It's "that time of year", when so many people get all emo about the holidays. My depression during this period in years past is the stuff of local and familial legend, wherein I'm this moping, morose, and maddening mess of intermittent volatility that leaves many walking on eggshells filled with nitroglycerin.
Except I'm not depressed this year.
I don't know how this is happening, but here it is, December 21st, and I feel... well, good. I've been positively cheerful. Having a good time, even.
Making this all the more interesting is that I've been off the Welbutrin for over two months now (it'll be three months this New Year's Eve). During that time there have been two or three times when I had to monitor myself a little closely (a little edgy once, a bit reactionary another time or two), but otherwise the general consensus of people who are NOT Yohannon has been "You're OFF anti-depressants?! But you seem so cheerful!"
Well, yes. I do. Though to be fair, it's like my emotional "dynamic range", if you will allow me the use of the audiophiliac expression, has expanded. Existentialists will appreciate the sentiment -- to get those higher highs, you have to risk the stygian lows.
Of course, the anti-depressants weren't much use in holiday's past anyway. I can only speculate as to the root of the change -- probably a combination of incessant self introspection (especially in the four years since my marriage broke up) with a steadily improving emotional environment. Last year was also rife with the stress of knowing that I needed to find a new place to live when the noob landlords who were under the impression that they could raise the rents as their costs rose. The fact that they wound up with 100% turnover by January 2007 probably dissuaded them from that a bit. One of these days I should post that passive aggressive missive that came with the full refund of the security deposit -- landlords of more experience will probably be most amused by their determination that they could have with-held some of the money based on the 2 small stains and spots in the carpet over a three year period.
My personal life has settled down considerably. That "only" having 4 lovers and friends with bennies is "settling down" is a fascinating commentary on how whacked my lifestyle was.
Another facet of this is the massive reduction of the amount of driving I do annually. Back in '97 I easily exceeded 35 to 40 K a year in milage. Recently, I tried to figure out how much I've driven this year, and the highest number I could come up with was about 5000 miles -- and 1800 of that was one round trip to Vegas.
So I don't do the insane daily commute anymore, my social traveling is vastly reduced (Linda Underhill was the main reason I used to travel south upwards of a dozen times in a year), and my work life...
When I was hired, I was -- and I mean delighted beyond all belief -- that not only they would LET me use a Mac, but that they valued my expertise. I never imagined that a little over two years later more than half the company would convert, and that trend only accelerated when Vista hit the streets. Today only cemented Vista's reputation with a lot of people here.
It's a bit slow (being the Friday before the christian holiday), so someone thought it would be fun to screen "A Charlie Brown Christmas" during lunch on the huge projection screen in the downstairs meeting room. Except it turned out the Windows Media Center PC was dead -- as in not even a hint of life when attempting to turn it on.
So, after a bit of scurrying, a "floater"* was found. The Media Center was using standard VGA, and the laptop had a VGA connector, so THAT problem was easy. Thanks to a bit of luck, I just happened to have a mini-jack to RCA connector at my desk, so I was able to plug the sound from the earphone jack on the laptop to the sound amp. Success!
Oops -- not quite.
It took a few tries to get the projector recognized, but it came up once it was remembered that these model of DEll laptop had a special button to recognize the VGA connector. THen it took a minute to figure out the Windows Media Player. Look, it's DVD screens!
Then we started to play the video.
I need to emphasize that the laptop was less than 4 years old. That's because it played the DVD like it was purchased in 1997 -- stutters, gaps in the audio, and the aspect ratio was completely wrong.
So, we turn off apps, re-boot. Same problem.
People are almost ready to give up -- fortunately, another laptop was found (same model) that still and XP installed. It only had a CD-ROM drive, but the DVD drive from the first laptop was swappable with it.
Once XP booted (I never thought I would be so happy to see that start screen!) We popped in the DVD, right-clicked and hit "play", and...
"You do not have the correct software installed to play this media".
A quick download of VLC, and not only could I play the same DVD on the same hardware without a single stall or stutter, I was able to tweak the aspect ratio so it fit on the screen. Total time: 45 minutes.
A 3 year old iBook I have at home would have solved the issue in under 5, with no downloads or tweaking.
At least one person commented that they thought people had been kidding about how bad Vista was. "Bill Gates ruined christmas!"
The showing was interrupted only once afterwards -- for some reason the laptop spontaneously rebooted halfway through. No, not go into sleep mode -- just restarted completely.
Do you have any IDEA what that's like for someone who worked at Apple from -94 through '98 -- "The Dark Years"? It's not just work either -- I've helped more people buy Macs for personal use here and elsewhere than I think I did the entire year I worked Apple retail.
My self confidence is a lot higher than it's ever been (please don't confuse the brave front of hyper-bravado I've been known to exhibit with real confidence), and the fact that I've made good choices over the last year in terms of renting versus buying only reinforced that.
Politically, things are still crappy, but now I see a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an onrushing suicide bomber. The "cons" are finally being seen as the naked micro-dickheads they really are.
About the only thing I'm not satisfied with? My writing output. I'm terrified that not being under constant pressure or stress is resulting in a hit in my ability to write. Of course, if I'm completely honest, it's not so much a lack of things to write about as a lack of time...
No, that's not true either. I think I'm starting to contemplate what my next move is after writing a journal for 7 years. Perhaps the real problem isn't that I don't have anything to say, but how I say it. Not in the way the words go together, but the actual media. Perhaps it's time I climbed out from behind this keyboard and started facing the 'Net right in the eyes.
While you puzzle over that conundrum, let me wish you a happy holiday (whichever you celebrate) and a joyous new year -- just on the off chance it's another month before I post again.
* Later the joke was "Is it called a floater because it's a piece of...?"