Nevah Endin’ Loop

 

I don’t know why I’m thinking in my womanly, Southern voice,  “Nevahhhhhhhh Endin’ Loop.”  Elongated syllables and soft gees.  It is about my lack of sleep or the Southern character I’m trying to write.  My night was like the opening lines of a famous novel…”It was the best of nights, it was the worst of nights,” from A Tale of Two Darknesses.

I slept hard for four hours…and then awoke with a mind that simply refused to turn off.  Negative thoughts chased one another like wolves chasing the sheep I counted as I tried to get back to sleep.  I finally tried to write…and failed to write.  A loop of gloomy, bleak and fatalistic thoughts flicker like old black and white movies from a nickelodeon kept getting in the way.

Because I’m fragmented…History lesson alert!  A nickelodeon NOT Nickelodeon.   Many of you may be unaware that back in the day, there were motion picture machines found in storefronts called nickelodeons.  In the middle of the first decade of the 1900s, for a nickel, you could watch silent shorts or “peep shows” of people sneezing, silent vaudeville acts and women taking their clothes off.  This was before VHS, smart cards, flash drives, streaming, satellite TV and Pornhub.

Images were imprinted on “a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals” and ran as a film loop over a hand-cranked projector.

The loop continued to repeat as long as you desired to crank.   Thank you, Wikipedia. No, I have no idea what I quoted means…magic maybe! Exactly how did that image of a Victorian lady taking off her clothes get on to film?  Research to come.

At three in the morning my mind decided, on its own, to begin running an imaginary film loop of everything that was bothering me, ovah, and ovah, and ovah again.  A never-ending, mental, horror movie loop of sick and blind puppies, aging puppy parents not able to take care of themselves much less their puppies.  A friend who had emergency bypass surgery, home, and yard work that must be done, a tractor that does not run like a Deere, and two vehicles with over four hundred thousand miles combined with strange noises emanating from them.  Worse is my total lack of motivation to do anything other than sleep…except I can’t…even…sleep.   I have presents to deliver to my grandchildren…from Valentine’s Day.  Ah sweet depression, a depression by any other name is still a depression.

Can you be losing the battle if you are worrying you are losing the battle?  Did that make sense?  Probably not to anyone other than me.

It is late-morning now.  A gloomy mid-morning that matches my mood.  I walked in the sleet until I said ‘Oh Fudgenuts’ and went home.   Not because I was cold, I was.  Not because sharp, minute chunks of ice were hitting me in the face, they were.  Not because the weather gurus had missed the forecast, they had.  I could have overcome all that.  It is the never-ending loop running in my head…never quite ending and adding frames as it continues along.   Now I’m watching the sleet bounce off my metal roof.  The sleet is not helping me end the loop nor is writing this.  Wait…I just yawned…maybe a nap?  Ah, sweet silence.

For other musings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from https://www.britannica.com/technology/projector/media/478521/95460

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Nineteen Seconds….

 

Nineteen seconds…doesn’t sound very long…it’s not very long considering the eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds in a day.  But it may be the motivation I need to continue living.  Compared to yesterday, nineteen additional seconds of…blessed sunlight.  Say it blesssss-eddddd!  Nineteen additional seconds as the sun begins its annual climb into the sky, a full minute of glorious sunshine by Wednesday.  Overly dramatic?  Not at all.  The Winter Solstice is once again behind me.

I have a mild case of depression.  Mild.  I laugh at the thought.  Chuckle, chortle, guffaw!  Today my depression is mild, like soft spring rains.  My mind only slightly fragmented.  A thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box fragmented.  Only a bit of anxiety as I prepare for Christmas.

Blam!  Tomorrow my depression may land like a warm, wet, stinking cow patty from a, particularly tall cow.  Unknown sorrows bringing a squirting, diarrheic, torrent of melancholy gloom, doom and despair for no reason at all…other than it just is.  Splat…Rumble…Rumble…Rumble…Splat!

Similar to the symptoms of diarrhea, I never know when my depression will hit any more than I know when it will end…I just know it will hit…usually in the darkest hours the winter when sunlight is at a premium.  I know not when it will end…I only hope it will end.  Oh, glorious sunshine, how I wish to feel your warm caress.

