Dental chat

I woke up thinking about a conversation that I had with my dentist yesterday. Okay, it wasn’t really a conversation so much as he talked while I nodded my headed and uttered garbled responses because he had his hands in my mouth. It’s a tricky thing to carry on a conversation while you are in the dentist chair. You have to sneak in your comments when the dentist pauses to grab another instrument or check your ex-rays or something like that.

Anyhoo… we got on the subject of the crap economy after I told him about my impending lay-off. I was explaining how tight the j0b market is, especially here in Michigan, which of course he knew. And that the jobs that are available are often only part-time or temporary contract work, that unfortunately that seemed as if it was going to be part of the new reality work-wise. He pointed out that in discussions with small-business owners that he knows and has met that many of them are leery about hiring on full-time people because they don’t know how Obama Care is going to work once it is implemented — in what is it? 2014.

It was a good point. Because I had to admit I was every bit as confused. The Obama Administration and supporting Dems have done a terrible job explaining the new health care law and how it will work, perhaps because they don’t really know. Perhaps no one really knows. If someone does and can explain it, I’d be willing to listen, and even take notes.

My dentist also speculated that even if the economy does pick up and Obama Care works well (or at least doesn’t suck ass) they might just stick with running their businesses with a skeleton crew of full-time workers, filling in gaps with outsourcing, automation, and part-time and contract workers. Of course, an unintended consequence of this may be that people will reduce, perhaps even drastically, their spending habits on products and services. I know that if I’m only working part-time or on temporary contact I am NOT going to be spending my money. I”m going to be saving it, especially because I might need it in the even of a  medical emergency. Hell, forget emergency, I might need it for something minor, like a simply visit to the doctor’s office.

Which brings me back to the dentist, because I’m going to have to decide if I want to shell out money now to have him fix a filling and possibly put in a crown. Even with insurance, which I’ll have until the end of August, I’ll still have to pay out of pocket, but it won’t be as much as if a tooth suddenly goes bad when I don’t have insurance. And I have a tendency to grind my teeth at night which wears down the enamel and weakens fillings etc.  Not sure what to do at this point. It’s going to depend on the estimates I get back.

Advertisements

One upside to being unemployed

Besides not having to shower in the morning or even put on pants that is. It may be better than having a crap job, at least that is the thrust of this Time article.

A new study says that, income notwithstanding, having a demanding, unstable and thankless job may make you even unhappier than not having a job at all.

Of course, I’m not sure that exactly applies to me. My job is not overly demanding. It was definitely unstable there leading up to notice of my lay-off. And I wouldn’t say it was thankless. It could sure be tedious and boring, but I liked that the fact that I worked in a library, that I was contributing to the purpose of such an institution even if what I did was not always that interesting or challenging.

Here are some numbers:

Unemployed people in the Australian study had a mental-health score (based on the five-item Mental Health Inventory, which measures depression, anxiety and positive well-being in the previous month) of 68.5. Employed people had an average score of  75.1. The researchers found that moving from unemployment to a good job raised workers’ scores by 3.3 points, but taking a bad job led to a 5.6-point drop below average. That was worse than remaining unemployed, which led to decline of about one point.

And here is a conclusion that made me smirk:

Perhaps employers could be persuaded to be more mindful of the mental health of their workers — happier employees are a benefit to their employers. “The erosion of work conditions,” the researchers noted, “may incur a health cost, which over the longer term will be both economically and socially counterproductive.”

Because while I believe that some employers may have good intentions when it comes to being mindful of their employees mental health that on the whole it is not high priority. Getting stuff done is, regardless of how it beats up employee moral.

Bite your tongue, young man!

Another nice side effect of being on meds and in counseling is that I don’t feel so compelled to “pick a fight.” Of course, I don’t mean a fist fight, for I learned long ago that a guy of my size should avoid physical confrontation whenever possible. Getting tossed through a plate-glass window will do that too you. Okay, I exaggerate — I was thrown into one of those wire-mesh re-enforced glass window. It broke, spiderwebbing but not shattering. And really it was just my shoulder that went into it — no harm done. Now that I think about it, I actually kicked some pretty serious ass in that fight, which I felt compelled to get into when three punk-asses threatened my little brother — and get this, because the girl standing next to him mouthed off:

“Oh yeah. You would hit a girl,” said mouthy girl.

