Monthly Archives: January 2012

and miles to go before i sleep


Well…

For the past couple of months I’ve been feeling a little, for lack of a better word, adrift.  Last summer I wrote about my ongoing struggle with depression, and the cocktail of mood-stabilizing drugs that helped me drag myself up out of the bullshit.  At the time I felt almost elated, like through Zoloft and Abilify I had somehow found a magic cure that made me feel normal again.  And for a while I did feel almost normal, “almost,” I guess, being the operative word.

A few months after I lost my job I stopped taking the medication, in part because of the exorbitant cost of drugs when one doesn’t have insurance ($375.00 for a month’s worth of Abilify?  You must be joking me), but also in part because I no longer felt like being “managed.”  Okay, the pills maybe made me more pleasant to be around, they maybe chemically somewhat dissipated the weird invisible gray cloud I feel is always following me around, but I felt like I was living a half-life, like I couldn’t be trusted with my own emotions.  The very idea of “mood stabilizers” started to sound sinister to me.  I don’t want to stabilize my blacker feelings.  I want to be able to understand, wrangle, and get past them.

 So I stopped taking the pills.  Probably not the smartest idea, considering they say you should consult your doctor and be weaned off SSRIs rather than dropping them cold-turkey, but frankly my doctor was kind of an asshole who kept misdiagnosing me and asking me if I was on meth (what?) and didn’t seem to have much of an agenda for me getting better beyond dumping drugs down my neck.  Whenever I showed up at his office crying he just increased my dosage and said he was certain I would get past this.  For some reason it wasn’t reassuring.  So I just stopped.

For the first few weeks I felt strangely OK, a little blurred, a little off, but generally OK.  Then, somewhere around November, the full force of my depression started coming at me again.  I found myself having weird creepy secret crying jags on my couch in the middle of the day.  Sleep wasn’t coming.  My relationship ended (for a few reasons, but my depression and anxiety and the ensuing inability to be available to someone else who, incidentally, also suffered from depression and anxiety were clearly a major factor).  Social engagements started freaking me the fuck out.  My motivation to achieve anything came to a virtual standstill.  I felt like my resting heart rate was about 25% higher than it ought to have been.  Panic was mounting and I didn’t want to mention it to anybody because I thought, well, Sara, you kind of brought this upon yourself.  It was like, here’s your bed, now fucking lie in it.

So over the holiday season I attempted to muddle through, not wanting to mention my shit to anyone.  Although anyone who knows me in person will tell you I’m pretty outgoing, at the same time when it comes to matters of the heart and mind I have a tendency to keep mum.  It’s a condition that psuedotherapists on VH1 reality shows refer to as “having a wall up.”  My friends and family seemed satisfied with my condition and I didn’t want to alarm anyone.  Also there’s this whole thing about admitting you are depressed that causes the people around you to treat you differently.  I don’t like being handled with kid gloves, nor do I particularly like to talk about my feelings.  Keeping my shit bottled up inside prevented both of these things from happening.  Friends and family kept telling me I seemed like I was doing well, that I was happy, and these comments sparked a sort of perverse satisfaction inside me: Fooled you.  But also, You really have no idea.

Internally I was starting to lose it.  My life had become fraught with a neverending series of what-ifs.  What if I agree to go to that party and then I have an anxiety attack?  What if I get too drunk and start getting sloppy about my feelings?  What if while we’re out of town I suddenly really really need to be by myself? What if I can’t get out of this?  And, most distressingly, what if the people I love get sick of me for not being able to kick this fucking bullshit?  I’ve been around enough other depressed people in my life to know that it can take near-saintly levels of patience to put up with someone caught up in the throes of interior weirdness.  You want to shake them and tell them to snap out of it, to get right, to start acting like the person you know they are.  I felt like if I could fake my way through this period than I could get out of it on my own and no one would be the wiser.

Because honestly, it’s embarrassing.  As if I didn’t already have enough bad feelings to deal with, I was now dealing with the depressive’s guilt about being depressed.  Why am I depressed, you know?  Like, I don’t have it as great as some people but my life is in no way even close to being bad.  People tell me all the time how lucky I am, which I know, and which makes me feel like even more of an asshole for not being able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and fucking DEAL WITH IT.  I read Allie from Hyperbole and a Half’s hilarious webcomic about her own “adventures” in depression, and I related with what she said:

“It’s disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it – you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you’re crying and think “This is so sad. I can’t even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears.”