What a quandary…dilemma…predicament.  At my age, I shouldn’t be wishing my life away.  How many winters do I have left?  Yesterday it seems I celebrated a birthday…and here is another…right around the corner.  Still…I hate living from a bout of depression to bout of depression.  Is it living?  Oh sunshine, why have you forsaken me?  Bring on the heat, humidity, mosquitos, and longgggggg days of sunshine!

You think my depression might be magnified by the season?  I’ve never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but you don’t have to be a savant to realize what is going on…summers with mild bouts of depression, winters with “Oh my god, I’m as crazy as an outhouse mouse!”  I’m in real trouble, my humor is not even funny to me.

What to do, what to do?  The sun is trying to peep above the ridgeline.  A walk before church?  It’s thirty degrees…ordinarily not a deterrent.  Today?  My disability is getting in the way…but there’s “gold in them thar hills,” beautiful golden sunshine.  Dress warmly, my friends.

For more of Don Miller’s musings or rantings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from http://7-themes.com/6937886-forest-morning-sunshine.html

 

Winter…Sucks

 

It is still over a month away from the winter solstice… the darkness is oppressive.  Last night was thirteen hours, thirty-nine minutes and thirty seconds of rainy, cold darkness.  It seemed longer… I was awake for much of it.  I feel the darkness in my bones…in my soul.  Tonight, darkness will be a minute and a half longer than last.  I am already dreading it.

It’s not just the darkness, it is the angle of the sun, rising low in the southeastern sky and staying low, lower, lowest for the next…forever.  I never saw the sun yesterday and won’t see it today.  Wet, winter doldrums and it’s only the mid-way point in November.

The acronym SAD just doesn’t seem strong enough.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I don’t guess miserable fits…as an acronym.  “I have MISERABLE!”  Or WRETCHED…or DISMAL.  On top of my spurts of just plain depression.

I have inherited much from my Grandmother.  Love for growing tomatoes, reading, bird watching, and wildlife in general.  I also inherited her depression.  Gray days sitting, wishing, gazing out at the winter contemplating when the sun will return.  I remember her “blue.”  Wilting and turning brown like plants touched with a frost.  I also remember her blooming in the Spring.  Hope “springs” eternal.

I see people gaily dressed in ugly sweaters and hoodies.  Embracing pumpkin spice and reveling in falling leaves and bonfires.  Elves in red who can’t wait to get through Thanksgiving.

Give me the sun.  Give me the hot and humid weather with mosquitoes and thunderstorms, lightning bugs and hoot owls to chase the darkness away.  Give me the sun, long and high in the sky.

Daylight is finally upon me…its still raining so I can’t see the sun.  A gloomy day that I feel cutting deep.  I can’t seem to concentrate or sleep.  My wife may be in for a rough day.  I write, check social media, pick up a book and stare at pages without reading, walk around the fireplace and then do it all over again.  I have a book ending to complete…maybe in the spring…or the summer, when my mind is not so fragmented by the dark.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD1

The image is from https://harrisrichard.com/tag/winter-sucks/

A TURN OF A KEY

 

Woolgathering doesn’t quite define it.  I wasn’t pleasantly lost in my thoughts…well…the triggering mechanism wasn’t pleasant.  Word came that a former player has died and then Aretha left us the next day.  Their deaths sent me down the metaphorical pig trails my wife often talks about.  I never met Aretha but Pat…Pat played for me and deserved better from his former coach.

I see him with his arms crossed over an ample belly, chin on his chest, his helmet cocked back on his head during a break in practice.  His head is cocked to the side as he listens to our diminutive offensive line coach pontificate.  They share a joke, both belly laughing and after a bit of back slapping went on about their business.  Seeing them in my mind is a prized memory.

He was a big youngster, playing offensive tackle, gregarious and fun-loving…except when he was trying to get in on the defensive side of the ball.  A pest with a huge grin enveloping his whole face, “Come on Coach Miller, I can do this.  I can make a play.”

