Friday, June 30, 2017

Like a Nightingale Without a Song to Sing...

I'd say that I have spring fever, but I know it isn't spring.
Good morning!

It's been a while since I posted, and while I may go back and fill in some of those blank spots with some fun stuff, I thought perhaps it was time for a bit of a catching up.

June was...well, a really weird month. I think the early half of the year, with all the drama and trauma -- puppy rescue, writing conference, spills down hillsides, crazy deadlines -- caught up with me, and BOOM. I was visiting the doctor on a follow-up to the back injury and when they took my blood pressure it was high. Rather alarmingly high. In a way it hasn't been for years and years. Not since I walked away from being an evil corporate overlord with a huge corner office and the daily tirades/conference calls to go with it.

Nor did my pressure get better when the nurse cried, "Jesus Christ!!" and then took it three more times in a row. In fact, it continued to climb. (Unsurprisingly, IMHO.)

Anyway, the doctor and I had a chat and I confessed that my anxiety is sort of -- well, totally -- out of control. About things both great and small. For example, Marlowe the Mutt had his little doggie surgery the day before my doctor's appointment, and I was convinced he was going to die during the surgery. Which is just weird. I've had many dogs and a lot of them have had much, much serious medical emergencies than a routine neutering, and I always assumed the dog would be fine. And usually the dog WAS fine.

And Marlowe was fine too.

You've got me...who's got YOU?
It was not instinct or premonition. It was simply out-of-control anxiety. And I'm only partly kidding when I say I blame a lot of it on world events. I think the fact that a country like ours could elect someone like der Trump -- however or why ever it happened-- to the highest office in the land has really shaken my faith in my fellow Americans' commonsense and decency. It has shaken my faith that things usually turn out okay in the end. (Not that this is the end, and not that I want to get political, but this is the reality: our blimp is on fire and a vulgar, pathologically neurotic,  buffoonish madman is at the helm. Personally, I think anxiety is the reasonable and normal response.)

So the doctor and I chatted, with the end result that he prescribed Xanax. I dutifully filled the prescription, but did not take it. What I'm doing, what I've been doing for the past few weeks, is just...resting. Staying off line. Avoiding the news. Reading for Mr. and Mrs. Murder (the non-fiction book on pre-1960s husband and wife sleuthing teams the SO and I have contracted with McFarland), walking and swimming and even occasionally napping. I'm consciously working to Calm the Hell Down.

And I am calmer. I'm answering email again--slowly--and getting ready to write once more (next up BLIND SIDE: DANGEROUS GROUND 6). I've lost weight, I'm sleeping better, my blood pressure is down--oh, and my puppy is healthy and happy, although he has taken to barking at the SO when he tries to enter the boudoir at night.

I've been thinking a lot about happiness. What does it really mean? Am I happy? If you're not UNhappy are you, by default, happy? And if you have time to wonder whether you're happy or not, doesn't it indicate you're too damned pampered and should be sent to the nearest work camp? What about Joy? What's the difference between happiness and joy? Does it matter outside of deciding which to use in a sentence? If I decided I didn't want to keep writing, what else might I do? Should I have kept teaching? And on it goes. I've been thinking about the future. The SO and I live a comfortable life--but we have very little saved for the future OR for the kind of medical emergency that used to destroy families -- and soon will again, if things continue the way they're going. Who knew old age was a preexisting condition!?

I mean, on the other hand, this is how it's always been for writers. Since when did I need or want a safety net?

Anyway, aside from a surplus of thinky-thoughts, everything is okay. I'm avoiding making new commitments though. I'm not making any promises and I'm not creating pre-orders beyond those already existing. Personally and professionally, I'm just taking things one day at a time.

So that was June. Half the year gone, baby, gone. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the rest of 2017.

What about you? What do you think? Is the year going the way you thought? Better? Worse? Sideways?


  1. Anxiety at this times is for me too the more natural attitude.

    War, hunger, hate, racism and greed. Sleep is often not in the same room as I.
    Here in Germany they take many things, which we always thought were granted, away in very little steps, but the do it.
    As I was a kid, you could land on the streets, but you had to doing your part to land there.
    Now it's not so difficult anymore. When you are alone, no family or friends it's easy to get lost in our system. They offer help not necessarily, you have to claim and fight for the help. For many people a tough thing.
    I have done what I could for our living past work. But if that all failed I should go and mark a nice place under a beautiful bridge for us.

