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My Own Private Festivus - The Airing of Grievances - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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My Own Private Festivus - The Airing of Grievances [Dec. 24th, 2003|07:43 pm]
Young Geoffrey
I wrote the following last night, suddenly at my computer after realizing I couldn't sleep and that I had something to say, if only to myself. I didn't post it here then; I was tired, I was stoned and I was unsuare as to whether or not I actually want to treat my livejournal as a journal. Turns out that I do, no matter that others may read it.

Anyway. This is what I was thinking at 10:30 last night.

And for what it's worth, as the old saw has it, knowing you have a problem is the first step towards dealing with it. I'm feeling quite a lot better now, having written out why I haven't been feeling much good at all.

The Solstice has passed, the New Year is born from the old, and Mr. Sun is on his way back to us.


* * *


I think I'm depressed.

I'm not talking about the blues, or that I'm feeling down; I don't even feel particularly sad, most of the time. What I mean is, is that I am Depressed.

And I think I have been for quite some time. Like maybe for the past year, never really getting back up after falling (being pushed) away from what I thought I had with Siya. Like I've been treading water, going through the motions of life, without quite remembering how to live.

Let's recount the reasons for this conclusion, starting with the blatant surface signs.

My apartment is not only a mess, it is filthy, and has been for weeks. I tell myself, nearly every day, that I will clean up tomorrow; and every day, if by chance I am home and not hunched over the local bar, pointlessly catching-up on the day's paper or a pouring over a paper-pack I already know I enjoy while occasionally jotting down notes, ostensibly for my novel, or - more likely - for some clever post to livejournal that as like as not I finish just as soon as I will the novel, if by chance I am home, I will fill my time with anything but basic domestic hygiene.

What fills my time? Endless rounds of bodies and faces on hotornot.com, endlessly clicking "No" or "Yes" on empty 250 "profiles", vaguely lusting after pixelated shadows of real life. Re-heated food, a bowl of grass, Simpsons reruns, Seinfeld, another bowl ... and then to bed.

Where I lie a few minutes pleasuring myself with fantasies that grow daily more infantily baroque, pornographic more by the paucity of my imagination than by its obscenity. Then, I will toss and turn a while (sometimes more, sometimes less), moving from a static science fiction fantasy I know longer care to invent, so that one situation repeats itself before my eyes each night, to a mini-Festivus of self-loathing admixed with vows to do better in the morrow.

I will exercise before I go to work! I will write for an hour before I go to work!

I almost never do.

Creative inertia.

* * *


I love sex. I haven't had sex in 14 months. And it hardly bothers me.

How can this be?

When I say "I love sex" I don't mean I love sex the way I might say, "I love Hagen Maui Madness Frozen Yogurt. I mean that I really love sex. From slow-heating foreplay over hours to animal rutting against the front door; from exhausting, sweaty passion to those early-morning second rounds in the dark that lead to happy sleep in one another's arms; from electricity across a restaurant table to groping in a dark park. All part of a marvellous world of shared experience, exploration and discovery.

In my happy sexual relationships (sadly, seldom the same as in my happy relationships), we would come together at least two or three times a day and I never tired of it. Each new congress was at once a happy home-coming and a brilliant new adventure - when I've been really lucky, all that, with someone I loved.

How can it be, that I can (apparently) do so easily without something I like - that I love - so much much?

Related to sex, I like being in a relationship. I like the web of complexity two people people with one another; I like the insights that, shared, both change and reinforce the individuals within the partnership. I like having someone to think about and to care about, in ways you don't about or for, "mere" friends. I like cooking meals, or (those this happens rarely) being cooked for; I like those moments when I break character and come home with flowers or some equally inadequate symbol for what I feel. I like feeling loved; even more, I like feel love.

How can it be then, that I am not - seriously - pursuing either sex or love?

* * *


Some of you, if you knew me, might object that I am pursuing at least one of the above objectives.

There is truth to that objection. But I have been pursuing my game in the laziest possible way, in fields where the odds of success are very low indeed. By and large I have localized my hunt on the internet, in sites mostly frequented by much younger women; the average age-gap determines a small initial group of possible partners; the bell curve of human intelligence (not to mention: of mutual interests, of mutual compatibility, of mutual attraction) reduces that even further.

That I have met anyone through such sites as hotornot.com sometimes strikes me as remarkable; that I have become involved in relationships as incredible; that I fell in love as nearly miraculous.

And so, since Siya, I have persevered. But without much hope or enthusiasm. I count myself lucky to have made a friend over the past year (in my darker moments, I wonder how soon that relationship too will pass into the past).

