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January 24th, 2006 - The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal

January 24th, 2006

January 24th, 2006
12:28 am

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One Last Web Comic Thought
I was expecting to hear, "You know, I thought The Ferrett could write a funnier comic." Which is fair; I don't expect anything I produce will be to everyone's taste. And if things went well, I was steeling myself to hear, "Really, Home On The Strange is hideously overrated," at some point in the distant future.

But I didn't expect to hear both within a day of the strip's premiere. I mean, come on, give us a month! Or at least, you know, another comic!

From now on, I think I'll just review novels by their first page. "It was the best of times, it was the... Aw, crap, this sucks."

(I'm joking, people. If you hate what you see, go nuts. You're totally not obliged to enjoy anything I produce. I'm just amused that we've already burned up our fifteen minutes of fame. Next up: a calypso album!)

(68 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
08:47 am

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Sleepless

I couldn’t sleep last night because of my anxiety. Even though I’d laid off the caffeine and sugar, I still vibrated like a freshly-struck tuning fork, feeling that hollow flutter in my chest.

Something’s wrong.

I kept going down the list of everything that could be going wrong, ticking them off to reassure myself: Gini told me she loves me, and she gave me the Entenmann’s voice. The comic’s finally out. My article at StarCityGames.com was well-received. The business dispute I had this weekend where I was an ass was as ironed out as best as I could make it. I had called all my relatives this weekend; if they died suddenly, I’d be clean, so there was nothing to worry about there.

Yet that tremor persisted. I kept clicking random pages over and over again, visiting the same old sites because I was too panicky for new, too terrified to go to bed lest I be consumed by my fears the moment I ceased to distract myself.

This has been going on for about a week now, and as usual I wonder if it’s medicating time.

I come from a family that loves pills. My uncle was a hemophiliac with crippling arthritis – I mean, wheelchair-style crippling arthritis – and he popped painkillers like they were going out of style. My mother had a brief-but-entertaining affair with Valium in the 1970s. And for years, my father believed that depression was like the flu – if you threw enough medications at it, eventually it would go away. He juggled his meds for two decades, continually urging me to read Listening to Prozac so I’d know how modern drugs were miracles, Billy, miracles yet never seeming one whit happier himself.

So I’m wary. My first reaction in any situation is to avoid pills at all cost. It’s not that I’m opposed, but rather between my dad and my uncle, I’ve seen what happens when you can’t function in life without the pills, and it’s not pretty. I want to save my pills like power-ups in a videogame, using them only to beat the biggest end bosses.

(Not coincidentally, I almost invariably finish videogames with a full backpack full of unused power-ups. I like to think it makes me stronger.)

Usually, it works. I struggle through my depression, pounding myself on the head and repeating, This is your body betraying you. It is lying. And in the end, I usually emerge from my troubles a little drained, but feeling better.

At the same time, there are times when you just can’t face it. I can’t be down on the whole psychotropic trip because going on Paxil saved my marriage. I was too needy and too panicky, and my six-month trip into medville kept me married to the best woman I’ve ever met.

Then again, I remember my doctor’s advice. I went back for a refill and a checkup, and he said, “So. The Paxil working out for you?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Things are a lot better. My wife and I are really working things out.”

“Well,” my doctor said, nodding cheerfully, “That’s good. But let me ask you a question: Do you want to be on that stuff forty years from now?”

I frowned. “No,” I said slowly, thinking of me at seventy, still popping the little pinkness every day and giving up any hope of my sex life returning at all. “I don’t think I do.”

“Then you’d better start thinking about transitioning off,” he said calmly, checking something off on his clipboard and walking away.

I knew what he meant; I could use the Paxil as a way of drowning out the very real concerns in my life, or I could try to find a way to function without. Some people can’t function without the drugs, and there’s no shame in that, but there is a shame in never attempting to see whether your depression is bad chemistry or just the results of bad life choices. So I went off, and though it was rocky I managed to steer myself back on track.

And when the panic strikes me, I wonder: is this feeling so bad that I need to rearrange my whole chemical structure in order to combat it? I go down the checklist, trying to figure out whether this quavering feeling is the canary in my psychological coalmine, my subconscious attempting to alert me that there’s something I’m ignoring that needs to be handled. Or it could just be that my nerves are misfiring, and they need the steady hand of some multi-syllable drug ending in “-pam” to quiet them… And I know if I went to a doctor or a psychiatrist, he’d cheerfully prescribe me any anti-depressant I wanted, because I’ve never been to a doctor who wouldn’t give you something if you asked.

So as always, it’s my choice.

I don’t think I’m going to go on them. I think it’s just a level of misfiring I can live with, though I’ll be constantly analyzing my choices until it goes away.

But it’s hard, when you don’t believe in the inherent superiority of either method. You want to choose the right one at the right time, when you’re in the wrong mind. That’s harder than you’d think.

(115 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
09:30 am

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The Fundamental Error
One of the running "not-really-funny" gags in comedy (also see: airline jokes) is referencing restaurants' attempts to be clever with men's room/women's room signs. Okay, it's sorta cute to have "Lobsters" and "Crabs" on the door at Joe's Crab Shack, but which crustacean is more masculine?

Likewise, thanks to the wonders of PubSub, I now see everyone who's linked to me, and sometimes I want to comment to say "Thanks" or "You misread me" or even to respond to some other intriguing entry on their page. And yet I cannot, because not only is the link hidden in their page layout, but the "Leave a comment" field has been mutated into "Obdurate Peckinpah" or some other non-comment-like wording. I scan the page, looking for a noun even tangentially related to "Feedback," eventually just trying for links with verbs in them, but I see nothing.

Not coincidentally, there's never a number next to any entry to guide me; I assume that other barbarians have stormed the gate of this journal, looking for an entry, and been lost as well. Thus, a new rule for LJ Comment-whoring: Make sure people can find the "comment" link on your layout. Simple, but vital.

(59 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
03:07 pm

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How To Be A Man
SERVICEMAN (Downstairs, with a newly-installed furnace; white PVC pipes are jutting out every which way. He concludes a five-minute lecture of pure furnace gobbledegook): "So do you have any questions?"

ME (remembering what a previous estimator told me, and asking the question so I seem halfway intelligent): "Yeah - why did you lay a line so that it draws air from the outside? Is that just to reduce the overall air flow throughout the house?"

SERVICEMAN (nodding sagely): "Yep. Otherwise, you get a bunch of whole-house venting when it sucks air from the basement, and the increased circulation reduces the heating efficiency."

...LATER:

OTHER SERVICEMAN: "Oh, yeah - and if you were thinking of wrapping up the outside condenser in plastic, don't."

ME (lying my teeth off): "Really? I was thinking about doing that. You know, 'cause it's new."

SERVICEMAN: "A lot of people would, but a piece of plywood and a brick will do it."

ME (making note to get plywood in the summer): "Seems a little light, but I suppose you know what you're doing."

Some days, I'm really glad I'm a man. Men assume that I'm competent until told otherwise, which buys me some wiggle room. Gini, who probably knows ten times what I do about household repairs, leaves the service calls to me because I know how to speak their language... Which I don't, really, but since I possess a penis I can nod with great wisdom and they will know that I am a still water, running deep.

Actually, I'm a puddle some kid's stomping in. But they don't need to know that.

(74 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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