Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Rockin' and rollin'

Rockin' and rollin'
The author of Mark's Work

Coleus flowers

Coleus flowers
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Heinz tomatoes, used for catsup

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Painted Lady

Fall Jewels

Fall Jewels
Praying mantis, attending services on a zinnia...

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Price of Admission


The Price of Admission

I like JT’s post this morning.  She asked what made 2012 valuable and what surprised her readers.  I responded that it would take a long time to accomplish writing about this year, and I would need therapy at the end of it.  Since I am already in therapy, I guess that’s a moot point.  However, if I attempt to abbreviate matters, and I leave my sweetest of Apple Blossoms out of it as much as possible, I see value in the exercise.  So here goes, a month by month score-card, as it were.

January opened with blogging being the center of my universe.  I was communicating with folks all over the country, as though I had known them all my life.  The writing was effortless, and stimulating.  Then came the 24th, and the shocking murder of my former student and good friend, Jamal Andrews.  This propelled me onto an emotional roller coaster, during which time I made commitments that I was later unable to fulfill.  This tumultuous time made it obvious to those around me that I had a mood spectrum disorder, what old-schoolers would call being bipolar.

February began with my Apple Blossom deciding that my moods were too challenging for her to deal with, so she left me, out of sheer self-preservation.  When she returned, it was to try and gently transmit to me her concerns and those of my family, that I was ill.  I was (of course) clueless, but I read everything she sent my way, and found out by taking a simple quiz, that there was a great deal of truth in her assertion.  I had originally protested that the manic side of things was accurate, but not the depressive side.  Then I began to examine the last few years of my teaching career and concluded that those around me were accurate.

In March I began to see a psychiatrist over on the coast and was shocked when he prescribed Seraquel, an anti-psychotic drug, with side-effects described in the accompanying literature, that so terrified me that I never ingested a single capsule.  They remain in my bathroom cupboard, a mute testimony to my fear.  Though I benefited from the therapy, I never trusted the good doctor again, and eventually decided it was not a fit, and sought therapy elsewhere.

April precipitated a burst of creative writing, which saw me write more than fifty short pieces of fiction, which I had hoped to start publishing in cyber space, but have not been able to, because I cannot penetrate the technological wall of knowledge required to do so.  I was shocked that I could successfully write short stories, and disappointed that publishing them has remained unattainable.  My writing in this genre continued well into May.

May brought about a resurgence of my carpentry career, something that I thought would no longer be possible, because of the physical challenges incurred the previous fall, when I spent time up at Island Mountain, from which I spent the entire winter recovering.  I built a twenty by ten, two story addition to my workshop, a multi-purpose facility that has proven invaluable since it was completed.  It took all of the summer, being finished by the start of September.

June began with our making two trips over to the Central Valley in three days, to attend both the wedding of a nephew and the graduation of my youngest son from Cal Fire’s engineering school.  Both venues reinforced me with the knowledge that my lifetime of panic attack syndrome was over.  That is shocking all by itself.  June also saw me switch therapists to a man who works in Ukiah, and has proven to be a very good fit.  He was instrumental in helping me, individually, and later, in helping me and my Apple Blossom contend with the critically important challenges of trying to put our thirty-year marriage back on track. 

July remains the single month during which I can safely assert, I was almost normal.  I kept meticulous track of the ebb and flow of my illness, continued working, and thought I had the whole thing conquered.  July was the calm before the storm.

August began with a weekend excursion up to Eureka, which culminated with a precipitous journey from Eureka to Willits, because we thought my Apple Blossom was passing a kidney stone.  She was savagely attacked by pain and nausea, and it was eventually determined that she had a tumor the size of a softball, enveloping one of her kidneys.  Simply stated, she has cancer of the kidneys, and the infected one was subsequently removed.  Unable to contend with this adversity, despite my best of intentions, I was unable to provide support for her, so she once again left me, this time indefinitely, with no time-frame in place, a fact which left me reeling, emotionally and physically.  

