10.30.2012

The Anniversary of Welcoming Death

A year ago today, I sat alone in my sister and brother-in-law's apartment at ACU in Edwards Hall. They were gone to Nashville for the weekend and I had opted to stay there for the few days instead of my dorm room.

Tears streamed freely down my face and I crouched at my computer by the sofa. In each of my shaking hands, I held a large stainless steel Wolfgang Puck kitchen knife. I didn't want to mess the cutting process up and lengthen my suicide, so I did a quick Google search to find out where and how to cut. I planned to bleed out all over my family's carpet.

That's when my friend Kendall burst through the apartment door and found me, immediately taking the knives from my hands. I had no response, it was all I could do to sink to the floor and commence sobbing. Tucking myself into the fetal position, I cried into the floor as Kendall put a reassurring hand on me, doing everything he could to comfort me.

More friends arrived. Their immediate response was to gather around me on the floor - while I was still weeping uncontrollably - place their hands on me, and start to pray.

I don't remember their words a year later, but they were part of what saved me.

Then commenced the longest single night of my life. October 30th, 2011 was the first time I ever willingly approached death and shook hands with it. What followed during the episode at my sister's apartment were more prayers, frantic attempts to break free of grasping hands to continue to hurt myself, tearful phone conversations with family members, a visit from my counselor, and my absolute inability to look anyone in the eye.

You see, when you mess up your own suicide and inconvenience all of the people you love, you feel rather foolish. You feel a bit slighted and wonder if you even had the courage to go through with the act in the first place. Of course, then I merely looked at it as an inconvenience. Now I saw it as a surrender to hopelessness. To this day, I can't explain what brought it on - this acute desire to cease living. All I know is that it felt inviting and I wanted to heed it.

For hours, my friends crowded around me in that small apartment. Eventually I sat up, opened my eyes, began responding to people, and taking food and water that was offered to me. My sister and her husband showed up, eternally apologetic of leaving that weekend. I told them there was no need; when they had left I was fine and none of us could have predicted what had occurred.

More phone calls, more conversations with the counselor. I had a sharp headache from crying for hours. It was eventually decided that I go to some mental health care facility. But there was a snag - my insurance wouldn't cover it unless the ER authorized it.

I was in the hospital from about 11pm to 5am. The place was busy the day before Halloween. Friends and family were with me all night, never leaving my side. Upon discharge, I was driven across town to Acadia Abilene, which would be my home for the next week.

From the wee hours of October 31st to the afternoon of November 7th, 2011, I experienced a life-changing transformation in Acadia. At first, I was utterly terrified and lost. I remember having a fear of being strangled by my roommate the first night. When I woke up, he was gone. He had been discharged.

That was the way it went in Acadia. Everyday there were newcomers and farewells. I would wake up each morning only to find new faces on the unit floor.

I spoke to no one for the first few days. My sister dropped off some of my belongings, including my Bible. I don't think I ever read that thing as much as I had in those few days. It was all I had and I clung to its words, sitting in corners by myself, saying nothing. Eventually I found out that I would be discharged quicker if I showed progress of recovery. I started sitting with others at meals. Sheets of paper and colored pencils were left out for the patients to use. I sat down at a table and started coloring with a few of them. That was the moment everything became alright and I essentially cruised through the rest of the week. Side note: coloring is oddly therapeutic.

At first, I was dejected and afraid. I felt completely alone. The first few days of visits I would sit across the table from my friends and family, barely able to sustain a conversation without tearing up. By the end of the week I would be regaling them with morbidly humorous tales from the unit.

What had changed?

First of all, I learned to talk to others. Very quickly I found out how small my problems were. I was hospitalized with recovering heroin addicts so lost in withdrawals I could never tell if they were awake whenever they ambled from room to room, like the walking dead. There was a kleptomaniac who spent her time scribbling in books, spontaneously shedding her clothes, and climbing into the beds of unsuspecting male patients. Once, a woman had a panic attack and collapsed under the table, unsure of where she was, shying away from the helping hands of the staff as they reached down to her. There were people in there who I could never see getting out.

