Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Procrastination Station

Is there a need for a self-help book about creative ways to avoid what you should be doing, and instead enjoying pointless wastes of time? Because I could absolutely write that book, and it would be a three-pounder. You know, when I got around to it. Now that I think about it, everyone would just put off buying it, anyway. Never mind.

Should be doing:
Shampooing carpets
Arranging bookcases
Washing dishes
Fixing lunch
Mopping living room
Putting away laundry
Preparing flowerbeds
Painting
Etc. etc. blah blah blah

Actually doing:

*Reading 'O' At Home magazine

*Rearranging my living room furniture over and over again on paper, using the furniture I have

*Rearranging my living room furniture on paper using the furniture I WISH I had

*Window-shopping online for furniture I wish I had

*Adding up how long it will take to save for furniture I wish I had (answer: LONG TIME)

*
Vindicating my frustration at the overrated film, "The Departed" by checking the IMDb's "goofs" page for continuity errors, and seeing that, yes, other people caught all the same ones I did, and then some.

*Planning to repaint the master bedroom--NOTE: This illustrates an essential foundation of successful procrastination. Planning a project is always preferable to actually doing a project. Similary, beginning a new project trumps finishing an existing one every time. I never finished painting the bedroom the FIRST time. See how good I am at this?

*Flickr. Oh, flickr. You siren, you temptress.

*Watching TiVo'd episodes of "Ninja Warrior" in anticipation of the upcoming ALL-NEW 18th NINJA WARRIOR TOURNAMENT, which begins Monday on G4. Look, this is my second exhortation to everyone to watch Ninja Warrior. If you're still missing it, don't blame me. And Nagano was injured during the off season, so was unable to train. The drama swells. Also, a brand-new course. The excitement is palpable. Trust me on this. Need us to burn you a DVD?

*Trying to come up with new poodle names, just for the heck of it

*More online window-shopping. Want a treat? Here, I'll even make a link for you. Because, unless you are a HARD-core Superman geek, you'll never be able to remember how to spell MXYPLYZYK. Wow, my Firefox spellchecker just imploded. And if, after you visit, you're so grateful to me for tipping you off to this world of wonders that you feel compelled to buy me a thank-you gift, well, OK. There's a loop candleabra, a set of melamine bowls, some kikar wood vases, and a supercool Sjoerd van Heumen "Book Clock." Awesome. That'll get you started.

I'm also intermittently playing a game with Bella that she swears she saw on "Sesame Street," and drew me into playing by promising that it would be "really great!" I'm not sure what the goal is, or what the original version was, but it seems to involve us throwing a quarter back and forth at each other, and trying to catch it on some random hand-held object like a toy mirror or an empty, flattened plastic water bottle. If I don't catch it, then I MISSED. If she doesn't catch it, then I DIDN'T THROW IT RIGHT. No one ever catches it, but she always wins. It's a pretty good game, if you're her.

Is the Wellbutrin working? Honestly, I don't know. I haven't had the "AHA" moment that the doctor seems to expect me to have, but I guess I feel better. I am trying to decide to feel better, in any case. This coming week, I should be functioning like a relatively normal person, and not hiding in my house watching 80's cold-war-themed movies like "Red Dawn"** and "War Games" and "Project X," which, in case you're wondering, still makes me cry at that part when Goliath the chimpanzee, having been fatally irradiated at the whim of evil military scientists, has to pry the fire-extinguisher out of the reactor core so that all the people won't die, too, and then he can't get his cigarette reward that Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt have for him because they're on the other side of the glass...*sob*. But then some monkeys* fly a plane, which is pretty darn funny.

(*I know they're really apes, but "monkey" is just a funnier word.)

