“. . . but not an excuse.” This is a distinction that I would sometimes draw for a judge, to see if my humility could buy me a minute or two for an explanation. It usually didn't work, whether I got a chance to explain or not.
I've been quiet, and there is really no excuse. I've been at home. I'm not that busy. It's just that I've been damned depressed.
That will come as a laughable anticlimax to anyone who knows me. “Alert the Media! Khun Fred is depressed!” My life has been an impressive catalog of all shades of depression, with mere extreme social anxiety providing the comic relief. Around the age of fifty, I decided to tackle the problem head on and I was lucky to obtain the help of a very talented cognitive therapist who would remind most people of the Natasha character in Rocky and Bullwinkle. She was of eastern European ancestry, and she dressed all in black with silver jewelry for highlights. Her skin was as white as a sheet of loose-leaf, with the same tiny blue lines visible underneath. She was not entirely humorless, but close. She was, let's say, serious about her work.
She had her work cut out for her with me. At our second or third meeting, she asked me, “how long have you felt like this?” I thought for a moment, and said, “since about 1952.” She laughed at that, but caught herself quickly as she realized that I was not kidding.
It didn't really get any better after a couple of years of sessions with “Natasha,” but I achieved a much better understanding of what was happening. I'd recommend cognitive therapy to any fellow sufferers out there. You learn to spot your triggers, and to avoid some annoying behaviors. That really does make things a bit easier. I supplemented this with a bit of reading, and the unfortunate truth of it is that you can't “get over it.” All of that deep physical and emotional scarring cannot be undone, only better understood. My ACE score is five out of six. Many of us are stuck in our holes.
Able to effortlessly spin silk purses out of any tiny shards of depression that may present themselves, I am naturally very hard pressed by the present daily cornucopia of horrible, depressing news that seems to have taken over the entire world, horizon to horizon. If there are any countries in the world that are trouble free at this point in time, that list is very, very small. Even the usual go-to examples of countries where they are getting it all correct are showing signs of strain. Small, idyllic European countries that in happier times, let's say the year 2000, we would all wish to emulate are becoming polluted by fascists, anti-immigrant hysteria, or one-party rule populism. Not to mention that huge swaths of the globe have gone dark and given up even pretending to be civilized. Many new surprises are being added to that list as we speak.
In 2015, no one could convince me that Donald Trump had a snowball's chance in hell of being elected to almost any office at all, much less the presidency of the United States. This is Donald Trump we're talking about, I would say to myself, everyone in America knows what an idiot he is. What a total con-man. After all, we have forty years of evidence! All of those business failures, the constant, childish sexual bravado, all of that self-aggrandizement, all of that “between you and I” bad grammar, the racist episodes, including the Central Park Five, all of this is public record. Why would anyone at all consider him for any public office?
Just as this impossibility was beginning to look abysmally possible, the cousins over in Merry Olde England were kicking up their Brexit campaign. “Great Britain,” a long in the tooth formulation already, seemed to have gone off a cliff. People were taking seriously a proposal that they sever themselves from the European Union and the European Economic Community. You really must hold onto your hat when you hear an idea so totally fucking stupid. Then they had their vote and that was that. The people had spoken! We've taken our country back! We're through carrying these wogs around! We'd do better to spend that money here at home! They did it, they voted for it, and now, less than three weeks before a “hard Brexit,” without even the feint hope of some trade or travel agreements in place, it appears that they are going to get it, too.
Watching that on a lesser news channel in a hotel somewhere, I raised my right hand to God, and my eyes to the ceiling, and said, out loud, how could they be so stupid? That is the moment when I became convinced that humanity had gone collectively insane. Much of the rest of the world was already there. Now “Great Britain” was joining them. Then I immediately realized that if that absurd result could obtain in Olde England, America could elect Donald Trump. World affairs had become untethered from reality.
And we did indeed follow Britain down that rabbit hole, and it has been a daily nightmare of the dismantling of the American way of life every day since the election. Why wait to get sworn in? Trump just started making presidential pronouncements immediately, and didn't even bother to send a transition team to the White House. Trump already knew more than anyone about running the country! And the White House! The worst of it all, by far, is that not a lot of Americans seem to know, much less care, what is happening.
They just don't believe you when you tell them that the State Department stands almost empty, with its usual duties simply not being performed. They see who is in charge of the few federal agencies that actually have heads at all, the lobbyists, and the former industry executives, and they do not see it as a problem.
See what happens? My fingers begin to tickle the keyboard and before long it's all exclamation points. I go off like Alexander Solzhenitsyn raving about Tsarist prison camps. “They had boots!” he screams from the page. “At least they had boots!” No one needs to hear too much of that.
I should try to be better about putting up some music. I enjoy that, and I know that there are a few of you out there who find my selections entertaining. Something will happen.
I apologize for any inconvenience caused by my negativity.