He wasn’t the quickest kid, built for comfort not speed.  I tended to put runners on the defensive side, nasty folk who could fly to the ball…he wasn’t a runner…nor was he a bird.  He could be football nasty on occasion…and was.

Maybe I should have rethought my philosophy.  In a goal-line situation, we sent him in to add a bit of beef on the line of scrimmage and he came up with a fumble recovery.  I clearly see him running on to the field, chin and face mask jutting forward in determination, arms windmilling.  Smiling, I see him fist pumping in celebration as he took his place in what had become the offensive huddle.

His junior year we caught lightning in a bottle six times and had our hearts broken four.  The four losses were all heartbreakingly close and as their coach, I should have figured out a way to win a couple of them.  The last one cost us a trip to the playoffs.

Six and four was the best we could muster during my four-year tenure…back when I thought I was a football coach. There is much guilt, regret and now sorrow associated with those years.

He is gone, stolen from us in the middle of the night.  I’m still regretful…regretful I haven’t kept in contact. I forgot I coached kids, not football.  He and the rest of them deserved better because winning was never the only thing.

My pride was hurt and according to the Bible, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  I don’t know about the haughty spirit, but pride made me push the memories aside.  My “embarrassments” were placed in a mental “lockbox” and stored in a far corner of my mind.  I turned a key and walked away thinking it would hurt less.   “Out of sight, out of mind” meant the good recollections and warm feelings were locked away too.

There are too many good memories to hide them away…and too many good friends…the coaches and players.  People I should still be in touch with.  There is too little time to allow bad memories to overshadow the good.

Pat, I’m sorry it is too late for us.  I’m sorry about your beautiful family and their pain.  I know they are hurting.  I know too, they will have wonderful memories to fall back on when they are ready.

The key has turned and the lid has opened flooding me with memories.  The bad ones are still there but overshadowed by the good ones.  Bad memories can be handled when you have so many warm ones.

Rest in peace Pat knowing you will be missed…and adored.

The image was stolen from https://www.escapeyourfateup.com/store/p3/Multi-Room_Experience.html

For more of Don Miller’s musings https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

My Writing Sucks….

 

I’m absolutely at war with myself.  The problem is I’ve been reading when I should be writing…or cutting grass or weeding the garden.  Actually, I’ve done them all.  Anything to avoid writing.  I did cut grass and weeded the garden and I’ve read Roy Blount Jr., Julia Reed, Rick Bragg, and James Lee Burke…it’s Burke’s fault…and Jeri Lynn Wolfe Cooper.

I didn’t know I had the desire to write until my former student, Jeri Lynn, put a bug in my ear…or up my butt.  A burr under my saddle.  A bee in my bonnet…any others?  After twenty-five years we reconnected through another bane of my existence, social media.  She was Lynn Wolfe thirty years ago…she’s Lynn Cooper now but I liked the way Jeri Lynn rolled off the tongue of my Southern brain back then.  Still, do.

Wouldn’t you know it?  She’s a writer.  Anyway, my bad writing career is her fault.  “You always told great stories…you should write them down.”  I did…and try to force you to read them.

I studied other people’s writings, Lynn’s included.  I say  “Lynn’s included” because Lynn writes hot, romantic tales, something my wife says I know nothing about.  “Honey, I’m just taking notes for later.”  She didn’t buy it…I don’t guess I bought it either. ..but I still buy Lynn’s books.

Sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the sweet young woman who used to sit in my sociology class with the writer who pens scorching, passionate fiction.  Really scorching, real quality.  Her writing would be good even if it wasn’t sizzling.  I can reconcile it after all.

It’s the way Lynn’s words flow and roll off the page, the way she creates vividly erotic scenes without being graphic,  it’s her deeply painted descriptions of characters…my characters look like stick figures.

My excuse is that my last English class was over forty-five years ago.  I’m having to learn on the run…jog…walk.  The only creative writing course I took was exactly fifty years ago.  I remember writing about the sex life of a door knob…it was the “free love” Sixties but a daunting task for an eighteen-year-old virgin.  It’s all I remember about the course.

