succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The downside to drinking early in the evening (and not continuing to drink) is that the rest of the night is a wash anyway. I'm just lethargic enough to be completely unmotivated to do any of the work I really need to do this weekend (plus, it's saturday night, in the middle of the summer. how likely was it really that I would come home and work at 8pm?) and I seem incapable of doing anything else even remotely productive either (packing up a few boxes, cleaning the apt, reading, misc moving stuff, etc. etc.). And I really need to stop watching so many damn hours of television every night. Someone please come drag me off my couch and out of my apartment!

Hmmm...apparently I wax poetic when I'm drunk.

So Travers's friend Simon had some people over last night for beer pong, and we weren't going to stay long, I was only going to play one round, but Sanna showed up and offered to drive me home and it takes very little egging on to convince me that I should stay and drink more. So several rounds of beer pong and one of flip cup later (it's probably a good thing that I didn't play these games as an undergrad, as the small latent talent I've discovered that I have for them probably would have spelled academic disaster back then) and it's a damn good thing I had a DD. Drinking cheap beer always makes me feel like crap in the morning, but fortunately I was coherent enough to slug back a reasonable quantity of water last night while drunk dialing Carrie. Simon is an English student, so I spent a portion of the night dragging Song of Solomon*, Edward Abbey, Tristam Shandy, and Tom Jones off his shelves and convincing him to have a very drunken conversation about books, so naturally as soon as I got home I thought of Carrie and promptly called and woke her up at 3 am. Luckily my dearest friends are pretty good about humoring the drunk dial, and I've been told that I'm not the most annoying drunk ever, so these things work in my favor.

Earlier yesterday Anna and I finally signed our lease, so it's all official and we even have a set of keys and I headed over there yesterday to measure the rooms because I'm a big dork like that and sometime this weekend I'll draft schematics of each room and start figuring out where the furniture should go.

I'm hopeful that this place will be like Belmar Estates - a site of much revelry. As such, it needs to be aptly named. Any suggestions?

*As I inevitably do when drunk and near Song of Solomon, I insisted on quoting my favorite analogy ever:
"She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it's there, because it can't hurt, and because what difference does it make?"
It's perhaps the worst way I can think of to describe a person, and yet I know exactly what he means.

A new friend recently e-mailed me a whole set of thoughts, but the crux of the 'comment' was the question, how does one know oneself? i.e. when I said a few posts ago that I didn't feel like me, what exactly did that mean, and how did I know? Well, I have to admit that I agree with said friend's rather flattering assessment that I am a very 'non-static' person. Nevertheless, there is a core sense that is me, a set of feelings and reactions that is familiar and identifiable as 'me.' Avoiding the rather philosophy 101 argument of how do we know we exist and aren't brains in a vat, I will simply say that I know myself. Many people mistake it for naivete, or call it being a pollyanna, but the concrete thing that I can point to as having changed over the past several weeks is my enjoyment of very mundane things. It first occurred to me while home in WV. I realized I was standing outside on a nearly perfect day, staring at the bluest sky possible, and feeling nothing. That's very unlike me. It's one of the first times that I realized perhaps something was wrong. It's not something I talk about often, because it's one of those things that when put into words comes out sounding cheesy and new-age-flakey. But I derive a very sincere sense of pleasure from a starry night or a warm breeze or a thunderstorm or the smell of honeysuckle. It's something that I consider to be a part of the essence of me. So when those things no longer generate a visceral reaction on my part, it's disconcerting. But I am happy to report that some days, not all days, but some, those things are back. Tonight I had a touch of a headache, still wasn't feeling entirely myself, but sitting in the back of travers's car with the windows down and the wind rushing by, I got that old feeling. I closed my eyes and my hair lifted off the back of my neck and goosebumps started to form. Call it what you like, but it's what I need to get through the rest of the crap.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Things I learned from this week's Creative Loafing:

41% of Atlanta's estimated 16,000 homeless people are parents with children
30 beds in new homeless shelter Gateway Center are specifically for women and children
270 beds are for men

a) they specify the gender and age for each bed????
b) this makes any sort of sense at all????

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Unacceptable. That's the short response. But I think it's critical that in the coming days and weeks we carefully outline all the reasons why Judge John G. Roberts really shouldn't be our next Supreme Court Justice. The Supreme Court Nomination Blog is a good place to start - they outline his more notable opinions (perhaps most notable is that only TWO were apparently worth mentioning) and link to his federal judicial profile. We can't just make it all about abortion, else we'll get labeled everyone's favorite word - shrill, and anything constructive we may have to add to the debate will get swatted and ignored. I'd add excerpts from some of his more offensive opinions, but if I read any more of them tonight I may cry. That said, I still want to post this, because it bears repeating:

1. The number of abortions is "continuing its decade-long drop and stands at its lowest level since 1976."

2. "Women with unintended pregnancies are those most likely to get abortions."

