Sunday, July 29, 2012

More S.A.D.

My particular SADness feels like presentiment. And because in at least two cases, a SAD summer filled with a pervasive sense of doom was actually followed by a dire event in September—the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 and my breast-cancer diagnosis of mid-September 2005—the fear and dread feel justified. Attention must be paid.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Many people suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder, but most experience the winter variety. I seem to have the summer kind. For the past few years, summer—once my favorite time of year—has brought dread, anxiety, insomnia and depression. 

This summer, I’ve been tied to the city more than usual because I want to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, who at the end of this month is moving to Europe for a year. There have been long stretches when almost all my friends have left town. I’m a loner by nature, like one of those East European adoptees, but over the years I have been tamed to enjoy “attachments.” So when everyone leaves, I have “abandonment issues.”

Maybe that’s why I’m especially SAD this summer.

I figure there are three ways to treat it: drugs, talk therapy and comedies. I’ve opted for the third way: 27 episodes of Louis C.K. in one 24-hour period, three episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in one afternoon, five in another. I’m running low on the particularly raunchy fart-joke, pratfall comedy that makes me feel better. I’ve used them up in similar SAD summers. 

Judd Apatow, where are you? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

“We’re all in our places, with bright shiny faces”—Not

Summer’s tough for me. I’m not the most sociable person in the world, but I rely on the security of knowing that my friends are near and that I can get to them if I need to. When members of my circle scatter, I feel wobbly, as if the center—that would be me—cannot hold. I need them in their places.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Practicing for retirement

Other and I have been talking about retirement. He’s older than I am by three years, so I’ve been pushing him to walk the plank first, partly so he can have a nice long swim in the retirement reservoir and partly so he can tell me how the water is. And for a while there, he was just inches from the edge, vowing to take the plunge next March, after he turns 66. Then suddenly his job got easier, and now he’s talking about not retiring—ever. 

But I still think it’s important to look the thing squarely in the eye, so you can make the most of it. So when my boss unexpectedly gave me a couple of comp days on top of the day off I had already booked last week, I saw it as a taste of retirement everlasting. 

I did not like it.

First of all, when you’re retired, even if only for a week, you still don’t feel like doing all the chores you’ve been putting off for years because you didn’t have time. I won’t ever feel like mending all that stuff that’s in the Chinese duffle bag on the chair in front of my sewing machine. I won’t ever feel like going through my closet and throwing out the stuff I never wear. I won’t ever feel like getting to the bottom of the moth problem. Hell, I won’t ever feel like doing a damn home-spa day. No yogurt face mask or deep olive-oil hair conditioning or goop-and-wrap my horny old witch’s feet. That knitting project I bought the yarn and needles for three days ago: not going to happen.

No, I’ve wasted most of my mini-retirement watching “Foyle’s War” and “Louie.” I watched 26 episodes of the latter pretty much back to back on Netflix yesterday and this morning. I think I have one left. My laptop got so hot from the strain that it kept kicking on my iTunes, so several times in every episode yesterday, Bob Dylan could suddenly be heard groaning, “Everybody must get stoned.” The funny thing is that it took me a while each time to figure out it wasn’t part of the script. The heat wave broke overnight, so Bob’s quiet for now. Or maybe they felt he wasn’t needed in the second season.

The thing is, there just isn’t enough TV to keep me busy in retirement. And I’ll never feel like even loading the dishwasher. I really don’t know what’s to become of me. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Today's teaching

A lovely thing about yoga is its oral tradition. In a really good class, much of the more-academic teaching is transmitted in the form of anecdotes and homilies. Today a wonderful gym-club teacher concluded a lengthy anecdote about loss and despair and isolation with the words “Yoga is the antidote.”

Yes! To everything!

Oh, do I sound crazy?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Druggy mommy

My daughter takes an over-the-counter drug called Zyrtek for allergies, so the other night when my ankles and eyes were itching unbearably, I zipped up to her room and took a Zyrtek from the bottle next to her bed. And then I slept for 11 hours.

Wow! Six hours is usually the best I can eke out. I was groggy all day.

“You know, honey,” I said to my daughter. “I wonder if you should be taking Zyrtek every day. It’s really strong stuff.”

“You took it from the bottle next to my bed?” she demanded. “That wasn’t Zyrtek. That was Xanax!” 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lady Luck

Consider the evidence: My daughter loses her iPhone (a fortunate person indeed to even own an iPhone) in a taxi cab at midnight. I spend the next morning tracing the phone with gps, getting the address where it had come to rest, doing a reverse lookup of everyone who lives at that address, calling the phone company to report the loss and see if outgoing calls had been made, etc.  

My daughter slept in. When she woke up she called her own number, and a guy picked it up. He wasn’t the cab driver but a guy the cab driver had given the phone to. That guy in turn gave it to a third guy, who drove it into the city and returned it to my daughter a few hours later. 

O.K., it can happen that you lose something and someone returns it. But to have a three-person chain that doesn’t break down? 

There’s more: Last month that same daughter was headed to the airport to catch a plane to visit a friend. She left late, got on the wrong train, which dumped her at the wrong station, took a random bus, and ended up on the plane in plenty of time, having somehow saved $5 doing it her way.

And then there’s this: After a festive spring break, she leaves her passport in the pocket of the seat in front of her. She doesn’t notice. Never misses it. A cleaner finds it, somehow figures out our phone number, which was not in the passport, and arranges for us to pick it up.

She actually seems mystified by my mystification. Isn’t this how life is supposed to work?