Friday, March 13, 2015

Steady On!

I've been feeling down lately, though I have no real cause to point to.  (My journal entries going back for decades rant about feeling trapped by pet ownership - I like to take off on weekends to explore, but I haven't been pet-free since 1997 - my struggles to become a famous author of essays and fiction - still very much only in the works - and my desire to own very few things in a Zen-like atmosphere of calm, space, and dust-free-ness - I grew up with asthma, and I have a sheer horror of house dust and pet hair.  Lately I have added the presence of the internet, computers, and smart phones in my home, family space to those rants.  I'm afraid my children are going to be bored and horrified by my journals.  I seldom write when I am happy.)  Those are all examples of the outward targets of my depressions, and when I feel depressed I feel VERY depressed, though when I take depression surveys online, I don't rate as depressed.  My sex drive is good to very strong, thank you very much, and I sleep well, and I have hope for the future, though my wait to be once again a pet-free explorer of the wild places of the earth seems to go on and on.  As that is my biggest passion, that is always a frustration.  Maybe I'm not really depressed.  Maybe I'm just frustrated, and I don't know how to get on with the things that mean the most to me.  I spend a lot of time waiting, and I'm at the point where I am aware that I am growing older, and I am losing time in which to wait.  Though this is not really a blog about my personal psychology, I think a lot about it.  There are two things I think about.  One, as a young boy, I had two older brothers who were simply out of control, and my mother spent a lot of tear-filled, shouting-filled hours trying to get them to shape up.  My oldest brother was more or less out of the house before I was very old, so I don't remember much of the difficulties with him, but the brother who was six years older than I - he passed away from ALS in 2004 - at one point dropped out of middle school and was dealing pot out of the house, along with drinking, and various other escapades.  I took it upon myself to protect/take care of my mother.  As I got older, that became a matter of feeling like I could not really be myself.  I couldn't drink.  I couldn't screw up.  And I did end up going to parties and drinking, but I was probably a little better at hiding it.  I was embarrassed to be a human being at home.  I had to be perfect.  My father worked nights and slept during the day.  In some ways, it felt like he was out of the picture.  I have often wondered, throughout my life, how similar I am to him.  He died when he was 59 when the truck he was driving was hit by a teenager who ran a stop sign.  He always seemed to be waiting to me as well, in some ways.  His role did not involve the family to a great extent.  He never suggested things to do as a family, though he did take me fishing often and did his best to teach me how to golf.  Aside from vacations, he and my mother never did anything together besides go out to eat, though they were affectionate and never seemed to argue, though my Mom complained that he was always off hunting, fishing, or playing golf.  I never heard him stand up for himself.  He quietly went his own way.  This is a long, roundabout way to comment on one of the odd aspects of my character.  When the family is home, I feel like I am in care-for-the-family mode.  That, by and large, involves a) waiting and b) cooking.  I get so sick of waiting and cooking.  I want to go climb Lake Peak!  I want to bicycle up into the mountains for the night!  But I never suggest things like that because a) I would feel selfish doing those things alone, and I really want to be outside with my family b) I have no role models for the non-introverted, let's all go camping, hiking, bicycling mode.  I don't know, maybe there's no explanation.  Perhaps it's not just as simple as my father was quiet and passive, so I'm quiet and passive.  But I wait.  I wait for suggestions of camping trips.  I wait for excited teenagers to wake up on Saturday morning and say "Let's go hike the Rio En Medio today!"  I wait for affection.  I wait for conversation.  I don't know, sometimes I just feel like a great big blob of waiting, and that's depressing, because as I get older there is less time.  My kids are 13 and 15.  They don't really want to do much together anymore.  What's odd is how distinct my waiting state is.  During the weekend, to some extent, I spend most of the time waiting to see what everyone else wants to do.  I don't even like to do chores.  I need to paint the roof for example.  I'm not likely to do that on the weekend.  The weekend is family time.  I'll probably do that on my Tuesday off.  Actually, I spend a lot of time standing in the kitchen wondering when someone will suggest something: "Is it time to make love?  Is it time to go have a latte?  Is it time to go for a hike?  Is it time for a backpacking trip?  Is it time to sit in the backyard and read a book? Is it time for me to go try to write a story?  What if someone needs something? (which, when I was an at-home-dad seemed to happen every time I picked up a pen or turned on the computer). Is it time to listen to the Rolling Stones "Some Girls" album real loud and dance around the living room?"  OK, I have limited interests in a typical order.  When I'm home alone, I go about being myself.  There's no one here I have to wait for.  Waiting is exhausting.  It seemed to be the mode my father modeled.  How do you break out of that?

