Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Days Later

I stepped through.

Things look pretty much the same.

Still a little scared.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Standing in the doorway

I've had a bottle of Prozac sitting in my kitchen for two and a half days now.

I have been over this a million times.

I have discussed this with so many people, psychiatrists, psychologists, my OB/GYN, my parents, my friends, both of my husbands.

I have done so much research my God, SO MUCH, I've read material for physicians and publicly available material. Studies and case studies and development reports.

I did intensive medical research on the pharmacology of SSRI's when I was in Massage School, and presented it in a research paper.

I have researched the side effects of Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft, Celexa, Elavil, and many others.

I have researched which conditions besides Depression these drugs have shown promise in treating, such as OCD and eating disorders.

I know about the arguments for and against SSRI's during pregnancy. I know what sorts of effects have been seen on newborn babies whose mothers took SSRI's.

I have been learning about these drugs since 1990, when I first met someone whose mother was taking Prozac, and listened to her stories. Since then I have known countless people who were either taking SSRI's themselves, or had an immediate family member taking them. I have asked every detailed question imaginable.

Two days. Two days of apprehension, more research, asking my Mom more questions, talking to my dad, getting second opinions.

Why can't I just take the damn thing?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Been a Great Year

Yesterday was G and my first wedding anniversary.


It boggles the mind how quickly that year has flown.

Really, over the last three years since he proposed, our lives haven't changed much. We are still friends with almost all of the same people (thank G-d). Our parents and other relatives are still healthy and living their lives. He has the same job, and I still don't have one. (haha) We still live in the same apartment, with the same cat, and the same rented parking space.

What's changed? I have a new car, I became a Massage therapist, and I got a short haircut. No small things, but they seem so external, so incidental, next to the deeper realities of Life.

Last Saturday, G and I spent the night at the nice little hotel where he proposed to me on Valentine's Day, 2006. We like that place because the restaurant never disappoints. Fabulous, creative food, divine wines, and sumptuous coffee in the morning. The hotel itself is just convenient. The bar doesn't suck either.

We were home by Sunday, but Monday was our actual anniversary, and I just couldn't let it pass like any other day. One year ago on February 23rd, in the middle of a blizzard, on top of a skyscraper, surrounded by our best friends and beloved family... this anniversary deserves to be honored.

One year is supposed to be the "paper" anniversary. I'd already bought toilet paper so I was at a loss. (haha.)

Instead of something in a box, I made us a nice dinner. He likes my cooking, and is always saying he prefers experiences rather than material things. So, I kicked things up a notch, and put together a sort of Italian/French "experience" - angel hair with white wine clam sauce, a big green salad, and some fancy baked appetizers. For dessert I splurged a bit at the grocery store, and put together a fruit and cheese plate, something we often order in nice restaurants. I had a bottle of German white wine that went perfectly with everything. G was very satisfied.

I did get him a sappy card, and my parents sent us a lovely card, as well as a printed email greeting from a friend, so I set all that up on the table so he could see it when he got home. I also gave him a cheesy dark chocolate rose, because we're silly like that.

I fell asleep curled up against him on the couch, the cat purring on his chest, the purrs resonating through his ribcage into mine.

I can't believe I fell asleep.

Tonight... I think I owe him one more gift.

My menu:

Angel Hair pasta with Victoria brand White Clam sauce.
I cheated here and went with pre-packaged foods. But this brand of clam sauce is the best I've had, it's better than most homemade sauces I've had in people's homes. It's very light instead of the oily pungency I usually get. The clams are juicy and fresh, and there are big slices of garlic floating about. One 12-ounce jar was perfect for 1/2 pound of pasta.

