Heartfelt Hyperbole

It’s been proven time and again in this blog that I’m several years behind trends. Don’t feel sorry for me. I get to luxuriate in that fresh, new, exciting, trendy feeling even years later, simply because, while my discovery may not be new to you, it’s still new to me. Just pretend I’m in a different time zone; one of my own making.

If you have to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for yourself, dear reader, because you get to hear me rave about something that you’re most likely already over. Think of it as the penance you do to read my other, more current stuff. Am I asking too much, here?

Anyway.

This discovery came about because I was massaging my own ego. I was honored to hear that four copies of my book are now in the King County Library System, scattered in branches all around the Seattle area. Holy cow! I have a call number! Just call me 814.6 ABE.

So I couldn’t resist. I had to see what authors I was sharing my shelf with.

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Omigod. Calvin Trillin? Rebecca Solnit? Seriously? I wanted to shout, right there in the library. But I resisted the urge. (I did tell the librarian at the checkout counter, but she seemed unimpressed by the enormity of it all. Buzz kill.)

But I thought that the best way to honor the event was to choose a book on my shelf (my shelf!!!) to read. So I chose Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. (Hence, the unsatisfying encounter with the checkout librarian.)

So here goes trendy me, discovering the most amazing book from 2013. I mean seriously, if you are as out of the loop as I am and you haven’t read it, do so. Right this minute. You can finish it in one sitting if you’re motivated. You’ll thank me.

Allie Brosh has the most amazing literary voice. I constantly found myself laughing in sympathy. I understand her. I suspect a lot more people do than would care to admit it. She has humorous angst down to a science.

Her spot-on description of chronic depression and how people react to it is quite the revelation. She talks about feeling nothing as if feelings are dead fish. And people are trying to help her by saying they’ll help her look for them. But she knows where they are. They’re right here. They’re just dead.

I get that. I have felt that way on and off for much of my life. Trying to help someone “snap out of it” doesn’t work. Trying to cheer someone up doesn’t work. But after reading Allie’s description of depression, I know what I will say to the next depressed friend I have.

I get it. I’ve been there. It feels like nothing matters. It feels blank. You don’t care, even though you want to. But here’s the thing: somewhere, deep down, underneath that wet wool blanket of utter despair, you still care just enough to stay alive in that bleak, painful wasteland that you find yourself in. You care enough about the people who love you to not want to hurt them by taking yourself out. That’s something. That’s huge, actually. It’s heroic. Hang on to that.

Hang on.

Since publishing this amazing book, Allie Brosh has dropped off the radar, depriving us of her amazing talent. But that’s her prerogative. If she wants to be left alone, so be it. But Allie, I hope you’ll hang on. I think you are a wonderful addition to this planet. Just sayin’.

Loneliness Deconstructed

I had an epiphany last night. Loneliness is basically saying, “I miss you, but I haven’t met you yet.” When viewed from that perspective, it seems like a monumental waste of time. When I think about all the hours, days, months I’ve spent feeling longing and angst because of the absence of total strangers, it kind of makes me cringe.

The reason I was even able to lift my head out of that bad habit long enough to have this epiphany is that I realized that here lately I’ve been too busy to be lonely. I’ve been hard at work getting my first book published. I’m trying to get rid of the clutter in my life. I’m experiencing some intense stuff at work. I don’t have time to be lonely.

And to be perfectly frank, the mere thought of adding someone to my life right now exhausts me. Having to compromise sounds like a lot of work. Accommodating someone else’s schedule doesn’t hold much appeal. Making an effort seems like too much effort.

That caused epiphany number two: Loneliness isn’t a condition, it’s a choice. If it were a condition, like, I don’t know, a staph infection, then no amount of distraction would cause it to go away. But when I get busy, it does go away. And the beautiful thing about being busy is that it tends to put new people into your path, which is another balm for loneliness.

So, there you have it—my cure for loneliness. Now the trick will be to actually keep it in the forefront of my mind.

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“Loneliness” by SedaFB. But why can’t it be someone on a delightful bike ride who stopped to enjoy the view?

Kayak Angst

While on vacation I read a book (Packing for Mars by Mary Roach—I highly recommend it) that mentioned a very interesting syndrome called Kayak Angst. I’d never heard of it before (and can’t imagine why I would have, being the land-based mammal that I tend to be), so I decided to read up on it.

It turns out it’s a type of panic disorder that’s been found mostly amongst the Inuit of Greenland.

Imagine this: You’re sitting in a kayak, all alone, in calm seas. There’s no land in sight, and the grey sky is reflected in the glassy water. Suddenly you feel like your kayak is tipping up or dropping down, and you’re convinced you are going to drown. You feel utterly lost, can’t figure out which direction is north or south or east or west. In a nutshell, you completely freak out. Your brain has absolutely no frame of reference. For all you know you could be floating in mid air, and there’s no one, I mean NO ONE for miles around to help you.

I cannot imagine a more hellish type of panic attack than that. Not only are you having a panic attack, but if you’re not careful while feeling like you’re going to die, you really could die. It’s kind of like a perpetual motion machine of anxiety.

Apparently a symptom of this disorder is a tendency to avoid kayaks. Well, duh. Wouldn’t you, after experiencing that? That’s not disorder, that’s freakin’ logic, if you ask me.

The problem in this situation, of course, is that as an Inuit in Greenland, that avoidance means you’ve just cut off one of your main sources of food for your family, so there’s a whole other level of anxiety piled on. For the love of God, where does it end?

I’ve been experiencing a figurative form of kayak angst for about a year now. I have no idea where to go or what to do. I feel as though I have no frame of reference to draw upon, and there’s no end in sight. Maybe I need to splash the water with my oar so I can figure out what’s up and what’s down.

Hopefully I’ll see land soon, ’cause it’s freakin’ cold out here.

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