(**This is where I have to interrupt this already-riveting post to tell my horrifying "Red Dawn" story. Stop me if you've heard it already, as some of you have. I knew this guy in high school and college--let's call him "Fred"-- who was very very pretty and had lots of smooth shiny muscles, which sums up my admittedly shallow involvement with him. On one occasion in the late 80's, we happened to watch "Red Dawn" together. If you haven't seen "Red Dawn," there is no way I can describe the deliciously paranoid, testosterone-powered flavor of this badly-acted film, so just rent it, and then come back to this story. So after the movie, we are, of course, having an intellectual discussion of the cold-war themes and high implications of Patrick Swayze being in charge of liberating America from the grasp of The Commies, and "Fred" informs me that his family actually has A RED DAWN CONTINGENCY PLAN in place. The "plan" mainly consists, in the event of Russian invasion, of the entire family getting into the backyard swimming pool, at which point the father jumps into the water with them, clutching a live electric generator, electrocuting them all to death. I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. I believe the phrase "better dead than red" was used. I don't know what the plan would have been if the invasion happened while the pool was empty, but I do believe that this was one of the first wide-eyed, "HOLY CRAP" moments resulting from a face-to-face confrontation with a foreign ideology in my young and naive life. I don't believe I ever saw "Fred" again socially after that conversation.)

The rest of my family returns from their ski vacation today. Dawson will be really glad to see Andrea, because he has basically had stresss-induced narcolepsy the entire week she's been gone, and Harry will be glad to see anybody, and I now officially know, for me personally, the answer to the question, "How many poodles is too many poodles?" TEN. Ten poodles is too many poodles. Just so you know. The answer may change by variety--for example, I have miniatures, and ten miniature poodles might equal eighteen toy poodles, or, say, four to six standard poodles. Your mileage may vary.

Which is my mother, and which is my sister? You decide. Aren't they precious?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

They Have Different Cereal In Colorado Than We Do Here

Also, my nephew is funny. Judging from the squirrel on that cereal box, I'd say that "CRACK" is the operative portion of the name.
Know what I'd give to be able to use my eyebrows like that? I love this kid like chocolate ganache, I do. Only more, because he's not fattening.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Poodle-Related News...


Ryder's Updo
Originally uploaded by Pupsickle.
...and really, is there any better kind? I am thrilled, and button-popping proud to announce that in his very first show against competition (in other words, other miniature poodles actually showed up so that there were POINTS available), "our" boy Ryder, who lives in Alaska with Erin and Ian, went Best of Breed/Variety twice this past weekend, bringing home eight points and both of his required "major wins" for his owners, who did all the grooming, conditioning, handling, etc. themselves. *I* don't even do all that!

To put it in layman's terms, he's now, after just one weekend, more than halfway to his Championship, and if he has another weekend like this, he will be FINISHED. Hooray, Ryder, and congratulations Erin and Ian! You are doing our boy proud, and we are thrilled to have him in such a wonderful home.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Everybody's Traveling But Me, wahhhh.....

My mother, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are currently resting up in Salina, Kansas, preparing for the second leg of their drive to Colorado for spring break. They left me with their dogs, which brings our current count up to, I don't know, ten or eleven. I better get a t-shirt.

I'm monitoring their progress through Andrea's instant photo-uploading, and have learned so far that they're enjoying a heck of a trip, including (all clickable)...

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Backseat Scrabble

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REALLY quality tunes

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General Lee sightings

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Extremely polite toll Oklahoma toll roads

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Apparently many many hours of Kansas "scenery" (I love you, Kansas people, but you gotta admit that flatlands are only interesting for the FIRST thousand miles.)

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Fine dining in Salina

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And best of all--what Kansas may lack in roadside scenery, they make up for with their kick-butt zero-gravity hotel rooms!

And since she'll be checking in here, as well, I offer my sister proof that Dawson is not, in fact pining away--he only did that for the first 12 hours or so, until he realized that she was not, in fact, right on the other side of the front door, and that his staring at the knob was not going to make it turn, bringing her back to him. He's doing all right now:
Guest of Honor Dawson
I'd have included a picture of puppy Harry, but he only registers as a black blur on film tonight.


