Games

As a gamer, when I first signed up on Facebook I was totally sucked in to many of their games. But, over the past year or two I’ve weened myself from many of them. I just got bored and I was really tired of the games posting crap on my page without asking me first. More recently the only game I was playing was Words With Friends. I could do it from my phone and I could play with my Sister. However, the Android app seemed to be a little unstable, it wouldn’t tell me or my sister it was our turn. And even if I logged in to Facebook on my computer it was still a bit iffy. So I gave up and removed it.

But this weekend I discovered a game called SongPop. I had been ignoring the requests from friends to play, but on Saturday I got a little curious and I went ahead and launched it. It’s a “name that tune” kind of game. They play a song and you’ve got to guess out of 4 choices which song or artist it is and click on your answer. It’s all timed, your score is higher if you get the answer right quickly.

If this game existed when I was a teenager I’d be King of the World. But now, I’ve learned I know nothing about today’s music. When it comes to Classic Rock and 90s Alternative, I either don’t know the artist’s name or the name of the song. And with 80s music, I know it all, but it takes me a little too long to realize what song it is. There was a time when I could name the song with just the first chord. So, I’m saving up my coins to get the playlist I KNOW I will rule over…. US TV THEME SONGS! Watch out Facebook friends, I’m just 44 coins away from owning it!

Are there any games on Facebook you like to play? What are they and why do you like them?

Man or Mouse?

I was doing laundry in the quiet basement of my building when I heard the crinkly sound of a plastic bag. I looked up wondering who was there to see a little brown mouse sitting on a paint tray stacked on things next to the table across from the washer. I stood, frozen, staring at the rodent. It sat, blatantly staring at me in defiance. I continued loading the washer, never taking my eyes off the mouse. I twitched its nose, and sat there, a small blob of brown fur on the white background of the paint tray. I had visions of this  mouse leaping from the tray and eating my face. Riddling me with disease. This mouse could be the start of the zombie invasion and I’d be undead instantly. I had to get away before it leaped at me with its fangs.

I finished loading the washer (still staring at the disgusting infested mouse) and ran upstairs. Hoping it would be gone when I went back down to continue my laundry. I watched the latest episode of CSI hoping it would go away.  After an hour, I knew I had to face my fear and finish washing my clothes.

I went back to the basement, swung the door open and flipped the light switch from the doorway. The mouse was on the floor in front of the dryer. It sat there taunting me. I stood in the doorway feeling the heebie-jeebies crawling all over my body. All I could think was, “ew ew ew ew  eeewwww!” The mouse started to move, incredibly slowly. Lifting one leg, then another and then it fell on its side. It rolled back upright and stopped, balling itself up tightly. I stood in the doorway not moving. The mouse lifted its head, twitched its nose and tried walking again. I stood in the doorway watching the mouse for 15 minutes as it moved away from the dryer toward the middle of the basement floor.  As soon as I felt I could get to the washer and dryer safely, without getting too close to the mouse.  I removed my clothes from the dryer but I still had a load in the washer that needed to be moved. I took as many articles of clothing out of the washer as I could planning to just hang them to dry. I threw the rest in the dryer and placed my laundry basket on top of the dryer just in case that mouse had plans to climb in. I looked over at the mouse and it had turned to look at me. It tried walking toward me but it fell over again and just sat in place. Clearly this mouse was dying and full of disease.

I ran upstairs and tried texting my sister, but no reply. I sent a text to a friend and again, no reply. I called another friend, she answered.

Me: There is a mouse in my basement.

Her: Ick! Filthy disease filled beasts.

Me: It’s creeping me the fuck out. It’s sickly and dying. It tries to walk but it falls over. It moves very very slow.

Her: Have you called your landlord?

Me: No, I feel like I only call him when something is wrong. I want to call him with good news for once.

Her: Well, that kind of is the nature of his job, but I understand. At least it’s not a rat.

Me: Yeah, ick. I didn’t realize how much mice creep me out. But this one is really gross and, just ew. It’s got some disease and it’s in my house.

Her: Maybe there’s some kinda poison down there? Have you seen that D-con commercial with the guy in the mouse costume?

Me: (in voice of mouse costume guy) “Prove it.”  Yeah he grosses me out too.

Her: I’ll refrain then from telling you all the diseases mice carry.

Me: You are too kind, thank you.

We talk some more and when I’ve got my wits about me again I go back down to the basement to check on my laundry and that evil mouse. I open the door and flip on the light stand in the doorway and see the mouse making it’s way toward the door.  I stand there staring at it. This is one time when living alone sucks. I wish there was someone I could shout for who will come and save me.  I continue to stand in the doorway for 20 minutes watching this mouse struggle as it moves in circles very slowly. I’m hoping one of the guys in the building will come in the door and I can go all girly on him and have him take care of this mouse for me. No one comes in the door.  I grab a spade from the wall next too the door. I have no idea what I’m going to do. Flashes of the mouse scurrying up the spade handle and gnawing on my face, filling me with its disease, come to my mind. I poke at it like a child. It rolls around on the floor. I go back to my laundry, it’s still not dry. I drop in more quarters and go back upstairs, avoiding the mouse and replacing the spade.

As I type this I heard the guy upstairs go down into the basement. I have also heard the scraping of the spade on the cement floor. I heard him walk up the stairs from the basement and go outside. I’m pretty sure I’ve also just heard him smash the mouse with the shovel. He is no longer “guy upstairs.” He is now my hero.