Grandma's Green Salad
My grandmother, and my mother, and now I, have been making simple salads for years. We seldom deviate from this ingredient list:

Leaf lettuce, ripped into small (about 1 to 2 inches) pieces. NOT Romaine, no field greens, buy a head of green or red leaf lettuce. Iceberg will do in a pinch. Use pre-bagged greens only if there is NOTHING else available and you're having a salad emergency. But really, how badly do you need a salad? Wait until the good lettuce shows up.
Carrot shavings. NOT baby carrots, not chunks of carrots, not julienned slices. Use the peeler to get thin shavings.
raw Red onion, to taste. I use about 1/8th onion per person.
white mushrooms, sliced
cucumber, ALL PEEL REMOVED, sliced into rounds
tomato, seeds removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
balsamic vinegar, a healthy pour. I prefer red, but some of my cousins think white is higher-class. They're really pretentious.
EVOO, aka Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, just two tablespoons. Don't just pour it on, too much oil will kill the light freshness of the salad. My family, as a general rule, doesn't splurge on the super-pricey imported first press oils. Bertolli is fine.
Dried basil and oregano. I pour it into my palm, crush it between my hands, and sprinkle it on AFTER tossing the salad with the oil and vinegar.
Salt and pepper, just a few shakes.

The trick is to layer the veggies first, then toss in stages. Use a huge mixing bowl. Later the lettuce on the bottom, then the rest of the chopped, peeled, de-seeded, shaved, and otherwise made wonderful veggies. Then BEFORE TOSSING, sprinkle the oil and vinegar. Now toss WELL. try to coat everything. Now add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss Again.

PCP (Prosciutto-wrapped, Cheese-stuffed Prunes)
I found this recipe on the internet somewhere.
The cheese I used - which was DIVINE - was St. Andre, available at my stop-n-shop for about $9 a wedge, which isn't a lot of cheese. It's also available in a round tub, even more expensive. It's SO worth it though. It's a very creamy, semi-soft, rich, dreamy creamy cheese. If you wanted a stronger flavor, you could use actual cream cheese, or goat cheese, or brie. Even bleu, feta or gorgonzola might be nice.

I bought extra lean, extra-thin sliced prosciutto ham for this. A little salty meat goes a long way, so don't use too much. The meat should be sliced so thin you can almost see through it.

Cut the meat into strips just long enough to wrap around a stuffed prune with a little overlap, so you can hold it closed by spearing it with a toothpick. (I know what you're thinking. DO NOT try this with bacon, that meat is WAY too strong, and will render your prunes and cheese untastable.)

I made four prunes per person.

Soak your prunes in a cup of boiling water for about 20 minutes, like they were tea bags. I let them soak while I made the pasta and washed and ripped my salad lettuce. This plumps and softens the prunes, making them easier to open and stuff.

Hold a prune in your hand and look for the end. Squeeze it a little, and feel where the pit used to be. use a small paring knife to cut just one side of the prune open, so you can spread it out. This may take a little practice, but hey, you're just going to wrap it in ham anyway, so a little learning curve is ok.

Stuff the prune with a dab of cheese. I used a lot, so much that the prune barely closed around it. But you have to really get the prune closed, or the cheese will leak out in the oven. wrap the prune around the cheese.

Wrap the ham around the cheese by putting the prune seam-side down in the middle of the ham strip. Wrap the strip around the prune, and spear the prune where the ham overlaps with a toothpick. This will not only help hold it together while baking, but prevents your diners from having to eat with their fingers.

Bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees, for about 15 minutes.

If you're having a party, you can serve these all on one plate and pass them around. Since I was having an intimate dinner for two, I portioned them onto individual small plates.

My Dessert Cheese Plate had more of the St. Andre cheese, some Port Salut, another semi-soft cheese with a pleasant swiss-like tang, and another french cheese called St. Albray that we didn't like. Given it's brownish hue, I thought it would have a smoky flavor, but instead tasted... well, it was disgusting. G and I both wondered if it might taste better melted into soup, or with a different wine, but we just hated it. In retrospect, and after doing some research into this cheese, I'm wondering if I didn't get a soured wedge. In any event, this actually made the whole experience more fun.

I served black seedless grapes, blackberries, and strawberries on the plate, and a few lightly salted melba toasts. I also whipped some heavy cream, and we dipped the fruit in that too, feeling decadent. We both prefer our whipped cream pure, without added sugar, especially when we're dipping sweet fruits into it.

Our Rhinehessen Liebefraumilch German white wine was a gift from a friend. I've been saving it. It's basically a less-expensive Spatlase. It's fruity and light, and it went especially well with our appetizers and cheese plate. It's reasonably priced to boot, a modest, friendly wine. Our bottle came from the Weber winehouse, you can probably find it in mid-range wine stores.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rage and Frustration, Part II

This morning, I woke up telling someone off.

