make your own happiness…while I punch you in the face.

You know what I hate?

Besides Kokomo, anyway…

I hate these “make your own happiness” memes that are all over Facebook and Pinterest. You know the type:


It’s so easy. Why can’t you see that it’s so easy, Shelby? Just choose to be happy! SMILE, DAMN IT!

First of all, way to fucking grammar, (says the queen of the fragmented sentence. I KNOW. Shut up).

Second of all: this shit might have made the person who made it feel better about themselves in some ego-stroking way, but it’s sure as hell not helping me or really anybody else I know who is clinically anxious, depressed, or has some other alternate brain chemistry reality.

One of the biggest things a clinically depressed person often deals with is a sense of loneliness or isolation, even when they’re surrounded by people they care about. When you already feel deeply, utterly alone, the last thing you need to hear is another way in which you’re failing at life. That’s how these memes always make me feel – like I’m even MORE abnormal because I can’t just choose to be happy and step out of the mist-shrouded labyrinth that has been the last ten years of my life. The more of them I see, the more irrationally inferior and isolated I feel.

Telling someone who is depressed to just buck up and be positive is, at best, misguided. At worst, it’s pretty fucking offensive. If someone confined to a wheelchair told you that they wished they could walk again, would you tell them they just aren’t trying hard enough? That the ability is there within them, they just have to dig deep and find it? No you wouldn’t. At least, not unless you’re a very special kind of asshole.

Just like it’s very easy for an able-bodied person to take for granted all the things they can do physically, it’s very easy for someone with a chemically normal brain to assume that depression is a choice.

Depression is not a choice.

If it was, most of us would have chosen to get the fuck away from it by now, trust us.





better living through psychopharmacology

You know how when you were a kid and it was like, mid-January, and you were spacing out at your desk during Social Studies class, trying to work out how many more weeks it was until summer vacation, and then when you figured it out it kind of made you want to cry a little?

(just play along)

That’s how I’ve felt all day long.

There are glaciers moving faster than today has progressed.

I’ve sat in this chair so long that I have actually aged all the way to the end of my life, died, been REINCARNATED AND BORN AGAIN INTO A NEW EXISTENCE EXACTLY THE SAME AS MY OLD ONE, and aged all the way back up to my present age.


I don’t even know what this is, but it’s exactly what today has felt like. Also, it’s making me kind of dizzy.


This is what it’s like when I don’t take my ADD medication on a work day.

On a day when I’m at home it’s not a big deal if I don’t take them because a) there’s all kinds of interesting and shiny things to work on at home and if not, there’s video games, b)no one really expects me to be all that productive at home (my husband was disabused of that notion very early on in our marriage), and c) the things that I do at home, generally, do not require a high degree of accuracy or the staring at of columns of numbers for hours on end.

Work days without meds, though? They’re fucking HARD, and having to tough one out every once in a while reminds me just how obnoxious and frustrating life was for me (and probably everyone around me, to be fair) before ADD meds.

I would write more, but there’s been a squirrel in my brain doing the Macarena in double time for the last eight hours and I am frigging BURNT. OUT.

fuck Kokomo

When I was in elementary school, music class was basically my everything. Some kids live for recess…I LIVED for music class.

We went through a few music teachers during my years in school (which, after a brief stint of thinking I wanted to be a music teacher myself and spending a very small amount of time in a classroom with a bunch of howling banshees…I mean, children…I can totally understand why). My favorite by far was an exotic (for late ’80’s rural Vermont, anyway) Latina woman named Maricel.

I’m not sure how old Maricel was when she was teaching us, but looking back on some of the songs she taught us, I have to figure she was probably fairly young. She taught us some traditional Spanish-language songs, but her main thing was pop music. For instance, for the spring concert circa 1989 or 1990, she had the 8th grade class learn and sing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. I was a lowly 4th grader at that point and I was so impressed because geez, that song was like, EDGY. To a ten year old, anyway.

Maricel’s song selection for MY class that year was “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys. I was kind of obsessed with the Beach Boys at the time (mostly their older catalog – I was snob even back then), so “Kokomo” was right up my alley.

Or so I thought.

