Life in Black and White

 

I share quotes on my social media accounts.  Quotes I can’t create because I’m not bright enough or because someone said what I wanted to say first…and said it better.  I wish I could be profound but instead, I rely on the words of others to enlighten, humor or sometimes, provoke.

I call these quotes, Don’s Daily Dose because a former student suggested the moniker after reading a few day’s worths.  I’m thankful to her for suggesting the title and helping me to realize someone was actually reading them.

I share these quotes along with some form of artwork to emphasize the point…or just because I liked the snake wrapped around an arm attached to a hand holding an apple… the quote was about temptation after all.  The apple different shades of red, the snake a bright kaleidoscope of color…I find the painting tempting.

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Original Sin by Raluca Nedelcu https://fineartamerica.com/featured/original-sin-raluca-nedelcu.html?product=art-print

Usually, the art I choose is psychedelic, me embracing my inner hippie.  Vibrant and wild colors from the LSD trip I never took; peace signs, VW microbuses, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix….  Sometimes I use the book covers from the authors I quote from.  I lean toward bold colors with purple and pink being favorites.

Then I quoted Ansel Adams and looked for art to go with my quote.  I was awed by his landscapes in black and white.  The quote was about the environment, something Adams photographed in black and white, his mode of artistic expression.  Mother Nature stark and sharply in focus…maybe auster.  Nature laid bare, no makeup to soften its features.

The picture I chose of a two-lane blacktop took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when “filmed in Technicolor” was the exception, not the norm.  Stark blacks and whites along with muted grays were the standards, life laid bare in living black and white.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Road, Nevada Desert, 1960

Movies, television, stills from Life magazine, most were in black and white in those days.  If I wanted color I thumbed through my grandmother’s National Geographic.  Wild animals and bare-breasted native girls filmed better in color.  In this modern-day, life is replicated exactly as it is on large screened TVs, tablets and I Phones. I still find black and white to be more poignant, more shocking, more potent.

Doretha Lange’s depression-era Migrant Mother does not reflect her pain in its colorized form.  Color is too soft.  Her turned down mouth with fingers stroking the side of her chin…pondering her lot in life it would seem. Her furrowed brow, two of her seven children hiding their faces from the camera.  There are no soft colors, just sharp black, and white pain.

DortheaLange

Destitute mother of seven, Age 32 Doretha Lange https://www.wdl.org/en/item/81/

Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski pleading for “Stella”, wearing a torn and dirty T-shirt, his hands clasped against his head…Same in Technicolor?  Only if his head explodes.  Stanley Kowalski was not a nice person, black and white suits him.

streetcar named

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire https://macmcentire.com/2017/04/03/random-warner-bros-a-streetcar-named-desire/

I watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, Freedom Rider buses burn, and Walter Cronkite tell the nation a war was unwinnable after Tet, all and more on a black and white TV.  Those depressing moments were befitting of black and white.  No color necessary, no sugarcoating with pastels, no bold makeup.  Just stark black and white.

Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald as Detective James R. Leavelle looks on.  Leavelle passed away on August 2019.  He was 99.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/us/james-leavelle-dead.html

Most of my childhood memories are in black and white.  Friends and family posing, smiling on three, frozen as a Kodak catches their likenesses.  My parents so young in their courting pictures, people long dead, their faces faded in the old albums I liberated after my father’s death.

I sigh, exhaling heavily as I think about them. My winter depression may be sneaking up, edging closer.  It is a bit early yet but it always catches me by surprise like those “backshooters” in the black and white “oaters” I watched as a child.  Bad men willing to do their worst to the Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Willing but not able as they live on in the reruns of life.

It is still pre-dawn as I edit this and there are no colors other than black and gray of night.  Not even a hint of the sunrise to come.  The almost full moon nearing the western horizon doesn’t give enough light for colors to reflect.  I seem to do my best writing in the dark, surrounded by blacks and whites.   My best writing is relative and it is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life.