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And just for the heck of it, what in the world kind of hairoids does my sister take to get these ridiculous eyelashes? Seriously? (Oooooh, she's going to be happy with me for posting these, I just know it!)

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Kids Really Are Alright

And my thoughts are over here. I put a lot of work into it, so click on over, wouldja? And maybe comment? You know, over THERE? Because I don't have a stat counter over there, and I feel like no one is reading?

Not that I'm insecure or anything.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Kids Are Alright


Let's hope the old people are, too. Mom, Alex and I are headed out to hear The Who in concert (the half that's left, anyway), and since they've been cancelling dates left and right due to Roger Daltry's bronchial infection, we're hoping we're not just in for some croaking and half-strength guitar-smashing. I'll let you know how it went, and if he makes it through the whole set. If his voice DOES give out, I'm kind of hoping it'll be right before the performance of the NEW "Rock Opera" they've been doing.

And yes, you read that right. Two 40-year-old people and their mother/mother-in-law, that's who's going. My mom will totally be rocking out, y'all.

The only downside to this whole thing is that now if there is EVER a Led Zeppelin reunion Alex will make me go, because that's where we fall in the great "Who is the better rock band?" argument. We both love both groups, but when it comes down to choosing just ONE, I fall firmly in the "The Who" camp, while Alex is a Zep-preferring heathen. He also likes the WRONG kind of dumplings in his chicken and dumplings. And yet, somehow, we make it work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hippie Razorbacks


Hippie Razorbacks
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles.
We stumbled across these...I dunno, lawn ornaments? the other day. They looked like they were on their way to a Phish concert to me, and the comments/notes left by flickrites have been making me laugh. Go ahead--click on the photo, and contribute your own note.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Yelling At My TeeVee: A Compilation

Just today, in my house:

Bella: "Mommy, I wish I was a little Japanese girl."

Me: "You wish you were a little Japanese girl?" (Sometimes the best I can do is repeat what I just heard from her, to stall for time while I try to figure out what's going on in that little 4-year-old head.)

Bella: "Yeah. Then I could be on that Japanese game. And I would climb to the TOP of that wall! And I would be ON T.V.!! If I was a little Japanese girl."

The preceding conversation is a direct result of the huge amount of "Ninja Warrior" tournaments we've been watching on G4. If you get this channel (and you might not know it if you do--I didn't, until I read an article about "Ninja Warrior" in Sports Illustrated, and looked for it), I am BEGGING you to watch "Ninja Warrior." I am hopelessly addicted. You can't watch it without becoming physically involved, either. You lean, dodge, jump, and grunt in a vain attempt to "help" the competitors through the course. "Ninja Warrior." It's a GOOD THING. The Japanese know how to make some compelling television. My Dad would have LOVED THIS SHOW, and I think that's one reason I like it, because I can totally channel him while I watch. I know exactly what he'd be saying, and when: "Oh, but here comes ol' Yamamoto the fireman...whoops, don't let your tail fly up, son!"

Our favorite competitor, once American Olympic decathlonist Paul Terek was taken down in stage two (as Alex said of Paul Terek, "Homeboy was just too darn big for all that spider-climbing"), as were gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm (eliminated in stage 2, that is, not "too big"), was crab fisherman Makoto Nagano, who is featured in the video here. We watched him through all three stages, over 3 days, and were just giddy when he actually won. He makes it look easy, but he was only the second, of over 2,000 competitors, to make it to the end and become "Ninja Warrior." In conclusion, go TiVo "Ninja Warrior." You won't be sorry.

Other moments that had me yelling, for various reasons (delight, horror, frustration, confusion), at my television set recently, were the following:

The "Cats Are Jerks" sketch from "Robot Chicken."
Start here (click on photo), and proceed leftward in the flickr series. Funny to me.

And then, my moment of frustration with BAD EDITING came courtesy of "Ugly Betty." I notice these kinds of things ALL the time in movies and television, but this one was particularly blatant.
Again, click photo and then proceed leftward. There are 10 frames in this series, I believe, but they're worth looking at. Ironically, this is the same sort of thing that kept irritating me about the movie "The Departed." Really. TERRIBLE editing in that film.