Part of the problem was that even as a young kid, I had a good ear for music. I could usually sing a melody back accurately after hearing it just once or twice. If you’ve ever heard “Kokomo”, you know it’s a very simple melody with a ton of repetition. So basically, I learned to sing “Kokomo” in one 45-minute class period.

Enter the second part of the problem: I was (and still am) very, VERY impatient. I didn’t understand why we had to keep beating the “Kokomo” horse after the third or fourth class because it was very clearly dead to me at that point. The horse, I mean. I are phrase good.

Anyway – you can probably guess how it went. Because we were performing the song at the big spring concert, it had to be PERFECT, so we rehearsed it SUPER EXTRA A LOT TIMES A MILLIONTY…and I got really fucking bored, really fucking quickly.

A bored Shelby is not generally a disruptive Shelby – I wasn’t the kid who would start singing a different song or take off running around the room or something. I’d just kind of slip off into la-la land and do my own thing inside my head until something more shiny and interesting came along. The thing about daydreaming though, is that you often absorb bits of what’s going on around you in real life even though you’re essentially off with the fairies. So the whole time I was standing there going through the motions in class while secretly planning out my unicorn ranch, my brain was still being subjected to the song “Kokomo” being repeated over and over…and over…

…and over…

…and 25(ish) years later? I CANNOT FUCKING STAND THAT SONG. It annoys me to an irrational degree. All I have to hear is that first breathy phrase, “Aaaa-ruba, Jamaica…”, and I’m scrambling to switch the station. Gah, it made me twitch even just hearing it in my head when I typed it just then!

By the way, did I mention that my co-worker listens exclusively to the Margaritaville XM Radio station at work? EXCLUSIVELY. Not on headphones, either. Margaritaville refers, of course, to the Jimmy Buffett song of the same name, and the station’s playlist is comprised of similar beachy, laid-back, Caribbean-feeling tunes.

Like, for instance, “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys…



how about…no


again with the bears!


You may have noticed that I lasted all of A WEEK AND A HALF using the NaBloPoMo writing prompts.

First of, ADD motherfuckers. I warned you.

Second of all, you can’t blame me, really, when this week’s prompts sound like a bunch of fucking Miss America pageant interview questions:

Monday, November 16 – Pretending you have the expertise to make the product a reality, what do you wish you could invent?

Answer: I’d invent a life-sized doll of your mom. 

Tuesday, November 17 – What is one place you need to see to feel like your life is complete?

Answer: I need to see…your mom.

Wednesday, November 18 – What do you hope people remember about you after you’re gone?

Answer:  My razor sharp wit. I know your mom will.

Thursday, November 19 – Where would you want to retire if money wasn’t an issue?

Answer: Your mom’s house.

Friday, November 20 – What do you hope happens by the end of this year?

Answer: I hope that rash your mom has clears up so she can hang out again.


I don’t want to sound like I’m directly bashing the BlogHer people who came up with the list because I get it, it’s not easy.  Shit, I do a thing called the Friday Five on a knitting forum, where I come up with five usually at least tenuously themed questions to ask everyone once a week and even THAT gets really hard sometimes.  Like, to the point where I start avoiding the internet some Fridays so that I can claim I was sick and didn’t, uhh, internet at all that day, and that’s why I didn’t do the Friday Five.  *shifty look*

Basically, I’m cool with the writing prompts until they start getting  DEEP…and making me have to like, THINK.  Or worse, FEEL.  I feel more than enough on a day to day basis already, believe you me.  I feel shit that isn’t even appropriate or, in some cases, applicable.




Friend tells me exciting news?  I will not only be happy and excited for them but I will then proceed to WELL UP WITH TEARS BECAUSE LIFE IS SO BEAUTIFUL I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT.

Sooo, yeah.  Sorry BlogHer writing prompts, but I feel enough feels that I can’t turn the volume down on to begin with.  Trying to expound upon how I’d invent a way to feed the world…

…or how I don’t think I’ll ever feel like my life is complete because there’s so much to see and do that it’s overwhelming and makes me really sad that I’m going to miss a whole lot of it no matter how hard I try…

…or that I’m afraid that no one will remember me for ANYTHING after I die because no one will have really known me…

…or that I can’t fathom picking a place to retire because I can’t fucking fathom retiring at all…

…or that my only hope for the end of every single year ever is that people will somehow come to their senses and stop fucking HATING AND KILLING each other…

…just isn’t something that I’ve got the emotional stamina to handle.