And even then, there were people like me. Codependent, depressed, suicidal, college-aged youth. Overdose. Asphyxiation. Cutting. No matter the tale, we all had failed and ended up here. I've said this many times since then, but when you're sitting at a table with a bunch of people who have the exact same problems as you, you tend to cut through all the bull and form bonds that are beyond understanding. We became each other's medicine, sitting together at meals, watching old Disney movies, and assembling puzzles. In time, the adults emulated us and began pushing their tables together for meals.

Most importantly, there was the fact that I had nowhere to run and no way to distract myself from my problems. On the second day I was there, a rather disagreeable looking man with a silly bow-tie gave me a stern look, diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder, and assigned me medication. It was the first time I had ever been prescribed anything in my life. It was also a glaring reminder that something in me needed fixing.

Because of the nature of the facility, I had much time to think. Too much time. One particular episode, I wandered to my room and shut the door behind me, feeling an onslaught of negative and depressing thoughts coming my way. I remember literally twisting in pain on my bed as I prayed feverishly and desperately, hoping to drown out the thoughts that came at me again and again, like a swarm of hornets.

Then, through the assault I heard a single, small voice deafening the presence of the others.

Keep going, it said.

Unsure if the words were a machination of my desires or a conjuring of my mental instability, I sought to shut them out of my head. I didn't want to be lied to anymore.

But still, they came on. Louder and louder, forcing the other voices back. Keep going, keep going, it repeated.

Desperate not to lose my mind, I injected my brain with other words - any words, to attempt to drown out those three syllables that would not go away. I don't even remember what I tried to think to distract myself.

In the end, I gave up. I yielded to those two words, finally realizing where they came from.

Everything else faded. I opened my eyes, finding myself in a kneeling position on my bed. I had just experienced the closest thing to spiritual warfare I can ever remember. I sat in the results of a campaign that had just been unleashed on my thoughts. The light had driven the darkness out.

Dramatic language aside, that was the penultimate turning point during my stay at Acadia. That was the moment I will forever remember as the one I decided to shut out the lies that fed my depression and anxiety and surrender up to something greater.

Upon discharge the following week, I felt rejuvenated. I was able to go back to my classes after missing two weeks of school, eventually earning As and Bs in what would be my second-to-last semester of college. I wish I could tell you that I have been depression and suicide free since then, but you know that's not true because just a month ago I tried it again.

But that's not the point.

The point is, a year ago I had given up on the idea of living because I believed I had lived my life in a way that had caused irreversible damage. Who would want to be associated with the mess that I was? Again, a month ago I gave up on that idea of a pain-free life.

Here's the thing: there is nothing I or anyone could do to make our lives irreversibly liveable. It's not for us to decide where or how we go. The first few nights in that facility I laid awake, tormented by my demons and depression. The final days were ones of peace and acceptance. Acceptance that I had to live with some scars and sure, a medical disorder, that some people don't have. But there are plenty that do - and they go on living everyday. They keep going, no matter what.

So a year later, after two all-out assaults over the rights to my soul, I am typing this up instead of lying in the ground somewhere. I am sitting in a safe place instead of being trapped in a hospital. I am telling you, it gets easier. You just have to keep going. And when you can't go anymore, go further. You'll get there.

Just keep going, my friends.
JDS

*I will never forget every single one of you who were there that night, who were with me at the hospital, who wrote me letters when I was at Acadia, who visited me while I was there. You are all more than half of the reason I am still alive.
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Right now I'm listening to the Cloud Atlas soundtrack. It helps me think. I purchased an album by the Swedish singer-songwriter Anna Ternheim called The Night Visitor. It's very poignant and stripped-down, well worth a listen.
And of course, I still can't wait to done my creepy Obi-Wan costume tomorrow to have lightsaber duels with little kids for Halloween. Also, I'm getting a haircut Thursday. Obviously I would never mention this because I've been shaving my head like clockwork for years, but no more. This Thursday, I'm getting a mohawk. Enough said.

Cheers everyone.

