Hot Air: Resurrection

For the last ten days, for the most part, I’ve been an internet hermit. A confluence of factors has caused me to withdraw. Or maybe it was only one factor — a revisiting of the depression that has pestered me since I was a kid. That’s more like it.

The wish to stay in bed all day long. The crankiness. The inability to find pleasure in anything. The overwhelming desire to carbo-load. The dearth of any reason to do anything. I’ve been through all this before. It’s nothing new. I knocked off Zoloft in the summer of 2016, a few months after I’d completed my chemoradiation therapy. The Zoloft for years had warded off these semi-regular dips into the cold dark cellar. This time I had to fight the fight w/o the drug.

Usually the descent takes months and it certainly did this time. The fall continues until I hit some kind of psychological concrete surface. I consider this month of April to have been the splat.

Certainly this ludicrous weather hasn’t helped. The trees usually are sprouting leaves or at least budding by now. The blossoms usually brilliant and fragrant at this time. But the trees are still bare and what blossoms that have managed to poke out are dull. Or is it just me?

In any case, my self-prescribed therapy regimen has included long stints on the stationary bicycle, daily drives to different So. Indiana towns’ libraries to work, a monk-like focus on a particular writing project, and a series of long monologues delivered internally, acknowledging the nothingness and exhorting self to wait the storm out.

It’s working, to be sure. I’m even listening to music again, something I find almost impossible to do when I take my dives. In the throes of depression, music is nothing more than clangs and scratches.

When the mind and the heart are not sick, music is itself drug-like. I could swear, when all is well, I can feel those pleasurable substances like endorphins coursing through my blood vessels when I catch sound of a particularly moving piece of music, “An American in Paris,” say, or “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

Last night I listened to a compilation of the incidental music from the TV show, “Arrested Development.” Most of it was composed by David Schwartz who’s a veteran TV scorer. Fans of “Northern Exposure” might recognize his early stuff. In any case, Schwartz’ AD tunes moved me — and that’s one way I know I’m coming out of the hole.

Which reminds me of a bit Richard Lewis used to do. He couldn’t understand why neither his parents nor his grandparents ever evinced any signs or signals that they loved each other. There were no casual caresses, no hand-holdings, no lingering glances. No evidence whatsoever that the mates found each other alluring.

He concluded that both his parents and grandparents had somehow found a secret place in which they could be tender toward one another or even — gasp! — to make love. They’d put on several layers of heavy winter coats, wrap themselves in scarves, smash furred hats on their heads, hunch over, and leave the house for an undisclosed location where they’d board an elevator to take them down hundreds of feet below the surface of the Earth and there, out of earshot and eyeshot of the rest of humanity, they’d consummate their respective marriages. And at the huzzah moment, they wouldn’t holler or moan but would simply splutter, Uunnghh.

Now that’s funny. And now I can laugh about things like that again after a several-month hiatus from silliness.

Double Big

Did you catch yesterday’s Big Talk? It was one of those two-fer days with an airing of the show on WFHB and the concurrent publication in the Limestone Post of Big Mike’s B-town. The subject? Bloomington’s very first female firefighter, Jean Magrane.

Jean hooked on with the BFD in 1987 and eventually worked her way up to captain before she retired in 2013. The hose-lugging lads of the BFD acted toward her as any previously segregated group of males might toward a Double-X chromosome colleague. A tidbit from the interview (and profile): Jean did not meet another female firefighter for some seven years after she’d been hired by the BFD.

Magrane and her first captain, Bill Headley, at her retirement party.

Go here for the WFHB podcast and here for the Limestone Post piece.

And tune in every Thursday for Big Talk on 91.3 FM. Big Mike’s B-town runs every four weeks on the LP so the next one will be Thursday, May 17th.

I’ll keep on talking and writing as long as you keep on listening and reading.

The Unforgiven

Just caught sight of a cool T-shirt — it’s a football jersey knock-off with the number 7 and the name Kaepernick emblazoned above it. And the other side reads, “If he ain’t playing, I’m not watching!”

Colin Kaepernick

Some grad student was wearing the shirt this AM in the HQ of this global communications colossus, Hopscotch Coffee. I never would have figured this particular person to be a football fan but the Colin Kaepernick tale made plenty of non-sports folks aware of the NFL and its patronizing, barely tolerant attitude toward its players of color.

If your skin is brown or black, the NFL’s billionaire owners dig you only if you behave. And to those plutocrats in charge of America’s biggest sports business good behavior means only that you never acknowledge that you have brown or black skin. If you beat your wife or girlfriend, if you run a dog fighting operation, if you run with murderers and gangsters — all that can be forgiven.

Colin Kaepernick to this day remains unforgiven.


A tip: Scan this fascinating story in today’s New York Times about a deadly fire that killed nine graduate students in a Cornell University residence center in 1967. The fire was one of a series of suspicious blazes around that time, leading investigators and observers to conclude it was arson. No one’s ever been charged.

The story, though, focuses on some guy who was a Cornel student at the time, an ROTC cadet who later became a Marine. It seems this fellow has become obsessed — no exaggeration — with the fire in the years hence. So much so that my knee-jerk reaction was to blurt, “He did it!”

Of course there’s no real evidence this fellow has committed any crime. It’s a compelling read nevertheless.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if you blurted out the same thing.

All About Us

Another tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the Limestone Post‘s special print edition, “Sense of Place.” It’ll be all about — what else? — Bloomington. What is it, publisher Ron Eid and his conscientious crew are hoping to answer, that makes this place so…, well, Bloomington?

“Sense of Place” will hit the streets in about a month and a half with a big release party scheduled for the evening of June 1st at the I Fell Gallery.

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