My sophomore year of college I had anticipated having a roommate I knew, a friend coming in as a freshman. Only later did I find out that another sophomore had signed up for the empty spot in my room, since she didn’t want to get saddled with a frosh roommate. Going in, all I had was her name. I got there first, unpacked, and set out to buy books or find my classes or whatever. When we finally met, she said she knew it was going to be alright because of the Douglas Adams The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide omnibus on the shelf above my desk. I guess you can say, she decided to not panic.
So, today is my birthday, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m turning 42. Douglas Adams has provided this as the answer to the ultimate question through book one, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Deep Thought took its task seriously, and settled in to mull it over for seven and a half million years. On the Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day: The Day of the Answer, seventy-five thousand generations later, the two men who were selected at birth, trained to be the recipients of the answer, went to see Deep Thought.
Unfortunately the answer was pretty useless without the question. Deep Thought then set out to build a more advanced computer, with organic life as part of its system, to calculate the Ultimate Question. And it was called Earth.
The problem is, what is the question?
So, for my birthday this year, I decided to have fun with the fact that my age is the Answer, and I will answer the first 42 questions I receive either as a comment to this post, via facebook, or via twitter (@weylyn42). I may even answer them truthfully.
This piece of art is small and simple. The nazar is a talisman that is supposed to ward one from the evil eye curse, the recipient of which suffers misfortune or injury. It was a common sight on our 2010 trip to Turkey.
Toby had just completed a research trip to Moscow for his dissertation, and I flew over and met him at the hotel he’d booked. Another souvenir from this trip is the red and gold rug in our dining room.
I’m not actually sure where we purchased it – in Istanbul, or in the Cappadocia region where we saw the fairy chimneys and took a hot air balloon ride, but this little splash of color brings back memories of it all. From staying in a hotel carved in a mountain, to the Hagia Sophia, from the Blue Mosque to the Grand Bazaar.
It was a great trip, and one that we unfortunately cannot repeat any time soon, the state of the world being what it is. Hopefully the nazar we hung by our door will help protect our home, at least a little bit.
So, my depression has found new ways to be insidious. Since my last medication adjustment in December, I’ve found I feel happier, laugh more, and have fewer “down” days. I also have more desire to do things.
This can be as simple as taking a shower or getting food, or it can be larger, like replying to emails or finishing a paper. I have the tools I need for all of these, I usually even have a plan.
But then, so does my depression. I set my mind to do something, and then…I don’t. I know what I want or need to do, I have my first step, and then…
…my mind is a war with itself. I want to do the thing, I really do, but my depression tells me that it is impossible to do the thing, and my body follows the cue from the depression. And the thing, no matter how simple, how necessary, is impossible.
The really sneaky part is that it doesn’t feel like depression. I’m usually still in a good mood, but I simply can’t do the things I want. And then I start in on myself for being lazy, for being immature, for being irresponsible. And I start to feel worse about myself.
And that is how the depression wins the round. Transforming me from a good-mood with a can-do attitude, to berating myself for NOT doing.
And it sucks. The really awful part is that, sometimes, even though I recognize what is happening, even though I know the task is not impossible, I can’t seem to get around the wall that depression has locked me behind. I’m stuck, staring at the stones, feeling hopeless.
I’m trying to make it easier for myself, to break the tasks I’m handling into even smaller chunks, too small to be impossible, but that only goes so far. I’m also trying to start tasks when I think of them, and not give my mind a chance to become my enemy. And, as always, acknowledging that my mind is lying to me is the first step.
Somewhere over our years together, Toby and I became art collectors. We started, like any good college couple, with posters to adorn our walls, we even framed some of them. Next we added weapons to our collection, mostly thanks to the local Renaissance Fair. From there to prints, then souvenirs from our travel in various forms, and on.
Right now our art is only appreciated if you visit our home, our own gallery. I’ve decided to take a look at some of our collection here, and tell the story behind the works.
In 2009, Toby and I traveled to Spain, Ireland and England to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We had those large backpacks you see on Americans taking long vacations in Europe, carrying around all we needed, except laundry detergent.
One of our stops this trip was Madrid, a city to which we had not been before. We were near the city center, had lunch in one of the restaurants in that plaza, then walked around to see the nearby shops.
It was at one of these local stores that we found the cut-out art of the Bull Fighter, and the Dancer. By this point in our travels, we were seasoned enough to know, if there was something you like, get it. You will regret it if you don’t. After a brief discussion of where the pieces would be placed in our house, we purchased them.
The shop wrapped them in paper, and put them in a large plastic bag. Let me tell you, those suckers are heavy. Fortunately we found a better method of carrying them for the remainder of our 2 week trip; our backpacks were large enough that you could place them near the bottom (i.e. against your back), with a layer of clothes between you and them, and the weight distribution was taken care of by the waist straps our bags sported.
Today this couple hang in the lone hall in our house, casting memories along with their shadows.