Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ever since my schizophrenic baby left me, I am cell-phoning my answering service

Ah, the nature of the beast.
Why do we writers absolutely burn outselves out, leaving ourselves vulnerable, psychologically unprepared, immune system down--to be absolutely bowled over in any crisis, domestic or work-related.

Thirty years ago, on a bright June day I had completed, in San Miguel Allende, a novel on which I produced 35 pages a day, proof copy. I was glad to place the THE END at the end.

I had been on a regimen of tequila, strong Nescafe, marathon sex to relax, and all kinds of Corona de Baril beer so I could sleep...There wasn't that much sleep, as I had run a cross a nymph at the Jardine, town square. "Are you a Wood Nymph," I asked, half jokingly. "No," she had said. "Just a nymph."

So here is a man going to hell fast, while producing 35 proof pages a day.
And pursued by a nymph.

No sooner do I complete the book than I get a Dear John from somebody.

Wheeeeee. Whoooooosh. Nininaninaninoona!

"You are crazed," said the nymph, who was now my mistress.

"I am crazed," I agreed.

Run, don't run. Grab a plane, don't grab a plane. Kick ass. Don't kick ass. One million dollars at stake in bank account and property...And I had to go on this marathon writing thing, leaving myself as weak as light beer.

The wood nymps starts to pour the love on, trying to get me to relax, to pour out the madness, extend it, get me back to myself, whoever that was.

I can not paint, but I was surely Gaugin. Gaugin and his Wahines. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and 35 pages a day. Mexico on 35 pages a day.


The god wants a price and old Scrooge was coming to collect.

I had given my life for art, whoever the f*ck Art was.

So here we are doing it again, creditors at the door, old partner still wanting to argue and we're trying for 35 pages a day.

I begin to write.

And it is sh*t.

I mean, see for yourself.

The creature has been given many names over the years, incubus, complex, obsessivbe-compulsive, but the phantasm remains.

The phantasm appears just before adolescence, it seems to go away just after puberty, but it is only tamped down. It does not entirely go away.

The creature seems more prevalent among Eastern Europeans.

A story is told about a York University professor, brilliant man, but he had this little god that was terrifying and addling him.

I personally worked with an Australian prof, who confided, "I've got this little man in me. He went away for a while.
"But then I got this job...He was back. 'You again,' I said." "And don't repeat any of this to anyone!"

That creature is the back of your brain. Racial memory, probably. Or more likely, some godawful skulduggery (skulbuggery?) in your family tree

It seems to want to sink you, like a succubus.
Or sit on your chest and make you helpless, like an incubus.

I think Arthur Schopenhauer traced it back to the mother and the horrrors of womankind. Arthur Schopenhauer hated his mother. She threw him down a flight of stair once.

Freud gave it scientific names, like complex.

But in the end, it is like an albatross.

A phone call today seems to have set me right over the edge.

You got a little man inside you?




H.E.Eigler said...

Hey Prof,

Shit, it is not. Just a little.....frantic??

Anyhow, screw it and keep on going. The kinks can get ironed out later :)

Josie said...

Hey, Ivan, have you read Cannery Row yet? You live Doc's life. It hasn't been boring, has it?

And don't worry about that phone call today. The "D" in me will help you fix it.

Josie said...

Fanacek Kupka was a Czech painter.

I guess I'm turning into a Fanatic Kupcake. :)

Ivan said...


A "Josie" predicament came up today.
Family anxieties.

I am trying to drink and write my way out of it.



the walking man said...

Ivan I woke up at 0330 this morning sitting on the toilet. I went to bed at 0130 and have no recollection of the two hours in between.

But I know I started out supine and woke up on the stool, shorts around my ankles with the dog that had been laying down with me, now laying down and sleeping on the bathroom floor while I sat there not knowing if I accomplished whatever took me in there in the first place.

I think you need to get away from the alcohol and start a good regimen of prescription drugs, that way you get to do it all in your sleep...write, piss, and have the constant companionship of a dog that needs a bath. Yes I am well asleep as I write this.



Lone Grey Squirrel said...

"So many hearts, I find,
Hearts like yours and mine,
Torn by what they've done,
And can't undo.

We've been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we've done

I just want to hold you,
C'mon let me hold you
As Bernadette would do."

from the Song of Bernadette by Leonard Cohen.

I sometimes find it hard to follow you as you are able to link so many things together but yet I felt sharing those lines with you. said...


Heredity can be a MoFo.
I've got an ancestor in me who was probably no damn good, and that's why the village sent him to Philadelphia because the village was probably better off without him around. Banished to America, you could say. He ended up sorting rocks in a mine and one day put himself into the path of a car. My mother never saw my grandfather; ever; just pictures.