My writing experience involved forty-five years of creating lesson and practice plans with the occasional grocery list thrown in for good measure.  So, I’m struggling, and the Thesaurus is not my friend.  I’m in the “my writing sucks” frame of mind as I attempt to hammer out a thousand words…words someone might want to read.  Hmmm, “If it doesn’t fit use a bigger hammer.”  I don’t think that will work.

Since we seemed to have skipped spring this year, I picked up James Lee Burke’s latest to avoid the heat of the midday sun.  I had finished my weeding, and my potatoes and tomatoes are doing quite well.  I’m not going to say anything about my squash, I’m sure the squash bugs are listening and waiting to pounce.

Maybe I can get an idea, maybe I can learn something…maybe I can just enjoy Burke’s writing.  I learned I can study a dictionary from now until death takes me and I’ll never ever have anything near James Lee Burke’s vocabulary.  Should have picked up a “Dick and Jane” book instead.  ”See Spot run….”

James Lee Burke writes about pain and he describes it in a way you feel the pain like an abscessed tooth.  He writes about people and doesn’t just describe them, you become them.  Their pain and suffering is your pain and suffering.  He writes about the good and evil in man…sometimes contained in the same flawed person.  He paints with a vivid brush.  Oh, how I wish.

Okay back to the next great American novel…or I can wash my car.  My car really needs washing…

If you are interested in hot, romantic short stories and novellas you might wish to drop by Lynn’s author’s page at  https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cooper/e/B00LPX4HGO

If you are interested in nonfiction or historical fiction you might try Don Miller’s page at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B018IT38GM

If you are interested in Don Miller writing romantic adventure as Lena Christenson, her page is at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19  My beloved still wonders what I might know about romance.  Well, I read books.

Image from https://allthatjazzblogdotcom.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/of-struggling-scribes-and-pain/

 

A Broken Kaleidoscope

One of the reasons I write is due to my depression…it helps give me relief…EXCEPT FOR RIGHT NOW!  Normally writing gives me insights into the broken kaleidoscope that is my mind.  For some reason, it ain’t happnin’.  I find myself in a conundrum?  I write to offset my effects of my depression, yet I’m unable to write or rather finish my writing, because of my depression.  Did I mention I’m tired of winter?  The days are lengthening.  Hey look, there is a spider on the window sill.  Is that Aretha playing…the Godmother of Soul?  I smell peanut butter.  Wow, it’s colder than owl sh!#.

See the problem?  I can’t hold a thought.  Its as if my thoughts are sliding down an iced-over driveway in flat bottom leather soled shoes.  It took twelve minutes to write twenty-seven words…and as I reread, not very good words.  That’s slightly more than two words a minute…correct?  My math skills have all ways been suspect…I did calculate last night’s tip in my head…sh!# I did it again!

I have three “novels” in the can…except I can’t finish them.  I guess that means there really not in the can…STOP IT!  If I were talking to you and I said that I had three novels, I would have probably used air quotes…”Novels.”  Writers go through stages.  I’m in the “Your writing sucks”  stage of being.  I don’t know if it’s because of my depression or is it because my writing “sucks”.  Last week I was thinking, one of these is going to be the breakthrough.  The great American novel.  What happened?

Occasionally I’m introduced as “the author.”  This is usually by caring family members who say it with misplaced pride or those who are attempting to make me feel worthwhile.  I always counter with, no I’m the writer because I think authors must actually sell their books to be considered an author.  I keep telling myself I’m not writing for the money, a good thing because I’m not making any. I’m not writing for the gratification I receive from the adulation of my adoring fans, also a good thing.  Why the f@#$ am I writing?  Look!  There’s a…STOP IT!

Wow!  “The Rantings of a Fractured Mind?”  That might make a good title…I did it again…For those of you who think depression is being a little blue, it’s not even close.  I could stand being blue, it’s the broken kaleidoscope of my mind.  No matter how much I twist it, the patterns don’t quite fit together and there is nothing I can do except wait until it passes…if it passes.  The fear of it being permanent is always there.

Hey, sorry!  I’m Donnie Downer this morning.  As I hit “Publish” I hope my depression will fly off into cyberspace with it.  Have yourself a great day.

