July 2007


abby scream

I thought I’d try to give ‘I can has sheese bocaburgers’ a run for their money! But seriously, several things made me want to scream today, and not in that good way you’d expect if you were reading Simonne’s blog.

And then I thought about how we’d all be better off if we could scream, instead of pretending to smile for 8 or 10 hours or however long we’re doomed to sit at our desks. I’ve heard there are some people who like their jobs. I think it is a myth.

So today, as I walked to the water cooler to get hot water for my tea, which I slurp down all day long, partially for the excuse to walk to the water cooler to get more hot water, as well as the excuse to walk to the ladies room for the natural side effect of drinking tea all day long…okay, that was a long sentence. Anyway, as I walked to the water cooler, I was thinking about how nice it would feel to just scream. I was thinking about screaming as I opened the door to the general area where the water cooler was, and of course I almost bumped into someone coming out. He had a funny look on his face, and I think it was probably clear that I was not hiding my desire to scream.

And we all know that he was probably thinking PMS! And wondering whether he should run like hell or pretend to be invisible. Me, I simply continued on to the water cooler. I had a purpose!

Ah, well, he wouldn’t be wrong to think PMS. I don’t think. I’m about a month late, which brings up the question: if an atheist gets pregnant through immaculate conception, are they required to subscribe to the appropriate belief system?

Well, thankfully I imagine things will sort themselves out soon. It isn’t uncommon for me to miss months here and there, as fun as it makes the whole issue of hormones!

cinder

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I was going to post a description of what my depression is like, a sort of written picture of what it looks like to me, because it is a very visual thing to experience. I was thinking about it today, partially because Observant posted about feeling gloomy, and partially because I was feeling gloomy. It had seemed a gloomy weekend, and I was exhausted on top of it. Simonne’s post seemed to reflect something in the goddess club’s part of the blogosphere, which was both difficult and beautiful in a sort of terribly wrenching way.

But in writing about this part of me, the depression, I began to feel better. And then after reading posts that Grace, PM, and Ruby wrote, I realized that I was feeling more than better. I was feeling on my way to not bad.

In writing about my depression, a couple of the things I said were:

Today I have the gloom, but I also have a fierceness, a ruthlessness. I am going to go running when I get home […]

Recognizing my committment, this time, to fighting back…that alone is enough right now to push back some of the gloom.

It was odd because I didn’t read Grace’s post until after I’d written up my thing on my depression. Yet in Grace’s post, she quoted Goethe:

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred….unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

Spoooky!

Anyway, I came home, and I did run. Not, perhaps, to the exhaustion I’d envisioned, but certainly to the point of burning lungs and muscles. I’m sadly out of shape, so this didn’t take long! It got the endorphins going, and it chased away the gloom.

To me, this says we’re stronger together.

And, as usual, it didn’t even occur to me that some 5-HTP would have helped (as it has in the past for what I call despair lite) until after the gloom had been fought. This is often the case, the forgetting. If I’d told Rich I was feeling gloomy, hopefully he would have remembered to remind me!

So here I am feeling downright chipper, yet in going back to link in Observant’s post, I read PM’s comment, and realized that maybe it would be a good thing if I’d just go ahead and post my description of my depression after all. So here goes, written this morning:

I’m sure depression feels different to everyone. I’m not even sure it feels like a physical presence to everyone, but based on the physical descriptions I hear others use, I’m betting it usually does. Today, I am not depressed, but I’m feeling the gloom and some of the hopelessness that make me feel like I’m teetering. Careful I think to myself. And in my visual mind, I mean Walk Carefully because I see a tightrope, and my not-so-great balance. But I have to walk this tightrope until there is solid ground again.

There are all kinds of logical reasons for my current gloom. It was a fairly gloomy weekend, in terms of weather. I didn’t get much “me” time to recharge. I started off the weekend dredging up some stuff I guess I’d rather not think about. I have a headache. I don’t like my job. I know what some of my triggers are, and some of the things that make me more vulnerable, and a few of them were hit this weekend.

But of course these things are typical in the course of our lives, and it doesn’t really explain why it sometimes leads to depression, or the precursor, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Depression isn’t logical. Trying to explain it logically is absurd.