* * *


Ah yes. Friends.

I had some once. Easily a half-dozen people, male and female, who I considered close friends; with a larger group, maybe a dozen or more, with whom I shared a solidarity, a sense of community, of family.

Over the years, they have almost all gone from my life.

Some I have pushed away; others have pushed me away; still others are just ... gone.

With one exception, those who remain I see only a few times a year, at best; some, scattered across the country, less often than that. But even those close to hand, I seldom call, waiting instead for them to make the move, to see that some kind of bond remains between us.

And mostly, I don't seem to really care.

Louella tells me to fuck off after I've made dinner, scanned some photos for her and shared a lot of beers. As best I can tell, she doesn't like the music I had put on. But since she never talked with me again, it's hard to know what caused the offense.

John gets angry because I tried to describe how his son (then 10 or 12) and managed to get under my skin and make me want to hit him. Laughing as I described the incident, I tried to make it clear I was the butt of the story - 30-some odds years old and worked into a near-frenzy by a kid feeling his oats. John heard nothing but that I'd been angry with his son and shunned me for years. Though we talk when we see each other now, we are not close.

Erin tells me to shut up because I disagree with her about the philosophical basis of the scientific method; she is so wrong I am incapable of shutting up. She tells me to fuck off and stalks out of the restaurant where a bunch of us had gathered after work, leaving behind more than fifteen years of what I had thought was friendship.

But yet I did nothing when these people walked out of my life. I did not apologize, or demand apologies; did not call and suggest we get together to talk about what had happened.

In mostly rhetorical anger I wondered if they had ever truly been my friends; in abstract curiosity I wondered the same about myself - had I been theirs?

* * *


All of which leads back to the front. I'm depressed.

Look at the evidence: I don't act as if I care about the people I say I do; I act indifferent to my physical surroundings; I don't do the things - writing, for instance - I say I want to do; I don't pursue either sex or relationships, through I say I want both; I don't like my job but have yet to lift a finger to change it.

And I don't actually feel bad. Mostly, I don't feel much of anything at all - besides animal pleasures and displeasures (a hot shower, an ass-hole who cuts me off while I'm on my bike). I feel like something is missing from me, as if some interior flame has gone out, or one of my vital mental spark-plugs is clogged and can no longer fire. I used to enjoy my own company; now, I tolerate it, the way I imagine a member of an old married couple tolerates his or her spouse - as an inevitability, but seldom a pleasure.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: touch_my_skin
2003-12-24 05:15 pm (UTC)
Hey babe... I just wanted you to know, though I haven't been through exactly the same thing, I have been depressed and I understand a lot of what you're saying. That being said, if you need to talk, or have a drink, or anything, just call me up. I'll come into town as soon as I can and we'll do something. *hugs*
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2003-12-26 12:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks, darlin' - and I don't mean that flippantly. I know you really would come to my rescue if I asked you to. I'll hold that offer in reserve should things get really bad. (Though I'd probably call on Vern first - he's a bike-ride, not a Greyhound, away. I have a tendency towards guilt, too. But I digress.)

All that said, I'm not suicidal or even close to it, so no need to worry about my physical well-being. And for that matter, I find interesting that I felt (somewhat) better almost as soon as I articulated what I was feeling. Not great, not "problem(s) solved", but better.

Anyway. I'm running on 3 hours' sleep and have to head off to visit with my neice and the ex-in-common-laws, followed by work again at 7 tomorrow morning, so I won't likely be online much for the next couple of days.

...

Thanks again, darlin' - and any time you want to get together when you're in town at your leisure ... well, you know my number.
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[User Picture]From: touch_my_skin
2003-12-26 03:39 pm (UTC)
Hey babe, no reason for guilt, any reason to come to t.o. is a good one, and if you happen to need cheering up, then so be it!

I know how it feels to finally admit you're depressed, its like a weight's been lifted and you can go on with your life and making things better.

So yeah, I hope you're having a good holiday and to talk to you soon!
*hugs*
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2003-12-28 05:18 pm (UTC)
know how it feels to finally admit you're depressed, its like a weight's been lifted and you can go on with your life and making things better.

In my case, it wasn't so much admitting it as it was recognizing it (sometimes I am amazed at how obtuse I can be about my own state of mind: I mean, in retrospect, the symptoms were as obvious as obvious as a neon sign flashing "Girls! Girls! Girls!" on a church-front).

In any case, I'll see about giving you an excuse to come down south in the very near future, 'kay?
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[User Picture]From: touch_my_skin
2003-12-28 06:00 pm (UTC)
Sounds good!
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[User Picture]From: vienneau
2003-12-26 11:34 am (UTC)
Yup, you're depressed. I've been exactly where you are, and I think I'm kind of heading right there now.

