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Lacking in kilter


It's been an odd week.

I've continued to be generally glum and mullygrubbish and irritable. But there've been good parts.

For example, I had a nice lunch with a new friend, and I've been reading and enjoying Sally Gwylan's novel A Wind Out of Canaan. (Only $3 for Kindle! By the author of the lovely 1890s-anarchists story “Rapture,” which we published in 2004.) The novel is about Depression-era teen hobos who discover that some among them are emissaries from an alternate universe. Plus some intriguing gender stuff. (Note: Triggery for abuse-related issues.) Watched and enjoyed the romantic-comedy movie Friends with Benefits; it's very predictable and kinda slight, but funny and charming despite a few politically problematic bits. (I think I liked it a bit better than No Strings Attached, which had the same core premise.) And tonight I participated in a writing Hangout on Google+, and made some progress on my novel, even though it was more notes and research than actual scene. (But a couple hundred words of scene, too.) And wrote a little on a separate short story, too. Oh, and earlier in the week I enjoyed writing up my recent research on the origin of the term piggy bank, and following up on further research suggested by friends. And I've spent some time playing with tiny magnets.

Had my first-ever flu shot the other day. I've always kinda figured my immune system could handle the flu, but this year I read something that pointed out that getting the shot not only helps you, it helps the people around you. Good point. And I also learned that the shot uses killed virus, so there's no chance of it causing the flu, though there's still a chance that you'll separately catch a different strain, or a different flu-like illness.

Let's see, what else has been going on this week? I decided over the weekend that I was spending way too much time playing iPad games and hanging out on Facebook—I think there've been about three weekend days in the past two or three weeks when I've looked up from the computer and found that it was 6 p.m. and I had no idea where the day had gone. So I stayed off of Facebook almost entirely from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday evening, I did catch up on almost all of the FB notifications that I'd received, but I'm trying to spend less time on it—not going off and reading every long article that everyone points to, mostly not writing long involved comments (which I discard without posting half the time anyway), trying to make it more a quick-skim thing than a deep-dive thing. We'll see whether my resolve holds steady on this. In the past, when something online has started taking up all my time, my solution has been to quit cold turkey (I did that with Usenet twice), but I'm hoping I can manage a less drastic solution for FB.

As for iPad games, I was spending literally hours playing them most days. Spider solitaire, Letterpress, Lost Cities, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Osmos, Settlers of Catan—they're all good games, but I was playing them kind of obsessively, just for the little jolt of satisfaction on winning. So if I lost, I would have to play again, and if I won, I would want another jolt. I begin to see why gambling addicts behave the way they do. In the past, this hasn't really been a problem for me; ever since 2007 or so, I've gone through a long series of iPhone and iPad games that I play semi-obsessively for about two weeks, then lose interest and almost never play again. But this time it went on longer than usual; it was more like my experience with a couple of desktop-browser games that I'm not even going to try to remember the names of, that once I get started on I find it almost impossible to put down.

But somehow on Sunday, I just decided to stop playing the current set of games (at least for the time being), and I stopped. I've finished a couple of then-in-progress games of Letterpress since then, but I don't think I've started any new ones, and I don't think I've played any of the other games.

Partly I managed that because I decided that every time I got the impulse to play one of those games, I would instead open the iBooks or Kindle apps and read. That seems to be working pretty well so far.

I had also been spending too much time on various websites, notably Andrew Sullivan's blog, where I had been reading most of what he posted and linked to. Last week, I started more or less skimming, only reading the stuff that was really interesting to me; this week, I haven't stopped by at all, and haven't particularly missed it.

One other interesting recent behavioral change (though not just this past week): I've flossed my teeth almost every night for the past two months, after a lifetime of managing it only intermittently at best. I still don't feel like it's an ingrained habit, but it feels like less of a big annoying thing to do than it used to.

Still, despite the various good things and the various attempts to change behaviors, the week hasn't felt like it's gone very well overall. I'm very glad that light is returning (“there's a little more light every day”); but it's still too dark and too cold for me. I'm tired all the time. I've been going to sleep 30 to 90 minutes earlier than usual, and getting a reasonable amount of sleep, but it's been choppy and interrupted sleep. I've been getting to work earlier than usual for me (still late for most people), and I've finally started moving on some stuff at work that I kept putting off, which is great, and I finally did some long-delayed detective work and figured out that I got incorrectly docked 40 hours of vacation time a couple years ago. But I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed with work stuff. And I've been hovering on the verge of getting sick all week. Trying to rest and keep warm and take zinc, and the sneezing and nose-dripping comes and goes; not sure at any given moment how I'll be feeling in an hour.

I can only imagine how you manage, those of you who've dealt with actual depression. This kind of mini-version that hits me sometimes in winter probably doesn't even add up to real S.A.D., but it makes me kind of gray and glum and irritable, even when I look directly at good stuff that's going on and recognize that I have an objectively remarkably good life, with a tremendous amount to be thankful for.

Time for me to go to bed—I've been sleepy for the past couple hours, and I should probably start going to bed even earlier than I've been doing. Friday night, I'm going to the annual John McCutcheon concert in Santa Cruz (well, assuming I'm feeling up to it, and assuming traffic isn't impossibly bad), a benefit for the Resource Center for Nonviolence; that doesn't always cheer me up, but the chances are pretty good. Saturday I'll get some time with Kam. Some friends are having birthdays or planning their weddings, other friends are posting cute baby animal photos, and not long ago I obtained a very cute waterbear stuffy. So, really, things are pretty good.


May the kilter come back soon!

I dropped in to say that I went through exactly the same process with flu shots, and had my first one in 2011. I felt pretty stupid when I realized that I could discourse clearly on herd immunity talking about vaccinating children, but that I wasn't living my principles with my own vaccinations. I'm better now.

Thanks for the note!

And yeah re herd immunity. It was like a lightbulb over my head: Oh, wait, you mean this herd immunity thing applies to me, too?

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