grinninfoole: (Default)
Today it's been six months since my brother died. His cat has warmed up to me considerably, and is now flopped against me, purring. I have accomplished some important stuff in that time, mostly taking care of MU's estate. I have been coming back to Andover to stay with mom for a couple of days almost every week. This has started taking a toll on me. MU was the one who was good at taking care of routine business in an orderly manner. I was the one who handled the crises. Now that he's gone, and been gone awhile, things aren't in a crisis anymore. There's just the soggy, grey slog of normal life, with wealth and privilege smoothing over the worst problems that come with old age, Parkinson's, nerve damage, and a resultant confinement to a wheelchair. Or, if you're me, having a mother in that position, and wanting desperately to help her stay happy, active, and connected with friends. Since most of her friends have either died or moved away, this isn't easy.

I haven't handled this well. Mom has a script in her head, from long before I ever existed, that tells her that no one really values her, and she's reacting in ways that are really codependent. Or maybe it's better to say ways that make me codependent. Anyway, the more time I spend in Andover, the more I'm staying up all night and sleeping all day, like I did when I was a kid, and the less time I spend actually doing stuff I care about, and the worse my depression gets. I don't want to cut mom loose, but I can't keep this up. I want to spend my energy changing my home, getting fitter, dressing better, writing more, gaming with friends, starting another radio show, and maybe even going on a few dates. Plus, my cat now has hyper-thyroidism, so I need to make sure she's OK.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I started taking sertraline back in 2011 when I hit a serious depressive spell. I stopped last autumn quite abruptly when I ran out of pills in Andover, and didn't have any easy way to refill them. Apparently, 'cold turkey' is not the recommended way to go off mood stabilizers, as I felt really weird for about a month or two. My doctor was aghast when I told her.

Still, it was done, and I noticed some major changes: my moods were much more variable than I was accustomed to. I felt, at times, ebullient and, at others, deeply sad. All would wash over me like a wave and like a wave all would pass. My libido was more powerful and more insistent. This was all acceptable, even desirable, but I also found that I would fly into rages like I hadn't in years, and over trivial matters. I'd get frustrated with something in the kitchen at Mom's house, for example, and I'd be tossing things about, banging pot lids, and swearing up a storm. It was embarrassing for me, and upsetting for Mom. So, about two weeks ago, I started in again on the sertraline. I'm only taking 25 mg a day, but the way it has muted the emotional color in my life has been quite noticeable. Over the past week, I have been settling into a mild depression, a dysthymia, that makes it hard to take care of business–which is particularly embarrassing when I have no business but my own. Still, I'm holding my temper in the manner to which I have grown accustomed, and that's worth it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I had a dream last night, and like most dreams I recall little of it, and the context makes no sense, but one detail still resonates, and I mention it here: I was driving my car around, but sitting in the passenger seat, and thinking to myself 'I should move over, in case I need to hit the brake'. Given my increased responsibilities and autonomy, it's a surprisingly clear message from my subconscious, n'est-ce pas?
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
2014 has brought some unpleasant changes to my life, but some good ones, as well. The best has been getting to know a woman who lives on the west coast via Facebook and Google chats. The other day I could no longer deny that I was smitten with her, so I wrote her an email professing myself, and asking if perhaps she felt similarly.

As of this moment, I have no idea what she will say. I can imagine a range of positive and negative replies, but I really can't even make a guess what she will do, and I'm both nervous and intrigued by the uncertainty. This will be a profound turning point in my life, no matter what she does. If she turns me down, I'll be sad and my days will continue on as they have been until my next big decision or crisis. If she shares my affections then this could be the start of a whole process that leads to... marriage? A new home? Kids? A new career? An ugly divorce? Learning a new language? A tattoo? Finally finding a form of exercise I actively enjoy?

I can't find the words to capture this mix of feelings. A bit of dread, certainly, but also excitement. Hope, blended with anticipatory heart break. Pride that I have put myself forward with what I believe to be an appropriate mix of confidence and humility. Curiosity, and a desire to preserve this person I am now, before I am reborn into a new life. I am the larva inside its chrysalis, and I wonder what imago will be revealed.
grinninfoole: (Default)
A clear sign my depression is waxing just now:  I find keep minor piano chords as my internal sound track, and I find myself imaging dying in various circumstances, and trying to come up with the funniest last words.  (What can I say?  Edmund Kean is my hero.)

In the mean time, trying to limit myself to ONE sticky bun.

