Duke of DisillusionThis almost an essay showed up as a memory on Facebook (now there’s a clue as to why Facebook does well in my 60 plus demographic), I’ve trimmed and updated as a post, and updated it on my back pages.

Suicidal Ideation and the importance of getting dressed in the morning

(from first draft 2018)

THEN: I’m dressed. You’ll have to take my word for it. Dressing is an important transition from bed and bath, fraught with small choices; socks that match, that stay up, that don’t make my ankles swell and my feet turn red, now usually diabetic socks, though thank God I don’t have diabetes. This morning I am letting my Stage Four Flat Foots roam free.


NOW: Three years later same dilemma but halved, only have one Stage Four Flat Foot left. On Monday I will be measured up for another brace on my remaining right foot, looking for support that does not cause sores. I will be picking up another fake foot to go with my new prosthetic left leg at the same time. The fake foot that came with my new leg is too short for me and my size 14 shoes.


THEN: Underpants that don’t ride up into the crack of my ass, and don’t let my innocuous junk fall out, harder now my favourite brand has been discontinued[1]
In winter a t-shirt seems necessary and I have a bevy to choose from, including self-designed Correct in this Culture[2], Luck Man and Jimmy Bang Blues Project and lots of comfy plain cotton XXL ts which may be all I need if I’m working at home

NOW:  I’m now wearing a vest as the British call sleeveless undershirts, not wife-beaters. I now wear suspenders, and realize the importance of sleeveless undershirts if you wear braces, as the Britiush call suspenders. The t-shirt straps keep the suspenders off your skin.


THEN: Pants I try to keep very simple never having more than 2 or 3 pair in rotation currently in brown, tan and green, and then one of my two or three favourite shirts if I’m going into 213 Notre Dame to work in my office number – 622 – which I found out in a recent fire drill. Because I’m in a wheelchair at work, I get to stay in my office, the door closed a wet dish towel under the door. So far I haven’t had to rely on the strength of Winnipeg fireman to carry me down the six flights of stairs.


NOW: My waist size can vary widley. From the thin of a 40 waist to the thick of a 50 waist. I need suspenders for anything past 44 because pants tend to fall down, as I once experienced at the Co-op in Gimli. I have a number of pinched nerves, and have sciatica as my parents called theirs. Anything tight around my waist hurts while I wear it and causes havoc a long time after. So big waisted pants, suspenders.


THEN:  I love my pajamas, and my two robes, but I’ve had to wear them often enough in hospital post-surgery and in depression at home[3], they often send incorrect signals to my hypothalamus, messing with my circadian rhythms with signals of illness and physical decrepitude, rather than Hey! You get to work at home today! You’re a Lucky Man!
 I do change back into pajamas to rest in bed, during the day, and it’s much harder to get dressed again the second time and so on.


I am of course avoiding the rather sensational first two words in the header, trying to lighten the mood with a rather tenuous relationship between getting dressed and staying alive. I have not done much research, but figure most people get dressed before they commit suicide, though I know of one notable case where a man got dressed complete with a parka to walk down to a frozen river. He completely undressed, folding his clothes neatly  beside him, lay down on the river ice and snow, one very cold blustery winter day and froze to death.


NOW: I think of getting dressed sometimes to be the writer I see in myself[4]. So I top my baggy pants and suspenders with 3XL collared shirts, always 100% cotton,
and most-often white and goddamn the “non-wrinkle cottons.” They must be treated with crap that makes them as uncomfortable as any polyester I’ve worn, now banished from my closet.


THEN: The link of “to be or not be” to getting dressed may be specious.  My argument hinges on the concept of choice, in an effort to ameliorate fears that thinking and talking about suicide is a sure sign you are a danger to yourself and should be committed or restrained in some way for your best interest. I admit that depressives may think about suicide more often than the rest of the population, but as long as we are talking about it, we are less likely to make an attempt. It is sometimes enough just to reassure yourself if finally there is absolutely no way to end the physic pain, as a human being, you can choose not to be.


NOW: I am dressed. I am writing. My desire to make something gives me peace (no matter how angry or difficult the words/poem/story) the minute I apply the seat of my pants to the chair in front of my typer.


[1] Product placement available in exchange for cotton XXL underpants.