Now for my moment of sincere befuddlement and painful curiosity. Out of sheer desperation from nothing else being on (yeah, I know, I coulda read a book, for crying out loud), I was watching "Supernanny." Shut up. Like you never have. Anyway, this episode was about a single mom whose parents were helping to raise their grandkids. So when Supernanny Jo went to the grandparents' house, I could not help but notice a few examples of wall hangings being "blurred" out by ABC, which left me DYING to know what was depicted in those pictures!!
As always, click photo, then head to the left. There are only three photos for this one. And PLEASE tell me if you have anything better to offer than my husband, that these are giant depictions of Grandma and Grandpa exhibiting their "naughty spots." (HA HA! Supernanny inside joke!)

And finally, the television moment that made me squeal and squirm, courtesy, as always, of "24." I will never stop loving this show. Never.
The lesson here, kiddies, is that when Jack Bauer tells you that he is going to "...cut off one finger at a time, until you tell [him] what he wants to know..." BELIEVE HIM, and just start talking. Because he has a special finger-chopping guilloutine tool, which he CARRIES AROUND IN HIS SUIT POCKET. Right next to his hanky and spare change, I'm guessing.

That's all for now...update on my psychological health and our mini-vacation/birthday celebration last weekend to follow. Watch "Ninja Warrior." I command you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dell's Tech Geeks Bring The Funny (And The Help)

Great jumpin' cats, this Dell thing is taking on a highly entertaining life of its own. If you don't know what I'm talking about, start with my previous post. Read the comments, then follow the magic of the intarweb over to Notes From The Trenches and read Chris' post, "Where Is My Larry?" Do NOT skip the comments, because there are bloggers and tech guys making Veggie-Tales jokes. Chris may not have Larry, but hey, she's got Rick, and he's got attitude. (He's the guy in this video second from left in the back--we speculate that he's the only one of the group wearing a jacket because he got something on his shirt right before the filming. We mostly speculate this because if Alex or I had to be in a video for a corporate vlog, we could almost guarantee you that that would be the day we'd drop a chili-dog down our front.) I predict a happy ending.

To paraphrase an old, seriously annoying ad campaign, Dell: "Dude--Everyone's Watching Dell." Don't make a liar out of me, Rick. Right now, women of the blogosphere are positively buzzing about "the power of the internet." Justify my love, guys (and Margaret). When you have the all-powerful Mir asking, "What have we learned?" and promising "...we'll take a look," you can't drop the ball.

On that, I'm out. Alex and I, thanks to a hugely generous gift from my faboo mom-in-law (you wish your mother-in-law was this great, but mine is the best), are celebrating his birthday all weekend in high style, with fine dining and cushy accomadations. You realize, of course, that this means I'm leaving. My. House. The homefront and horses are well-covered, Bella is thrilled about spending time with grandmommy/aunt/uncle/cousin, the dogs are parceled out among friends and family, Jack The Cat is in charge, and I'm moderately sedated. So hopefully, we'll be living it up this weekend, and Alex will have a happy birthday (it's a Big One), and I won't spend any part of our time away crouched in a corner, rocking back and forth and muttering to myself. I do believe I AM beginning to feel the beneficial effects of the Wellbutrin, so the way I figure it, this little retreat will either snap me right out of my funk, or kill me outright. Either way, the waiting is over. Oh, and we're only going, like, 20 miles from home, and that helps.

And I'm taking my new laptop with me. Thanks to consarned Matthew Baldwin, there will probably be a fierce marital Peggle duel waged all weekend long.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hello, Dell? I'm Staying. Thank Larry.