EDIT:  Another Tuesday evening drained away at home suggests to me that my marriage might also have had an element of coping strategy to it.  M is the best anti-depressant available without a prescription.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I meant to post a few days ago, but I got sick a few days ago, and I'm only recovering now. (Some sort of gastro-intestinal whatsis, which made it so I couldn't eat for almost 2 days straight. Now I'm feeling better, but I still feel a bit of discomfort just below my sternum.) M was so kind and helpful in taking care of me during this ordeal.

My dad has, as they say in biz, plateaued. He's not likely to get much better, so he's switching to custodial care, which means Medicare won't cover his bills any more. Which means it's time for me to step up and get serious about making claims on my Dad's insurance policies, because the bills come out to more than $10,000 a month. A lot more. I don't know how families without our resources cope.

I'm going to have to work some convention in New Jersey at the end of the month. Not looking forward to all the driving, and I've already missed one weekend visiting Dad because of my illness.

M is preparing to move out at the end of the month. I'm going to stay here in our house. We're figuring out what's going to stay, and what she's taking with her, and so forth. It's pretty low key, but I do find myself tripping over the mental change from team mode to solo mode.

M and I are awaiting the final season of DS9. Until then, we're watching other stuff, like the new Tinker Tailor (which we loved, though was there gay subtext added to the story, or did we just miss it in the Alec Guinness version?), the 1981 BBC TV Smiley's People (less gripping plot, more comprehensible characters than Tinker Tailor), some Jeeves & Wooster (glad it holds up so well), and now Rome. We're half-way through a rewatch of season 1, en route to the unplumbed wonders of season 2. It's such a good show, though I had forgotten just how shockingly, explicitly sexual and violent it is.

I caught the tail end of the Superbowl last week, and I was briefly sad that the Patriots lost. While my football loyalty remains a foot wide and an inch deep, however, I did form a powerful emotional attachment to a new fandom during the game, though I suppose it's really more of an anti-fandom: the New York Giants scored their winning touchdown in the last minute, and the guy who scored it actually turned and completed the play butt first. I really can't stand arrogance or a sense of entitlement, and, which is what's always bugged me about the Yankees, and this struck me as a blatant display of same. So, I still don't care all that much about the Patriots, but I really hate the New York Giants. Funny how these things work, isn't it?

P.S. I'm having lunch with [Grounded] on Wednesday, so cross your fingers, eh?
grinninfoole: (Default)
Last week when I posted about contacting S again, and it being a major turning point in my life. Still haven't seen or heard from S again since then, but I notice two things:

1) thinking about her makes me happy, and is giving me a little spike of adrenalin I can feel behind my sternum.

2) I have been feeling BETTER since then. Depression has been dogging me for a while, and about a month ago I increased my daily dose of Sertraline by 50%, which helped, but I've still been feeling unable to do stuff like laundry or cooking. (I was seriously eating out every meal for a while.) Since seeing S, I have gone shopping, made food, changed my bed, and gotten niggling stuff done at work.

I don't know why I feel like this. It could be that I'm still deeply in love, or it might just be that I have undone a fifteen year old psychic logjam, but I have decided that I want to find out. I even have these moments where I feel like we're meant to be together, and all I have to do is let it happen.

I don't entirely trust that feeling, since I am a drama queen, but I have enough faith in my subconscious and my self-awareness to give it a try. I'm going to try something new for me, and not spend so much time and energy imagining how something would be that I don't actually do it, yet still entertaining the possibility of it, rather than assuming it's hopeless and giving up before I even try. In other words, I'm going to live in hope, but carry on with my ordinary life as best I can. If S and I are 'meant for each other', then it will work out if I just have patience. If we aren't, then it's still a great adventure for me to find out, and definitely worth the price of admission.

I'll keep you all posted, of course. My secret plan is to invite her over to dinner with me and M, and she'll have such a good time, she'll call me a lot.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Or, in my case, not so much.

Hurricane Irene, which did enormous damage in the Caribbean, was barely a tropical storm by the time it got to my house.  Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, even nearby towns in Massachusetts, have all had dangerous floods.  Fortunately for me personally, my house is near the top of a hill with excellent drainage, so I'm basically OK.  M and I got some groceries and extra batteries, and spent a few hours making food that we could have if we lost power for a while. 

And we did lose power at about 9 AM. 

It was back on before 10 AM, and we haven't had any problems since.  For us, it was just a cloudy, blustery, rainy summer's day.  It cleared up after  4 PM, and we went for a walk.

