Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The ongoing list of songs to play at my funeral after I kill myself

The Parting Glass - Irish traditional
Fare Thee Well, Oh Honey - traditional (Long Road to Freedom)
Leavin' - North Mississippi Allstars
The Lakes of Pontchartrain - traditional

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The traditional New Year's post

I would be angry with 2013 except it doesn't look like 2014 will be any better.

In the end, I don't really have much to say.  I observe my life to be pretty shitty.  It has been the entire year, and there is no hope for the future.

I consider every way a scientist can be measured as successful, and in every way I am a failure.  I have no graduate students, my lab is generating no data.  I am unlikely to make the paper requirement for tenure.  It is highly unlikely I will secure any sort of funding.  My grant that I submitted was deemed in the lower 50% of all grants submitted and not discussed by the review panel, aka "triaged".  I only get one more chance to get funding with that grant.  I built my lab to do that work.  I didn't expect to get funded my first time out, that would have been ridiculous, but I was hoping to do well enough to get real comments so I could have a better chance the second time.  Now I won't get real comments back.  So my next attempt will go from "shot in the dark" to "snowballs chance in Hell".  In addition, this is the single worst funding climate in HISTORY.  EVER.  And the way the economy and political climates are trending, it will only get worse.  Therefore it is highly unlikely that I will keep my job when I come up for tenure.

That is very bad, because I am living beyond my means.  I am more than broke.  I am running up debt.  I have had to borrow money from my mother.  I'm a fucking 34 year old professor at a large university and I have to borrow fucking money from my mother.  While I love my house, I can't afford it, and the housing market doesn't appear to be getting much better.  So when I do lose my job I won't be able to afford making house payments while I look for a new job.  Bankruptcy.

My social life is faring worse than my professional life.  There is not a single woman I would want to date who would want to date me within 125 miles.  Most of them out there are either Jesus-freaks, divorced with children, or dangerously insane.  And I'm no catch, that's for DAMN sure.  The odds of finding someone are beyond remote.  They are statistically insignificant.

I am going to die alone.

To make matters even worse in this arena I have an incredibly STUPID crush on a woman in my department.  There are just about a million reasons nothing could ever happen, but the most damning one is that she wants one thing in the world right now, and that's to get out of Oxford as soon as possible.  She ain't looking for anything that doesn't involve her leaving.  But that doesn't stop me from YEARNING.  From PINING.

What does this all mean?  Well, I'm going to say something that people probably aren't going to want to hear, but it's the truth.  It means there is an effective limit on my lifespan.  You see, I'm depressed.  Pretty bad.  But you see, it will get much, much worse.  Every major depressive episode I've had has been linked to one thing:  rejection.  Whether perceived or real, when I get rejected I become depressed.  And as I've gotten older, each depressive episode has taken me one step closer to suicide.  It's something in my early 20's I would never have considered.  But each time, I get just a little bit closer.  The little voice in the back of my head that says "you know, you don't have to take this bullshit, you could just be done with it," gets just a little bit louder.  In a shade under 4 years time I will likely lose not just my job, but the career I have been working towards my entire life.  That is level of rejection I have never experienced.  It is, or will be perceived, as a complete rejection of my life's worth.

I fully expect when that occurs to fall into a depression deep enough that I will kill myself.  Even now, looking upon that theoretical point, I simply cannot see a way I can move forward past that point knowing I failed at the one thing I set myself to obtain so long ago.  How every minute of every day would be filled with thoughts of "you failed".  At the age of 39, moving back in with my mother, bankrupt, alone, a failure at my life's goal.

The depression would cause me to kill myself.

That's truth.

So that's it.  No looking over last years post.  No resolutions, silly or otherwise.  No stupid floral prose that I am so damn prone to even though I hate it.  No predictions.  No hope.  Just the most probable outcome of the next 4 years.  That's it.

That's life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Depression is the AIDS of the mind

I have no idea why I am writing this.  I don't even know if it will make sense.  I suspect not.  But no one reads it, so who cares.

It's a very provocative title, isn't it.  Just smashing two diseases together like that.  But there really is a logic to it.  You see, AIDS really is, at least to my thinking, quite possibly the worst disease in the world.  Because it is smart.  Too smart.  Different diseases attack different systems in the body.  Your pneumonia goes at the lungs.  Helicobacter at the stomach.  The thing about AIDS is that it attacks the immune systems.  The part of the body that is supposed to fight it.  Say you were in a gunfight.  You could try to kill the other person by shooting them in the head or chest.  You could try to slow them down by shooting them in the leg or foot.  AIDS is like shooting the gun out of their hand.  They are disarmed, and vulnerable to whatever you want to do.

(as a side note, I always thought the most insidious computer virus would be one that attacks antivirus programs)

Depression is like that, but for the mind.  You psyche is under constant attack from mental trauma.  You got shortchanged at Starbucks.  The potato chip bag was two-thirds air.  You got into a car accident.  Your wife leaves you.  Constant invasion by negative thoughts.  But your mind has built-in capabilities to fight off those negative thoughts, to make sure they don't do permanent damage.

