Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There is a two-CD set available of highlights of speeches by Barrack Obama. How do I know this? Because my father owns it, and I found him sitting at his computer yesterday playing solitaire and listening to the speeches.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My parents eat a lot of carbs.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After visiting for just enough time, my sister and her husband are returning to Chicago today. I've always known something about my brother-in-law, but it was never more apparent than it was during this visit. He drinks a lot of vodka. I mean, a lot. More than I did in my heavy drinking days, which was a pretty fair amount. I wonder if he only drinks that much when he's on vacation, or whether it's a regular thing. If it's a regular thing, then he definitely has a drinking problem. That would be great news for my pregnant sister. He was smoking little cigars while he was here, too. Just wonderful.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's interesting. Since I have been in Florida, I have been feeling pretty great. I mean, not great, I suppose, but great as compared to the last seven months. I have been getting up early, not that I really have a choice with all of the noise my parents make when they get up and start milling about the house. I have been eating three meals a day, playing with Sidney, doing some light reading, taking walks, and generally just trying to relax. I'm definitely not ready for the life of retired folks like my parents. It can get a little boring at times. But I am trying to fill what have been long days for me with activities. Sometimes that means just sitting on the back patio and watching the antics of the mallard ducks in the pond. But the point is that I feel good. Maybe better than I have in years. That's a hard statement for me to even believe, given the depths of suffering that I have experienced this year. But I feel depression free. Now, I know that it's not gone, and that it could be just waiting around the corner, if I'm not careful and take the appropriate steps to maintain my mood. And that's a little scary, to be honest with you. But at least for now, it looks like I'm going to have a depression-free Christmas. And just a few weeks ago, that didn't even seem possible.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The weather in Florida is fantastic. What's the weather like back home in Pittsburgh?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is the view from my parents' back patio in Florida. My mother and I flew down here yesterday. I have been reunited with Sidney (and my father), and he looks great. My father looks all right, too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's been a week since my last post, and I have been doing very well. After that little episode last Thursday, it took me a couple of days to get back on track, but once I did, I was golden. It's so weird, truly it is, this depression thing, but for the last few days, I've been feeling like "normal Dave." I've been going to bed at a reasonable hour, getting normal amounts of sleep, and getting up in the morning at times earlier than I have gotten up since the depression began way back in the spring. I have been feeling good, I've had my sense of humor, and I've been getting things done. I attended group all three times that it met this week for the first time in months, and I really like this group much more than the last one I attended. Now that I have seen how different this group is, I really think that the leader of the last one is not good at his job. But that's another story. There is no question that part of why I have been feeling better is that I have had things to do. In treatment, we always talk about how having structured activities to distract you can be very helpful in alleviating the unpleasant symptoms of depression. Of course, it's not always easy to get yourself out of bed so that you can attend to planned activities, but that has not been a problem for me this week. Since I am not able to start the ECT treatments until some tests are completed in about a month, my mother and I are flying to Florida this coming Tuesday. I don't know how long I am going to be there, but I am very much looking forward to getting away from what has been miserable Pittsburgh winter weather and, of course, being reunited with Sidney. My pregnant sister and her husband will be joining my mother, my father, and myself for Christmas, and hopefully, my extended stay there will not be spoiled by any sudden flare-ups of the depression, but we will just have to wait and see how that goes. I will have to make a conscious effort while I am there to eat well, take walks, and keep myself busy as much as I can to help keep the depression at bay. No matter what, after months of being miserable and at times, debilitated, I'm looking forward to having a very enjoyable holiday with family and Sidney in warm weather and sunshine. You can't beat that, in my book.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Since my mother arrived, I had been feeling pretty good, as I've said in a previous post. But then something just . . . changed. For some reason, I woke up on Thursday, and before my feet hit the floor, I was feeling horrible. And it just went downhill from there. I ended up going back to bed after breakfast, and I spent the afternoon in bed feeling badly. I was feeling so poorly that I was unable (or unwilling) to go to my new group, which meets from four to seven three times a week. Although I've only been to the new group once, I already like it better than my previous group. It has women in it. My mother was very disappointed in me that I was not able to make it to group, and she said some unpleasant things to me, which did not help my mood. But we had a good conversation after dinner and worked things out. Today, I am feeling a little better than yesterday, but still not nearly as good as I had been. In group they talk about emotions and how they affect your depression. I guess something happened that affected my mood. It was made so much more upsetting to me because I had been doing so well. It just goes to show you that no matter how well you're feeling, you're still vulnerable to the depression at any time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I received this e-card today from my old friend Amy the Christian. She knows me so well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Internet is so slow, by today's standards, that it's embarrassing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

So, my mother has been in Pittsburgh since last Monday, and I've been doing pretty well since then. I have been getting up in the morning, and I have been getting to appointments on time, and I have been doing things that need to be done, and I have generally been feeling pretty good. I'm still not quite right, but I'm much better than I was before she arrived. The problem, of course, is that I can't live the rest of my life with my mother around to provide the accountability and help that I need to help me deal with the depression. So, I have to take advantage of the time that she is here to develop some good habits and a good routine, so that I will not go back to staying in bed all day when she does leave. We still don't know exactly how long she will be staying. My father has said that he does not want to come to Pittsburgh for Christmas, and I suspect that part of that is probably because he doesn't want to be bothered with doing all of the legwork to find a suitable place to board Sidney and then get him there. The sad part is that if my sister and her husband come to Pittsburgh for Christmas, then not only will be father be the only family member not here, but he will also miss out on seeing his pregnant daughter who is carrying his first grandchild. Meanwhile, my mother and I have been getting along very well. She has not said anything negative about her being here, which has been a very pleasant surprise. Although I know that she misses Sidney, I think that she's secretly enjoying the little vacation from my curmudgeonly father. She definitely would prefer the Florida weather to the cold that we've been experiencing here recently, but she seems to be making the best of having to be here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My mother has come back to Pittsburgh to help me get back on track. So far, I have gotten up two days in the morning, and I have gotten to the places where I was supposed to be. Before she left Florida, she was already eager to think about her return. But while I was at group today for the first time in weeks, she went to the grocery store and bought a turkey and other Thanksgiving items. So, she is planning on being here until at least then. And then tonight, she was talking about staying even longer and possibly having the immediate family in Pittsburgh rather than Bradenton for Christmas. My father would have to fly to Pittsburgh (and Sidney would have to be boarded). My father probably wouldn't be happy about that, since I'm quite certain that he's not particularly pleased with the present arrangement. But this was just my mother's second day in Pittsburgh. And she's already complaining about the weather.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Because I have not responded adequately to medication and psychotherapy (and I haven't attended group recently), my "treatment team" has recommended that I undergo ECT treatments. If you don't know what ECT is, it's electroconvulsive therapy. It's also known as electroshock. If you want to know more about it, Google it and you will find a wealth of information on the subject, both for and against. The bottom line is that ECT is recommended for people with severe depression who do not get better using conventional treatment methods. And it looks like I'm the perfect candidate. That's one of the reasons why I wanted my parents to come back to Pittsburgh. You can receive ECT as an inpatient (although I would much prefer not to be in the hospital), but if you receive it as an outpatient, then you have to have someone who can take you home after the treatment. And since I don't have a spouse or significant other, I am dependent on friends or family to perform this role. I would prefer family, as I think that it's the type of thing that family does. They take you home after you've had a procedure performed in a hospital, and they watch over you to make sure that you recover without any problems. My parents do not seem to agree with me on this point, but as I've already said, they are not to be used as the standard. ECT is really my last hope for treatment. There really isn't anything after that, so even though I'm a little concerned about the treatment and its potential side-effects (such as temporary memory loss), I have to have faith in those recommending it since they are the professionals.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My doctor called my mother last night and talked to her about my parents coming back to Pittsburgh to help me because I have really been struggling since they left, as I've said in previous posts. When I spoke to my mother afterward, she said that she was going to fly here possibly Monday, but she was clearly angry with me. When I asked her why she was angry with me, she said that she was angry because she has to disrupt her life to come help me. Now, I'm sure that my mother had a lot of things going through her mind last night after she spoke to my doctor: plane reservations, leaving my father and Sidney alone in Florida, wondering how long she was going to have to be in Pittsburgh, etc. But she still expressed anger toward me. I know that my family is weird, and some would say that they never should have left me alone in my condition in the first place. But they did, and now the situation has worsened to the point where my mother has to come back. I have no idea what's going to happen once she gets here. I hope that she will stop being angry with me for being ill. It's not my fault.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I think the trend has ended.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I am extremely reluctant to call it a trend, but today is the third day that I have felt a little better than I had previously. It comes at an unexpected time, with the weather cold and the skies gray. And the person who represents virtually my only support system, FF, left on Saturday for ten days at Walt Disney World with her boyfriend and his family. But despite all of that, the last three days have not been awful. I even bought some new boxer shorts on Friday night. It was the first new thing that I had purchased since the depression became severe. I'm going to take the purchase of new underwear as a good sign, at least for now.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Today was the first day in weeks, maybe months, that I got up before noon. It was a beautiful autumn day in Pittsburgh, and fortunately, I was able to spend the afternoon with FF. I think the activity was beneficial for me, because aside from a little anxiety late in the afternoon, I had a good day. I don't even remember the last time I had a good day. I'm pretty sure that it was before my parents left for Florida.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hopefully, the victorious end to this historic election is the beginning of good things for this country.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks since my last post, and unfortunately, I have nothing positive to report. I am still very ill and continuing to pursue treatment, even though there is no magic formula that can guarantee my recovery. I talk to my mother in Florida almost every day, and she gives my updates on how much Sidney is enjoying his southern home. It makes me terribly sad that my family is so far away from me while I go through this, but I don't think that there is anything that I can do about it. My mother thinks (or hopes) that there is a medication that will bring me out of this, but those treating me tell me that it takes much more than just some pill. It's not like the commercials for anti-depressants on television. For some, an anti-depressant may provide a much-needed lift, but for people whose condition is as severe as mine, medication is simply not enough.