Some more general stuff about me and my life:

1) I hemmed and hawed from March to July about my job. On the one hand, I have a job that's reasonably fun, at which I'm reasonably good (and experienced) and which has several attractive perks (wholesale cost graphic novels and games, running D&D games professionally, serious nerd cred, lots of time around things I love), but which pays poorly.  On the other, I love teaching, almost any teaching job would pay at least 40% more (and could easily reach 100%), and teaching has a social cachet that retail store clerk does not.  However, searching for a teaching job requires the same mental and emotional resources as research did in grad school, and that's hard for me.  Plus, this is a bad job market.

After careful reflection, I decided to ask for a raise at Modern Myths, and to stay if i got it.  After some awkward negotiations (salary negotiations require a somewhat different approach from home purchasing negotiations), I got a raise that met my minimum requirements.  After a month of the new regime, I am pleased with my choice.  I have found MG a pleasure to work with/for, I'm getting more free weekends (and more latitude in my hours in other ways), I'm finding the new mix of responsibility and autonomy energizing, and the opportunities for personal and professional growth open at the store right now (as JC starts up a store in New York) must be seized now or not at all.  Everything that's appealing about teaching will still be there in, say, two years (assuming society doesn't implode).

2) Millari and I continue to share the house we bought together.  We continue to be best of friends, and good housemates.  She was away for about a month this summer, visiting her girl in Germany, and I found living alone to be difficult at times (especially when I got sick), but also to have its attractions.  The biggest surprise for me has been that I would often prefer to go home and watch TV alone, rather than go out and see people.  I don't know if that's a genuine personality trait (given my father & brother's dispositions, it might be), or if that was an effect of depression.

Anyway, now that M is home, we have begun to discuss the painful subject of furthering our separation.  I know that it's something that I need to do, but right now it's difficult.  I'm not dating anyone yet, so I have a very comfortable home life with a beloved family member on the plus side, and no real drawbacks.  It's different for M, because she's got a girl (who is actually pretty cool), so she's got an emotional stone in her shoe to prompt her to make changes.

I have, for now at least, made a firm professional commitment, which has in turn reinforced my sense of identity.  I am loathe to undo the other mainstay of my sense of self (and, really, the best decision I think I have made heretofore in my life), but I know from experience that if I don't keep moving on this, I'll regret it later.  I just hope that I don't have to let things turn into an ugly confrontation in order to proceed, as I have seen that happen to others.  (in particular to Fran, a woman I have known since college, who used to have a lovely relationship with the woman she married, but which has curdled, to say the least.)  I would find it deeply painful if my friends found it necessary to pick sides.

3) My parents continue in declining health.  I visited on Friday and Saturday, and in addition to helping my brother make (as it turned out, unnecessary) preparations for the storm, I gave my dad a short test I found in a book M gave me about living with and caring for people with Alzheimer's.  The idea of the test is that, if the person does well, they most likely don't have it, and if they do poorly, they might.  Dad did poorly on one element (naming as many animals as he could in a minute--he got 10), but had no trouble remembering the month, day, date, year, who is and who was president; telling time on a clock face; and little trouble remembering four images of common objects that I showed him (which is fine, since he is 82).  So, it's possible he doesn't have Alzheimer's, which is great.  Except that I have no idea what the hell is wrong, or what to do about it, if he doesn't.  My loins, I must gird them.


Mar. 26th, 2011 03:37 pm
grinninfoole: (Default)
I think the time has come to admit to myself that I have a problem with depression. The idea breached the outer perimeter of my denial last weekend, when I finally asked myself the question seriously and spontaneously. Since then, it’s becoming increasingly evident.

I don’t know if someone has come up with a sliding scale to quantify depression (which, really, is a stupid idea best left to mathematical monks in the thirteenth century, but never mind that now), but I know that I’m in the water along the continental shelf, not the abyssal plains of the oceanic plates. I’m not like this poor woman here (though I can’t stop looking at her picture, intruding on her grief), or like my friends who have hospitalized themselves, or filthyassistant back in the 90s when she couldn’t tell what color the sky was.

I can get out of bed, I just don’t want to. I can exercise, I just don’t feel like it. I can make up and deal with a to do list, it just, in some intangible fashion, hurts to do so. It’s an effort to go to a little girl’s birthday party, or to organize a D&D game with friends. Other people have it tough. I don’t. I don’t have any real problems or impediments in my life (this is how I can tell there’s something wrong with me for feeling so sad, so troubled.)

I feel better today for having gotten more rest, but I’m still not sleeping well. It’s like I used to live, back in my 20s, when I was alone. I find myself, more and more, thinking about dying alone, or finding some justification for my life by sacrificing it for people who have been given so much less than I, yet have done so much more.