3. "Six in 10 women who had abortions in 2002 were mothers."

4. "The majority -- 56 percent -- of women who terminate their pregnancies are in their twenties. Teenagers between 15 and 19 make up 19 percent of abortions, although this percentage has dropped substantially in recent years."

5. "low-income women are overrepresented among those having the procedure. Sixty percent of women who had abortions in 2000 had incomes of less than twice the poverty level --below $28,000 per year for a family of three, for example. This is in part because "low-income women have lower access to family planning services.""

6. "Almost 90 percent of abortions are performed in the first trimester -- during the first 12 weeks after the first day of the woman's last menstrual period -- with most performed before nine weeks."

7. "Less than 1 percent of abortions are done after 24 weeks."
(emphasis mine)
Amazing. Sex education works. Access to contraceptive methods work. And women don't want to (can't) raise four children on $28,000 a year. These should not be incredible revelations. Once again, slowly, for those who rode the short bus - women don't choose abortion out of convenience. Making it illegal does not remove its necessity. We all want to see the number of abortions decrease. I would love if no woman ever again had to have one. So come talk to me about sex education classes, not this abstinence crap. Devise a plan for livable wages and insurance that covers birth control and pharmacists who fulfill prescriptions for birth control. Let's have a dialogue about reproductive health, and child health, and child care. And yes, father's rights. If more anti-choice activists started with those points, I might be more willing to stand and listen.

One more thing - through a series of fruitful discussions I've come to the (perhaps obvious) conclusion that my hardline stance when it comes to abortion is based far more (though not entirely) on the political context of the issue than the morality issue. This was a very interesting and productive revelation for me, so thanks S and S for prodding me along.


This morning I was prescribed Lexapro, 10 mg a day. It's a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to take it. I think I'll let it sit in the medicine cabinet for a while and think about it. On the con side, I'm fairly hesitant about the whole idea - I'm a control freak, and I would prefer to feel like I fixed me rather than drugs fixed me. I know therapy is a level of help, but it's a level with which I'm fairly comfortable. I want to develop an arsenal of tools for the next time my body freaks out, and I'd rather that arsenal not be pharmaceutical. (no worries - I'm not turning all Tom Cruise. I know and love many people who are better off thanks to pharmaceuticals. I'm just not convinced they're what I need right now) On the pro side, I was just complaining to my therapist last week that although I definitely feel much better, over the week leading up to that session I felt like I had plateaued and that now there was this constant underlying current of stress and anxiety. And certainly if I could get that underlying current to back the fuck off a little, I would be more able to focus on making myself better. But back on the con side, since then I've had several good days in a row (I almost hate typing that, as I inevitably jinx myself that way and get hit with a whammy of a bad day soon after) and have even begun to feel a little...resilient again. Once again on the pro side, just last night I was thinking how to some extent this summer is being stolen from me, since even though I'm far from being depressed, I'm definitely not enjoying things the way I normally do. This is one long lazy summer, full of mornings spent in bed and afternoons on the lake and evenings cooking out with friends and generally precisely the sort of mundane things in which I luxuriate. And there's been a fair amount of going through the motions on my part (not entirely, I assure you! but more than I'd like). But maybe that isn't the worst idea - perhaps there is something to the whole fake it until you make it notion...

Of course I came home and started doing my research. There are obvious anti-pharma sites out there with individual horror stories, but I'm a statistician after all and need more than anecdotal evidence. Unfortunately, the only hard numbers I could find were from a pretty small study (by clinical trial standards). Incidence of side effects for those taking Lexapro for Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
headache - 24% (103/429) on Lex vs. 17% (73/427) on placebo
nausea - 18% (77/429) vs. 8% (34/427)
drowsiness - 13% (56/429) vs. 7% (30/427)
insomnia - 12% (51/429) vs. 6% (26/427)

Other potential side effects include:
"If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking Lexapro and call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:

· an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

· an irregular heartbeat or pulse;

· low blood pressure (dizziness, weakness);

· high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision); or

· chills or fever.

If you experience any of the following less serious side effects, continue taking Lexapro and talk to your doctor:

· headache, tremor, nervousness, or anxiety;

· nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, or changes in appetite or weight;

· sleepiness or insomnia; or

· decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome."
Well, let's see, my primary symptoms are/were rapid pulse, high blood pressure, headache, insomnia, oh yeah, and ANXIETY! Why am I taking this drug again?

I know, I know, all drugs have side effects. The name of the game is whether the gain from the medication outweighs the potential discomfort. Today, I'd say it doesn't. But there are days when I could certainly use some relief. So...I'd rather have thought this whole thing out on one of my good days and made a decision about what to do...a decision I don't think I'm really any closer to making right now...

