Saturday, July 19, 2008

pulling out of the spin

This happens to me pretty much every summer. It gets hot, the people I normally interact with are scattered on vacation (or are so immersed in fieldwork that the most I get out of them is "Can't talk. Working."). And I start to feel sad and bereft and crummy.

I blame the high pressure and heat and humidity in part. I have a body that doesn't cope with "hot" well. (It does, on the other hand, cope with "cold" very well. I often keep the thermostat at 66* in the winter because it is comfortable for me. Yes, I will turn it up if I know someone's coming over for any length of time.)

I also think this year my Midsummer Doldrums have been worse than usual for a couple of reasons.

The first one is situational. Lots of bad crap have happened this spring and summer to people around me. Most "immediate" is the fact that my parents' cat is winding down (as I've been talking about ad nauseum these past few days).

But I was also really hit hard by learning that Rev. R., my family's friend, has Alzheimer's. (Alzheimer's can FOAD.) It's just such a shame - he's someone who's done so much for so many for so long, and now instead of getting to enjoy retirement, he's got that.

And a couple of my friends split up this spring, and one moved away.

And two of my best friends here in town have moved away - the first one last fall, the second one just this spring. So I have a smaller circle of support this summer (and a smaller circle of people with whom I am comfortable shooting the breeze). Oh, we're still in contact through phone and e-mail, but it's not the same.

And another thing that's been getting me down, I think, is my push to economize on gasoline. I've gone hardly anywhere this summer (not even to the next biggest town over for a change of scenery of grocery stores). Usually in the summer, because I had Fridays and Saturdays off, I'd work all day Friday and then run off somewhere on Saturday - go antiquing, or go to a park, or go find a museum somewhere. And I've not done that this summer. And you know, it makes it harder to work on Friday if I feel like all I'd have to look forward to on a "free" Saturday is sitting and home and thinking about how I really SHOULD mow my lawn even though it's 95*.

The other night I had to meet my research student at her workplace so we could go do some fieldwork. Her workplace - she's doing an internship - is almost all the way to Next Biggest City. So when we got done, it was still early enough - the Hobby Lobby was still open, the bookstore was still open (turns out it's open weeknights until 11: a good thing to know in case I ever find myself "stranded" there for some reason). So I quickly ran over and spent a little time - not more than 15 minutes in each place - roaming the aisles and just looking at stuff for sale. (And, okay, buying a little bit of stuff). And you know? I felt a bit better after I got home.

Less cabin-feverish.

I think that's what it is, really - something kind of like cabin fever, where I get caught by the throat and held down by inertia because I feel trapped at home. Trapped because it's so hot (too hot to go out and hike or do anything very active outside). Trapped because I'm "supposed" to be conserving on gasoline. (Though I suspect spending a couple gallons of gas once or twice a month to go out antiquing or something would be cheaper than getting therapy...)

I definitely felt better today. I cleaned house. I hadn't done that (well, other than the bare minimum to maintain a standard of hygiene) for several weeks because I just felt...meh. (I think it started after I found out about Rev. R.) I thought about how I should be scrubbing floors and sorting paperwork and I just felt one big giant "meh."

So I let it pile up.

Finally, today, I got up off the sofa and thought, "That's it; I can't watch any more cartoons. I can't surf the Internet any more. I have to do something productive." And I cleaned house - well, not perfectly, not totally, but my kitchen is no longer a disaster area and the living and dining rooms are a lot better than they were.

I almost put up the new blinds I bought well over a month ago but I kind of ran out of energy for that. Maybe some afternoon this week.

I also cooked (well, kind of - I made homemade salad dressing for the big salad I was planning) dinner tonight. Which is another good sign. When I stop cooking, that means I'm really low, but when I start to take an interest in making food again, that means I'm getting better.

(And unfortunately, the food thing becomes a vicious cycle - I stop wanting to cook, wanting to prepare, wanting to even MESS with food - so I start eating cereal for dinner or going through drive throughs. And then because I'm eating poorly, I start to feel worse...though finally at some point I can stop and go, "I need to get some vegetables and some fruit and eat some kind of meat that didn't require talking to a Fiberglas clown head to obtain")

When it gets cold again, I will feel better. I can cope with things a lot better when the temperature is cooler. Oh, and when it rains periodically. I love rain and I literally get rain-starved in the summer here - we will get spans of 6, sometimes 8, weeks where it really does not rain. And it's horrible - everything dries up and it's all dusty and I forget how rain SMELLS.

(Of course, it's a great joy then, that first big rainstorm of the fall - because usually that's when it starts coming again; when the back of summer has been broken and fall is on its way).

I feel about summer much the way people in northern New England or Minnesota feel about may be OK when it first starts up but it overstays its welcome and I feel a little dysphoric and unbalanced before it's finally over.

(I would just like one good big rainstorm though sometime soon...though the weather forecast is not promising.)

At least I'm starting to feel a bit better, a bit more on an even keel. (I think that's largely because I've accepted the bad stuff I know I have no power to change, but also maybe because I've realized that the cabin fever feeling isn't "just me," it's because I've been sticking too close to home too much.)

1 comment:

Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life said...

Thinking good thoughts, Ricki. Glad to hear it's getting a little better.