On Therapy and Artistic Immortality…On a Tuesday, At That

SS, in full Blackhawk "Playoff Beard" Regalia

Good morning, Confession-ees!  I’m confessing today from strange places and times.  Tuesday morning.  Not my usual day.

You might be thinking: WTF, him again, we know to avoid PLC on Sundays as to not subject our eyes to his ridiculous blabber, and now he’s tricked us; posting on a Tuesday!  Look away, Eyes!  Look away!  WTF!  WTF!

As am I.  As am I.

(Or…you might not be thinking that at all.  Who knows what we think, right?)

Yesterday, I attended my very first therapy session, with a therapist who one of my best friend’s recommended.  To be truthful, the decision to try therapy (again) wasn’t a shot from the hip, I’ve gone back and forth for a while now on it’s necessity.  I settled down many a night on my mother’s verandah, sucking on a bottle of Knob (“Knob Creek, the only bourbon Sleep Sunshine will pass-out from“…still waiting for that check, Knob Creek; remember Cheyenne Drive is spelled with 2 N‘s), staring out into a Chicago rainstorm, going back and forth:

To Therapy, or Not-To Therapy; the question.

During this debate, I recall an instance, another of my best friend’s likes to retell, about a time when I was in college, and one buddy, lets call him Goro, and another of my best friend’s, let’s call her Silvanopolis…yeah, that’s what I said: Silvanopolis.  She’s part Russian, part lost city at the bottom of the ocean.  A Russo-opolis mix.  Very sexy.

Here’s the interplay:

INT.  Living Room–College Apartment–Day

Beer bottles and fast-food containers and passed-out individuals lying around on a beer-stained carpet, top-less girl sprawled on an adjacent couch.  GORO and SILVANOPOLIS sitting next to one another engaged in a heated DOOM battle, smoking four-foot glass bong between them.

Goro: Yo, Sil, what shall we get Mike for his birthday?

Silvanopolis: I don’t know.  A psychiatrist.

GORO nods his head.

Fade to black.

My College Yearbook Photo: Gosh, I looked so much younger then!

Harkening back, I question if I’ve always been sorta crazy, and come to the conclusion I guess I have.

But now I’m doing something about it.  Kudos to me.

Really, what I seek out of therapy, what I expressed to my therapist, lets call her Fredreicka Goldenfarb (what is with me and Russian names this morning), was my desire to have the ability to de-clutter my brain to a point where I can make some Big Choices in my life.  At the moment I feel so buried, mentally, so over-extended, that it’s hard for me even to decide on what to have for lunch, much less figure out what career I want to do for the next ten years, what state I need to live (as in geographical area; not mental, IE–catatonic), who I will marry and have children with, etc.

The only part of my life which has remained relatively constant is my work, my writing, and I wonder if the roller-coaster of productivity I’ve experienced–weeks of 70,000-word-production coupled with weeks of struggling-to-write-a-decent-page-of-prose–can be aided by this de-cluttering of brain.

For her part, Fredreicka stated her confidence that we’d get there, that she’d do all the heavy-lifting (then proceeded to ask me how much I’d pay for her services; to which I wrote down the secret password to my trust fund on a slip of paper and handed it to her.  Then she mentioned how it would get worse before it got better and I snagged back the slip of paper and emptied the change out my pockets onto her nice therapy table, instead).

One of the touchstones for me has always been, can I be “normal” and still hold onto my artistic edge?

Fredreicka again seemed confident.  She said, not only would my artistic edge not be affected, but I’d be a happier person, which would allow my creatively to flow more freely, and I’d have more control over it, eliminating, or at least tempering, the frustration of never knowing which Sleep Sunshine will settle down to the keys–the Manic-uberProductive-SS, where the sentences flow like I’ve possessed Jonathan Lethem’s fingers; or the Depressive-NearIlliterate-Nicholas-Sparks-clone.

We hang onto this creativity like it’s something that will hold us to the earth when the tornado of our lives rages around us.  It’s what we have.  It’s what keeps us sane.  It’s who we are, isn’t it?  Non-artists don’t get that, do they?

Yet, our creative endeavors won’t feed us (literally and figuratively), won’t cloth us, won’t hold us when tragedy strikes, won’t love us back (not in the way our human-ness needs), won’t grab a beer with us, won’t provide us children (real children), won’t allow us to feel the great stimulations living, real living, has to offer: eternal love, friendship, family, orgasm…

Often I think of some of the greatest artists of Time, and note how many of them, outside their art, lived miserable existences–failed marriages, estranged children, friend-less, penniless, drug and alcohol addictions, shotgun chokings–and I wonder, I do, if that is the price we must pay for greatness.

And if it is, will I make this sacrifice?  Can I?  Should I?

Fredreicka seems to think not.

Me?  I hope not.  I want the love, the marriage, the baby-carriage.  I want all the gifts I bestow on my characters and with them all the pain they bring.  I want to feel, in real-life, viscerally, not just on the page, through my creations.  But mostly, I want artistic immortality.  And if I can’t have both–if we all really must choose Red Pill or Blue–I remain unsure of what choice to make.

My hope is Fredreicka will help me de-clutter my brain enough to make the best decision I can.

Thank you for reading.

As always, I wish you great words!


For those of you in the Chicago-land area, Sleep Sunshine (Michael James Greenwald) will be reading his poem “I Am Lane” at 42 Degrees North Latitude on Thursday, May 20th, at 7PM.  (I’ll have two, no three, therapy sessions under my belt by that point, so the chance you’ll witness some on-stage weeping is really good!)

Click here for more details.

Thanks for supporting your local Chicago artists!