Saturday, September 12, 2015

Monty Python and the Order of the Phoenix

Entry the 13th

2:18pm Central Time Zone


Still living with my parents for now, the house by the brook, the cotton fields they're getting rid of to build a strip mall, suburban Huntsville even though we're closer to Madison, Alabama but not that Alabama as my mom likes to say, Deep South, Merica, Third Rock from the Sun.

So yes, I got out of the hospital again back in 2011.  Things started to change after that.  I decided to get a new psychiatrist.  She's better than the one I had before.  Much better.  I still see her.  I also decided to get a therapist.  My therapist is awesome.  I still see her.

A little while after I got out of the hospital, I did an Intensive Outpatient group therapy thing.  It lasted three weeks from about nine to three every weekday, if I remember correctly.  It's one of the best experiences of my life.  I still have friends from that group.

A couple years after I switched doctors, my new psychiatrist started me on an antidepressant called Cymbalta.  It was subtle at first, but as the drug worked its way into my system over the course of a week or so, the effect grew stronger.  I felt not very depressed anymore.  No more thoughts of wanting to die.  No more randomly remembering my worst experiences or living through my most horrific fantasies.  I'm still on Cymbalta to this day--approximately two and a half years later--and it still works just as well as it did.

After starting Cymbalta, things started happening.  I wrote a short novel that was based on an outline I had written while manic back in 2011.  I edited it, trying to make it better.  I edited it again.  I showed part of it to some of my friends, and only one of them liked it.  But she really gushed about it.  I thought if I could write something that one out of fifteen people fell in love with, I'd have a wonderful career.

Soon, I started thinking practically of how to get a job.  It occurred to me my resume had been blank for too long.  I decided to volunteer with the American Red Cross.  I was assigned to a Disaster Action Team, or DAT, and one week out of every eight we were on call for all local emergencies.  We would all meet at headquarters and pile into an Emergency Response Vehicle, or ERV.  Mostly we responded to house fires.  I never got to do any of the really serious stuff.  It was my job to hand out refreshments to firefighters, cops, sheriffs, displaced families, onlookers, and anyone else nearby who wanted something.  It was a small thing, but often very appreciated (especially by those firefighters).

For a while, I also volunteered for data entry/filing with the Health and Safety Department of the Red Cross.  They train Lifeguards, Certified Nurse Assistants, and plan events to make the public more safety-conscious.  Eventually, it dawned on me that they were offering employment training that I myself could use.  I decided being a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) was a good fit for me.

I started the four-week training course.  I made over 100% on every test.  I finished with a 107% average for the course, top of my class.

After that, I went to the state exam and passed, and I was certified as a nurse assistant in the state of Alabama.

Soon after, thanks to some people working with me from Phoenix Inc.--a company that contracts with the State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation--I got a job as a care tech at an Adult Day Care facility for the elderly and disabled.  It was a part-time minimum wage job.

As of this writing, I still work there, but I'm putting in my two-weeks notice on Monday.  I have just been offered a job at Huntsville Hospital.  It's a full-time, benefited position that pays significantly more than minimum wage.

I'll save my money for several months, and before you know it, I'll be moved out of my parents' house.  If all goes according to plan and God willing.

Amazed and Excited and Scared,

fiasco joe

"Great, Kid--don't get cocky!!"
-Professor R. J. Lupin

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Confessional Booth

Entry the 12th 6:17pm Central Time Sunday Newly outside the psychiatric unit at Huntsville Hospital, a few days ago Spam Count: 500 Maybe I was wrong about the never getting married and having kids thing. Maybe I was wrong about a lot of things. Ponderously, fiasco joe "It's alive! It's ALIVE!!" -Hanibal Lecter

Saturday, October 2, 2010

From the Foothills of the Ozarks

Entry the 11th

6:28 pm central time zone
computer room at my grandma's house, mountain home, arkansas, that one state beneath missouri, you know the state where bill clinton was from

Spam Count: 360

I'm 27, and all four of my grandparents are still alive. My dad's dad fell and broke his hip this week--he's 95 years old. We weren't sure he was going to get through it. His circulatory system is about what you'd expect, I guess, and it was looking iffy. Thing is, his morale was really low, even before he fell. He's been talking a lot recently about how he's ready to go. He was an engineer in the navy in WWII, and he told my uncle, "No sailor has any business living this long."