Despite feeling so poorly, I am looking forward to voting on Tuesday. I hope that you are as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I can't sleep. This is becoming a problem. Actually, it's been a problem for months now, coinciding with the depression. The real problem is that my sleeping habits change according to the medication that I'm taking. When the depression first hit in early summer, I was taking an "activating" medication, which hardly allowed me any kind of restful sleep at all at night, or during the day, for that matter. I would lie in bed with Sidney and just watch the clock, occasionally falling asleep for short periods of time, just to wake up and see that very little time had passed. Then I started taking a different medication that knocked me out. I was sleeping very soundly and for long periods of time, and I was often tired, even after plenty of sleep. Since that medication didn't seem to be helping me, I was put back on the same activating medication that I had taken before. Now I don't sleep all of the time, but I'm back to watching the clock. I really don't get any meaningful sleep until the early morning through about noon. In fact, I'm usually sleeping fairly well at the time when I would prefer to get up. But then once afternoon comes, I really don't sleep anymore. Just those brief periods, punctuated by waking and looking at the clock. Overall, I spend much more time in bed than I do actually sleeping. I suppose that as long as I'm in bed, I would prefer to be sleeping. But I haven't been able to find a medication that provides me with a happy medium. Ultimately, regardless of how these medications are affecting my sleep, they are not helping with the depression. I feel as badly now as I have at any point throughout the experience. And I'd really like to be asleep right now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I have not been doing well since my parents left for Florida. It has been a little more than a week, and I think that my condition has worsened in that time. Even though my parents are not the most endearing of people, they did provide me with some structure to my days, dinners, and a place to sleep away from the condo. Having those things (not to mention Sidney) vanish has taken its toll on me. I have been getting dinner for myself, for the most part. Pizza, mostly. I don't cook, so I rely on takeout, which means that I have to go get my dinner. It's probably good to have to leave the condo, but it's also tempting sometimes just to stay put and not eat. I have not been going to group since my parents left. I have been staying in bed into the afternoons, feeling horrible and dreading what awaits me once I get up. This is so unlike me. I normally love getting out of bed and starting a fresh, new day. This depression has me all fucked up. The medication isn't working, the group therapy wasn't working, and I'm beginning to wonder what the next step will be.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fatherhood, according to Ian . . .

Dave: How are things going now that everybody is home? Tell me honestly, how does it feel to be a father, Focker?

Ian: wow, dude. pretty deep question actually. everything at home is good, if not great: vidhi is recovering well, my mom has been helping out during the day with her, and now i am back at work. baby is doing well also, and is incredibly cute.

but it's also kind of weird: it;s not like there is huge elation or anything. in fact, i find myself just feeling kind of weird or stressed. i figured it out last night i think: it's just like after we got married where there was so much build up, so much stress, turmoil, etc., that now we're done, we have a lot of work to do, and our entire lives are different all of sudden. so i can't explain exactly how i'm feeling yet, except that there's too much upheaval and change to say shit like "oh, it's so glorious...."

on the other hand, it's pretty incredible. this little bugger is about the biggest joy i could have now. vidhi and i are absolutely taken with him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It seems to me that no one uses a rake to clean up leaves anymore. Or how about a wide broom to sweep up yard debris. Oh, no. Now, everyone from the neighborhood gardeners to your neighbors themselves uses those gas-powered leaf blowers. And those things annoy me. They are loud. Very loud for such a seemingly small item. They make far more noise than a lawnmower. And in neighborhoods like mine, they start up early in the morning and seem to go all day. I hate them.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ironically, it was October 3rd of last year that my mother and I drove to Youngstown, Ohio to meet Sidney and bring him back to Pittsburgh. This photo is Sidney today.
My parents and Sidney leave for Florida tomorrow morning. They will be gone for at least six months, and frankly, I'm having a very tough time today. I've known this day was coming for a couple of months, and I've dreaded it every day. My parents have provided some structure in my life where there was little, and structure seems to be a valuable thing in my condition. They provided dinners and other meals, and they gave me a place to sleep away from the condo that has been causing me so much discomfort during the depression. And, of course, I've been able to spend time with Sidney. Even though it was necessary for him to go live with them, I still love him immensely. Being able to spend time with him, play with him, care for him, and share the guest bed with him have all been blessings. But all of that is about to change, and sadly, I am not prepared for it. I tried to prepare for it, at least I told myself that I was, but the reality of the situation is causing me to get very emotional and sad. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do once they're gone. I truly don't.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Do you remember a couple of years ago when the Dow kept going up and the housing market was booming? That is beginning to seem like a long time ago. Add in the debacle of the war in Iraq, and Bush is going to leave quite a legacy as President. And there is little comfort in being someone who predicted that the twit would ruin our country.
I'm going to be an uncle. My sister is three months' pregnant and due in April.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ian and his wife had their first child last night. While I am genuinely happy for them and for all of the good things that have happened in their lives in the last year, the arrival of a child means that I may never see Ian again unless I go visit them in their new house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. His somewhat infamous trips to Pittsburgh to visit me ended when he got married three years ago, and our friendship suffered. But a child means that he and his wife have really made a home for themselves there, and he probably won't ever be able to come visit me in Pittsburgh again. Even though I knew that this day was coming, I still can't help feeling like life is moving along so quickly for everyone else but me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

After having some form of ticket plan to Pirate games for as long as I can remember, my father is trying to sell his full season tickets. He has placed an ad in the paper, although he is not expecting to get much of a response. He's talking about going to like 15 games next year. The team has beaten him down. It's happening everywhere. The Pirates have essentially killed baseball in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I don't normally stay up this late (after one). But I had a particularly good day, and I'm feeling so good tonight that I've taken the opportunity to get a few things done online that I've been meaning to do. I set up paperless billing for my cable and home telephone services. It's a win-win, really. I hate getting mail, and I'll be saving at least a little paper by not receiving those two paper bills. Plus, I hate the damn inserts that Comcast puts in their bills for things like personalized checks and life insurance. I once called Comcast (and waded through the company's extensive automated system before I finally got a human) so that I could request that those inserts not be placed in my monthly bills, and I got attitude from the customer service representative with whom I spoke. So, I gave up that fight. With the cable and phone bills going paperless, I now have to take care of the electric, which is printed on ridiculously thick bond paper.