[3] I’ve never been hospitalized for depression, and usually the relief surgery provides for whatever pain my bones dish out, and the total absolution from responsibility you have in a hospital bed, did once bring me a great deal of comfort and peace.

[4] It’s more “fake it ’til you make it,’ than the Duke of Delusion, pictured. Image by Murray Toews



The first 12 books that I remembered in the order I remembered them, revised.

  1. The Bible – though I believe and say shit like “I’m such an atheist, I’m not an atheist,” and “God is dead, but sometimes I miss him,”  the Book is the mythology I cut my teeth on lies under my writing like a buried bone
  2. Little Lord Fauntleroy  Gotta get out of this place! (Gretna) “Maybe I’m adopted and my real parents are English nobility.”
  3. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), reinforced by the inspired reading of the opening passage by Joan Baez on her Baptism recording.
  4. The Energy of Slaves – (Leonard Cohen), stripped down, whether laconic or angry, right on the money. It’s the only book I ever tried to shoplift. Tried, the keyword. Poor U of M Bookstore security lady felt so sorry for my 18-year old ass trying to steal a book of poetry, held it until I had the money to come back and buy it.
  5. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Michael Ondaatje)
  6. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) mostly because it was a damn fine novel about places I knew in my own country, but also because it was one of my mother’s favourite books that I saw her readings some Sunday mornings when she could have been in church. Also because she thought if Margaret Laurence “could use words like that,” I could too, when my Dad discovered Jimmy Bang Poems.
  7. Field Notes (Robert Kroetsch)Still have a first edition of Seed Catalogue, but am particularly found of The Sad Phoenician, and The Poets Mother, the poem envoi (to begin with) the seed for the new envoi literary foundation or ELF (stayed tuned)
  8. The Edible Woman, What’s not to like? I was in university, what it lacked in subtlety was mostly lost on me because of its clarity, and for god’s sake it was FUNNY. Insert Canadian Iron Man Contest joke here.
  9. Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry), best description of leaving the garden for the abyss ever written. I’ve stopped reading it every October, my favourite reading of course on an October Ferry to Gabriola in 1979.
  10. Ada Or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (Nabokov), I may have read Lolita first, but this is definitely my favourite Nabakov, introducing me to my lifelong fascination with “the family romance,” and a novel way of story writing.
  11. Mad Shadows by Marie Claire Blais. Cohen and Blais introduced me to new writing and new ways of writing by Canadians.
  12. The Waves by Virginia Woolf  tied in to a rhythm of language that I love,  pushed harder by Cohen and Blais who came after, but could be much angrier than Woolf, which also appealed to me in the seventies.


Breaking into a sweat…..

He drew the blinds shut, cranked up the air-conditioning to its coldest setting, and settled into bed with his new laptop, the late Beethoven String quartets played by the Berg Quartet in his ears, and David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion in front of his eyes. He had a hard time with DFW short stories, and though sure Infinite Jest could have been shorter he enjoyed the joke and cared more for the characters than he did those paraded through his stories. We flick pages. We begin in the middle of Oblivion, with the story “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,” sounding like a topic of one of this writer’s many thoughtless English papers fifty years ago. Ok, so I am he, to a poing,  and we will delete pointing that out, chasing it to footnotes, then to a smelly locker full of old ideas, not Cohen’s;  we deleted our own one at a time when inevitably we found the idea realized allowing some smart young entrepreneur to retire before 30 by selling it to Multi Global Universal Company (MGUC) for billions of dollars. We take some comfort in their unhappiness, and even in our heart of hearts when they commit suicide. Soon forgotten, their brilliant disruption of the shaving industry for 18 months before selling out to Shick, an event that didn’t even crack MGUC’s annual report.
 A note on our use of pronuns…pronouns. Plurals will be used as often as possible unless we are specifically talking about a singular person like David Foster Wallace. As a writer with multiple selves we have decided to use plurals for ourselves, since we can’t discern which of our selves is speaking, well writing we’d better say. (ha)

Today I do not find Oblivion, I forget what it looks like and in which pile of books I slipped it. I listen to Hole, Courtney Love dreaming a heaven which never comes. I also have misplaced my Diclofenac, supercharged voltaren, thinking about applying Voltaire to reduce the pain in my neck and shoulders. It’s too hot to make things up, and I’m fat, sweaty, ugly Jimmy Bang Redux.

Victor Enns reads and writes poetry and fiction. Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.