the Mammal Chronicles: December 2007

when it comes right down to it, ya lactate or ya don't.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Elephants: Come & Get 'Em

Teresa (a dear friend who came as sort of a "gift with purchase" when I made friends with her partner Sporks) recently came up with the fabulous idea of having an online White Elephant exchange: post your unwanted holiday gifts, send 'em out to whoever wants them, and make the world a better place. How could I resist?

Here are my first offerings (there may be more -- stay tuned):

Coral Reef Rotating Nightlight
I won this in a game of "Evil Santa" last year. I'd hoped that perhaps the seascape would fill the room, projecting outward on all the walls, but all it does is glow a bit as it spins.

Wacky Wheels Magnets
I actually like these -- they feature art cars from my favorite folklore film, Wild Wheels by Harrod Blank. So why am I giving them away? They weren't actually a gift to me -- I'd stumbled on them at Big Lots years and years ago (so long ago that Big Lots was called Pic N Save) and stocked up. I gave a bunch away, and all these years later, still have four packages in stock. At this point I think I've gifted them to anyone I know who might like the film too, and still have four packages left, so one's been earmarked just for you.

How do you claim these and other fabulous prizes? Teresa explains it better than I could, so I'll just quote her no doubt flawlessly copy-edited prose here:

• To claim it, just be the first to say “I’ll take it!” in comments (and, of course, privately e-mail your address to me [note from treecup: if you don't know my email address, be sure to include your email in the comment form so I can email you -- don't worry, it won't show up in the comment itself] ). I’ll cheerfully send my offering to you, even picking up the shipping cost! All that is requested in return is that you offer a white elephant gift of your own on your blog. (Don’t feel left out if you don’t have a blog—I’d be happy to host your offering.)

• To offer an item of your own, just post a pic and description and maybe even a funny story about receiving said item. Don’t limit yourself to this holiday season, either; go crazy and post the weirdest, whitest elephant you’ve ever been gifted in your whole life. Heck, list more than one if you’d like. You’re only limited by the number of “interesting” gifts you’ve received—and whatever you’re willing to pay to ship them out of your life. If you want to post an item before claiming one for yourself, go for it! And feel free to announce your participation in comments here to begin driving shoppers to your site.

• Catch all the white elephant sightings! Rumor has it they may be popping up here, here, here, here, here, here, and other fine blog locations to be announced. And, of course, you’ll want to start haunting the site of whichever lucky soul claims my soon to be posted gift—just click the link from their winning comment and follow that blog!

Teresa herself, by the way, though a gift with purchase, is not the sort I'd ever fob off as a white elephant. Indeed, she is the sort of gift with purchase that you might even buy something you didn't want just so you could get (not that I didn't want Sporks -- aieeee, this metaphor is getting way too convoluted).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

lonely evening

It's 3:35 am and I am feeling a profound sense of loneliness. I can't pinpoint where it is coming from. Maybe it is just being alone in the dark on a sleepless night. Maybe it is the general feeling of dread I get knowing that there is work I need to do that I have been putting off. Maybe it is the homeopathy working its mojo.

The tricky thing about how the homeopathy works is that it doesn't just make you better: it gives you challenges, bringing up obstacles and issues that you've been pushing down with meds, making you deal with them and push through them to the other side to make you stronger. I think that's how my homeopath explained it when I saw her this monday.

I am in a life transition I think. It's more than just moving beyond the tenure process, which is what I was attributing it to before. Everything in me and around me feels like it is churning and changing -- and it's not just an internal process, but random things working in tandem. Let's take work: I applied for a sabbatical and chose to do an artistic rather than research-oriented proposal mostly because I thought it would give me more of a mental break. But then I started having more and more conflicts (technical and ideological) with the campus Institutional Review Board and it made me think that I need to move away from "human-subjects" based research altogether so I could stop butting heads with them (it just drains all the remaining joy out of field research). So doing an artistic sabbatical now makes sense other reasons.

Or maybe I am just constitutionally unable to deal with happiness: I have tenure, a house, a family. I have no more excuses to attribute to my unhappiness.

I remember this was part of the realization I came to when I initially got on antidepressants: that I had always been trying to find reasons for my depression and anger and that there really wasn't a reason beyond my essential chemical imbalance. So ten years later I've come full circle again. But if I embrace the homeopathic/therapeutic process, it means that there is something I've been ignoring/not seeing that needs to be dealt with. My homeopath thinks that at the crux of things is a self-esteem issue. Self-esteem has always been a problem, so she's probably not far off. "Why don't you like yourself?" My husband asks me.

I just don't know.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jazz and Fondue

Last night we got together with two of my colleagues for jazz and fondue at a new place that opened up nearby. One of the colleagues brought her partner and the other brought tales of her recent "speed-dating" adventure.

The restaurant had a sort of 60s/70s kitsch theme: black velvet paintings were the dominant motif. The waitress asked us if we were celebrating anything and one of my colleagues said, "yes." "We are?" I asked. Turned out it was the other colleague's birthday and we were also apparently celebrating getting tenure, even though that's far from official -- It's only gone through one committee so far and has three other approval processes to go through. I'll celebrate that when it is official, thank you very much, but the birthday I would sign on for.

