Bruce Garrett Cartoon
The Cartoon Gallery

A Coming Out Story
A Coming Out Story

My Photo Galleries
New and Improved!

Past Web Logs
The Story So Far archives

My Amazon.Com Wish List

My Myspace Profile

Bruce Garrett's Profile
Bruce Garrett's Facebook profile


Blogs I Read!
Alicublog

Wayne Besen

Box Turtle Bulletin

Daily Kos

Mike Daisy's Blog

The Disney Blog

Disney Gossip

Brad DeLong

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

Envisioning The American Dream

Eschaton

Ex-Gay Watch

Hullabaloo

Joe. My. God

Made In Brazil

Peterson Toscano

Progress City USA

Slacktivist

Slacktiverse

SLOG

Fear the wrath of Sparky!

Truth Wins Out Blog

Wil Wheaton



Gone But Not Forgotten

The Rittenhouse Review

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site



Great Cartoon Sites!

Howard Cruse Central

Tripping Over You
Tripping Over You

XKCD

Commando Cody Monthly

Scandinavia And The World

Dope Rider

The World Of Kirk Anderson

Ann Telnaes' Cartoon Site

Bors Blog

John K

Penny Arcade




Other News & Commentary

Amtrak In The Heartland

Corridor Capital

Railway Age

Maryland Weather Blog

Foot's Forecast

All Facts & Opinions

Baltimore Crime

Cursor

HinesSight

Page One Q
(GLBT News)


Michelangelo Signorile

The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo

Truth Wins Out

The Raw Story

Slashdot




International News & Views

BBC

NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)

Mexico Daily

The Local (Sweden)




News & Views from Germany

Spiegel Online

The Local

Deutsche Welle

Young Germany




Fun Stuff

It's not news. It's FARK

Plan 59

Pleasant Family Shopping

Discount Stores of the 60s

Retrospace

Photos of the Forgotten

Boom-Pop!

Comics With Problems

HMK Mystery Streams




Mercedes Love!

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz TV

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America

MBCA - Greater Washington Section

BenzInsider

Mercedes-Benz Blog

BenzWorld Forum

June 16th, 2016

We Sought Shelter From The Storm, And Gathered Within, We Discovered Ourselves…

Dan Savage...

dan_savage_queer_bars

What I found in Paradise—what I found at Sidetrack, Little Jim’s, the Loading Dock, Berlin, Christopher Street—was the truth. It was a truth my parents, my church, the media, and the medical establishment all conspired to hide from me. I had been told that being gay meant being alone, that being homosexual meant being miserable, that being queer meant being loveless, friendless, and joyless.

Then I walked into a gay bar where I saw men with their friends and men with their lovers. I saw men dancing and I saw men laughing. I found a community that I had been told didn’t exist. I found love, I lost love, and I found love again.

My discovery of this truth wasn’t in the bar scene. Being raised in a Baptist household I had an ingrained reluctance to walk into a bar that lasted well into middle age. But my first Pride Day festival in Washington D.C. (I grew up in the D.C. suburbs), in 1977 on the street where Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore was first located, was a joy and a revelation. Later I found it in the first primitive computer bulletin board systems and FidoNet, the world wide computer network created by amature computer geeks before the Internet was opened to commercial use.

Before that first Pride Day, and the books and newspapers I found at Lambda Rising, everything I knew about gay people and what it was to be gay I had learned from the pop culture I’d grown up in, the vantage point of the heterosexual majority. It was like listening in to people talking past me, about me. A conversation that was about me but very little of it spoke to me. It’s hard to not think of yourself as some sort of damaged goods or tragic mistake of nature, even if logically you know that isn’t true, when that’s all you’re hearing about you from every direction. What I saw at that Pride Day, and later on the first BBSs was that we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore. We could see each other. We could see ourselves. Finally.

