Archive for September, 2012

Step back, step forward

Even though I am effectively broke and have previously resolved not to buy alcohol, I ordered a bottle of wine before the atheist group planning meeting last night.  They’re half price on Wednesdays.  Not that that excuses me.

I proceeded to drink the entire bottle, which is apparently what I do these days when I have a bottle to myself.  Lesson learned, no more bottles.

On the upside, it gave me the courage to tell a guy I’ve been moderately crushing on that I’m moderately crushing on him.  Unfortunate that I had to consume alcohol before getting the nerve to do it, but it’s a start.  I’ve never initiated anything in my life. (That’s probably an overstatement, but.)

Apparently he’s interested though.  So now to the work of getting to know each other.


Body image

Lately, I have consistently weighed around 125.  That’s 15 pounds heavier than I was before my birthday.  I must make a concerted effort to drop a few.  Simply cutting portion size should do.  I certainly didn’t exercise regularly.  Though of course I know it would help.

I can’t afford to gain any more.  I got rid of all my bigger pants.

Tonight I ate the rest of the cookies I had in the freezer.  They weren’t very good, and I’m glad they are gone.  Now, hopefully, I will not indulge in any more… indulgences.  Of the edible sort, anyway.

I’m on the verge of something.  My therapist today referred to different stages of existence.  There’s comfort, there’s stretching, and then another one that’s like EXTREEEME and unpleasant.  I think I’m lingering in “comfort,” knowing I’m unhappy but being too, well, comfortable to push myself into “stretching” — the type of existence where one grows and prospers.

No yoga this weekend, because there’s a festival in the park.  Maybe I’ll pump my bike’s tires and take a ride to the greenway.  Maybe.

Just a few notes for myself.  Things to discuss at therapy:

– realization of my fear of committing to life
– increasing social isolation
– projects/hobbies (attempting to address the above)


It just occurred to me that I should probably be posting when I update my “personal mantra.”  It’s not really a mantra, more like an affirmation I guess.  I’m trying to remember what the first one was.  I write it up on my blackboard in the kitchen and try to say it out loud (like I mean it) before I leave for work in the morning.

Until recently, it was “I am worthy of this journey.”

I just replaced that with “I will not be afraid.”

WTF, casual male friends?

I had a kind of revelation (maybe) the other day.  Well, yesterday.  A guy who just went through a very traumatic breakup and is now in the mandatory separation period the state requires before allowing a divorce.  Like many people, he wants to start dating right away.  Or rather, because it’s a rough time emotionally, he goes back and forth about it.  But last Tuesday (a couple hours before my speaking engagement ARRRGH!) he texted me and said basically “I know I’m in kind of a messed up place right now but when I get better I think I want to ask you out.”

I didn’t respond, but then last night he texted me saying “hey, wanna go out for dinner?”  So naturally, I decided to pretend I had left my ringer off after class yesterday and only responded this morning saying, sorry I didn’t get your message but I’ve thought about it and dinner probably wouldn’t be a very good idea.  I think that gets the message across but I guess I can be blunter if needed.  I haven’t looked at his response yet. (don’t wanna!)

So the thing that occurred to me is this.  It seems that, in general, the people who I don’t care what they think about me are the ones who openly express interest in me.  This could be a coincidence and there are surely other factors involved (maybe I’m just not interested in the type of people who would be attracted to me), but when I caught myself saying that, in a victim-y sort of way (“Whyyy is it always the people whose good opinion I don’t care about who are always asking me out??”) I suddenly realized, maybe that has something to do with it.  I dunno, just something to think about.

Monte Cristo, again

Zomg.  This French “Monte Cristo” is even worse than I remembered.  I approached it with as close to an open mind as I possibly could, but my word it’s awful.  It’s timed like a BBC drama from the 80s.  Lots of lingering shots of carriages pulling up to doorways and people going up staircases.

And that’s not even getting in to the fact that they seem to be MAKING UP THE PLOT as they go along.  The characters are all wrong, the story is all fucked up, and it’s painfully long and drawn out.  I don’t think I can bear to make myself sit through the second disc.  French people, wtf.  You totally ruined your chance to make something decent.


I made myself a smoothie for dinner comprised of: 1 beet, 1/2 tomato, 1 apple, 1 carrot, 1 small cucumber, handful of spinach, couple of blueberries and a chunk of fresh ginger (mm, spicy!).  Cain’t NObody tell me I don’t have enough fiber in my diet!  Though in all fairness, I’m only drinking half of it tonight.  The other half is for breakfast tomorrow.

I guess I haven’t been doing myself any favors lately.  I’m on the brink of another minor depressive episode and I keep feeding it instead of fighting it.  Feeding it with cookies.