10.27.2012

Dream Log Entries Part I: My Head Is Diseased

As a measure of my sanity, writing skills, and memory, I have started to keep a dream log. I keep a slim moleskine journal and a pen within reach of my pillow and upon awakening, I quickly jot down anything and everything I can remember about what occurred in the land of sleep.

After a week of doing this, I must say - my dreams are going to provide some fine and outlandish kick-starts for my future works of fiction.

So I decided to add a weekly post to this blog detailing the more interesting dreams I've had in that week's time, or as long as the dreams are regularly provided and recalled with enough lucidity. I've found that instead of having a recurring dream or one long episode lasting the entirety of my sleep, I usually have at least 3-4 dreams that are all vastly different and appropriately strange. Typically, I can only recall bits and pieces of a few of them, never the whole thing.

Following are some notes straight from the property of my brain while sleeping, from 10/23-10/27:

"Wandering around an unfamiliar place, akin to an empty neighborhood. I find myself in a backyard, very bog-like in setting. Piranhas prowl the waters and are feasting on bright colored fish. A flying fish breaks the surface as it leaps from the water. I turn toward the hilly shore and see a small turtle on the sands, followed by a massive snapping turtle. It is at this point where the dream starts to feel abnormally real, as if all of my senses are far more acute than what they would be in reality. I wander into an airy estate with wide windows through the back door. No one is home except and elderly woman. She leads me into the bathroom, transforming into a younger version of herself (which is still not very young) and attempts to seduce me. I response by leaving, seeing an old friend from back home walking down the sidewalk with a despondent demeanor. Details begin to fade at this point, other things occur, more people show up. A kid falls on his bike and loses several of his teeth. Fade out..."

"My forehead is made of embedded popcorn kernels. My hair consists of sticky pecans literally buried into my scalp. I shower to rid myself of the mess and complexion. My hair stains the water brown. Fade out..."

"I am on a beach in what appears to be a foreign country (eventually find it out it is Switzerland). I believe my dad and younger brother are there. I encounter a Swedish man who has lived there for 10 years with his dog. We all come upon a massive beached whale, flipped on its back, entangled in a massive leech-like creature, who has suffocated it like an anaconda would. Somewhere in my mind I realize this creature is called a "snapper". Don't ask. Both the leech and whale are dead and we vainly try to move the carcass. In what appears to be the same dream, I see a beautiful snow-capped mountain range across the water. I ask my dad which mountains they are and he responds by telling me they are the Swiss Alps. I weep, because they are so beautiful. I've always wanted to see the Alps. There is more, but I lose it. Fade out..."

Some of these are obviously disturbing. I kid you not, the dream about my forehead turning into popcorn kernels was the most terrifying thing I'd ever witnessed, as silly as it sounds. These are only a few of the dreams I had, easily the most vivid. Because I had the time to to do so, I did a search online to see if I could find any significance to any of the symbols in the dreams. I looked up the dream meanings behind the words "beach", "whale", and "auditorium" (I was in one in at least two dreams, unmentioned above). Here's what I found:

Whale
To see a whale in your dream represents your intuition and awareness. You are in tuned with your sense of spirituality. Alternatively, a whale symbolizes a relationship or business project that may be too big to handle. You are feeling overwhelmed. The dream may also be a pun on "wailing" and a desire to cry out about something.

Auditorium
To dream that you are in an auditorium indicates that there is something that you need to learn from others. Pay attention to those around you.

Beach
To see the beach in your dream symbolizes the meeting between your two states of mind. The sand is symbolic of the rational and mental processes while the water signifies the irrational, unsteady, and emotional aspects of yourself. It is a place of transition between the physical/material and the spiritual.

To dream that you are on the beach and looking out toward the ocean indicates unknown and major changes that are occurring in your life. Consider the state of the ocean, whether it is calm, pleasant, forbidding, etc.








(interpretations were found here)




The whale entry is interesting because the whale was obviously dead, so according to the definition above it may mean my intuition and awareness is kaput. I can't say I disagree with this. On the other hand, I've always been afraid of whales, so there is a very real sense of fear connected with the whole thing.

The auditorium entry makes sense to me because I can always be learning from others. On both occasions, I was a part of the audience and there were familiar faces in both instances.