And give him a raise. I'm not kidding. DO IT, or else I'll...I dunno, type something. You may recall my grousing a little while back, here and here, about our recurring problems with the power source in our Dell Inspiron laptop, and our huge frustration with Dell's tech support/customer service. Our computer had been sent back several times, the problem was never fixed, and we kept buying new power cords (from Dell) and trying to use the computer while holding the cord in place with one hand. I might have publicly stated that "Dell is full of crap" at least once. It could have been worse.

Blogosphere, I present to you a happily resolved customer service issue:

On the left, Old And Busted. On the right, New Hotness (MIB reference-nod to TSM). Let me 'splain, as best I can, how this miracle of corporate responsiveness came about. You may already know what's coming, but I had no idea, so for the other three people out there who might be likewise in the dark, this is for you.

Within hours of my first post mentioning a problem with our laptop, I received an email bearing the subject line, "Problems with your Dell computer." It was short and sweet, and seemed too good to be true:

Belinda

I am a customer advocate at Dell headquarters in Texas. I read your Blogspot post about having to send your Dell computer back to the repair depot a second time. I wanted to get with you to make sure we get things taken care of. If you can send me the service tag for the computer or a reference number for one of the services and I can pull up all the notes and see what options I have available. If you have any questions for me I will be more than happy to answer them.

I look forward to hearing back from you,

Larry
Dell Customer Advocate

OK, stop right here, before I admit that I thought this was probably bogus, because you're all smarter and more internet-savvy than me, and would not suspect that Larry was actually a Nigerian scam artist who was going to somehow empty my bank accounts and ruin my credit-rating by getting hold of my Dell service tag number. Shut up. And yes, one of two very simple things would have settled the question immediately: A Google search (DUH) or checking my own site's traffic report. What I actually did was to kind of blow Larry off, and ask around. No one I spoke to had heard of anything like this, though most people said it "seemed harmless."

So a few days later, when I griped online again, in a bare mention tacked onto the end of this post, I immediately got another very polite email from Larry, again offering to help. This time, I thought (because I am clever like that) I'd just find out if Larry was for real, and asked for a phone number and extension at Dell...to which he responded by offering to call ME. To which I responded by saying to myself, "AHA! He won't get me that easily! I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Larry!" I wrote back pretty much implying that I was onto him, and no way was I giving out any information without knowing who I was dealing with. BOY, did I tell him. Ahem.

And as it turns out, I was still ON the turnip truck, because Larry very politely answered that my position was perfectly understandable, and provided the main customer service number at Dell, along with his direct extension. By this time, it had occurred to me to Google the phrase "Dell customer advocate," which I should have done in the first place. If I had, I'd have found numerous articles about this program, and this one in particular, from Dell's own blog, that addressed the very issue I'd had with "stranger danger" apprehension about being approached out of the blue by someone offering to solve a problem. Because honestly, how often does THAT happen? Also at that link, you get to see (and hear) our hero, Larry, in the flesh (and voice) on a video clip! Go, Larry! He's the quiet one of the bunch, but he gets the first and last word in that clip.

So once all THAT was out of the way, Larry got right down to solving our problem. And we were positively bowled over with the speed and efficiency and fairness of his work. When one thing wasn't available, he'd upgrade to the next better thing (I know you love that technical lingo), until finally, because of the uniqueness of our problem and some particulars of our repair history with Dell (seriously, our laptop was whacked), we wound up with a new replacement computer, upgraded from the model we'd had before, because that model wasn't available at the time, and Larry didn't want to make us wait. I'm here to tell you, we had Larry earning his paycheck in dealing with us, because we seemed to have one issue after another, and while he had us our new computer inside of a week, we weren't able to send our old one back to Dell for more than twice that long. (We had to figure out how to transfer our many programs and files from one unit to the other, which was complicated by the fact that the old was unit running Windows XP and the newer one came with Vista. Hint--it involves ordering a special magic cord. For real.)

So now, we are humming right along in computerland, and as you can see from the picture above, we got everything transferred over to the new 'puter, right down to my Huey Freeman wallpaper. Larry even made sure that I got the same faux burled cherrywood cover on the new 'puter that I had on the old one. Between the upgrade and the not having to type with one hand while holding a power cord in the other any more, this new laptop is like a bionic version of the previous one. THANK YOU, LARRY.