He was forty when my dad was born. I think my grandmother was in her early twenties at that point. They met in Birmingham, where both of them were working at a big radio station. She was the new secretary at the station, and he was an engineer. I guess he was about thirty-eight then; he had already been married once. He asked around, and the guys he worked with told him she was "in her twenties". She was exactly twenty. By the time they both realized how much older he was than her, they were already serious.

He's always said he attributes his longevity to the late age at which he started his family. I think there's something to that.

Anyway, it seems like he'll pull through this one. From some of the things he's been saying, I think his ordeal has kind of refreshed his interest in living a little longer.

I was going to go on and talk about losing family members, but you guys probably already think I'm a total emo-kid as it is (I sort of am), and anyway, I kind of like the high note this wound up hitting, so nevermind.

fiasco joe

"I'm gettin' too old for this shit."
-Gandalf the Gray

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Know Thyself

entry the 10th

3:33am central time zone
the crossroads

Spam Count: 333

I said before that I would create a post when I had hit a turning point, and that I would try to keep this blog interesting. That should account for the long gap between this post and the previous one. If I were keeping to that, the gap would be even longer.

I helped my brother with another skit yesterday. Maybe that's interesting. But it's not what this post is about.

Looking for jobs online has been like peering into a glass made of my own patheticness. I feel like I've worked my fair share of dead-end, manual labor type jobs, but the only positions outside that world require education and experience. Obviously. We all knew that.

I just woke up from a dream. In that dream, I was still in High School, and had been for the last nine years. About half-way through the dream, I realized that I had graduated in 2001. Why was I still here, and when would I finally leave? None of the other students realized I was older than them. I got the sense that it was time to go, to finally move on.

I've been having dreams similar to this, off and on for more than a year. Considering that I sometimes sleep for eighteen hours a day, this dream-world has come to feel like a second reality for me. Even now that I'm awake, I feel like it's true, that I really have been stuck in that past existence for almost ten years now. I'm not a big believer in dream interpretation, but I think the meaning is pretty apparent.

For the last few days, I've been considering getting back into college. I would probably start out taking a few hours at Calhoun Community College, then go on to bet my bachelor's from Athens State, probably in a field related to computer programming. Why computer programming? It's something I already know I can do, and it's something I know I could find work with here in Huntsville.

The decision seems very rational. It's probably the wisest thing for me to do at this point. But I'm afraid.

I'm afraid I'm still not strong enough to handle college. I'm afraid my motives aren't good enough. Maybe I'm deceiving myself into taking this seriously because I just don't want to face facts and go out and get another crappy job--one that I'll probably have to keep for the rest of my life.

Safe to say, either way, I'm afraid.

In the middle of all this anxiety and navel-gazing, something occurs to me. It was in high school that I first started to understand that there was probably something medically wrong with me. I had known since I was about thirteen that I was sadder than most other people, but I thought I had some good reasons to be (not going into that in this post). By the time I was about sixteen, I started to learn more about clinical depression, and I was hesitant to apply what I was learning to myself.

In a real way, the last nine years of my life have been about exactly that: figuring out and coming to terms with my diagnosis. I was misdaignosed with unipolar depression before I had my episode in '08, at which point all doubt about my mental illness disappeared (and I also learned why the antidepressants hadn't been working a few years before).

It's true: Part of me still doesn't want to accept living with this disorder. Part of me is still attracted to suicide. In a way, the last nine years have been a slow kind of farewell to life. First detaching from college--the "normal" path of a young man's life. Then detaching from family and friends when I moved into that trailer park and shut down socially. Then detaching from functionality when I quit my job to go back to school, only to stop attending classes. Then detaching from sanity when I went manic.

But I won't kill myself. And, if not, I should start accepting life again, and move on.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. The two-minded man accomplishes nothing.

Time to choose one path or the other.

fiasco joe

"You can't see past a choice you don't understand."
-The Oracle

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Honest Toil

entry the 9th

1:40am central time zone
on my mom's laptop, in my parents' house, mooching off my parents, have been for way too long, i'm too old to be here, i really need to get a job and move out

Spam Count: 248

The book is now priority # 2. Becoming financially independent, a far-leading first.

I've been cruising job websites looking for suitable work. I'm probably going to have to settle for something somewhat menial. Or very menial. I've been wondering, though, if I could pull off more of a customer service type of job. I'm not necessarily all that great face-to-face... then again, I wouldn't say I'm terrible, either. And I can fake a lot of the difference. I do like helping people, and I usually make a point of being polite. I listen well.