The bottom line is, I don't really feel like I'm back at my personal baseline. But the test was only five weeks ago, and I've only been really focusing on making myself better for three weeks. And making serotonin the old fashioned way, by running/biking/rowing/lifting my ass off definitely seems to be helping (aside - you'd be amazed how much easier it is to convince yourself to go to the gym when the motivation is, "I need to improve my mental health" rather than, "my thighs are too big!"). And although I don't really feel like me, it's not significantly impeding my ability to do my work or spend time with friends or otherwise go about my daily routine. So I guess I wait.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Finally caught the premier episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 days (FX is running a marathon tonight) during which he and his fiancee live for 30 days in Columbus, OH on minimum wage. At the very end the fiancee says something along the lines of, I love America, but we can do so much better than this. We can treat our citizens better than this. I know it's a quaint little fantasy, but I wish every person who ever claimed that people on welfare are lazy and just need to find a job would be forced to watch this daily. Because I don't know about them, but I know I don't have the strength or energy to live the sort of desperate life that minimum wage makes. Spurlock and his fiancee make me want to give away most of my stuff. Maybe through the moving process I can start working on that.

Along similar lines, Shelby has posted a great rant:
Maybe we do look like madmen on the left with all our screaming and cursing. But we scream and curse because we see the country we love being driven into the ground; we see our privacy and liberty constrained; we see our environment being desecrated; we see webs of lies go unpunished; we see a war that has made us less safe at home; we see all kinds of un-Christian social injustice even though you call us godless for not taking your version of religion down our throats; and when none of you wingnuts give a rat's ass about it it makes us go a little boggo!

And speaking of Shelby, if you're in or near the Atlanta area, spare him the heart attack and buy a ticket to the Young Democrats Summerfest from 4-7 on Saturday July 23 in the Highlands, wontcha? You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Books Completed: Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy -

"I shall still get angry with my coachman Ivan, I shall still argue and express my thoughts inopportunely; there will still be a wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife, and I shall still blame her for my own fears and shall regret it; I shall still be unable to understand with my reason why I am praying, and I shall continue to pray - but my life, my whole life, independently of anything that may happen to me, every moment of it, is no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an incontenstable meaning of goodness, with which I have the power to invest it."

Books started: Reading Lolita inTehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi
Only five pages in, but already I'm tempted to recommend it to Carrie (aside - I rarely recommend books to Carrie, as literature is her domain, and chances are that if there's a book out there which she may enjoy, she already knows about it. plus, as a gal who's supposed to know just about the entire canon of literature for her orals, it's not like she has a lot of time for "oh, my neighbor's daughter's teacher heard about this book on Oprah! you must read it!" Anyway, Nafisi appears to love Nabokov nearly as much as Carrie, hence the temptation for the recommendation.)

So I plan to spend the afternoon with Nafisi, rather than starting my lit review. That can surely wait until tomorrow. And this evening is the beginning of Shark Week, which I say is just about the perfect cap to a lovely weekend.

Yesterday I got a much-needed haircut (Cody, whom I adore, keeps insisting that I grow out my bangs so I can have this sultry, hair-slightly-falling-over-one-eye thing happening, which is fun for a few days, but inevitably drives me nuts and ends with me hacking them back into a roughly straight cut across my brows. Anyway...) then several of us braved the mass of humanity for the free Weezer concert downtown. It was a pretty good show, and I'm glad that I went, but mostly just reminded me how much I generally dislike people. Especially the drunk high school kid variety. I'm sorry, but I'm actually standing on both my feet, so if you could quit walking all over them, that would be awesome. Also, no, there is not a better viewing spot a few feet in front of me, we're all packed in here like sardines, so quit trying to angle for a better view. And no, you cannot wedge your gross, sweaty body in between my friend and I, so quit saying excuse me. I heard you, and I'm ignoring you.

So after coming home and washing the sweat of about a dozen strangers off of me (definitely ranks in my top 5 greatest showers ever) I headed back over to the boys' place for beer and Pulp Fiction (damn that movie is better every single time I watch it. but that extra scene with Uma Thurman telling Travolta that there are two kinds of people in the world, right before they go out to dinner? I completely forgot that it isn't in the original version). Came home and had a lovely hour-long chat with Mark and finally crashed around 5 this morning.

This afternoon Sanna woke me up, as per my request, for our Big Sunday Extravaganza. Breakfast burritos and biscuits and coffee at Gato Bisco, window shopping in Candler Park, where I was welcomed by a shop owner to my soon-to-be new 'hood (Lake Claire/Candler Park is a great neighborhood full of hippies and artists), then more window shopping in Virginia Highlands capped off by a trip to Paolo's for some gelato. It doesn't get much better.