As for Windoze Vista: Not a fan. It has a lot of new bells and whistles, true, but anything I needed? No way. Plus, a lot of the new features--heck, most of them--actually clutter up my internet/computing experience and get in the way. It doesn't seem to want to play nice with Mozilla Firefox right out of the gate, but having been told firmly by Alex that this is the way things are going to be, browser-wise, seems to have settled down on that count. And it only took me ONE session of using Vista's "new and improved" Internet Explorer to know beyond a doubt that I LOVE FIREFOX. Never leave me, Firefox.

That Mac commercial, where the PC has the Secret-Service looking guy interrupting him every 5 seconds asking him if he really wants to do what he's trying to do? Totally not an exaggeration. Constant pop-up windows are everywhere, and you have to spend a lot of time turning things off. Software designers and computer manufacturers would make everything easier on us if they'd just send us the units stripped down to the bare basics, along with optional programs on disks, so that we could install only what we WANT, rather than going through the headache of having to figure out how to uninstall what we DON'T want.

Consider this a Love Thursday post. We love Larry. All right, it's not your typical LT fare, but seriously, he brought some happiness and relief into our lives during a very frustrating time.

And that's not for nothing.

UPDATED to add--Be sure and check the comments to this post for the response by Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Direct2Dell. In part, he writes, to those of you who've expressed your own Dell-related woes:

"I encourage you or anyone else that needs help with their Dell hardware to go here:

My personal e-mail is at the bottom of this page, and the Customer Advocate team email is listed as well (fourth bullet point from the top list)."

Hit it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Circle of Life...With Neurosis

After her 14th consecutive relocation of Jack the Cat from some non-Bella-approved location:

Bella: "Mommy, the cat was on top of the toilet. I had to get him off of there."

Me: "Bella, you need to stop worrying about what that cat is doing all the time."

Bella: "What can I worry about, then?"

Monday, March 05, 2007

Because 20 Years From Now, You Won't Believe Me

Bella. Today, you got in big trouble. BIG trouble. Possibly the biggest trouble of your young life. You pitched a screaming fit on the way home from school because Daddy wasn't driving where YOU wanted to go. This is not unusual, because your objections to having your will thwarted are numerous and voluminous. But when you got home, while I was in the shower and your father was carrying things into the house, you took off running. Up the driveway, all the way to the gate, which is, like, 400 feet? STEEP feet? The drive-gate was closed and latched, but by the time your Daddy caught up with you, you had managed to squeeze your 40-pound body through the gap between gate and fence, and were headed for the road. Another minute, and you'd have been there. Apparently, you were just gonna hoof it the 12 miles back to town, to your intended destination. YOU ARE A HARD-HEAD. Later, you were very very sorry, and ate lots of chicken.

You screamed so hard today that you literally burst a blood-vessel in your right eye. Then you complained of a headache. When I asked if you knew why your head hurt, you said, matter-of-factly, "Because I screamed so loud." So we've established that it's not a matter of you not knowing what you're doing, not that that was ever really in question.

Yesterday, when your father and I both exclaimed simultaneously that you were "driving us crazy," you just considered it for a moment, gave us a dismissive wave of your hand, and said, "Aw, y'all were crazy already." Just like that. You are FOUR. I tremble at the thought of you at age 15, I'm not ashamed to say. I'm thinking of preemptively grounding you at around age 10 for the smartmouth you'll have for the following 6 years or so.

I just put you to bed, and you were all sweetness. Total sweetness. Nobody would have recognized the Tasmanian devil-child from mere hours earlier. When you flopped into bed amidst multiple stuffed animals and beneath your gauzy, starry bed-curtain, I saw, on the soles of your feet, in red, carefully-drawn numbers. Yeah. A number 'one' on your right foot, and a number 'two' on your left. I asked you: "Bella, why do you have the numbers one and two on your feet?" In response to this, you laughed, stuck your feet up in the air so that the soles were side-by-side, and said, as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world, "Because I wanted to make a TWELVE."

