Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Back in the Saddle

Bon jour, my little chickadees. I'm feeling ever so much better now, for a couple of different reasons. First, because the depression I was feeling has either passed off or has responded to comfort therapy (rice pudding and hot tea is better than Prozac, in some cases); second, because I have done a lot of work over the last few days, and I feel like I'm getting out from under that dreadful pile.

Saturday I got up very late, and spent most of the early afternoon writing the postscript to the previous entry and otherwise surfing the net; Grandmother was in one of her more irritating moods, where she wanted to do things and she wanted to use "teamwork"... which means that she wanted to direct someone how to do something that requires very little skill. She got my nephew to wash the front windows, and she sat there telling him how to wash windows while he washed the windows, something that always drives me absolutely bugfucky. Sensing the mood from afar, I stayed in bed until Matthew was finished with the windows and Grandmother was worn out from the effort of telling him how to do it. Then I waited a little longer, in bed with a book (The Thorne Maze by Karen Harper, fairly enjoyable though I guessed far too early who dunnit), until she was finished exclaiming on how beautiful the windows looked (that took her about an hour) and went back to her room for a nap.

The windows did look lovely, sparkling and clear (for those just joining us, my living room features a dramatic bank of mullion windows fifteen feet wide and eleven feet tall... which inexplicably faces north); it's always amazing how I don't notice how dirty something is until I see it clean.

Underneath the windows, though, stood the stack of wooden slats that comprise the venetian blinds that are supposed to cover the bank of windows. I'd been wanting to put them up for ages (we took them down five years ago to repaint them and replace the worn-out tapes), but Grandmother was always putting side-projects in the way: "We have to paint the windows first," "We have to wash the windows first," "We have to repaint the slats first," and so on. But we've had the windows painted, and we'd just had them washed, so I figured two-out-of-three meant it was a great time to put the blinds back up. I could always touch up the paint-job (the guy who'd painted them was an idiot, left bits of newspaper stuck in the paint and then stacked the slats back together while they were still tacky) at some future time.

The project took me the greater part of the afternoon. I had to run to Ace to get a staple-gun (to attach the fabric tapes to the wooden main turning plank at the top and the main weight at the bottom... wood venetian blinds from the 1930s are rather more elaborate contraptions than the Levelor things one gets nowadays, especially when they're 12'x15'), as well as three or four other little must-haves like touch-up paint and scraping-razors; then I spent an hour or so looking for the original hardware that makes the main turning plank turn, but which had been separated from the blinds for no apparent reason; then I spent another hour looking for the necessary tools to take the hardware off of the old dining-room blinds (I replaced those with curtains three years ago, something I'd been wanting to do since I was ten years old, but of course we still have them in storage) because the living-room blind hardware was nowhere to be found; after that, it took about two hours to get the two-inch-wide and fifteen-foot-long slats slipped horizontally into the twelve-foot-long tapes spaced three feet apart, a surprisingly difficult maneuver in a furnished room.

But then it was finally done, and my sense of satisfaction was immense. This project hadn't even been on my mind, it wasn't part of the weight I've been struggling under, but it was something I've been failing to do for years and years. I was so jazzed, in fact, that I rearranged the room, put up the Christmas tree, and vacuumed and dusted everything in celebration. All while Grandmother was occupied rolling up her hair, leaving me in complete peace until I was quite done.

That night I didn't sleep much. I slept so late Saturday that my body wasn't ready to re-enter slumber, even though I felt terribly tired, so I just lay there wide-eyed while my brain went around and around and around with resentments and worries and just plain old thinking. I didn't actually drift off until nearly 5 a.m., and then had to get up at 8 to take the Grandmother and Daddy to church.

But despite being so tired, Sunday was when my mood started turning itself around. After church we went to Sunday Brunch at the Sheraton, fancy-schmancy food but rather shoddy decor, to celebrate Daddy's 60th birthday (which was Thursday). When we got home, my first thought was to take a nap, but once I got in bed I couldn't sleep... so I got up and started hauling the Christmas stuff out of the attic, then decorated the tree.

