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Lost in Tulgey Wood

"I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge." J.R.R. Tolkein

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Location: Canton, Ohio, United States

The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure --Mikhail Baryshnikov

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Attack of the Killer Mini Squirrels

Last night Riley woke up at about 4:00 a.m. with a bad dream and I climbed into her bed and kept her company until she fell asleep. Mind, she is three and a half and sleeps in a twin bed, so there I wasn't able to really get comfortable and sleep. By the time I was able to slip away back to my bed some 45 minutes later, I was sore and awake. I had about 2 hours to kill till I had to get up and get ready for work, but sleep was just not returning to me. I tried to lie there very still and rest; afterall, I had had quite a day yesterday. Eventually, I did slip away to sleepytown, but it was not a very calm and peaceful place as you shall see.

The setting of the dream is at my house in the middle of the night. Espresso Toast was there and she, Doc and I were scrambling to see who would get to use the bathroom first (Doc won). I was planning on driving Ms. Toast to work in my VW Jetta, which, incidentally, I sold last summer. So, we start driving and we were talking and, as I am wont to do when talking and driving, I got lost. At first, I thought I was going the wrong way down our street so I turned around. We kept driving and the landscape became more foriegn, almost Pennsylvanian, brick buildings, turn-infested narrow streets. As we were driving, I noticed a trouble indicator that was new to me. It was about 3 inches in diameter and it was a very small plasma monitor in full color. Unfortunately, I didn't understand what the little harbingers of doom stood for.

Finally, I decided to stop and ask directions. We pulled into Pike Shopping Center, a very Pittsburgh establishment. It looked like an old Kaufmann's inside. It was very busy for 6:00 a.m. There were two sleepy looking customer service representatives yawning as they sat at a card table covered in a random display of brochures and credit card applications. I asked one of the ladies, both of whom were in red velvet and wearning santa hats at rakish angles, if they knew where Silsby Road was.

The lady on the left yawned and said, "I don't know where that road is."
I said, "You are pretty busy for this early in the morning."
"We're kicking off Christmas," she yawned, "Why don't you check with the ladies in the jewelry department; they usually know how to find their way around."

They did. We headed out the door and were making our way to the Jetta. As we were crossing the inexplicably vacant parking lot (my car was the only one), a young, black man was walking towards us at an angle; eyes on the horizon. I tried to step out of his way since he made no effort to change his course and bumped into him, hooking the sleeve of my shirt on the button of his coat. We separated eventually, I apologized and he said, "'S'all right," and moved along.

We got into the car as the sun was just creeping up. It was that time of morning when everything seems tinted blue. As I put the key into the ignition I looked up and what to my wondering eyes should appear? At about 2:00 on the steering wheel there sat a 4 and a half inch tall squirrel. It was very still, but staring me right in the eyes. I asked Ms. Toast, "Is it real?" As soon as I spoke, the little bugger leapt at me with the speed and fury of Bruce Lee. I was able to react in time to bring my right had up to my face and stop him from going for my eyes. He clung to the fleshy part of my palm under my pinky. I must have shook him six or seven times until he flew out of the window, where I watched him to be sure I hadn't killed him. He scampered away and my car stalled.

I was able to get it started by turning the key again and willing the engine to move us. The engine didn't turn over but we started moving. Eventually the hum of the engine kicked in as we made our way down Silsby Road on a bright, early autumn day.

Edited to Add: By the way, I wanted to mention that Ms. Toast didn't seem to say much (which is so not like her) in this dream. For the most part, she was silent, but I could sense the wheels in her head turning, wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into. However, she is too well-mannered to come out and say what a flaky nutcase I am.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Boredom Equals Despair

I must have had a good vacation. At one point I couldn't remember what day it was and that is usually a good indication that one is rested and ready to return to the pending routine. I also know I've had a good vacation when ennui sets in. This time around, however, I just blew right by ennui and went straight to boredom, which happens to be a slick slope to despair for yours truly.

Just so we have our facts straight, ennui (pronounced on-wee) means "a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction." It's French, so it's more glamorous than simply being bored. Ennui is a kind of boredom that I enjoy, especially if I can be bored with something more amazing than my ordinary life. When I'm tired of staying at a swanky inn that's staff is bending over backwards to ensure my every satisfaction, I know I've had a good time. My ennui is my souvenir. And that's about as much French as you are going to get from me.

But Saturday night I found myself bored. Dangerously bored. That is, I was so bored that, when walking by an innocent television set, I was momentarily compelled to put my fist through the screen just see what would happen.

When I would become bored as a child, my Dad would order me to go clean out my closet, which was terminally disorganized. My Dad admitted much later that he didn't have me clean out my closet out of a sense of neatness and a need for order (although that is part of it). He knew that if I were moping about the house, flopping onto the sofa and proclaiming boredom he'd better try to redirect my energy from the theatrics of ennui to something a little more productive, lest I begin to whine in earnest. He knew it would only take a few minutes for me to find some long-lost toy to play with or an old book of photos to capture my attention and I would be occupied for hours. Yeah, he's smart like that.

As a depression sufferer, I have to watch myself for warning signs so that I don't find myself flopped on the couch in a puddle of despair, paralyzed. If I don't have anything to do that snares my mind (case in point: last Saturday night), I begin to worry and fret. Some degree of worry and fret are necessary, I would argue for survival. I mean, it is important to monitor your bills and worry if you're coming up short and fret about how to make the ends meet. But it's not a good idea to follow the idea to an image of you, with no home, no money, your marriage destroyed and your children wards of the state.

At this point I put my head in my hands and covered my eyes. Doc noticed and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I was desperately bored; that is, so bored that I was moved to despair. "That's a pretty far jump from bored to despair for most people," he noted. "Not for me," I assured him. So we grabbed up the Mille Bournes cards and began to deal.

You may wonder, Alice, if playing cards to ward off worry and fret is like fiddling while Rome burns. Perhaps I should be this worried, you think. After all, many destinies are possible. But in reality, I'm not really that worried. I have a Plan and a Plan B. There is no way my family would allow us to slide into that horrifying a state as I described above. But therein lies what I've been trying to tell you: I suffer from depression, my mind will lie to me, given the chance.

I am a firm believer of the wisdom of Isaac Watts: "...Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do." I am a case study for this proverb. If I am idle, I become bored. If I become bored, I become open and susceptible to my own imagination. And if my mind has a lie he'd like to test out, he'll use it and I'll end up flat on my back out of commission until I tackle the lie head on or figure out a way to side-step it.

Fortunately, I get warnings when I become vulnerable. My stomach starts to feel like I've had too much cotton candy and Diet Coke. I begin to feel jittery. I start to imagine vividly the violent destruction of inanimate objects around me. It is a good thing that these feelings are 99% unwelcome and trip the red alert signal. When I hear the alarm, I can begin to pull myself together and move forward, searching for a closet to clean or a deck of cards to deal. Cheating the devil once more.

I am glad to be back at work and done with vacation. It's quiet here and I spend most of my time exhausting my mind. It's good work if you can get it. On my way home, I will listen to David Cross' comedy CD: "Shut up, You F***ing Baby!" Perhaps I will take the top off of my car. By the time I get home, my mind will be ready to spend a precious two and a half hours with my babies until they go to bed. Then Doc and I will retire to the Lodge, where we will catch up with each other, play some cards, watch some M*A*S*H and hit the hay; too tired to think.

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