As good as I feel and as productive as I've been, it's hard to make the decision to go to bed, since getting up still appears to be the greatest challenge that I face everyday. I just haven't gotten back to that point of being normal where I just get out of bed because it's time to get out of bed. I'm still using my bed as a place of avoidance and escape. Once I stop doing that, I will know for sure that I am well on my way to recovery. I just hope that day comes soon. Tomorrow would be nice.

Friday, September 19, 2008

If you need further proof that the U.S. economy is in increasingly bad shape . . . The richest person in American, Bill Gates, lost money with his investments from last year to this year. He still has a ton of money (something like $57 billion), but if he lost money, then imagine what is happening to the average American.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Fake it till you make it . . . "

Recovering from depression is a lot of work. This is the message of the people who are aiding in my treatment. As much as I might like there to be a "magic pill" that I can take that will make everything better, they are telling me that the medication can only do so much, and that I must really work in order to get better. And frankly, that's a pretty ominous proposition. I have already been in a lot of "pain," for lack of a better word, and I continue to experience pain. But in order to get better, I have to go through more pain before I can start to feel better. It sounds sort of crazy to me, but deep down, I have to admit that it makes sense. I just hope that I can find the strength and mental toughness to do the work necessary to get better. It may be the greatest challenge that I've ever faced.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I received an email from Ian today. He told me that his friend Neil (I'm pretty sure that I sat next to him at Ian's wedding) had checked himself into a mental health institution for six weeks to help him deal with his depression and anxiety. I consider it a minor miracle that I never had to be admitted to the local psychiatric institution. There were a few times when things were really bad that my doctor suggested it. She even offered to drive me there (which she's really not allowed to do). But I resisted vehemently. It was like a line that I refused to cross. I refused to admit that I needed that much help. So, Ian has two good friends that have struggled with severe depression. What are the odds of that, I wonder.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Pirates announced over the weekend that the team will be increasing its payroll from $51 million this season to $54 million next season. Watch out, National League teams. You have been warned.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My mother shows more affection toward Sidney than toward anyone else, family or otherwise.

Then again, so do I.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Okay, one more thing about Sarah Palin. Did you hear that both John McCain and Palin herself have suggested that she possesses the necessary level of international experience to deal with a country such as Russia because Russia is located next to Alaska?

Because Russia is located next to Alaska.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

As much fun as she is to criticize, enough already about Sarah Palin. Let's get back to the presidential election. You know, the one between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How come Subway sandwiches never, ever look as good in person as they do in the television commercials? And don't even get me started on their so-called "cooked" subs. Last time I checked, a weird microwave device cannot toast a sub. All it can do is heat the sub up, while simultaneously making the bread gummy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I lost about twenty pounds in the first few weeks after the depression became severe. I really wasn't eating very well. I had needed to lose some weight, so it was somewhat welcome. All of my clothes just hung on me, and those close to me commented on my weight. I've noticed, however, in recent weeks that I'm eating more and putting some of the weight back on. I'm not really thrilled about that, since I should probably be at my depression weight, rather than my non-depression weight. But my parents eat a lot, and now that I'm essentially eating all of my meals with them, I am eating what they're eating. I try to resist the seemingly ubiquitous cookies. But sometimes my mother buys peanut butter or M&M cookies that I can't say no to. When they leave for Florida in early October and I can no longer count on meals with them, I will have to make sure that I keep eating properly on my own. It's going to be tough. There was a time when I was able to manage it. Although I was the king of takeout. I'm not going to start making my own meals, so I guess I will go back to my old ways. Hopefully, I will eat decent meals without gaining back all of the weight that I've lost.

P.S. This is my 300th post.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Despite all the recent political talk, I am still very much struggling with the depression. I think that I've been doing better lately, with the group meetings and all. But everyday still brings with it certain challenges that I have to contend with. I have practically been living at my parents' house. I almost can't stand being at the condo. I really don't know why. I don't know if the depression just causes me to really hate my home, or whether it's the prospect of being in the condo and therefore, being alone. Alone is a weird thing for me these days. I've always been a bit of a loner, with just a few close friends. I've never travelled in a large group. And I'm not terribly social. So, I have grown accustomed to being alone over the years. But lately, being alone has caused me anxiety. It really bothers me to be alone. I mean, I must really hate it if I have been preferring the company of my parents to being alone. My parents have actually been better with me in recent weeks. They seem to be understanding my situation better (or at least faking it), and they have been rather kind to me. It's been nice. But I have really been missing FF lately. We had a very unique and, in my opinion, special friendship for about two years until she met her boyfriend and they became serious about this time last year. Our friendship has never been the same. Even though I knew that it was going to happen, the actual happening of it was difficult for me. I may have avoided dealing with it by adopting Sidney and starting a new job, but it was still there, lurking, waiting for me to get sick, and then it really hit me hard. I miss her terribly. I spent some time with her this afternoon, and it was nice. But it's not the same. And I miss it. I miss her. Especially on nights like tonight.
My father is obsessed with the election. Even though he is adamantly in favor of Barack Obama, he watched the convention speeches by Sarah Palin and John McCain just so he could swear at the television.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The recent flurry of comments on my blog just demonstrates how contentious, and therefore interesting, this election is. And on top of all that, it's an important election, coming at a time when our country is in turmoil, both home and abroad, thanks to the present administration. I would like to comment myself about the difference between Barack Obama's mother giving birth to him at the age of eighteen and Sarah Palin's pregnant seventeen-year-old daughter. The difference to me has nothing to do with right or wrong. It's the irony of such a thing happening to someone who belongs to the party that champions so-called "family values." While the conservative right rallies around Palin and her daughter now, they are the same people who preach abstinence as the best form of birth control. They oppose sex education in our schools, as well as the free distribution of condoms. I hope that we can all agree, Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, that teenage pregnancy is a problem in this country, and a problem that we would all like to see addressed. It is not my intention to judge teenagers who get pregnant, regardless of their socioeconomic status or the color of their skin. But given that Palin is a conservative member of a party that touts the family and the importance of parents' involvement in the lives of their children, it is virtually impossible not to notice that her daughter's pregnancy and the delayed announcement even on a national holiday when Hurricane Gustov was the top news story and the Republican convention was opening were all, at the very least, not good news for the McCain campaign. I think it would be foolish not to acknowledge that, regardless of your politics.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

As more and more information about Sarah Palin comes to light, I become more and more certain that there is no way that John McCain and his campaign did anywhere near enough research on her background before selecting her. I don't care what he says. He screwed up. Even a pro-choice Republican like Tom Ridge would have been a better choice for his campaign, even if the conservative right wing of the party wouldn't have liked him. He certainly wouldn't have brought as much baggage to the campaign as Palin has.

And as much as I hate the sensational nature of some of the news floating around about Palin, I have to admit that I kind of think that that poor high school hockey player is being pressured to marry Palin's daughter. And now I hear he's going to appear with the Palin family at the Republican convention. That's just good stuff.

