The Happy Depressed Place

Perhaps I’ve learned to cope too well with depression, that it has become this natural place within which I can comfortably reside. I felt the descent last week and knew where I was going without a navigation system. The Bird Box of emotions. Unlike the idiot children who have attempted to drive blindfolded as a challenge, I have learned to feel my way through without, potentially, doing damage to others. I know what I need. Solitude, some good books, sleep, and a to-do list that can wait. I need to roll in… Read More

Make of It What You Will

It’s an odd space to be in, after someone dies in the midst of a holiday season. We have, over the years, planned our rituals and meals around my mother-in-law. With her passing, it’s a time of sadness, but it also takes away expectations. I’ve never much cared for the holidays, because I’m just that kind of sourpuss who revels quietly in ordinary living, but loathes over-the-top squeals of delight, social interaction with people I wouldn’t share a lifeboat with, and lavish meals that last an entire day. Although if that meal… Read More

The Limits of Knowing

This post is about suicide and mental health issues. I was listening to the live stream of Roxane Gay speaking in New York last night at the PEN World Voices Festival. She said “When you write and gain attention for it, it can be really overwhelming because everyone thinks they know you when they do not.” She writes about very personal issues  – of her sexual assault, her body issues, her feminism. Even with some intimate issues subjected to the public eye, she is a private person. She said that what she… Read More

A Misshapen Valentine that I Made Myself

It was at a relative’s funeral over 15 years ago that I began to wonder about my ability or inability to love. The spouse of the deceased, an awkward and unlikable man, cornered me. He began to explain my relatives to me in critical terms. She doesn’t know how to love. They are such cold people. He would never understand love. Grieving requires latitude, so I stood there, numbly, and listened as he described the people I loved as terrible. And maybe they were. I’ve written before about my upbringing and childhood…. Read More

When You Only Have So Many Words and None of Them are Adequate

The Green Study is taking a break until December 1, 2017. Last year, I went to a lecture where journalist and novelist Anna Quindlen spoke about her writing practices and career. One of the things she said was that while she was working on a project, she limited how much time she spent answering emails and engaging others. “I only have so many words.” I’ve thought a lot about that phrase, wondering if there really is a limit to my creative reservoir. I’ve made a habit over the last five years of posting… Read More

Anatomy of a Depression

It’s hard to write from a place of depression. Whatever anyone thinks they know about depression, they can really only know their own. Mine comes in many shades. This particular one is a verdant green. The gray dullness I feel is made more pallid by the contrast of a lush Minnesota summer, when the rain has come at all the right times. Already I – have become tired of such a deep-colored summer. In the grove the masses of royal fern – have grown up to their full height and underneath them… Read More

That Oxygen Mask: Self-Care When You Feel Like You’re Drowning

For some people, self-care is reflexive – a function of healthy esteem and respect. I am not one of those people. On a sinking ship, I’d lower the lifeboat and wait for everyone else to get in. It’s not altruism. It is that I tend to put myself low on the list of priorities. Everything and everyone else comes first. There are scenarios where this is lovely and heroic, but in most cases, it just means at some point I’m going to be drowning and I won’t understand how I got there…. Read More

2016: A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 2

I was trying a little exercise in gratitude with these posts, in an attempt to pull 2016 out of the crapper. Then I came down with a head cold. Welcome to crabby gratitude. Part 1 is here. The Teacher Becomes a Student Last month, I started tutoring high school English learners. I’ve not done it before and I’m still figuring out how to be useful. But it lit a spark. Over the years, I’ve studied French, Spanish, German and served as a Russian linguist in the Army. I was stationed in Germany… Read More

The Quiet Desperation of the Middle Ages

It’s hard to write or talk out loud these days. I’ve disappeared on friends, but talk to strangers just to know that I still can. I dread the question how are you? because I fear that a flood will pour out. At first, I thought maybe I’d simply had too much solitude. Re-entering the world after periods of quiet is like walking after roller skating. Gliding replaced by a toddler’s gait. Then the election came, a demoralizing event that made me rally the get ‘er done troops in my head. I started volunteering again,… Read More

What It All Comes Down To

I’ve been trying to find my way back to a state of reasoned calm, following the election and the current repetitive rhetoric still filling our airwaves. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong, no one is listening. Every time I get to a moment where I think, okay I’ve got this, I’ll catch the news that another member is being added to the billionaires’ club of the new administration. I hear that an education predator, one who has made gobs of money off the very system she has lobbied… Read More