And that’s why those spaces were so important, and still are. We needed to be able to do that, to see ourselves as we are, as people, before others could see us as we are too, past the myths, lies and stereotypes. So we could be people. So we could be Neighbors.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Sought Shelter From The Storm, And Gathered Within, We Discovered Ourselves…

June 4th, 2016

Freedom

“I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me,” the 35-year-old singer wrote in a letter to his fans that was first published by Religion News Service on Tuesday. “But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”

-Trey Pearson Christian musician comes out, in moving letter to fans  

I have seen so much of this in my life, heard so many stories like this and not only from the Evangelicals. And it is heartbreaking, not only for the pain caused to the gay person, their spouses, their children, and their families, but also for the abuse toward him that you just know is coming. And it makes me more angry than I can describe to know many of those who will now begin hurling that abuse at him, and at anyone willing to stand with him, were active participants in building and nurturing the environment of hate that led him and so many others like him to see marriage as a cure, or at least a refuge. But I suppose they do it so they don’t have to see the the bottomless pit of guilt and shame waiting for them at the end of Pretense Road.

Here’s the full letter from Trey Pearson to his fans and friends:

To my fans and friends:

Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are.

These last several months have been the hardest – but have also ended up being the most freeing months – of my life.

To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.

I grew up in a very conservative Christian home where I was taught that my sexual orientation was a matter of choice, and had put all my faith into that. I had never before admitted to myself that I was gay, let alone to anyone else. I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence. I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.

I had always romanticized the idea of falling in love with a woman; and having a family had always been my dream. In many ways, that dream has come true. But I have also come to realize a lot of time has passed in my life pushing away, blocking out and not dealing with real feelings going on inside of me. I have tried not to be gay for more than 20 years of my life. I found so much comfort as a teen in 1 Samuel 18-20 and the intimacy of Jonathan and David. I thought and hoped that such male intimacy could fulfill that void I felt in my desire for male companionship. I always thought if I could find these intimate friendships, then that would be enough.

Then I thought everything would come naturally on my wedding night. I honestly had never even made out with a girl before I got married. Of course, it felt anything but natural for me. Trying not to be gay, has only led to a desire for intimacy in friendships which pushed friends away, and it has resulted in a marriage where I couldn’t love or satisfy my wife in a way that she needed. Still, I tried to convince myself that this was what God wanted and that this would work. I thought all of those other feelings would stay away if I could just do this right.

When Lauren and I got married, I committed to loving her to the best of my ability, and I had the full intention of spending the rest of my life with her. Despite our best efforts, however, I have come to accept that there is nothing that is going to change who I am.

I have intensely mixed feelings about the changes that have resulted in my life. While I regret the way I was taught to handle this growing up, how much it has hurt me and the unintentional pain I have brought Lauren, I wouldn’t have the friendship I now have with her, and we wouldn’t have our two amazing, beautiful children. But if I keep trying to push this down it will end up hurting her even more.

I am never going to be able to change how I am, and no matter how healthy our relationship becomes, it’s never going to change what I know deep down: that I am gay. Lauren has been the most supportive, understanding, loving and gracious person I could ever ask for, as I have come to face this. And now I am trying to figure out how to co-parent while being her friend, and how to raise our children.

I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other gay people before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me how I am until I could come to terms with it first.

I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.
In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me. It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people. This is a part of who I am.

I hope people will hear my heart, and that I will still be loved. I’m still the same guy, with the same heart, who wants to love God and love people with everything I have. This is a part of me I have come to be able to accept, and now it is a part of me that you know as well. I trust God to help love do the rest.

– Trey

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Freedom

April 23rd, 2016

Little Red Corvette

Of all the commercial tributes to Prince, this IMO is the best…

GM_Tribute_To_Prince

 

Note that they didn’t put one of their current models in it, as if it were nothing more than cheap advertising. Look closely at that back window. Only one year had that split rear window and it was the first year of the new Stingray body style. That 1963 Corvette is legendary and highly prized by collectors. Check the prices they fetch when in good condition.

A neighbor in an apartment complex mom and I lived in bought a ’63 Vette…but not the coupe. His was a yellow convertible with chrome side exhaust (“lake”) pipes and mag wheels and I lusted after that car, as only a tween-age boy whose bedroom was full of model cars and hot rod magazines could. I knew the sound of it, and every time I heard that engine come to life I was out on the balcony like a shot, just to stand and watch it pull away, and arrogantly take charge of the the road.

