Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm Sick of Myself

Yes, I'm sick with something I can't seem to shake. When I get sick and don't recover quickly I worry that it is the beginning of depression. But then being sick is depressing. It's a chicken/egg sort of conundrum. Am I sick and is it depressing me, or is it depression coming on that starts as feeling sick? Depression for a person with bipolar disorder is often perceived as illness in the early stages.

We had a period of air so bad that warnings were issued to keep children inside, to keep old people inside, and to keep those with chronic illness inside. I have a friend who is a school teacher who said for weeks they were not allowed to let children go outside for the entire school day. When I first went to my doctor with upper respiratory symptoms I was told that everyone she was seeing was in for the same problem. So I didn't feel so bad. When the air cleared, I would feel better. Now the air is clean and my breathing is getting worse. I have asthmatic wheezing, and my usually husky voice is now a croak.

I was working on a story that I played out as if it were real. And now that it's over I'm drained. I have yet to put it together as a final unified story, but the pieces are all there. But now that it's over, I feel drained of creativity. I'm resorting to recycled songs that are a comfort to me but bore you. I still follow news but my fellow Democrats are turning on President Obama for not taking a harder line with the opposition party. I too would like him to do more arm twisting than courting, but in less than a month in office he got a stimulus package passed and ready for signing. I'm thinking that's quite an achievement even if the details of this aren't exactly what some of us would have wanted. He has signed orders to close Gitmo, he has stated that America will no longer torture, and he has said he is more focused on the future than the past, but has not closed the door to investigations into his predecessor's crimes. This is a great deal accomplished in a very short time, yet no one seems happy about all this. He is pretty wonderful, but he isn't god. What the hell do we expect?

So it is hard to tell whether this is depression or merely a transient bug that will eventually go away. And if it is depression, is it situational, or is it organic and part of the larger, underlying bipolar disorder? In several years I haven't missed taking my medications. In the past three weeks I have twice missed my evening dose of all my medications--these are all my bipolar drugs, my pills to control the atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Maybe it's just that I'm a little off from having missed those two doses of my medications. But why did I miss them? Taking medications at the correct time of day is like a reflex for someone with a lifetime of most of these health problems. Why have I become careless about taking the drugs that make "normal" life possible?

I feel I owe some of you an apology for playing a trick on you. I have tried to examine my visceral response to a certain type of possible romantic situation and ended up offending some of you, especially the men among you. I wrote a scenario too personal, and full of stereotypes that really did alienate some of my male readers. I claimed that my female character's reaction to her visceral response to the appearance of a man she had talked herself into seducing was "shallow" and that this shallowness was a rather male reaction to a lack of beauty. Surface beauty. I have never lived with a man who wasn't a fan of pornography. When I tried to find out why this was such a seemingly universal phenomenon, my male friends told me that men are more "visually" stimulated than women. So I see this as a shallow reaction to a visual stimulus. Yes, there is a judgement that shallow is not a particularly good thing to base love on, but it wasn't love exactly that I had in mind for my female character. I had sex in mind for her. And attraction that leads to sex is often a mysteriously shallow reaction to the visual. Chemistry is a necessary component for sexual passion and for my female character, the "I" in the story, in her mind prior to actually seeing this man there is chemistry, like the strange chemistry you feel in a dream. But confronted with the actual man face to face, she finds that there is no chemistry at all. And to her this lack of chemistry based solely on appearance is a shock that makes her see herself as more masculine than she thought. She views this as shallow. She equates shallowness as a male trait. She is wrong to do so. Shallowness is a universal. So is depth. To any of you who have been offended by the stereotyping in this small saga, I apologize. To the men who identified with the character Cal, I might have hurt your feelings. For this I'm sorry. But I will continue to work on this story on one of my fiction writing blogs.

41 comments:

Amos said...

This too shall pass.

Tengrain said...

I still say knowing yourself is not shallow, it is a strength.

It's the secret behind a lot of great fictional heroines.

