Monday, October 31, 2005


Very busy.

  • Got my car back from the body shop - did not get charged my deductible!
  • Psychiatrist appointment - I have been wanting to write about this, but not have found the time nor the mental space to do it.
  • More acupuncture - also want to write about this, but [see above]
  • Evening social with the Latino Student Association: this needs no description.
  • Candle-pin bowling social with the anthropology department I am at right now (It was more fun than I expected or care to admit - the bowling, I mean).
  • Halloween party with some of Sara's friends - she can tell you more if you are interested.
  • Our first snow on Saturday - what? where did that come from?
  • Our 6th anniversary on Sunday - a wonderful day. More on that later.
  • Many, many job applications (13 to be exact). Will they lead to anything? Probably not...
  • Grading...
  • Class prep...
  • Lecture.
  • Many dog walks - all too short for the dogs (and for my body - I definitely need to step up on the exercise).
I need a vacation. Soon!

Postnote: Alma wins the brownie points for the closest guess on that picture below. It is an Italian enchilada. I had a bit of fresh lasagna pasta and sauce left over after filling the baking dish. I rolled the pasta around some cheese and spinach and covered it with sauce. I then baked it for about 20 minutes. It does not look to appetizing (especially if you read Oso's comment), but it was actually pretty tasty. I am sure I have offended many Italian gastronomic sensibilities with my culinary exploration, but I don't care. Italians offended my sensibilities with what they claimed to be Mexican food over there. So we'll just call it even!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Lazy Morning

The Season has Changed

We are back to winter here in New England. While Wilma did not visit us, she did contribute to a nearby storm to produce the season's first Nor'easter. We woke up to a very windy, rainy, and cold day.

How did I feel about it? I will let Zeus answer that...

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Yep, getting out of bed and working was particularly difficult today.

I like the theories for the previous picture - keep them coming!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Italian Enchilada

Damn Blogger!

I just wrote a post explaining this picture and Blogger crashed as I was publishing it. I don't have the energy to explain it now, so just use your imagination. Brownie points for the best story left in my comments.

What is this? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My Life in Pictures

This is the little car I need to drive around for a week. It is not a bad little car, just keep in mind that I am 6'5". Actually it has a lot of headroom, so I should not complain. It also has pep until someone else gets in with me.

The Speck Posted by Picasa

Here is Zeus tracking the path of one of his nemises: jingle cat.

Jungle Dog Posted by Picasa

And Zephyr generally just looks a little confused.

Distracted Posted by Picasa

I have a lot of work: grading, book reviews, article revisions, etc. I really don't feel motivated to get any of it done. But off I go...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Random Thoughts

While Sara indulges her guilty pleasure in the living room, I will take advantage to goof off for a while.

I took my car into the body shop yesterday. It is going to take them about a week to fix it. Fortunately my insurance covers a rental for me to drive around in the meantime. Of course, it is nothing fancy. I call it a "Speck" because it is so small. I will have to take a picture of it and post it one of these days.

The job application assembly line is in full motion now. Nine applications have gone out so far and there are ten waiting in the sidelines that will have to go out over the next couple of days. Sara is joining in on the fun this time. I hope you caught the cynicism in that last sentence.

Sara and I have noticed the surge in commercials for remodeling products that you just place over your existing bathroom/basement. The ads show some nasty mildewy bathroom or basement beging improved by placing the liner over the tub and/or walls. I said I would not be surprised to see an ad for a liner to place over your whole apartment:
Is your apartment a complete mess? This can change with our new Pseudo-Clean apartment liners. Just lay over your cruddy mess and just like that, the disaster is gone! Call now for an estimate.
Or even an ad for a liner to cover your spouse:
Remember the days when you were attracted to your spouse? Get those days back with our new Spouseliners. Just place over your fat, hairy, and smelly spouse, and like a miracle, you will have an attractive and sexy spouse again!
I realize that this may make no sense to you. It has been a long day in what already has been a long week. I also did not get much sleep last night thanks to a dog (who will remain nameless) who seemed to wander aimlessly around the apartment all last night, poking my face with his/her very cold and wet nose every so often.

Is it just me or are things in the world getting to be a bigger and bigger mess? I think the Earth's antibodies are trying to eliminate the pathogen that the human race has become.

