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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: November 3-November 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007:

Willie Test-Drives the '08 Sleeping Pills!

Vroom vroom!


Plop, splat.

Findings: I took Ambien nightly for about eight months until Bev finally got fed up with its tendency to cause me blackouts, completely forgetting anything that may have transpired for the hour or so between when I took it and when I finally fell into a deep and satisfying sleep. While I considered this side effect handy, in that I could use it as an excuse not to do chores Bev asked me to do, it was inconvenient to constantly forget which contestant was eliminated on whatever reality TV show we were watching before bed. Last month, when I brought this to the attention of my doctor, she told me, "Yeah, we've had many complaints from spouses about odd behavior on Ambien." Bev later noted that this information would have been helpful eight months ago, before she was subjected to any number of the unnerving, paranoid rants I spouted while going under (including one about "the cloners"). Oh, another side effect was paranoid rambling.
Positives: Puts you to sleep, no two ways about it. Pleasant feeling of woozy gregariousness before you crash.
You will end up divorced.

This was the first alternative to Ambien my doctor prescribed. After taking Trazodone, my feelings of drowsiness were so mild that they cannot conclusively be attributed to Trazodone itself. Furthermore, this stuff inflamed my sinuses to the point where I couldn't breathe through my nose. I quit taking it after a week.
Inexpensive! My co-pay on this stuff was only five dollars!
Is for shit.

Tylenol PM
Not wanting to bug my doctor again after giving up on Trazodone, I decided to return to my ol' standby, Tylenol PM. I used to take this when I didn't have a regular doctor, and had found its effects to be unreliable, though it worked just often enough to keep me gobbling them by the handful. After having spent the better part of a year on stronger stuff, though, Tylenol PM doesn't really work for me.
No prescription needed. Amusing "cheese" scare provides a modicum of street cred.
Tolerance is quickly built up beyond the level that permits these to be an economical or liver-friendly solution to long-term sleep troubles. Also, it seems to contain an unnecessary diuretic component, which is no fun.

Findings: Lunesta is my doctor's latest attempt to shut me up. According to its current entry on Wikipedia, side effects include "unpleasant bitter or metallic taste/smell that can haunt your pallet for up to 3 days" [sic]. Warehouse ghosts notwithstanding, this is an understatement. The aftertaste Lunesta brings on isn't like the subtle, steely sting that remains after eating a zinc cough drop or drinking something containing aspartame. The taste that slithers its way into your mouth after you take a Lunesta pill is the swampy, inorganic hellspawn of corroded chemical weapons and crematory ash. It makes you feel less like you're being put to sleep than being literally zombified, and you have no reason not to expect the flavor of decay to remain in your mouth for eternity. It makes water taste like nanotech powder dissolved in liquified cigarettes. Nevertheless, I'm tired of the trial-and-error process, so I guess I'll stick with these for the time being.
Positives: Sleepiness achieved reasonably quickly. Fanciful radioactive moth fairies really do fly in through the window and perform an aerobatic sleepytime dance for you.
Negatives: People who like actually tasting their food are advised to stay away.

CURRENT MUSIC: Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada by Godspeed You Black Emperor!
Kind of silly.
Green Mountain's caramel vanilla coffee.
3:42 p.m.

Doot? | |

Wednesday, November 7, 2007:

While carrying an overflowing laundry basket down to the basement in shoes that were still wet from the outdoors, I slipped on the stairs and wanged the back of my head fairly hard on a step. As I sat there, dazed, for a couple minutes, surrounded by socks and underwear (as I had evidently thrown the laundry basket comically high into the air as I fell, perhaps accompanied by a slide-whistle noise), I tried to determine if the swirling and whooshing in my head was indicative of anything bigger.

I'd rather hoped that the impact would have busted open a long-cloistered mental pinata (or egg sac) that contained vast stores of self-confidence, crackling wit, and charisma that had been thus far inaccessible to me. Alas, it seems I remain a disagreeable little wallflower plagued by l'esprit de l'escalier. Furthermore, I still remember who I am, so there'll be no "Cousin Larry App-lay-ton" amnesia hijinks. As far as I can tell, I haven't even suffered a hilarious, Phineas Gage-style personality reversal. I'm just Me With a Headache.

Sometimes, the world is just so uninspiring and square that it's almost not worth hitting your head on things.

CURRENT MUSIC: I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master by Electric Six.
Disillusioned. And mildly concussed.
I completely forgot to vote yesterday. It was just a bunch of state referenda that I only halfway cared about, but I still feel incredibly guilty.
7:11 p.m.