At least, not on the average weekday, where it’s “inappropriate” to start drinking at 10am.







on heredity, crafting and keeping (relatively) sane

I forgot to post yesterday.  I meant to do it when I got home last night but then I got waylaid cooking dinner and doing work baking.  Then, I sat down to watch TV with my husband and, as usual, picked up the nearest craft project to start working on.


Tiny baked goods and kitchen implements, hooray!


At that point, any chance of getting some writing done went straight down the drain.

Crafting, or as I like to call it, “making shit“, is something that I’m genetically predisposed to.  My dad’s always been a builder, making everything from birdhouses to, well…people houses!  My paternal grandmother was a talented knitter, quilter and seamstress, and even designed and sold dress patterns as a young woman in the early 1950’s.  Her mother before her also made braided rugs as well as knit, crocheted, sewed, and embroidered.  My great-grandmother’s specialty as a young woman was crocheted lace.  I have many examples of her very fine handiwork on the edging of finished embroidery projects like table runners and antimacassars, as well as some doilies and even a small fabric book full of swatches and motifs she did as she learned new patterns.

Making things is clearly in my blood – it’s something I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) fight – but it’s also something that helps keep me sane, a form of meditation for me.  When my ADD-and-anxiety-plagued imagination is bombarding me with a million bajillion completely unfeasible scenarios of how badly everything can go, knitting or stitching give me a way to step out of that crazy feedback loop for a while and just focus on one stitch at a time.  When I’m so, so sad or angry and I feel like I can’t do anything right, making little lines of stitches with a needle and thread or yarn shows me that actually, yes, I CAN do at least this one tiny thing right in this one moment.

Moments eventually build up to minutes, which pile up to hours, and suddenly I’ve made it through another day.

Many mental health problems are hereditary, just like other traits and predispositions.  I know my grandmother suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression throughout her life, though it was not something that was considered appropriate to talk about when she was elderly, let alone when she was my age.  I didn’t know my great-grandmother well enough to know whether she had similar issues as well. But, it does sometimes make me wonder if these women’s legacies of prolific crafting and fiber artistry may have stemmed not just from a need to express themselves creatively but also a need to self-soothe or to step out of their own mental feedback loops for a time like I do now.


blanket forting

There are days when I find it really, really hard to put one foot in front of the other, figuratively speaking.  Today is very much one of those days.

Instead of boring you with the myriad ways in which I detest myself and the endless stream of things I am afraid of, I’m going to make some hot chocolate, find a documentary or three about dinosaurs to watch on NetFlix, wrap up in my blankie, and possibly hide some treats in my pocket so the dog is compelled to come sit on my lap.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.


(I was at 99 words and I couldn’t leave without taking it over 100. I could have just written another actual, topical sentence, but why do that when you can randomly say “dicks” instead?  Plus, I needed the laugh. )

puppies are the answer

I’m meant to describe an ideal day off for today’s post.  Thinking about the ideal day off immediately gave me Ferris Bueller on the brain, so now all I can think about is hijacking a parade float and singing Danke Schoen.

Which, to be fair, is something I’d at least attempt if presented with the opportunity.

But anyway…

I’m finding this a lot harder than I thought I would, possibly because what I like to do with my free time varies wildly depending on my mood.  Some days I just want to be left alone with a book or a video game and some frozen pizza.  Some days I want to have people over, cook a big dinner, and sit around drinking wine and laughing.  Some days I want to take off to a beach and just chase seagulls and pick up shells all day.  Some days I want to get in the car and just drive and drive, seeing what I can see along the way.

On the other hand, if I could somehow line up a day-off gig where I got to just hang out with a whole bunch of puppies all day long, that would be pretty sweet and would probably take precedence over anything else anybody invited me to do that day.

“Oh hey, did you want to fly on this private jet to Paris with me to check out the Louvre this afternoon?”