Sometimes when I’m not depressed I can still feel the depression, and it feels like this soft dense ball of darkness nestled inside me. I can poke at it in my mind, and know it is there, waiting. Know that it can expand until it is covering me, enveloping me, preventing me from seeing the world outside. That it isn’t so much that I’m not depressed at that moment, as the depression is temporarily dormant.

When it is expanded, I can feel it all around me. It is the dense humid darkness of the jungle. It is the dark moist soil of fertile ground smothering me. It is all the hopelessness and despair choking the light out of my vision. It is a heavy weight that saps my energy and makes the simplest things the kind of tasks that I have to brace myself for. Going to the grocery store requires firm conviction. Most other chores are put off. Going to work is enough of a routine that I, luckily, don’t have a dialog about it, and can just get up and go.

As much as I hate it, sometimes the depression is like coming home, the welcome familiarity of something that has been a constant companion in my life, the enveloping arms of a mother. It is frightening too. I’ve always been able to compress it back to that small ball, eventually, and hide it in the unused corners of my mind, but there is still the fear that next time…next time it won’t let me. It will be too big and too powerful. Next time I’ll just disappear underneath it. Sometimes that sounds dangerously appealing.

This is just my depression, I have no idea if it resembles anyone else’s. I can’t imagine a time when it won’t live inside me, the tiger in the dark. My therapist thinks it is possible, but the whisper in my mind wonders if that simply means that she’s never been depressed, and therefore doesn’t understand that depression is a living breathing waiting thing.

I know there are people who have it much worse than me, who have lost jobs and lovers and more when the depression takes over. I am so thankful that (so far) the routine things remain doable for me, depression or no. I know there are people who have never been depressed, and I find that incomprehensible. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I think about it, think about them, and it is as if they are another species entirely.

Today I have the gloom, but I also have a fierceness, a ruthlessness. I am going to go running when I get home (and hopefully my IT Band will cooperate), and I’m going to exhaust myself while flooding my bloodstream with endorphins. I’m going to cook something, because I find cooking therapeutic, and between the two, I’ll end up using up most of my evening. I’ll put on my playlist that has a lot of dancable pop music, and I’ll dance around my living room. I’ll play with my cat, and simply focus on her to the exclusion of everything else. I’ll avoid anything that could poke holes in this protective field I’m putting around myself, and if the price I pay in this fight against my nemesis is a distance from certain aspects of my life, it is simply the price I have to pay today.

I know enough to know that catching myself at the start of the slide means I still have this energy to fight. It doesn’t always work, but if I put it off, I slide too far, and the depression saps too much energy for me to fight in any meaningful way. And then the endorphins will have only minor effects. The sunlight won’t seem to reach me.

Recognizing my commitment, this time, to fighting back…that alone is enough right now to push back some of the gloom. (Which oddly enough, Grace blogged about with a Goethe quote, which I didn’t read until after I’d written this!) Action almost always helps. Feeling something other than helplessness, powerlessness.

Depression is seen by many as a weakness, as a fault. In some ways that is true, but I know that my brothers and sisters who have fought this battle with me…we are strong in ways that can’t be seen by those who haven’t suffered the depression. We keep coming back, rising from the ashes like the phoenixes we are. We might never be stable, we might even be damaged, but we are not weak. The weak wouldn’t survive the darkness.

The tiger is stalking me, but I’m practicing my roar. When he attacks, I’m going to stand my ground. This time, I think I’ll win.

Thanks y’all. It’s been a good day. And I think we’ve earned another sexy cat picture.

cinder

I have had a busily exhausting weekend. I’m absolutely ready for a day or two off! Which I’ll get next weekend, I suppose. It doesn’t help that I’ve been working 10 hour days for a couple months now. I have two more days of that, and then I can go back to “short” 8 hour days. And running and yoga, and feeling like I have more of a life than work, which is boring to the point of … something. Something I’m too brain-fuzzed to think of at the moment!

I’d like to blame some of the brain-fuzz on the weather. Humid, overcast, thunderstormy, I felt like I was waiting all day for the sun to come out, but it didn’t really happen. At least it wasn’t raining when I went to the farmers market.