Monday, September 1, 2008

It seems to me that John McCain failed to do enough research before he chose his running mate. I can't wait to hear the "family values" conservatives rally around Sarah Palin and applaud her daughter's decision as a seventeen year old to keep her baby and get married to the teenage father. That should be a winner of a marriage.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I guess I stand corrected on my previous post.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm getting kind of sick of the Clintons, too. If former Hillary supporters refuse to vote for Obama, and they would rather vote for McCain, I say good riddance. Vote for the party that would never support a woman or a black man. But they'll take your votes, that much is for certain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

When television advertisements for John McCain come on, my father swears at them as though they are interactive. He really hates John McCain. And at this point, depression or not, I pretty much hate him, too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I was just talking to FF on the phone. I was telling her about how difficult it is for me to get up earlier than the afternoon, especially if I don't have an activity scheduled. And with the group therapy program beginning for me on Monday, I'm a little bit anxious about having to get up in the morning. Getting up is doubly challenging because not only am I severely depressed, and therefore, very susceptible to long stretches of sleep, but I'm also taking a dosage of one medication that is intended to slow down my mind, and one side effect is that it makes me tired. I fall asleep at night very quickly, and I usually don't wake up during the night. This is unusual behavior because I am a notoriously light sleeper. So, this medication also makes getting up in the morning more difficult. Something that most people take for granted is something that is causing me both anxiety and challenges. Have I mentioned lately how awful depression is?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So, I start a group therapy program for depression on Monday. I know it will be good for me, but I still have anxiety about it. It meets on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from one to four. That doesn't seem so bad, on the surface. But I have not been getting out of bed until the afternoon for several weeks (which is horrible for me, I know), so getting out of bed in the morning will pose a new challenge for me. It's really very frightening when you are at a place where getting up before noon is actually a challenge. That's how awful depression is. And the funny thing is that I do feel better when I get up earlier and do more things during the day. The problem is that I don't have the self-discipline right now to force myself to do things. I have to have something to do, just as I know that I have dinner at my parents' house in the evening. It's so bloody frustrating to be in this condition. I often find myself thinking longingly of my life before the depression hit. My life was hardly perfect, and there was plenty of room for personal growth and improvement. But I've drifted so far away from that, and I have no sense of when I will get back there.

All of that having been said, today is the fourth day in a row in which I have felt a little better. It's not dramatic, so I don't make too big of a deal about it. Of course, my Mom continues to make far more of it than she should, and I do my best to try and temper her reaction. But she wants me to be better yesterday, and I'm pretty sure that I'm further away than she thinks that I am.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I absolutely love the fact that the ads that appear on top of my blog are now for depression treatments. I guess I should have expected that, but it's still kind of disconcerting when I open up my blog and see them there. I should probably look into getting rid of those ads altogether. I haven't made any money from them, so really, what's the point. I guess I just thought that I'd try having them on the blog, just in case my blog blew up and became a huge international hit and readers would be clicking on the ads all of the time, resulting in a new revenue source for me. Ha!

Anyway, to the dear readers that I do have and who don't make me any money, as you've surely noticed, I have been blogging recently. I don't know if this is a sign that I am starting to feel better, but I do think that my head has been a little more clear lately, and not as cluttered with the racing thoughts that I was fighting previously. Having at least some sense of normalcy has allowed me to sit and write more than I was able to just a couple of weeks ago. I guess I shouldn't think about it too much, but rather just take advantage of the opportunity to write again.

I can tell that my parents are growing frustrated with my progress. While they both struggle to understand exactly what I'm experiencing, I can see that they want more results from my treatment. They want the medications that I'm taking to work and for me to return to "normal" so that I can stop coming over to their house so much and start working again. In addition to their own personal limitations when it comes to understanding my condition, they are not particularly patient people by nature. So, as the depression has reached its third month, they are more than ready for some significant improvement. For instance, I had a good day yesterday, my first good day, I think, since Friday, August 1st, when I attended my first musical performance of the summer. My Mom noticed that I was a little livelier than usual last night, and she said, "Maybe you've turned the corner." I responded that it was way too early to know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Although I get to visit Sidney everyday at my parents' house, it has been difficult to see him adjust to his new home and to my Mom as his new caretaker. I hesitate to use the word "owner," as we still refer to me as that, but for all intents and purposes, he is now my Mom's dog. The good news is that it is clear to me that he is very happy living at their house. He has more room, he has stairs to go up and down, he has a nice backyard to investigate and make his own, and he gets treated very well. Perhaps too well. My Mom has an addiction to shopping. It's pretty nutso. She is constantly buying things. The house is full of things that have been bought, perhaps used once or twice, and then banished to the basement. And her shopping addiction has probably only gotten worse since my parents retired, giving her even more time to devote to her favorite pastime. Now, in addition to her regular shopping, she also shops for Sidney. In the short time that he has been living with her, she has bought so much stuff for that dog. She has bought several cookbooks for dogs, she has bought training tools, she has bought new collars and leashes. The worst of it, however, is definitely the toys. She has been making trips to Petco and Petland at least once a week, sometimes more, and every time, she comes home with several new toys for Sidney. I have joked that Sidney has more toys than I ever had as a child. And I'm not so sure that it's not the truth. The bottomline is that she treats him differently than I did, and although what she's doing is not "wrong," it's still hard to let go of him enough to accept the differences. I miss Sidney very much, even though I know that giving him to my Mom to care for him was the right thing to do. We formed a strong bond during the nine months that we were together after I adopted him. That bond is still strong, and we very much enjoy the time that we see each other now. But my parents will be taking him with them in October when they make their annual migration to Florida for six months. I will miss him terribly. And I'm worried that he will really be my Mom's dog then.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Apparently, it's not unusual for people with depression to hate their hair, among a multitude of other things. This odd symptom has not escaped me, and my last two haircuts have been shorter than ever before. And really, I think it was all leading up to today when I got my first "crew cut." At least, I think it's a crew cut. It's really, really short, that much I know for sure. Kelly, who cuts my hair, brought out the clippers and went to town on my hair, which wasn't that long to begin with. I feel better. Somehow. But it's still weird knowing that I almost certainly would never have gotten such a dramatic haircut were it not for the depression.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I took what some consider a "big step" toward recovery yesterday. I met with a couple of people about my condition in order to become involved in an outpatient treatment program. The appointment was at 11:30, which is pretty early by my recent standards. So, in order to facilitate my timely arrival, I slept at my parents' house (with Sidney cuddled up beside me) and got up early. My Mom made me coffee and eggs, and then she drove me to my appointment. I think that some of those close to me (like my parents) were hoping that more immediate treatment would come out of yesterday's appointment, but it was really just me telling two separate people about what I've been going through while they asked me questions and took notes. Since the course of treatment that my doctor and I have been trying does not appear to be producing positive results, it was her recommendation that I make the appointment so that I could get into the outpatient treatment program. The program consists of another doctor becoming in charge of my treatment, while I attend group therapy meetings three times a week. I'm told that the group dynamic is not a gathering of depressed folks sitting around in a circle sharing their stories. Rather, it's supposed to be educational in nature. I will just have to wait and see what it's really like. But those that I've talked to about yesterday's appointment think that I took an important first step in getting the help that I need. That may well be, but I woke up today feeling as lousy as I have been for the last couple of weeks. I suppose I should remain optimistic about what the program will be able to do for me. But when you're seemingly stuck in a horrible emotional state, it's hard to get optimistic about much of anything.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Depression is a terrible illness. Now that I've experienced it for the second time in less than three years, I really have a solid understanding of its devastating effects. And it is such a frustrating illness. I think that's a word that I use most often when I'm talking about it. Frustrating. Because unlike, say, a broken arm, which you can see as a tangible thing, depression is not really obvious. Granted, I often don't look "well," but most of the suffering is internal. There are physical symptoms. When it first started, I had body aches and fatigue which I compared to how you feel when you have the flu. I also got headaches occasionally. But depression mostly just eats away at you on the inside, turning your own mind and thoughts against you. It's also very exhausting. I am tired all of the time, and often prefer being in bed to anything else. Of course, this is a very common symptom of depression, with some people staying in bed for days at a time. I have been fortunate to avoid such a fate by structuring my days so that I have somewhere to be in the evenings, which serves to force me out of bed so that I can shower and leave the condo. But it's still a struggle. I often think that I would prefer to just stay in bed all day. It's horrible. Much of my frustration stems from the fact that I seem to be stuck at a certain place in my recovery. I bottomed out sometime in June, but I have leveled off to a place that is better than the abyss that I was in, but I don't seem to be improving from that point. I just go day to day without turning the corner toward wellness. The doctor who is treating me is frustrated, and I am frustrated. I don't know when this will start to improve so that I can get back to living a normal life. It's been so long that I almost forget what a normal life for me is.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I miss meatball burger and greens. One of my favorite meals. Meatball burger over crisp salad greens, topped with blue cheese and barbeque sauce. Very tasty.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One day at a time . . .