Image from Marion Paul Bruin, the Kaleidoscope King at https://www.pinterest.de/pin/118852877642184769/?lp=true

For some of my “more” lucid thoughts try my writer’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Waiting for the Sun

I feel the cold seeping into my bones. The cold and the darkness. The same ambiance that makes our home such a wonderful conversation piece is freezing me to death. Behind those beautiful beadboard walls is…nothing…but the cold.

I wonder…how much my shivering is the old farmhouse’s lack of insulation and how much is just me. There was a time when all it took was a minimal movement to create heat and perspiration. A byproduct of my weight loss or my age?

I am depressed…it makes the cold worse. I shouldn’t sit in the dark, but I am desperately searching for a hint of light on the southeastern horizon but it is not yet visible through my French doors. Maybe when I see it I’ll turn on the overhead light. I despise the winter, I hate the cold.

I often wonder about the people who lived here before me and how they survived the cold. There are five fireplaces in my old home. I doubt the former tenants could have kept them all fed because the one I still use, the one I sit close to warming my feet, has a voracious appetite. I have a chainsaw…they had crosscut saws and axes. My chainsaw wears me out…quickly…but it does cause me to sweat. Splitting the wood makes me sweat. Firewood heats you several times I guess.

I think I know where the people before me congregated, trying to stay warm, trying to sit out the winter…although I doubt there was much sitting as they cut the wood to feed the fireplaces. The beadboard in the old dining room is darkened from what I suspect is the many wood fires lit in its double fireplace. There or in front of the old wood burning stove I found in rusted pieces in a ravine behind my house. I can visualize the former tenants wrapped in handmade, patchwork quilts sitting close to the fireplace attempting to warm themselves. Shivering as the north wind made its presence known…basking in the feeble light. With it dipping into teens in the South Carolina mountains, I think you can keep your good old days.

I need to go walk. My armor against depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. The southeastern horizon has lightened but I wait for the sun to peak above the tall trees on the hillside’s crest. We are still eight days from the winter solstice and the shortest daylight of the year. Seven hours, forty-five minutes and a few seconds before the days begin to lengthen again. With the mountains in the west, less sun for me I think. It seems a lifetime until the summer solstice.

I’m reminded of an old Sunray’s song,

“I live for the sun (sun sun sun sun)
Because it makes fun (fun)
Pretty girls with their guys
Such a love you can’t buy
Baby, we all live for the sun.”

A cheesy, wannabe Beach Boys kind of song. I don’t know about the fun but the sun gives me hope and the illusion of warmth. “(I) live for the sun.”

Don Miller is a multi-genre, Indie writer. Please drop by his author’s page on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.

GLIMMERS

It’s been a while. I had signed off on my blog recently. Total silence. I just haven’t been motivated or maybe I’ve just been too depressed. Not clinically depressed…maybe. Just depressed over forest fires, hurricanes, bump stocks, kneeling and a president numbered forty-five. I might should have capitalized that last bit but I just can’t. I decided that if I didn’t have anything positive to say I should brood silently since my social media feed explodes with vitriol with any postings other than pictures of pink flamingoes.
I was also brooding over health issues. My rebelling sixty something year old body. Sciatica, shingles and Afib have reared their ugly heads, all in the last six months despite my best efforts at staying ahead of the grim reaper. Add a dash of early onset arthritis…if it is a sixty-something body can it really be early onset? The grim reaper in my rear view seems to have crept just a bit closer.
Maybe there is a glimmer of hope, with my health, not the other stuff. I ran. Two minutes out of five for a total of twelve minutes. By my reckoning, a little over a mile. Last week it was one minute out of every five, every other day. I’ve improved. I know the real runners are reading this and laughing their asses off. Laugh, I don’t care. I used to run half marathons. I wasn’t fast. I sometimes finished high in my age group but it really didn’t matter. I was running against myself, not anyone else…and then myself got in the way. A knee injury due to a misstep, then sciatica, several times, then clinical depression resurfaced. It became easier to just not run. My goal became just to walk and ride my bicycle…maybe.
I hated running in the Seventies when the jogging craze first took hold. If you looked at my body and played “What’s his Exercise,” running might be the last choice you would be inclined to pick. I did it despite my hatred and body type…for all the wrong reasons. I’ll be honest, I ran because of a tall, long-legged, brunette who looked great in the running shorts of the Seventies. I tried to stay just behind her. She became the carrot on a string for the jackass that I was. I wonder what happened to her? I probably shouldn’t wonder.
I got out of the habit of exercise in the Eighties, then back into it in the Nineties, then out of it in the early Two Thousands…until a couple of months after a heart attack in 2006. Running became my shield against my mortality and my clinical depression. The more I ran the less depressed I was about my health I guess…it did seem to lighten the effects of the depression. I grew to love it…well, tolerate it and felt as if I had missed something if I didn’t do it.
It would be other body parts that would get in my way. I always wanted to run a marathon and kept trying to train for one. Every time my weekly mileage crept into the thirty-mile range, I managed to injure myself. Still this little bit of running today may be the glimmer that I needed. Slow and easy…well may be a 5K in a couple of months…yeah, hope springs eternal. Wish me luck.
Don Miller has written six books, five nonfictional and one fictional novella. Please visit his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501

