May 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Sometimes I get stuck. Like bigger-than-life sad/hopeless/can’t move stuck. That kind of stuck loops around in a bigger stuck, in which I know I’m not living life to its fullest but can’t quite sort out how to fix that. I know, I know, there are drugs for this, but I don’t have any and mostly don’t want them. Today has been the worst day in a while.
I read a funny (I am pretty sure it was funny?) blog post about depression and chuckled half-heartedly. I had been saving that blog because I love the artist/writer so much, and it didn’t even feel like anything to read it. Nothing.
Maybe I am depressed, but I don’t think that’s it. Most days I feel the amount of nihilism appropriate for the situation (life being meaningless and all) and enjoy things the amount that seems appropriate. I remember being depressed and it was nothing like that. It was more like today, but for all the days I could remember at the time.
Here’s the thing: I think if you feel like you’re missing out on some of what you could be making of your life, the answer is not to get a pill for that. If you feel bigger-than-life pain sometimes, it might be because you’re ignoring nagging dissatisfaction with your choices and circumstances, and that pain is hell-bent on being felt at some point so it can move the fuck on with its life.
I ate a lot of pastries and chocolate today and went to a yoga class. Otherwise, I mostly stared at the screen that I was supposed to be fixing a problem on and couldn’t make my brain do the fixing. I tried sleeping, which helped, except now there are bits of chocolate melted into the sheets. I read about juggalos on the internet. So when I realized the video I was about to watch was 20 minutes long, I didn’t even care that I would be losing 20 minutes of my day. It was about a guy who got kind of famous for writing a really cool song you might have heard on the radio, and the guy was like 17 at the time and now he is dead from cancer.
The video was about how he decided to live life while he was dying instead of trying so hard not to die that he would be sick from drugs and horrible surgery for the whole rest of his life.
I cried for a good 30 minutes, which helped. I also really want to do that even though I am not dying. My plan is the following:
- Stop doing things that seem like a good move even though they will make me too busy to do things like learn stuff on the guitar and go for runs.
- Stop saving exercise for the last day of the week when I panic about not having exercised all week.
- Do some of the things I want to do but don’t because _(insert boring excuse here)_, like eat real food instead of whatever is easiest, do fun things after work, visit my family, hang out with people I like a lot, watch good movies, learn new stuff, go outside when it’s nice, etc.
- Let go of anger that is pointless.
- Write all the things.
- Clean my house all the time so I like being there, instead of once every few weeks when I am angry about my house being gross.
You know, all the things people say you should do to be happy. (The last one is probably not on everyone’s list, but it is important to me.)
My grandmother did what this kid did when she found out she was terminal, and a lot of the things she had on her list, except I think she was doing most of those things already. She didn’t stop being annoyed about annoying things or otherwise a normal human being, but in perspective. As far as I could tell, the only regret she had was not having time to do all the things she wanted to — and that’s after seventy-something years of being pretty bad-ass. If there’s that much awesomeness to live, I’d better get on it.
I think living like you’re dying when you’re not dying in any immediate sense is subtly different from living like you’re dying when you know you have weeks or months to live, because you can’t just stop doing things required of humans, like going to work and thinking about the long-term implications of your life choices. But only subtly different. I love my job and obsessively think about the long-term implications of my life choices as it is, so maybe my shift should be to think less hard about the long-term implications and do more small things just because they are the things I’d want to have done with my life if I didn’t have years ahead of me to put them off.
For now, I’ll count it a success that I emerged deeply fulfilled from a day I would normally promise myself to get on meds and write off as a waste.
January 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
OH MY GOD JANUARY. It is so awful. There is science proving how awful it is — or “pseudoscience,” at least. According to Science, the most depressing day of the year hasn’t even happened yet — it’s on January 21st.
Factors include things like weather, holiday debt, motivation and days since falling off the New Years resolution wagon. There should also be something about “likelihood that you are hacking up a lung.” And “number of fights you’ve had with friends and/or strangers on the internet in the past week.”
Having moved through the preliminary stages of utter despair, including
- pretending to just be having a bad week
- getting drunk on bad beer several days in a row
- coming to terms with the semi-permanent nature of the situation
- unfettered self-pity,
I have now moved into a considerably more pleasurable stage: self-comfort. This is the part where you stop just feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it. Like eat scones every day, regard attending one yoga class in a week as a Feat of Strength, and read long-form articles about Lindsey Lohan making a low-budg film.
I’m even using my favorite mug — which (neurosis alert) I use as little as possible to prevent it from ever breaking or getting lost — on the daily.