Lastly, the beach entry confuses me a little bit. It's confusing because it's so accurate. The rational and the irrational constantly war in my mind, irrationality usually winning out. In addition to this, the whole "looking toward the ocean" indicating major changes coming is spot on as well. Even though I've been in this brand new environment for almost 5 months, I am currently contemplating changes that are going to drastically alter my life in the next few months. Anxiety is obviously connected to this, commonplace with anything involving the future.

Not that I believe any of this, but it is a very interesting take on the processes of my mind. I've never put much stock in dreams, mainly because they're confusing as all get out, but I'll continue this process of recording my dreams because analyzing my brain is becoming a favorite exercise of mine.

You should try it. You might scare yourself.

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I've been listening to a lot of metal lately. Like, a lot. The HAARP Machine, Intervals, Dweller, etc. I won't recommend any of it to anyone.
I'm excited about seeing Cloud Atlas for the second time tonight. Literally the most beautiful movie I've ever seen. Also, read the book. I also look forward to wearing my incredibly creepy Obi-Wan Kenobi costume for the Harvest Festival at church on Wednesday. I'll bet I make at least one parent scowl at me.

Cheers, everyone.
JDS

10.22.2012

Let's Take A Look At Your Brain

Some lovely tidbits from my psychotherapy session this morning:

"Do you have a fear of abandonment or being left behind?"
Not being left behind, but I'm afraid of being alone.
"Is there a record of child abuse in your family?"
Not at all.
"Do you ever experience periods of time where you are full of energy and the lack of a need to sleep coupled with periods of extremely low energy and an inability to concentrate?"
(Pause)
I think...I may have attributed the highs to an irregular sleeping schedule because of being a college student, but I've never thought about it in terms of extremes--
"There are actually several levels of Bipolar Disorder. There's Bipolar I and Bipolar II, in addition to other diagnoses. It's not always in terms of extremes."
 (Another pause)
Well, that changes things...

And just like that, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II this morning. Throw that on top of my OCD and Major Depressive Disorder and you can imagine how strange and crooked the skeleton that will reside in my body's exhibit years in the future will appear. Of course, many people have far more serious disorders and health concerns as well as the same ones in more terrifying volumes so it's not that crazy. It was my third "psychotherapy" session in all my life, all coming in the past year. Even the word is scary sounding, hoping to alleviate the frightening weight of the first two syllables with the soft and calming latter three. You can't fool me.

The people who run these sessions are apparently hard to book. You have to do it weeks in advance. My session only lasted 20 minutes and would have cost a bloody fortune if it hadn't been for insurance. And although it may not have been very evident in the short excerpt I provided above, these people are all about business. Those who know me may say I'm a talker (in the proper circumstances) but all the doctor did was interrupt me time after time before I delved too deep into something irrelevant in my responses. I wouldn't have to dig too deep because well, lots of things I say are irrelevant.

I have no problem with how the session went; in fact I'd be much the same way in the doctor's position, brief and efficient. I just find it strange that it took twenty minutes and a bunch of questions and all of a sudden I'm out the door with a brand new disease and a brand new medication to help me cope with it. See you in four weeks, doctor.

I wonder if there is a certain point in a doctor's examination where they make up their mind and convince themselves in their heads that they have come to a conclusion about whatever the patient's problem is and the rest of the session is spent working towards that tunnel vision by asking pointed questions to further solidify the said conclusion. I mean, I wonder if eleven minutes in, after the 13th question they think, "Ok, it appears he has Bipolar Disorder. I'll just ask a bunch of questions to draw it out of him."

Of course that's not how it really goes because there would be misdiagnosed people everywhere. It was just a thought I had while sitting in the doctor's office, squirming under the uncomfortable weight of the questions asked because I wanted to answer them as honestly as I could and I couldn't. I wonder how many people end up not telling the truth in that position so they can just be given an answer as to what's wrong with them.

Well, a doctor can't answer that question. Not entirely, at least.

