Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis


35Today I turn 35 and here’s what I’m thinking abut.

I’m thinking about depression. I’ve been severely depressed several times in my life. When depression is a well you visit with some regularity, you get to know the scenery.

Lately I’ve been turning to all the things that used to break my funks and none of them are working. Perhaps this bout has learned from the others and emerged stronger, wilder, able to strike me down with a crying jag in the frozen food aisle just because I passed one too many toddlers out shopping with dad. One glance at what I thought my life would be and – boom – cleanup on aisle five.

I used to write songs to get out of these funks, but my fingers aren’t nearly as graceful on the strings anymore, and I’ve heard this song so many times. Would anyone even want to hear the “Two Miscarriage Blues” sung out of tune with a broken string?

More and more these days I see life as a giant spiraling clusterfuck of bad craziness. A swirling mass of desperation that’s indifferent to any single participant in it. The vortex eats future plans and good intentions and shits them back out as chaos and sadness. It’s like the local news.

So if you can find a moment of joy in your life, you hang on to that thing for all it’s worth. It doesn’t matter what it is. Get whipped. Smoke pot. Fight. Paint pictures. Organize your closet. Create a magazine. Have sex. Make art. Take a photo of a stranger. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT IT IS so long as it keeps you off of the edge, keeps you thinking, moving, feeling, wanting something more.

The vortex hates hope. And not pie-in-the-sky hope – that shit gets eaten up like corn chips. The vortex hates actual excitement about the future. The sincere stuff clogs it right up.

So if you can maintain that spark of hope for the future, if everyone could, we might just be able to get through the vortex together.

Lately I’ve been trying so hard, and failing even worse. Fray was going to be a glowing flower, but instead it’s just another money suck. Pixish started with such great intentions, got misunderstood, kicked to the curb, and still hasn’t stood back up.

But that’s all just professional shit. Here we were, Heather and I, decent salaries, good home, and we thought, maybe this would be our moment. Maybe now.

And we brought a life into this world that lived. It lived and had a heartbeat and it was there and then it wasn’t. Gone without a trace. 8 weeks.

It hurt so bad I thought I might give up. But we didn’t give up. We tried hard, thought positive, and did it again. And again we miscarried at 8 weeks. And the nurses and the doctors all shrug and say that nobody knows why it happens like this sometimes.

Everybody cares. Everybody understands. And nobody knows.

Fucked by business. Fucked by life. Fucked and 35 now. Half of my time on this planet used up.

I’m not giving up. I won’t give the vortex the satisfaction. I will keep fighting.

But goddamn it’s hard lately.

This is my birthday plea to the indifferent universe. Help me fight apathy with beauty. Help me live a life I’m proud of. Help me find my army of fellow madmen and weirdos, so we can join together, in spite of the vortex, and make something amazing, something worth doing for the next 35 years.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.