I don't remember everything about my dreams last night, but when I woke up, I was just about to get it on with a hot blonde guy that I used to know back in Springfield (no, not that one.) This guy I used to know, that nothing ever happened between us, because he was a nice guy, and the only guys that ever came after me were assholes and losers, so I just have this nice memory that he existed, and was friendly, and chatty, and wanted a "real relationship," and never showed any real interest in me at all.

Oh... maybe there's a segue here? Anyway, I was just pulling him by the tie, when I woke up! And then... in my mind, my eyes not even open yet, I heard one of my old college professors asking me a question. When I was halfway through my reply, she screamed the answer in my face. And I said, out loud, disturbing the cat, "Why do you ask me something if you don't care what my answer is? Was that a trick question? Was I supposed to read your mind and know what the right answer was?"

"Who you talking to in there?" G asked, sauntering back into the bedroom. My eyes were closed but I could tell he was sauntering. He's a pretty satisfied guy, and he generally saunters when he walks. I pried open my eyes just a crack. "I don't know, but I'm awake," I muttered, letting my eyes re-seal shut. "6:30 in the morning and I'm wide awake, this is ridiculous."

"I guess I can turn the light on then," G said, and this blast of light knocked my head off my body and burned my eyeballs to dust in my sockets. AAGGHH! I groaned, holding my hand over my eyes. G laughed. "Ok, sorry!" He turned the lamp to low, and I pried my eyes open again. G was rummaging through the closet for his button-down du jour. I rolled over and tried not to think about anything. The cat meowed.

That actually happened, with my old college professor. She yelled at me in front of the class, ALL THE TIME. And she didn't yell at everyone. There were maybe one or two others in the class that she disliked, but nobody got raked over the coals like I did. My classmates pitied me, and they told me so, approaching me quietly in the hallway, looking around to make sure nobody saw them saying something nice to me. And I was enraged, every week. And there wasn't much I could do about it.

I met with her after class to discuss why we weren't working well together - at least, that's what I wanted to discuss. She instead used the time to lecture me on why I'm not performing well, and that I don't communicate well. I told her I thought communication was a two-way street. If looks could kill, I wouldn't be typing this right now.

That was it for me, really. I went to my other teachers, and asked them for advice, is there anything I can try doing differently? They all shrugged, and expressed their sympathy, and looked forlorn and helpless. "When someone's upsetting you like that," one of my teachers said, "you're not going to be able to do much."

Everyone told me the same thing: just endure as best you can until the semester is over. This professor was the queen bee of the department, with the most tenure, and a personality so intimidating that the faculty would never speak out in defense of any student she terrorized. I knew I wasn't the only one - there were so many of us. One gal I knew had dropped the major, knowing at the tender age of 18 that she didn't have to put up with that crap. She became a music major. She was brilliantly talented and doing very well.

If only I'd had professor bitch when I was a freshman, like she had. Instead, I had the nice teachers freshman year. It wasn't until later on, when it was really too late to switch majors, that I had to eat shit for breakfast at 10AM on a weekly basis. The last two years of college, largely because of this teacher and the stranglehold she had on the department, were hell for me. Nobody would help me, they just said to endure it, I'll graduate eventually.

Halfway through my junior year, I declared a minor in English, so I'd have someplace to go where my professors and fellow students made me feel wanted. It was the smartest decision I made while in college. Well, that, and calling the cops on that abusive prick I dated briefly. Funny how those two thoughts share this space in my mind.

In my last year of college, I had a private meeting with a professor who was teaching an "auditioning class" for graduating seniors. This guy was new to the college, and he wanted to have these meetings as a way of getting to know us a bit. I have to admire the effort.

I don't remember everything we talked about, but I do remember the confused look on his face as I tried, calmly, and in what I thought was a generous fashion that was supportive to the school, to answer his questions about my experiences, my "college career" in the department. He never seemed to really be satisfied with my answers. Then, finally, he said, "why are you still here?"

