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How to Grow Dragons

Why, hello there! It’s very nice to meet you. My name is Kyle Branton and I am the seven year running Best Garden in Gerbleberm. As a Gerblebermite, that is, one who lives in Gerbleberm, I have great civic pride and nowhere is that displayed more than in my dragon garden. Yes, I said dragon garden. You see, I grow dragons. Big ones, small ones, winged, four-legged, green, brown, even yellow polka-dotted purple dragons. They’re quite spectacular!

How does one grow a dragon, I bet you’re wondering. Carefully, I answer. Ha ha. Anyone can grow petunias, roses, lemon balm, or a night blooming cereus but it takes real gardening skills to grow a dragon. Obviously, my win streak has caused some dismay among a few of my neighbors, including the late Mr. Derbykind who lives next door. He’s a ghost and keeps a very respectable garden of nightshade and arsenic. I’ve heard gossip that it was because of the arsenic that he became a ghost. Still, better a ghost than a zombie like Mrs. Hattie down the road.

A word of warning: growing dragons isn’t for the novice. I have spent many years growing golems, griffins, tomatoes, and goblins. It wasn’t until ten years ago when I read Brimworth’s Unique Gardening that I discovered you can, in fact, grow dragons. Over the years, I’ve wittled my procces down to some simple steps and I’ll share them with you.

First, you start with the dirt. It has to be clean with no signs of weeds, grass, or pixies. A good compost is recommended as well. I keep a compost bucket in my kitchen filled with banana peels, coffee grounds, stalks from magical herbs, egg shells, et cetera. You simply cover your dirt with the compost and let the rich magic absorb into the soil.

Now, my secret, and it’s only one that I’m going to share with you because you have a very kind face, is to force gold coins in the soil. I have a dwarf cousin who often gives me the rarer pieces of gold in exchange for me doing his taxes.

I then plant fire flower seeds which have soaked in special mixtures from my apothecary. This is where I’m able to get the dazzling blend of wyverns. I plant the seeds at night, between of 3:42:37AM and 3:42:38AM. Obviously, I have to work fast.

One doesn’t normally need to sacrifice a chupacabra to water the grounds but I do it out of tradition. Your mileage may vary. Water weekly and don’t forget to check for imps. Those buggers get everywhere.

After all of that is done, you allow the dragons to grow normally. Within a few weeks, you should see some sprouting wings. By midsummer, I tend to have a very healthy crop of dragons. The Gerbleberm Civic Association then schedules visits around the neighborhood and judge them on cleanliness, health, and vitality. When they visit my garden, they are enraptured by my prized blooms. And my hard work has paid off. Since starting dragon growing seven years ago, I’ve won the Best Garden prize. I believe the beauty and wonder my garden inspires ensures my continued victory as long as I grow them. Maybe about a hundred years give or take a few. Releasing my fire breathers to destroy the competition doesn’t hurt. I just wish they wouldn’t devour the grand judge each year. It’s always hard to find a replacement.

I see you’re very eager to leave, possibly to grow a magnificent garden of your own. Happy gardening and, please, don’t give me a reason to have one of my dragons visit.

Good day.

I Wanted to Bring You Roses This Morning — fiction

I’m taking a creative writing class. Today, I wrote this, taking the first line from Marceline Desbordes-Valmore’s poem, “The Roses of Saadi”, as a writing prompt.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. Then I remembered that you hated flowers because they’ve been cut short in life, gifted benignly as a means of romantic gestures or to make up for coming home late to dinner that one time. There are better ways of expressing my love for you. A poem, perhaps?