Depression removes that defense system.  Suddenly all those negative thoughts get through.  And then they begin the beat-down.  They attack your self-esteem.  Your ability to cope with day to day stresses endemic in modern society.  The buffers against bullshit are gone.  And all those delicate little illusions that people cloak themselves with in order to make it to the next day without going categorically insane are ripped away.

So what is this magical mental defense system?


Depression removes hope.

I have no hope left.

For me, this time around, it's come from the fact I can't get a date.  That sounds very flippant, but it's so much more serious than that.  It's not "man, I can't find a date to do something this Friday night".  It's "I'm positive that there is no person within 200 miles willing to look at me in any way more than just a lump of disgusting flesh".  It's a perceived rejection by the entire female gender.  And that has led to the sure, bedrock knowledge that I will pass through this life alone.

Think about that.  Knowing that for the rest of your life, everything that happens to you will happen by yourself.  No one to share your experiences with.  No one to share your triumphs and defeats.  That you will never again feel the touch of someone's lips on your, or their hand on your skin.  That you are effectively in a bubble.  Isolated in a way that human beings are not meant to be isolated.

It removes your desire to keep living.

There were two times in my life previously where I was what I would consider to be suicidal.  Not that I came close to killing myself, but I had a thought process that led in that direction.  The first time I knew I couldn't kill myself, but I actively wanted something bad to happen to me.  I remember walking down the curb of a road towards a gymnastics meet, hearing a car drive up behind me, wishing that the car would swerve and take me out.  The second time I began planning exactly how I would kill myself (for the morbidly curious, a Colt Dragoon pistol, roof of the mouth, in the middle of the night in the lab I worked at).  If things had not changed in my life (and Colt Dragoon pistols not been so expensive), I honestly don't know if I would be alive today.

This feels different from those, which is not to say it's no less or more dangerous.  It's just different.  While there are moments when I'm filled with utter, crushing despair, usually when I see a beautiful woman and know that I'll never know the touch of one again, most of the time I feel...nothing.  I don't mean I feel fine, I mean I feel nothing.  There is no emotion left in there.  I feel like I'm a wind-up automaton loosed upon the world.  As if I'm going through the motions of living, but I don't know why. 

Consider what it is like to know that for the rest of your life your thoughts will only be your own.  Your actions will only be your own.  You life will just be you life, with no significant impact on those around you.  It's not despair that makes me what to stop living, it's that I just don't see a point to going on.  It's pointless.  Life in a bubble means my actions have no external consequence.  So I just don't get it, I don't get why I should continue to live.  I do.  Every morning I get up.  I go to work.  I come home.  I go to bed.  The same thing day after day, the daily life of a bubble.  It's not that I scream my life is not worth living, it's that my life has no worth, so why is it that I'm living?  I just don't understand why I continue to exist.  I have no impact on this universe, so why don't I just blink out of existence?

I sometimes talk to my mother about how I'm going to die alone and all she does is reply "You think so, but I know you'll find someone someday".  I ask her how she knows that and she just says "Because I know it" or "Because I have faith" and I just scream back "THAT IS NOT AN ANSWER".  It's not.  It's like I'm pointing to a pothole saying "there's a hole here" and she's saying "I'm sure it'll get filled in" and when I ask her how she's saying "I'm sure it will".  That's not a goddamn answer.  You can't just believe something because you want to believe it.  To other people it's hope.  To me it's retarded.

I have a hard time conveying this.  From where I am now, hope and bullshit look like the same substance.

I know people try to help.  They say I impact their lives, that they'd be sad to see me go.  But I also think they know how little it does help.  I appreciate that they try, but kind words don't make my house any less empty at night.  Reality is reality and there is no fighting it.

So again, I don't know why I am writing this.  It isn't cathartic.  It doesn't make me feel any better, and it doesn't change anything.  And I don't mean to inflict any of this on my friends.  But I guess this is just a way of explaining where I am right now.  Trapped in a bubble, kind of wishing I'd stop existing so I wouldn't have to stare at the inside of it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

A new year?

I put it to you, is it really a new year?  "New" instills some aspect of change, but try to find something different about this year.  I see none.  The past year was like the year before, and this coming year will be like the one just elapsed.  I find myself in a new locale, with a new job and a new title, but all the same miseries and sorrows and aches and hurts are still inside my head.  And they never seem to go away.

They never.  Go.  Away.

My head, the sponge of other people's art that it is, recalls moments that have made an imprint.  Jack Nicholson saying "what if this is as good as it gets?"  The line from the Paul Simon song "From what I can see of the people like me we get better but we never get well."

I can tell you what has changed for this coming year.

I have no hope left.

Last year my one goal for the coming year was "try to make it through the year without killing myself".  And coincidentally enough, that almost didn't happen.  I really can't tell you how far or close from suicide I was.  I didn't see a line on the ground.  All I can tell you is that I had it planned out.  I knew exactly how I was going to kill myself.  The implement.  The situation.  I'm lead to believe that is not a good sign.

So somehow I made it through the year.  I suppose the goal for this next year should be the same.  And it seems like such a harder goal for this year.  I have no hope left.  No hope that the anguish of this life will lessen.