Anyways, I'm not complaining about the way behavioral health experts run their businesses nor am I confessing that I lied to the said expert and was consequently misdiagnosed because of it. I'm mainly saying I walked out of the Group Health Center on 2350 Maple St. in Everett, WA with new drugs, a new disorder, and tons of cognitive dissonance. Dissonance that was slowly giving way to clarity.

Today has been a fantastic day. I've done nothing but make boring phone calls to medical centers, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. I'm not being sarcastic; today has got me legitimately excited. I continually recognize that each day I have is another day of being chosen to play on the team.

So far, I don't know what it's like to not be chosen.

I'll end by saying this. This morning in my devotional book, the passage discussed how God doesn't often reveal his will in moments of solitude or silence as opposed to revealing himself in the cycle of everyday life. As in, of course he shows up when you're hanging out on a mountaintop or meditating over the Word in the morning, but he also shows up in the rut that is everyday, ordinary life. The passage talked about how God came down and blew Moses' mind by showing up in a burning bush while Moses was minding his own business, tending to his flocks of sheep. In other words, he was clocked in and ready for the day and then BOOM God shows up with a revelation, ready to give Moses an identity and a mission.

God is easy to talk to on the mountaintop, but he also shows up when we're working in the valley.

Good thing I do a lot of hanging out in the valley.

JDS

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UNRELATED NOTES & OTHER JUNK
This morning, for some inexplicable reason, I was reading the Edmonds obituaries. There was a man who had passed away this month at the age of 79. He had spent time in the Navy during WWII. But the most intriguing part about the article was how he met his wife. Apparently, he met her because he fell asleep on her shoulder in a lecture during college. That's probably the coolest way to ever meet your spouse. "Sorry about the drool on your shoulder. Want to get coffee or something? By the way, what's our homework?" Classic.

I just started reading Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. She's the same author who wrote Seabiscuit. It's a true WWII survival story about an American bombardier whose B-24 was shot down in the Pacific. It's also a New York Times Bestseller. I adore anything about WWII, so I've been eating it up. I also just finished David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, and it was ace. "Ace" is apparently a British slang term for "cool" that they said in the 80's..or still do. Whatever. I've been saying it a lot.
I'm still listening to As I Lay Dying's newest album, Awakened, with a steady dose of Coheed & Cambria. The Freelance Whales show last night was fantastic. They played 17 songs. They've only written 21 songs. Amazing.  Further Seems Forever's new album comes out tomorrow and I'm for sure picking that ish up.
I'm excited about the film adaptation of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving), which comes out this week. It is either going to be the most ambitious and brilliant film ever, or a completely pretentious flop. Either way, WATCH THIS TRAILER because the trailer alone is more emotionally moving than many movies I've seen:



Cheers, everyone.

10.17.2012

People Say Strange Things On Their Deathbeds

Disclaimer: there are some pretty candid and grim things in here, just a caveat.

For anyone that has read this blog or knows me a little better than the average person, by now you may know that I've had a couple of scary suicidal episodes. That's not me lifting my shirt to show you my 'war wounds' or me spilling my heart. That's a truth and because of it I have to live with certain things. I'll never take pride in any of the things involved in this struggle, nor will I ride my experiences as if they were a gimmick to get noticed by others. I'll simply put them in print so other diseased and broken individuals can look at my bleeding and say, "You too, brother?"

But if this tires you or does not apply to you, I advise you to go on your way.

Below are some excerpts taken from my medical report regarding my stay at the ER at Swedish/Edmonds Hospital 9/27 ("Pt" stands for "patient").

CHIEF COMPLAINT: Suicide attempt
Chief complaint quote: Pt states that he took 19 100 mg Fluvoxamine pills around 15:45.
EKG; Reason for order: Overdose
 9/27/12 17:45 - Mental Status: the patient's state of health is poor. Patient is awake, alert, cooperative and drowsy with an affect that is tearful and depressed.
9/27/12 17:50 - Pt reports that "I just don't feel like I have any value to anyone up here". Pt also states "I should have taken more." Per pt he recently moved to Seattle from San Diego after graduating college as a History major. Pt reports he wanted to move to the area and "check it out". Pt states he has no family in the area. Pt also states he has a supportive family back home and siblings in other states who are also supportive. Pt very tearful during and following initial assessment. 
VITAL SIGNS: Initial pulse was 118, this has come down to 88, blood pressure was 142/81, it has come down to 123/80.

