Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sledgehammer (the darker side of Priscilla)

I can't recall being this depressed in a long time. It's like there's a heavy wool blanket that smells like wet dog on my head, and someone keeps hitting the top of it with a hammer.

  • BONK! I'm tired, my eyes are dried out and foggy (except when I start crying), I can't make a decision (not that there are any decisions worth making), my body feels too heavy to drag around and my thoughts are going to kill me.

  • BONK! I'm a terrible mother and my kids hate me.

  • BONK! They're plotting against me.

  • BONK! I've ruined my life and the lives of everyone around me. Even though I wasn't directly responsible, VanGogh cut off his ear because of people like me. The Johnstown floods of 1889, 1894, 1907, 1924, 1936 and 1977 must have had something to do with me or my nefarious ancestors. We won't even go into the Peshtigo Fire of 1871.

  • BONK! I have no right to a thought, an opinion, an emotion, relationships or property.
  • BONK! I am uneducated, unaccomplished, ignorant, controlling, dishonest, insincere, self-important, melodramatic, two-faced and generally bad.

    BONK! I have brought shame upon my family.

Is that everything? No...wait...

  • BONK! I'm a bad cook.

It looks like it's time to visit Dr. Friendly and get back on the SSRIs. I have an appointment for September 13 and, if I still feel this way, I'll ask him to dose me. I could call now, but I don't really believe the medication will help. Or that may be just a depressed, negative outlook. At the very least, there will be the initial side effects to get through--nausea, trembling, over-sedation.

Dr. Friendly had me on a new SSRI first cousin, Cynnamon-balta (not its real name, but close), which did jack-shit for depression but diminished the arthritic pain in my hands and feet by about 80%. Unfortunately, combined with my regular pain medicines, Cynnamon-balta sedated me to the point where I was continuously waking up facing a wall. I'd be sleeping peacefully, dreaming of loading the washing machine, and I'd wake up to find myself standing, with my nose pressed up against an interior wall of the house.

Those of us with this type of depression will understand: nothing looks right, nothing seems worthwhile, self-esteem is lower than mole crap, there is a marked decrease in energy and a profound sense of isolation. It's a terrible, terrible place to be, and I've been cycling in and out of it for months now.

I've also apparently passed on the Weeping Curse to all three of my daughters (although, judging by the sales statistics on the SSRIs, so has everyone else in the country). I had spoken with my Caer today--the one who had to take down her outrageously funny blog because she is ending a relationship which she had hoped would never end. Her blog address was revealed to an innocent friend in her ex's family by way of revenge, a person who cannot believe the truth about her family member and who never should have been hurt in this way. Caer's situation is so sad and regretful, and this event would have been enough to handle in and of itself, without the added burden of chronic depression.

But there it is--the MONSTER--the illness that saps our strength by telling us lies about ourselves. There's medicine now, and sometimes it works. But sometimes it doesn't. And there's a long road to travel before getting to the right medicine for the right person, which takes more energy than a depressed person can summon up.

I need to see the ocean. I need to think about cool, bright autumn days and pumpkins and little kids in ghost costumes. I need to smell cinnamon and vanilla. I need to hug my grandson, have him bury his head in my shoulder and mutter, "Anana, Anana." All things being equal, I can achieve all of these needs in the immediate future--possibly even before the new SSRI kicks in.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heatwave Advice

Folks up and down the east coast, especially those in New Jersey, continue to swelter in the hot sun on the fifth day of our current heat wave. The t.v. news program editors have dug out their "Hot Weather" scripts, blown the dust off and handed them to their anchormen and anchorBarbies. We are all familiar to tears with the same boring advice to viewers: stay in air-conditioned places, use fans, check on the elderly, don't go out at 12:00 noon, yadda-yadda-yadda. Yes, newsfolk, we know. You've been harping on these same suggestions every summer for as long as there have been televised news broadcasts.

We here at Pseudonym Estates feel it's high time for an updated, high tech approach to informing the public about health and safety considerations during hot spells. People already know to wearing light, loose-fitting clothing and to make sure Grandma isn't out on her porch, standing on a wobbly step stool and swatting at a hornet's next with a broom in 98°F weather. Unlike Rocky Balboa, we aren't running up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We are puffed up like well-fed ticks from drinking water. We realize these are not the days to bake potatoes non-stop or to lock Phydeaux in the car while we run in to WalMart to try on snorkeling attire.