Speaking of which, has anyone ever had “donut” peaches? Wow. They had samples, and after tasting them, I just had to get some of these peaches. They are incredible. Get some!

I met up with some friends for dinner, and it was raining, and only one of my windshield wipers was working, and of course it wasn’t the driver’s side one. That was a bit annoying, but I’m here to say that it really is possible to drive (without crashing into anything) even without windshield wipers. Even better would have been if I’d been familiar with where I was going. But hey, I got there, we ate together, and this place even had vegan soft serve, which is something to get excited about! And I got home without getting lost, which is always a bit of a victory in my life.

But really, I have little to say, so I’m just going to post a picture of one of my favorite cats, Beanie, who lives with one of my best friends, and whose shoulder has been hurting him lately. Beanie doesn’t let it stop him, of course (he’s a lot like my friend, Rich, actually) and will play like a crazy cat even though he’ll only really use three of his legs when the one is hurting him. Hopefully Beanie will be back to his regular sweet, charming, sheet-shredding self soon. (Beanie grew up on the streets, which normally you can’t tell, because he has very polished manners, and a high appreciation for the finer things in life, such as sleeping late on a comfy bed. However, when he plays, he plays serious, hence the sheet-shredding.) Aw, Beanie, I hope you feel better soon!

beanie

Okay, you have to croon it, you know, like the TV show’s song? The loooove boat…

Wait, I have to supply you with the real thing:

(Yes, Rich, I hope you were sitting down to witness the second time I have supplied a video!)

This is one of the TV shows I remember watching quite a bit as a kid. It is sort of funny to think back, and remember. I was pretty young, so it wasn’t the halting romance of the Love Boat that had me hooked, it was the humor.

And indeed, I still find people amusing but am content to remain apart from romance. Grace is dancing her way back to herself, and I’ve another friend who is taking what might be a very long cruise on The Love Boat. It makes me happy to see. Today my therapist, that sneaky woman, sprang the topic on me. I don’t think I’d have ever brought it up myself. I’m guessing she knew that.

*sniff sniff*

It was a difficult session. I am not sure either of us believed me when I said I am happy single. But I swear, I am! I score pretty high on the quirky alone quiz, and when I’ve been in relationships, and they’ve ended, there is a really big part of me that sighs in relief, no matter how much I cared for them. “Have you ever been in love?” my therapist asked, and nope, I haven’t.

So I’m still a spectator, enjoying the stories of other people and their love boat cruises, but I’m just not sure I am a cruise kind of person. And, more importantly, I’m not sure I actually want to change that. I’ve been thinking about it today, trying to figure out – am I happy single, or is that just my safe zone to keep myself from being hurt? (how unfair that I’ve never been in love, but have still been hurt!) Is it society that makes us assume that if we were emotionally healthy, we’d want to be paired up, no matter how independent our spirit? I don’t know the answers.

the love boat

There are so many reasons to visit them! I enjoy going to the “main” branches in the towns I’ve lived in. There is almost always something majestic and special about them. Built back in the day when some money was spent on the aesthetics even of public buildings, they feel decadent somehow.

Now, the town I grew up in, the library was nothing much. We were too small to have more than one library, so it was what it was. An old musty dusty place that nevertheless was magical to me. I think the summer I lived in Portland, Oregon was the first time I saw how beautiful some of the old libraries are. I still remember walking in, in complete awe, gazing up at the sweeping staircases. The wood, the marble, the details. Fantastic.

Even the main branch of my current town’s library has some of that feel, though it looks sort of 70’s industrial on the outside. They went for a modern but airy look on the inside, and not only does it work well, there is something of an expectant hush there as well.

I love getting books and music from the library. I love the freely exchanged ideas, words, and notes. I tend to do this even with the books I do purchase, which I try to keep to a minimum. I pass them on to friends. So it isn’t just me with a pile of 30 books waiting to be read, it is my friends as well! I also feel better borrowing and lending books – resources are precious on this earth, after all.

And then there is that special anticipation when you have to put yourself on a waiting list for a book. I read some really heavy stuff when it comes to non-fiction, so the fiction I read has to offset that. Very light, generally. It is something to take my mind off, rather than make me think more. Very often it is vampire, werewolf, or fey type of worlds I wander into, as if the further from reality the better.