“Nah, man.  I’ve got plans to lay on the floor in the middle of a bunch of puppies and just let them jump all over me.  It’s going to be amazing.  But thanks for thinking of me!”

Yes.  Puppies are definitely the answer.

Rescue team deployed!

Rescue team deployed!

the personal assistant of my dreams

Today’s prompt is asking me which tasks I would assign to a personal assistant who would do my most dreaded tasks.

Now, THIS is a subject I can warm to!

This is what I look like on the inside.

This is what I look like on the inside.

First and foremost, my personal assistant would need to address the laundro-bed situation, because gods know I’M not addressing it.

Once they got done sorting out and putting away clean laundry, I’d need for them to clean the fridge. It’s not particularly manky or anything. I just figure if I’ve got the chance to have someone else do it, I’m sure as hell not wasting it!

I would need the personal assistant to hang around at work with me and answer the phone whenever it rings, because I detest talking on the phone. There’s this thing called email, people. WHY CAN’T YOU EMAIL? ARE YOUR FINGERS BROKEN? I DON’T THINK THEY ARE!

If I could also get the personal assistant to do the legwork involved with getting my name off the mailing lists for all the bazillions of credit card solicitations we get in the mail, that would be wonderful. And, it wouldn’t be entirely selfish, because we’d be saving trees!

Personal assistant should also be available for dog-walking during inclement weather (mostly during the hot and muggy months and also the cold and snowy months. Since we live in Vermont, that’s basically…every month bar May and October, and even those are iffy, frankly).

Personal assistant may also be called upon for these and other to-be-determined as-needed duties:

– explaining to my father how the Internet works (as often as necessary)

– relocating and/or dispatching of various insect life forms (saves my husband the trouble. See? Again with the not being selfish!)

– trips to WalMart and/or other large stores and shopping malls where many people congregate

– cleaning the dust off the weird squiggly curvy part of the bottom and sides of the toilet

– washing windows

I could probably think of more things, but the ones I came up with are already kind of horrifying me in terms of how truly lazy I could really be if given the chance. Now I feel like I should go load the dishwasher and clean the stove-top as some sort of penance for even THINKING about being so slovenly.

Ahh, good ol’ Puritan guilt…

cacked up

Today I’m supposed to tell you about the last thing I fixed or built.

The last thing I fixed was our bastard-ass bathroom faucet, like I do EVERY bloody day lately.

A couple weeks ago there was a notice in the paper that the town would be flushing the water mains and that water might “be temporarily brown in appearance” while this was going on, but not to worry, it would clear up quickly.  Fine, no problem.  Flush away, good sirs!

Two or three days after the water main flushing started, we had a catastrophic loss of water pressure.  I’m talking like, couldn’t shower, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t wash dishes.  About the only thing we COULD do was flush the toilet (thankfully).  The landlord couldn’t figure it out, so he had the handyman come look at it.  It took the handyman almost 40 minutes of hemming and hawing before he finally grabbed a wrench and unscrewed the filter thingy on the end of the kitchen faucet.

“Oooh, look at THAT”, he said.

I peered over his shoulder curiously.  Lo and behold, the filter was full of sand and cack.  ‘Cack’ is our household technically term for unidentified gross stuff.

The handyman went around to the other faucets and the washing machine, which all have similar screens, and were all filled with similar sand and cack.  He rinsed them all out and everything worked beautifully again so I thought our problems were solved.

Thinking my problems are solved is usually where things take a down-turn, at least in my experience, and this time was no different.  The day after the handyman fixed everything, the shower suddenly went right back down to a trickle again.  Shortly after I stomped to the hardware store at 7:30am to buy a new shower head, knowing full well the old one was probably clogged up with additional sand and cack that I couldn’t get to in order to clean out (because it doesn’t come apart, it just unscrews from the pipe itself), the kitchen and bathroom faucets both seized up the very same way as before as well.

Being somewhat mechanically inclined myself, and being the type who doesn’t like to bother other people to do things that I know damn well I can do myself, I went around to the faucets with my wrench and I did the same thing the handyman had done – unscrewed the screens, found a bunch of cack, rinsed it out, re-attached the screens, et voila – happy flowing water, hooray!  Warm fuzzies and general smugness all around.