On the plus side - you summed it up marvelously - I feel like I've missed out knowing there are LJ entries you've kept to yourself. But, once again, I know how that is with at least a dozen half-formed LJ entries that I work out in my head in the shower or at a club but never get around to writing.

I don't have any answers or anything - I know what helps to get me un-depressed, and I think being self-aware of the depression is useful. I fight my way out of it all the time - sometimes it's as easy as buying some new distraction, other times it's trying to schedule so much for my life that I have no time to do nothing. But the problem is always getting the energy to actually do any of that stuff. Have you felt this way in the past, and if so, what did you do to get out of it?

And the friends thing is interesting - I've recently been the same way. Certain friends get annoyed and leave and I just can't be bothered trying to get them back. Some I regret, others have valid points that I can sort of see. I'm not really sure what's going on - but I'm kind of thinking "I'm me, accept me as me or don't, I'm done changing", but that's a bit self-centered and not quite right. If you come to any conclusions or have any new ideas on it, fill the world in - I'm curious myself.

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2003-12-28 05:28 pm (UTC)
Knowing that your "heading right there now", do you have any strategies for changing your course?

As for the LJ entries I've "kept to myself", there actually aren't any (yet - I leave the possibility open). I just didn't post it right away; instead I slept on it, then (very) briefly scanned what I wrote the night before and cut and pasted it. (But thanks for the implicit flattery, he purred.)

You're right on about the lack of energy being the killer about this state, though - it's really difficult to exercise your will when you just don't give a shit (or you feel that you don't - is there a difference?).

As for the friends, for me the worst thing is when it happens and I don't know why. But I think I'm repeating myself.

Whatever. It's kind of weird (and annoying) to find myself heading towards 40 and feeling in many ways like an angst-ridden teenager. Don't we ever grow up?
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[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-01-13 10:58 am (UTC)
We never grow up? Uh oh. I keep thinking that one day I'll suddenly realize I've morphed into an adult and be more serious and stuff. Of course, I'm fighting against it as hard as I can, but if it never actually happens, maybe I can just relax.

I know the feeling - having just passed 30 I kind of expected that I'd be a certain way (more adult-like) at this point and I'm pretty much the same as I was five years ago - a bit more confident and experienced, but the core drives (Sex! Entertainment!) are still there.

As for strategies to change course - for me it often comes down to getting myself so busy that I don't have time to sit around doing nothing feeling like I'm drifting and not caring. When I'm busy, depression tends to go away. And if I have something to look forward to or something I'm planning, then I don't think there's nothing going on in my life.

In fact, I'm starting to wonder at my definition of depressed - it could be that I'm just unhappy when I'm not really busy and it comes out as an indifferent state of ennui.

(ooh, exciting french words!)

So what I do is make sure I get lots of sleep and have a constant schedule as that maximizes the chance of being in a good/energetic mood on any given day. When I have a bit of energy or I'm determined to snap out of it, I look for things and activities to do. A friend had invited me to her badminton club so I went last Tuesday. It's twice weekly so I can use that as something to do twice a week. I went through my phone book/email and contacted people I hadn't chatted with in a while to see if they were up to anything. I had cut out an art exhibit review that I found intriguing back in December so I grabbed a friend and went to see it. For six months I've been thinking of buying a digital camera so I did a bit more work on that and found a store and confirmed the model I wanted. I'm trying to post a bit more in LJ and comment on others. I had a mess in my apartment that has needed sorting for three years so I work on that in small bits.

I'm not sure that helps.

Essentially, I generally can't do anything about it that day, but what I do is try and plan things for the next day or week so that I'll have something to look forward to and eventually I'll be pulled out into the world to do things.

And to maintain it, I'm constantly looking for new things to do and stuff, especially when I'm not depressed because once I've got the happy working, I need to keep it up and running.

(that sounds cheesy, but this is just an LJ comment so my editing is minimal)

Previously I'd do some minor but significant change to my life. I'd use the "bottoming out" as an excuse to do something. I started on-line dating and paying for it and that was a huge success. Sometimes I rearrange my apartment to give me a different living space. At one point I could just treat myself to a new video game and that would work wonders.

Again, I'm not sure if any of these would help for you - it depends on your interests and what you like to do. But even though I didn't get a whole bunch out of my "home repair course" just over a year ago, it *did* get me out of the house once a week for three hours interacting with people and doing something. And that's what mattered.


