athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
I just got word that one of my oldest friends, with whom I had fallen completely out of touch, died this morning from a massive heart attack. Evidently, he'd been having symptoms for a while, but had just started a new job, and didn't want to take the time to see a doctor ...

I had been thinking just this past week or two that I needed to get in touch with him again.

I don't think he was more than six years my senior. As I said to the mutual friend who let me know, my being the youngest of our group doesn't seem like that big a gap after passing the half-century mark.

We met way back when I was still in high school; I was at a science fiction convention, overheard a fascinating conversation on abstruse philosophy of fantasy magic, and, quite uncharacteristically, interjected myself into it. I got two long-enduring friendships out of it.

At the time, Jim had already written at least one multi-volume fantasy epic and had several more mostly finished. He never got them published outside of long-defunct fanzines, and if you do a search on his name on Google, all you'll find is his soft-porn anime fanfics. Our whole circle read his stuff, though, in photocopies of his single-spaced typewritten manuscripts. I used to have custody of his "back-up files", in the days when that meant a Big Box of Manuscripts in Manila Envelopes.

But now ... dammit. I've lost a friend, but ... it hurts just as much that nobody will ever have the chance to read those novels of his, that he'll never get the fame that he should have.

I know what I've lost. But anybody who's ever enjoyed a fantasy novel has lost something, too, and most of you will never know it.

I need to start writing again. Serious writing. For Jim, who was always goading me to get my own ideas down on paper.

And maybe I'll throw a few nods to him along the way.

Good night, Jim.

I should have been a better friend.

athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
A common reaction to Robin Williams' suicide is surprise, most particularly surprise that he suffered from depression.

That part … did not surprise me at all.

Look at him. Pick any movie, any scene, especially the ones where he's smiling. His smile, more often that not, is almost apologetic.

That is the face of a man who is constantly, keenly aware of the fragile, transient beauty of life and existence … and the more beautiful the moment, the more that transience weighs upon him.

That is the face of someone who feels sadness in the midst of the most sincere joy, because of that joy.

That's depression.

It's not just languishing in the dark and reading Goth poetry. It can also be smiling with tears in your eyes. It's not an inability to feel joy or happiness – it's when even joy brings pain.

Some people think that if it weren't for the lows in life, we couldn't appreciate the highs. When you suffer from depression, it’s exactly the opposite: the highs in life just bring the lows into sharp relief.

If you look at Robin Williams' life – his loving family, his career and fans, his financial security, his supportive community – and think that, in the face of all that, being depressed "doesn't make any sense" – you're absolutely correct.

Clinical depression isn't an emotional state. It’s a chemical imbalance. Those serotonin levels don’t respond to logic or reason or perspective, and even when you know all these things intellectually, they don’t magically make the emptiness go away.

I was lucky. I had acute depression, not chronic, and I don't seem to have whatever quirk of psychology or metabolism that leads to substance abuse or addiction issues. I can empathize with the late Mr. Williams, deeply, but I can't ever know what it was really like in his head, to have the Black Dog sinking its teeth in your throat, even when surrounded by those you love and who love you in return.

Subject line courtesy of Patton Oswalt's Twitter.
athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)

It's a song about the loss of innocence... and we've all lost a little today.

Good night, Mary.

athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)

It's a song about the loss of innocence... and we've all lost a little today.

Good night, Mary.

November 2016

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