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Depression Beyond Comprehension: Everyday Magic, Day 942

I screwed up.  When it comes to some close friends who suffer greatly from the kind of depression beyond comprehension —  mine at least — I haven’t always understood what my pals were going through or how to truly show up without my fixer-bee faux-super-cheery hero cape on. Instead, to sooth my anxiety over their emotional state, I offered a smorgasbord of solutions that would solve the problem (as I saw it) of despairs if that despair was just some fog the sun of new plans could burn away. True, I also listened well, but listening doesn’t always equate understanding.

With the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain, who I loved from afar through his shows and writing, rift with irreverent, cut-to-the-chase and take-no-prisoners insights and questions, along with Kate Spade, have brought a flurry of stories about what it really feels like to be suicidal. The one that woke me up a bit more is “Anthony Bourdain, Suicide, and Grace” by the Film Crit Hulk, in which the author writes, “I cannot explain what it means to go through 60 percent of a given day fighting the very thought, but it is one of the most tiring, all-consuming things a human being can do.” He goes on to lay out the very logical solution suicide can seem like to someone struggling to get from one moment to the next, their thoughts and thinking reinforcing the dead-end darkness and incomprehensibility of their very survival. “And there it is: the grand reveal that the biggest problem with suicide is that it is genuinely a good solution,” the writer tells us.

I think about people I’ve known and know with anorexia, and how the brain itself, starving and running down a road to hell in a parallel universe, reinforces body dysmorphia, making it impossible to see the body as it really is: starving to the point of dying. I now wonder if the kind of overwhelming depression that led people like Bourdain and Spade and so many others to kill themselves works in a similar way, making heartbreaking sense to those afflicted with such an impulse to end it all that getting to the next breath takes every ounce of their determination. The Film Crit Hulk, also similarly afflicted, concludes of Bourdain that getting this far was a Herculean act of grace, “And I’m so proud of him for making it this long.”

Just because some of us don’t understand this in a visceral way — and how blessed we are! — doesn’t mean we can’t show up, ask what we can do, suggest grabbing a bite or seeing a movie, just listen, and breath alongside with the one struggling so hard to keep themselves on the planet. The Film Crit Hulk says to “just be yourself, and remind them of the world you share.” Not to say this will be the saving grace, but stepping up helps us better share the depths of this beautiful, sad, mysterious, and suffering common world. For those who have stepped off, may they rest in peace, healing, and power. For those among us, may they continue on in peace, healing, and power. For the rest of us, may we learn to stay, even when it scares us fiercely, with those who could use some company in their suffering.

After 64 Consecutive Semesters, Taking a Break: Everyday Magic, Day 941

Time for a break I started teaching when I was 26. It was English 101 at the University of Kansas, a gig I figured would help me get through graduate school so I could cozy up with my real calling: writing. A funny thing happened on the way through the classroom: I was instantly smitten and soon discovered that teaching was just as much my real work. I regularly told my students, struggling with essay-writing on demand, what I told myself as a writer: Don't think. Pay attention. Keep going. It served us all well. This fall (starting [...] Read More

The Beauty of Overgrowth: Everyday Magic, Day 940

With temperatures rising to summertime and good rains falling last week, everything is speeding into growth around this house. The hostas look like they're on steroids, and all blossoming things are exploding into petals until they're spent to thin, brown paper. Within the house of this human, a whole lot is growing exponentially too, coming to fruition at 80 mph. A bunch of projects that seemed maybe-ish are definite, meaning my days are full with finalizing an extensive online class with Laura Packer on our Right Livelihood Professional Training, watching clips of pre-Holocaust Jewish life in Europe for an upcoming [...] Read More

I’m in Love With Irises (Peonies Too): Everyday Magic, Day 939

Why are they so mind-blowingly beautiful? Is it the delicate petal, something between paper and flesh? Or the enormous resilience of seemingly delicate twists of blossoming ethers that can hold up their angel  bodies in ferocious storms and come up smiling the next morning? Is it the colors -- batik blues and black-purples glistening in the rain, gold dissolving to peach to pink or yellow cusps of sun folded around a quiet center of intoxication? Also, the yellow ones smell like lemons, the purple ones like grapes, and the brown ones like chocolate. Whatever it is, irises had me at [...] Read More