After I'd got the lights up and begun applying the ornaments, Grandmother started getting underfoot, poking and fussing and looking through the boxes and wanting to wash the mantel mirror that is a foot or more out of her reach (which means she wanted me to wash it while she watched), and I was beggining to get irritated... but then she heard about Saddam Hussein being captured, and I had another full evening of total peace while Grandmother gave over her entire consciousness to CNN. Thank you, Mister Military Intelligence (which for some reason has taken to calling itself "Intel" in defiance of all known trademark laws), for your impeccable timing.

(Side note: I am unnecessarily amused by reports of the American products found stashed away in anti-American Saddam's little hole, hiding from his enemy while eating enemy Spam and enemy Mars bars, washing them down with enemy 7-Up. It's the tiny hypocrisies that liven my day).

Later on Caroline came over and we went out for tea at L'Amyx on Piedmont Avenue, had a nice little walk and window-shop in the freezing night air (freezing by Bay Area standards, anyway), and a nice long chat about this and that. I got in bed at eleven and went right to sleep without any thoughts of any kind whatever, and slept a good solid eight hours.

Monday's workload at the office was extremely light, very few phone-calls and only minor interruptions from coworkers, so I was able to get my General Service Registrar duties taken care of, updating a database I have been neglecting for months, and started notifying people of this week's meeting (which I was supposed to do via newsletter last week, but I totally forgot... which meant that I would have to make a whole lot of outgoing phone-calls, which I hate, but would not have to print a newsletter, which I also dislike doing).

Afterward, Grandmother and I went out Christmas shopping at Southland Mall, which was not in the least crowded (and that is why I insisted we go on a Monday evening instead of a Saturday afternoon). Not only did we manage to get almost all of Grandmother's shopping done (she only has three presents left to buy), but I got a few of my presents out of the way, too... as well as buying my Christmas cards. We had dinner at Hot Dog on a Stick (my favorite mall-food) and dessert at See's Candies, and a good time was had by all.

Come Tuesday, another slow day at work, I finished my phone calls and finished my flyer-distribution and finished three or four other little chores, and then finally got my nails done. After that I met Dalton and Dean for dinner, and while we were waiting for a table I snagged another Christmas gift for my coworker JB at this cute little shop called Juniper (actually, I bought something really nice for JB on eBay last week, but the vendor didn't take credit cards or PayPal, so by the time the vendor receives the money order I sent on Friday and then mails the item, it will be after Winter break has begun and I won't see JB until next year, and so I had to get something else... though it will be nice to be one present ahead, so when Valentines or Easter rolls around I'll already have something for her); that was one of my worries, since though JB is pretty easy to shop for she also deserves special consideration when choosing a gift. Now I'll have the proper number of presents when we have our office holiday lunch and gift exchange on Thursday.

So, accomplishment was the order of the day, and those accomplishments have gone far to relieving me of the weight of responsibilities that was looming over me. There's still much to do, my room is still an utter sty and most of my wardrobe is folded up in the laundry room instead of in the drawers where it belongs, I'm putting off the bulk of my own Christmas shopping until this weekend (after I get my paycheck), and then I have to send my Christmas cards and my mail-away presents today so they get there before Christmas, and finish decorating the living room and wrap up the year-end stuff at the office and so on and so forth; but I don't feel so anxious and worried about my chores as I did when there were so many more of them to get through.

However, as I review what I've written so far (I started writing this on Monday afternoon), and compare that to other things that I have noticed or discussed with others but haven't written down here, I am beginning to believe that, as important as the accomplishments are, my mood-swing is more chemical than circumstantial. Because now I'm starting to feel a trifle manic... horny, overly energetic, and a little scatterbrained. But I do like manic better than depressed, so I'll just count my many blessings and get on with my life. It worries me a little that my mood swings are becoming more frequent, though. I suppose the day of having to take meds for the condition are not as far away as I'd like.

We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, there's work to do and I have the energy to do it. So up, up and away!

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