“No,” said punkass “But I will hit the guy standing next you.”

I remember not even thinking — I just popped the guy in the face as soon as he laid hands on my brother. Then his two buddies jumped me, but I was punching the one in front of me and then, on the cock back of my arm, elbowed the other one behind me — rapid fire. it was very Steve MaQueen or Bruce Lee, maybe Clint  Eastwood. Someone tough like that anyway. And eventually all three of us crashed into the window. And now that I think about it, the guy that had me from behind, his hand was on my shoulder that went into the window, and it, his hand, took the brunt of the blow, cutting his knuckles and causing him to bleed. Stunned by the sight of his own blood (wuss) I clocked him a good one and then took the other one down to the floor. Which is all to say (besides bragging, I mean), I kicked ass,  but that was the best fight I’ve ever had. It was all down him from there.

Anyhoo…where was I? Oh, yeah. Picking verbal fights, usually over politics, but about any debatable subject really. There was a time when I could do this without losing my cool, but over time I transmogrified from being simply argumentative into being  the kind of dickehead that lays in wait like a cobra just itching for an opportunity to strike an unleash its venom on the poor soul that with misforutne of crossing its path. Often, I wasn’t even waiting, it was just there, roiling beneath the surface, and the tiniest thing could set me off. Instead of simply disagreeing with or refuting someone, I had to pummel them with my counter-argument. This was actually pointed out to me by someone who said that I could be pretty vicious and unrelenting in an argument, which isn’t to say that I was necessarily a good arguer just more aggressive. I had a sort of Cobra Kai, a la The Karate Kid, mentality — you know, Strike first! Strik hard! No mercy! Which served little purpose other than to convince people that I was a jerk; it’s not as if they would actually listen to me.

Anyway. Now, I don’t really feel the need to do that. Or if I do, I can contain it. Actually, I’d prefer to opt out of  most arguments all together. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve got plenty of opinions and grievances, more than I know what to do with. It’s just that now I figure it’s probably better to keep them to myself. And, if I do feel compelled to enage, I’d rather do it in a less confrontational manner.

Example: I was following a discussion about the recent talk of a GM bankruptcy, in which the federal government would have a majority stake in the company. Actually, it was less of a discussion and more of bitch fest, which included reactionary comments that labeled the move as socialism, the buzz word of the moment, and renaming GM as Government Motors. Generally there was a lot of complaining about the government’s involvement, which seemed at least somewhat misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the government running GM, but I don’t think that is what they are going to do. The government is not going to be running the company. They’re just backing it until it can get back to a paying/profitting basis. Although I doubt many of the people I saw commenting would agree with me. Not that they could prove their claim, but still…they  heard it on Fox News, so, you  know it must be true. Also, what seemed to be missing from the string of complaints was blame for the white-shirts running the company. I assumed that most of the people involved in the “discussion” either worked for GM or knew someone who did. I didn’t understand how they could give these guys (perhaps there were women too, but largely the largest automotive company in the world is run by men, and no doubt mostly white at that) a pass, but they certainly seemed to be.

And as for their gripes about the govt taking over GM: what is the alternative? Because I don’t think any of these people would be happy  if GM just disappeared all together. And if any of them had an alternate plan they weren’t sharing it. My guess is they didn’t. I don’t either, but then I’m  not bitching about the way it is being handled.