Maybe it’s just the overexertion leading up to the DNC business that’s got me in this black hole of sorts.  A vacuum.  It just occurred to me that that’s sort of what it feels like.  Figuratively, of course.  Hm.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy.  Like gravity was stronger than usual and it was too much for me to hold myself up.  So I laid down.  And slept.  Until about 3 this afternoon.  (I ate all the cookies first)

The primary symptoms of this current bout seem to be a general lack of sense of purpose in addition to the standard feelings of loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, lack of motivation about anything and everything.  I see my dying houseplants as a symbol of my inevitable failure at whatever it is I’m attempting (life, or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

I tell myself that in order to be happy I need to pursue the things that are important to me, things that give my life meaning, and I can’t think of any.

Part of me wants to go back to a retail job just so I can meet some different people.  That’s one thing about an office job; unless you really like the people you work with, there’s no social benefit.  At least in retail one comes across the occasional friendship.  But as soon as I had that thought just now I had a flash of a vision of myself working the counter at Starbucks, green visor and all.  It was sad and terrifying.

How does one find meaning in one’s life?  For many, I suppose, it’s family.  Get married, have children.  Two things I absolutely want nothing to do with.

What is there, if not that?  The good thing about having kids is that, if you play your cards right, you can count on having someone around to take care of you when you get too old to take care of yourself.  But jesus, that’s no good reason to have kids.  Not for the kids, and not for you.  Throw away your life and several fortunes raising, feeding, sheltering and clothing a human being.  The responsibility.  The strife.  The stress.  Not worth it, in my opinion.  They say it’s rewarding.  I say, only if you wanted it in the first place.  So that’s out.

The only other option is to find something really worth living for.  But typically, one can’t make a living at the thing one really loves doing.  If there were even something I loved doing that much.  And it’s so hard to find the time outside of work to hunt down any of the things one might feasibly love or come to love.

The teahouse is still a dream, one I don’t allow to come too near my heart because it will break me if I do.  But it still hangs around, waiting for me to gather enough money and know-how to give it a go.

I think that’s part of my problem, really.  I have marvelous ideas from time to time, but I won’t take any of them seriously enough, won’t really throw myself into them with passion and gusto and all-my-heart, because I’m afraid of failure.

And I’ve kind of known that all along.

So here I am, effectively treading water in life, waiting for something foolproof to come along, something instantly successful so I won’t be afraid.

And of course I know that’s not how it works.  You could almost say that my purpose in life (at this point in my life anyway) is to learn to stop being afraid of it.  Of life.  I’ve gotten to a point where I recognize that I am not happy with my situation, not happy with myself.  I think the only real change will come from taking the leap.  Maybe it’s a leap, maybe it’s a slow crawl out of a shell, I don’t know.  But if I don’t, I will continue to have these cycles of mediocre living to kind of crappy living.  But how does one make such a change when this has been my behavior pattern since as long as I can remember?

I have to care.  I have to remind myself each day, this is for ME, this is for HAPPINESS, this is for LIFE.  Am I ready for that commitment?  It makes me anxious just thinking about it.  What if I start tomorrow, and then Monday I fail again?  What if I tell myself things will be different and I don’t do what I promise?  The terror I am facing is the choice between continuing to be exactly what I have always expected myself to be, or believing that I can be more, that I deserve to be more, that I WANT to be more.

I can’t un-eat the cookies.  Can I keep myself from eating any more?


It was pouring rain and my speech was in danger of dissolving before I finished delivering it, but I finished, and damn if I didn’t ROCK THAT SHIT.

I don’t do a lot of “tooting my own horn” — too many years of low self-esteem, plus the general impression that it’s not polite to brag about oneself — but I knew it.  I know I had a good speech and I know that I am a damn good public speaker.  “Orator.”  If it hadn’t been raining so damn hard I would have been able to move about a bit more and really face the crowd (such as it was), but even under the circumstances I was awesome.  And anyone who says otherwise can suck my dick.

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of those stories I absolutely love to revisit.  It’s an intimidating book, 2.5″ thick, over 1200 pages in the Penguin Classics paperback edition.  I shudder to imagine how thick and heavy a hardcover edition would be.

Strangely, I bought my first copy (which is falling apart from my having read it so much) on a whim, with a couple other books I’d “always intended to read,” shortly before my suicide attempt.  I didn’t read it before then.  I didn’t read it for years after that, actually; it sat on my shelf unopened and moved with me at least twice before I finally sat down and read it.