"Because someone in the registrar's office at Julian Hall, or maybe in this department, decided my tuition money was more important than the wasted resources of teaching me," I said, flatly.

The guy blinked. "That's not true," he said. "It can't be. These people wouldn't waste their time if they thought you weren't any good."

"After everything we've just discussed, do you have a better explanation?" I asked.

We sat there, alone in a classroom, looking into each other's eyes. He was a handsome man. I hoped with all my heart, that he would recognize my humanity, see this girl half his age, and understand that I wasn't a lost cause, that I was filled with hope, and desire to please, and that I was starving to be taught.

I once saw a short film about rescuing Greyhound dogs who are discarded from the race circuit. One dog, who was particularly hard to train, who never won a race, was "discarded" into a trash heap after being nearly beaten to death. When the rescuers came, and saw the dog was alive, rather than snarl and foam at the mouth at the appearance of a being from whom it had only known abuse, the dog thumped it's tail, and whined softly. It still had hope.

As I lay there in my own trash heap, my heart pleaded. I saw my teacher's brain working, saw the gears turning behind his forehead. Then something clicked into place, and his eyes cleared, and his jaw set.

"If that's really what you believe," he said, "then all I can ask is that you give me a chance." He sat back in his chair, crossed his arms and legs, and looked over the top of a razor wire-topped wall at me, soundproof brick and mortar and sharp, deadly blades.

"I'd really like to," I said to him through the wall, my voice suddenly seeming so quiet, so breathless. At least he knows I'm here. Whether or not he lets me onto his side of that wall, or came around to mine, or helped me tear down that wall, remained to be seen. But I was hopeful.

It never happened. I gave every assignment in that class everything I had. I worked at being open, honest, Simple, attributes that were valued in that place. And he snarked at me no more or less than he snarked at others. A couple of the male students in our class, he treated quite badly. He fit in here, I thought to myself, with profound disappointment. I guess that's why they hired him.

It wasn't just Professor Bitch that threw me on the trash heap. She had a couple of cronies who also treated me badly, but their strategy was more to ignore me, just give me menial assignments, and when I got up to show my work, they checked their watches and wrote in their day planners. And there was a couple of very nasty cliques of students who treated me exactly the same as those bitchy little kids had treated me when I was growing up in Springfield. So I can't blame it all on one person. It just was, to paraphrase a friend of mine, an unsupportive, backbiting little place. I'd gone from the frying pan of Springfield into the tightly-enclosed pressure-cooker of college.

I did have a few friends, and we clung to each other for dear life. But I wasn't very good at creating a bubble for myself, where I could just ignore the bitchitude being dumped on me from whatever source, and just concentrate on the goodness. I wasn't teflon-coated. I'm still not, although my skin is much thicker. That's inevitable, after years of walking on glass, your skin adapts. But up until age 25, I was still tender and soft on the outside. I was like a man-of-war who wished it was a lionfish. I was afraid to use my stingers, because I knew I would only be blamed for causing harm to others. Nobody would ever believe that anything I did or said was justified. I would never get the self-defense plea.

Thank god I didn't give into my rage. Where would I be now, jail? Dead? Or simply expelled from school, without a degree? That B.S. I got from college (haha) was the only ticket I had to a decent paycheck. So I'm glad I didn't stab that girl with the scissors like I fantasized about, that one night in the costume shop. I'm glad I didn't push that other person off the stage into the orchestra pit. I'm glad I didn't start an all-out brawl that one time I saw the Clique treating someone badly, and I wanted to stand up for them, start throwing punches with all my might, How's that evil mouth of yours working NOW, BITCH?

Yeah. I'm glad.

Sort of.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Blizzard that Never Was

Last night, I was supposed to go to a board meeting at 7pm.

At about 2pm, snow began to fall over the New York Metro area.

By 4pm, we had enough accumulation that the world was white. It rained down white flakes non-stop for hours.

At about 5:30, I got the phone call: Board meeting is canceled due to inclement weather. I was relieved. I've already driven in two blizzards this season and that's quite enough, thank you.

G called me from the train, talking about going grocery shopping. "If the roads are bad, I'll go by myself, I won't want to drive home, pick you up, then go to the store."