The pleasures of adulthood are richer, but in their complexity not as pure. Little Red Corvette  expresses it perfectly. I guess I should’ve closed my eyes, when you drove me to the place where your horses run free,  ’cause I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures of the jockeys that were there before me…  I was much too young to have understood what Prince was singing about back in those days. But every time I hear that song it takes me back to that first early boyhood thrill at the sight of power and beauty combined.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Little Red Corvette

March 12th, 2016

Trust

Madam Calico and me hanging out on the front porch.

madam-calico-and-me-sm

It’s taken me five or six years to gain this level of trust out of her.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trust

March 8th, 2016

Cost Is Relative

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So my last vacation day I went to the Brown Derby to hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

 

brown derby

I love this place. Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite theme parks for the way part of it tries to be like the Hollywood of the 1930s/40s. I love the art deco main street, at the end of which is a reproduction of the last of the three Brown Derby incarnations. You walk in and you feel like you’re there. Well…except for all the other guests making it painfully obvious this isn’t 1930s Hollywood.

It took almost 45 years for my first high school crush and I to have our breakup fight. The advantage to waiting so long is at this age I can handle the emotional swings of it better, plus having some real life experience under your belt gives you better aim when you’re throwing shit back in someone’s face. So for this special occasion I went and ordered the Good Steak…

kobe beef dinner

You’re looking there at the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had, or ever will have, because it’s not bloody likely I’m ever spending that kind of money again on dining out. (100+) But as it was a special occasion it was worth it. How does a steak dinner get so expensive? Simple. You add the 25 dollar Kobe beef option to the already expensive Brown Derby steak dinner.

It was Delicious! Everyone should have steak this good once in their lives. Well…if you eat meat anyway…

It was almost exactly when my server set this down in front of me my phone buzzed and I saw I got another lying harangue from das Submissive complaining about how unruly I am, (just for you hon!) and that we shouldn’t speak anymore because a closet needs peace and quiet. Time was I’d have canceled my vacation and gone back home in tears. This time I settled down to a nice steak dinner.

“Corpse food”…I think the vegetarians call it.   Yes.   Quite.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cost Is Relative

February 29th, 2016

Dreams…

I just woke up from what was probably the most wonderful dream I’ve ever had. And no, I wasn’t having sex. Actually, since I hit 30 I’ve almost never had dream sex,

I was asked out on a date. That’s never happened to me in real life. Never. I’ve always had to be the one who asked. And usually I got the you’re a nice guy Bruce but it just wouldn’t work answer back.

I won’t go into the details, but me and the object of my affections were both teenagers in this dream, and he was someone I was madly crushing on (and still am…but I said I wouldn’t go into details…). What made the dream even more enchanting was some fairly old fashioned family members were watching all this go down and gave me a signal they approved of the nice boy asking me out, once they’d had a chance to size him up.

It was like a slice of life from a better world, a better life. I woke up feeling Wonderful.

I’m 62, going on 63 now. I’ve had my three strikes. I know it will never be. I think this must be how acceptance feels. I’m okay with the dream I just had. Better than okay. Some dreams don’t have to come true after all. They can just be dreams.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dreams…

January 25th, 2016

Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think

This came across my Facebook steam this morning, and managed to re-ignite an anger I try very hard to keep contained…

Celibacy at Gay Christian Network: What’s that all about?

It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…

On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…

…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!

And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.

Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life.  

And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think

October 12th, 2015

Without Compromise

without compromise

“If we took just five minutes to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences—that’s not hard, it’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives. Then again, it can be the hardest thing—because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. And I know many of you have struggled with this, and I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know.

“And I am here today because I am gay. And because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly, because I’m tired of hiding. And I’m tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of that pain. And I am young, yes. But what I have learned is that love—the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it—is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame, and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are.

 

Full text of her speech at The Human Rights Foundation conference Here.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Without Compromise

October 4th, 2015

Living Honestly

This came across my Facebook stream yesterday…

Vatican Theologian Confesses: “I’m Happy to Be Gay and I Have a Partner”

“There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on. If I had been alone I would have lived the nightmare of a denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone. And I think He has helped me take this important existential step. It’s important because of its consequences, but it’s also the premise for living honestly, which should be natural for every homosexual.”

There are times you wonder if the reason we can’t be allowed to live our lives honestly is because some people hate seeing in others what they cannot manage for themselves.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Living Honestly

May 25th, 2015

My Poor City…

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

sbc_gay_son

“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he [pastor Danny Cortez]  explained. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”

Well good luck with that. Your congregation, save for the few who’ve decided to walk out on it for your loving your son more than the Southern Baptist Convention, understands. And something Baptists understand, if not the SBC, is the local congregation is the community that matters when it comes to church business.