So, let's throw out those tired old scripts and fire up our imaginations! Here are a few modernized suggestions for hot weather advisories. Perhaps our gentle readers will be able to come up with a few more of their own.

Hot as a Bitch Wolf in a Pepper Patch?
Here's What to Do!

  • No air-conditioning? The bastard finally exploded just when the thermometer did likewise? Soaketh thineself! Go out to the back yard, turn on the hose and wet yourself down! Your wet hair and clothing should keep you nicely cool until the repair man can get out to your house (typically, one week from today).

  • Stop cooking! Yes, proper nutrition is important, but at what price? Are those pork chops more important than your own safety? Do you want them to find you on the kitchen floor, clutching your spatula, mummified, lying there like a dried toad on a tar roof? No? Then go out to the supermarket, buy four gallons of vanilla ice cream, five jars of gooey toppings, two 14oz. cans of Redi-Whip and a large jar of masaschino cherries. Trust us, no one will complain.

  • Burn down your own shed! (This suggestion may be a little left of legal except in South Jersey. Check your local ordinance on arson and related activities.) It's old and rickety, and you've been meaning to get one of those molded resin jobs from Sear's anyway. So just torch the bastard and have fun watching the firemen spray all of that cool, cool water on the flames.

  • Modify your dance stylings! Most of us like to go through the day with energy and enthusiasm, starting the morning off with a slow to moderate twist while we load the coffee maker, progressing through to a macarena or upbeat cha-cha after our second cup. Our lunchtime waltz break segues into some preparatory disco or country line dances, and then into our hot rhythms afternoons of funk and hip-hop house. Only in the evening, after our daily tasks are completed, do we slide into our samba, tango or Viennese Waltz. During extremely hot weather, however, it is best to stick with the slower dances throughout the day; there's nothing that can't be done to a slow, Smooth Foxtrot or an Argentine Tango.

  • Throw a luau for the pets! They don't understand why Mommy and Daddy won't take them outside to play. But extremely hot weather is a great time to dress the critters up in flowered kitty or doggy shirts, throw a tablecloth on the living room floor and serve their favorite foods to that hip-snatching Hawaiian music on the stereo. (You'll want to keep your hula dances a bit slower than usual, of course.) Decorate their food and water dishes with fresh flowers, light a few tiki candles and invite little Fifi from next door to come over for some Alpo with Pineapple Sauce! Needless to say, you won't be extending any invitations to any neighbor pets whose owners have called the police in the past to complain about your constant loud music, singing, dancing on the lawn in your jammies or Rastafarian houseguests.

  • Treat your neighbor to lunch! Ladies, you know which neighbor we mean, don't you? She's out there in her bikini every time your husband starts to mow the lawn or bring in the trash cans. She's either sunning her shameless hide or dipping a toe in the pool, but she's always... out... there. Next time she's face down on her beach towel with the back of her bikini top unsnapped, as she loves to do, quickly run in and get a well-chilled, very large raw beef liver and lob it over the chain link fence directly onto her back! Then stand back and listen to the screeching!

  • Blackout? No air-conditioning, no lights, no television, no stereo, not even a fan to circulate the hot air? Not so quick--let's not jump to conclusions! Just because you haven't turned on that fan in a long time, it doesn't mean there isn't still some electricity left inside it! Try turning the fan on, and see if it works.

We need to go lie down now; the room is spinning and we hear harp music getting closer and closer and closer. Why, it's St. Peter! And he's got popsicles!

Mr. P's Crippled Crotch

It was painful to listen in as Mr. Pseudonym called his boss and reported no change in his condition. He's still unable to walk without the aid of crutches, and he's frustrated to be away from his busy desk at Aircraft & Other-Stuff-You-Don't-Need-To-Know-About R Us. He had deadlines and due dates before his inguinal muscle ripped, and he's not happy about abandoning his duties to lie about the house. Mr. Boss offered no advice other than to state that a 5-day absence due to sickness was the maximum allowed before an employee would be required to apply for disability status.