I admit it freely. I was an Obama supporter, a pretty virulent one at times. I drank the Kool Aid early and had no intention of budging. And I’m not sorry I did. I’ve been satisfied with the job Obama has done since he took office. And I’ve got no problem with the plan put forth to save GM. Because that is what it does — saves GM. The only alternative that I’ve heard prestented is the one espoused by the likes of Senator Shelby from Alabama and Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, among others, and that is to simply let GM and Chrysler fail, Ford to if it comes to that. Of course, these Republicans  have Honda and Toyota plants in their states that are non-union, which I don’t really have a problem with either, not a very popular stance to take for somone living in Metro Detroit, and failure of any or all of the Detroit Three (it seems generally agreed upon that The Big Three is no longer an appropriate monicker) would mean more business and more money for their states. You can’t blame them for that, really. Their interest is their state. They don’t give a crap about Michigan.Fair enough, because I dont’ really give a crap about Alabama or Kentucky, although I hear the derby is pretty cool. I don’t know what Alabama’s got — college football, I guess. But what do I know. I do care about Michigan, at least as long I live here. C and I are talking seriously about moving to California or perhaps  Texas, which has a very good economy right now. At this point, i don’t care which really; I’m ready to live in some other state other than Michigan, almost any other state, Albama and Kentucky not being one of them.

Back to my original intent in this post, before I really spin out of control and bore the reader to death. I’d have been inclined to jump into the argument, despite knowing that my view would be largely unpopular and not accepted no matter how I argued with it, which would only have pissed me off, and made me quiver with rage. Seriously, that kind of thing could really set me off.  And that kind of anger/rage/anxiety is just draining. No wonder I was tired all the time. Now I’ve much more energy. Of course, I did sort of particapate, and that was by simply interjecting an article that suggested that the only people who were going to benefit from the GM govt-sponsored bankruptcy were the lawyers and accountants that will charge outrageous fees for their services in making it happen.  That was it. And nothing else.

I’m feeling much better now. Aaaaah.

Better Living Via Modern Chemistry

So I’m seeing a counselor, of course. Because this is the sort of thing one does under these cirucumstances. I suppose I could just get really drunk and punch the wall or something, but I’ve never really been that kind of guy. In fact, those kind of guys scare me. At parties, they always seemed to find me and start fucking with me. I don’t know why.

Anyhoo… my counselor wanted me to see a shrink to be evaluated for depression. I’m like, I don’t need to see a shrink for you to know that I’m depressed. I can tell you that, pal.  I’m in the pits of despair. Okay, maybe not all the time, but still…

So I actually got an appointment with a shrink pretty quickly, which surpised me.  I called a few different offices and the wait time to get in was at least several months. I see the guy and he puts me on Wellbutrin. He thinks this will work better for me than Zoloft, which I’ve actually been on before, just after I graduated from grad school but that’s another story, because, he said, where Zoloft acts as a kind of sedative Wellburtin is a stimulant, like drinking coffee.  Sounded cool to me, because I’d been so lathargic and slug-like lately.

I start with 150mg/day the first week and then switch to 300mg thereafter. The first day, I loved it. It pepped me up. I knew it was just the stimulative effect of the drug that was working, sicne it takes 3 to 6 weeks for it to really work its way into your system. Also, there was probably a placeb effect at work, but I didn’t give a shit. I was feeling pretty good.

When I started on 300mg/day, it made me a little shakey, but I think that was because it was the first day and I’d made the mistake of also drinking some coffee that morning, just out of habit.  Not cool. I was jittery like an addict jonesing at at 4am. Okay it wasn’t that bad, but I did not like. I’ve since even out. That’s what the stuff does. It evens you out. Little things that used to irritate me don’t anymore. I don’t lose my cool. I don’t rage about things for no significant reason. I feel less scared. I feel more outgoing even, and that is so not like me. In addition, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking coffee, which saves money, and I’m losing my taste for cigarette, also a money saver, not to mention a life saver. I know smoking is bad, but I still do it, especially when I write. It is part of my routine.

Another little ancillary benefit is I’m losing weight. But then I was already losing weight from stress. I’ve gone from 178 lbs just after Christmas to 157, stepping on the scale today. I’ve been hovering mainly around 163 though, so that 157 reading is probably off.

Also, I’m not content to sit still. I need to do shit. Unlike before when I could literally sit in the chair in front of the TV for fucking hours. Of course, Colleen really digs this new version of me because I’m folding clothes, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up the yard. I don’t exactly mind it either.