 

Depression

It’s hard to admit you’ve got a mental illness. It’s even harder when you’re admitting you’ve got a mental illness that many people in our society don’t even acknowledge as a “real” illness. Depression isn’t just feeling down. It’s not cured by people telling  you to cheer up. I don’t think there really is a cure. I think people get treatment and learn coping techniques and they soldier on. Others suffer in silence.

There are days when my depression lies to me telling me I can wait until later to do something. It says, “The deadline isn’t until tomorrow, why not just sit on the couch and watch TV, or better yet, go back to that comfy bed. You know the best days are when you lie in bed and do nothing.” It is a struggle not to fall victim to it. The lies don’t always sound like lies, there’s always a hint of truth. I will feel better if I take a nap. Sometimes, leaving the house really is difficult, and staying home is the easiest thing in the world. There are obvious lies though, the depression tells me I’m ugly, that no one loves me, that I can’t do anything right so why even try. Right now it’s telling me this whole blog post is a crock of shit that no one will read.

I’m lucky. I have an amazing group of friends who help me fight the lies that the depression is feeding me. I have a therapist that I can see weekly who charges on a sliding scale so when I had no insurance I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could actually afford to go.

The commercials for the drug Cymbalta that say “depression hurts” are true. But it’s not always a true physical pain, it’s more of a struggling pain. Part of you knows you need to get up and do something, that you need to do the work in front of you, that you have to get out of bed. But then there’s this other part that’s fighting you every step of the way. It’s trying to convince you that doing nothing is better, that lying on the couch is easier. That these things you feel you need to do can wait until later. It makes your bed talk to you and call you back into it where it’s warm, cozy, and safe. That struggle is hard, it’s painful, and it really makes you beat yourself up even more. Many of us are suffering in silence, not letting others know what we’ve got. I have lost friends over it, and that hurts even more.

You may try to go out in public and put on a happy face, those days can be draining. Your depression will have more fuel for the next battle to keep you inside, away from everything that will help you get better. You retreat again, not reaching out to anyone for another couple of days or a week, maybe more. The cycle repeats ad nauseum.

Depression is a daily struggle, hell – it’s an hourly struggle. Some may laud you as “so strong” but as I’m fighting each hour I don’t feel strong. I feel like I’m going through the motions. I feel like I’m pretending, like I’m a fraud. I sit in my therapist’s office, wondering why I’m there. Wondering if this is really working, is it really helping? Berating myself because of the list of tasks I have to do that I’ve been putting off and now I’m sitting in his office not talking while he stares at me, wasting valuable time.

I write this now because more than one of my friends have posted on Facebook about suffering from depression. One posted this article from CNN about Going Public With Depression. If I can help one person feel like they are not alone, this post will have served a purpose. Because you are not alone. There are so many of us out here, if we’d just speak up and let others know that telling us to cheer up isn’t going to fix us. Depression doesn’t have to control your life. There are sources out there that can and will help you.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Holbrook Counseling Center for those who live in Chicago

Fun in Chicago

Mark and Violet (with their parents) came and visited me a couple of weeks ago. It was a fun two days even though the kids were cranky. Here’s just a few of the pictures I took. Enjoy!

 

Mark at Crown Fountain

Mark at Crown Fountain
Picture 1 of 18

FIRE!!!

I woke up at 4am and heard noise outside. I looked out my kitchen window to find the garage of the building next door on fire. Once I located my phone I called 911. I stood in my kitchen wondering if I should go about getting ready for work or if I should watch for the fire department. Do I need to keep my phone by my side? As all these questions flooded my brain, I heard the sirens as the Chicago Fire Department arrived.

The questions did not go away though, I wondered what to do with myself so I went out back to see what was going on.  I peeked around the garage of my building to see 3 firemen standing with a hose shouting, “Send the water! Send the water!” That’s when I realized I needed my camera. Upon speaking with my landlord and neighbors, we suspect the fire was started deliberately on a couch that was leaning against the garage. The only sign the couch was even there is some metal springs on the burnt ground in the pile of ash.

In Memory

I spent this weekend in Bloomington, Indiana at the memorial service for my friend Janine’s cousin, Christian Zabriskie. I only met him for the first time over the Thanksgiving holiday. But meeting him and his family touched my life in a way I had never expected. Although, knowing Janine I should have realized her family would be just as incredibly awesome as she is it wasn’t until I was told that Christian had passed away that I realized the impact they had made on my life.

Seeing all the people who were at the memorial and learning how all his friends came together to help his mother and sister gave me hope for humanity. They created a Google doc where people could sign up to bring meals to his family every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner! If I remember correctly his Mother was told that she wouldn’t have to go to the store for another two weeks. His friends also put together a video to show through the service filled with pictures and videos of him with friends and family from baby photos through pictures at his 40th birthday party from this past April. There were even buttons that they had made of one of Christian’s drawings, everyone was wearing them and asking where they could get one.

But the most amazing thing for me, was the feeling of love that I felt while sitting in a room full of strangers. I was there to support my friend, to help her and keep her company. But I never once felt out of place or like I didn’t belong. I only knew Christian for a very short time but I feel the world has lost an incredible person. His friends have organized a memorial fund to honor his memory. If you are so inclined to make a donation, I know they would be grateful.

The most touching thing I found was the final line of his obituary: “In lieu of flowers, or contributions please treat someone kindly today.” I believe we should all honor the memories of those we love by treating someone kindly every single day.