I have had blackouts like yours, though that was in my serious drinking days in the Air Force. Waking up in the morning having to
"face the public."

Yep. Hitting the old sauce pretty heavily; thirty years ago I was in something that may have been called rehab.

I did drink my way into some realizations last night though.

I had trouble--big trouble--at work as an untenured professor; my wife had gone to night school at a feminist university and there was the Big Novel that I had to complete or die. I wasn't out to make a living, I was out to make a statement and I somehow got myself caught in the academic-domestic go-around. It was time to pull ahead of the pack. Hah.
Came back with a tattered manuscript and two goats, but ended up well behind the pack.

Simpy put, I was not equipped by heredity to be the kind of person I had become--a professorial backstabber (bumstabber?) in the company of other professorial backstabbers all hellbent on tenure; the kids were just there as an impediment to empire building. Teaching? Forget it.
Sit in the facullty room, smoke and plot on getting your own headship. "Gonna build me an empire,boy!"
Well, I got the book done anyway, but the results were not cheerful. Had a devil of a time getting it published and had to enlist government help in getting it published...I put a ot of my own money out in promoting the book.
Hah. Rumpelstiltskin.
But these were the manoeuvres of a young-old fool.

I think you took a different path, though the result was somehow the same.
I worry, worry very much about your condition. They have the new drugs now that probably won't have the same unpredictable side effects of what you're taking now.
Diabetes is serious business, and I wish you the best, my friend.

Ivan said...

Thank you, LGS.

Leondard Cohen was a long-legged poet.
Also a novelist.
His two early novels were stunners.
I think you would really enjoy
"Beautiful Losers", now reissued.

Thanks for the chin-up.

Ivan said...


You are somehow an inspiration for other writers.
I don't know if the singer Jewel had any babies, but she was a bit like that. Talented woman.


Heather said...


You're too sweet :)

the walking man said...

Thanks for your words but I want to address your concerns, most of my problems sleeping are pain related from the untreated accident injuries of April, the drug black out would never have happened had i not been brought to a state of comatose sleep walking had not pain from my neck brought me to some level of consciousness. The only option I have at the present moment for the pain are bump y drug regimen up to leve2 oral narcotics or level 1 narcotics shot directly into my spinal cord, neither of which appeals to me, so I wait for my real doctor to rattle her beads and give me the right options.

My diabetes has een with me for well over 25 years and i still have al the necessary toes and digits they ust don't work as well as they did as a teen ager, but fuck it, it IS well controlled with the insulin shots and no i do not do the prescribed regimen the dietitians wanted. my last H1aC was 6.3 and had has been at that level for a minimum of 5 years. That disease is the least of my concerns ...come to think of it I have no concerns other than...patiently waiting to reach the final goal i have in this last mortal breath.

I have accomplished every other one I ever had and God and i did a fucking fine job of getting me there. The drug black outs are more sleep deprivation than anything else and eventually they may make it into a short or something.

As long as the black outs don't make something else into my shorts I will be fine.

The alcohol thing well i guess you never beat it but i haven't had one of those really fucked up blackouts since I quit drinking a fifth a night almost 8 years ago.

Be well and fuck the young punks coming up looking for their tenure, especially the chicks as Bukowski would say.

Or as we would say in the less cultured Detroit, slap dem bitches down.



JR's Thumbprints said...

I can't breathe. said...


It is somehow fitting that the lady bloggers in our acquaintance have put up Rudyar Kipling's IF as a shibboleth to embrace.

I haven "Kippled" lately, but he says in part,

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

Ah, yes, inspiring words.

But there comes a time when the wisdom of dead men doesn't quite pour down to cool and mellow you, times when you feel like an anvil that had been hit upon too often; some things in life are just plain unacceptable, as, say, losing your mate.

Life is way different from the way the philosophers and he poets tell you.
This attitude, of course, puts one in danger of the "Ass's Bridge", where you think you know more than the great dead men and women.

How profound must have been Kipling's pain when "he stoop(ed) and build 'em up again with worn-out tools."

I have certainly been there and found that sometimes it is best to stop chiselling at that rock, get a good night's sleep and wake up somehow born again in the morning. To hell with that Sysipan ramp, that hellish goddamn workbench;
start a new draft.

I am seeing, in what's left of my mind, an old cartoon of the hippie who sees that a friend has a problem. His head is right up his ass. Says the caption: "The solution to your problem is perfectly obvious."

"When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade," says the vastly overrated Dale Carnegie echoing some Epicurean philosophy he'd probably never even heard of. Nah, you have to ingest the entire pitcher. This will probably make your immune system act up and you'll ditch the worm.

