Tag Archive: reading


Hardcore practice

I’ve been looking forward to having my friend, her boyfriend, and NM over tonight to carve pumpkins.  We made the plans a week or so ago and I spent all day cleaning the house and setting up the living room to be safe for pumpkin mess.

Early in the day, my friend says she doesn’t think her boyfriend will make it.  Then she says she’s feeling sick.  I shrug and keep moving.  It occurs to me that she could use the feeling sick as an excuse to back out, but whatever, she hasn’t yet.  Then in the evening she says she’s still stuck at work and also feeling crampy.  I sigh, but don’t offer a rain check, only sympathy.  Then she gets home and tells me how crappy she’s feeling and that she probably wouldn’t be much fun to be around.

A few hours before the last two text messages I read the next chapter of “The Untethered Soul.”  The chapter I needed to get me through this disappointment.  The chapter says we have to make the choice to be happy.  We have to say “I want to be happy” and not qualify it with things like “unless my friend bails on our plans.”  Am I disappointed? Of course I am, because I thought it would be a really fun night, the four of us hanging out, laughing, carving pumpkins.  I’m sure it would have been, if all the pieces had come together like I wanted them to.  But is this disappointment worth getting unhappy over?  Absolutely not.

So I told her not to worry about it, we’d hang out another time.

NM had messaged me earlier saying some family was in town for today only, so he’d be spending some time with them for a while.  I sighed.  But he didn’t say he wasn’t coming.  But since my friend and her boyfriend aren’t coming, and I know NM must have had quite a busy day, I sent him a message that I would understand if he preferred to just go to his own home after getting done with family.  I haven’t heard back from him yet, so who knows, maybe he’ll decide to come hang out after all.  But I am operating on the assumption that he probably won’t — if it were me, and I’d had as much going on today as he did, I would be eager to get back to my own home and relax.

Again, it’s disappointing.  I do feel these twinges of displeasure, victimhood, “why does this always happen,” etc.  I’m not trying to suppress them, exactly.  At least, I hope I’m not.  I’m just trying to be aware of them, while at the same time being aware that these things do not make me, do not determine whether or not I am happy right now.

One thing that’s rather nice is that I did all that housecleaning earlier.  My house it tidier than it has been in months, and even though it was motivated by the prospect of NM coming over and staying the night, the fact that that’s fallen through doesn’t take away from how absolutely wonderful it is to have a clean house!  And I made black bean hummus and the rest of that pot pie, and they are both delicious!!  And I have been entertaining myself by reading “The Screwtape Letters,” which I have never read but always intended to.  And it is quite entertaining.  And I have a fluffy kitty curled up on the sofa beside me as I read.  These are all things to enjoy and be pleased about.  They, too, don’t define my happiness, but focusing on the positive is helpful, I think.

Advertisements

The Untethered Soul

This is a book I’ve been reading lately.

It’s another one delivered to me by my mom, who is constantly reading one thing or another.

This book has some interesting, simple truths, things that, when one actually applies them to one’s life, have the potential to drastically change one’s experience for the better.  It ain’t easy.  But I’m getting a lot out of it thus far, and I expect I’ll read it again once I’ve gotten through it once.

 

PS- my affirmation lately has been: “I am a good girl.”

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.

TIDAL WAVE

Today I am crying at EVERYTHING.  I’m serious.  Think about “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Tears.  Reread bits of “A Christmas Carol.” Tears.  I don’t feel sad in a conventional sense but I Can’t seem to Stop Crying.

I know it’s bad to say this, but I really don’t want BF to know.  I don’t think I can really hide, it though, not if this keeps up all day.  It’s a really small duplex we live in, and my face gets unmistakably blotchy when I’ve been crying.  Why don’t I want him to know?  Good question.  Mostly because he wants an explanation for things like that, because it kind of freaks him out.  He doesn’t understand depression at all.  He thinks there has to be a reason for it.  Our conversations when I am feeling depressed are never productive.  He gets frustrated, I get frustrated, nothing comes of it.  And I hate for him to worry.  He doesn’t know what to do with worry.  He feels like he should be able to do something to help me in some way, and I’m not sure there is anything he can do.

