the girls and the premises for a third time. I wasn't talkative. I was, in fact, preoccupied with the feeling of being utterly and wholly helpless. My life wasn't mine, hadn't been for more days (weeks, months) than I wanted to count. I wanted to write, to get all this out of my head like I've done so many times before, but Scott had my laptop all day (it's been sluggish, so he's working out the kinks for me because I don't know how). I tried the paper and pen approach, but I could barely read my handwriting. I'd start to cry and the girls would appear, so I'd leave the room. I tried going upstairs a few times, to cry or scream it out, but Scott seemed to follow me. The harder I tried to combat the feelings of being trapped and at the mercy of someone/something else, the more frustrating it got. Until I crawled into bed last night, surrendered, and just went limp.
Yes, I'm depressed. But I think I've earned it. No one--not even me--can be "on" 24/7, 365. Especially when faced with repeated rounds of bullshit, shot in rapid succession. And, as far as I can tell, these cycles of depression aren't any different than the hormonal cycles that influence my sex drive and make me bleed every 28 days. They're part of life. As difficult and uncomfortable as it is, I'd rather experience this than dull my emotions with a prescription--of course, don't think I'm not dulling them with something else (go ahead, call me a hypocrite, I won't feel a thing).
If history's a decent indicator of what happens next, I figure I'll eventually learn something from this. In the meantime, I'll be struggling to focus as I address each of the issues, individually, that have combined to weigh me down--thinking of them all at once only serves to make the situation that much more overwhelming. I chose to start here, on the blog, because (a) I got my computer back, so I can, and (b) writing to you is cathartic. Plus, I'm not only putting my thoughts into words, I'm giving you a heads-up as to why I've not been blogging so much. (All you long-time readers, feel free to add this to the list of unending excuses I seem to come up with...)
Why I'd be driven so hard to write a book I didn't want to write in the first place only to be met with a seemingly non-stop parade of distractions that keep me from finishing the damn thing is beyond my comprehension. But that's where I'm at with CKR. I've had to adopt an "I'll get there when I get there" approach to keep from (almost literally) losing my mind. I WILL get there, though. And I'll get through "the blues" thing, too. Always have. It's a setback, not the end of the world. I'll be back and cranking out the wit and fuckin' wisdom better than ever before you know it.
It just won't be today.
NOVEMBER and DECEMBER 2007
No entries were posted these months.
(to be continued...)