Saturday, July 4, 2015

Another Dispatch From the Depths of Despair

Since the age of around six I have been prone to depression, and I remember many episodes having been almost unendurably awful, but I can’t recall a day much worse than yesterday. Its horror was wholly attributable to the fact of one very important, if often unmentioned, human need not being met. A person needs water and sleep and food and shelter, but he also needs something to do. I have the water and sleep and food and shelter. My lack of something that feels remotely worthwhile to do is doing me in.

I have been working pretty much full time on promoting my new band. At first, the work was putting together this video. Such work is hard, exacting, and, for me, exhilarating. I love to create beautiful things, to design them, to write them. When I’m doing that work, I get lost in it, in the best possible way. I forget that I’ve lost my looks, and that others my age and younger are beginning to die off.  I forget that all I seem to be remembered for is a couple of snide record reviews I wrote when I was 22, and that I was beastly to the two people on earth who loved me most, my parents. I forget that my daughter, whom I love most in all the world, hasn’t seen fit to speak to me in 13 years. The problem with the creative work in  which I am able to lose myself is that at some point I can’t pretend that I haven’t done the best job of which I’m capable, whereupon I suffer the most excruciating feeling of purposelessness.

I held it at bay in this case, after finishing the video, by trying to get it watched. I spent endless hours researching the live music venues of Los Angeles, either phoning them or going to their Websites to ascertain whom I needed to try to interest in The Romanovs. I filled many more hours trying to compile contact details for the city’s pre-eminent event planners, the idea being that we won’t only play at beer-reeking hellholes for 14 cents per person, but also earn bucks galore…entertaining at corporate events, weddings, and bar mitzvahs. I spent several happy hours designing snappy little graphics to send to the club bookers and event planners, and then several slightly less happy (the work’s tedious!) hours emailing them, one by one. And got no response.

I hate feeling all alone in the universe, utterly impotent and mute. I used to write novels, only to have to admit to myself in the past 18 months that nobody — not spouse, not friends, nobody! — was going to read them, just as I’d had to admit to myself that no one was very interested in hearing any new songs I might compose. No one seemed to notice when I stopped writing a new Mendel Illness every day a few weeks ago, as no one seemed to notice when I stopped writing completely. The world is in a meeting every time I phone. The feeling that everything I do is utterly in vain keeps me from doing anything except pick fights on Facebook, and then the boredom sets in. I’m not one of those who finds boredom mildly unpleasant. I find it almost unbearably painful. And I’ve never been more bored than yesterday.

I practiced my drumming. Sometimes, more than ever before, I feel for a few minutes lately as though I can actually play. Am I not certifiably…swinging at those moments? Yesterday I stank. I designed some more little Romanovs email graphics, thinking as I did so that I was probably spinning my wheels. At my sanest, I am able revel in the work, without thought as to whether or not it will prove popular or successful. I was not at my sanest yesterday. I was not remotely sane. I finished three new graphics, was unable to talk myself out of not waiting until next week to send them out, and, solely to try to amuse myself, started a succession of little shouting matches on Facebook. I kept looking at my wristwatch, hoping it was later. (The hours go so slowly, the decades terrifyingly fast.) By and by, I would be able to take some momentary comfort in needing to make myself lunch, though more out of boredom than hunger. My friend Jesus — what a friend I have in him! — phoned to ask me to design a little ad for his girlfriend, and for around 10 minutes I felt purposeful and reprieved, without so much as a thought of bursting into tears or jumping out the window.

A club booker emailed to ask to be removed from our mailing list. She didn’t think The Romanovs would be A Good Fit for her venue, which I was embarrassed to realize prefers flamenco. I went to the gym, where I was briefly diverted by the sight of the gym blabbermouth, the remarkably muscular black guy I told you about a couple of weeks ago, torturing the poor middleaged white dude who’s made the mistake of allowing Blabbermouth to become his regular workout buddy. “Come on, man!” Blabbermouth exhorts the poor devil, pronouncing on to rhyme with moan, as White Dude pretty nearly kills himself trying to budge weights at which Blabbermouth scoffs. By and by, I exhausted myself, and spent an immorally (there’s a drought here) long time in the gym's lovely posh shower.

Once home, I made myself the same dinner as the night before — linguine with clams. My depression made me unable to taste it. I returned to my computer. A couple of those at whom I’d shouted on Facebook tried to get the last word in. I was too depressed to fire back at them. The world was still in its meeting. Did I wish to leave yet another message that would be ignored?

Blessed relief! I walked for an hour. It was gorgeous and cool and pleasant. I amused myself by stealing a great many plastic flags that a local real estate company had stuck in the lawns of homes in the Fairfax district, in which it pleased me, for reasons not clear, to see a great many Jewish families sitting down to their big Friday evening meal. I remembered I had some fresh podcasts on my iPhone, and hugely enjoyed the Fresh Air interview with a guy who’d written a book about the unspeakable villainy of Richard Nixon.  It was the first time all day that I felt anything other than awful. And I was able, given that I’d made it to nine o’clock, to look forward to a lovely huge glass of vodka when I got home.

My greatest achievement of the day — if you don’t count my having managed to live through it — was not having even a drop. I instead watched 30 seconds of an edition of Celebrity Wife Swap featuring Charo, who must be around 112, and then worked on a little birthday video for a friend. I would live to be disconsolate another day!


  1. I notice when Mendel Illness hasn't posted anything new in awhile and also when a new one seems to pop up every day. I enjoy your writing and encourage you to it up. Thanks.

  2. It is a glaring omission to my day when there is nothing you have written.
    Oh. And Thank you. You know why.

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