"I understand, no problem," I replied.

He showed up at about 6:30. "The roads are fine!" he said.

And they were. There was snow, but the plows had been through, and the streets were wet, but not slick. It was warmer than I'd expected, and instead of snow, we now had rain.

I woke up this morning, and the sun was blazing. At 7am, I looked out the large windows of our second-story apartment on the houses and yards and trees outside.

Not a trace of snow. As though none had ever fallen. And I went about my day.


I lived through a lot of miserable times in Springfield, Illinois. When I moved to New York, I really never looked back. I missed my parents, and I missed the feeling of home... but I was over that pretty quick. Springfield will always be my hometown, but I never felt safe there, and I was virtually never truly happy there. I never felt welcome, and I never "fit in." Some people were so horribly cruel to me that I couldn't wait to escape to college. And when college spat me back down to Springfield, I was on the first plane to New York I could manage.

I remember the screaming, enraged frustration I often felt in Springfield, the knowledge that, no matter how long I lived there or how many times I tried to reinvent myself, I would never find satisfaction in that city. The things I wanted would always slip through my grasp. If I had stayed there, I would have experienced that death that comes when you give up everything that matters to you, your dreams, your hopes, and settle for whatever you're given, believing that there's no point in trying for more. I'd seen hundreds of people like that. No fate frightened me more than winding up like them.

I didn't know what I really wanted out of life, but I knew what I didn't want.

I remember the rage. I remember how it felt, the inside of my chest burning like fire. I remember the violent impluses I suppressed, the incredible urge to rip someone's hair out, to punch them in the face, to kick him where it counts, to pummel his face with my fists until there was nothing left but a bloody mess of flesh and pieces of bone. I remember wanting to push someone off a high platform and watch her fall, watch her break into pieces. I remember being afraid of myself. I remember swallowing it all, trying to drown it with alcohol from the age of 14. I remember how I internalized my rage, giving myself sick stomachs and headaches and body aches, being unable to hold down food, my body throwing up even the lightest of meals, because I was too full of loathing and grief. I grieved my life, even at 15, knowing that every year that passed I would never get back. I looked at my school pictures from fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, and thought someone stole this from me!

It was so easy to blame various people. It still is. Even though it never solved anything. People were deliberately cruel to me at times, other times they were cruel in their disregard. "You're NOTHING," she screamed at me. "You're NOBODY. EVERYONE hates you, EVERYONE!" Because I couldn't catch a baseball. Or because I said the right answer after someone else didn't. Or because I wore the wrong jacket. Or because I blew my nose too often. Or because I sat on the wrong side of the room. Or because I watched Public Television and not Miami Vice. Or because my Mom was the girl scout leader. Or because...

So many years ago. It's like a movie I saw once. The movie is sad, and makes me sad to watch it. So I don't watch it anymore. It's as simple as that. Because after years and years of watching it, I've earned the right to turn it off.

I don't expect people to understand why I don't like to watch that movie. Or look at old photos. It's ok. After all, most people love to reminisce, love their memories. I don't begrudge them. Maybe, for them, the blizzard was fun.

But for me, I moved on. And to look at my life now, you'd never know. When I tell people stories about how shy I was, how I had no real friends for so long, never dated like most kids, they don't believe me. This makes me feel successful. That little girl was me once, but I've changed so completely, that she now only exists in memory. Nothing else is left of her. She is dead.

I don't mourn her, because I didn't love her. I mourn what she should have had, who she might have been. I love something deep inside her, the person that she might have been, that I believe, underneath everything, she truly was... but her life was horrible, and her death was a blessing. She died rather quickly, graciously, peacefully. I was there. I held her hand. I told her it was over, and that I wasn't angry at her, that I forgave her. And when she closed her eyes for the last time, I went to my bed, and went to sleep. I cried for us, and fell asleep.

And when I woke up, no trace of her remained but my memories, and my awareness that life is not something we can control. Sometimes we are victims no matter how you reframe a situation. Sometimes all you can do is try to forget. Some bad people will never be sorry for what they did, and you won't have the luxury of forgiving them. You just move forward. Leave them and eveything they did to you behind. Live.

