Saturday, January 23, 2010


Sigh. I am in the doldrums, and not a breath of fresh air to fill my sails. I’m trying to just let depression be what it is, since it is an inescapable part of the rhythm of my life. It won’t be here forever and it can huff and puff but thanks to modern medicine it can’t blow the house down. I hope.

But you know, it’s like having a cold. Yeah you can keep going and you aren’t dangerously ill, but your nose is rubbed raw and your throat hurts, nothing tastes good and you have to breathe through your mouth. It’s annoying, in other words, and gets in the way. Who can create a coherent plan when they’re sneezing and dabbing at their nose all the time? And complaining about it to anyone is about as entertaining as droning on about your cold symptoms.

Still. The symptoms drag at your consciousness all day long. They change the context for your goals and desires. Everything seems an enormous bother.

What is my deepest fear, the one that is always stirring the silt at the bottom of the pond? I think it is to be left alone, with no one, all social connections cut, the loss of every person who has helped define me. The fear of lack of desire. That’s horrible, to find yourself devoid of interest, with only the patterns of duty to keep you moving forward. One of the worst things about depression is the way that pleasure falls away, so that there is no particular reason to do any particular thing, and every decision seems an impossible riddle. I suppose this is why I cultivate my little obsessions, these hooks on which to hang my attention.

Sigh. At least the girls keep me anchored in reality.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House

I survived another birthday sleepover. This year DramaQueen had her sleepover at a hotel, one of Dear Husband’s inspired ideas. Ten year olds are still young enough to find hotels novel, and I didn’t have to clean up before or after. This hotel also had an indoor pool, which went a long way toward tiring the sweet things out.

Ten year old girls can have unbelievably shrill voices. In fact, they were sometimes pitched so high I’m surprised I could still hear them. I thought the sound would have entered that range only people under 20 can hear.

Of course, not every girl was a shrieker. We had a fascinating mix of personalities. There was the quiet, reserved girl who seemed to speak easily enough with the others but remained steadfastly polite and distant with me. The there was the girl who refused to stay up past her normal bedtime. It just wasn’t going to happen. She didn’t make a fuss about it. She just rolled out her sleeping bag and got in. I rather admire that self confidence. No one seemed to mind and they even chided each other for disturbing her (Forgotten in moments, of course. I finally sent her to the extra bed in my room). One girl was cute and rather quiet, until she went off like an alarm at mention of the Jonas Brothers and Justin Beiber, which brought forth some extraordinary squeals, and energized her for the rest of the evening. Another girl was perky and wholesome and reminded me of Bailey from the Suite Life On Deck (yes, I watch a lot of Disney) – a sort of iconic Midwestern girl. The final guest was the well-mannered and altogether wonderful BFF. If you could imagine the ideal friend for your daughter, P. would be that. I think I would use the term “well-bred.” I don’t think that’s essential to good character (God, I hope not, or we’re doomed), but it’s a lovely quality to find. Her family is polite and gracious, and it shows in the children, who are also polite and friendly and full of good humor.

We set up our computer to play music. Periodically the shy, reserved girl would call out, “DramaQueen, what song is this?” That would alert DramaQueen that something had gone horribly wrong, and she would race over to the laptop. “That’s my mom’s awful music!” And we would be back on track listening to Selena Gomez and Jordan Sparks.

They spent a lot of time playing a game called MASH, which I remember from my young days as something passed around in a spiral notebook. This version we paid about $10 dollars for, and consisted of a set of wipe-off cards with questions. MASH is a sort of fortune telling game. Even though I remember playing it, I’m pretty hazy on details. I just remember part of the game was listing potential husbands. Since the notebook was passed around, if you made the mistake of listing an actual real-life boy, you had to worry about them getting hold of the notebook. No doubt our version was lame. DramaQueen often looks at me with pity when I describe anything from my childhood. We were so deprived and had funny hair. If you’re dying to know more, you can go here for a full description.