Believe it or not, I even briefly considered becoming a cop. It's sort of the closest thing to joining the military I could get. (The armed forces don't accept the mentally ill as recruits, for understandable reasons.) At this point in my life, the way things are going, I would join the military tomorrow if I could. To put it simply, it offers what I lack. The training, the structure, the sense of purpose.

When I was younger, I never would have considered going into the military. Partially because I had some issues with authority, but primarily because of my lethargy and apathy. I was lazy, and I didn't give a crap, and it showed. I was in ROTC my freshman year in high school. It wasn't too bad in and of itself, but I sucked at it. For the most part.

So anyway. Getting a day job.

I'm actually pretty excited about the idea.

fiasco joe

PS I have two articles on now. I'm registered as fiasco joe, I think you can just do a search for me if you want to see.

"The spice must flow."
-Mr. Crabs

Monday, August 16, 2010


entry the 8th

10:54pm central time zone
cell V, detention block 8, azkaban prison, misty mountains, limbo

Spam Count: 200

Pretend like I started this post off with an insightful reference to Jungian archetypes, because that's what Anima/Animus is.

Interestingly, Animus also refers to a driving force, energy source, or motivation. Which is relevant because I'm struggling with the motivation to get work done on my book.

Anima is also the name of one of the main characters in my book.

I've been looking around for ways to make money, and I happened across a place called I'm registered there, but I haven't published any articles yet.

fiasco joe

"Aren't you a little short for a Storm Trooper?"
-Evey Hammond

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MC Rex Harrison

entry the 7th

2:48am central time zone
spent all of Monday asleep, really need to take a shower, using Mom's laptop, on my bed, in my room, adrift in the void between universes for all it matters

Spam Count: 158

Quick update on the book: the second scene is done. It came out a lot better than I thought it would. My characters are really showing their stuff already. In fact, they've put me in a weird position, because they're going to be much more proactive in the next scene than I expected, so I'm actually having to develop some things more than I had. I think there may even be a fight scene!

But this entry isn't about the book.

My younger brother lives in Chicago, with his wife. He has a degree in theater. He's extremely talented and funny, but he's been having a hard time breaking into the Chicago theater scene. It's sort of insular up there. He says it's like a big family. If you're part of the family, you're never going to have to worry about finding work. If you're not in the family, you practically don't exist.

So this was a big problem, until recently. He got accepted into the Second City program, which is basically a school of improvisational comedy. If you haven't heard of Second City, you may have heard of Saturday Night Live. Almost every cast member on SNL--including the old greats like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and others--graduated from Second City. And now my little brother is there. Exciting!

Just this weekend, he e-mailed me a little sketch he wrote and asked for some editorial input. The sketch is entitled MC Rex Harrison. It's about Rex Harrison starting a rap career. He's on a talk show hosted by Nick Cannon promoting his debut album. His DJ is Sean Connery, and his producer is Patrick Stewart. The humor, obviously, is in ebonics street slang coming out of Rex Harrison's mouth. If you need to, do a search on Youtube for Rex Harrison to remind yourself how he sounds. Yeah, it's pretty funny.

I did a rewrite, offering two main contributions: A) I got rid of Sean Connery and replaced him with James Mason. Again, do a Youtube search to see why. B) I actually wrote some lines of rap for Rex Harrison and James Mason to perform.

As follows:

Yes, yes, you all had better watch out for this
Call it another British invasion as I'm quite the optimist
Yes, I believe it was Milton who said it best
When he said, "Y'all step back while I drop this shit, BOYYYYYYYY."

Now, I have never been one to front or hate
I assure you I almost never prevaricate
Mind you, I have been feeling a bit ghetto of late
So perhaps now I ought to hand it to DJ J-May, TAKE IT!

Thank you so much, Rex Harrison, for that timely segue
As it's high time for James Mason to enter the fray
Seize the day
As they say
Carpe Diem and get paid

Ha, you other rappers can't hang with that Latin, can you?
To bad, 'cause your English cousins pick that shit up in grade school

Mind you, don't be deceived by my superior elocution,
DJ J-May still street like a sideways pistol shooting

Yes, that's correct, I'm suspected of perpetrating a drive-by
Some trifling fellow tried to disrespect Sir Alec Guinness and I
So we hopped up in our Escalade and saw to it that that hater died


What what! Quite so, old boy.

Believe that.

I say, good show.