And I live. I live for today, and tomorrow, and next year, and the rest of my life. I dodge bullets when they come, and I move on. Some of them hit me, and I deal with it, and then move on. I give as much as I can, sometimes too much, and I'm never sorry for that.

I'm sorry Deidre... I wish I had been there when you were going through all that, to tell you what to say and do, and how to release your rage so you didn't hurt yourself so much. I'm sorry I couldn't love you when you needed me to. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you from the liars and cheaters and selfish people. I'm sorry you had to die for me to live.

I want to live a life that you would have liked. I want to be a person that you would have wanted to be. Most of all, I want to be happy, because you weren't. I want to be what you never were.

This is how I love you. It's the best I can do.

So, I guess I'll see you in heaven, or wherever it is we go? Where we can have all the chocolates we want, and it won't make us sick? Where you can be young and free and wild, and I can be smart and calm and decisive. Where the child and the grown-up can meet, and understand each other, and learn where we fit together, you inside of me, and me wrapped around you. Where I will have the answers to your questions. And you will be seen, everyone will see you in me, when they look at me, hear my voice, watch me move.

I do not fear death.

And this life is mine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today is Better Than Yesterday

Today, when I woke up, I was sad, and frustrated. I can't remember the dream I was having, but it was melancholy. I remember being in a situation I couldn't control, watching something sad happen. A lot of life is like that.

I lay in bed for a half hour, thinking about other things, even telling myself stories, deliberately turning my mind in other directions. My primary strategy for mood control. Sometimes it works. Today it did.

When I got up, I made my coffee, and watched last night's Nip/Tuck on TiVo. That show is pretty sick and twisted, but I actually found this particular episode to be quite beautiful, and positive. A lot of stuff about realizing the value of life, breaking out of certain behavior patterns, and making bold choices. The sort of stuff I talk a lot about, and try to do. It left me feeling... good.

I'm looking forward to my to-do list for today, very simple, basic things, not necessarily in this order:

breakfast/Heroes on TiVo
make grocery list
research online fundraising websites
grocery shopping
gym, if I have the time
Advisory Board meeting at 7pm

When I'm feeling good, I try to just enjoy it, roll with it, but it's common for me to muse, in the back of my mind, How long is this gonna last?

What was wrong with yesterday? Nothing really. I was just out of it, feeling down, feeling tired, feeling blah. I didn't want to leave the house, so I didn't. I did things around the house - some calculations regarding our possible apartment move, made myself a lunch, portioned out the leftovers, some light housework, etc. But I waited until G got home to hit the gym, and I made him do the driving.

Did I wake up from a bad dream yesterday? Not that I can remember. Was there anything specific depressing me? Nothing new, just the mild anxieties du jour: Will this move happen? Will I run out of cash before I get a new job? Have I lost any inches this week? Do I have anything to wear for our first anniversary getaway this weekend? Have I finished that project I volunteered to do for the Advisory Board? These are all small things.

Of course, struggling with anxiety and depression means small things become big things, in my own mind, and can paralyze me. But it comes and goes, depending on a lot of external factors.

This period of time since January 9th, this time while I'm unemployed, has been wonderful for me. While it's true that I've had ample time to rest, REALLY rest, it's also true that I'm up at 7:30 every morning, twitching with energy, my mind so active that going back to sleep is impossible. I've made excellent use of these days, doing those things I mentioned a while back, keeping the promise I made to myself years ago, that I would do X thing and Y thing if I ever didn't have to work. Part of me wishes this never had to end.

However, I have had my usual share of Bad Days. Days when I trudged from the bed to the couch and never moved for hours. I didn't shower until after lunch. I ate very little, and watched way too much TV. And when G came home, we made sandwiches, and he retired to the bedroom with a good book, while I stayed near-comatose on the couch, feeling useless, pointless. Maybe... two or three days a week. Sounds like a lot, 50% of the time. But really, the good days make up for it. Sort of.

