it’s probably the water at my new apartment

My emotions have been intense lately.  I wouldn’t describe what I’m going through as depression, and it hasn’t come with a lot of drama or yelling* or anger or anything.  No, I guess I’d describe my feelings as emboldened, and starting with capital letters.  I don’t just feel happy, I feel Happy!  When I’m nervous, I’m Nervous!  I’m not lonely, I’m Lonely.  When I’m bored, I’ve Never Been So Bored In My Life, Goddammit!

With the feelings that are less easily defined, I really wish I had some of those fancy German compound words** to describe them.  Why is there no English word for “Currently lonely, but happy to have social engagements planned for the near future”?  What’s the word for “Bored, but with the knowledge that there are any number of interesting things that could be done”?  What word can be used to describe an emotional bigness, the feeling that your heart might explode out of your chest, but you have no idea why?

Last week my friend Billy took me on an evening flight in a tiny, tiny airplane.  Everything’s more intense in a tiny airplane; you can hear all the noises, you can see everything around you, and when you land you can watch it all happen through the front windshield.

We took off from Austin at sunset, flew to Llano, and then flew back to Austin as the full moon was rising.  As we went over Lake Buchanan, Billy turned the radio down and we sat in silence, listening to the hum of the engine through our headphones as the moon reflected off the water.

What, then, is the word for the feeling that “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, except that can’t be right because I’ve seen lots of other beautiful things, and anyway, everything’s more intense in a tiny airplane”?

Why do I need words to describe everything?  And whence all the Feelings lately?  Given the choice, I suppose I wouldn’t trade them, as they make my life feel epic in a way that it really isn’t.  But I do still wonder where they’re coming from.

*Who would I yell at?  Everyone’s great!
**c.f. Schadenfreude, except I haven’t felt that one these days.

good luck moving up

As life would have it, I’ve come down with a severe cold five days before I’m scheduled to move into my new apartment. My days should be full of packing and Goodwill trips and scheduling, but instead they’re full of naps and nose-blowing and sneezing and aching, aching, aching.

Most of the time I’m okay with being a single gal, but I’m never so bothered by it as when a) I have lots to do and not enough time to do it in, or b) I am sick. When one or the other of these things occur, and there’s nobody to pick up the packing slack or run to the store for hummus and feta and a Coke (oddly, the only things I want right now), my happy-independent-girl facade crumbles a bit, revealing the shoddy craftsmanship of the building underneath.

This will be the first time I’ve ever moved without a boyfriend or family member around to help me. Saying this makes me feel like I’m from the 1950’s or something, like I’m one of those women who went from their father’s house to the sorority house to their husband’s house. I’m not one of those women by any stretch, but I still feel guilty for wondering if I can get through this move without a boyfriend or a dad around.

And I feel guilty for not going to work today, and I feel guilty for not packing while not at work today, and I feel guilty for feeling guilty because I’m fucking SICK, RIGHT? I’m not supposed to do anything. But things won’t get done if I don’t do them, so I feel guilty anyway.

Recently, a friend of mine received some terrible news that has redefined (for the worse) some events that took place in the past few months. She’s been great about keeping her friends updated on the situation via e-mail and text and phone calls, and she’s been even greater about telling everyone she needs help.

I possess no such skill.  When I need help, my first instinct is to pretend like I don’t need help.  And maybe I won’t.  Maybe I can make it to the store myself, maybe I can pack everything myself, maybe I can walk to the U-Haul place and drive the stupid behemoth truck back to the apartment myself, and so forth.

But when I’m spending hour 23 on the couch next to 50 crumpled tissues and a box of Sudafed, it’s hard for me to think I can do anything at all.

on uplifiting topics

We were lying in bed together in 2005, talking in both generalities and specifics about depression.  I talked about mine, he talked about his friend T’s, and then he told me about T’s suicide.

“Listen,” he said to me.  “No matter how depressed you get, please don’t kill yourself.  It’s the most selfish thing anyone can ever do.  T killed himself without thinking about how his friends and family would feel after he left.  I was so angry.  I’m still angry.  Don’t ever kill yourself.”

It was the first thing he said to me that made me wonder if we maybe weren’t right for each other.  It made me think he didn’t really understand the nature of depression.  It made me think, there is nobody on this earth who, when faced with the kind of depression that makes one want to commit suicide, would decide to stick around because they wouldn’t want their friends to think them selfish or because they thought suicide might mean that they’re a failure.

“Okay,” I said.  What else could I have said to my boyfriend?  The truth?

“The truth is that I’ve thought about suicide before.”

“The truth is that it’s technically impossible for me to give you a guarantee that I won’t ever kill myself.”

I’ve read The Broom of the System, half of Girl With Curious Hair, and about 1/50th of Infinite Jest, and I plan to try the latter again soon.  On the occasion of David Foster Wallace’s suicide, I’ve been reading the Metafilter thread about him.  Someone posted this, an excerpt from Infinte Jest:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

He’s right, you know.  I understand why suicide feels like a selfish act to the loved ones who are left behind, but it isn’t.  Depression is a disease just like any other–its effects are no more a choice than the effects of other chronic illnesses, and its sufferers don’t relish the prospect of death.

I’m sorry to see you go, David Foster Wallace, but it’s okay with me if you’re not sorry.