But my sadness didn’t have a purpose.  Listening to sad music and imagining that my life was a movie just made me feel kind of weird because I couldn’t really get behind the idea of a movie where the character is sad for no reason.”

Man, I feel that.  And if there’s something I am good at, it’s compartmentalizing my feelings.  I wrapped up my depression and anxiety and put it in a box marked with a big sad face and tried to shove it into the back of my mind.

When I do this kind of thing, this whole pretending-everything-is-okay thing, I tend to fling myself with wild abandon into some kind of pointless but valiant-seeming distraction.  I become a one-track mind kind of girl.  I’ve had weeks where I did literally nothing but sit around the house with my guitar playing the same few chords over and over again.  All those runway photos I used to painstakingly trim the backgrounds from and arrange in Photoshop for days, even weeks on end, back in the WR2BAM days?  A symptom of my depression, for sure.  The intense spurt of creative inspiration I had at the beginning of my unemployment, when I was pumping out pins and jewelry at an alarming pace?  The same distraction technique.  It’s like my mind is going, give me something to do — anything — just keep me occupied so we don’t have to think about this other thing.

This time around this obsessive mania has manifested itself in an even less productive form.  In my spare time for the past month or so I’ve been doing literally nothing but reading.  I’m tearing through three or four novels a week.  I guess somehow devoting all my available mental space to other people’s fiction seems like a more lofty, intellectual way of dealing with my emotions than, for instance, parking it in front of the TV for hours on end.  “See, I’m not just wasting my life away!  I read Anna Karenina in two days last week!”  But ultimately, escapism is escapism, and no matter how many Russian classics I plow through, it’s not a replacement for my real full life.  And that box I had shoved into the back of my mind keeps dislodging itself and tipping over and spilling everything out all over my brain.  One minute I’m reading Jonathan Lethem and everything seems OK and the next minute I’m curled up in the fetal position, crying.

When you are depressed, bearing this shit alone can feel almost noble.  I just finished Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot (which I thought was pretty crap), but I did relate to the character of Leonard and how he considered himself to be a “superior” type of depressive.  I have found myself thinking similar things about myself over the course of my life when I have struggled with my own mental stability, like being depressed somehow makes me interesting or more valid as a writer.  The fact is, though, that that’s all the depression talking.  Depression validates itself.  But it will never fix itself.

So a couple of weeks ago I broke down and admitted to my family the rough time that I’ve been having.  I’m still working up the nerve to talk about it in more depth with some of my close friends, because I know my mental weirdness is affecting my interactions with the people I love.  But just admitting to someone, finally, that things are not going well almost felt like the first step in getting myself out of this mess this time.  I have made the decision not to go back on medication, and armed with that knowledge and the support of my family I now know that I can’t expect myself to deal with this on my own.  I don’t need the pills, but I do need someone to talk to — a good doctor that I can relate to and who won’t call me a narcissist and assume that I’m on amphetamines —  and I need to be more conscious of the support system I already have in place.

Ultimately I know this is not a burden that can be shouldered alone, no matter how alone it can make a person feel.  I have come to the understanding that this is not something I will ever be entirely free of — and that, in turn, has brought me to the understanding that the sooner I learn to deal with it, to understand it, and to do the things necessary to bring myself out of it, the better.  I feel like I’m ready to start the learning process.

I don’t know.  I’m not doing well.  But I know I’ll be all right.

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this is a post about press-on nails

Yeah I’ve been a little bit MIA lately in complete flagrant disregard of my new year’s resolution to blog more regularly. I could talk about what’s up with that and about how I have no motivation to do anything and how I cry all the time but instead I’m just going to talk about press-on nails. SO.

As you guys may already know I have no problem with embracing the innate tackiness involved in wearing press-on nails. They make me feel feminine in a really over-the-top campy John Waters kind of way. Still, lately I haven’t been wearing them, but because I recently bit all my nails down to sad little stubs and then felt disgusted with myself every time I looked at my hands, I figured it was time to pop on a set again.

Usually I do kid-size press-ons from the 99¢ store because I am classy. Sometimes when I really want to get my elegance on I’ll upgrade to a set of Fing’rs petites from CVS. Because I’ve been feeling down lately I figured I would go ahead and treat myself, so I went on down to the drugstore last weekend to check out the selection.