As far as being Paleo goes, I have been angry all week.  My weight is not really coming down.  I don't like eggs.  I'm not all that fond of eating meat.  I'm getting sick of cheese.  I believe I come from a family of emotional eaters.  There was always snacking going on.  Gallons of ice cream were consumed.  Boxes of Oreos.  Lots of white bread sandwiches.  With this depression, I've been struggling with the drive to eat.  I tend to snack on nuts, but nuts have carbs, not many, granted, but they're there, and I would like to keep my carbs under 40 grams a day.  I know there's also other concerns about peanuts.  I love peanuts, and I love peanut butter.  I could easily eat half a jar of peanut butter a day.  I'm trying to limit it to one small spoon in the afternoon.  With my mood so black.  I've been eating three or four.  It doesn't help that my default position is to stand in the kitchen.  All week, I've been having cravings for things I should not eat under this regimen, and that has only added to the frustration.  I want my oatmeal in the morning dammit!  I want to eat fruit, not just a little bowl of berries and yogurt in the evening, but bananas, oranges, apples, dates!

But I am keeping on keeping on.  I'm doing 20 situps, 20 squats, and 15 pushups in the morning.  I am trying to write more when everyone has gone in the morning.  In spite of the "don't jog" advice, I'm trying to start a habit of going for a short run when I get home from work, before I do anything else, that anything else usually being snacking.  Hopefully, I'll break out of this mood, my weight will continue down, and somehow, I'll eventually completely change my character and stop waiting so much.

In the meantime, I have to go to work, but I think I'll play the beginning of "Some Girls" real loud and dance around a bit first.


  1. This probably is not what you want to hear and maybe it's not helpful. But maybe it's what you need. I don't know. As the Grateful Dead sing " believe it if you need it, if you don't just pass it on."

    I've read your writing for years. I'm not sure why, but I find it fascinating. But not in a good way. Much of it falls into two categories.

    The first is this: I should be doing X (or I really want to be doing X) but I can't because Y.

    The second is this: I'm doing Z and here are all the ways it's miserable and I suck at doing it.

    My cheap, possibly crappy, feel free to ignore advice is this: Find something you enjoy and enjoy it. Express that joy. Repeat as needed.

  2. Thanks Kent. I take it as a fine bit of advice. As I mention in the post, I believe my frustrations or depressions, or whatever they are, arise, and then I find targets for them, (and those targets are always similar). I also tend to write the most, and perhaps most eloquently, when I'm not feeling happy. That probably presents a very skewed version of my life. Maybe one of the things I enjoy doing, and I do well, is complain in print - or whatever a blog is considered. Almost as soon as I wrote that last post, I felt better. I've been doing lots of great things - last weekend, we managed to get both kids to climb Picacho Peak with us. It's a beautiful hike that starts at the end of Canyon Road in Santa Fe, and winds up this little canyon filled with boulders and large pine trees that I love. I've been practicing the accordion, starting back at the beginning. I've always wanted to play music, and I've always played some things to some extent, but I've never stuck with anything and become good. (Consequently, though, I haven't had time to bicycle up to work, so I've been riding up on the Vespa, but I enjoy that too if I can ignore my philosophical, fossil-fuel guilt.) I generally have a good time and enjoy myself, though "waiting" is one of my big problems. I don't use time effectively, and I need to figure out some habits that would break me of that. If I have to be somewhere in three hours, I start waiting to go. (Reading, pacing, waiting). Why? I don't know. For example, my wife has driven my daughter to her youth leadership class at the community college, and she is meeting a friend for coffee. When she gets back in a few hours, we're going to take our dog to the dog park, (which, in spite of my general frustration with pet ownership, I really enjoy). I could write, play accordion, fix the flat tire on my single speed, bicycle to the coffee shop near us and write for a while, etc. My first impulse is to putter around the house waiting. Why? Where did that habit come from? It's weird and unproductive.

    I've always admired your reporting on your scooter rides, and the photos on your Twitter feed, and your reviews of bicycle lights. You manage to be upbeat and positive. Maybe I should write more when I'm feeling up and write less when I'm feeling down.

    Now that I know you're reading, I may write a post soon about bicycling facilities. Mr. Mayor appointed me to the planning committee for bicycling in Santa Fe. There's some issues I'd love to hear your opinion on as a bicyclist and bike industry worker from another city.


  3. re: mood
    Consider adding the carbs back in. Leave out the sugar and the concentrated fats that are often in baked goods. I find that my mood is excellent on a whole foods, mostly vegan diet, and my weight is easily controllable. I've tried many diet variants and the mood impact of this one is noticable to me. Lots of fruits and veggies, legumes, real whole grains (not lots of whole grain flour). Some nuts but not a staple. Reference Drs. McDougall, Barnard, Esselstyn, Ornish.