The truth is, that I can't have anything long-term this way. I can only be relied on for a 24-48 hour period. Then something pulls me under again, and I... well, it's not that I don't DO things. It's that the effort to do them is so great, I'm miserable and grouchy just doing them. And people ask if I'm ok, and I have to tell them "I'm not feeling so hot today." And they always assume I'm sick, like with the flu or a cold, and I make up a story about something I ate, usually an amusing story that makes people laugh, puts them at ease, reassures them that everything's going to be ok, I'm tough, I can handle a little stomach upset, and it was sooooo worth it for that fantastic spicy vindaloo.

So, I don't join clubs, I don't sign up for things, I don't get the 10-class yoga card, I don't buy memberships to anything, and I seldom RSVP to parties or social gatherings, especially large ones where I will only know the host.

Being a Massage Therapist is a great treatment for this, because it forces me out of myself. I get the same effect from going to the gym. Even on days when I'm practically on the roof with a machine gun, I come out of the massage room (or off the treadmill) feeling renewed, revitalized, and unable to stop talking about how good I feel, and all the amazing things I experienced.

They say that being pregnant can alleviate mild depression, just from the hormonal changes in your body. G and I are very curious to see how being pregnant will affect me. It's fascinating. I do love being my own guinea pig.

Until that time, G and I have made the decision. I will pursue medical treatment. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist next week. I feel good about it.

I want to be able to make semi-long term plans, such as whether or not to help plan and execute a fundraiser, something that will require several months of commitment and hard work. That will be my first effort. After that... I have other ideas.

One step at a time. One good day at a time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today Will Be Better Than Yesterday

1) Up at a decent hour. Coffee, breakfast, internet.

2) Shower, turtleneck, Clarks.

3) Call and make an urgent hair appointment. No way in hell you're spending Valentine's Day with the in-laws looking sloppy.

4) Plan meals for the week. The WHOLE WEEK.

5) Make a grocery list.

6) Gym. Call Mom while you're in the car, she misses you.

7) Grocery shopping.

8) lunch, TiVo

9) See #3. Get your ass to the mall and get a fucking manicure.

10) Take a few minutes to relax. Play Piano. Sing a bit.

11) dinner.

12) Go see that apartment in Hastings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Other Shoe

Other things I've done since I've been unemployed, that aren't working out so good:

1) Met with a psychiatrist about starting Zoloft.
It took me two weeks of phone tag to get an appointment. I chose this guy because he's in my insurance plan, and G and I don't have any extra cash to be spending on yet ANOTHER out-of-network provider. My insurance company elicits groans from doctors offices, HR professionals, and pretty much everyone at the very mention of the name, so I can't expect much.

When I did finally get to meet this Psychiatrist, we had a lovely talk. He seems like a nice enough guy, and seems smart and knowledgeable about antidepressants and depression. However I didn't leave his office with a prescription. Once he heard that my husband and I would like to become parents someday, the Doc told me to go home and discuss Zoloft with my husband. He talked about how we really don't know the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy, and if I get pregnant, the safest thing to do would be to go off the drug, so maybe we should wait until after I have a child to start medicating?

I discussed the situation with G that very evening, and we decided not to put my health on hold indefinitely. If we get pregnant, I'll go off the meds. Until then, I'm taking them.

The next day was Friday, and I was so caught up in the activities of the day, I forgot to call the doc. I called him on the following Monday, left him a voicemail.

That was over a week ago. I left my third voicemail this morning. I told him I needed to hear from him regardless of what he has to say, so I can tie off this loose end. I guess my insurance really does suck, and he's not getting any money from seeing me? Who knows. Who cares.

2) Apartment hunting

This has dominated my life for the last two weeks. I never realized how much I tolerate in a building. All I care about is location. If the building is badly maintained, I don't really care as long as I have heat, hot water, decent water pressure, tight window seals, and a laundry room. If the elevator goes out, I can take the stairs. I want an inner city, urban environment, close to the Metro-North, in a downtown area.

G wants a well-maintained building. He wants enough parking space that he can do routine car maintenance without disturbing anyone. He'd rather live in the country.

I'm working on it. We've seen two places that were unsuitable in both our eyes, for various reasons. I'm on the email and phone and internet collecting listings and TRYING to arrange viewings every day. It's a daunting amount of work.

