Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Winter's Tale That Has S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Hope, and An Epiphany

I took some time to relax tonight, watching the Oscars. I've been suffering with S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) and wanting winter to just be over. No more gray skies, cold nights, and snow and ice please. I used to get sick at the end of winter every year, really sick with upper respiratory infections. It was during one of those episodes in 1992, the first week in March, when I was delirious from fever and saw thousands of angels fly by my window in the shape of clouds for three nights in a row. That was the last time I got a post-winter illness. Since then, I've managed to overcome the "sick" part of S.A.D., but still have all of the other "affects." The following symptoms of S.A.D. are listed on the Mayo Clinic's website:

Fall and winter SAD (winter depression)
Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder include:

Loss of energy
Social withdrawal
Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Weight gain
Difficulty concentrating and processing information
My problem is that this used to be how I felt year round, especially during adolescence. So, having S.A.D. is like reliving the worst moments of my life every year for a few months; however, I don't usually have the worst symptoms until February. My worst day ever was 2/2/2002. Now, for those of you who are into astrology (not me, although I was born on the cusp of Virgo and Libra since my birthday is September 23, and I do vacillate between being a reclusive, shy perfectionist with deep-seated, hidden passions and an indecisive, creative, and socially outgoing bohemian constantly seeking balance), numerology knocks those stars out the sky when it comes to accuracy. The day I was the most depressed I've ever been in my life was all two's, the number of depression. I know it's not scientific, but it's fun - well it wasn't 2/2/2002, but other times, I've had a lot of fun with numerology, mostly having to do with birth dates, addresses, and names (each letter in the alphabet has a numerical value).

Anyway, I actually sat down twice this weekend in the obligatory rocker that's in every hotel room and enjoyed some of my time away from home for once. I haven't enjoyed visiting my favorite hotel since I started coming here to write last year. Now, two books later, I'm trying to juggle numerous projects and deal with the lethargy and exhaustion of S.A.D. at the same time. I did try to enjoy my four free nights last month, but then depression set in (this doesn't usually happen so early, but that was when temperatures were ten below) and all I could hold onto was being thankful I wasn't out in the cold. Everything else seemed hopeless. I can't wait for spring to get here!

Meanwhile, I did relax and watch a movie yesterday after writing my response to that political cartoon published in The New York Post for that other blog I do on political matters. Then, tonight I sat in the recliner nearly an hour during the Academy Awards. Everyone I wanted to see win did except for "Best Actor." I haven't like Sean Penn since he took exception to some joke Chris Rock made about Jude Law; I think this guy takes himself way too seriously. I was rooting for Mickey Rourke, the comeback kid in "The Wrestler." But I was happy Kate Winslet won; if Angelina Jolie had won, I swore I'd never watch the show again (my brother, James, stopped watching when "The Color Purple" didn't win any awards!).

"Slumdog Millionaire" cleaned up, as did "Milk," the film Sean Penn starred in; the only movies nominated that I've seen are "Wall-e" and "Happy Go Lucky," an offbeat British film I went to with James and Leslie when I was in Columbus during the Thanksgiving holiday. I took Pajil's three kids to "Wall-e" last summer to give "Mom" a day off and watched it again with my niece and nephew, KiKi and Joe, in Columbus, after buying the DVD for them. "Wall-e" won one award (I was a little upset when it didn't win "Best Song"). Hugh Jackman was a good host and his number with Beyonce Knowles was quite entertaining.

I just love seeing someone who is not the size of a toothpick doing a song and dance number! Go girl! Speaking of big girls, Queen Latifah did her star turn singing during a tribute to the film industry's deceased members. But what was with her dress. I'm no "Mr. Blackwell," but did she really need a bow right in front above her belly? Kate Winselet's a big girl, too, by Hollywood standards and she looked great; so did now zaftig Whoppi Goldberg who joined four other former "Best Supporting Actress" winners to announce this year's nominees. I liked that format. The only category that didn't include a former African-American winner was the one that has had the most: Best Actor. They couldn't get Denzel Washington, Jamie Fox, or Forrest Whittakier to attend? Surely, one of them was available!

