Charting Progress

It’s been a month without medication. I’ve been keeping a journal, a daily emotional temperature chart, and a few trends have emerged.

One: I’ve been able to stabilize sleep patterns and that’s a big relief. I sleep through the night now and wake feeling rested, most of the time. Occasional glitches, but that’s always been true.

Two: the Hallmark emotional moments continue, but there was also genuine bad news this week and my response was real, nakedly emotional, and appropriate. My emotional range has expanded and I’m grateful for that. The medication was designed to flatten the roller coaster, but I don’t think I need that anymore. I need to feel it all.

Three: My internal censors are breaking down. I’m much more inclined to say what I’m feeling and I tend to think that for the most part, this is a positive thing, as long as it doesn’t become a burden to others, and as long as I don’t use it in a constant search for positive reinforcement.

It is definitely a good thing for the development of Angle of Reflection, allowing the exploration of Ben’s character to deepen and to provide the opportunity for change and growth. In early chapters, while searching for intimacy, Ben tends to deflect challenges to his defenses with humor.

“So making the photo becomes a way of making the connection?” Emma asked.

“It does, usually the object is nothing more than a good portrait, one that reveals some truth about the subject. By the way, I’ve always wondered about the method, I mean seeking to make a connection with a camera hiding your face? Anyway, it worked for us and the connection was profound, and I have the pho­to too. Someday that might be all I have.”

“Do you worry about that?”

“I think about it. I try not to. I try to just enjoy what is happening now, but some­times I can’t help it.”

“You need a bit of the yogi in you. Live in the moment.”

“The only Yogi I know used to be a catcher for the Yankees.”


This will change.

©2015 Ron Scherl

Ben and Sarah Talk About Medication

“Ben, you need the meds. They help you function. They’ll help you make sense of things.”

“No, they make it worse. I can function. I’m not even sure I could write a novel if I were taking them. I mean. I’ve never written one before, never tried while I was on the drugs.”

“Ben, listen to me. I’ve known you and loved you for a long time. You have depression. You can’t change that. It’s some kind of chemical imbalance and the meds get you part of the way back. Going off the medication only makes it worse.”

“I don’t think it does. I think I’m pretty stable. I just wish I slept better. But there’s something that keeps me from making a real connection to others, to someone I really need, like Emma. And I think it’s the meds.”

“Think, Ben, maybe it’s not you or the meds, maybe it’s her. It’s not hard to imagine that your relationship just isn’t right for her.”

Ben fell silent for a moment, just long enough to consider that and reject it. “But what if that’s true because she hasn’t been able to get close enough, because I won’t let her, even if I think I am?”

“Ben, what separates you from connection, from emotion, is not the meds; it’s the depression. Think back to before you were on the drugs. Remember your family, how you always felt disconnected. That’s who you are. It’s not what the drugs do to you. You know this. I’ve heard you say it yourself. Please trust me.”

“Sarah, I know you mean well; I’m just not sure you’re right. You’ve been on these meds as long, maybe longer than me. Maybe this creates a challenge to you. Maybe I’m leaving your sphere of influence and that threatens you. It shouldn’t. It has nothing to do with you. This is about me, only me. I really want to write this novel and I think I have to get as close to the bone as possible to do it. I can’t be removed and dispassionate and still convey passion.”

“That’s nonsense Ben and you know it. You’re confusing your book and your life and making about as much sense as a Raymond Chandler plot. You don’t have to experience something to be able to write about it; did you have to drive into that cliff so you could write about it, or did we have that accident because your mind was elsewhere?”

“God damn it, Sarah. It’s my fucking life. Stop trying to produce it.” His anger was so rare, it startled both of them. Sarah was reeling. This just wasn’t Ben. “You’re wrong, Sarah, this is me. Me without the drugs. Me being honest. Not afraid of the anger. I need to feel this.”

“Ben, I don’t know what to say. You have reasons to be angry with me but this isn’t one of them. I’m trying to help.”

Angle of Reflection 

©2015 Ron Scherl



A Dark and Stormy Night

Well it was and I always wanted to write that. And don’t forget I’m a photographer and if I hadn’t made that photo I would have had to come up with a different opening. Thunder and lightning but no rain on Maury. Busy week: business meetings (who would’ve thought), new label for Richard, bottle shots at the Coop, music, aperitifs, dancing at Pichenouille and a lovely winemaker to flirt with at Michel’s dinner. Life is pretty hectic here.

So when I told the folks at the coop that I didn’t like the way their web designer was using my photos they asked me if I could do bottle shots for them. You’re thinking non sequitur, but this conversation was in French and seemed to make sense to me. I said of course and then remembered I have no lights. I spent a day trying to jury rig some soft boxes with my Nikon flash units but never got comfortable, then remembered that I’m not the only photographer in Maury and Jess has some strobes and soft boxes that she was happy to loan me. I gave her a bottle of Marcel’s wine and some tomatoes from Ben’s garden just to introduce her to the barter economy.

Let’s talk about tomatoes for a minute because I’m now on the all-tomato diet. Sure, a little basil, olive oil, salt, sometimes even some pasta, but the star of every dish is the tomato. I’ve even cut down on pork for the summer because the garden tomatoes are just so good I’m not feeling much need for meat. Between Ben, Bardot and Pappi I’m feeling pretty secure and eating well. This is a great neighborhood despite the new renters up the block putting out their garbage on Friday although it won’t be picked up until Monday. The ladies of the Olive Tree Salon were outraged, but that great French shrug of the shoulders seemed to indicate that you really couldn’t expect much from renters. Another week of this kind of behavior and I’ll expect to see the mayor down here to mediate.

The Olive Tree Salon © 2012 Ron Scherl

I’m on a campaign now to change my image. Two weeks ago a young American woman on her way to the sea stopped at the café for dinner, heard us speaking English and made friends. When she asked if there was a campground nearby, I offered her a real bed in her own bedroom and she accepted. The next day came questions about where we went off to (as if there’s anywhere to go but home), and a neighbor passing by averted her eyes when she was leaving in the morning.

Then last week came the two gentlewomen from Gerona for a few nights and we were seen in all the hot spots in town. No more lonely old guy for me.

We move along. Heading into August when the harvest will start and I’ll mark one year of living in Maury. I’ve spent most of my time in town but now it’s time to branch out. I’ll be shooting 21 of the little villages nearby that constitute the Communité de Commune de l’Agly-Fenouillèdes and I’ll also expand the wine focus to provide some counterpoint to the wines of Maury. I want to expand the scope of the photo book and soak up some new grist for the blog, which doesn’t mean I’m feeling the limits of small town life. On the contrary, I think I’m just getting to know this place.

Here’s the complete image.

Dark and Stormy ©2012 Ron Scherl