You ever say things that you look back on later and wonder "What was I thinking when I said that?" Of course you do, because you're a fragile bag of organs and bones wrapped in skin and afflicted with faulty emotions just like me. In fact, if you don't wonder this daily, you probably need to get your arrogance levels checked - or you may be a mute.

When I got these records today, I read over them and shook my head - not in disbelief, mind you - but in remembrance. I remember saying those bold words printed on the report. However, I also remember being incredibly manic and clearly not in my right mind. To reiterate, I was quite resolved to dying. I parked in an overnight spot so as not to be rude to ER employees, enjoyed what I thought would be my last meal (don't ask what it was, it still makes no sense), watched a funny movie (because laughing is better than crying before death), and carried a suicide note of sorts that people would find when they found me.

Even in my lowest lows, I carried a propensity for a consideration of others that was inherently counter-intuitive to my intent. I can't blame myself for the way I was made but rather examine myself whenever I'm given the opportunity - and I was given an opportunity that Thursday.

The truth is, I can't believe I said those things while on that hospital bed. Here I am, three weeks later, fully aware of the fact that I tried to take myself away from a whole host of people and that there is value in my life. I know one doesn't necessarily spout statements entrenched in veritas when sitting on what they hope would be their last bed, but the fact remains that what I said was unfounded. I was simply too firmly in someone's grasp, and that someone was not God.

I'd like to say I live my life the best I can but I know that's a blatant lie. I'd like to say I take all the chances I should when I should, asking for help when it is appropriate and forging onward alone when the time presents itself. More often than not, I leave a trail of ruin and confusion in my wake, simply because I chose not to listen, not to see, not to trust.

An illustration, gleaned from a trip to McDonald's today (I know, these things can be a stretch):

While out with the little two-year old girl I nanny for, she had said that she wanted Chicken McNuggets for lunch. Knowing that McNuggets are pure gold to a child, I obliged and we went to the nearest McDonald's for lunch, equipped with a giant playground. Of course, we can't leave without her getting some running-around-kid-time, so I unleashed her on the playground and circled around the outside of it like the overly concerned pansy that I am.

Some observations.

The first thing she did was try to walk up the slide. I told her to go down instead because other kids wanted to come down, right as another, bigger kid ran up the slide in front of our eyes. When she ascended the multicolored platforms to the top, I stuck a helping hand as high as I could (without looking like an insane adult) to give her a boost to the higher levels, terrified every second that she would fall and break her cerebellum. I watched her go down the same slide 5 times, knowing there were better and higher slides further up, but she didn't know that. She asked me for help when she couldn't climb any higher, and I told her I couldn't come in because I was too big and that she would just have to go down on her own. A parent nearby looked at her and said "How did that little thing get all the way up there? That's amazing!" I of course instantly and undeservedly felt a sense of pride. That's right, she's a climber.

Then of course, the wondering began.

Is this exactly what God feels like when he watches our lives unravel below? When everyday people like you and me choose to suffer, choose to hurt, choose to break or spit in the face of those who don't deserve it? When we choose to utter words that have no right coming out of our mouths?

What do we when we are instructed to do things a certain way and then watch others do the blatantly wrong or wicked thing right in front of us? What do we when we get to a point in our lives when all we need is a slight boost from God to get somewhere we couldn't previously get to? How about when we choose to go down the same paths over and over without fail, unaware of the fact that just down the way lies a better, safer, and perhaps more thrilling destination? When we ask for the help we feel like we deserve but we don't get it because doing everything for us the way we expect would be way too easy for God to do? Does God feel pride when he looks at what we've accomplished, when he sees how high we get, how far we go, how bright we shine? Or do we take all of our accomplishments as our own?

I know, it was a trip to McDonald's with a two-year old. But good heavens, these were the things that were going through my head, in light of recent events. Put that up against what was going through my head as I ingested activated charcoal to purge my system of an overload of antidepressants several weeks prior, and the difference is a vast and stark one.