Weeding in the Rain: Everyday Magic, Day 938

Did you know you can sing "Weeding in the Rain" to the same tune as "Singing in the Rain"? In a sense, both songs are about falling in love, at least for Gene Kelly and me. After weeks of not getting to the garden for a garden variety of reasons -- book release stuff to organize, too cold, too muddy, too dry, more book release stuff to do, too tired, third winter arriving, yet more book release things to check off the list, and oh, why go outside when I can lie on the couch and watch Netflix? -- it [...] Read More

Working Hard on Not Working (So) Hard: Everyday Magic, Day 937

Usually, April, what T.S. Eliot called the cruelest month, is, but it's also stunningly beautiful, a paradox for a working poet and a gal who, all too often, couldn't say no. Because I make a hunk of my living from gigs -- readings, workshops, talks, projects -- and a good many poetry gigs are often ghettoized into April (aka Poetry Month), my Aprils were often overbooked. Not so coincidentally, I often was rocking a sinus infection that wouldn't let up, a bout of migraines, and a heavy dose of insomnia during this time of the blossoming world ecstatic with life, [...] Read More

Moses, Meet Miriam: Everyday Magic, Day 936

As I was leaving the house for our trip to Bentonville, Arkansas -- a weekend of r & r, and excuse to visit the amazing Crystal Bridges museum -- I ran back inside to grab a copy of Miriam's Well, my new novel, because I sensed I needed to give it to someone. Who I would find out later. We stopped at Crystal Bridges Friday night about 7:30 p.m., figuring it was closed but wanting to scope out the place. It was open until 9 p.m., and it turns out, that is the perfect time to visit one of the greatest art [...] Read More

Annual Magnolia Walk: Everyday Magic, Day 935

Every March, I seek the magnolia trees growing recklessly in Kansas where it's almost guaranteed that their tree-full of pink blossoms will meet Mean Old Mr. Winter with a fury. These trees are meant to grow in warmer climes, but they seem to survive okay here despite an annual attack (or two) of icy temperatures, turning those fragrant and curvy blossoms sad and brown-edged. I love magnolia trees. Let me be more honest: I really and deeply love magnolia blossoms, and it's one of my recurring nightmares to miss them in their prime, especially since those prime weeks can be reduced to [...] Read More

Finding Miriam in a Semi in an Alley on a Rainy Day: Everyday Magic, Day 934

Our long gravel drive was puddled and muddy, so there was no way the huge semi carrying my new book, Miriam's Well: A Modern Day Exodus, could slip-slide to our house without asking for trouble, plus there's the matter of the power lines it would rip through in the journey. So between ordering bierocks at Free State Brewery with Daniel and going home, we decided to meet the driver in an alley behind a local grocery store. From there, it was a matter of a whole lot of weight lifting: 200 books x 575 pages each + the weight of boxes [...] Read More

Equinox Quirks in East Lawrence: Everyday Magic, Day 933

Nothing like a brisk walk on the first day of spring in East Lawrence with a good friend. Along the way, we saw many more friendly sites, all illuminating the wonderful quirkiness of East Lawrence just on the cusp of leafing out and flowering forth. First, there is a totem tree of sorts, complete with a glow-in-the-dark giant cricket, strange moppet-like figure living in the hole, and a kind of anime carving on top. It's something new, I believe, just sprouted on a quiet street, and in the process, it reminds me of how the creative just a big plastic bug [...] Read More

Buy Your Own Copy of Everyday Magic -- This Blog As a Book!

This blog is a book -- Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous -- published by Meadowlark Press. This beautiful book, complete with beautiful art throughout by publisher Tracy Million Simmons, can be yours for $24.99. Please consider purchasing the book through the publisher to support small presses supporting authors like me. Meadowlark Press. Meadowlark Books is an Emporia, Kansas, based publisher, coming from the same town as famous newspaper publisher William Allen White. The publisher's site shares this perspective: 

We live in exciting times for authors and all artists, an era of democratization of the arts. No longer will books/music/artwork be something selected by the few and passed down to the masses. The people--our readers--will choose for themselves.

You can buy your copy from Meadowlark right here.

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