THE EASY WAY OUT? “DOWNER ALERT”

I wrote this last year…this is National Suicide Prevention Month.  Take a minute to drop by…it might save a life.

“A brave man once requested me,
to answer questions that are key,
‘Is it to be or not to be,’
and I replied, ‘oh why ask me?’”

“’Cause suicide is painless,
it brings on many changes,
and I can take or leave it if I please…
and you can do the same thing if you please.”
Theme from MASH, “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel

I don’t believe there is anything easy about committing suicide nor do I think is it totally painless. That would be two of the major reasons I don’t attempt it. Some say, “It’s taking the easy way out.” When you are sick like me, one may find it may not be the easiest of ways out. I don’t mean sick as in “I have a terminal illness and it is going to eat me up from the inside out” kind of sickness but the “I’m crazy as a bed bug” kind of sickness. I have suffered from clinical depression for over forty years now so I believe I have the right to say, “I’m crazy as a bed bug.” Also, like a world class alcoholic, I have become very adept at hiding it. You see, almost daily, I still have thoughts of suicide or when I do something I consider “wrong,” there are the thoughts that I deserve to be hurt in some way even if I do it to myself. YES, I JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER ON PURPOSE!!!! I’ve done neither so suicide may not be the easy way out after all.

Being suicidal and repeatedly not pulling the trigger, not slitting a wrist or taking a short step out of a very high window is hard. I spend some of my “very best” depressed “self-speak” contemplating, quite morbidly, the pain of a bullet entering my head as opposed to the pain that the same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know love me, at least I think…maybe. My wife, my daughter, and son-in-law, my grandchildren, who I don’t yet know as well as I want, my brother and my friends. So far, my belief is that the pain of my action on those I leave behind would be greater…therefore, I don’t do it. There is also the fear of the unknown. Am I going to find myself inside of a vat of boiling “hellfire and brimstone” for instance or am I just going to “wink” out of existence? Both options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, in itself, brave?

Clinical depression is one of the odd ducks of mental illness. “Oh you are just a little blue…” and the Grand Canyon is a little hole. Logically you ask yourself, repeatedly I might add, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Right now it is a non-functional tractor and lawn mower, but they should not be “live altering” should they? Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer. My depression is due to a tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalance in my brain. AND IT IS TREATABLE, once you figure out it is nothing more than a disease. No different than diabetes, or arthritis, or toenail fungus except that for some reason it seems to be much more embarrassing to say, “I am clinically depressed and suicidal” rather than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be.

These thoughts and my own depression were triggered by a phone call. A friend told me of a suicide. I didn’t know the man; I know the family he left behind and can only imagine the pain they are going through. The unanswered questions, “Why?”, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”, “What did I do wrong?” Suicide was not an easy way out for them. Suicide was not due to an incurable and painful illness like cancer. It was due to an incurable and painful illness like clinical depression.

