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January 31, 2011
A terrible feeling hangs over me like a cloud this morning, the one that scolds me for being lazy. When I speak of it to people who care about me, they are amazed -- But you do so much, they exclaim. Why, you're the least lazy person I know!

It is amazing how little this helps.

The terrible feeling has little to do with reality or logic, and so neither reality nor logic avails much in dispelling it. A long list of tasks tugs at my sleeve, and I haven't done enough about any of them. I will now go and do something about one of them. Enjoy the music while I'm gone. It's Bessie Smith's 1925 version.

I Ain't Got Nobody

There's a saying going 'round and I begin to think it's true
It's awful hard to love someone, when they don't care 'bout you
Once I had a lovin' man, as good as many in this town
But now I'm sad and lonely, for he's gone and turned me down, now

I ain't got nobody and nobody cares for me
I got the blues, the weary blues
And I'm sad and lonely, won't somebody come and take a chance with me?
I'll sing sweet love songs honey, all the time
If you'll come and be my sweet baby mine

'Cause I ain't got nobody, and nobody cares for me
Won't somebody go and find my man and bring him back to me
It's awful hard to be alone and without sympathy
Once I was a loving gal, as good as any in this town
but since my daddy left me, I'm a gal with her heart bowed down.

--Roger Graham/Dave Peyton/Spencer Williams, 1917

Okay, I'm back. I did one of the tasks and it was tiny. I don't know why it seemed so undoable before. But then, that's the way the terrible feeling works. Among its many other diabolical talents, it's a hallucinogen.

And I'm writing this, which is also a task. So that's two.

I would love to be one of those supremely self-confident people, a person who didn't need to talk herself off the ledge sometimes, but there it is. We are who we are. Actually, talking to myself doesn't usually get me too much of anywhere. Usually, it's getting off my derriere and doing something. Even something small. Just one thing, even, will prime the pump and get me moving again.

Or maybe it wasn't the task at all. Maybe Bessie Smith did it, reached back to me from where she is now and sang me right back into the land of the living. The blues will do that for a person -- lift you right out of whatever hell you're in and plunk you down somewhere better. You can't sing and stay frustrated and sad. Too much oxygen for that, your lungs too pink and healthy, your throat too relaxed, your voice too loud and strong to let your mind stay weak and spindly. People with the terrible feeling mostly don't want to sing, because the terrible feeling is in charge and wants to stay that way, and it knows that even one note will show it the door.

So don't listen to it. Open your mouth and sing. Put on a record and sing along. Just one note, and you'll be on your way.
Thereare a couple YouTube recordings of Bessie singing this song. Here's the link, or just go to and search on Bessie Smith.
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