It’s wonderful. I am pretending/recognizing that I have a disease, and treating that disease by treating myself awesomely. Which leads me to wonder why I don’t do this all the time.
Being inexplicably sad has led me to living more wholly. For now, as a survival technique. But later, maybe just for fun.
November 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I made a couple of soup-related posts on Facebook and was pleasantly surprised to learn my friends are also super excited about soup! Look out, RPG-ers. This is a new brand of geekery you can’t even match. Below (at the bottom of the post) is the full list of ideas and recipes from my friends. I still need recipes for the ones without links — please share or add to the list!
Tonight, I craved something super filling and, well, meaty. What I really craved was a bloody, possibly moo-ing steak, but my commitment to soup prevailed. (I briefly considered a stew, but wanted to eat in less than three hours and had some questions concerning not having a crock pot.)
My boyfriend and I settled on turkey albondigas, as per his mom’s suggestion.
This is the recipe we chose — except we bought turkey meatballs already made in the interest of not making meatballs, which seemed like a huge pain in the ass. We used veggie broth instead of chicken broth and grated the carrots (because chunks of cooked carrots in soup kind of weird me out). Also, we left out bell peppers because bell peppers don’t taste good.
The albondigas blew out of the water (er, broth?) my secret notion that soup isn’t particularly filling. I struggled to finish my portion. Unlike with many other non-creamy soups, I didn’t get hungry again after an hour.
The caldo tasted like everything delicious about Mexican food — I’m not even sure how it happened, either, because the ingredients aren’t that much different from what I use to make any other soup. Tomato juice (we tossed in the whole 8-oz. can even though the recipe only called for half) made a major flavor difference.
Before proceeding to the list, I have two questions for my expert soupist friends. First: Do I need a crock pot to make stews? Second: What’s your secret to making vegetable broth taste “right” when substituted in a recipe calling for meat stock/broth?
SOUP MASTER LIST (Thank you, friends!)
- Pumpkin Kale
- Taco Soup (Two votes!)
- Root Vegetable and Black Bean Chili
- Split Pea
- Finnish Summer Soup
- Turkey Albondigas
- Butternut Squash/Carrot/Ginger (One butternut squash, 4 carrots 4 ginger frozen ginger cubes from Trader Joe’s. Boil in about 1-2 cups water. Pour into blender with salt, pepper, and about 2 teaspoons of raw honey. Blend the hell out of it.)
- Fish Cream Soup
- Italian White Bean and Pancetta (Notes from my friend: “I used lean bacon instead of pancetta, tried leeks instead of the red onion for a milder flavor, and packed in the veggies. It makes a pretty large batch, but I’ve just been taking in my lunches, and I would guess that it freezes okay as well.”)
- Chicken Pot Pie Stew
- Carbonnade Beef and Beer Stew
- Lentil Vegetable
- Potato Leek (Check!)
- Butternut Squash, shallots, coconut milk, curry.
- Spicy Ginger Squash
- African Yam Peanut (Notes from Barb, who has more of her favorites listed on her site: I love African Yam Peanut Soup. I couldn’t find the recipe I use (out of the Spokesman several years ago) but found [the recipe linked]. This one calls for sweet potatoes but I use yams, and I use coconut milk as part of the liquid. My recipe calls for fewer spices but uses a cup of mild to medium salsa.)
- Chicken Lime (Chicken meat, red onion, green-red–or-yellow bell peppers, a pasta such as small bowties or shells and limes, limes, lots of limes squeezed in. And cilantro.)
November 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
For all its romantic fog and cozy rainy mornings, Fall scares the bejesus out of me. Four-thirty sunsets mess with my body clock, trying to lure me into hibernation. But anybody who’s spent a winter or eight in Spokane knows Fall hibernation leads to January psychotic breaks. It’s pretty much keep moving or self-destruct.
If I can’t hibernate, I at least want comfort food. Comfort food is, like, cheese and pasta. Or cheese on pizza. Or cheese on bread. Cheese on cheese. Pizza with a side of garlic bread. Bread with a side of pasta. Topped with cheese.
After a meal (or eight) like that, I basically just want to hibernate more. Plus I feel (/become) chubby, which makes me want to crawl in a hole and sleep forever. Sanity is a lot of work, people.
Hence, I am learning soup. Soup usually doesn’t have any bread or cheese in it. It makes eating things like carrots and lentils seem awesome, which is useful when virtually no delicious vegetables are in season.