Life in black and white seems harsh and I’ve had my black and white moments.  Life needs a few black and white moments to give depth and meaning to the warm colors in between.  Profound.  Maybe I am capable of a good quote after all.  Time to greet the sun.

sun2

Autumn Sun by David Galchutt in 2019 | Fall | Sun art, Moon …

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

The featured image was lifted from https://pearlsofprofundity.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/life-in-black-and-white/

 

 

 

Dealing with Writer’s Block

 

And that is a huge joke…one I’m not laughing at.  It’s not writer’s block, is it?  No, it is insanity.  It’s a little early for Seasonal Affective Disorder to rear an ugly head.

Writer’s block…”All work and no play make makes Jack a dull boy…Don a dull boy.”  I feel like Jack Torrance in The Shining although I’m not ready to chop a hole in a door….Maybe mad enough to chew nails and spit rivets…what in the hell does that even mean?  I think Don was a dull boy before the writer’s block.

Writing about writer's block

I’m writing about writer’s block.  Geez.

Honesty is the best policy.  It’s not just writer’s block.  It is do anything block.  I gave up and tried reading and then continued to binge-watch the series Justified… looking for motivation, to no avail.  I failed. I didn’t get my chores done either.  I’m such a slug.  All I did was vacillate between the activities I refused to do.

writer-meme-5

I have too many voices chanting in my head.  Imaginary friends, voices of long-dead friends, voices of enemies I wish were…no, I don’t wish that on anyone.  I have voices from characters in three different storylines I’m having trouble completing.  Completing?  I just want to move forward a bit.

I just reread forty-four chapters in one and deleted half of them.  I deleted them on purpose…garbage I say, garbage!

Writer'sblock1

I went for my morning exercise.  Usually, a bit of exercise will clear my head and quiet the voices.  I focused on the portion of the story involving the death of a major character.  I wrote it in my head, around and around it went, like flushing an imaginary toilet until I got it just right.

Returning home, I sat the chapter aside and let it marinade before sitting down and failing to get it written down.  Could death be the problem?  She is a fictional character and the story won’t work without her untimely demise…Geez.  I’ve become attached to someone who doesn’t exist.

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It is another day and I write in the morning, in the pre-dawn hours…or in this case stare at my computer screen.  It suits me most of the time.  Friendly ghosts seem to surround me, whispering in my ear.  They provide no help.  I hear their little “Casper the Friendly Ghost” voices ridiculing me.  Maybe they are not that friendly.

I’ve wasted two hours of prime writing time writing this blog.  My story sits, unwritten…all three of them.  Lucretia still lives.  Allen Kell is frozen in my mind, his hand hovering above his six-gun as he tries but fails to save her.  How will he not save her?

Total word count for today

I must shut down the computer and start my day.  Exercise and then major chores.  Like the story of the hard-working ant and the lazy grasshopper, winter will soon be upon us and there is so much left to do…from not doing it during the summer.  Preparations must be made, must be made, must be made…if I say it enough….  How does a fiddlin’ grasshopper morf into a hard-working ant?

Don Miller, when sane, writes on various subjects, some real, others imagined.  Access his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Images from various meme mines.

On World Wide Suicide Prevention Day

Originally entitled, “The Easy Way Out,” I first wrote this three years ago and it bears repeating.  “Suicide is not an easy way out.” My own contemplations of suicide and my battles with clinical depression fuel my emotions, along with the thoughts of three friends and former students who in the last few years have opted to take the “easy way out.”

No one who knows me would think, “Coach Miller is suicidal” without being told so and many would say, “Aw shucks, you’re pullin’ my leg.  You?” Yeah, me.  Many people who contemplate suicide don’t “look like someone” who might because we are masters of disguise.  “So, take a good look at my face, uh-huh. You see my smile (looks out of place). Yeah, look a little bit closer it’s easy to trace, oh the tracks of my tears.”  The problem is Smokey, we do our crying alone and put our smiles on when we are out in public.