Regards,

Tengrain

sunshine said...

Hope that you feel better soon!(((Hugs)))) Laura

Ghost Dansing said...

i thought you and Cal were getting married or something.... end scene

MRMacrum said...

I was not offended. I just thought you were full of shit. Of all the blogs I read, this one is probably the least superficial one. Yes, it can be damn uncomfortable to read. But so what? Not every story, essay, opinion should wrap around us like a warm fuzzy quilt on a cold night. Sometimes facing other's harsh realities and takes can jolt us into thinking about our own.

You assigned shallow as a masculine trait. Well duh. I tend to notice it more in women. That we use our respective genders to help frame our views is normal. Realizing that we do it and understanding that tendency is the key to not living our lives totally in the shallows.

I sometimes skip commenting because well, what is there to say? Constant accolades and back slapping are fine, but they are not my style. I enjoy your writing. I definitely like your no bull shit way of confronting demons. If I come away offended, is that not my problem? I chose to read your words. Keep doing what you do.

Utah Savage said...

MRMcrumm Thank you. I really wrote this for you. I should have said so and linked you. But I value your esteem for my no bullshit writing and I bull shitted us all, myself included. I make a fiction of my life and the blurring from one reality to another is sometimes overlapping. You know I am a fan of your writing but BBC keeps me from commenting sometimes.

I have another piece in this series called "A Reclamation Project." It's about my own experience dressing the men in my life, cutting their hair, buying their hair care porducts, lotions, nose hair clippers, cologne, shoes and socks, boxer briefs. And everyone of these men were grateful for the care and time I lavished on their appearance. I did it for them. I did it for myself. I also worked in the fashion industry. You can't get more superficial than that. We used to joke about the stress and the intensity of the business, but say, "People, relax a little, we aren't preforming Brain Surgery." But before I make my next raid on the thrift store I shop at I'll know what I'm looking for. I will have pieces to add to my wardrobe that represent an updated version of a classic. Classic in the fashion sense. Like Katherine Hepburn classic or Lauren Bacall classic. I read a fashion magazine or two at the beginning of each season. I know what I need to keep my wardrobe passably chic yet easy. I like a bit of metrosexual in men. I like them smart. I like them well informed and handy. I like the smell of them. I may get a meme out of this yet.

Thanks Tengrain for that reminder. Loved the link.

Laura, I will if I'm sensible. Sometmes as you can see, I'm not so sensible.

Ghost sweety do you think I need a husband? I'm of the "three strikes and your out" opinion of marriage. One can infer from the too many marriages that the one with the most marriages is the one who is the worst at it and ought to give it up. Besides that I like the freedom to write when the mood strikes me. Other people tend to find your disinterest in them personal.

pidomon said...

As we all know I am not the deepest basket in the bushel but i was never offended.
(Please forgive me if I ramble)
Whenever I read something as personal as you wrote about you and Cal, ot me it's not about me it's about you/the writer sharing.

And in some way the words you have written about your experience may have (with the help of a crow bar and a lot of WD-40) opened a tiny small microscopic door in me that taking a chance or chances is worth it regardless of the outcome.

thanks Utah

Utah Savage said...

Pidomon, you have just made me sit a little straighter and open my heart a little wider. I feel less sick with every passing minute.

Steve Emery said...

Since you write so much, and I read so little (being slow and far too busy with things I would rather not do) I may have missed somewhere (at the beginning of this episode) that this was fiction. So I took these events and this writing as actual, and commented as such.

Now I read this and I'm a little surprised, and I feel a little naive, I guess. I assume some parts of the story (in the past) are based on actual events, but is all the rest of the tale purely fiction?

Actually, it was Cal's reaction ("Cal Speaks") that didn't seem real to me. It didn't seem a male voice. When I read it I wondered how it came to be written, and wondered if you had written it for him based on things that transpired - things he'd said or implied. Funny - it was the only part of this that seemed like fiction to me. I could probably point out the lines that rang false...