The convention’s Constitution states that “churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

Homosexual behavior.  Homosexual behavior.  Homosexual behavior. That same-sex couples experience a wholeness of body and soul, love and desire, completely escapes them. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  That really is the thinking here. They are utterly incapable of seeing the son for the homosexual, the father for the Endorser Of Homosexual Behavior, the congregation for the Church Not In Cooperation.

Cortez’s letter comes just days before the the Southern Baptist Convention could vote to exclude New Heart Community Church at its scheduled in Baltimore later this week.

My poor city. Hasn’t it had enough bad publicity?  I can see it now…The Southern Baptist Convention votes to exclude yet another Baptist church for being hospitable to its gay family and neighbors…in a state whose citizens voted For allow same-sex marriage…just days after Ireland did the same…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on My Poor City…

March 3rd, 2015

Beauty Is Only Heart Deep (To Whom It May Concern)…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

beautiful young heart

What is doubly so dehumanizing about “people who look like that want people who look like that”: it not only denies the humanity of the person you are calling ugly, it is denying that humanity to the person you think is more beautiful than they are.

But of course, it depends doesn’t it, on what it is you think people “want”.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beauty Is Only Heart Deep (To Whom It May Concern)…

September 30th, 2014

Gaining A Body, While Losing A Heart

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…

Another Year of Decline for U.S. United Methodists

Unfortunately, 2013’s picture is no different from previous years: the vast majority of annual conferences are in a membership and attendance decline.

This is written from a religious conservative point of view, so it’s unsurprising they see the decline of the progressive churches in the denomination as validation of their stand against the homosexual menace. But look closer, at what the self assured fail to see right in front of their noses…

It’s hard not to look at the list of fastest declining annual conferences in light of the continuing debates over Scriptural authority and sexual morality within the United Methodist Church. Of the 16 fast-declining conferences listed above (excluding Rio Grande’s unusual circumstances), at least 12 have passed resolutions at recent annual conference sessions stating their support of the LGBTQ movement, and another (Alaska) belongs to a jurisdiction that has done the same. Meanwhile large and growing UM annual conferences have overwhelmingly rejected such resolutions.

And there it is…“passed resolutions”.  Oh they did, did they?  Yes, and that’s all those churches Could do for their LGBT members and their families and friends…pass resolutions.  They can’t marry the same-sex couples within them. They can’t allow their gay members to fully participate in church life. So the people of conscience in them are leaving. But note that this isn’t conservatives leaving liberal congregations, that’s people leaving Methodism because they can’t in good conscience stay.

Yes, yes…some conservatives in those churches may also be moving to other congregations more in tune with their bar stool prejudices, but that can’t explain the numbers you see there. What’s happening is people in more liberal parts of the country are leaving the denomination itself.  And it goes further…

“Nones” on the Rise

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

That’s an article from October 2012, but more recent Pew polling finds the trend continuing. Look here…

…many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.

With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are  not  looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics…

And over and over again what you see triggering this abandoning of organized religion is distress over the way churches are treating women and gay people. And in denominations structured in a rigid top down hierarchy, that distress is going to be most pronounced in the progressive congregations that can do nothing except utter polite words of protest. Unlike denominations such as Baptists (I was raised in a Baptist household), they can do nothing other than appeal to the conscience of the powers that be. But that tomb is sealed. Or…they can walk out the door.  And maybe just keep going.  But for people raised in those churches, that can be a horribly traumatic experience. Like the wounded survivors of a bitter divorce, they’re deeply reluctant to go back to the altar.  More and more people, especially young people, seeing the cheapshit prejudices of their neighbors being cloaked in and even validated by their religions, find themselves not only on the other side of the church door, but questioning the whole christianity/religion thing.

So there is an overall decline in religiosity happening now in America and the west, even as the conservative churches gain membership. That isn’t growth, it’s hardening of the arteries.  Of course the more conservative churches are holding onto, or even growing membership: they’re fine with the law the hierarchy is laying down on those matters.  Some of the commenters in that article above seem to realize this and they’re fine with that. They want the progressives out. They may get their wish. But the ones that go, whether they remain Christians or not, will eventually find there is a richer, more deeply spiritual life to be lived out in the world, than inside a tomb.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Gaining A Body, While Losing A Heart

September 24th, 2014

Let’s Be Real…

Native American poet and author Sherman Alexie (Reservation Blues, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven)  tweeted this earlier today…

@Sherman_Alexie: When someone says “Don’t overthink things” they mean “I’m worried that my entire life is a lie.”