The Easy Way Out

Rewritten 9/10/2019

“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. When you are sick like me, one may find it not to 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 bedbug.” 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 the same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know to 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, am I just going to “wink” out of existence or turn into some type of cosmic energy? Will I be reborn as an Egyptian Dung Beetle?..one of my favorites.  All options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, 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?” Nothing!  Absolutely nothing.  Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer unless it is everything.

My depression is due to tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalances 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” than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be.  Toenail fungus is pretty yucky.   We need to dispel the stigma of “I’m crazy as a bedbug” and treat the illness.

These thoughts were triggered by a phone call. A friend told me of 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.  There are no answers to the “Why” and “What” questions.  Quit asking them!

His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out… I won’t have enough clarity of thought to keep me from pulling the trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of suicide.

Before you worry, 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…not only to me but the people who are close to you.  Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you okay?”  Your loved one will lie and say “Oh, I’m fine” or “I’m just a little blue,” but you should be looking for lies.

This 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 and you are not an embarrassment. 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  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/DonMiller/e/B018IT38GM

The image featured is from https://www.docsopinion.com/2018/02/25/depression-symptoms/  and comes from an article entitled 10 Important Symptoms of Depression.  I would suggest you check yourself.

 

Deafening Silence

 

I’ve been outside three times this morning…and it’s not yet seven-thirty.  The puppies woke me way too early.

I am troubled by the silence…the sounds I don’t hear.  I seem to be drawn to the quiet like a moth to a flame.  Everything is muted, even the vehicles climbing up the grade toward Hendersonville.

I don’t understand the silence and I am a bit disturbed.  Usually, the birds and bees are active by this time, chirping and buzzing.  But nothing is moving…just the toad that keeps trying to find a way into my house and the mosquito he must be chasing.

I don’t really mind the toad and admire his persistence.  I wish he would nab the mosquito. The blind puppy dogs seem to mind, picking up his scent and leading me to his location.  Waiting patiently for their “good dog” treats after I remove the interloper to his normal habitat.   Where is that damn mosquito?

Now I am looking at the bird feeders and they are not attracting any kind of activity…squirrels included.  I squint into the pre-dawn light to see if they were emptied during the night.

Did some spaceship descend from the heavens and abduct my wildlife deciding they didn’t need my toad?  I’ve seen too many end of the world movies.

My murder of crows has been quite active recently but not this morning.  Why I wonder?  Why are gatherings of crows called murders?  As I ponder, I realize I really have seen too many horror movies and am crazy as a loon.

It is as if the very air is absorbing sound.  Not a leaf moving.  The citronella torches I just lit are burning straight up, reaching toward heaven.  The heavily scented smoke defies gravity, swirling neither left or right as it disappears toward space.

It has been hot and dry…for us.  I think that makes us all crazy…wildlife included.  Mid-nineties in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  Pre-dawn has become after dawn and there is no dew on the grass at all.  We need rain badly and a break from the heat.  It is as if the wildlife has already hunkered down in a cool place for the day.  Maybe that’s why the toad continues to break and enter.

Maybe it just my diminished hearing or my increasingly bad mood.  I find myself anxious and a bit depressed.  Am I depressed because of…or is because of why I am depressed?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if I even make sense.

What I do know is the silence is as oppressive as the building humidity and heat.

According to the local weather guru, there is hope on the horizon.  Rain chances increase late in the week.  Nothing for sure…just like life.  Maybe what rain we do get will wash away the silence…or maybe I should get off my ass and make some noise.

The featured image from https://dahni.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/words-matter/

Please take time to like Don Miller’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cigarman501/?eid=ARB0OtYgbYydIVtqtxaOGKECb-AvbbILtPybDOE835b4sChVMzC7w_vB9jqu161yiZWOmbn134yI6lwT

Or his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

 

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

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