Granted, the Rite-Aid on Bellflower and Stearns has some pretty righteous choices, providing you’re into super-long squared-off talons airbrushed with majestic goth-lite dragons which I think I have seen on the side of a van somewhere.  It was either that or your basic Revlon french tips — talk about the sublime to the ridiculous (you can decide which is which).  Then I turned around and discovered that Broadway Nails is REVAMPING THE PRESS-ON NAIL.

I guess the whole nail art craze and the Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail wraps and the do-it-at-home gel manicures forced Broadway, longtime purveyors of your basic press-on nail, to try to put a new spin on their old classic.  So these aren’t just press-on nails, OK?  They’re imPRESS.  They’re called a press-on manicure (which sounds, I guess, less trashy).  They’re endorsed by a person named Nicole Scherzinger, whom I understand is or was once something called a Pussycat Doll, so you know they must be good, because clearly who better to guide you in the ways of tacky femininity than a Pussycat Doll?  They retail for around $7.00 a set, but I’ve been seeing them on sale around town for about a fiver.

I selected a design called “Shout” (and at this point I will mention that the pattern names all seem to have been plucked straight out of nowhere — they have little to no correlation with the nail designs; i.e. a zebra-print set is perplexingly titled “Little Drumm’r Girl”), which without a doubt was the tackiest choice.  What can I say?  When I do things, I really do them.

I wasn’t really expecting to be all that impressed by imPRESS (woah!  See what I did there?), but you guys…I kind of am!  The package says they last up to a week “if applied properly,” but when is that ever actually true?  Well, in this case, it is.  They really are superior to the boxed press-ons I’m used to.  The above photos were taken after almost six days of wear.  The pattern stayed vibrant and I never came close to losing a nail.  Even things that would usually cause standard press-ons to threaten to pop off, like peeling open packages or applying the finger tension required to play a G chord on my guitar, posed no threat to my intensely tacky neon manicure.  Well played, Broadway!

This morning I applied my second set, a champagne-and-black lace pattern inexplicably called “Holla!”  (See what I mean about the stupid names?)

Each set comes with 24 nails in 12 different sizes, which is nice because I have kind of baby fingers.

Unlike traditional press-ons, you don’t use nail glue to apply these guys.  Instead they come with a cleansing pad to clean any crap and oil off your natural nails (nice touch), and each individual press-on has a strong, rubbery-kind of adhesive pre-applied on the back.

Usually my experience with this type of peel-and-stick nail is less than satisfactory, but imPRESS’s adhesive seems even stronger and more durable than nail glue, and there’s none of that noxious skin-bonding shit going on.  Plus when you’re ready to remove them you can just gently peel them off, and the adhesive doesn’t leave behind any funky residue the way nail glue does.  This is awesome.

Just peel off the back and press that sucker on.  Hold it down for about ten seconds and you’re golden.  It takes like ten minutes, MAYBE.

The thumbnails ALWAYS seem freakishly long and square to me, so I always trim them down with a nail clipper after applying.  (The other fingers are fine the way they are for me, but it’s easy to clip and file down false nails in the event that they are too long.)

I mean, really, we can call a spade a spade here — Broadway imPRESS are just press-on nails with cuter patterns at a cuter length in a cuter package.  I don’t know if this rebranding and Nicole Scherzingering is going to make girls who didn’t previously wear press-ons start wearing press-ons.  But as someone who already wears them, I wish Broadway the best of luck in their new endeavor.

AND I just wrote almost 900 words about press-on nails.  That just happened!  Sorry, not sorry!

odds and ends

I haven’t gotten many outfit photos lately (shocking, I know) so I did some quick drawings of a couple of things I’ve worn in the past few days:

What I wore for a girls’ night last weekend with some of my friends — Blood Is The Neck Black tank top, a buffalo-check wool peacoat from Gap that I’ve had for a couple of years, skintight leatherette pants and black suede platform heels.  I looked a little fancier in person than in the drawing above…but not much, honestly.


On Sunday I went with some friends for a picnic at the gravesite of our friend Lisa, who passed a year ago. She was a fabulous, flamboyant dresser with a penchant for dramatic skirts and outrageous hats, so I figured it was only appropriate to try to dress in Lisa fashion, in a sheer skull-print blouse, floor-length jersey skirt, floppy wool hat from Forever 21, and big sunglasses.

