Every Year’s Eve

Who’s the sad sack sitting in front of his laptop at the coffeeshop? That’s right.

I shouldn’t complain, though. At least I’m not sitting in front of my computer at home.

2011 was supposed to be better than 2010. It wasn’t.

2010 was supposed to be better than 2009. It wasn’t.

2009 was supposed to be better than 2008. It wasn’t.

Ad infinitum.

The problem with the “growth” thinking of “we must get better and better” is that it blindly ignores the fact that over a span of time, the good and bad stuff averages out to a flat gray. If you take any negative moment and view that as the death of all that is good in the world, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens. That’s life.

My hope for 2012 is that I learn to accept the average, that I get comfortable with the baseline, and that I pick up the slack and do something that’s worth it. Cheers.

Handle In the Dark

I woke up this morning. That in and of itself is a miracle, one that I daily take for granted. I also got out of bed. Even though I stumbled for the first 2 minutes, I still managed to stand in the bathroom and then walk with both of my feet to my desk. Tiny little miracles. Still clouded from the tiny little world of my dreams, I decided that today, just for once, I’ll deny the dark thoughts and do anything to deny them purchase on the mantle of my soul.

This holiday break has been a roller coaster with more downs than ups. Been playing the role of the moody gloomcow. I have every reason to dislike myself and my life, but for once this week, I’m choosing to ignore those reasons. I acknowledge that I’m manic-depressive, and what I have today is a mania, but if I can take this and rebuild myself to buffer against the darkness of the following night, then maybe that’s what I should be doing. I’m too much with the drab clothing. I’m too much with the negative talking. I’m too much with the sitting alone, hiding my face, and then feeling hurt when nobody comes over to sit with me.

I’ve had enough, at least for now. So if I avoid staring and thinking, I think I can keep the darkness at bay, I think I can trim back all the rough edges that the demons would grab on to, preventing them from latching on. I don’t want to be one of those scared people you see who run and talk and jump and do everything in their power to keep themselves away from their own scary dark thoughts, but at this point, the idea doesn’t seem so preposterous.

Transmission Received

Took a little time this afternoon to take care of my car, some preventive maintenance that’s long overdue. Apparently, according to the literature, the owner of a car must “get the transmission fluid changed” on a regular basis. This is something I’ve never done, nor never had done, to any vehicle I’ve owned (all three of them). It seems that the fluid inside the transmission actually decomposes after a long time and a lot of mileage and must be completely replaced. Huh!

Some people say it is supposed to be replaced after 30,000 miles. Some say 60,000. Others say 120,000 miles. My car’s odometer reads 118,000, and since I’ve owned the car (since 65,000 miles), I’ve never had this service performed. So I’m well overdue. Who knew?

I think it may have been the cause of the transmission being sluggish while shifting between gears when the engine is cold. Once it heats up, it shifts pretty instantly. I’ll give the car an hour or so and try when it’s cold to see if this fixed it.

Had a bit of worry, though, during the chore. The first shop I took it to, a local, reputable transmission specialist (you can tell by the number of Better Business Bureau membership stickers they have covering the front door), they took a look at the color of the fluid and judged that it was too risky to attempt the fluid change. Now, I’ve heard of this before where parts of the transmission (namely pieces of pressed cardboard and rubber) wear down and their particulates wash around in the fluid, changing the color from “red wine” to “dark red”; changing the fluid after these parts have started degrading takes away the last of what is keeping them working. So sometimes the car malfunctions afterwards. So when they offered to take it apart and examine the insides for the tidy sum of $450, I told them I’d think about it.

Then I went to the dealership. Aside from being horribly busy, they took my car in, and a few hours later had the fluid changed for $50 and I was on my way. Not the experience I expected, but glad for it.

So let my experiences today illuminate your path. Be sure to not ignore the recommended maintenance on your car. I know the shops and quick-lube places are trying to scare every dollar out of you by saying you need services more often than recommended by the manufacturer, but if you do your research and read the manual, you can make informed decisions.

Extra knowledge bonus: Today, I learned that Honda Civics do not have user-replaceable transmission fluid filters, and any shop that sells you on the filter replacement is not worthy of your business. In order to replace the filter, you’d have to completely disassemble the transmission, and this obviously voids any implicit or explicit warranty on your vehicle. Just an FYI.

Common Grounding

Despite the recent bottom end of the neurochemical roller coaster, today was OK in comparison to last weekend. Brain juices being what they are, if there’s an excess or absence, it will rectify itself in due time. The strategy is to mediate the extremes by whatever methods are prudent. I chose to take a long walk Sunday night, and that helped a bit. Didn’t clear my head, but the exercise gave me something to do. I think the turning point was the odd cocktail drink I made Monday night with vodka, apples, and cinnamon. I took a picture and posted the recipe on FB, and got a ton of good chatter about it. It was the bellwether towards making life seem bearable again (the intoxication didn’t hurt, but I worry about loving the bottle a bit much lately).

Tonight, I set out to work on my song “Communion” whose lyrics I wrote two years ago during the gray area between awake and asleep. The music’s been knocking around in my head since then. I’ve put it off for far too long, and I’ve had enough. The positive chatter I got regarding “Best Laid Plans” was enough to push me over the edge towards committing something to the songwriting effort. I think I’m proficient enough with my music gear to make it happen without too much frustration.

“Communion” is, chromatically, a dense piece of work, and I’m having no end of confusion about which chords I should use, where I should use them, and how I’m to transition between them. There are phrases that stick out, some things are more solid than others, and I have chunks, pieces that should fit together if only they’d want to fit together. The problem is that I’ve got this thick set of notes, like the bass note would be, say, D#, but the vocal note would be F# (a third), but the tough decision is which I should use as the base of the progression. I know the dominant notes are in the key of F#, but each part of the song seems to have its own soul. The choruses have different chords from the verses, the bridge is distant from the interludes.

It’s a mystery, it’s a puzzle. And the more I play with the pieces, the fuzzier it gets. If I could just see the entire picture on the front of the box, I’d know what to do. I’m hoping to look away long enough to have the parts magically assemble themselves when I’m not looking. The subconscious mind is funny that way; it can take puzzles and solve them when you’re not trying.

Easy Switch

Yeah. I can be fixed. Chin up, change of mind, head forward, charge on til the dawn. It’s that easy. Just deny all the thoughts. Remove the temptation to backslide into the deep. Keep it on the shallow, simple goals, simple rewards. I mean, it’s something you can cure. Just take a pill for it. Pharmacological nirvana. I have insurance, so it costs me nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even my soul. Just one prescription away from a blissful flatline. Should be running for it, clamoring over the corpses of my dead dreams to reach that cure, that golden ring. It’s that easy. Click, just flip it off and turn on the sunlight. Right? No cost. Right? No cost.