If we don't find something truly better than where we live now, I will suck up and endure another summer in this horticultural, wasp-infested neighborhood where I have spent the last four years. It would be just plain stupid to do otherwise. It's possible we might be able to upgrade within our current building, but who knows. It's also possible I might find a bigger place down the street from here, closer to downtown, farther from the gardeners. Who knows.

Those are two pretty big things. Things that it took me a long time and a lot of chutzpah to speak out about to G, or to my doctors, to realize that changes in these areas would significantly improve our lives, and will be worth the cost and effort to do them.

I haven't given up yet. It's just frustrating. I fight my depression some days far worse than others, and today I'm fighting hard. So now I've gotten these two issues out of my head and on "paper." Now I need to eat something nutritious, I can do that. Then I need to get back on the horse and call the realtors.

Then I'm going to shove my shoes into a locker and go skating.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Not a Bad Way to Blow Ten Bucks

I went ice skating with Kristin and her kids in January of 2008, in Chicago. I've been meaning to go to my local rink ever since... and somehow 13 months flew by.

Being unemployed, just for these four weeks, has been bloody marvelous.

Things I've done while unemployed:

1. Gotten the flu completely out of my system.

2. Bought a book of easy piano lessons for adults.

3. Learned that I've retained more than I realized.

4. Plowed through 26 pages of the Piano book.

5. Played "When the Saints Go Marching In" for G, missing only 3 notes.

6. Cleaned out the whole kitchen, cupboards, drawers, floor, stove, spices, everything.

7. Did a massive grocery shopping, and stocked up on healthy food. I now have a Weight Watchers kitchen.

8. Made a lasagne with part-skim cheeses and buffalo meat, that tastes indistinguishable from my grandmother's.

9. Had healthy breakfasts every single day.

10. Tried 3 homemade soup recipes, all wonderful.

11. Began apartment hunting in earnest. We're checking out the first contestant tomorrow morning.

12. Had an appointment with an actual Psychiatrist, and a very good chat.

13. Saw three movies by myself. Loved them all.

This has been a fucking fantastic month.

Today I just said, fuckit, I'm going skating. The rink's in the Palisades Mall, about 4 minutes from my apartment. $7 adult admission, $3 to rent skates, and 75 cents for a locker to stash my coat and bag and shoes. And I was off, flying around the ice, thinking, What the hell took me so long?.

I had a blast, just by myself. There weren't very many people there, at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon during work and school hours. There was a smattering of kids, and I wondered why they weren't in school? There was about five or six hockey guys zooming around, skating backwards and just having fun talking and laughing. There were a couple of parents with tiny kids, including one adorable tall red-headed dad and his toddling son, waayyyy too much cuteness there. There was one couple of teenagers on a date, holding hands and chatting sweetly as they slowly glided around in circles. I just skated along, straighforwardly, not trying anything fancy, just seeing what I can do. I wobbled a few times, but I didn't fall. I had to quit after 20 minutes because my ankles were screaming. I'll build up gradually.

I need to work out more anyway, and I've missed skating. I'm no ice princess, but it sure is fun. G and I are going to re-up my gym membership, so I'll still have that, but I want to fit in an hour of skating here and there as well. Won't it be cool to skate for an hour before my ankles give out. I used to have rock-strong ankles, from dancing en pointe all those years ago. Amazing how my body has completely forgotten what it used to be. My chi remembers, but my musculo-skeletal system has amnesia.

One small girl, about 9 or 10, called out to me "Are you alone?" At least, I think she did. I'm pretty sure I heard that. She was looking at me, as I slowly flowed past her and her friend on the ice. I didn't respond, but I smiled, and glanced her way. If she did ask that, she was shy about it. Some kids ask things like that, and look pointedly at you until you answer this. Maybe she just thought it, and I picked up on it. yes, I thought to her, I'm alone here today. And believe me, sometimes it's better this way.

I get lonely. I do wish I had someone to skate with. G has made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to go. My local girlfriend has sold her car and moved to Manhattan, so I'm pretty much on my own up here. But I'll skate anyway. Maybe I'll make a friend? Unlikely. But I feel good about myself, for doing something that I've been wanting to do, for getting off my ass and DOING it instead of just TALKING about it. Finding the Do.

One down.