In the midst of what is turning into the worst summer of my entire life, I am still struggling with this depression. It really fucking sucks. I am functioning in survival mode, where I just take life one day at a time. It sounds cliche, but that's really how I manage. Everyday I stay in bed as long as I can in an attempt to make the day shorter, and therefore, more manageable for me. Then, my next big accomplishments for the day are brushing my teeth and taking a shower. After that, I need to leave my condo and go somewhere where I can be distracted from my depression. Sidney is now living with my parents while I try to get better. So, if I go over to my parents' house for dinner and a visit, then I can see Sidney and play with him. I commented to my Mom yesterday that spending time with Sidney is really the only time during the day that I smile and laugh. If I don't go over there, then I try to spend the evening with a friend, eating dinner and just hanging out. I'm certainly not at my social best. But I do try to make the best of the time away from the condo and my thoughts.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My parents (who are 74 and 70) do not get it. The depression thing. They just don't get it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Post number 281 . . .

So, I have depression. The doctor who is treating me calls it "severe depression." And it sucks. I would compare it to hell. Everything is upside down. Nothing is right with the world, or at least, nothing with my world. And I feel like shit. I can't stop my mind from racing. It just races and races, and no good thing comes out of all that thinking. Except that it takes energy away from the rest of my body, leaving me fatigued and sometimes confused. I can't concentrate on a task for very long. Composing this blog may be the longest I've been able to focus on one task in weeks. At least today was a good day. Yesterday was a bad day, possibly the worst day yet. But today was a good day. And that's all I can ask for right now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A message from Dave . . .

I just wanted to let my vast readership know that I have been unable to maintain my blog in recent weeks because I am battling a chronic illness. I hope to return to the blog as soon as my health permits.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sometimes tweezers just aren't enough . . .

I get my hair cut at a place whose clientele consists mostly of senior citizens. Female senior citizens. Many of them are very old. Today, while I was waiting to get my hair cut by Kelly, who has some younger customers such as myself, she and I both noticed that Monica, the other hairstylist, was just finishing up with one of her many older female clients, when she whipped out the little trimmers that you might use to trim sideburns and proceeded to trim the woman's chin with them. Monica obviously watches out for her clients, and they don't provide waxing at this salon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It didn't have the voice of Jerry Seinfeld . . .

I awoke this morning to find a bee hanging out on the window ledge on the first floor. This makes the second stinging insect that I've found in my condo in recent weeks, and it concerns me mostly because I haven't had the windows opened lately because the heat has caused me to keep the ACs humming much of the time. So, where the heck are these little flying annoyances coming from? I've never had this problem in the more than two and a half years that I've lived here. I think Sidney killed this one, though, because after I had pried the screen window opened to give the bee an escape route, I found it lying dead on the floor near the window. Problem solved.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hot Girl Friday . . .

Just to let my vast readership know, I am discontinuing Hot Girl Friday, at least for now. I have every confidence that those of you looking for hot girls will be able to find many of them on the internet, which is really all that I was doing. Thank you for your understanding.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It's time to fight the real enemy among us . . .

Given that I am not a "Hillary hater" like so many of my fellow Democrats (my father), I don't have anything derogatory to say about her announcement today except that I'm glad that it's finally over and now the whole party should get behind Barack Obama. Anybody (red states and probably Pennsylvania as well) who says that they will vote for John McCain before they will vote for a black man needs to shut the fuck up and look around at the state of this country, both internally and globally. And don't even get me started on Iraq (Vietnam). Being "better than Bush" is not a good reason to vote for McCain. In fact, it's embarrassingly naive and stupid.

Hot Dave Saturday . . .

It's freaking hot. I was just outside with Sidney for our quick morning outing and it sure is steamy for 6:30. Fortunately, I was able to return to the comfort of air conditioning inside. What would we do without air conditioning? I don't know how people manage to live without it when it gets like this. Perhaps a fan or two blowing directly on you when you're sleeping can get you through the night, but what about the other times? Even with AC, I've been getting warm just walking up and down my spiral staircase one of the seemingly hundreds of times that I do that everyday. But historically, I have not responded well to extremely hot weather (Or extremely cold weather, for that matter. I just plain don't like extremes of virtually any kind). It's probably the number one reason why I could never live in a tropical climate in the summer like Florida (that is, in addition to it being a formerly Bush-run red state that stole the 2000 election from Al Gore). I certainly welcomed the arrival of warmer weather with spring, but this 90s with humidity business is too much for me.

I find it funny when you're visiting someone who keeps their AC on pretty high indoors on hot days like we're having right now, and you can't help being a little uncomfortable, even though it's sweltering outside. My father used to do that. My mother tells me that they have come to a compromise and that he doesn't do that anymore. I was visiting FF yesterday afternoon at the home that she now shares with her boyfriend, and after we were forced inside off of the back porch by the heat, we sat in the living room with the central air set to a comfortable level. But I was sitting under a ceiling fan that was churning at such a high rate that I actually felt a little chilly. But soon enough, I was back out in the car driving home, fighting the heat, humidity and, of course, East End drivers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Have ALL girls "gone wild" . . . ?

In conducting research for this week's Hot Girl Friday, I was amazed, amazed, at how difficult it can be to find a photo of a woman on the internet who isn't in some state of undress. Who are these women and why are they submitting naked or semi-naked photos of themselves to internet websites? I saw a lot of amateurs showing off their bare breasts for all the world to see. I mean, I had to look, even though it wasn't really what I was looking for.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I went to bed around eleven last night. Did anything interesting happen while I was sleeping?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saturday night was a bad night for more than just the Penguins . . .

After having a few drinks during the Penguins game on Saturday night, I started hiccuping. This seems to happen to some people after they drink, and in recent years, it has started to occasionally happen to me as well. The hiccuping was so bad and so violent that even after having something to eat and trying any number of things to distract me, I couldn't stop. And they became very violent, causing my whole body to shudder with every one. I tried to go to sleep, and I guess I did fall asleep for a few hours, but then I was awakened around 4:00 by more violent hiccups. And I was pissed. I got up and was cursing as I walked around, punctuated by the hiccups that kept rattling my whole body. I just wanted to sleep off the night's festivities and put the hiccups behind me. They were so bad that I decided that I might get some relief if I threw up, something that I rarely do, unless I am really quite sick with the flu or food-borne illness. So, I got down on my hands and knees and situated myself in front of the toilet and then just let the hiccups take me naturally to the next step. Unfortunately, not even that stopped them, leaving me even more frustrated and angry. And I had just thrown up for nothing. Looking absolutely sick and desperate in the bathroom mirror, I hiccuped my way down the spiral staircase and was finally able to fall asleep in my green manchair, which is where I awoke around 6:30. I returned to bed and finally got some sleep. But I would say that it was one of the worst night's of sleep that I have ever gotten, and the hiccups were so violent and unpleasant that I'm beginning to rethink the value of drinking more than just one or two cocktails anymore.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From Helen at the library . . .