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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-01-15 01:00 pm (UTC)
We never grow up? Uh oh. I keep thinking that one day I'll suddenly realize I've morphed into an adult and be more serious and stuff. Of course, I'm fighting against it as hard as I can, but if it never actually happens, maybe I can just relax.

Most of the time, I think that "growing up" is over-rated. Too often it seems to be equated with growing tired - of learning, of taking chances, of playing. As Robert A. Heinlein apparently said, "It's amazing how much "mature wisdom" resembles being too tired."

... having just passed 30 I kind of expected that I'd be a certain way (more adult-like) at this point and I'm pretty much the same as I was five years ago - a bit more confident and experienced, but the core drives (Sex! Entertainment!) are still there.

Yeah, that sounds about right. I remember *cree-eaaak* many, many years ago, one of my favourite book series was The Happy Hollisters, sort of like The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, but in this series, the whole family solved the mysteries.

Anyway, the oldest boy in the book was 12 and I remember admiring him and thinking/hoping I would be just like him when Iturned 12.

Naturally, by the time I reached that point, I had lost interest in the Hollisters and also realized that 12 wasn't nearly the end of the road.

As for strategies to change course - for me it often comes down to getting myself so busy that I don't have time to sit around doing nothing feeling like I'm drifting and not caring. When I'm busy, depression tends to go away ...

In fact, I'm starting to wonder at my definition of depressed - it could be that I'm just unhappy when I'm not really busy and it comes out as an indifferent state of ennui.


That isn't my case; when I'm happy, it doesn't take much to keep me there. And I've never been the type who needs to be busy. Some of my happiest times have been when I was able to just hang out, doing nothing much at all.

The badminton club sounds like a great idea; reminds me that I have to get off my ass and find another hockey game (or two), now that work precludes me from my former Monday morning outing.

Mind you, something else that can help is to get into a personal melodrama (about which, maybe, more in a later post; since other people were involved I feel obligated to get permission to talk about it, even if neither of them are on lj. Suffice it to say I had about 4 days of major guilt and anxiety followed by a marvellous feeling of release and joy when my "mistake" turned out to have worked out for the best for all involved).

But I digress - and obscurely at that.

Essentially, I generally can't do anything about it that day, but what I do is try and plan things for the next day or week so that I'll have something to look forward to and eventually I'll be pulled out into the world to do things.

I bought myself a day-timer the other day for just that purpose: set some specific goals for myself and write them down, in hopes that will help me to actually do them.

... I started on-line dating and paying for it and that was a huge success ...

Sometimes I really resent you women; my ex (whom I met through hotornot.com, for whatever that's worth) suggested I Lavalife. In three weeks she'd met something like a dozen different guys. Over the course of about the same length of time, I exchanged emails with maybe 2 women - none of whom I ended up meeting.

Ah well ... Life does go on. And I'm pleased to say I'm feeling much better now than I was; I hope you are, too.
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[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-01-18 11:24 am (UTC)

We Women? No women here! :-)

I went on Lavalife and have met a number of women there and had satisfying relationships with them. There are tricks and tips to it and you have to be patient. Women do have it easy online, though a lot of guys are asses. The key is you can write, and so you have to use email as an approach.

There's a high failure rate in online meetings due to the ease of escape and the ability to quickly find someone else. You have to move quickly and realize that it's not going to work with most. I does work though!

Write a brilliant profile, smile at everyone you're interested in. If anyone smiles at you, write them an email that's witty and fun. And have a picture that's decent!
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-01-18 03:23 pm (UTC)
We Women? No women here! :-)

My mistake, sir.

Your lavalife advice - particularly to "move quickly" - sounds reasonable; I had a tendency to notice a profile, ponder it, then - maybe a couple of days later, send off an email.
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[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-01-20 07:19 am (UTC)

That's not quite what I meant - heck, the incredibly wonderful young woman I am currently spending most of my time with smiled at me *months* before I responded! I just happened to be in a "too busy to date new women" phase for a while when she originally beckoned.

I mean that at first I would get in email conversations and be a bit scared/hesitant to move it to a face-to-face level. The problem was that it's hard to keep someone's attention with emails and I'd lose them after a while as I ran out of fascinating bon mots about my life - no one wants to hear about your boring work day if they've never met you in person.

So then I tried meeting people soon after contacting them if the first 2-3 emails went well. That was much more successful. BUT you have to meet soon - I would occasionally end up spending weeks trying to arrange a meeting and by then it was too late as the woman would feel that she wasn't a priority.

By the end I had it down pretty good - 2-3 emails, a meeting, and then dating!

(I wanted to write a "Dummies Guide" to online dating but then I saw that someone already had! Ah well...)
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