And then there is the world of Stephanie Plum. I admit it, I’m completely addicted. Big hair, burning cars, and crazy grandmothers. I love it. “Lean Mean Thirteen” came out a bit more than a month ago, and my number on the waiting list has finally come up. And what perfect timing! I am going to the library straight from therapy tomorrow, and I’m going to indulge myself the entire afternoon. (The downside to the Plum books is that they’re extremely quick reads!) I believe this is what is called a “beach read.” A mini-vacation, a calgon story. Maybe I’ll make those brownies and really indulge!

manhattan beach sunset

I wasn’t much of a cook until I went vegan. I was really lazy. I lived off pasta and jarred sauce for years. That’s no exaggeration, I could have it night after night, and I did in fact have it night after night for most of my 8 years as a vegetarian.

Then I went vegan, and for some reason, even though I could have continued having pasta and jarred sauce (most of both are vegan, after all) night after night, it suddenly seemed important to cook. I had actually started cooking in the six or so months before, which I think shocked my mom more than me going vegan. The cooking really took off after going vegan, along with the ever growing collection of cookbooks. Including one that is wholly dedicated to vegan cupcakes.

I rely on recipes, mostly, when I cook. I have a lot of cookbooks, and I am compelled to browse through the vegan cookbooks at every bookstore I’m in. When I traveled to Argentina, where they eat even more meat than in this country, and stumbled across two vegan cookbooks, I had to get them. Even though they’re in Spanish, and I can just barely order food and make travel arrangements in Spanish. Motivation to learn the language, right? Right.

Recently I’ve been able to just throw things together, and be pretty pleased with how they turn out. Last night I sauteed some onion, garlic, purple peppers (they were organic, locally grown, and cheaper than the rest of the colors!) with olive oil and cumin, and then I added a can of fire roasted tomatoes (sorry Rich and Leanne! I know how much you love tomatoes), chickpeas, a chipotle pepper, some potatoes and some seitan…I think that’s it. I let it simmer until the potatoes were cooked.

It is pretty good! Not something that I’d expect to find in a cookbook, it isn’t that good, but it is filling, nourishing, and quite tasty. Especially the next day, somehow.

I still love making things from cookbooks, but it is so nice to know that I can take the random contents of my fridge and pantry and come up with something that is pretty good!

joyful brownies

There are just so many things going on. Not all of them good, but the awesome thing is that the ones that aren’t great (a chorus of “People Suck!” goes here) are completely overshadowed by the ones that are great.

I’m expanding my crazy radicalness to include a healthy dose of environmental activism. Who needs free time anyway? Or sleep!

No, I’m (mostly) kidding, it will be good to diversify, and animal issues are so incredibly linked to environmental ones as well as human/social justice issues that it all flows together anyway. I’m just getting officially involved with people who have actual campaigns and stuff on the environmental side. I’m really excited about this.

I’m excited about the connections I’m making in that world, as well as this one. I’m not so excited about my neighbor, but I’ve done nothing if not practice for moments like this – I’m excellent at ignoring and avoiding things, and that is exactly what this situation calls for.

I’m not so excited about the “new” project I’m working on. After al the fuss they put up to get me back (I’d been on loan from them to a project I actually liked working on), they ignored me almost the entire day today, my first day back with them. And when the lead finally stopped by, he was like “oh, good, you have something to read!” Er, yeah. Javascript, which isn’t going to be used on this project at all. He didn’t even care to see what I was reading. He was perfectly content with the fact that I was looking busy and charging to his project.

Er, I’m not a business person, but does this make sense? No, of course not! But it is what I have to live with. It is why I’m determined to work on my resume.

But enough of that! It is the rest of my life that I’m excited about. This weekend I’m going to see another crazy friend I met (for the 2nd time) last weekend, who I bonded with, and who I love for all his crazy oh-so-young and oh-so-wise self. That he’s gay only makes it easier to love him. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

And since he’s a “radical” like myself, I’ll feel right at home with him.

“Flash! Flash I love you, but we only have 13 hours to save the Earth!”

bluto

Though now I think of it, it could just be the nice cream I had that has given me all this energy!

(Oh, and meet Bluto!)

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