It’s super cheap to make. The potato leek soup I just made has six kinds of organic vegetable, mushrooms and organic veggie stock in it, all of which totaled around $6 and could easily feed four people. (Currently accepting bribes.)
As far as I can tell so far, it’s impossible to screw up making soup. If it tastes gross, add more stuff (like salt, pepper, ginger, pepper flakes or curry) until it tastes delicious.
I would love suggestions for soup-inventing strategies or recipes to try. For my first soup, I studied the ingredients on the back of an overpriced can of soup and made it from scratch for about the same price ($3.50). This potato leek soup pretty much involved throwing veggies in the pot with some olive oil, soy sauce and spices later adding veggie stock, followed by potatoes, blending about half and and adding stuff until it tasted amazing ($6.00)
I’m lucky to live across from a grocery store, so I buy exactly what I need for that particular soup — that allows me to buy quality, organic produce without overspending just for the leftover supplies to grow slime in the fridge.
More soup reports later. For now, send me tips and recipes, please!
August 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
If I had a cigarette for every time I said the words, “I’ve decided to quit smoking,” I would be spending a lot less money on cigarettes these days.
Goals are hard — so much so that I’m often tempted not to make them at all.
As neat and tidy as achievements sound after the fact (“I ran a marathon!”), the reality of goal-achieving is messy and riddled with small failures. During race training, I’ve quit on plenty of training runs halfway through, trudging home in the rain with my soaked pants dragging on the concrete. I’ve showed up for group runs hung over with the taste of last night’s cigarettes still clinging to the back of my throat, lagging behind for the first few miserable miles.
The self-flagellating part of me counts those as failures, but I’m increasingly convinced that kindness to ourselves is part of the mental toughness necessary to achieve intimidating things. I showed up. And when it didn’t go great, I kept moving forward instead of giving up.
My most recent goal has been to run a 5K every day for a month. Two days in, I skipped a day. Then another one. On days three, four and five, though, I ran. I shaved two minutes off my time on day five and felt like a freaking GOD.
My goals are supposed to keep me on track. If they aren’t, I’m doing it wrong. No, I’m not running a 5K every day — yet. For now, I’m running a 5K on most days. I’m improving and I feel healthy and confident. I’m cutting time off my miles. And, for what it’s worth, I’m smoking fewer cigarettes.
February 21, 2012 § 3 Comments
Officially having become a new age hippie, I can finally talk to you again.
A TED Talk video saved my life. I mean it. Here’s the link. You should watch it. No, it’s not called Thrive. It’s just a middle-aged researcher who analyzed the living shit out of why many of us do not feel “a strong sense of love and belonging,” even when we’ve found a beautiful partner and built a life and/or family with them.
So you should watch it. While you are reading about my story, though, you should play this video, which is a pretty song:
Brené Brown, the researcher in the video, finds that one thing consistently unravels connection between people: shame.
“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen,” she says. If we are ashamed — in other words, we do not believe ourselves to be worthy of love — we do not allow ourselves to be truly seen.
“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.”
We do not believe we are worthy of love, so vulnerability is terrifying. What if I show you something too ugly to love? So we numb. We numb by choosing beer, food, medication — whatever can take away that fear.
I think of a television set. Or, in my case, a computer screen. In the hours of the day that I would spend getting to know a person I am with, we instead sit side by side zoning out of the space we are in. Families in every space on our block spend the hours of 6-10pm — the only time they have just with each other during a weekday — immersed in numbing.
And you can’t selectively numb. When you numb the hard stuff, you numb joy, creativity, everything that fulfills in life.
Of the whole-hearted crew, the ones who feel a strong sense of love and belonging, she says: “They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.” They believe that allowing yourself to be deeply seen is necessary for allowing yourself to be deeply loved.
I’ve watched this video over and over.
I always thought of it backwards. That I was unlovable and purposeless, so I had to numb. How many times have I blamed a partner, friend or family member for failing to fill that giant need for love? And myself, for not being whole enough to be enough for someone?
I have had this rationale that I had to numb because I was just too fucked up to make this “being loved” thing work. I would tell people, “You would smoke cigarettes, too, if you lived in my brain.” My ugly, unlovable, unloved brain.
And here’s the thing: I was loved. I am loved. But no amount of love a partner or my family and friends showered onto me could make me feel loved.
To know that I have caused my own pain and loneliness is devastating. I have destroyed so much in my quest to feel like “enough.” I have blamed others for being afraid to see my ugly bits, but I have been afraid to take a good, hard look at them and accept myself.
There you have it. Watch the video.