Tuesday, October 2, 2012


September was low.

There was no concrete reason for this. My relationship is going very well, work is fine, I'm getting to see a lot of my friends, and autumn is my favorite season. But sometimes there isn't a concrete reason for a lingering depressed mood, and I need to accept that, instead of trying to find something I can fix.

By writing about being depressed, I am aware that I'm falling into the blogger trap of believing that everything I do is important. I don't think that, nor is this a post about how I'm offering myself up to let others know that they're not alone. If you have clinical depression, you're not alone, but I don't have that. I know people who do, and I know I'm lucky to be merely coping with a mood drop that lasted three weeks. This is just an explanation for the scanty reading recorded here.   

The problem, this time, was that when I realized I was going through a bad period I committed to self-care (not the problem) and then I decided to equate self-care with stagnation (the problem). So I would come home from work and think, "I have to be gentle with myself," and not work out, and re-read a Peter Robinson without even paying much attention to that, and half-ass a journal page, and go to bed; and in the morning I would sulk late in bed instead of walking the dogs and/or meditating.

And I know that doesn't make me feel better for more than a day or two. I know that nothing erases certain types of my bad feelings more effectively than a hard workout. I know I feel more engaged and curious when I'm reading something new. Comfort reading is grand for one rainy Sunday afternoon now and then. When done for several weeks straight, it actually burns me out. 

(I did, however, discover why I'd been so irritated at Robinson's "none of my readers know 'Othello'" deal from the last book of his I read: in one of his early books, the plot includes a community theater troupe putting on "Twelfth Night", and Robinson assumes his readers know the play. He doesn't explain who the characters are, he doesn't give us a Cliffs Notes of the plot: he assumes we know. Now I am less inclined to blame Robinson for the later nonsense, and more inclined to blame an editor saying, "You need to make this more accessible for the American market!" or something.)

At the end of the month, I finally found myself looking forward to coming home from work and reading something new. It is a good feeling. I think I am on the upswing.

So I did some reading. First was Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles, by Robert Sackville-West. Knole is the ancestral home of the Sackville family, the most famous member of which is of course Vita. The current inhabitant of Knole, Robert, wrote this book about the history of his family and the fortunes of the house and estate. It's mostly about the history of England, as the various Sackvilles rise and fall in royal favor. He devoted a little too much detail to Vita's mother, who was apparently a very dramatic person (and someone who left a huge amount of correspondence and journals behind her), but I didn't find her worth the amount of page space in a book that wasn't her biography. Other than that I quite liked this. Sackville-West's writing style is clear and witty, and it's a fun book for an Anglophile.

Then I read my Early Reviewers book, The Raven's Seal, by Andrei Baltakmens. Set in 18th century England, it is the story of a young nobleman wrongfully imprisoned and his friends' struggle to free him. Baltakmens is a Dickens scholar, and is obviously parroting Dickens' style as much as possible. This sometimes produced enjoyable metaphors, but I didn't get any sense of Baltakmens' own voice, and our hero is dumped in prison before we get to know him at all, so I didn't have any emotional investment in him securing his freedom. The book in general was over-long and the beginning too truncated; I would have expanded the pre-prison bit so that there is a chance to develop the character and then show how prison changes him (all the changes prison wrought on him were told to the reader, not shown), and trimmed some of the later stuff. It wasn't bad, and I didn't object to reading it, but it never sucked me in.

I am about halfway through The Paris Wife, a novel about Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I have mixed feelings about it as a book, but as a portrait of a marriage falling apart, it's painfully mesmerizing.  

But I'm reading! This is good. And don't worry, I shall be back to all mirth and no matter soon enough. You should have seen the havoc the dogs caused their first weekend at Berowne's house. When Darcy's housetraining fails him, it fails spectacularly.

P.S. Berowne said a glorious thing lately: that when he wishes me to have a wonderful day, he means that literally: a day full of wonder. And since he said that I have been going through my days looking for sources of wonder. They are everywhere. Living where I do, I get to see both the sunrise and the sunset over the ocean (if I walk two blocks and go upstairs, respectively). When I come home from work or errands or the clothesline, I am greeted by two dogs who are wagging themselves sideways in their delight to see me. Sometimes, in the midst of a hard workout or yoga or Zumba routine (haters to the left), I feel fully in my body and utterly gleeful at the things it can do. This past Sunday morning I found myself sitting in a rustic kitchen with my dogs at my feet while a handsome bearded man made me breakfast, and if finding yourself in a Nora Roberts novel isn't cause for wonder I don't know what is.

I said I wanted the word for 2012 to be "delight". No reason there can't be two words for this year, which has surprised me pleasantly in so many ways.

P.P.S. A brilliant description of the adulthood blues.

1 comment:

  1. I remember a link that a friend posted on the book of faces in January about deciding that 2012 would be awesome. I remember liking the very carpe-diem, not-cool-don't-care, hell-yeah tone of it. It's nice to be reminded of that in October!