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. I wanted to pick the petals off and drip them all over your body as you slept. I wanted you to wake up, aroused by the scent of their perfume. Maybe you would’ve smiled. Maybe you would’ve complained about making a mess. Maybe we would have made love. Maybe you would’ve just gone back to sleep. But you’re not here.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning, but the florist doesn’t open until 10. Maybe I should’ve swiped some petunias from that house on the corner that you used to stare at wistfully.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. I wanted to make you coffee, give you breakfast in bed, kiss your sweet face, absorb the glow of your smile and the shine in your eyes. But I cannot.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. You are gone. I miss you. I miss you every day. I think of you always.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. It’s been one year. I’ve never visited since that day we let you go. When we said goodbye. When you…

I wanted to bring you roses this morning, but I can’t. I cannot look at your headstone. I can’t see your name etched into marble, the year of your birth and your death, that dash in between that means the sum total of your life. I’m in that dash with you. We were that dash. We loved, we danced in the rain, we ate meals, rubbed each others’ shoulders, argued, threw things in rage, made up, had hot makeup sex. We held hands, took car trips, visited that bookstore in Paris. We lived with your disease, we came up with a plan, we celebrated your progress, mourned your defeats, we planned your funeral. We then became you and I. You wasted away. I carried you to the bathroom, washed you. You thanked me. You said you love me. I love you, so very much.

I wanted to bring you roses this morning. Instead, I came empty handed. I cried, ran my fingers over your name, sobbed, laid on your grave, broke down until my eyes were red and snot poured from my nose onto the ground. The ground where you are now. I love you, so very much. I miss you, so very much. You are gone, the warmth from your body, the color from your cheeks, the space in my life. I’m trying to get through this, trying to move on. I can’t do this. I want to claw through the dirt and rescue you. I couldn’t save you, I’m a failure. No, don’t do this to me. I can’t live without you. “Hey,” I can hear you whisper in my ear, “it’s okay. I’ll always be here.” And you are, you’re in my thoughts, I can see you in our house, I can still smell you in the clothes you wore.

“Let go,” you’d say. “Release me from your torture, and I’ll be in your heart always.”

“It’s okay,” you’d say. “You can bring me roses next time.”

Out of the Darkness Walk

But it isn’t all black roses and corpses. I manage to have good days in amongst the dark moments.

Yesterday, I participated in the Out of the Darkness Cincinnati Walk for the Ohio Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It was incredibly cold and rainy but, as the hackneyed press would say, that didn’t dampen the resolve of the 2k+ people who registered for the walk. The walk was held at Sawyer Point on the riverfront of Cincinnati, Ohio.

A boy and his beads.

Participants were encouraged to wear different color beads to signify their connection to suicide. I chose Green (someone who has struggled with suicide) and Blue (someone who supports the cause of suicide prevention).

The walk itself was short, due I’m sure to Fall dropping on the tristate area like a collapsed wall. Though it was only a mile and a half, I really wanted to do this walk as one who struggles frequently with suicidal thoughts and ideations. Since my most recent hospital stay, I’ve been pretty upfront about my battle with depression, anxiety, negative self-talk, and so on. This was my first real outing to support this cause.

Speaking of being out there…

As has been mentioned here, I have a Doctor Who-based podcast, Harry Sullivan Is An Imbecile. Our most recent episode touches on using Doctor Who as a means of coping with anxiety and depression. It’s a good chat as my broadcasting partner and I discuss how we struggle with our own personal demons and I’m pretty forward and upfront about the struggles I’ve had in the past. If you’re inclined to give it a listen, which I encourage you do to, you can listen through the player here or visit this link here.

And a final note, if you are someone who struggles and you’ve taken the time to read this blog, thank you. I know you may not think it but there are people who love you and think you’re incredible awesome. Keep fighting. You matter.

Catching up with my past

A couple months ago, I applied for disability for my depression. While I knew it’d be a long and drawn out process, I hadn’t counted on the toll that recounting all of the struggles, therapy visits, hospital stays, and so on, would leave. It’s not for weaklings, that’s for sure. My reasoning is that my day-to-day struggles are pretty hard and it’s been hard for me to find stable employment without quitting or, more often than not, getting fire. A check, if I got accepted, would at least help me get back on my feet as I tried to figure out what I’m doing and where I’m going.

A few days ago, I was notified that I was denied on the grounds that I didn’t qualify. That’s right, I wasn’t depressed enough to be considered disabled. Or something like that. It spurred a pleasant, anxious “Oh fuck, what now?” moment. As I said, getting a disability check would’ve seriously solved my financial issues and set me up for getting back on my feet. However, there was also a part of me that felt relief. Yay! I’m fucked up but not that fucked up. After all, I’m able to wash myself, I keep a good house, and I’m functional enough to hold a conversation with other people. Getting a check would be like a Get Out of Jail Free Card.