September was crushing in its totality, with me inconsolably depressed and lonely.  I was not permitted in the arena where the surgery was performed, and not allowed to be in the same venue as my Apple Blossom.  September was as bleak a time-period in my life, such as I had not experienced since January of 1972, which marked the first month of my incarceration in the military.  My wife and my life took an apartment in Willits, an hour to the south, leaving me by myself on our mountain.  I was despondent, with no hope for the future, but I was also determined to keep her household afloat financially through my construction efforts.  Being so into time, I could not view life rationally, without any hope of reconciliation in the near future with my Apple Blossom, and the net result was one of the most shocking transformations in my life.

In no order of importance, I decided first to stop ingesting marijuana in any form.  Now, I had stopped for the first five years of my teaching career, and for up to as long a time as two years later on during that same time period, but now I was motivated by a different reason-the return of some semblance of normalcy.  I also stopped all alcohol consumption, though I have never been much of a drinker; I stopped all caffeine and cut out all processed sugar.  I also made an appointment at the veterans facility in Ukiah, with the resident psychiatrist, and began taking the medication she prescribed for mood spectrum disorder.  

I did all of these life-altering actions, without consulting my better half, in the hope that she would take note and reconsider her departure from my life.  It just proved that I never knew or appreciated what I had going for me, until I lost her.

October was an extension of September, with all of the changes in place, and I proceeded with a fierce determination to make an impression on my sweetest of Apple Blossoms.  I included time up at Island Mountain, just to prove that I was still willing to go to any lengths to provide income for two households.  The one bright ray of hope came when we started to see the therapist in Ukiah together, to try and work out some of the impediments to a resumption of our married lives together.  That, in and of itself, gave me some hope.  I also reinforced my personal philosophy that whining doesn’t solve anything.

November brought Veterans Day, and with it the glorious reconciliation for which I worked so hard.  Again, I must point out that I was not asked to quit the reefer and I was not asked to start taking the medication for mood spectrum disorder; I did these things on my own, and that was a big factor.  Though we still live apart for much of the time, never more than three days pass before I am able to be with my Apple Blossom.  I do not dwell on this because it makes her feel guilty.  I know she feels badly, and it stresses her out to have me complain, so I don’t.  She can no longer deal with the hardships of winter on the mountain, and I have responsibilities up here that I cannot shirk.  Thus, it remains what it is so I revel in the time we spend together and stay busy the rest of the time.

December brought with it a diminishing of my childlike fascination with the Christmas season, something that needed to happen forty years ago.  It’s just not the same thing when you spend much of your time by yourself.  However, December also brought about a thaw in the impasse between my number two son and myself.  We have managed to get past our differences, and I spent Christmas day with him and his awesome wife, enjoying a scintillating day of bridge and the company of family. 

Why anyone would care to read this entire passage is incomprehensible to me.  However, I have rarely written for others; almost all of my prattling is merely a way of expressing those thoughts which lodge within me.  That being said, if you made it this far, take a deep breath, and know that I am very happy-very content with life at the end of this tempestuous year.  I have learned much and remain committed to keeping my frame of mind open and uncluttered with the complications surrounding my illness.  

The price of admission for this topsy-turvy roller-coaster ride was nothing, but the result has been monumental.  Just know that I am madly and passionately in love and have acquired some valuable tools for helping me cope with my illness.  What could be sweeter than that?  After all, love is the greatest power.

18 comments:

  1. Wow! What a valuable record of the year. SO much of it seems like just the other day to me and it was crazy to read your story as it played out over the year. One message I take away is that life is about learning and you appear to be an excellent and attentive student. Another message is that when you hang on and embrace the dark times, there can be transformation. Clearly, a third message is that the future is entirely unpredictable, I remain curious for you (and for me) about the future b/c I have no clue what doors will open (or close). Thanks for writing this. XOXOXOX

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    1. To you, JT, my number one supporter, I owe much. Thank you for being there for me and helping me get through this challenging year.