Not sure what happened to him to make him make that observation, but I know what happened to me.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Let’s Be Real…

September 22nd, 2014

Insomnia TV Theater

I popped awake around 3am this morning and eventually wandered downstairs and flipped on the TV.  God I love MeTV.  Some of the old shows I used to watch as a kid I never really got when I was that young.  One of those was Route 66, which is just amazing to watch now that I’m older and been around the block a few times.

This morning’s episode was titled “Love Is A Skinny Kid”, which is from a line of dialogue that will probably haunt me to my grave.  Buz and Tod find themselves in a small Texas town when a young woman wearing a very disturbing Japanese Kabuki mask gets off a bus. She burns a doll on a stake in front of someone’s house, and a crowd gathers and the local sheriff takes her into custody. Then the following exchange happens between Buz and Tod…

Buz: I can still smell it.

Tod: Mm-hm.

Buz: No, I mean the hate. That girl — she hates so hard it came right through the mask. You know what I mean?

Tod: No, I’m not sure I do.

Buz: I guess you gotta be around it the way I used to be. It’s like … malaria. One sniff of it, it comes right back. You can forget anything, except … hate.

Tod: What about the little item that makes the world go ’round?

Buz: Love? Love’s a … a skinny kid, that can catch cold and die, from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in. But hate … now that’s a tiger in the hall. Hot or cold, it busts in, chomps out a piece. And it never grows back.

Wow… Just…wow…  Some of those early TV shows had some amazing writers working for them. And actors. That episode, in addition to regulars Martin Milner and George Maharis, also had  Burt Reynolds, Tuesday Weld, Veronica Cartwright and Cloris Leachman in it. All of them gave amazing performances.  But the writing…I never really appreciated it…couldn’t have back when I was a kid. That line,  Love’s a skinny kid that can catch cold and die from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in…But hate…  It will haunt me forever.

skinny kid mask

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Insomnia TV Theater

August 12th, 2014

Depression, Madness, And Those Of Us Who Slip Between The Fingers Of Concern

It’s not often another story of celebrity death makes me feel like the floor went out from under me, but that’s what news of Robin William’s death by suicide did.  I was heartbroken in that instant, as were a lot of people. The word “celebrity” demeans someone like him. He was an artist, an actor, a tremendous creative talent. He could be the gifted stage comic, the manic genie in Disney’s Aladdin, and then you look and he’s the evil Walter Finch in Insomnia, and then you look again and he’s John Keating in Dead Poets Society, and then you look again and he’s Peter Pan.

Williams it seems, was battling depression.  I follow a bunch of very talented and creative people on Facebook and Twitter who are also battling depression. That’s, the clinical depression, which is a thing unlike those bouts of sadness and loneliness and loss we all face at one time or another in our lives. It’s a thing, a real medical clinical thing. People who experience it speak of it as a gray cloud that hangs over everything and never goes away. They say it sucks the energy and joy out of everything.  I have had my moments of grief, I’ve had it so bad I’ve stood at the threshold of suicide myself many times. But it’s never been like that. And what comforts me as I walk into old age and I find myself standing at that threshold once again is I’ve seen the darkness come and go over and over and over again and I know from experience that sooner or later It Will Go Away, and I just have to keep walking through it.  So I am told, it’s not like that when you have clinical depression.  For those folks, that gray cloud never goes away, at least not without medication. I know I can always count on time making mine go away.  But I also know how easy it is for people like me to lose our balance, and fall into a pit we may or may not get back out of in time.

The writer David Gerrold wrote this on Facebook the other day…

I don’t know the details of what Robin Williams was dealing with and I won’t speculate.

I do know that when you have a mind that works that fast and makes that kind of connections, flashing from moment to moment, assembling new pieces out of fragments of old experiences, it’s exhausting.

Sometimes my mind does that, all the circuits firing at once, and it shows up in stories — and leaves me emotionally drained, sometimes for days. It’s hard to live inside a brain that active. (And no, I’m not comparing myself to Williams, I’m only noticing my own experiences and extrapolating from there.)