Thinking about that is just too depressing. I think I will join Sara for the last ten minutes of her guilty pleasure...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sara and I had Ethiopian food for lunch today. I must say that there is something I find appealing about eating with your hands. It must be adding yet another sense to the eating experience. Perhaps it is that I also associate eating with your hands with Ethiopian food, which I love. The cuisine is so rich and complex: multiple spices mixed in with meats, legumes, and vegetables all packaged in to bite-sized morsels in the spongy bread. Being able to feel the textures of the food with your fingertips just adds another layer of complexity.

I also love being able to smell the spices and other flavors on my (and Sara's) fingers hours after we have eaten. The scent of honey on my fingers (from the dessert) actually made me smile.

Perhaps we should eat other foods with our hands - and I don't mean fast food.

Now that I think about it, in Mexico I did tend to eat more with my hands, even when there were utensils around. There might be a formative component in all of this as well.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Flying Dog

Now for a change of pace...

Things have been too serious around here lately, so I am posting something that makes me smile. I hope it brings a smile to you too.

About to take off... Posted by Picasa

Zeus can run very fast and at times he gets a little airborne (with a little help of ear flapping, of course). This picture is from Washington state (somewhere in the Blue Mountains) - not sure when I took it, probably February or March.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Long Road

The Long Road to Nowhere

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I am going to post just how I got here. No need to read it, it is just part of my own process of recovery.

I first became depressed following the separation of my parents when I was 13. My father moved out our home when we were visiting my grandparents in California over the summer. After he moved out I heard rumors about him being unfaithful and I felt utterly betrayed. I felt as though he cheated on the whole family, not just my mother. I also felt that he did not love me enough to try staying or to rectify the situation. I felt much anger towards him, although I did not vent this anger. I really did not discuss the situation or my feelings with anyone. I felt ashamed that my father had moved out.

My anger quickly turned inward and began affecting my outlook on life. I felt burdened and worthless. With time, I became good at hiding these feelings as I carried on with my circle of friends.

When we moved to the US when I was fifteen, I suddenly found myself without the crutch of my friends and in a culturally very different environment. Growing up I had always considered myself American for I felt different from the Mexican children I lived with. However, upon my arrival to the US, I discovered that I was not American either. These feelings of inadequacy just mounted on the simmering anger and self-loathing that was inside me.

By my senior year in high school, the depression became too much for me to conceal or even bear on my own. Upon my mother’s request, I tried psychotherapy again, this time with a psychologist who had emigrated from Mexico. This proved to be successful and gave me the strength and confidence to begin college. In college, I could feel myself slipping into depression again. I used the colleges counseling services to try to cope with these feelings.

During my last few years in college and my first couple of years of graduate school I felt like I overcame my depression. In retrospect, I believe that I learned to cope with the severe symptoms of my depression, but the lack of self-esteem, sadness, and occasional feelings of hopelessness were still there. These feelings grew and became more intense after my Masters and when I entered the work force. The mundane nature of a 9 to 5 job exacerbated these feelings. The depression abated somewhat as I returned to an academic routing for which I felt better suited. Again, I think the feelings remained, I just was able to suppress them better in a more familiar environment.

When Sara and I started living together, there was someone who was directly influenced by the feelings associated with my depression. I thus became more conscious of them. I did try to hide and suppress them, but that was ineffective. When it became obvious that these feelings were affecting my relationship with Sara, I sought help again.

I had avoided treating my depression with medication because I saw being physically ill as being stigmatizing. I believed that my problems were a result of the circumstances I had encountered in my adolescence and that they could be overcome without the need to resort to “drugs.” I saw medication as something negative and the need to take them as stigmatizing. I did not see my problems as an illness to be treated, rather as a condition to be overcome. Realizing my inability overcome my circumstances over the period of fifteen years, I decided that I had to change my approach.

The prescribed medication was helpful in giving me a feeling of serenity and stability that I had not experience before. I did recognize some of the issues I needed to address and I felt better equipped to do so. Unfortunately, the therapist I was seeing (in addition to the psychiatrist) was not very helpful. I stopped going to therapy and tried to address my healing on my own.

I stopped taking the medication because I felt like I was making progress and I was going to be in Italy for six months. Getting my medication there would have been difficult. I felt like I coped with my time in Italy and the period just after my return well. There were moments of high anxiety (which I will get to later) and short episodes of depression. Compared to what I had felt in the past, these felt inconsequential.

As we prepared to return to Italy for another year of fieldwork, I began to feel immensely anxious and overwhelmed. A few days before we were to leave, the events of September 11 took place, which exacerbated these feelings. The year in Italy was a difficult one, especially the first few months. The feelings of depression began to stealthily creep into me.