I am trying to breathe deeply to keep from getting sobby again.  The story after “A Christmas Carol” in this big old Book Of Christmas that’s been in my custody since before dad died is one by Truman Capote about a little boy and his “best friend,” a lady in her 60s who’s “simple-minded,” as they might say.  Totally blindsided me, and I was already weepy from reading the Dickens story.

 

Is this really what I am without the medication?  It’s so hard for me to know!!  Am I still going through this withdrawal period where things are just weird with my body and I just have to ride it out for a little while?  Or is this me, plain unmedicated me.  The idea that I am this affected when I thought I had made so much progress is really upsetting.

A dear, dear friend who unfortunately lives on the opposite coast sent me this message after I announced to my Facebook “friends” that I was off the meds:  “you are amazing, and I am really impressed that you are trying. there is no such thing as ‘failing’ in this case though, so if you find it isn’t working for you then you are the one calling the shots, and determining what works best for you. <3 Definitely sending some extra supporting, loving thoughts your way!”

I miss her a great deal.  And my mom is out of town, so I literally have no one it feels Safe to share this tumult with.

 

I started thinking about my father the last few days.  On the 27th it will be the 2nd anniversary of his death.  I was already on Effexor when he died, so this is the first time since then that I have felt his loss without the support of an SNRI.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been so affected lately.  This season will probably always be bittersweet — from right around Christmas to his birthday on January 23rd, a month of mourning each year.  It doesn’t seem fair, but I guess that’s what happens when someone you dearly love dies.

I don’t think my tears are entirely related to dad, though.  I was feeling fragile even before I started thinking about him.  I think it’s more like, my mind is desperately trying to find a reason for the tears.  An excuse, or something.  But maybe there is no reason, not a real source of the sadness.  Maybe it’s just a violent backlash by my body against cutting off that drug.  Or maybe it really is just what I am without that support.  Like if you take the rings off the necks of those ladies whose necks are stretched long.  They simply haven’t the support without those rings, and their necks collapse.  !! how painful that must be!

 

Going to do a bit of deep breathing and try to calm myself down.  I do think it’s important to feel what I am feeling, but I’d really like to avoid a full-on freakout if possible.

A World of Pain

I just finished reading the manuscript for my 2nd-year college roommate’s first completed novel, a young adult fiction called A World of Light.  I don’t know what to think of it, I’m no critic.  I think it’s definitely a novel that would have appealed to her when she was around the target age.  It’s smart, it doesn’t talk down to the reader.  It’s a little vague on some points and I think clarifying them would make it a stronger story.  It could certainly make it about more than just hereditary mental illness.  Is that what it’s about?

All I know is that reading this story flashed me back, waay back to times I have tried to forget, so much so that I have forgotten trying to forget them.

Early in my experience of depression I began reading stories about mental illness.  The “fun” kind (from my perspective), the kind where you are in an institution and the people around you all seem imaginary because you have created this rich, inescapable world in your insanity.  I specifically remember a novel called I Never Promised You a Rose Garden about a young woman whose story met that description.

I started writing my own story, pouring my loneliness, my angst — the angst of middle school mingled with the angst of deepening depression that I truly did not understand — my desire to escape, all into a story about a girl my age named Lily who had a “refuge” in her head.  I think she fell into a coma-like state when visiting this refuge.  I think there was another character, a Temptor, encouraging her to spend more and more time out of reality and in “the Area.”

I still had the unfinished, handwritten manuscript up until a few years ago.  It was boxed with years of spiral-bound journals and other attempts and writing fiction or poetry.  I finally threw them all away when I started dating a boy who suggested that keeping them around, referring back to them might not be the healthiest thing.  It was hard to do.  And now, flooded with the memories of a young me, terrified, lonely, confused and terribly depressed, writing this story because I had no real escape of my own, I almost wish I had access to that manuscript.  At the same time I recognize, having reread old journals many times, that going back to those times can throw me back into those feelings, can confuse and strain my slightly-better-adjusted psyche.

Tonight I’m listening to my “instrumentals” playlist.  My favorite tracks are “Yumeji’s theme” from In the Mood for Love and the second movement from Beethoven’s 7th symphony: the Allegretto, used as the main theme for the movie The Fall.  I think feeling a little sadness, mourning a little for the little girl that I was, is a good thing.  Forgetting about her entirely will not do either of us any good.  And if I can embrace her now, she may yet grow into a secure self.