Gearing Up

Well, it’s happened: a big rainstorm blew in last night, stripping most of the remaining fall foliage from the trees. We’re officially one giant leap closer to winter. Blech.

For me, what winter means is this:

(1) Cold hands and feet

(2) Endlessly runny nose

(3) Fear of the outdoors

(4) Mood in the toilet

Last week, I lamented to a colleague about the swift approach of Depression Season. While she agreed that winter is a bummer, she also listed several things that she appreciates about the season. I didn’t share her feelings about many of the examples she provided (e.g., wearing boots and sweaters – UGH), but her efforts to focus on the bright side inspired me to look back at photos from last winter to see if I could identify any personal points of gratitude.

Here’s what I found:

So I realized I do have something to look forward to in the coming months: a sweet, giant dog in sweet, giant sweaters. At least I know, as I’m gripping mugs of tea for warmth and continually blowing my nose, I’ll be able to gaze across the room at Titus and smile.

Norma v. Jerkface

dsc_0083-1“What the hell are YOU lookin’ at?”

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve teetered along the edge of an emotional Deep Blue Funk. Thankfully (I guess), I’m in my 40s, so I’ve had several years to become accustomed to the warning signs heralding said funk. It’s initiated by an uninvited visitor – an internal entity as destructive as she is unmotivated, whose counsel runs counter to all practical advice for a happy, healthy life. This entity does not want me to be happy or healthy. She wants me to fall headfirst into a vat of doom, ideally to drown there.

I will call her Jerkface.

Because of Jerkface’s crappy counsel, Normal Me (hereafter referred to as Norma) has to intervene several times a day, from the moment the alarm sounds and Jerkface says, “No point getting up. Sleep ’til noon,” and Norma cries, “Get out of this bed immediately!”

So I do, but Jerkface has just begun. For the rest of the day, she and Norma stage a continual debate inside my head, arguing about whether or not I should put whiskey in my coffee, shower, venture outside, exercise, answer the phone, believe in myself, etc. If I manage to drag myself out into the world and interact with humans, they have a field day.

JERKFACE: Did you see how that guy looked at you? What an asshole! Let’s hate him!

NORMA: I think he was about to sneeze. Or the sun was in his eyes. Either way, who cares?

dsc_0003Sometimes you get weird looks. Deal with it.

But when Jerkface stops giving advice and begins her apocalyptic philosophizing, Norma has to get more creative.

JERKFACE: Humanity’s rate of self-destruction will outpace its emotional and intellectual evolution. The world is doomed.

NORMA: You know what else? Kittens are cute.


NORMA: And have you seen those people who use popsicle sticks to put silly faces on hedgehogs? Hilarious!

JERKFACE: Okay, maybe I need to repeat myself. Humanity’s rate of self-destruction…

NORMA: Did I ever tell you about the time I found the Skelly castle in New Orleans? When I was wearing my skeleton shirt?


JERKFACE: No, but so what?

NORMA: That was a great day. I love southern cemeteries. And New Orleans. And fake castles. Maybe I’ll plan a trip to Disney World.

JERKFACE: You really are losing it.

But Jerkface is wrong. Norma’s not losing it. She’s just trying to stay out of the dregs of disastrous deliberation. It’s easy to board a treacherous train of thought, but it won’t travel anywhere helpful. Battles cannot be fought from within the murk of a Deep Blue Funk. If Norma doesn’t keep me positive and thankful, Jerkface wins.

Essentially, this is what I’ve learned after decades of dealing with Jerkface: don’t listen to her. Whatever she says, however convincing it seems, do the opposite. Go for long walks.  Smile at strangers. Laugh with friends. Listen to the Go-go’s. Read the Desiderata. Focus on gratitude. Take deep breaths. And remember all the beautiful moments in life.