Too many times, I say things I have no right saying. Too many times, I hurt people who deserve nothing but love and grace. Too many times, I tear apart things that were a long time in building and feel no remorse.

Too many times, brothers and sisters.

Today I am alive because the words I said on that hospital bed were not allowed to hold weight. They have no place in my life because my life has been given over to someone that loves me unconditionally, regardless of how I feel about myself.

That weight still shakes me every time I go out the door and every morning when I wake up - because each morning that I do wake up is another chance to do what I was meant to do, more uncompromising proof of the fact that I woke up because I still have work to do and that the day I don't wake up means I'll have done what I was sent here for. Now I see it is not within my power to choose that day.

I hope it comes a long time from now.

JDS

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Still reading David Mitchell's Black Swan Green. It's ace.
What I'm excited for this time: the Bengals' second nationally televised game this weekend, band practice tonight, the Freelance Whales' show Sunday night.
Still listening to plenty of FW and BTBAM but I fell asleep to The Attic Sleepers and The Lighthouse & the Whaler last night. Check them out!


10.13.2012

In The Morning And Amazing

Definitely used the name of a Circe Survive song for the title of this blog post because I'm going to see them tonight with a handful of other bands. They're one of those bands I've had on my ipod for years, appreciating and picking up each new release with casual excitement (except I really did enjoy their third album, Blue Sky Noise), never figuring I'd get to see them live. One of the best parts about living in Seattle is that it's always the first or last leg of tours for bands, so I get to see a wealth of them. I couldn't say the same for Abilene. I usually had to drive 3 hours east to Dallas - and I did plenty of times (The Appleseed Cast, Oh Sleeper, etc). But they all come through here, so there you have it.

You can bet I'll be buying like two shirts because a) I'm a nerd and b) I don't have the slightest idea of how to shop for anything clothes-related so I just get shirts at shows. I honestly couldn't care less about clothes. I would walk around in a spacesuit if I owned one. I have noticed with the overabundance of thrift stores and hipsters up here that people actually do care about their clothes and whatnot. I mean, I get not wanting to look like a bum, but you don't have to try that hard.

We get it Seattle. Flannel and American Apparel and monocles and whatever. You look great.

Anyways, the real point of this post is not to talk about music or complain about insignificant things but to post a poem I wrote..eh, basically today. It describes how I feel today. Take away whatever you want; I'm just enjoying writing again.


Room 317

The door opens to a corpse, skin stretched over
bones bleached from deeds done long ago.
It is taller than me, and brighter -
the facade is disarming in its warmth
and the air hangs heavy with disdain.

We're at home here in the grave,
the rain pouting on panes that sullenly look on.
An unnamed film flickers in the foreground,
doing everything to amplify my nausea.

I hear the joints rub and chafe against each other
every time the tired bag of skin shifts places in the room,
like old pool balls cracking against your knuckles.
My needy wallet is a whore, emptying itself
in good spirits, poisoning the hands that take,
believing there will be something in return.

Instead, we martyr ourselves there on the bed.
The besotted forms of priests and curs dance
in rhythms we've perfected by watching strangers.
We will never really know each other.

I took the long way home, praying the life back
into my arms. There are amber and golden
fires lining the streets, weighed down by the sky.
Their sparks vein across my windshield,
cracking glass and stealing heat.

Flecks of chipped glass coat my eyelids,
and every blinking motion tears webs into them.
I close them and run every light, eager to close
them for a moment's recollection.

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That's that.

I'm reading - Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. It has nothing to do with that Natalie Portman movie. Mitchell has become my favorite author ever since I read Cloud Atlas. This is his 4th novel I've read in 2 months. I just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road a few days ago too. Can't wait to read more of his work.
I'm listening - to all the bands playing tonight (Circa Survive, Balance & Composure, Touche Amore) because you know, you have to the day of. Also new albums by Freelance Whales, Between the Buried and Me, and Coheed & Cambria all came out this past week and they are all stellar.
I'm playing - Final Fantasy 6 on my computer. And Valkyrie Profile on the PS1 whenever I have time, which is never. I know, I'm a nerd.
I'm excited about - tonight's show, the Bengals to beat the Browns again tomorrow, and church tomorrow night.