The same for Norman Vincen Peale and his positive thinking....I have found myself that negative thinking yields better results; predicaments seem to ask for quantum solutions; it gets darkest before the light. "Kick at the darkness till it bleeds some light," says our own Bruce Cockburn.

My old philosophy prof said that in spite of all the attacks levelled against science, it can at least wipe away unnecessary pain.

Looks like this is happening for you.

Yet, when I was going through my own hard time, I couldn't help perusing the quotes of that (original?) doctor,

"Art is long.
Life is short.
Healing difficult.

Somehow, in the realization of how difficult healing is, how hard it is to get back to normal after you body has been thrown out of kilter--that is when the healing came.

Ivan said...


Can't breathe?

Maybe it's becaue I just made it with a chicken.

(Most foul). :)

Sienna said...

I have a peacock that would love to meet you........


the walking man said...


it's been many years since I have cared for or about my physical body. If it gets broken, busted or even destroyed I don't care. To a point I will let the insurance vultures feed on the road kill but after they have taken enough to cover some of the uninsureds written off money I just go on.

I ain't Frank Sinatra but I will just keep doing it my way. Mostly because I know the body will heal to the best of the physical way it can; but the real healing is in the soul where you accept the new circumstance of the physical defect and the spirit within where there is no defect.

So I can't shoulder an 80 pound pack anymore and walk thirty miles in four hours or so anymore, it doesn't matter because I did it. So now it takes me eight hours to walk three miles and I need my cane to keep me upright while I do it. I did it.

So I write everyday and some of it is worth trying to publish, I published before and know what it feels like to accomplish it, I don't care to try anymore because I have done it. My financial existence doesn't depend on it.

Even had a couple letters to the editor published, where my mom would call and say "is that your letter in this mornings paper?" All I said was "could be," never went to buy a paper to find out. My life and income don't depend on getting my words out to a large audience.

I have spoken my poetry and shorts to crowds of up to a hundred plus people and they were accepted by them. That I kind of miss doing but I am not going to chase after venues because here they close and open so fast it makes my head spin, so I blog them and after awhile take the old out of the public domain and start over.

I've written rough drafts of seven novels all in less than a month but then spent a couple of years in the re-writes and of them I never published a word but four of them I liked enough to spend the money to have them copyrighted legally. But I didn't like the words of the couple of agents that sounded interested so I just said thanks but no thanks.

I think I make it clear that writing to me is my art, even in my blog responses but I also try to make it clear what I do care about, and it certainly isn't me, it's you and JR, Michelle and Josie, Leslie, Erik and Pam and Liz and Cheri and everyone else I put a smart ass reply to because at least trying to lighten peoples loads is the most important thing my life gives me.

There really are less than ten people in my face world that appear on a regular basis and I like them as much as the people who cross my path in my cyburbian world and try to do the same thing, lighten their load with words.

That spirit within me, that gift from God which saved my life while I lived it more times than I can recount. After we couldn't fix cars anymore God took me aside and said "hey dumb ass, that was just temporary bullshit to support your family and pay the bills, now do what you have been doing for 35 years that made you content, write."

So I do, I have been healed from the deficits of my life which were all named fear, and the last fear that I had was beaten down when i was able to make the old lady at least somewhat financially secure without having my name on any of it.

It has been many years since i have feared the big one...death, God which has been my best professor of all has already proven that she can raise humanity from the dead just by thinking about it so why should I fear it?

Now go take care of Pam's pheasant that is one horny ass bird.

Much Peace to you Ivan

mark said...

Why ignore the animal kindom?
"Hail to thee, blithe bird!"

I am practising my piercing cry.
JR will be cassowary to the fact.


benjibopper said...

i like it.

i have several little men, women too. it's a convention back there. said...

You a writer, dude.


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, TWM took the word I was going to say several days ago, but I kept getting interrupted everytime I came to visit.

The word: Fear.

That word says it all. For a host of different things.

Where do you come up with the titles for your posts! said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Liz.
The word probably was fear.

Maybe the Walking Man and I have somehow cross-pollinated. I think we may both be scared sh*tless in Gaza.
I was moved by something he wrote just today and I think I'll do a blog on it.

Where do I come up with the titles?
...Probably by going to the same coffee houses you used to go to in the hippie days, just about the time when rock'n'roll was overcoming folk music. Some of the spoofers of folk, who would rather play rock, began to do parodies of folk and folk performers, i.e.,
"Have you heard of Peter, Paul and Money?" And: "Ever since my masochistic baby left me, I've got nothing to beat but the wall.
"Ever since my masochistic baby left me
"I've got nothing to block but my hat..."
This, of course, through a waft of marijuana, can lead to all sorts of associations.
You start to spoof the spoof.