However, the warm fuzzies and general smugness have worn off now, because I have had to (literally!) rinse and repeat this process every day for the last week and a half now.  And my brand new $25 shower head that worked so wonderfully that first morning?  Has a markedly lower pressure output the last few days.  I’m giving it until Sunday, which will make two weeks of this bullshit, before I start calling the town office and asking when my taps are going to stop filling up with sand.

I probably won’t ask them about the cack though, because they’ll likely hang up on me.

progress > perfection

The NaBloPoMo prompts are killing me with the boring this week, and it’s only Tuesday.

Today it wants me to talk about what the hardest part of a project is for me.  Which, given that I’m already struggling to complete this “blog every day for a month” project, is quite the coincidence.

So, what’s the hardest part of a project for me?  It depends greatly on the project.  If it’s a project that I’m super into and excited about and have lots of ideas for, I’m usually good until halfway through, when my interest will inevitably be pulled toward other newer, more shiny and exciting things.  These are the types of projects that I usually end up taking a hiatus from while I indulge my “ooh, shiny” impulses elsewhere, then come back to them later on and finish them up.

If the project is one that I’m not into from the very beginning then the hardest part is actually getting started.  I will procrastinate as long as possible before finally buckling down and getting shit done.  Sometimes it’s procrastination via distraction, ie: finding many other shiny things to be awed by and “forgetting” about the unsavory project.

But sometimes, it’s procrastination via analysis paralysis.

Take kettle bells, for example.

15 pounds sounds wimpy, but you try swinging one of these motherfuckers. NOT EASY.

15 pounds sounds wimpy, but you try swinging one of these motherfuckers. NOT EASY.

I bought this kettle bell a few weeks ago with the intention of learning how to do some of the (many!) specialized exercises that they are used for.  I have some previous experience lifting weights and doing body-weight exercises like squats and lunges, so I understand the general mechanics of what goes into something like a kettle-bell swing, theoretically.  I took the bell home, I looked up a beginner’s video on YouTube, I followed along, everything was basically honky-dory.  I decided that yes, I thought the kettle bell might work for me and so I should commit to learning how to PROPERLY do the lifts and swings with good form now so that I don’t end up hurting myself later on with a heavier bell and bad form.

This sounds perfectly reasonable in theory – responsible, even!  But, it was the first step down the analysis paralysis path for me, as it so often is.  I read a bunch of articles about kettle-bell swings and proper form.  I found all kinds of tips and tricks, videos, and things I should try.  I even started a draft email in my Gmail to save the myriad links to kettle bell articles and videos I wanted to be able to revisit later.  I read and thought about this all SO MUCH over the course of about a week that I actually started to make myself worry that I wouldn’t be able to ever do it right without like, an expensive personal trainer or moving to Russia and devoting my life to all things kettle bell, etc.

To my credit, I realized that I was kind of going into crazy-mode at that point and stopped reading kettle bell articles…but that hasn’t made it any easier for me to actually get back to the project of, you know, exercising with the kettle bell.  Every time I walk past it now I find myself thinking, “I have to work on my squat form before I can even attempt to do swings the right way, so I’m not even going to bother”.

Which leads us to possibly the worst part of projects for me, which is that I’m a perfectionist.  If something isn’t coming out the way I want it, I’m apt to scrap the whole thing and start over fourteen times rather than work with what I’ve already got.  Blog posts are a perfect example of this.  You wouldn’t believe the number of times I start writing, decide I hate what I’ve said, and delete the whole thing.  I get so overly concerned with how I’m saying what I’m trying to say, that a whole lot of the time I just don’t say anything, because it’s easier than trying to go back and edit things to make them sound how I want.  In terms of the kettle bells, even throwing that 15lb kettle bell around with terrible form is probably going to do me more good than harm because it’s exercise I’m otherwise NOT doing, but in my head I’m so convinced that imperfect = BAD that I have a really hard time bringing myself to even try.

Progress is more important than perfection.  Reminding myself of that every time I get stuck in an “I can’t do this right so I might as well not do it” feedback loop is a project in and of itself.