Doot? | |

Saturday, November 3, 2007:

I spent a lot of time this week going back through all my old journal entries and appending a blog-style comments feature to each post, just because I think it would be entertaining to discover, months down the line, that I've accumulated pages of flames and spam beneath some particularly polarizing three-year-old entry. Tell your friends. Anyhow, amid the big fun of cut-and-paste HTML coding, I reread selected anecdotes I'd completely forgotten about, mostly from the Barnes & Noble days, when each day brought the possibility of quality time or banter with Jon, Erica, Jess, Tim, Aimee, and Lorenzo. It was the first time I ever felt like I was part- a valued part- of a group of friends; we were early twentysomethings, spontaneous, overeducated, and, from my perspective, inseparable, just like you're supposed to be. We've each chosen to go on to other things (again, as you're supposed to do), but I do miss that time terribly. Those entries reminded me why I'm keeping this journal, because I would hate for these memories to vanish with the brain cells that I'm constantly ceding to medication, alcohol, and Beauty and the Geek.

Of course, I also got to skim some entries that I abandoned, unfinished, as too dark for public consumption. Here's a taste of one such essay, in which I try to dispassionately articulate- more for my own benefit than anyone else's- the experience of being inside my particular brand of depression:

"I know a certain amount of anxiety is part of being human, and the ability to imagine negative consequences of any event or action is an important component of critical thinking. However, as I understand things, you're supposed to be able to push these thoughts away or turn them off or, if applicable, reject them as unrealistic. That is something I am unable to do when I'm in one of these troughs. It's like accidentally turning on your Internet browser's 'AutoComplete' feature and then not being able to figure out how to disable it; with every keystroke, the system tries completing your thoughts in ways you do not want them completed.

"Here's a good exercise to practice if you want to overthink life to the point of paralysis: Imagine every single moment as a series of infinite possibilities, many (perhaps most!) of which are crushingly undesirable. They don't even have to be possibilities that logically follow from the previous moment or any aspect of your life- they can be any and every deus ex machina you wish, so long as they're somehow terrifying to consider. Maybe a giant centipede will come out of nowhere, skitter across your computer screen, and then vanish into the darkness as you scream, ensuring that you will not be able to sleep tonight because you know this thing is loose in your house. Maybe the phone will ring with news of someone dear to you suffering a harrowing act of violence. [Further goriness deleted.] And of course, at any moment, a decision you made or action you undertook at any previous point in your life could backfire on you.

"You get the point.

"Now, if by Providence you happen to make it through this upcoming moment without something breaking your heart or upending your life, bear in mind that the moment immediately following it comprises an infinite and entirely separate series of largely awful possibilities... and this time around, the odds are slightly better that something tragic will happen. Enjoy your dread!

"Got called an asshole for using the crosswalk against a motorist's wishes.

"Saw a sad old woman who had about 100 hairs total left on her head, but had painstakingly pinned a barrette to them."

It gets bleaker, but I will spare you now as I did when I wrote it. Squirmy as stuff like that is, it's also convenient to have my lowest points documented, if only for confirmation that I'm not there, no matter how far left of the bell curve I may feel.

The point is, I haven't done as good a job of keeping up with this project lately as I should, because I've been overly concerned with having something substantive to say with each post. As much as I love and appreciate all of you who take the time to look at this stuff, and I'm very grateful for anything you may have to say about it, I have to remember that it's a hobby I nurture because I like to have a map of where I've been as I go forward. And also because I inevitably find that my best writing is that which I do for myself, that which I do when I'm at my least self-conscious. (My June 19, 2003 post, the fictional article about an inaccurate Jack the Ripper museum, has absolutely no point except that I was trying to make myself laugh... and it wound up being my favorite thing I've ever written, because it succeeded.) So I'm going to try to update more frequently and more personally.

Remember about a year ago when I lost my electric guitar somewhere in my house? Bev and I recently discovered that we've misplaced a good-sized humidifier that's shaped like a penguin. This is the sort of stuff that gets buried beneath our crud. Most people may lose the occasional book or shirt in their domicile's clutter, but we lose stadiums and quarries.

Speaking of which, Bev had the day off on Tuesday, so we took a ride down to West Paris, in the western part of Maine, to visit the Perham's quarries. These are a series of open quarries that visitors can freely explore, pocketing any rocks that strike you as interesting or special. Of course, most of the profitable stones have already been mined, but the digs have turned up deposits of so much cool material that we filled half our backpack just on the hike from the car to the quarry itself. Along the way, Bev pointed out geological phenomena she recognized and I annoyed her by pointing randomly at things and spouting authoritative-sounding words like "bituminous" and "triglycerine."

The ground at the quarry site was covered with shimmering flakes of mica, and Bev compared it to walking across fish scales. She wanted to collect a bunch of sizeable mica chunks- those that hadn't yet peeled into individual, transparent sheets- for art projects, so she patiently sat in one spot and dug for treasure, leaving me to scamper around on rock piles, collecting pretty things that she'd identify for me later. Most of it turned out to be quartz in assorted guises, though there was some granite, feldspar, and amethyst as well. And a Tic-Tac box coated with the remnants of someone's weed stash.