My favorite award show is The Tonys (I don't watch The Emmys or The Grammys) because it celebrates Broadway shows. Speaking of theatre, I'm trying to decide which of my plays to submit in the National Black Theatre's Reader's Theatre competition. James' play, "Wimmin with Wings" will most likely be on the main stage (his play, "Black Man Rising" was featured during the last festival and has since had a run off-Broadway in New York; this is James' second time having a play off-Broadway: his first was "Our Young Black Men Are Dying and Nobody Seems to Care" in the 1990s).

I may need your help. My sister, DE'brar thinks I should enter "Casting Stones," my dark one-act about a psychopathic serial killer who is targeting black Baptist preacher's who commit adultery (I was working out some father issues). I'm very tempted to enter "Ruthless Bonds," my one-act about the abuse African-American hitters have faced when they got close to breaking Babe Ruth's record. I originally planned to enter B.R.AIDS (Black Response to AIDS), but it is a full-length play with a cast of thousands. Any suggestions?

Anyway, enough about art....despite S.A.D., I saw signs of hope this winter: first, there was President Obama's response to Henrietta Hughes, the Florida woman who was living in her truck with her son who made an impassioned plea for help when the President visited there (a Florida elected official later provided Ms. Hughes with a rent free residence); then there was "The Miracle on the Hudson" that gave America a needed hero during economic hard times; and, finally, my curriculum guide is starting to sell!

I got two orders this month after flooding the state's day habs with promotional emails at the end of last year - I also sent a few to some other states. One was for the $65 bound copy and the other was for the $40 email version. I'm still waiting for to approve the cover of my novel and once that's done, it will be available at I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I hope to get more orders for the curriculum guide and when I get back my energy, I'll start working on my next novel and finish my second curriculum guide.

Oh, I had an epiphany the other night on the way to a black history program. My neighbor's wife and kids picked me up at the hotel after I invited them to attend the event and on the way to the church, my neighbor's 13 year-old daughter asked her stepmother if there was enough left on the food stamp card to get some snacks to take to her mother's house for her 11 year old twin brothers' birthday party sleepover. Her stepmother told her that they needed what was left on the card to get through the last week of the month. At that moment I realized that these people who've lived next door to me for the past ten years have been going through what most of the rest of the country is just now experiencing all this time.

Last week, while driving me to work, my neighbor mentioned that he doesn't charge my neighbors on the other side of my house to give them rides to the store and various places because neither of them is working right now. I thought that was nice of him. Then I realized that he is using some of the money he charges me to transport me to and from work to provide free transportation for someone else. I was pleased because I realized he's finally starting to get what I've been telling him all along about giving to other people without expecting anything in return. I was rather proud of him, even if he does charge me way too much; at least I have some comfort in knowing that he's "spreading the wealth," so to speak.

When they first picked me up to go to the program Friday, I mentioned to his wife and kids that I needed to go to Krogers after we left the church to get some food to take back to the hotel but would probably be too tired. After finding out that they didn't have the money to get snacks for the sleepover, I told the 13 year-old not to worry about it because I had to get some food, too, and we'd get their snacks when we got mine. After church, we stopped at MacDonald's and got hamburgers for everyone, but as predicted, I was too tired to go to Krogers (S.A.D. strikes again!); so I gave the 13 year-old a list of the three things I wanted (Pringles, Mi-Del's Natural Ginger Snap cookies, and Lemon-Berry Hawaiian Punch) and enough money to get my items and the snacks she wanted.

Sure, I'd paid my neighbor sixty dollar for transporting me to work three days last week and had just given his wife another ten dollars for picking me up at the hotel and taking me to the church for the program; but the money I spent at MacDonald's and at Krogers was about the 13 year old and her 9 year old brother. I realize that in all his hustling and overcharging do to the least little thing, whether it's shoveling my steps, cutting my grass, or taking me to work, my neighbor is just trying to provide for his family.

His disability (heart disease) prevents him from working for more than a few hours at a time for more than a few days a week, but he does the best he can. At least he puts forth the effort. I still think $20 a day to take me to and from work is too much, but at least I know he's learned to not charge those who can't pay; and I've learned that some time paying too much is giving just enough.

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