As for offense at the stereotyping - I think stereotypes are like cliches. Some are more sophisticated than others, and you can get away with them in a story - others are blatant oversimplifications and those make fiction "shallow." I think this one is on the border. There is still some mileage to be gotten out of it, but the story would be stronger without it.

Lisa said...

I'm working backward on your posts. I think I'm missing big important chunks that I'll go back to now, but I just wanted to say that I hope you're okay and seriously call me if you want to chat.

Steve Emery said...

Holy cow. I just read your comment over on my blog and boy is my head spinning. So the lines between fact and fiction are more complex than I thought. And what does it say that I didn't read Cal's own words as sounding male to me the first time I read them (the first time, when I thought they were his actual words)? So who's using the stereotypes?

When I keep my mouth (keyboard) silent, I never get into this kind of confusion or embarrassment. When I keep my mouth shut, I seldom learn anything new about myself. Hard to choose.

Utah Savage said...

Steve, hang in there with self-discovery. It's good for you. Keeps us from getting stale, ossified. You are one of the best commenters around. If I can entice you to read and comment I am richly rewarded and learn something about my own writing. I think I often believe people are more complex than they might in fact be. So in my imagination as I work my way into an experience I let my mind embellish the words of another. I make them into the character I want them to be. To serve whatever need is unmet in me. I overlook the signals I should be paying attention to. When a man says he cheap, listen. I heard it twice and twice chose to ignore it. That was a mistake on my part as narrator of my own interior fiction. We all star in our own fictions. We hear what we want. We omit details that might embarrass. We lie in the name of kindness. And so we are inauthentic. We minimize our own flaws to make us feel better or to spare another. Fact or fiction. I suppose to some extent we are all living our own fictions to one degree or another. I'm just living mine more publicly than others. Lisa is a blogger who lives her life out here in the open. Freida too. She has now gone private so I feel a bit more like freak of my own making with one less freakingly real blogger with a life laid open like a patient etherized upon a table to keep me company.

Lisa, you've been busy. I understand. By the time I decide to call you it will be past your bedtime. I look in on you every day. I know that you're burning the candle at both ends. Hows that for a cliche Steve?

The Crow said...

Everything I've read about writing fiction stated the importance of hooking your readers, getting them emotionally involved with your characters or your plot. Doing so was declared good writing.

I certainly bought into your story of rekindled romance (or the expectation of such), so either you are a good writer, or I'm too gullible for my own good.

I may, in fact, be gullible (or naive), but you wrote very convincingly.

Utah Savage said...

Crow, thank you for the comment. I do write fiction from my real life. I think all our material from our real lives is material that can't quite be called "the truth" since it is only our take on an interaction. We cannot know what is in someone else's mind so we make assumptions about their motives and intentions and even if we ask them, they might tell us what they think we want to hear rather than the uncomfortable truth they really feel. So is Cal real or not? Yes, Cal is real. But my fantasy about Cal was not. Cal is not the man I imagined him to be. So my story is a fiction in that sense. But what I wrote about my feelings is real. Confusing isn't it. I'll tell you my truth, but is it an objective truth? Probably not. It is a bit fiction and bit wishful thinking and a story of my ancient past come back to haunt me.

Linda-Sama said...

"my male friends told me that men are more "visually" stimulated than women."

bullshit. I like looking at a good looking man. a man who's not my taste or style, uh, not so much. my hair stylist (actually hair artist and visionary) is a straight Sicilian male who happens to be an ex-stripper (and 42 and a grandfather who stopped dancing at age 40.) yeah, you read it right, ex-exotic dancer with long hair and a hot body I like looking at him. and he gives great shampoos...

feel better, sis!

Utah Savage said...

Ah my sister speaks the raw truth of a lusty vital woman. I like that. Yes, we are sisters Linda.

darkblack said...

Who's offended by an unhappy ending?

;>)

Get well soon.

Suzi Riot said...