I just read Amanda Palmer’s account on her website of making her solo album, and it sounds like a marvelous fun, challenging, soul-troubling solo endeavor. She had a lot of help, and met a bunch of really cool people, but she flung herself into something purely because she thought it was worth doing, and made something fabulous. I know that I have that kind of gift inside me, too, but I just can’t imagine what I have to offer that’s actually going to motivate me to do that, to shove the stone in my chest up to the top of the damn hill, ignoring how it will roll down the other side when I’m done.

I'm going to get myself evaluated and maybe try some anti-depressants. I wish I could get myself to exercise more easily. That does seem to help. (I bet dropping back under 200 pounds would help, too.) At least now I can understand why I'm watching so much TV lately.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Watched girl with dragon tattoo over the weekend, and was totally hooked by it. I'll hide the rest for those of you who don't care about my film criticism or navel gazing.

Why this film grabbed me: )

EDIT: After I posted this, I watched the sequel, Girl Who Played With Fire. And, wow, it's all about the pervasiveness of male violence, especially as channeled sexually against women. I feel twitchy, and hyped up. Jesus, that woman almost is indestructible.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Last Wednesday, I took the afternoon train to the Big Apple for the New York Comicon. It was a four-day adventure/vacation/business trip, and I had a great time. It actually started Tuesday, when I stayed up rather late watching Caprica, making a quiche so that I could save money on breakfast while I was away, packing, and washing clothes. The rain and cold of last week were ending as I left, and the entire time I was in New York, the weather was perfect: 60s to 70s, mostly sunny. Here’s a day by day recounting, behind a cut for your TL,DR pleasure.






Slept in, was able to get coverage for work, and lazed the day away, making sure Millari was OK. She’s still a bit wobbly, but she should make a full recovery.  And, now it's Friday of this week already.  I'm shocked at how quickly the time is passing.  I definitely want to do this again next year.


Sep. 30th, 2010 10:51 am
grinninfoole: (Default)
 Probably boring whinging:

Gifts in life )
grinninfoole: (Default)
I have allowed myself to avoid LJ, despite having several things about which I wish to post, because one of them embarrasses me.  But no matter!

I'm very pleased that we have elected Barack Obama as the next president.  I hope that he becomes the extraordinary president that we need right now.  Even if he doesn't, I am glad that I spent a little time phone calling and that I actually drove up to NH to get out the vote on election day.  And the election night party at Chez Amoeba was hilarious.  I hope that we leave behind the vicious tactics and stupid strategies of the Bush administration for the rest of my life.

2) In retrospect, I screwed this up quite spectacularly:
For about a year, I was in a Wednesday evening writing workshop, hosted by a prince among men named Robin.  For the past couple of months, I have not been very productive in the group,  largely because my muse has been leaning towards writing fan fiction, and I just feel embarrassed about that.  Also, M and I have been doing a terrible job at managing our finances by sticking to a budget and making informed decisions about spending.  So, I contemplated switching to a new Monday morning group which  cost slightly more, and I let my tangled and unhappy feelings about me and my life spill out in talking to Robin about that group.  I did not know just how much crap he takes from other writing group leaders in the area because he generally charges lower rates than most. I also completely lost sight of how much I valued his warmth, his insight and support, and the community of writers who gathered in his (and his wife's) living room every week.  As I think about it, it's really a relaxed modern example of salon culture, and I had lucked into a great one last year.

Until I was really rude to him, that is, and completely disregarded everything that was excellent about him and his group for my own self-hating bullshit.  So he told me politely but firmly not to come back.

I am really ashamed of myself for being so mean to him, and for being so unself-aware that I could see past my own emotional knot to speak to him with the courtesy and consideration that he deserved.  I have spent years working to be more attentive to myself, and more clued in to other people, but clearly I still have work to do.   In no small measure, this happened because I still haven't broken my habits of self-deprecation and self-dislike.  I don't see myself very well, still, so I'm posting this in part so I can own what I have done, and what I haven't, and make a fresh start towards being a better me.

I hope that anyone who reads this (and who knows me) will take this to heart: I find that I don't appreciate others as much as they deserve, and that I still miss all sorts of social signs more than I would like.  Please, please, if there's something lying festering between us, talk to me about it.  If you have been waiting until you could find the words or time, stop and do it now.  (Just mention this post if you need an icebreaker.)  I am still figuring out a balance between self-assertion and self-control.  Please speak to me honestly when I hurt your feelings.  It will make you happier, and help me to be the man I want to be.

Oh, and he doesn't read LJ, but still: Robin, I'm sorry.