His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry that someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out…that I won’t have enough clarity in thinking to keep me from pulling that trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of it. Before you react, NO! I do not need to be put on suicide watch…at least yet. I’ll try to let you know and you should be paying attention. This blog post is for the people who have not had their clinical depression diagnosed or those who have and still battle it every day. You are not alone. There are many of us out there, a depressing estimate of one hundred and twenty-nine million worldwide, one out of every ten Americans and even more depressing, eighty percent never receive treatment. I was lucky. There ARE people you can talk to. If there is no one in your life, try these:
National Suicide Hotline (800) 273-8255
Teen Health and Wellness Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or
text ANSWER to 839863
For more statistics copy and paste http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

If you are interested in reading more “Ravings of a Mad Southerner” or other writings by Don Miller, please use the following link:  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Natty Old Tees

How many tee shirts are too many? I dare say I have collected enough to wear a different tee daily for a year without repeating once. Since I have retired, tee shirts and jeans seem to be the attire of choice, unless it’s summer and then it’s tees and shorts…except on Sunday. I do wear dress shirts to church…with dress jeans of course. My father is rolling in his grave.

While I no longer exercise in cotton tees, the new technical fabrics are lighter and wick perspiration better, I do love the feel of freshly laundered cotton against my skin. It reminds me of freshly laundered and blued linens, line dried in the fresh air and sunshine…memories having nothing to do with tee shirts.

I’m attempting to sort through my collection of tee shirts and make some decisions. Good ones to wear out on the town in one pile, not so good ones, frayed or forever soiled with chicken grease or pizza sauce, banished to the work tee shirt pile. Worn out tees exiled or repurposed to be used as cleaning rags or to tie up tomatoes on their stakes. I hesitate to throw them away because of the memories surrounding some of them.

Forty years ago, Champion made the best athletic tees, heavy and meant to last. I know this to be a fact. I still have a now yellowed one with the orange lettering, “I Believe.” Worn to death, it is much too fragile to wear now, it turned forty this past fall. A friend and mentor, now gone almost as long as the tee shirt is old, presented it to me and some fifty other coaches and players before the first game of a memorable season. No, I need to put it back right where I found it, tucked away with all its memories from one sparkling season.

Another specimen is a plain, royal blue with more holes than fabric and needs to be thrown away but I can’t. I wore it during a state championship campaign after giving up my number twenty-three jersey to a younger player so he could dress with the team. I keep hoping the tee has a little bit of good luck left in it. After losing a fight with my chainsaw three decades ago, I wear it whenever I am using rotating equipment in hopes it will keep me from losing a body part. So far it has.

A light blue tee with “North-South All-stars” screen printed on the front is displayed in a fading picture made during the after-game celebration. Tim Bright, Anthony Fairchild and Chris Bates are smiling with me and reminding me of better days, “Brighter” days. The actual tee has been worn little since the picture was made and will be stored away with its bitter-sweet memories.

Off-white by design rather than age, I have a heavy-weight tee with a New Zealand logo. I found it on my desk at the close of school one year, a parting gift from New Zealander and exchange student, “Hobby” Hobson. I never got the chance to thank him and wonder often what he might be up to in one of those “lands down under.” How, in the name of all things holy, did it get a hole in the back? No matter, it will stay in the “memorable” pile and be worn with pride, hole and all.

Soiled and stained there is the technical tee from the first 5K run after my heart attack, another from my first half marathon, and an unused one from the last half I didn’t get to run due to an injury. I couldn’t really repurpose those, could I? Maybe the one I didn’t get to run.

There are so many others. A blue Jocassee Bait Shop tee, a gift from a favorite player. The much too small white one covered in pink flamingoes. A gift from a teaching friend who shares my love for the odd looking, yet beautiful birds. My prized Buffett concert tee featuring colorful parrots drinking from margarita glasses along with mermaids swimming about. What to do, what to do? Nothing I guess…simply wear them and remember their meanings for as long as I can see and feel them.

Visit Don’s author’s page at https://goo.gl/pL9bp or pick up a copy or download his new book, Musings of a Mad Southerner, at https://goo.gl/zxZHWO.