This summer I went through a bout of depression. I’d like to say I fought like a champion. I fought it sorta. In the morning I worked on a story alteration and the rest of the day I’d watch my husband look for a job. There was the added bonus of wondering how long we would be without one, because when you’re in your 60s it’s a toss-up in the maintenance biz. Yes, it was stressful. When he finally got a job, I didn’t get over the bout for a while, so instead of drinking–too expensive–I watched You Tube videos.
I know that human beings are voyeurs, me included, but WOW!
Grocery Hauls and Meal Prep are my favorites. Who knew it could be so restful watching other people enumerate what they got at the grocery store? And there are the craft videos! Motivational videos, speeches by the notorious and the unknown. Home repair and home dec. The number of channels dedicated to Dollar Tree/Store/General is staggering.
Now I know what writers mean about wasting time on You Tube. I thought it was all cats. Nope. Cats and so much more.
My one caveat, aside from all the wasted time, is that these are not professionals and there’s no production team to point out faux pas. It’s a great exercise in grace. And a great way to see just what you can do with all that Dollar Tree swag!
There are no spoilers in this post. It was written before The Walking Dead season finale.
When I was eight, I spent the summer with my grandparents in Chatsworth, California. This was a big deal as I lived in north Idaho. I got to fly by myself, visit the cockpit, and get a set of captain’s wings. It was also the first time I ever saw a grilled tomato. Full breakfasts were served in those days and even a child got a pretty decent meal.
I remember a lot of things from that summer but the most special thing was sitting down with Grandma, at three in the afternoon, with a can of root beer and a small bowl of puffed cheese snacks to watch All My Children.
All My Children was one of a dozen soap operas that populated daytime television in the 60s. When I was an adult, I moved to the Midwest and everyone called soaps, “stories.” Hence the title of this post.
This weekend my daughter and her two kids were over at the house, and an advertisement for season finale of The Walking Dead came on. My daughter was holding my little grandson and she said, “Look, Elijah, there’s an ad for Grandma’s story.” She had me Dead to rights.
I gave up soaps years ago. They are all the same story line, and now I see they were mostly the same characters from the 80s and 90s. I haven’t missed anything. But I did become the new kind of Deadhead. (I think some viewers are young enough to have missed The Grateful Dead and don’t know that name is already taken.) But there are Walker Stalkers, Deadites, or the Watching Dead. Though, none of those really fits. I’m just a fan.
When the show came out in 2010, I heard about it. If you were minimally online, you heard about it. I didn’t care. Once in the distant past, I had tried watching the movie, The Night of the Living Dead, and was bored outta my skull. This lead me to believe that zombies just weren’t my thing. They weren’t then, and they really aren’t now.
The appeal of this gore-fest for me is, there moral questions that come up for those surviving a zombie apocalypse that just never make it past the, d*mn-I-broke-a-nail problems of the clean, well-dressed, well-connected doctor/lawyer/billionaires that populate the standard regular soap opera.
But on TWD you have to deal with questions, such as:
Weaponry: blade or a gun? Perhaps your best success will be with a blunt object and brute force?
Is it best to soak rotting flesh stains, or can you just pretreat?
Who do I trust, and will I destroy their brain if they die so they don’t turn into a zombie?
If a zombie is clutching a bag of Cheetos, once I dispatch said zombie, is it safe to eat the cheesy bits of heaven if the bag is still sealed?
Are zombies the person they were when they were alive, or are they nonpersons, and okay to use as targets?
How do you raise sensitive kids in a world where sometimes compassion involves breaking someone’s neck?
Am I really a horrible person when the only other person in my group, who loves pickled beets as much as I do, turns, and I’m j-u-s-t a little bit glad because that leaves more for me?
Seriously, there are great questions that come up in this show. Some of them I push aside in favor of just rooting for the bad-guy-turned-good, Daryl. I cried with Carol when her young daughter staggered out of burning barn, clearly now a zombie. For all the jokes, I hope Carl grows up to be a decent, non-psychopathic, young man for whom killing is the only skill he has to offer the world. And I always sigh when Maggie and Glenn find each other after some horrible separation.
Yup, The Walking Dead has replaced the standard soap opera as my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Wentworth Wednesday will return next week at its regularly scheduled time.
When you go to a doctor, they hand you a list of medical maladies to confirm or deny. For me depression is always on the menu. It’s the same for my mother. This past month I made the rounds of physicals and appointments connected with her newly-diagnosed diabetes and had to tick the DEPRESSION box a number of times. It was a gentle reminder that depression is kind of an heirloom in the sitting room of my life.
Decades ago when I started writing, a real knock-down-drag-out broke on a Persuasion discussion board about whether Anne Elliot was depressed and should be medicated. Those who thought she was made a good case for Prozac. Who wouldn’t want a few good mood-altering drugs with Sir Walter as your father and provider?
The other camp was less convincing. They were passionate that Anne wasn’t depressed but they had no arguments as to why they believed this. In fact, it all seemed to hinge on the fact that she still loved Frederick — as if a tall handsome Captain of the Line was the perfect antidepressant — and that … well … heroines don’t get depressed!
If this is the case, that heroines are immune, I am screwed.
All the memes that shout we have to be the heroines of our own life stories are not for me. And, if love is the antidote, I obviously don’t truly love my husband of 37 years, my kids or my grandkids. I AM the heartless twitch many suspect.
The worst part about my depression is it causes my emotions — except anger — to fade and recede. That makes writing tough. It’s nearly impossible to write a compelling love story when all the feelings are just a whisper away from my fingertips and keyboard, and all the actions of love are shadows in the gloaming.
MY latest thought is to write Anne depressed.
How fun would that be?
Still, it’s an idea and those have been thin on the ground for a while now.
What do you think? Anne and Frederick meet when they start going to the same therapist? Or meet in group therapy perhaps? Think of the trust building exercises! They are paired up for a depressives retreat by a famous mental health guru who is in actuality a serial killer.
Okay, we’ve gone from deep, thoughtful romance to a Criminal Minds episode. I’m not depressed, just unable to focus.
Anyway, have a great weekend. And let me know, Anne and Frederick moving slowly carefully towards the light of love or running for their lives with the sound of chainsaws in the background!
This is the underside of an iceberg. And I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time.
I can’t help but think this is what getting to know the strong, silent type of hero is like. The exterior is what we expect, but when you see beneath the surface, WOW.
Though, to be honest, most all of us are like this. One of the best insults in a movie I ever heard was one character saying to another, “Her pale, modest exterior is only surpassed by her pale, modest interior.” OUCH!
In my mind, I think if people get to know me, what they find underneath is someone less prone to snark and bark, and is more thoughtful. Or at least comes off that way. But they also get to see the more panicked side of me.
The only person who’s seen me fully is my husband. And he’s still with me. That says more about his fearlessness than about my desirability, I assure you.
Also, if I were a color underneath, I think I’d be red. So, what color are you when your iceberg flips?
My laptop died the other day but a download of AVG software brought it back to life, if temporarily. It took many tries to get the software to load. Supposedly, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result. When it comes to computers, you have to keep doing the same thing, just in case.
It’s a lot like writing. Sitting down day after day, putting words on pages and hoping for magic. Some days all you get is tired. Other days, MAGIC.
It’s the same with a lot of endeavors. Raising children is the same. Every day the little darlings fight you on a point and you counter. On and on it goes. Then, one day, they just do it. Learning is hard for all of us.
So, off I go with my rickety laptop to edit and later write.