    

I’ve been kinda under the weather the past few days so I’ve just been laying low, messing around with my lap steel guitar and totally devouring 1Q84 on my Kindle.  I’ve got a friend coming into town for the weekend tonight and another coming out next week so I’m enjoying my last few hours of downtime before what’s sure to be a hectic but fun few days ahead.

giveaway winners!

You guys, thank you so much for sharing your new year’s resolutions with me!  Reading all your goals for the coming year is really inspiring.  You guys are so creative!  I wish all of you the best of luck in achieving everything you want to this year.  The two winners of the Letmenatalya jewelry prize packages are…

mslizot and Jeni!

I’m totally stealing a couple of mzlizot‘s for myself (finishing the shit I start and knocking off the constant unnecessary apologies are both things I should try to do this year too):

“I’m going to try to finish more than half of what I start, dye my hair blue, do a cross-country US road trip, learn to wink, and stop apologizing so much.”

And Jeni’s resolution, while specific to her own situation, resonates as a goal we should probably all think about making for ourselves, not just as a new year’s resolution but permanently — every day:

“In October, I found out I had a serious illness that may significantly shorten my life. My resolution is to start living like I mean it. Even before the diagnosis, 2011 was not a happy year. I’m doing things that make me happy – cooking up a storm, getting rid of fair-weather friends, maybe learning a musical instrument, falling in love (!), as cheesy as it sounds, just becoming the best me I can be, from here onwards.”

 

Jeni and mslizot, go ahead and email me your mailing addresses at mycartoonheart@gmail.com and I’ll send your packages out to you ASAP!  Best of luck on your goals this and every year!

And since all the resolutions you guys posted were so good, you all get a little treat. Natalya gave me a special coupon code for the Letmenatalya Etsy store — use the code CARTOONHEART at checkout and you’ll get 20% off your order!

Thanks, everyone, for participating, and thanks Natalya for the prize packages! 2012 is off to a good start so far, right?

jason wu for target

Here’s the complete lookbook for Jason Wu’s capsule collection for Target.  I’m not that stoked on it.  The only thing I really like at all is this cat-print scarf:

Nothing else is thrilling me, but sometimes it’s hard to tell in photos.  I’ll still check it out when the collection arrives in stores on February 5th.

january mood board

I’m really loving your new year’s resolutions, guys…don’t forget, you have until Wednesday to get yours in and maybe win some really cute jewelry!

Here’s a mood board I put together reflecting some things that are interesting and inspiring me stylistically this month.  It’s always interesting to put all the pictures I’ve been collecting on Pinterest and Tumblr together in one image to get a sort of aesthetic overview.


I guess my mood boards are always pretty similar: glasses, glitter, guitars, punk rock icons, cartoony style, Pop-art-bright makeup, and the desert (the tiny canned ham Airstream above is from the Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, somewhere I desperately want to be this year).  Also, how great is the Black Flag “TV Party” tattoo flash in the bottom right corner?  I’m not sure who the artist is, but as both a Black Flag fan and someone who spends a lot of tine zoning out in front of the boob tube, I’m pretty obsessed.

For your time:

ALL RIGHT!

rhinestone cowgirl


I.N.C. leopard swing coat, Target t-shirt and jeans, vintage cowboy boots, MAC Russian Red lipstick.



I always feel the most like myself when my outfit is a little on the ridiculous side.  This morning when I got dressed I was thinking about Exene Cervenka in her cowboy boots and red lipstick on New Year’s Eve.  I love that juxtaposition of glammy punk rock and relaxed country, and I think it’s pretty reflective of my personal style these days too.


My vintage rhinestone necklace was a swapmeet find that’s a little outside my normal aesthetic but that I really love, especially paired with casual stuff.  The mink jawbone necklace is from Skullery and was a Christmas gift from my roommate and heterosexual life partner Farron.  They’re not normally things I’d think to wear together, but I like the way the V-shape of the mink jaw kind of echoes the V-shape of the rhinestone necklace.


I picked up these old black Joe Sanchez cowboy boots a few years ago at a vintage store in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, while I was on a rowdy 1o-day jaunt across the South that included my making heart-shaped eyes at Unknown Hinson at the Star Bar in Atlanta and being thrown out of a Waffle House off the I-75 at 3:30 in the morning.  I love them not only because they are the perfect pair of basic cowboy boots, but also because they remind me of being 21 and partying all over Georgia with a bunch of awesome people I haven’t seen since.