With a couple of days to go in my residency, I decided to let the book rest and get out of my cell. Geneva has a vibrant gallery scene.

I Am Number 13 is breathing just shy of 60,000 words. My brain has been squeezed and smacked and wrung out. With a couple of days to go in my residency, I decided to let the book rest and get out of my cell. Geneva has a vibrant gallery scene. In the picture above, I’m window shopping for art and maps in the old city.

I loved this Rodin-esque sculpture in the St Pierre Cathedral plaza in Geneva, Switzerland.

I loved this Rodin-esque sculpture in the St Pierre Cathedral plaza.

Detail of the St Pierre Cathedral spire in Geneva, Switzerland.

Detail of the St Pierre Cathedral spire.

Little passageways like this one are abundant in Geneva's old city.

Little passageways like this one are abundant in Geneva’s old city. I think I explored most of them, because I couldn’t resist where they might lead.

John Calvin lived in the house on the left, but I was taken with the fountains spangled with flowers around the old city.

John Calvin lived in the house on the left, but I was taken with the fountains spangled with flowers around the old city.

I wasn't sure I'd get to Yvoire, so I ate this fera at Au Pied De Cochon in Geneva's old city.

During my residency, I’ve befriended Nina’s art assistant Jonathan.

He is a recent graduate of art school in Geneva. He gave me several insider recommendations for getting the most from my Swiss adventure.

  1. Eat fera, a lake fish unique to Lake Geneva. Actually, Jonathan told me to take the ferry from Nyon to Yvoire in France and buy fera from fishermen there. It’s half the price in France, even with the ferry ride. I wasn’t sure I’d get to Yvoire, so I ate this fera at Au Pied De Cochon in Geneva’s old city.
  2. When buying Swiss cheese, it’s best to follow the flies. The more flies, the better the cheese, especially if greeted by an old woman with a mustache. I haven’t tried this recommendation. Yet.

I couldn't resist standing in the middle of trafficless Rue de Mont Blanc and snapping my photo.

On my way out, I couldn’t resist standing in the middle of trafficless Rue de Mont Blanc and snapping my photo. I’m a sweaty mess, but I had a lovely day wandering Geneva with my purged brain.

———

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!

melancholy milepost 167

Writer Laren Stover made a case for melancholy in Sunday’s New York Times. She exalted every excuse to be blue and extolled every morbid thought. She even imagined a world where she could retreat with her own darkness and despair.

I closed my eyes and conjured the last time my world was truly black. Hopelessly hopeless. Months and months and months of downright morbidity.

I was thirty-one and dumped by a man I wanted to marry. It was three in the morning, and I hyperventilated on my knees next to my sofa. The weight of my own grief and heartbreak pressed on my chest, a concave chasm where my heart used to be.

Minor things triggered tsunamis of tears. A glimpse of a green SUV. Travel articles on Maine. The gym. Football scores. The wispy tail of cigar smoke.

After more than six months of mourning, I still wasn’t ready to move on. Conjuring those instances, those snatches of melancholy, brought him back to me. I avoided anyone who told me I needed therapy or the latest pharmaceutical. I didn’t want sleep or numbing of pain.

Life is pointless when I can’t feel it.

I boarded the roller coaster of melancholy. I embraced the bar and paid to ride again. And again. And again.

Some of my best writing still flows from the well of despair. When we avoid life’s lows, what are we really missing? I’m not talking about clinical depression or mental illness, which can have tragic ends if left untreated. But are a few blue days really terrible? Should I pretend I’m happy when I’m sad? Or can I be both happy AND sad?

I agree with Ms. Stover. Good art requires me to be brave enough to dive into dark depths and swim to another shore. Melancholy may not be for everyone. But sometimes, it’s definitely for me.

How do you deal with melancholy?

(Find Ms. Stover’s NY Times article “The Case for Melancholy” HERE.)