3) Speaking of people I'm no longer on speaking terms with: filthyassistant is apparently in the hospital for life or death surgery.  I hope that she makes a full and speedy recovery.  People in the valley who would like to get back in touch should contact[ profile] verdelite for more info.
grinninfoole: (Default)
It's been two years since I legally teamed up with Millari.  They've been pretty good ones, too.  I have, more than once, lamented in this journal that I haven't been progressing in life, growing as a person.  Taking a moment now to look at what I have done, and not what I blame myself for not doing, I have come a long way from a passive, self-loathing, person with no life goals or plans, to a person with some actual ambitions, and the drive to accomplish them.  I have a rewarding marriage, a nice house, a good job, two cats, and good friends.  Of late, I have even been writing creatively, and it's been exciting (the retreat to Noble View kick-started things) and i finally, finally, started going around to local schools and inquiring about job openings and such.  It looks like there are real possibilities, that might pay well, too.  I'm excited about the idea of making more money than we spend.

In all of this, millari has been my partner, my ally, my critic, my audience, and my biggest fan.  If I believed in a personal deity, I would thank Him/Her/It for bringing us together.

In the short term:

Tonight, we dine at Chez Albert.  Tomorrow, an old friend comes to visit from abroad.  Sometime in August, we'll take a vacation together.

For now, Joyeux Anniversaire, ma copine!


Mar. 21st, 2008 11:49 pm
grinninfoole: (Default)
I had today off from work, and M spent it off with friends, and I find myself, at the end of it, upset with myself.  It's not that I didn't do anything useful or fun with myself today.  No, I went to pilates, got a nice hair cut, went for a walk, watched a Dr. Who episode, and got some shopping done. 

What bugs me is threefold: I didn't do anything about getting a new job, or spend any time writing.  I didn't connect with friends, even though I could have, had I just pulled my cranium from my sphincter.  And, while it felt satisfying in itself, I wound up spending more than an hour at the store anyway.  (I stopped by to retrieve a dropped glove, and stayed fiddling with things, calling UPS to see if they fix their screw up of not delivering today's shipment, and then writing up this post.)

I hate myself when I futz around like this.  I'm very conscious that I'm getting older every day, that I'm letting the only life I'll ever have slip away stupidly, and that if I don't want to look back and regret my 30s the way I regret my 20s, I have to fucking change things.   And it makes me angry at myself, which makes me sullen and withdrawn, which is no fun for poor millari.

Which is a pity, because living with her continues to be the one life choice with which I am satisfied on a daily basis.
grinninfoole: (Default)
First, a good meme Millari posted the other day:  Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it. Ask for anything: latest movie watched, last book read, political leanings, thoughts on yaoi, favorite type of underwear, graphic techniques, etc. Repost in your own journal so that we can all learn more about each other.

Second,  this past weekend, I went home and saw my family for the first time since  XMas.  It was a good visit.  No paternal meltdowns over small things ruining the evening.  Long walk and chat with my brother about real things in our lives, like finding and keeping good women, job satisfaction, and planning for the future.  Nice chat with dad about managing money and politics and things.  Lovely meal at Papi's restaurant with my family and M's together.  M posted about this at some length, but I'll echo what she said about the weird mix of parents treating me as an equal versus a child, and the moments of slipping back into the old family dynamic, and having to handle some things for them.

Third, while waiting in line at the post office the other day, recognized the woman ahead of me.  Her name is Lori (I don't know how she spells it).  15 years ago, when I was waiting tables at Friendly's, she came in a took care of the plants.  I had a huge crush on her, because she was fit and wore no-nonsense clothes that nevertheless showed her form to advantage.  I asked if she was who I thought she was purely out of curiosity, but I was surprised that she remembered me.  (She didn't have a crush on me, though she was non-plussed when I admitted mine.  I hope she was pleased and not too embarrassed.)  We chatted for a bit, and then she went her way and I went mine.  It's nice to be remembered.  I wonder what sort of impression I made back then?

Fourth: books read recently: finished Jardine's bio of Robert Hooke--interesting and sad, though I suppose any story that follows any of us to our inevitable end will be sad.  Empire of Ivory: Naomi Novik boils the pot very well, and the increasing importance of abolitionism completely wins me over.  While I identify with the heroes and get angry when they are mistreated, the vision of African dragons destroying the European slave ports is deeply satisfying.  Also re-read Tolkien: Author of the Century.  Is it strange that I have a few books of criticism that I read for comfort?
grinninfoole: (Default)
I often find memes tiresome, but I bit on this one to get to know [personal profile] beckyzoole a little better.

The rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.


grinninfoole: (Default)

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