At one point DramaQueen spilled a bunch of pop rocks on the carpet. This immediately galvanized the group, who decided to apply ice and see if they still popped. The experiment was a success and seemed to delight everyone. And here I was worried about party games. I noticed the next morning that all the spilled pop rocks had mysteriously vanished as if they had never existed. This is an example of God’s grace in action.

I brought stencils and gave all the girls tattoos. This was a great success and I recommend it to anyone else planning a birthday party for tweens. Manicures are so yesterday, but make them look like bikers in training and you have a hit. I did say no, however, when one of the girls asked for a tattoo around her bellybutton.

I discovered who was on team Jacob vs team Edward. Most, including DramaQueen, seemed to be on team Jacob. For those of you who’ve been asleep for the past few years not in the know, I’m talking about Twilight. Jacob is the werewolf and Edward is the vampire. This just goes to show that robust, well-muscled boys with long dark hair and no shirt will always win over skinny pasty-faced boys with floppy hair, however romantic. In general, though, DramaQueen’s response to boys is still “ewww!” Dear Husband thinks this is a front for a deeper curiosity. I don’t know. She looks genuinely baffled by the romance thing to me. And she doesn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to use their tongues when they kiss. I seem to remember wondering the same thing at 15 after my first kiss, but that’s another story.

I let them watch Star Trek, and in case any of the parents decided to sue me later, I made them close their eyes when Kirk was making out with the green chick. I could have chosen something rated G, but how boring is that? And this gave me the opportunity to ponder Zachary Quinto, who looks mighty fine even with pointy ears. No one made it to the end of the film. They all conked out around midnight. As I said, I was very happy about that swimming pool.

For the grand finale, Dear Husband brought donuts the next morning and the girls floated off with their parents on a sugar high.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Minor Paradox

This is one of those days when I feel sure trouble is brewing. I must have a terminal illness. My children are being covertly stalked. A financial crisis of some sort is hiding stealthily in the wings. Something monumentally important has been forgotten, and it will be my fault.

Outside the sun is too bright. This is the time of year when crap happens under the unremittingly clear winter light. And all the memories of crap that has happened at this time of year slinks out of their hidey holes to remind me of the insecurity of all we hold dear.

The other night I dreamed that a crab attacked me. You wouldn’t think that a crab could be so menacing, but it kept coming after me. When I woke I first thought it was a very strange thing to dream about – why a crab? Then I thought of the astrological sign featuring a crab – Cancer.

This makes me think of how much I would prefer to not die. Ever. I like being around. If I have to die, I would like it to be of old age, and not after a punishing dose of chemotherapy, like my mom, or in a nasty auto crash, like my nephew.

I’ve got an investment now. I want to see my grandchildren. I want to see all the medical, scientific, and technological advances that the future will bring. It’s been very exciting so far. Every year brings some advance I’m glad I lived to see, or book, film, or song that I can’t believe the world did without.

I don’t find heaven more appealing than here. I’m lucky that heaven is pretty much here on earth for me, and it’s one of my besetting sins that I don’t make it so for others who know nothing of heaven on earth.

So there you have it. On the one hand I’m weary and pessimistic; on the other I rejoice that the world is turning and I’m still here to enjoy the rotation.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The year that was ... something or other

I was wondering if I should do one of those "year in review" type posts, and then I realized that I can barely remember last week. I could, of course, just make everything up, but happily I have my blog archives. They catalog the strange waxing and waning of my various fixations.

The Top Overwhelming Obsessions of 2009:

Misha Collins
Foreign soap operas
Writing (not obsessed enough, really)
Patrick Wolf
Owen Pallett

I don't enter a new year brimful of enthusiasm and resolutions. I enter grudgingly, with suspicion. I'm always a little nervous about what bizarre notion will next take hold, and just as worried that perhaps nothing will ever hold my attention again.

I fear the words are slinking away on their inky feet.