She Glides Along … the Solitary Hearted

By Ken Bruen

Dusty, on his blog, wrote an amazing piece on depression and it always takes cojones to write of such. I’ve suffered from clinical depression all me life and when I finally got diagnosed, I tried the medical route and it didn’t suit me. Now, when it hits, I bury meself in work and try … Jesus, do I try, not to let it affect those I love.

Depression is still unacceptable here, you tell someone you have it, they go

“You need a hobby to take your mind off yourself!”

Maybe fooking knitting, you think.

I can certainly knit me brows.

One bright spark, a life coach, told me and I quote

To “get a grip on meself!”

Through gritted teeth, I asked him

“Which bit of me should I grab?”

As a child, I learned to turn anger inwards, the classic cause of depression, recently, I’ve tried to do the opposite and not that I’m now a latent fuse but I reply faster and more openly to abuse.

You call me out, I’ll reply.

Dusty raises another oft discussed topic, if you had the choice, would you be happy and not write or … unhappy and writing.

No contest for me.

Writing is what keeps me going.

When I was asked recently, are you a very dark person? … I told the truth, always a no brainer, I said

“I write dark, I try to live in the light.”

My Rabbi, David Wolpe, in Floating Takes Faith writes

“Sometimes a mitzvah is seeing for yourself and coaxing a smile from the darkness.”

I ran that line by the grumpy priest I know and he sighed, his eyes expressing

“God almighty, here he goes again.”

He said

“Be more in your line to follow the faith you were raised in.”

But I knew he wouldn’t leave it alone and sure enough, later in the day, I was watching Boston Legal and he phoned, said

“I’ve been thinking about those Zen things you read and I’m now convinced, you’re a holy terror.”

I was delighted.

You get the clergy to actually come back at you, you’ve certainly got their attention and he finished with

“I can only hope it’s not true that the new book of yours isn’t, as I hear, taking a shot at nuns?”

I said

“Nuns, why would I do that?”

He said he’d pray for me.

The title of today’s  blog comes from the poem ‘She was a Queen’ by Hartley Coleridge and has as a second line, “a smile of hers was like an act of grace.”

Few moments as shining as when you see a person’s face light up in pure delight.

The Hilary/Obama duel gets huge press coverage here and yes, we have found an Irish ancestor for Obama, as we did for Reagan and, whisper it, Nixon.

Last week, I was at a function for Down syndrome and it ran late, I was walking home along the canal and a guy was calling a girl every obscenity under the sun. Plus, he had a grip of her hair and not gently. I’ve sworn so many times to mind me own business but his language was beyond belief so I said

“Could you ease up on the language?”

He let her hair go and she faced me,  called me every kind of bad bastard under the Galway sky and, bottom line, to go fook meself.

I wondered if that was in the neighborhood of  “Get a grip on yourself?”

I don’t see her having that smile of grace but maybe I caught her on a bad night.

When I got home and was making some soup, I realized me hands were shaking, doing a veritable full on jig.

The line in me head

She walks in darkness.

It’s been that kind of week, full of twists and turns, it started with the revelation that Gerry Adams driver was a double agent, followed by the announcement that for the coming student Rag week, they were handing out 65,000 condoms and I can’t wait to hear what me priest has to say about that.

Me doorbell went early on Valentine’s Day and no, not a bunch of heart scented cards, god forbid, but a package of books I’d been waiting on. The postman,  I’ve known for longer than I care to admit, gasped

“Jaysus, what happened to yer hair”

I said it was a buzz cut and thinking, I haven’t even had me coffee and I’m explaining me hair?  … or lack of. He said

“It’s fooking brutal is wot it is.”

But the ones who know you, they lash you and then try to leave you with a little something, if not uplifting, at least less harsh, he said

“You look fooking dangerous, you know that.”

Try telling that to the girl on the canal.

I get me coffee, tell meself

“Two months to Noir Con, plenty of time to have the hair grow back.”

I open the package and the day brightens considerably

Among the gems

Gutted … by Tony Black

The Cold Spot … the Picc himself

Damnation Falls … Ed Wright

And Will Thomas

Few authors quoted as often as Mark Twain but I can’t help but think of him and

Good friends

Good books

And a

Sleepy conscience

This is

The ideal life.

I’d trade a lot for that sleepy conscience

As I sit before the blank screen, I read a quote I’ve put aside for a chapter heading

… above the roar of the wind, Hector hollers,

“If we survive this, bud — if you take those cocksuckers out — well, then I’ve got a hankering to head into the high country.”

If I could only quite figure out where the high country for me is?

If I could take on board what my friend Lou Boxer says

“To let go

No seeking, no striving

No stewing

In my own juice”

I receive a query as to where is the best place to start with Louis MacNeice and ‘Autumn Journal’ remains as fine as ever and you have to love a writer who described his own race as receiving from their country

… neither sense nor money

Who slouch around the world

With a gesture and a brogue

And a faggot of useless memories.

Lest all of the above tends more to the dark than the light, I remind meself of the following:

“Why have you come my son?”



“To seek truth

To ask salvation

But mainly … to have a good laugh.”


9 thoughts on “She Glides Along … the Solitary Hearted

  1. Louise Ure

    A sleepy conscience and a faggot of useles memories. Ken, you’ve added to my stash of favorite lines, once again.

    And I think your high country is Galway, sea level though it is.

  2. Sandra Seamans

    The high country is that piece of ground where nothing and nobody can hurt you. Where you can think and do whatever the hell makes you happy with no interference from outsiders. Hard to find and a harder trek getting there. God I look forward to “Thug” Wednesdays. You make me laugh and cry at the same time. Thanks!

  3. Zoe Sharp

    “To let goNo seeking, no strivingNo stewingin my own juice.”

    God, and wouldn’t I get a lot more done if I could only do that? But I’m trying to be more gentle on myself and put it down to all part of the process.

    Another beautiful post, Ken.

  4. Dave Arnold

    The high country old boy? You need to give a listen to a tune called “Eugene” by fella’ name of Greg Brown – trust me…

  5. Fiona

    I am still amazed that people don’t “believe” in depression, as though it is a religion.

    Bouts of depression can cause permanent changes to the hippocampus and other structures in the brain. This is documented.

    You don’t see people going around telling someone who is diabetic to just “get a grip” or that they just need to “think positive” or to “get over it.”

    Sorry about the rant, Ken. Your post pulled back the covers on something in me. I have dear friends and relatives who have been savaged by depression and then hurt by ignorant people telling them the above things.


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