We finally figured out what the precipitating event was: a week ago last Saturday, Mr. Pseudonym replaced the track under our sliding glass door at the back of the house. This necessitated picking up a 100 lb. glass door repeatedly and placing it either on the floor or back in its frame. Mr. P felt no muscle strain or pain from his efforts, but there was damage done nonetheless. As Junket so superfluously observed, "Well, I guess you won't be picking up any more glass doors by yourself, will you, Dad?"

Most people don't like to go in to work each day. Some people mildly dislike their jobs, others actively hate their jobs, but there are few who really love going in to work. Mr. P loves going in to work. He drives an hour and a half each way to get to work and back, but he's glad to be there every day. He enjoys interacting with his co-workers, and he enjoys the challenges of his other-stuff-you-don't-need-to-know-about projects. He's been a good provider for his family and a good employee to his company. And now he's felled by a STUPID GLASS DOOR and may be facing a protracted period of disability!

I dunno...
Makes me want to take a hammer and go after that door. If it weren't 83°F with 79% humidity at 2:25am, I might put on some safety glasses and give that door a glass whuppin', but we don't need excessive heat and biting insects inside the house right now--not to mention the noise of the cicadas.

Ah, well--I shall pamper Mr. P tomorrow and make sure he takes his medicine on time. We've known each other for 50 years, and he's been my best friend and closest confidant for 35 years (37 if you count the engagement), so there's not much life can throw at us that we can't get through together. And this includes torn crotches and babysitting rats.

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WHOOPS! Fell asleep on the keyboard again! Morpheus insists!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ole, Ole! Ole, Ole! Feelin' HOT-HOT-HOT!!!

It's still 86°F at 10:24pm, with the humidity around 73%. Daisy the Terrier is confined to the house, and it's pitiful to see her attempts to engage us in play by repeatedly dropping her frisbee on our feet and wagging her tail frantically. Even the cats are hanging back when we open the door and they get their whiskers slapped back by the hot, humid air. They would normally like to go outside and chase bugs across the lawn on a warm summer night.

The boy cicadas seem to be having a good time, competing for the girl cicadas' attention by scratching out their highly-spirited muscial compositions:

scritch-EEEK! scritch-EEEEK!

Look at my bulgy red eyes, ladies!
Look at my lacey wings!
Listen to my scritchity songs,
You sexy female things!
scritch-EEEEK! scritch-EEEEEK!

A little misbehavior on the part of Mr. Pseudonym's hip/groin muscle necessitated our venturing forth into the bake oven today. Muscle stiffness over the past week or so developed into raging pain and a pronounced limp by late Sunday. The doctor couldn't fit us in until today.
Junket and I had taken to pushing Dad around on a computer chair whenever he needed to go to the bathroom, but our friend Kathy came up with a set of crutches this morning, which are helping get him around a little better.

Dr. stopped short of saying, "I'll be damned," but his best guess is that Mr. P has a strained or torn inguinal muscle. There was no precipitating factor--Mr. P didn't move any refrigerators or anything...just, "Lah-dee-dah-dee-dah, RIP!" They're not called "groin muscles" for nothing! We treated Mr. P to a couple of x-rays and a bottle of woozypills, ran home and poured him back onto the sofa. He's now watching movies nonstop and wishing he had access to a zero-gravity chamber someplace.

Caer's rats are still here, eating us out of house and home while anxiously awaiting Mommy's return. By the time Caer gets back, these rats are going to be twice as big as when she left! That's OK...Grandma likes to spoil them, too. I'll take my Sprinkles and Pokey out for exercise first this evening, and then I'll gather up Caer's Krimpet, Linky and Sloepoke if I'm not too weary. Rats will fight with other rats not of their biological or adopted families, so I never exercise Caer's rats with mine. A prolonged introduction and acclimation period would be necessary, and Caer's just not going to be gone that long.

They run back and forth on the sofa, in and out of the sofa pillows, occasionally jumping up on my shoulders for a better vantage point. (Mr. P's gone to bed, so he won't be eaten by rats while he is disabled and helpless.) They have their own special blanket to run on, since they have the unfortunate habit of "marking their territory" by urinating. Riiiiiiight! Like they bought that blanket and launder it regularly!

Rats are smart, comical and affectionate pets. I'm glad I got over thinking of rats in terms of bubonic plague vectors and got to know them as sweet, furry little friends.