June 2009. Somewhere in Beachwood Canyon, which, if you don’t know it, is postcard, peak Los Angeles. The kind of place you have to drive up curvy roads to get to — roads that have signs like this:
I’m lying in the sun with my friends at a ‘70s era ranch house in the hills. The Hollywood sign is on full display above the pool, the sky an unreal technicolor blue. A dry, wind is prickling my skin post-swim as I stare through huge, dark sunglasses at the scrub of the canyon. It’s like a scene out of a movie, and, not ironically, movie stars and other, lesser, luminaries are rumored have lived at this house over the years. It’s Saturday and I have a great job and a sweet apartment of my own, (albeit in lower hills) and, if I do say so myself, my boobs look pretty great in my string bikini top. If you are an outsider looking at this picture, you would certainly conclude that nothing is wrong. In fact you might conclude things were going pretty right.
(the same view from my head circa 2010)
Except for the way I felt. I remember turning to my friend that day and just saying “I’m not well,” all appearances to the contrary. Because underneath the shiny exterior, I was being pulled under by my first major episode of serious depression. And the funny thing about it is that I didn’t completely register it as such. I knew I was in bad shape, but I didn’t know what to do about it. (I’d learn!)
More importantly, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how I could have it this good and yet feel this bad.
Thinking of my state of being at the time, I’m reminded of the movie Permanent Midnight I’d seen a few years prior, in which Ben Stiller’s character is a high-functioning heroin addict. There’s a scene where he comes in from a run dripping sweat after a deeply debauched night, and someone’s like “wtf,” and he’s like, “what? you gotta stay in shape, man.” It blew my mind then, because I didn’t see how both things could possibly be true — that you could be both rotting and thriving. I understand now. Heroin may not be my monkey, but mine can be equally relentless. And thankfully it comes and it goes. And life goes on regardless.
Anyway. I’m feeling pretty good at the moment and I hope you are too.
Here are a few things that inspired me and made me happy this week:“I’m full of love and shit all the time” - quote from this excellent song by Sonny of Sonny and the Sunsets, one of my favorite weirdos.
Have you had the “compare and despair” talk with your therapist? That thing about how measuring yourself against others is a one way ticket to shitsville? I know I have. It’s hard not to do this. It’s especially hard when you open Instagram. Or Facebook. Or whatever. I try to power down during the weekends but am not always good about it, so I was really pleased to discover this project by a friend of a friend called The Sabbath Manifesto. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but take a look.
“Comparisons were a suckers game”
Great (and relevant!) quote from the book I just finished and couldn’t put down: Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach. I can’t say enough good things about this book — it’s got a mob activity, high seas adventure, early feministing, prohibition nightclubbing, and a compelling mystery at its center. Would make a good beach read.
And finally, a poem.
What’s on your mind? How are you doing? Send me a note, tell me a secret.