Oh, and today's Sentence That Probably Hasn't Been Spoken By Many Other Preschoolers:
"I have too many poodles in my hands." I know the feeling.

I could just hug you all day long. Screaming and all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Let's Face The Music And Dance

Shall we? (Apologies to Cole Porter.) It's way past time. Time for me to admit that I've been depressed for essentially the last 5 years, with the last 2 having been most painful, and that I'm not going to "snap out of it" spontaneously.

In speaking with a friend who shares many of my symptoms, and is debating with himself whether or not it might be time to seek medication, I realized one thing that might have been contributing to my denial of my current emotional state. He said that he was wary of medication that might change how he feels, because the way he feels is all he's ever known. That hit me. Because I think that the reason I've been just waiting for this...thing to go away on its own, is that this is NOT how I've always felt. Far from it.

So I tried to break down the many justifications for the fact that I've basically been hiding in my house for a really long time. Well, let's see...five years ago, I was in a bad way, true. I remember getting a prescription for Zoloft from a GP just so I could make it through performing a solo with the church choir at Easter. But back then? There were heart-rending things going on in my life, things I so much don't want to re-live, that I'm not even going to think about them now, much less write about them. But the point is, these things qualified in every way as "external stressors." So in my mind, I was using the Zoloft as a temporary crutch until things "got better." I stopped taking it when I wanted to try to get pregnant, so that period of medication didn't last long.

I had an easy pregnancy, but there were, again, those same "external stressors" going on, so I had an excuse to hole up and "protect" myself. Bella's birth was easy, and I didn't have any baby blues afterward--as a matter of fact, becoming a mother made me happier than anything has ever made me in my whole life. Anything. Ever. I concentrated my energies on that baby in a way that was pretty consuming. And there were other crises going on which required my attention and focus and energy, so I hardly had time for introspection. And yeah, I might have benefited mentally from some medical help at that time, but I was breastfeeding--another exemption, and after a while, things really DID start to get better--those "external stressors" were fading, and the sun was coming out, so to speak.

And then, in late 2004, my father died. Typing those three words just now required my taking a break to cry. A lot. There is no way, no way on earth, that I can express just how hard that single event hit me, how big a hole it ripped in my heart, and the extent to which it changed, in an instant, the very fabric of how I identified myself. I felt groundless, adrift, lonely, despite the efforts of the rest of my family, who were in as much pain as I was, to console me. My daughter was my comfort, my hope for the future, and my husband was something solid to cling to, and we had been trying to conceive a second time. I mention this because that was my excuse for not seeking medical help for symptoms of depression at that time.

And just a few weeks after my dad's death, we learned we were pregnant, and it was like a miracle, almost a gift sent to lessen my pain. But then at 7 weeks, there was a miscarriage, and we lost that baby. I would never have imagined the level of grief that accompanies the loss of a child you never even met. Never. But that baby was as real to me as anyone else. I can still remember how Alex and I sat in that doctor's office and wept, but softly, so as not to upset all the pregnant mothers who still had their babies. That event prefaced a pretty big crash, and a few months later (because this was "situational depression," caused by external events, and was going to get better at any time!), Alex finally convinced me to seek out some help.

That journey with antidepressants has been covered here before, but to sum it up, each successive medication helped in the beginning, but eventually produced a side-effect of severe anxiety, even panic attacks. So I spent an agonizing several weeks weaning myself off of SSRIs, because, after all, I "felt better." (The irony of me expressing this idea when I am so familiar with the syndrome of compliance-resistant mental illnesses is not lost on me--it couldn't be that I "felt better" because I'd been taking ADs, could it? Alex has done much better than I over the last couple of years in taking care of his brain.)