The return to the US was welcomed yet difficult too. It was hard readjusting to the culture in addition to having to face the prospect of writing a dissertation. The feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth began to swell inside of me. After eight months of these feelings growing, I went to see a psychiatrist again. I began taking a different medication and I had psychotherapy sessions with the psychiatrist. The medication made me feel excessively lethargic and unable to focus. After about four weeks, I switched to to a different medication, which worked better for me.

I did not regain the serenity I experienced before, but I did have a sense of stability. The psychotherapy helped my focus on certain issues from the past and the worries of my dissertation and my future. I slowly tapered off the psychotherapy, but I continued with the medication.

After graduation and as I got ready to move to Washington state for my postdoc, I considered going off the medication, but I felt I still needed the stability in order to get through all the changes that were about to occur. Most of you have read about the trials and tribulations of last year, so I won't go into detail here. Just before the end of the academic year and my return to Boston, my housemate who had also been dealing with depression got acupuncture treatment for it. Her experience seemed to be positive, so I decided to try it when I returned to Boston.

Despite trying something new, I also knew that I needed to go back to the beginning and readjust my medication.

So once again, I am visiting the doctor, tinkering with my doses, and trying to talk the beast out of my head so I can better deal with it. I would like to kill it once and for all, but that probably will not happen. What I am doing, however, is taking baby steps in the right direction.

Baby steps...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thank you all for your continued encouragement. I am continuing to move forward one step at a time. I am tackling this problem from several angles, so hopefully it will become more managable and less intrusive.

Sara's father's recent health problems does put things into perspective and makes me reflect on life. Nonetheless, I still have these issues to deal with and I will continue to do so.

I will probably be writing more as time allows. Right now I am feeling rather swamped with preparing for my course, writing, applying for jobs, and picking myself up. I have found that writing out my thoughts and emotions has been theraputic, so I am inclined to continue (in the past I have found it frustrating as my mind runs ahead, my thoughts leaving my ability to write them down behind).

More to come...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Depression I


Warning: What follows is a rather personal and emotional post. Read at your own risk.

First, I want to thank those of you who left words of support and encouragement to my last post. While a small message may seem insignificant, it is something tangible one can hang a bit of hope on.

As I have mentioned before, I have been getting acupuncture treatments since late August. I never really mentioned what lead me to get acupuncture in the first place. Some of you may have guessed that it had to do with the tension and stress that I often complain about in this space. You would be partially correct. I do tend to stress too much for my own good and I carry that tension in my back and shoulders. Massage has proven helpful in the short run, but it seems to be treating the symptoms and not the cause. So I decided to see if this alternative form would help address this problem.

My real motivation, however, was my attempt to battle a beast that has plagued me for most of my life: depression. And a horrid beast it is. It lives deep inside of you, haunting your thoughts and emotions without you realizing it. I have tried confronting it directly, ignoring it, trying to marginalize it – all without much success. It is a monster that can lie quietly for extended period of times, lulling you into a sense of complacency. When you least expect it, though, it ambushes you.

What does this beast look like? It is hard to say, for it evolves, often camouflaging itself so that you can’t readily identify it or blending itself into other concerns and emotions. Currently, my feelings are of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of self-worth, and feeling overwhelmed. I have had episodes of crying and withdrawal. I have not made any plans for harming myself, and right now I would doubt that I would. Death, however, feels like an escape and I even have had dreams of dying. So far, my depression has not interfered with my teaching other than a lack of preparation and enthusiasm. It has, however, distracted me from my writing and research. Worst of all, it has affected the interaction I have with Sara and this disturbs me a great deal.

I have written a history of my struggles with depression. I still have not decided whether I want to post it or not. It is rather personal and I am not sure whether I want it floating “out there”. My condition is something I have tried to hide, even from myself, so airing out might be difficult for me. This post is a beginning.

Yesterday and today have brought about a more optimistic outlook as I take one day at a time and try to take the small steps in a positive direction. I still have a long way to go, though. As for the acupuncture, it has worked well for the physical conditions I was looking to treat. However, I have felt the feeling of depression increase since I began. The practitioner said that this might happen as the negative energy that I have been carrying around begins to lift. At this point I will continue with the treatments, but I do feel that I need to address my issues with a more traditional (from a medical perspective) methods as well.

I have decided that I will try to write more about this process and my thoughts as I proceed with this struggle. Again, I may post these or not. I am still not sure. Whatever I decide to do, I will, however, keep you informed as to my general progress.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I am going through a really difficult time right now.

My self-esteem could not be any lower.

Maybe I will write more later.