Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Little Ray of Sunshine

In what is one of the few bright spots to my week, my (second) replacement ice cream maker arrived yesterday. I inspected it thoroughly and this one doesn't look to have been damaged in transit or be leaking, so I may actually have some homemade ice cream before the end of summer after all.

The hands-down winner of the Ice Cream Poll was the Creme Brulee Ice Cream, so that's what I'll make this weekend. 

Personally, I'd been hoping you guys would be a little more enthusiastic about the Lemon Gingersnap, but I'm sure I'll get to that eventually. It doesn't usually cool down in Austin until October, but if this heat wave keeps up I could be eating ice cream well into the fall.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Dark and Lonely Place

Depression is a tricky thing. It's not like a cold or the flu, where you wake up one morning and it's pretty obvious that you're ill. In those cases there's a clear distinction from the day before: your throat is sore, your nose is runny, your bones ache. Depression is more subtle than that. It creeps in from the margins, infiltrating every aspect of your life. It happens so slowly that often you don't realize it's there for weeks or even months.

I've been around that particular block enough times to know what depression looks like for me. Generally speaking, I know when I'm depressed because I feel like a teenager again: almost always on the verge of tears, suffocated by the people around me, irritated by nearly everyone and everything, and uninterested in doing much of anything except sleeping for long stretches of a time. It goes on for weeks, and even though I hate the entire world, I can't put my finger on any one thing that's actually wrong. Instead, everything feels wrong.

It's an incredibly frustrating place to be. Sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs, other times I want to curl up in a ball and cry, and most of the time I want everyone to leave me alone. More often than not, I want all three things at once. Every day feels like I'm walking around carrying 100-pound weights. Life feels heavy, and every movement is labored. Even my brain moves slower, and simple decisions can be paralyzing. Coffee or tea? I don't know, I don't know, please, stop asking me questions, leave me alone.

I lash out at people when I'm depressed. I heard someone say once, "depression is anger turned inward," but it turns outward too. My temper gets shorter and my empathy evaporates. I have no patience for whining or people's need to talk about their feelings (my feelings are an entirely different story, of course). A silent, low-level anger simmers constantly below the surface.

I never said it was pretty.

And then there is the immense pressure not to be depressed. Nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer, so instead I stuff it down and push it aside, pretending it isn't there. I've more or less perfected the art of putting on a happy face for a short period of time. If the mask cracks and someone asks if everything is okay, the answer is always, yes, yes, fine, just fine. Until someone asks at just the wrong moment, and I dissolve into tears. Most people mean well, and they try to say comforting things. They reassure me that everything will be okay. They tell me that really, it can't be that bad. They remind me that I have a job and my health and lots of friends. But I don't want them to placate me with platitudes, and I don't want to be talked out of my feelings, and I don't want to be chastised for pitying myself when children in Somalia are starving. I also don't want them to pull me aside and offer to talk about it, and I don't want them to ask me whether I'm okay. All I really want from them is the space to be depressed.

All this is my way of saying that I haven't been feeling so hot for the last month or so. Maybe longer. I don't know, I've lost track. Some people have noticed, others haven't. It ebbs and flows, depending on the day and the circumstances and the quality of the beer available to me (two of those things are true, but I'm not telling which ones). So far I've managed to avoid watching day-long marathons of "Toddlers & Tiaras" while eating Nutella by the jarful, but only barely.

I'm not sure how to work my way out of it this time around. I have this way of explaining depression to people who have never really been depressed: depression isn't rational. You can't argue with it or talk your way out of it. It's more like an amorphous blob that you can't ever really grab hold of or pin down. In the past, it's always just been a matter of time. But when the days feel long and lonely and the sleepless nights feel longer and lonelier, time is the last thing I want. Right now I'm going through the motions, showing up at work and going to social events with friends and even stumbling through the occasional date. I don't know what else to do, so I do that, and I hope that it works.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Give Up

Apparently, I'm not meant to have homemade ice cream. First my original ice cream maker died. KitchenAid replaced it under warranty, but then the replacement arrived damaged. I called and they said they'd send out another new one, but it was on backorder and might be longer than the regular 7-10 days. That was on July 20. I called today for an update. An apathetic-sounding woman named Kimberly informed me that 1) they never actually put the order through on July 20, but that doesn't matter because 2) it's on "indefinite backorder" now. Up to 60 days.