I feel more focused when I’m reading, less easily distractable. I’m hoping that focus translates to my writing as well. I’m not seeing so far, although tonight I’ve been pretty focused.

I can still feel pretty down sometimes, often in fact, but it’s not freak out sad.

Anyway. I’ve only been on it for a couple of weeks. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

Hey, I’d be a booze hound if I could. But instead I’m just a movie junkie

A friend from college, who is going through his own trying times right now, although they are of a different sort than my own, his being of the lost job variety — Yikes! — were talking recently, and he said that he was glad that he didn’t have a taste for alcohol (beyond the occasional glass of wine at a social function, I’d imagine) otherwise he might be in big trouble, easily turning into a booze hound. I shared this sentiment. There have been times in my life, including my current state or disillusionment, that have made me seriously consider just the romantic, albeit destructive notion of simply drinking myself into oblivion. Problem is I just don’t have it in me to drink like that. Never did. I had friends in high school who certainly did, and at least two of them are recovering alcoholics now. It wasn’t just that I was (am) a super light weight,  able catch a buzz on less than two beer, likely to get wrecked on little more than a six pack. I’m not sure I had to stomach capacity. Hell, I can’t even finish a glass of Coke when I go out to eat.

No. Instead of booze, my friend and I both seek solace and refuge in movies. He keeps as many 10 different movies on hand at any given time so that if he is so inclined he’ll just start watching, one flick after another, and not stop until he passes out, i.e. falls asleep. My habit, on the other hands, is slightly different. I tend to latch onto certain movies and/or TV shows now that they’re on DVD and watch the same one over and over again. I’ve done this in the past too. And I can never predict which movies/TV shows I’ll latch onto. For example, this holiday season I watched the Elf and A Christmas Story, over and over again, every day. Well, I didn’t exactly watch them. I’d listen to them online while I worked. I have that kind of job, in which I sit at a computer for the better part of 8 hours each day. Although I’ve begun to think that the nature of job may have something to do with my blues these days, and in the recent past. Looking back, I’m certain that I was depressed for the better part of year, perhaps longer. And, at least in part, that lead to estrangement from my wife. [sigh]

Anyhoo…these days I seem to have developed an attachment for the movie Good Will Hunting. I’ve always liked this movie. As my friend from college described it, Good Will Hunting is an example of solid, straight forward storytelling without and self-consciously obvious tricks or cleverness. Personally, I think that has much to do with the director, Gus Van Sant. Anyway, I keep watching it over and over again. In fact, it is playing right now as I tap out this post.

A TV show that I’ve been watching a lot: SCRUBS. I’ve always found this show to be appealing. I suppose because it seems to drip with GenX ethos. But also it is refreshing and quirky, utilizing a single-camera technique, not film on a sound stage with a studio audience, and the fantsy sequences are brilliantly done. Also, whereas in most cases, a voiceover usually ruins a TV show or movie, this one seems to work somehow. For whatever reason, it works, at least for me.

Still, I worry that I watch TV too much, that I use it to anesthetize myself. I believe that is what I did for the past year or more before my separation, because I was depressed. I think a lot of people do this, to one degree or another. I believe that I saw my father do this most of his life — the man watched a lot of TV, and I believe there was something profoundly unhappy about him. But then he was from The Silent Generation, and it was characteristic for the members of this cohort to simply not talk about their problems. That was my dad all over.

My point is, I  don’t want to rot in front of the TV. And it seems that I’ve taken a step in that direction, by getting on some meds, specifically Wellburtin, which was recommended to me by a Dr, mainly because it has rather opposite effects compared to Zoloft, which I ‘ve taken before. Where the Zoloft can act as kind of a sedative, often making your sleepy, Wellbutrin acts as more of stimulant. Seems I’ve alreayd expereince said effects this weekend, after only taking the med for two days. Perhaps it is just psychological but I felt much more energetic, and I did not have but one small sample cup of coffe this weekend. Usually, it’s the first thing I do in the morning, and then again in the afternoon sometimes, and often at night too. But that was not the case this weekend. And it was a good weekend too.