It's been a year since I took my last anti-depressant. Aside from the happiness I've enjoyed in the bosom of my family, it's been more or less a lost year. A year that saw the death-sentence for my fertility and any hope of bearing more children, the grieving for that, and finally a hysterectomy that could not be avoided, more grieving over the finality of it all, and the hormone-rollercoaster that followed. I'm going to describe what it's been like, mostly because I've been lying to myself about it, and a little accountability couldn't hurt at this point.

I rarely go out. Heck, I rarely put on "outside" clothes, or even shoes, instead living in loungewear and sweats and pajamas. I don't always work up the energy to shower, or some days even move around much, except to care for Bella. The sounds of the telephone and the doorbell are imbued with an aversion that borders on dread--not because I don't like people, and don't enjoy talking/visiting with them, but because of the sheer energy it takes to act "normal" (which is less than the energy it takes to explain "what's wrong?"). I can't even muster up the gumption to smile wanly and say "fine," when people ask, "How are you?" instead answering that query with a grunt and that "so-so" hand-motion, and changing the subject. When I'm alone, and I accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, my expression is that of someone who is at the funeral of a loved one.

Even internet exchanges, which used to be the one thing I could do easily, since they weren't really "in person," have become strained. I get emails, which I read, and then, not having the energy to respond at that moment, "save for later." Of course, often "later" never comes. I used to post blog entries nearly daily, and it still comes fairly easily once I get started, but the getting started has gotten more and more difficult.

I feel like I have to be clear on something, and that is the fact that I don't feel sad. I don't feel like (my idea of) someone with depression. I feel like someone with...avoision (thank you, Kent Brockman, for that fantastic word). We've lived in this house just over a year, and the living room isn't unpacked yet. One wall is piled to the ceiling with boxes full of books. How hard would it be for me to take books out of boxes and put them on shelves? The paint-jobs in Bella's room and our bedroom are not finished, and the painting has not even begun in the guest room/office and Bella's bathroom. There seems to always be a mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away, and the Christmas tree is still up.

Oh, and here's a great one: Our electricity got turned off the other day because I wouldn't go to the door. It wasn't a matter of not having the money, it was that I'd put off paying the bill so long that I forgot about it. And if I'd answered the door when they rang, I could have just handed them a check and they'd have gone away happy. But I didn't know who it was at the door, and I didn't dare go see. What if it was someone who wanted to talk to me, or worse yet, come inside? (I'm actually OK with visitors, but I have to know at least an hour in advance that they're coming. Drop-ins make me way uncomfortable.) So I sat in another room and hid, and the power went off. And my under-reaction was, "Oh, so that's who that was." Let's call that my "moment of clarity." That and the afternoon hours I got to while away, pretending I was in "Little House in the Big Woods" until they came back out and reconnected the juice.

So, accompanied by my husband (hey, I go with him, he goes with me--it keeps us honest, and I highly recommend it for anyone who sees a shrink), two weeks ago I sat in the psychiatrist's office and told him how I was feeling. How I didn't think I was "depressed" (why I felt the need to keep saying that, I don't know), but that all things considered, I was avoiding the outside world to the detriment of pretty much our entire livelihood and every relationship I have outside our own four walls, and what's more, I couldn't muster up the feeling to care.

Tomorrow will mark my 14th day on Wellbutrin SR. I wasn't about to try another SSRI after the troubles I had with Prozac, Zoloft, and Effexor. If you have Wellbutrin experience to share, then by all means, do so. If you have "me, too" stories, then let's hear them. It helps. Just in talking to that one other person, that one person who said, "That's exactly how *I* feel," my perspective on this whole issue was changed, and that is why I finally decided to get real and get it out there in the open. Unlike many bloggers who maintain a separation between online and IRL presence, almost everyone in my "real life" knows about this blog. I'm hoping it's like an abscess, and now the healing can begin. While I don't feel remarkably "changed" yet (crazymeds.org says to give it a month), for a little while today, while I was hiding in my cave, I actually had the thought, the conscious thought, that I might rather be out doing something.

And that's a start.