    Meanwhile I try to have hours in which I don’t think about the problems of our world, try not to think about the increasing stress at my work, try not to think about my health, which is not so unflappable anymore.
    I can get lost in stories and that helps a lot. And for many of these stories I say thank you to you.

  2. When I feel a bit put out, I like to snuggle with my catnip mouse. On particularly trying days I chew off a bit of its tail.
    Sometimes, Miss Butterwith gives me an extra kipper for tea.
    Find your happy things that bring you joy.
    Or you could just be a cat.

  3. Dear Josh,
    So glad to hear from you. I can appreciate everything you said about stress, the state of our country etc. I do not watch the news anymore and I am careful how I spend my time. In short, I am trying to take care of myself and I am glad that you are doing the same. I am so thankful for all of your books. Your writing is so good and your intelligence and humor shine. I thank you for introducing me to Rufus Wainwright! And while I am anxious for new books to come out, I think many of your devoted fans want you to take care of yourself. I just keep rereading your books and listen to them on tape and I am happy.
    Thank you. I feel you have given me a gift.

  4. Taking a time out of the world really does help, I had planned on that when Fred left to catch his halibut quota. The cat totally blew that out of the water with his 24 hour disappearance stunt.The seven years that we have had him, he has NEVER done that. He has always come when I have called him. So 18 hours of searching the ditches for a furry body does not lower the stress level. I find that regrouping is needed with the way things are now. We need to take care of our selfs and each other, show kindness even when it hard <3

  5. You ask me:
    What is the greatest happiness on earth?
    Two things:
    changing my mind
    as I change a penny for a shilling;
    listening to the sound
    of a young girl
    singing down the road
    after she has asked me the way."

    (с) Christopher Logue

  6. So glad you've got it under control J and you're feeling healthier. You've dealt heroically with so much pressure. Its great that you're taking it a bit easier. Life is just a bastard too often, when it comes right down to it. Sending you all the love XXX

  7. I'm sorry, but not surprised, that you are experiencing anxiety as a result of what is happening in the US because you are a good man and all good men must be concerned and, frankly, appalled. Take good care of yourself and all you love, and know that you have gifted us all with amazing, warm and wonderful stories that have brightened the lives of more people than you can ever know. Thank you.

  8. This is one of the worst years of my life. My husband, Don, passed away on March 11 after years of struggling with pain and slowly losing his bright mind. My Mom is slowly declining, I don't except her to live much longer. My job is crap and stress. I no longer have anything holding me the life I had built with Don except the little, beloved cats that he so loved. Fighting to find myself again but can't seem to find the energy or desire. I don't write any more nor take pictures anymore. Just sleep a lot, go to work, and dream of moving to Wyoming.
    As for the rest of world, going to hell in a hand basket.
    I think I might be depressed. Need to shake if off, get back into the mix. Maybe tomorrow...
    Your long time fan,

  9. I'm very glad things are improving, moving in the right direction. It's good to sometimes take a bit of time off and just be, and do things that bring you joy. <3

  10. Hear, hear on everything you said. And I'm fresh out of uni. Sometimes though life feels like such an ordeal that I wonder what do we live for in the end ... Hopefully things will change soon. I wish you the best , to continue relaxing and taking things slow and maybe you 'll figure out it was just few turmoiled months. Or maybe you really needed to actually relax and do nothing to find the will to function again.

  11. You're not alone.

    I'm sure happiness is a thing. However, I aspire to contentedness--that feeling that all is as it should be in my little world, which is all I can control.

  12. Taking care of yourself should always be a top priority yet for so many of us it somehow is the first thing to go. I've had a really rough time of it the last two years; multiple family losses, financial security threaten, and both physical and mental health issues... And it has been only recently that I've relearned the importance of self care. So put yourself first and let the rest sort itself out for awhile.

  13. Glad to hear you got your stress under control w/o the drugs, I also tend to avoid the news when I need a break.
    Reading is one of the things that calms me, which is why I'm trying to STRETCH out my reading of TMM's....So GOOD! (THX btw for issuing the PB)
    Having a pet is also SUPPOSED to lower BP? Hmmmmm...