While I think honest self reflection and self criticism are important, there is such a thing as being too hard on oneself. You do some pretty cool stuff on this blog and I think your writing is fearless. Take your meds and take care of yourself... the rest of it can wait. :)

Utah Savage said...

Suzi that's the best advise of the day. Thank you for the good idea. I'm going to bed. I have already taken my meds. I'm so glad to hear your strong voice ordering me around. Yes, Dear. I will indeed obey you.

Dusty said...

Hope you feel better soon...like today!

As for males being more stimulated visually than females...that is such a crock of sheep shit. It's not gender based damn it!

Sherry said...

i think you did some great writting and very believable so that is a great talent.

get better soon. it's hard at time to figure out if it's a bout of depression or a bug coming on.

sunshine said...

I think that the only great thing I would have missed out on if I had no siblings would be my nieces and nephews. Who, with the exception of 1 or two .. I love very much.
It might have something to do with that fact that my brother and sisters are quite a bit older than I. We might have more of a parent/child relationship.
I'm actually closer to my husbands family than I am my own.
:)
Laura

Linda-Sama said...

agree with suzi riot -- sis, ya gotta read a book by one of my teachers, Phillips Moffitt, called Dancing With Life....get it!

Linda-Sama said...

Phillip NOT Phillips! :)

Naj said...

lol

For Christ's sake my friend, do you not think that this very post itself is a bit shallow?

;)

Gail said...

This is really good stuff- really good indeed. I was hooked, in for the long haul, still am.

And as far as men being stimulated more than women by the 'visual? Hah!!

I am SO visual, so much so that I require details of what I can't see that he is seeing - use your imagination on that one!! :-)

Keep on keeping on....

Love Gail
peace.....

giggles said...

Well, dear.... I am gullible (Capitol "G" is emblazened on my forwhead....there...can you see it?!) Ansd I admitted to Pido, when he was feeling down for not getting the fiction of your story, that I bought the whole thing....hook, line and sinker....
Rather than all of readers being hard on ourselves for being so dumb, I would rather support your great writing skills! ....It was compelling reading.... You got us all rooting for your two heroes....believing you all the way....good shit!

giggles said...

Oooooooooooooops.... My previous post posted before I got a chance to proofread...forgive the typos....

And PS... Thanks for following me.... although I will never be able to fill your shoes or meet your expectations....

Comrade Kevin said...

You're right to be concerned because physical illness is common with bipolar because your immune system is so weakened.

You didn't offend me with what you wrote. I guess it's because I tried SO HARD not to be the shallow guy that when I'm reminded of it, it makes me wish that one-sided conception ends up being used so quickly in stereotype.

Utah Savage said...

Naj, you might be right, but would you mind elaborating?

Giggles, Pido, I hate to hear you refer to yourself as gullible. This makes it sound like you've been tricked and feel like the suspension of disbelief is a failing on your part.

I base all fiction on my life experiences or close observation of others. I don't have a crack team of researchers to tell me what it's like for a female climbing her way up the corporate ladder in a Fortune 500 Co, that's caught in the sleaze that brings her company down. This is a world I'll have to let other's tell. I tell my own stories, but even writing about my real life is only my fiction of my real life. I cannot be objective. So it's the view from my eyes. It's the longings of my heart and other bits that lead me to suspend my own good instincts and allow myself to miss all the clues that this man is not the right man for me and that rather than be angry with the man, I am angry with myself for missing what was so clearly there in the small comments we hear and don't absorb because we don't want to.

La Belette Rouge said...

This post and your writing make me feel like I should never take breaks from the blogosphere.

I do find that after creative periods I can feel a little empty and angst filled. I try to identify that as land lying fallow and try not get to freaked out about it.

As you know I had a hard week last week due to the rejection and I noticed that three times last week I forgot to take my Vitamin W and I wonder about the chicken/egg in that memory mishap.

Now, I have some catching up to do. I clearly have to read the post that could be offensive. That sounds like fun!;-)

Take good care of your sweet self.
xoxo

Utah Savage said...