There goes my homemade ice cream experiment. I'm considering taking up a vodka drinking experiment instead.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Questions Than Answers

Last week I drove (well, rode, actually) 3 1/2 hours north to attend a conference in Dallas. The Metroplex isn't usually my favorite destination, but it was great to catch up with colleagues and friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in over a year. I also love this particular conference because it usually gives me a chance to embrace my inner nerd and learn something new.

This year's keynote speaker was Ed Linenthal, a historian and professor at Indiana University. That's probably meaningless to most of you, but I was totally geeking out because his work was situated squarely in my area of interest when I was in grad school. He gave a really interesting talk about history and revisionism (I know, you're yawning, I'll stop soon), and at one point he read a quote from another historian, Patricia Limerick (also a name that makes my inner nerd all giddy), that grabbed my attention:

"Every normal human being is forever recalculating, reorienting, reorganizing information and reaching for new understanding."

I might have been in an especially reflective mood because the last time I attended this conference, in March 2010, I was in a really different place. My soon-to-be ex-husband and I had just separated six weeks earlier, and I didn't know it then, but I was well on my way to a divorce. I felt lost, unmoored, and more than a little bit confused. I was in a liminal space, not quite here but not quite there, and it was deeply unnerving.

Lately I've been struggling with that same unnerved feeling because I feel at sea again - definitely not where I was last year, but not where I want to be either. I'm not sure where I'm going, or how I'll get there. It all feels transitory and unstable, and I don't know how to make peace with it. Limerick's words made me consider that perhaps this state - this place where things are constantly in flux, where I am finding a new path, where I am profoundly uncomfortable - is actually normal. My new normal.

The idea that constant change might be inevitable is something I can't quite wrap my head around yet. I realize that growth is important, but at the same time I long for the comfortable stability I imagine being the end product of that growth. Even the subtitle of this blog, "My Life, Under (Re-)Construction," implies a final destination that will come from all this turmoil. What if that end never comes? What if the process is endless? Where am I going then? And where am I now?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Momma's Girl

If there was ever any question whether she takes after me, this should settle it.

The feline equivalent of this kid. Makes a cat lady proud.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

A perfectly nice, reasonably attractive (realistically, too attractive for me) guy asked me out on Saturday. I turned him down, saying I was busy. It probably wouldn't have gone anywhere anyway.

I've lost my interest - and hope - in dating.

A couple weeks ago a pretty good prospect asked me out via OkCupid, suggesting a drink and a movie at a cool new theater downtown. He's mid-30s, professional, attractive, fit, and we have some shared interests. I lied and told him I had plans for that evening. As I explained to a friend, "I don't feel like being rejected on Monday." I meant it.

That prospect left the country a few days later, and said he'd be in touch with me when he gets back in early August. I hope he forgets. I don't feel like being rejected in August, either.

A new friend invited me to go to a singles event with her last Friday night. It seemed like it would be a cool evening at a hip new bar on the east side, but I couldn't muster the energy to go. To shower, to do my hair, to put on makeup, to be funny and witty and interesting for a couple hours, and then to have it end the way it always does: without any interest from anyone, again. 

I didn't feel like being rejected on Friday night.

I'm tired. 

And lonely. 

And angry. 

I'm angry that I got divorced because I wanted something more for myself and now that something more isn't here.

I'm angry that the men I've seen the greatest potential with are always unavailable to me - emotionally, geographically, whatever. 

I'm angry that I question my decisions now. I wonder if I made a mistake getting a divorce. If maybe my hopes for something more fulfilling were misguided. If maybe something more fulfilling doesn't exist for me.

I'm angry that some people insist on telling me to just wait, I'll see, it will all come together at some point and then I'll understand that the wait was worth it.

I'm angry that I really am starting to believe that maybe it all wasn't worth it, and that when I express that I will inevitably be met with trite, condescending, pseudo-comforting responses.

I'm angry that I'm angry, and that I will push away those who try to comfort me along with the few potential dates that come along.

I'm angry that I'm here, in this place, in this state, again.

I'm just angry.