Happiness is a Warm Gun

Lady C. over at Impromptu Promptlings has a few questions for us again this week:

What are the things that make you happy?

I think I’m afraid to be really crazy happy
because whenever I do _____________.


Are you one of the fortunate folks who never struggle with that fear of waiting for the other shoe drop?

If you are, tell us why!

When I think HAPPY, two things come immediately to mind. The first is a lyric from a Beatles song, and the second is a memory from Alaska.

Now, as a person with schizophrenia, I am cautious; I don’t want to give anybody any excuse to fear me. You know the problem – the only time Sz is in the news is when somebody goes violently off the deep end. So there’s this wicked stigma working against sufferers of Sz. Point is, please don’t think just because I love the song Happiness is a Warm Gun that it means I’m violent or prone to shooting somebody.

My idea of a warm gun is when I’ve just shot off a decent piece of writing. Sometimes I feel positively postcoital. Writing makes me happy.

When I say writing, I mean the whole shebang, start to finish.

  • It starts with just perceiving things with a sort of a writerly eye, like “This would make a good detail in a story,” or “This day is a poem,”
  • Then there’s note-taking: jotting down choice words and little turns of phrase which come to you.
  • Then gearing up. Pencils and pens and notebooks and journals and blank sheets of paper and typewriters and word processors… these things make me happy. It’s almost a fetish.
  • Process: composing – pushing the piece forward and jumping back to edit and then pushing forward again and knowing what to leave in and what to leave out and when to quit…
  • Sharing: be it shoving a pile of paper into a friend’s hands, submitting to some zine or magazine or journal or anthology, posting on a your own blog or in comments on somebody else’s or just twitter or facebook or something, or even getting that book put together and sent out to small presses or self-published… sharing is a really important part of the writing process, isn’t it? Getting it out there. Contributing.
  • The great, gratifying, satisfying gift of feedback. Nothing like it. Knowing that another human being has taken in something I’ve written and engaged with it emotionally and/or intellectually and even taken the time and trouble to get back to me about it. Yeah, that’s the stuff. That makes me very happy indeed.

Which brings me to the memory from Alaska. I’ve lived and worked in Alaska several times for varying lengths of time. The first was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at university; that time, I showed up in Anchorage with a big backpack full of rice, army surplus boots and coat and 10-below sleeping bag, hitchhiked down to Homer, and took a ferry to Kodiak Island, where I got hired on as a deck hand on a fishing boat. The second time I went to AK, I worked for the travelling carnival. The third time, a hotsprings resort. The fourth, grad school.

The memory of happiness that comes to mind today is set at Circle Hotsprings. The owner of the resort there at that time had made his millions in scrap. He had two enormous and enormously successful scrapyards in Fairbanks. The resort was an enormous, five-story hotel which was constructed in Russia, then broken into pieces and boated over and up the Yukon River to the hotsprings way back in the day. Behind the hotel was a wide deep valley between two mountains. And in that valley of beautiful trees and weird plants and electric pastel sphagnum moss was… scrap. That’s right, tons and tons of random stainless steel and copper and piles of furniture and industrial equipment had been hauled up the long long winding gravel road from Fairbanks and stashed there. Needless to say, the man was mad. Anyway, I worked at this resort for a couple of years and more, and one sunny day I took a little portable manual typewriter back into scrap valley and typed all afternoon. At one point, as the sunlight was getting long, I caught myself with a huge smile on my face. I have never smiled much. I realized how happy I was. I’ll never forget it.

On to Lady C.’s second question: I think I’m afraid to be really crazy happy because whenever I do _____________.

This is a leading question, isn’t it. Well… I think of mania. Having a manic episode with psychosis involves delusions and hallucinations, as well as the usual feeling like superman and being very creative and productive and unstoppable. But it’s the delusions that really get ya. I think I’m afraid to be really crazy happy, because whenever I do I become convinced that I am saving the world with psychic superpowers. How’s that? Haha.

Third question. Are you one of the fortunate folks who never struggle with that fear of waiting for the other shoe drop? Lord, no. I’m forever dreading unforseen negative consequences of my actions. I just know that someday, something I do with the best of intentions or just blindly is going to have dreadful results. I feel fated to be falsely accused or framed or unjustly punished or just not to age well or have an easy death. It’s funny. I’m an optimist in a lot of ways, but there’s a certain pessimism deep in me somewhere. When the other shoe drops, it’s going to be like a huge, Gilliam, Monty Python foot coming down from the sky to squash me flat.

Other things which generally make me happy: family and friends, sharing and teaching, blogging obviously, being in the water, forests and mountains and flowers and fruit and oceans and rivers and creeks and lakes, a good read or movie, music, sex, certain poisons, gambling, driving, animals – especially cats and horses, dark chocolate and grapefruit and avocados and nuts, personal mail (postcards!)…

I am very happy to have had a book published. That was a lifelong aspiration, and when it was realized, it improved my perception and estimation of myself considerably. Whenever I’m feeling like a damaged, worthless failure, all I have to do is think of that accomplishment, and I feel a bit better.

Finally, I have to say that I’m made happy by some of my spiritual beliefs. You know, like God and stuff. My version of Christianity would most likely have gotten me burned at the stake in some places during some periods, but faith does comfort me and can even elate me.

Alrighty, thanks for reading. My self-published book The Boon is free today and for the next four days at Amazon, so go on and get a copy why not. Thanks much for the thought-provoking questions today, Lady C. Keep em coming. And have you considered making a little graphic to go along with your challenge? I do love including ‘buttons’ in posts for readers to click on. Clicking is fun. It makes me happy.

P.S. just found this cool post about happiness on BayArt.org, and these neat linkups to join (click image to come to the party – scads of great, funny people):

Epic Mommy Adventures
JENerally Informed



  1. Ooo! Most excellent post! A carnival? Really? How’d that happen? Btw, I think I probably practice the same “religion.” I’m a real heathen. Thank God I belong to a somewhat liberal church!

    And no, I don’t know about those clicky buttons.


    • No biggie on the button. I think I like em b/c I collected stickers as a kid. lol. Yeah we kind of cobble together our own spirituality, don’t we? I think it beats being spoon fed beliefs. The carnival? Oh, that was gritty and grand Lady C. I got to see a lot of Alaskan cities and towns and people… and you know, being a carny, you’re not really selling the crap you give away when people win – you’re selling the experience. You’re selling fun!


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