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Between the devil and the deep blue Me

Dry skin, chapped lips, tired eyes, bad attitude. These are my constant companions from December through about March. Sunny days offer some relief but for the most part, I have to white knuckle my way through winter, armed with coconut oil and peach pear lip balm. Is it because I am a California girl who will never - not even decades after she left - get used to the actual seasons of the east coast? (Side note: the people who go on about liking the change of seasons? I cannot relate. If every day is sunny and warm and I have to look at the calendar to know it’s midwinter? I’m cool with that.) Or is it something else? Something more biological, maybe. Or is it astrological? Could also be physiological or psychological but hopefully not pathological.

And yes, you could say - I am the depressive sort. The moody, irascible, stay-under-the-blankets-and-order-in-the-groceries type. And the depressive behaviors have a way of begetting themselves. Like the Old Testament: “and Sadness begat Inertia and Inertia begat Snackiness and Snackiness begat Sloth and Sloth begat Crabiness” and so on. For my moodiness, I take meds, get a modest amount of exercise, and avoid partaking (or in some cases, partaking too much) in substances that can engender such states all on their own.

But also? I am the ambitious sort! I like to create. I like to do. I like to opine. I like to plan. I like to effect change, mix it up, make my mark. I like to learn and am curious about almost anything. Recently I decided to learn everything I could about the Donner Party and then quickly shifted gears to the history of Northern California gangs. When I am learning and doing, I love myself. When I am not, I don't.

And so these two Mes have a tendency to duke it out like two girls on the playground, digging their nails into each other’s forearms and doubling down on their own convictions. (Side note: I am SO SORRY to Amy Boling, whose arms I scratched up, so unable was I to express an emotion healthfully.) In one corner is AM, writing and thinking and planning and doing. And in the other corner is MM, fraught with existential concerns and generally feeling sorry for herself. These two sides - if that’s what we’re calling them - seem to war right in front of me and within me as I press “continue” in answer to the question “are you still watching?” on Netflix nights. As I tuck into a new documentary, AM is excited to learn more about the Reagans while MM is just looking to escape.

They really shouldn’t quarrel, though. They should rather try to work together, to collaborate such that Melancholy Me can feel seen and Ambitious Me can return those emails. I have tried to tell them this countless times but MM can barely lift her head offer an apathetic shrug while AM just tsks and snorts at the two of us, rolling her eyes, looking at the clock, apologizing to the to-do list and earnestly promising to do better tomorrow.

Today is a sunny day, which is why I am writing this. MM would want to, but wouldn’t be able to gather the enthusiasm. And don’t think AM is pleased, either. She’s satisfied enough to stop nagging but not so heartened so as to give me a high five. In the relative harmony that such a beautiful day affords, I can see this war a little more objectively. And I decide that the job as the bearer of these two Mes is to accept them both, to not give too much stage time to either - and to make sure both have plenty of lip balm.


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