Fondue, especially with one prong per person, can be a time consuming meal and we ended up staying through four courses and three hours. It was kind of pricey, but leisurely and lovely. Then we parted company, wandering off into the night and promising that we would host the next fondue gathering at our place, given our fondue pots have been gathering dust for a few years now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pure Light Within You

I'm not sure I love kundalini yoga -- I have to admit I'm not terribly fond of "fire breath" -- but I do like the icy buzzing sensation that I feel coursing through my body and brain by the end of class. What I like most though is the singing:

"May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love
surround you,
And the pure light within you
guide your way on."

I feel joyful and centered when I leave. It's a hard thing to explain to my husband, even though he's sometimes in class with me. "Centered" is one of those words I use often that he always asks me about. "What does that mean?" I usually respond by saying something about how I feel grounded and he looks quizzically at me, effectively communicating to me that this word means as little to him as the last. It's funny to me because I'm guessing he's pretty much centered and grounded most of the time. Maybe that's it -- it's such a normal state to him that he can't conceive of or differentiate a state that isn't either of those things.

We don't always communicate with the same language, he and I, but we've been at it now for almost 11 years, trying to understand each other even when we are talking about things the other one wouldn't otherwise be interested in, because there's love there. Sometimes that means I watch the Venture Brothers with him until I "get it." Sometimes that means that he takes a yoga class with me and sings the song even if he never does.

And the pure light within us
guides our way on.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I saw my psychiatrist yesterday. For all of about five minutes, I managed to skirt telling him that it was due to homeopathy that I wanted to lower my daily dosage. His brow was furrowed for a good part of our session, but to his credit he didn't tell me "No" outright. Instead, he asked me lots of questions about my mood and behavior and told me to come back in two weeks. In the meantime, I also have to keep a log that tracks my sleep patterns, my mood (from depression through mania, the worst stage of which the booklet classifies as "Family and friends want me in the hospital"), my medications, life events, etc. etc.

Asking me to do this and come back in two weeks is perfectly reasonable I think, but annoying because my psychiatrist is all the way in Beverly Hills. He used to be in Glendale, which was far enough, then moved. He's also "out of network" which means we don't get reimbursed for much. My husband wonders why I keep going to him -- I'd initially searched him out because I was pregnant and he'd been involved in some studies on pregnant women on antidepressants. Now that I haven't been pregnant for two years, my husband thinks I should find someone closer in network, but I figure this guy knows my history and was also the first doctor who managed to lower my multi-drug cocktail to a single low dose of zoloft. So, furrowed brows and all, I like him. Besides, I usually have to see him once, maybe twice a year. I'm hoping that part won't change but it may be determined by what I write in this little mood log I have tucked in my purse.

In the meantime, while I wouldn't categorize my "mania" as "family and friends want me in the hospital" I was a grading madwoman today and am exercising regularly (which, as I've pointed out, for me exercising at all surely falls under "mania").

So here's to Mania: may she always be productive and fit.

Monday, December 03, 2007

bi-polar? obsessive-compulsive? manic?

The girl has been sick this week: feverish, holding her hand up to her ear and saying "ouch." It's been sad to watch. My husband loads her up with tylenol or ibuprofen while I load her up with store-bought homeopathic tablets. Neither seems to work much, so today we're taking her to the doctor.

The amazing thing about all this (knock on woodgrain .jpg) is that through it all, with both husband and daughter sick, I haven't caught it. If you recall, I tend to catch colds if someone sick even glances at me from a distance. I do think the homeopathic treatments I've been undergoing are making a difference in my overall health, boosting my immune system.

But despite my health, my daughter and husband's illness have meant that we hadn't made it to the club in about 4 days. I was surprised to find myself getting antsy. We'd been going almost daily and I was starting to need to go. Finally, yesterday, though I felt guilty for abandoning ouchy girl for a few hours, I went by myself. I was disappointed to find the Yoga schedule had changed, but I did some cardio and then retreated to the sauna, steam room and spa.

It's a little bizarre to be honest: I've never wanted to exercise. It may be the lure of the steamroom in part, but it's actually the exercise I'm craving too. I'm apt to attribute this to the homeopathic treatment as well -- one of the first reactions to it I had when I first started was a need to get on the stationary cycle at home daily. Then we dialed back the treatment a bit and it stopped. Now that I'm progressing with the treatment at a slower pace, the need to exercise has returned. My husband, on the other hand, attributes it to my somewhat obsessive-compulsive personality ("You always want to do things a lot when you first start") but never in my life have I gotten obsessive or compulsive about exercise. My new therapist thinks I may be mildly bi-polar, though no other psychiatrist has ever diagnosed me as that. My homeopath thinks that my normal level of depression puts me at such a low energy that the homeopathic treatment is pushing me past the level of my antidepressants into a mild mania and, as the homeopathic treatment takes effect treating and curing my bodily imbalances (whether they are to do with blood-sugar or brain chemicals, in the homeopathic view it's all pieces of a puzzle that influence each other), I will need to dial down my antidepressants. So, later this week I will go to my psychiatrist and see what he says (and try to figure out a way to ask him to lower my meds without telling him it's a homeopath who suggested it). It's weird to suddenly like exercise but hopefully, as I get stronger through the homeopathic treatments, the need to exercise will simply become a part of my being.

Speaking of exercise, I'm also exercising internally with this. There are fifteen levels of resistance and I'm only up to 3. Hey, I pushed a baby out of there -- Give me time.