A woman came to the desk asking for one of her hold items titled "Virginity Lost." I unfortunately had to tell her that the item was marked "Missing."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wasp update . . .

I am happy to report that the giant wasp was found today alive and well and still trying to get out of the closed windows of my condo. So, he did not suffer the fate of being a little doggie snack for Sidney. Although, given the size of the respective combatants, I'm not sure who would have won that battle. Once I found him, I simply opened the window, and the wasp gently stepped out of my condo and into the world outside, safe and sound.

Monday, May 26, 2008

First hail, now a giant wasp . . .

I found a large wasp buzzing around my condo a little while ago. But now I can't find it. That's a little bit scary.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Even the Lukester showed up in person to survey the scene . . .

A Pittsburgh police officer yesterday shot and killed a man who wielded a meat cleaver (of all things) while threatening his landlord and the officer at a street corner in Oakland.

Come to Mad Mex in Oakland for a killer margarita and stay for the entertainment outside.

What Penguin Evgeni Malkin is thinking . . .

The Stanley Cup sure is shiny. I wonder how heavy it would be if I lifted it above my head. I wonder how champagne sipped from it would taste. Probably kind of metallic-y.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What the hail . . . ?

So, as I often do when I go shopping, on Wednesday afternoon I parked my little car at the far end of the Target parking lot so that I would have to walk a little extra to and from the store. It had been raining off and on all day in little bursts of showers, but at the time that I went into Target, it looked like it might be clearing up. I went into the store, purchased four items, and left, just as it was starting to rain lightly. No problem, I thought. I don't mind getting a little wet on my way back to the car. Halfway to the car and it really started to rain, so much so that I considered making a run for it, even though I was already getting wet. Then, BLAM!, the rain instantly turns to hail about the size of green peas, and I wasn't getting wet anymore. I was getting pelted by these little fuckers that seemed to be coming at me sideways! My hair was soaked, my clothes were soaked, my glasses were dripping, and all I could do was utter out loud the word "Seriously?!"

Back by popular demand . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

There were a number of things that I considered writing about today (Ted Kennedy's cancerous brain tumor, the full week of downright cold weather leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, the fact that I got caught in a hail storm walking to my car in the Target parking lot yesterday afternoon), but the most pressing issue of them all for me right now is that it sucks to be a guy without an ass. I have no ass. I'm assless. And it makes me look weird. I do. I look weird. I've got a belly, but no ass to help hold it up. And as the many assless men out there know, you can't buy a pair of pants that really fit well when you don't have an ass. I don't think that I own one pair of pants, casual or dress, that really fit me at all. They all just grip me at the waist (no jokes, please) and then droop off my bony hips all the way to the ground. No shape. No support. It doesn't look good.

Maybe I'll write about the hail storm tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Looks like this little fellow has better health insurance than I do.

The roads are perdition . . .

The condition of the roads in this city, and particularly the East End where I live, are horrible. Horrible, I say. There is some good news today, however. The Pittsburgh Marathon will return next May. I remember when Tom Murphy was mayor, many of the streets along the marathon route got repaved just in time for the race. So, perhaps we will see some nice, newly repaved streets.

Next spring.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm soliciting readers' comments . . .

This story from today's Post-Gazette is interesting to me, on so many different levels. But rather than comment on it myself, I'm curious to hear what my vast readership thinks. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of this intriguing issue of what constitutes obscenity versus freedom of speech.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great photo . . .

As this photo from today's Post-Gazette shows, even the birds in Pittsburgh ignore red traffic lights.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blue blazers and cocktail napkins . . .

When I was taking off my blue blazer on Friday night, after a very long day, I found a beige cocktail napkin with red lettering on it tucked away in one of the pockets. It was from my long-time best friend's wedding in November of 2005. Sometime last year, I stopped being friends with Ian, after we had some disagreements about some things that good friends sometimes clash over. Especially as we get older and life seems to test us in more and more challenging ways than it used to. Seeing the little rumpled napkin took me right back to that place and time, when I was at his wedding, seeing him so happy, and inside, there was a part of me that was just beginning to truly realize that my best friend had found a new best friend for the rest of his life.

I emailed Ian today to let him know that I had found the napkin. He emailed back in very typical Ian and Dave fashion. And it was familiar and comforting.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back from Virginia . . .

The memorial service for my aunt was nice. Comforting. For everybody, I think. My uncle looked horrible. Gaunt. Out of it. My three male cousins were all a little chubby, and they have bad teeth. Didn't look really clean and "polished," if you will. There were a lot of people I didn't know. And most of them looked (read: were) really old. I drove the whole way there, the whole time there, and the whole way back. And I didn't sleep well, because I shared a room with my father. It rained the whole time we were there. I didn't see sunlight until I got back to Pittsburgh today. My one cousin's girlfriend is from Allison Park. He's a musician. But not really. My other cousin wrote a book about the punk music movement in New York City in the 70s sometime. I thumbed through it. It looked interesting. He wrote a book. And my other cousin works at Radio Shack. He stole pain pills from my aunt and then got addicted to them and then had to got to rehab and then he wasn't allowed to live with his parents anymore. I exchanged cell phone numbers with the oldest cousin who is similar in age to me. He may come to Pittsburgh sometime because he'd really like to tour the Warhol Museum. I said I'd let him stay with me. My aunt died. They had a funeral. And then they had a memorial service. And then there were refreshments in the church's activity room. Cheese and crackers. Little finger sandwiches. Lemonade. Cookies. Lots of people I didn't know. My sister and I stayed close together. A bunch of people commented on how my father looked like his sister. And then we came back.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

To Virginia . . .

It's a rainy Thursday morning in Pittsburgh, and I leave for Virginia in a few hours. With the memorial service for my Aunt Betty scheduled for tomorrow, my father, my sister, and I are driving to the town in Virginia where my aunt and uncle used to live before they moved into the retirement community. It's a small town, more or less in the middle of nowhere, called Purcellville. My uncle was the mayor of the town way back when. It was not as glamorous as it might sound. I remember when the town got its first McDonald's sometime around the early 80s, my uncle told us that the town council voted to restrict the new restaurant's use of the big "golden arches" that used to accompany some McDonald's locations. It was a big deal at the time for the town mayor.

Anyway, some changes have been made to the plan. Sidney is staying with some friends of mine, so I will be taking him there this morning. My sister is flying into Pittsburgh from Chicago this morning, and then she, my father, and I leave this afternoon. It will be good to have my sister along. The car ride will probably be better, and at least I will be able to get some help with the driving, if I need it.

I was so underprepared for an occasion like a memorial service that I have been scrambling around the last few days, trying to get some appropriate dress pants and shoes. The pants that arrived from L.L. Bean on Tuesday were way too tight in the waist (one of the pitfalls of ordering clothing online), so I will have to send them back. But it forced me out into the world of shopping and retail department stores. I went to Macy's to pick out a pair of dress pants that actually fit in the waist (a true rarity, it seems, it my life). I am pleased with the comfortable fit, but the length is still too long, but since I don't have time to have them tailored, I will just have to gut it out on Friday. While I was buying the pants, I realized that I didn't have comfortable, properly-fitting, dress shoes, either. So, I moozied on over to the men's shoe department and found a nice pair of black loafer-esqe shoes that I bought. I got both items on sale, so perhaps department stores aren't all bad, although I really don't like going to them for much of anything, if I don't have to.

So, with seemingly all of the necessary details taken care of, the trip to Virginia for my aunt's memorial service looms somewhat ominously before me. Hopefully, it will stop raining. Hopefully, it will not be a miserable trip. Hopefully, we will all get through it as best as possible.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stalkers . . .

