A brief chronicle of my new life in Michigan, focusing on the fact that I live in a converted factory loft building with several hundered other "young professionals." Yeah, it's a yuppie dorm.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Then and Now

August View

This is the view out my window... this first one I took at about the time I moved in in August. Note the sun, the leafy trees, the blue river in the background. Below is a picture I just took a few minutes ago. Still the river, and the grass is still green -- but there's a bit of a difference in the cloud cover, the leaf situation.

It's been cloudy like this for about three days now. I'm thinking about going to see a movie tonight - just to get out for a bit. Or if not tonight, tomorrow afternoon. I think I need to see The Incredibles. I've heard good things about it... and Matt's already seen it. (By the way, Matt - don't go see Finding Neverland without me!)

November View

Friday, November 19, 2004

Remembering Paris

When my parents were here this past weekend, we were looking through my current coffee-table book that Chris and Amy (hello!) gave me when I graduated. It's called Above Paris, and it has amazing aerial views of (what else), Paris. Anyway - it got me looking through the pictures I had on my computer, and I wanted to share some of my favorites. All were taken with a 35-millimeter Pentax K-1000; all but the last on black-and-white. The last picture was not taken on sepia, or retouched in any way. The light was that good in a little tiny chapel.

The first picture was taken from atop the Arc de Triomphe, the next from inside the Musee d'Orsay, looking out from behind one of the facade clocks. The Orsay used to be a train station - I got lots of great pictures inside there - I'll probably post some more of those in the future.

Tour Eiffel

Musee d'Orsay

Sacre Coeur, Montmartre

Cluny Vaulting

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Coming Up For Air

Well, I think I'm over the worst of it. At least for now. I've described depression as getting a cold in one's emotions, and that's really what it feels like it. Everything seems to get stuffed up and out of proportion -- and just miserable. But, I made it through the weekend with the help of some wonderful parental visits and just finished teaching two classes that went really well. Nothing like students actually discussing the texts and coming up with spot-on observations to make things a bit better. Especially at this point in the semester, when the amount and quality of students' reading tends to go down.

So, I'm keeping on taking my meds., and going about finding a good psych. professional with less urgency. Thank you to all of you who called, etc.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Is There A Doctor In?

You know, finding a psych professional is not the easiest thing to do when you need one. For the first time, I don't have a nice, friendly campus health center to go to, only a huge list of names of people that accept my insurance. No other information about them except an address and a phone number. No indication of how long they've been doing this, if they have any specialties, or anything. How in the world am I going to find someone?

I've tried. I saw one woman three times - I called a place that had quite a few people on my insurance list, and they were downtown, so I knew I could find them. She's nice, but comes at things from a social worker's point of view (or so I assume, as that's her degree), and doesn't seem to deal well with my intelligence. I know that sounds snobbish, but I really don't respond well to the "just meditate and get in touch with your feelings" school of therapy. I have an actual disease, and I need to manage it. I've also been through therapy with enough different therapists to know that they usually can't get a clue as how to deal with me for a while (so maybe I should give this woman a bit more time... but I'm not getting a good vibe.). The problem is that I'm extraordinarily good at explaining all about the qualities, permutations, and my ways of coping with depression. They're all quite impressed. It takes them a long time to see that the more I talk, if I'm in the right mood, the further I'm getting from any sort of actual emotional healing.

I need someone who can keep up with my brain - and how in the world do you ask for that? Do patients have the right to ask about a doctor's philosophy? technique? specialities? I've asked people for referrals, but the only ones I've gotten are to doctors not on my insurance.

I should be getting help - but all I can think of is how much energy I'll have to put into starting this, and how little whoever I go see will probably be able to help me for quite a while.

Personal Depression

I suppose I knew it would happen. The whole clinical-depression-with-stress-onset has started up, and I'm in control-mode. Which means I avoid things with high emotional content, excessive self-reflection, and try to remember to eat on a regular basis. When I find medical professionals up here, I'll also probably be doing more medication stuff, which means interesting side effects (usually). I try to reduce the stress in daily life (hard) and not pressure myself to be perfect in all areas (harder). I attempt to enjoy the things I can enjoy, and try not to trigger any boomerang effects (experiencing enjoyment/pleasure can trigger thoughts/cycles of depression - a sick twist to the disease).

So - lots of logic and crossword puzzles (low emotional content, completely left-brain activity), a reduction in the amount of stuff that I think I should/could do, and a gradual adding back in of allowing myself to think freely (I know that sounds twisted, but the trickiest part of depression is the spiraling cycle of negative thoughts; this cycle is triggered by excessive release/experience of emotion.).

Therefore - I'll try to keep up this website, but I might be doing more "observational" writing rather than introspective writing for a while. Any suggestions on handling depression are welcome; I find that each major episode is somewhat unique, and my ways of coping need constant adjustment.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Mass Depression

So Kerry didn't win.
Proposition 2 failed.
And I didn't even get the Drain Commissioner's name right (turns out the one I thought I was voting for was in Ottawa County, not Kent county.)

If you're wondering, the Kent County Drain Commissioner is Roger Laninga, a 59 year old Republican who's been the Drain Commissioner since 1993. And has a degree in landscape architecture. I think we can all feel confident that he's going to make water go where it should. Considering I live less than 100 feet from the river, I'm sort of concerned about this sort of thing. However, I'm not sure I voted for him. I think I did. I'd like to have voted for a least one winner.

So, it's back to thinking about what I'm teaching tomorrow. On tap - Donne's poetry ("Death be not proud!") and Shakespeare's Hamlet ("Oh to die and go not we know where!", or something like that). Yep, tomorrow's a death day.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Voting in Grand Rapids

Like everyone else in the blogosphere, I voted this morning. Before I got up to go, I had yet another voting anxiety dream - in the dream I showed up at the polling place, got in line, and eventually made it to the first table, where they were testing voters' ability to read. We all had to sit down and read -out loud- a menu from an Indian restaurant. I distinctly remember being embarrassed because I couldn't remember how to pronounce the names of several dishes. Then an ex-boyfriend gave me a ballot, I voted, and when I left, my bicycle had been stolen.

Needless to say, the actual voting process was nothing like my dream, except for the fact that the man behind me actually couldn't read. However, a poll volunteer just helped him out. There were no last-minute campaigners hovering on the legal periphery of the polling place, and there were no poll watchers--which sort of surprised me because my district is essentially inner-city Grand Rapids, with a lot of minority voters. It was great being part of such a diverse group of people at 8:30 in the morning, even as we all stood outside in the drizzle because the polling place was absolutely tiny. And I had a great amount of fun with the punch card - there were a bunch of unopposed races (like Kent County Drain Commissioner!) that I wasn't going to bother voting for, but I was having so much fun poking out the little holes in the ballot that I went ahead and voted for them.

And I'm proud to say I voted for Kerry, and voted no on Proposition 2, which is Michigan's attempt to restrict marriage rights (that is, I voted to not add the whole "marriage is between one man and one woman" clause to the Michigan constitution. Because, as a part of my job, I had to sign an oath to uphold the Michigan State Constitution, you know.) And I enthusiastically voted for Paul Geerlings to continue in his post as Kent County Drain Commissioner--here's hoping he hasn't been authorizing the dumping of sewage into the Grand River!