What a mindfuck.

These last nine years… eleven if I mark it from the day my mom died… have been brutal on me. I’ve been through a lot and just allowed each traumatic event to wash over me. It confirmed the negative messages that my brain was telling me about how much I sucked. “I couldn’t keep a marriage going. My own child wants nothing to do with me. I’m not responsible enough to have a car or live on my own. I’m not an adult. I deserve to make shit money because I applied myself once and that came to a festering collapse.” And so on.

I failed at being a manager when I worked at WCET-TV. I can admit that and know that it’s true and not some negative chatter my brain churns out. I can admit this because I failed at something I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a manager but it was the safe choice since 1) it was being shoved at me and 2) my ex always insisted that, despite how happy my job was, I wasn’t making enough money. I took the easy choice. After all, it was more pay, I’d have more responsibility and the manager of the department was going to stick around and help ease me into the position.

Then she abruptly retired.

I floundered. I hired assistants to do the day-to-day stuff of scheduling promo tagging, creating monthly guides, etc. I still could edit video but I was also in charge of the department and had to attend manager meetings, make decisions, apply for grants, create marketing calendars, and a whole host of other things that I frankly wasn’t ready for. I felt like I was running in shoes that were six sizes too big for me. “Hey, wait!” I’d yell as I tried to keep up, my feet barely able to keep the shoes from flying off at each step.

I felt out of my depth and I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. And then after my mom died, I lost all fire in my belly to do anything productive. I slacked off at work. When they downsized during the merger, I was one of the first to go. I felt shitty and had no desire to get back into television, deal with marketing/promotion jobs, and basically because a stubborn, depressed shit. That began the avalanche that led to my divorce, bankruptcy, and the other degenerative events that I loving refer to as My Litany.

And I’ve stayed that way for the last nine years. I’ve lost a lot and not once did anything I lose incite any desire to try to regain it. I just accepted it. Because it would be hard trying to win it back, I suppose, and I felt I’ve had all of the fight kicked out of me. This is how I find myself now, a year away from 50 and having spent one fifth of my life in some pretty dank waters.

So when I learned I was denied disability, two things happened. There was the anxiety but there was also the realization that I can’t always go for an easy fix if I’m to get out of this situation. Life isn’t going to hand me a big check just because I say so, it has to be something that I must work at. I’ve not been that happy with how my life has been these last nine years but it’s only been this year and especially these last few months that it’s hit me in the face how little control I exert over it. I want to change that, I want better than what I have now. I want to contribute more to the house and the living situation that I’m in. No longer do I want to just do one job and hope that it’s enough to carry me through, nor do I want to sweat each and every First of the Month to be sure I’ve got enough money in my bank account.

I want to discover what it is that I want to do, how I can make that happen, and develop the determination to get it all done. I need to turn my shoulds into musts. I want to figure out my purpose in life and make money and be able to contribute more to my situation. At the same time, I need to recognize what my gifts are.

Focus. I need focus. Wahey!

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing an existential moment, wondering what the fuck the purpose to all of this searching and seeking is. What is the end game here? What is the meaning that I’m looking for, what is the meaning of any of this endless searching, the reading of the self-help books, the improving of the mind, the yoga, all of this, does it really mean anything and does it get me closer to what I want to do? Hell, do I even know what I want to do? I quite enjoy writing but are these diatribes journals really publishable? Hecky nah. I definitely wouldn’t want anyone reading this stuff.

Except, y’know, that I keep putting this out there.

Why did I quit writing comedy? Because it became hard? Because a lot of the jokes I was making were so self-referential as to be unfunny? Maybe I just got overwhelmed. If anything, I need to get back to writing comedy. And rehearse more because that’s where my performance really worked. I’ve done it. I can do it again. I will do it again.

Why did I quit magick? It worked. Maybe because I got overwhelmed by liturgy when all I should be doing is the rock hard punk DIY shit that got me into it. Who gives a shit that I can’t quote Crowley verbatim?

For that matter, why did I quit writing?