Helen: Do you know I have stalkers at the library? I do. I've shown up on craigslist a dozen times. We had to alert our main security in Oakland about it. Unfortunately they couldn't trace who it was. Finally, one of my co-workers wrote the guy and told him that we know who he is from our security cameras and if he comes in again he'll be kicked out. Nothing's shown up since. When I was a page I had guys follow me around, try to talk to me, and come back for weeks afterwards. I still have this one guy who comes in and leers at me over the magazine stands at the front of the library. Abby bought me mace.

Dave: You have stalkers? Good for you. I mean, I know that isn't PC or anything, but it does take a certain kind of person to get a stalker.

I had one once. It was ugly. She came to my apartment really late and wouldn't stop ringing the buzzer, so I had to call the cops. Nasty stuff.

Anyway, way to go, Helen. But keep the mace handy, just to be sure.

FF: HELEN is the Craigslist missed connections sections library girl!?!?!?! ( I like saying that -- missed connections sections) I read about her all the time. She is right. There are several creepy dudes out there that frequently post about her. What a small, and creepy, world. I want a stalker. This isn't fair.

Monday, May 5, 2008

God's so-called "waiting room" . . .

I now have had four relatives move into retirement homes, only to see three of the four pass away before very long. I don't know what that says about retirement homes, but my personal experiences have helped shape the way I view these "retirement communities." And I don't care how nice or upscale they are. The old people are bored and often cantankerous. And the people who are charged with their care are underpaid, and sadly are often forced to deal with impatience and rude behavior from the very people that they are supposed to be caring for. Meanwhile, the communities themselves charge a lot of money, and make a lot of money, regardless of how long a person lives there. The whole thing is a shady business. But there are few other options, I suppose, when people get to be an age where they can not necessarily take care of all of their own personal needs in their own home.

When my grandfather died, I went to visit my grandmother in her retirement home. She was already suffering from memory loss at that point, but other than that, she was in pretty good shape. I walked around the home. It was certainly a very nice facility. The grounds were immaculate, and all of the staff were friendly. But the doors were locked because some residents (like my grandparents) had a tendency to wander off the grounds to go shopping and the like, even though they no longer had a car. They even placed devices on their ankles that went off when they tried to leave the building. Ultimately, what I saw there I can't even begin to describe. There were a lot of old people just sitting around in chairs and in wheelchairs. They looked (to me, anyway) as though they were just waiting to die.

At the time of my grandfather's memorial service, my grandmother had a slight cough. It didn't seem like much, but my family suggested that she see a doctor about it. Several months later, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. My mother went to see her, and she passed away with my mother by her side.

Aunt Betty's burial is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday. My father and I will not be attending that. The memorial service is on Friday, so he and I (and still possibly Sidney) will be driving down to Virginia on Thursday for that and returning Saturday. I will be sharing a hotel room with my father for the first time since high school. My sister and brother-in-law will also be flying there from Chicago for the memorial service. The whole thing is just a mess. As most deaths are. As time goes on, I become less and less interested in living myself past the age of being able to live independently and take care of myself. After that, you just don't know what's going to happen. And in my limited experience, the odds of living long in a retirement community are not looking very good right now.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Email to Mom . . .

I understand that you may have access to email. So, I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry that I didn't get to talk to you before you left, so I didn't get a chance to tell you to have a great time in Egypt with Sara. And don't buy me anything. Travel light.

Also, just so you know, Dad got a call from Marc to let him know that Betty was being moved from the hospital into hospice care today. Apparently, she had been suffering from kidney failure, and there was nothing more medically they could do for her in the hospital. So, Dad and I were going to drive down there and back tomorrow, taking Sidney with us. But then Betty passed away today.

I don't know how or when Dad was going to tell you because he doesn't want to upset your trip, but I thought you should know, if you have access to email.

Continued . . .

I'm going to drive (with) my father to Virginia tomorrow. We are going to get an early start so that, in theory, he can spend some time with his sister and her family, and then together we will drive back tomorrow night.

And Sidney is coming with us.

Just in case . . .

I got a call last night during "Lost" (which is a major no-no) from my father. Apparently, he got a call from my cousin last night telling him that his sister, my Aunt Betty, is dying. She has been in the hospital for some time now, and the doctors have concluded that there is nothing more medically that they can do for her, so they are moving her to hospice care, which as many of you surely know means that death is likely not far behind.

As I've previously written about, my aunt was suffering from depression. Apparently, she has also been suffering from kidney failure, a fact which came as news to my father and me. When I was talking to my notoriously stoic (read: cold) father, I could hear the trembling in his voice as we talked about the situation and what he's going to do. Even though my aunt has been battling cancer for several years now, hearing that the end was actually near was surely more than my father had bargained for.

My mother just left on Wednesday for two weeks in Egypt with a friend of hers from Florida. So, my father is all alone with no one to talk to and no one to drive him to Virginia on Saturday to see his sister. Other than short errands and trips to and from PNC Park, my father does not drive much anymore. As well he shouldn't. He's a horrible driver, but he always has been. It's just compounded dramatically now that he's 74. I may have to drive him, which I am happy to do, except that I don't have anything that I can do with Sidney. The loss of freedom that comes with having a dog is something that I have struggled with ever since I got Sidney. But until now, it really wasn't a big issue. I have to talk to my father again today, but I may just have to drive him to and from Virginia this weekend, and take Sidney with me. I have limited other options, and that may be easiest course of action at this point.

More later.

It is also ironic that just last week it occurred to me that I had let my humble stock of business attire diminish over the years as I have not had many occasions to "dress up." So, after a job interview for a new job last Wednesday for which I decided that I did not have the right (and right fitting) clothes to wear, I ordered two pairs of dress pants from L.L. Bean over the weekend, and they are expected to arrive today. I remember thinking when I was online looking for dress pants, that it's always a good idea to have appropriate dress clothes handy. Just in case.

Jim, I think that you're the only reader who enjoys Hot Girl Friday . . .

This young woman is not a professional model, but just a very attractive (some might say "hot") woman.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And another thing . . .

Dating for me sucks. I look younger than most people my age, especially the women many of whom grew up in the sun, and I frankly prefer younger women (read: college students) whose top priority in life at this very moment is not necessarily getting married and having children. Meanwhile, older women, especially those who are divorced with children, appear to love me. LOVE me. And I guess I'm pretty picky when it comes to the women to whom I'm attracted, but I'm just not into women who have children. I'm not attracted to it emotionally. Or physically. Read: sexually. So, what's a thirty something single guy supposed to do?

Happy Anniversary . . .

Today also marks the five-year anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech in which he declared the successful end of military operations in Iraq. Bush flying onto the aircraft carrier in that jumpsuit that was giving him a major wedgie. It was quite a stirring sight. He should be hung from a flagpole in that getup until he admits that he's a major dope.

Time to trim those ten little daggers . . .

Now that it's May 1st and the temperature is headed in an upward direction, it's time for women and men alike to make sure that their toenails are trimmed and ready for the sandal season. Untrimmed, funky-looking toenails are never good. Even on a Friday Hot Girl.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maybe I should get a Swiffer . . .

Despite being a short-haired dachshund, my dog Sidney has what seems to me like a lot of hair. And right now, he is shedding like crazy, meaning that there are little black and tan hairs taking over my condo. And not only do I think that I'm a bit allergic to him, but I think he's a little bit allergic to himself. We both seem to be doing a lot of sneezing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Love and baseball . . .

I feel like someone made a deal with the Devil on my behalf, but no one bothered to tell me about it. I've had what I consider to be tremendous good luck across the spectrum of my life. Too many examples to even start reciting them. There's been a lot of good luck. There's been some bad luck too, some of it disguised as such until it finally revealed itself as good luck. But I think, overall, I've had much more good luck than bad luck.

That having been said, part of that bad luck is that I've never been able to get something that I truly wanted. I get close (not unlike Sisyphus and his big rock) but then whatever it is that I'm pursuing somehow gets away.