The combination of the intense emotions and the meticulous, ingenious revenge, plus secret & mistaken identities, humor, love, and of course unimaginable wealth, makes it one of my all-time favorite novels.  I am determined to develop a screenplay for a 100% true-to-the-book miniseries, something I don’t believe yet exists in the world.  The 2002 Hollywood movie with Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel, known to me as “that guy who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ,” barely has a thing in common with the book.  Don’t get me wrong, it entertains me immensely and I have a bit of a fangirl crush on Jim Caviezel’s Monte Cristo, BUT it is certainly not a good representation of the novel.  Even the guy who wrote the screenplay admits it.  In the special features he said basically that he couldn’t follow the book precisely because he was writing a script for a Hollywood movie, which has time limitations and audiences have certain expectations.  I absolutely agree with him.  There’s no way the whole story, with its enormous cast and complicated plot, could be captured in a 2-hour feature.

The 1934 film starring Robert Donat has similar problems, and has a similarly cheezy ending.  They did preserve more of the details of the plot-points they kept, but still, you can only do so much in 90 minutes.

There’s a made-for-TV movie from the 70s starring Richard Chamberlain (another fangirl crush here, I forget which movie first brought him to my attention) and Tony Curtis which has the horrible, low-budget sets, costumes and staging of a made-for-TV movie from the 70s BUT it’s got Richard Chamberlain so I feel gentler towards it than I might otherwise.  And again, while it contains some elements the others didn’t, it is still only feature-length.

In 1998 a miniseries came out of France, starring one of their favorites, big barrel-chested Gerard Depardieu, as the Count.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s just about perfect for Cyrano de Bergerac, but throughout the book Edmond Dantes and the Count are described as attractive.  And Gerard Depardieu, well, ew.  But I watched it anyway because I figured 1) it’s a serial, so they’ll include more of the story, and 2) it’s French, and if anyone gets it right it should be the French, since that’s where the story came from in the first place.  It does something interesting, something none of the aforementioned versions do: it casts a “young” Dantes (Depardieu’s son, incidentally) and then Depardieu pere emerges as Dantes either after the escape from prison or maybe when the Count first appears (it’s been a while since I saw it).  As I recall, in 400 minutes it does indeed cover a lot more of the novel, but I can’t get over the fact that he hooks back up with Mercedes at the end.  I mean come on, France!  I just added it to my Netflix queue so I can give it another shot — now that I am about as familiar with the story as anyone reasonably could be, maybe I can view it a bit more impartially.  I still feel (rather strongly) that Depardieu was just plain bad casting.

There are others, of course (don’t get me started on the anime series that came out a few years ago…. stylistically intriguing, but it got real weird real fast, and apparently kills off Dantes at some point).  But the point is that none of them do adequate justice to this masterpiece.

The real reason I even starting writing about this is that I’ve been thinking about the one part of the book I’ve never quite “gotten.”  The very last bit, where Monte Cristo makes Maximilien wait 1 month before finally revealing that Valentine isn’t dead after all.  I always think, c’mon, Dantes, really?  Was that really necessary?  But as I’m reading it through this time, it’s coming together more for me.  Maybe it’s in part because this Penguin Classics version is a slightly different translation — a more literal translation, I find.  The thing that’s so interesting about Dantes is that, because he has this enormous wealth and has amassed more information about everything there is to be known, he has a pretty huge ego by the end.  But in addition to that, he sincerely believes that he is an agent of Providence, that his actions of vengeance are the will of God.  I struggle with this because I think “damn, he’s so cool except for the whole belief in God thing” (I’m an atheist, right).  I think, though, that what happens at the end is this:  he believes “killing” Valentine is necessary because 1) his revenge on Villefort wouldn’t be complete unless Valentine dies and 2) Mme de Villefort wouldn’t stop trying to kill Valentine unless she believed Valentine were dead.  That much makes sense.  But why make Maximilien wait a whole month?  Especially as Dantes obviously explained at least some of his plan to Noirtier during the vigil over Valentine’s “corpse.”

My conclusion, then, is that Dantes really thinks he’s doing Maximilien a favor by making him suffer the 1 month of grief.  This action falls outside the range of his vengeance, so in this action he is no longer acting as an agent of Providence.  He’s acting as a man who suffered greatly in his youth but has acquired so much knowledge and money that he believes he knows better than anyone else.  And in this case, he believes that Maximilien will be happier in the long run if he feels the intense grief of the loss of his beloved before getting her back.  To me, it just seems like a pretty dick move.  And slightly insane.  I do think Dantes emerges at the end of the novel, having completed his revenge on all of his enemies, a little worse for wear emotionally, and it’s probably a good thing for everyone that he disappears into the sunrise with no apparent intention of returning.  How much of this I want to come across in my miniseries is still sort of up in the air.  I don’t want him to seem completely unhinged, but I think it’s important to show that he’s done some damage to himself in building up this “Angel of Vengeance so I know better than you” ego thing.  He’s our hero, but he’s still a man.