A lovely Saturday to all of you.

JDS

10.09.2012

There's No Pride Before My Fall, Only Shame

At any given opportunity, I wield my Californian heritage as an excuse to act like a pansy when it gets cold. Guess what? It gets cold all the time here. A record-setting and very late Seattle summer appears to finally be on its last hinges, leaving the slate-colored skies to set in again. It began this morning. I drove down the I-5 with a hundred other people, except I'm pretty sure I was the only one who was weeping.

I think I cried most of the way to work.

While it isn't the most virile thing to declare your softness to the entirety of the interwebs in this manner, I must add that they were tears of joy. You see, there's a story there - that I don't yet have the audacity, presence of mind, or actual separation from the events that occurred to begin to tell. All I have to say is that I was the happiest person in Seattle this morning, happy to be alive.

I was happy to be alive because 12 days ago I came very close to killing myself.

Before I continue, I want to say that yes, I'm ok. No, I'm not suicidal anymore. Yes, I'm taking my medicine and going to counseling. Thanks for the concern.

What's scary is that I got a lot farther than last time (this is the second time in a year it happened). I won't get into all the details, but before I began the process of accepting the long sleep and stepping towards it ready to end being, I remember thinking "God, if I live through this, that means you still want me around. That means you still have work for me."

I won't say I didn't try my best to prove him wrong.

It's not until 12 days after the fact that the world-crushing weight of that statement has utterly buried me with its gravity. If I make it through this. I made it through. I still have work to do. He still wants me to do something. So this morning on the way to work, without knowing where to begin or what to say, I released my shame and accepted the fact that somebody, somewhere wanted me alive.

The story can't be told yet, but I will say this. Whatever God intended for me when he knit me together in the womb was very specific. Sure, doors were left open and avenues were unbarred so I might learn some things the hard way. But trying to take my own life is akin to upending whatever purpose I was crafted for. It goes beyond my selfishness to God's pride in his creation and what I was made to do. It's like a coach telling the quarterback to take the knee in the final seconds of the game and he goes in there and attempts to throw a 60-yard bomb but ends up getting sacked.

Football analogies aside, I'm glad I'm here. That's an understatement. I was a mess in the car on the way to work and I didn't care who saw. I was literally drowning in the idea that I couldn't kill myself if I wanted to because God won't allow it. I challenged him, he chastised me, and put me right back on the path.

Mr. Charles Spurgeon wrote that "God's promises tarry on arrival because he is trying to get us to love him more than we do." I read that this morning. It fueled my elation.

I don't know what else to say in this post because I'm still so humbled and in awe of everything that I've been bumbling around with a dreamy look on my face all day, taking joy in the simple things like orange juice and buying new CDs. Life is amazing. I'll tell this story soon, but I want to end this post with a poem I wrote. It's a narrative of sorts, but I started writing again, which is a good sign that I'm alive.

Take care, everyone.
JDS

The Cab Driver

It had been my first time in a cab.
The hospital paid for it -
handed me over to a stranger,
rendering me to a transaction and a casualty,
one of several that bleak Thursday.

I never knew his name.
He was more caricature than man,
an aspiring Crocodile Dundee lookalike,
though without the fortitude and twice the stale hat.
Blurry documents signed, rights forfeited,
safety comes first by coming last, as always.

He couldn't commit to the silence,
as he rifled off questions about college football,
making me believe he was paid by the syllable.
Things happened in the world while I aimed at a coma.
I knew it would never stop,
but those thoughts didn't matter after the goodbyes were uttered.

Twenty years, divorce courts, nine children.
Different wives. He kept telling me not to feel bad for him.
I didn't. He would stay afloat on those nine children,
refusing to go down in anonymity.

Down, down.
The fluids from the IV in the crook of my elbow
ran down my arm, coming to rest in puddles on the dirty seat.
I saw myself in them, capsized bits of the day floating there,
like swollen pages from discarded memoirs,
refusing to be forgotten by their authors.