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!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Meet Donald J. Trump, and Am Pleasantly Surprised!

My candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, which so many pundits have dismissed as quixotic, was vividly affirmed in a completely unexpected way earlier this week when my fellow candidate Donald J. Trump, shown in some polls to be many voters’ second choice, behind only Jeb Bush, reached out to me.

I recognized his voice immediately when he telephoned me. Alone among my rivals, he has made no attempt to prettify his speech, which many linguists have noted is nearly indistinguishable from that of the working classes of his bioregion. No puller of punches, he said he hoped to talk me into withdrawing from the race, and supporting his own candidacy. He suggested we have lunch together in Las Vegas, where he owns a hotel whose exterior windows are gilded in gold. He would send one of his fleet of private jets for me. “No,” I said, “I’ll fly commercial.” He asked if I would at least allow him to pay for my airfare. I said I would not, but that he could pay for lunch if he insisted. He said he would fly the late Auguste Escoffier over from France to cook for us, or Guy Fieri. I was flattered by how hard he seemed to be trying to impress me.

There was a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover girl in an alluringly form-fitting chaffeuse (female chauffeur, if I remember the high school French I never took) uniform waiting for me at the airport. Her lovely cyan eyes said, “You can have me,” but I felt ethically compelled to rent a car instead, and opted for my customary sub-compact. I am a humble person, and believe my humbleness is one of the things that has most endeared me to voters.

In person, Don, as he invited me to call him, turned out to be surprisingly humble and understated himself, lacking any trace of the bluster and fervent stupidity that characterize his televised persona. I was strangely flattered by his not having bothered to have his remarkable coiffure assembled before my arrival.  Dressed in a denim work shirt, Wranglers, and Dior loafers without socks, he was reading a dogearred copy of Madame Bovary as I was ushered into his remarkable penthouse suite. “I’ve tried the whole Kindle thing,” he said apologetically as we shook hands, “but there’s just something induplicably pleasurable about holding an actual book in one’s hands.” I was surprised to learn that Flaubert and Proust are two of his four favorite authors, the others being Joyce Carol Oates and of course Steven King, of whom he said, “He’s no prose stylist, but I commonly find his stories intriguing.” He offered me a chilled Coors, right in the bottle.

As we chatted about how both we, the Republican party, and the American people as a whole would benefit from my withdrawing from the race, and about the likelihood or lack thereof of my supporters boarding Don’s bandwagon rather than Bernie Sanders’, his beautiful wife Melanoma and their son came home laboring under the weight of several bags of Walmart groceries. Melanoma — am I getting that right (I’m frightful at names!) — was smaller than I’d expected, but with conspicuously large breasts offset by a tiny waist. She and Don gave each other little pecks on the cheek, and addressed each other as hon. After she introduced their son, whose name I understood to be Barron, as Buddy. Don explained that his brand consultants had suggested the name, after Barron’s magazine (they’d rejected Forbes as insufficiently manly), but that nobody ever called the lad anything but Buddy, or The Budster.

After we’d chatted for around 40 minutes, one of my host’s assistants came in to remind him of another appointment, apparently due to begin in minutes. I was surprised by her addressing him as Don. Their mutual affection was palpable, as it seemed to be between Trump and all his employees. He asked if I’d like another Coors, and asked, eyes all a-twinkle, how much it would cost him to get me to withdraw from the race. “A couple of billion ought to do the trick,” I said puckishly.
He frowned thoughtfully (I am pleased to report that, in private, he never pouts as he does so often in photos), and sighed, “Let me get with my accountants.” I said I’d only been kidding, and that I intended to remain in the race as long as there was even one Republican out there who continued to believe in me. He punched me fraternally in the shoulder, shook his head in embarrassment, and said, “You got me!”

We rose. I offered him my hand, but my hand would no longer suffice. What would suffice was a big bro-hug. The man’s really warm!

Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t play to win. As I waited for the elevator, two very large men in Trump baseball caps appeared. The more articulate said, “Would you come with us, please, sir?” Having just had my right shoulder re-replaced, I didn’t think I should try to fight them off, and complied. They took me down one flight of stairs and threw me out the living room window of a luxury suite on the 63rd floor. I am writing this from the afterlife.

Together, we can!