Okay, so I don’t “hate” Danny Evans (a.k.a Dad Gone Mad), but I didn’t care from him too much. Back when I first started blogging, when my blog roll consisted of nothing but the A-listers, when I would leave comments on their posts (provided they were still open) hoping like a crazed rock-band groupie they would notice me and invite me back stage. (You have no idea how many times I lied to Pioneer Woman about using her recipes—I can’t even cook.) This was when I first came across Danny’s Mad Dad musings.
I was immediately put off by the lawnmower trashing a white picket fence in the page’s header, mainly this was because I hate lawnmowers in general. The first couple of entries did little to impress me either. Danny was ranting on about something or another—the healthcare system, everything Republicans do, not being able to find a decent parking spot. Hell, I don’t remember; I only skimmed through a couple lines. Oh, and look; he sells T-shirts. Needless to say Dad Gone Mad simply become “Gone,” as in gone from my blog list. (Good. More time for me to leave pithy comments over at my friend Heather B’s place. She takes pictures of her dog… everyday.)
Still, when I heard Danny had written some book called Rage Against the Meshunga-something-or-other, I made a mental note to keep an eye out for it. Why? Two reasons: It was rumored to be funny, and it dealt with male depression. Admittedly, my motivations were somewhat skewed. When someone claims to be funny, I ease my head back and look down my nose at them like a gangsta ready to rumble. Funny is my turf, Mr. Evans, so let’s see what you got. And as far as the his take on depression, I wanted to see if he’d get it right.
Understand, I’ve been through several serious bouts of depression, once after my divorce and again after being laid off, and in both cases I was forced to re-evaluate myself, first as a husband and the second time as a father. The fact that I’ve struggled through depression, or as I call it, “The Big Suck,” on two occasions sometimes leads me to believe I never really got over it to begin with. But then again, I’m also genetically predisposed to it. This means I take medication daily, which pisses me off; however, I’ve made the mistake of believing I’d been fine without it—bad idea as my wife and closest friends can attest to.
I’ve begrudgingly accepted that my psychiatrist’s explanation that, because of my brain chemistry, I have a “mood cycling disorder.” (The technical term is Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, which sounded scary as shit to me which is why I prefer the more sensitive moniker, The Big Suck.) In a nutshell, when I cycle into a depression, like a wide receiver on a fly pattern, I go deep. Thus, when if comes to the topic of depression, I’m always curious to hear if someone has fought it or used it as an excuse.
Given my totally accurate impression of Danny, I didn’t exactly run to the store when his book, Rage Against the Meshugenah, went on sale a few weeks ago; I sort of trotted… at a moderate pace. To my dismay he delivered on both of those rumored claims. Danny really is funny. (I’d still like to take him on in a Yo-Mama challenge though.) What’s more, he nails what The Big Suck feels like—every fringe thought, every fear, every reaction to the treatments and therapy. But that’s not all I found in Danny’s words.
In the time between those two major struggles with The Big Suck, I reached a place where my self-image had never been higher, and I shed many of the insecurities plaguing me since childhood. My confidence grew strong enough to challenge my doubts in a cage-match to the death. Yet, for all those positive results, something has always remained hidden in the shadows, pulling the strings from behind the scenes like Emperor Palpatine before revealing he was a Sith Lord. At a specific spot in the book, that hidden something became clear to me as Danny relayed a conversations with his therapist.
“I feel like I never learned how to compete, and that cost me some important opportunities in life…
My life has been all about taking what’s given to me. Get whatever job you can get instead of going after what you really want. Take what is safe and certain. Settle. Don’t make waves…
There are no life lessons in that for me. What really would have come in handy for me is an education in how to decide and go after what I wanted… That’s the kind of control I’m talking about.”
You know what? Screw you Danny Evans. Screw you for saying this, for expressing it better than I ever could, for making me cry when I read it and then making me trip over the coffee table when I tried to get a tissue.
As Danny revealed more and more, I found myself identifying with much of what he attributed these feelings towards. There was the lack of adequacy and longing to be one of the cool kids, the masking of pain with humor, the tendency to please others, and the oppressive influences of organized religion. (Jews may use guilt as their motivator, but I’ll take that over the Fundamentalist’s hostile threats of an eternity in hell for not voting Republican.)
I’ve dealt with some of these issues already, but altogether, they had put me on that same safe route with Danny. When I lost my job though, circumstances threw up a roadblock forcing me onto a different road, one that is much scarier, but at the same time it’s also more rewarding.
To be a writer has been a consistent dream of mine since elementary school, and currently that’s what I’ve been striving to do. Will I get there? I believe in myself enough to say yes (with a lot more work). Will I ever get paid to write? …F*#k if I know, but it sure as hell would make me feel better. In any case, doing what gives me satisfaction does provide me with a sense that, at 37, I’m living life on my terms instead of settling.
Am I stumping for Danny’s book? Pffft! Yeah, right. I’ve got my own up-coming deal, and this guy’s my competition (sort of). What I will say is that if you suffer from depression, if you know someone who does or you think they do, if you want to laugh, if you find Jewish humor intriguing, if you like nostalgic references to 70’s, 80’s and 90’s pop culture, if you like Neil Diamond, or if you have a heartbeat and can fog a mirror, then reading Rage Against the Meshugenah would be a good idea.
So fine, Danny, I’ll put you back on my blog roll; just know that you’re sharing space with a bunch that may not be house-hold names, but they are A-list bloggers to me. And yes, I apologize for being wrong about you. I’ve learned you can’t judge a blog by it’s homepage, but don’t go thinking I’m going to send you a picture of me wearing one of your T-shirts.
That said, you want to know the real reason I don’t like Danny Evans? He’s a Lakers fan. As a die-hard Celtics supporter that means we’ll never be friends. I gotta a T-shirt for ya, big guy. (And your stupid book is great. Thanks for making it easier to open up on the subject.)