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  2. Fabulous work, brother Mark. It's been an amazing year, both terrible and wonderful, and now we begin another, which I like to believe will be even richer, fuller and more satisfying. Thanks for sharing your life with us. matthew

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    1. Mateo, so glad to be back on track with you. Thank you for your words of support. I enjoy our work sessions together, and look forward to more in the coming months.

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  3. Mark, thank you for catching me up so succinctly and I am thrilled to hear the optimism and hope in your words (something I needed a dose of myself). I have missed you and JT terribly in my self-created absence and wish you a very wonderful 2013! Sarah

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    1. Sarah, so good to hear from you again. I do not post that often myself, anymore, after a furious sixteen months or so, of what can only be accurately described as a manic outburst of words.

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  4. I am so happy and proud of all the hard work and lessons you have mastered! And of course, there is so much more to learn but you have shown that you have what it takes to get the job done. You are an inspiration.
    It has been a tumultuous year, but hopefully next year will bring you the peace and joy you have worked so hard to achieve.
    Thank you for the great synopsis of the year, and yes, I read the whole thing and thoroughly enjoyed it!

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    1. Well, you are the one who is an inspiration. You have already walked in my shoes, and continue to do so every day. I am retired, from a clock-in job, and you are not. I am so glad that Doug is fine; he scared us all the other day. But a good time was still had by all.

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  5. What an amazing review, I've watched from afar, hoping every silence had good behind it. I'm so glad you're on a good track, with yourself, and with Annie. You are a testament to growth and understanding, as well as leaps into the unknown, personal strength, the value of listening to family and friends. I wish you all good things this new year.

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  6. Thank you for your ongoing support, especially last spring, when we were going over to the coast! This has been an amazing year for reaching out to others...

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  7. Marcus O’relius: Thank you and kudos. I care deeply about you even though we bounce in and out of each other’s life. I would love to develop a more consistent connection over the next year, especially online as I set out on my travels. You know I appreciate your writing abilities and hope you continue to express yourself and natural talent in this vein. Your review of the past year was clear and concise. I loved the last two paragraphs and especially the last sentence. Amazing how hard you worked to bring things together by year's end. Happy New Year!

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    1. I would also love to keep our on again/off again connection alive and thriving. I envy you in your travels, having gotten a taste of it in Ireland. Who knows? After all, you know what they say, "There'll come a time, Suzy Puente..."

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  8. Bro, I greatly appreciate you writing that all out. I have been head down, ass and ankles in the mud of my own fox hole all year. Whenever I peeked out, I could see that things for you were greatly in flux, but I'm embarrassed to say that I lacked the cojones to hop out of my hole and hustle over to yours for a lookieloo. As tough as it sounds, it appears you've ended the year in a far more fortified spot, and for that I'm glad. Looking forward to connecting with you more this year!

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    1. I have spent much time walking the path you describe. What is life, but a muddy foxhole, from which many never emerge? Thanks for the look-see; there's something about having three children, a wife, a job and a home under construction, which pins a guy down, and makes for mud-colored glasses. I enjoyed seeing you at JT's and look forward to further connections.

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  9. I am glad things continue to be looking up for you, Mark. I was in and out most of this year and was here for some of what you shared of the turmoil as it was taking place. I still read this whole post though--in part because I am always fascinated by year-end reviews of things. It's always interesting and often informative to see our progress (or lack thereof) laid out like that. Thanks for sharing and here's to a positive and productive (not to mention happy and healthy) 2013 for you and your dear Apple Blossom.

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  10. Thanks, MM. You were here from the beginning of my blogging career, and it's awesome that you still stop in. I appreciate the words of support!

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  11. Mark-- I'm in awe of the way you write and how you unflinchingly look back over an often incredibly difficult year. Blogging is such a healing force for so many of us! I'm glad for both of our sakes that we found an outlet in this wild internet universe. Wishing you and your Annie the best, always.
    Melanie

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    1. What a kind thing to say. I do appreciate your words greatly. I don't post that much these days, but I enjoy your posts on FaceBook. I agree that writing helps the healing process...

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