It's one thing to live a life in pain.  It's quite another to live a life without hope.  But I guess I'll have to try.

See you next year.  Maybe.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Alone In Bed In Montreal

Strange things happen to me when I go to conferences.  I won't say I go crazy, just that my mind starts to behave in strange fashions.  I don't know if it's because I have to spend an extended period of time away from home, or if it's because I have to spend time in contact with a number of strangers, or because my usual mechanisms of self-distraction are not available, but my mind becomes overactive.

One thing happens is that I often end up writing a lot.  Which is a consequence of me spending a lot of time thinking.  I think when I'm with other people, and I try to find time to be by myself so I can think some more.  I think, and think, and ultimately end up writing my thoughts down.  Which is what I am doing right now.  Another things that happens is I become emotional.  I don't mean burst into tears or hysterical emotional.  I just mean that somehow I feel my emotions more acutely.  Perhaps it's just another symptom of thinking more.  But I find myself feeling things and having flights of fancy that I wouldn't have under everyday circumstances.

A common occurrence is that I will, I hate to use the term, fixate on a person I meet at a conference.  It's not obsessive, more like a very strong crush.  In actuality, it's not something that's bad.  People normally meet other people, find themselves attracted to another person, maybe have a bit of a crush.  I'm led to believe this happens to people all the time.  I guess what's different for me is that it happens way more frequently at conferences, so it seems to stand out.  Maybe that's because I'm meeting new people at a rate much higher than I normally do, so the chance for sparking is higher.  But I'm always on the lookout for abnormal psychological behavior in myself, and it worries me when something stands out.

Her name is Coralie, and she is a grad student from a Caulobacter lab in Geneva.  My interaction started innocently enough.  I was putting up my poster before the Caulobacter meeting and two girls were wandering around looking at posters.  They were looking at mine and I just said "hey, that's me, do you want me to take you through it?"  They said sure, so I ended up explaining the project.  That was kind of it.  Later on one of the girls presented a talk that had some work that explained a very confusing piece of data I had.  I was pretty excited.  After the talks I tapped her on the shoulder and said "when you get a moment you need to come see my other poster, I have something you are going to want to see."  In a little bit she came over.  I showed her my data and how thanks to her work it actually made sense now.  I explained how I wasn't going to do anything with the data and my boss and I think she should take this work and expand it a bit and it would really help out her paper.  She seemed relatively happy with the idea.

It was then that my attention began to focus on her.  Normally at the end of a poster-type conversation, the non-poster person politely makes some excuse to be elsewhere and awkwardly leaves.  But she didn't.  Everytime the conversation began to wind down and I thought she was going to excuse herself, she was spark the conversation back up again.  About this, about that.  Half-consciously in response, I turned on what charm I had.  We ended up chatting for, oh, 45 minutes?  An hour?  Quite some time.  She's a slender beauty, with a very expressive face, and she laughed at most of my jokes.  It was very pleasant.

During one of the later talks our eyes met from across the room.  She scrunched up her face and flicked her eyes towards the speaker.  The maneuver could be interpreted one of two ways.  Either "get a load of this boring crap" or "hey, stop looking at me and pay attention to the talk, silly man".  Either way, I laughed, and that seemed to go over well.  I can count one hand without using all my fingers those special types of moments I have had with someone.  They are precious to me beyond dollars and doughnuts.

So now I follow.  I am led like a lamb.  I try not to be the creepy stalker.  I wave if I see her, and if I get a chance to say a few words, I say a few words.  But in my head I yearn, and in a room of over 200 people I am not satisfied until I know where she sits.  I itch and hop until the bun of her hair or the orange peel curve of her chin provide relief.  What does she think of me?  Based on her reactions there could be a possibility of her being attracted to me.  It is a non-zero probability.  But more than likely she just thinks I'm a nice guy.  And I'll take that.  So often people think I'm the asshole, that if she goes back to Geneva and thinks "wow, I met this really nice guy named Patrick", I will consider that a win any day of any week.  But as I lie here alone in bed in Montreal, wanting to taste her neck, I fancy the idea that as I wish she was lying here beside me, maybe she is lying in bed wishing I was there beside her.  Wouldn't that be something?  Wouldn't that be something.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A letter

Dear Flight Attendant whom I think flirted with me on my flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte,

I'm sorry I didn't properly say goodbye. I kind of left you in the lurch at the back of the airplane there, and it was very rude of me. I can only say you caught me off-guard. I've never really been flirted with before, or at least not by someone who was a complete stranger. If it was indeed flirting (and general consensus and my gut instinct says it was), it totally surprised me and I kind of panicked. So I'm sorry about appearing rude. I'm also sorry about not trying to get your number. I don't think anything could've happened, since you said you lived in St. Louis and that's very far away from where I live, but in retrospect I'm really kicking myself that I didn't at least try to get your number or email or something. It's a regret that I'll carry with me. Finally, I want to thank you. I've had flights with more leg room, or free movies or free first class meals, but being flirted with by a very attractive woman made it the best flight I've ever had.


The shy idiot in 19C