He gets it. Whenever someone so creative and talented kills themselves, you will always hear a bunch of people saying, to the effect, that madness and genius go hand in hand.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate hearing that.  I’m not about to wrap myself in the robes of ‘genius’ by any means.  I don’t even like the concept of a single measure of intelligence.  I think there are a lot of different kinds of intelligence.  And I always flinch at calling myself an artist.  But I am.  There are many kinds of artist too.  Some of us paint and draw.  Some of us do photography, or music, or act.  We are writers and poets.  Some of us pursue the engineering arts. And it isn’t madness we have, it’s brains that contain a whirlwind…flashes of insight, connections, moment to moment, all firing at once.  Constantly.  Someone on Facebook I follow posted a graphic with the message on it that, (recalling it from memory) to understand how having a creative mind feels, imagine you’re a browser and you have 2,868 tabs open all at once.

Williams had that.  He had to given that amazing, wonderful ability he had to mentally jump from one random connection to the next on stage So Quickly.  He had to have that whirlwind going on inside. You could see it. It just delighted you.  And you could see it delighting him even as he was doing it.  It’s not madness, it’s art. I don’t know that this necessarily makes you unstable, but I know from my own experience how vulnerable it can leave you if you don’t have something to anchor you, something…someone…to always bring you back home.

For the artist depression has to be an even bigger hazard, one that multiplies the risk you already have of losing your balance if you’ve already got those 2,868 tabs open.  I’ve never had that overarching clinical depression, so I wouldn’t know. All I’ve ever been is sad. Just…very very sad. But I know what it’s like living with a furious mental cascade that just won’t stop unless you apply some chemical brakes and getting lost in it is oh so easy and losing your balance…maybe it was sadness, maybe it was some sudden crisis that came out of nowhere…and then the whirlwind in your mind throws you into a place you may or may not make it back out of.

This is why a lot of us end up not as suicides but as overdoses. The lucky ones have that anchor. Others, too afraid of the overdose or blessed like me with bodies too timid to handle a lot of drugs without getting violently sick long before the overdose can even get close, dive into their work as a substitute for the anchor, the home, the place of rest. I know how that is too. But when work becomes less a passion and more a crutch then it can have the same effect as drugs in that it allows you to deny and ignore the central problem in your life until that one moment when the crutch can’t bear the weight and it snaps and there you are and you’re on your way to the bottom of a pit and you can’t stop falling.

Bunch of highly talented and creative people I follow who’ve been open about their fight with clinical depression, are feeling very sad now for Williams, but also afraid for themselves. If he lost the fight, then what chance do I have?   They need to be told the are loved, and cherished, and not alone in their fight.  I’m afraid of a different thing. I don’t have a fight with depression. I have a fight with a hoary old stereotype about artists and madness that I am convinced is getting  a lot of us killed too. You can call what our brains do to us madness I suppose, but it adds a little something to the world, and the thing is, we don’t have to get lost in it.  We just don’t.  The problem is people seem to think we’re supposed to. It’s part of the deal.

The shooting star. The one who lived so miserably and died so tragically, but oh look at all the wonderful things they left behind for the rest of us to enjoy!  We don’t all suffer from depression, but we could all use a little sympathy too, and a little help.  Because that inner whirlwind makes it hard to find that anchor, that intimate other, or others, who can see what the others can’t because they’re used to you behaving like you’re not quite all there, that that can see that you’re losing your balance, and seeing it, can take you by the hand to that place of peace and quiet you need to be in to get it back.

I know from experience that when I get lost in a whirlwind of grief or loneliness or sadness I can just wait it out.  But I also know that it’s not a sure thing.  I have come so very close to it.  One of these days you might find yourself reading right here about the one time I couldn’t walk myself out of it.  I told my brother once that if I died alone and especially if it was by my own hand, I wanted him to burn everything…all the artwork, all the photography.  I was at a point in my life where it sickened me to think of people enjoying the artistic spoils of my miserable life.  He flat out refused, and I’ve moved on to a place where I don’t care anymore.

what-is-a-human-being

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


What I'm Currently Reading...




What I'm Currently Watching...




What I'm Currently Listening To...




Comic Book I've Read Recently...



web
stats

This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.