When we got home, we looked at our quarry beneath the black light in our hallway, to see if any of it would phosphoresce. Most of it just turned a deep purple- which quickly bored me for obvious reasons- but there were flecks here and there of brilliant pinks and oranges. Sometimes it's nice to remember that there are bits of the natural world that we haven't yet ruined.

On the quarry trip, we stopped at the Big Lots in Augusta. Bev found me a bag of "Rap Snacks" potato chips for forty cents. The bag sports a photo of the YoungBloodZ and claims the chips are "Southern Crunk Barbeque" flavor. (We had no luck finding other products in that line, though I hold out hope for commemorative Ol' Dirty Bastard "Nougat Please" candy bars.) I can't bring myself to try them, and briefly considered sending them to The A.V. Club as a donation to their always-hilarious "Dining for a Dollar" feature, but I figured that the taste-testers are probably rattled enough as it is by having to put any number of severely shady things into their mouths without sampling unsolicited foodstuffs that arrive in the mail. So I'll get my forty cents' worth by quoting the unambitious YoungBloodZ biography printed next to the nutritional information:

"Under the guidance of acclaimed SoSo Def Producer Jermaine Dupri and Super Crunk Producer Lil Jon the YoungBloodZ had the privilege of parking at #1 on Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums' Chart and #1 on Billboard Hot Rap Tracks' Chart with their celebrated smash single 'DAMN'. The album has surpassed Gold status in route to Platinum status. Look out for the new album which will be in stores August 2004."

That last sentence puts the lie to the "BEST BY 02 NOV 2007" expiration date stamped above Sean Paul's face on the front of the bag.

CURRENT MUSIC: Complete Recordings 1987-1989 by The Donner Party.
Homesick and grateful for friends. Also, sappy.
4:05 p.m.

Doot? | |

PAST JOURNAL ENTRIES: May 3, 2003-May 9, 2003. May 10, 2003-May 16, 2003. May 17-May 24, 2003. May 25-May 31, 2003. June 1-June 7, 2003. June 8-June 13, 2003. June 14-June 21, 2003. June 22-July 1, 2003. July 2-July 13, 2003. July 14-July 20, 2003. July 21-July 26, 2003. July 27-August 4, 2003. August 5-August 9, 2003. August 10-August 16, 2003. August 17-August 23, 2003. August 24-August 30, 2003. August 31-September 6, 2003. September 7-September 13, 2003. September 14-September 20, 2003. September 21-September 29, 2003. September 30-October 4, 2003. October 5-October 11, 2003. October 12-October 19, 2003. October 20-October 26, 2003. October 27-November 1, 2003. November 2-November 16, 2003. November 17-December 3, 2003. December 4-December 12, 2003. December 13-December 20, 2003. December 21-December 27, 2003. December 28, 2003-January 3, 2004. January 4-January 11, 2004. January 12-January 17, 2004. January 18-January 24, 2004. January 25-January 31, 2004. February 1-February 8, 2004. February 9-February 14, 2004. February 15-February 24, 2004. February 25-February 29, 2004. March 1-March 7, 2004. March 8-March 25, 2004. March 26-April 7, 2004. April 8-April 17, 2004. April 18-April 24, 2004. April 25-May 3, 2004. May 4-May 10, 2004. May 11-May 15, 2004. May 16-May 25, 2004. May 26-June 7, 2004. June 8-June 12, 2004. June 13-June 19, 2004. June 20-June 26, 2004. June 27-July 7, 2004. July 8-July 20, 2004. July 21-July 31, 2004. August 1-August 6, 2004. August 7-August 28, 2004. August 29-September 6, 2004. September 7-September 19, 2004. September 20-October 1, 2004. October 2-October 16, 2004. October 17-November 3, 2004. November 4-November 13, 2004. November 14-November 27, 2004. November 28-December 15, 2004. December 16-December 22, 2004. December 23, 2004-January 8, 2005. January 9-January 23, 2005. January 24, February 3, 2005! February 4-February 29, 2005. March 1-April 16-2005. April 17-April 24, 2005. April 25-May 6, 2005. May 7-May 26, 2005. May 27-June 7, 2005. June 8-June 19, 2005. June 20-July 1, 2005. July 2-July 23, 2005. July 24-July 30, 2005. July 31-August 26, 2005. August 27-September 13, 2005. September 14-October 11, 2005. October 12-November 13, 2005. November 14-December 7, 2005. December 8, 2005- January 16, 2006. January 17-January 29, 2006. January 30-February 20, 2006. February 21-March 12, 2006. March 13-May 20, 2006. May 21-June 18, 2006. June 19-September 8, 2006. September 9-September 30, 2006. October 1-November 4, 2006. November 5-December 7, 2006. December 8, 2006-January 3, 2007. January 4-February 2, 2007. February 3-February 16, 2007. February 17-April 14, 2007. April 15-June 17, 2007. June 18-July 8, 2007. July 9-July 30, 2007. July 31-September 10, 2007. September 11-October 9, 2007. October 10-November 2, 2007.