Dear Belette Rouge, I completely understand. And I empathize. You have so many fans who want your attention, I'm greatly honored you find time for me. Now, back away from the Captain Crunch. It's time to write some fiction.

kathleenmaher said...

I wrote a scenario too personal, and full of stereotypes that really did alienate some of my male readers.

Well, yeah, that happens. No need to apologize. Think of all the men, many quite justly lauded among the pantheon of all-time great writers, who have won accolades for their stereotypes of women.

Not that two wrongs make a right: I'm not saying that. But when writing, give yourself a lot of leeway. And if your writing alienates some people? It means you're working the edge.

Creative work, for me and a few others I know, is always a marathon. Expect to feel exhausted and drained. After the race, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and rest as long as necessary. Because that next go-round is gonna be waiting for you the minute you feel as if you can raise your head.

Utah Savage said...

Thank you Kathleen, that is exactly what I needed to hear. You hate to disappoint your friends, but sometimes you just can't help it.

susan said...

In the post where you said, 'Cal is here', I went through your blog roll to see if I could find which one of your commenters he might possibly be. None of them fit the bill since all were far too sophisticated to be the somewhat sheltered and naive man you were describing. How, I wondered, could the refined woman I know as Utah Savage talk herself into a fantasy involving callow Cal? (nice hint there). She is urbane, cultured, refined, intelligent and ultimately, skeptical. What could the answer be but that she's written a brilliant fiction about how easily we can deceive ourselves ?

I was captivated. I also understand the need to decompress. Please take good care of yourself.

Utah Savage said...

Susan, he is here. And I can protect him only so much. Since I now must write this story as the fairy tale and comedy of errors it is. How could I not. I will give Cal a different name, and change some details. But it will be the story I have told here only in greater detail.

susan said...

You are an extraordinary woman. As Socrates said, 'The unexamined life is not worth living'. I have examined mine but I'm not so brave as you.

Utah Savage said...

Susan, there is a fine line between brave and careless. I blurt it all out and often have to apologize for offending someone or thinking I might. I live my life here. Out in the open like this was real life. It might seem courageous but it's the only way I can say what I want to say and still I self censor to keep from being cruel. It's only in fiction that the censor vanishes. Yet all my fiction is based in my reality. Yet I'm sure there isn't a character in my fiction who would think I deal with them fairly.

Husband number 3 was a terrific writer of short stories and all the years we were together he wrote about me. I hated the way he portrayed me. I would have called his portrayal of me dishonest. It was his truth.

Naj said...

Utah,

elaborating? well ... I think I somehow elaborated 'elsewhere' that "honesty can be the shelter of cowardice" and that it serves to liberate one of guilt.

I don't find being repulsed by an odor, a physiognomy, a tactlessness shallow. I also don't find the expression of a disappointment shallow. But, I cannot find any depth in indulging in one's particular reaction to a particular circumstance, even if that indulgence might manifest itself as self-hatred. To me, apologizing or explaining one's shallowness seems like an attention seeking exercise.

And this is perhaps why I am inclined to think 'Cal' (the character or the real man) might be richer (in an intellectual way) than he CARES to reveal. I personally find introverts to be deep people!

Utah Savage said...

Being an introvert I agree with you Naj. I can see that one might see me as an extrovert here, I am deeply introverted in my real life. So a public exhibitionist and a private introvert. I could take to reading again and stop the posts that cause me to feel the need to apologizes to someone for hurting their feelings. I'm a bit of a knee-jerk apologist. It's something to work on. I feel always in the wrong. Or flying high and not caring much about the consequences. A gentle balance would be nice for awhile.

Naj said...

Actually, you don't seem like an extroverted at ALL.

You feel to me like a write, a little teasing, seeking stories from our reactions, and then feeling bad about manipulating your sweet readers? ;)

Anyways, you write well! I read all of your work as fiction. Whether it is your reality or not doesn't make a difference to me; I enjoy the words, pictures your paint and etc!