I've been in serious love three times in my life, but those relationships always ended. I once thought that I knew exactly what my dream job was, and even better, I thought that it might be within reach at one point. But it wasn't. And now that chapter of my life is so distant and removed from where and who I am now. What happened?

Even my dog is named after the great anti-hero in Pittsburgh Pirates history. So close, but not quite there. And to have it snatched away from me so suddenly and so violently. Damn you, Sid Bream!

And ever since that fateful night in Atlanta, the Curse of Sid Bream has followed the Pirates into the team's 16th year of losing futility. And there was a time not so long ago, that the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of my great, great loves. And now I don't attend games in beautiful PNC Park, even if the tickets are free, and I can hardly bear to watch the games on TV. It seems as though all of my great loves are taken from me. And I quite simply want to know why. Why can't my lifetime of good luck spill over into these crucial areas of my life that have left me, in some ways, empty and desolate? Whose idea was this? I'd like to renegotiate my contract, please.

Baseball email . . .

Jim: I just realized that I have too many damn Pirates hitters on my rotisserie team.

Dave: Yeah, the Pirates have the same problem.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hanes HER way . . .

As this photo shows, the state of the economy is obviously forcing some folks to find unusual and unorthodox ways of saving money.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sun of Man . . .

It's Saturday morning and I'm awake. I got up around five to take Sidney out and feed him, like I do everyday, but today, I just couldn't get back to sleep. So, I left Sidney in the bed where he is still sleeping. and I've been up since then, diddling around on the computer, drinking coffee, and watching the slow and steady sunrise outside of my window.

It's been a glorious week, a week that has brought with it all of the pleasantries of Spring. The color green is finally starting to make its presence known all over the place, and the cherry tree is front of my building is bursting with blooms. How can I sleep when there is so much to do and so much to enjoy?

All of this comes after a difficult winter for me. I suffer from Seasonal Depression, so the winter months are just that much colder, that much darker for me than they are for the average person. January, February, and March were tough. I was struggling to get up in the morning, and I was sleeping in on the weekends until noon. But sure enough, just when I needed it most, Spring returned in April without the usual chill and wet weather that ordinarily accompanies it and the start of baseball season in Pittsburgh.

Now, I know that a rather severe wave of colder air and temperatures is expected here next week, but I really feel empowered right now. I think that Spring and the sun have given me the strength and fortitude to withstand a few days of typical April weather. For now, I am back to being what I consider to be my true self, my true Dave-dom.

At least until next January.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Did you know that inmates get industrial-sized Lunchables to eat in jail . . . ?

A new feature for Dave's blog . . . ?

Dave: Did you look at Tony Mandarich's blog?

Jim: No. Your blog is the only one I read. After that, anything else would just be drivel.

Dave: I appreciate the compliment. However, there were photos of hot girls on Mandarich's blog. I can't really compete with that. Maybe I should start having a "hot girl photo Friday" feature. What do you think?

Jim: As long as it doesn't compromise the integrity of the message on your blog, then I think you should have hot girls on it as often as possible. Or at least on Fridays.

The more you know . . .

Did you know that the lower class in America is now defined as households that make $35,000 or less? Scary. I know a lot of intelligent, educated folks from middle and upper class families who are now considered in the lower class.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mixed results . . .

Not a bad showing for Obama yesterday, really, considering Pennsylvania is a state divided with blue state status surrounding Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on either end and a whole bunch of red state folks everywhere else.

At least they still have their guns and their religion. And John McCain. And a war in Iraq. And a failing economy. And an increasing price of a college education to go along with a shrinking job market and salary deflation. And a two-class system: upper and lower. And a current President who is giving many of us $300 or $600 to help "stimulate" the economy by encouraging Americans to spend that money, rather than save it or apply it to existing debt. Problem solved.

America will continue to be in the same good hands that it has been for the last seven years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not only is today Earth Day . . .

. . . But it is also (finally) Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania. And there is a lot at stake in this one. So, stop reading my blog and go vote.

For Barack Obama, of course.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I wish there was a "Do Not Call" List for elections . . .

Franco Harris keeps calling me and leaving pre-recorded messages. I get it, I get it. I'm voting for Obama, already. Sheez.

Is Hillary's message falling on deaf ears . . . ?

Friday, April 18, 2008

A quote from Helen the library clerk on a beautiful spring day . . .

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.

John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From the bitter blogger . . .

I don't know why Barack Obama's comments last week about some people in Pennsylvania being bitter and disenfranchised and finding comfort in guns or religion have caused him any controversy whatsoever.

A) It's so true.

B) I'm a perfect example of a bitter and disenfranchised person living in Pennsylvania.


C) I'm so bitter that I can't even find comfort in things like guns and religion. I got nothing. Nothing, man.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prices keep going up: gasoline, groceries, pizza, and light-rail extension projects . . .

Subway bids are budget busters

Low bid for second contract for light-rail extension is more than 50% over earlier estimate

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By Joe Grata, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The apparent low bid for the second contract on the Port Authority's light-rail extension project came in at $48.9 million yesterday, well over budget.

Authority officials wouldn't say how much the bid for the new Gateway Center Station shell exceeded engineering estimates, but the number is well beyond the $25 million to $30 million range discussed two months ago.

The low bidder was North Shore Constructors II, a joint venture of West Mifflin-based Trumbull Corp. and Japan-based Obayashi Corp., who currently hold the initial $156.5 million contract to bore twin tunnels under the Allegheny River for the 1.2-mile North Shore Connector.

Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum submitted the only other bid: $55.7 million.

"We were surprised that there were only two bidders," authority Operations Manager Winston Simmonds said. "It may be because there are so many other civil construction projects out there. The heated construction environment was definitely a concern for us, along with the escalation of labor, concrete, steel and energy costs."

The authority recently revised the contract and decided to close the existing Gateway Center T station for two years during construction as a means of minimizing costs.

"We've cut all the corners we can cut," Mr. Simmonds said.

The high bids do not bode well for the next contract, building the Allegheny Station shell and the elevated superstructure for the system on the North Shore. Those bids are to be opened May 14.

"Escalation is the concern for all contracts," Mr. Simmonds said. "It's reflective of the marketplace locally and nationally."

The Port Authority has a full-funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for a $435 million project. As of the end of March, it had spent $162 million for consultants, insurance, other associated costs and construction completed to date.

With another $76.5 million still to be paid for the first contract, and if it decides to accept yesterday's low bid, the authority will have spent and/or committed a total of $287.4 million, leaving $147 million to cover four remaining contracts that include station finishes, signals, rail installation, traction power system, communications, escalators and elevators.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato has previously declared $12 million as the limit on the county's share of project costs.

Mr. Simmonds said he and other officials would discuss what they expect for the project's financial future after reviewing the latest bids.

"We want to clearly understand the differences" between bids and engineering estimates, he said. "We want to gather more information."

Even Bill agrees that Hillary is not number 1 . . .

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apparently, Hillary is not "number 1" . . .

Hillary may have gotten the Steelers jersey from Uncle Dan Onorato, but Obama got the endorsement of Dan Rooney.

From today's Post-Gazette:

The Steelers chairman released a letter endorsing Mr. Obama. "As a grandfather and a citizen of this community I think Barack Obama's thoughtful, strategic approach is important for America," the letter addressed to "fellow Pennsylvanians" said. "When I hear how excited young people seem to be when they talk about this man, I believe he will do what is best for them, which is to inspire them to be great Americans."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

21-gun salute . . .

Charlton Heston died last Saturday. What I want to know is if there was anyone there to take the rifle from his cold, dead hands.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This issue very much troubles me . . .

I've been making some quiet and some not so quiet observations about the direction of the economy (read: money) for several years, but now, with an election year and all, everyone seems to be getting on the bandwagon. It must really be bad.